Tag Archives: food

Florida Hospital’s Gourmet Soiree with Food Network’s Chef Robert Irvine on June 5

Have you ever watched shows like Top Chef, Master Chef, Iron Chef and any other food contests with chef in the title and thought “I could do that”, maybe following a recipe, like one of these 8 Delicious Pressure Cooker Recipes You Haven’t Tried Before. Well this weekend at the Florida Hospital Gourmet Soiree, you can!

On June 5th at Rosen Shingle Creek, Food Network’s Chef Robert Irvine will host over 70 of Central Florida’s top chefs as they compete for the coveted Gourmet Soiree Silver Fork Award.  Your ticket to the event qualifies you as their sous chef!

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Your table of 10 and assigned Chef will conceptualize a healthy dish from a pantry of ingredients provided by Whole Foods. A presentation plate will then be judged by four celebrity guest judges prior to being judged on taste by Robert Irvine himself.

I had an opportunity to participate in a sneak preview event that gave me a small taste, an amuse bouche, if you will, of the big night.13221615_10154067972262707_4698264850060514429_n

To sum it up, the experience was thrilling, exciting, educational, harder than it looks on tv, and so much more delicious too.

My small group was assigned to Chef Jose Gonzalez from Cuba Libre at Pointe Orlando and we were to prepare a dish using tofu. Chef wasted no time in delegating assignments. He gave us an overall plan and it was up to us to fetch the ingredients, prepare, cook and assemble.  What followed was the shortest 45 mins of my life and a retraction of my tofu dislike. We also handed out food to those in need and helped them fill out a food stamps application.

Our team created a BBQ tofu dish with an accompanying salad that won over the judges and secured our win against the other team’s chicken risotto.

When you attend the Florida Hospital Gourmet Soiree, not only will you have a good time, but you’ll be doing good as well.  The event will support Florida Hospital for Children’s vital Health and Wellness Initiatives – Community programs like Mission: fit Possible in our Central Florida Schools, CREATION U in surrounding churches, Dr. Angela Fals’ weight management program and the patient focused CREATION Kids Kamp — all teach children good eating habits and healthy life choices in fun, kid friendly ways.

For more information including tickets and pricing, visit http://fhgourmetsoiree.com.

ProTip: To get a sneak peek at the wonderful live and silent auction items, and register ahead of time, go to https://qtego.net/qlink/gourmetsoiree and download the Qtego app!

Top Five Orlando Food Galas

The Orlando food scene is thriving! Foodies have their pick of interesting flavors to sample, creative chefs to follow and outstanding venues in which to visit. A couple of food galas on the horizon combine the food and chef portions into one location. You can visit BobEvans.com for more information about foods. Here are my Top Five food events coming up soon where guests can sample a variety of delicious food and drink (and usually can support a great cause at the same time)!

1) Cattle Barons’ Ball (April 16 at Rosen Shingle Creek)

I had the chance of attending this great event last year and all I can say is Yeehaw! The Cattle Barrons and the American Cancer Society sure know how to put on a spread. Restaurants including Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, Emeril’s Tchoup Choup, Empress Sissy Bakery, The Whisky, Spencer’s For Steaks, and A Land Remembered at Shingle Creek are a tiny sampling of the HUGE great offerings this year.

curbside

Curbside Food Truck’s Asian Pork Slider

Some of my favorite dishes from last year included Yak & Yeti’s Korean braised short ribs over grits with kimchi slaw and the braised Asian short-ribs with “truck”-made pickled cucumbers with balsamic fig reduction from Curbside Food Truck. (Note: I have a thing for braised beef short-ribs AND huy fong sriracha. You, too?!)

Cattle Barons Ball is generously sponsored by: A.T.A.P Companies, Coca-Cola, Bags, Bright House Networks Business Solutions, Rosen Hotels & Resorts, Tavistock Foundation to name just a few. My mother is a breast cancer survivor, so this event is near and dear to my heart.

 

 

 

2) The Taste at I-Drive 360 (May 1)

Formerly held at Pointe Orlando, The Taste at I-Drive 360 has moved to usher in a round of new flavors and fun. This brand-new location will offer lots of new food choices to enjoy. Stroll around Orlando’s newest observation tower and neighboring attractions while nibbling on treats from: Sugar Factory, Tin Roof, Cowgirls, Shake Shack, Naru Sushi Bar, Paramount Fine Foods, Outback Steakhouse, Buffalo Wild Wings and Tapa Toro.

Taste at I-Drive 360
Since this is the inaugural event at this location, my recommendation is based on visiting just about every location in the line-up with special favorites the Mediterranean food from Paramount, Sweets, Treats and Eats from Sugar Factory, and Shake Shack’s burgers and (YUM) their cheese fries. While I’m not sure what they’re offering for The Taste at I-Drive, I’m confident that they, and all the participating restaurants, will do themselves proud.

Taste at I-Drive 360 benefits the Esophageal Cancer Program at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute. There are close to 17,000 diagnosis of Esophageal Cancer projected in 2016. If you have frequent reflux, talk to your doctor. Prevention is the key and there ARE steps you can take to prevent this disease. To learn more, visit www.floridahospital.com/esophageal-cancer.  Purchase advance tickets for $35 at www.TasteatIDrive360.com, $40 at the door day-of or Email Ayslinn.Husebo@FLHosp.org for ticket packages and sponsorships.

Insider tip: If you haven’t visited the attractions at I-Drive 360, this will be the perfect opportunity. Ticket holders for The Tast at I-Drive 360 can enjoy 25% off the attractions there all day!

 

3) Taste of the Nation (August 27 at Orlando World Center Marriott )

As a Social Media Ambassador to this incredible foodie fete, I can say wholeheartedly that visitors will enjoy tasting their way around exciting offerings from SO many restaurants, including ones from top resorts and travel destinations. From selections by Universal Orlando Resorts and Fulton’s Crab House at Disney Springs, to MOOR at Gaylord Palms Resort and Resort and Highball and Harvest at Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, the “tastes” are varied.

#OrlTaste #NoKidHungryDon’t forget: Wear comfortable shoes and pace yourself! You’ll need a plan of attack as there are “that” many places to try, not just food either. Beverage suppliers like Cooper’s Hawk Winery, Winter Park Distilling Company, Funky Buddha, and Quantum Leap ensure no one leaves (shall we say…) thirsty.

I was a hungry child in Orlando, so knowing this event supports Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is another fine reason I support . Additional beneficiaries include the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Florida Impact. Talk about a Win/Win situation.

4) Gourmet Soiree (June 5 at Rosen Shingle Creek)

Even if I wasn’t intimately involved with this event, I’d still declare it to be one of the most fun food events I’ve ever been to. It’s the “anti-gala” in that you don’t have to get “fancified” to attend. Chefs from the best restaurants in town cook right at your table, and guests become “sous chefs” for the night preparing meals with Whole Foods hosted by Food Network celebrity and chef Robert Irvine, Gourmet Soiree is a high-energy night of fun and food held at the beautiful Rosen Shingle Creek.

Chef Robert Irvine hosts Gourmet Soiree and it's all for the kids!

Chef Robert Irvine hosts Gourmet Soiree and it’s all for the kids!

Kids as well as adults are welcome to attend this fundraiser for Mission: Fit Possible and other programs for Florida Hospital Foundation. Last year my (then) 8-year-old and his pal Lucy enjoyed “hunting” down our table’s requested ingredients and preparing them. We all had a blast talking, sharing, laughing and eating. If you’re not into formal galas, this is the one for you. And if you DO want to get all formal for it, well no one would judge. It’s quite relaxed with the goal of having fun and raising funds for community outreach programs and health initiatives.

Favorite chefs of mine participating include Emily Ellyn, the Retro Rad diva and winner of Cutthroat Kitchen, Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant and new this year Val Domingo of NOVA Scratch Kitchen. Sure to bring his A game, too, is Tello Luna, head chef for Rosen Hotel’s Centre (who’s a two-time winner at this event!).

5) United Way’s Chef’s Gala (May 21 at Walt Disney World Resort)

A chocolate garden, courtesy The Ganachery

A chocolate garden, courtesy The Ganachery

Though I haven’t attended this event previously, I was invited to a sneak peek preview tasting. Speaking of “peek,” Chef Vegel of JW Marriott’s Primo served up Peeky Toe Crab Salad, and Waldorf Astoria’s Bull & Bear offered a Syrah Wine Braised Beef Short Rib (my favorite item of the day. Talk about tender and rich!). Thank you Chef Lebas!

The theme for the event is “You’ve Got To Try This,” and if the preview is any indication, you’ll be uttering those very words over and over May 21! Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you dive in to the exquisite savory selections AND when you get dessert from the likes of The Ganachery who served us a chocolate garden plated with cocoa almonds, salted caramel macaroon, raspberry ganache square, pistachio ganache square, Kalamansi curd and white chocolate krispies. I’m drooling here just TYPING this!

ChefsGalaSocialContest

Want to win tickets to Chef’s Gala? They’re holding a Social Media Contest. Followers and fans can win two tickets (a $300 value).

To enter: Create a 60-second video on why you support United Way and post it using the hashtag #ChefsGala2016 and tag Heart of Florida United Way on Facebook and @HFUW on Twitter. Post by April 29th for a chance to win. Winner will be announced May 13. (Good luck!)

United Way’s largest fundraiser, Chef’s Gala, supports programs that help thousands of Central Floridians in the areas of education, income, health and basic needs.

The bottom line is: If  you don’t have the ability to visit the top 50 restaurants in person over the next couple of months, these galas bring their tastes to you. Buy a ticket, enjoy some of the best food and drink Central Florida has to offer, and feel good that you’re changing lives while expanding your culinary repertoire.

The New Oblivion Taproom feels almost like home

After a very sad two weeks of an almost-Oblivion Taproom-free existence, we got word that the well-loved burger and beer joint was in the midst of a soft opening this past weekend. On Saturday night, we decided to check it out and see if it still felt like home.

Short answer: it did.

The new owner, Shawn Paris, was a long-time patron of Oblivion and plans to keep things the same, with a few improvements here and there. For the best air conditioner services on your business just visit this blog Website for great choices. One of these improvements was visible (and appreciated) immediately upon entry: a foot rail running the length of the bar. This will help to make beer-drinking sessions for short people just a little more comfortable.

What you won’t see is the walk in where Paris already installed a new floor and beer lines.

Another change that big Oblivi-fans will notice right away is a slight rebrand. At the top of the new menus, a partially-smashed skull and crossbones precedes the familiar red and black logo. It’s just different enough for us to see the new owner’s spin on the place.

The same could be said for the menu. Most of the old favorites have stuck around. Customers will still be able to chomp on a Hog Wild and the seriously delicious Oblivion Cuban. Veggies lovers can still work their way through a rapturous basket of Buddha fingers or a Skinny Puppy. And most importantly (to this writer), you can still top your crispy tots with Hawaiian Raw Garlic.

Ahem… HAWAIIAN RAW GARLIC!!!

While the chef remains the same, the menu has some new additions. Most intriguing is the new dessert offering: Choco-Jala-Peanut Butter Pie, which is a twist on a traditional chocolate peanut butter pie, with the spicy addition of jalapenos and cayenne whipped cream. Other new additions include fried jalapenos, a chili burger, and the Soul Scorcher 2.0: a cayenne-dusted patty topped with fried jalapenos, Sriracha cheese, scorching soul sauce, lettuce and tomatoes. So, basically, Spice Girls (and boys), the new Oblivion is the place for you.

There are a couple favorites missing from the menu, most notably the Jala-pine-o burger and, this writer’s favorite, the house-made chips back from Chef Goody’s reign at Oblivion. However, the new owner and Chef Andy say they hope to showcase weekly specials; we can only hope these make an appearance at some point.

Now, the most important question of all: how’s the beer list? Still on point. When we were there Saturday night, I enjoyed The Dude’s Rug, a chai-spice mead from B. Nektar, a Stone Brewery chai-spiced imperial Russian Stout and Rosetta, a truly delicious fruit beer from Ommegang. And, you guys, it was SO DIFFICULT to stop myself at those three. There was a lot to choose from.

Oblivion Taproom’s official grand re-opening is Friday, February 19. Stop by, get some noms and struggle, like I did, not to order every single thing on the beer menu.

Oblivion, it’s nice to have you back.
Oblivion Taproom newTop 5 Orlando Resurrections:

5. Jesus – at Holy Land
4. The Incredible Hulk Ride
3. The Beefy King Sign
2. The Citrus Bowl
1. Oblivion Taproom

Speaking of home, take a look at Kingwood TX bat removal services.

Eat, Drink and be Merry at Clearwater Beach Uncorked!

Clearwater Beach Uncorked is celebrating their fifth anniversary in epic fashion with a Food & Wine Adventure on February 6 and 7 in a new location just South of Barefoot Beach House. Locals and travelers alike can now visit www.ClearwaterBeachUncorked.com to purchase tickets and get more information on this delicious event. Tickets are going fast for this years very popular beachside food, wine and craft beer festival, so make sure to get your tickets before they sell out!

Food, Wine, Festival

Grand Tasting – From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day on February 6 and 7, attendees will have the chance to wiggle their toes in the sugar white sand while sipping and savoring items from the area’s most delectable restaurants, boutique hot spots and world-class hotels. Check it out on twitter for more updates. The Grand Tasting will take place in a newly expanded 30,000 square foot tent, setting the stage for an unforgettable gastronomic event.

Wine in your hand, toes in the sand.  There’s no better way to experience the seduction of pre-Valentine’s Day decadence than by exploring the delicious facets of Clearwater Beach Uncorked.

Clearwater Beach Uncorked

BREW-B-QUE – Orlando’s own Retro Rad Goddess and Food Network Chef Emily Ellyn will tease the taste buds with a special Brew-B-Que cooking presentation on the Publix Aprons Cooking Stage. Attendees will explore the culinary diversity of cooking with craft beer during this unique event. Savory will meet sweet as Chef Emily pairs pork, Three Daughters Beach Blonde Ale, and savory spices for an extraordinary Brew-B-Que experience.

Enhanced Line-up of Interactive Experiences – Marking its anniversary, the 2016 Clearwater Beach Uncorked will feature an even greater line-up of food and drinks, courtesy of new sponsors and vendors. Guests will meet and learn from leading wine specialists, brew masters and accomplished chefs from across the Bay area, including Chef Richard Preston from the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa, Chef Justin Winkler from Clearwater Beach Marriott Suites on Sand Key and Chef Robert from Shephard’s Beach Resort.

Six Live Cooking Demonstrations – Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the 2016 Clearwater Beach Uncorked, six live on-stage cooking demonstrations will take place with renowned chefs from across the country. Chefs featured in the fifth anniversary event program include Jim Hendry, Anthony Logerfo and Brian Mullins (Publix Aprons Cooking School); Joseph DiPaolo (Duncan Hines) and (our personal favorite chef!!) Emily Ellyn.

food, wine, festival

A portion of the proceeds of the 2016 Clearwater Beach Uncorked will benefit University of South Florida’s Sarasota Manatee School of Hospitality and Tourism Leadership. Funds will be used to develop academic programs, scholarships, research grants and campus infrastructure. Clearwater Beach Uncorked has also partnered with the University to implement an educational component incorporating the festival into the fall curriculum. Students are currently competing to develop unique marketing initiatives where the winners’ ideas will be implemented at this coming year’s event. When you want effective SEO marketing, visit SEO Expert Brisbane.

For more information on Clearwater Beach Uncorked or to purchase tickets, visit www.ClearwaterBeachUncorked.com. Follow Clearwater Beach Uncorked on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ClearwaterBeachUncorked or Twitter @CBUncorked.

Aloma Bowl: An old favorite becomes new again

My family and I moved to Winter Park from Maitland in 1997. Any local will know this move is not terribly far. The edges of these small towns like Winter Park, Maitland and Casselberry all tend to blend together, even for longtime residents.

In my neighborhood, there are just things you do like grab a Philly Cheesesteak at Cappy’s, catch a live show at The Copper Rocket or Fairbanks Inn (RIP) or meet up with some friends at Aloma Bowl for Cosmic Bowling. These are places I still love going to. They’ve been around so long they’re as close to historic local monuments as one can get.

Aloma Bowl media preview

It’s a Grand ReoPINing!

Most bowling alleys have a somewhat retro, art decco look. When I walked into the revamped Aloma Bowl, it reflected a modern style and flavor while still maintaining the spirit of a traditional bowling alley. The seating in the bowling pits (32 lanes) were very modern and curvy, a great balance of kitschy aesthetic and comfort. I didn’t bowl this time but I will assuredly come back to bowl. The Redemption Arcade, the Brooklyn South Bar and Grill and lounge area immediately caught my eye, as did the new large screen TVs throughout. Over $500,000 was put into this reopening, and it certainly shows.

Brooklyn South Bar has twelve beers on tap and over twenty bottled options, domestic and import. They also have several craft selections as well as fully stocked liquor bar with nightly drink specials including $7 Domestic Pitchers during Happy Hour and $4 selected wells and calls. The first drink I tried from Brooklyn South Bar, named the Aloma Blue, was very similar to the first ever drink I had at Aloma Bowl years ago, which was a Blue Hawaii. It had lemonade, lime, vodka and blue Curaçao… it was very blue and even more tasty. I also tried their version of Sex on the Beach which was on par with others I’ve tried.

On the grill side, I tried the mini cheeseburger sliders, which were great. Each had cheddar cheese, grilled onions, pickle chips and thousand island dressing. The buffalo wings, I tried mild, hot and parmesan garlic, were also good. What I really liked was Brooklyn South’s Veggie Pizza! It was topped caramelized onions, mushrooms and peppers. Their pizza crust had a great flavor – it was like having a breadstick after you’ve finished. Brooklyn South’s Dips & Tortilla Chips were all really good. The Spicy Queso was delicious! The nacho cheese was chunky and incorporated, my best guess, a buffalo sauce flavor and maybe even some bleu cheese. (Menu online)

Cheeseburger Sliders and Spicy Queso

Cheeseburger Sliders and Spicy Queso

All told, the food was a lot better than I remember. Actual restaurant quality food as opposed to typical bar or bowling alley food, which one may eat simply because it’s there. I would definitely go back and have dinner at Brooklyn South Bar and Grill, even if I weren’t bowling.

Aloma Bowl’s game room, The Redemption Arcade, got a massive upgrade. Before they had maybe six arcade games – I used to love playing X-Men! Gone are the days of tokens. Now Aloma Bowl has a new refillable playcard system and a dozen or more games, including a really cool Batman game and a few games of chance that will keep the kids busy if mom and dad want to bowl for awhile.

Aloma Bowl logo

Aloma Bowl is inviting the public to their own ReoPINing celebration tomorrow, Friday, October 16th and Saturday, October 17th with buy one, get one free deals on bowling games, shoes and appetizers in Brooklyn South Bar and Grill!

Aloma Bowl

2530 Aloma Avenue

Winter Park, FL 32792

(407) 671-8675

http://www.alomabowlingcenters.com

Hours of Operation

Sunday – Thursday      9am to 12am

Friday – Saturday        9am to 2am

Experience Kissimmee with the World Food Championships

There is something for every foodie in the family this November at the World Food Championships which is headed to beautiful Celebration the heart of Kissimmee, Florida. November 3-10, you’ll be able to find competitors from around the world vying for World Championships in BBQ, Bacon, Burgers, Chili, Desserts, Pasta, Recipe (Fresh), Sandwich and Seafood categories. With the final competition crowning one of those competitors as the 2015 World Food Champion!

Kissimmee, Celebration

This year’s Championships held in downtown Celebration, will be a delicious collection of food events as the championships take over Main Street and the Lake Area for the competition, classes and tasting events. Registration and some of the events will be held at The Westgate Town Center.

Celebration,

There will be demonstrations and vendors with the latest in indoor and outdoor kitchens, or you can buy tickets to private chef demos, Culinary Fight Club events, Mixology Classes, BBQ and Chili Fests, and a Grand Tasting that features all of the World Food Championship categories.

This is the schedule for The World Food Championships (subject to change)

Tuesday, November 3rd

Various Local Celebration Restaurants
Times TBA
Food Fight Night
Westgate Town Center Resort
12:00pm – 5:00pm
Sponsor & Competitor Registration

Wednesday, November 4th

Kenmore Kitchen Arena
10:30am – 1:30pm
Blogger Competition
2:30pm – 5:15pm
World Dessert Championship: Preliminary Round
Westgate Town Center Resort
9:00am – 5:00pm
Sponsor & Competitor Registration
7:00pm – 10:00pm
Welcome Reception / Blogger Competition Awards

Thursday, November 5th

Cooking Academy
3:00pm – 5:00pm
Cooking Like a Champ
Kenmore Kitchen Arena
7:30am – 10:15am
World Recipe Championship: Preliminary Round
10:45am – 1:30pm
World Seafood Championship: Preliminary Round
2:00pm – 4:45pm
Bacon World Championship: Preliminary Round
Main Stage
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Opening Round Awards – Main Stage (BBQ, Dessert, Recipe, Seafood & Bacon)
Westgate Town Center Resort
9:00am – 3:30pm
World Barbecue Championship: Ancillary Competitions
World Cocktail Experience Tent
4:00pm – 9:00pm
World Cocktail Experience

Friday, November 6th

Camp Chili
8:30am – 1:00pm
World Open Chili Championship: Preliminary Round 1
Champions VIF Club
1:00pm – 8:00pm
VIP Lounge
Cooking Academy
10:00am – 1:15pm
World Chefs Challenge: Session 1
3:00pm – 5:00pm
Cooking Like a Champ
Kenmore Kitchen Arena
7:30am – 10:15am
World Pasta Championship: Preliminary Round
10:45am – 1:30pm
World Sandwich Championship: Preliminary Round
2:00pm – 4:45pm
World Burger Championship: Preliminary Round
Main Stage
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Opening Round Awards – Main Stage (Chef, Pasta, Sandwich & Burger)
Sizzle & Swizzle Spots
12:00pm – 6:00pm
Tasty Morsels – Demonstrations & Interviews
12:00pm – 6:00pm
Mixology 101 – Demonstrations & Interviews
Tasting Village
10:00am – 6:00pm
Sponsor Sampling
World Cocktail Experience Tent
4:00pm – 9:00pm
World Cocktail Experience

Saturday, November 7th

Camp Chili
8:30am – 1:00pm
World Open Chili Championship: Preliminary Round 2
3:00pm – 5:00pm
World Chili Fest – People’s Choice Competition
Champions VIF Club
1:00pm – 8:00pm
VIP Lounge
Cooking Academy
8:00am – 11:15pm
World Chef Challenge: Session 2
1:00pm – 4:15pm
World Chef Challenge: Session 3
Kenmore Kitchen Arena
7:30am – 10:15am
World Recipe Championship: Top Ten Round
9:45am – 12:30pm
World Seafood Championship: Top Ten Round
12:00pm – 2:45pm
Bacon World Championship: Top Ten Round
2:15pm – 5:00pm
World Dessert Championship: Top Ten Round
Location TBD
11:00am – 1:00pm
Food Champ Judging Class – Session 1
2:00pm – 4:00pm
Food Champ Judging Class – Session 2
Main Stage
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Opening & Final Round Awards – Main Stage (Chef, BBQ, Recipe, Seafood, Bacon & Dessert)
Sizzle & Swizzle Spots
12:00pm – 6:00pm
Tasty Morsels – Demonstrations & Interviews
12:00pm – 6:00pm
Mixology 101 – Demonstrations & Interviews
Tasting Village
10:00am – 6:00pm
Sponsor Sampling
Westgate Town Center Resort
9:00am – 3:30pm
World Barbecue Championship
World Cocktail Experience Tent
4:00pm – 9:00pm
World Cocktail Experience

Sunday, November 8th

Camp Chili
8:30am – 1:00pm
World Open Chili Championship: Top Ten Round
Champions VIF Club
1:00pm – 8:00pm
VIP Lounge
Cooking Academy
12:00pm – 12:45pm
Family Food Fun: Session 1
1:00pm – 1:45pm
Family Food Fun: Session 2
3:00pm – 5:00pm
Que School
Kenmore Kitchen Arena
7:30am – 10:15am
World Pasta Championship: Top Ten Round
9:15am – 12:00pm
World Sandwich Championship: Top Ten Round
11:00am – 1:45pm
World Burger Championship: Top Ten Round
Main Stage
1:00pm – 2:40pm
World Chef Challenge: Final Round
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Final Round Awards – Main Stage (Chef, Chili, BBQ, Pasta, Sandwich & Burger)
Sizzle & Swizzle Spots
12:00pm – 6:00pm
Tasty Morsels – Demonstrations & Interviews
12:00pm – 6:00pm
Mixology 101 – Demonstrations & Interviews
Tasting Village
10:00am – 6:00pm
Sponsor Sampling

Monday, November 9th

No Competition or Consumer Events

Tuesday, November 10th

Kenmore Kitchen Arena & Main Stage
11:00am – 4:00pm
Final Table Competition
4:00pm – 6:00pm
Final Table Judging
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Grand Tasting
Tickets are still available for most of the events, click on this link for more information World Food Championship Tickets.
Follow these links for more information about Celebration Town Center and Westgate Town Center.

Little Plates with Big Flavor at Cafe Tu Tu Tango

Twenty years ago on one of my first visits to the Mouse and Orlando, my friends and I stumbled upon Cafe Tu Tu Tango. I remember reading the menu at the door thinking, oh I’m going to need to go out to eat after this dinner….little plates?  Seriously?

Well, was I ever wrong. Not only was the food amazingly delicious, the portions were large enough to share and no one left hungry that night.

I-Drive , Orlando

Fast forward twenty years and I’ve finally made it back to the restaurant that had achieved legendary status on my list of all-time favorite meals. I had often talked about going back to Cafe Tu Tu Tango, but every time I was in Orlando, for one reason or another it just never happened.   Maybe I had imagined how good dinner was. Would reality be as good as my memories?

As I read the menu I was tempted by every dish I read and I was getting a little giddy from the anticipation of what was to come. I needed a little liquid refreshment to calm my nerves and prepare my stomach for the gastronomical wonderland that was sure to follow. The house-made Award Winning Sangria was just what the doctor ordered, it calmed me enough to pick out a few small plates to get the meal started.

I-Drive , Orlando

It didn’t take long to find out that my memory was intact, and truth be told the little plates at Cafe Tu Tu Tango were better than I  had remembered. Fish Taco’s, Argentinean Chimichurri Steak, Tuscan Meatballs, Mediterranean Flatbread and of course Spiced Alligator Bites……sigh.   Delicious beyond belief would be the phrase on my lips at the end of the evening.

As we got ready for another round, our waiter reminded us about dessert….. We almost forgot.

I-Drive , Cafe Tu Tu Tango, Orlando

Desserts were ordered. Creme brulee for my niece, chocolate dipped cheesecake lollipops for my wife and for me the ultimate dessert on the menu, Chocolate Calzone. This dessert was baked to order, stuffed with white and dark chocolate, served with whipped cream and coffee ice cream.   They had to basically roll me out of the restaurant after dessert……sigh

Was I happy? Most definitely! Sometimes reality is better than memories and you can bet I’ll be back to make more memories, and it won’t take another 20 years.

Cafe Tu Tu Tango is located 8625 International Drive in Orlando. Sunday – Thursday  11:30 am – 11 pm; Friday – Saturday 11:30 am  – 12 pm.  Brunch is served on Sundays from 11:30 am – 3:30 pm;  Tu Tu hour Monday – Friday 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm.

Share small plates with your friends from their scratch kitchen, while you enjoy an amazingly artistic atmosphere and live entertainment.

Everyone’s Irish at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant

There’s just something extra cheerful about an Irish Pub and Raglan Road in Downtown Disney (aka Disney Springs ) is no exception! But Raglan Road isn’t just your average Irish Pub, it’s authentic Ireland.  Built entirely in Ireland, then shipped, lock, stock and beer barrel to Downtown Disney.

While the food is sure to please ,my advice is to start with a taste of the local beverage while you’re looking over the menu. In my case I started with a flight of Irish beers – Guinness Irish Stout, Smithwicks Irish Ale, Harp Irish Lager and Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale gave me a real taste of Ireland without breaking the bank.

Raglan Road, Downtown Disney

If you don’t fancy a flight of beers, just ask for a pint of your favorite liquid refreshment. In Ireland, pouring the Perfect Pint is considered an art form, and they’re darn serious about art at Raglan Road. In fact along with the building they brought their own unique Irish beer dispensing system with them, which enhances quality, freshness, and structure of the beers.

Of course if you’d like something a wee bit stronger or non alcoholic your server will be happy to oblige your request.

Raglan Road, Downtown Disney

One of my favorite dishes at Raglan Road is their very popular Scallop Forest, consisting of Georges Bank scallops in a golden batter served with citrus lime dipping sauce & sweet chili jam. They have an eclectic Irish menu with delicious tastes of their homeland, so don’t go expecting Corn Beef and Cabbage. Be adventurous and try some of re-invented Classic Irish dishes they serve as well as what I like to call Irish Fusion Dishes. If you still have room for dessert try Chef Dundon’s gift to America the Dunbrody Kiss.  Chef Dundon uses chocolate, chocolate and then more chocolate to make this dessert……sigh

Raglan Road, Downtown Disney

And what would an Irish Pub be without entertainment. Every night whether you dine inside or out you’ll be treated to a variety of Irish entertainers including dancers, troubadours and bands playing jigs, reels, pub favorites and traditional Irish songs.  According to management at Raglan Road since the pub is so authentic, the entertainers have no idea they’re not still in Ireland and they ask for your help keeping the secret.

So you need to act really Irish to keep them from catching on – that means drink, howl, dance on the tables, drink some more and sing as you’ve never sung before”

Raglan Road is located at The Landing, Disney Springs, 1640 East Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, Orlando FL 32830.  They are open from 11 am until 11 pm. serving lunch and dinner followed with a bar menu from 11 pm until 1 am .  The Rollicking Raglan Brunch Menu is served from 10 am to 3 pm Saturday & Sunday.   (gluten free menu items are available)

Live Music starts at 4 pm till late, with an Irish band and Irish dancers performing 5 pm  – 10 pm 7 nights a week. Open till 2 am every night.

Get Cheesy at O-Town MacDown this Saturday!

Things are getting severe up in here… for Give Kids the World!

I love macaroni and cheese. I know YOU love macaroni and cheese.

Imagine a place where you, your friends and fellow connoisseurs can sample the cheesy goodness from over 30 chefs from places like Hard Rock Cafe Orlando, 4Rivers Smokehouse and Four Seasons Resort Orlando. They all will compete and make you all the mac and cheese you can eat, then make it for you again as often as you like… until 4pm.

This, my friends, is the O-Town MacDown Presented by Tom and Chee, (benefitting the magical Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee), and you NEED to be there this Saturday, September 12th!

What’s going down this year aside from the MacDown itself? A Fun Zone for the kids, live entertainment from start to finish, Celebrity Chef Cooking Demonstrations and more than 30 vendor booths such as; Medieval Times, Trader Joe’s, Orlando City Soccer and of course Tom+Chee!

Visit gktw.org

O-Town MacDown 2015 at Osceola Heritage Park

Need deets? We’ve got ’em! (For up to the minute updates, visit the Facebook Event Page!)

WHERE/WHEN:

Osceola Heritage Park, 11am – 4pm (new venue)

1875 Silver Spur Lane

Kissimmee, Florida 34744

COST/PARKING: 

$10 advance tickets/$15 at the door (Adults)

$5 in advance tickets/$10 at the door  (Children; little ones under 3 are free)

Click HERE for online ticketing!

Parking is FREE

 

Catch Dinner at Ocean Prime During Magical Dining Month

Food glorious food. It warms the heart and soul, brings friends and family together. Food gives strangers a reason to sit around a common space sharing meals and stories, making new friends in the process, some lasting a lifetime.

I was recently invited to dinner at Ocean Prime Orlando as part of a bloggers meet-up to preview their selections for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month. When I drove up to Ocean Prime for the event I realized I’d driven by their location many times and sadly had never noticed it was there.   That was definitely my loss, because the food was spectacular, the staff friendly and the atmosphere soothing. Ocean Prime won’t go unnoticed any longer, and I will definitely be back!

Ocean Prime

Orlando’s Magical Dining Month started August 24th and runs throughout the month of September. You’ll find more than 75 Orlando area restaurants participating, offering 3 courses for $33. That’s quite an amazing offer at some of the best restaurants in Central Florida.

Ocean Prime Orlando, Magical dining month

One of the menu items I sampled was the Teriyaki Salmon. The Salmon was served on a bed of Shiitake Sticky Rice with an outrageously delicious Soy Butter Sauce and a melange of vegetables.

Ocean Prime Orlando, Magical dining month

The Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with a sweet corn cream and succotash was my personal favorite from the many entrees we were served. We also got to try the Lobster Mashed Potatoes and Chop House Corn, both excellent side dishes. Ocean Prime also has an amazing sushi menu and offers a unique sampling of cocktails. The Bubbles and Berries pictured at the top of this post was not only delicious but fun to drink.

Ocean Prime Orlando, Magical Dining month

And then there was dessert… sigh. They called it Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, I called it Heaven on a Plate. The chef at Ocean Prime Orlando  started with an Oreo cookie crust base, added a sinfully rich peanut butter mousse and wrapped it in a bittersweet chocolate ganache… sigh. Can you say OMG?

But what impressed me the most about Ocean Prime was the level of service we received and the atmosphere of the restaurant. There was live music that was so good, I thought it was recorded and a thoughtful, friendly staff throughout the building to serve you.

Ocean Prime is an ideal place to socialize, talk business, celebrate and indulge. In this day and age you don’t often see a dress code in place, and I appreciate the fact that Ocean Prime suggests stylish attire.  They let their guests know that jackets and gorgeous high heels always welcome. So please don’t show up in athletic apparel or baseball caps! Dress to impress and the meal will be even more delicious and the evening even more special.

Ocean Prime Orlando can be found at the Rialto at Sand Lake at  7339 West Sand Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32819. You can make reservations by calling (407) 781-4880. Dinner is available Monday – Thursday  5-10pm; Friday – Saturday 5-11pm; Sunday 5pm-close.

The Bistro on Park Avenue – Winter Park’s Hidden Gem

Being a relative newbie to Florida I love exploring and finding new restaurants and destinations throughout the state, and especially Central Florida. Winter Park was one of the first areas that we found shortly after our arrival in Florida and we’ve enjoyed the restaurants and shops on a regular basis.

That’s why I was surprised to find The Bistro on Park Avenue nestled back in a series of walkways that felt like a little slice of Europe. Walking back along the winding pathway that led to the restaurant, the juices were already flowing in anticipation…..sigh. And what I found did not disappoint.

The Bistro on Park Avenue, Winter Park

The dining room is simply gorgeous and has to be one of the more romantic dining rooms in the area.

The Bistro on Park Avenue, Winter Park

They have a very well rounded menu with a mixture of low country and European items like Shrimp and Grits, Wienerschnitzel and Crepes.  They also have a wonderful selection of appetizers, sandwiches and salads. You’ll find something for every appetite on the menu.   I went with one of the nightly specials Gluten Free Shepard’s Pie with Gruyere mashed potatoes and bacon, that Guest Chef Bob Aungst had prepared for the evening.

The Bistro at Park Avenue, Winter Park

I always love to see the chef visiting tables, it’s a nice personal touch that shows you that your patronage is appreciated. One of the owners, Erika Boesch, was also in the dining room making rounds chatting with her guests.  They get bonus points for very good and personalized service at the Bistro.

The Bistro at Park Avenue, Winter Park

My advice when dining at the Bistro on Park Avenue is to always save room for dessert, or maybe two.  All desserts are made in house by Erika and are gluten free with some dairy free options as well. I can personally verify the deliciousness having tried two desserts the night I was there. Pictured above is Key Lime Pie.  It was tart, sweet and oh so creamy. Served with whipped cream, a delightful lime drizzle and homemade vanilla ice cream.

The Bistro at Park Avenue, Winter Park

My second dessert was a Raspberry Breakfast Cake with a Raspberry pulled sugar garnish and homemade vanilla ice cream.  It was good night to be Chef Dennis not only for the good food, but for the good company and the fact that Lisa was very happy with the choice of restaurants for dinner.

The Bistro on Park Avenue is located at 348 North Park Avenue (in the Hidden Garden) in Winter Park.  It offers a variety of dining and entertaining possibilities with three dining rooms including the Atrium, The Chefs Table, Up stairs for private functions, a full bar, and  when weather permits outdoor dining in the Hidden Garden Courtyard.  They offer a happy hour each day from 5 – 7 extended till 10 on Thursdays and Brunch on Saturday and Sunday.  

 

Shake Shack comes to I-Drive 360!

Soon… very soon. Like Wednesday, August 19th at 11am soon!

Speaking of, August has been a very lucky month for Shake Shack in Central Florida. If you haven’t read our first impressions of Shake Shack in Winter Park, go forth!

To have a store at the beWHEELdering I-Drive 360 complex is just… dangerous!

ALL THE FRIES!!!! I digress…

What’s in ‘store’ for us with Shake Shack number two? Two Orlando and I-Drive 360 themed custard concrete flavors and a local pie tie with some South Florida flavor;

  • Orlandough, a salty sweet chocolatey frozen treat with chocolate truffle cookie dough, marshmallow sauce and chocolate covered pretzels
  • Eye Drive, the anything but plain vanilla frozen custard with peanut butter sauce chocolate toffee and chocolate sprinkles
  • Key Lime Pie oh My, blends a slice of P is for Pie‘s classic Key Lime Pie with vanilla frozen custard

Happy times ahead for us as well as our local musical youth, so make sure you try the Eye Drive concrete. Shake Shack’s charitable heart, Stand For Something Good, will donate 5% of every Eye Drive sale to A Gift For Music!

More info from their press release is below:

We’re so thankful for the warm reception and continued support we’ve received from our fans since opening in Winter Park last year,” says Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti, “We’re excited to be a part of the dynamic I-Drive 360 destination and looking forward to this Shack being a part of the community, welcoming Orlando locals and visitors alike.

Situated in the shadow of the impressive Orlando Eye observation wheel, the Shack will be accessible to guests entering from the center’s bustling inner shopping circle or zipping in for a pit stop from International Drive, Orlando’s major thoroughfare. The expansive 50-seat raised open-air patio and recreational space is the perfect hangout spot—fully outfitted with both a shuffleboard and outdoor Bocce Ball court. Let the games begin!

As part of its community outreach efforts and commitment to Stand For Something Good®, the I-Drive Shack will donate 5% of sales from the Eye Drive concrete to A Gift for Music, a local non-profit program helping the Orlando area’s underserved youth reach their personal potential through quality music education.

The I-Drive Shack’s commitment to keep it local even carries over to its beer menu. Diners will be able to wash their burgers and fries down with Florida’s own Orange Blossom BreweryBack in the Day IPA and Cigar City Brewing Florida Cracker White Ale, as well as Shake Shack’s exclusive Brooklyn Brewery ShackMeister® Ale. Wine lovers can enjoy a glass of organic and biodynamic Shack RedTM and Shack WhiteTM wine from Napa-based Frog’s Leap Winery.

As with every Shack, the design is in the details. The walls of the I-Drive Shack are clad in custom wooden wall panels, crafted from hand-axed, salvaged sinker pine from North Florida’s Suwanee River. An expansive, whimsical wall mural by St. Louis-based artist Noah Macmillanstretches the length of the back dining room and gives a subtle, Shack-filled nod to the flora and fauna of Central Florida’s abundant wildlife. In keeping with Shake Shack’s commitment to green architecture and eco-responsibility, energy-efficient kitchen equipment and lighting are employed throughout the space. Chairs and booths are made from lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and tabletops are handcrafted from reclaimed bowling alley lanes by Brooklyn’s CounterEvolution—a longtime Shake Shack partner.

 

About Shake Shack
Shake Shack® is a modern day “roadside” burger stand known for its 100% all-natural, antibiotic-free Angus beef burgers (no hormones added ever), hot dogs, frozen custard, crinkle cut fries, beer and wine (available at select locations), and more. With its fresh, simple, high-quality food at a great value, Shake Shack is a fun and lively community-gathering place with widespread appeal. From its premium ingredients and caring hiring practices to its environmentally responsible designs and deep community investment, Shake Shack’s mission is to Stand For Something Good®. Since the original Shack opened in 2004 in NYC’s Madison Square Park, the company has opened multiple locations in 12 states and the District of Columbia, as well as international locations including in London, Istanbul, Dubai, Moscow and more.

Weekends at Barnie’s

Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen has some exciting things brewing for it’s 35th Anniversary.  The Orlando based coffee house unveiled a re-designed menu which focuses mainly on breakfast and brunch.

Menu highlights include:

IMG_3106 (1)  Shakshuka: a tomato ragout, poached eggs, thyme feta and buttered toast

Avocado Toast: Cilantro, lime, lemon oil, sprouts

Energy Bowl: Acai, almond milk, banana, Greek yogurt, granola

 

 

 

IMG_3107 (1)  Salmon & Bagel: Ducktrap smoked salmon, cream cheese, lemon, dill

Breakfast Panino: fried eggs, bacon, spinach, 2-year cheddar, tomato jam

Anson Mills Oatmeal: stone-cut oats, market berries, flax, maple syrup

 

 

 

IMG_3108  Lamb Meatballs: tomato sauce, goat cheese, salsa verde

Coffee Braised Pulled Pork Sandwich: house-made BBQ sauce, apple-fennel slaw,        bread and butter pickles, medianoche bun

Georgia Peaches salad: smoked salmon, spiced cardamom yogurt, mint, watercress,    pistachio

 

 

Barnie’s is also excited to announce that Blue Bird Bake Shop is their official bakery partner.  An assortment of Blue Bird’s scones, cupcakes, muffins, cookies and cakes will be available at all times.

To celebrate their 35th Anniversary, one classic flavor from the Barnie’s Coffee vault will be brought back and YOU get to decide! Vote for your favorite on the Barnie’s website from the following 4 favorites: Coffee Cake, Decadent Dark Chocolate, Amaretto or Tiramisu.

Not only does this year mark Barnie’s anniversary, but this holiday season marks the 20th anniversary of the ever popular Santa’s White Christmas. Stay tuned, as the season gets closer, celebratory deals, gifts, and events will be announced.

Oh but wait, there’s more! Starting mid-August, Rollins College students, faculty and staff will now receive a 20% discount on all food and beverages (excluding beer and wine).

Of course we can’t forget the coffee! Did you know the pictures that line the walls of the Winter Park location are made using real Barnie’s Coffee? Artist Steven Mikel has created gorgeously detailed monochromatic paintings using nothing but the beverage. He got the idea from seeing a coffee cup stain on a piece of paper!?!

IMG_3104

Barnie’s has extended their weekday hours to 5pm, Friday and Saturday until 8pm and Sunday Brunch (the longest running brunch hours in town) from 7:30am – 6pm.

26th Annual Taste of the Nation for No Kid Hungry sears off tonight!

Central Florida Top 5 Instagram fans, prepare yourselves. No, seriously. You may want to sit down for this.

As you’ve seen, we’ve been quite food heavy recently with the photos, tempting you with tasty goodies from our neighbors. Tonight will be no exception.

An event SO massive, it will be a food coma for your eyeballs (while helping a great cause)!

And if you saw how much fun we had supporting last year’s Taste of the Nation, this year is sure to be even more special!

#OrlTaste #NoKidHungry

Central Florida’s foremost culinary experts will be on deck at Orlando World Center Marriott cooking up their support for No Kid Hungry, a Share Our Strength campaign to end childhood hunger in America.

With a 26 year legacy of combating childhood hunger locally and across the nation, Orlando’s Taste of the Nation has raised millions in critical funds to support children’s nutrition programs provided by local beneficiaries Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, regional beneficiary Florida Impact, and national beneficiary Share Our Strength.

Taste of the Nation 2015

Of the 44 restaurants participating this year, twelve are brand new to the event including; Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, Black Fire Bull, MOOR and Old Hickory Steakhouse at Gaylord Palms Resort, Highball and Harvest at Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes, Itta Bena and Lafayette’s Music Room at Pointe Orlando, Tapa Toro Tapas Bar at I-Drive 360, TR Fire Grill, The Whiskey, Urban Tide Hyatt Regency, and Yak & Yeti at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

On related article about animals, pest control services Carlisle provide expert pest and rodent control on your home. Visit their latest update at www.millerthekiller.com

In preparation for Taste of the Nation 2015, several Central Florida hot spots have stepped up to help our friends and neighbors;

  • World of Beer Dr. Phillips and Downtown Orlando have both been donating a dollar from each pint sold, and will directly benefit our friends at Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida!
  • Eola Wine Company also jumped into help with their Wednesday weekly wine tastings with a $15 donation at the door, also benefitting the Coalition and Second Harvest.
  • In case you can’t make it out to the event, through tonight, Ancient Olive in Winter Park is donating one dollar from each bottle of their ultra-premium extra virgin olive oils, aged balsamic vinegars, and flavor-infused olive oils sold between July 7 and August 8.
  • In July, Hawkers Asian Street Fare in Orlando and Jacksonville started the Roti for a Cause campaign. Guests enjoyed a free round of Hawkers’ signature Malaysian-style flatbread Roti Canai for donating a minimum of $2 on behalf of Share Our Strength’s childhood hunger relief programs which helps people in need locally and across the country. Generous eaters were also entered into a drawing to win tickets to Taste of the Nation, so if you see the winners tonight be sure to thank them and Hawkers for helping our community!

Also new to this year’s event is The Giving Tree, a towering tree that will give participants an opportunity to win a taste of Orlando’s most popular restaurants. For a $50 donation, participants are invited to choose a hanging envelope from the tree; each hanging envelope contains a restaurant gift card ranging from $50 to $200 in value. Not a bad deal!

Make sure to follow along with us on Instagram and Twitter as our Central Florida food femme, Kari, experiences the appetizers, entrees, desserts, spirits, Wine Cellar game and fully automated mobile silent auction featuring signed memorabilia, stays at upscale hotels, dining experiences, rounds of golf on area courses, and exotic adventures and getaways at Taste of the Nation for the first time!

Complete list of restaurants participating: 

1. 4Rivers Smokehouse and The Coop

2. A Land Remembered at Rosen Shingle Creek

3. Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort

4. B Resort and Spa and American Q

5. B.B. King’s Blues Club

6. Black Fire Bull

7. Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine

8. Cafe Tu Tu Tango

9. Cala Bella Restaurant at Rosen Shingle Creek

10. Capa at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

11. The Capital Grille Orlando & Millenia

12. Cress Restaurant

13. Cuba Libre

14. Dragonfly Robata Sushi & Grill

15. Emeril’s Tchoup Chop

16. Empress Sissi Cake & Pastry Specialties

17. Fresh Point

18. Fulton’s Crab House, Downtown Disney

19. Highball and Harvest at Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes

20. Itta Bena

21. JJ’s Grille

22. JW Marriott

23. K Restaurant and Wine Bar

24. Lafayette’s Music Room

25. Marlow’s Tavern

26. MOOR at Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center

27. Old Hickory Steakhouse at Gaylord Palms Resort

28. Opa Orlando

29. Orlando Airport Marriott Lakeside

30. Orlando World Center Marriott

31. Red Wing Restaurant

32. Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld

33. Seasons 52 Fresh Grill

34. SeaWorld Orlando

35. Second Harvest Food Bank -Culinary Training Program

36. Soco Thornton Park

37. Symphony Pastries

38. Tapa Toro Tapas Bar

39. Three2OH Ice Cream

40.TR Fire Grill

41. Universal Orlando Resort

42. Urban Tide Hyatt Regency

43. The Whiskey

44. Yak & Yeti Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

 

Orlando’s Taste of the Nation is presented nationally by Citi and Sysco and sponsored nationally by media sponsor Food Network, and in select markets by Emmi Roth USA, OpenTable, and Kikkoman Sales USA, Inc. Special thanks to local sponsors AmeriFactors, Regions Bank, Darden Restaurants, Quality One Wireless, Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and Heron Lawn and Pest Control, as well as Orkin in Atlanta, GA.

ABOUT ORLANDO’S TASTE OF THE NATION® FOR NO KID HUNGRY

Orlando’s Taste of the Nation® for No Kid Hungry brings together the area’s top chefs who donate their time, talent and passion to end childhood hunger in Central Florida. Along with culinary delights, guests have the opportunity to sample select wines, cocktails and premium beers and enjoy silent and live auctions and entertainment. Every dollar raised fights hunger and homelessness in the Central Florida. Local beneficiaries include Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
ABOUT SHARE OUR STRENGTH

Share Our Strength®, a national nonprofit, is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. Through its No Kid Hungry® campaign—a national effort to end childhood hunger in America—Share Our Strength ensures children in need are enrolled in effective federal nutrition programs; invests in community organizations fighting hunger; teaches families how to cook healthy, affordable meals; and builds public-private partnerships to end childhood hunger, at the state and city level. Working closely with the culinary industry and relying on the strength of its volunteers, Share Our Strength hosts innovative culinary fundraising events and develops pioneering cause online marketing campaigns from Nelson Marketing that support No Kid Hungry.

Dragonfly: Summer Omakase Menu

omakase

 

Dragonfly, located in the Dr. Phillips/Restaurant Row area, has released their Summer Omakase menu featuring special chef-curated items, based on the season’s finest ingredients.  I had the pleasure of sampling each of the items, including 2 specialty seasonal cocktails.  Now, if you’re like me, you enjoy sushi, but the thought of leaving your meal selection entirely up to the chef is enough to make you a little…nervous.  Sitting down to this evening’s dinner I had no idea what to expect. My best guess was somewhere between a California Roll and something, that if not prepared correctly, could facilitate my demise.

To prepare myself for the feast, I selected 2 of the Summer drink specials: A Shade of Blackberry (Hatsumago kimoto sake, blackberry gastrique, ginger syrup) & the Sake Sangria (Junmai Sake, peach liqueur, lillet blanc, fernet branca, yuzu juice).  Each were strong, yet flavorful – the blackberry was by far my favorite and also among my dining companions.

1438142554The first course was the Summer Chilled Ramen (English cucumber, daikon, heirloom tomatoes, pickled Shishito, snow crab, sesame vinegar dressing).

 

Even though this was only the first course, I could have just sat with a giant bowl of this and have been perfectly happy. My favorite was the pickled Shishito peppers – sweet and tangy, and a delightful compliment to the sesame vinegar in the chilled broth.

 

 

1438138027Luckily, I didn’t stop at just the first course because the second was just as delicious. Robata Bronzino (ginger scallion pesto, bonito citrus soy).

 

 

The fish was perfectly crisped on the robata grill and the bonito flakes danced with the rising heat (no really – they flutter and dance! Dinner and a show!)

 

 

1438144034Next up was a selection of sushi rolls – their Natsu Roll -left-(Katsu shrimp, goat cheese, cucumber, fresh jalapenos, avocado, snow crab, red onions, mango, tomato and pepper relish) – I loved the contrast of the jalapenos and mango. The goat cheese was a surprise and if I wasn’t told that it was goat cheese, I wouldn’t have known – the flavors in the roll really mellowed out the bite that goat cheese can sometimes have.

Shogun Roll – top – (snow crab, cucumber, cabbage, jalapeno, avocado, torched tuna, fried Enoki, mornay sauce)

Satori Roll – bottom – (snow crab delight, scallion, green & red bell pepper, cilantro, avocado, yellowtail, garlic chips, jalapeno garlic sauce)

 

1438137914Fourth up is what they’re calling the Quick Fire – 4 pieces of composed nigiri with special chef toppings. This can change nightly, according to what’s freshest. This evening we had Salmon topped with tomago (sweet egg), white fish topped with a jalapeno relish, tuna with guacamole, and octopus garnished with cilantro.

 

I trusted my chef with this one and tried octopus for the first time. To my delight, I really liked it! It wasn’t fishy at all – it had a chewy texture, but not tough or rubbery. The cilantro added a nice bright note. I’ll definitely be having it again.

 

 

1438138288A light Matcha Cake ended the meal. The green tea pound cake was atop an Azuki bean mousse and drizzled with blueberry sake preserves and dotted with fresh blueberries.

 

By this time, I was very full. Much to my relief, the dessert wasn’t too sweet or heavy. The texture of the cake was dense yet soft and had the earthiness of green tea, while the azuki bean mousse provided just enough sweetness.

 

 

The Summer Omakase menu is only here for a limited time and can vary nightly.  In the spirit of ‘omakase’, you are to trust the chef, or leave it in their hands – for the adventurous, this can be just the thing you’re looking for – for those who are not so adventurous, this can be just the thing to break you out of your comfort zone.  The chefs at Dragonfly won’t steer you wrong!

 

20 New Items on the Enzian & Eden Bar Menu

Enzian and Eden Bar have added twenty new food items to their existing menus, and as long as there are still truffle fries to be had, we’re supportive and pumped to try the new dishes.

“We are excited to provide new food items for our guests and the new items offer a broad range of delicious and affordable dishes,” said Veronica Jaramillo, Food & Beverage Manager. “We always aim to locally source our ingredients and make everything in-house, which is what we’ve done with these new items.”

So, head over to the Enzian to see “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” then check their calendar and pencil a few more films into your schedule (“The Human Centipede III,” anyone!? Maybe “Annie” is more your speed…), then make a few dates to meet at Eden Bar so you can try all of the new offerings. Appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, main courses and desserts are all getting an update.

We’ve got the scoop on all of the new items for you, so you can plan ahead. It’s hard to decide what to eat under the pressure of the lights dimming in the theatre. Enjoy!

APPETIZERS:

Pickled Beet Hummus

Pickled Beet Hummus

Cream Cheese Stuffed Pretzels – Served with spicy mustard and raspberry sauce (or nacho cheese sauce for a little extra)

Pickled Beet Hummus  – Topped with bleu cheese crumbles & pine nuts, served with pita

Fried Oysters – Breaded and fried served with sweet and spicy sauce, tartar sauce, and hot sauce

 

 

SALADS:
Turkey Artichoke Salad – Spring mix, sliced turkey, pine nuts, black olives, banana peppers, marinated artichokes, smoked gouda, basil, & grape tomatoes, served with oil and red wine vinegar

Beef Taco Salad – Mixed greens, beef chili, black beans, grapes tomatoes, mixed cheese, salsa, & sour cream, served in a crispy tortilla shell

Margarita Shrimp Salad – Mixed greens, margarita shrimp, Monterey jack cheese, grape tomatoes, red onion, & cilantro lime vinaigrette served in a crispy tortilla shell

 

SANDWICHES:

Turkey Club B.L.T – Sliced turkey, smoked gouda, Applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, & pepper mayo served on Texas toast

Pecan Chicken Wrap – Fried chicken, smoked gouda, peach glaze, lettuce, tomatoes

Country Beef – Roast beef, caramelized onions, basil roasted tomatoes, thousand island, & coleslaw, served on a butter roll

Braised Pork and Slaw Sandwich

Jalapeno Tuna Melt – Tuna salad & pepper jack served on jalapeno cheddar bread

Braised Pork & Slaw – Palmetto Creek Farms pork, coleslaw, & BBQ on ciabatta

Oyster & Shrimp Shorty – Fried oysters, & shrimp, lettuce, tomato, & sweet and spicy sauce

Herbivore – Button mushrooms, spinach, red pepper, basil aioli, Swiss, 3-year aged cheddar, & pepper mayo

 

PIZZAS:

Antipasto – Banana peppers, black olives, artichoke hearts, red peppers, salami, balsamic glaze, mozzarella, provolone, & marinara

Chicken Bacon Ranch – Marinated chicken, alfredo sauce, ranch dressing, bacon, diced tomatoes, mozzarella, & provolone
ENTREES:

Blackened Mahi Tacos – Served on corn tortillas with coleslaw, & avocado, with beans, & rice

Steak Diane – Sliced steak topped with mushroom & onion gravy, served potatoes au gratin and broccoli

 

DESSERTS:

Raspberry Beignets

Raspberry Beignets

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwich – Peanut butter ice cream served between chocolate chip cookies dipped in chocolate

White Chocolate Bread Pudding – Served with bourbon cream sauce

Raspberry Beignets – Dusted with powdered sugar, & drizzled with raspberry sauce

 

 

 

Enzian is Central Florida’s only full-time, not-for-profit cinema for first-run independent and international film, classic revivals, documentary features, and select family entertainment. Enzian, a member-supported organization serving the community for more than 30 years, is home to the Florida Film Festival and Eden Bar. For additional information, visit Enzian.org or call general information at (407) 629-1088.

Photos by Andres Casallas

Orlando – Please Don’t Redefine Us

Lately I’ve been reading numerous articles by extremely passionate Orlando-area citizens, who declare their love for the City Beautiful. They write about the thriving literary community, the bursting tech industry, the outstanding colleges and universities, and even the highly touted food and art scene.

And in nearly every article, each well-meaning writer relates angry disgust that media outlets from across the nation are just now discovering that Orlando isn’t a “cultural wasteland” after all. And as a by-product of that anger, every writer then wants to redefine who we are or wants to describe Orlando as having a rebirth. (As if all our greatness had disappeared until just recently!)

Perhaps this common theme of needing to redefine what Orlando is comes from the fact that most of these writers start their articles by explaining they moved to Central Florida “several years ago” for school or work or to retire. And like many, they didn’t expect to fall in love with the City and were thrilled to see how much it had to offer in the aforementioned literary, arts, food, tech et al. (How ironic they now take exception to the fact that outsiders don’t also know this.) These writers say, “You don’t know the real Orlando. We’re not just Disney.”

While I certainly appreciate these eager citizens wanting to tout how wonderful our area is, I find myself bristling at the term “redefining” because feels like we weren’t good enough before these people arrived in Central Florida and decided to give us a new definition.

You see, I was born and raised here, just like my mother was, and just like my grandmother was back in the 1800s. There are a number of us here, actually, native Central Floridians that have always known what Orlando is and don’t need new arrivals to suddenly tell us what we are and what we have.

We’ve Always Had a Literary Scene

Yes, even before Jack Kerouac.

Back in 1926 Rollins College began the Animated Magazine. Since paper and printing supplies were still in somewhat short supply due to the fairly recent first World War, then-college President Hamilton Holt decided that the articles should be read aloud on stage instead of printed. This turned into an annual event that used to draw thousands. In the crowd sat dignitaries from around the world, including Secretaries of State and even former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Animated Magazine - Rollins College

Animated Magazine – Rollins College

The Animated Magazine lives on today, under the tutelage of editors like U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, and has helped bring about the annual Winter with the Writers, which is where I got to see Maya Angelou when she visited back in 2007.

With the Orlando Public Library opening in 1923, and the Zora Neale Hurston Festival operating for nearly 30 years now, this is just further evidence the literary scene is not having a rebirth but has quietly been here all along.

We’ve Always Had an Art Scene

One of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most prestigious art festivals happens right here at the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. The Orlando Museum of Art was established in 1924, the Maitland Art Center in 1937, and we’ve had the Crealde School of Art and Jamali for over 40 years now. Add in the Polasek Museum and the world’s largest collection of Tiffany glass at the Morse Museum, and we’re doing just fine.

Albin Polasek

Albin Polasek

Famed actor Buddy Epsen’s father started the Central Florida Ballet Company in 1945. “I dared not start a ballet company here in Orlando because the idea seemed hopeless,” Epsen was quoted as saying. “Now there are several companies throughout Florida.” Epsen’s company was later taken over by Edith Royal, whose “Ballet Royal” supplied generations of dancers to the great stages of the world.

And even earlier, Ruth Pounds started a dance school in 1935, which taught both my mother and then me how to dance, sit, curtsy, and all the etiquette required of a cultured young adult.

The area has always had beautiful architecture thanks to those like Gamble Rogers, II, who helped create the beauty that attracted leading artists, business tycoons, and top politicians to settle in the area.

When President Dwight Eisenhower dedicated the opening of the basement radio station at Rollins College (still one of the longest-running basement radios in the country), we made indie radio hip long before we made boy bands hip in the 1990s.

We’ve Always Had a Tech Scene

Lockheed Martin opened its doors in 1956. (My mother worked there afternoons in high school!) Shortly thereafter, the Kennedy Space Center was built nearby to oversee the Apollo missions. We watched those missions, and later those of the Space Shuttle, right from our backyards – and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t get much cooler than that!

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center

Thankfully this tech industry also had a need for engineers; thus UCF was founded in 1963 and has grown into one of the largest universities in the nation. Add in the innovations of Walt Disney in the 70s, and then Full Sail University in the 80s, and yep, we’ve always had a tech scene.

We’ve Always Had a Food Scene

Food trucks did not make the food hip in this city.

We’ve always had great food, ranging from Dixie Crossroads and La Cantina to Le Cordon Bleu and Gary’s Duck Inn. From the 94th Aero Squadron, which served incredible food since World War I, to Ronnie’s Diner which opened in 1956, Orlando always had talked-about food. The fact that the establishments serving that food is changing, doesn’t mean there weren’t great restaurants before the new ones arrived.

Ronnie's Diner

Ronnie’s Diner

With T.G. Lee Dairy and the many orange groves, we’ve always been farm-to-table. And when you add in Publix (founded in 1930), we were doing just fine long before this so-called rebirth.

We’re Growing, Not Rebirthing

Yes, it is an exciting time to be in Orlando. We are growing in many different, wonderful ways. Newcomers are bringing great assets, and companies are setting up roots and investing here. With strong leadership we will continue to flourish.

And while I admire the zeal these newcomers use to tell the rest of the world how great Orlando is, please don’t act like this is a new development in Orlando’s history. Don’t call it a rebirth or try to redefine it.

We are who we are, and always have been.

We don’t want to be New York, San Francisco, or even Austin. We want to be who and what we already are. We’re orange groves and Disney. We’re tech and and old-fashioned books. We’re art and great food.

But, we’re not the best thing since sliced bread… we were cool long before that hit the world back in 1930!

This guest post was written by Bess Auer, fourth generation Floridian and the first editor of the Central Florida Top 5. You can connect with her on Twitter at @Bess_Auer.

Science of Wine at the Orlando Science Center

This past weekend, I had the extreme pleasure of attending the 5th Annual Science of Wine event at the Orlando Science Center. Science? Wine? Food? Dinosaurs?!?! Yes please! Your all inclusive ticket grants the ability to sample over 150 wines from all major wine producing regions along with tapas sized food offerings from local restaurants and caterers.

The entire 4th floor of Orlando Science Center was full of tables overflowing with multiple bottles of wine (over 150 they say – I’ll take their word for it, because it was overwhelming!) and displays of cascading nosh ranging from BBQ to seared scallops, burgers to pork belly bao, and paella to cupcakes.

 

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Sakes and Plum wines from Gekkeikan

Want a little more science to go with your wine? The Wine Education seminar which teaches about the unique wine regions of the world might have been up your alley. Or maybe you’re curious as to the affects of weather on your favorite vineyard? WFTV Channel 9’s own Meteorologist George Waldenberger was on hand with the assistance of a motion sensored projection globe. Personally, I enjoyed conducting my own science experiments such as which goes better with brisket – Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon?

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Food is the control – wine is the variable

 

Oh but wait, there’s more! Maybe you’re not satisfied with eating and drinking until your heart’s content, specially since we know you have contacted the team at https://www.leyba-defense.com/possible-false-positives-when-using-an-ignition-interlock-device/ for several dui problems in the past, it is better to keep the drinking aside. The Science of Wine has you covered there too. Pianist Lynn Peghiny filled the room with classical music while aerialists spun from long silks overhead. There was a corner turned art studio where you could create your own masterpiece and a table where the ‘King of Cigars’ was hand rolling his namesake for patrons to puff on.

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Are you not entertained?!?

The night also featured a silent auction. Bids were placed on theme park tickets, hotel stays and a weekend getaway to the Big Apple. Those who were more interested in winning a prize with skill could try their hand at the Wine Toss, by tossing rings, carnie style, over bottles of wine for prizes or guessing the number of corks it took to fill the large glass container. The correct guess won 2 tickets to the upcoming Neanderthal Ball on November 7th.

Overall the Science of Wine had a little something for everyone and every palate. For less than the price of a theme park ticket, this is my kind of thrill ride – no fast pass needed.

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Take me home! And so I did

Oblivion Taproom: Star Wars Day Event

Oblivion Star Wars

Photo Credit: Oblivion Taproom Facebook Page

May the 4th be with you and all of us!

Sure, you’ve been to Oblivion Taproom and enjoyed their creative menu of burgers, mounds of flavor topped tots and mouthwatering smoked wings – but have you been to one of their themed events? If not, you’re truly missing out on what Oblivion is capable of!

Their most recent event was this year’s annual Star Wars ‘May the  4th 3rd Be With You’ (May 4th falls on a Monday this year and Oblivion is closed on Mondays – hence the 3rd).  Not only did they have a themed menu of food and drink specials for this event, there were decorations, the movies playing on various screens (and on their new wall sized projection screen!), vendors selling Star Wars themed merchandise and memorabilia, face painting, photo backdrops and a costume contest (oh my!). Even the staff got involved by dressing up. The local 501st Legion also appeared for photo ops.

501st Legion

501st Legion

 

Of course the real stars here are the specials and the hungry hoards that have filled the place shortly after opening, know it. I embraced my inner Sith and ordered the Dark Side Burger (House burger patty served open faced on garlic toast, topped with french fries, bacon gravy and house beer cheese sauce) and a pint of Endor (Hinterland Luno Coffee Stout NITRO infused with white chocolate). I was mistakenly offered a side with my burger (a side was not offered with this entree as it’s covered in fries), however my chosen garlic parmesan tater tots arrived along for the ride.

Dark Side Burger

Dark Side Burger

The Dark Side Burger may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid, and that’s in flavor. The patty was cooked perfectly to a nice medium rare which allowed the bed of garlic toast to soak up the delicious juices. Oblivion’s bacon gravy, while not a usual topping on the menu (it makes special appearances at events and brunches) was much thinner than I’ve had in the past. This may be due to the addition of the beer cheese sauce. The two blended together to cloak the crispy fries in cheesy, bacon-y goodness…I mean evilness (it is a dark side burger after all). Served open faced, I had no choice but to use the forks to defeat this Empire of gluttony.

The next themed event on the Oblivion calendar is the Ghostbusters Brunch on May 17th followed by Batman’s Superhero Birthday Party on May 23rd. Check out their Facebook page for more details.

Swine & Sons Opens April 3 in Winter Park

If you like food even a little bit and live near Orlando, you’re likely aware of the popular restaurant, The Ravenous Pig and its sister concept around the corner, Cask & Larder. It’s arguable that The Ravenous Pig set the stage for the surge of foodie-friendly locations popping up around Central Florida since they opened in 2007. Chef owners James and Julie Petrakis found further success in Cask & Larder a few years later, and now, the James Beard-nominated husband/wife team is bringing a new takeout concept to Central Florida.

The Swine & Sons website promises “the store will specialize in takeout charcuterie, butcher sandwiches, seasonally inspired homemade ice creams, signature spices and rubs, scratch-made biscuits, daily pastry offerings and more. Swine & Sons will also offer growlers of beer sourced from Cask & Larder’s Brewery. Favorites from The Brewery, including the Red Drum, IPA and Wit varietals will be available, along with a handpicked selection of boutique wines.”

The new takeout location is adjacent to Cask & Larder at 595 West Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park and is promised as a riff off of both Cask & Larder’s elevated southern cuisine and The Ravenous Pig’s innovative, modern dining.

Our mouths are already watering thinking about lunch menu items like the ribeye hotdog or pimento grilled cheese. You’ll also be able to pick up dinner to go – a weekly “Blue Pig Special” menu will be updated weekly on Swine & Sons’ website and feature new dishes as well as popular items from Cask & Larder and The Ravenous Pig including buttermilk fried chicken and smoked brisket.

Shall we start a line outside the building now?

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(Photo from Swine & Sons email announcement)

To wash down your meal, pick up a 32-ounce growler of beer from Cask & Larder’s acclaimed brewery and either take it home or kick back and enjoy it right there in the store. Popular beer varieties including Cask & Larder’s Red Drum, Lone Palm Gold and Olde Southern Wit will be offered, along with Swine Family Wine.

The Petrakis team has seemingly given the people of Central Florida what they wanted, maybe before they even knew they wanted it. They have a knack for assembling exciting menus featuring seasonal, local food and serving it up in a place where we want to spend time with friends, so we’re expecting more of the same in this new concept.

Will there be a line out the door? We’d bet on it. And we’ll gladly wait in it.