Friday, July 26, 2013

Animal Kingdom

Disney World is not all burgers and fries my friends. It's also home to upscale restaurants with unique food. Case in point: Jiko.
Justin and I ate here for the last dinner of our honeymoon (well if you don't count the plane food). It started with the amazing bread basket above. It came with ethiopian honey wheat bread and flaxseed focaccia. And tandoori spiced butter seasoned with garlic, cilantro, ginger and curry.
Next wine! Jiko only serves wines from Africa. No, that doesn't mean its a sparse collection. They have a TON of African wines to choose from. I got the Jam Jar. And I was very pleased with my decision. Then I was bummed because I didn't think I could get it anywhere else. Then I found out they sell this amazingness at World Market. Let's just say I've bought many bottles since returning from the honeymoon. 
This wine is sweet and spicy and wonderful with entrees and desserts alike.

Next up: appetizer. We got wild boar tenderloin with (warning: crazy ingredient names) mealie pap and chakalaka, and white truffle oil with cilantro. The boar was lean and cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection. The mealie pap and chakalaka (I still laugh at that name) were like grits with flavorful (and spicy!) tomato stew. And who doesn't love truffle oil?!
Next our waiter brought us a surprise dessert. Oysters with lime butter. I'll take it!
Then the salad course. Bitter greens with spicy raspberry vinaigrette, truffled goat cheese and melon.
And entrees! I got seared scallops with wild rice and quinoa salad, yellow curry, and roasted beetroot veggies. Everything was spiced so well- healthy and hearty!
Justin got the oak-grilled filet mignon with red wine sauce and grilled vegetables.
And we couldn't end our last dinner without dessert! We got green tea ice cream with mochi compote, vanilla rooibos-tanzanian chocolate cake, and free form "Kit Kat".
That dessert was so good that I really should end this post there, but Justin took photos of breakfast and lunch the next day so I can't not post those, too :)
Mickey waffle and eggs for Justin. Sweet quinoa cereal and eggs for me. (Yes I was amazed that the serve quinoa breakfast cereal at Animal Kingdom)!
And our lunch inside the Animal Kingdom park was stir fried noodles with bell pepps, onions, snap peas, carrots, sprouts and beef. Lots of beef.
Greasier than I would make it at home, but it hit the spot. I was muy hungry.
That concludes honeymoon posts! I guess I need to start trying new recipes at home now :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Reef fishing

This lovely meal all started with Justin & I catching some fish.
These fish were like gold. For some reason we had the hardest time finding a spot at sea where edible fish were biting. We starting on the reef off Key Largo and progressed to deep ocean waters when we couldn't find many reef fish. The deep sea definitely tested our stomach tolerance for choppy water. So when we caught two silver snapper in the deep, we felt like we'd hit the jackpot.
After we returned to the stability of land, our guide de-boned the fish so we could take our filets to a restaurant that would prepare them for our dinner. We almost lost our filets to a cat, but kitty settled for bone scraps in the end. Now fast forward to dinner....
We ate on the patio at The Islander restaurant.
Where they had our fresh-caught silver snapper waiting for us! And where we got some very tasty starters to get our tastebuds ready for our fish.
The bread basket here was awesome. It had raisin and nut bread, parmesan crisps, and melt-in-your-mouth herbed biscuit-like rolls. That were followed by a citrus salad with beets, fennel, and vinaigrette.
Then the fish we caught! The restaurant cooked it up "matecumbe" style, which meant lemon, capers, and tomato salsa. The silver snapper was very light and flaky- super lean fish.
 
Justin got his fish "Reef-style" since he has a strange hatred for capers. Reef-sytle meant macadamia crusted with a rum raisin sauce. It's hard to get Justin to eat raisins, but it seemed like this sauce won him over despite the raisins.
We finished the night with coffee and sweets. Prettiest iced cappuccino ever:
Alongside our last key lime pie from the keys. The crust on this tartlet was perfect, as was the berry jam on the side.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Treats on the Reef

Now let's talk about breakfasts on the reef. Remember I mentioned that Ocean Reef brands its tobasco? Case in point above. They also imprint the logo on their butter, which I didn't eat, but admired. 
They had complimentary coffee in the morning, so we poured ourselves some generous cups of joe and brought it over to the breakfast nook.
Where we ordered some savory goodness. Above is Justin's veggie omelet with a hashbrown mound and broiled tomato. And below is my egg white frittata with tomato and toast. Ocean Reef also served the most delicious jam with the toast. Darbo jam. We're now ordering it online and stocking the fridge at home with it. So yummy.
I wish I could start every morning like this...
And start every afternoon like this...
Poolside eats at Ocean Reef's Buccaneer Island were very impressive. You could load up your sandwich with all kinds of fresh fish. I chose blackened mahi.
Justin chose chicken. Who chooses chicken when there's an abundance of fresh caught fish on the menu and it can be prepared so many ways?! I don't get it. Anyway, he also got the waffle fries.
And I got a side of fruit. I think this was the largest side of fruit I've ever gotten with a sandwich. And it had everything from berries to melon, pineapple, and even dates. Most normal people probably would not like the dates in their fruit salad, but I was lovin it.
Above is the cross-section view of my fish sandwich. Heaven.
After lunch we also checked out Reef Treats; the bakery where they prepare the desserts for all restaurants on the reef.
Sadly we didn't have enough time in Key Largo to try every dessert they offer, but we did get around to the blackberry pie (from my last post), key lime pie (coming), and the sorbets. I'd like to come back for their famous rum cake, tres leches and smore brownies.
And these sticky morning buns. Although they're probably the kind of breakfast that tastes great upon first bite, but feels like a brick in your stomach afterwards. Though by the looks of these buns, it just might be worth it.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Burgee Bar

After Miami, we moved on to Key Largo where we enjoyed golf, swimming, fishing, and lots of good food on Ocean Reef.
Our first stop was the Burgee Bar, where they have unlimited popcorn to start.
And everything from the S&P to the tabasco is branded Ocean Reef.
And all the decor is very nautical.
We started with jumbo shrimp, which was very jumbo and very fresh.
Followed by veggie pizza, no cheese. I loved that they were generous with the veggies and used variety.
We also got penne marinara with grilled shrimp (the appetizer shrimp were so good that we couldn't resist getting them in grilled form, too). They had perfect grill marks and a good smoky flavor from the flames. And the marinara sauce was nice and spicy which made my mouth happy :)
To balance the spiciness, we got sorbet for dessert. Apparently a scoop of raspberry and a scoop of coconut means two full bowls of sorbet here. I'll take it!
And we got some blueberry pie (and vanilla ice cream!) to go along with the extra sorbet. 
Stay tuned for more eats on the reef.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sightseeing snacks

While in Miami, we went to the zoo and an historical site called Vizcaya. I'll start off with animal snacks and get to the people snacks. We fed leaves to giraffes.  
And watched otters eat fish like nobody was watching. Seriously, the otter went into full no-hands mode with its fish shortly after this photo was taken. It was almost like he swallowed the thing whole. No shame.
Justin fed the momma giraffe. I fed baby giraffe who was having some trouble getting leaf snacks due to its height (yes, it was still an incredibly tall animal, but not as tall as momma who had an easier time getting attention from people with leaves on the observer platform).
After we'd made the giraffe family happy, we got our own food. Nothing fancy, but decent for zoo snacks.
I got turkey in a wrap. Justin got turkey between bread.
Aside from the zoo, we also visited this incredible estate on Biscayne Bay. Vizcaya was built as a winter residence for wealthy industrialist James Deering in the early 1900's. And.. random aside.. was recently used as a filming location for Iron Man 3.
The mansion was full of european renaissance decor. And it had just opened a new cafe next to the house pool.
We enjoyed a nice view of the ornate pool while devouring surprisingly good veggie burgers.
Spicy black bean patties packed with veggies and grains and topped with grilled pineapple and carmelized onions. Plus garden salad with balsamic.
Vizcaya also offers unique wine tastings. 

They have an array of sweet wines ranging from sparkling blueberry wine to pina colada, key lime, pineapple, mango, and much more. The key lime has won best in show at Florida wine competitions.
I am a sucker for sweet wine so these were right up my alley. All the wines are made 100% from the fresh fruit indicated on the label.
I tried the coco polada and sparkling blueberry and would have taken many bottles home if it weren't for the fact that my suitcase was packed to the gills. I'm ready to mail order some of these now that I've found this link! http://www.vizcayamuseumshop.com/florida-fruit-wines.html