Straight No Chaser

Last night’s date night was SO much fun!!!

The concert was amazing and so was dinner… two for two! ūüėÄ

Dinner

Ryan and I kicked off date night by heading out to City Walk, an area of lots of restaurants, bars and clubs near Universal Studios.

City Walk

Orlando is huge (Disney World is about 25 – 30 minutes from our apartment downtown), and Ryan and I rarely do the “touristy” things.

Last night, however, we felt like we were on a mini-vacation, since we were surrounded by so many out-of-towners.

After parking in the King Kong lot (and paying $14 just to park! ūüė¶ ),¬†we walked around City Walk for a bit before crossing our fingers¬†and venturing into¬†Emeril’s restaurant to see if we could get a seat without reservations.

Emeril's Orlando

Luckily, the hostess said we could sit up at the bar which overlooked the kitchen.

Ryan and I have been to Emeril’s a couple of times before and we love sitting at the bar because you can watch all the behind-the-scenes action.

Within seconds of sitting, our drink orders were taken and we were provided with several fresh rolls to munch on before dinner.

Me + Cornbread

Cornbread

Ryan thought the sweet potato roll was tops, but I was a sucker for the cornbread (I had 2, plus 3/4 of a sweet potato roll).

We saved some of our rolls for dipping into the bowl of gumbo that Ryan ordered as an appetizer.

Gumbo

One of the cooks behind the bar said that when Emeril himself came to visit the restaurant in December, he complimented the gumbo, saying it was the best he’s ever had.

Ryan liked it a lot, but it was a bit spicy for me.

For our entrees, I ordered the sea bass while Ryan selected the duck.

Sea Bass

According to the menu, the sea bass was a “Seared Chilean sea bass bouillabaisse sofrito¬†served with mussels, clams, toasted French bread with Florida orange-red pepper rouille.”

It was phenomenal. The broth was so flavorful, garlicy and delicious. I also loved the meatiness of the sea bass and the good amount of shellfish they included in the dish. Two thumbs up!

Ryan’s duck was also a great choice. He ordered the duck with caramelized sweet potatoes instead of the dirty rice it came with, which was a great decision.

Duck

We were both very happy with our selections.

Dessert

All through dinner¬†we knew exactly what we’d be ordering for dessert.

Every time we’ve come to Emeril’s in the past, we’ve ordered the banana cream pie and been thoroughly impressed.

Last night was no different.

Emeril's Banana Cream Pie

The chef behind the bar told us that this dessert is the only one offered at all of Emeril’s restaurants.

It is so creamy and rich. Ryan and I finished all but two tiny bites.

Straight No Chaser

After a wonderful meal at Emeril’s, it was time to head over to the concert.

Date Night

Outside Hard Rock Live

We got there a little early but enjoyed people watching as the crowds entered the venue. There were quite a mix of people out to see Straight No Chaser, an a cappella group that originated at Indiana University.

The concert kicked off slightly past 8 p.m. and was full of energy!

We had great seats (4th row, dead center) and I got some awesome pictures and videos of the guys on my camera.

Straight No Chaser

These guys are so, so talented. It’s amazing what all they can do with only their voices.

Sing it Boys!

The show was energetic, fun and really funny!

Ryan and I both agreed that it was one of the best concerts we’ve ever seen.

Dessert x2

As we were walking out to our car, we walked past TCBY. I’m not one to just walk past a frozen yogurt store, so we popped in and split a small peanut butter and white chocolate mousse frozen yogurt.

TCBY

I love date night!

Today

Today I plan to tackle household chores (cleaning, laundry), get some sun, workout, run some errands, go to Ryan’s soccer game¬†and possibly try a new recipe for dinner.

Catch ya lata! ūüėÄ

Striiiike

Phew!

I feel like I’ve been on the move all day! It feels good to finally be at home. ūüôā

Lunch

After a nice, long shower following this morning’s 10k race, my tummy started rumblin’ again.

I boiled some water to make pasta while roasting asparagus in the oven and steaming broccoli in the microwave. I had all the appliances in use!

I knew I needed a lunch with staying power since we were going to be bowling from 1 to 4 p.m. Pasta with veggies seemed like a great option.

Lunch

Noodles + Broccoli + Sauce + Cheese

Yum

Afternoon Bowling

After inhaling lunch, Ryan and I headed to Boardwalk Bowl for an afternoon of bowling to raise money for Junior Achievement with his coworkers.

Couple o' Bowlers

Our team was a fun one! Ryan and his buddy Rob were quite the bowlers and were neck-in-neck throughout the first game.

Ryan got three strikes in a row (a turkey!) and just barely nudged him out for the win. It was a lot of fun to watch!

Ryan, Me, Katie & Rob

 

Top Notch Bowlers

Bowl Baby Bowl

Ryan and His Winning Score

Our friend¬†Katie was also a big winner… She won the top pirze for the worst score in the first round (a 43 in case you were wondering). As a former winner of this prize, I was especially proud of her.

Katie the Big Winner & Me

A little after 4 p.m., greasy bowling alley food was brought out for us to snack on.

Bowling Alley Food

I was pretty hungry but knew Ryan and I had plans to head out for a date night right after bowling, so I limited my snacking to a couple of pigs in a blanket and a chicken finger.

Date Night

We left about 30 minutes later and headed right to Paco’s, a small Mexican restaurant we’ve heard great things about.

Da Suuun!

Whenever we’ve driven by Paco’s, the parking lot is packed and now we know why!

Paco's

What to get... What to get...

Within five minutes of our waiter bringing chips and homemade salsa to our table, they were gooone!

Chips and Salsa

Our food was delivered to our table very quickly, which was wonderful because I was hungry!

Enchiladas

Chicken Tacos

I downed the chicken tacos like it was my job and had several bites of Ryan’s enchiladas. Tasty!

Dessert

After dinner, we headed home to our energetic puppy.

Since it wasn’t quite dark outside yet, we took her on a 40 minute walk around the lake by our apartment to let our dinner digest a bit before heading out for dessert.

Dessert = McDonald’s shamrock shakes!!!

Shamrock Shake

I love milkhakes and McDonald’s makes a mean shake!

My McDonald’s shake flavor rankings are as follows:

  1. Strawberry shake
  2. Shamrock shake
  3. Chocolate
  4. Pumpkin shake
  5. Eggnog shake

I drank a big diet coke while we were bowling today and I think it triggered my sweet tooth so the shamrock shake hit the spot! 

I’ve read a lot of articles about diet soda and I don’t drink it often.¬†I definitely think it makes me want sugary foods… Something about the sweetness of the soda sets me off!

Do you drink diet soda?

Boat Tour + Date Night

Tonight’s date night was wonderful!

Ryan and I kicked off our date nice and early with a 4 p.m. boat tour of Winter Park, a small city right outside of Orlando.

Winter Park Boat Tour

It was warm outside, but a little chilly on the lake when the wind got blowing. Thankfully the boat company had blankets to snuggle under, and I took advantage of a big fleece blanket to keep warm.

Date!

We had fun looking at all of the¬†multi-million dollar homes on the lake. Horace Grant, a former Orlando Magic (and Chicago Bulls!)¬†basketball player used to live on one of the lakes. His house was ginormous, but I guess a guy who’s nearly 7 feet tall would need a big house.

Ryan loved this house:

Lake House

He was a big fan of the boat house. I thought the little boat house would be cool if inside was a neat little dining room to enjoy dinner on the lake. Fun, right?

The boat tour took us through several canals so we could visit a bunch of different connected lakes.

The canals were beautiful, but very narrow.

Canal

The boat tour lasted an hour and went by very quickly. Ryan and I both said we were glad we took the tour. It’s nice to learn¬†a little¬†history about the area where you live.

Dinner

After the boat tour we headed over to Park Avenue, a street lined with shops, boutiques and restaurants to wander around until it was time for our dinner reservations. We stopped by a chocolate shop and sampled an amazing chocolate ganache truffle and chocolate-covered movie-theater popcorn. Both were delish!

Eventually we made our way to Luma, an upscale restaurant we both were anxious to try.

Luma

We were seated immediately and our waiter informed us that all the food was organic and bought locally. A good start! He brough a basket of fresh bread to the table which Ryan and I polished it off with ease. The basket had two different types of bread in it and one tasted like Thanksgiving stuffing! It was delicious and I had one too many pieces.

Ryan ordered a duck confit salad to start. 

Duck Confit Salad

The duck was moist and very tender. The strawberries in the salad were definitely a highlight.

For my entrée I ordered the local organic beet salad with avocado, hazelnuts, goat cheese, oranges, figs and grapefruit.

Beet Salad

¬†It was very good, but I was glad I ate a couple (4) slices of bread before so I wasn’t hungry afterward. I also shared a lot of Ryan’s fries and had several bite of his burger.

Ryan’s entr√©e was a hit! He ordered the Angus burger¬†with a poached egg, white cheddar cheese and bacon. Wow-zaa!

Angus Burger

We asked our waiter for his dessert recommendation and he suggested the sweet potato cake with marshmallow fluff ice cream.

Sweet Potato Cake

The cake really was delicious but when it arrived we couldn’t help but quote Zoolander:

“What is this? A cake for ants!?”

Apparently we like our dessert portions “plus-sized.”

Though the dessert was teeny by our standards, it was moist and very yummy.

January date night was a success! February is Ryan’s turn to plan a date night, but he’s getting off a little easy… it’s our anniversary and Valentine’s Day in February, so no matter what he plans it’ll be extra special. ūüôā