Saturday, December 18, 2010

Just Pizza

A new kid on the block, Just Pizza opened recently in Sanford near the Seminole Town Center Mall. They were giving out samples as the last Alive After Five in Sandford, and it was good. So my friend Tommy and I decided to give them a try on a recent Friday evening.

Just Pizza is franchise operation. They have over 75 varieties of pizza as well as subs, tacos, and other fare. They also server beer at this location, and not just any beer, they have a nice little selection of really good beer (I had a Dogfish 60-minute IPA--well, OK, i actually had two!). You order at the counter and they bring it out to you. They also have a drive-thru so you can order ahead and pickup, and also advertise delivery.

When we walked in, it was fairly busy. I did notice a number of empty tables in need of cleaning and in fact no really clean tables. We ended up sitting at one that was in pretty decent shape, but I really think they need to pay more attention to the tables.

The young man at the counter was very friendly and outgoing and based on a few things we said, recommended we get the Hollywood Pizza--a traditional red (tomato sauce) pizza with double cheese, double sausage, double meatballs, and double pepperoni. We did and sat down to wait.

Our wait for the pizza was a good 20 minutes but then again, it was fresh made and had a lot of ingredients. The pizza itself was good and I'd go back but I also have a few complaints.

First off, what we ordered had a lot of toppings and so was very thick and heavy. In retrospect, I'd order somethign with less toppings next time. It was just too much to eat and because it was so thick, i think it could have cooked just a bit longer, the cheese was melted but could have been browned just a bit more--yes, a minor point.

It should have been cut better. It was not cut all the way through. The utensils they provided were very flimsy plastic forks and plastic knives. We really had to fight to cut the first slice--it's not easy to battle with hot pizza in need of cutting with inferior utentils.

Of course, it was also a bit hard to eat, partly because it was so thick. It was hard to cut with fork and knife and messy to pick up. 

However, that said, it was still pretty good pizza. We ordered the medium and only managed to eat half of it. I think it will be much better the next day when we reheat it on a pizza stone and cut it properly.

I will go back to Just Pizza. I want to try jsut a simple basic sausage or pepperoni pizza, to see how good they can be. So, for now I'll recommend them and tell you to give them a try! They are a new place and may need a bit of fine-tuning yet--like paying better attention to the dining area. In fairness, a bit later when it was less busy, they did get the dining area cleaned and we did have someone check on us later and ask how it was.
Just Pizza on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stone's Throw Bistro

After a recent Groupon was offered for Stone's Throw Bistro (pay $20 for a $40 gift certificate), my friend Tommy and I once again went to what is one of the best restaurants around. We were not disappointed--we had an outstanding meal.

At Stones Throw Bistro, calling ahead for reservations is always recommended. They specialize in the freshest of ingredients and to keep prices down, the run along a narrow line of availability. So if you don't have a reservation and have more than just a few in your party, you might be out of luck. But we called ahead and had a reservation, and the meal was out of this world.

We started with the Shrimp and Grits. Without a doubt, this was the best shrimp n grits I've ever had. A nearby restaurant was my previous first place in this dish, but the Shrimp N Grits here was truly outstanding. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and the creamy smoked gouda and bacon grits had a nice and gentle heat about them--perhaps it was the chipotle hollandaise--but I'm not sure what gave them the heat, but it was a warm and fuzzy type of heat. I'd order this as an entree, it was so good.

Along with our meal we had some bread. It is worth mentioning because it had a nice hint of rosemary to it. It was served warmed and was fresh and flavorful, absolutely wonderful.

We both had the Seafood Chowder as well and it was exceptional. There was the nice seafood flavor, and a nice and rich creaminess, but what really set this dish apart for me was the slight grittiness of the corn that was in it. I'm sure it was fresh corn, but it was not highly pureed but allowed to be a bit gritty, and that gave it an exceptional texure and good mouth-feel. I'd order this again in a moment, it was that good.

We both had salads as well. The salads were very fresh spinach that was served with goat cheese, fennel and apple slaw, and a sage infused honey mustard that was very thick. It was excellent!

Now it was on to the main courses! For mine, i chose a special, the Pork Duo. This was a tenderloin of pork and a piece of pork belly, served with pumpkin ravioli and a natural sage jus. The tenderloin was expertly cooked and very tender and juicy.  To be honest, the pork belly was not my favorite, but primarily because I don't like a lot of non-meat "stuff"--the fatty like stuff. But the meat itself was extremely tender and had a great juiciness to it. In talking with the chef about it afterwards, he did mention he thought it was somewhat of an acquired taste. But it was very good.

Tommy had the New York strip steak. It was perfectly cooked and moist and tender. The accompanying requested chipotle and crab hollandaise was exceptional as well. Tommy is a real hollandaise fan so he really loved it. He had the garlic roasted potatoes with his as a side and pronounced them the best potatoes he'd ever had!

I must say that our meal was exceptional and I now have a new favorite restaurant in Sanford, Stone's Throw Bistrol. I suggest you give them a try some time. But make sure you get that reservation. You will not be disappointed. The menu may be a bit pricey, but it's worth every penny in exceptional food and good service.
Stones Throw Bistro on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 13, 2010


"What is Krupnik," you may ask? I would reply "nectar of the gods...."

I've heard and read about Krupnik before, and when I was in Poland this past Fall, I had some. I knew then that I had to make some. Krupnik is a honey and grain alcohol based liqueur, popular in Poland and Lithuania (where it's called Krupnikas). I've searched the Internet and found many, many recipes, each with its own variation. And so after careful thought and research, I came up with my own. I made it last night. It is wonderful.

And now, you can make it too. here it is:

Mix 1 cup water and 1 cup honey and bring just to a boil.

Add all of the following (mix or match as is your pleasure!):
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 12 allspice berries
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split
  • the peel of one Orange (use a peeler to get just the peel without the white pith)
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 12 juniper berries
  • once chunk of nutmeg (about 1/4 of a whole one)
  • 12 cloves
Bring the above just to a simmer and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.

Cover and let steep for 30 minutes so the flavors meld.

Warm back up to near boiling and slowly add 2 1/2 cups of good quality Polish Vodka (I used Sobieski). Be careful, alcohol and flames to not mix! Do not boil!

Once very warm, strain through a very fine strainer, or though six layers of cheesecloth, or through a coffee filter.

Krupnik is traditionally served warm, but may also be served cold. Bottle it and store it in a cool place. You'll notice some sediment may settle to the bottom, that's fine. When ready to serve, warm gently and pour carefully so as not to disturb the sediment.

That's all there is to it. You'll have about 750 ml of one of the world's most delicious drinks. Drink responsibly! Bardzo Smaczne!

Peach Valley Cafe

I have eaten at Peach Valley Cafe a number of times, and there are certain things here that are constants:
  • The food is always good, fresh and served hot
  • The service is always prompt and friendly
  • The place is always fairly busy, no matter what time of day.
  • The prices are resonable as are the portion sizes.
I had lunch at the Lake Mary location today, and once again all of the above were true. We were smart and went early as the lunch rush was just beginning when we left.

They had a special, beer battered Alaskan Haddock, and I had that. It was very good. The chips and coleslaw were excellent, as always. I also shared some biscuits and gravy and they were as good as always, definitely homemade and definitely homemade fresh biscuits. I guess that's why I keep on coming back, for the reasons stated above.
Peach Valley Café on Urbanspoon