Johnnie’s Hideaway

28 09 2012

Earlier this week, I was in Orlando for work. All day meetings= lots of time sitting down inside with no windows. Ugh.

I feel like I was in a constant cycle of eat, sit, eat, sit, eat, sleep. I went out to lunches and dinners with my coworkers, and most of the meals I had were just okay, as we hit up the big chains in the area: Friday’s, Planet Hollywood, Chevy’s. However, on Tuesday, we hit up a new-to-me restaurant, Johnnie’s Hideaway.

Johnnie’s is part of the Talk of the Town Restaurant Group– they own Charley’s Steakhouse, FishBones, MoonFish, Texas Cattle Company, Vito’s Chop House & Johnnie’s Hideaway- and their motto is “Think Globally, act locally, dress casually.” I like it!

We went in with the original plan to hit up happy hour and snag some cheaper appetizers. Unfortunately, we sat in the dining room, where happy hour didn’t apply 😦

Our waiter was great, giving just detailed enough descriptions of his favorites, which led me to order the Truffled Portabella Fries for the table.

Battered in a rice flour and flash fried, they were outstanding! The white truffle flavor wasn’t overpowering, and the portobellos were cooked perfectly. Oh, and did I mention they were served with a gorgonzola fondue?

Topped with bacon and scallions. Yes, this is what sold me!

Our waiter also served us some of their house-made pickles.

 

They were sweet like bread and butter chips, but had a little kick at the end from the hot sauce they were made with. Yum!

We were also served the cheesy buttery bread which was served warm and tasted oh so good. I didn’t nab a picture, I was too busy scarfing it down!

I had arrived at Johnnie’s not super hungry, so I opted to order something light as my entree. I looked to the raw bar menu and ordered the lump crab cocktail.

It was loaded with crab, and hit. the. spot!

I had also ordered the sauteed mushrooms to share with one of my coworkers. Apparently I was in a mushroom kinda mood?

They were tasty, but we didn’t even get through half of them!

All of the other food on the menu sounded delicious and my coworkers enjoyed their meals too. I wanted to try it all!

Oh, and the dessert table was outta control! There was a slice of chocolate cake that could have fed our table of 6! We actually had a slice of their piña colada cake to share to celebrate a coworker’s birthday. Again, delicious!

I was very pleased with the service and the food and was already wondering when I could come back, when our waiter brought us the checks.  With them, he handed us a card with a number to text which would walk you through a 3 question survey about your dining experience. For taking the time to complete the survey, you would receive a $25 gift card. Well that’s easy enough! It’s not like I needed any extra motivation to make a return visit, but I certainly won’t turn down $25 to use on that visit!

Thanks for a great meal, Johnnie’s! I can’t wait to come back!





Central Florida Blogger Conference 2012 (the morning)

17 09 2012

Are there tweets and widgets and media guides and pitch letters and SEOs and Facebook pages coming out of my ears?

No? That’s weird, because on Saturday, I felt like my brain was overflowing with all of the information I learned at the Central Florida Blogger Conference. I had an absolute blast at CFLBlogCon 2012 meeting and networking with other bloggers as well as learning a ridiculous amount of useful information that I can apply to blogging. I’m still processing a lot of it, but I’ll do my best to share some of the most salient points.

The Orlando Science Center hosted the event, and it was such a cool venue! The opening session was held in the IMAX theater, which was a really great idea.  Katy Widrick, one of the fantastic planners, got the conference rolling.

She is 37 weeks pregnant, and absolutely stunning!

Her opening spiel was interrupted by a surprise flash mob!

The dancers were from YowDance, and they did such an incredible job. I was definitely awake and ready to get my conference on after that performance!

The Keynote speaker was Lou Mongello, a “recovering lawyer” from Jersey who has turned his passion for Disney into a full time job. He is an author, host and producer of the WDW Radio show, blogger, speaker, and father. His talk, “Quit Your Job, and Do What You Love Full Time” was super inspiring.

I took away a lot from his talk, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Pursue your passion and find your audience.
  • Think big, dream big, go big.
  • Treat this as your profession.
  • Be committed and passionate.
  • Go pro from Day 1. You never know who is listening/reading.
  • Do more, be everywhere.
  • Create content in a way that most people are comfortable using it/consuming.
  • Engage your audience. Fans=friends=loyalty=evangelists
  • Believe in yourself and BE yourself.
  • Stop taking freebies. This is your business too, and they need to understand that
  • Take a leap of faith but bring a parachute.
  • Want to quit your job? It can be done, but it takes time, commitment, patience, confidence, faith, a supportive spouse.
  • The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.
  • The 5 Ps: Passionate, Prepared, Patient, Persistent, Positive

I’m not taking that plunge anytime soon, but he certainly gave me a lot to think about.

Next, I went to Callie’s session, “Marketing Yourself: How to Build Your Media Kit.”

She did a great job and spoke to a packed room!  A Media kit aka my blog’s resume doesn’t exist- yet. After this session, I started a “To Do” list. 😉

Next on my jam-packed agenda was “Fitting Blogging into Your Life,” presented by MomJovi, Crazy Running Legs, and Cook the Story.

They also did an excellent job, and one of the key takeaways from this one was to make the social media tools that are out there work for you! Jackie (MomJovi) talked about TweetDeck and HootSuite, both of which I had heard of, but I only used their phone app when the regular Twitter app wasn’t working. What I didn’t realize was how different and USEFUL the computer versions of these apps are! I added “Try TweetDeck and HootSuite on my computer” to my to do list. Christine (Cook the Story) talked a lot about how she makes Pinterest work for her. I got a lot of great tips from her- use Pinvolve on my Facebook page, contribute to group boards, get a “Pin it” plug in. But most of all, I realized that I need to use Pinterest more than I currently do! I have an account, but if you ask me how often I pin something, or look at boards, I’d give you a blank stare because I don’t remember the last time I did.

Next up: “Foundation, Trust & Content: 3 Core SEO Principles Your Blogging Strategy Needs to Pay Attention To ” presented by Tom Jelneck of On Target Web Solutions. Now SEO is not an acronym that I think about all that often. I know what it means (Search Engine Optimization) but I don’t REALLY know what it means.  Tom did a good job of speaking in layman’s terms, but I think I need a really basic crash course on what SEOs really are, how they work, and why I need to know about them. I was able to deduce some of that information from this session, but SEO is still a question mark in my head. However, this session did get me thinking about how Google “thinks” and finds my site. Sure, when I blog I intentionally choose tags and categories to make the blog more searchable, but I never really thought about the criteria that Google uses to index my site. (“Index” was a term that was thrown around a lot in this session. From what I understand, if your site is “indexed” it will show up in a Google search. The goal is to be indexed on one of the first few pages, because those are most likely to be seen by internet searchers.)

A few tips I picked up:

  • True SEO is all about your ability to write. It’s all about the audience. Knowing what your audience is looking for.
  • The more you blog with rich relevant content, the more Google wants it.
  • Keep the site clean (in terms of the coding); you don’t need a lot of plugins becuase they make it run slower, and harder for Google to find.
  • Don’t try to outsmart the search engine. They will win.
  • You don’t want id=? in the permalink! That’s bad and makes it unsearchable!
  • Google wants words not graphics. Use every opportunity to use text not graphics.
  • Google wants to trust your website. You build trust by consistently posting good content.
  • Are you helping to build/improve the web? If you write amazing content you will be rewarded!

By this point, my tummy was growling. I knew that Bahama Breeze was catering the event, so I couldn’t wait to get downstairs to eat!

I know this post is getting kind of long, so I’ll give you a sneak peek of lunch, and will return with Part II of my post on the Central Florida Blogger Conference.

Question of the day: Have you ever been to a blogging conference? What was the most useful thing you learned?





Garabaldis

2 04 2012

Hi friends! How was your weekend? Congrats to all the folks who raced this weekend, especially those who did the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler!

I was actually supposed to run in the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, but since it was no longer a convenient race for me, I gave my bib away. (Side note- I actually registered for the race in the fall, sitting at a coffee shop in Tampa before meeting up with Meghann for the first time. I was checking out Tampa after my interview; who would have thought I’d actually be here now!)

Instead, I spent the weekend in Orlando with Bill. I always have a great time hanging out with this goof ball.

We took this picture before our bike ride FAIL. On Saturday, we planned on going for a long ride on the Seminole Wekiva Trail,  a trail about 30 minutes from Bill’s house. When we left the house, there were a few clouds rolling in, but we packed up the bikes anyhow, thinking we might be able to beat the storm. When we were about 10 minutes away from the trail head, a steady rain started to fall. Bill smiled at me and said, “You live in Florida now, you need to learn to train in the rain.” Yes coach 🙂

We got to the trail head and it was still raining steadily, with no signs of letting up. Bill and I looked at each other and decided we didn’t drive all the way out here just to turn around. So, we threw on our gear, quickly grabbed our bikes and hit the trail.

We didn’t really look at the map in detail before we left, and two miles in we came to an intersection. We were soaking wet, and not sure that we were even headed in the right direction in the first place, so we opted to go back and see if the trail kept going in the other direction. We were headed in the direction of the car, and still the rain was beating down on us. After about a mile, we decided to call it quits when we got to the car. We weren’t getting a good workout in, and we were both pretty miserable. We rode a grand total of 4 miles. Wah. Wah.

At least I got some training in the rain in, right? 😉

One thing we did this weekend that wasn’t a fail was eating at Garabaldi’s. This place had authentic, delicious, and cheap Mexican food. We went at the suggestion of Courtney, and it did not disappoint!

I started with a tasty margarita, and munched on chips and salsa while we perused the menu. The salsa had a little bit of heat, but it was fresh and tasty!

We also ordered a guacamole appetizer, which was quite tasty! It was tough to make a decision, since everything sounded so good, and the pictures made your mouth water. When it was time to order, Bill went with the cheese enchilada and bean burrito.

I ordered a sope and a pork carnitas taco. My mouth dropped when I saw how big the sope was:

I was expecting something much smaller, which is why I ordered a taco too!

Both of my dishes were outstanding and incredibly filling. I was definitely happy with my choice, and so was Bill. This place was a winner in my book!

What really made the meal was our decision to order fried ice cream for dessert.

Best. decision. ever. Crispy on the outside, and cold, delicious vanilla ice cream on the inside. Mmmmmm yum!

If you’re ever in Orlando, check out Garibaldis! You will not be disappointed!