12 Days of Blogmas: Winter Activities

Just for Fun

Winter is subjective around here. We’ve had a few days that were approaching 80° this week and heat and humidity to boot. We’re not feeling the winter vibes so much. But just because it doesn’t feel like winter, our calendar is still full of fun doings for the winter season here in Thomasville, GA.


Downtown Christmas Parade

We almost missed it this year as it seemed so early (the Monday after Thanksgiving), and the parade units line up on our street up through our block (which meant we had to do some serious circumnavigating to even get home that night), but we hustled up to Broad Street in time to catch the second half of the parade this year. The stand-out this year was definitely the synchronized lawn mower maneuvers.

(Direct link for the feed readers: Lawnmower Maneuvers)

Golf Cart Parade in Boston, GA

I wanted to try to make this one but it just didn’t happen. The same community that puts on Witch’s Night Out hosts a parade of decked out golf carts. Hopefully we can make it to this one next year!

Victorian Christmas


Scenes from Victorian Christmas 2015, Thomasville, GA

This and the Rose Festival in April make up the two big festivals Thomasville hosts each year. For two nights there’s a big block party downtown with a living nativity, a performance stage, and vendors of food or other goodies. This year featured the World’s Largest Rocking Horse as well as stilt walkers, Santa, and horse drawn carriage rides.

Flowers Foods Driver-Through Christmas Lights Display

You may be familiar with the Flowers Foods lines that started right here in Thomasville in the early 1900s and makes breads, pastries and other yummy goodies. Walk downtown on any given day and you can partake of the heavenly smell of bread dough rising or cinnamon rolls baking. It’s amazing. Anyway! This year on the radio we heard about their annual light display that runs through New Year’s Eve. We haven’t made it yet, but I’m hoping to make some hot chocolate for two and take in the sights this weekend.

Holly Springs Subdivision Luminary Light Display

This popped up in the weekly visitor’s center email and it looks like another fun drive-through light event. It’s one night only, December 20th at 6pm, so it’ll depend on if we get back from our monthly meet-up in Tallahassee in time or not, but I want to check it out. I love the idea of a neighborhood getting together for something like this (I just hope they’re not like the one in Christmas with the Kranks!).

Of course, we’re still only a short drive from Tallahassee, and they have their own share of holiday festivities that we’ve enjoyed in the past.

Winter Festival

Usually the first weekend of December, it starts with the official turning on of the lights down Park Ave and includes multiple stages set up downtown for all sorts of performances and then a parade. Santa’s there, of course, and they usually do a great job of decorating the queuing area for Santa. For several years Lofty Pursuits has been out there making and handing out candy canes.

Dorthy B Oven Park Lights

Oven park is beautiful any time of the year but at Christmas the whole place just sparkles with lighted displays you can walk through. They even designate one night during December as Elf Night with Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves in attendance. It’s definitely one of the must-see displays in Tallahassee this time of year!

The 12 Days of Blogmas is a link-up hosted by The Coastie Couple and The Petite Mrs. Check out either of their blogs to see what everyone else has to say on today’s topic!

The 12 Days of Blogmas is a link-up hosted by The Coastie Couple and The Petite Mrs. Check out either of their blogs to see what everyone else has to say on today’s topic!

Tasting Tallahassee: The Burger Bar Explosion


Even though we’re up in Thomasville, we still head down to Tallahassee regularly for dinners with friends and family. In January, for my youngest brother’s 30th birthday (!!!) we got a chance to try out Midtown Caboose, which was still relatively new, even though the owners behind it are not.

Ages ago Wells Brothers (aka Monk’s) opened near the corner of High and Tharpe, over on the west side of Tallahassee. This was in my neighborhood, there was a monkey on the sign, and we like a good burger. The food is good, the burgers are nice and reliable, and we’ve eaten there many times (Jason, the same brother who brought us to Midtown Caboose, even attempted their Burger Challenge more than once). All that to say, our expectations of Midtown Caboose were largely informed by our Monk’s experiences and we were looking forward to eating here.

We were not disappointed.

Goat Cheese appetizer at Midtown Caboose

Goat Cheese appetizer at Midtown Caboose

Midtown Caboose still has excellent burgers along with other sandwiches, wraps, and salads, but they also have some more upscale options, like the goat cheese appetizer we ordered. There was plenty to share with the rest of the table and the balsamic reduction was just so perfect paired with the soft, tangy cheese.

The ___ at Midtown Caboose

The Oh Canada* at Midtown Caboose

Mom raves about their chicken sandwich but I wanted a burger, and I think I decided on the Oh, Canada, but on a gluten free Kaiser Roll instead of the pancakes or waffles it would normally be served on, along with a side of their sweet potato fries. *Looking at their current menu online it had to be the Oh Canada, but it’s been several months and I’m making my best guess. I see eggs, cheese, and Canadian bacon, so I’m gonna go with that!

For those who follow me for Low-FODMAP info, this meal would be what I consider overall Low-FODMAP impact. I skipped the red onions on the appetizer and mostly ate the goat cheese with the greens and tomatoes it came with, but because I knew I could get a wheat-free bun here, I did indulge in a couple triangles of their fluffy pita bread, too. Overall it wasn’t a lot of High-FODMAP component and I really didn’t have any reactionary IBS symptoms (I passed on the birthday cake, just to be sure). Of course, knowing that we were going out I was careful with my breakfast and lunch earlier in the day, just to make sure my cumulative FODMAP load was low. This is what life is like for me on FODMAP maintenance-mode: thinking ahead, but a lot freer than the earlier years!

The Mac Daddy from Midtown Caboose

The Mac Daddy from Midtown Caboose

Todd’s burger, The Mac Daddy, features mac & cheese, bacon, and bbq sauce (it usually comes with fried pickles, as well, but I’m pretty sure he asked for those to be left off–not a pickle fan is Todd; the spear it the picture moved to my plate in mere moments after we were served). These burgers were very filling and you definitely get your money’s worth at either of the Wells Brothers’ locations.

Moving ahead to April, Todd and I were in town for something or other and decided to grab a late lunch before heading home at the recently opened SmashBurger in Village Square.

Avocado Club and Veggie Frites at SmashBurger

Avocado Club and Veggie Frites at SmashBurger

I am a SmashBurger convert, y’all. My Avocado Club (on gluten-free bun) was so good and the veggie frites are a nice option from the traditional fried potatoes. They are flash fried, so it’s not like they’re completely healthy, but the slightly blistered green beans and carrots are a really nice foil to the heavier burger.

The 000 and Smash Fries at SmashBurger

The BBQ, Bacon & Cheddar burger and Fries at SmashBurger

Todd went with the BBQ, Bacon and Cheddar burger with its haystack onions curbing any onion ring cravings. Having them on the burger and fries on the side is pretty much the best of both worlds if you’re into that. From the looks of things, those are the regular fries, not the SmashFries that have garlic and rosemary on them (though I believe he ordered them on a subsequent visit).

While I don’t often eat lunch outside of the office, the fact that they are putting in a SmashBurger not far from work and the restaurant offers easy online ordering makes me a happy girl for those times when I don’t bring my lunch and am craving a burger.

Grub Burger Bar, Tallahassee

Grub Burger Bar, Tallahassee

And then last month (August) a group of us ended up at the newest of the burger spots popping up all over town: Grub Burger Bar.

While I liked the atmosphere and options that Grub offered, I’m sorry to say that all the carnivores in our group found their burgers too salty to truly enjoy (meanwhile my sweet potato fries could have used some of the overage). And I’m someone who really likes salty food (ironic, as the only consistent critiques I got in school was for the under-salting of dishes–go figure)!


The Thai Peanut burger and Sweet Potato Fries from Grub

I opted for the Thai Peanut burger (with creamy peanut butter, roasted peanuts, cilantro lime coconut flakes, and Sambal mayo) on a gluten-free bun and a side of sweet potato fries. It was a good burger, aside from the salt issue–not salt-lick salty, just slightly above optimal–but the “rosemary dust” that was reportedly on the sweet potato fries would have needed a CSI lab to detect because my tastebuds certainly couldn’t. Nor could others at the table. Disappointing.

The OMG and Onion Rings from Grub

The OMG and Onion Rings from Grub

I think Todd fared slightly better with his OMG (Texas chili, Grub skinny fries, cheddar cheese, chopped onions and mustard) and onion rings.

We hear tell that their spiked milkshakes are worth a trip, but we’d just come from a meetup at an ice cream shop so, really, were a little dairy-ed out. And if we do end up back here I think there’s plenty on the menu that I wouldn’t mind trying–the Luau Fries, the Ahi Tuna, or even one of their salads–that I’m totally up for another trip should a good enough reason present itself.

What strikes me, though, is that we’ve got a lot of burger places popping up and many of them are chains. A Red Robin recently opened up on the Parkway–are they worth trying one of these days? Aside from Red Robin, I’d never heard of Grub or SmashBurger before this year. Are “gourmet” burger spots common where you are and is Tallahassee just (still and forever) playing catch-up (or would that be ketchup?) to the rest of the country or is this a college town, regional sort of thing?

I’m culinarily curious, let me know what you think of the burger bar trend!

Strategies for Public Grazing on a Low-FODMAP Diet


Last night was the 2013 Chef’s Sampler fundraiser for the local Children’s Home Society. We’ve enjoyed the offerings in previous years (over-enjoyed, to be truthful) but this was the first such event after adopting the Low-FODMAP diet as a preventative for IBS. I was really curious how much there would be for me to try considering my restrictions included fresh dairy, onions, garlic, wheat, corn, beans, and several other things.

Dave Stewart and the Vibe were this year's entertainment.

Dave Stewart and the Vibe were this year’s entertainment.

While I didn’t feel incredibly deprived after we made our rounds, I certainly didn’t leave feeling stuffed full to the gills like usual (Todd more than made up for me, however, judging by him post-Sampler tummy ache).  While at least 3 of the 42 listed restaurants were no-shows (or at least so late we missed them entirely) the only one I truly missed was Barnacle Bills–their margaritas and oysters on the half-shell have been a mainstay for ages.

Publix brought out these tasty buckwheat blinis topped with limoncello-marinated salmon, pickled onions and cream fraiche--I skipped the blini and onions but the salmon was divine!

Publix brought out these tasty buckwheat blinis topped with limoncello-marinated salmon, pickled onions and cream fraiche–I skipped the blini and onions but the salmon was divine!

At any rate, we enjoyed what we could and were finished with our circuit after only an hour and a half.


Bruster's Strawberry Sorbet is apparently made fresh on the premises and was some of the best sorbet I've ever had.

Bruster’s Strawberry Sorbet is apparently made fresh on the premises and was some of the best sorbet I’ve ever had.

Standouts from my point of view included Bruster’s Strawberry Sorbet, the Brisket Parfait from Piggy’s BBQ (shredded brisket, mashed potatoes, cheese, and bacon–I opted to skip the red sauce, just in case), and the Tahitian Tuna Tartini from 101.

101's Tahitian Tuna Tartini came in a cute little martini glass and featured a seaweed salad on the bottom. I really want more of it--soon!

101’s Tahitian Tuna Tartini came in a cute little martini glass and featured a seaweed salad on the bottom. I really want more of it–soon!

Since I was on the lookout for labels and ingredient lists, I was only a little surprised that many things weren’t labeled and that only 1 station, New Leaf Market, had clearly posted ingredient lists. Because of this I knew their green smoothie of coconut water, kale, and pineapple was safe for me to try and I was super-shocked that I like it! Not quite enough to splurge on a VitaMix any time soon, but enough to wonder if the Cuisinart could handle the job!

New Leaf Market's spread with clearly-marked ingredient lists.

New Leaf Market’s spread with clearly-marked ingredient lists.

This leads me to the tip-portion of this post. If you’re faced with a public grazing situation such as a cocktail hour, wedding reception, or food festival, here’s what I’d do to prevent too much disappointment or stomach upset:

  1. Assume that every sauce or soup is going to include at least one High-FODMAP ingredient and proceed accordingly. I opted to take a chance on a chicken and seafood cream sauce over grit cakes from Angelette’s but left most of the sauce on the plate. I also tried a smidgen of hummus (containing garlic) on a cucumber round from The Grain and a tiny taste of a rice bowl from Qdoba (the chicken likely included a bit of garlic and the guacamole included onions). Which takes us to…
  2. Portion control is your friend. I may have tempted fate with a few ill-advised options, but with true tasting portions involved, I didn’t have to worry about too much fallout from these flavorful dalliances. Granted, if you go whole-hog and try everything in tiny portions it will all add up and you may experience some symptoms after all.
  3. Stay away from the obvious ones. Anything breaded I just didn’t both with, the same with all the sandwiches and wraps out there. Tasty Eats did have a summer roll available that was clearly in a rice paper wrapper and was a nice way to start off the event with something I knew was going to be safe.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. True, many of the volunteers may not be knowledgeable about what they’re doling out, but someone behind the table will have the answer. Be polite, not pushy, and cheerfully say a “no thank you, then” if the ingredients would cause you issue. I had to forgo the crab cakes from Cabo’s and all of the cupcakes and cookies, but the catfish from Other Seineyard was breaded just on corn meal, something I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t ask.
  5. Eat ahead, if you’re really worried about not having enough options. This way you won’t have to tell a white lie when you say ‘no thanks, I’m not hungry’ but you can still hang out and have a good time without resentment or a rumbling tummy from hunger.

The fact that I could carefully make my way through an event like the Chef’s Sampler without feeling left out or hungry was a real coup in this switch to low-FODMAP living. While not all events will have enough variety to suffice, it was nice to eat out without worrying too much about being stuck with salad as the last resort. This is also good news for being about to taste my way around the Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT on our honeymoon this November. As long as I’m careful I should be able to keep the inconvenience to a minimum.

Siam Sushi, Tallahassee, Florida


In the Lake Ella plaza, next to Publix (where Hopkins Eatery was most recently–it’s moved over to one of the side-strips, by the way), is an unassuming exterior with simple, sans serif letters proclaiming the new restaurant inside: Siam Sushi.

There is a patio area for overflow seating (or those few weeks a year when outdoor eating in Florida is a possibility) and a simple glass door. The inside, however, is filled with gleaming dark wood, contemporary design, low lighting and a large bar–something you wouldn’t expect just from the outside.

And neither is the food.

I’d been awaiting their opening since I saw the sign go up–another sushi place close to home AND serves Thai food? Heaven! After all, Rice Bowl is no longer and our side of town was really feeling the lack. So August comes and we decide to go the very night the local paper reviewed them with 4 hats–not planned and they were a little overwhelmed.

Nonetheless our waitress was attentive and very helpful in explaining the extensive menu and making recommendations.

We started with drinks: a Raspberry Lemon Drop for Todd and a Siam Passion Fruit Cosmo for me ($9 each). Both were a little heavy, not as balanced as we prefer. Considering I mix a new cocktail every week, this is something that’s probably only going to bug me, but if you prefer a decent dose of mixer in your drink, order carefully.

The hostess stand had posted several sushi rolls as specials of the night and we decided to split on–the Peter Roll ($14)–as an appetizer. Not appearing on the regular menu, this sushi alone was worth the price of admission: tasty, fresh, packed with fish and flavor and the sauce was such a wonderful complement. I wish I could remember what all went in it but I know salmon and yellowfin tuna were the main fish. Seriously, if you see this on special you might want to consider ordering it.

Peter Roll, Siam Sushi

Peter Roll, Siam Sushi

With such a large menu it’s easy to overlook entire sections just from the general overwhelm. This is where our server, Carly, came in handy–she pointed out that there were several duck entrees (found under House Specialties) with the Spicy Duck ($18) being a particular favorite. Not usually a big duck fan, Todd decided it sounded good enough to try and was not let down. Not only was the portion huge it was amazingly flavorful and the skin was crisped ever so slightly. He was kind enough to share (of course) and I was almost sorry I didn’t order it for myself.

Spicy Duck, Siam Sushi

Spicy Duck, Siam Sushi

Instead, I was in a noodle mood so got the Rad Na with Beef, Medium Spicy ($14). Lots of veggies and some of the most tender beef I’ve had in a while atop wide noodles in a rich brown sauce. If you’re looking for some solid comfort food, go ahead and give this a try. The various entrees are priced according to your protein choice from tofu/vegetables at $12 to seafood at $18, so you can customize your dinner among the different styles available. (The Beef Spare Ribs in Masaman Curry is another crowd favorite, we were informed.)

Rad Na with Beef, Siam Sushi

Rad Na with Beef, Siam Sushi

At this point we were pretty stuffed and intending to ask for the check as soon as our server appeared but, oh, she mentioned desserts and one in particular: Thai Beignets ($5). Now, being more than passingly familiar with Cafe Du Monde the word beignet carries a certain level of expectation–almost as strong as the will to resist is weak. Of course we ordered them, especially when we heard the were served with dark and white chocolate sauces and a mango reduction. Duh.

Thai Beignets, Siam Sushi

Thai Beignets, Siam Sushi

Now, for the record, these are not the crisp and air-puffed beignets of New Orleans fame. Of course, in French beignet simply means doughnut so we’re not going to quibble too much on that score. The doughnuts, themselves, remind me of the canned biscuits Mom would quarter and fry as doughnut holes when I was a kid. She’d give them to me in a paper bag to shake with powdered sugar–such a great treat on cold nights. I don’t care if that’s what they’re doing in the kitchen at Siam Sushi, they were tasty on their own and even better when dragged through the swirled chocolate sauces on the plate. The mango reduction, on the other hand, was more like cane syrup, really, it had been reduced so far that the mango was easily lost. Still, a little more sweet on a plate like this isn’t a problem for us.

Overall, I agree with the 4-hat rating of the newspaper. As good as the entrees were, they didn’t hold a candle to the amazing sushi. The cocktail menu needs work and the second seating area still needs some spiffing up (stacks of chairs were just to the side of our table and some tables were bare, others had white tablecloths, others had white vinyl covers on them–minor details but they make a difference).

We’re so glad we tried a sushi roll–truly this is where they excel–and are curious to try some of their actual appetizers. On our next trip we’ll concentrate on the sushi offerings–they also feature combos and a la carte pricing–and maybe try their take-out or lunch menu some weekend.

Siam Sushi is located at 1701 N Monroe Street, in the Lake Ella shopping center, and open until 10pm Sunday through Thursday, until 11pm Friday and Saturday. They do take reservations (850-391-9021).

Seeking Delicious Heights at Lofty Pursuits


Our friends to the North and Midwest might be taunting us with cooler temperatures, but it’s still hot as ever down here in Florida.

As the bank sign read 105 degrees, Todd and I headed out one recent Saturday on errands that took us over to Market Square. While the Square has always been a treasure trove of delightful shops, Lofty Pursuits (known for a variety of games, yo-yo and juggling supplies and other fun things) has relocated there from it’s longtime home at Lake Ella and, as part of their new digs, opened an old fashioned ice cream fountain!

The Ice Cream Bar of Lofty Pursuits

32 Flavors of Yum!

The official grand opening of this bit of nostalgia is just around the corner–September 4th and 5th–but for the last month they’ve been serving ice cream and testing out a variety of menu items as more pieces of this cream and fizz-laden puzzle arrive.

Because it’s not enough for owner, Greg Cohen, just to serve cold drinks and treats–what goes in them is important! The ice creams are from Tampa, the cream for the in-house whipped creams (regular, chocolate and strawberry–get all 3 on a banana split!) come from a nearby Blountstown dairy. The syrup for the egg creams comes from the original Brooklyn, NY, company that serviced the original fountains in Cohen’s old stomping grounds. And that’s just what I remember from talking with him over ice cream samples.

Oh, the samples. Of the 32 flavors we tasted at least half of them–maybe more–along with some of the toppings (the crystallized ginger is so moist, it’s amazing). The champagne sorbet was light and crisp, the mango sorbet as good as any I’d had from local pastry chefs, the birthday cake ice cream tastes like light, fluffy whipped icing with morsels (not bricks!) of yellow cake stirred in. The strawberry tastes like it came straight from the strawberry patch with a brief stop at a churn, the cinnamon like a creamy frosting that would be fantastic over some carrot cake or gingerbread (hint!), and the butter pecan was heavenly. Todd even liked the Guinness ice cream, and he’s not a beer fan at all!

Greg Cohen, Owner, Lofty Pursuits

Prepare to be Served!

(Apparently I should have found a bib before writing this post–my mouth as watering at the very thought of those ice creams!)

Our gregarious host was kind enough to tell us of some of his plans–bringing back drinks like Egg Creams, Rickies and Phosphates. A particularly yummy signature dish that is illusion food at it’s best (hint: it involves that amazing crystallized ginger) is on the to-do list that we’re definitely looking forward to, perhaps more than the ubiquitous Kitchen Sink-style concoction that inspires brain freeze at the mere thought of all that ice cream.

More and continual updates can be found at the Lofty Pursuits website or you can just stop by 1415 Timberlane Road #410 (next to Old Town Cafe) between 11 am and 10 pm, Monday through Saturday, (noon to 8pm on Sundays).

As tasty as those banana splits look (served in a banana boat with a waffle-sail set to steer you away from spills), I think my next trip will have to include a root beer float. Not only was Greg nice enough to confirm that the Sprecher root beer is caffeine free, he carries 2 soy ice creams–I think I might just be in heaven!