Smokin' Tally - Of Smokehouses, Smoked Salmon, and Smokin' Rooftop Cocktails

I just love to visit my Floridian friends in Tallahassee and not just because I love hanging out at their amazing pool and going kayaking/ canoeing ;) They do know how crazy I am about food and they always find some great food (and beverage) places that they show me. Check out last year's experience

4 Rivers Smokehouse

This year, I was craving pulled pork and my friends took me to 4 Rivers Smokehouse. This is a great place for several reasons. First, you actually order and pick up your food yourself which is fun. Second, they had a huge selection of side dishes to choose from. You are able to see them behind the coutner when you order which I always enjoy. Third, they have different menu options. You can order regular "Signature Stackers" where the meat comes in a bun or similar. However, the special and fun part is, to order the "Old School" menu when the meat is the highlight. And last but not least, the signature 4R BBQ sauce and the pulled pork were just delicious! This smokehouse is a winner for me :)

Old School Menu 

Here you can pick your meat (brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, smoked turked, sausage to name a few) and then choose whether you want it as a sandwich or just as a "Dinner" with a biscuit and sides. Dinner means here that the meat is placed on your plate without a bun, however, you get a separat biscuit. I highly suggest to substitute the biscuit for a delicious Texas Cornbread like my friends did. And then you can pick your sides...

Homemade Sides

They have a lot of nice options: 4R BBQ beans, mac & cheese, Texas cornbread, collards, southern coleslaw, potato salad, baked cheese grits, southern green beans, sweet potato casserole, smoked jalapenos, smokehouse corn, bread pudding, french fries, fried pickles, fried okra, seasonal sides. 

When we ordered, I was set on my idea of having pulled pork within a bun, so I ordered from the "Signature Stackers" the Messy Pick - and it was messy! The BBQ sauce was just running, but that just belongs to a good pulled pork sandwich! My friends ordered the "Dinner" option with pulled pork and cornbread. Together, we had the corn, the beans, the collards, the potato salad, the sweet potato casserole and the bread pudding as sides. My favorite sides were the collards, the 4R BBQ beans, and surpisingly, the sweet potato casserole, which tastes like a dessert but it goes really good with the BBQ sauce... And the bread pudding surprised me as well. I am glad that my friend has such a sweet tooth and ordered those so that I could try :)

Smokin' Rooftop Cocktails

Another highlight was actually my girl's night out with my friend M. while her husband stayed home for a podcast interview. My friend suggested to go to this rooftop cocktail bar that she always wanted to try out, the Level 8 Lounge at the Hotel Duval. We put on some nice dresses and went there right in time for a beautiful sunset. I could not stop myself from ordering a Cosmopolitan and feeling a little bit like in Sex and the City ;) This was just a very special evening for me, the atmosphere, the company and the talks!

Smoking Salmon at Uptown Cafe

Last but not least, I just have to mention this nice little brunch place - the Uptown Cafe. I love breakfast and brunch! And this place was just so cute. But shocker, I did not take pictures!! I guess I must have enjoyed the food and company so much that I completely forgot about it... actually a first :)

We were able to sit outside and even so we had to wait a little bit, the service was just really nice. They are famous for their Uptown Smoked Salmon - an apricot glaced smoked salmon.  On suggestion of my friend I ordered the Salmon Hash which came as a red potato hash with salmon, paprika, feta cheese and an egg on top. I was delicious! As a dessert we tried the very decadent Banana Bread French Toast - a very good ending :)

Those weren't the only food highlights in Tally. I also really enjoyed the Food Truck Thursday at Lake Ella, the Burger and Oreo Milkshake at Red Robbins, ordering in from Buffalo Wild Wings, the annual pizza & boardgame night, a spontaneous living room picnic with Gruffalo and the Mouse, and my daily breakfast everything bagel with creamcheese and a Chobani Flip yoghurt (which comes in so many different delicious flavors)... Just to name a few ;) I can't wait to come visit again!!

Dinner Buffet at "Boma - Flavors of Africa" (Orlando, FL)

As already mentioned in my last two posts, I had the pleasure to visit my friends in Florida a few months back. We spent a weekend in Orlando before we went up the coast and back to Tallahassee. Next to Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar and Trader Sam's Grog Grotto, there was one more food highlight in Orlando - The Dinner Buffet at "Boma - Flavors of Africa", a Disney restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Last year, we went here for the Breakfast Buffet. It was just so delicious and exotic that I wanted to try it out again :) The atmosphere is really nice as well.

I cannot say whether I liked the Breakfast or Dinner Buffet more, both were really great and offered different highlights. While breaksfast is always great, I really enjoyed the Soup and Dessert station at the Dinner Buffet... Also, the Jungle Juice was again a great favorite of mine :)

Here, a list with the stations. While I believe, it is pretty comprehensive, it still may not be complete. I also added a few pictures, but as during breakfast, the light was pretty dim and there were a lot of people... =)

Appetizer Station

  • Spinach & Paneer Sambosas
  • Asparagus with Paprika Olive Oil
  • Zulu Cabbage
  • Cous Cous with Spinach
  • Geel Rys - South African tumeric and cinnamon spiced basmati rice with golden raisins
  • Selection of breat and crackers with White Bean Hummus and Kalamata Olive Hummus

Soups (my favorites!) & Salads

  • Harira - Northwest African vegetable lentil soup
  • Ghanaian Oxtail Stew - Western African inspired tomato based stew with tamarind
  • Curried Coconut Seafood Stew
  • Seafood Gumbo
  • Buternut Squash Soup
  • Sambal Chicken Corn Chowder
  • Avocado, Papaya, and Grapefruit Salad
  • Pasta Salad
  • Watermelon Rind Salad
  • Kool Slaw
  • Spinach Quinoa Salad

Main Entrees & Sides

  • Chakalaka - South African spicy tomato stew
  • Nut-crusted Salmon
  • Fufu - Western and Central African sweet and white potato mash
  • Beef and Lamb Bobotie - African style egg bake
  • Cariving station with Chicken and African Carved Strip Loin with some sauces (Boma Mustard,  Sambal, Horseradish)
  • Pap - creamy white cornmeal
  • Some American Dishes for the Kids (mashed potatoes, corn dogs, mac & cheese, pasta & tomato sauce, corn & peas)

Desserts - my second favorites!

  • Kenyan coffee tarts
  • Oreo cheesecake tarts
  • Zebra domes
  • Guava panna cotta 
  • Cape dutch malva pudding
  • Apple cobbler
  • Assorted cookies and mini cupcakes

My Highlights:

  • The Soup selection in general! Especially the Harira Soup and the Ghanaian Oxtail Stew.
  • The Dessert section! Especially the Kenian Coffee Tarts and the Oreo Cheesecake Tarts. My friend M. really enjoyed the Guava Panna Cotta. For most people, the Zebra Domes are also a big highlight.
  • Other favorites: The Spinach & Paneer Sambosas, the Chakalata with Fufu

Appetizer - White Bean and Kalamata Olive Hummus
Appetizer - Sambosas, Asparagus, Zulu Cabage, Cous Cous
Harira Lentil Soup
Ghanaian Oxtail Soup
Bobotie and Chicken
Carving Station with Strip Loin and African Sauces
Nut crusted Salmon, Fufu, Pap, Chakalaka...
Zebra Domes, Kenian Coffee Tarts, Oreo Cheesecake Tarts (in the background)

Zebra Dome, Guava Panna Cotta, Cape Dutch Malva Pudding, Oreo Cheesecake Tart, Kenian Coffee Tart

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto (Orlando, Florida)

As mentioned in my previous post, I had the pleasure to visit my friends in Florida a few months back. When I arrived in Orlando, my friend M. and I had planned to watch the Disney fireworks from the Polynesian Village Resort. Afterwards, we wanted to try out a tiki bar that was located at the Polynesian Resort and that I had read about - Trader Sam's Grog Grotto.

I read about this "whimsical" bar on some of the Disney blogs and it looked and sounded like fun.  I like tropical themed tiki bars, the cocktails and atmosphere. This place was also supposed to have some "interactive" cocktails that made it special. I was actually worried as it said there often are long waiting times, but we were lucky and got a spot right away.

The Backstory:

This tropical little bar is tucked away in one of the hallways next to the lobby of the Polynesian Resort. For me, it seems that the place is half hidden, you really need to look for the door. And when you open the door, you kinda step into a complete different world...

Trader Sam's tiki bar originated 2011 in Disneyland (California) under the name of "Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar". It was inspired by the Jungle Cruise. Trader Sam was the head salesman in the Amazon, known to always be ready to trade two of his heads for one of yours... He was also an expert in head-shrinking potions and mixology...  They opened up the counterpart of the tiki bar in Disney Word in 2015 - Trader Sam's Grog Grotto. The bar is kinda small and cozy. It has lots of tropical themed decorations and overflows with ancient artefacts and tropical treasures. There are tiki statues, shrunken heads, and even nautical equipement as a reference to 2,000 Leagues Under The Sea. It is a little overwhelming but the atmosphare is great. And the bartenders are making it even more special. There are some drinks that come in souvenir cups, but the price can be a little steep. Also, there are certain cocktails that conjure mystical events.... 

Special Cocktails to be aware of!

  • Uh-Oa! - This is a very special drink and is supposed to be shared. It will arrive "on fire", and there are little cups on the side of the mug with cinnamon. You can use the cinnamon and throw it in the flames of the drink to create sparks... Also, when someone orders the drink, the lights get darker and the Tiki Goodness of Disaster awakens...
  • Krakatoa Punch - There is a huge picture of a volcano on the wall, behind bamboo bars. It looks like you are looking out of a window and see a volcano. When someone orders the Krakatoa Punch, the picture comes to life, it gets darker, a storm starts and the volcano erupts. But don't get distracted by the wall picture! The bartender use that moment to take out their water pistols. So, don't wonder if you FEEL the storm coming :)
  • Nautilus - There is a swim ring on the wall behing the bar, in form of a duck. When someone orders the Nautilus, the bartender puts on the swim ring and a little Nemo hat and "swims" through the bar.
  • Polynesian Pearl - Here, the lights get darker, special music starts and a huge shell in the back of the bar starts to open up... The bartender grabs in and pulls out a Pearl Cup for the drink :)
  • Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum - This one is simple, but fun. The bartender starts singing "Tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki rum" while bringing the cocktail.

I have to admit, when we visited the bar it kinda was already a long day, we had already tried out the Hangar Bar at Disney Springs and we were a little tired. For that reason, we also "only" tried Sam's No-Booze Brews. Those were delicious as well. And while sipping our innocent cocktails, we were able to enjoy the atmosphere. Many other people ordered one of the special cocktails and we experienced the errupting volcano, the bartenders swimming through the bar, spraying everyone with little water pistols, singing "Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum" and more. I cannot clearly say what my highlight was... The erupting volcano was fun, but the bartenders being ridiculous was even better :)

The Shrunken Zombie Head

However, there was one little event that night, that was great: A couple came in and wanted to by the souvenir cup of the Shrunken Zombie Head, a very strong rum cocktail that has three different kind of rums in it. They actually only wanted the cup, not the drink, but the bartenders were not supposed to sell the cup without the drink. So, the couple asked us whether we would take the drink (for free) if they bought themselves the cup. We just couldn't say no to that :)

The Hangar Bar vs. The Grog Grotto

In my last post, I mentioned that earlier that day we had gone to Disney Springs and as a storm started we sought shelter in "Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar" - a slightly whimsical bar with a nice Indiana Jones' themed backstory and lots of little gadgets in the bar. The Hangar Bar is actually often compared to the Tiki Bar due to the same "whimsical" overflowing and detailed decoration.

It was fun to try out both of those two bars. I can see why they are often compared, however, there are also enough differences that you would not get bored if you try out both, like we did :) The food shall be better at the Hangar Bar. We did not eat at the Tiki Bar, so I cannot say anything about their food, but the snacks at the Hangar Bar were delicious! I would recommend to try out the Hangar bar rather in the afternoon and the Tiki Bar definitely later in the evening. Best to bring lots of energy to soak it all in :)

Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar (Disney Springs, Florida)

A couple of months ago I had the pleasure to visit my friends J., M, & N. in Florida again. That was before all the hurricanes hit that coast... I landed in Orlando where my friend M. picked me up and as we still had a few hours before our evening planning (disney fireworks at the Polynesian Resort), we headed over to Disney Springs. We did a little bit of shopping but then we could see a storm coming up...

However, it turned out great for us. We ended up watching the storm over the disney springs lake from a nice patio with some great cocktails and food.

The world of Indiana Jones...

A year ago we walked through Disney Springs and my friend J. told be about this Indiana Jones' themed bar - Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar. The seaplane pilot Jock Lindsey actually had only about a minute of airtime in the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark", however, this bar has an entire backstory and lots of mementos of his adventures. To quote, it's a "1940s airplane hangar turned dive bar - home of Indiana Jones' sidekick and pilot Jock Lindsey". It is said that Jock Lindsey discovered this waterfront property in 1938 as he flew with Indiana over Florida on the hunt for the Fountain of Youth... It is such a cute little bar with so many interesting details everywhere - books, trophies, photographs, gadgets, props, airplane gear, other aviation equipment...  It looks a little bit like you are on the original movie set... Check out this great disney blog for more details and pics

Here are a few of those details:
  • The ceiling fans are made out of airplane propellers.
  • The bar is out of concrete with oil spills everywhere making it look used and real.
  • There is a huge map in the back of the bar, detailing the adventurous routes of our pilot throughout the world.
  • A full antique diving suit with copper helmet is hanging from the ceiling and a huge diving bell is there as a separate sitting area. 
  • Also, there are lots of references of Jock's pet snake "Reggie", of its empty cage, and even a drink is named after it.


The Menu...

The menu is also really cute, it's designed as a "pilot's log book" with lots of little anecdotes of the travels and adventures, and the drink menu is arranged by country... As in rememberence of "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" we ordered some COOL-HEADED MONKEY cocktails to start with from Jock Lindsey's adventures in India. There was a dinner scene in the movie where the heroes were served monkey brain as a local delicacy for dessert. It came in a cup that actually looked like a real monkey head... Our drink also came in a monkey head cup which commemorated this nice movie scene ;) We also ordered some Happy Hour Appetizer that were just delicious: JOCK'S LOADED NACHOS and BELLOQ'S BACON FRIES - yes! Fries with Bacon, I couldn't say no to that and it was very tasty. And as a fun fact: Belloq was the name of one of Indiana Jones's rivals, a french archaeologist who also scoured the globe for antiquities. He first appeared in "Raiders of the Lost Ark".

Last year we did not try this bar out just walked by, but this time it was perfect. We needed a place to seek shelter from the storm and actually, we were a little hungry. And what a better way than to start my first day in Florida with a little cocktail at an interesting bar with my great friend! She actually also got some great news at that moment, so perfect timing for a little celebration. We decided to sit on the outside patio with a view over the lake, watching the storm firsthand :)

What an adventure - Highly recommendable!

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