Yesterday was a great day to get out of the house for a mini outing during the week day. We thought we would travel to East End Market in Orlando in the earlier hours of the day to avoid crowds. We haven’t yet gone to a restaurant to have a sit down meal during the pandemic but lately have expanded our horizons to have a take-out meal outside.

East End Market in Orlando is perfect for this because they have instagram-worthy plants in raised beds outside to provide a perfect backdrop for your meal. There are several options for food here, including a food truck and an artisanal bread shop called Olde Hearth Bread Company that features wholesome breads and pastries (most breads are vegan) with no artificial flavors or preservatives.

There is a Farm and Haus counter service venue that features made from scratch “comfort foods” for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The also include vegetarian menu items such as a Mediterranean wrap, coconut curry with vegetables and a side of coconut rice, burritos (with and without meat), Meditteranean bowls, and a burrito rice bowl.

This place is home of the famous Orlando Gideon’s Bakehouse, home of the famous five dollar half pound cookies. I recommend the cookies and cream cookie, which is the perfect blend of a sugary confection. The place has been in operation since 2016 after the proprietor purchased an old cookbook from 1898 with the recipe for the cookies inside, along with handwritten notes and doodles in the margins written by a boy, Gideon, who aspired to be a baker one day in the 1800’s. The proprietor of Gideon’s Bakehouse started the sweet shop with only $800 dollars, one employee, a dream, and decided the name of his sweet shop should give credit to that little boy from 1898. What has been a local favorite in Florida has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and others and will soon expand to a second space in Disney Springs sometime during 2020*. I highly recommend this place.

After we arrived at East End Market, we decided we wanted to try lunch at La Femme du Fromage (“the cheese lady”), which has been featured on HGTV, USA Today, The Cooking Channel, The Travel Channel, and The Food Network for good reason. I had the mozzarella and house pesto salad, which featured fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and greens with pesto and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and was delicious. It was just the right portion size and hit the spot for an outdoor lunch on a warm summer later morning, early afternoon lunch.

My daughter tried the award winning “Grand Fromage” grilled cheese which featured artisanal bread, prosciutto, four cheeses, tomato, and basil. To call this a grilled cheese is to do it a dis-service, as it was more like a pannini. Definitely a winner, and my daughter could see how this sandwich won a “Best of Orlando” award at one time. If a charcuterie board is your thing, you can get this at La Femme du Fromage as well, along with flatbreads, too. Vegetarian options also include truffle mac and cheese, margherita or tomato/goat cheese flat breads as well.

After lunch and we took some photos in the gardens, which were beautiful. We decided to try the Japanese donuts (mochi) at Dochi, which are beautiful to look at and are lighter and chewier in texture than our American donuts.

I found out that these donuts are vegetarian, as they are not fried in animal fat (lard, etc.) but are not vegan, as they contain milk and eggs.

The portion was just about right to split with my daughter and was not too sweet, although these donuts are frosted. We tried the oreo cookie mochi and enjoyed it. Flavors change daily.

East End Market was a wonderful way to “break bread” together with my daughter in Orlando. This site also features a rental room for parties along with a courtyard for outdoor dining that has a chic vibe.

Life is good; find somewhere new to “while away the hours, conferring with the flowers” (from a song sung by The Scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz” movie ).

Carpe Diem Friends………

*Gideon’s Bakehouse has opened a second bakehouse as of February, 2021 in Disney Springs in Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.


I had heard that Disney Springs opened again for business on May 20 during a gradual opening because of the pandemic. I had also heard that Disney had plans in place to keep everyone safe at this time, so “Teen Traveler” (my daughter) and I decided to check it out for ourselves. We decided we would go, but if things were not as safe as we expected, we would leave immediately.

Yesterday, June 19, we arrived at Disney Springs around 11:45 AM. We were surprised to see only one parking garage was open at that time (the orange garage). Later we found out that the other parking garages open at noon. We parked on the second level (the level which provided walking access to Disney Springs without the need for an elevator. We found out only one sky bridge was open at the time, filtering all guests into one point of access with several queues.

We were pleasantly surprised to see signs that said all guest were required to wear masks at Disney Springs (unless eating, drinking or smoking). In addition, temperatures of all guests were taken at an appropriate distance with a non-contact forehead thermometer.

Once inside, we found that all guests, I mean ALL guests, and employees wore masks the entire time we were present for about three hours. The only exception was when people were eating, drinking, and smoking.

Although the carousel was in operation, the mini-train for children was closed during our visit.

We found ample room to move about without violating social distancing protocols. We noted that some stores allowed only a certain amount of people inside at one time as well.

We found that not many people were in Disney Springs when we went, but perhaps there are more people there on the week ends.

It was great not to have too large a crowd so we could actually notice the beautiful containers of flowers, some with flowers to attract butterflies. Normally it is so crowded that we don’t even notice the containers of flowers sprinkled about the shopping areas when walking around the property.

Pots full of pentas and caladiums
a pot full of vincas (periwinkle) which grows well in the hot Florida weather and is drought tolerant

We found out that Disney is selling character masks at the Coop for a little “Disney magic” while guests visit. The line to purchase these masks was very long, however.

Some restaurants were open for table seating, yet others were available for curbside delivery (pick up outside) only. We at Earl of Sandwich, ordered inside for carryout, and ate outside. We were the only ones sitting at the outdoor tables and were pleased that it was very easy to social distance accordingly. Tables were set at an appropriate social distance apart, even if the place had more guests. We were also pleased to see that the self-serve beverage fountain machines were roped off, and only an employee was permitted to fill up the soda cups. In addition, all guests were following the social distancing areas in the line to order the food. I ordered the caprese sandwich, and my daughter ordered the Earl’s Club, which contained turkey, bacon, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and she substituted the sandwich sauce with mayonnaise. She also order or grapes. With drinks, the meal came to only about $23.00, which surprised us for the generously filled sandwiches that tasted delicious and were served hot.

While walking about, we were delighted to see a little “Disney Magic” when we spotted some storm troopers on a roof telling us to “move along”. Perfect for policing the rules during the pandemic!

Just before leaving, we couldn’t help ourselves to a little bit of whimsy, as we put some of our previously worn masks on some of the statues at Disney.

On the way out, we saw a wonderful store called Sugarboo with many things for sale with inspirational quotes, including leather notebooks.

All in all, we felt very safe at Disney Springs in early June during the pandemic, as all guests and employees were taking the protocols very seriously.

Life is good; get out there to live life again……..carpe diem, friends…………..