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4Rivers Sweet Shop

2 Dec

A few months ago, 4 Rivers Smokehouse opened in Jacksonville off Baymeadows near 95. They really have the best barbeque I’ve personally tasted in the area. I don’t know what they do to their turkey, but it’s so juicy, not dry.

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When I’d visited the first time, I was shocked to see they also had a HUGE sweet shop inside their restaurant. From outside, you really had no clue this was hiding inside.

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Woah, right? Where does one even begin?

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I love anything Reese’s, so these look delicious to me!

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They even have their own cronut. I have yet to try a cronut.

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Mmm more Reese’s.

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Bourbon, maple and bacon cupcake anyone?

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In case you can’t read these, it’s Mountain Dew & Dorito on the top. Cheerwine in the middle. and something with Nerds on the bottom.

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Plus they make their own cakes. These cakes are gorgeous. No cutting corners here.

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So for my visit which I dragged my awesome intern, Rodel, along with me, we were invited to try several of their holiday sweets. Oh my. They literally have something for everyone in their case just for the holidays!

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Here’s the tray we were provided when we arrived. Let’s just say our sweet tooth basically whimpered ‘uncle’ when we were done and all we did was take one or two bites out of each!

Everything was delicious though some I did enjoy more than others. As you’ll see, these were all their holiday/fall flavors, so everything we tasted had lots of pumpkin and spice involved.

If you need to pick something up for holiday party or just to pep up your office, I highly recommend 4Rivers Sweet Shop. It’s easy to stop in and quickly pick up a variety of treats.

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First up was the Pumpkin Bayou Bar. This has a pumpkin spice pecan short bread crust with a pumpkin cream cheese filling.

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This was thick but had light flavors. I highly recommend getting this to go, heating it in the microwave and enjoying with some vanilla bean ice cream.

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Next up was the Pumpkin Whoopie Pie. This is two pumpkin cakes sandwiched with pumpkin pie spice frosting and drizzled with white chocolate and toasted pecans.

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This was really tasty but the cake was slightly dry. Being a huge Reese’s fan that I am, I can only imagine how delicious that one is!

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The next item had definitely caught my eye from the beginning. It was HUGE. Literally 3-4 inches high and 5-6 inches wide. The Harvest Pumpkin Stack is made with pumpkin sponge cake with whipped mascarpone  filling with pumpkin pie spice topped with whip cream, caramel and toasted nuts.

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This appeared as if it would be solid and thick like a cake. Because it’s made from sponge cake, it was really light and fluffy with very light spice flavors. I really enjoyed this one!

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We also got to try their Pumpkin Cupcake which was available for a limited time for Halloween. This was made with pumpkin cake with cinnamon and nutmeg spices topped with house frosting to look like a pumpkin.

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This tasted like I was eating frosted gingerbread. Really moist and full of spice flavorings. If you’re a huge spice fan, this is definitely for you.

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Oh boy. It’s not the holidays without a slice of pumpkin pie but what about Pumpkin Pie Cheese Cake? This is made with a pecan ginger snap crust with sweet pumpkin cream cheese filling.

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I loved the pumpkin cream cheese filling but didn’t care for the crust. I felt it was too thick and took away from the flavors of the pie,

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This Pumpkin Cream bomb is a Pumpkin cupcake with vanilla bean mouse hidden inside. Then it’s frosted with pumpkin spice frosting with toasted pecans and caramel.

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Oh yeaaaah. I really just love these. I typically think cupcakes are too dry with too much frosting on top and took much cake on the bottom. 4 Rivers ‘bombs’ have a solution for this. The mousse in the middle is delicious and keeps the cupcakes from getting dry.

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Lastly we tried the Caramel Pumpkin Spice Cronut. Rodel was totally excited to get to try one of these. He’s a huge fan of cronuts.

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These are made with a cinnamon brown sugar pumpkin spice and drizzled with caramel.

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So the cronut which is a cross between a croissant and a donut had a nice doughey soft crunch to it. The cinnamon outside was delicious! I can definitely see why people are going crazy for these.

Have you ever tried a cronut before? Do you like them?

4 Rivers Smokehouse

17 Jun

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Now when I first heard 4 Rivers Smokehouse was coming to Jacksonville from Orlando, my first thoughts were “Oh great. Another bbq place?” We have Bonos, MOJOs, Monroe’s, Woodys, Driftwood, Jenkins, Sonny’s, The Pig, Sticky Fingers, Treemendous, Up In Smoke, Cattlemen’s, Shanes, and more.

As it got closer to 4 Rivers opening now that it was on my radar, I kept hearing people not just talk about it, but rave about it. Honestly, even with several people raving about it, my expectations weren’t that high. I expected the same quality I’ve had time and time again.

Boy, was I wrong.

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When you first arrive, you are greeted with the corrals to wait in line. It was incredibly busy when we went Friday around 6:30 pm. I heard it was even busier Saturday at dinner (rumor has it the line went outside and around the building). Now, typically when a new place opens in Jacksonville, it is quite busy for the first month or two but then it dies down. Looking at the length of their corral line, 4 Rivers does not expect things to be dying down anytime soon.

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When you first show up, you pick your entrée then your sides. They have quite an array of sides. Cornbread Salad, Fried Pickles, Mac & Cheese, Baked Cheese Grits, Smoked Jalapenos, BBQ Beans, Potato Salad, Corn, French Fries, Southern Green Beans, Collards, Coleslaw, Fried Okra, Texas Cornbread, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Bread Pudding.

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The seating area is really simple. There’s several community tables available and a few booths.

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For my entrée, I ordered a Classic Dinner Plate with Smokehouse Turkey (warm) which came with 3 sides and a biscuit. For my sides, I had to try their Mac & Cheese. I also ordered the bacon wrapped cream cheese stuffed jalapenos and bread pudding.Oof. It was a ridiculous amount of food!

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Adam ordered a Classic Dinner plate with pulled pork and prime rib and his sides were Mac & Cheese, Sweet Potatoes, and Collards.

The turkey was incredible. I’ve never had turkey at a BBQ joint that was actually moist, not dry. It was honestly the best I’ve had (that wasn’t home made).

The Mac & Cheese and the biscuit were both a huge disappointment. The Mac was watery and nothing special. The cheese didn’t seem real. I was really expecting a nice fluffy, flaky biscuit. It was actually chewy. Hmm.

I honestly didn’t realize I’d eaten the bread pudding until it was gone… it was that good. The bacon wrapped jalapenos were really good too. There must have been a seed in the second one still because wheeeew it was spicy!

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It was at this time, I looked up and realized there was a Sweet Shop in the corner. That was a surprise! I saw tons of people walk by mesmerized.

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Wow. What a spread!!

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I want to try one of everything (unless it has shredded coconut on it). Yummo!

Have you tried 4 Rivers Smokehouse yet? What’d you think?

 

 

4 Rivers Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

National Donut Day

7 Jun

For the two people that read my blog (besides me, I don’t count), you probably just cringed. I went right from National Running Day to National Donut Day. Kinda thinking now these two days should be reversed…

Since today is National Donut Day, you can enjoy a free donut of your choice (while supplies last) with any beverage purchase (any size or style) at Dunkin’ Donuts today only.

Plus Dunkin is celebrating on Twitter with a National Donut Day Twitter Sweepstakes. Follow @DunkinDonuts on Twitter. They’ll be tweeting a name and image of several innovative donut creations from around the world. Guess the country where the donut is available using the hashtag #DDonut to enter to win a $50 Dunkin’ donuts mGift. They’ll be awarding six total throughout the day. That’s a fun way to celebrate!

I, along with a good handful of other North Florida based bloggers, was invited to celebrate early yesterday at Dunkin Donuts. I am a huge fan of Dunkin Donuts, but I’m really all about the coffee. Enough, in fact, it’s what I brew at home even! When it comes to the food, I enjoy a bagel about once a month, and it’s usually just a plain bagel with plain cream cheese. Craziness!

Speaking of coffee, I started things off with a one of my own.

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And they brought out samples of their Baskin Robins mint chocolate chip flavored coffee. It was good, but I don’t care for flavored coffee. I don’t even like pumpkin coffee.

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We tried the turkey sausage breakfast sandwich.  (They gave us a small portion of it, not the whole sandwich. Thank god!)

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They have some new Bakery Sandwiches including the Ranch Bacon Chicken Sandwich. This was surprisingly good. I was expecting overpowering ranch flavors, but it was mild and blended in just as it should.

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We sampled a few of their frozen drinks, but I was a fan of their iced hot chocolate. This would be delicious after a hot, long run!

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They’ve also released new Summer Fruit Donuts to celebrate the season. This is the Lemonade donut. Looks so innocent…

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…until you bite into it and BAM! Lemonade flavoring. With the icing and toppings, it was more than just lemon flavored, it blended together to taste like lemonade. Very sweet!

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Their other Summer Fruit Donut is the Key Lime. This was definitely my favorite of the two because o the graham cracker topping.

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Of course their latest craze is their Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich which is a new permanent addition to the menu. Surprisingly only 360 calories, it features a fried egg and two slices of bacon between a sliced glazed donut. If you’re into salty/sweet combos, this MAY be for you. Some people from the group LOVED THIS, other’s weren’t sold on it. It didn’t seem as though anyone hated it though.

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Cross-section of the Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich.

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I was surprised (but yet, not surprised) to hear Dunkin occasionally gets special requests for parties, weddings and such. (It seems they make quite a few grooms cakes!) This fun creation was for a recent event. Check it out! A chocolate glazed donut inside of a sliced glazed donut with clever frosting to make it look like a burger! Too funny!

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I brought an extra one of these into work afterwards, and everyone thought it was hilarious.

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And of course, several Dunkin Donuts share space with Baskin Robins so an ice cream cake appeared! I absolutely LOVE ice cream cakes! Baskin Robins has some of the best too. I learned you can actually get custom ice cream cakes made however you want including the insides. If you want it all chocolate with sprinkles and no cake, they can do that. If you want half cake, half ice cream, you can specify the flavors for the cake and the ice cream. The only thing they ask is for 24-48 hours notice, though they’ll do what they can to make it work whenever possible.

Does the Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich sound yummy or gross to you? Would you have the guts to try it? If you do, let me know what you think!

Black Hog Farm-To-Door

7 Jun

I’ve been curious about the Black Hog Farm-to-Door program for quite a while. Recently a few friends of mine started the program (Megan, Lana, I’m lookin’ at you!), so I pulled up their website to learn a bit about it.

Black Hog is a local, North Florida based farm which offers all sorts of fruits, vegetables, eggs and proteins for sale.

Deliveries can include:

  • Fresh Produce
  • Free Range Chicken
  • Fresh farm Eggs
  • Naturally Raised Heritage Pork (including Berkshire, Tamworth and Large Black)
  • Naturally raised pastured Beef
  • Other quality local, regional and fresh Black Hog Farm approved products

Plus, they offer a subscription based program. You can subscribe to receive items on a weekly every-other-week or even specific week basis. They also offer a Farmer Box which is a random collection of fruits and veggies. You can pay a few bucks more and actually select up to 10 items to have in your box.

While it’s called Farm-to-Door, they don’t actually deliver to your door. It was a bit unclear. It sounds like it was a program that they’re no longer accepting new clients for and they’re phasing it out. Now the program has evolved so you pickup your order on a designated day at the local YMCA. On Sunday I signed up for the every-other-week Farmers Box, and today was my pickup day. After work I headed to Brooks YMCA and picked up my selection of goods. (Actually I drove halfway home then I remembered, drove back and picked up my box.)

Update 6/14/2013

My friend emailed Black Hog for information on her own and they told her the following. 

We are still doing Farm to Door home delivery to most areas of Jacksonville. The pick up at your local Y does allows you to have more choices in customizing your order by using our new web site. Home delivery Members from the intercostal east are also able to order off the site. All other home delivery orders are made by email.

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When I got home, I explored my goods. I had selected to order a dozen eggs, 1 pound breakfast sausage and 1 pound ground beef. Plus I ordered a Farmers Choice box. I was feeling risky on Sunday when I submitted my order, so I let Black Hog decide what to send me. I didn’t give them any specifications on what to leave out, but you do have the option. Here’s what came in my box:

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 4 peaches
  • 4 oranges
  • 1 bag romaine
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 bag spinach
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 bag mushrooms

Ha! I’m actually allergic to mushrooms. Oops. Regardless, I’d say for $25, I got a pretty good box. The ground beef, sausage and eggs were extra.

Have you ever ordered a protein/produce delivery like this?

Tips and Tricks to The Players

25 Apr

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It’s almost time! Yup, time for the two weeks of the year I get excited about GOLF! I’m a “fair weather fan” of almost all sports, but definitely cannot claim to have any knowledge of any specific sport (aside from soccer)! The Players Championship is one of the biggest events of the year in Jacksonville, and I do look forward to it every year.

Every year The Players Championship steps things up a notch from the previous year, and anything is game. One year they even moved the tournament from March to May to improve it. Over the past few years, they’ve worked hard at improving the guest experience with better facilities and food options. This year, they’ve expanded upon this even further. I was recently invited to a private blogger event to showcase some of the new features that will be available to attendees at this year’s The Players Championship.

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The first improvement we face-planted jumped right into was the food! The Players has expanded beyond the typical chili cheese dog found at typical sporting events, but have no fear, I’m told they are still available at some concessions if that’s what you’re really craving. (or if you need to quickly sober up a drunken friend). For starters, their Food Court offerings include items from Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q, Brucci’s Pizza, Firehouse Subs (yummo!), MShack, Tropical Smoothie Cafe and more. Not bad, I’d say!

Over the past few years, special areas have been created to give attendees somewhere to gather and chat set back from the actual course. It still gave the attendee the ability to see some of the game play and enjoy the beautiful course all while also having access to upgraded food and drink options as well as restrooms. The Patio debuted in the 2011 Players, offers a shaded area with open-air seating where you can chat with friends while keeping up with the game on a giant video board. There’s also food and drinks available to purchase and permanent restrooms. Hello! Permanent restrooms can be hard to find out there, so they’re DEFINITELY worth mentioning!

After the success of The Patio, The Players expanded in 2012 to add The Oasis and Wine & Dine on 9. All of which are open to general attendees, no VIP pass required at these locations! The Oasis even offers air-conditioned viewing and signature cocktails for those 21 and over. I’m also told this year there will be an outdoor patio overlooking the No. 9 tee.

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If you ask my friends, I was all about the Wine & Dine last year (pictured above). I’d heard the buzz about it and just knew I had to check it out. Once I did, it was hard to get me to leave. Wine & Dine offers upgraded dining selections from Matthew Medure, one of North Florida’s most renowned chefs, as well as a BERINGER Wine Bar. (I bet you can tell why I was so adamant about heading there.. it wasn’t for the food).

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Honestly, it wasn’t 100% the alcohol, the food or the fact that there were chairs to sit on… it was the view. It was just nice and peaceful. The weather was wonderful too. It was relaxing to sit with great friends, enjoy a few drinks and catch up.

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…aaaaand maybe the view of the blimp ahead was pretty cool too. The pergola’s really added some ambiance. New this year to Wine & Dine on 9 are the permanent restrooms right next door. No portolets here, ladies!

In addition to these facilities, they’ve also added the the Taste of JAX which is also open to general admission guests offering options from local restaurants like Indochine, Metro Diner, and Pele’s Wood Fire. Niiiice! There will also be a bar, upgraded restrooms, and videoboards. This is also where you will find Club 1791, an indoor cool zone.

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Click the map above for a PDF file with a detailed map and descriptions of each of the food locations.

 

Now that you’re all caught up on some of this year’s improvements, let’s move onto THE FOOD PARADE!

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We we arrived for the event, we were ushered via golf cart to an area they preset for us. This area actually happens to be the same area as The Patio during the players (but it wasn’t all setup like it will be during the players).

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When we arrived, we were offered a selection of beverages similar to the ones that will be available during this year’s event at most concession stands. They’re trying hard to cater to requests by fans to offer more healthy and alternative dining options including vegetarian and gluten-free items. This also included the beverage selection which included your typical beer and wines but also Omission. Based out of Portland, OR, Omission is one of the first gluten-free beers I’ve ever tried that actually TASTES like a beer (without the bloat). The reason it tastes so great and not like cider like most gluten-free beers? Omission is actually made with traditional beer ingredients, including malted barley with the gluten magically removed. If you find yourself the opportunity, give Omission a taste. You might be surprised yourself!

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The first items up to taste were three sandwiches pictured above. From left to right they are Chick’n Salad, Avocado Power Lunch, and the BSR Sandwich. One thing to note is everything was served in bite size portions (or we would blow up like Violet Beauregarde!) so some of these items may be presented slightly differently than they will be at The Players.

All three of these were good. The Chick’n Salad was a nice surprised because it’s actually vegan being made out of chick peas instead of chicken. I loved that they snuck some celery in there too (just the right amount). I’m a huge fan of Avocado, so the Avocado Power Lunch was tasty. It’s served on a gluten-free bun which was pretty crumbly. It was a bit messy and might be a bit difficult to eat walking around on the course…buuuut that might all depend no how it’s actually served. If it’s wrapped up in paper of some sort, it might stay together more easily. Lastly, the BSR Sandwich was their take on a BLT but with Turkey Bacon. This too was tasty (but I’m not on the Turkey Bacon train. Gimme the real stuff).

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Lastly we sampled three more items. Clockwise from the upper left below, we tried  THE PLAYERS Signature Item, Mayport Shrimp and Grits with Fried Green Tomato,  the Steak Sandwich with Grilled Onions, the BLT with Turkey Bacon, and a Black Bean Patty Melt.

Below is a photo showing how the Shrimp and Grits will actually be presented to give you an idea of the portion size. If you’re a fan of shrimp & grits, this is definitely something you might enjoy. It’s served with Black Eyed Peas and Ham Grits. I loved the addition of the Black Eyed Peas and the fact you get a whole fried green tomato as well. I personally didn’t try the Skirt Stake, so I can’t offer any feedback on that. The Bubba Turkey Burger was pretty much just that. a BUBBA Turkey Burger. The last item, the Black Bean Patty Melt, sorta stole the show. It was a grilled black bean burger (which wasn’t mealy like some black bean burgers can be), with caramelized onions and soy cheese on a Whole Wheat Bun. This was tasty, but I personally don’t care for soy. If they server this with regular cheese, I just might snatch one up when I’m there.

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I think that looks pretty tasty! I like that it’s a long rectangular plate. It also will come with a clear plastic cover too.

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After the food parade, we took a golf cart ride around the grounds and chatted about a few of the tips and improvements they have with traffic and parking this year.

I’ll be honest, this is actually a tip I don’t want you to know. In fact, I highly recommend you continue on as lemmings and try to access Sawgrass by driving south down A1A. Why’s that? Because the way I get there is a breeze and I don’t want that to change!! In fact, last year, we met our friends Jimmy & Blakeley at THE PLAYERS. We both left our houses at the same time. They drove down A1A, and we went came from the south. We literally waited on them for 30 minutes after we parked. PLUS it’s just such an easier drive. No stop and go. Smooth sailing almost all the way there.

What is this magical route, you ask?   Use CR210/Nocatee Parkway.

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I know for some of you this might not make sense. You’d be going waaaay out of you way to access this, but it just might be easier than sitting in that bumper to bumper traffic.

Now, knowing that.. THIS tip will save you some money. THE PLAYERS have a new “Four for Free” policy which allows cars with four or more guests per vehicle to park for FREE Thursday through Sunday. You DO need to download a parking voucher online at www.PGATOUR.COM/theplayers (click on the “Tickets” tab),  in advance which allows free parking in the general lot off of CR210.

And one lasssst tip for you JUST from me. There’s an Irish bar called Mulligans Pub, in Sawgrass Village just outside the gates for THE PLAYERS. When you’ve had enough fun in the sun and golf for the day, they have happy hour daily from 3 – 9 p.m including half price domestic draft beer, house wines, and well drinks AND happy hour apps. (see below for those)

Happy Hour Apps

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Here’s to a great upcoming week at The Players!

Do you plan to attend this year? 

 

 

Mulligans Pub on Urbanspoon

Firehouse Subs – Meet the Founders Dinner (and a giveaway!)

22 Apr

Recently, I was invited to attend a special dinner with Firehouse Subs called “Meet the Founders”.

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At the event, we had the opportunity to hear both, Chris & Robin Sorensen, aka the founders, tell the Firehouse Subs story. If you’ve heard a Firehouse Subs radio or TV commercial, these are “the guys” with the incredibly recognizable voices. It was a fun night where we had the opportunity to learn about what makes Firehouse Subs superior to other sub locations. Back in 1994 Firehouse Subs was founded by the two firefighting brothers who strive hard to provide quality over quantity. In fact they even serve high quality meat (USDA Choice) that’s never frozen and sliced daily.

Knowing this, let’s get to the Food! I had the opportunity to try three different subs at Firehouse. This was actually a big deal to me because I’ve only ever ordered one sub at Firehouse, The Italian. It was amazing, so I never tried to order anything else.

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They started the sub parade with their new Smokehouse Beef and Cheddar. This was seriously good, saucy, and cheesy. The Smokehouse Beef and Cheddar is made with USDA Choice beef brisket smoked over hickory for 16+ hours, then smothered in melted cheddar and Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce.

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Next we enjoyed New York Steamer Sub made with corned beef brisket, pastrami, melted provolone, mustard, mayo, and Italian dressing.

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Lastly, we each got an Italian, my absolute favorite sub of all time in the whole wide world. Stuffed with genoa salami, pepperoni, ham, melted provolone, Italian dressing and seasonings. What makes this soooooo good? They steam the meat and the cheese while they’re toasting the bread. (Not to mention all the other good stuff in there)

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We also had the chance to try the Hook and Ladder. Unfortunately, I professed my love to the Italian too long, so I missed out on trying this one.

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One of the best things of the visit (aside from meeting the Founders and trying all the different subs) is they gave us some gift cards to share the love of Firehouse with our friends and readers! I set aside 3 $10 gift cards to giveaway.

To enter this giveaway, simply comment on this post, telling me which Firehouse Sub is your favorite and how you like it? Fully involved?

I will randomly select a winner on Monday, April 29.

**I was provided free sampling and gift cards from Firehouse Subs. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by Firehouse Subs** 

Firehouse Subs on Urbanspoon

Bahama Breeze

17 Apr

This past weekend, we headed to Bahama Breeze to check out some of their new menu changes. We were recently invited to check out their new late night happy hour as well as their rice bowls.

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True, it wasn’t actually late night happy hour when we went… soooo… lets play pretend, ok?

Now, back to the good stuff.

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Bahama Breeze is now offering a second happy hour Sunday through Thursday from 9pm to close. (Their typical happy hour is Monday – Friday from 4 – 6 pm)

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Their happy hours include special drink prices like 14 oz beers for $2, 20 oz beers for $3 and bottles for $3. Plus they also offer special prices on wine, Specialty Drinks and spirits.

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Know what else makes their happy hour special? They also offer 1/2 price appetizers as well…and it’s not a short list!

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With that said, we started off with two Aruba Reds. These are an American Amber, Red Lager brewed exclusively for Bahama Breeze by Budweiser.  I can definitely see myself enjoying some of these during a happy hour out on their patio.

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We started off with a few apps. I’d already tried their coconut shrimp on a previous visit, so I decided to try their Skillet Simmered Jerk Chicken.

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This was good, but not exactly what I expected. (I hate tail on shrimp… ) Let me tell you though, that innocent white bag? It held a beautifully warm, slightly crunchy yet soft loaf of the most amazing cuban bread. Seriously, sooo good.

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We also ordered the Warm Goat Cheese and Flat Bread Crisps.

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These were delicious! I mean, it’s goat cheese, how could I NOT like it, right?

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When you run out of crisps, you can just cut up the pepper and eat it that way. (It was also good smeared on the cuban bread from the other app)

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Next we each tried a different rice bowl. Adam ordered the Chipotle Beef.

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I ordered the Carnitas. I looooove Chipotle hard, so these were right up my alley. I liked that they offer many flavor options, so it’s not just the traditional rice bowl w/ chicken, pico, guacamole, and sour cream.

There’s shrimp bowls, Asian flavored bowls, and even chicken curry. Plus, they use basmati rice or yellow rice depending on the dish. Definitely mixes things up a bit.

If you’re looking for a good happy hour place or even just a place for lunch (Bahama Breeze now offers 20 entrees under $10 at lunch which these rice bowls qualify) or dinner, I recommend Bahama Breeze. Their prices for happy hour were very affordable, and their new rice bowls offer many tasty options.

 

**Bahama Breeze hosted us for dinner in exchange for my honest opinions. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own and not influenced by Bahama Breeze.**

 

Bahama Breeze on Urbanspoon

The Happy Grilled Cheese

1 Mar

Now I know this post is slightly skewed. I mean, typically when I face plant a grilled cheese, it’s on a late Friday/early Saturday morning after a successful night out with friends at the bars. Let me tell you, ever grilled cheese I make at this time is absolutely ah-maze-ing. So, when I visited The Happy Grilled Cheese on my lunch break this past week, I, unfortunately, was work-day sober, but I will do my best to provide accurate feedback of my visit!

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I had been waiting for at least a month for this Food Truck to open, so when I heard they were holding their opening day at Nova Southeastern University not even 5 minutes away from my work, I knew exactly where I would be headed for lunch that day!

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First things first? I scanned their menu to try and figure out what I wanted to order. Typically I would order the ‘classic’ of whatever they server to try a new place for the first time, which in this case would be the Happy Melt. I just felt like I wanted a little something more, so I had my taste buds set on the All American Melt with American Cheese, Bacon & Tomato and the Homemade Chips topped with Beer Cheese.

I do want to reiterate that I was there OPENING DAY. Any restaurant typically stumbles a little so keep any negative comments I may mention as constructive feedback. SPOILER ALERT: I enjoyed my visit.

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I was glad to see when I got there, they weren’t out of anything yet. (This can sometimes be an issue with popular food trucks because they just don’t have space to carry enough of everything and often sell out of their most popular items well before quittin’ time)

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It was nice that they setup some folding tables and chairs, although when it was my turn, they were all claimed. (FYI, if you’re entire party hasn’t arrived yet, let other people sit down. don’t save the whole table. By the time they got their food, I was done eating mine. Rant over.)

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Everything came out fresh. It was a little difficult carrying the cup of beer cheese in one hand with the sandwich in the other because the beer cheese was a little messy. (When is it not?)

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Ahh, that’s better. They should really push the chips on top of each other and stash the cup of beer cheese in the basket with the sandwich and chips!

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The chips had a good crunch to them. The beer cheese was definitely a good pairing. I personally wasn’t a huge fan of the chips. To me, they tasted overcooked and burnt BUUUUT I think it’s also me. I think these type of chips are SUPPOSED to taste this way kinda like 5 Guys french fries tasted (which I also do not like).

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The grilled cheese? Oh yeah. This was good stuff. It was cheesy, bacony goodness. It was a bit more bready than I would typically go for, but overall, it was good.  One thing I loved? The tomatoes were sliced so incredibly thin. Typically on cheesy sandwiches like this, they slide all over because the tomatoes are too thick and watery. These tomatoes did not take center stage on this sandwich.

The next sandwich I think I’ll try would be Porky The Melt with American, Cheddar, Bacon, Ham, Pulled Pork, Caramelized Onions, and Tomato.

Are you a fan of grilled cheese sandwiches? What on their menu would you want to try?

Happy Grilled Cheese on Urbanspoon

Brio Tuscan Grille

15 Feb

A little while ago, Adam and I were invited to check out Brio Tuscan Grille which opened a few months ago in St. Johns Town Center. We were really impressed with the décor, service, and food offerings, so I thought I’d share some thoughts from our visit.

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When we first arrived, there was a short wait for a table, so we went to the bar to grab a drink while we waited. Immediately I noticed these really cool outdoor lounge areas. I could totally see us relaxing here at happy hour with some friends. It was definitely an inviting area.

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We were seated really quickly in the dining area. They really only have one dining room, and be forewarned… it’s loud. If they made one improvement, it would definitely be to install some sort of sound absorbing tiles on the ceiling or something.

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First up, bread plate.

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Next? Adam is a “Calamari Connoisseur” so we HAD to get that next. OK, not really. He just really likes good Calamari, so we try it everywhere. I guess I’m similar in the likes of anything cheese. Cheeeeeese! [drool] Brio’s Calamari Fritto Misto did not disappoint. It was lightly fried, not bouncy (my biggest complaint), and the two sauces complimented it well.

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I don’t usually order soup at restaurants, but I enjoy a good bisque. Seeing they had a Lobster Bisque, I immediately wanted to try it. Adam and I split a bowl, which Brio happily divided for us without complaint. It was so creamy and tasty. I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t overly salty either.  Only thing I didn’t care for was the bowl it was served in. It was almost like a claw foot tub (in form, not size!) and where the little feet on the bottom are, there are little divots which make it impossible to get EVERY LAST DROP.

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I have no idea, but when it came time to check out the menu, my eyes immediately narrowed to the Sweet Potato & Chicken Risotta. I’ve sadly never had Risotto before (time to crawl out from under this rock..eh?). Something about the combination of pancetta, chicken, sweet potatoes, and asparagus seemed tempting.

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Adam went back and forth between a few different items, but eventually settled on the Roasted Lamp Chops.

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Zooohmyyygod. Yes, it was really good. Almost like a comforting chicken and dumpling type stew, just slightly different flavors. I’ve been back to Brio a handful of times since, and I just enjoyed this dish so much, I cannot branch off and try anything else.

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Here’s Adam’s Roasted Lamb Chops. I managed to sneak in a picture before he snarfed them all up.

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When we arrived, I’d mentioned to our server we were there celebrating Adam’s birthday, and at dessert time, they surprised us with one of their Dolchinos which are smaller samplings of their full-size Chef’s Favorites desserts.

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They definitely have a dessert selection for sharing! At the bottom is the BRIO’S Dessert Trio which includes their Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake, Crème Brulee, and Butterscotch Pecan Bread Pudding (yuuum!).

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Adam went right for the cheesecake, which is a bit different than traditional cheesecake. It’s topped with caramelized sugar, which gives the outside of the cheesecake more of a Crème Brulee experience.  The outside had a slightly crunchy exterior, but when eating it, melted in your mouth as cheesecake should. I snuck a few bites and was a big fan of this dessert.

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I go crazy over anything brownie and ice cream, so I went right for the Torta Di Cioccolata. This is essentially chocolate cake with an almost brownie consistency with a gooey center topped with Vanilla Bean Gelato and chocolate syrup.

Let’s just say, we ran the entire next week just off the sugar high alone!

We had an entirely delicious time, and will definitely return again.

 

Brio Tuscan Grille on Urbanspoon

Maple Street Biscuit Company

17 Dec

So for once, Adam made it to a brand spankin’ new restaurant before I did. The nerve, right?

Sometimes not working downtown really stinks. He loved his first visit to Maple Street Biscuit Company so much, he was sweet enough to drag me there the following weekend. It wasn’t a big surprise (to me, at least) that I was pretty skeptical about a place that serves biscuits. The skepticism was really just the over-pouring jealousy clouding my vision.

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So that morning we went on our team training run in preparation for the Ragnar Relay and headed to Maple Street to refuel. Believe me, after that bridge, I needed a biscuit or two or four or six.

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When we walked in, I was a little overwhelmed with their menu. I knew exactly what I wanted, I just needed to find it on there! Their menu is made up of unique names like The Ralphie or The Reinhold, so it’s helpful to read through the entire description of the menu item to figure out what it really is.

When we went to order, they actually recognized Adam and remembered that when he was in earlier that week, they were out of what he originally wanted to order, the pepper jelly. They let him know they had it in stock that day. It was just a little gesture, but it really won him over. It really just goes to show how friendly everyone is there.

When you go to order, you don’t give your first name for them to track your order. The first time we were there, we were asked for our favorite Band Name. The second time I went, they asked our favorite 80s TV show. Be aware, whatever the question of the day is, will be what they’ll be calling out for everyone to hear.

One tip is to pay attention so you can overhear the register ask the group ahead of you in line the question. This will give you an extra second to think of something so you don’t blurt out the first embarrassing thing that comes to mind. I honestly feel this is really awkward because I feel everyone is judging my “Huey Lewis” and “Silver Spoons” responses. (Adam didn’t know what Silver Spoons was?!?) I know I’m totally overreacting though. Also, don’t be that jerk that think’s it’s super funny to get everyone to say the same thing. All this does is make things more difficult as everyone gets hungrier waiting for their food. I actually prefer to hearing them call out the different band names or TV shows rather than someone yell out everyone’s first name over and over. I seem to be able to tune out a tv show or a rock band, but hearing “jessica…. jessica…” repeated just sticks in the back of my mind and interrupts my focus from my food.

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Ahh. Exactly what I needed. I ended up with The Ralphie, which is a fancy term for biscuits and sausage gravy. They also add “a kick” to theirs which I, of course, was skeptical of. In fact, “the kick” turns their gravy a slight pink color, which is really weird at first. After a few bites though, you totally won’t care. It’s delicious and “the kick” really, REALLY adds some good flavors to the dish. I could eat a whole bucket full of this stuff. (but then again, I’d have to run that bridge a bazillion times if I did that).

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Adam ordered the Squawk on the Street which is a biscuit, fried chicken breast, and the homemade pepper jelly (that they were out of the first time he went). He proclaimed it as very tasty. The pepper jelly added a sweet, not spicy flavor to the sandwich.

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The second time (Adam’s third visit) we went, Adam was on a mission. He knew what he was ordering before we even stepped in the door! He immediately ordered The Five and Dime which is a biscuit, fried chicken, bacon and cheese topped with choice of gravy and a fried egg. He proclaimed it an epiphany of goodness in his face. His words, not mine. I think that means he liked it.

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I just got The Five so this was a biscuit, fried chicken, bacon and cheese topped with choice of gravy. aka same epiphany as Adam, but no extra egg. This was good, but I could have left off the chicken. It was flavorful and good, but I could take it or leave it. I think it’s just not my thing. You might still think it’s fabulous. It really hit the spot though. Seriously delicious after a good weekend long run.

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Did you catch on that I thought everyone that worked there was friendly? I thought this sign really demonstrated how over-the-top friendly they were.

When we went the first weekend, we ran into our friends Ron and Tiffany and even Kerry. When we went this past weekend, we ran into Caron. It’s definitely a place you’ll run into people. They even have a big community table which makes it easy to meet up with a group of people if you’d like.

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For some reason, we completely missed the coffee hot-bar the first weekend. Caron pointed it out and talked highly of the Maple Tap. I’m not typically a huge fan of maple stuff, but Adam tried a cup.

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I went right for the Dark Bark. I really like bold coffee, so there was no reason for me to divert from what I typically like. Their Dark Bark was tasty. I tried the Maple Tap as well, and it was surprisingly good. It wasn’t too strong on the maple, just right.

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Oh.. and I caught them making the biscuits. Actually, it seems like they’re always making fresh biscuits. In case you doubted the authenticity of their biscuits..

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They’re rollin’ out the dough right up front for everyone to see. (I’m not really sure there’s counter space anywhere else for them TO make the biscuits!)

We really enjoy Maple Street Biscuit Company. I see this giving Bagel Love a good run for it’s money for our post-run breakfasts.

Maple Street Biscuit Company on Urbanspoon

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