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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Winter Vacation Highlights (3)

Our winter vacation is all about rest, relaxation and sun but this year we had a slightly extended agenda so the entire trip was a bit different. Much of our time was spent on the grounds of Cypress Lakes. We met up with friends the day after arriving and arranged to get together throughout the week. They are Canadian snowbirds who live in the Lakeland area from November to April. As a result three of our dinners were away from the Big Cypress Grill. On the Monday of our vacation we met with our friends for happy hour and they suggested eating dinner at Red Lobster.

Lobster Tank

When we are on vacation we prefer eating at unique restaurants but Red Lobster is one chain restaurant I don't mind going to on occasion. Honestly it has been almost four years since we ate at a Red Lobster! I only remember that because I scrapbooked the special occasion. Their food is fairly good, the prices are decent and the staff is always friendly.

The large lobster tank is the first sight to greet you when you enter a Red Lobster. I have to tell you I love lobster! Heavy rubber bands on the claws prevent the lobsters from fighting with each other as well as pinching the cook when being handled. Something you may not know is lobsters stop eating once they are caught. This results in weight loss and is one reason that unless there is a high turn over of lobster at the grocery store, frozen lobster may be a better deal. When using fresh lobster buy as close to being caught as possible. Fresh caught lobster is available for ordering online with next day delivery if you want as fresh as possible.

Berry Mango Delight

Strawberries were in season in the Lakeland area of Florida during our stay. They were huge, firm, sweet berries with a heavenly fresh strawberry aroma! Not only did we enjoy eating fresh strawberries, my husband enjoyed them in this fancy mixed drink. The Berry Mango Delight is a frozen combination of Bacardi rum and tropical mangoes swirled and topped with sweet, blended strawberries. The large cocktail served in pilsner glass was every bit as pretty as pictured in the menu! I had a sip and was pleasantly surprised at the cool, sweet flavour and creamy texture.

Mango and strawberry would be a lovely combination for a fruit smoothie sans the rum. A little rum extract would give the flavour of the rum to highlight the mango and strawberry flavours without the alcohol. I think a sprig of mint or splash of lime would add a lovely flavour as well in place of the rum. One thing to consider when seeing these types drinks on the menu is there are usually non-alcoholic versions available for those who want a fancier type cocktail without the alcohol.

Lobster Pizza

It's always nice to start an evening out with an appetizer. An appetizer sets the mood and gets the conversation going while waiting for the main course. One consistent problem we've found with appetizers is they tend to be a bit on the heavy, filling side.

We ordered the lobster pizza ($8.99) for the appetizer. This is a crisp thin-crust pizza topped with langostino lobster meat, melted mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes and sweet basil. The pizza served 4 easily with two good sized pieces each which was almost too much. The topping combination was quite lovely! This would be an easy to duplicate appetizer at home but I would cut the pizza into smaller wedges or even make the pizza rectangular then cut into squares for serving. The toppings would also be a nice combination for bruschetta or even crackers.

Island Citrus Rum Shrimp & Scallops

Dinner entrées include a tossed salad or coleslaw and biscuits. My husband ordered the island citrus rum shrimp & scallops ($17.50). The meal consisted of two skewers of jumbo shrimp and a skewer of sea scallops, grilled over a wood fire and topped with a spiced citrus-rum sauce. The shrimp & scallops were served over a bed of wild rice pilaf, a baked potato and asparagus. I thought the presentation of this dish was quite nice.

Scallops and shrimp are my husband's favourite seafood. He liked the way these were prepared and the sauce was quite tasty. This would be a nice sauce to duplicate at home especially as a shrimp dipping sauce. The wild rice pilaf would be another nice dish to duplicate at home.

Tilapia

I love fish and this vacation I was in the mood for fish! I ordered the half portion of wood-grilled tilapia ($10.99) served with a baked potato and steamed broccoli. Wood-grilling gave the nice sized piece of lightly seasoned tilapia a lovely flavour. The potato had been oiled then rubbed with sea salt. While we use sea salt on a daily basis, I found the skin too salty to eat. The broccoli was also seasoned with a herbed salt blend. Overall the meal was average.

There are three parts to eating in any restaurant and while the quality of food is primary, both service and atmosphere are important factors. Unfortunately the waitress forgot our salads! We thought he would bring them after the appetizer but he brought the hot food instead. About half way through the meal we realized he still hadn't brought the salads. In general the food was good but not outstanding, the atmosphere was nice, the waiter was friendly but forgetful. Overall what really made the meal was sharing it with friends.


2 food lovers commented:

Audrey said...

That Berry Mango delight looks yummy!! Would be great when sitting on the deck some summer evening!

Garden Gnome said...

It sure would be lovely sitting and enjoying a nice warm summer day while sipping on this beautiful drink. We just need this copious amount of snow and cold to go away!