Archive | 5:28 pm

Bella Cucina Buffet offers Quality and Value

21 Aug

Bella Cucina Italian Buffet located just off Bee Ridge Road exit of I-75

Great lunch today at Bella Cucina Italian Buffet. In fact, I am somewhat surprised that more people around here don’t rave about this place. The food choices are endless and the quality is consistently good. For just $7.95, you can fill up your boiler with homemade Italian eats and lots of it.  

It looks like a train wreck, but it tasted really good

I loaded up my platter today with plump meatballs topped with red sauce, mild Italian sausage with mixed roasted veggies, and some really tasty marinated roast pork. Not sure what they call it (Italian Roast Pork?) — but I call it deadly. And I mean that in a good way. As you can see from the above picture, I also couldn’t resist grabbing a slice of pepperoni pizza and a small cup of Italian Wedding Soup.

The Italian Wedding Soup is top notch … loaded with little meat balls

Ameretto Rice Pudding is a good way to finish lunch on a sweet note

Bella Cucina is clean and easy to get to. They also play a nice selection of Italian-American pop standards (Dino, Frank, etc.) while you dine. If you’re visiting Sarasota or just passing through, make time for a brief pit stop at Bella Cucina. I strongly recommend it and consider it one of the best All You Can Eat Italian Lunch Buffets this side of Palermo. You’ll leave stuffed and begging for a small salad (if anything at all) for dinner that night.

“Ladykillers” with Tom Hanks

21 Aug

This is one of my all-time favorite Southern movies. Tom Hanks characterization of a Dixie gentleman named Goldthwait Higgenson Dorr is hilarious and the gospel music soundtrack is stirring. Find it on video if you can. Warning: The language can be harsh at times, so make sure the kids are not watching.

Triple Malt Chocolate Cake

21 Aug

I found this recipe on the internet — sounds amazing!

  • 2 cups malted milk powder
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • Vanilla Malt Frosting
  • 1 cup malted milk balls, coarsely chopped
  1. Heat the oven to 325°F and arrange the rack in the middle. Coat 2 (8-inch) cake pans with oil and flour, and tap out any excess flour. Set aside.
  2. Combine malted milk powder, flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl, and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps. Set aside.
  3. Combine eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla in a separate large bowl, and whisk until combined and smooth. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, and whisk until just incorporated. Add 1/2 of the milk, and whisk until smooth. Continue with remaining flour mixture and milk, alternating between each and whisking until all ingredients are just incorporated and smooth.
  4. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cakes start pulling away from the sides of the pans, about 45 to 50 minutes.
  5. Remove cakes from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of each, and turn cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.
  6. To frost, place a cake layer on an 8-inch cardboard round, a tart-pan bottom, or a cake plate. Evenly spread about 1/3 of the frosting over the top of the layer. Stack the second layer, and evenly spread another 1/3 of the frosting over the top and sides of the whole cake. (Don’t worry about looks at this point—this is just a basecoat, a.k.a. a crumb layer, and it will be covered up later.) Place in the refrigerator until frosting is set up and slightly hard, about 15 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator and spread remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake, ensuring it’s as even as possible. Press malt balls into the frosting around the sides of the cake and serve.

A New Product from Sunshine

21 Aug

The following review appeared at

In the world of mass-marketed cheesy snack crackers, Cheez-Its are about as good as it gets. With help from the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the creators of Cheez-Its came up with a process whereby real cheese is worked into the cracker batter (rather than cheese flavoring being applied as a nasty coating after the baking process). This results in a consistent cheese flavor and less artificial powdery crap sticking to your fingers.

Now Cheez-Its have been rolled out in a new “Two Flavors — One Box” format, offering the duo of Zesty Queso and Cheddar Blanco or the pairing of Sharp Cheddar and Parmesan. Out of an inherent respect for Cheez-Its, I gambled that all four flavors would be discernible in a blind testing. And sure enough, they all shone through. The Parmesan crackers taste, mon dieu, like Parm! The Zesty Queso crackers have a mild but clear stab of jalapeño to them. The Sharp Cheddar has a bit of real cheddary bite, and the Cheddar Blanco is comparatively mild.

Why the shock? The name of the game with most mass-marketed foods is for the label to say (or imply), “This tastes like a steak”; for the item in question to look and smell like a steak; but then for it to taste like cardboard covered in steak sauce. Cheez-Its, to their eternal credit, are made with real cheese, and the result is a damned snappy collection of snack crackers.