Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chucherias Hondurenas

When the first words out of your server’s mouth are “would you like something good to eat,” you expect to have your taste buds blown away by either the most amazing combinations of flavors or something you wish to have never tasted. In either case, it’s a memorable experience that won’t be forgotten for many years to come.

So when our server recited those words at a late lunch at Chucherias Hondurenas, my fiancé and I were on the edge of our seats with anticipation. Located on Mason Ave. in Daytona Beach, the freestanding hole in the wall wasn’t the first place I expected to find some grade-A Hispanic food. In fact, I didn’t know what to expect from the small cement off-brown building. But if the black bean and onion aroma that teased us as we parked was any indication, it would be something delicious.

Chucherias Hondurenas, along with Chef Mayra Rodriguez trave
led a long way before settling into their Daytona Beach abode. Chef Rodriguez hails from Lacciaba, Honduras where she once worked as a server while taking culinary classes at a local trade school in an effort to learn more about the restaurant industry. In 1990 her journey brought her to New York City where she continued learning, before honing her skills at various restaurants in Atlantic City, including a Honduras fusion restaurant of her own, Chucherias Hondurenas. While reaching great success, Rodriguez felt the familiar pull of family and made the move to Daytona Beach where she re-opened Chucherias Hondurenas at its current location.

As you enter the one-room restaurant, the kitchen envelops you with the sights and sounds of a traditional Latin America kitchen: clinking dishes, fast speaking Spanish women, and whiffs of sizzling onions and peppers. You’re welcomed to sit wherever you please. Various Latin American paraphernalia decorate white walls, surrounding a dozen or so tables. Each table clad in white linen sits two to four patrons and is simply decorated with two roses in a bud vase, nothing special. It’s not the most poshly decorated eatery in town, but that’s ok because it isn’t a place where you go to be seen and to see. It’s a place where you experience the cuisine of Honduras. A place where you feel like family whose come over for dinner on a random weekday, welcomed by your cousins and fed a traditional meal by your favorite tia.

The first thing our server said was asking if I wanted something good to eat. My immediate response was “Of course, I want something good to eat!” She quickly pointed my to the comida (main dish) section and explained that each choice of meat came with white rice, black beans and sweet or green plantains. I decided today was a chicken ($8) day and passed on the beef, pork chops and fish. My fiancé heeded the suggestion as well and ordered the beef ($9.50) from the comida section.

It’s rare to find servers who aren’t just feeding you an act to benefit their tip. I’m even guilty of doing it myself during a past life of serving, but that wasn’t the case during our visit to Chucherias Hondurenas. Our server genuinely welcomed us like we were family encouraging us to try their best dishes and sit in the best seats, while smiling like a grandmother would at her grandchildren.

Before placing my order, I quickly perused the menu. Although not extensive, it’s authentic and without the typical Taco Bell like cuisine cluttering it up. They have a small Chucherias section, which includes a few finger foods in smaller portions including Pupusas de Queso, two griddled cheese corn cakes served with cabbage, salad, refried beans and shredded cheese. The sandwich selection names a few delicious subs including a traditional Cuban. Soups and salads have their rightful place on the menu along with all the expected side orders, including my favorite: sweet plantains.

Prior to the arrival of our entrees I was surprised to the see our server headed towards our table with what looked like two teacups and saucers. After being set on our table, I quickly discovered they were filled with beef and vegetable soup and even better, were compliments of the house (normally $3). The soup reminded me of a beef stew loaded with chunks of tender beef that fell apart at first touch, as well as yucca and other vegetables. Delicious, especially on a 50-degree afternoon.

Following the soup, our server brought a ramekin of garifuna sauce and one of a sweet Verde sauce. The bright red garifuna sauce really made an impression as it tingled all throughout my mouth, deep into my throat. It’s was a beyond hot blend of Habanero peppers, diced tomatoes, oregano, fresh garlic and red wine vinegar. I felt like I was on fire just after a little taste, where as the Verde sauce with all it’s fruity sweetness made my taste buds think we were someplace tropical relaxing on the beach. Two sauces, each with two very powerful tastes.

Everything was prepared and brought to us in a more than timely fashion and that’s saying a lot considering we weren’t thinking straight because we were so hungry. Our entrees arrived shortly after finishing the soup and both looked spectacular. My fiancé made sure to give me dirty looks the whole time I was snapping pictures, willing me to finish so he could dig in. I attacked the sweet plantains first unable to resist one of my favorite sides. They were perfectly cooked to a softness that wasn’t mushy and maintained a delectable seared outside. They know how to do plantains. I then noticed the unique presentation of the rice. White rice shaped like an upside down bowl was familiar, but the yellow rice layered underneath was a new experience and I loved it. The yellow and white rice mixed with black beans was not only a color explosion compared to the typical white rice/black bean combo, but tasted as wonderful as it would any where. The addition of some of the provided sauces really took the classic combination to a new level. Not to mention, the great flavor of the fresh chopped onions and peppers that topped off the rice mountain. The chicken daunted me, piled high with grilled onions and peppers, but after the first bite, I was hooked. The seasoning of the onions and peppers combined with the pan-seared chicken blew my taste buds away. When our server asked me if I wanted something good to eat, she knew what she was talking about. For an added bit of zest, I would add a smidge of Verde sauce every few bites.

My fiancé enjoyed his comida dish and was pleasantly surprised with the sheer amount of beef provided. Although it was thin cut, there were three flanks of meat hiding under all his onions and peppers.

Although we were about to explode, we decided to wrap everything up and finish off our meal by splitting the Flan con Carmelo ($3.50). The flan was a first for me. Never have I had it before, but I am sure that it was exceptional. It was presented on a beautiful dessert dish with two spoons. Each contained a cracker and leche type cookie, all sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. My date was in heaven and I was busy exploring the different texture and tastes the flan had to offer. The silky smoothness of caramel was obvious, but I couldn’t put my finger on the subtle floral taste. Flan may not be my favorite dessert yet, but it was a pleasant way to end a phenomenal meal.

As we paid for our meal, total of $26.38, we had a chance to chat with Chef Rodriquez who was now manning the little eatery alone. She warmly thanked us for coming in and bid us a good day as we headed into the brisk December air plump and pleasant.

Details – Chucherias Hondurenas, 722 Mason Ave., Daytona Beach. Open from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Call 386-239-0548

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tattoos for bakers!

My wonderful friend and prior college roommate sent me the coolest birthday gift this year! Knowing my recent love for baking, she supplied me with the a Charm City Cakes cake tattoo kit, a box of funfetti cake mix and icing, and some striped icing: all the makings for a fun day of baking!

Sticking to college traditions, I opted to make cookies from my cake mix and cut the tattoos out accordingly. I made the cookies following the directions on the side panel, like always.

The fun part came in opening the cake tattoos. The tattoo sheets were already cut for a 2 tier cake, but I patiently cut them down using the provided guide and my trusty xacto knife. After the cookies cooled, I applied the frosting and smoothed the tattoos on to each cookie. The tattoo itself resembles a thin paper. I think it was the same stuff they use to apply pictures to cakes at the store, but instead of a picture you have a cool design.

The tattoo kit came with two different designs. One was a paisley design and the other was a cool striped pattern. I thought the stripes were my favorite before applying the tattoo, but afterwards I was really favoring the paisley. I couldn't tell you why...

The icing turned out to be really cool and funky too. It also worked out and covered some little paper cutting mistakes (the paper isn't always easy to peal off). I gave it a go and tried to ice a cookie, but the result wasn't very pretty. I then recruited D and Viola: beautiful cookies! That boy is always impressing me.

The icing turned out so cool with blue and yellow/green strips. It came with two tubes of icing and two different types of icing tips. I was amazed with how perfect the two colors squeezed out. D really did a wonderful job, don't you think?

The finished product was as tasty as ever. Like I said before the striped icing was a little sweet, but other than that the cookie was delicious. You couldn't taste the tattoo and you could hardly feel the texture. Let's just say if someone didn't know you put the tattoo on, they wouldn't notice the difference in texture!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"A veritable smorgasbord, orgasbord, orgasbord..."

A little more than recently, D and I accompanied some friends to the Volusia County Fair where we took in the sights and smell of every imaginable fair food possible. We even rode a few rides. I was awe struck by the shear amount of food offered at the fair. Never had I been to a fair of such large proportions. In the past, I've only frequented our local Octoberfest and that was nothing compared to this. Let's just say the rides at this fair made all of the rides at the Octoberfest look like kiddie rides.

Now on to the important stuff: the food. Surrounding the concert stage and rides were booths for all types of fair food. It's a safe bet to say that there were more food booths than game booths. I decided on an Italian Sausage with onions and peppers for me and D to split. I don't have a picture, but it was delicious. Definitely way better than expected.

By splitting the sausage, D and I left room to try one of the craziest things my eyes ever saw, a basket of fried oreos ($5).

Absolutely positively amazing! At first bite these became my secret indulgence. They were freshly fried and sprinkled with confectioners sugar. The oreo cookie hiding underneath all the fried batter was so soft it was practically melted. Each bite melted delicious in my mouth and I couldn't wait for the next one. As delicious as they were, they were surprisingly filling. I could only eat a few. Good thing I had some friend to share with!

Next, we all decided to try the delicious and oh so classic, funnel cake. Not much to say here, it was as delicious as every other funnel cake. It was huge and between the five of us we couldn't finish it, so much of it went into the trash waiting for a gluttonous rat in the morning.

We rode a few rides, but the place was packed, so there was only time for a few. Kids were everywhere and cutting line, making the wait even longer, but overall I really enjoyed my trip to the fair! I was really pleased when I finally spotted someone selling candied cashews on our way out. Of course I stopped and bought a bag for D and I to enjoy on the way home.

As Templeton would sing, "A fair is a fair is a veritable smorgasbord, orgasbord, orgasbord.."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010


After splurging on an oh so delightful Angie's sub in our most recent visit to Jacksonville, D and I had a conversation that went roughly like this:

A: Should we stop?
D: mmmmm
A: It's on the way to the free way...
D: I can just get a small one.
A: haha, yea you can, lets go!

Once again, D was all up in my head. He knew I was talking about his favorite FroYo place before I even uttered the word Mochi.

D's history with Mochi started long before the frozen yogurt chain arrived to Jacksonville's St. John's Town Centre. One day my college roommate brought home some of the most peculiar candy I've ever tasted...mochi. There is no way to describe the weird texture of the pounded sticky rice turned cake filled with, in this particular case, chocolaty creaminess. I was not a fan. I was just wigged out...but Dan, on the other hand, loved them. So much so that he ended up taking the box home with him! I swear he is the most asian white boy I know!

So the first time we visited a Mochi dan was delighted to see that they actually sold bits of mochi as a topping for their FroYo.

Still stuffed from my sub, I opted out of having my own FroYo. Although, I did get a little tasting cup of strawberry, which I must say was delightful. And that's saying a lot coming from someone who does'nt typically enjoy yogurt of any sorts.

D opted for the lychee (tropical fruit native to China) flavored yogurt. I don't particularly like the flavor, it's not nearly fruity or sweet enough for me, but it's D's #1 choice.
He loves it. D kept is simple and topped his FroYo off with some colorful bits of mochi.

But the real excitement came when we were checking out. Not only did they have whole pieces of Mochi, similar to the candy, but they had the frozen ice cream filled kind. I immediately snatched the mango flavor up for D, before he had a chance to protest. I just knew he would love it. And boy was I ever right, but unfortunately he made me take a bite. Even frozen and loaded with yummy fruity flavor, it still didn't win me over. Eck. But D loved it and that's all the mattered, because Mochi is most defiantly a "D place."


Hours: ?? - 11:30 p.m.

Address: 4860 Big Island Dr., Jacksonville, FL 32246

Phone: (904) 807-9292

Mochi on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 18, 2010

Angies Sub Shop, Jacksonville Beach

Angie's = ♥. It's simples. For four years Angie's Subs was my comfort food when I missed my family, it was my reward after a crazy week and the must-see place I took visiting friends and family. Angie's was there for me through four solid years of expensive text books, canceled classes and finally my baccalaureate graduation.

So needless to say when me and dan had a mandatory errand in Jacksonville, Angie's Subs was my only choice for lunch. And let me tell you, after six months of withdrawals, I was not disappointed!

Luckily, D and I stopped in on a pretty tame Tuesday afternoon and didn't have to wait long for our little slices of heaven. It's not unheard of to wait an hour at Angie's for your food. It's not even uncommon.

We pulled up to what one might suspect to be a convenient store, but in all actuality happens to be one of Jacksonville Beach's most popular local sandwich shop.

Even more intriguing than the exterior, the interior of Angie's will keep your eyes wondering for many visits. Mismatched chairs and tables create the dining room furniture and random signs and pictures decorate the walls. Looking for a missing sock? It might be on the wall. Don't forget to check out the surfboards on the ceiling and just wait till you visit the bathroom!

I kept it traditional and went with my regular order of 7" Peruvian ($4.99). As Angie's signature sub, it is by far the most popular. Ham, Genoa salami, bacon, Italian sausage, provolone and peruvian sauce all lie in between a hoagie roll and bake to perfection in a 550 degree pizza oven.

I had my peruvian all the way minus tomatoes and onions, which includes lettuce and Angie's special Italian salad oil mix. It's simply the best sub ever. The peruvian sauce gives it a great mixture of perfectly spicy sweet and all the meat just melts in your mouth along with the provolone cheese. The bread is just a little crunchy, but taste great dipped in the additional Peruvian Sauce located on every table.

D chose this particular visit to give the 7" Dirty Gringo ($4.99) a try.

On a hoagie roll as well, The Dirty Gringo contains roast beef, turkey, mushrooms, bacon, provolone and peruvian sauce. D ordered his fully involved with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and the house special italian oil mix. D had never had the same feelings towards Angie's as me, but he enjoyed his sub enough to scarf it down.

All in all, our Angie's visit was everything I expected without the long wait. The familiar looking convenient store turned sub shop was hard to leave when the time came, but I grabbed my extra large styrofoam cup and dumped it in the suggestion box, otherwise known as a trash can, and bid ado until next time.


Open: Monday - Saturday 10 am to 9 pm, Sunday 11 am to 4 pm

Address: 1436 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville Beach, FL

Phone: (904) 249- SUBS

Angie's Subs on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cupcake in a Jar

I finally made the cupcake in a jar to celebrate my cousin Brandy's birthday and my other cousin Emily's belated birthday!

Happy Birthday!

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thai Erwan

Today for lunch, D and I finally ventured out to Ormond Beach's first Thai restaurant, Thai Erwan. We'd been meaning to try the cuisine since we first heard wind of it at the beginning of the summer, but were often times distracted by other delicious asian eateries (coughedamamecough).

Thai Erwan is located in the same plaza as Peach Valley, TGI Friday's and Noah's Market. So, there is definitely a little competition. Although, none provide the spicy sweetness that accompanies most Thai cuisine.

Nor do they provide the same tranquil environment
as Thai Erwan successfully does. As you walk in your greeted by the sounds of a waterfall that can be heard throughout the entire dining room. And often viewed too! The color scheme consists of a lot of natural dark colors with accents of gold to give it that real asian vibe. With it's great atmosphere, D and I were already loving Thai Erwan before our server even saw us.

They had a lunch special running that enabled us to have their soup of the day and some fruit in addition to any entree. The soup came out piping hot shortly after we ordered and I must say the presentation was beautiful. The chicken and rice noodle soup came with a spring roll on the side and sweet chili sauce for dipping. The spring roll was absolutely wonderful with the sauce and complimented the soup beautifully. There was some sort of seasoning that I wasn't fond of, but it didn't prevent me from finishing most of it off.

Shortly after finishing the soup, our entrees were delivered. D had previously heard great things about the Roasted Duck ($9.95), so he couldn't resist having it for lunch. Pictured above, you can see that Thai Erwan consistently has a beautiful clean presentation. D loved the duck and all the vegetables. I thought it was pretty good myself and was particularly fond of the spicy cashews. When we do cook rice, we work with Jasmine rice, so it was nice to enjoy the same at a restaurant.

I had planned on ordering the Pad Thai, something I knew I would love, but decided when we got there to try the Amazing Beef ($8.50). I'm a long time lover of Thai peanut sauce, so I just knew this would be good. Well as you can probably guess by the picture to the right, I recieved Amazing Chicken. Normally, I wouldn't have said anything, but I really was not in a chicken mood. The waitress was very apologetic and had my Amazing Beef to me in what seemed like record time. I was really impressed by their quick action.

Unfortunately, I didn't find the Amazing Beef to be all that amazing. It was good, just not amazing. The menu describes
the dish with a Thai peanut butter sauce. To me the sauce seemed like it was too peanut butter-y. I think I would have preferred a simple Thai peanut sauce. Don't misunderstand me, it was still very tasty and I ate most of it. But in the past, I've enjoyed a Thai peanut sauce that was not as thick and had a bit more spice to it. I felt like peanut butter was overwhelming the sauce. On the other hand, the rice and broccoli were both steamed to perfection and quite yummy. I think for our next visit, I'll go with my original choice of Pad Thai. That's right, we'll be heading back.

As we came close to finishing our entrees, our waitress dropped off two of these cute little fruit plates for each of us to conclude with. All the fruit tasted very fresh and delicious. It really was a nice touch to end our meal with.

We will be returning to Thai Erwan another day for lunch. The prices are reasonable, the atmosphere is amazing and I really want to try their Pad Thai!


Open: Monday - Thursday 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. and 4:30 - 10 p.m.
Friday - Saturday 12 -4 p.m. and 4:30 - 10:30 p.m.
Sunday 4 - 9 p.m.

Address: 219 E. Granada Blvd. Ormond Beach, FL

Phone: 386 677 0999


Thai Erawan on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 3, 2010

Let the games begin!




I made these wonderful little treats for my mom and sister, two of the biggest gator fans I know. I dyed the insides orange and blue, and the icing green to imitate grass. I also added a chocolate covered almond on top that is suppose to act as a football. Get it? ... football on the gator field?

Monday, August 30, 2010

An experiment in baking...

It's no secret that I love cookies and what's better than having them freshly baked? With little to do around town, D and I set off on an adventure in cooking. I should mention, baking is about the only type of cooking I successfully manage. There were ups and downs, but the cookies were always quickly consumed.

Our first batch was beautiful and scrumptious, but far from perfect. We used butter cake mix and to make some cake cookies similar to the
funfetti cookies I've previously made. We combined the batter with 2 eggs and 1/3 cup of vegetable oil. Everything was looking great. Thinking it would be fun to do rainbow cookies (similar to the cupcakes), we sought out the food color. We kept it simple with green and yellow, thinking at least it would be blue if the colors did mix. But surprise! The colors held together with no hint of blue anywhere.

Lesson #1 Dyed cookie dough colors do not blend.

D and I had a blast mixing the colors and forming our cookies, but I did find that the texture was more like play dough than cookie dough. It seemed like too much oil, which could be explained by the addition of food coloring.

Lesson #2 Add less oil to your cookie dough to compensate for the addition of food coloring.

Our cookies also seemed to spread quickly while in the oven, likely due to the excess of oil. Some time in the fridge might have made the dough easier to handle and prevented such quick flattening.

Lesson #3 Be patient. Let the cookie dough sit in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before sheeting it up.

As you can see, our cookies were large and very thin. They
tasted great, but lacked the fluff of most cookies.

For icing, we decided to use the Pillsbury Easy Frost No Fuss Frosting again after they great results from last time! The icing gave us lots of control to create a wide array of designs, but a lot of the cookies ended up with too much icing. In some instances, the layer of icing was thicker than the cookie.

Lesson #4 Use the classic icing from a can and spread it on, so as to better control the amount of icing on each cookie.

Although the cookies weren't ideal, they will still delicious and gone within a matter of days. Not to mention, I learned a lot from them. Isn't that half the fun of baking? Discovering what works and what doesn't?

Well, a few days later, D and I decided to give the cake cookies a second go utilizing everything that we had learned. But this time it was all about the chocolate.

We used Pillsbury Devil's Food chocolate cake mix for the cookies and the funfetti chocolate fudge icing. And yes, it was nearly a death by chocolate.

We didn't add any food coloring this time, so there was no need to adjust the oil. We simply combined the ingredients to a doughy consistency and let them sit in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

After chilling, the dough was much easier to work with. We rolled small balls and flattened them slightly with the spoon. Fifteen minutes later at 350 degrees, we had beautifully fluffy cake cookies.

Then after the appropriate time for cooling passed, we had gorgeous cookies!

We couldn't have been happier with the results this time around. Not only were they tasty, but they were everything a cookie should be, including fluffy.

Give this basic recipe a try if your ready to turn your favorite cake into some yummy cookies.

Compile ingredients: Pillsbury Cake Mix, 1/3 cup oil, 2 eggs, icing
Combine ingredients into a yummy cookie dough.
Sheet them up.
Watch them like a hawk in the oven.
Ice the cookies after appropriate cooling time.

And, please, whatever you do, don't make my mistakes! Have fun!