Monday, December 9, 2013

Learning in the Florida Sun

The orthopedic conference for our PGY-3 class this year was the International Pediatric Orthopaedic Symposium in Orlando, Florida.  Our class of five set forth to sunny Florida last week to enjoy a combination of learning and fun.

We stayed at the Disney Swan Hotel, which also served as the location of the conference.  As soon as we stepped out of the taxi, there was no doubt we had arrived in paradise.  Don't get me wrong, Orlando is by no means true paradise, but after leaving the cold and wet of Charlotte winter, you would have thought we landed in the Caribbean!

After some resident and fellow specific sessions, we set out to Downtown Disney for our first dinner.  It would seem that the 3.5 miles from hotel to restaurant would be a quick trip.  Little did we realize that it would eventually take us 75 minutes to finally reach our destination - Fulton's Crab House.  The boys enjoyed sharing a seafood tower - featuring oysters, crab legs, lump crab meat, and shrimp.   I  feasted on a crab cake and caramelized brussel sprouts.

The conference days were jam packed full of learning from 7:30am to 6pm.  I snuck away for a brief reprieve from the bitterly cold conference room temperatures and enjoyed a nap in the sun.

Dinner night two was at Kouzzina - a restaurant owned by Cat Cora.  The Mediterranean and Greek influenced food was well executed despite lackluster service.

I ordered the fisherman's stew, which included a very large serving of muscles, oysters, scallops, shrimp, and mussels in a tomato broth.  On the side for something green, I chose roasted garlic field greens.  And to compliment the meal, a glass of sangria.

The Disney Boardwalk had a carnival type atmosphere, so naturally we had to take part in some overpriced carnival games.  Our competitive efforts won us a stuffed frog and a princess mini basketball.

So nice to enjoy time with our whole class!

Despite the lure of pools and sunshine, I tried to maintain some discipline and actually chose learning over leisure.  Until, of course, our last full day, when I opted for a half-day of sunbathing and beach volleyball.  

Thursday evening's meal was at Kimono's, a sushi restaurant and last night karaoke bar.  I started with a bowl of seaweed salad, then followed it with a vegetarian roll and bonsai roll.  The bonsai roll was a delicious combination of salmon, eel, and avocado.

One morning, I ran past this beautifully decorated Christmas tree.  With temperatures in the mid 80s on a daily basis, I almost forgot it was even December.

I enjoyed many early morning runs around the hotel property, boardwalk, and hollywood studios.   There was also a gym and lap pool that allowed me to keep up with some workouts.  Considering the long hours of sitting in lecture, the exercise was much needed!  In the peace and quite of the morning, there were many picture-worthy scenes around the property.

Each evening that we walked along the boardwalk, we would pass Boardwalk Bakery.  I kept eyeing the cases of pastries and even did a bit of research to learn that their desserts were worth a visit.  Friday night I wandered into their shop to select a dessert.  I was torn between two great looking options, so naturally, I chose both.  On the left is a peanut butter tart in a chocolate cookie crust, topped with a banana cream, and sprinkles of candied bacon.  FANTASTIC!  On the right is a caramel pecan sticky bun that I saved and enjoyed as a midmorning snack the following day.

For our last dinner, we stayed close by and ate at Il Mulino, an Italian restaurant in the Swan Hotel.  After a starter of warm bread and eggplant dip, I had a caesar salad.  For my entree, I went with the seared grouper over broccolini.  The fish was a bit overcooked and portion quite small given the $32 price tag.

Saturday afternoon arrived, and in a blink of an eye, our conference trip to Orlando came to an end.  It was a terrific conference and helped to reaffirm my interest in pediatric orthopedics.  After a short flight, I arrived back in Charlotte, returning to the reality of a cold rainy December.

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