Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Boca Raton Tree Lighting Ceremony

©City of Boca Raton

I realize it is November.  Late November, actually.  I'm sitting outside as I write this, savoring the cool breeze, but still in a tank top and shorts.  I just learned that my old hometown is snowed in this morning.  Is it any wonder that it just doesn't feel like the holiday season to me yet?  If you are a northern transplant like I am, I wonder how you "get in the spirit?"  I haven't shopped a bit, I've hardly thought about my Christmas cards yet…I seriously need a good dose of mistletoe and holly.

I'm hoping that Thanksgiving will do just that.  It's possible that this may be my favorite holiday.  Everyone sitting around the table.  Lots of food, lots of love and everyone thankful for what they already have!  Plus, the weather report looks like it may cool down substantially!  This may be exactly what I need to get into the spirit!

Plus, I think Boca may help me out in that department…

On Wednesday, November 25 from 5:30-8:30pm, there is to be a Tree Lighting Ceremony at Mizner Park!  Cooler weather, a glistening tree, maybe some holiday music…hopefully, that will be just what the Doctor ordered!

Hope to see you there!

XO, Ami

Friday, November 22, 2013

Funny Find Friday: Only in Boca

I'll match my mittens with my bikini, thank you.

Perhaps the rest of the South Florida Population doesn't find this odd at all.  I, on the other hand, dodged ladies with babies and shopping carts to capture this image:

 You gotta giggle!

XO, Ami

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Celiac Braving the Boca Restaurant Scene: First Watch

I very rarely eat out.  This is actually quite sad because I am a self-proclaimed foodie and, as much as I enjoy cooking, I really love for somebody else to do it for me every once in awhile.

A recent discovery of mine, thanks to the Find me Gluten Free App, is a place called FirstWatch.  This is a chain that promises to take your food allergies seriously, so I decided to seriously give it a try.  It is a breakfast and lunch place only, so I'm still on a quest for a good dinner joint.  I'd love some recommendations in my comments…yes, I mean it!

The place has the feel of a refreshed diner.  More modern, cleaner, fresher.  Less Grease.

 They have a separate Gluten Free menu, but you can discuss all your individual needs with the server, who will *hopefully* convey your needs to the chef, who will then look after you.  My issues are not solely gluten, but soy and dairy as well.  They did some checking for me to make certain I'd be safe.

FirstWatch Chicken and Cherry Quinoa Power Bowl sans dressing

My Husband's Gluten-filled breakfast

Notes for the chef

Cobb salade sans dressing, bread and Blue cheese substituted with goat

Greek Fetish Omelet sans Bread

This menu can also be found at FirstWatch.com

Daughter's Hot Chocolate (Contains wheat starch)
She proclaimed it to be the best hot chocolate in the world

Everyone was happy with their food.  Was it spectacular?  Do I dream of it at night?  No, but it sure beats Denny's.  My hunger was satisfied and I didn't feel like a heart attack waiting to happen afterwards.  The only real complaint was over the coffee.  A breakfast place should have really good coffee, just saying!  It came out quickly, but tasted very fresh.  Fast, inexpensive…and you can let somebody else do the dishes!

XO, Ami
First Watch on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Calling All Boca Raton Whovians!



This is event is currently over.  What a wonderful evening, though!  I had no idea there were so many Whovians in Boca Raton!  It was truly one of the best nights we've had lately!  Thanks to all who came out!

Can you just hear the theme music?  The call of the TARDIS?  We are a mere handful of days away from the 50th Anniversary Special: The Day of the Doctor!  About a month ago, plans for a simulcast were announced.  I have to admit that I was disappointed to learn that there were no screenings near me…until last week that is!  Yep!  The call for new locations to converge with other Whovians and watch the special on a big screen were answered!  Boca Raton made it on the new list! Alons y!  A note to Whovians everywhere, though:  The Simulcast is not actually simultaneous.  This experience takes place on Monday, November 25, while the original broadcast will be Saturday, November 23 at 2:50 est.  So, if I were you, I'd watch it twice.

You have your fez, multi-colored scarf and Sonic Screwdriver all ready to go, right?  Now how do you get tickets?

I went to my trusty Fandango.com and searched up Day of the Doctor in my zip code.  At last check, there was still availability!  So, go yell some Geronimo and get those tickets!

Then come back and watch the official trailer:

XO, Ami

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Mountain Mama Goes to the Movies

They say you can take the girl out of the mountains, but you can't take the mountains out of the girl...or something like that, you know how it goes.  It's Friday night, a brand new Disney movie is out.  It's time for a girls night at the movies!

In Virginia, especially on a night as warm and beautiful as it was on March 8 in Boca Raton, it was normal for us to end up at the local Drive-in.  That's right.  We still had one of those in Virginie.  Pick up trucks backed in with camping chairs in the bed, picnic blankets laid out with fare from the car hop diner next door, kids running around barefoot.  These nights were some of the best we had with friends, family and flicks!

At the Drive-In

Movie night in Boca was painted just a smidgeon differently.

First, we made reservations.  No, I didn't just buy tickets ahead in expectation of a sold out opening night...I reserved our specific seats...like on an airplane.  In first class.  Then we got there early.  I didn't quite know what I was getting myself into.  When we pulled up to the ipic, in Mizner Park, we were greeted by a young valet.  We handed over the keys, happy not to have to find parking.  I do believe that was the first time I ever used valet at the movies.  Quite different from the drive-in.  I didn't know I could go to the movies without self-parking on the grass.

As we entered the building, we were immediately impressed with the decor at Tanzy, the restaurant in the first level at the ipic.  It had this twisty, branch cave thing.  It was an instant kid magnet and something I'd love to have in my yard.  We didn't stop there, rumor had it we could get food (including Gluten Free Food) upstairs.


I don't know how they do it, but somehow they make a run-of-the-mill escalator ride seem like you're traveling to someplace exotic and exciting.  Maybe it depends on the movie.  Or maybe it really is exotic and exciting up there.  The mood lighting is set, there is a full bar and swanky seating.  The menu is mouth-watering.  Flatbreads, salads, sandwiches...and yes, even popcorn.  A note to my Gluten Free readers: Yes, the popcorn here is safe!  This place has reset the bar where movie dates are concerned.  The Regal will no longer cut it, I'm afraid.  Sorry, Honey.

Exotic Escalator

Waiting on the movie


Grilled cheese with bacon

Satay Chicken (Gluten free version)

Drink shakers, $15

Inside the theatre it looks more like a tripped out home theatre instead of a public one.  Each seat is big, posh and has a table top for all your goodies.  There are two tiers of seats.  The Premium are in the first couple rows.  Behind them sits the really lush seats...Premium Plus.  These recline, have pillows, blankets and a wait staff.  Hence the plus.  I'm not sure this a good deal though.   If I reclined with my pillow and blanket after the server brought me a drink drink...I'd be snoring in the ipic.  Who's a mountain Mama?

Even the bathroom is swankified

It was an experience for sure.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.  It could never take the place of my beloved Drive-in, but, in the end, it doesn't have to.  They are different experiences and each make their own respective towns special.

I'm kinda looking forward to going back, though…

Update: November 19, 2013

I have been back.  I've even tried the Premium Plus seats Twice.  Yeah, I went there.  I am happy to report that I did NOT fall asleep, but remained terribly comfortable the entire movie.  I haven't gotten too crazy in my food choices, given my allergies, but everyone has been extremely helpful in making sure I did not leave my movie going experience blown up like a Blueberry (yes, that was a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reference for those paying attention).

XO, Ami

iPic Theaters Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Meeting Doctors Too Soon

Homemade Chicken Soup, recipe below

Well, its been an interesting couple of weeks over here.  I guess you could say we are making ourselves at home.  You know, doing all those things that assure you are well established in a community such as visiting parks, malls, artistic venues...doctors offices.

My oh-so-graceful daughter loves gymnastics.  Loves it!  She was very involved in Virginia and could not wait to get into a class in Boca.  We joined Twisters.  This homeschooled child was hopeful she would gain skills as well as new friends!  Class number one, she felt shy and no one talked to her.  Class number two, she stepped down into a trampoline she didn't notice in the floor and WHAMO!  Broke her foot.

To the pediatrician we went!  Boca Pediatrics was quick to get her in and quick to send her for an x-ray.  I do enjoy Doctor Gardener.  She is kind, knowledgable and has a good disposition for dealing with kids (and parents for that matter).  On to West Boca Diagnostics...once again, they were friendly and warm and got the job done.  These two appointments took up most of the day, so our appointment with the Pediatric Orthopedist had to wait until morning.  I did appreciate that we would get to see a pediatric doctor...we only had regular orthopedists in our small town in Blacksburg.  We were sent to Doctor Danko with Kid's Choice Orthopedics.  She was knowledgeable and personable.  We got in and out... plus one extra left boot.

As if that wasn't enough, I came down with the plague.  No really, this stuff would have surely killed off a 3rd of London in the 1300's.  It proceeded to move through my family.  Two weeks later and we're still coughing and needing too much sleep...but the fever is gone and my voice is back- Alleluia!  In this time we ventured back to Boca Pediatrics.  They recommended allergy meds and cough syrup.  Yeah, I could have guessed that on my own.  We saw Doctor Levy once, who was jovial... and Doctor Armada who was brusque, snippy and in general, unpleasant.  We won't be seeing her again.  So upon returning back home, I did my normal thing and turned to cold fighting foods such as garlic, ginger, lemon and Manuka Honey with Ceylon Cinnamon.  My husband even made my homemade chicken  soup!  I would love to find a good Holistic Doctor in the area.

There is something about being pulled through the ringer that really makes you feel a part of your surroundings. {Insert eye roll...despite it being true} It's nitty and gritty and causes you to adapt.  I guess we are that much closer to home!  The gymnastics class has now been traded for a Class at the Boca Museum of Art and I am happy to say that the teacher is sweet and so are the classmates!

So lovely to have gotten our tour of Doctor's offices over with so we can now focus on fun things and good restaurants!

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup to cure what ails ya!

In a big pot, preferably with a colander pot inside like this:

Place 2 lbs of bone-in chicken wings with skin and cover with water.

Simmer for a few hours.

In the mean time, chop vegetables such as carrots, celery, onion, peppers, etc as well as some parsley, rosemary and thyme.  Or if you want to go spicier (opens your sinuses) then use cilantro, chilies and cumin powder.  Of course sea salt and pepper.

When the chicken is fully cooked and starting to fall off the bone, remove the colander pot and allow the chicken to cool enough to handle.

Place the vegetables, spices, a few Bay leaves and one cup of rice into the pot.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover.

During this time, skin and debone the chicken and tear into bite size hunks.

When the rice and veggies are tender, remove the Bay Leaves and add the chicken back in.

Adjust the spices to taste.

Serve over chunks of avocado if you wish!

XO, Ami

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Eating Big in Boca: Brio Tuscan Grille

It was our first Valentine's Day in Boca Raton.  A Thursday night.  As newcomers, we didn't get too adventurous in our dining choice.  We wanted safe.  Brio recently announced their new Gluten Free Menu.


At least, that was the hope.

At the top of the Gluten free menu, it stated that people with allergies needed to notify the server.  My confidence wavered slightly.  It would seem that this menu was created for those who chose to go gluten free...not for those of us who had to.

Still...like I said...first Valentine's Day in a new town.  Big changes here, people.  I looked forward with optimism!  Plus, the server was notified that I was not, in fact, on a fad diet...please don't poison me.

We ordered cocktails and bread was served.  No gluten free options, darn it.

I ordered the Pasta Pomodoro.  It really was lovely.  Pesto, tomato, pine nuts-- all glorious!

We took our time over dinner, savoring the flavors as well as the conversation.  Service was decent, not outstanding, but as well as expected.

Then it began...

a deep, thumping pain in my head.  The later it got, the worse it hurt until finally I couldn't even stand being with myself!

Valentine's evening...as good as ruined.

I got glutened. Mildly.

This is all speculation, of course, but the only answer I can come up with is, the pasta must have been boiled in the same water that regular pasta was cooked in.  Alas, I may never know.

Finally, after about 36 hours detoxing, I was back to standard issue Ami.

Would I go back?  Perhaps, but I will be more forceful when explaining my needs and fears of cross-contamination.  The food was good, service adequate.  However, there is a great big world of restaurants in Boca!  I think next time, I'll try something new.

XO, Ami

Brio Tuscan Grille on Urbanspoon