Today we took the kids on a long wagon ride to the park, and we met the most interesting people from around the world. I always feel very fortunate when I meet someone from another country, because Lakeland can sometimes feel very insular. I exchanged numbers with a woman who just moved here from Germany, and I hope to get to know her better and be friends. She seemed like a very happy person; she told me she loves listening to reggae and dance hall, so I feel like she has a fun personality right off the bat. Another man that we met was from Morocco, and he was telling me all about proper tagines and how difficult it is to find preserved lemons around here. He and my husband exchanged numbers, so maybe we will all get together for a delicious tagine dinner some time. Who knows? I certainly was not expecting such adventure when I set my first foot out the door, but still it found us!
Afterward, we went for lunch at The Poor Porker. We hadn’t been in a while, but as we’ve been walking much more lately we have discovered (and rediscovered) these neat local spots that are actually just a short jaunt away. We came to pick up our first CSA bag from Crum Brothers Family Farm, which Robyn told us about when we first stopped in yesterday. I am so happy with what we received — a few sunflowers brightening up our windowsill, plenty of kale, collards, mustard greens, and delicious veg we wouldn’t normally have access to like pea shoots, wild tomatoes, French breakfast radishes, and a Peruvian herb called huacatay (or black mint). So far we have been snacking on everything as is, which tastes delicious, but I want to come up with something that will really do justice to this beautiful produce.
Speaking of delicious, Rowan tasted his first guava and cheese pastry from La Imperial Bakery yesterday. The three of us shared a piece while Piper was at school, but we will be bringing her by for a treat sometime soon. Gosh, guava jam just sends me into a reverie. For my birthday this year, by mom and dad bought me a cheesecake that had some guava jam on top, and since then I’ve been daydreaming about the perfect flavor combination of guava and sweet cream/cheese. Take those flavors and wrap them in a flaky, honey scented pastry reminiscent of baklava, and that will get you pretty close to the treat we enjoyed Friday. If you are local, go get you one!
Will and I recently went on a date (hooray!) at Patio 850. We walked there later in the afternoon, just as the weather was cooling down. Will showed me a nearby mural painted on the back of someone’s house in the alleyway, and we found a citrus tree with baby clementines on it. When we got to the restaurant we found our seat outside — the weather was beautiful — and then split our entire meal. We started off with a salad plate of micro greens, pesto, mozzarella cheese, and a variety of tomatoes. Then we split a filet with the creamiest mashed potatoes and spinach, which all came with a portion of rich, sweet gravy. We washed it all down with a shared glass of Don Genaro Cabernet.
Afterward, we walked some more (quite a bit more, frankly) to Cob and Pen and greedily shared another meal — this time a plate of loaded fries with beer cheese, bacon, creme fraiche and hot sauce and shared what tasted like the best beer ever, Sandy Feet by Walking Tree Brewery (which I think is local to Florida). It was so crisp and flavorful, and perfectly balanced out all that salty, fatty deliciousness.
So yes, as you can see we have been exploring quite a lot (and eating a lot, too), but it’s so fun to discover these popular places around town that we hadn’t had a chance to visit until recently. It’s even better when it is balanced out with lots of exercise and family togetherness.
I will keep you all posted as to what I make with the CSA produce. Have a great rest of your weekend! Leave me a comment and let me know what you have been up to, and what you have been cooking!