Girls on Food

Devin

I grew up with the mentality of trying everything once- because if I didn’t like it, I never had to eat it again. Fortunately for me- I haven’t tried anything yet that I don’t like! Living in Orlando, I can eat out every night (and trust me, I do) and never visit the same restaurant twice. There is no shortage of local restaurants, interesting bars, or curious tourists. I do have my favorite mom and pop restaurants, though, like the Indian buffet down the street from my house. Talk about a food coma! I get excited at the chance to give restaurant recommendations and haven’t had any complaints yet. I love to travel and am lucky that I can take my tastebuds on a trip around the world without ever leaving my zip code. When I do leave my college town of Winter Park, my favorite stops are the cheese-infused dishes of Amsterdam or the ethnic flavors of Miami. I am a pescatarian (tried being veg until I succumbed to my weakness for seafood) with a taste for everything interesting. You’ll rarely catch me with getting down with a field green salad. Oysters on Fire, though? Keep ‘em coming. If I’ve never heard of it, odds are that I can’t wait to try it. I’m excited to share my flavorful adventures with everyone!

Devin’s Garlic Parmesan Chickpea Recipe

As a vegetarian, I am always looking for ways to sneak some protein into my diet. Tofu just isn’t my thing unless it’s unrecognizable, fried and smothered in sauce. I am also a chronic snacker. I wander into the kitchen a hundred times a day looking for a bite and eventually, the same old stuff gets boring. After falling in love with chickpea fries at a restaurant last week, I decided to try out my version, minus the GMOs, gluten, and added grease.

Crunchy, full of flavor, and decently healthy, these roasted chickpeas are a great alternative to my usual potato chips. The best part of this recipe is the simplicity. With minimal ingredients, it’s an easy snack or sophisticated salad topper.

Garlic Parmesan Chickpeas:

  • One 29 oz can of chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon of Lucini’s Robust Garlic Extra Virgin Oil (1 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and 1 tablespoon of Garlic Powder may be used in its place, if necessary)
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese, to taste

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My go-to chickpeas are Eden’s Food Organic Garbanzo Beans. With no chemical additives, they taste super fresh, even from the can. Drain the can and allow them to dry on a paper towel for about thirty minutes for ultimate crunchiness.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Once dry, line a baking sheet with tin foil and scatter the chickpeas across the sheet. Bake for 40-55 minutes, depending on your desired crunch level. After 40 minutes, most will have a hard shell with a chewy center. Around the 55 minute mark, they should crunch like hollow pretzels.

Remove the chickpeas from the oven and transfer them to a bowl. Immediately douse them with a tablespoon of garlic-infused olive oil or your garlic and EVOO mixture.

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I recently discovered Lucini Italia Robust Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and I am obsessed! Cold pressed and authentic; I have been pouring this stuff on everything! It has a rich garlic flavor but won’t overpower your meal. It is also certified Kosher and GMO-free, an added bonus for any ingredient. I advise you to use it sparingly, though! It has the same effect on your breath as a fresh garlic clove.

Lastly, add your desired amount of parmesan and get snacking. You don’t even have to wait for them to cool down!

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This simple recipe is ideal for snacking or as a seemingly sophisticated salad topper. However, it is very possible that you’ll finish the batch while you stand in the kitchen waiting for them to cool.

Hubbly Bubbly Falafel Shop in College Park, FL

Hubbly Bubbly Falafel Shop
3405 Edgewater Drive, College Park, Florida 32804
http://www.hubblybubblyfalafel.com

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Imagine a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern-style Chipotle and you’ll have a good idea of the concept behind Hubbly Bubbly Falafel Shop. In a cheery environment, Hubbly Bubbly has an authentic taste with meat roasting on skewers to go with the fresh hummus, pita, and vegetable salads down the line. Everyone shows up for the food but always come back to see Georgie. Georgie is the talkative Lebanese owner and, if you’re lucky, by the end of your meal, he will bring samples of new dishes to your table.

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My usual order is a hummus bowl with fresh falafel. The hummus base is smooth with paprika and olive oil poured over it. My favorite toppings are the pickled radishes and homemade tabbouleh salad. By the end of the line, my bowl always looks like a bright, healthy rainbow. The crunchy vegetables with the creamy hummus make for a great, lighter bite. Whether you eat your food with a fork or with pita,  you always have enough left to take home for later.

The spinach pies are another must-have! The spinach marinated with a delicious blend of spices is then wrapped in a crispy filo dough.  The Spinach pie is prepared fresh in-house or IMG_5744sometimes delivered each morning from a nearby bakery. The savory pastry is delicious and served fresh from the oven. Along with a delicious lentil dish in a tomato sauce base, the spinach pies were a suggestion from Georgie when he found out I was a vegetarian. Since then, I have always trusted Georgie’s recommendations.

Hubbly Bubbly Falafel Shop is a staple on Edgewater Drive in the College Park neighborhood. The local business has a unique menu and boasts an exciting, local beer selection. With a staff that is more than willing to make suggestions, it’s a great place to try new things in an inviting atmosphere. While you’re there, tell Georgie I say hello!

Plant Based Desserts in Orlando: Valhalla Bakery at Market on South

Valhalla Bakery at Market on South
2603 E South St, Orlando, FL 32803
http://www.marketonsouth.com/

Market on South is an indoor, vegan farmer’s market in the outskirts of downtown Orlando. The facility itself is impressive, with locally made sauces, decorative items and soaps for sale. Out front is an urban farm and covered tables to enjoy your food.

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Chocolate and Rosewater Ganache cake

I had a slice of the most beautiful Chocolate and Rosewater Ganache cake. It was garnished with dried rose petals and metallic sprinkles. The ganache was rich and the rosewater gave the cake a refreshing taste.

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Pistachio and Rosewater donut

The stars of Valhalla Bakery are the homemade donuts at the shop. A specific amount of assorted flavors are made every morning, and the limited quantity makes them a hot commodity. Flavors range from traditional sprinkled donuts to pistachio and rosewater combinations.

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We left with Raspberry Sprinkle, Salted Caramel Pretzel, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Thin Mint donuts. Each one was better than the next! I’m a sucker for the salty/sweet combo, so the Salted Caramel Pretzel was my favorite. They were perfect for sharing because they were best eaten with a fork and knife.

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Be sure to buy one of the pressed juices to wash down your pastry or to save for later. The market opens at 9 am, but arrive before 11 am to snag a donut!
Market On South Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brunch at The Briarpatch Restaurant in Winter Park, FL

The Briarpatch Restaurant
252 Park Avenue N., Winter Park, FL 32789
http://www.thebriarpatchrestaurant.com/

IMG_5384The Briarpatch is synonymous with the word “brunch” in Winter Park. It is a staple on Park Avenue and offers contemporary comfort food in a charming, southern setting. The outside seating is relaxed and under a covered patio. Inside, however, is exciting and bustling, with separate dining and bakery areas.

I met my grandmother last weekend to have brunch at our favorite Sunday spot. Even on the weekdays, it is best to have a reservation at The Briarpatch, or you may find yourself window shopping on Park Avenue while you wait for a table.

 

 

IMG_5390After a long week of junk food in the library, I decided to order something off the Heart Healthy menu. While ignoring the giant cakes and ice cream on display was hard, my Egg White, Tomato, and Basil Omelet was delicious and filling. The fresh tomatoes and basil were sautéed perfectly so that they were both juicy and crunchy. Melted Parmigiano Reggiano cheese made me forget how healthy the meal was.

 

IMG_5391The Briarpatch is known for their fresh, fluffy pancakes. Rich flavor combinations and homemade whipped cream topping set these pancakes apart from any other. My grandmother ordered her usual, Raspberry Lemon Cream pancakes, topped with fresh raspberries and whipped cream. They were thick, moist, and the lemon cream added a deliciously tart kick.

 

The Briarpatch is consistent and comfortable. There are plenty of tourists, but it’s also the preferred brunch spot of Rollins Students and Winter Park locals alike. I suggest going home with a slice of the rich and creamy peanut butter pie or the towering red velvet cake. You will not be disappointed!
Briarpatch Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

White Wolf Cafe & Bar in Orlando, FL

White Wolf Café & Bar
1829 N Orange Ave, Orlando, Fl 32804
http://www.whitewolfcafe.com

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White Wolf Café & Bar is an eclectic neighborhood restaurant in the Ivanhoe Village District, affectionately referred to as “Ivanhood”. Founded as an antique store, the owner transformed the space into a restaurant twenty-five years ago. Today, White Wolf is still recognized for its unique art and light fixtures, which of course, are all for sale. Even more impressive than the art collection, though, are the creative signature dishes served for brunch, lunch, and dinner every day!

My friend, Katie, and I went to White Wolf for lunch after checking out the funky record and antique stores on Orange Avenue. The restaurant’s namesake is the owner’s late white German Sheppard, so we knew they would be accommodating to Matilda, Katie’s perky little Pomeranian. We sat outside under the lush, hanging flower pots and the waitress brought Matilda a water bowl while we perused the menu.

After a lot of deliberation, I ordered the Moroccan salad, sans chicken. The salad had bananas, raisins, and almonds soaked in a sweet and tangy curry dressing, on top of a crunchy bed of Romaine lettuce. The combination of textures made this salad stand out. I was a little apprehensive about ordering a salad with bananas on it, but they were chilled to the perfect temperature to keep from being soggy or slimy. Who knew bananas tasted so good drenched in honey curry?! The dish came with a side of warm pita bread, which I lapped up the remainder of the dressing.

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Katie, also being a quasi-vegetarian and a self-proclaimed “Black Bean Burger Connoisseur”, ordered the house Black Bean Burger with a side of French fries. Unlike the usual dried out veggie patty, this one was flavorful and thick, without being too mushy. The combination of the hearty black beans and sharp Bleu cheese was delicious! I have to mention that I stole more than a couple of her fries… They were crunchy, perfectly seasoned and served with some garlic mayo and ketchup. I dipped a few in my honey curry dressing and opened a whole new world for my taste buds.

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We felt like regulars, sitting outside with Matilda and our curiosity shop finds. The restaurant is in a great location for people-watching, and you can walk off your food coma around Lake Ivanhoe. White Wolf Café & Bar is a neighborhood spot that is more than welcoming to newcomers, but I wouldn’t mind becoming a regular. You may leave with a new painting, chandelier, or just a to-go box, but you’ll definitely leave satisfied.
White Wolf Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dim Sum Good Takos!: Tako Cheena in Orlando

Tako Cheena
932 North Mills Ave, Orlando, Fl 32803
Tako Cheena by Pom Pom

 

Tako Cheena is the prime late night stop in Orlando. Located in the Mills 50 area, it is surrounded by cool dive bars and is just a few minutes away from the crowded downtown scene. Open until midnight most days and four a.m. on the weekends, Tako Cheena always feels like a party. The staff treats you like a friend and the throwback hip-hop on the stereo adds to the relaxed vibes.

I first visited Tako Cheena when it started out as a food truck owned by Pom Pom’s Sandwicheria. Quickly, people realized that they had been suffering from a lack of Asian coleslaw and Mexican arepas dripping in spicy mayo. The food truck gained a big enough following to move to a permanent location and has since expanded to need an even larger building! The popularity is partially due to the inclusive menu, which accommodates any diet- vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, you name it. I suggest trying to make it in before everyone finds out about the churros!

We stopped in last night after a delayed flight home, and it was the best decision I have ever made. After a chilly weekend in New York, I was dying for some warm, seafood tacos. I ordered one Tom Yum Mojo Shrimp Tako, which somehow captures the complexity of the Thai soup in a soft tortilla shell. I also had the Panko Crusted Cod Tako, covered in a sweet and sour sauce and topped with pickled onions and carrots. Both had crisp cilantro and were so colorful they could have just come from a Life in Color festival. The flavors were insane. The textures were next level. I want at least five more of each.

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Needless to say, both of my tacos disappeared as soon as they got to the table. So I did what any hungry girl would do and ordered a Vegetarian Empanada and half of a Three Cheese Arepa. It may seem like a lot, but I have zero regrets. The empanada ingredients rotate daily, but this one had potatoes, peas, corn, and cilantro baked in a yellow curry sauce. The waitress suggested the Sweet Chili and Smoked Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce, and it did not disappoint. It was spicy, tangy, sweet, and delicious. I brought a cup home to pour on everything. The arepa satisfied every cheesy craving I never knew I had. With a thick, fried patty of Queso Blanco and two other melty, Mexican kinds of cheese, I was in heaven. The spicy mayo and Asian slaw gave it the perfect crunch and kick of flavor. I was about to give into a food coma when the waitress mentioned dessert.

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Of course, I ordered dessert! The Cinnamon Apple Empanadas were everything I could have hoped for and more. I wanted to lick what tasted like the Cinnabon cream sauce off the plate when I finished.

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A mix of Asian and Mexican food seems like a challenge to get right, but Tako Cheena blew every expectation out of the water. I may have flown across the country yesterday, but my taste buds went around the world. By using fresh, unusual ingredients, the chef combines the best parts of both Latin and Pan-Asian cuisines. Named as one of the Best Late Night Restaurants by Orlando Magazine, Tako Cheena is quickly gaining a loyal customer base. Their slogan doesn’t lie: “Dim Sum Good Takos!”.
Tako Cheena by Pom Pom Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato