Tag Archives: food

Krispy Arepas: 8196 Tourist Center Dr Bradenton, FL

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Krispy arepas, plaintains, mushrooms and garlic:cilantro saucearepas with plaintains, beans, mushrooms, avocado, tomato, cheddar and pico de gallogarlic:cilantro sauce and avo:pico de gallo saucedulce de leche cookie. dulche de leche cookie side viewWOW. Great ethnic food 5 miles from my house!?!?! I’m SO frequently surprised about stuff like this, but really shouldn’t be anymore. So far, we have found amazing Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Greek, Mexican and now Venezuelan (although apparently it was recently sold to a Peruvian owner so there will be some changes soon) food, all within 10-20 minutes from where we live in suburban, cookie-cutter, pristine, totally non-diverse, Lakewood Ranch, FL.

We were both feeling a little bored of our stand-by dinner spots, so after a hard workout, we decided to give Krispy Arepas a try. I’d read a ton of great reviews online, and it sounded like the ‘something different’ that I was craving. We walked into the neon-green painted, brightly lit, fast food restaurant. It’s got a little flair with cute, little, real and fake painted cactuses and alpaca dolls on high-up shelves.

There were a few other people in there waiting- as we were told that fresh Arepas were being made and it would be about 10 minutes until they were ready. We asked the friendly guy behind the counter to tell us a bit about what Arepas are and he explained that they are sort of like a corn flatbread that are stuffed with various ingredients commonly found in South American countries. As non-meat-eaters, we were happy to see that the choices for us were plentiful, with plantains, mushrooms, beans, cheeses, avocados and other various veggies and sauces. Seeing how hungry we were, he gave us a small plate of mushrooms, plantains and a couple of the sauces to sample while we waited for the Arepas to be ready. It was actually more than 20 minutes later that we got the signal that it was finally time. He had felt so badly about the long wait that he also gave everyone who was waiting there a cup for free drinks…very nice of him, and that along with the snack more than made up for the long wait.

We had him fill our freshly cut-opened arepas with pretty much everything non-meat that could fit in there, and realized that we’d basically made them impossible to pick up and eat. No problem, thats’s what little plastic forks and knives are for. We sat down and dug in to the little pockets of flavor and both loved them right away. Exactly what we wanted. A big step away from the norm, and an exciting blend of new flavors. The sweet, soft plantains, the creamy avocado slices, the cool pico de gallo and the AWESOME green, garlic, cilantro sauce combined with cheddar cheese, sauteed mushrooms, tomatillo sauce and black beans filled the crispy, chewy corn sandwiches with wonderful texture and flavor. These LOOK like they may be too small to fill a hungry belly but nope, not at all. We were full and happy by the time we cleared our plates.

But wait, what’s that?? A fresh powered sugar homemade cookie filled with dulce de leche? Okay. I guess we can fit one of those in too. It wouldn’t be fair to write a review without a taste. Yum. Crisp powdery cookies with a creamy, sweet, salty center? Nothing bad about that.

We will definitely pay another visit soon- most likely on a Wednesday when it’s 50% off. You really can’t beat dinner for $5 a piece ($2.50 a piece on Wednesdays!!!), especially when it tastes this amazing.

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Walt’s Fish Market & Restaurant: 4144 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL

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Things I love about Walt’s:

1. It’s literally across the street from my favorite 6:30pm Tuesday night candlelight power yoga class at Family Tree Yoga.

2. The market is full of super fresh, reasonably priced choices.

3. There’s pretty much always a place to sit in their outdoor section- which is open and airy. Even though it’s view is of a parking lot, it still somehow feels sort of beachy, and there is often live acoustic music.

4. Huge cups of ice cold water. (Too bad they are in environmentally unfriendly styrofoam)

5. A reasonably priced menu with tons of options that sound appealing.

6. The yummy, complimentary, smoked mullet starter they bring with loads of saltines.

7. Their blue cheese dressing is AMAZING. Huge chunks of cheese and seriously just so so so so good.

Things I don’t really love about Walt’s:

1. The food is so- so. Although everything is fresh, it’s boring and uncreative. They love to fry stuff and/or drown it in unnecessary amounts of butter and oil. The salads are mostly comprised of iceberg lettuce (boo). The veggies on the side are usually overcooked and mushy, and again, just boring boring boring. I wish they would get a little creative with what they offer, but the couple of times I’ve been there, I’ve ended up feeling like I really should have just bought seafood in their market and taken it home to cook it myself.

2. The waitstaff, though they are friendly, are super slow. It is not a place I advise dining at if you’re in a hurry.

3. Even though the prices seem fair at first glance, it still ends up costing more than it should in the end.

The moral of the story is that I have been there twice, and kind of doubt I’ll go again. If I do, it will just be for the market, which really does have some seafood worth buying. I will learn my lesson this time and next time will be my own chef.

 

 

 

 

Shrink to Life!

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It’s true. My blog has not been getting the attention it deserves.

I’ve been working on my health over the last 3 months, cooking at home much more, and eating out much less.

I have become a health coach,  ( shrinktolife.com ) and have lost 16 lbs in my own journey in preparation for my upcoming wedding.

I have not lost my love of food, but I’m trying to be more in control of what I eat- which means more cooking and less dining out.

That said, I still VERY much believe in my everything-in-moderation theory. I am so happy at the weight I’m at now that I have committed to sticking with this plan. I will continue to eat healthfully and mindfully 80% of the time, and to allow myself indulgences 20% of the time.

Bigforkinmouth will absolutely and positively still hear about each and every one of those indulgences.

My waist has shrunk, but my mouth is still pretty forking big.

🙂

If you’d like help reaching optimal health, please email me at shrinktolife@gmail.com or visit my website shrinktolife.com I’d love to teach you how to lose weight, gain confidence and live the happiest life you can…and you can and will still LOVE food!

days 1&90

Shoogie Boogies, 1919 Morrill St, Sarasota, FL

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I was lucky enough to have a beautiful bridal shower thrown for me at Shoogie Boogies. It was the most perfect setting I could imagine, and everything was flawless. I found the owner to be extremely patient, detail-oriented, friendly and with seriously awesome taste. I’ve read a bunch of reviews of Shoogie Boogies on various websites and am honestly shocked to read anything that’s less than top notch. I’m guessing that some of the complainers are ‘bridezilla types’ who found some way to make it the restaurant’s fault if it rained, or if the strawberry wasn’t exactly the shade of red that they’d requested.

My guests and I were warmly welcomed into the flower-filled garden area with champagne flutes of elderberry water. Yummm, delightfully refreshing! We sat at a long table under giant white umbrellas, and took in the amazing presentations of tea sandwiches on pedestals, cheese and cracker plates, fresh bread and olive oil, and ginger/pear iced tea. The touches on each table setting were adorable, from napkin rings with fresh flowers, to lovely floral arrangements and quirky fairy-tale touches everywhere. You really have to see this place to believe just how girly/romantic/charming the setting is. It’s really a dream.

Soon, wonderful salads were brought out, and we all enjoyed the excellent quality cheeses and fresh fruits and veggies. When the owner noticed dark clouds overhead, she thoughtfully prepared one of the inside rooms for us, and invited us to move under cover for desserts and gift-opening. We took her up on her offer, not wanting to get soaked any more than her staff did, and moved inside to another beautiful setting. Her portrait photography on the walls is exquisite, and everyone enjoyed looking at each one in what felt like a private dining room at a gallery.

Our iced teas were refilled and dessert platters were brought out to share. Each of the sample-sized cakes were delicious, but the total amount for 12 sugar-loving women was a little on the skimpy side. That alone is seriously the only fault I can find in this beautiful day, and really not enough of one to even bother with. I do have to be honest though, and if everything I wrote was gushy, you wouldn’t believe it anyway 🙂

I can’t possibly recommend Shoogie Boogies any higher. If you have a ladies lunch, a girls outing, a bridal or baby shower or even a wedding, it’s a perfect choice. I can’t wait to go back, so please feel free to invite me!

Cracker’s Bar & Grill: 502 NW 6th St. Crystal River, FL

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After an AMAZING experience of swimming with a wild manatee, Gabriel and I found ourselves starving and in a town we knew nothing about. Our boat captain told us that Crackers is the best place around to grab lunch, so we headed straight there.

We walked through the restaurant to be seated out back, and found a huge deck with round tables and umbrellas. It had a tiki bar/casual vibe and there was even the predictable dude-with-guitar playing decent, classic rock, cover tunes.

Our waiter took our order and made a few suggestions. We started with the clam strips appetizer- one of my favorite and very rarely indulged-in snacks. We decided to share the suggested salmon and grouper sandwiches with sides of fries and a salad.

The clam strips came out quickly and looked awesome- if not kind of skimpy. They were hot, crunchy and a little bit more breaded than I like, but we polished them off so quickly that we felt a little shorted. The price was more or less fair, but the portion really could have been a bit more generous.

The sandwiches and the bread they came on were delicious. The fish was simply prepared and fresh, and the ripe tomatoes and crunchy lettuce were refreshing. The rolls were great for the first few bites, but quickly got soggy beyond holding, and ended up on the plate while we used a fork to finish the fish. The fries were exactly as requested- extra crunchy and well-done. The salad, made mostly of iceberg and croutons, left a lot to be desired. I find it especially odd when the sandwiches come with a decent lettuce like romaine, and then they skimp with a salad made of iceberg.

Overall, the setting was what made this a memorable meal. The food was pretty good- but not really noteworthy. If you’re in the area, it’s a fair choice, but I’d be inclined to explore more if I’m ever back there with some time and hunger on my hands.

 

Don Pablos: 5911 Fruitville Rd. Sarasota, FL

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pablo margarita pablo dip sampler pablo chips fajita sides:beans and rice pablo tortilla portobello fajitas shrimp fajitas

Gabriel and I had a ‘free dip sampler’ coupon for the longest time and finally decided to use it. When we arrived, we found a very casual but cool atmosphere in a huge space that looked like a converted warehouse or fire station. It was busy, and very family/kid friendly. We were seated immediately at a booth and the waitress took our orders for a frozen margarita to share and the dip sampler. We also placed our entree orders at that time for the shrimp fajitas and the portobello mushroom fajitas.

The dips arrived a few minutes later with our massive (way too sweet) margarita, and we enjoyed the fresh, warm chips and super indulgent dips. This is not the kind of food we’d normally order because it was probably a week’s worth of fat and carbs, but we thought it was a pretty tasty treat. Being that this was ‘moving week’ for us, we were starving, out of kitchen supplies, and totally ok with eating junk food for a meal.

The fajitas and toppings were very plentiful and the quality was so-so. Nothing to write home about, nothing to rush to go back for, but definitely filling and tasty. The shrimp were on the salty side and the mushrooms were flavored with seasonings that I didn’t love, but the tortillas were fresh and hot and the guacamole was cool and creamy.

I doubt we will be back- but not because it wasn’t a perfectly decent meal. We just really love Mi Pueblo, and the price, efficiency, atmosphere and food there all trump Don Pablos by a long shot.

Papa Nick’s Pasta & Pizza: 4940 Fruitville Rd, Sarasota, FL

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wine papa bread papa chowder papa salad paparanch and house papaspinach shells eggplant rollentini penne

 

For 3 months, Gabriel and I lived practically across the street from Papa Nick’s. It wasn’t until the night before we moved to another town that we finally got around to trying it. It was fairly late for dinner (by Florida standards) and there was just one other group there when we arrived. We sat in the main dining room but quickly asked to be moved because it was freezing in there. The waitress was happy to find us a table in a warmer section and we sat down to look at the menus.

The prices are very reasonable, with most entrees around $13 and including soup, salad, bread and pasta. The menu, however,  is nothing special. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect of a strip mall Italian restaurant. We ordered a glass of Chianti to share- but found it to be extremely watery. I guess for a $5 glass, we shouldn’t have expected anything great. The bread was at least a day old already and had a stale crust. The clam chowder was watery and sort of gummy with no real clam pieces and only an occasional bite of potato. It was also sort of luke warm. The salads were mostly iceberg lettuce with a couple of ripe grape tomatoes and a slice of cucumber, and were served with plastic squeeze bottels of dressing. Classy.

Our main dishes were actually quite good- but pretty much everything is quite good when it’s smothered in loads of mozzarella cheese. I should definitely give credit where it’s due however, and the truth is that the tomato sauce is fantastic. It’s exactly how I like it with a slight sweetness to it and a smooth, thick, consistency. The spinach/ricotta stuffed shells were the favorite over the eggplant parmesan, but really both were enjoyable.  The pasta was typical boxed penne- and at that point I was too full to want more carbs.

Overall, for about $15 per person including tip, I guess I would recommend it in certain situations…For instance, if you are starving from packing all day, close by, and with less than $20 per person to spend, give it a shot!