I Went to The Melting Pot and I Didn’t Have to Cook My Meal!

17 03 2015

A few weeks ago, Bill and I enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Melting Pot with some of his friends. I haven’t been to the Melting Pot since I lived in DC, so I was really excited to visit their St. Pete location. If you’ve never been to a Melting Pot, it’s such a fun dining experience. If you choose the typical 4-course menu, you’ll be treated to a salad, a cheese fondue appetizer, your entree, which you cook in a delicious broth at your table, and then the pièce de résistance: the chocolate fondue for dessert. All the food is delicious, and if you’re in the mood for a romantic, casually-paced meal (and if you’re super hungry!) you definitely need to check it out.

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Our dining experience was going to be a little non-traditional. We were lucky enough to get a sneak-peak of The Melting Pot’s newest menu: FonDONE. The FonDONE still provides you with your salad, cheese fondue and chocolate fondue, but the one difference is that you order an entree (or several, as they are more like small plates) and sides that will be prepared in the kitchen and delivered to the table, done! No need to wait for the bowl of cooking sauce to boil or for your meat/vegetable to come to the proper internal temperature. The cooking is done for you, and you just need to eat!

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For our party of 6, we started our meal with two different cheeses: the spinach artichoke and the tomato basil cheddar. Served with apples, veggies, and some crusty bread, both of these warm, gooey cheese were winners, though I think I preferred the spinach artichoke a tiny bit more. We also ordered one of the new sides (typically served as a pair to an entree) to dip: rosemary fries. YUM! Crispy with just the right touch of rosemary and salt, these were great by themselves or dipped in cheese!

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We moved on to the salad course, where I enjoyed the pear and gorgonzola salad. Sorry, I didn’t grab a photo!

Finally, it was FonDONE time! Since we were there as guests to try the new menu, we didn’t have a full selection of the FonDONE menu, but it didn’t matter- the options we had all sounded so delicious! I went with the filet mignon and wild mushroom sachetti.

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All the entrees are served with 3 warm dipping sauces: Goat cheese fondue, marsala (a sweet marsala wine sauce topped with Gorgonzola crumbles), and savory cabernet (a red wine demi glace reduction).

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We also ordered the remainder of the shareable sides to try out: quattro macaroni and cheese, seasonal roasted vegetables, and the fresh asparagus risotto.

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Wow. Everything was SO DELICIOUS. My filet was cooked perfectly and laid atop a pile of mashed potatoes. And the sachetti, which was a little purse (sachet) filled with a mushroom blend- so savory, so good! The sauce- I’m not entirely sure what it was- but it was out of this world! I really enjoyed the three additional dipping sauces too- of course the goat cheese was my favorite! My only challenge was that the sauces were shared and I didn’t want to double dip- so I had to cut, and then switch to my fondue stick, dip, and then put back on my plate to eat with my fork. It was a little bit of a process, and I think I’d prefer to actually have my own cup of sauce so I could just dip with my fork. I’m also not sure I really needed the sauces- the entrees were wonderful by themselves! Other than that, I was super happy with my two entrees. It was definitely enough food too, especially with all of the other courses we had!

The sides were great as well- I think my favorite was probably the macaroni and cheese, but the risotto was a close second. I like that I got to try a little of each side, rather than just have the one I ordered.

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For dessert, we ordered a dark chocolate with Grand Marnier, and the turtle (chocolate with caramel and pecans). I barely had room for any more food, but who can pass up chocolate, especially warm, dark chocolate?? This is always my favorite course at the Melting Pot, and our choices did not disappoint. I really liked the turtle fondue, since we requested dark instead of milk chocolate. Mmmmm. SO good!

I left the restaurant with a full belly and a smile on my face. What a great dinner!

I really enjoyed the FonDONE concept. Sure, I like the experience that is cooking your own food, but when I go out to eat, it’s usually because I don’t want to cook! So, it was great to have a high-quality, kitchen-prepared meal delivered to the table. I really like the “small plates” idea, since I love to explore and try different things. I could see myself coming to the Melting Pot for just a few of the small plates alone. Of course, I’d also return for the full four-course option, but I think next time, I’d only get one entree because of all the other food. I’d highly recommend checking out the FonDONE option if your Melting Pot is offering it!

Full disclosure: My meal was comped (Thank you Dan and Jewell!) but all opinions are my own! 





What’s Going On?

6 02 2015

And I said HEY-YEA-YEAH -YEAH…anyone else singing that song? Just me? Oh. Ok.

Anywho- I figured I’d check in with a life update- I know, super exciting for a Friday post, but hey, you gotta take writing inspiration where you find it.

Fitness:

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I’m still struggling to find my run mojo. I ran a few times in December, and both times I did my “normal” 4k loop around my house. Unfortunately, I’m so out of shape that my calves were sore for several days after and that killed my desire to run. However, I ran earlier this week, just 2k this time, and a) no soreness and b) I actually wanted to go for another run, but rain and my yoga challenge got in the way. I guess technically I could have run on the treadmill, but who wants to do that when it’s perfect running weather outside?

Speaking of my yoga challenge, I’ve got 9 days left (well, I guess 8 by the time this publishes)- and I have to make ALL of them in order to get my 21 days in. I’ve missed 3 classes because I chose not to go (lazy!) and the studio was closed for Gasparilla and then the city shut off the neighborhood’s water so classes were cancelled. Thankfully, they’ve added one more day to the challenge to make up for the unexpected closing. I’ve really enjoyed regularly practicing yoga; however, I do find myself missing my beloved cardio. It’s too bad because the classes I like to go to just so happen to be at the same time I’d normally run (since I haven’t been able to get my butt out of bed in the morning to run). I’m glad I’ve learned this, but I don’t think I’ll ever be a 5x per week yogi.

Fun:

So I mentioned Gasparilla above- and for those of you who don’t know, Tampa has a festival every year at the end of January, where we “celebrate” the pirate Jose Gaspar and his “rule” over southwest Florida. Basically, beginning right after New Years, all things pirate-themed start popping up in Tampa. Houses are decorated, costumes are sold, and beads- tons and tons of beads are commonplace. It’s basically Mardi Gras with pirates. It just so happens to always be around my birthday, but since being in Tampa, I’ve never actually been a part of the festivities.

This year, I made a point to at least check out the parade. Drunken debauchery isn’t really my thing, but I really just wanted to see what the fuss was all about. Bill and I stopped at my friend Jennica’s house for some food and drinks before heading over to Bayshore to catch some of the parade.

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Oh, it’s also an excuse to dress up, which can be kind of fun!

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Holy masses of people. The crowd for the parade was probably about 10 feet deep, before it thinned enough to walk through, and the majority of people had been drinking since 9am (or earlier)- it was after 3 by this point.

Bill and I walked along the outskirts of the crowd, people watching, and occasionally grabbing some beads thrown from the floats. I noticed that there were a ton of police officers from surrounding counties there- there were so many people, the reinforcements were necessary. There were a few occasions where I saw a police officer hovering over some poor drunk person who was vomiting in the streets. Gross. Keep it classy Tampa.

The parade? To be perfectly honest, I thought it was pretty lame- just floats (some fancier than others) where people were throwing beads. Yay? We were there for maybe an hour before deciding we’d had enough and headed to one of our friend’s houses.

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The one thing that struck me as we rode home for the night was what I’ll call carnage- there were beads, cups, trash, and just loads of stumbling people all over town, hours after the parade had ended. It certainly is quite the day in Tampa, but I think I’ll stick to going to friend’s parties away from the mess of the parade.

And finally, Food:

Trader Joes is my jam y’all. The other night for dinner, I nom’d on wine, cheese, and other crudités. Have you guys had the caramelized onion cheddar from TJ’s yet? OMG I could eat it all in one sitting! And those cherry peppers? The perfect combination of sweet and heat!

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Another night, I went to TJ’s hungry, had a bite of what they were sampling, and hook-line and sinker the ingredients ended up in my cart.

IMG_7666Veggie Masala burgers with peach chutney (mixed with some Greek Yogurt) served on some of their frozen naan? DELISH! If I hadn’t taken the time to make the sweet potato fries, this would have been a complete meal in 10 minutes. Easy peasy.
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Another frozen section find: Vegetable Fried Rice. Bill and I could live on fried rice from Kombo Kitchen (me: pineapple fried rice; him: thai fried rice), so we decided to give TJ’s a go. I stir fried it in my wok, and doctored it up with some soy sauce, tempeh, tomatoes, and some frozen green peppers. It was really tasty, but it wasn’t Kombo. IMG_7681

And finally, there is nothing better than a warm croissant and a good cup of joe. Well, maybe if they were pumpkin croissants, which is what I got from TJs. I think they are typically a fall special, but the last time I was at TJs there were a few boxes left, so I grabbed one. They’re frozen, and come 4 to a package. You need to take them out the night before, lay them on a buttered baking sheet, and in the morning, they’ll have doubled in size (or even tripled!) and they’re ready to bake. As long as you remember to take them out the night before, this is SUCH a delicious and easy breakfast. They’re warm, buttery, and there’s just enough of this pumpkin pie-like filling. Breakfast perfection. And cheaper than the croissants at Starbucks. Win. Win.
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So, what’s been going on with you?





Friday Favorites

23 01 2015

Happy Friday! I’m so glad that today has arrived- mostly because Bill returns from 10 days away! Yippee!

This week had some highlights that I wanted to share with you, so I figured I’d do it in a Friday Favorites post.

Here goes:

1. The new SOAS Racing run capris.

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Oh my goodness, these are THE BEST workout capris I own. I put them on immediately after opening the package, and didn’t take them off for the rest of the day. It was like my legs had been enveloped in a big hug. They’re just so cozy, and they fit perfectly! They ride a little higher in the waist than I was expecting and have a wide waistband, but that just makes them that much more flattering. I want to order all the other colors now too! I highly recommend these babies!

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2. Great customer service.

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I’ve been eyeing the new ISM PN 1.1 saddle, mostly because it comes in hot pink, but also becuase I struggled with saddle sores last season and I’m wondering if I just have the wrong one for my body. I stuck out the season on my TimeTrial, but I really need to figure out what is going on down there. So, I tweeted at ISM asking if they had a demo saddle of the new PN1.1, since I figured most of the bike shops wouldn’t have it to demo yet. I was asked to email them, and after a super friendly exchange, I made an appointment to head up to the ISM office, which is about 30 minutes from where I am in Tampa. If I wasn’t already a fan, my trip up there would have made me. ISM is really a small company, but they have such a large footprint in the cycling and triathlon world. It was so neat to walk in to their space, which was surprisingly small for a company that is so well known around the world. They have that local business feel, but yet everyone in the cycling world knows who they are.

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Anyhow, I explained what had been going on with my current saddle, and he got me on the trainer, and adjusted away. He mad small adjustments- millimeters- and spent over an hour with me, trying to get me to the MOST comfortable position. That’s what ISM is all about: comfort- it’s even in their mission! After playing around with my old saddle, and getting to a pretty good spot, he got me on a demo of the new PN1.1. It’s a bit softer than the Time Trial, and felt pretty darn good while I rode. It was slightly more comfortable, but I need to ride it more for the real test. However, even after that short ride trying it out, no saddle sores!

I’m gonna take it out for a few more longer rides before deciding if I’m going to purchase it. If you don’t have an ISM saddle, check them out- it will change your life (well, at least the way you feel when you ride))!

3. Kitty Cuddles

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My kitties have spent a lot of time spooning and washing each other this week, and I can’t get enough! ‘Nuf said.

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4. 21 class Yoga challenge

I’m 3 days in (as of Thursday night when I’m writing this) and I’m so excited about this challenge. It is nice to have an athletic goal again! And, I’m already seeing improvements in my practice since I’ve started doing more yoga in the past month or two. I can’t wait to see how consistent, regular practice changes me!

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Tell me, what’s a Friday Favorite for you this week?

 

 








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