It’s about the view at the Captain’s Table – Charlotte Harbor Florida

Oh dear, I just can’t believe this – I’m beginning to think that every restaurant in Florida has won an award of some kind. They must give those things out like candy at Halloween. So the Captain’s Table had a wall – a total wall – full of awards. Most romantic dinner, best view, best this – best that. My problem – the only food item that seemed to be a ‘best’ was the breaded fish sandwich. That’s a tad scary, right? I mean – it’s a huge menu and you are giving prizes to the view?

But I have to give them kudos for it. It was truly outstanding. The restaurant is strangely located at the far end of a mall full of cute shops (called Fisherman’s Village) – with timeshare condo’s on the 2nd floor. You park in front, then walk the length of the ‘mall’ to get to the restaurant. Also a bit strange – the restaurant is on 2 levels – the upper level with the outdoor dining overlooking Charlotte Harbor is called the Captain’s Table on Charlotte Harbor. The restaurant on the lower level is Harpoon Harry’s – more of a bar than a restaurant.

We had lunch reservations – which was a very good thing because the majority of the restaurant was filled by large group of bankers having a buffet lunch and a talk. The good news – this didn’t seem to impact the service on the outdoor balcony where we were sitting.

My Grouper Sandwich was just ok. The fish portion was a good size, always a nice start. But I found it cut so thick that I just couldn’t get the fish and the roll into my mouth. So I ended up eating a plain grilled fish, no roll. To add insult to injury – the tomato was also sliced super thick, ending up tasteless. Really didn’t add anything to the sandwich – a shame because one would think that at least in Florida one could get yummy vegetables. One final complaint – The mandatory french fries were standard frozen chips – I passed on those. Just not worth the calories.

Bottom line – lots of awards, great view, but maybe someone ought to take a close look at what they are doing to the food. Definitely not up to the location.

Captain's Table Restaurant on Urbanspoon

The Captain's Table on Foodio54

Best new wine – Ever!

Best new wine – Ever!

A single glass of this new wine could mean a peaceful, uninterrupted night’s sleep. New wine for Seniors, I kid you not!

Clare Valley vintner in South Australia, which primarily produce Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Grigio wines, have developed a new hybrid grape that acts as an anti-diuretic. It is expected to reduce the number of trips older people have to make to the bathroom during the night. The new wine will be marketed as


Surprise – There’s a Science of Happiness! Who Knew?

Backpacks to Briefcases – Free Workshops for Concordia Students and Alumni

I don’t generally attend these workshops – the price is right (free) – but the topics generally are not that thrilling. I’m pretty sure my resume is about as good as it’s going to get, and I have a tough time getting all worried about how to be interviewed.

So imagine my surprise when I realized that one of the series was enticingly called – ‘The Art and Science of Happiness’. Interesting, eh? I didn’t know there was a science to happiness – but I’m willing to give it a listen.

The workshop – really a lecture with some audience participation – was run by Gillian Leithman – a phD student in the field of Postive physiology. Bet you didn’t even know there was a field of Positive Phycology. Well live and learn I say.

Turns out – at least according to Gillian – that our brain is hardwired for negative behaviors. We scan the world looking for issues to give us time to avoid them – and often miss seeing the positive things around us. If that sounds a bit like “Stop and smell the roses” it’s not a surprise – because that thought is one of the basic tenements of the field. We just don’t stop often enough – and spend too much time being on the alert for disaster to really be happy.

Gillian started us off by getting us to list 10 (if possible) things that make us happy. She then proceeded to explain the 3 different general types of happiness producers – pleasurable activities (like taking a hot bath), “Flow” (like losing ourselves in a book – or a blog), and Meaningful activities (like volunteering, or caring for our kids). The best is to have a mix of the different types so that you aren’t putting all your happiness eggs in one basket. I tend to “Flow” activist (writing is one of those), over Meaningful activities (I’m great at the grand-kids – but volunteering isn’t my strong suit).

At the end – her message was that you can change any behavior permanently if you can do it for 30 days. So she had us set a goal of being happier in 30 days by just picking an activity that corresponds to one of the above types of happiness (different from what you naturally do today) and just do it. To make sure you commit – it’s important to announce your intention. In my case – I’m trying to blog every day – and trust me, it is getting easier to keep it up after 30 days. In fact – this is my 54th blog. In 65 days. Pretty cool, eh?

The key question, however, is – Is writing a blog making me happier? Maybe. I am taking a more observant look at the world around me because I know I’m likely to be writing about it shortly. I love thinking about what I’m going to be saying – and I adore checking my visitor stats. So far my greatest number of visitors in one day was 111 – and that was just 2 days ago. How cool is that? And I do love writing – surprise, surprise.

So I think I’d have to say – Gillian – you were right. “Flow” activities – done regularly – do make for a happier outlook.

(Want to contribute a guest blog…. All in the name of making you happier of course… Just let me know.)

And if you want to get in touch with Gillian – her website is:
and her phone # is 514-824-1967

Life in a Double Wide – Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it!

Some of our best friends bought into a ’55+’ community in Florida called the Brookridge Golf Community – 2500 double wides strategiclly located around a club house – an 18 house golf course – and a huge swimming pool.

And we dropped by for a visit.

Confession – while I’ve been in moblie homes before – generally at country fairs where it’s popular to set up a visitation center, I’ve never been inside a double wide. In fact, I’m not sure I knew before today what the difference was between a moble home and a double wide.

Well – I’m here to tell you – there’s a ton of difference. A double wide is a whole lot nicer and has a lot more potential than the fanciest moblie home I ever saw. Its actually really large and open inside. There’s a full size kitchen – and in my friend’s case – an island in the middle for prep work, there’s a very large, very open living room, with a proper media center (a 47″ flat screen TV for starters), 2 full sized bedrooms, 2 reasonably sized bathrooms, and 2 oversized walk in closets. In the master bedroom – which stretched across the entire width, the walk in closet even had his and her sides.

And with this comes a lani or florida room, a garage for 2 golf carts (you need 2 golf carts – this place was huge), and a covered car port.

There’s not a lot of land per home – which means little mowing or gardening, but you aren’t too close to the neigbors either. And the gated development on the whole has lots of green space with fully matured trees. Many of the streets are actually divided parkways.

The community offerings were wonderful. In addition to golf (of course) there is line dancing, arts and crafts, an RV club, even a drama group. In a community of 2500 homes – there’s a ton of variety of owners and ample opportunities to find friends. A monthly magazine is required to keep everyone up to date.

I have to admit to a touch of envy. I don’t know my neighbors – and they knew people on every corner. We even played a few holes of golf (they played – we watched) and ran into some of their buddies.

As my friend said – you have to think of it as a house on a lake – without the lake. I loved it.

Pretty cool. Next time you are doing the open house tour thing – Check out the double wides. You will be amazed.

Red Mule Pub – great name, good Ruben sandwich – but you have to go to Brooksville, Florida to find it!

Consider the challenge – you are a tiny restaurant in a small town about an hour from Tampa – who is going to find you? Well I did, and I loved it.

There isn’t a lot to either the restaurant, or the menu – it’s the Ruben, silly. But they also have a few other sandwiches – Pastrami, Turkey, Salami, even Liverwurst. And a short but yummy dessert list – including my favorite – brownie with whipped cream.

I knew this place would be fun when we walked towards the front door. It wasn’t the ‘winner of the best…’ sign – I’ve learned those can’t always be trusted – it was the way they had taken a single strip mall entrance and turned it into a cabin in the woods. So cute I had to take a picture. But walking in convinced me that this place would be fun. There is ‘fun junk’ every where – from the words of Jimmy Buffet songs to cartoons, signed photographs (including one of Snow White – go figure), and bumper sticker slogan signs. The tables were adorable too – they’d taken ‘toys’ like lincoln logs and covered them with plexiglass – creating a conversation piece while you wait for your food.

All 4 of us ordered exactly the same thing – a Ruben Sandwich – your choice of bread, comes with a pickle slice and a small bag of chips. The sandwich was clearly the star – tons of great tasting corned beef, sauerkraut, melted swiss cheese, and a ‘special’ sauce. Just fine.

Was it the best Ruben I’ve ever had – nope. I prefer my bread toasted – puts some crunch into the sandwich – but maybe that’s an east coast thing where people have stronger teeth. Never-the-less – it was pretty darn good – and I ate the whole thing. Always a sign that they did a good job.

My dessert was sinfully simple – a rich brownie (no nuts, sorry) served with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Sometimes simple is best – and there is totally nothing wrong with a great Ruben followed by that chocolate brownie.


Red Mule Pub on Urbanspoon


Red Mule Pub Inc on Foodio54

If this is the best – I’m really sorry for Fort Myers Beach

I love a great breakfast – and I’ve had many. Unfortunately – that’s what I didn’t have this morning at Reece’s. Nope – this one was pretty crummy. Which happens – but what bugs me is that all over the restaurant were signs saying – “Voted best breakfast in Fort Myers Beach – 10 years in a row”.

So – what should I read into that. That folks in Fort Myers Beach have no taste? That Chez Cora needs to come down here and blow them away? That John G’s in Palm Beach doesn’t have to worry?

The location of the restaurant – which isn’t even on the beach – is in a strip mall – but then almost everything in Fort Myers is either in a strip mall or a hotel. The good news – the ‘balcony’ part overlooked a cute pond with turtles (over 25 according to the chatty waitress), a white ibis eating a delicious breakfast of freshly hatched tadpoles, and a rather odd spraying elephant fountain. And the waitress was super nice – too bad the food didn’t match her clever repartee.

My biscuit was doughy and tasteless, the grits needed butter (not supplied), the eggs weren’t cooked properly, and there wasn’t a piece of fruit anywhere on the menu. This is florida people – fruit should be a given. The best tasting thing was my foot long sausage – a tad greasy – but yummy none-the-less.

My husband’s breakfast was a country fried steak – his first – so while he couldn’t compare it – he did like it. And his poached eggs were fine – if lacking in salt. The gravy was a congealed glop that he didn’t taste, the fried potatoes were frozen and re-heated. The coffee was fine – a bottomless cup of Hazelnut. But you don’t go to breakfast to pick and choose between the good and the really not good.

Sorry people – maybe everyone else loved this place – but I thought it worse than forgettable.

Reese's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

El Gaucho Inca – Awesomely good – and they know it! (Fort Myers, Florida)

We ‘googled’ Best Seafood in Fort Myers – and the top restaurant according to Urbanspoon, Yelp – and Tripadvisor was a place called ‘El Gaucho Inca’. Interesting – the best restaurant isn’t a chain, it isn’t fancy, it isn’t expensive, it isn’t even well located. Sounds like my kind of place.

So we called to make reservations – and got told – we don’t take reservations after asking our name and phone number. Is that odd or what? But at least that meant we didn’t have to rush off the beach to get there. And given the distance from the beach (an over 35 minute drive) – that totally worked.

Location – it’s in a strip mall (no surprise there) – in what can be kindly called a residential area. Personally – I think it’s in the sticks – but you can call it what you want – this is not downtown. The current space is tiny – seating for just over 100 people – max. But the super friendly Peruvian waitress told us that they are moving in just 2 weeks to a larger location in the same strip mall – doubling their seating capacity to over 200.

Just a thought on this plan – can the chef keep up with twice as many diners? I’m thinking not without help from at least a couple of sous-chefs. Which will make for a different dining experience. Just a mutter there.

Our dinner was very very good. As other reviewers have said – the dipping sauce for the bread – a startling green – was positively yummy. We cleaned the bowl – and would have licked it if we’d been at home.

For appetizers we ordered the Conchitas a la Parmesan – it was amazingly good. Perfectly cooked Scallops served on the half shell with a three cheese melt on top. I ate every bite. I never eat every bit – just saying. My husband’s appetizer, while way too large – was equally delicious. It was the Ceviche del Inca – a trio of Ceviche – fish, shrimp and squid. He was offered a choice of spice level – and opted for medium. Plenty spicy for me I’ll tell you. I loved the fish ceviche – liked the shrimp version, and thought the squid was a tad on the chewy side. But the amount of flavor packed into each bowl was memorable. I really loved the two types of corn used as ‘decoration’. Surrounding the bowls were crispy corn nuts, and stuck on toothpicks were Latino corn nibblets that had been steamed. Definitely a winner – but reminder to self – next time just stick to the Fish Ceviche – less money and the better bet,

For main courses – I thought mine was far better than my husbands – and his was very good. When I was in Argentina several years ago – a butcher explained how they cut their meat – starting with a side of beef. I mention this because they use a completely different system, and the cutting changes the way the meat tastes. I ordered the ‘beef ribs’ after the waitress explained that the chef gets his meat flown in from Argentina. That meant that the cut would be the traditional one – and it was. And it was delicious. So unique.

My husband had the Pescado a lo Macho. At $16.99 – his one complaint was that the portion was too large. The poached fish was in a sauce very similar to that of butter chicken with lots of tomato and cream. There were mounds of shrimp and squid on top of the fish along with 3 delicious black mussels. For a starch, they added plain white rice. He ordered a side of pan-fried sweet plantains that were the best I’ve tasted in a long time.

For dessert we got the Peruvian Fruit cake – which other reviewers have loved, but I thought was overly sweet. I also ordered one of their Peruvian style cookies – which i adored. It was very similar to the Christmas Crescent Cookies our German friend used to make, a soft dough with a filling of dulce de leche and covered with powdered white sugar. A completely delicious way to end a very yummy meal.

El Gaucho Inca on Urbanspoon


Denny’s – the America’s Classic Dinner Edition – Fort Myers, Florida

It’s been ages since I’ve walked into a Dennys – but it was late, we’d just flown in from Dallas – and it was open – and my husband was hungry. So Denny’s it was.

Driving up – I read with surprise their slogan – America’s Classic Dinner. Cool. The menu even featured a gal looking very 1950’s And walking in – with signs announcing free WIFI – it really carried the theme. Music from the 60’s – tin ceilings, glass bricks, booths with leather (well – I think it was just fancy plastic) covers – checkered floor, semi open kitchen.

Turns out that there are only a few of these ‘Classic’ Denny’s – and this one was the first – in 1998. They have been here for 16 years – which says – Ok – it’s been a really really long time since I’ve visited a Denny’s!

We were greeted warmly by Jayson – another surprise from previous experiences and shown a booth. Jayson – dressed Diner appropriate in a black t-shirt and pants – presented 3 – coun’t m – 3 menus. The main menu, the 3 month rotating special menu – featuring bacon, and the Dessert and Appetizers menu.

I actually was intrigued by the senior menu – 55+ and ranging from just $5.29 to $7.99. Most interesting – there were even light options – under 550 calories. At a Dennys. What has the world come to when even Denny’s thinks diet!

Can’t argue with the prices – $2 for a Cheese Quesadilla – up to about $9.99 for a steak or as a splurge $10.99 for a Pork Chop dinner. My husband opted for the Prime Rib Philly Melt for $8.99 with a side of Bacon Cheddar Red Skin Potatoes. He thought it was delicious. His only complaint – the Chiabatti bun wasn’t really crisp – but the meat was quite good, nice thick chunks of steak, generously topped with melted cheese.

The desert menu hadn’t changed – unless the addition of a Maple Bacon Milkshake can be considered a change. It’s still your basic food groups – chocolate and creme.

But even so – This Denny’s – like all Denny’s – isn’t trying to be anything but simple food, cooked fast, filling, inexpensive, decent quality for the price. And while I’d be unwilling to go out on the limb for all Denny’s – I willing to say that this Denny’s was a very very pleasant surprise.

We are planning to go back for breakfast – I want to try the waffles!

Address: 8031 Summerlin Center Drive, Fort Myers, Fl 33907

Denny's on Urbanspoon

Stuck at the Dallas Airport – Want to know what to eat? Just ask the Montreal Madame!

I don’t know what it is about the Dallas Airport – I mean I live in Montreal – why should I so often find myself here?

But here I am – and food I crave.

I have my favorite spot – In Terminal D – home to all the international flights – including the ones to Canada – I happen to be pretty fond of Cool River Cafe. It’s in a corner of one of those islands of food and shops that makes terminal D so neat looking – right near gate D27. The food is simple, but a step above the normal fast food fare, and it has table cloths and service. Winner.

But now I have a new competitor – Cantina Laredo. This restaurant is part of a small chain of restaurants – located in crazy places like Las Vegas, London, and the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. Franchises are available if you are interested.

Cantina Laredo is located right around the corner from Cool River, opposite Gate D24 – It’s self-described as modern mexican. I don’t see that – I mean it looks like pretty standard Mexican to me – but it is yummy. And filling. And a nice change from the french cuisine of Montreal.

My husband ordered their Queso Laredo, a cheese dipping dish made with taco meat that while a bit liquid for my taste – more of a soup than a dip – it was deliciously yummy. And the chips were delightful – light and fresh and crisp. I do wish that the salsa had come in more than one flavor though – I’m used to some of the mexican restaurants in Park City with their 5, 6 or up to 10 different kinds of salsa to enjoy. Just one option seems skimpy.

I had my standard fare – a plain quesadilla. But it was a nice one, clearly made to order, toasted on both sides, a bit crunchy, and delicious. Service was a tad lacking – I asked for no sour creme, but that instruction clearly didn’t make it to the kitchen. And the salsa served with the quesadilla was just chopped tomatoes. But even so – if you have to eat in an airport – this is not a bad option. Not a great choice – but not a bad one either. Cool River Cafe can rest easy – it is still my go to place.

Of course – if you can get out of the airport – go directly to the Hard 8 – Texas BBQ at its messy best.

Hard 8 is the Best BBQ ever – Bad news – it’s in Dallas Texas!

You arrive in a strange city – and you are hungry. How do you find a great place to eat? Frommers? Fodor? Insight? My problem with guides is simple – they are by default dated. The reviewer went there – liked it – left, reviewed it, than a year – or more – later, it got published.

Zaggat, Yelp and Urbanspoon – which are on-line restaurant review sites are much better – but somehow – I always forget to check before I leave – and then arrive without internet access.

My go-to solution – ask a local. And my 2 favorite places to find those locals are either at gas stations (hey – gas station attendant have to eat too), or at the car rental counter. Actually – I prefer to ask the guy giving me the car. More often than not – I get good advice. And this time – the advice was amazing.

We’d just arrived in Dallas, TX – and it was lunch time. BBQ sprang to mind. Our question was – best BBQ that is not a chain. We’d rented thru Enterprise (Hi back at you guys) and the efficient Enterprise agent thought for a second – then asked if we wanted fancy. When the answer was no – we just wanted awesome BBQ – he said – Hard 8. He even ‘text’d’ the address to my husband’s cell phone. Now that’s service.

We followed the GPS to what must easily be the best BBQ I’ve ever enjoyed. We knew we were in the right place when we saw that the line stretched out the door!

Hard 8 is in a huge building – about 40% of which is devoted to the BBQ pits, and the smokers. You stand in line until you get your turn in front of the open-pit and are faced with a simply mouth-watering display of BBQ offerings. Signs everywhere warn against ordering too much – but the free taste of bacon wrapped BBQ chicken with a jalapeno Pepper put us in the mood for food.

Everything is cut and sliced to order – so you want Brisket? The pit boss will gesture at the brisket – and chop until you stay stop. Ribs? How many do you think you can eat. The only things not sold by the pound beside the roasted and steamed whole corn on the cab – were the BBQ chicken (1/2 or whole) and the pork chop. Both looked completely yummy – but I wanted ribs.

Of the 3 of us – my grand-daughter took the prize for restraint, just ordering some slices of home spiced and home smoked Kielbasa. I got ribs, my husband got carried away and ordered a bit of almost everything, from brisket to a sirloin kebab. They weighed our choices – then pointed us into the restaurant itself to get drinks, dessert, and add-on’s like mac and cheese or sweet corn with jalapeno’s.

From there – it’s on into the dining room. Well – dining room is a bit generous. More of a cross between a bar and a barn – with a huge heated ‘patio’. Tables are ‘the share with your neighbor’ variety – and on each section are rolls and rolls of paper towels – which speak to the messy nature of eating proper Texas BBQ.

There’s a boiling pot of ‘all you can eat’ beans, more BBQ sauce in case you feel the need – and stacks and stacks of to-go boxes. Yup – we probably aren’t the first – or last – that order too much!

I totally adored my ribs – and ate 2 of them – plus all my grand-daughters Kielbasa. She ate the rest of my ribs – and then gobbled up her share of the brisket that my husband got.The Mac and Cheese wasn’t great – but what were we thinking to even order it. I can’t say I liked the Kebab at all – but again – what were we thinking to order it in the first place.

The creamed sweet corn with Jalapeno was not particularly spicy – but it was sweet. Not nearly at the same – you MUST eat this – level as the ribs, bacon wrapped chicken or the Brisket, but very interesting.

How good was the ‘Hard 8’ – well – my husband is planning on going back today. Yes – that good.

So – if you find yourself in Dallas – and craving a no frills BBQ pit dinner – Hard 8 has definitely got you covered.

Hard Eight BBQ on Urbanspoon

Hard 8 BBQ on Foodio54