My Decadent Dessert at Cafe Tu Tu Tango: Orlando Part 4

Cafe Tu Tu Tango Orlando FLHere it is: the conclusion of my trip to Orlando and the last meal I had in the city before flying out: dessert at Cafe Tu Tu Tango, where the slogan is “Food. Art. Fun.”

Let’s start with the food. It took me literally 2 seconds to decide on the banana, cinnamon and caramel pizza. Even though I had way too much Chicago-styled pizza for dinner at a restaurant that didn’t have a business card (boo), I still decided to have more pizza.

Let me tell you: I gobbled this up. I’m not the biggest lover of chocolate, so this dessert gave me the sweetness I desired with my favorite fruit (banana), a favorite spice (cinnamon) and caramel & whipped cream to bring it all together.

Oh, and the dough, too. I’d definitely get that dessert again, but maybe I’d be open to sharing it.

I also got a drink and the first bottle that caught my eye was Western Son prickly pear vodka. The vodka is described as having a “freshly picked cactus fruit and melon scent with a long refreshing semi-sweet and tart finish with wild strawberry.” I decided to have this vodka mixed with cranberry juice and it tasted good the 1st, 2nd and 3rd time I ordered the drink.

I wish that Cafe Tu Tu Tango could make its way to New Jersey, but alas it’s only in Orlando. After doing some further research, I found out that art is a big part of the Cafe Tu Tu Tango culture. That’s right: the artwork on the walls was original by local Orlando artists that are for sale.

Needless to say, I didn’t go home with any art: just a feeling of a full tummy, happy taste buds and that feeling we always have after something decadent: “I’m never having dessert again.”

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Working Out at the YMCA Aquatic & Family Center: Orlando Part 3

YMCA Aquatic Family Center Orlando FLWorking out is important to me, even when I’m away. That’s why I was happy to find out that there was a YMCA Aquatic & Family Center located right next to my hotel: the Orlando Metropolitan Resort. And it was free because I was staying at that hotel.

I walked into the gym and was greeted by signing in. After that, I walked in and saw that it looked like a typical gym ala Planet Fitness… just without the judgment-free zone jargon and free pizza. There was one of every piece of equipment, which was more than adequate for my workout.

That day, I chose to do arms because it was the quickest workout and I was with a friend. I didn’t want to be that guy who took too long, but I did want to burn some calories. It was a good workout and I did some core afterwards.

The only regret I have is not bringing a bathing suit to Orlando. Not only was the weather great, but the YMCA had a HUGE pool with an open-air atmosphere and loads of Olympic-sized lanes for swimming laps. If I ever go back there, I’d love to take a swim in there and have a longer workout.

I wasn’t sure what to expect since I’ve never been to a YMCA before, but I had an enjoyable workout. I was expecting something with not-the-best equipment and maybe an aerobics class set to some oldies.

I’m not ashamed of that joke. Or to blast the Village People at full volume while driving slowly through a rough neighborhood.

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My Visit to Hogan’s Beach Shop, Brother!: Orlando Part 2

Hogans Beach Shop Orlando FLThe big reason why I went to Orlando was because I was wrestling down there. And I knew that I had to do something wrestling related outside of my business while I was in town.

That’s where Hogan’s Beach Shop came in. They opened their Orlando location just in time for WrestleMania 33, which was on the Sunday after I left. And it took a couple of attempts to actually get into the store.

That’s because they were doing autograph signings as part of the grand opening with none other than Hulk Hogan himself. I didn’t have the urge to pay at least $100 (I heard $150) to meet the Hulkster and get his autograph. I was just curious to see what kind of things they sold at the Beach Shop.

And boy is there a lot of Hogan merchandise & memorabilia. The first thing that popped out at me was the custom Hulk Hogan Dodge Viper sitting in the middle of the store that was bright red and yellow. I just took a look and said to myself, “eh, I don’t drive stick.”

I moved onto seeing 3 life-sized Hogan figures (one in each corner not occupied by the cash register), as well as a NWO motorcycle, numerous signed pieces of unique/vintage merchandise, championship belts, old VHS tapes and even a random Van Halen backstage pass. The non-signed merch included T-shirts of all colors & sizes, action figures of himself & other WWE superstars, a Hulk Hogan Halloween costume kit, weight belts, protein shaker bottles, glasses & much more.

What was even more fascinating were the few non-Hulk items in the store that looked like you can just get them at any gift shop. I guess they sell them just because some people might be dragged to Hogan’s Beach Shop against their will during their trip to Orlando. I also enjoyed that they played Hogan-related wrestling clips and movies on the multiple TVs in the store. I found myself watching a bit of Mr. Nanny when visiting the store.

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience even though I didn’t buy anything. It was a fun detour in the AC on an 85-and-sunny day.

Business Card Count: 35,102

My Scamworthy Experience at Miller’s I Drive Ale House: Orlando Part 1

Millers Ale House Orlando FLI took a 3-day trip to Orlando last week for my wrestling passion and will be documenting some experiences I had down there over the next few weeks. This was not the one that came first, but it’s the one that sticks out the most in my mind.

I feel like I got scammed at Miller’s I Drive Ale House. Here’s what happened: I paid for a drink at the bar that came out to $5 and change. I left $6 to include a tip and thought that would be the end of it.

When closing time came, I was informed that I did not pay for my drink. I argued that I left my money right there under the receipt, but apparently it was never received.

Millers I Drive Ale House

I had an unfortunate solution to resolve the issue when I had to pay for my drink again. I also got food and a couple of drinks at the table I was sitting at and the bill was $20 and change. A $5 and change drink would be 25% of the tip I would have left my waitress had I not been ripped off.

I feel really badly that Tamika R didn’t get a tip for her hard work running between multiple tables of 6, but Miller’s Ale House really dropped the ball. Someone could have taken the cash since Orlando is a tourist destination and they would have gotten away with the crime with minimal odds of getting caught.

Orlando being a tourist destination could also mean that the Miller’s I Drive Ale House staff could pull something like this off often since many people will never go back. I know that I’ll probably never go back to a Miller’s Ale House.

And to add insult to injury, Florida law says that no establishment can serve alcohol after 2 am (not even a liquor store). So, half the group I was with was forced to chug their drink (even when full) including me. I paid for a drink twice that I had to chug more than half of.

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Hello Again: I Have 2 of Neal Diamond’s Business Cards

Neal Diamond Atlantic Chevy CadillacI have had Neal Diamond’s business cards for a little while. Neal Diamond the car salesman who I’ve never met before, not Neil Diamond the legendary singer who I’ve also never met before.

It’s cool that Atlantic Chevrolet Cadillac gives their salespeople business cards with different Chevy models on them like the Corvette and Tahoe. I guess it’s a psychological thing to give each shopper a different card depending on what they’re looking for.

That or the dealership features different cars at different times. Either way, I’ve never been to Atlantic Chevy Cadillac not have I never met Neal Diamond.

Heck, I’ve never met Neil Diamond either. I honestly don’t know much about the singer, except that he had a cameo in Saving Silverman to help create a happy ending.

I also know his song “Red, Red Wine” was a bigger hit when done by UB40 to the point that he uses their reggae beat when singing the song live. I can rock out to some “Red, Red Wine” once in a while.

I’d never see Neil Diamond in a concert nor would I keep his song on the radio if it was playing through. Unless it’s “Red, Red Wine” sung by UB40… then that’s perfectly acceptable… if I’m in the mood for it… and there’s nothing else better on my SiriusXM satellite radio.

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Tony’s Italian Kitchen: Good Pizza, Unique Business Hours

Tonys Italian KitchenIt’s been a while since I wrote about pizza. Whenever I commute to work, I pass by a place called Tony’s Italian Kitchen in Midland Park, New Jersey. It always strikes me curious since the sign for the company is on the ground due to renovations to the strip mall.

Finally, after months of it seeming not to be open during the renovation, I decided to say “what the hell” at 3 in the afternoon and get a slice of pizza as a snack.

When I walked in, the buffalo chicken pizza instantly drew my eye. And it also drew my taste buds, as it was one of the best slices of buffalo chicken I ever had since it had just the right thinness, grilled chicken and no blue cheese.

Pizza Midland Park NJThe experience was unique for a couple of reasons. First were the business hours that I saw laminated on the counter, which I thought was hilarious. It explained why sometimes the place didn’t look open and made it seem like they were real people working there.

Speaking of employees, the 4 guys there seemed to just be as relaxed as can be. When I asked for their business card to write this blog post, one guy said: “you aren’t going to sell my phone number, are you? People do that type of thing.”

I was so tempted to tell him: “no, but I’m going to write a blog post about it reviewing my experience here.” I didn’t want to freak him out and get banned for life or something. Especially since I enjoyed the buffalo chicken pizza.

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Getting a Somewhat Suspect Sales Pitch at the ShopRite in Clark NJ

ShopRite Clark NJIt’s typical that companies or people set up an area in a public place to sell their wares. And this was the case when I recently did some shopping at the ShopRite in Clark, New Jersey.

I first heard the announcement of a “free gift” being available near the dairy department and decided to stay around for a while. It turns out that it was pretty intriguing since there was a sales pitch happening for an unknown product.

Note I say unknown since it wasn’t out on the table or anything and I’d probably ignore it if I saw what it was.

But first, the free gift: the Magic Spiral… which is a $5.99 value (though I got 2 for intelligently answering a question).

Magic Spiral

The Magic Spiral is designed to create continuous spiral garnishings. The back of the box showed a photo of a cucumber being spiraled in small pieces and this photo is my result… a bit different, but it looks like it got the job done.

But that was not the product the guy was selling everyone on, including this old lady that was biting onto everything until he said the price tag: the Mr. Whipster, a new take on a whisk where you press the top and the bottom part does the whisking.

It was like a live infomercial since he said “if the Mr. Whipster’s not enough, you can also get the Jr. Whipster and the Master Decorator for free!” The product was even demonstrated to show how you only need the Mr. Whipster (and not heavy cream or a mixer) to create whipped cream.

Where it gets suspicious is when I saw him pour the milk into a bowl to whisk. The milk carton was already open, which (to play devil’s advocate) I’m sure he demonstrated it more than once and the milk had to be unsealed at SOME point). However, the milk looked like it contained heavy cream.

C’mon now: I can see the catch. I get that it’s for the sake of the demonstration to see a fast result, but that could apply for TV… not a live demo. But seriously, the 3 items would normally have cost you like $80, but the offer was all 3 for just $29.95. They’d probably make good stocking stuffers or gifts for a holiday work party, but I don’t think I’d really trust the products in my kitchen.

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Why I Should Have Used Inspect It Neil For My Home Inspection

Inspect It Neil KipnisSometimes, you do online research when it comes to finding someone good at doing services such as home inspections. That was the case when we used Accuracy Home Inspection.

I must not have looked well enough since Inspect It Neil did not come up on my radar. That was until he was the home inspector for the buyers of my house. He reminded me of my godfather in looks a bit, but this is about the inspection.

Neil Kipnis, who is the home inspector, asked a lot of questions. Enough questions to the point that it got annoying as the seller.

Especially his tone when I didn’t have a good response to said questions. However, I think I would have wanted that type of mentality as a buyer.

Stu Devlin, the man who I paid to inspect my house, asked questions as well. However, he didn’t note some significant things that Inspect It Neil found.

I’m not saying they would have been fixed when I bought the house, but it would have been good to know. I’ll consider using Neil Kipnis if I choose to purchase another home.

Business Card Count: 34,968

Is There a Doctor Besides Gary Misko Jr of Pemcare in the House?

Dr Gary Misko PemcareFinding a great doctor is hard to do. That’s because the perfect doctor for you takes a level of trust.

Unfortunately, I never felt that with Dr. Gary Misko of Pemcare. It’s a tricky and complex situation to be critical of a doctor since they have so much more medical knowledge than you do.

There were a few reasons I can think of why I did not feel this trust:

  1. Bedside manner. A lot of the time, he didn’t seem too interested in me as a patient. I understand that I didn’t see him too often, but it was over a 7-year span. It could be attributed to him just not being very emotional, which I can’t fault him for.
  2. Self diagnosis. I really hate to diagnose myself, but I sometimes felt like my self diagnosis was just what he went with. It could have been right, so I can’t fault that.
  3. Dropping the ball. The one time I really needed him, the ball got dropped. I had a medical issue, knew I had it and told the doctor when I needed a referral to see a specialist. He told me to come back if the symptoms keep persisting. I went back the next day and paid a 2nd set of co-pay just to get said referral I wanted to ensure I was healthy (which I am!).
  4. He’s my ex’s doctor. I first went to him since he was close by and the primary care physician of my ex and I never felt a real attachment to him.

So 2 out of the 3 big gripes I have, I’m not sure if I could fault Dr Misko for. The 3rd one is definitely on him, especially when he said “yup, that’s what happened to you medically.” The one perk was that he welcomed walk-ins and I never had to wait more than 20 minutes to be seen by him. I also never questioned his skills or credibility as a doctor.

Dr Jay StarrFor me, trust is something I don’t give very easily and very few people have my trust. I think that I’ve only really completely trusted one non-specialist doctor in my life: Dr Jay Starr, my childhood doctor.

The trust goes beyond just medical practice: it’s with friends, family and significant others. I’m blessed to have a set of people in my life that I trust, but now I need to get myself a doctor who I can trust as well.

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Patria Latin Bistro: Why You Should Only Go For Drinks

Patria Latin Bistro Rahway NJI’ve been enjoying more Latin food since I met Jess. And one of the places that I tried and really enjoyed was Patria Latin Bistro in Rahway, New Jersey. And we went there a couple of times.

And the experiences were very different even though we got food and drinks both times because of one key thing: a renovation/revamp at the restaurant. It had the restaurant closed for a couple of weeks, but I didn’t know what an impact it would have on the food.

I will say that the drinks were amazing both times, specifically the Buen Amor (champagne and hibiscus liqueur with an edible flower inside the glass) and the Patria in Paris (Grey Goose melon vodka, Chambord, pineapple juice & lime juice).

The First Time

When we went pre-renovation, we ate:

  • Chorizo: paprika spiced sausage sautéed with garlic & sherry
  • Guacamole served with plantain chips
  • Pernil Asado: slow-cooked oven-roasted suckling pig served with yuca con mojo, sweet plantains & black bean sauce
  • Salmon a la Plancha: sautéed salmon with shitaki mushrooms, zucchini & fingerling potatoes in a chili pasilla malta sauce

Everything was so delicious and well-flavored. We went to go back again for a fun night and that’s when we found out Patria was closed for renovation. We eventually did.

The Second Time

Post-renovation Patria Latin Bistro was a much different experience, especially since all of the food we enjoyed was off the menu. We ate:

  • Bay scallops with olives in a romesco sauce
  • Croquettas: confit pork, dijonaise & pickled shallot conserva
  • Pork tacos
  • Yuca chorizo hash

This food this time around was very underwhelming outside of the hash side dish. We couldn’t put our finger on it at first, but then we realized what the issue in every dish was: a lack of seasoning. The main parts on each dish (scallops, croquetta, pork) tasted so bland and relied on other ingredients & sauces to make them tasty. The food was well cooked (i.e. not raw), but the taste left a lot to be desired.

Upon doing research for this blog, including digging around their Facebook page for some menu items since their website has the much more appetizing old menu, I read that they hired a new chef. I guess that explains things.

I’d go back for drinks, but make sure I have a full stomach. Or some snacks in my pockets.

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