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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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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Winter Vacation Highlights (5)

We met up with our friends Wednesday afternoon for another fun filled afternoon of sightseeing. I mentioned happy hour in one of the other highlights. A very popular social activity for those vacationing in Florida is to meet for happy hour. At one time almost all restaurants and bars had happy hour at some point through the day. That has changed now with the worsening economy but still a good portion of them still offer it. Happy hour usually includes certain beers, house wine and bar drinks either at a greatly reduced rate or two for one. Our friends suggested we go to Chili's Bar & Grill for dinner. We agreed since we had never tried a Chili's Bar & Grill before so it would be interesting to see what the atmosphere, service and food was like. This is a chain restaurant specializing in Tex-Mex foods. For those interested, the Chili's Bar & Grill in Lakeland has happy hour all day, every day.

Fajita Trio

My husband is not a huge fan of Tex-Mex especially if it is strongly seasoned. It is not so much the heat of the seasonings as it is the flavour of the seasonings used that he doesn't care for. He ordered the Fajita Trio ($14.69). The meal consisted of tender grilled steak, marinated grilled chicken and spicy garlic & lime grilled shrimp on a bed of sautéed onions and bell peppers. The toppings included a fresh tomato salsa, sour cream, guacamole, shredded lettuce and shredded cheese. The hot tortilla shells were served in a tortilla warmer.

This was a good choice for my husband as nothing was really heavily seasoned. He asked the waiter to omit the bell peppers but the waiter forgot. The shrimp had a lovely flavour that he found agreeable despite being labeled as spicy. The fresh salsa had cilantro as an ingredient that he did not care for so he picked out the tomatoes for on his fajitas.

Comment: A good waiter or waitress makes sure the customer gets exactly what they want. Even if the kitchen sends out the dish incorrectly a good waiter or waitress will catch the error before it gets to the customer and correct it. In this case either the waiter did not place the order correctly or did not catch the error. There are two ways of dealing with this kind of situation. If the error is totally unacceptable, politely tell the waiter or waitress the problem and ask for the problem to be corrected. It would have to be a huge error for us to ever do this! If the error is minor but not what you wanted you can tell the waiter and waitress as well as reflect your dissatisfaction in the tip left. The current standard for tipping in restaurants is 15%. If the service is above average you can tip higher. If the service is less than average tip less with or without an explanation but do not be insulting. Insulting would be leaving a penny for a tip or leaving no tip, being polite but effective would be reducing the tip left to 10%. Many chain restaurants have surveys online where you can rate your food and service as well so do be sure to use that. The final method if you are really upset is to voice your displeasure directly to management. In this case we simply left a tip of 10%.

Southwest Cedar Plank Tilapia

I ordered the southwest cedar plank tilapia ($11.59) continuing on my fish theme. This meal consisted of a seasoned grilled tilapia fillet topped with chimichurri (cilantro, garlic & lime) sauce and house-made pico de gallo served on a cedar plank. Sides were rice and seasonal veggies. The cedar plank gave a lovely flavour to the tilapia that would be easy to duplicate on a home grill. I found the seasonings overall a bit strong but in fairness my mouth was very sensitive that day from the starts of a cold sore* that morning and that definitely affected my sense of taste. Still the seasoning on the tilapia could have been toned down just a little allowing the flavour of the fish to shine a bit more. I really did like the rice. It was seasoned as well with pieces of corn and carrot in it so that will be one side I try duplicating at home. I also liked the chimichurri so will be trying that at home as well. It's very much like pesto except using cilantro instead of basil.

One of the nice things about eating out is trying new dishes as well as seeing how they are prepared or presented. A few years ago I tried cooking salmon on a cedar plank. I followed all the instructions but when it started charring I gave up, removed the plank then finished the fish on the grill. I now see that the plank was supposed to be charred! You can bet I will be experimenting with grilling fish on a cedar plank as soon as the weather turns warmer.

*I awoke in the middle of the night with a searing pain in my lip. By morning there was a blister so we headed into the drug store. I have never had a cold sore in my life so this was not anything I had dealt with but let me tell you they are not pleasant! It even affected my stomach and as of typing this post today (January 23) I'm still experiencing the end effects.


3 food lovers commented:

tejo said...

I haven't commented before, but I check your blog often. Cold sores are horrible - peanuts or peanut oil can cause a flareup- if you get another one definitely go to the doc to get antiviral drugs, it cuts the length of the outbreak by DAYS! Mine are so bad I can't use 1/2 of my mouth. Thankfully - they are few and far between. You can use Lysine (by the vitamins) to cut the severity and length also.

Garden Gnome said...

Thanks so much for the tips! This was my first cold sore [imagine at my age] and it was not a pleasant experience! One site said that sun exposure can trigger the inactive virus to become active so I'm will be making sure I wear sunblock on my lips as well. Again thank-you.

CookinsForMe said...

I had Chili's Southwest Tilapia for the first time tonight and oh my, was it great! I thought the seasoning could have been a little heavier but it was very good. However, I didn't have it served on a plank and when I asked the waiter about it he said, "We aren't doing that anymore." Hmmph! Oh well, I'd like to know how that tilapia was seasoned and I'm going to make some of that chimichurri, also. It was very good!