Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sweet Tomatoes Express - Clearwater

Everyone in the area should be well familiar to Sweet Tomatoes aka the salad buffet. I love this place as it serves up endless salads, soups and also bakery. It's one of my favorite place to go when I need a greenery detox. 

Just recently a Sweet Tomatoes Express opened up about 5 minutes away compared to the Sweet Tomatoes buffet which is about 15-20 minutes away.

I was lucky enough to get a complementary combo meal before it opened and was able to try it out for the first time last week. I was a bit curious as what the express meant and had in mind that it would be somewhat like a Chipotle or Subway style of "express" food and I was completely right.

There are a few signature salads to choose from or even 'a build your own salad'. There are premium meat toppings that cost a few dollars mores and combo choices from their soups, mac n cheese or baked potato. I opted for their Caesar Asiago Salad, a soup and bread.

I really enjoyed my meal and for the fact that it was free it tasted even more amazing! The Caesar Asiago salad was a bit plain with just greens, cheese and croutons; it would go great with chicken but sadly I didn't want to fork the 2 bucks for that. The soup I got was loaded with meatballs, tomatoes and other veggies and herbs but I can't seem to remember the name. I just know it was really good but for 8oz of soup I was really sad when I finished it so fast. The bread which comes with the meal was somewhat cheesy and chewy. It had a nice flavor but it was a little tough to eat alone. I used it to dip it into my soup and it turned out to be an amazing combo!

So in conclusion I love this place. I was a big fan of Sweet Tomatoes but could only go once in awhile as it tends to be a bit pricey for me (a college student) to be spending that much on salads. I'm not too sure if I'll go to this new Sweet Tomato Express often as it as pricey as going to the buffet but with less food. The whole meal I just had without a drink was about $8-9 already but it's a good healthy option if you're watching what you eat.

I would prefer to make my own salads as it's much cheaper and I have more options. Other than that I really do like this Sweet Tomatoes Express and if you have the money I suggest this place as it has everything from the Sweet Tomatoes buffet ready for you in a "to go" package.

Sweet Tomatoes Express - Clearwater

1840 Gulf To Bay
Clearwater, FL 33765

Monday, June 18, 2012

Restaurant and Food Show - Tampa

This year I attended the first annual Tampa Bay 2012 Restaurant & Food Show. It was open for two days and I decided to take a visit on Father's day this past Sunday. I must say I was greatly disappointed. I wasn't sure if I came late, that it was Father's day or because it's their first annual but there was not "250" restaurants and venders that they boasted about.

I paid $5 for parking and $10 to get in and once you're in you still have to pay for your own food. The "samples" were not enough to cover the admission fee or even parking. There were a few food trucks that attended the show and inside there were tables and booths set out for the venders. Many are local catering companies and also plenty of commercial sales.

 We first started out with some Chicken tacos with a choice of 12 different salsa. I picked the drunken salsa which had beer inside and my friend Gabby went for their pineapple salsa. It was actually pretty good and the shells were airy and crispy. It was $2.50 per taco.

This Pulled Pork sandwich was probably the best thing and also the best priced dish at the show. I was able to get a fully loaded sandwich with chips for only $3. It was a deal that couldn't be passed up! The pulled pork was chunky and my sandwich was just filled with meat. It was tender and there was different sauces to add into your sandwich, I added a bit of chipotle and sweet bbq.

I was able to try a few different samples from different venders from rum cakes, lentil salads, cookies, and so on but was at a halt when I saw Red Velvet Brownies from Iced Bakery.

They came in a packaged of 4 pieces for $3. They were super moist and wasn't overly sweet. I absolutely loved them and was tempted to get everything displayed at the Iced Bakery's booth.

All their baked goods are simple yet complex in flavor and also very pleasing to the eyes.

After finishing up exploring the inside building we stepped out to look around before heading back home. Right before that my friend and I grabbed a bag full of kettle corn for $3. I decided to bring it home for my brother since he really wanted some for awhile. They were nice enough to fill it to the very top!

The last bite we had before heading out of the gates were these delicious kebobs. I once had it at a Creative Loafing event and decided to grab one for my friend and I, they were $5 each. It was a bit pricey, but they are just so darn delicious!

I would love to go back if there was really 250 restaurants and venders but if it was as dead as it was when I went I probably wouldn't go back again. It was a nice concept and I love going to foodie events but having to pay for parking and admission fee was  just a turn off, especially when you are forced to pay for your own food and there wasn't enough places to get samples from.

Oh well, at least I was full when I left!

Fusion Bistro Sushi & Sake Bar - City Walk

I had my eyes on this Sushi bar for awhile but I didn't know what to expect. It's a very tiny place that serves a somewhat "to-go" style sushi. You order up at a window and you can wait while watching a sushi chef prepare your food through a glass. I ordered the Spicy Tuna Salad which was not impressive at all.

Tiny pieces of tuna lies on a bed of seaweed salad topped with chopped avocado and smelt roe had a price tag of $8. The "Spicy" part of this spicy tuna was just a squirt of sriracha. I wouldn't ever order this again but I wouldn't say it was terrible. I wasn't able to peek at the other rolls but the menu wasn't overpriced but I would suggest going to a real Sushi restaurant if you want sushi.

Fusion Bistro Sushi & Sake Bar

6000 Universal Blvd
Orlando, FL 32819

(407) 903-7253

Fusion Sushi Bistro & Sake

Fusion Bistro Sushi & Sake Bar on Urbanspoon

Universal Studios Meal Deal - Orlando

Have you guys ever tried a meal deal at an amusement park? Well while my cousin was visiting we decided to go to Universal Studios and opted for their meal deal (Adults: $20.99 for one park or $24.99 for both). It was a pretty good deal so all of us got it and my cousin's girlfriend got the meal deal souvenir cup ($8.99). With this meal deal we were able to enjoy as much food as we can from participating locations.

At Universal and Islands of Adventures there were 3 set up locations each for us to enjoy our food and drinks.

Universal Studios:

Mel’s Drive-In - Burgers, Chicken and Salads

Louie's Italian Restaurant - Pizza, Pasta, and Salads

International Food and Film Festival - Asian, Italian, and American Food

Islands of Adventures:

Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-pendous - Fried Chicken, Spaghetti, Pizza, Chicken Caesar Salad, Burgers and Chicken Sandwiches

Comic Strip Cafe® - Chinese, Italian, New England and American Food

The Burger Digs® - Burgers, Chicken Sandwiches, and Chicken Fingers

The first place to hit up once we entered the park was Mel's Drive In. It was super hot and crowded but we managed to get our first batch of food using our meal deal passes. I was surprised how good the food was because I was afraid that using these meal deals they would feed us cheap food but that was not the case!

Mel's Drive-In served up burgers, chicken and salads which was great for everyone. The meal deal came with a choice of entree and dessert minus the drink but that was what the meal deal souvenir cup was for!

At Mel's I got the double bacon cheeseburger with fries and a chocolate cake. Of course there was just way too much food but I was super happy with so much food and kept in mind that I only had to eat twice to use up that meal deal, but of course who wouldn't take advantage of it!

After a couple of hours of waiting in line and going on rides I was able to hit up my favorite ride in the whole park! The Simpsons Ride has never disappointed me yet and I'm really glad my cousin and his girlfriend enjoyed it as much as I did. A few building down was the International Food and Film Festival so we stopped there for a bite. This time we shared a few plates of fruits and some Chinese orange chicken and fried rice, for dessert was a cup of jello.

The food I got here wasn't very yummy but I guess if you're hungry you wouldn't mind. I picked at the dish but the fruit plate was very refreshing on this very hot day.

The only way to survive that day was to find shade and hunt down every water mist area. Oh Florida!

We had some hot rain a few times during the day but the sun came shining through again. Super sticky but we still went on with the day.

The last restaurant to get food was Louie's Italian Restaurant. I got the Chicken Alfredo which came with bread stick but sadly I just couldn't eat it because it was all cream, no cheese or flavor. I went back for the Chicken Caesar Salad and happily finished my meal deal at Universal Studios.

I would totally recommend this meal deal especially if you're going to be there right when the doors open. If you're able to eat twice you would already get your money worth but any more than that just consider it free meals. The 3 restaurants that participates in this meal deal is just any normal restaurants in the park so you'll get the same food as someone else paying full price. If you're like me and you didn't like a dish don't feel bad and grab another!

Universal Studios Meal Deal - Orlando

1000 Universal Studios Plz
Orlando, FL 32819

(407) 363-8000

House Of Blues - Downtown Disney

House of Blues is located in Downtown Disney right across from Disney Quest. This restaurant gave off a very Bar-B-Que like feel while serving much more interesting food than just burgers. With no plans of ever eating here we all just winged it and order all types of dishes off the menu. I got the Jambalaya while others ordered up the Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Ribs and Smoked BBQ Bacon Burger.

What really pulled us all in was realizing that Aaron Sanchez was the man that created the menu, which was said to be "bold and classy, yet contemporary". I must say he hit it all!

The menu was simple yet complex at the same time. The price range was around $10-30 per dish. All the food that came out was delicious and we all ate till there was not even a single crumb on the plates.

I absolutely loved my Jambalaya. It was so filling and there was more than enough for one person. It was perfectly seasoned and was not too thick nor too thin in consistency. The tomato based was not too tangy either and it was also filled with sausages and other yummy proteins!

House Of Blues

1490 E Buena Vista Dr
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

(407) 934-2583

House of Blues on Urbanspoon

I also got a few more things to eat/drink while browsing around Downtown Disney, which is probably one of the most awesome place to go to. You don't have to pay for parking and you're free to roam around the streets of Downtown Disney and explore different restaurants, bars and stores.

I tried a Bailey Shake which was so darn good. It tasted like pure adult goodness in a cup and I savored each and every sip from that cup. It doesn't look like much but it probably was the most delicious blended drink I've ever had. It went down so smooth and it was rich but not too heavy or creamy. It was just perfect!!

I also got to try a pretzel dog from Wetzels Pretzels before heading back home. The hot dog was actually very impressive compared to other dogs. It was plump and and juicy! I'm not a hot dog fan but it was satisfying!

I also got myself a little souvenir for my new car! 

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament - Orlando

My cousin and his girlfriend came to visit me from Seattle and one of their hit list was the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in Orlando. We ordered the tickets online and off we went on our 1.5 hour drive. There are limited seats which could be a good and bad thing. The "normal" seats were perfect but if you had extra money to spend I would suggest upgrading your seats. I went for the normal seats and was placed probably around the 5th-7th row. Order your tickets in advance because it seems that seats are booked pretty fast.

If you get there early enough before seating you can get your pictures taken and also explore around the huge castle. There's a few bars to order drinks from and also a gift shop to visit. You'll be handed a color and table number once you get in and that will be the knight you'll be cheering on during dinner.

Medieval Times really does take out their time with each and every detail for this dinner show. Once seated you'll have to take a few minutes to take in the surrounding because I must say it is pretty darn amazing. The dinner show provides you a good amount of food and Pepsi is provided if you're wondering.

Be warned that you will have no utensils so feel free to beast it (use your hands)!

We first started off with their Garlic Bread which is similar to a flat bread and their Tomato Bisque which was one of my favorite dish from the dinner show. The tomato bisque was perfectly seasoned so no need to grab for the salt and pepper shakers. I enjoyed it by dipping my flat bread into the tangy bisque.

Every thing is served up warm and you can start chowing down anytime you want. 

The amazing view of the show while enjoying my meal!  As you can see my "normal" seat had a pretty good view and I was seated the second to last row up (Yellow team).

Medieval isn't my thing but I certainly did enjoy it. The food was pretty good and you also get good seats no matter what. There's humor and also tons of actions which is great for audience of all ages. You certainly do get into the show as you cheer on your specific colored knight. I also adored watching the King eat while we were served our meal too.

The next few items on the menu were  roasted half chicken, herb-roasted potatoes and a spare rib. This was more than enough food and I had to get boxes for my left over. It doesn't just end there! We were also served coffee and a apple turnover pastry.

Would I recommend Medieval Times? YES! It's a great show to attend if you're visiting or haven't been to it yet. You can try to find discounts or deals for the tickets, but the food and show is actually worth the $$ you pay. It is a very interactive show as we all get riled up cheering for our knights.

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
4510 W Irlo Bronson Hwy
Kissimmee, FL 34746

(866) 731-9319
Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament on Urbanspoon