Welcome to my food blog! I am your average home cook and I want to share my love of food with the world. I'll divulge my recipes as often as possible. Feel free to comment or to email me at nodessertpodcast@gmail.com! Don' forget to come by often for new posts... I love having you visit me!

June 11, 2012

Special Travel Post - Chicago Food

During memorial day weekend I went up to Chicago, IL for 5 days to participate in a national dart tournament,  (In case you didn't know, my other hobby besides being a foodie is playing darts competitively.)  I was excited to go because I have been dying to try some of the great dishes I hear about that come out of the Chicago area.
I had three main items on my list that I wanted to try while I was in town.  The first was a Chicago-style hot dog.  Spending part of my childhood in NY has made me slightly snobbish in what I like on my hot dogs, but I wanted the full Chicago hot dog experience.  The second item on my list was and Italian Beef sandwich.  I see them all the time on Food Network and have been waiting to try a traditional one.  The last item on my list was deep dish pizza.  My time in NY has also made me partial to NY-style pizza, but every once in a while I do like a good deep dish pie.
Unfortunately, I did not get to try one item on my list.  I did not end up having time to get a deep dish pizza.  However, I did try a regular cheese pizza from a local place.  We ordered Sarpino's pizza in our hotel room one night.  We ordered one large cheese pizza, and it came with pepperoncini's (which I adore).  It was a good pizza, a little bit of a thicker crust than we're used to in FL, with just the right amount of sauce and lots of yummy cheese.  Not bad for a middle of the night meal.  You can find them online at Sarpino's Pizza.
I did get to try an Italian Beef sandwich and WOW was it good!  Even better than I had imagined.  My friend and I stopped at a local place called Bob-O's Hot Dogs.  They have been a Chicago legend since the 1950's.  I ordered 2 Italian Beef sandwiches, 1 for me, 1 for my boyfriend.  I opted to get both with hot giardiniera, since I happen to love giardiniera, and most of the the food specials on TV I see serve there Italian Beef's with it.  The friend that I was with ordered the Chili Cheese Fries, and something called a Pizza Puff.  The puff looked basically like a folded up piece of pizza that was deep fried.  The order of fries was HUGE, and worth their $4 price tag.  Oh, but those sandwiches!  My bf said it was one of the best sandwiches he's had in a long time, and I had to agree.  I could probably eat one at least a couple of times a week.  They were large sandwiches, served on french bread, piled high with homemade Italtian Beef.  Dipped in aus jus, they were moist and tender, and the spicy giardiniera on top just made them perfect.  I would definitely recommend anyone to order them if they're in the area.  Yum!  You can find more info about Bob-O's at Bob-O's Hot Dogs.
The last thing I tried was a Chicago-style hot dog.  On our way back out, we had lunch at the airport at a place called Gold Coast Dogs.  I opted for a cher-grilled hot dog, Chicago-style, which included yellow mustard, bright green relish, onions, a tomato slice, a pickle spear, sports peppers, and celery salt.  Being the hot dog snob I am I didn't know if I'd like it, but it was really good!  The peppers were a little on the spicy side for me and I ended up picking a lot of them off, but other than that I really enjoyed my Chicago-style hot dog.  My bf also got one, but he did the jumbo dog, Chicago-style.  You can find more info about Gold Coast Dogs at GCD.
I also want to mention that we made a trip to White Castle as well.  We don't have them in FL, but we do have a similar place in FL called Krystal's.  There is something magical about tiny cheeseburgers!
The next time I get to Chicago I will find myself a deep dish pizza, and I also hope to try Italian Beef sandwiches from other locations as well.  In addition, I'm going to do some more research on native Chicago foods, and try them as well.
Sarpino's Pizza

Cheeseburgers and Fries from White Castle

White Castle Cheeseburger

White Castle

Bob-O's Hot Dogs

Chili Cheese Fries from Bob-O's Hot Dogs

Italian Beef w/giardiniera from Bob-O's

Side view of Italian Beef

Jumbo Chicago-style Dog from Gold Coast Dogs

Char-grilled Chicago-style dog from Gold Coast Dogs

June 6, 2012

Additional Pictures From Casa Maria Mexican Restaurant


Menu cover

Menu Lunch Specials

Fresh Salsa and Chips

Menu Dinner Combinations



Dinner Combo #4, 2 enchiladas, 1 taco, rice and beans

Casa Maria Mexican Restuarant - Restaurant Review 5

Casa Maria is a new local Mexican restaurant that has opened within the past few months.  It was an Italian restaurant prior, and is located in a shopping plaza, close to UCF.
I have been searching for a great new Mexican place since my favorite one in the area has closed.  I had been meaning to try this new one, and a couple of weeks ago I finally got around to it.
Casa Maria has a lunch menu where options are reasonably priced, however, I chose my entree from the dinner menu.
The restaurant decor is bright and clean, and tastefully decorated.  While there are Mexican-style decorations, it is not over the top.  The restaurant was slow on my visit, but I did come around 3pm on a weekday, which probably explains why.  The service was fast and friendly.
I ordered the dinner comination #4, which was 2 enchiladas and a taco, served with beans and rice.  I chose 1 shredded beef enchilada, 1 cheese enchilada, and 1 ground beef taco.  You can also choose ground beef, or chicken, if you desire.  While waiting, I was served complimentary chips and salsa, which is fairly standard in Mexican restaurants.  The salsa was fresh, and probably a medium, to medium-hot spice level.  The chips were fresh and crisp.  I did notice that your first basket of chips is free, but I think if you want a second basket, there's a fee.  I did get unlimited salsa however.
The beef enchilada was fairly standard, as was the taco.  Both enchiladas could have used a little more sauce.  I like to have plenty of sauce on mine.  The cheese enchilada was better, the cheese actually stayed warm and melty, which is is not always the case with cheese enchiladas.  The beans were standard as well, just refried beans with a small amount of cheese melted on top.  I did enjoy the rice quite a bit though, it's the kind I've eaten at some other Mexican places, and have learned to make at home.
All in all, it was a decent meal, at a slightly above average price, with good service in a sunny and clean environment.  I don't know that it will be my new favorite Mexican restaurant, but it is quite a bit better than some of the other local places that I've tried.
You can find the restaurant at:
10065 University Blvd
Orlando, FL 
in the Suncrest Plaza.  Or call them at 321-972-2943 for more info.  They are open Sunday through Thursday from 11am to 10pm and Friday's and Saturday's from 11am to 11pm.