ORLANDO, FL: Got a sweet tooth or a craving for comfort food? Sweet Mama’s lives up to it’s name.
If you’re flying into Orlando, chances are you’re hungry by the time your flight lands. If it is earlier in the day you’re in luck.
Lake Nona is a community ("Medical City" is located here) just a short drive from the airport and, if you’re looking for something beyond the fast food, or chain restaurant airport fare, “Sweet Mama’s” is a great choice.
One of the first businesses to open in the Lake Nona area, “Sweet Mama’s” is a favorite of locals and visitors alike and are known for their homemake cakes and pies.
When I travel I try to seek out the “Mom & Pop” restaurants as a way to see the local culture and, after all, what’s the point of traveling if you’re just going to eat at another location of the same restaurants that are just around the corner from your home?
I had never been to Sweet Mama’s, but was visiting the local Keller Williams real estate office there at Lake Nona and Lorena, one of the Realtors, recommended it. She said they had GREAT brunches with $3 Mimosa’s (true!) but, alas, since it was a Monday, and still early in the day, we had to “settle” for lunch and no alcohol.
When we arrived we were greeted by Lisa, one of the “Sweet Mama’s” herself and we grabbed a high top table by the window.
They have both indoor, and outdoor, seating, so if it’s a beautiful day, or if you have your dog with you, you can grab an outdoor spot.
They have some kind of special almost every day, and Monday was $6 burger day… for any burger they have. I choose the mushroom, swiss, with sweet potato fries.
Our waitress, Yaileen, was super nice, and friendly, giving us a little history of Sweet Mama’s… she had been going there herself since high school, when it was in it’s first location.
There are TWO “Sweet Mama’s” ..Lisa, in the front of the house, and Linda, in the kitchen. Lisa and Linda are longtime friends who always dreamed of opening a quaint eatery. They treat their customers like family… because some of them are! When Lisa isn’t whipping up family recipes for her own Grandma’s chocolate cake or key lime pie, she’s serving it to her granddaughter.
When our lunch arrived, I have to say that they messed up my order a tad… giving me regular fries instead of the sweet potato fries. HOWEVER, even though I said it was fine, Lisa brought me out an extra order of sweet potato fries at no charge. She even made sure to tell us it was her fault, that Yaileen had put in the order correctly. Frankly, I never care if a minor mistake is make with an order... what's important is, when it does happen, that the business makes it right. THAT earns my loyalty.
My hamburger was PERFECT. I ordered it medium rare and that’s how it came… just slightly pink and juicy. My boyfriend loved his burger as well and he even saved half, plus the order of fries to take home for his dinner later.
Sweet Mama’s is ONLY open for breakfast and lunch… they close at 3 PM for dining, however they also do “Dinner to Go” (plus catering) with pick up until 6 PM, and with some delicious comfort foods on the menu… like meatloaf, fried catfish, liver and onions, chicken pot pie and chicken and waffles!
Desserts are what "Sweet Mama's is known for... homemade, fresh, delightful AND, best of all, available for you to take home for your family or special event. While they have seasonal favorites, they also have a core selection they make all the time, including...
Everyday Pies: Apple, Cherry, Blueberry, Coconut Cream, Key Lime and Peanut Butter.
Everyday Cakes: Carrot Cake, Banana Cake, Red Velvet, Grandma Mildred’s Chocolate Cake, Extreme Chocolate Cake w/Buttercream Frosting, Gluten Free Chocolate, Peanut Butter Squares AND Smores Brownies w/homemade caramel sauce
We’ve already talked about going back there for brunch to get those $3 Mimosas AND because I saw they make my FAVORITE type of Eggs Benedict… with corned beef hash instead of Canadian bacon. If you’ve never had Eggs Benedict this way you should try it. You’d think the flavors of the corned beef and hollandaise would be too intense together, but they are not… it’s amazing.
Of course, I'm already making a "mental note" to get some Extreme Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Frosting to take home.
Sweet Mama’s is just 16 minutes away from the Orlando International Airport, take the South exit out of the Airport and head East on 417 to Narcoossee Road exit, then go North just a bit. It’s on your way if you’re flying in to go to the beaches, and a bit out of the way if you’re heading for Disney, SeaWorld or the International Drive area. Regardless though, I bet you’ll find it worth your time.
My experience of a romantic weekend stay at the 4-diamond luxury Seelbach Hilton Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky – appearing on the National Register of Historical Places – can never be described as “ordinary!”
The Seelbach Hilton is equal parts historical landmark and architectural masterpiece. It began as the dream of two Bavarian brothers – Otto and Louis Seelbach – in 1869 when Louis came to Louisville to learn the hotel business.
In 1903, after several years of running restaurants and gentleman’s clubs, the brothers began construction of a new hotel at the corner of 4th and Walnut Street (now Muhammad Ali), creating a lavish, turn-of-the-century Beaux Arts Baroque hotel.
Sparing no expense, they imported marbles from all over the world, bronzes from France, hardwoods from the West Indies and Europe, linens from Ireland, and valuable Turkish and Persian Rugs.
Billed as “the only fireproof hotel in the city,” the new Seelbach opened in May of 1905 by offering a 5-hour public inspection and drawing an incredible 25,000 visitors. The hotel was so popular, the Seelbach brothers began a 154-room addition in the fall of that same year.
In 1907, the expansion was completed and included the famous Bavarian-style Rathskeller, decorated with rare Rookwood Pottery. Today the Rathskeller remains the only surviving ensemble of its kind.
In the 1920s, Prohibition contributed to the wealth of underworld kingpins who were drawn to the most glamorous spots for cards and leisure. The Seelbach certainly saw its share.
As the grandest hotel in Louisville and the center of Kentucky’s bourbon and whiskey country, The Seelbach attracted some of the most famous gangsters. Notorious figures included Lucky Luciano and Dutch Schultz – known as the “Beer Baron of the Bronx.”
The King of the Bootleggers – George Remus, a Cincinnati mobster, referred to as “King of the Bootleggers,” got rich running whiskey northward during Prohibition. As a local gangster, he would spend time at The Seelbach, for business and pleasure. Writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, who also visited The Seelbach for bourbon and cigars, was taken with the charismatic Remus. In fact, Remus became the inspiration for the title character Jay Gatsby in “The Great Gatsby.” (more)
by Michelle Valentine
"Love, Eat, Travel, TV"
Contact Michelle: info@MichelleValentine.TV
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One element which has not been given much credence or attention is the very essential one of an environmentally sound planet.
Seldom are we hearing anything solid regarding the candidates’ views on this extremely pertinent issue.
A recent visit to the 49th state (Alaska) brought the environment front and center. Picture the incredibly majestic Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve with a 250 foot glacial height, and a base which is about 100 feet below sea level. The natural wildlife life here is no less impressive, with humpback whales, sea lions, Kodiak bears and innumerable fish and wildlife.
The Bald Eagle, which has a natural wingspan of seven to ten feet, is an amazing and majestic national mascot. This impressive bird lives here in Alaska abundantly but can be affected if its environment is not protected and maintained.
The rate of attrition of this natural saltwater glacier is escalating and maritime temperatures actually keep the bay from freezing over. Currently, the bay is over 1,000 feet deep and provides a unique glimpse into a majestic world of glaciers highlighted by their captivating hues of blue. Created by long wavelength colors of reds which are absorbed, the views are mindful of the sky’s intrinsic colors.
Alaska, which is often referred to as the final frontier (albeit space in many ways), offers a fantastic glimpse into both our past and the present.
Skagway, also known as the Alaska panhandle, is a former gold mining town which seems to somehow still be etched in its own history. Single story buildings are set against the backdrop of a majestic mountainous region and cruise ships, a historic railway system, and all terrain vehicles are its main transportation elements.
The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad pass through daily encouraging tourists to relive the gold rush history created back in the 1800’s.
Juneau, the capital city of Alaska, is an amazing mix of natural beauty, majestic landscapes and an outdoor paradise for those who are adventurous.
Whale watching, glacier sightseeing, dog sledding, an incredible salmon hatchery (buoyed by the requisite export industry), and Glacier Gardens, all command your attention while giving you insight into this important element of our world landscape.
Founded in 1880, Juneau is 600 airline miles southeast of Anchorage and is the only state capital in the entire United States with absolutely no road access.
If you’ve ever witnessed the Iditarod (dog sledding at its finest) you know that it takes a lot of snow for these elegant and magnificent creatures to pull those sleds. For the past three winters, there has not been sufficient natural snow in place for this eagerly anticipated event. Snow was actually flown in from other nearby cities to provide the necessary amount; which speaks to the growing concern of global warming.
Living in Florida some thousands of miles away from the Alaskan territory allows us to push environmental issues to the fringe of our daily agendas. But when you’re right up close, with glaciers at your door and eagles flying overhead, it becomes a little more clear. Global warming is a very real and present danger.
An exciting fall lineup of events will be presented at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts over the next few months. There’s a fabulous concert line up, the first ever introduction of a popular television game show (The Price is Right) and much more.
There’s literally something for everyone with highlights for those who are particularly entranced with solid performances by talented artists.
For the full line up and ticket availability, go to Center’s website at: http://www.drphillipscenter.com or call the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts box office at 844- 513-2014.
If acrobatics is your thing, be sure to come out on Thursday, December 1 to see SHANGHAI ACROBATS, from the People’s Republic of China, as they perform “Shanghai Nights.” This incredible celebration of world music and dance will delight and enthrall your senses.
The recent winner of five Tony awards, including “Best Play,” will appeal to those of you who simply love Broadway drama. “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” comes to the Dr. Philips Center as part of their North American Tour on November 1st through 6th.
Winner of five Outer Critics Circle Awards, including “Outstanding New Broadway Play” and the Drama League Award for “Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off Broadway Play,” this amazing production more than lives up to its intriguing title.
Tickets for The Price is Right Live go on sale on Friday, September 30 at 10:00 a.m. with prices starting at $36.50. With Contestants winning cash prizes, appliances, vacations and possibly even a new car, the excitement of this long running television game show now translates to a live experience right here in Central Florida. Open to U.S. legal resident of 18 years or older.
In its first two years of operation, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts has surpassed its original projections in attendance as well as its schedule of amazing productions. The Center has also generously donated close to another $2 million in value to community projects, events and amenities.
Now in its third year of excellence, the Dr Phillips Center is currently looking forward to completing its fund raising element for Phase 2 of the Center which will focus on adding the 1,700 seat Steinmetz Hall. With attendance of more than 302,500 guests in the past two years and more than 330 performances by incredibly diverse theatrical companies and performing artists, the confirmed success of this amazing state of the art performance venue is golden.
My current dog is Jake, my BFF and soulmate, and he travels with me almost everywhere. Jake is an enthusiastic Labrador/Rhodesian love sponge who instantly bonded with me at Seattle Humane in August 2015. Since adopting each other, Jake and I have worked on basic commands, and he has blossomed into a well behaved, model traveler.
The good news is, if you have the will to travel with or transport your pet by air, there’s a way! The options available to you depend on several factors, such as the costs you are willing to pay, the personality, training and size of your pet, and whether you meet federal guidelines involving physiological, psychological, or emotional disabilities.
Your pet can fly with one or more of these options: as (1) a carry-on pet, (2) checked baggage or cargo, or (3) a service dog or emotional support animal (ESA). CLICK HERE to see the costs and conditions involved in each of these three categories on the major airlines in the continental US. Service dogs and ESAs ride free on all airlines.
Carry On Pets...
If your pet is a small dog or cat, you have the most options when it comes to air travel. That’s because all airlines allow in-cabin travel with a small dog or cat in a carrier for a small fee of between $95 and $125 on one-way travel in the continental US. To qualify for carry-on, your pet must be small enough to fit comfortably inside a carrier no larger than 18.5” long x 8.5” high x 13.5” wide, and must remain in the carrier underneath the seat in front of you for the full duration of your flight. Southwest sells a soft-sided carry-on carrier that you can purchase online or at the ticket counter for $58. Many carriers have breed restrictions and require advance arrangements, so be sure to research the individual circumstances applicable to your pet and airline when planning your travel.
Alaska Airlines has the simplest policies and least expensive fees, and will allow you to check any size dog as baggage in a carrier for $100. Southwest does not allow animals to travel as cargo or checked luggage. American charges $200 for pets to ride as checked baggage. United’s PetSafe air cargo program charges for pet transportation based on weight, with rates as high as $699 for extra-large dogs to US destinations. Delta appears to charge the highest rates, with fares of more than $1000 to some destinations. As of the date of this article, Delta quoted me $592 to ship an 80 pound dog in an extra-large carrier from Spokane to New York’s JFK airport. All airlines except Alaska require advance arrangements for this service.
Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals
What’s the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal? You need to know because airlines will ask which you are claiming if you show up to the ticket counter with a dog on a leash. The most important thing to know is that the right to travel with a service dog or ESA applies to the human rather than the animal. Applicable U.S. laws (Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Housing Act, and Air Carrier Access Act) do not require either type of animal to be registered or certified. These laws entitle both service dogs and ESAs to fly in the cabin of an aircraft at no additional charge, and also to reside in housing that otherwise prohibits pets, without breed restrictions.
Service animals are restricted to dogs, and in rare cases, miniature horses (I’ve never heard of anyone attempting to travel with a service horse, so we’ll refer to service animals as service dogs). There are no species or breed restrictions for ESAs, and I’ve heard stories of people on aircraft with emotional support ducks, cats and miniature pigs, in addition to dogs.
A service dog is trained to assist an Individual with a disability that substantially limits the individual’s ability to perform a major life activity without assistance. For example, my sister has Type 1 diabetes and needs to travel with a service dog that can smell when her blood sugar is out of balance. I have a friend with epilepsy who has a dog that can sense when he is about to have a seizure. (more)
This video is by Cedric Gourret, from Guadeloupe, France of his visit and tour of Dominica with Elvis. Enjoy, and click the Vimeo link to see more videos from Cedric as well.
Dominica: Place your mouse over the photo below to begin the slideshow