Monday, 24 December 2012

Checking out the Winter Park real estate

You already know I love shopping in Winter Park.

Once again, I got into my hire car, set the talking Garmin woman to Park Ave and "followed the highlighted route".

You already know I love driving my hire car. Especially an Alamo hire car

Remember last year - I booked a Toyota and ended up driving a bright red VW Jetta

My noble steed - waiting patiently outside Disney's Old Key West Resort
So this year I did the same - booked a Toyota Corolla - and guess what I scored??

Valets all over Central Florida had their hopes dashed by the low tipping from the scruffy Australian who crawled out of this in their driveways
So now that we have determined that the ladies at Alamo Car Hire are worthy upholders of Alamo customer service ....

.... we are off to Winter Park to experience the Scenic Boat Tour

Photos of Scenic Boat Tour, Winter Park
This photo of Scenic Boat Tour is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Yep a little pontoon holding a max 18 people leaves every hour, at $12 per head, and putters around the lake and canal system around which Winter Park's rich and famous live.

Not that they were particularly famous to me.

For over 50 years, the tour has followed this route

BUT - there are a couple of people worthy of a mention for their role in developing Winter Park.

One of the most famous and longest lasting families in Winter Park is the McKean family: Dr Hugh and his wife Jeanette. And Jeanette was the granddaughter of Charles Hosmer Morse. And this family is important to Winter Park as they are the family who established the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, which houses the world's largest collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany works. Phew - are you still with me?

Their house is on the shore of  Lake Osceola - named Wind Song after the sound of chimes carried on the breeze. Apparently.  I obviously have to think up a name for my house. Meow Storm? Sun Purr?

On the direct opposite side of the lake is the Brewer estate from 1899. Edward Brewer made his money in carriages up in New York and this was his "winter cottage" of only 23 rooms.

The tour continues pottering around the lakes and down the narrow connecting canals - so narrow only as wide as the pontoon.

People are boarded in the order they bought their tickets. I had to sit up the back

The canals get one up close to the cyprus trees with their hanging spanish moss. Which is neither 'spanish', nor 'moss'
Coming out into the open lakes , I discover that  many of the key sights of Winter Park back onto the lakes. .

I believe there is the Kraft Azalea garden in under those cyprus somewhere.
The Rollins Liberal Arts College
Although not advertised this way, at it's heart, this tour is about looking at the real estate - taking a peek at how some live.

I do know of one Zontian who would rock up into towns and pretend to be relocating to the city, "due to husband's work" and ask the local real estate agent to show her houses in the $million plus bracket. A fun afternoon's past-time if you can pull it off.

If memory serves, this house was next to the Polasek Sculpture Garden

There is a short video on the Scenic Boat Tour website, or even faster, here is their 30 sec commercial:

Note for some: you need to be able to navigate a flight of stairs to get to and from the dock.

So what's your style when sight seeing? Would you enjoy such a gentle boatride? Or do you like to get more "hands on" and call an estate agent?

Sunday, 16 December 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like gingymas, gingerbread everywhere

One thing associated with Christmas is gingerbread - the spices of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg - along with sugary treats all adds up to Christmassy goodness.

GN gingerbread-man lg.jpg
Remember Gingy from Shrek? the movie that poked fun at Disney ....

I know one Zonta Club in Sydney which runs an annual gingerbread house building day  - a fun, interactive activity that keeps them in touch with their local community and celebrates the season.

However, those ladies have never gone as big as anything in Orlando - and all the resorts do it - each aiming to be the one who has more sugar, more icing and more electronics than the next. Over this holiday season let's take a look at some of these constructions - oppan gingnam style!

Disney's Beach Club Resort

This was my first gingerbread experience - so I have a lot of photos, as I stood there in awe, amazed that the whole thing was technically edible. I use the word 'technically' because apparently the Disney gingerbread is about as edible as the roofing tiles they seek to emulate.

So the Beach Club does this delightful little lifesize carousel:

I like horsies but I couldn't eat a whole one
These horses are quite immaculate - with not a drop of icing out of place
Beware the zombie gingerbread men who want gingerbread BWAINNNSSSS
 And yes - Engineering made the whole go around and around and play plinky christmas musak

Not content with just a carousel, a few extras were also built

A gingerbread Sleeping Beauty's Castle!

Pirates! A mini, edible Jack Sparrow - just for my friend Penny!

Hidden Mickey was a misnomer

There was a lifesize gingerbread shop where one could buy gingerbread rocks roofing tiles to chock open doors enjoy as a snack.
The carousel set up was very neat - beautiful quality and very tidy - no drips or slips. And it fits beautifully in the centre of the lobby. When walking in, one was immediately with the gingerbread, spicy, chocolately scents filling the space.

enjoy this little video from WDW from several years ago - where they build the carousel in only 30 seconds!

There are more gingery constructions to show you. However as I saw more and more of them I was getting gingered out! So there are less photos. Wait till I show you the grandaddy at the Grand Floridian resort.

Oh and remember Gingy at the opening of this post?? Well - this year Mickey got revenge. Here is one of the souvenirs I bought:

Run, run as fast as you can ....
So what about you? Will you be baking gingerbread this Christmas season?

Monday, 3 December 2012

Quickie Food Porn - Teppan Edo

I'm here - in Orlando! Stuff's happening - I have soooo much to show you. Once again I am working on the tablet - but this time I have the little matching keyboard, and Blogger have updated their android version - BWAH HA HA HA HA HA There is no escape! I am meeting up with Zontians and other Disney Freakaphiles - my schedule is changing minute to minute - hopefully I get something up that has a semblance of cohesion. Here's a quickie food post to keep you going.
Day 3: Teppan Edo - the teppanyaki restaurant in Epcot's World Showcase.

There must be 20 teppanyaki tables in here, each of which seat 9 people. In a small attempt at authenticity, Disney run an international exchange program for hospitality students and graduates. These people are drawn specifically from the countries to man the corresponding country showcase. So all of the staff in Teppan Edo are Japanese. But all the food is very very safe for your average Disney customer. No unagi, no dried fish - and definitely no natto!

I was alone and was seated with a family - I know nothing about and cannot share anything - except the young girls you'll see in the photos were astonishingly quiet! Not a peep. Boy, the chef had to work hard just to get them to watch him!

were they pleased to be here, or what?
let's get on with the food.

The appetizer choices include a small dish of edamame, a "salad" which consisted on a plate of chopped iceberg lettuce with a sweet dressing. Sushi rolls and sashimi tuna. I had the Waku Ribs - pork ribs marinated in ginger, garlic and soy and reheated on the grill plate. This was BBQ heaven! They were very tender - fall off the bone - very tasty and moist. I was so pleased - and the 2 blokes sharing the table were also very impressed. I'm a real man.

For the main, everyone scores a bowl of rice, udon noodles which have been fried with onion and zucchini, and fried mushrooms. Your choice is the protein. You can mix and match or just have one. They offer fillet mignon, sirloin steak, chicken, prawns, and scallops. I chose to have half & half sirloin and prawns.
The prawns were fine - but nothing special. The steak was very good - moist, cooked to order (medium rare), very tender and had a meaty steaky taste.

The chef puts on a bit of a show whilst cooking - lots of spinning knifes and pepper shakers. The best part of the show is the onions. Of course, the onion rings are first used to make a mickey head!  And then the signature move - they are stacked and water poured in to form a steaming volcano - so much fun! (In the meantime - those girls are sitting there like zombies with their mother apologising profusely to the chef)

"is that all you've got?"

I didn't do dessert - this time. They do offer green tea pudding, chocolate and ginger cake, and ice cream. The cake is a very light sponge and has a very mild ginger teint to it. They could stick more in and make the flavour distinctive. The green tea pudding has so much sugar in it, the green colour is merely a nod to its design.

Teppan Edo is 2 Mr Creasotes - not too heavy - but more than I could finish.

And only 2 spoonfuls of sugar - nice and good fun but not a meal you'll rave about.

If only they threw the rice and prawn heads at me!