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Divot's Cafe and Banquet

Unique entrees found in 'hideaway cafe'

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

DIVOTSsfYou know how sometimes those secret, hide-away lunch stops the whole world doesn't know about makes you smile, feeling smug inside GLOBers?

I recently had one of the best hamburgers I have had in some time and it was wrapped in a burrito shell with amazingly delicious flavored chipotle sauce, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup and cheese in a pressed tortilla.

I'm thinking unless you lived in the nearby 'hood you have no idea about the cozy, friendly lunch spot with an amazing menus that includes – according to lunch pal Jon Roosenraad the Divot's Eagle Cheeseburger ($7.99) with bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle slices and ketchup on a toasted bun-- one of the best hamburgers he has had in some time.

"There are good burgers all over Gainesville but this is one of the best Excellent beef that stayed juicy cooked to perfection at medium well (that's right – cook the damn thing). But what also made this one was the very thick and tasty hickory bacon. Would like to try that alone in a BLT," Roosenraad said between bites

 

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"The standard fries with the burger were hardly "standard" – seasoned to perfection and no need for ketchup. I think the only other fries in town that are similar are at Piesanos," Roosenraad added.

Keep in mind that quote is coming from a long time, thrifty, Michagander that is very careful with his pennies and his compliments.

 

DIVOTSdining

With a golf course theme the cafés menu categories on the menu are themed with clever sports idioms like putting greens, Hole-In-Ones, and Par for the grill. An extensive menu of 'Lunch or Later Hot Hole in Ones' that includes unique, tasty sounding Half Pound Fried Mushrooms, Half Pound Crispy Broccoli Cheddar Bites, the Triple Bogey which is Mushrooms, and Broccoli Bites.  And look at this GLObers! This menu contains Jalapeno Cream Cheese Poppers Bites and sauces. I love fried cheese poppers . . .

Eight entrees are included in the Buddy Favorites list including hot dogs, wraps, and a yummy sounding Country Fried Steak Plate ($6.99), consisting of 2 fried beef steak patties with mashed potatoes, both covered with country gravy.

You can close out this round of lunch entrees with 5 Hamburgers, and also five familiar sounding sandwiches.

It was looking like I was going to select a burger and forego the bun when I came across the Chipotle Cheeseburger Burrito. ($7.99) In a city with more burrito shops than should be allowed GLOBers, if I was meeting someone for lunch and they asked for the best burrito in town I would have no problem directing them to this 'across the interstate lunch stop.'

Jonny is correct the Hamburger in my Burrito was really flavorful and juicy. The two halves of my Mexican Sammie were big enough to share. The ingredients were fresh, and the chipotle sauce made the burrito really special with a tangy hint of heat and flavor.

 

Burrito!480

I'm thinking it was the chipotle sauce combining with the other flavors made this burrito one of my better tortilla wrapped lunch surprises.

The café was clean and well attended with several tables. As we were leaving the café appeared to be filling up with lunch time regulars.

You know GLOBers I an almost reluctant talk much more about Divot's Café and Banquet Oh, Alright, FORE ON THE WEST SIDE! This excellent, intimate, friendly café on West Gainesville's Meadowbrook Golf Course certainly deserves you consideration if you're an all beef, carnivore kind of lunch time person.

The Pluses and Minuses of Divot's Cafe and Banquet:

Divot's Cafe and Banquet (+) indicators: Great sandwiches, burgers, prize winning hamburger burrito.

Divot's Cafe and Banquet  (-) indicators:  This cafe is hidden away in NW Gainesville off the regular 'eating path'

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Divot's Cafe and Banquet .  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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Culver's

The Pluses and Minuses of the Culver's:

Culver's (+) indicators:

Culver's  (-) indicators: 

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Culver's .  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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Social at Midtown

The Pluses and Minuses of the Social at Midtown:

Social at Midtown (+) indicators:

Social at Midtown (-) indicators: 

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Social at Midtown.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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Ironwood Golf Course

Lunchstop is not just for birdies or the birds

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

IWsfI know of an off-the-beaten-path lunch stop I like to think is all mine. You know what I mean GLOBers. A hideaway place that's not too crowded. Somewhere I could take a special friend and not be bothered with other lunch outers in my space.

The irony (hint, hint) is this lunch stop is in the midst of a busy environment of customers talking seriously about the best round they ever had; the last time they birdied old number #17; or whether they will rent a golfcart or walk the 18 holes of Gainesville's Ironwood Golf Course on NE 39th Avenue. 

There are a number of good reason why this lunch stop deserves your consideration even if intimate conversation isn't important in your lunch world:

IWSilhouttePerhaps some of the most lowest lunch prices in G'ville including:

zzGLOBbullet Chipotle Black Bean Burger for $6.50
zzGLOBbullet Chicken Salad Sandwich for $4.50
zzGLOBbullet Chili Cheese Fries for $4.00 from a full list of appetizers
zzGLOBbullet Broccoli Cheddar Bacon Bites $5.50

For the Meatless Monday lunch outer, there is an extensive list of options including veggie wraps with hummus, guacamole, lettuce or spinach, tomato, onion, cucumber and salsa. A variety of sandwiches and a grilled cheese sandwich can also be made for the vegetarian luncher.

For the meat eater, there is an Italian sausage dog and pizza.

 

IWErinA

The Ironwood pro-shop is run by staffers Erin Maynard, behind the counter, and John Andreu with kitchen responsibilities. John made several visits with us at the golf course lunch counter to make sure we were impressed with his lunch time creations.

Erin mentioned there is ample table seating in the adjacent meeting room for lunch customers who would like a bit more privacy. 

IWCounter

"We do get customers stopping in from time to time to eat on the golf course patio, or who just want a little more privacy during their lunch hour," Erin said.

 

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My lunch pal this visit was GLOB Advertising Manager Gary Miller and he selected the Chipotle Black Bean Burger which had a spicy patty made with a blend of black beans, brown rice, onions, corn, fresh red bell peppers and Anaheim chilies with a touch of cilantro and garlic, served with lettuce, tomato, and onion for $6.50. IMO Anaheim chilies are a great addition with loads of pepper flavor but not necessarily all the heat.

Eating every bit of his spicy burger, Miller said it was very tasty. 

IWTurkey480

I was pleased to see old fashioned sandwiches available on the menu with the choice of white, wheat, or marbled rye bread. My turkey sandwich was stacked very nicely with breast of turkey, lettuce, tomato, and Muenster cheese. The Muenster cheese was a special tasty surprise for the GLOB Master in a very good $4.75 sandwich. You can also order a ham sandwich or a sandwich with both ham and turkey for the same low price. All sandwiches are served with chips, fries, or sweet potato fries for an additional $1.50

 

IWsoup

I enjoyed my sandwich, but I thanked the lunch gods for including a bowl of soup with the Ironwood Burger, Basket, or Sandwich order for $1.50. The very cool thing about my bowl of cream of broccoli soup was the packet of Oyster Crackers floating in my Styrofoam tureen that gave a delightful crunch to the creamy, cheesy goodness.

I used to play golf and frequented the Ironwood course for my fair share of sporting punishment. It's nice to see all the upgrades the course has taken under the management of Jeff Cardoza

IWturkeys

If you need one more reason for this special lunch stop, the Audubon Society listed the Ironwood Gold Course as an "Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary" as of July 1999.

The Pluses and Minuses of Ironwood Golf Course:

Ironwood Golf Course + indicators:  Low prices; great sports surroundings; can be a quiet, intimate lunch spot. A true NE Gainesville lunch outpost.

Ironwood Golf Course. - indicators: They need to post their menu online.  There is a menu on their Facebook site

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Ironwood Golf Course. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

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Wings & Teriyaki

The Pluses and Minuses of Wings & Teriyakii

Wings & Teriyaki+ indicators: .

Wings & Teriyakii - indicators:

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Wings & Teriyakii. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

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Big Mill's Cheesesteaks

Supreme Cheesesteak is top flight sandwich

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

BIGMILLSsfSometimes you have to stand up, and take one for the team.

You know, give it up, be brave for all your GLOB compadres.

I was ready to jump in front of that hurtling dill pickle spear to protect my fellow lunch outers.

Those were my thoughts as I checked out the Cheese steak menu in the Big Mill's Cheesesteaks house on NW 13th near NW 23rd St.

Sure GLOBer, I knew I was trashing a day, or two of good diabetes blood sugar numbers by even thinking should I eat a whole cheesesteak sub,. Or even just a half? But I was thinking of you fellow GLOBer as I gazed upon a menu of Chicago style, Hoagie Style. Italian and polish sausage subs.

I'm not even going to talk about the six different hot dogs on the Big Mill's menu. Those are for another day of being bad, er, ugh, doing what must be done for all good lunch time GLOBers.

 

BMcsMNUBRD

We're talking lunch time diner food here GLOBers. Nothing fancy, a good number of tables with all the lunch time pit stop, deli style kitsch. A nicely moving lunch counter line, guided by a customer friendly Big Mill's staffer named Elizabeth.

Elizabeth keeps the orders moving and isn't afraid to talk over customers, staffers and even Big Mill himself.

You have to like that I thought to myself knowing my lunch will be efficiently served to the GLOB Master at my checkerboard covered table for two.

 

BMcsCHAIRS

I decided since I was a newbie at Big Mill's I should go for the tried and true and ordered the Big Mill's Supreme Cheesesteak topped with bacon, your choice of cheese and toppings (Reg $10.25, Big $13.85).

Big Mill's has an impressive list of free sandwich toppings including marinara sauce, giardiniera peppers, and sauerkraut. Bacon, Pepperoni, Extra Cheese, and extra meat can be added to your sandwich for an additional charge. There is a complete Big Mill'S Cheesesteak menu at the restaurant link below this review.

 

BMcsLUNCHLINE

Big Mill's was jumping with a steady line of customers with most of the tables filled. This was a happy lunch stop. It was obvious there is much enthusiasm on this side of Gainesville for a cheese steak shop they can call their won.

There did appear to be many customers that new Big Mill's Cheesesteaks and hotdogs. These tailgators made a lunch trip just to catch up with Big Mill who has been serving sandwiches and hot dogs to Florida football game fans for a while.

My lunch of certified angus beef sirloin was masterful in appearance with an amazing regular sub ($8.25, Large $11.85) that easily could have fed two customers.

 

BMcs480

I tried to be traditional by adding provolone cheese, peppers, onions a, and mushroom to my sub. The bacon was automatically included and added an additional salty flavor to my sub.

The bacon was unique, however for a $1.95 up charge. I won't do that again. 100% chicken breast may be substituted in place of the beef protein.

The supremely soft sub roll encasing my sandwich was divine holding all my toppings together with the bread melding into my sandwich almost like an extra cheese.

 

BMcsJACKS

The onion rings were spectacular ($8.75). With an extra thick, crisp crunchy coating the O-Rings created a nice crunch factor amidst my cheesesteak's sautéed toppings. Elizabeth was doling out free boxes of Crackerjacks to happy customers

Big Mill's is going to work here on NW13th St. I'm thinking you can expect lunch lines at the busier times of the day. That said this is a very good cheese steak sub certainly worth waiting in line for.

The Pluses and Minuses of Big Mills Cheesesteaks:

Big Mills Cheesesteaks + indicators: Sandwiches large enough to share. An abundance of free toppings. Onion rings are a nice treat. I'm thinking the GLOB Master is waiting to check his blood sugar in the morning . . .

Big Mills Cheesesteaks - indicators: Pricey for a sub. But they are big enough to share. If lines bother you need to be first in the lunch line or lunch later in the day. A serious one hour walk prior to lunch could lessen my bodies carbohydrate shock.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Big Mills Cheesesteaks. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

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Twisted Peacock

The Peacock quickly generates 'restaurant buzz'

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

TpeacockSFI have to admit: When I heard that the owners of Gainesville's Reggae Shack and Southern Charm Kitchen restaurants were looking to open another restaurant, my ears perked up quickly. Holding Southern Charm Kitche nin a dear place in my heart, cracking my top 5 favorite restaurants in Gainesville, I had high expectations for any sibling restaurant. The Indian fusion restaurant that had been in the works for some time, now dubbed the Twisted Peacock, finally opened its doors.

Despite lacking any advertisement or promotion of the newly-opened, niche restaurant, the youngest restaurant sibling was already creating some buzz. Other than a few Instagram photos tagged at the Twisted Peacock, a menu was nowhere in sight either. I was diving — or I guess, dining—in blind. At least I had seven other blind, yet willing, participants to accompany me on the restaurant's first Saturday open. In fact, everyone at the table was pretty unfamiliar with Indian cuisine. I believe some Googling was involved.

While eight glasses of water were promptly brought to the table upon our arrival, our server became somewhat sparse throughout the duration of our meal. I'm not sure if the restaurant wasn't anticipating a solid 40 percent of the dining area full of hungry patrons and they were slightly short-staffed, or if the opening week just came with a few challenges, but our slightly scatter-brained server was a good indication of the slower service. The meal, from the first glass of water to the last check returned, took about 2.5 hours, which is a bit lengthy for a restaurant visit, especially considering we did not delay ordering.

 

TPotsB

That brings us to the food. I was pleased with the menu, probably because of the association I made to it and that of Southern Charm's menu. It was laid out very similarly, but it certainly had very different menu items. Curry was not a main theme of the menu, which surprised me some, but the other menu items, including Tandoori, Tikka Masala, and Vindaloo all were representative of popular Indian cuisine. However, this was Indian fusion, which I tried to keep in mind.

 

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The first menu section, Street Food, had a handful of appetizer-sized dishes. Samosa was the one item on that list that I was familiar with, so of course a couple orders of those hit the table first (and by first, I meant a solid 30 minutes after ordering). I had heard the naan bread wasn't made in-house, so I avoided that, although I hope that changes. Nonetheless, the samosas, $5.95, which I described to the uninformed as being akin to empanadas, were adequately-sized and very full of vegetables and potatoes. I appreciated that, as many flaky pastry-type items are too airy inside.

There was a decent mix of entrees present on the table about an hour after initial ordering, which seemed a little too long considering the restaurant did not meet even half-full capacity. Nonetheless, everyone dove into the decent-sized portions of proteins over a silver dish full of a couple of cups of basmati rice per person.

 

TPchickenROASTED

Three hungry members of our party ordered the Pig Vindaloo, $11.95. Originally a Portuguese dish, "carne de vinhad'alhos," it is now typically served in India with lamb, which apparently was the protein in front of us despite "pig" in the name. The sauce was not as spicy as the server suggested it might be — a somewhat disappointing discovery — but it was flavorful nonetheless. Another person at the table got the Duck Korma, $17.95, and she certainly received her money's worth of duck with a few thighs, a breast, and drumsticks filling the silver bowl. It was cooked well, but the curry gravy lining the bottom of the bowl certainly made it shine.

TPgreensauce

Two friends ordered the Tandoori Chicken, $10.95, with a sizeable number of pieces stuffed in their respective bowls. However, both agreed it was the least satisfactory entrée at the table, commenting on its "blandness." The green-colored sauce brushed over a few pieces didn't lend much to the red chili powder marinade the menu claimed it to be cooked in.

 

TPsoupNOODLE

One of my two favorite entrees of the night was my friend's surprising order (he typically sticks to what he knows) of the goat dish, comically named the "Rogan Josh," $11.95. The goat was submerged in a deep red-orange sauce of Indian spices, and the meat fell apart so tenderly with the swipe of a fork. My dish, the Chicken Tikka Masala, $11.95, was my second favorite. The waitress considered it one of the more popular dishes at the restaurant, and I have experience eating it at an Indian restaurant in London, so I was familiar with the flavors.

The masala gravy should have been doubled in quantity: The strong spice-filled sauce was soaked up by the tender white meat chicken, which I wished didn't run out as soon cause it was so tasty, despite it being a dinner-size portion. It was clear that the sauces of the night were what helped make or break the experience. The one thing I also had hoped was an option to include cooked veggies in the dish, as those would have been a great addition to round out my tikka masala.

TPbuns2

Of course there is always a second stomach for dessert. The GulabJamun, $5.95, peaked multiple interests, so three servings of that came next. Each hot bowl of two, larger than donut hole-sized Indian donuts floated over a "rosewater and cardamom-scented syrup." After one bite, one person thought the donut was doughy and undercooked, but it actually appeared to just not have a cake-type filling as an American donut hold would. The outside was so crispy and evenly-cooked that I thought it played well into the somewhat doughy insides, and I loved it. The syrup really stole the show, sugary and rich with some noticeable punches of flavor from the cardamom and rosewater.

PeacockARTAfter getting through the menu, I noticed the little description of why the Twisted Peacock got its name, and I learned the musical symbolism behind the animal. That certainly explained the décor: Two large walls toward the back were covered with Indian music posters; the very back wall was splattered with Indian musical instruments, such as the Sarod and Sitar, which resemble a thinner guitar/violin/banjo combination. Indian musicals were playing on the overhead TVs; two children at an adjacent table were enamored by the screens all night. It certainly had a cozy feel, although seemed a bit above just a casual jeans and tee experience.

No one ordered a vegetarian entrée, and I think if I came back I would try one of those and another "Street Food" item to expand my Indian taste palette. I do not have an extensive knowledge of Indian cuisine, only having had it a handful of times and never having been to India. I do not claim myself to be an expert of the cuisine, but I do know what works well. With that being said, it is not a dining spot I will be rushing back to, as it was overall somewhat subpar considering the collective dining experience of myself and the other seven at the table. However, I could have drank the syrup those donuts were in, so I will say it left some memorable moments with me.

The Pluses and Minuses of the Twisted Peacock

Twisted Peacock + indicators: Unique food entrees, good quality food items, good value for price, open for lunch and dinner

Twisted Peacock - indicators:  Not quite cohesive service, long waits for food (don't go if in a rush)

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the Twisted Peacock. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

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Road Trip: Cilantro Tacos, Newberry

W. Coast Mex food love brought East

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

Nothing against Mexican food, but it's never been my go-to meal for dining out. Taco salads are in my rotation every so often, but I guess I haven't been to a restaurant that truly inspired a must-return reaction. Usually, I'm in it for the margaritas. Perhaps that is why it took me so long to venture over to Cilantro Tacos; well, that and the fact that it is in Newberry, about 30 minutes from 34th Street in Gainesville. Once Cilantro Tacos had a food truck that started circulating at local brewery events, food truck rallies, and even occasionally at Midnight Cookies, the family-owned, 3-year-old Mexican restaurant has been on my radar.

 

020516CilantroA trip out to Newberry for some outdoor laser tag — yes, the kind of laser tag that has you running around shooting opponents in the woods — brought my group right around the corner from Cilantro Tacos. We were all new to the very simplydecorated establishment, a dozen tables scattered around the dining area with a bar in the back for ordering beer and checking out.

 

020516ctBeansGUACa

The eight of us took up a few of those tables, while only two other parties were dining around us. After our server, Sam, promptly helped us set up the tables, she asked if we wanted to start with anything and got a flurry of "guacamole," "queso," and "salsa" requests thrown her way. She was a trooper. The tortilla chips, which seem very fresh, certainly possessed the crisp, seasoned mark of homemade freshness. The tomatillo salsa verde and roasted chile red sauce each had a unique, very pronounced, flavor, and the guacamole was creamy and zesty. However, I think I speak for a few members of the group when I say the pico de gallo was the star, each bite of the very chunky, cilantro-topped condiment as flavorful as the last.

 

020516ctTacosa

On to the main event: If I was going to Cilantro Tacos, I surely was going to order the one thing the proprietor's felt a need to highlight above the rest – tacos. If the restaurant doesn't excel at what it is "known" for, that is a strong indication of quality. I already had my order in mind, but I was extremely pleased to hear that each taco in my order of three, $6.99, could hold a different meat. Carnitas is a go-to for me, and the barbacoa and the soft corn tortillas were highly recommended by the server.

The real adventure would be the lengua taco, which, for those unfamiliar, is beef tongue. Don't shy away from the sound of it: My previous experiences with the Mexican delicacy is that, if prepared correctly, it is pretty tender and should certainly have good flavor. It was my favorite taco of the trio, the chunks of meat just as savory and tender as I remembered. The carnitas and barbacoa were both good, too, but the carnitas was a close second to the lengua, the flavors of the marinade-soaked pulled pork indicative of hours simmering in a spice-laden sauce and pulled tender.

020516TacosVERTICALI opted to get my taco "all-the-way", which included cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion. and cilantro toppings, instead of the authentic style with just the basic onion, cilantro and lime, which I will be ordering next time for sure. I may or may not have snuck that pico de gallo in a few bites, too.

I had a bite of the al pastor pork, and it was a bit sweeter than expected (apparently due to marinating with pineapples and some other spices), and a bite of the fish, which was probably my least favorite protein, as I didn't feel the heavy seasoning was as cohesive with the white fish.

The burrito truly was a two-hander, as reaffirmed on the menu online, and the steak in it was well prepared, not dry or tough at all. I love nachos, and the beef ones I tried were well loaded, but the combination of the queso cheese, sour cream, and refried beans quickly made the chips soggy. The amount of lettuce, tomatoes and handful of cilantro perched atop the hill of protein topping was just right, though.

The fajitas seemed a good size, my friend remarking how flavorful the carnitas were, also, and how it was just the right portion size, even if eaten as a bowl without tortillas. Another friend even said the refried beans were very good "for refried beans," commenting that they did not get a thicker, glob consistency when cooled down as many lower quality types do.

 

020516cltacos3z

The Southern California family brought generations of cooking with them to Newberry. Priding themselves on cooking fresh meat that hasn't been previously frozen, it is a tried-and-true family operation. Our server, Sam, was not only very attentive, but was extremely fun and friendly throughout our visit, chatting about everything from our interests to her background. Before we left, she introduced me to the chef who she fondly called "Mama," and who was just as charming as Sam.

 

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Mama first mentioned how, although she had been in Newberry cooking at Cilantro Tacos for 3 years, she had been cooking with Grandma for over 10 years. She said that's where she got a lot of her recipes and tricks of the trade. She emphasized most how Grandma made sure Mama knew how to prepare meat, and that it is not just as simple as salting and grilling. "The meat takes time, it needs to be marinated."

I asked Mama about the delicious marinade she spoke so highly of, and she told me it was family secrets. Despite that, I had to also ask about the addicting pico de gallo, and she said there is much more to it than just lime juice and salt. When pressed further, she revealed spices were the key, mentioning cloves as a component. Interesting, no?
The time and cooking skills certainly showed in each dish, and I will be back to try another menu item, probably the fajitas, and chat with these extremely passionate, fun (and food)-loving people.

One friend at the table asked about how shrimp would fare in a quesadilla, and I am intrigued enough to return and find out once and for all. And to potentially buy out their stock of pico.

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Weekend Events, January 22, 2016

FRIDAY

012215HippCinema6:30 pm: Boy & the World - Opening Night, Hipp Cinema, various days, times. Oscar Nominee for Best Animated Feature Film. When his father leaves for the city, Cuca's cozy rural life is shattered and he embarks on a quest to reunite his family. The young boy's journey unfolds like a tapestry, the animation taking on greater complexity as his small world expands. Entering civilization, industrial landscapes are inhabited by animal-machines with barrios of decoupage streets and shop windows,

 

012216Band

7:30 pm: Orchestra Fireworks, Gainesville Orchestra, SFC Fine Arts Hall. GO rings in the New Year with a sound blast spectacular of beloved masterpieces.

8 pm: Cat (Black) Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Opening Night, Actors' Warehouse, 608 N Main St. Directed by Shamrock McShane & Carol Velasques Richardson. Following in the footsteps of Broadway's successful production with James Earl Jones and Phylicia Rashad, this all-black production of Tennessee Williams' classic focuses on a family celebrating the 65th birthday of Big Daddy. The knowledge that Big Daddy is dying, slowly makes the rounds.

SATURDAY

012216Pets

11 am: Alachua County Animal Services Open House, 2400 NE 52rd Ave. FREE MICROCHIPPING while supplies last, door prizes, and food. Find out about volunteer opportunities. Learn more about local community cat programs and low cost spay/neuter services for your pet and more. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.

 

012216Farm

11 am: Creepy, Crawly Critters- Music and Rhythm, Dudley Farm Historic State Park, 18730 W Newberry Rd. A fun morning for children 4 to 5 years of age. Learn about teaching rhythm and movements with nature-based songs. Meet at the Visitor Center at 10:50 am and bring a blanket to sit on. This educational program is limited to 20 participants, and parents must accompany the child. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.

 

012216ACLIB

2:30 pm: Victoria Christian Murray, Alachua County Library Headquarters Branch, Downtown. Murray will speak about her latest novel, Stand Your Ground (2015). Murray has written over 20 adult novels, including JOY, Grown Folks Business, The Ex Files, and The Deal, and has received numerous awards including the Golden Pen Award for Best Inspirational Fiction and the Phyllis Wheatley Trailblazer Award for being a pioneer in African American fiction. Since 2007, Murray has won six African American Literary Awards for best novel, best Christian fiction, and Author of the Year - Female. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information

 

012216ParksA

3-5 pm: Rally to Save Our Parks, Protect Paynes Prairie, First Magnitude Brewery, 1220 SE Veitch St. Music by Whitey Markle and the Swamprooters followed by special guest speakers Jim Stevenson, former chief naturalist of Florida's State Parks; Leslie Pool, award-winning writer and historian; and Pat Harden, coordinator of the Protect Payne's Prairie Coalition. After the speakers, participants will march north on Main Street to University Ave for a rally in support of Paynes Prairie and other state parks. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.

7 pm: Superfun! Protocol Group Exhibition, 2033 NW 6th St. UF School of Art and Art History Group exhibition featuring works of students and alumni along with local artists: Christian Casas, Chelsea Collison, Bridget Fairbank, Juan Griego, Kane Hambrick, Jaclyn Lambert, Keely Lubin, Daniela Ortiz, Q, Cris Robles, Sanders Soloman, Zac Thompson, Casey Wooster and Steven Zill. Superfun! is a "pop-up" gallery and event space located in the old Doug's Dairy Twirl building at the corner of NW 6th St and 21st Lane.

 

012216SongwritersA

7 pm: Song Writers Spotlight, Bardon Community Cultural Center, 1315 S. Main St. Rachel Grubb, Stephen Langer, Kimberly LeCouteur and Rebecca Vincent perform in the new performance and display space of The Doris.

SATURDAY – MONDAY

012216Trumpet

9 am: 2016 International Brass Festival of the Trumpet, University of Florida School of Music. The 3-day event will feature internationally recognized guest artists Jens Lindemann, Roger Blackburn, Luis Araya, Joe Jamerson, the Potsdam Brass Quintet, and the Gainesville Brass Quintet. Free and open to the public. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.

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Art & About: 'Hometown Knights'

Hot dog politicos are a picnic in this satire

By Sullivan Alfred-Sanford, GLOB Guest Reviewer

In its latest production of Hometown Knights, The Acrosstown Repertory Theatr introduces us to the city of Fainburg, obsessed with sports, politics, and hotdogs, not necessarily in that order. Regardless of which side of the political aisle you sit on, comparisons to 2016 sitting senators and governors are impossible to deny. In Hometown Knights, the characters take many wrong turns and try to cover them up with hotdog puns and condiment banter. The result is both well-seasoned and delicious.

As the nation is currently em-"broiled" in an election cycle, the Hometown Knights audience can easily identify with the characters and issues that Director Chuck Lipsig, and Jessica Arnold has introduced. Social issues are replaced with politically-biased hot dog ordinances and election reforms that ensure incumbent victory. Dead candidates are prequalified for a mayoral run and a legitimate candidate is rendered politically impotent. Empty promises are applauded, while reform is shamed. The production, however, diverges from 2016 poltical campaigns by remaining engaging and entertaining.

The leads, Nicky (played by Meagan Reagle) and Frankie (played by D'Andre Carter), are political consultants to a small town mayor. Mayor Perry Halfgallon (played by Dean Carvalho) has been mayor for 30 years and has left a wake of political foes in less than good condition. Through fear mongering, Mayor Halfgallon has remained unchallenged for nearly 15 years of his 30-year tenure. The Mayor's voice has two volumes, loud and much louder. He is self-absorbed, arrogant, and mostly oblivious. Nicky and Frankie are the true brains of the operation, and that isn't saying much. Nicky matches being temperamental tit for tat with Frankie's debilitating naiveté. In their pursuit of "justice" which is simply due credit for their work on behalf of the town, mixed in with just a bit of old school revenge, Nicky and Frankie will stop at nothing. The power couple are true imagineers in the line of television actor Don Knotts and TV wrestler Randy Macho Man Savage as they set up a perfect game of political chess. They host a roll call of potential pawns for their shenanigans and settle on retired athlete and local hero Tom Jones (played by Adam Lishawa). He is innocent, moral, upright, and inexperienced--the perfect patsy. Tom Jones' greatest asset is his fame, and both his sports record and political inexperience are lambasted throughout the contentious campaign and debate circuit.

As in all that is politically scandalous, the town and its future is of minor concern to either of the Hometown Knights as they battle for the Mayor's Office. The Knights prepare for an epic battle and it is winner takes all. Will the homerun hero overtake the hotdog king or will Tom Jones be counted out at the plate? During the showdown, the establishment is pitted against a political outsider and only Nicky and Frankie can sort out the message from the civic rubble. Don't expect any fact checking from either side. The truth will not gain the acknowledgement or accolades that Nicky and Frankie seek so it is avoided at all cost. By the end, the audience cannot determine whether the Hometown Knights are Mayor Perry Halfgallon and Tom Jones or Nicky and Frankie. However, it is clear that the town remains unprotected as a gateway for the political ambition.

Political satire runs throughout this production, and political ridiculousness, running amuck, connects the audience to the town of Fainburg by pairing people and politicians through the lowest common denominators of self-interest and the pursuit of ultimate power. Of course the legitimization of high profile politics requires a group of gullible "sheeple" to be believable. Lipsig provides the gullibility component in the form of a chorus. The chorus (played by Saylor McKinley, Victor Moser, Mandy Fugate, and Chuck Lipsig) plays multiple roles and makes the audience want to sing along.

Thanks to the set design by Jessica Arnold and Adam Lishawa many times during the play the chorus sits with the audience, expanding the town and recreating the realism of a true political juggernaut. In fact, the political system becomes the sixth character in the production.

Major news networks could not hold a candle to the active coverage of this campaign and I shudder to imagine their vain attempt.

Oscar Wilde once said "There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." Hometown Knights barbecues that premise and presents it well done. Just how far will people go for their personal ambitions? Hometown Knights proves that the standard varies with your level of rationality and sanity. Fortunately, both are in short supply, and the audience is grateful for that omission.

This world premier production of Hometown Knights continues with weekend performances through January 31, 2016 and should not be missed. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more Hometown Knights production information.

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