Chicken Parmesean
Want homestyle comfort food without having to go all the way home? Peach Valley Cafe on SW 34th Street has breakfast, lunch and dinner delights to fill both your tummy and your heart. I've heard good things about this place for a while now, and I can finally say I've tried it and I agree.

The restaurant is only open until 8 p.m. so make sure to get there early. The staff was extremely sweet considering my date and I didn't get there until around 7:40 p.m. or so. I think we were the only people in the place, but we certainly didn't mind. Because of the time crunch we skipped getting an appetizer and dove right into the entrees.
Chicken Marsala
All of the entrees reminded me of things my grandmother loved to cook during my childhood. It was a tough choice, but I ended up going with the Chicken Marsala. Paired with mashed potatoes and green beans, the wine and mushroom sauce topping the chicken brought the dish to life.

I'm pretty picky about my green beans, but I must say these were crunchy and salted just right. The almond slices on top were also a nice touch. My only criticism would have to be the big hunks of red onion in the mashed potatoes. I kept thinking the potatoes weren't cooked all the way through. The chicken was nice and tender, however, and even though it wasn't better than grandma's (nothing ever is) I must say it was still pretty darn good.
Apple Fritters
I almost walked away without any dessert, but I'm really glad I didn't. Peach Valley's Apple Fritters are my new favorite thing, ever. Seriously. Like I might start having them as an afternoon snack---every single day. Rolled in cinnamon and sugar, the little fried balls of apple tasted like a warm apple pie on crack. And when you dipped them in the strawberry yogurt, oh my goodness, there aren't even words. I literally licked my fingers clean afterward---and the rest of the plate.
Maytag Blue Cheese Chips
With mom in town to help pack up my apartment, it was only fitting that we try out one of Gainesville's funkiest eateries --- The Top. Two of my favorite people tagged along and we had a fabulous time gorging ourselves on both healthy and fattening dishes.

To start, we ordered two appetizers. The tastes and flavors of each were completely different, yet equally satisfying. Now, I'm not a big fan of blue cheese, but their Maytag Blue Cheese Chips made me actually reconsider. The chips were thick and crunchy--just the way homemade ones should be--and topped with Maytag blue cheese sauce, crumbled blue cheese and green onions. The flavor was rich without being overpowering. After a while I started to feel gross with all the grease, but you're going to get that with potato chips.
Black Bean Cakes
Our second appetizer was a bit healthier. The black bean cake itself was made with roasted corn and poblano peppers and topped with an ancho pepper cream sauce and mango salsa. The salsa added a nice light flavor to the heaviness of the beans and cream sauce. Eating the bean cake by itself was kind of bland, but when mixed together, the flavors all blended nicely and had a tropical feel. When served warm, you can't go wrong with this filling appetizer.
By the time my entree arrived I was pretty darn full, but with a plate as yummy looking as my Ciopinno I couldn't resist. On the specials menu, the ciopinno was made with mussels, shrimp and mahi all blended into a spicy tomato sauce. The seafood wasn't the freshest I've ever tasted, but the spicy richness of the sauce masked any qualms I may have had.

At the end of the meal all of us were stuffed and happy. The Top's menu is quite extensive and they have lots of veggie and vegan options. Their wide-variety of pastas are my favorite and you better believe I will be going back for more.
I apologize for going M.I.A. recently, but life has been quite hectic. Today, I officially became a senior, and I leave for New York and my internship with More magazine in the coming months.
Even though it's been mayhem lately, I still found time to go to Yum Cupcakery. The confectionary of sweet delights opened last week and is located at 3345 SW 34th St in the same shopping center as Tropical Smoothie Cafe.

Twin sisters Stephanie and Claire Browning, 23, have dreamed of opening a cupcakery since they were children. Inspired by their mother, they mix and match fun and funky combinations exactly to your specifications.

For $2.50 choose from vegan, raw, light and regular cupcakes. A cupcake isn't complete without the extras so choose a flavor, pick an icing, a filling and don't forget a topping. They have any flavor combination you could ever imagine, seriously.
Just some of their many toppings.
While I was there, I snagged three different kinds for some friends to try, too.

The first was a red velvet cupcake with a jasmine filling, cream cheese frosting and small, edible silver balls. The second was a lemon cupcake with a honeydew filling, papaya frosting and candied lime pieces. The taste was refreshing yet full of flavor. A little on the wild side, it was definitely worth being adventurous. The last cupcake was a classic chocolate base with a peanut butter filling, peanut butter frosting and Reese's pieces on top. The cake was moist and had the perfect amount of chocolatey goodness. Stephanie says this is one of their most popular selling flavors.
Claire making truffles as a donation for the VISA Talent Show.
Want a cupcake but are too lazy to leave the house? Just call and they'll deliver! I wanted to try one of their vegan cupcakes, but they were sold out. Guess that just means I will have to go back. Delicious cupcakes? Shucks.
The Scott Roll
One of my favorite local magazines, HOME: Living in the Heart of Florida, has not only great content and a great staff, but some fun food secrets to share. The magazine's publisher, Scott Costello, is obsessed with Ichiban Sushi, a restaurant that puts a modern spin on traditional japanese dishes.

When I used to work in the office, there were quite a few times we took an impromptu lunch and treated ourselves to a nice meal out. The restaurant's wood paneling and light blue walls provide the perfect atmosphere to relax and enjoy a midafternoon snack.

Now, I am no expert on this restaurant, or the menu, but I wanted to share my insider secret-- The Scott Roll.

The owners of Ichiban know Scott so well they put together a roll of all of his favorite things every time he comes in. Last week, the gorgeous Faith Reaves and I went in to see if we could order the scrumptious dish without Scott present. Lo-and-behold they knew exactly what we were talking about!

Each roll was tweaked slightly to our particular tastes. Faith's was light and crisp with a summer-like feel (and tuna), while mine felt more like fall with creamy flavors (and eel). Both rolls contained a mix of grouper, conch and crab.

Want to try something unexpected? Get their sweet potato fries! They're crunchy and crisp with a tangy sweet dipping sauce that will have you dipping until the last drop.

Copyright© The Frittering Conch, 1600 Rose Street, Key West, FL 33040