We decided to visit the Farmer’s Market in Winter Park last Saturday. Not all the vendors were present since it was a holiday weekend, so we grabbed croissants at a food stand and jumped back in the car. The perfect weather led us to Harry P. Leu Gardens, a lovely botanical gardens that we’ve visited many times before. This garden was the model for Orchid Isle (minus the orchids) in my wedding mystery, Shear Murder. It was a perfectly clear and sunny day to stroll the many tree-lined paths.
From here, we went for lunch at the popular barbecue place, 4 Rivers Smokehouse. Then we headed over to Lombardi’s seafood market. We purchased fresh salmon farmed in the U.S. without hormones and gazed in awe at the other offerings.
Our daughter made delicious salmon balls for dinner, accompanied by cauliflower mash and potato latkes. The latter caused some hilarity in the kitchen as one mishap led to another, and we ended up dumping out the cooked and peeled potatoes in favor of using a handy box mix. No matter; the family that cooks together, stays together.
With wonderful holiday memories to treasure, my husband and I headed home. Now it’s time to clean things up from 2015 and move ahead toward the new year.
Besides touring the World of Chocolate (see below) on our recent visit to Orlando, we couldn’t be in town without another trip to Disney on our annual passes. We went to Epcot and met fellow mystery author Ann Meier for lunch at Chefs de France. It was a delightful afternoon spent in company of a friend and surrounded by Disney’s lush landscaping.
Another day, we shopped at The Florida Mall. Our daughter said Nordstrom there is closing so we wanted to get in for their last sale. A lot of construction is happening as the entire mall is undergoing a remodel. The food court is supposed to be revamped and we noticed Saks is gone.
We still get lost in this place and have to rely on signs to tell us where to go.
Of course, our main purpose in coming was to celebrate our son’s birthday, and we did so at Hannibal’s on the Square in Winter Park. This restaurant is adjacent to Chez Vincent and owned by their chef, so we enjoyed a French menu with excellent service. The dish below is duck a l’orange. Before dinner, we strolled around central park and watched the Amtrak trains go by. Winter Park has its own ambience and we always enjoy people watching and browsing in the stores. Patrons spill from restaurants into the street at sidewalk tables, the aromas from within making you salivate as you walk past.
Another night we ate at Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine at restaurant row on West Sand Lake Drive. The lamb sis kebab was delish. So was the special bread and hummus appetizer. Our dining out didn’t end here. The following evening, we met cousins at Bahama Breeze for a leisurely seafood dinner. All in all, we had a great time and gained a few pounds.
Harry P. Leu Gardens is one of my favorite haunts in Orlando. I modeled a location after it in my tenth Bad Hair Day mystery (yet to come), so I count a visit as part of my research.
There’s so much more to do in Greater Orlando than the theme parks. When you have a day to spare, consider spending it at Winter Park. Stroll Leu Gardens in the morning then drive over to Park Avenue and park on one of the side streets. Have lunch in one of the many cafes lining the popular thoroughfare. Shop in the boutiques. Visit a museum, or take an escorted boat ride on the lake. I like this little city so much that I centered my proposed new mystery series there.
Enjoy these photos from Leu Gardens and plan a visit next time you’re in Orlando. Founded by the Mizells in 1858, the park hosts a family cemetery among its attractions. The park covers fifty acres with over forty plant collections and is a favorite site for weddings. Besides a butterfly garden, vegetable garden, herb garden, and citrus grove, there are sections with flowering camellias, cycads, bamboo, camphor trees, and more. An indoor gift shop and catering hall are in the main building but there’s a bride’s cottage on the grounds for outdoor weddings.