Hollow Heart in Watermelon

I miss watermelon season! In the past few months, I have been cutting and eating several watermelons. Check out the past FoodMeOmaha post, “FoodMeTrivia Series #4: Watermelon Basics”.

Among the several watermelons, I discovered one that stood out among the rest. On August 19th, I cut a “normal” watermelon in half and then I was surprised by the insides…

Watermelon with Hollow Heart

It looked like someone purposefully carved out a biohazard symbol! What caused this symmetrical structure? Is it safe to eat?

Watermelon with Hollow HeartWatermelon with Hollow Heart

The exposed watermelon flesh is whitish, dry, and rubbery.

After some googling, I learned that this is a watermelon with a hollow heart. The internal pattern naturally happens due to poor pollination during the growth process.

Fortunately, this intriguing watermelon is safe to eat. The dry parts were discarded and the remaining watermelon was eaten. While I had less watermelon to eat, the taste quality was not impacted. In fact, it was a wonderfully juicy and sweet.

Still curious about the hollow heart watermelon? Here are some online resources about the natural hollow heart occurrence in watermelons.

FoodMeTrivia Series #4: Watermelon Basics

Watermelon is a sweet, refreshing, healthy snack that FoodMeOmaha cannot get enough of. This summer I have been on a watermelon kick (seven watermelons so far)!


Ready-to-eat, chilled cut watermelon has been my daily snack. Due to my watermelon kick, I have learned some watermelon basics.

When is watermelon in season?

Answer: Domestic watermelon is in peak season in May, June, July, and August. Think watermelon and summer.

How to pick the best watermelon?

Answer: It is important to pick out a sweet and juicy watermelon for optimal taste! The first three things I look for are:

  1. Dull and dark green skin: Look for a dull, non-shiny skin and dark green color.
  2. Yellow spot: Look for a yellow creamy spot, aka the “field spot.” This shows that it has been sitting on the ground for a long time and getting ripe.
  3. Heavy for its size: Pick it up and check how heavy it is. The heavier the better for water-weight goodness. I sometimes compare between similar size watermelons.

After the above, I do the thud/knocking test, but sometimes I don’t have the distinguishing ear on the hollow sound (good) versus the thick sound (bad). The visual and weight are more dependable indicators for me.

Here are some great online resources on picking the right watermelon.

FoodMeOmaha Tip: Leave the watermelon out in room temperature for a few days to get a bit more ripe. I commonly do this when I am not ready to cut the watermelon.

How to cut a watermelon?

Answer: Fruit ninja style! Just kidding. Of course, there are several ways to cut a watermelon. My current favorite cutting method is watermelon sticks.

After eating a few watermelon sticks, I then cut the sticks into cubes. The bite-sized pieces are stored in containers and refrigerated for later snacking.

FoodMeOmaha Tips:

  • Prior to cutting, I wipe the watermelon with a damp paper towel or wash it under running water if it is extra dirty.
  • Set a towel under the cutting board to catch the watermelon juice for easy clean up. Otherwise, I have experienced sticky watermelon juice leaking on to the counter and floor.

Next time, I plan to try the following efficient methods to cut watermelon into cubes:

How do you cut your watermelon?

Stay tuned for the next FoodMeOmaha post on the unusual “biohazard” watermelon I had!

Fish Eyeballs are Tasty

Last year, NPR published an article, “Eating Eyeballs: Taboo, or Tasty?”. FoodMeOmaha’s resounding response: Fish eyeballs are tasty!

I have enjoyed fish eyes from fish head soup, fried whole fish, and grilled whole fish. I squish the eyeball in my mouth, appreciate the gelatinous innards, and discard the hard outer part. Why? The fish eyeball is a tasty burst of omega-3 fat to savor and linger over.

I am not the only one who says fish eyeballs are tasty. During a recent Puerto Rico trip, I introduced my man and his two boys to their first fish eyeball.

One evening, we had dinner at La Ola Restaurant in Fjardo, Puerto Rico. La Ola serves Puerto Rican entrees and tapas in a relaxing outdoor setting with a marina view. Some dishes were hits and others were okay. One yummy highlight was the fried whole red snapper.

Fried Whole Red Snapper from La Ola Restaurant in Fjardo, Puerto Rico

When the whole fish arrived, my eyes lit up! I asked the boys, “Would you like to try a fish eyeball?” The boys required no convincing! I carefully carved out the prized eyeballs.

Cade's First Fish Eyeball Experience

Fourteen year-old Cade was nonchalant when I passed him the eyeball.

Jonah's First Fish Eyeball Experience

Nine year-old Jonah was eager for his turn!

The boys verdict: Fish eyeballs are tasty. I was proud!

On another evening, we dined at La estacion in Fjardo, Puerto Rico. This was our favorite restaurant of the trip. La estacion is a charming converted gas station serving up a tasty menu of Puerto Rican food and American barbecue. They use local produce and freshly caught seafood. Every dish we ordered was awesome. This included the grilled whole yellowtail snapper with eyes intact.

Grilled Whole Yellowtail Snapper from La estacion in Fjardo, Puerto Rico

Brian's First Fish Eyeball Experience

This time, it was my man’s turn to try his first fish eyeball. Of course, I had to document the occasion.

Brian agrees fish eyeballs are tasty!

Side note: The whole fish has many wonderful parts to enjoy. The fish head has softer, tasty meat on the forehead and cheek. Fish skin has great flavor and different texture depending on how it is cooked.

Check out FoodMeOmaha post, “My First Filipino Food Experience, Part 2: Fish Eye Me”, for my first fish eyeball experience.

CakeMeOmaha Series #10: The Bicycle Cake

Best friend, Zoe, was coming to town and the gang knew we had limited opportunity to celebrate her birthday. Strategically, we decided to hijack the end of a group dinner with a surprise early birthday cake.

Zoe loves biking. Thus, we decided on a bicycle-theme cake from The Cakery. The ordering was completed with some back-and-forth communication via email and phone. This cake was Zoe-personalized!

The following pictures were sent to The Cakery for inspiration.

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With only two days notice, The Cakery concocted the below.

The Cakery's Custom Bicycle CakeThe Cakery's Custom Bike CakeThe Cakery's Custom Bicycle Cake

The Cakery baked, whipped, and piped a custom cake featuring Zoe in her biking gear and her bicycle. The Tiffany blue color is a nice pop and I love how Zoe is represented in this cake.

Here are side-by-side comparison pictures of real-life and cake-life Zoe and her bike.

Side-by-Side Bicycle Cake Comparison Side-by-Side Bicycle Cake Comparison Side-by-Side Bicycle Cake Comparison

At the end of dinner, real-life Zoe was presented the custom bicycle cake.

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Zoe was surprised and all smiles! She tilted her head and asked, “Who is the man [on the cake]?” Friend Anne said, “She has boobs!” Laughter ensued within the group. While Zoe did not immediately recognize herself in the cake, she did recognize her bike.

How did the cake taste? The cake was red velvet. I was caught up in the festivities, so I forgot to take a picture of the sliced cake. Zoe liked that it was not a sweet cake. I thought it was okay. I missed the rich cream cheese frosting that makes a red velvet cake. Taste-wise, I recommend Nothing Bundt Cakes‘ red velvet cake over The Cakery.

Custom Bicycle Cake

  • Description: Custom bicycle-theme red-velvet cake.
  • Price: $26.99
  • FoodMe YUM Rating: 7.0 out of 10
  • FoodMe Value Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Ultimately, the cake was a happy-visual impact and budget-friendly. Thanks to The Cakery for creating the custom bicycle cake at short notice.

Click to add a blog post for The Cakery on Zomato

Top Five Memorable Morel Dishes of 2015

As evident in past FoodMeOmaha blog posts and social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter), I am an avid fan of morel mushrooms. I love it so much that I bought morels for a steep $40 a pound from these guys at the Omaha Farmer’s Market in Aksarben Village.

Nebraska Morels at the Omaha Farmer's Market in Aksarben Village

Nebraska Morels at the Omaha Farmer’s Market in Aksarben Village

My morel mushroom madness is justified! Here are my top five memorable morel dishes of 2015 from great to greatest:

#5: Block 16’s Morel Philly Royale Special

Morel Philly Royale Special at Block 16

Morel Philly Royale Special at Block 16

My man, Brian, emailed me, “Did you see Block 16‘s lunch special?!?!” I immediately went to Block 16’s Facebook page and saw the above and read “Morel Philly Royale today! Shaved steak, provolone, grilled onion, truffle aioli and local MORELS on a sourdough roll. Won’t last long, get down here!!!

My reaction: Think Homer Simpson’s head tilted, eyes rolled back, mouth agape, tongue out, and drooling. Since I work out west and couldn’t make it, Brian saved the day and got me one to-go! I was lucky. They ran out of their special soon after opening.

The re-heated version was satisfyingly good. I enjoy Block 16’s regular Philly sandwiches. It is even better with the morel mushrooms. The morels picked up the savory meat flavor. While I know the Morel Philly Royale was not at its prime freshly-made state, I was happy!

Block 16 on Urbanspoon

#4: My Man’s Butter-Sauteed Morel Mushrooms

Sauteed Morel Mushrooms

Butter-Sauteed Morel Mushrooms Made By Man

I adore the homemade butter-sauteed morel mushrooms made by Brian. See the FoodMeOmaha post, “Butter-Sauteed Morels Made by Man“. This dish is simple, yet, sooo goood!

On another occasion, Brian made this morel dish for close friends, Maude and Joen Moreno. The Morenos were delighted and we were delighted to share the food experience with them.

Maude: “On my first bite, the texture, the oily moisture, how it just melted in my mouth… It was like wanting to delay my chewing just so this piece of heaven does not disappear down my throat. I wanted to savor every bit of it! So good and so unforgettable!”

Food is even better when shared with peeps we care about!

#3: Lot 2’s Bone Marrow and Morel Mushrooms

Bone Marrow and Morel Mushrooms at Lot 2

Bone Marrow and Morel Mushrooms Special at Lot 2

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Lot 2 Restaurant and Wine Bar has my favorite bone marrow in town. Therefore, when I discovered Lot 2 had bone marrow AND MORELS, I had another Homer Simpson drooling moment on repeat. The roasted bone marrow is divine, indulgent goodness elevated to new heights with the morel mushrooms. The morels were sauteed in a lovely sauce of shallots, garlic, thyme, lemon, white wine, butter, salt, and pepper.

The bone marrow and morels are a dynamic duo! Brian and I were either sighing, moaning, or pausing in silence over the bone marrow and morels. My taste buds thanked Chef Joel Mahr and staff of Lot 2!

Lot 2 Restaurant and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

#2: Taita’s Morel Mushroom Nigiri

Morel Nigiri at Taita

Morel Mushroom Nigiri at Taita

Holy morel nigiri at Taita Restaurant! The morel mushroom is honored in this dish. The woodsy mushroom is the featured star accented by a dark salty and sweet sauce, scallions, and neutral, compact rice.

Chef/Owner Jose Dionicio of Taita: “We slightly marinated morel in soy and dashi, then proceed to grill them finish them off to brush them with a nikiri sauce which contains hints of sake, soy and more dashi.”

This finely executed nigiri is a marvelous, woodsy-pure bite!!!

#1: Taita’s Wagyu Beef and Morel Ragout

Wagyu Beef and Morel Mushrooms at Taita

Wagyu Beef and Morel Ragout at Taita

FoodMeOmaha and Brian are frequent visitors at Taita since this is our top favorite restaurant in town. On a recent visit, Brian and I ordered our usual $60 omakase per person for dinner. The omakase is a great food experience. Chef Jose creates a series of courses of his choosing including sushi, hot dishes, and dessert. Our omakase journey hit a pinnacle with the wagyu beef and morel ragout! I was an ecstatic school girl when I feasted my eyes on this glorious course!

The wagyu beef was a savory, melt-in-your-mouth, beautiful moment. The exquisite salt added the extra edge! Chef Jose explained that the morels is a take on a classical ragout. Sauteed onions, wine and a hint of soy were involve in the making of it. The morel mushrooms was an oh-my-freaking-amazing, woodsy love immersed in a velvety sauce with roasted garlic cloves… Oh yeah…

This dish was superbly executed and zealously enjoyed.

Taita on Urbanspoon

This concludes my morel mushroom madness for this year!

For a different perspective, here is Brian’s top five from great to greatest:

  • #5 Block 16’s Morel Philly Royale
  • #4: His’ Butter-Sauteed Morel Mushrooms
  • #3 Taita’s Morel Mushroom Nigiri
  • #2: Lot 2’s Bone Marrow and Morel Mushrooms
  • #1: Taita’s Wagyu Beef and Morel Ragout

FoodMeOmaha had several memorable morel mushroom dishes (including others not mentioned) in 2015. Greedy MorelMeOmaha wants more morels! Next year, I foresee morel mushroom hunting in addition to the eating!

Sauteed Morels Made By Man

I admit that I have morel fever! Every spring, I go gaga for the morel mushrooms. These forest treats are in limited supply for a limited time.

Morel Mushrooms

My man, Brian, and I received a small precious bunch of morel mushrooms from friends, Erin and Richard McArthur. Thank you McArthur’s!!!

In the past, we have cooked butter-fried morel mushrooms. See FoodMeOmaha post, “Butter-Fried Morels Made By Man”. This time, my man sauteed the morel mushrooms with butter.

Sauteed Morels:


  • Fresh morel mushrooms (approximately 12)
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • Salt and black pepper


1. Admire the morel mushrooms.

2. Trim the stalk ends and cut the bigger morels vertically in half.

3. Soak morels in salt water (we soak for about an hour), rinse, and pat dry.

4. On a frying pan, melt butter on medium-high.

Melt Butter for Sauteed Morel Mushrooms

6. When the butter is melted, add the morel mushrooms.

7. Add salt and pepper.


8. Cook for about 5 minutes or until cooked through with buttery goodness.

Breath in the awesome aroma!

9. Occasionally stir gently.


Sauteed Morel Mushrooms

10. Serve and enjoy each morel morsel!


So simple and soooo good… We deliberately rationed the morels! Like Russian roulette (but in a delicious way), we took turns enjoying a morel piece. Every buttery, woodsy mushroom bite was followed by a moment of appreciation.

I now prefer the sauteed version over the fried. The earthy mushrooms shine more without the breading.

FoodMeOmaha Tidbit: Have morel fever? Check out the FoodMeOmaha post, “2015 Morel Sightings at Omaha Restaurants”.

CakeMeOmaha Series #9: The Avengers Cake Sequel

As evident in past CakeMeOmaha posts, Bliss Old Market Bakery has consistently created custom cakes that look and taste good. This included an awesome Avengers cake for awesome Cade (eldest son) back in September 2012. See the past FoodMeOmaha post, “CakeMeOmaha Series #3: The Avengers Cake”.

On March 7th, 2014, Jonah (youngest son) had an Avengers theme birthday party. Thus, we went back to Bliss Old Market Bakery for an awesome Avengers Cake “sequel” for awesome Jonah. The result…

Custom Avenger Cake from Bliss Old Market Bakery

Bliss Old Market Bakery created an Avenger-tastic nine-inch cake Marvel-ized with fondant and frosting. I love how Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, and Thor are individually represented in a quadrant and united in one cake!

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The Avengers cake is visually neat to see from different angles. We received many cake compliments at the party.

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The best part: We were stoked to see Jonah’s delight over the cake!


Custom Avengers Chocolate Cake

  • Description: 9-inch round chocolate cake (feeds 32) with peanut butter frosting and custom Avengers decorations.
  • Price: $50.00, additional $15 for custom 3D fondant figures
  • FoodMe YUM Rating: 8.5 out of 10
  • FoodMe Value Rating: 8.25 out of 10

Chocolate cake and rich peanut butter frosting is one of my favorite Bliss cake/frosting pairing. Birthday boy Jonah says: “It was really good!”

FoodMeOmaha Tidbit: Peanut butter lovers, I recommend the peanut butter chocolate cupcake at Bliss Old Market Bakery!

Thanks to Bliss Old Market Bakery for another awesome Avengers cake!

The Avengers Age of Ultron Movie

By the way, FoodMeOmaha and the boys saw The Avengers: Age of Ultron movie last night. The Avengers sequel has jammed-pack action, great visual effects, laughs, and superhero entertainment! I craved Chinese takeout at one point…

Bliss Old Market Bakery on Urbanspoon