Enchanting Creations specializes in edible art created under the direction of owner and head designer Karen Matamoros. Karen and her husband, Alex, decided to open the bakery shop in their backyard after living in the community for more than two decades. In their free time, they pour themselves into art-⎯expressing themselves by painting murals, designing fashion, and building custom furniture⎯and the bakery has become an additional extension of their creative sides.
In running the bakery, they take their artistic aspirations to new heights with 3-D cakes: edible sculptures that represent a variety of cartoon characters and inanimate objects, such as a ribbon-wrapped present, Spider-Man, or a giant bowling ball. Their smaller treats—including cake pops, pastries, and cupcakes—combine rich cocoa, fresh fruits, fluffy cake, and sugary sweet icing into bite-size portions and delicate desserts. Testifying to Enchanting Creations' dedication to the environment, all orders ship out in eco-friendly boxes, unlike most bakery goods, which are packaged in wasteful styrofoam boxes, surrounded by styrofoam peanuts, and topped with styrofoam sprinkles.
Village Café plates up a menu of salads, sandwiches, and inspired entrees in a European bistro setting. The crispy goat cheese appetizer ($9.95) waves a casual "Ciao" atop crostini, while the Village Cobb salad ($10.95) scoots by on a Dijon vinaigrette-fueled Vespa. Fungiphiles fancy the portabella panini ($8.95), with its grilled, marinated mushrooms and melted mozzarella, and the meat lover's pizza (small $10.95) satisfies any yearning passion for protein. Dinner diners choose from mains such as the mint and pistachio-crusted lamb (8 oz $17.95) accompanied by roasted garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus spears, or linguine with garlic, white wine, and fresh clams ($16.95).
The kitchen staff at Oggi Ristorante, which Frommer's dubbed a "neighborhood favorite," makes fresh pastas every day. But according to Gayot, this feat is nothing new. Formerly a homemade-pasta supplier for other restaurants, Oggi now stands on its own. Its chefs draw inspiration from homestyle Italian recipes and culinary techniques to creating a menu of comforting, Old-World staples. In addition to making whole-wheat spaghetti and perfectly square meatballs by hand, the chefs also create what Gayot described as "some of the most delicate stuffed pastas and supple seafood dishes in the city." Grilled scottish salmon arrives perched atop a bed of wilted spinach, and tilapia alla livornese is sautéd in a mixture of fresh tomatoes, capers, onions, and black olives. Other options range from classic chicken or veal parmigiana to filet mignon topped with a green-peppercorn sauce and accompanied by champagne risotto. The wait staff ferries these dishes across the dining room, whose white tablecloths and exposed-brick walls combine to create a rustic-yet-elegant atmosphere.
When preparing their eclectic lineup of dishes, the cooks at Paprika Mediterranean Restaurant and Hookah Lounge borrow a little something from all of the diverse regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea. From the southern waters, they take the Moroccan lamb carpaccio appetizer and the Tunisian churba soup. They also make their way up north, plumbing Greece's vast culinary traditions to assemble dishes such as the Athena salad with kalamata olives and the salmon filet wrapped in phylo pastry.
After meals, guests can head to the adjacent hookah lounge and partake in the old-world tradition of enjoying a beautifully ornate hookah, which they can load with one of 25 different flavors. Those interested in immersing themselves in the culture even further can make a reservation on Friday night to catch the weekly belly-dance show.
Equipped with reclining seats, video displays, and free WiFi, Xcursions USA's fleet of luxury motorcoaches goes where few buses dare?across the ocean. On their signature Key West day trips, the coaches travel across 43 bridges spanning 31 islands to ferry passengers to the heart of the "American Caribbean." While living the island life, visitors can check out sights like Ernest Hemingway's house, the Light House Museum, Ripley's Believe It or Not, and the southernmost point of the continental United States. Xcursions sends their fleet on other missions as well?like a trip to the Everglades where tour-takers can board an airboat, or a tour around the company's home city of Miami followed by a boat cruise.