Authors Posts by Katherine Nguyen

Katherine Nguyen

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Katherine Nguyen is currently a Dental Hygiene student at Valencia College. She has a major in Molecular Biology and Microbiology and minoring in Health Service Administration from the University of Central Florida. She enjoyed playing soccer and was captain of an intramural team for 4 years at UCF. Photography is her favorite hobby since 2008; she is very diverse in the field, but her favorite sub-fields are portraits, culinary and maternity photography. In her free time, she tutors students from elementary to college level as well as volunteers at Camp Boggy Creek in Eustis, FL. Link: Katherine Nguyen Photography

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One of the world’s tastiest holiday traditions will receive a “Florida-style” twist with the debate of a limited time only “Feast of the Seven Fishes” menu at Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen + Bar. This menu is offered from December 24, 2017 to January 6, 2018, including a seven-course seafood and wine Christmas Eve extravaganza to kickoff the celebration.

The December 24 dinner will begin at 6:30pm and is limited to the first 25 guests. We were invited to taste the menu as a sneak peak to provide everyone insight of what is to come!

The Bahamian Conch Fritters are served with a mango sauce. The mango glaze adds a nice sweetness to the conch fritters. Conch fritters are crispy, yet smooth in textures. The flavors are mild without the mango sauce.

The Red Grouper Ceviche is fresh and cooked nicely with a lemony zest.

The Smoked Rainbow Trout Fish Dip is a tad salty, but balanced when eaten with some saltine crackers. The trout has a texture similar to tuna. Be careful as it may have bones.

The reception snacks above are paired well with Col De Salici Extra Dry Prosecco, which is a vintage Prosecco.

The Mayport Shrimp on Grit Cake with Seafood Gumbo Sauce was cooked really well. The grit cake is crispy on the outside, while smooth and creamy on the inside. The shrimp was caught off of Jacksonville, FL.

The Nueske’s Applewood Smoke Bacon-Wrapped Scallop with Butter Beans has an abundance of textures and flavors that blend well when eaten all together. When taken apart, the bacon may be salty so make sure you’re eating it with the scallop and butter beans. The scallop is very delightful and cooked well. The butter beans were very smooth and a type of bean I would like for someone who is not fond of beans.

The savory and salty plates are paired with the Stags Leap Wine Cellars Aveta Sauvignon Blanc. It is very smooth with so many notes of fruit. The fruit notes are prominent in smell before it hits your palate.

The Whole Fried Hog Snapper and Black Sea Bass with Smothered Tomatoes & Okra is paired with Spatz & Hall Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast.

  • The Fried Hog Snapper is very fresh with a corn flour seasoning. The meat has a slight sweetness to it.
  • The Black Sea Bass is slightly dry in certain sections, but very tender and moist in other regions because the moistness depends on what area you pull the meat from. Nonetheless, the fish is very fresh! The outside is very crisp and flavorful.

The Lobster Ravioli is very fresh and house made. It is served with a Seafood Bolognese Sauce that brings it all together. The lobster ravioli even tastes great alone without the sauce if you are sensitive to red sauce. It is paired with Stags Leap Wine Cellars Hands of Time Red that is full in flavor.

The oyster of the Gulf Oyster Shooters (featuring Tito’s Vodka) is very fresh. There is a rim of Old Bay around the glass that goes well with the shot. It is absolutely earthy as it is suggested by the menu.

The Famous Carrot Cake is famous for a reason as it is moist and has a chewy texture to it, which is delightful in my opinion.

The Red Velvet Layer Cake is very moist and thick as it coats the palate. The cakes are paired with the Prunotto Moscato D’ Asti. The Prunotto Moscato D’ Asti is very smooth and delightful for a dessert wine as I am not usually fond os sweet wines. This dessert wines is not as sweet as the usual dessert wines that are paired.

For more information, please visit Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen + Bar or their “Feast of the Seven Fishes” Facebook Event.

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Wall St. Plaza Cantina brings a new Feliz Hour taco menu with new tacos and deals you can only get on Tuesdays between 2-7pm. We were invited to try each as well as Terremoto’s new tequila.

The tacos can be served on soft white flour, white corn tortilla, or hard yellow corn shells. The white corn tortilla is a tad dry for my fancy, but the hard yellow corn shell was good. Yet, our favorite has to be the soft white flour tortilla.

  • Taco de Pescado (back left) – white fish grilled “a la plancha” and topped with shredded cabbage and cilantro cream. The grilled fish is tender and has a good kind of unique taste.
  • $2 Tuesday Taco (back center) – choose ground beef or shredded chicken. In this case, we tried the ground beef. It’s a traditional taco of Wall St. Plaza Cantina on a hard yellow corn shell with shredded iceberg lettuce as well as topped with Monterrey and cheddar cheese. It is simplistic, yet delicious.
  • Pollo Frito (back right) – fried chicken strips tossed in a house honey chipotle sauce before being topped with shredded cabbage and cilantro crema. This was my favorite taco of the night. Sweet with a slight hot kick to the end. The chicken has a crispy coating from being fried; yet, it does not heat up the cabbage and cilantro crema, which makes me very happy for it not to do because the cabbage and cilantro crema adds a fresh touch to the taco.
  • Tico Taco (front center) – house braised, shredded pork with onions, cilantro on a white corn tortilla and a signature tico sauce. The shredded pork is slightly dry,  but the flavors are nice. The onions add a nice crunchy texture to this dish.

Terremoto was present with their jalapeño lime infused tequila as well as their churro infused tequila. You can have them in a margarita form or shot form. Both are tasty depending on your mood!

For more information, please visit Taco Tuesday.

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On Monday, Dec. 11, K Restaurant launched their first, monthly, Yappy Hour. To inaugurate this series of tail-wagging fun they have partnered with Woof Orlando from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Orlando locals are invited to bring their furry four-legged friends out and enjoy free spent-grain dog treats made from local breweries and enter-to-win two raffles with prizes including gift certificates for a free grooming.

We were able to experience what “Doggie chaperones” can expect when it comes to tongue-in-cheek Yappy Hour dishes from Chef Ryan McLaughlin as well as drink specials as K Restaurant is excited to share that they just received their full liquor license.

Crispy Pig Ears are fried with dates pepper hot sauce and herbs. The pig ears are sliced thinly to make them crispy like a chip. They are lightly salted and delicious with or without the hot sauce. Be careful, the hot sauce is thick and has a major kick to it.

“Pawsta” is fried ravioli with ricotta filling. Served on marinara with pecorino cheese and herbs. The fried version of ravioli is very airy like a puff pastry. Each ingredient subtly blends well together upon the palate.

“Milk Bones” are veal bone marrow bones with charred bread and radishes. The bone marrow is very smooth and works well with the bread and radishes. The charred bread adds a saltiness to each bite. We almost ordered a second round of this dish!

The Cosmo-paw-litan (left) is made with vodka, orange shrubb, lime, and cranberry juice. A simple drink to socialize with. The Snoop Dog (right) was our favorite out of these two. The Snoop Dog is made with gin and pineapple juice; it is like a tropical version of a Screwdriver.

Since we were still slightly hungry after all the samplings, we ordered the Ricotta Gnocchi off the main menu, which changes up from time to time so you can come back to try new items all the time. The Ricotta Gnocchi is made with duck confit, butternut squash, garden greens, brussel sprouts, and sage veloute. Everything is made in-house and as fresh as possible for each order. Our specific plate was a tad more salty than I would prefer, but the dish is still delicious nonetheless.

The Ricotta Gnocchi was paired nicely with a 2014 Carmenere made in Valle Del Maule, Chile. This wine has a smooth and solid flavor with notes of spices, black cherry and blackberries.

For more information, visit the K Restaurant & Wine Bar Event Page.

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We may have found our new favorite hang out location. Orange County Brewers open industrial design features exposed brick walls, wood accents, a beautiful Florida-themed mural and customized ceiling design, long tables/group interior seating and outdoor seating via patios in the front and rear of the brewery.

Inside or out, it is pet friendly so bring your furry four-legged puppers!

In addition to regular food and drink service, OCB will offer tours, and Brewmaster Amanda will organize multiple group activities that will involve education for anyone who would like to learn more about beer. OCB beers will also be distributed via City Beverages.

Led by Head Brewer Amanda Roberts, the brightly-colored, 3,400 square-foot facility located on the corner of Orange Avenue and Jefferson Street, will brew a variety of different styles of beer, including Ales, Lagers, Pilsner, Stouts, IPAs, Hefeweizen and Porters.

Whether you are a beer lover or not, you’ll end up finding a beer at OCB that you will love with the help of Amanda and her beer-loving family. Order a flight to try a number of beers or go big with a full glass! Also, OCB offer a wide selection of wine if that tickles your fancy.

Orange County Brewers will include a full service craft pizza kitchen with a wood-burning oven called “Orlando Pizza and Wing Co.” serving pizza, wings, salads and sandwiches.

These wings…are brilliant. From the time OCB open, they start to smoke their wings. The skin is wonderfully crispy while the meat is tender and juicy.

Try the wings with some sauces. Our favorite sauces include: Classic Buffalo, Strawberry Jalapeño and Pineapple Habanero. The Classic Buffalo is our #1 choice; keep in mind that not all buffalo sauces are delicious, but this is excellent. The Strawberry Jalapeño is very fresh and we believe it will taste great with salads too. The Pineapple Habanero is unique and delicious with a slight kick at the end.

The Mac & Cheese Pizza is creamy and savory. with a chewy, yet crispy crust. It was the first time I tried a Mac & Cheese Pizza and this was not a let down.

The Tree Hugger Pizza is full of flavors and textures. The goat cheese makes the pizza different from others and it is quite different. This is a healthier choice when choosing a pizza.

Orange County Brewers is located at 131 North Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801.

Hours of Operation

  • Sunday thru Wednesday 11:30am-12am
  • Thursday thru Saturday 11:30am-2am

Happy Hour

  • 4pm-7pm

For more information, call 407-914-2831 or visit www.theocbrewers.com and www.facebook.com/orangecountybrewers.

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Join Bahama Breeze Island Grille for Thanksgiving Dinner. It is the first time where select Bahama Breeze locations in the Central Florida area will be open on Thanksgiving for guests to enjoy an exclusive, one-day only Thanksgiving menu 11am to 11pm.

Of course, we were given a preview to give you an insight on what is served. As we waited for our Thanksgiving Dinner, we had a Jumbo Lump Crab Stack to lead up to the entrée. It consisted of premium jumbo lump crabmeat stacked high with chilled shrimp, avocado and fresh mango. Each ingredient was fresh and abundant to share between two.

The Bahama Breeze Thanksgiving Dinner includes sliced jerk turkey and pork with island-inspired sides. These sides were cornbread stuffing, cranberry-pineapple chutney and guest’s choice of mashed potatoes or cinnamon mashed sweet potatoes.

The meats were seasoned well, while others may believe it is a bit over salted. The gravy was delicious and broth-based. The cornbread stuffing is rich and savory with each bite. The garlic mashed potatoes are delicious, but I fancy the cinnamon mashed sweet potatoes (as seen in the corner of this photograph).

When you think you’re done, Bahama Breeze also has a Pumpkin Praline Pie. It is a pumpkin pie with a crunchy praline topping, served with whipped cream and cinnamon as well as a pudding-like consistency of sauce. The sauce is subtle and delicious when combined with the pie. The pie is delightful and a traditional end to a Thanksgiving dinner.

Little do you know, the pie was not the end for us. We ordered The Rum Raid, which is a featured and limited addition to the menu. It is great for parties of at least two people. It is considered to be the “Ultimate island experience” with 8 rum-filled drinks of the Caribbean.

Shipwrecked (blue drink in the back) and One Love (with the green pineapple stirrer in the former photograph) are two of our absolute favorites from The Rum Raid. Drinking these made us feel as if we were laying somewhere on a beautiful beach with absolutely no worries on our minds.

Another featured and limited time cocktail is the Coquito, which is a Puerto Rican holiday favorite. It is rich, creamy and rum-spiked. It is made with Silver Rum, Coco Lopez and sweet milk topped with ground cinnamon. This creamy cocktail is found in a different category of favorites as the texture is different from the cocktails of The Rum Raid.

For more information, please visit Thanksgiving Dinner at Bahama Breeze Island Grille.

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We were invited to the recent Chef’s Night event on Oct 18, 2017 at Second Harvest Food Bank. It was a mashup of 4 chefs, with Jim Colbert of PrimeTime Kitchen taking the lead.

Friends that accompanied Jim included Chef Tello Luna from Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill, Chef Bryan Thoman from Canvas Restaurant & Market, and Chef Bruno Fonseca from Millenia 106 Restaurant. Here, they all join in the photo with the Second Harvest Food Bank culinary team.

Hors d’oeuvres were the focus of Chef Tello Luna and paired with

  • Mexican Shrimp Cocktail – poached shrimp, spiced tomato juice, cilantro, onion, and jalapeño.
  • Smoked Salmon Cucumber Cup – Atlantic salmon, cream cheese, and lemon juice. A cup a bite; very smooth and fresh.

The appetizer was made by Chef Bryan Thoman’s team.

Chef Bryan’s Wagyu Beef Cheek Tamale with Kombuca Squash Puree and Mole Negro had great flavors that blended well on your palate. The tamale is very soft and the beef is very tender. The garnish added a fresh feel to bring the dish together.

Chef Bruno Fonseca created the Mahi Crudo with carrot ginger sauce, cashews, carrot, and a pickled mushroom salad.. The Mahi itself was cured in coconut milk. This dish was paired with Snowbirds, Gruner Veltliner, Lake Chelan, Washington, 2016. This white wine is very smooth and fitting for the dish. Good choice.

The Mahi was fresh, but some bites were a little fishy from a sauce. The coconut milk was very subtle. The pickled salad blends well with the fish. My favorite was the delicious carrot ginger sauce.

 

Jim Colbert created a Braised Short Rib, Smoked Gouda Risotto with garden peas, asparagus tips, and honey crisp carrots. It was paired with Quantum Leap, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon.

The tender braised short rib was full of flavor. The risotto was creamy and smooth, while the carrots were soft with a pop of sweetness from the honey.

Back at it again, Chef Tello Luna closes the show with a Chocolate Torte with Pecan ice Cream and Orange Vanilla Sauce. I can tell you now, the man knows his desserts!

In the kitchen, the chefs work side by side with the Second Harvest Food Bank team to bring a delicious menu alive from beginning to end.

The chocolate torte was very thick and coats the palate well – my kind of dessert. The strawberries and orange vanilla sauce adds a twist to the chocolate cake. I can’t stress enough how this was the best dessert I have had in a long time.

The dessert was paired with a Quantum Leap, Kaley’s Rescue Red, Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington, 2014.

As the chefs and Second Harvest Food Bank culinary team work together. They enjoy some nice tunes by KitchenKillaz.

Sous Chef John Dizon of Second Harvest Food Bank even stopped by and spoke on Facebook Live posted by KitchenKillaz.

Here are more shots of the event behind the scenes for your enjoyment.

While you wait for the next Chef’s Night, take part with us in Scouting for Food. On Saturday, November 11, 2017, Central Florida Boy Scouts of America will once again be collecting food for our hungry neighbors. Last year, our community helped provide over 96,000 pounds of food for our neighbors in need. For more information, check out Second Harvest Food Bank’s Scouting for Food.

Scout for food Nov 11

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Texas de Brazil is an authentic churrascaria featuring a continuous dining experience that blends the unique culture of Brazil with the generous hospitality of Texas. Founded as a family-owned business in 1998, Texas de Brazil now has 53 domestic and international locations.

The menu features a vast selection of grilled meats, a 50-item salad area and a la carte dessert selections.

Warm sides include baked cinnamon bananas, which taste like warm apple pie.

The pork parmesan is cooked well and has a nice flavor. In my opinion, the chicken parmesan is more salty than the pork.

The bacon wrapped chicken is cooked well as the bacon is crispy, while the chicken is tender. The fattiness of the bacon adds flavor and juices to the chicken.

Filet mignon wrapped in bacon has a nice texture all around, but the bacon makes this item super salty.

The garlic picanha has a nice crispy coat with a tender center.

The lamb shank is gamey when the outer layer is received. It is a different flavor from an inner layer cut, which tastes more mineral-like.

Filet mignon plain without bacon has great flavors and you can taste the smokiness.

The plain filet mignon is my absolute favorite dish at Texas de Brazil and would come back for this alone.

The Brazilian sausages had flavors similar to a New Orleans flavor. There were notes of salt, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes evenly blended.

The service at the Orlando Texas de Brazil was lovely as everyone was friendly and attentive. The servers make sure you enjoy the dishes cooked to your desired preference with how well you prefer your meats to be cooked. Everyone had a lighthearted smile and acted as a family at Texas de Brazil.

For more information to plan your visit, please check out the Texas de Brazil website: http://www.texasdebrazil.com.

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Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is bringing back its popular fall treat, the Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed® doughnut, for a limited time in October, answering customers’ calls for more opportunities to enjoy this delicious fall indulgence.

  • On Friday, October 13 and 20, the Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed® doughnut will be available only after 6 p.m. for “Friday Night Spice.”
  • On Thursday, October 26, customers can enjoy the Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed® doughnut all day in celebration of National Pumpkin Day at participating Krispy Kreme shops across Central Florida:
    • Krispy Kreme Daytona Beach – Open 24 Hours
      • 980 W International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL 32114
    • Krispy Kreme Winter Park – Drive thru Open 24 Hours
      • 1031 S. Orlando Avenue (17-92), Winter Park, FL  32789
    • Krispy Kreme Millenia – Open 24 Hours
      • 4080 Millenia Blvd., Orlando, FL 32939
    • Krispy Kreme Kissimmee – Open 24 Hours
      • 5310 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway
      • (192 / Mile Marker 11.5), Kissimmee, FL  34746

“Guests were so enthusiastic about the Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed doughnut when we first brought it back for one day last month. But their enthusiasm on social media and at our shops has only intensified since then, so we’re pleased to bring it back – again,” said Jenny Bellanca, vice president of operations for Florida Family Foods LLC, an authorized franchisee of Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation.

The Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed doughnut is the same Original Glazed doughnut that Krispy Kreme customers know and love, but with a hint of cinnamon and pumpkin spice flavor, transforming the classic into the perfect fall treat. To find a participating shop in the U.S. or Canada, visit www.krispykreme.com/pumpkinspiceog.

Celebrate the return of the Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed doughnut by using the hashtag #PumpkinSpiceOG and tagging @krispykreme.

Not only were Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed doughnuts are making an appearance, but a few Halloween themed doughnuts have come out of the closet as well in these dark nights.

Reese’s join with Krispy Kreme on a peanut butter crunch of an adventure this season.

The Birthday Cake doughnut has a delicious filling similar to frosting on a birthday cake, but it is not overpoweringly sweet as you may think. Want to eat a birthday cake, but not interested in buying an entire cake? Take a bite of this doughnut instead.

Don’t forget to grab a Pumpkin Spice drink while you’re there for a doughnut. Krispy Kreme offers iced, frap, and hot versions of Pumpkin Spice coffee. Our favorites include the frap and iced versions…mostly because it is still 90 degrees in Central Florida.

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Texas de Brazil partnered with The Fladgate Partnership and local chocolatiers in 22 cities to offer Port Wine & Chocolate Tasting events that help raise additional funds for the American Red Cross. The exclusive 90-minute tasting classes offered between October 17 – 26 begin at 6:30 p.m. in each location.  Class size is limited to 25 participants and $40 of the $45 ticket price will be donated to the nonprofit.

“Port is a versatile, fortified wine that offers a variety of styles fitting nicely into the sweet-wine selection trends we’re experiencing in our restaurants nationwide,” says Rodrigo Davila, Texas de Brazil’s wine and spirits director.  “Guests at these events will learn why ports can be the perfect appertif, after-dinner drink, or refined accompaniment to a decadent dessert,” he adds.

Guests are greeted with a Croft Port of Manhattan before joining the seated class led by port ambassadors who guide participants through tasting and pairing notes on several port categories and share a brief history of port wine.

This event had chocolates from local Orlando chocolatiers.

  • The Manhattan is strong and warms all the way down to your stomach.
  • Upper left chocolate is a 65% dark ganache paired with Bin ’27 from Portugal. The wine has berry and woodland notes. It is very sweet and smooth, which helps balance the smooth chocolate that coats the palate.
  • Upper right chocolate is a Port Wine cheesecake reduction chocolate is very sweet. It is paired with the Taylor Fladgate 2012 blend that spent 5-7 years in oak. The wine has a longer finish and is a favorite of mine.
  • Lower left chocolate is a salted caramel with a liquid center that is very sweet. It is paired with a Croft, which expresses itself with spices and was exposed to more oxygen for a longer time period.
  • Lower right chocolate is an apple pie chocolate. The chocolate has an apple pie crust at the bottom. This piece is very unique and delicious; it is not too sweet and has a smooth texture from the apple combined with the crunch of the crust and woody flavored chocolate shell. It is paired with the Taylor FLadgate 20 that has butterscotch notes. This wine is also great with walnuts alone.

Local chocolatiers will also share their tasting notes providing guests with a wealth of information and new experience.

Guests will enjoy passed appetizers including garlic picanha, Brazilian sausage, and chicken wrapped in bacon from the Texas de Brazil grills which complement other bites offered during the pairing session.

Featured ports and pairings will include: Fonseca BIN 27 Reserve Ruby Port with cheese; Taylor Fladgate Late Bottle Vintage Ruby Port with dark chocolate; Croft Reserve Tawny Port with dried fruits and nuts; and the Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Old Tawny Port with milk chocolate.

Event dates and locations:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 17: Orlando, FL
  • Wednesday, Oct. 18: Addison, TX and San Antonio, TX: Detroit, MI; Huntsville, AL; Memphis, TN; Richmond, VA; Tampa, FL; Yonkers, NY
  • Thursday, Oct. 19: Chicago and Schaumburg, IL; Columbus, OH; Fairfax, VA; Fort Worth, TX; Miami, FL; Rochester, NY
  • Wednesday, Oct. 25: Syracuse, NY
  • Thursday, Oct. 26: Albany, NY; Baton Rouge, LA; Denver, CO; Washington, D.C.; Westlake, OH

Locations and reservations are found on Eventbrite: https://texasdebrazil2014.eventbrite.com/

 

About Texas de Brazil
Texas de Brazil is an authentic churrascaria featuring a continuous dining experience that blends the unique culture of Brazil with the generous hospitality of Texas.  The menu features a vast selection of grilled meats, a 50-item salad area and a la carte dessert selections. Founded as a family-owned business in 1998, Texas de Brazil now has 53 domestic and international locations.  For more information, visit http://www.texasdebrazil.com.

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Your Pie, the original fast casual pizza concept, opened in Downtown Orlando on Friday, July 14, 2017 at SkyHouse (335 North Magnolia Avenue). The brick-oven pizzeria offers a customizable, down-the-line experience at its more than 40 stores nationwide.

Make sure you eat your pizza fresh so it stays nice and crisp.

Your Pie uses hand-tossed dough, only fresh ingredients, homemade pizza sauces and salad dressings, and offers vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free pizzas, as well as traditional pizzas. All menu items, including its rotating seasonal menu, are inspired by family recipes from the Italian island of Ischia. The brand also offers local craft beer, wine and Italian-style gelato pairings designed to perfectly compliment guests’ custom pizza creations.

The Great White has prominent notes of the feta, smoothness from the mozzarella, and hints of garlic.

With the Ischia, all flavors blend well and pop at the same time. The fresh tomatoes add a nice touch.

The Lineage is one of my favorites with the spicy Italian sausages.

The BBQ of the BBQ Chicken is nice and not overpoweringly sweet. The chicken is tender, has its own flavors, and juicy.

The Nat hosts the sun-dried tomatoes and basil pesto as the stars of the show.

The Southern Heat is a different sort of pizza where the buffalo and jalapeño heat creep up on you. It’s a great pizza to grab when you aren’t sure if you’d like a pizza or wings.

Have some sharable cheese sticks on wheat bread. Who doesn’t like cheese and bread?

Your Pie also has a number of salads, such as the Caprese and Greek House salads.

While you wait for your pizza to come out, have a taste of their ice cream. In my opinion, they aren’t my favorite.

Along with your dishes, you can enjoy a beer, wine, cider, or many other drink options on the menu. There are a few local breweries that supply beers to this location. The Smoke Berry hard cider is pretty great. These ciders have subtle sweetness that does not overpower your tastebuds.

“At Your Pie, we believe that food can be fresh, fast, delicious and experiential,” said Founder and President Drew French. “We want to be the go-to fast casual restaurant where families, friends, colleagues and groups can gather, dine and share memories without having to share pizzas. We’re excited for the opportunity to bring the original fast casual, individualized pizza concept to Orlando and the surrounding communities.”

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Cooper’s Hawk in Orlando, FL of Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants hosted an event with Top Chef Winner Jeremy Ford. The collaboration represents the Cooper’s Hawk brand philosophy centering the creation of exciting and memorable experiences for those who love food and wine.

Cooper’s Hawk has the largest wine club in the country and 28 restaurants – and by 2018, will have 5 in Florida. This is the most in any state.

The dinner included four courses with wine pairings and Jeremy had a live cooking demo on site. Chef Jeremy Ford was a little more tipsy each time you look around for him as he will have a new drink in hand each time.

Truffle Fritter with Wagyu Beef & Basil has to be my all-time favorite appetizer. From the crunch of the fritter to the smooth and savory Wagyu beef, any texture craving you may have are satisfied. Have a taste paired with Cooper’s Hawk Lux Sparkling, which was not too sweet or brut.

Char-Grilled Octopus, Crispy Potatoes, Smoked Paprika & Herbs is not too shabby. I wouldn’t mind a second bite if a friend orders it. Having it passed around was nice, but it would be better if you order it and enjoy it warm.

Tomato Gazpacho, Summer Flavors & Olive Oil is not my favorite dish. From each sip, you will experience an abundance of flavors from herbs.

Fresh Mozzarella, Homemade Togarashi, Ponzu & Warm Melted Butter paired with Cooper’s Hawk Lux Chardonnay. The mozzarella was delightful with all the sauces and chilled butter. The Chardonnay was very smooth in itself. Careful, because the waiter may be inattentive and pour the butter all over your legs as it happened to us.

Roasted Halibut, Spring Onion Vinaigrette with Asparagus, Morels & Pistachio can be enjoyed by everyone if a light dish is desired. I brought a guest who did not like fish whatsoever; however, she discovered that she liked this dish. The fish is paired with Clone 27 Sauvignon Blanc Musqué.

Crispy Beef Short Rib, Red Wine Smoked Chili Glaze & Polenta Fries. This dish took a bit longer to come out than we expected and desired as it takes at least 30 minutes to create a wonderful short rib. However, Cooper’s Hawk should have started this dish sooner than right after bringing out their surf dish.

The short rib was unique and savory. The red wine smoked chili glaze was not overpowering and allowed the flavors of the short rib to express itself. Even our pups at home love the bone we brought home! The polenta fries are very smooth and dense. This dish is suggested to be paired with Cooper’s Hawk Lux Meritage.

Strawberry Sundae & Kaffir Lime Meringue is paired with Ice Wine. The strawberry sundae included dairy and sorbet versions for a refreshing or smooth fancy. The sorbet is tart and balanced by the sweetness of the dairy strawberry scoop. The kaffir lime meringue added a nice citrus flavor to the fish. Kaffir lime is believed to be good for the blood and promotes gum health.

For more information of Cooper’s Hawk, please check out their website or pay a visit in Waterford Lakes of Orlando, FL. See you at Cooper’s Hawk with a glass of their wine!

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Meet and Mingle with Fellow Business Owners, Professionals and Entrepreneurs

RedCarpetMonday Celebrates Over 10 Years as Central Florida’s Leading Social Business Network

WHAT:  Exclusive RedCarpetMonday® Orlando Business Networking Event.

WHEN:  Monday, June 19, 2017 from 6pm-9pm.

WHO:  Brought to you by RedCarpetMonday, a social business network.

WHERE:  Ace Cafe Orlando, 100 W Livingston St, Orlando, FL 32801.

HOW:  Meet and mingle with fellow business owners, professionals and entrepreneurs from 6pm-9pm hosted at the all new Ace Cafe in Downtown Orlando on Monday, June 19, 2017.  Enjoy complimentary appetizers, (two) drinks, networking and raffle prizes.  Tickets are $20 online or $25 at the door.  For tickets and more information, visit www.redcarpetmonday.com.

WHY:  For over 10 years, RCM’s stylish, live events provide attendees a place to unwind while socializing, information networking and sharing business ideas with other members.  Past events featured talented entrepreneurs and business owners, senior level executives, local politicians, keynote speakers, fashion shows, fine cigars, entertainment, hors d’oeuvres, media coverage, sponsor giveaways, silent auctions and more.

For more news and information about RedCarpetMonday, visit www.redcarpetmonday.com.

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Summer is heating up in Central Florida as International Drive’s hottest destination in nightlife and entertainment, Mango’s Tropical Café, welcomes the biggest names in Latin music to their stage with the 2017 Mango’s Summer Concert Series.  With a state-of-the-art sound system and viewing areas from everywhere inside Mango’s breathtaking two-story 55,000 square-foot venue, concert goers will be up on their feet all night long while the hottest artists in Latin music entertain them.  Doors open at 9:30pm.  Shows starts at 11pm, with the fun continuing until 2am.  Pre-sale tickets start at $25 and can be purchased thru www.mangos.com or at http://ticketera.us/.  VIP options are also available.  The exciting lineup includes:

  • Friday, June 16 – Andy Montañez
  • Friday, June 23 – Osmani Garcia
  • Friday, June 30 – Justin Quiles
  • Friday, July 7 – Coming Soon
  • Friday, July 14 – Jose Alberto “El Canario”
  • Friday, July 21 – Ismael Miranda and Jose Alberto El Canario
  • Friday, July 28 – Tony Dice
  • Friday, August 4 – Pirulo
  • Friday, August 11 – Tony Vega
  • Friday, August 18 – Tito Nieves
  • Friday, August 25 – Noriel

We were recently invited to a media preview for Mango’s and check out their food offerings down in the International Drive area.

An a la carte menu is available at certain locations throughout the restaurant at certain times and days, but the Dinner & Show “Deluxe” is a 3 course meal primarily offered during shows.

The Gran Picada Deluxe Platter is a little of everything. The Mambo wings are delicious, cooked well, and seasoned just right. Yuca bites are unique on their own. Ham Croquetas were nice and crisp, but did not have much ham; it is a bit dense for my preference.

Mango’s Guacamole Bowl & Chips is delicious, yet on the salty side. The avocado was also chunkier than your usual guac.

The Crispy Fried Calamari had a nice texture and the flavors are mellow. It is served with dipping sauces and lemon, but I prefer to only season it with the lemon.

The Prime Rib is cooked to your preference. It was the best thing we had from the menu. The flavors are to die for.

The Fresh Grilled Salmon Filet was slightly overcooked and dry. The rice served with it was nicely textured and flavored.

Mango’s Famous “Churrasco” Steak was a nice twist from the usual steak. The herbs and spices are very unique and tasteful. The side of sweet plantains were delicious and not overly sweet. However, the sweet plantains are a bit dense.

Masitas de Puerco consists of marinated Cuban-style pork chunks that are fried. The pork is usually marinated for 12 hours or overnight before deep fried at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. This is not my favorite as it was very dry and hard in texture.

The New York Cheesecake is your usual cheesecake. Nonetheless, it is delightful.

The Chocolate Ecstasy will be loved by anyone who enjoys chocolate. The torte is more semi-sweet than sweet, which is preferred when you have it with ice cream and maybe a few other desserts.

Mango’s Mango Flan is a flan with a light mango taste. It is a delicious custard that is thick and creamy. Like other flans, I do like this one.

This large slice of chocolate cake may not be on the menu. It has a cherry sauce drizzle all over along with a icing frosting. This is a tad too sweet for our liking, but our eyes sure like it.

Have a few drinks while you enjoy the show. The Miami Vice Cocktail is my favorite drink here. It was fresh and great for summer. You cannot taste the alcohol at all, which makes it very dangerous!

On the other hand, you could order a fish bowl to share with a few friends or your significant other…or drink all on your own.

Mango’s Tropical Cafe
Address: 8126 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: (407) 673-4422
For more information, please visit Mango’s Tropical Café.

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“We are thrilled to open another restaurant in Orlando,” says Huey Magoo’s President and CEO Andy Howard. “Huey Magoo’s is debuting a fresh new design and introducing wonderful new programs like our ‘Random Acts of Kindness’. Restaurant Row in Dr. Phillips in one of the most bustling dining destinations in the area. We are proud to be the latest edition to Plaza Venezia and look forward to building lasting relationships with our amazing customers in Central Florida.”

Buffalo sandwich: hand-breaded buffalo tenders, Iceberg lettuce, tomato, pepper jack cheese, and jalapeño ranch dressing. Served on warm Texas toast or a toasted bun and crinkle-cut fries. I suggest trying this sandwich with Texas toast as the crispy toast adds a new texture to the sandwich. Eating toast instead of the bun will not overwhelm you with the feeling of having it stuck in your mouth while trying to enjoy your chicken.

Magoo’s favorite: hand-breaded or grilled chicken with mixed greens, cranberries, walnuts, grape tomatoes, and raspberry walnut vinaigrette dressing. Very light and fresh for Spring or Summer seasons, especially with grilled chicken. It is a nice meal for lunch and very filling with the amount in each bowl.

Garden Salad: hand-breaded or grilled chicken with mixed greens, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and mozzarella and cheddar cheese. I prefer this salad with ranch dressing and a smaller portion as a side. If ordered, I suggest ordering another dish so you can eat half of this salad with another dish, while saving the other half of the salad for a later time. This works because of the large amount they give you and it will be fresh to have later that day or the next day. More Magoo’s for later!

Garlic Parmesan: self-explanatory. Uniquely delicious. It tastes even better as leftovers.

5 Tenders meal: marinated chicken tenders served with crinkle-cut fries, Texas toast and your choice of a dipping sauce. You can choose from hand-breaded, grilled or buffalo; no matter what you choose, it will be delicious. My favorite sauces for the tenders include Magoo sauce and ranch. Not only will the sauces are great with the tenders, but they are delicious with the fries. Forget ketchup!

If you are not in the mood for fries, you may substitute it for Huey Magoo’s freshly made chips. Share them with friends! I know I have and they think the chips are some of the best. Eat them fast because they will get stale the next day.

Desserts include fabulous cookies. Each cookie is soft and chewy, just how I like it. The chocolate chunk may be my favorite. Huey Magoo’s cookies are freshly baked in-house every day. If you’re not interested in cookies, there are also apple slices. The apples are fresh and sweet.

Background information

Huey Magoo’s was founded in 2004 by Matt Armstrong and Thad Hudgens, two southern boys with a passion for quality chicken and a penchant for serving others. Huey Magoo’s prides itself on providing great tasting chicken tenders in a clean, friendly environment, while showing their love for people. Huey Magoo’s delivers delicious, fresh, cooked-to-order chicken tenders, and they do it to perfection. Huey Magoo’s also gives back a portion of profits to not-for-profit organizations and community groups. Committed to building a culture of excellence in service and food quality by serving only premium hand-breaded or grilled chicken tenders dipped or “sauced” in uniquely flavorful signature sauces, Huey Magoo’s attracts a cult-like following of Millennials, families and neighboring businesses desiring quality, delicious food at reasonable prices.

 

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Tasty Chomps was invited for an interview with Chef Jeremy at Ocean Prime Orlando located on Sand Lake Road.

Chef Jeremy grew up and learned how to cook as his father was learning how to cook. During that time, Campbell’s SpaghettiOs Pasta and Totino’s Pizza Rolls were all the rage when his father decided to learn how to cook to sustain himself and his family.

Chef Jeremy traveled a lot due to his father being a professor. Chef Jeremy became independent and a self starter at an early age, which was partially because he is the youngest of 5 children in the family.

With learning how to cook at home, Chef Jeremy also started from the bottom at a young age and worked his way up in restaurants in a small town. He continues to feed, not only our community, but his humanity with his passion to work with local charities.

At Ocean Prime, Chef Jeremy and his team plan on adding a new item every year or so after doing extensive research and testing to perfect the item before adding it to the menu.

A sushi section was added a little over a year ago and Ocean Prime Orlando achieved their goal of being more than a steakhouse. Their selection is not just a random list of sushi, they researched and taste tested many ingredients to perfect each item. Plan your next visit with sushi on your mind. I recommend the Prime Roll, Lobster Roll and Hamachi Crudo.

It was a pleasure learning more about Chef Jeremy and try some of his favorite dishes as well as popular items on the menu. Many, include myself, always wonder about the chefs and restaurants I dine at. I believe that knowing a little more about the lives of our chefs and the history of the restaurants will make us feel as if we are on a whole new level with the restaurant and we are more likely to come back.

The Tuna Tartar is a bit too salty from the soy sauce. Aside from that, the tuna is fresh and go well with the wasabi avocado underneath.

The Chilled Crab Meat Cocktail is delicious with a very slight sweetness to it. The sauce will add a dense layer as it is mayonnaise based. In my opinion, I prefer the crab with the slice of lemon that comes with it.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts are soft in texture and earthy in flavors. It has many health benefits, but it still does not sway my liking due to its bitterness.

The Chilean Sea Bass is so buttery smooth it melts ineyour mouth. There’s a light sweetness that dances on your taste buds. The sea bass is seasoned lightly and plated with a few pieces of truffle and carrots over whipped potatoes, peas and a champagne truffle sauce made with clam juice. This is one of the most popular dishes at Ocean Prime Orlando, besides the steaks, and I now understand why! I highly recommend this dish.

Bone-in fillet steak is cooked to your liking. It is lightly seasoned with some salt, pepper and butter before it is broiled at 1200 degrees. The steak is tender and moist. It has a unique and robust flavor that is quite earthy.

The Warm Butter Cake has a crisp coating and a warm, melt-in-your-mouth center. It is overpoweringly sweet on its own, which is why it is topped with vanilla ice cream to mellow out the sweetness. A raspberry sauce can be found beneath the cake…this dish is healthy because it has fruit, right?

The Crème Brulée is a must at Ocean Prime. Flavors are subtle and blend well with one another. It is a personal favorite of mine and I continue to have this dish each time I visit no matter how full I am.

Stop by Ocean Prime Orlando for an intimate setting for a date, family gathering or business meeting.

Location:

  • RIALTO AT SAND LAKE
    7339 West Sand Lake Road
    Orlando, FL 32819

Contact:

Hours:

  • Monday – Thursday 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM
  • Friday – Saturday 5:00 PM – 11:00 PM
  • Sunday 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Lounge 5:00 PM – Close

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Ocean Prime’s Orlando and Tampa locations teamed up with The Dinner Party Project to host a sushi pop-up dinner on Sunday, April 9 at 1010 West in Orlando. A percentage of proceeds were donated to The Human Experience (THE) Orlando, a non-profit, private middle school .

Cocktail hour consists of hors d’oeuvres by Ocean Prime and drinks based off of Tito’s Vodka.

Gravlax and caviar with spring pea, cured lemon, fennel, shiso and crispy skin – delicious, smooth and flavorful.

Ocean Prime’s Ahi Tuna Tartare with wasabi avocado and ponzu – very fresh, but it would have been better if it was at a colder temperature. Room temperature tuna tartare is not my favorite. The wasabi avocado was smooth and balanced one another. The ponzu was just right with its seasoning.

Hamachi Duo with beet infused rice, red onion pickle and watermelon radish – Hamachi (Pacific Yellowtail) is my favorite when prepared well as it was done by Ocean Prime. The red onion pickle and watermelon radish gives it a nice twist in flavors.

A selection of popular Ocean Prime sushi rolls including the lobster roll, spicy tuna and prime roll – the flavors of each roll are very balanced, thanks to all the ingredients used. Many will say the prime roll is their favorite because it’s a good choice when you can’t decide whether you’d like some surf or turf for dinner, so why not both?

Ramen featuring king crab, pork belly, mushroom and black truffle – the pork belly was more fat than meat in my bowl. It was also dry without allowing it to soak up some broth. The ramen was slightly overcooked. The broth was delicious on its own.

Kobe beef with crispy rice gomae, mirin butter and unagi – the flavors of the Kobe beef were excellent, but were a bit too well done. The greens were delicious as long as they did not get soaked in the broth because it expressed overpowering flavors.

Coconut sorbet with toasted dashi flakes and shaved micronut – the sorbet was smooth with the right amount of sweetness. It was paired with a Bailey’s liquor drink that can knock you off your feet. For others, there was coffee. The sorbet tasted great with a splash of the coffee as well. It’s a little turn towards Australian coffee.

 

About The Human Experience OrlandoThe Human Experience is a non-profit, private middle school dedicated to the belief that every child deserves the dignity, respect, and honor that comes with his or her humanity.  They reflect their gratitude for life and its potential in our daily pursuit of academic excellence, community investment, and love for all people.

About Ocean PrimeOcean Prime is a modern American restaurant and lounge from renowned restaurateur Cameron Mitchell. The award-winning Ocean Prime delivers an extraordinary experience with stunning settings, an impressive menu of seafood and prime cuts of steak, signature cocktails, a Wine Spectator-honored wine list and truly genuine hospitality.  From the kitchen and bar, there is an appreciation for ingredients that comes through in every dish. The menu is classic and yet there is a modern sensibility to the preparations which range from lighter fare to indulgent seafood presentations, juicy steaks and decadent desserts.  Each Ocean Prime location is dramatically designed and inspired by the unique energy of the city where it’s located.

About The Dinner Party ProjectThe Dinner Party Project (TDPP) started simply as a gathering of friends, new and old, in Founder Dana Marie Roquemore’s home. Through word-of mouth and social media, The Dinner Party Project has quickly become a favorite way for Orlandoans to connect, in welcoming settings complete with local food and great conversation. While the TDPP brand has grown, each dinner maintains its original intimacy and character—with only eight guests who are randomly selected to attend.

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On Tues., March 21The World’s Largest Wine Dinner took place simultaneously across all 244 Carrabba’s restaurants in celebration of its new wine menu. In a single evening, this four-course wine pairing dinner featured:

  • 7,000 guests
  • 4,000 uncorked bottles of wine
  • 28,000 dishes

The dinner consisted of selections from the restaurant’s new wine list, which features 42 distinctive wines curated by Carrabba’s sommelier Brittany Deloach. The list includes three new varietals, four new appellations, pairing suggestions and flavor profiles for each varietal to guide guests.

“Our guests love to explore new and exclusive dining experiences, and there’s no better way to celebrate the spectacular new selections on our wine list than by gathering together for the World’s Largest Wine Dinner,” said Carrabba’s sommelier Brittany Deloach. “We want to inspire guests to try new wines but – even better – we hope they will be inspired to try new dishes, as well.”

For $40 per person, guests of the World’s Largest Wine Dinner experienced a four-course menu featuring made-from-scratch dishes created by head chef Jay Smith with Deloach’s hand-selected wine pairings, including: Chloe Pinot Grigio (Italy), Pieropan Soave (Italy), Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) and Joel Gott Zinfandel (Calif.).

The grilled eggplant and hazelnut-crusted goat cheese added a nice touch to the common greens of the Insalata Fiorucci. This course paired well with the Chloe Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy. This wine is classically crisp and refreshing.

The pasta has a wonderful spicy touch from the Italian peppers in this Calabrian Cavatappi. The basil is a nice touch with the creamy burrata. You can never go wrong with creamy burrata present. This dish is paired with Pieropan Soave from Italy. The wine dates back to the early 1800s and balances well with the spices of the dish.

Veal Marsala is topped with mushrooms that were slightly more salty than desired. However, the veal itself is very tender and seasoned well. Paired with the Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California to emphasize finesse and balance, but it matches well with the veal and Lombardo Marsala wine sauce.

The Tuscan-grilled sirloin is topped with mushrooms and the Lombardo Marsala wine sauce similar to the veal. It is made medium, but can be adjusted according to your desires. This dish is also paired with the Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California.

Sogno Di Cioccolata “Chocolate Dream” is a rich fudge brownie with chocolate mousse, fresh whipped cream and chocolate sauce. The colder this dish is, the better it will be. The Joel Gott Zinfandel from California was smooth and matched with the dessert. This Zinfandel is not as bold as the Cabernet Sauvignon.

While the World’s Largest Wine Dinner is the official launch of the new wine menu, Carrabba’s will continue to introduce its new wine offering through a limited-time collection of Food & Wine Festival menu features, including:

  • Interesting Gems – New, seasonal selections that allow guests to experience new and notable wines, some of which are exclusive to Carrabba’s; the first edition features Pieropan Soave (Italy) and CasaSmith Barbera (Washington).
  • Festival of Wine Flights – This wine-tasting experience allows guests to explore wines from around the world paired with a small plate. Guests choose from three flights.
  • Signature Pairings – A special menu section that provides wine-pairing recommendations for Carrabba’s made-from-scratch entrées.

Although this event has passed, many wine dinner events are to come at Carrabba’s Italian Grill for your enjoyment.

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Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate is currently in the midst of an extensive $40 million+ expansion project — on the heels of a contemporary redesign of their onsite Trevi’s Restaurant and the addition of a new outdoor garden terrace and bar among many other exciting enhancements.

We received a sneak peek of Trevi’s Restaurant and their menu.

Prosciutto Crostini with melon and fig – Smooth textures mixed with sweet and savory tastes wonderful for the upcoming sunny Florida days. Each bite will keep you coming back for more.

Grilled Artichoke Crostini with olive tapenade and goat cheese – Personally it would not be my first choice, but it is healthy and tasty as the flavors balance once another.

Shrimp and Tomato Crostini with parmesan and aged balsamic – Fresh shrimp with the smooth texture of parmesan and tart yet sweet flavors of the balsamic.

After being introduced to crostini bites, Trevi’s Restaurant created a demo to make the best sangria I have tasted. Sangria is not my favorite drink, but this one is dangerous because of its delicious flavors which helped mask the bitterness of alcohol.

Before a delicious family style meal, one of Trevi’s chefs demonstrated how they create hand made ravioli at Trevi’s Restaurant.


Porcini Ravioli, Lobster, Madeira Cream – Fresh lobster on top of delicious porcini ravioli. The flavors are all balanced and everything was cooked to perfection.

Enjoy some bread and whipped butter while you wait for your dishes to arrive at your table. The breadsticks are my favorite out of this bunch from taste to texture.

Beef Tartare with quail egg, capers, and white truffle mustard aioli – The beef tartare and quail egg both have a smooth texture. The white truffle mustard aioli is added to elevate the flavors of this antipasti.

Snapper Crudo with tomato, basil and citrus – This is the best snapper crudo I have had. Fresh with a citrus twist and full of lean protein. I highly recommend this dish at Trevi’s. If you were to visit Trevi’s Restaurant solely for this dish, it would be worth it.

Semolina Dusted Calamari with spicy tomato sauce – Arrives at the table right as it was placed on the dish. It is more salty than the usual calamari I have had, but it won’t negatively impact your impression unless you are on a low sodium diet. It is tasty with or without the spicy tomato sauce.

Caprese with heirloom tomato and aged balsamic topped with Burrata with extra virgin oil and smoked sea salt –  You can never go wrong with some creamy burrata balanced by the crispy heirloom tomato, crunchy salt and coarse pepper. Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella, while the inside contains stracciatella and cream, giving it an unusual, soft texture. Along with other dishes at Trevi’s, there’s a play on a number of flavors in this dish.

Pizza Napolitana with fontina, spicy sausage and caramelized onion – The crust is crusty and fontina is delightful. The sausage is not spicy as they say it is.

Chicken Diangelo with artichoke, red pepper and lemon wine sauce – The chicken is dry regardless of the sauce. The pasta is overcooked and mushy in texture.

Goat Cheese Polenta – A gourmet comfort food that is creamy and great for a windy day. I could use a bowl right now as I write this post.

Charred Broccolini – Fresh vegetables made crisp with a bit of char.

Baby Meatballs – Flavorful meatballs that fall apart upon touch or placed into the mouth. Many will love the crumbly and soft texture, yet I prefer a more dense nature to my meatballs.

Warm Zeppolis with chocolate sauce – Doughnuts topped with powdered sugar and a dense bread-like texture. Warm and sweet, but a tad dry.

Affogato with vanilla bean gelato – A scoop of vanilla bean gelato topped with a shot of hot espresso. What is better than ice cream and espresso? Nothing. It is smooth and sweet with a touch of caffeine. If only this was a large portion and on ice.

Meet the Chefs

Chef Luca Sterpetti

Chef Robert Gioia

We had a few questions for the Chefs of Trevi’s:

What is your favorite dish?

Chef Luca: My favorite dish is ICE CREAM especially hazelnut, coffee and chocolate.

Chef Gioia: My favorite dish I love to cook is my father’s Sunday gravy recipe served with pasta. It’s a simple dish, but very important to use fresh tomato and herbs. He would use pork and lamb in the sauce and that’s why, according to him, it was called gravy. To this day I hear arguments of what is “Sauce” and what is “Gravy”…

How did you get into the culinary field?

Chef Luca: By choice because I love to eat. Growing up, I was always involved with food some way. It was a means to stay close to my grandparents, parents, friends and relatives. All my life, I have tasted, breathed, felt and lived food. As a Chef, I am blessed to have been a part of so many different traditions from all regions of my own country, Italy.

Chef Gioia: I started cooking at the age of 14 in a resort in Catskill, NY. Before then, I was the dishwasher working at the age of 12, the owners were friends of the family. At a young age it taught me the importance of reliability and integrity in a work place. I believe a respect and knowledge for fundamental cooking and technique is what is truly important in creating great tasting dishes

About Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate

Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate is a part of the Omni Hotels family, which creates compelling, memorable guest experiences by tempting the senses in innovative ways, surrounding them with a balanced blend of scents, sounds, sights, textures and tastes.

Beginning a new chapter in its 13-year heritage, Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate is undergoing an extensive expansion project – its first since opening in 2004.

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Hello Sweeties Candy & Confections is a sweets shop created by Desiree Kurtz in Lakeland, FL. We contacted Desiree with a initial order of English Toffee with Almonds and Pecans because of a craving after trying the Epcot Canadian Pavillion Maple Bark. Desiree added samples of other treats for us to photograph and taste.

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English Toffee with Almonds and Pecans – delicious and balanced between flavors and textures. The toffee sweetness was offset by the semisweet chocolate; however, the toffee is a bit overwhelming when the chocolate dissolved.

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Peanut Brittle – will stick to your teeth. It is a great job security for Dental professionals. Some may say it is too sweet, but I don’t believe it is. One of my favorite treats of all time! I even bring it to class to munch on during lectures and have it as a snack during study sessions.

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White Chocolate covered Peanut Butter Fudge and Peanut Butter Fudge with White Chocolate Drizzle – these are dense, sweet, and creamy. A perfect gift for your significant other, best friend, or business associates to let them know you’re by their side.

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Double and Triple Chocolate Cake Pops – tasty and dense, yet fluffy. Make sure you don’t leave it out too long if you have refrigerated it. It will become soggy. For many of those who do not know, chocolate is not meant to be refrigerated because condensation will form and alter the appearance and texture. Chocolate keeps best between 65 and 70°F, away from direct sunlight, and protected from moisture. However, if you do refrigerate chocolate, allow the chocolate to come down to room temperature before enjoying it because cold chocolate doesn’t melt or disperse flavor as nicely.

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Peppermint Bark Popcorn and S’mores Popcorn – sweet and fluffy. The texture will remain crunchy if kept in the fridge to maintain freshness. It’s a unique twist to have for movie nights or a stroll in the park.

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When we asked Desiree how she came about and decided to create her own sweets company, she replied saying, “A few years back we were pretty short on funds for Christmas so I decided to make candy as gifts for my mom and sisters. It was a hit with all of them so each year for the past few I have made their gifts. I decided to turn it into a business this past Christmas when I realized how much I actually enjoy making sweet treats.”

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Crown Maple’s singular, certified-organic maple products are featured at the Canadian Pavilion in Epcot® of Orlando, FL in the form of Maple Bark for Holidays Around the World Epcot®.

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This version Maple Bark contains pecans; it is absolutely delicious as it is not overwhelmingly sweet.

Although we only bought one bag, we wish we bought more.

A bite of the bark with a piece of the pecan on top is well balanced for the palate.

If you missed the Maple Bark from Epcot®, have no fear as you can make your own Maple Bark with this recipe from Epcot® that makes 24 pieces.

Ingredients

3/4 cup pecans
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided 1 1/2 tablespoons maple sugar

Recipe

  1. Combine pecans and sea salt in a medium pan. Toast over medium heat, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes, until brown and fragrant. Chop into small pieces and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Once butter is melted, add sugar and water, stirring continuously until temperature reaches 295°F. Immediately pour onto baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat and spread into a 9×13-inch rectangle. Cool for at least 3 hours.
  3. Melt 3/4 cup chocolate chips in a small bowl and spread over one side of the cooled bark. Immediately sprinkle half of the chopped pecans and maple sugar over the chocolate. Cool for 2 hours, until chocolate is set.
  4. Melt remaining 3/4 cup of chocolate chips. Turn bark over and spread chocolate on the other half of the bark. Sprinkle with remaining chopped pecans and maple sugar. Cool for 2 hours, until chocolate is set.
  5. Break into 24 pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

This recipe has been converted from a larger quantity in the restaurant kitchens. The flavor profile may vary from the restaurant’s version. All recipes are the property of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S., Inc., and may not be reproduced without express permission.

About Crown Maple

From bark to bottle, Crown Maple is a defining ingredient, delivering a gourmet maple experience like no other. Crown Maple is estateproduced from forests comprising the Taconic Hardwood Forest, a unique terroir which extends from the New York Eastern Mid-Hudson Valley to Central Western Vermont. Since the brand’s launch, the distinctive taste and versatility has won over discerning professionals and connoisseurs alike, elevating Crown Maple beyond a sweetener and into a defining ingredient.

All products are certified-organic, pairing the best nature has to offer with artisan craftsmanship and state-of-the-art production technology. From bark to bottle, Crown Maple is sustainably made on 800 acres of pristine land at Madava Farms in Dutchess County, New York, and truly sets the standard of excellence in maple production and flavor.

For more information about Crown Maple and their products, please visit Crown Maple.

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Five Star New Year’s Eve marks its fourth year with the launch of its signature all-white-and-gold-themed celebration in Orlando’s I-Drive 360. The Miami acclaimed fête has been hosted and attended in Miami by actor Ryan PhillippeDJ Robin Schulz, Brazilian actor Macos Mion, soccer star Ronaldo “The Phenomenon” Nazario de Lima and renowned Brazilian actress Isabeli Fontana, to name a few.

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Mirroring its Miami counterpart, Orlando’s party features an opulent celebration including exclusive access to full-service bar with premium libations, food all night long including dishes like Poached Lobster with Gruyere Cheese FondueBraised Pork with Lentils and KaleChimichurri Rubbed Beef TenderloinCrème Brûlée, and Chocolate Covered Strawberries, to name a very few, a boutique and styling suite, a private cigar room, sounds by live on-site DJs, recreational activities, and service from on-site concierge.

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Admission packages to the event will start with General Admission ranging between $290 and $390, which features a full-service open bar with beverages, beer, vodka, whisky and prosecco. The Table Top package is priced at $4,000 granting guests a reserved bar space for six guests and access to the full-service open bar through the night. The VIP Table experience priced at $9,900 offers an exclusive VIP entrance, full-service open bar with beverages, beer, vodka, whisky and champagne, as well as dinner and breakfast for 10 people. The Gold Lounge package, which accommodates 16 people, is priced at $20,000 and features a VIP separate entrance, full-service open bar with beverages, beer, vodka, whisky and champagne, exclusive dinner and breakfast, a dedicated butler service, and private transportation for the entire party.

Valet parking is available, but Ubering is recommended.

Tickets available at: http://fivestarnye.com/

We can’t wait to see you at the event!

Photos are provided by Five Star New Year’s Eve.

About Concept ID:

Concept ID is a marketing and communications agency with clients like 1 Hotel & Homes, In List, Casa Cor, Hooch App and experience in events like Kevin Hart’s Heartbeat Weekend, Oculto, and Five Stars New Year’s Eve. Their unique solutions in the Miami/US market have made them successful in their creation, production and project management of accounts in entertainment and sports. For more information on Concept ID, visit www.conceptid.us or call 786-768 -2447. For additional details on Five Star New Year’s Eve, visit www.fivestarnye.com  or call 786.768.2447.

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The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes invites you to join the Pastry Team to build your own gingerbread house.

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Gingerbread School price includes a $10 donation to The Children’s Miracle Network and a personalized brick on Santa’s Workshop.

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Guests can use the life-sized gingerbread house in the Lobby for inspiration as they build and assemble their own creation at Santa’s Workshop, while enjoying some complementary drinks (i.e. hot chocolate, water, soda, etc).

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The fun-filled activity begins with guests building the house with pre-baked gingerbread panels on a wooden foundation, then choose from dozens of different types of candy and other edible details to decorate and personalize their house!

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Feel free to invite your significant other, your family, and your friends for a fun time. You will have so much fun that you will lose track of time like I did.

Treats and to-go kits available. Below are photos of containers of candy and bags of other treats to decorate your gingerbread house.

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Below are photos of the house we built with a Florida twist in the back!

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Make sure you don’t leave your house laying around in easy to reach places or your house might have some problems. Our pup couldn’t resist the temptation of how delicious the gingerbread house is from The Ritz-Carlton.

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Event dates are: December 10-11 and December 17-23

  • 9 a.m., 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. (6 p.m. classes on select dates)
  • $195 per family (4 guests per group maximum)

Space is limited for each Gingerbread School event and reservations are required. For more information and reservations, please call (407) 393-4648.

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Kona Grill joins Central Florida at its first location in Winter Park. It is one of the fastest growing restaurants in the US that offers Asian and American dining. It is one of the few restaurants that require all of their employees to try every dish on the menu when they begin working at Kona Grill.

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The Kona Calamari is slightly flavored with a nice and creamy spicy aioli on the side.

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The Yamada Roll is made up of tempera sea bass, crab mix, avocado, cucumber, soy paper, sweet * spicy sauce, and fried wonton silvers. It has a lot of the sauce on it, which can be a tad overwhelming. However, the sweet & spicy sauce is definitely balanced. The roll itself is big and falls apart if you are not careful.

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The Pan-Seared Tuna is made to your liking with rice, baby boo chop, and sweet-chili sauce. The tuna is very tender and can be dipped into the sauce for sweet touch. The baby bak chop is cleaned well and is not soggy. The tuna is fresh and flown in from Hawaii roughly 4 times a week; it can be ordered the night before for the next day.

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The Macadamia Nut Chicken is served with house mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, shoyu cream, and pineapple-papaya marmalade. The shoyu cream is unique and buttery. The chicken is very moist and the macadamia nut crust adds a nice contrast to the texture of the chicken. The mashed potatoes has unique notes at the end and the seasoned vegetables are made well as they are not overcooked.

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The Spiced Apple Bread Pudding is topped with candied walnuts, vanilla bean ice cream, and caramel sauce. There are wonderful scents and taste notes of cinnamon. You can taste the freshness of the ingredients in every bite. Every bit of this dessert is well balanced when combined in each bite. The candied walnuts are delicious on their own with a slight sweetness that is not overwhelming.

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The Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée is a passion fruit infused custard. There are hints of passion fruit. It is tasty and the texture is not too thick.

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The Moscow Mule consists of Tito’s Vodka, ginger beer, and lime. It is made strong at Kona so be prepared.

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The Strawberry Basil Lemonade is made with Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum, lemonade, basil, strawberry, and sprite. It is sweet and smooth.

Kona Grill Address: 110 S Orlando Ave #12, Winter Park, FL 32789

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With a swarm of the undead ambling around, Boardwalk Bowl is calling all would-be zombie hunters to help us defeat the zombies with a new, one-of-a-kind attraction, Zombie Boardwalk. The shooting-gallery style attraction fills 4,000-square-feet of Boardwalk Bowl, and it incorporates lifelike zombie figures that make perfect target practice.

While you’re there, taste some items on their menu. Below are photos of dishes we tried during our visit.

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360 American Bistro and Bar joins Meliá Orlando Suite Hotel in Celebration, FL. Visit 360 whether or not you are staying at Meliá Orlando Suite Hotel as all guests are welcome.

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360 hosts a unique combination of Classic French Bistro foods and American favorites, plus signature desserts and a wide variety of fine wines, craft beers, and creative cocktails.

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From appetizers to desserts, 360 uses their open flame wood stone pizza oven to cook their dishes to perfection.

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Seared 360 Scallops are seared jumbo U-10 scallops served with a warm mushroom salad. The scallops and mushrooms were fresh and full of flavor. You can taste the sea with each bite of the scallops. The mushrooms have an earthy note, which draws the scallops to the shore.

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360 Flame Roasted Wings are premium chicken wings tossed with fresh herbs and caramelized onions roasted in their open flame wood stone pizza oven.

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Sweet Thai Shrimp are lightly fried shrimp tossed in a sweet Thai chili mayo served on a bed of arugula and sweet soy glaze. A tad spicy, but it doesn’t overpower the sweetness of the mayo. Thankfully the shrimp were not overcooked one bit as it could be a hard thing to do. Kudos to Chef Victor.

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Pan Seared Mozzarella is sliced and topped with tomato provencal.

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Kale and Quinoa Salad consists of fresh baby kale, red quinoa with toasted pecans, goat cheese, red radish and tossed in a dijon dressing.

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360 Gorgonzola Pear and Balsamic Pizza is made up of caramelized pears, dolce gorgonzola cheese and soppressata with a white sauce and a balsamic reduction drizzled and fresh rosemary. If you were handed a slice of this pizza without knowing the ingredients, you would not believe it includes pears. The pear joins the cheese in adding a mild sweet and soft touch to the salty soppressata.

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Margherita Pizza consists of locally sourced fresh mozzarella and basil with red sauce great for meat eaters and vegetarians. One slice of this pizza won’t be enough as your mind, palate, and stomach will beg for more.

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Southern Chicken Sandwich is a crispy chicken breast served on a brioche bun with house-made bread and butter pickle and arugula topped with a sweet Thai chili aioli.

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Idaho Potato Gnocchi is house-made with fresh peas, served with a caramelized onion cream sauce, garnished with pea shoots. The gnocchi is nice and smooth with a touch of flavor from the caramelized onion cream sauce.

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Short Rib Cannelloni consists of braised shredded short rib, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses stuffed inside rolled pasta topped with house-made red sauce then baked in their open flame wood stone pizza oven.

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Roasted Florida Top Sirloin (Picanha) is seared and roasted before served with fingerling potatoes and pea shoots on a bed of sauce soubise. The sirloin is nicely seasoned and tender as can be. This is one of the best sirloin dishes I have been served in Central Florida.

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Char Sui Chicken is an Asian marinated and seared airline chicken breast served with classic lo mean noodles with fresh ginger, oyster mushrooms and green onion topped with a honey-soy reduction.

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Seasonal Fruit Cobbler is a seasonal locally sourced, fruit-topped sweet cobbler crust then baked in our open wood flame wood stone pizza oven.

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360’s Signature Smores Profiteroles are pate a’ choux filled with marshmallow crime and topped with hot house-made chocolate sauce and a chocolate-cinnamon crumble. Messy, fun, sweet, and tasty, this dessert is best when served warm.

In addition to the tasteful menu, 360 offers a variety of cocktails from classics to original twists as well as a number of craft beers in bottles and on tap.

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Meliá Mule consists of Knob Creek, Blackberry Brandy, ginger beer, and lavender simple syrup.

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Cucumber Collins consists of Hendricks, simple syrup, lime, celery bitters on top of muddled cucumber.

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Watermelon Martini consists of Grey Goose le Citron, Watermelon Pucker and watermelon.

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Uinta Hop Nosh IPA combines an abundance of hops with a smooth malt profile to provide bold and refreshing notes.

 

For more information, visit Meliá Orlando Suite Hotel.

360 American Bistro and Bar
at Melia Orlando Suite Hotel in Celebration, FL
225 Celebration Pl
(407) 964-7176
http://www.360bistrobar.com/

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Tin Roof is a shotgun shack bar and music venue with creative takes on American pub food originating in Texas.

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Dixie Biscuits are fried biscuit sliders with house smoked brisket, bacon, peach jam, and cheddar cheese. These biscuits are sweet, salty, and savory. I especially like the peach jam that sneaks in the sweetness at the end of each bite.

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Poppers are bacon wrapped peppadew and pimento cheese croquettes. These are great for someone who likes cheese! Pimento is one of my favorite cheese so I will definitely be back for more.

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Chicken N Waffles cone of buttermilk fried chicken nuggets, waffle pieces, bacon-maple glaze, and ancho chili chocolate. This appetizer is too sweet for my liking. The nuggets and waffle pieces seemed to be drenched in the bacon-maple glaze and it was too overwhelming.

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House Smoked Brisket is a gluten free pub board with thick cut slices of their slow and low, pickled red onion and hot sauce. The sides are mac & cheese as well as ranch potato salad. The brisket is not very tender, a bit dry and fatty. The mac and cheese is delicious and had a hint of spiciness to it.

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Candy Pig Mac & Cheese consists of elbow pasta, brown sugar bacon, jalapeño queso, aged cheddar, herb bread crumbs, and scallions. This is one of the most wonderful mac & cheese, unlike other mac & cheeses that are boring. This has a number of flavors dancing on your palate. If you plan on visiting Tin Roof, make sure you order this dish. You could also order the street corn as a side; it was nice without the toppings. The squash casserole was unique, but not my thing.

For more information, please visit http://www.tinrooforlando.com.

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