Safer at Home – Day Sixteen


April 18, 2020

A friend of mine is spending some of his safer-at-home time in the kitchen, creating little culinary masterpieces for he and his wife. He posts pictures of his dinner plates nightly, challenging others to do the same. It’s a fun little game and one way to stay connected with others. Last night, I posted a picture of our meal but I cheated.

My wife and I have made the decision to add our support to the local restaurants of our little town by purchasing take-out meals from them. If enough of us add our patronage to their businesses, they stand a better chance of surviving this time of social distancing.

Our picturesque town of Mount Dora, especially our charming downtown area, could be America’s poster town for small business. You won’t find national chain stores along our tree-lined streets. What you will find are mom and pop shops providing unique wares and services to our community and the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come each year to enjoy what we’ve managed to build upon over the last 140 years.

downtown mount dora florida a popular real estate spot.jpg

As the glue that holds our small businesses together, our restaurants provide our visitors with a wide choice of dining options from which to choose as they spend their day exploring our town. Food from around the world: Asian, Indian, Thai, Mexican, German, Italian, Cuban, English, Peruvian and American specialties among others offered in just as many varied settings from casual to fine dining can all be enjoyed here. And it wasn’t unusual to see our sidewalks, stores and restaurants filled with just as wide an assortment of people who have come to Mount Dora to shop, play, and eat.

Coronavirus has temporarily put a stop to that. Our little town is on hold right now. And because mom and pop shops are not known for having deep pockets, this time is especially hard on them.

Anything we can do to help support them during this time would be most appreciated. An easy support is to purchase meals from the restaurants who have converted their business models to a takeout and delivery service. Dining in will eventually return but until then, this brings them a revenue stream to keep them going.

Last night’s meal was purchased from Copacabana Cuban Cafe. Delicious and made for an attractive place setting. We treated it as a “stay at home date night.” We encourage others to do the same.

Here’s a list of Mount Dora restaurants who could use your support. You’ll see some chain restaurants on this list which are located outside of the quaint downtown area.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

A Foodie Memory

IMG_2263 (1)

Our kids pulled out all the stops this year. First, they gifted us with a wonderful theatrical experience by giving us tickets to WAITRESS. And then they provided us with a gift card to try out Norman Van Aiken’s new Mount Dora restaurant, 1921. This restaurant prides itself on using fresh items found in and around Florida.

OMG. What a special meal.  We were greeted with specially printed menus that had an anniversary greeting at the top. We opted for the chef’s tasting menu that gave us a sampling of all of this talented chef’s favorite creations. It is something I would recommend to anyone going to this restaurant (and I will be recommending this restaurant to everyone.)

IMG_2264 (1)

First up, an Italian country salad with pomelo and pistachio pesto. I’m not much of a salad guy but it was easy to clean this plate.

IMG_2265 (1)

Next, roasted octopus with artichokes. Our server, Mason, explained that the octopus found in a particular section off the Florida coast dine primarily on crab which gives them a kind of sweeter taste. I dreaded this plate before it came as it would normally be something I would turn my nose up at but I have to say it was my second favorite course. Meaty and flavorful. Quite a surprise.

IMG_2267 (1)

Up next, a substitution. Instead of the red snapper that was on the menu, we were treated with a special catch of the day: Pumpkin swordfish. Pumpkin because its flesh, when raw, has a distinctively orange hue. It is because it eats nothing but shrimp and the keratin buildup causes its skin to change color. Served in a lemon-caper butter sauce, I would have gladly accepted seconds were it available. By far, my favorite course.

IMG_2268 (1)

Rounding up the entree sampling was a beef shoulder tender served with white asparagus. A little on the heavy side (we aren’t big red meat eaters) but certainly can’t argue with the taste or presentation.

IMG_2269 (1)

Finally with our decaf coffee we accepted a banana panna cotta for dessert drizzled with bourbon caramel.

It was not just a dinner. It was a full-on culinary experience. Our server took the time to explain what made each course unique and educated us on the process that goes into developing the menu that can change daily based upon what their vendors bring them that day.

A big thank you goes to our kids for such extraordinary (and extravagant) gifts. You made this anniversary so special for us and gave us a break from giving gifts to each other. We just decided to enjoy the ones you gave us. Believe me, it was more than enough. You helped us make a memory today.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories by taking old home movies, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos or slides and converting them to digital forms. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit