The Stuffed Pig and the Sombrero Resort @ Marathon, Florida

On a brief road trip through the Florida Keys, I had ended up staying two nights in Marathon, Florida. On this adventure, two things had worked in Marathon’s favor versus Key West. The two differences were the cost of getting a room, about 50% less and being equidistant between Key Largo and Key West. Upon checking into the room at the Sombrero Resort and Marina, the amenities were acceptable but, worthy of a 2 out of 5 stars on various travel websites. The WI-FI, though free, was unable to transmit any data. Despite the dreary Internet connectivity and the windy weather, the friendly front desk staff were polite and accommodating. They also had produced an interesting suggestion for dining at a nearby place called The Stuffed Pig.

The great thing about the Stuffed Pig were the selections of eclectic seafood options on the menu and the outside seating area. On consecutive mornings, I was seated inside their front of house. After review of the menu, I had ordered up Shrimp & Grits. This entree was composed of grilled shrimp with grits with sprinkling of cheddar on top. It had also come with portion of smokey crisp bacon, two eggs and toast. The only difference between the first and second day, I had added on a side order of conch fritters day one. The summary on the Stuffed Pig, I had enjoyed both meals enough to clear the plates clean. For myself, that dining experience had made the stay in Marathon, Florida worthwhile.

The Stuffed Pig is located at 3520 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL 33050

Sombrero Resort & Marina is located at 19 Sombrero Boulevard, Marathon, FL 33050

Read More:
Marathon, Florida (Wikipedia)
The Stuffed Pig (thestuffedpig.com)

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Greeks, Octopus and Mama Maria’s @ Tarpon Springs, Florida

Over the past few months, I had driven around the Tampa area, visiting various Florida State parks. Tarpon Springs had come up in a conversation with a fellow co-worker and a friend’s posting on Facebook. After leaving Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, I had plotted a course for a restaurant in Tarpon Springs.

Despite having the word “springs” in the city name, this town had evolved from a history of sponge diving. Interestingly enough, that reputation had matured under the immigration of Greek nationals. Tarpon Springs, Florida had provided the highest density of Greek population within the United States. As I had driven south on 19, two things appear; Dunkin Donut shops and a Mediterranean influence.

Starving from a swim earlier in the day, I had pulled into Mama Maria’s for sustenance. My co-worker had recommended their calamari; however, I had opted for a new adventure. I had taken up the waitress’s suggestion of grilled octopus. I had immediately consumed the smaller ends of the tendrils upon the dish hitting my table. With a mix of herbs, lemon and butter, the entree had started off well. Working my way up to thicker portions of the tentacles, the octopus had become more an exercise in chewing, than a pleasurable consumption of seafood. Satisfying my hunger, I had taken a ride by the city’s historical docks. Near the water, the Greek influence had become more pronounced with the various eateries and shops. With the day turning to dusk, I had cut this portion of my Saturday drive short. I had then proceeded off to another random detour off 19 to the waters off Honeymoon Island, before ending the night in Tampa, Florida.

Read More:
Tarpon Springs, Florida (Wikipedia)
The Original Mama Maria’s Greek Cuisine (theoriginalmamamarias.com)

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De Leon Springs State Park – De Leon Springs, Florida

Since Labor Day 2013, something had been drawing me back to De Leon State Park. I had been there three different times over as many weeks. Part of that appeal had been proximity to Orlando, Florida. Another part had been the diverse options on premises. The layout had offered open views of the surrounding bodies of water. The springs themselves had provided generally cool waters but, not chilly like the similar namesake of west Florida’s Ponce De Leon Springs. Another visual aesthetic had been the run off spring water pouring into the nearby river basin. For activities outside of swimming, one had the opportunity to go on a riverboat ride, paddle boat or simple pier fishing. Of the immediate hiking trails, all  had been paved with varying lengths. One specific trail had led to “Old Methuselah, a Cypress Tree over 500 years. Don’t worry Central Floridians, the park had installed a monitoring system in case of any pyromaniac. Probably my favorite part of the park had been the “Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House.” The menu, while short, had made up it with a self-service style pancake making griddle. On the table top, patrons had the option to cook their own regular or gluten free pancakes. Additionally, there had been options for a la carte additions like peanut butter and chocolate chips. If you hadn’t overdosed on sugar yet, on each table a set of bottles. Each bottle had contained either molasses, honey and  maple syrups for finishing off an insulin rush. As for the mill wheel, it had stopped working around 7 years ago; However, the spring overflow had provided enough calming sounds of water for any naturist. If you hadn’t taken a visit out this summer, get out there before colder weather.

Read More:

De Leon State Park, Florida (Wikipedia)

De Leon State Park, De Leon Springs, Florida (Florida State Parks)

Ponce De Leon Springs State Park – Ponce De Leon Springs, Florida (GarzaFX)

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Trolling for donuts off 46 – Sanford, FL

Every now and then, something had come along that emotionally connects to you, just like ring on your finger or a pair of sunglasses. Sometimes those items had been edible, like corn dogs, bacon, and french fries. Though, most of best tasting eats hadn’t been all that good for you anyway. For that reason, I had been trying to steer clear of sugary goodies. After all, sugar had been the devil. For energy for exercise, I had been front loading the bulk of calories in the morning with various healthy selections.  After a while, I had started to feel more like a robot. In an effort break that fatigue, to feel like a human being, it had been important in hitting the road in pursuit of an indulgent treat. This past week, a friend had mentioned just such a treat, in this place down in Sanford, FL, off 46.

Early Tuesday morning, I had coerced a fellow coworker to hit the road in search of donuts. Now these donuts had been talked up as some kinda of amazing. How many unique awesome things had I experienced out of Sanford, Florida. There had been that meteor shower and  those planetarium shows, but you can’t eat those. So traveling up in the passenger seat, scanning for sugary goodness, my eyes had fallen on this tiny plaza sign for Donuts to Go 2. Hmm, maybe they had good coffee, maybe not. Walking into the store, my view had  immediately been drawn to the display case of confectioneries. Krispy Kreme and Donut Donut had their place, whether on a morning trip or a cold winter night; However, this had a different seductive appeal. The difference had been the eclectic blend of  flavors lining each level and row.

Looking at the woman behind the counter, I had said “Orange Creme, Maple Bacon and Peanut Butter filled Chocolate glazed, to go please.” Unable to wait, I had devoured the Orange Creme almost whole. Then I had known, at $1  a pop, time for vacating the premises before a sugar overload. I had needed to leave while consuming one, and only one donut. I had figured time for enforcing a calorie dispersion strategy. This had meant  sharing with other coworkers. My giddiness from visiting this shop, sugar aside, had been finding food, so flavorful and rich, for so cheap.  If these beauties hadn’t enticed you too, maybe time to check your pulse. Sure, sugar had been the devil, but “Ever dance with devil in the pale moon light?”

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Read more:

Donuts To Go 2 (Google+)

Sakari Sushi – Winter Park, FL

The reason for the shout out, I can’t think of any other restaurant that had been consistent over any length of time (1 year  or more) in the Central Florida area. Sakari Sushi, formerly Seito’s, had continued the quality food and service over the past decade. Despite the name change, I have been able to select the same options from Spicy Tuna Roll, California Roll A, and to Sex In the City Roll. As always, the staff had consistently been attentive and polite. The facility had been cool, clean and fresh smelling (i.e. lacking any flies).  There had been the option to sit outside, but I have sat inside with the AC, sans flies. On a Sunday afternoon, they now have hung televisions for sporting events (i.e. NBA, NFL, college football). If you had been looking for consistent location for sushi, check them out in Winter Park Village off 1792 and Lee Road.

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More Information: Sakari Sushi

Honey Dates? They look awful!

Purchased a pound of these off the Internet (i.e. Nuts.com) after being a bit curious. Usually I have kept to familiar choices when ordering food online. The marketing photograph below had looked more appealing than the real ones. The actual ones had looked rotten in appearance, perhaps mistaken for a cockroach from afar. Despite the less than appetizing look, this dried fruit selection had been semi-addictive. The texture of dates had been soft with mild sweetness. Shared some pieces with a few co-workers, whom had seemed equally impressed by the taste. The bag had about 80 pieces inside, lasting all of about two days at my work desk. The only thing I had preferred missing the pits in their center.

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Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 24g (~0.8 oz.) (Approx. 18.9 Servings/Pound)

Amount Per Serving
Calories 66
Calories From Fat 0
%DV
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 6%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Sugars 16g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A 1% Calcium 2%
Vitamin C 0% Iron 1%

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Why you should care about Chia?

Chia, a whole grain seed had been popularized originally in the US by the Chia Pet; however, it had also been a dietary staple of the ancient Aztec people. Of Latino descent, bad cholesterol had been a natural offset of traditional Mexican foods. Without pork and lard, what had been the value of tamales? Chia had provided to me two key benefits, lowering cholesterol and reducing joint inflammation. A few years ago, my doctor had started to take a different perspective on holistic foods. In this respect, we had tried fish oil to supplement Omega-3. After some elevated bad cholesterol, a medical prescription had seemed a sure thing. At the end of my next doctor consult, I had been sent directly to local drugstore to purchase a $20 canister of Anutura (ground Chia).  After working into my daily routine, subsequent blood work had consistently been in a normal range. Reducing inflammation for joints and preventing muscles cramping had been another benefit of Chia by maintaining hydration. After running out of Chia for two weeks, I had noticed a big difference when exercising week to week.

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I have purchased both ground and raw seeds. Combining with water, Chia had similar neutral taste and texture to grits. It had served as a greater thickener for protein shakes versus bananas. Outside of replacing some carb intake like potatoes, grits and oatmeal, Chia has been another source of calcium, protein and fiber. It has also served as replacement to standalone applications of soy, wheat germ, and flax.

Below had been a series of shots and video demonstrating  Chia’s final congealed form.

1. Bag of raw Chia seeds.

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2. Glass of wholesome, American tap water. Fracking free please!

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3. Tablespoon of raw seed.

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4.  The water absorption has started.

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5. Mixing the contents of the glass had speed the absorption process.

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6. Almost there!

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7. Congealed Chia!

Popular places to buy Chia have been Anutra.com, Nuts.com, and local health food stores.

More information on Chia (Wikipedia)

As always, consult with a medical profession before making changes to your diet and/or review any possible adverse drug interactions.

Another Petty’s Night: Part 3

Closing out a $70 visit to local meat and fish speciality store were a final round of selections.

1. Mango Jam with spiced Scott Bonnet pepper’s (Mild).

A friend had been sampling this new product with me during the day. The jam below was lightly sweetened with soft arc of heat.

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I had almost finished it off before heading home.

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2. Grouper.

This had been prepped similar to other proteins with sea salt, garlic powder, and a brushing of olive oil. This 8 ounce portion was fried skin side down for 7 minutes on medium-high heat. The skinless side had cooked 3 minutes (10 minutes total).

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Spreading the Mango Jam on the flakes of grouper was a great flavor combination.

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3.  Italian Rum Cake

The colorful hues and texture of this desert had been underwhelmed by flavor. The liquor had lacked a certain pungent sharp aftertaste characterizing most rum cakes.

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In closing, hope I have helped you consider the following while at home or at a restaurant:

a. Cost

b. Prep time

c. Portion size

d. Taste

Regardless of any zombie babies or where you have dinner, eat and be merry!

Another Petty’s Night: Part 2

Another Petty’s Night: Part 2

With the first night out of the way, night two and night three had been positioned as extra rounds versus going out to eat with $70  budget. The second night’s cooking had focused on seafood from Petty’s Meat Market. This was the scope of new items for night two.

1.  Wild Salmon (8 oz)

After unwrapping, I had applied thin coat of olive oil, salt and garlic powder on the skinless side. This may have seen simplistic and repetitive, but why over-complicate good product.  With medium-high heat on, I had cooked skin side down for 7 minutes. Here was the start of the frying before sealing with a glass cover for moisture.

With the last 3 minutes (10 min. total cooking time), I had flipped the fillet  to cook the skinless side until blackened. The end product was the below. The Salmon was moist and lightly seasoned.

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2. Slice of Dark Chocolate Godiva Cake

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At first, I had been looking forward to this dessert; however, it had been too dense and sweet to finish in one sitting. Back to the frig in favor of something different and lighter, perhaps a Zombie baby?

3. Slice of Lemon Mascarpone

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This cake was light with slight lemon citrus filling and frosting. It was better compliment to the main entree. No Zombie baby needed here! No portion had been seen since this evening.

Reference: Another Petty’s Night: Part 1

Another Petty’s Night: Part 1

The value this go around from Petty’s Meat Market was three evenings worth of quality dinners and dessert, price tag: $70.00.

Here are master shots of the main entrees and desserts.

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Night one was composed of the following food:

1) New York Strip  (8 oz.) that had been pre-marinated. This was divided into two (4 oz.) portions with coating of Olive Oil, Sea Salt and Garlic Powder. Both portions were cooked on medium-high heat for 10 minutes.

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2) Dry Sea Scallops (4 total) were seasoned again with Olive Oil, Sea Salt and Garlic Powder on medium-high heat for 10 minutes.

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3) Twice Baked Potatoes (2 portions) brushed with Olive Oil were heated at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

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This had produced two plates of food which left leftovers for the following day.

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4. Served on the side was pint of Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA (Indian Pale Ale). The pint was more than enough for two cold glasses. This ale was a nice accompaniment to the scallops and strip. However, I have been a bit bias toward the Sierra Nevada brand since a road trip to Boston, MA in 1995.

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Following dinner on night one were these two desserts;

5) Berry Burlee (1 portion) was served as-is. It was not overly tart but, just enough blend of sweet and creamy.

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6) Following the above had been a Lobster Tail Pastry. This was over indulgent piece of pastry loaded with cream. Perhaps had it been on its own, it might have been more enjoyable. The Berry Burlee was superior in texture and taste.

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More Information: Petty’s Meat Market, Longwood, FL

Petty’s Meat Market, Longwood, FL

For over a decade, Longhorn, Red Lobster, and Oliver Garden had been on my shortlist for eating out until the 2008 recession. This event had increased food cost and decreased portions. A few years ago, the tipping point had been series of dinner dates to Long Horn and Red Lobster in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Paying over $60 bucks for two folks to eat four-six ounces of over seasoned meat had been enough. Took a friend’s recommendation on a place I had heard of Petty’s Meat Market in Longwood, Florida.

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For someone known for appetite like an Insecticon, Petty’s has had many premium options to explore that set it aside from Publix, Walmart, and other supermarkets. They have always had slew of options ranging from standard proteins, desserts, cheese spreads, premade/prepped food and alcohol. Had I mentioned you can have a cup or two of domestic brew while waiting for your order?

Personal favorites at Petty’s I have purchased:

1) Spicy Blue Cheese Burgers
2) Lemon Cake
3) Stuffed Pork Chops
4) Twice baked potatoes
5) Beer cheese spread
6) Cooked asparagus
7) Anti-pasta
8) Scallops

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Few things that I have bought that were unexpectedly sub-par:

1) Beef Wellington (cheap pastry casing)
2) Sausage with Asiago Cheese (bland)
3) Duck Sausage (odd flavor for some, suggest the standard spicy pork sausage)

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The executive summary, yesterday had purchased a one pound sirloin steak for $22.59. This has been quartered into four ounce portions for same number of quality meals.

Petty’s has easy access off I-4 westbound to Orlando exit to Longwood, FL (two blocks off on your right).

More information: Petty’s Meats | Central Florida’s Meat Market