Use Your Imagination: eat out or eat in
I’ve gotten pretty lax in the snapshot department, making me especially glad that I created the Use Your Imagination category. Photos not necessary! Here’s a couple of things we’ve been up to lately.
1. Hotto Potto: Although the concept has been around for literally 1,000 years, I had never experienced it nor really knew what it was. Basically, it’s Melting Pot with an Asian twist. They give you a card to fill out what items you would like (we chose pork dumplings, scallions, noodles, and mushrooms in a mild broth), they bring out the raw ingredients, and you cook it tableside. Easy peasy.
- The takeaway: Because the cooking pots come split in half, everyone can get what they want. You want hot and she wants mild? You’re a meatlover and he’s a meat free-er? No problem. There’s also a huge selection of freshly made sauces. My only caveat is that service isn’t always consistent. I went once and everything went swimmingly; the next time, the server didn’t bother explaining to us what the sauces were or how to work the menu. Oh, and be careful not to over-order: we got one total (not one each) of the items above and it was more than enough for two of us.
- Location: 3090 Aloma Ave. Ste 150, Winter Park, FL 32792 (in the Denny’s plaza on the corner of Aloma and SR 436).
- Hours: Sundays noon to midnight; Mondays through Thursdays noon to 2a; and Fridays/Saturdays noon to 5a. I have no idea why some of their hours are so very late, but maybe it’s a good place to stop after hitting the bars??
- Menu: The full menu can be found here. Scroll past the lunch specials to get to the choose-your-own section. Yes, they have exotic delights like beef stomach, duck feet and fuzzy squash (?).
2. Deja Vue Creperie: I’m a sucker for crepes. I like them savory, I like them sweet, I just plain like ‘em. So when I saw a deal (not an affiliate link; note that it’s 2 vouchers, not 1) for this new place in the Winter Park Village, I had to try it.
- The takeaway: My feelings are mixed. The portions are plentiful and the dessert crepe was quite tasty. I was underwhelmed with the savory crepe, and taken aback that once we each ordered a crepe and a coffee, the bill was around $25. That feels expensive. It didn’t help that the ladies behind the counter were…they weren’t unfriendly exactly, but they certainly weren’t warm. Neither offered to expound on the menu (even though we clearly needed some direction and were the only ones in the place), they just went about their business without eye contact, etc. Hate to say it, but I don’t think they’ll last very long.
- Location: 480 North Orlando Avenue, Suite 126, Winter Park, Florida 32789
- Hours: Mondays through Thursdays 10a to 10p; Fridays/Saturdays 10a to 11p; and Sundays 11a to 6p.
- Menu: The full menu can be found here. There are also seasonal specials that are not listed, which is how I ended up with a S’mores Crepe (nutella, mini marshmallows and crushed graham crackers…SO GOOD).
I recently made Rachael Ray’s 10-Shallot Spaghetti (with some modifications, outlined below), which was so tasty and simple that I had to share. Vegetarians, just leave out the tuna.
Ingredients (serves 4, or 2 with lots of leftovers!)
- olive oil and butter
- 6 shallots, chopped
- 1 8-oz. container of baby bella mushrooms, chopped to the relative same size as the shallots
- smoky paprika and garlic powder, to taste
- 1 pouch of Starkist hickory-smoked tuna
- I had some specialty flavored pasta on hand (Garlic Linguini with Herbs) but any pound of pasta will do
- grated Parmesan cheese
- Melt some butter and olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Saute the shallots and mushrooms until tender.
- At the same time, cook the pasta. Just before you drain it, reserve a cupful of the starchy water.
- Add spices (I used paprika and garlic) and the tuna to the shallots and mushrooms. Add the starchy water a bit at a time until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. If it gets too “wet,” add some Parmesan cheese to thicken it back up.
- Toss the sauce with the pasta. We added some Parmesan cheese at the end as well.
Do you have any recommendations, whether to eat out or eat in?