FonDONE Take 2!

13 04 2015

At the end of March, I was lucky enough to get an invitation back to The Melting Pot for another round of FonDONE! The kind folks at Front Burner Brands saw my first post about FonDONE and reached out to see if I could come back for a media event they were having. More cheese and chocolate? Yes, Please!

Bill and I headed over to St. Pete to the only Melting Pot that is serving FonDONE right now. I had no idea that this particular restaurant was so special- they often will pilot new concepts here and oh, and it’s also supposedly haunted:-) We didn’t see any ghosts while we were there, but we did get to meet up with some other bloggers/media who I had only ever interacted with via social media. I shared a table with Carlos Eats, his friend from the USF Foodies club, and Crystal from Thrifty and Frugal Living. There were two other tables of bloggers/writers, but unfortunately I was too busy eating to really get to talk to anyone else. We had one more special guest at our table: Mike Lester, THE president of the Melting Pot. NBD.IMG_8803

(not the most flattering picture, I apologize)

He was really cool; very passionate about what they’re doing at the Melting Pot, and clearly a leader who is respected by his staff. It was easy to see that the Melting Pot really fosters a sense of inclusion and “we’re family” among the staff, and he’s a key player in bringing those values to life.

We also got to meet the head chef, who has a very impressive resume, but of course the one thing he always gets asked about is that time he was the personal chef for Ludacris!

IMG_8802

I hadn’t really thought of it before, but Melting Pot restaurants who wish to bring FonDONE to their restaurant need to undergo a kitchen makeover. There’s no need for a cook top or oven right now (since you do it at your table)- but with FonDONE you need a chef and a kitchen in which he can work! That’s quite the investment, but I’m pretty sure it will pay off for sites that choose to add it to the menu!

For our event, they were highlighting a few speciality cocktails, so of course I had to try one (or two). I started with the Love Martini: malibu, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, and fresh strawberries. It was a little sweet, but if you like Malibu, you’ll LOVE this martini. IMG_8788

I sipped my martini while we got started on our appetizers. We began with the Wisconsin Trio and the Classic Alpine. I had never actually had the Classic Alpine before, which is a Gruyere, Raclette, and Fontina blend with some wine wine, garlic and nutmeg, but I definitely found my new favorite! The nutmeg just brings it all together (who knew? I guess the Swiss!) and it is dynamite on apples, carrots, bread, or some of their premium rosemary fries (new!!). Oh- and did you know that they have a charcuterie plate with accoutrements? Put together a dipper with salami, cornichon, sweet pepper, and bread- you won’t regret it!

IMG_8793

IMG_8790

After we got our fill of cheese, it was FonDONE time! The FonDONE menu offers small plates from a variety of categories: Beef & Pork, Poultry, Seafood, Pasta, and Vegetarian. We were offered 5 of the different dishes- and man, were we spoiled! We got to try:

The Filet Mignon, served on a small pile of wasabi mashed potatoes

IMG_1379

Lemon pepper chicken (served with a side of tri-color quinoa salad),

IMG_1381

Jumbo grilled shrimp (on a corn salad),

IMG_1383

Lobster tail (YES!!)

IMG_1382

and (my favorite) the Wild Mushroom Sacchetti in a marsala sauce.

IMG_1384

Now THAT’s a MEAL!

IMG_1378

As if that wasn’t enough, we obviously needed to have some side dishes: quattro macaroni and cheese (how can you go wrong with mac n cheese??) and the fresh asparagus risotto.

IMG_8814

Of course, the FonDONE is served with the trio of dipping sauces: Goat Cheese fondue, Marsala, and savory Cabernet. Yup, the Goat cheese was still my favorite!

IMG_8800

As I was filling myself to the gills with delicious food, it was time for another beverage. I had planned to wait until dessert to get my drink, but I just couldn’t wait. Enter: the Yin & Yang Martini:

IMG_8786

Godiva white chocolate Liquer and Stoli vanilla vodka blended with ice cream then topped with chocolate shavings. Oh, and served in a beautiful yin yang shape! This is probably the prettiest drink I’ve ever been served, and though I didn’t want to destroy the beautiful artwork, I just couldn’t wait to dive in.

O.M.G. Absolutely delicious. Dessert in a martini glass. It reminded me of the black and white milkshakes my mom used to make when I was younger (no, hers were not spiked). I would absolutely come back for that drink again. And again. And again.

When I didn’t think I could eat (or drink) anymore, I had to find a little more room for dessert! It was chocolate fondue time! We got two of the Melting Pot’s most popular chocolates: the Flaming Turtle (chocolate, caramel, and candied pecans, a la flambe, obviously!) and the Creme Brûlée (white chocolate and caramelized sugar).

IMG_8832

If you know me, I’m a dark chocolate fan. The darker, the better. I’m honestly not really a white chocolate person, and would probably never have ordered the Creme Brûlée fondue, but man, was it amazing! It definitely won a place in my heart (not overtaking dark chocolate, but a close second). I kept coming back to it, dipping all of the different dessert dippers (including one of the premium dippers: the raspberry cheesecake).

IMG_8835

IMG_8836

Yes, please!

And if the evening wasn’t special enough already, the servers brought out plates that had been decorated with our blog names!
IMG_8826

How awesome is that??

I was absolutely overwhelmed by the hospitality and kindness of the folks at the Melting Pot. They’re really excited about this concept- and it shows. They’re also SUPER open to feedback- they just want customers to have the BEST dining experience possible. I definitely think they’re doing something right, and I really hope that FonDONE takes off. It’s a great idea, and I can’t wait to go back for more! Thank you Front Burner Brands for the invite!


IMG_8817

(FULL DISCLOSURE: My meal was comped, but all opinions are my own!)





Spring Pasta Dinner

25 03 2013

Lately, I haven’t really been in the mood to cook. Life’s been crazy busy, and ordering Thai takeout is just so stinkin easy! Despite my hectic weekend, I was inspired to get back at it after a quick Publix trip.

IMG_6661A woman was sampling Galileo salami and pepperoni and my growling tummy guided me to her table to try some. It was pretty standard salami, but my hunger paired with the cute little recipe card with a tasty looking veggie + pasta dish on it was enough to make me decide that dinner was going to include this salami. The woman also gave me a $1.00 off coupon, which certainly didn’t hurt.

product-galilio_italian_dry_salame_slicedI already had some veggies in my cart, but I walked back to the produce section to grab some summer squash, zucchini, and some cherry tomatoes for the dish. More veggies in my cart is never a bad thing.

My initial thought when I got home with everything was to make a cold pasta salad. But after looking a little closer, this particular recipe was served warm, with a white wine butter sauce. Cooking with wine is definitely an excuse to pour myself a glass to enjoy  🙂

IMG_6673

So, I got to cooking and was done and ready to eat in the time it took to boil water and cook my (whole wheat) pasta! That’s a win in my book, since I usually find really involved and complicated recipes to delve into!

spring pasta plate

So if you’re looking for an easy weeknight meal, look no further! Grab some of your favorite veggies, some short cut pasta and you’re well on your way! Though it may not feel like spring where you are, hopefully this veggie-licious dish will help you keep your head up and thinking that spring WILL be just around the corner 😉

IMG_6664

Spring Pasta Dinner

(adapted from Galileo’s recipe for Pasta Primavera)

Ingredients:

~1/2 lb short cut pasta (I used orecchiette)
1 tbs olive oil
3 tbs butter, divided
1 cup Galileo sliced salami, shredded  (leave this out to make it vegetarian!)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced
1 cup broccoli florets, small
1/2 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 small summer squash, quartered and sliced
~1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1-2 large handfuls of spinach
1 cup white wine
1/2 grated cheese (I used Digiorno 3 cheese)
salt and pepper to taste
a dash of red pepper flakes (optional)

(Please note, the vegetable amounts are estimates. I used what I had on hand, you can use more or less of anything you want!)

How to:

Cook your pasta.

Meanwhile, chop your veggies and salami and heat a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter in a pan over medium heat.

When the butter/oil combo is nice and hot, add the sliced onions, garlic, and salami. Cook until the onions start to caramelize. Add the broccoli and mushrooms, cooking for another minute or two. Then add the zucchini and summer squash. Stir frequently and let the veggies cook for a few more minutes. Don’t let them get soggy! When the broccoli is nice and green, and the squash looks just about cooked, add the wine and cook let it simmer for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes right after you’ve added the wine- you just want to heat them through; otherwise they’ll get really mushy! Season with salt and pepper and add the final two tablespoons of butter and stir while it is still simmering. Add a dash (or more) of red pepper flake if you’d like.

In a large bowl, add the fresh spinach. When the pasta is done, drain it, and then pour it directly onto the bed of spinach. Top with the vegetable sauce. Toss to wilt the spinach. Finish with shredded cheese and you’re ready to dig in!





An Unwelcome Dinner Guest

8 08 2012

On Tuesday, I was in Orlando for a meeting, so Bill and I met up afterwards for dinner. We sat outside the restaurant under the overhang, where we were sheltered from the pouring rain. Shortly after we had placed our drink order, a scruffy man in his 60s came up to our table and started chatting with us.

“Hey, I’m Bob. And you’re…Bill,” them man said. Bill and I looked at each other and then back at the man laughing and telling him that actually, he was right. We started to engage in conversation with the man, but it soon became clear that he was drunk and/or on something. He stood by our table and rambled about a house boat up in Geneva and how he really liked people. Bill and I tried to be polite as he stood there talking, but after about ten minutes of his chatter, he became bothersome. He asked if he could join us, and Bill explained that we were on a date and don’t get much time to spend together, hinting that he was intruding on our dinner and not welcome. The man told us he’d be leaving any minute, as soon as the rain slowed. But, he kept talking. And talking. And talking. When the waiter came to take our order, he ordered himself a beer. I wondered if he expected us to pay for it. Again he kept talking about the house boat, reminded us he had eaten a salad here already, he asked our names again, and said how he really liked talking to people (that was crystal clear, thank you.) We responded to his comments as shortly as possible, and told him that maybe he should go talk to some other people. But, he didn’t leave. I was getting angry that he was infringing on the limited time I had with Bill. He wasn’t taking any of our social cues that he should move on; he just kept hovering at our table.

Finally, our waiter came with the food. The man started to say something about a beer, and I took that to mean he was ordering another, so I snapped. I sternly told the waiter “No, he does not need another beer.” The man defensively said that he was paying for his beer, and out of the corner of my eye I did notice he had pulled out a wallet. But I had reached my tipping point. I angrily told the man that he was being rude and interrupting my dinner and my time with my boyfriend. I told him that he needed to leave now.

I kind of shocked myself with my reaction, but I was fed up. He spent probably 30 minutes at our table, which well beyond his welcome. He didn’t have anything interesting to say to us, and in fact he was pretty creepy. I think he hovered so long because he  wanted a ride somewhere. After the man left, I jokingly said to Bill, “See I can get mad,” since that was the first time he had ever seen me angry.

Now, I believe that I’m a pretty compassionate person, and maybe if the situation had presented itself differently, we would have welcomed him to our table and paid for his beer. But I found him to just be an annoying, old, drunk. He pushed my buttons, to the point where I spoke up and told him to scram. Bill and I talked about it after and decided that we probably should have said something very direct earlier on in the conversation. However, we’d have to walk the thin line of being confrontational and just communicating that we wanted to eat dinner in peace. We ended our less than ordinary dinner with some fried ice cream. That makes everything better, right?

So tell me bloggies, how would you have responded in this situation?