Mad Girl Eats Keke’s Breakfast Cafe in Winter Park

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Keke’s Breakfast Cafe, 345 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL. Other locations around Orlando, Central and South Florida.

Sunday morning, rainy and cool. I need breakfast and a visit to Keke’s is just the place to fill the bill. Keke’s is a breakfast and lunch only restaurant. They have a large menu and when everything sounds soooo darn good, making a decision seems like an epic chore. Start me off with coffee and let’s go from there. Good coffee, by the way!

Belgian waffles, pimped out waffles, pancakes (dinner plate size), pimped out pancakes, French toast, stuffed French toast, eggs, omelets, ….oy. Everything looked amazing to my starving belly. I’m feeling like something sweet with savory on the side.

I went in hard for a Banana, Nut, & Caramel Waffle. A beautiful masterpiece. Banana and pecans baked inside the waffle, topped with more banana and pecans, then add caramel drizzle, whipped cream, and powdered sugar, Sugar! Wow. Hey, don’t stop there. You MUST add maple syrup to get the entire scrumptious layers of flavor. Yes, do it.

Also ordered were their pancakes. Gigantic pancakes. Eggs and bacon. Former patrons had said, their pancakes were enough for 2 people. I’m saying, they are correct. The taste wasn’t anything special, regular pancake mix flavor. The bacon was excellent and the eggs were fine. If you’re a picky eater, get this basic breakfast. If you’re adventurous, get a souped-up, pimped-out waffle, pancake, or egg dish. They know how to put some bang in your breakfast!

Hours: 7:00am to 2:30pm daily.

http://kekes.com to peruse their breakfast AND lunch menus.

4.5 out of 5

 

 

Mad Girl Devours Sartori Cheese

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I was gifted a kit of 7 cheeses from the Sartori Cheese company in Plymouth, Wisconsin. They make lovely artisan cheese and use Wisconsin cows! Immediately I put my creative foodie hat on to see just what different ways I could use them beyond a knife and a glass of wine.

First up I used the Espresso BellaVitano (yes, espresso…get some) to make my take on a grilled cheese…not just any grilled cheese, but one that suited my sweet-driven persona. I used a glazed blueberry cake doughnut, sliced it like a bagel, butteredwp-1450720771532.jpg

 

the cut sides (so the sugar from the glaze wouldn’t burn), laid one half buttered cut-side down in skillet, top with slices of Espresso BellaVitano, top that with the other half of buttered doughnut.

Grill like any other cheese sandwich. Watch out, it may be addictive. Boom!

wp-1450720789956.jpg Sweet and salty…nothing better!

How about some protein after that sandwich?! Let’s try a beautiful egg scramble with sautéed onion, jalapeno sausage and topped with Extra Aged Goat Cheese. wp-1450720814733.jpg The creamy egg, sweet onion, and spicy sausage, married perfectly with the tangy and earthiness of the goat cheese. The cheese also helped to calm the fire from the jalapeno. I served tomato salsa on the side for brightness and color. Bold and brilliant!

The Dolcina Gorgonzola had me salivating just thinking about all of the tasty treats I could try. Nothing could stop me from making a Gorgonzola Cheese Cream Sauce. It is multi-purpose!wp-1450720860758.jpg I used a basic Bechamel recipe, made a roux, added cream, then finished with Gorgonzola, salt and pepper, then a bit of nutmeg. Holy Toledo Batman, sinfully good! This dish is pasta, topped with sautéed mushrooms, then finished off with Gorgonzola cream sauce and sprinkled with basil. Later, I will top off a burger with this sauce and a few crumbles of Sartori’s Gorgonzola. This is also a fantastic sauce to put on a steak. It is so special, and so smooth. I could bathe in this sauce. Oh my!

*Dolcina Gorgonzola Cream Sauce Recipe w/ pasta and mushrooms:

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

4 Tablespoons All-Purpose flour

2 cups Half and Half

4 oz Sartori’s Dolcina Gorgonzola, crumble

1 Tablespoon of your favorite fresh herb or spice. If using dried herbs, use a smidge less, especially when using a strong flavor. I used nutmeg IN the sauce, and dried basil last, to top off the dish. Remember, taste test along the way!

1 pinch of salt and pepper, to taste

1 lb pasta

3 cups of sliced mushrooms

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta as directed on box, drain, cover and set to the side.
  2.  Melt butter over med-high heat in a med pot. Once melted, add flour and whisk. Cook until flour turns a light brown color, about 4 minutes.
  3. Slowly whisk the Half and Half into the roux. When it is all incorporated it will be thicker, but not completely thickened. Turn down heat to low and simmer until thicker, about another 4 or 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in Gorgonzola until melted and keep warm until needed. Taste for salt and pepper.
  5. In a separate pan, saute your mushrooms in a bit of olive oil, cook until just tender.
  6. Place pasta on serving platter, lay the mushrooms on top, then ladle on the cream sauce and finish with a few shakes of dried herbs…basil or rosemary are nice.
  7. Enjoy!!!

Quite honestly, the Raspberry BellaVitano, Merlot BellaVitano, and the Limited Cognac BellaVitano are all incredibly delicious cheeses on their own. A charcuterie board with these 3 cheeses, slices of pear, apple, dried apricots, dates, olives, nuts, honey, crackle bread, fig jam, and prosciutto would make a perfect Holiday appetizer for my guests. Add wine and we’re good to go!

The Asiago with Rosemary and Olive Oil will be sitting atop an Italian red sauce with melted anchovies and plenty of garlic over gnocchi. My mouth is watering already!

Sartori’s artisan cheese is superb, a definite must-try for any cheese lover. High quality, beautifully made, phenomenal flavor. 5 out of 5 stars! Go to their website and peruse their story, cheese, and recipes.
It is pretty impressive. http://sartoricheese.com

You can take the girl out of Wisconsin, but you can’t take the cheese out of her! Thank goodness. Cheesehead to the end 🙂

Xo, Avery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mad Girl Eats Pionic in Tucson!

wpid-photogrid_1435883597038_wm.jpgPionic Pizza and Pasta, 2643 N Campbell Ave #105, Tucson, AZ.

Pionic is a new, unique place for artisian pizza. It is like Chipotle for pizza lovers, also offering pasta and salads. Walk up to the long counter, choose your crust (gluten-free available), and unlimited toppings of meats, veggies, cheeses, and herbs. It then gets thrown into a mega oven and is finished in 90 seconds. It is crispy, light, and oh-so-delicious!

Great tasting pizza, any or all the toppings you wish, and walla, you have a pizza engineered to your specifications! All ingredients are fresh, and you can taste it in the final product. Nice prices, cordial staff, and cool atmosphere. Don’t miss Happy Hour,  Monday – Friday from 2pm – 5pm, pizza, beer and wine deals! Excellent!

Hours: 11:00am to 10:00pm.

http://pionicpizza.com

5 out of 5 Perfect pizza points for the price!

Mad Girl Eats Danny’s Donuts in Vista CA!

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Danny’s Donuts, Donuts and Bagels, 102 Eucalyptus Ave, Vista, CA.

Donuts. Doughnuts. Whichever way you spell it, doughnuts are the end all be all of sweet goodness. A cup of coffee and a doughnut is the most delectable way to start my morning, afternoon, or evening. lol. Seriously! Finding really genuinely calorie-worthy doughnuts is a bit harder. A list comprised by The Daily Meal of “America’s 25 Best Donuts”, is one that brought me to Danny’s! Danny’s was ranked #6. I don’t trust many lists, because I travel and eat all over, but The Daily Meal never steers me wrong, unlike most.

A delightful variety, nice guy at the window, this tiny bakery shop on the corner deserves its place on the Best Of list. The Blueberry cake doughnut is what they are known for, and also the flavor I’m known for, so let’s have at it! I’m on a maple kick, so throw a long john in there too. OOOOMMMMGGGGeeeee, I’m glad I live on the other side of the country because I would not be able to resist these magical pieces of heaven.

I gently crisp outer and oodles of tender, pillow-y insides makes for a perfect textured doughnut. Add the blueberry flavor and glaze and yes, a divine doughnut. The maple long john was just as scrumptious. The amount of sweetness of the maple frosting and generous portion topping on the doughnut, gave me endless happiness.

Oh boy, I want a doughnut right now! Best doughnuts I have found in Southern California, and I’ve tried MANY. They place has been around since 1922, so they must be doing something right!

Hours: Mon – Fri 4:00am – 12:00pm, Sat – Sun 4:00am – 1:00pm.

5 out of 5 swoon-worthy sweet treats. Enjoy!

Mad Girl Eats Ray’s Drive Inn, San Antonio!

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Ray’s Drive Inn, 822 SW 19th St, San Antonio, TX.

Ray’s is Home of the Original Puffy Taco. When traveling, I try to visit local eateries that features that area’s specialty. The puffy taco is one in San Antonio. Ray’s is a fun, quirky, welcoming landmark in the city since 1956. Don’t let the name fool you, go inside the restaurant to eat. They do have a drive thru, just don’t think it will be like Sonic when you pull up.

I ordered one beef and one fish puffy taco. Oh so good. That puffy shell is amazing! The beef filling was savory and a blast of flavor. The fish was good, but not the powerhouse I found in the beef. Excellent quality, great prices, super staff, and entertaining atmosphere. Ray’s was a special place and I can’t wait to return.

Their menu offers more than puffy tacos, but when in Rome…er, San Antone 😉

Hours: Tues – Thurs 11:00am – 11:00pm, Fri and Sat 11:00am -midnight, Sun 11:00am – 11:00pm. CLOSED MONDAYS.

*CASH ONLY*

http://raysdriveinn.net

4.75 out of 5 puffy taco points.

Mad Girl Eats Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans

Willie Mae’s Scotch House, 2401 St Ann St, New Orleans, LA.wpid-photogrid_1434995370905_wm.jpg

Willie Mae’s is renowned for their fried chicken and soul food, and has stood the test of time since 1957. This restaurant is so beloved, the community gathered together to rebuild it after Hurricane Katrina ravaged it. It was the first site to be re-built in all of New Orleans. Now that speaks volumes about the food and the family that own it. Divine! All along the dining room walls, you see awards and dignified recognitions. It is pretty impressive!

Of course the only thing to try on your first visit (or any visit, say many), is the fried chicken. So load me up with chicken, some homemade mac and cheese, and a sweet tea…. and we’re ready to throw down! Soon after ordering this blissful looking plate arrives. Generous portions and the fried chicken, say what?! It’s not what any Colonel or Sailorman’s chicken looks like. This is magical. Layers of light tender crust, amid the juiciest chicken I’ve ever encountered! I mean, one of my bites squirted chicken juice up into my eye…and no worries, just comical. That was some amazing chicken. A great fry, moist, gentle flavoring, OMGoodness. The mac and cheese was cream, gooey good, but no one told me about the spice! This stuff had a definite kick. I’m not complaining, I ate every bangin’ morsel. It came with a side of peas, which made the plate pretty, but I’m not a fan, unless they come in a pod. The meal was something you MUST experience.

Willie Mae’s rocked my world!

Hours: Monday to Saturday 10:00am to 5:00pm. Closed Sundays.

Street parking, right off the bus stop 250 feet, easy in and out.

Willie Mae’s, a New Orleans institution. Get there.

5 out of 5 absolutely perfect points.

Mad Girl Eats 4 Rivers Smokehouse in Longwood FL

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4 Rivers Smokehouse, Longwood Village Shopping Center, 1869 W State Rd 434, Longwood, FL. More FL locations.

I’ve eaten at 4 Rivers several times, and it is always good quality Q. Their pulled pork is my first choice, smokey, juicy, tender. The beef brisket I find dry and flat, so next time I’ll pass. I gave it a 3 x’s try, but it is a far cry from the brisket I worship in Texas. A side fave of mine are their sweet potatoes. You know the sweet potato souffle’/sweet potato casserole that could pass for a dessert? Yeah, that’s the one. It is soooo incredibly good, it’s worth the calories. Don’t forget to grab a couple Tootsie Rolls in the little bucket near the cash register on your way to your table.  😉

If eating a rich BBQ meal wasn’t enough, they have their own bakery, The Sweet Shop. If you can’t eat another bite, take something home. Their sweet treats are really special. Think, Nerd cupcake. 🙂

Hours: Mon – Thurs 11:00am – 8:00pm. Fri – Sat 11:00am – 9:00pm. CLOSED Sundays.

http://4rsmokehouse.com

4.25 out of 5 taste points.

Mad Girl Eats TooJays Gourmet Deli in Orlando

wpid-photogrid_1433187871415.jpgTooJays Gourmet Deli, The Marketplace at Dr. Phillips, 7600 Dr Phillips Blvd, Orlando, FL. Other Florida locations.

A great place, with a variety of choices. When it gets sweltering hot in Florida, I tend to enjoy cold edibles. The Triple J sandwich pictured above, is one of the tastiest….and pretty sexy lookin’! A grand roll up of corned beef, roast beef, turkey, swiss cheese, and coleslaw with Russian dressing all in-between their bakery-fresh exquisite rye bread.

This sandwich hits the right notes: soft, chewy, crunchy, creamy, rich, sweet, salty, bright, and tangy. A perfect blend of textures and flavors. If anything, get a side of Russian dressing and add more, if you’re saucy and roll that way. I am!

I’ve had their Tongue, which is awesome, breakfast entrees, and their divine bakery. Every visit to TooJays, I come away happy and satisfied. I’ve never had a bad meal! Generous portions at decent prices, and fab staff. Muah!

5 out of 5 super salivating sandwich points!

Mad Girl Eats Private Island Nitrogen Ice Cream in Orlando

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Private Island Ice Cream, 14650 Gatorland Dr, Orlando, FL.

Entertainment, Science, and sweet ice cream. How much better could that get?! Throw in homemade ingredients, that’s how! Private Island Ice Cream has it all. With a plethora of flavor combos to choose from, the ice cream is made from scratch right in front of your eyes with liquid nitrogen at a subzero temp of -321 degrees F. Private Island (formerly Pure Magic) was the first in Florida to introduce liquid nitrogen ice cream back in 2007.

I ordered chocolate ice cream and added in their homemade caramel and M&Ms. It is pretty interesting to watch this liquid being whisked and squirted with nitrogen, whisked some more, a bit more nitrogen, thickening….adding the goodies, and WALLA! This sweet, richly decadent, extreme flavor, hardened and made to perfection. You order a cup and receive a generous amount of ice cream. Super heavy, intense, did I say rich? Yep, very rich. Wow, just wow. Nice experience.

wpid-20150307_212154-1.jpgLocated across the street from Gatorland on South Orange Blossom Trail, in the Hunter’s Creek neighborhood.

Hours: Sunday – Thursday 1:00pm to 9:00pm, Friday – Saturday 1:00pm to 10:00pm.

http: privateislandicecream.com

4.75 out of 5 very cool treat points.

Mad Girl Eats Oblivion in Orlando

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Oblivion Taproom, 5101 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL.

After reading about this place from a myriad of sources I totally respect, I took the leap of faith and went to a “taproom”. I thought I may feel out-of-place, but bravely I sauntered in and was warmly welcomed into a funky, cool, punk rock, edgy atmosphere. I am cool, but none of the rest..ok, maybe a hint of artistic funk. It was nothing and everything I expected.

First off, the staff is completely amazing. Everyone from the Hostess, to the Servers, and the Manager that checked on my table were on-point. The décor was awesome, (the tables were far apart which I appreciate) you just felt special being there. There is a nice sized dining area, a bar, and an area with pool tables and darts in the back. They are known for their burgers, notably, The Hog Wild which seems to rate on many “Best Of” lists. They have a huge Beer list and also Cider list. Cray-zee!

I ordered the Hog Wild Burger, rare, with Tater Tots seasoned with Salt and Vinegar. Also, naked Chicken Wings with Teriyaki on the side and homemade Blue Cheese dressing. A beer is a must in this place, so I got a Haider Weiss…light and incredible. I highly recommend it. The superior thing about Oblivion is there are many flavor choices available to you. Peruse the menu, it tantalizes the taste buds.

Ok, the burger and wings arrive. Let us start with the wings. I like my wings naked, sauce on side if applicable, I don’t like breading. They were naked and golden, just like they had been to the beach all week. The teriyaki sauce was homemade and decadent; rich, with a slight kick. Like the majority of everything they serve, the blue cheese dressing was made from scratch as well. You could taste the pureness, so fab I dipped my salt and vinegar tater tots (done perfectly) in it and made magic! Best wings I’ve had in quite some time.

Burger up! This is not just a burger, this is a freakin’ insanity burger! It should be called Holy Hog Wild because “holy” was the first word that slipped out of my mouth with my first bite. Listen to this….house smoked pulled pork, sharp cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, fried onion straws, house bbq sauce and house smoked bacon. Oh yeah, and it is all on a half pound chuck-brisket-short rib burger and in between a delectable brioche bun. You know it is a sublime burger when you don’t want or need any condiments on it. Have mercy! This smokey sensuously meaty burger will make you cry. It will make you wanna slap somebody, and then when you have gone home, it will make you yearn to return. A carnivore’s dream.

Bliss. BLISS I SAY!

Vegetarian options are offered as well. Nice, right? Check it out. Oblivion Taproom offers its customers the best in food, drinks, rad atmosphere and staff. Damn, I am now obsessed.

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 4pm to 2am. Sunday 4pm to 12am. It’s a taproom, not a tearoom. Closed Mondays. Located just East of Downtown Orlando.

http://obliviontaproom.com

5 out of 5 perfect palate points. If you’re in Orlando and don’t eat here, you’re an idiot.

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