Tasting Thomasville: Yoburst, George & Louie’s


Yoburst Frozen Yogurt

We love the toppings bar... perhaps a smidgen too much some visits.

We love the toppings bar… perhaps a smidgen too much some visits.

While we were still “camping out” at the Dollhouse before officially moving in, we gave into temptation and stopped by the frozen yogurt shop on E Pinetree Blvd (we passed it coming and going to Lowes, it was just a matter of time). It was not the last time.

While not a restaurant of the sort I’ve included in other Tasting Thomasville posts, the fact that we frequent this shop a couple times a month makes it definitely worth mentioning. From what I can tell they serve the Yocream brand of frozen yogurt (produced by Dannon) and they rotate flavors on a regular basis. Sometimes this is good (yay, variety!) and sometimes it’s bittersweet (like the amazing Rootbeer Float frozen yogurt they had on one trip).

I often opt for the Triple Chocolate paired with something else depending on the options. This last visit, after dinner Friday night, they had recently put out Pumpkin Pie, so I skipped the chocolate and paired it with Butter Pecan for a pie-flavored fro-yo-off. Both were delicious, especially topped with praline pecans and some cinnamon sauce! Todd’s favorites are the Country Vanilla and Cake Batter.

And, yes, we’re quite aware that frozen yogurt is only a half-step healthier (if that!) than going out for regular ice cream, but we also don’t care. Everything in moderation, including moderation!

George and Louie’s

Their options can be a bit overwhelming at first.

Their options can be a bit overwhelming at first.

Back into the realm of “real food” (as opposed to the imaginary sort, but you know what I mean) we ended up at George and Louie’s one evening after Todd saw they had gyros on the menu. It’s tucked back on Remington Ave (a street I’m just now getting my bearings on) and features self-seating and a walk-up counter for ordering. This threw me, at first, as we walked in about 30 minutes before closing that first time and I was a little overwhelmed by the series of chalkboards spanning the wall showcasing their southern-seafood-Greek offerings.

Crab Louie Special: obviously I made an exception to my Low-FODMAP lifestyle, but it's a saving grace that I can!

Crab Louie Special: obviously I made an exception to my Low-FODMAP lifestyle, but it’s a saving grace that I can!

That first night I went with the Crab Louie Special (when in doubt, I default to ordering the house special in a new place) which was a deviled crab cake, hushpuppies, Greek salad, and cheese grits, along with a glass of Merlot. The cheese grits were more like grits topped with cheese, so not what I think of when I order cheese grits, but other than that the meal was just perfect. The tartar sauce tasted homemade and, well, it’s hard to screw up a Greek salad but it can be done (they didn’t though). Todd got the gyro he went in craving along with an order of onion rings that he was quite over the moon about. Once we’d ordered I had a chance to look at the parts of the menu I skipped over. Items like the Greek salad topped with Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Oysters, or Tilapia sounded especially intriguing.

French fries and onion rings---it'd been that kind of week, folks!

French fries and onion rings—it’d been that kind of week, folks!

While it can get pretty loud in there when it’s busy (as we found out when we visited with a group of friends after the Taste of Greece event was rained out, a month or so after our first visit), there’s nice music playing in the background, plenty of seating of all configurations, and umbrella’d tables outside. There’s even a drive-through if you’re in a hurry. The music was of particular interest to us, though, as we were midway through our meal when a familiar song came on: “our” song, the one we danced to at our wedding, a song from 1955 that we don’t hear unless we play it intentionally, was playing on the sound system. One of the many reasons Thomasville continues to feel more like home every day are these little touches of awesome we run into in random places around here.

We also got to talking with the owner before we left and complimented him on his atmospheric choices. And we know we’ll be back because there are just so many great-sounding things left on the menu to try!

Holding Out for a Gyro


In February, Todd and I were in Pensacola, Florida, for Pensacon and when we’re out of town we like to try at least one local restaurant. Down the street from our hotel was a Greek place that certainly seemed to be popular since it was absolutely packed when we were there, but after having supper I can see why: the food at Founaris Brothers is plentiful and tasty.

Of course, if we’re at a Greek restaurant it’s tough to resist the mighty gyro but this place offered both a gyro plate as well as a gyro bowl–we ordered one of each.

The gyro plate (top) and gyro bowl (bottom)

The gyro plate (top) and gyro bowl (bottom)

Since that day at the convention had been pretty busy, I admit I didn’t eat much at lunch so was pretty hungry. The idea that the gyro bowl came with all the gyro insides on top of rice sounded like heaven to me, and paired with their house Greek dressing (which looks like a thin buttermilk dressing but tastes a lot like tsatziki sauce) it was just what I was craving. And it was while I was reveling in the amazing flavor that I decided to try and recreate it at home.

The trick, of course, was the gyro meat: I don’t exactly own a vertical spit, and even if I did I didn’t need the massive amount of gyro meat doing this the “right” or traditional way would net me. Instead, I wondered if it’d work to season ground meat (in this case a 50/50 blend of lamb and beef) and then pat it into a thin sheet and bake it. Unlike a meatloaf or even burgers, where you’d add a binder like eggs, oatmeal, breadcrumbs, or some combination of all three, all I added to the ground  meat mixture was the seasonings. I didn’t really measure, but here’s what I used (in descending order of amounts):

  • salt
  • paprika
  • ground pepper
  • parsley
  • oregano
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • allspice

Just like everyone has their own barbecue or curry blends, Greek seasoning blends are equally as personal–use what you like, skip what you don’t. And then I added just a splash of garlic-infused olive oil. Use the leanest beef you can find, but still line the baking sheet with foil–it’ll make cleanup so much easier.

Homemade gyro meat, before and after baking

Homemade gyro meat, before and after baking

As you can see, there’s an awful lot of shrinkage going on during baking, that also means there’s a lot of pan juices to deal with. After about 15 minutes at 350F I drained off the pan juices but reserved them–never know when they might come in handy. (Answer: the longer you have to hold the meat before serving supper, the more of a “refresher” it might need.) Draining the pan also allowed the meat to brown nicely in the dry heat rather than braise. It helps give the finished product a similar texture to the thin layers sliced off the vertical spit that I don’t own.

Cutting the meat into narrow planks gives it even more of the traditional gryo look.

Cutting the meat into narrow planks gives it even more of the traditional gryo look.

Todd had to work later than expected, so to refresh the gyro strips I added about half of the pan drippings to the meat and tossed it to coat.

Todd had to work later than expected, so to refresh the gyro strips I added about half of the pan drippings to the meat and tossed it to coat.

Meanwhile, I’d made a batch of white rice, diced up some tomatoes, and made a fairly standard tsatziki sauce and then thinned part of it out with additional lemon juice, rice vinegar, and some olive oil to make a tsatziki vinaigrette of sorts. I combined most of the vinaigrette with the cooked rice and then topped each serving with meat, tomatoes, tsatziki sauce, green onions, and feta cheese, keeping the rest of the vinaigrette on hand in case we wanted to add more to the bowl–you can always add, but it’s tough to take-away!

Our at-home gyro bowl.

Our at-home gyro bowl.

That was a very good supper. Not only was it a better-than-decdent facsimile of an out-of-town meal we adored, it’s fabulous to know we can make gyros any time we feel like it!

Grazing Through the Greek Food Festival


As the weather turns cooler (at least in theory) it seems like Tallahassee cranks up the social calendar to full force. On the docket this weekend was the Greek Food Festival at the Holy Mother of God Greek Orthodox Church.

This is an event we look forward to each year for the delicious food and little else. It’s generally crowded and noisy, and we’ve often gone long enough to pick up one of the plated dinners ($15 a piece) and a tray of desserts and fled to the car (which has been parked a block away, at least). I know, that doesn’t sound incredibly festive, does it?

Holy Mother of God Greek Orthodox Church

Holy Mother of God Greek Orthodox Church

Well, this year we tried things a little differently. We slowed down, enjoyed the evening and admired the church by the light of the full moon.


Gyro... pardon the half-eaten quality, I kept forgetting to take the photos until after a few bites

Because of Todd’s current job and it’s habit of having him work a bit late, we didn’t make it to the Festival until after dark, around 7:30. It was no less crowded or noisy (thanks to the band, but to call it noise probably isn’t acurate–the music was great but there was an added din from the crowd) but we decided to take our time.

First up, a gyro. Even though there’s a Greek restaurant across the street from my office I often forget about it. Thus, it’s probably been a year or my since my last gyro. Why I’ve gone so long without it’s delectable goodness is beyond me, but the one we got was well worth the wait in line and the $6 a piece they cost.

Foregoing the dinner plates meant that in order to enjoy a full meal we’d be waiting in a few more lines before the night was done. It turns out that this is a perfect way to graze through an evening meal. You get your first course and eat it while deciding which line to stand in next.

In our case we went for the A La Carte booth that carried various and sundry side dishes: moussaka, kota riganati, patates, Greek-style cole slaw and, our selections of the evening, spanikopita and tiropita ($3 each). We each has a spinach pastry of our own but split the cheese one. That turned out to be a very good idea as the tiropita was incredibly rich, half of one was more than plenty.

Spanikopita and Tiropita

The crowds around the three jewelry and souvenir booths were still pretty thick and it was getting late so we went ahead and got in line for the pastry room. Oh, my, this is what dreams are made of. Yes, I’m perfectly capable of making my own baklava and sundry other pastries but it’s just not the same. The line is long to get in but moves fairly quickly and, once inside, the pastries are all laid out with plenty of help to serve you whatever you like.

Greek Pastries

We start with the Express Box ($15 for finikia, kataife, kourambiedes, walnut swirl, pecan swirl, almond cookie and a baklava triangle) and then add a few favorites to our tray on the way to checking out ($2-$3 a piece). The kataife look like shredded wheat biscuits but are soaked in honey and filled with nuts, they are my absolute favorites. Second runner-up is the galatoboureko (glazed filo rolls filled with custard) and Todd loves the almond cookies and kourambiedes (wedding cookies covered in powdered sugar).

A new find, this year, was rice pudding ($4) that was not overly sweet with grains of rice that still held their texture–it was divine and we almost missed it because they were only on the right-hand side of the room and we’d taken the left side. Thankfully I spied it between groups passing by and snagged a cup.

Greek Fries

Greek Fries

Those were for later, though. First we headed over to the Taverna for a glass of sweet Greek wine($4 a glass) then browsed the vendor booths, the crowds around which were thinning out, and had a baby raccoon run right behind us. I figure he was either looking for leftovers or trying to tell us to pack it in for the night.

But we had one more stop to make. The wine was nearly gone and we needed something salty to balance the sweet so over to the Souvlaki tent where the Greek Fries ($3) were hiding. At this point in the evening (9 pm) the lines were practically non-existent and the crowds had thinned enough where you didn’t have to hurt your neck trying to see the band and the dancers on stage.

The fries are awesome. To duplicate them at home season your favorite fries with oregano, garlic powder, salt, paprika and parmesan cheese. You know the only thing that would have made them better? Some garlic aioli to dip them in.

We figured, at the end of the night, we’d spent pretty much the same amount on food as we did in previous years when it was glorified take-out and had a lot more fun in the process. We grabbed a couple of our refillable water bottles out of the fridge before leaving the house so, even with the wine, we spent $32 dollars on dinner and $34 in the pastry hall (but those will last us for several days, still), which is a great deal considering our usual night outs are at least another $30 and don’t provide us excellent desserts for the following week.

Have you checked out your local food festivals, lately?