About once a month, or most any time we’re traveling, my husband Randy and I enjoy our Sunday Funday with an amateur foodie fest. Our rules are simple: aim to try a different restaurant each time, or if we end up at one we’re familiar with, we must try a new dish. The final rule? Have fun! We believe we qualify as amateur foodies; first, because our waistlines prove we’ll try anything once (twice, if it’s yummy); and second, because a good portion of our home is furnished by prizes and prize money I’ve won in cooking contests. Neither of us is the new Tom Colicchio, but we know good food.
This Sunday Funday’s dining drive took us long Florida’s East Coast, so we could enjoy the sun and scenery after a rare week of chilly weather. We began our wannabe-foodie fun with a warm and filling late-morning brunch at the San Diego Grill, a casual, California-style eatery in Port Orange. Randy’s Border Omelet took up half of his plate—a three-egg omelet stuffed with bacon, not-too-spicy pico, jack cheese, and sour cream. The omelet was topped with four slices of ripe avocado and drizzled with a zigzag of sour cream. Toasted, buttered English muffins were his bread of choice, though rye and wheat toast were also available. I ordered the Ham and Cheese Quiche and received a large portion—a quarter of an entire pie. The buttery crust was homemade, flaky, and tender. Small cubes of ham and melted mild cheddar were ensconced in perfectly cooked eggs. Other offerings we passed on included peanut-butter-and-chocolate-chip waffles, spinach and tomato Benedict, French toast, and more. Both of our dishes were served with fruit salad made up of sliced strawberries, red grapes, fresh pineapple wedges (no canned stuff here), and cubes of honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon. Here we gave thanks for Florida’s year-round growing season, as everything tasted garden-fresh.
From there we drove north along A1A Scenic Highway to Flagler Beach and Flagler Beachfront Winery, because what good is a sunny day on the coast without a wine slushie? Yes, you read correctly. A wine slushie! Flagler Beachfront Winery brings in grapes from all over the US, including from their own vineyards in Ohio. The wine is bottled by the owners and local volunteers in the on-site bottling room, right across the street from the ocean. Every visit to Flagler Beachfront Winery is different from the last, as different wines and wine blends are available each time, and the winery holds a variety of fun events to keep you coming back. Sunday’s event was a book signing featuring four local authors, but fun-runs, charity events, even chocolate-cake- and popcorn-tastings are on the event list. Tapas is available for noshing, including featured meat-and-cheese plates, breads and oils, flatbreads, and more. Randy enjoyed his favorite of their many wines, Flagler Beachfront Winery’s own Blueberry Sangria wine slushie, while I tried—and loved!—their new Very Berry Sangria wine slushie. We sat on the oceanfront patio and soaked up the warm winter sun while watching dolphins play in the surf. Yeah, being an amateur Sunday Funday Foodie is a pretty great gig.
Next we stopped in at Break Awayz at the Beach, another oceanfront spot that came highly recommended to us, and with good reason. Break Awayz’s local claim-to-fame is their extensive craft beer list, with nearly 200 different offerings. However, their food menu is nothing to ignore, as the offerings are fresh, flavorful, and hearty far beyond the “tapas” sign that greets you. We opted for the Warm Bleu Cheese Chips and were thrilled with our choice. The chips were crunchy, not at all greasy like some homemade chips, and they were smothered with a bleu-cheese reduction made with heavy cream, then topped with sliced, crisp, green onions and a balsamic glaze. Randy tried a frosty-cold Founders Breakfast Stout, a Grand Rapids, Michigan brew made with flaked oats, bitter and sweetened chocolates and two kinds of coffee. (Beer: it’s not just for breakfast, anymore.) A couple at the table next to us ooohed-and-ahhhed over their burger sliders, vowing they were the best they’d ever had. Other menu options include everything from fish dip and stuffed portabellas to tuna tataki and lobster ravioli. The co-owners, brothers Kyle and Nick, each came by our outdoor, oceanfront table to make sure we were happy and had everything we needed. Yes, Break Awayz, we will be back!
We then cruised south on A1A into Ormond-by-the-Sea, where we stopped at Lagerheads, which touts itself “The Best Dive in Town”. While it’s uber-casual, Lagerheads is far from a dive, as the menu alone attests. Fresh Cedar Key clams, seared ahi tuna, chicken piccata, and fra diablo mussels aren’t your typical dive-bar food. Since we were not exactly starving (being an amateur foodie is not without its challenges) we decided to share a crab cake croissant with a side of coleslaw. The crab cake arrived on a toasted, buttered croissant, and both were the size of a saucer. The sandwich was served with tomato slices, lettuce and a side of rémoulade sauce. Though we loved the moist, flaky crab cake, neither of us were impressed with the rémoulade, which tasted more like tartar sauce with a bit of ketchup stirred in. The coleslaw was tasty enough to make up for what the rémoulade sauce lacked, however; it was both tangy and creamy. Drink selections here included the usual soft drinks, mostly domestic beers with a few premium options, wine coolers, and a couple of red and white house-wine choices.
Finally, we rode farther down the coast and into Daytona Beach. We came inland, but wanted to watch the sunset over the water, so we went to Blue Grotto Waterfront Dining (outdoor seating deck pictured above) for dessert. It’s an excellent place to lounge and watch the boats come in, and on weekends you’ll be entertained with live music. We were surprised at how empty the place was, as only a half-dozen people sat among the dozens of unfilled tables outside, despite the warm evening and the acoustic guitar entertainment. Dessert options were limited to three; a cheesecake, pie and a fudge brownie sundae. We chose the fudge brownie sundae (sundae funday?), and again, we received an oversized portion—easily enough for three or four to share. My first thought when it arrived was that vanilla ice cream shouldn’t be pale yellow. Oh, and it should probably taste like vanilla, and truly, it didn’t. The ice cream tasted bland, and the fudge brownie had a mild chocolate flavor, far from what I’d call fudge. It was somewhat dry, but of course, as the ice cream melted, it moistened the brownie. Presentation—in spite of the pale-yellow ice cream—was lovely, as the entire plate was drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauces and dotted with whipped cream. In my opinion, this dessert will satisfy a sweet tooth, but I’ll likely go elsewhere the next time I want a decadent dessert. We finished our amateur foodie tour with mugs of hot coffee as we watched the sun slide toward the water—the perfect ending to Sunday Funday on Central Florida’s East Coast.