Las Palmas Latin Grill

What comes to mind immediately when I think of Cuban food is passion and love.  Something as simple as black beans can take hours to prepare (including soaking) and that doesn’t account for all the abuelitas who would curse you to hell if you dared to make them without allowing the beans to soak over night.  The point?  Passion and love are the hidden ingredients to a well done, authentic, Cuban dish.  So when the place that has won Best Cuban Sandwich in Tampa in 2019 and 2017 is minutes from your home, you know the girls and I had to check it out.  One Outnumbered Father’s review of Las Palmas Latin Grill, Tampa’s award winner of the Best Cuban Sandwich 2019 & 2017.  Rules of Court are in place.

We came for the Cuban Sandwich, but ordered several other items as well.  I mean, come on, Tengo hambre; quiero jama.  I also want to be clear, we took our order to go. So in no way is this a review of service or the actual location; this is simply about the food.  However, I should note the place was very clean and everyone there was being taken care of very well.

CHURRASCO with yellow rice and sweet plantains ($23.99)

churassco

Perhaps the least “Cuban” item we ordered, but after all, this is a “Latin Grill” and Churrasco is very popular in various Latin countries.  The meat was extremely tender, and surprisingly, as I ordered it medium, the temperature was perfect.  This is not an easy task as this type of steak can often times come overcooked given how thin it is.  Extremely flavorful on its own, but if you slather it with some of the chimi churri (that came on the side), your taste buds will be doing a Salsa in your mouth.  Juicy steak indeed and something I will likely order all the time.  The yellow rice was flavorful, but nothing to go crazy about and the sweet plantains were nicely cooked, tender, and the obvious-sweet.  I say this because I’ve had “sweet plantains” that were pretty bitter.  The sides are what they are, and you can choose two of whatever suits your palette; but the Churrasco cannot be looked over and is a must order.

PICADILLO with yellow rice and black beans ($11.19)

picadillo

So here is what I’ll say about this one.  It is not a “Cuban” style Picadillo.  Cuban style, to me anyways, has a little more acidity, typically with the addition of nice briny green olives. A Cuban Picadillo also has raisins.  This Picadillo did not have that; but, as a reviewer, I cannot really knock Las Palmas for it.  After all, they don’t call themselves a “Cuban grill”, they are a “Latin grill”.  To be true and fair, this was a very well seasoned, Latin version, Picadillo.  The beef was nicely minced, the peas popped in your mouth and the chunks of tomato added a wonderful richness to the dish overall.  It’s a good dish- my wife absolutely loved it.  But for me, it’s not what I’ve come to love about Picadillo, as my prefer the more traditional Cuban version; so while my wife will forever be a fan of this version, for me, it is unlikely I order this one again.

The black beans, not pictured as it came on the side, were absolutely delicious and a side that I recommend you order with any meal you get.

TAMPA CUBANO ($8.29 for a whole)

tampacubano

The reason we decided to come check this place out in the first place.  Hailed as the First Place Award Winning Cuban Sandwich; and they are not shy about telling you about it either.  Enter the restaurant, you will see the awards sitting up nice and high above the register.  On the menu, you are reminded of the award too!  You can imagine how excited this is making me!

Before I get into my feelings on this Cubano, I think a slight history session is in order to understand the origins of this sandwich.  In no way am I a professor of history or a historian in all things Tampa Cuban; but a spark notes history lesson is in session 🙂

WHY YOU SHOULD ALWAYS PAY ATTENTION IN HISTORY CLASS KIDS

In the mid, to late, 1800s, the Cuban Tobacco industry really began to take shape in Florida.  Back then, it was much easier to travel between Florida and Cuba.  Many Cubans came to Key West and Tampa to work in the Tobacco industry. Many came to set up shop in the place we all know and love, Ybor City. Ybor City, at the time, was THE cigar manufacture capital (of America? the world? who cares Cindy! For the purposes of this history lesson, it was THE PLACE to make cigars).  Of course Cubans were not the only people around.  By this time, you had the Spanish, Italian and other European influences.  And for the hustlers, literally rolling up cigars and working hard in the factories, an easy and quick lunch, that wouldn’t cost a whole lot, became a necessity.  And while the Cubans had started making their own version (no pork…fish or sometimes bird meat was the go to…yea crazy huh), the Tampa Cuban was created, with a little influence from all the immigrants who were here.  The ingredients of a Tampa Cuban are rather simple:

  • Pork- (and not bbq pork, nice, slow roasted, marinated in mojo) shout out to the Spaniards
  •  Swiss Cheese
  • Ham
  • Genoa Salami (shout out to the Italians who worked hard with the Cubans in the cigar factories)
  • Mustard (some say from the German influence to the sandwich)
  • Pickles
  • Cuban Bread- not French bread, not toast, CUUBBAAAAANNN BBRRREEAAAD- for a true, authentic Cuban Bread, you know, the one backed with a palmetto leaf, check out La Segunda Bakery

Although offered as options at many places, mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and other toppings are not part of a true, authentic sandwich.  Mayo wouldn’t have lasted in the hot Florida days.  And yes, our friends in Miami don’t believe that Salami should be included.  So let us all bow our heads, and pray for them since they do not know better.  AMEN

Now back to Las Palmas awarding winning Cuban.  It has all the required ingredients for a true Tampa Cuban; just one (to me) BIG problem.  They also include mayo.  Sigh.  Look, the sandwich is absolutely delicious.  It has the nice pressed Cuban bread, the pork was nice and tender with the mojo punch.  Close your eyes and bite into this sandwich and you will understand why its an award winning sandwich. HOWEVER, to say its an awarding winning Tampa Cuban sandwich diminishes, in part, the history behind this beautiful sandwich.  Again, this is simply my perspective and nothing more. Maybe the version served up to the judges did not contain mayo, who knows.  But the Tampa Cubano on the menu, that I tried, had may. It cannot be a Cuban Sandwich if it has mayo.  I mean imagine if the best Miami Cuban Sandwich contained Salami- it would never happen.  Staying true to the history of what the dish really is, in part, should be factored into judging whether something is the “Best of”.  If this was the Best Cuban Sandwich; well, then sure, it may very well be deserving of the title.  But at least this year, this sandwich was entered in the “Tampa Historic Sandwich” category- and well, it’s not a historic, authentic, Tampa Cuban Sandwich if it contains mayo.

Will I order this sandwich again? Yes, most likely every time I go because it is damn good.

And it isn’t an Outnumbered Father review if my girls didn’t have a say.  These kids eat; especially my baby who honestly eats everything and anything I’ve ever had her try.  But perhaps, one of the things they love the most is black beans.  And they will be sure to tell you if the black beans “are not good daddy”.  I’ve heard it before; but not this time.

Look closely and you will see the black beans smothered all over my baby’s smiling face.  And she could not wait to give in to the awesome Yuca Fries.

My 3 year old; well, she was absolutely loving the chicken empanada.  Very good flavor, stuffed with the chicken, and for $3.50, you get a pretty big empanada.

empanada

No question that passion and love are key ingredients in all of Las Palmas’s dishes.  So if you are looking to “kick it up a notch” (to borrow a phrase from my man Emeril) for your next lunch or dinner, check them out.  They are located at 6431 E. County Line Rd, Ste 104 Tampa, FL 33647 (just not on Sunday because they are closed).

Just the everyday father giving you his perspective….what you do with it is completely up to you. Eat Well Friends…Cheers!

Want to see more pics of my Food Explorations, follow me on Instagram @outnumberedfather and like the Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/outnumberedfather.
“Reminding all parents that together, we can take back control of the living room. Since 2018”

 

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Fratelli’s Pizza and Cafe

Here in Wesley Chapel, one of the biggest arguments among “Chappies” (folks who live in Wesley Chapel) is where to get the best pizza. Quite frankly, I don’t know why anyone bothers to debate this because what’s best for you may not be best for me.  Bob may prefer the floppy pie, while Janice enjoys her pie with a fork and knife.  Sure, we can all shame “Janice” for her pizza pie eating utensil choice, but the point is everyone has a preference and when talking pizza, the opinions are passionate and deeply rooted in our hearts and bellies.

I don’t dare dive in the shark infested waters of the great Chappie Best Pizza Debate.  I’m here to simply tell you why Fratelli’s has some damn good pizza.  One Outnumbered Father’s review of a local pizza joint tossing up some great pies.  Rules of Court are in place.

Nestled in one of several Wesley Chapel shopping plazas, you will find Fratelli’s.  Inside is simple and unassuming; a few tables and the counter where you place your order.  Nothing fancy about the menu.  There are a few non-pizza choices, but for the most part, you came to Fratelli’s for pizza- so for Pete’s sake, order the damn pizza.

The pizza is New York Style; none of that lasagna-like Chicago deep dish garbage.  The classics here are  hand tossed, thin crust and baked in a brick oven.

To be New York Style, for me, it has to pass the B.F.F test.. BIG, FLOPPY, FOLDABLE.  And as a point of measure, I order a cheese pie when checking a place out for the first time; because let’s face it, if you can’t make a cheese pie, you should not be making any pie.

Served nice and hot, the pie was all B.F.F and some.  Light layer of sauce, wonderfully thin crust with a nice chew and much like the décor, the slice is simple…and delicious.  The perfect size, with a respectable fold.

Fcheese

In no way do I submit that this is the best New York Pie you’ll have; after all, it’s New York Style for a reason and I don’t care what a place tries to do, the only place you can have New York pie is in New York- so can we please stop with all that nonsense about shipping New York City water to Florida or spending thousands on a filtration system that will transform local city water into New York City Water.  Just stop it.

But let’s give kudos where it is deserved. Fratelli’s manages to bring a little of New York to Wesley Chapel in all the right, New York Pizza, ways.

And it isn’t an Outnumbered Father review if my girls didn’t have say.  Put it this way, both my babies had their mouths too full to tell us how much they really liked it- which is a safe bet that this Pie was a homerun for them too!

ANOTHER BITE

If you are up for trying something other than a cheese pie, ORDER THE GRANDMA PIZZA.  This beauty is Fratelli’s thin crust pan pizza made with Grandma’s Secret Recipe.  And like every Nona (or Teta for my Egyptian crew), they are always right in what they do.  The slight sweetness of the sauce and freshness of the basil truly feels like you’re sitting at Grandma’s house for Sunday Dinner and enjoying a pie made with sauce Grandma had on the stove for hours. Grandma Fratelli, we are all thankful for this one.

 

So the next time you are looking to have a family dinner, or perhaps getting over a breakup and wanting to eat your feelings, check out Fratelli’s Pizza and Café.  They are located at 5327 Village Mark Wesley Chapel, Fl 33545.

Just the everyday father giving you his perspective….what you do with it is completely up to you.  Eat Well Friends…Cheers!

daddypie

Want to see more pics of my Food Explorations, follow me on Instagram @outnumberedfather and like the Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/outnumberedfather.

“Reminding all parents that together, we can take back control of the living room.  Since 2018”

 

 

Tampa Bay Taco Week

Someone once asked me, “If you had to choose between eating tacos everyday or being skinny for the rest of your life, would you choose hard or soft tacos?”  I mean honestly, the one food I can eat literally everyday are tacos!  Load them with meat, fish, shrimp, chicken or beef tongue (don’t knock it till you try it..trust me), I can eat a taco for every meal for the rest of my life.

And beginning on Aril 18th through April 28th, you can enjoy some of the Tampa Bay area’s best tacos!  That’s right, its Tampa Bay Taco Week; sponsored by Creative Lofting: Tampa and Estrella Galicia TACO ABOUT AWESOME!

For a list of participants and more information, check out Tampa Bay Taco Week.

And my answer? Soft tacos for sure.

 

Want to see more pics of my Food Explorations, follow me on Instagram @outnumberedfather and like the Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/outnumberedfather.

“Reminding all parents that together, we can take back control of the living room.  Since 2018”

 

 

Gettin’ Jazzy with Sunday Brunch at The Boheme

I’ll admit it from the start, The Grand Bohemian Hotel and The Boheme Restaurant are always going to have a special place in my heart; after all, it was the hotel I chose to pop the big question.  During dinner at The Boheme, I got down on one knee and asked my lady to be my wife.  Fast forward two dogs, two children and two houses later, and here I am, happy as can be still talking about this place.  But listen, me proposing is not the reason you need to have your next Sunday Brunch at The Boheme.

With so many options and the Orlando dining scene growing by the minute, The Boheme Sunday Brunch continues to be the OG of Sunday Brunches.  There is a reason why diners continue to pack this place on Sundays.  The beautiful, rich, décor is the first thing you will notice when entering the restaurant, but its the food and service that will make you stay for hours.

Whether its the unlimited mimosas, the raw bar, omelet station, carving station, crepe station,  dessert bar or the A la Carte Brunch Menu items you can have freshly prepared and served to you, there is something for everyone.  And at $49/adult it’s a bargain compared to other similar brunches throughout the state.

Next time you are in the Orlando area and looking for an awesome Sunday Brunch outside of Disney and the other theme parks, you need to check The Boheme out.  Trust me, you will not be disappointed…or leave hungry.

See for yourself:

Carving Station

Oysters

Oysters Boheme Brunch

Dessert Table

Crepe Station will make your favorite Crepe to Order

Crepe Boheme

A la Carte Brunch Menu Items

So many more brunch favorites– bacon, sausage, peal and eat shrimp, antipasto and more.  You can easily spend two to three hours here for Brunch, and truthfully, I think the restaurant expects that you do.  Whether it’s a special occasion or looking to have a proper Sunday Funday, go see why The Boheme is my Go To Orlando Sunday Brunch.

Want to see more pics of my Food Explorations, follow me on Instagram @outnumberedfather and like the Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/outnumberedfather.

“Reminding all parents that together, we can take back control of the living room.  Since 2018”

 

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, it’s off to dinner we go….and next time, not for the Food

evilqueen

By now, you’ve heard of Disney’s new Character Dining: Storybook Dining at Artist Point with Snow White.  And I have to admit, when I heard that Disney was doing this, my initial reaction was surprised.  Artist Point (pre Snow White) was one of Disney World’s fine dining destinations that, unfortunately, I never got to experience.  But ask anyone who has, Artist Point was wonderful.  Whether you were looking for a nice steak or some wonderful seafood, Artist Point was a (fancy) staple for many.

But look, I said I was surprised when I heard of the change, not immediately depressed.  Sure, Disney decided to get rid of fancy luxury, but in return, we got Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy and the Evil Queen!  Maybe not fancy luxury, BUT DOPEY AND GRUMPY!  Sure, there are other places you can see Snow White while visiting Disney World, but other than the Halloween and Christmas Parties, I’m not aware of any place in Disney World were you can see any of the seven dwarfs!  And throw in the Evil Queen and its a Character Dining experience unlike any other!

So you better believe on our recent stay at Fort Wilderness Lodge, we made reservations to check out this new dining adventure.  Me, my wife and the girls (3 yr old and infant).  And like with every meal, I could not wait to try the food!  Admittedly, I searched the menu and some reviews prior to dining, and I was extremely excited to try all the food.

The price is steep. Adults (ages 10+) $55.00, children (ages 3-9) $33.00 .  If you are on the dining plan, one (1) Disney Dining Plan Entitlement per Adult/Child.  So having to fork over $33.00 for my 3 year old who, absent being covered in chocolate, takes two bites of her food and wants to go play, I wasn’t super thrilled.  But hey I convinced myself as I normally do: we are at Disney, its going to be magical, the food will be great.  Weeellllll, the food was anything but great.

The way it works is pretty straight forward.  Every table will get appetizers to share (3 different items) AND desserts (4 different desserts) to share.  All you have to do is choose your entrée.  Pretty simple and truly, you do get a lot of food.  But perhaps a lot of food is meaningless, if it is not very good.

The Shared Appetizers are: Winter Squash Bisque (Caramel Loli, Granola); Wicked Shrimp Cocktail (Soy, Miso, Avocado, Thai Chili, Greens); Hunter’s Pie (Chicken, Black Truffle, Stone Fruit Preserve)

I told you, you get a ton of food!  My 3 year old even got her own little appetizer, with some carrots, cheese, fruit, and a biscuit that came with her own honey butter that she got to make herself by shaking:

kidsapp

But here’s the deal; a lot of food isn’t what anyone is really expecting with this experience; or at least I was not.  If you want to make it a Buffett like many of the other Character Dining experiences, go for it.  But if it’s going to be a seated meal, it increases the expectations that the food will be…better than a buffet?  Am I wrong?  The Bisque, while it had decent flavor, was extremely cold.  The Hunter’s Pie was essentially an extremely dry meatball wrapped in a pie crust, that the stone fruit preserve simply could not save (I tried). And the Shrimp…what can I say?  Just a cold piece of shrimp with very subtle flavor.  High expectations?  Perhaps.  But the appetizers are a huge miss.  Quite frankly, I’m not sure how this selection of food appeals to the everyday diner.  I’ll eat anything, but I saw tables around us taking bites of their appetizers and putting them down.

Surely the entrees will be better.  Each diner gets to chose one of the following:

Entrées (Choose one (1) Entrée)

  • Seafood Stew (Shrimp, Bay Scallops, Mussels, Tomato, Fennel)
  • A Stroll through Nature (Butternut Squash, Arugula, Gnocchi, Sage, Parmesan)
  • Brother’s Grimm Roasted Chicken (Confit Potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Apples, and Chestnut Butter)
  • Magic Mirror Slow-braised Veal Shank (Celery Root Mashed, Wilted Winter Greens, Jus)
  • Bashful’s Butter-poached Snapper (Root Vegetable Risotto, Wild Mushroom, Citrus- Butter Sauce)
  • Royal Prime Rib Roast (Horseradish Mashed Potato, Hay-smoked Carrots, Popover, Jus)

I was excited.  I was between the Veal Shank and Rib Roast, but opted for the Veal Shank  simply as a result of “”Eeny, meeny, miny, moe”.  My wife Ordered “A Stroll through Nature”.

These dishes were better than the appetizers, but only slightly.  Flavors were great for both dishes; but again, the gnocchi was cold and missing that texture that I’ve come to expect with gnocchi.  Whether its finished under a broiler with a sprinkling of cheese or placed in a pan with some butter to give a little crunch, I’ve come to enjoy gnocchi more when it has some crunch/texture to it.  I get it, the gnocchi should be tender and cooked and this gnocchi was tender and cooked; but it was just one note all the way through with the butternut squash.  The Veal Shank- yes, it was fall of the bone and the veal itself was delicious.  But the celery root mash absolutely killed this dish.  The mash was cold and lumpy; missing that smooth richness.  After two bites of the mash, I was done with it.

My daughter ordered her $33 Princess Pasta with cheese sauce.  Was this fancy mac and cheese worth $33; not even close- but she likes her mac and cheese and that’s what she wanted.

The lack of “finish” on the dishes presented to us was evident. Cold food that lacks flavor.  To me, this is the result of trying to do fine dining en masse.  It’s clear that the menu was designed so that the food can be plated and sent out.  Nothing appears to be cooked to order.  

During dinner, I ordered a cocktail:  The Smoking Mirror (Johnnie Walker Black, Wildberry, Lime, Rosemary Smoke).  Fun little presentation, tasty drink; not nearly enough 🙂

The Desserts, like the Appetizers, are shared for the table.  The desserts were playful and fit the overall theme very nicely:

  • Miner’s Treasures (Sponge Cake, Chocolate Gems, and Buttercream Icing),
  • Fairy Tale Gooseberry Pie (Meringue, Gooseberry),
  • “Poison” Apple (White Chocolate-Apple Mousse, Sour Center)

The family favorite, hands down, was the Poison Apple.  It’s beautiful and tasted amazing!  The meringue on the Gooseberry Pie was delicious. And who doesn’t like cake, with buttercream icing and fun little chocolate gems.  The desserts were the best thing we ate the entire evening.

Right when you are finishing your dining experience, your server will bring “The Hunter’s Gift to the Queen” which is Crackled Maple Popcorn with a Ganache Heart.  Very nice presentation to end the meal; which of course, I forgot to take a picture of!

Now you are likely asking yourself, why did Pete say “next time”… sounds like the food would not be worth it?  Remember, DOPEY, GRUMPY, EVIL QUEEN, SNOW WHITE?! I mean, let’s be real, the 4 main reasons you make reservations is to see these characters.  And with two young kids and a wife who absolutely loves Disney as much as I do, meeting these characters is THE reason for this experience.  My 10 month old absolutely loved Dopey!  So much so, he came back to our table just to interact with her for a few minutes… I guess he liked her too 🙂

 

Here are a few more pics of all the fun we had with the Characters:

I hope you do give this place a try, and form your own opinions.  But for us, its the moments captured with the characters that will bring us back…not the food.

Want to see more pics of my Disney Adventures and Disney eats, follow me on Instagram @outnumberedfather and like the Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/outnumberedfather.

“Reminding all parents that together, we can take back control of the living room.  Since 2018”

Let me Upgrade you…Club Level Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

There are so many reasons why you should splurge and upgrade to Club Level the next time you stay at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.  At this resort, there are two different Club Levels; the outer building (Sugar Loaf Club Level) and main building.

And while I can rant about how awesome it is to stay in the main building at this resort, if you’ve been here, you know how magnificent it is.  The smell, décor, atmosphere; I mean, really, what’s not to like? But this post is to simply share some pictures of the great food I had while staying in the Main Building on a recent trip.  In a future post, I will get into more detail; but for now, enjoy!

BBQ Pork
BBQ Pork and Pepperdew Tart

Strawberry souproast beef tart 1roast beef tart 2

 

Want to see more pics of my Disney Adventures and Disney eats, follow me on Instagram @outnumberedfather and like the Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/outnumberedfather.

“Reminding all parents that together, we can take back control of the living room.  Since 2018”

2018 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

spaceship_earth_at_night

Yes,  Fall has arrived.  In Florida many say that means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Yes, we are experiencing record highs in the middle of October.  Yes, AC companies are seeing record profits.  And while it is true that there are no seasons in Florida but the season of HOT, what is also true is that I love to eat. And about this time every year, I get as giddy as Winnie the Pooh in a tub of honey.  Why, because it’s Epcot Food and Wine time!

Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival is, well you guessed it, a food festival at Epcot.  Just when you thought Disney World could not get any more magical!  Since 1995, Epcot has been holding this event, and every year it seems to be getting better.  More food options, different dining experiences, and even things for the kiddos.  Visit Disney’s website for a list of all the need-to-knows.

But I did not want to write a blog post about everything you need to know before you go to the Food Festival.  That would take forever, and honestly, no one does a better job explaining all that than Disney or the folks behind the Disney Food Blog.  Instead, I wanted to share my “Hits, Misses, and Must Tries” based on my recent visits (yes multiple visits).

HITS

A hit to me is something that was really good and I’m glad I tried it.  What distinguishes it from a “Must Try” is that while it was delicious, I probably would spend my money trying something else before ordering it again; while a “Must Try” is something I would order twice during a single visit.

My First Hit is the New Brunswick Slider at the Hops and Barley Marketplace.  Slow braised beef brisket, topped with a horseradish cream and crispy fried onion; all served on a potato roll with the most wonderful side of pickled vegetables.  The acidity of the vegetables cuts through the welcomed fattiness of the brisket, making this slider a surprisingly two bite hit.

America
New Brunswick Slider 

My runner up under the “Hits” was the Carbonade de Boeuf, Purée de Pommes de Terre –   located in the France Marketplace, this beer braised beef, with bacon, dish was the most tender piece of meat I had all day.  And I will be honest, I’m not typically a fan of the dishes that come out of this marketplace, but this year, France found a way to my heart… through my mouth, as the beef simply melted away.  Served over some onion and mashed potatoes, it brings the feeling of comfort; almost like a French grandmother peeled potatoes and worked on this dish all morning for your pleasure.       

France
Carbonade de Boeuf, Purée de Pommes de Terre 

Some other notable Hits, not pictured by definitely worth the bite: 

  • In the Thailand Marketplace: The Red Hot Spicy Thai Curry Beef with Steamed Rice 
  • In the Africa Marketplace:  The Berbere-style Beef Tenderloin tips with Onions, jalapenos, tomatoes and pap

MISS

Let me first start by saying that identifying anything at Walt Disney World as a MISS brings me extreme heartache and pain.  For those of you who know me, and follow my crazy adventures with my daughters on Instagram, you know I love Disney.  I love this festival.  I love food.  I love eating all the food at this festival!  But with all the amazing food this festival has to offer, I simply offer an opinion as to what I think you can…maybe skip and try something else

BIGGEST MISS:  The Entire Ireland Marketplace (while I cringe typing this).  Yes, they have a Guinness you can order (and I LOVE Guinness), but the other dishes were simply unremarkable to me.  

The Warm Irish Cheddar Cheese and Stout Dip with Irish Brown Bread was boring.  Taste was ookkaayy, but the cheese and stout dip was runny and the bread was nothing special.  If you are looking for a warm cheese soup-like dish that is good, check out Canada’s cheese soup; but this one.. skip it.

Ireland 1
Warm Irish Cheese and Stout Dip with Irish Brown Bread

And then the dessert.  I love my sweets.  I eat tons of sweets.  And for whatever reason, I had huge expectations for the Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard.  And while it was warm, it was bland.  The Irish Cream liqueur was overpowering and took over the dish.  It almost seemed like I was eating a fudgy brownie while taking a shot of Baileys.  And compared to the other desserts available at the festival…skip this one.

Ireland
Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard

Another MISS for me was the Cannoli at the Marketplace in Italy.  As described, it is a Cannoli filled with sweet Ricotta, Chocolate and Candied Fruit.  Why it’s a miss for me?  Compared to other dishes, this one seemed extremely small.  The flavor of the filling was okay, but the Cannoli shell was a bit soggy; likely from being filled with the Ricotta and kept cold for a period of time prior to me eating it.  In prior years, the Cannoli was one of the favorites, so I think with high expectations, this years version let me down.

Cannoli
Cannoli

 

MUST TRY

If you are going to the Food and Wine Festival and want to try just a few things, there are absolutely two things you MUST TRY in my opinion.  

FIRST MUST TRY 

Le Cellier Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce.  I mean honestly, if the name alone does not make your heart start pounding a little faster and your mouth water a little more, you simply aren’t living your BEST LIFE!  Filet so tender that you barely have to chew.  The earthiness of the mushroom enhances the wonderful beef flavor.  And to top it with the beautiful Truffle-Butter Sauce, adding the slightest touch of richness; bring your dancing shoes because your Happy Dance will be center stage.  What is much appreciated about this dish, is that it is consistently great every year.  For as long as I can remember (recent memory that is), the marketplace in Canada has been serving this dish during the festival.  And if you can’t make it to the Festival, the next time you visit Epcot, make a reservation at Le Cellier Steakhouse and try it there!

Filet
Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce

And boy do I have good news for you!  After you try the filet, head on over to France and order dessert.  Yes, my next MUST TRY recommendation is the Crème Brulee with House-Made Raspberry Jam.  Why even explain this wonderful treat when you can see it right here for yourself:

Yes….you are certainly welcome!

The Festival is tons of fun, and I am extremely lucky to have the opportunity to go more than once.  But whether you go once or everyday (why are we not friends?!), just have fun!  Everyone has a different palette; some people are meat eaters; some people like savory food while others like sweet.  Just do you, walk around, have a good time.  Here are some other tips to consider before you go:

  1. If you look anything close to 21 years old, make sure you bring your ID if you plan on drinking.  They do check IDs
  2. Hit the More popular spots first.  In my opinion, Mexico and Canada tend to be two of the busier areas.  Get there early, start with one of those marketplaces, and you won’t have to deal with huge crowds
  3. If you have saved up for this event but do not want to bring cash, put the money on a Disney Gift Card.  All marketplaces accept Disney Gift Cards.  Instead of walking with tons of cash, just put your ID and gift card in your pocket (of course, assuming you are not staying on Disney property, then just pay with your magic band)
  4. Go with friends and try not to purchase the same thing at the marketplace.  When everyone buys something different, you are able to try different things from each place.  I know, Genius!

There is so much to see, eat, drink and do at the 2018 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. If you haven’t gone yet, hurry up and go.  The last day is November 12, 2018! Explore.  Travel the world through Good Eats.  And have a good time.  I leave you with some more pictures of  delicious food.  Cheers!

Want to see more pics of my Disney Adventures and Disney Eats, follow me on Instagram @outnumberedfather and like the Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/outnumberedfather.  “Reminding all parents that together, we can take back control of the living room.  Since 2018.”

Welcome to Neenah!

Neenah

Neenah, Wisconsin. Small town America.  Where citizens leave their keys in the car and front doors unlocked.  A town well know for making manhole covers found all over America.  And the town where one of my best friends was getting married and I got to officiate the wedding!

The closest airport to Neenah is located in nearby Appleton, where in the terminal, you have the opportunity to work on your ping-pong game right when you get off the plane!

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Ping Pong Table in the Airport

And while I was extremely excited to officiate my good friend’s wedding, I was just as excited at the opportunity to appreciate small town America.  Look, Tampa is no New York City, but there is nothing small town about it.  So having the opportunity to visit a place where, literally, everyone knows everyone was very exciting.  When visiting a place, where the thing to do on a Friday night is hang out at the local Dairy Queen, you internally begin to reflect on your life.  Here’s what I mean.  How many times have we worried about what were are going to do this weekendWhen is the last time you left your front door unlocked, trusting your neighbors and community that no harm will be done to you, your family or any of your possessions?

It just seems that in these small towns, there is a great sense of “community” rather than “identity”; living “simple” instead of “grand”.  When I visited Simons Specialty Cheese, because I just HAD to get my hands on a fresh cheese curd, you should have seen how nice the ladies in the store were.  The second I said we were from Florida, one of the sweetest ladies ever stopped everything she was doing and gave me and my buddies a tour of the entire store, all the different cheeses and even opened several cheeses for us to try.  Sure, there are millions of nice people out there, but this was more than being nice.  It was her way of life; her norm.  She had no pride in doing this for us; this was the way she lived.  It made me hope that I can “go out of my way” more for others…without it feeling like I’m “going out of my way” to do it.

Dare I mention this place and not mention the cheese!  You want the squeaky curd experience, go here.  You want to taste freshly made chocolate cheese, go here.  You want to purchase a gallon milk in a glass bottle for $2.50, be able to return the glass when you are finished and get a $1.00 back, go here.  I gained 7 lbs on this 3 day trip–yea, I’m not proud of it.  But it was all worth it.  If you want to see some more of the awesome eats I had during my trip, check these pictures out.

I BET you didn’t know that Neenah also has a Statute of Liberty replica looking over it’s downtown!  It’s 10% of the size of the original and was given as a gift to the community by businessman John Bergstrom.  Pretty cool gift!

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In addition to checking out Simons, here are My THREE PLACES “Worth the Visit” while in  NEENAH/APPLETON

Coffee Shop:  Check out Tempest Coffee Collective order the Maple Waffle, your go to coffee and send me a Thank you!  

Restaurant for dinnerTown Council Kitchen and Bar.  the locals will tell you this is not traditional Neenah, Wisconsin dining, but it doesn’t stop them from going!  The place was packed.  We had a big group and ordered several cold and hot appetizers and shared family style.  If you want to try and little bit of everything, this is the way to go.  Don’t forget to check out the pictures in the link above to see some of the delicisiouness!

BarLions Tail Brewery Co. and Tap Room Bar games √ Located in a refurbished bank and with a room that was once used as a vault √ Great Drinks √

That feeling of community is all over Neenah.  From the small mom and pop shops, to the friendly faces… even as a guest, you simply feel loved.  And what better place to have a beautiful wedding; celebrating two amazing people and their commitment to one another…unconditional love.

Maybe the next time you are planning a weekend getaway you give a small town a thought…heck Neenah, Wisconsin would love to have you.

Want to see more pics of Food and Fun while I was in Wisconsin, follow me on Instagram @outnumberedfather and like the Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/outnumberedfather

Trip to Neenah, Wisconsin

Just a few of the many Good Eats Neenah/Appleton Wisconsin had to offer!

 

Be sure to check out my Yelp Page for my Reviews of the all the Eats during my trip to Wisconsin! Want to see more Foodie Pics, follow me on Instagram @outnumberedfather and like the Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/outnumberedfather. 

The FOUR Words Every Parent Should Love to Hear from Their Little One

Yes, you read it right, the FOUR words.  And you may be saying “Pete, ‘I love you’ is only THREE words…hopefully your poor kid doesn’t take after your math skills!”  Look, you and I both hope my kids don’t take after my math skills.  And like any parent, hearing “I love you” come out of my little one’s mouth makes me melt like a Hershey Bar on the Las Vegas Strip in the middle of July.  She tells me that she loves me in her little toddler voice, and I just hand her my wallet and anything else I own… seriously, with two daughters, this is going to go really well for me 🙂

But the words that I absolute LOVE hearing from my little one are Daddy/Mommy “I want to help”.  My little one is at the stage now where she understands so much and recognizes when mommy and daddy have to do things that otherwise take away our attention from her.

As this Baby Center Article states, between the ages 2 and 3, a child begins to comprehend the more complicated aspects of life and gains a deeper understanding of how she should treat people.  So when my little one sees that mommy and daddy are doing housework, caring for her little sister, or walking the dogs, the idea that she says “I want to help” makes me happy.  I’m beginning to see the development of a kind hearted, helpful, unselfish person.  And truth be told, the idea that my daughter is shaping up to be a beautiful person makes me, perhaps selfishly, believe that my wife and I are doing parenting right.

I get it, sometimes their idea of “help” really delays the process of what you are trying to accomplish; maybe even gets you a little frustrated.  But as a dad, after my frustration settles, I tend to just laugh.  I laugh at the fact that my toddler got me “frustrated” because she was trying to “help” me.  And for those who have older children, teenagers, or adult children- I’m sure you are nodding your head and saying that you’d take this type of “frustration” over what comes about in your child’s later stages of life.

Yes, “I love you” will always be my daughters’ way to my heart and checkbook, but if the goal as a parent is to do everything you can to raise a wonderful human being- one that is helpful to others, kind to others, puts others first before him/her, is respectful of others, and grows to be a leader- then yea, hearing my 3 year old say ” I want to help” is music to my ears!

 

Want to see more of my little one helping me and emptying out my bank account, follow me on Instagram @outnumberedfather and like the Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/outnumberedfather.

Feeling outnumbered, don’t forget to tag @outnumberedfather or #outnumberedfather. “Reminding all parents that together, we can take back control of the living room. Since 2018.”