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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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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I was honored to attend Chef’s Night hosted by Second Harvest Food Bank featuring Chef Michael LaDuke of The Capital Grille on Wednesday, October 26.

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Chef Michael LaDuke, vice president and corporate executive  for The Capital Grille, prepared dinner as part of the “Year of the Steak” Chef’s Night Series.

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At this event, guests were greeted with wonderful music as they enjoyed cocktails and amuse bouche.

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Gorgonzola Topped Figs with Ruby Port Syrup – very buttery with a slight salty taste and crumbly texture.

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Pan Seared Filet “Carpaccio” with Charred Shallot Aioli – tasteful with a garlic and mayonnaise undertone.

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Tower of Jumbo Shrimp and King Crab with Stone Ground Mustard Mayo and a House-Made Cocktail – every bit is fresh and delicious, especially the King Crab that has a sweetness to it that makes it great.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Spinach Salad with Toasted Pecans and Warm Honey Bacon Vinaigrette – the vinaigrette is light and sweet that goes well with the salad. However, the croutons were slightly soggy.

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30-Day Dry-Aged Sirloin with Rosti Potatoes, Asparagus Sauté and Mushroom Glace – the best sirloin I have ever had; it was the most tender piece of sirloin. The rosti potatoes were a tad dense and not my favorite. The asparagus sauté and mushroom glace was nice and added a little flavor to the sirloin if desired. I liked the sirloin with or without the asparagus sauté and mushroom place.

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The Capital Grille Signature Cheesecake with Spiked Cranberry Compote – heavenly delicious! I loved the cheesecake and I wish I had more. The spiked cranberry compote is nice and tart that adds a fruity touch to the cheesecake.

Purchase tickets for future events at www.FeedHopeNow.org or call 407-514-1070 for more information.

About Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
SHFBCF is a member of Feeding America – the largest charitable domestic hunger-relief organization in the United States. SHFBCF secures and distributes food and grocery products to approximately 550 local nonprofit feeding programs throughout Central Florida. Last year, with the help of food and financial donors, volunteers and a caring, committed community, the food bank distributed 43 million meals to partner programs such as food pantries, soup kitchens, women’s shelters, senior centers, day care centers and Kids Cafes. In addition, Second Harvest’s 14-week culinary program teaches foodservice-based technical, life and employability skills to economically hard-pressed adults. Our community turns to Second Harvest’s partner agencies more than 71,000 times per week. To learn more about SHFBCF, visit www.FeedHopeNow.org.

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About Chef’s Night
Chef’s Night brings Central Florida’s top chefs into Second Harvest’s Community Kitchen to celebrate delicious food and raise funds for a good cause. This year’s series, named “Year of the Steak,” features local chefs and restaurants that have a “steak” in our community.

All proceeds from the Chef’s Night Series benefit Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program, which provides students with the skills and inspiration they need to obtain an entry-level position in a food service establishment. The special “Year of the Steak” series runs through May 2017 with additional events featuring the chefs from Sonny’s BBQ, Season’s 52, Hard Rock Café and Ruth’s Chris Steak House, to name a few.

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Scungry [skhuhng-gree]: additive for being scary and hungry. This describes the new line of doughnuts at Krispy Kreme.

Tasty Chomps is lucky enough to be invited to Krispy Kreme Millenia, which is open 24 hours, to try some of these scungry doughnuts, drinks, and design our own doughnuts. Please note, these doughnuts are usually designed by professionals, but they thought it would be fun for us to get a feel of what it is like to ice some doughnuts. This is harder than you think.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts classic fall flavors including the Pumpkin Spice Cake Doughnut, the Salted Caramel Latte Doughnut and Pumpkin Spice Latte are available at all Central Florida Krispy Kreme shops through November 24.

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The Zombie Doughnuts are a Kreme™ filled shell dipped in either electric blue or green icing. The spooky faces are hand-decorated with black icing and topped with candy eyes. This little one loves these donuts the most, not only because of its creative design, but because of how tasty it is.

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A fan favorite is back! The Pumpkin Doughnut is filled with Chocolate Kreme, dipped in orange icing and decorated with black icing. This is my favorite cream filled for this season. Who doesn’t like Chocolate Kreme?

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The Spider Web Doughnut is filled and dipped in rich chocolate icing. This doughnut is finished off by creating a hand-decorated Spider Web using a white icing.

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  • The Pumpkin Spice Cake Doughnut is an old-fashioned doughnut with pumpkin spice and Krispy Kreme’s classic glaze. If you like something simple, yet delicious, this is the doughnut for you. This is my choice of the Fall season doughnuts when I do not fancy a doughnut with a filling. It is soft, fluffy, and sweet.
  • The Pumpkin Spice Latte features a pumpkin spice blend and is topped with whipped cream and pumpkin topping. This beverage can be enjoyed hot, iced or frozen. This is super sweet and perfect for the Florida life with its iced and frozen options.
  • The Salted Caramel Latte Doughnut is an espresso Kreme™ filled doughnut and topped with a salted caramel icing and salted sugar blend. An espresso icing drizzle tops off this perfect fall treat.

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The Caramel Apple Chiller is the sweetest addition to your Halloween costume this year. The tart green apple chiller is swirled with indulgent Ghirardelli caramel sauce to create an impeccable fall treat. It is nice to have in your hand at the beach as you enjoy the sun (after putting on some sunscreen).

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Krispy Kreme’s Halloween doughnuts and beverage are the perfect addition to your costume party this October. Share your favorite Halloween moments using #Scungry and #KrispyKreme on social media.

On Halloween (October 31), all guests in costume receive one complimentary doughnut of their choice.

Central Florida Krispy Kreme Shops 

  • 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
  • Krispy Kreme Daytona Beach – Open 24 Hours
    • 980 W International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL 32114

In the mean time, enjoy this video of freshly glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

 

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Bahama Breeze is geared up for its fourth annual Rumtoberfest, a celebration of all things rum and fun. Throughout Rumtoberfest, Bahama Breeze will have games, prizes, specials, live music, fortune tellers, and other activities at all of their locations every Friday until November 4, 2016.

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Conch Fritters made with the original Key West-inspired recipe. Served with a citrus-mustard. These fritters were delicious with or without the sauce. Along with the conch fritters, you can find corn and a few chopped vegetables according to their textures and flavors. I prefer to have a larger conch portion than add-ins for the price.

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Jumbo Stuffed Crab Shells consists of jumbo lump crabmeat, sweet peppers and scallions gently stuffed into three crab back shells. Served with yellow rice, green beans and a light citrus cream sauce. The crabmeat was flavorful and balanced when mixed with the yellow rice and light citrus cream sauce. The green beans were cooked well; they were not too soft or undercooked.

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Rum & Coke Ribs features tender baby back ribs tossed in the restaurant’s signature rum and coke glaze.

The Rumtoberfest menu features new cocktails crafted in the spirit of those served at islanders’ favorite neighborhood bars. This year’s selections include:

  • Pirate’s Paradise – This cocktail gets its name from Port Royal, Jamaica’s infamous pirate city. Served in an exclusive take-home glass, this drink features lime, passion fruit, ginger, vanilla and bitters, with an upside-down 50-ml bottle of Captain Morgan.
  • Rum Thyme – This drink was created in the spirit of Prohibition-era rum runners who brought ships of whiskey and rum into the U.S. from the Caribbean. It features Zaya Rum, Old Overholt Rye, orange juice, lime juice and thyme syrup.
  • High Tide Swizzle – The swizzle pre-dates the cocktail and is one of the Caribbean’s original rum drinks. The word “swizzle” comes from the stick (literally a stick from a tree) that was once used to mix the cocktail and add bittering flavors.
  • Rum Cocktail Flights – Can’t decide which rum cocktail to try? Choose between three options that highlight the most popular Bahama Breeze selections, including:
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    • Mama’s Hooch and Holler, featuring Bahamian Sunset, Bahama Mama and the Goombay Smash.
    • Shark Attack Shack, featuring Yaka Hula Hickey Dula, Zombie and Painkiller cocktails.
    • Float My Boat Bar, which includes the Curly Tail, Painkiller and Zombie cocktails.
  • Pick Your Own Rum Flight … served with a side of Coke, or treat yourself to three world-renowned Caribbean rums, like Barbancourt 15 Year Estate Reserve, Flor de Cana 18, and Don Q Gran Anejo.

Visit Rumtoberfest.com for more information, as well as rum tips, recipes, videos, interactive games and to be eligible for our sweepstakes.

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Marlow’s Tavern is back at it with their Ribs & Whiskey celebration menu starting Tuesday, September 13 through Monday, October 17. I was more than happy to join the party and taste some delicious items from the menu. The atmosphere was relaxing and the dishes roll out as fast as 15 minutes from ordering or you could let your server know that you are in no rush and enjoy your company.

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Blistered Poblano & Jalapeño, “Popper Style” – Roasted corn, cheddar, mozzarella, provolone and fresh herbs with BBQ ranch for dippin’. I am craving these as I write this blog post. There is nothing better than some delicious mozzarella. You may not think it is spicy, but each bite ends with a nice heat. Dipping it into the BBQ ranch will help in cooling down your palate.

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Although the lighting was not great for taking photos, the food made up for it.

Slow-Cooked Smithfield James River St. Louis-Style Ribs – Served with Granny Smith apple-cabbage slaw, pimento cheese “stuffed” tater tots and house-made sweet corn and jalapeño muffin.

  • The pimento cheese “stuffed” tater tots were great, especially because I love pimento cheese. However, these are dense due to its make up.
  • The house-made sweet corn and jalapeño muffin were unique, airy, and cinnamon-y sweet. I hardly tasted the jalapeño.
  • The Granny Smith apple-cabbage slaw isn’t my favorite because the sauce isn’t as light as I am used to. However, the apple slices make a sweet touch to the usual cole slaw.
  • The ribs are moist and fall off the bone. The flavors of each item on this plate is delectable. If you would like a twist, 3 sauces are featured as a glaze.

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Jack Daniel’s glaze, East Carolina barbecue and Marlow’s chipotle barbecue sauce. Each gives a sweet, spicy, smoky or tangy zip to the perfectly seasoned ribs or other items on the dish for a fun and unique touch.

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Beef & Buns – 24 hr. smoked beef brisket sliced thin slathered in Jack Daniel’s Honey Glaze, Granny Smith apple-cabbage slaw and crispy tobacco onion on a buttery onion roll. I like how the brisket was not drowning in the glaze. The thin layer is enough to get the flavors across without overpowering the burger. Without a doubt, I wanted to take one of these home with me that night. With such regrets, I will most likely make my way back to Marlow’s Tavern for another Beef & Buns.

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Boulevard Smokestack Single-Wide IPA ABV 8.5% – This American Version boasts a heady combination of six varieties of hops, full bodied with caramel, toffee-like malt and amber brown with intense floral and pronounced hop aromas. Although the ABV is 8.5%, it is light and can cause trouble because you won’t expect the alcohol to hit you with its characteristics.

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Last but not least, the bourbon bread pudding. Bourbon Bread Pudding – Crème-brûlée-soaked Cuban bread and a splash of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey for sipping’, This dessert is my absolute favorite. I make sure I visit Marlow’s Tavern each time it is back on the menu. The warm Cuban bread adds a nice texture to each bite along with ice cream. The vanilla ice cream on top melts at the touch of the bread pudding. It is like they were made for each other.

For the celebration menu, please check out the link below.

If you plan on making a visit on a Wednesday night, there are Girls Night Out food and drink deals!

Also, Marlow’s is also offering fans a chance to win a patio party for 10 guests at the Marlow’s location of their choice. Beginning Sept. 16 through Oct. 8, participants can enter the sweepstakes by providing their contact information through Marlow’s Facebook page. Fans who refer their friends and family to participate will receive bonus entries. The winner will be announced on Oct. 12.

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Chuy’s recently hosted a VIP Charity Night at their new Winter Park location where all proceeds of discounted beverages will benefit Give Kids The World. The founders, Mike and John, started Chuy’s with the belief that Chuy’s should always help the people in the neighborhoods they do business in, especially the youngest members: children.

Although the event was a hit, it was very crowded with no where to go or stand. Tables were all full with customers having a wonderful time inside and out of the restaurant. The main complaint is how a few members of the Chuy’s family were not friendly, patient nor respectful.

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Why pick between tequila and beer when you can have both with Grandpa’s Brew. Nice and cool for a hot summer day.

DSC_7566Appetizer Plate – Chile con queso, nachos, deluxe quesadillas, chicken flautas, guacamole & sour cream.The Deluxe quesadillas are delicious, cheesy and the best of all the options on this plate.

DSC_7573Tacos Al Carbon – freshly made flour tortillas filled with fajita chicken or beef, grilled onions & green chiles.

DSC_7575Stacked Enchiladas – An authentic New Mexican recipe. Homemade blue corn tortillas stacked with freshly-roasted, hand-pulled chicken, cheese & Tomatillo sauce, topped with sour cream. The stacked enchiladas was not that great. Nothing special to say about it.

DSC_7576The Elvis Presley Memorial Combo – Beef Tex-Mex enchilada, cheese Ranchero enchilada, chicken Tomatillo enchilada, a seasoned ground sirloin crispy taco & homemade tostada chips dipped in chile con queso. This combination has a bit of everything and great for someone that wants to try it all.

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Fajitas – a choice of beef, chicken or a combination, grilled with onions and peppers. Served with handmade flour tortillas, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, pico de gallo, Mexican rice & refried beans. Order for one or two. The beef was a little over salted. Other than that, the dish was good.

 

Location for Winter Park Chuy’s: 107 S. Orange Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

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The Flame Broiler invites us to a location in Downtown Orlando. They are known for serving simple, healthy food at an affordable price. In Downtown Orlando, The Flame Broiler family is very tentative and kind to all guests who enter their doors.

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The first location opened in 1995 in California by Young Lee. As of 2009, Mr. Lee began to give back by feeding the homeless as well as sponsor children in need. He is committed to sponsoring 2 children per location that opens. As of 2016, there are 180 The Flame Broiler Restaurants found in California, Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and Oklahoma.

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Starting at only 140 calories, guests can choose from a base of white or brown rice or can forego rice altogether and opt for all freshly blanched vegetables (broccoli, carrots, cabbage) which is topped with your protein of choice (certified Angus beef, all-natural chicken or organic charbroiled tofu) and chopped green onions.

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For an added flavor kick, guests can top their bowls off with its proprietary hot sauce made with cayenne peppers or their Korean BBQ inspired Magic Sauce. The Flame Broiler uses no dairy, trans-fat, skin, fryers or HFCS.

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The Works Bowl with brown rice — consists of vegetables, beef, and chicken. The chicken and beef are delicious and well seasoned. The beef is slightly tough, but it is a better alternative than being too chewy. The vegetables are steamed and I find them to have great texture for my liking.

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The Chicken Bowl with white rice — the chicken is tender and flavored well. The rice is nicely made.

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The Tofu and Vegetable Bowl with brown rice — the tofu is soft and nicely flavored like the chicken.

For more information, please check out The Flame Broiler.

Address: 54 W Church St, Orlando, FL 32801, USA

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Chicken Salad Chick is the nation’s only southern inspired, fast casual chicken salad restaurant concept known for its 15 different chicken salad flavors. We were invited to taste the restaurant’s limited-time fall menu, which includes Rockin’ Rita chicken salad and Strawberry Pecan Salad.

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Rockin’ Rita is a spicy chicken salad flavor featuring Wickles Pickles Spicy Red Relish, a 70-year old family recipe that is known to pack a punch. Strawberry Pecan Salad, features dried cranberries, Fuji apples, strawberries, feta cheese and crushed pecans on a bed of spring mix lettuce with a homemade poppy seed vinaigrette dressing.

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Enjoy a chicken salad sandwich with a soup on the side. The soup varies each day. Today’s soup is a chicken and artichoke, which is creamy and great for the upcoming fall season. With each sandwich, you can determine what bread to enjoy along with your chicken salad.

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If you are not interested in the additional carbs of bread from the sandwich, you could order the Chick Trio. Take your pick of any three chicken salads or side items served on a bed of lettuce, accompanied by a pickle spear & wheat crackers.

For our visit, we decided on the Classic Carol, Fruity Fran, and Luau Lydia. Each have a unique touch to differentiate itself from the other flavors.

My favorite during this visit was the Luau Lydia, which contains a tropical blend of pineapple and macadamia nuts. The pineapple adds a sweet touch to the chicken salad without the crunch added by apples in the Fruity Fran.

Check out all of the flavors of chicken salad and the rest of the menu here: Chicken Salad Menu.

Location: 12101 University Blvd #200, Orlando, FL 32817, USA

Hours: Monday – Saturday 11am to 8pm

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Paramount brings Farm-To-Table dining that embraces the fresh and healthy flavors of the Mediterranean. Paramount says that they “care about what they put on your plate, which is why all of their meats are GMO, hormone and antibiotic free, grass fed and natural raised.”

Paramount also “cares about the local community and how they impact the environment.” They source their produce locally. They use plates and other materials made from recycled materials and vegetable fibers that are 100% biodegradable throughout their store.

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The Falafel is completely vegetarian, but thick in texture. It tastes better with the creamy sauce that comes with it at Paramount.

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Grape Leaves – rice and seasoning wrapped in grape leaves. This was my favorite item on the menu. Simply made, yet the flavors are very refreshing.

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Yale Special (top left) – Chicken Shawarma on a bed of French Fries, topped with shredded Lettuce, pickled Cucumbers & Turnips, Tomatoes, Parsley, covered with Tahini and Garlic Sauces.

Mezzo Plate (top right) – Tabbouleh, Baba Ganoush, Falafel, hummus with pita. Tabbouleh is a salad we would choose if we wanted a light and quick lunch from Paramount.

  • The taste is light, lemony and minty. As fun as it is to say Baba Ganoush, the eggplant dish is far from being our favorite; it is very unique and the flavors are very strong, even for an experienced palate.

Sampler Plathe (lower center) – Chicken Kebab, Kafta Kebab, Chicken or Beef Shawarma, Rice and Fries or Salad.

  • The grilled chicken is very tender, juicy and moist.
  • Kafta Kebab is a grilled skewer of ground beef mixed with exotic Arabic spices. It is very similar to meatloaf (on a stick).

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Aside from dishes with pre-determined ingredients and items, Paramount allows you to create your own saw, bowl, pita, and salad similar to Chipotle. At the very bottom of this post, you can find an image of the steps.

The hummus bowl is made nicely and the hummus itself is smooth. The bowl is very filling and you can save the leftovers for a second meal, possibly with some pita.

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This is a pita with beef shawarma. Beef shawarma is grilled steak seasoned with Paramount’s blend of unique spices. It is grilled on a rotating spit before being shaved off to be served accordingly.

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The Nutella Saj looks tasteful, but we were unable to try it due to allergies.

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Lebanese Kinafe – A Mediterranean cheese dessert drizzled with sugar syrup. This is unique, savory and sweet that most cheese and dessert lovers will enjoy.

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Baklawa – Stuffed with pistachio or cashew nuts. Although you may believe it is healthy due to pistachio and cashew nuts, think again. This dessert is packed with more sugar than you may believe. It is delicious and best in small portions.

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Fresh Juices – Mango, Strawberry and Cocktails (strawberry, mango and banana). The juices are liked by many, but we did to fancy it too much. The lemonade is not your typical lemonade you may find at a farmer’s market, etc. It had a unique taste to it that we did not recognize. If we had to choose, we prefer the mango and strawberry blend.

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For more information, please visit Paramount Fine Foods.

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On August 25, 2016, Newk’s Eatery invited Tasty Chomps to their first Orlando location for a nice tasting. Newk’s Eatery is founded by Chris and Lori Newcomb in Jackson, Mississippi. They wish to invest in Orlando due to our family oriented community and casual environment.

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With delicious food, they focus on the health of the community as they created Newk’s Cares to support ovarian cancer awareness and fundraising campaign, which is inspired by Lori Newcomb’s Stage IIIC ovarian cancer diagnosis in 2013.  As of now, over $420,000 is raised for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance. Moreover, Newk’s Eatery plans on matching contributions from their August 15 opening at this location to the OneOrlando Fund.

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Newk’s Eatery imports the best meat and cheese they can find as well as fresh produces from local farmers’ markets for meals to be prepared from scratch at each location. Everything is prepared by hand every day — hand-chopped vegetables, hand-cut fruit, and hand-rolled pizza dough. Chefs at each location grills premium cuts of chicken, steak, and salmon over a flame.

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Half sandwich and side — Newk’s “Q” and Six Cheese Pimiento with Bacon.

  • Newk’s “Q” — Sliced flame-grilled chicken, thick-cut bacon, Ammerländer Swiss cheese and our signature white BBQ sauce served on Newk’s famous French Parisian bread. The chicken is tender and juicy with a savory touch of bacon doused in a unique sauce.
  • Six Cheese Pimiento with Bacon — Five Cheese Mac with the extra creamy kick of pimiento cheese topped with crumbled bacon. A mac and cheese to die for! This is one of the best mac and cheese I have ever had and is at a reasonable price.

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Spinach & Feta — A creamy mix of Feta cheese, spinach, potatoes, onion and sour cream garnished with fresh basil (Vegetarian). Soup availability is based off of the daily soup schedule. This specific soup is served on Mondays and Thursdays. This is nice and creamy; easy to eat any day of the week. As I was eating this soup, I wish I had it each time I was previously sick and needed something warm for my throat.

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Simply Salad — Arcadian mixed greens, sweet grape tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots, aged cheddar cheese, house-made croutons and a dressing of your choice; in my case, I chose a ginger dressing. Refreshing for a hot summer day. Make sure you don’t let it sit too long because the dressing will become overpowering when the greens are soaking in it.

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Deluxe Pizza — Campioni pepperoni, mortadella, smoked ham, ripe Roma tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers, steak-cut portabella mushrooms, imported kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, house-shredded mozzarella and provolone cheeses over tomato sauce. Each ingredient is fresh with each bite, but best part of this pizza is the cheese. After finishing this pizza, I wish I had more with extra cheese.

For more information, please visit Newk’s Eatery.

Location: 1448 N Alafaya Trail, Orlando, FL 32828, USA

Hours: Monday-Sunday 11am to 10pm.

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Bahama Breeze Island Grille has launched its first-ever, summer-long Reggae Fest, delighting locals throughout the summer with some of the best Reggae musicians – and Jamaican flavors – around. The new summer menu is now live as part of the celebration, delighting locals with the tastes and sounds of summer (and some of the best Reggae musicians around).

During our visit to Bahama Breeze, we experienced the very best and we had one of their best family members helping us enjoy our time. Our waitress, Olivia, was very cordial, fun, and honest with her opinions on what dishes we should experience.

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Tostones with Chicken – direct from San Juan, twice-fried plantains topped with chicken, sweet peppers, mushrooms, melted cheese, and tomato salsa. The chicken adds a tender and flavorful touch to the plantains that were used as a delivery mode between the plate and your mouth.

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Smothered Pork Goodness – a hearty pile of pulled pork, chorizo, and cheese stuffed yuca topped with caramelized onions, guava BBQ sauce and more cheese. The pulled pork is very tender and juicy.

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Sesame Crusted Ahi – seared sesame crusted Ahi tuna served chilled with greens, tomatoes, cucumber, and a sweet mango glaze. The sweet mango glaze is unique for the Ahi tuna, but the flavor grows on you until every piece of tuna is in your tummy.

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Naan served with a strong garlic crouton butter. If this is at your table, you better hope your significant other takes a few bites as well or else it will ruin the mood for you.

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Curry Goat – guests looking for a true authentic experience should look no further. This traditional, full flavored Caribbean dish is the Reggae Fest Chef Special. The goat is tender and the flavors are overpowering. If you are not a fan of heat, you may prefer to avoid the spicy curry goat. On the other hand, the flavors will be wonderful enough to try with a nice drink on standby.

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Taste of Jamaica – feast on this festive plate of Jamaican Favorites: pulled pork, jerk chicken, beef empanada, callaloo, sweet plantains, yellow rice and black beans. Each section of this plate has a different flavor than the other sections. Each item of meat is very tender and juicy, which can have a sweet note added if a bit of the mango sauce is added for each bite.

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Jerk Chicken Pasta – Sliced jerk chicken breast, fresh asparagus and mushrooms tossed in a Parmesan cream sauce with bow-tie pasta. The pasta is nicely made and all the flavors mesh together well.

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Rebecca’s Key Lime Pie – Bahama Breeze’s original, handmade with brown sugar crust and golden meringue. This slice is nice to have on a hot summer day as long as you make sure you eat it before the day warms up the pie.

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Chocolate Island – Rich chocolate mousse on a fudge brownie island in chocolate sauce and vanilla bean anglaise. The fudge brownie is delightful and rich alone. With the chocolate sauce and vanilla bean anglaise, you might have a cavity by the end of the night.

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Warm Chocolate Pineapple Upside-Down Cake – A warm, rich chocolate cake with a chocolate molten center topped with caramelized pineapple, served with raspberry sauce and fresh Island fruit. The fruity flavors add an uncommon touch to the chocolate cake. This is a dessert to enjoy indoors and in air condition.

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Coconut Cream Pie – Creamy coconut custard spiked with coconut rum in a graham cracker crust. With homemade whipped cream piled high and toasted coconut flakes. This coconut cream pie is our favorite item on the menu at Bahama Breeze. It is best right after coming out of the fridge. The toasted coconut flakes add a different texture to the smooth custard that creates flavors that will dance on your tongue. You will wish the flavors dance a bit longer on your tongue than it does.

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Ultimate Pineapple (front) – Spiced Run, Coco López and Bacardi Black Rum swirled with strawberry ice and served in a freshly cup pineapple. If you want a secret twist, ask to have mango ice added for a wonderful touch. Even the aftertaste is wonderful! Can be made virgin style.

Frozen Bahamarita (back) – a signature frozen Margarita, made with Sauza Tequila, strawberry and mango ices. Served with a shot of Cactus Juice Schnapps. Delicious and refreshing, but it isn’t as great as the Ultimate Pineapple with mango. Can be made virgin style.

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One Love – this tasty and refreshing cocktail is made with everything nice and all fruits ripe. Malibu Banana Rum, Pineapple, Orange and Guava juice shaken together, topped with an Appleton Rum floater and a dehydrated pineapple. Can be made virgin style.

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Red Stripe Beer Buckets – the perfect deck-side brew for a group of friends. This pale lager, made in Jamaica, will have you and your crew drifting to off to the islands.

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Reggae Fest will bring the “don’t worry, be happy” attitude to life with the sounds, tastes, sights and vibes of Jamaica. Bahama Breeze will turn up the party every Saturday during Reggae Fest (now – August 13th), featuring live bands in all 36 locations across the country.

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It doesn’t stop there – to continue the celebration, Bahama Breeze is giving away a cruise for one righteous winner and a friend to the JamRock 5-night cruise to Jamaica.

You can learn more here: Reggae Fest

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We were happy to visit Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi for a VIP Robata Dinner Experience, which consists of a special preview menu that is hand fabricated daily and quantities are limited. DSC_7446

Each dish is created by David Song, Chef De Cuisine, and his team to their best capabilities.

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Aka Salad – fennel, cucumber, yuzu, heirloom tomato, micro wasabi green, shoyu vinaigrette. The octopus is very tender and the cucumber added a light, watery touch to the dish as the vinaigrette creates a unique taste for your palate.

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Roberta Top Neck Clams – shoyu, sake, mirin, micro shish. This was my favorite dish of the night. The clams are delicious with or without the sauce in the shells.

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Maitake Mushrooms – goma ai, togorashi, pine nut, micro cilantro. Maitake mushrooms were nicely cooked and tender. The sauce is creamy as well as slightly sweet and nutty.

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Robata Grilled Bison – Japanese eggplant, sweet shoyu broth, togarashi, ryu oil. The grilled bison is nicely flavored and tender, yet slightly gamey. It goes very well with the sweet shoyu broth. The eggplant is a bit too soft for my preferences.

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Bronzino – ginger scallion, ponzu, pickled radish. The fish is fresh and is great, even without the citrus-based ponzu.

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Dango – red bean ice cream, anko paste, sweet shoyu glaze. The red bean ice cream is wonderful, especially with the shortbread crumble. The anko paste adds a sweet touch to the mochi it is glazed over. The Sweet shoyu glaze is not my favorite as I still think of its salty flavors.

The VIP Robata Dinner Experience can be booked by groups at robata@dragonflyrestaurants.com

For more information, please visit Dragonfly Robata.

Photos by myself as well as Ruby Sea Official.

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Second Harvest Food Bank teamed up with Lighthouse Central Florida, the Orlando Police Department SWAT team, award-winning Chef Jill Holland, staff and students, and our community for another successful Dining in the Dark. With all hands on deck, a total of $13,250 was successfully raised for our community.

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Dining in the Dark is a unique sensory experience like no other. It was a world of smell, taste, sound, and total darkness as we join together to help bring light to the isolation that hunger and vision loss can cause. The Orlando Police Department SWAT team was decked in night vision goggles and served guests in complete darkness.

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The food looked great! This is what it looked like before the lights came on at the end of the night. Many have asked and the answer is: yes, the food was all plated beautifully whether or not the light was on.

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Terrine of Blue Crab, Pico de Gallo and Guacamole wrapped in Yellowfin Tuna. Each ingredient is fresh, full of flavor and adds a different texture to the dish.

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Vegetarian/Allergen Option: Cold Summer Vegetable Terrine (Ratatouille vegetables with agar agar jellied tomato sauce)

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Watermelon, Endive, Feta Tile Salad with Carambola (mint, pickled red onion and watermelon rind). The Carambola and watermelon were very refreshing. The watermelon was very sweet, but the starfruit was a tad sour.

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Chicken Ballantine with apricots and pistachios with a size of roasted asparagus and sweet potato purée. The apricots added a unique sweetness to the chicken. The chicken was nicely made, but slightly dry. The roasted asparagus were not soggy nor were they tough to eat.

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Vegetarian/Allergen Option: Stuffed Portabella Cap and sweet potato purée

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Mango and Guava Mascarpone Profiteroles with Port Glaze and Peanut Brittle

About the Organizations:

Second Harvest Food Bank is a private, non-profit organization with a drive to lend a helping hand to neighbors in Central Florida with the help of donors, volunteers and a caring, committed community. Approximately 64 million pounds of grocery products are distributed to partner programs such as food pantries, soup kitchens, women’s shelters, senior centers, day care centers and Kids Cafes. The food bank also creates self-sustaining opportunities through their culinary and warehouse training programs to do their best to improve the lives of those within our community.

Lighthouse Central Florida is a private, non-profit organization that provides services, including education, independent living skills and job training and placement, for people who are completely blind to those who have varying degrees of low vision (i.e., a vision impairment that cannot be corrected and interferes with daily activities).The non-profit provides services for babies, children, teens, adults and seniors, as well as their support systems of family and friends. Since 1976, the organization has served more than 100,000 people with sight impairment and their families in Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties.

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With a recent visit to Ocean Prime, we enjoyed a heartfelt and elegant experience with their limited time Cooper River Salmon from the Alaska Seafood institute. This fish comes straight from Alaska’s Copper River, which is the birthplace of some of the most renowned wild Alaskan salmon.

Aside from the food, the Ocean Prime family at the Orlando, FL location would be the main reason for us to return to the restaurant; the staff is very tentative and genuine.

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To begin our meal, we had the Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli with Golden Oak Mushrooms. Textures were fabulous, but it was a touch too salty for my preference.

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Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Cheese was light, especially with the arugula salad. The Burrata cheese is very smooth and tasted a little sweet like cheesy whipped cream.

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Colorado Lamb Chops with Arugula Pesto, Snap Peas, and Mint Vinaigrette was our favorite dish of the night. The lamb is tender and the flavors are on point, with the mint vinaigrette adding a sweet touch to each bite of lamb.

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This is nicely done Yellowfin Tuna with Marble Potatoes, Fava Beans and Truffle Jus, with tuna itself accentuated by the sauce that brought out different flavor notes of the tuna.

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The Copper River Salmon is served with Alaska King Crab Salad, Asparagus, Spring Peas and Lemon Vinaigrette and topped with Tomato Fondue. (Price varies by location.)

Salmon is rich in heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids and are a great source of protein and essential amino acids.

The salmon is nice and buttery, but can risk being dry if overcooked. The salad is refreshing with the lemon vinaigrette and served with a generous portion of Alaska King Crab.

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Black Truffle Mac & Cheese and Creamed Spinach are two of the many sides on the menu at Ocean Prime. Both are smooth and creamy in their own way.

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The Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie consists of Peanut Butter Mousse and Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache. The mousse had more of a cream cheese taste with a hint of peanut butter. The mousse is covered by a dark chocolate coating and placed on the bittersweet chocolate ganache.

The dark chocolate coating is nice, but the ganache did not make a big impression, though beautifully presented.

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The Butter Cake is served with Vanilla Ice Cream, Fresh Berries, and a fruity wine reduction sauce. My favorite part is a bite of ice cream with the gooey center of the cake. Another twist is when we added a bit of the chocolate ganache from the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie with that bite.

To find a location near you and for more information regarding Ocean Prime, please visit

Ocean Prime
7339 Sand Lake Rd #400, Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: (407) 781-4880
http://www.ocean-prime.com/locations-menus/orlando
Photographers: Ruby Sea and myself (Katherine Nguyen)

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On June 10th 2016, the Sofrito community celebrated their one year anniversary. Sofrito Latin Cafe is a Latin restaurant opened by Maria and Carlos. They offer a communal dining experience and serves dishes from all over Latin America.

Their goal is to make this restaurant a community space as they desire guests to come, relax and feel that they are at home. This is just what we did as everyone was very welcoming and joyful; our waiter was the best and Maria, herself, walked around to greet all of her guests to ensure we all had a wonderful time.

Along with tasty foods, Sofrito offers natural juices (orange, guava, passion fruit, mango, and sour-sop) and Latin canned sodas as well as water and milk. We tried the guava and passion fruit juices. Both were great; the passion fruit is a tart juice and guava is sweeter, but it is not overpoweringly sweet.

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In the back, we have the fried corn-flour Colombian Empanada filled with beef, potatoes, and spices. In the front, there is a Cheese Mini Tequeño and two Venezuelan Empanadas. The Cheese Mini Tequeños are baked pastry dough surrounding cheese; they are chewy, savory, and delicious.

The Venezuelan Empanada are slightly fried and filled with shredded chicken or beef. Both the Colombian Empanada and Venezuelan Empanadas are nice to try, but we prefer the Venezuelan as the sweet corn-flour added a great touch to the empanada along with the moist, sweet, and tender meat.

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The Cachapa is a traditional Venezuelan sweet corn pancake filled with Queso de Mano (Artisan Handmade white soft cheese) and topped with cream. (Add shredded beef or roasted pork for an extra $3). This is one of my favorites because of all the cheese. The cheese has a similar texture and taste to mozzarella.

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The Patacon Venezuelan sandwich consists of shredded beef or pork, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and a homemade cilantro-garlic sauce kept together by two fried green plantains. The fried green plantains have a good texture and holds the content in well. The shredded beef has delicious flavors, but I wish it was more tender.

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Cuban Sandwiches are known by many and can be found at a number of places in Florida. Sofrito makes their Cuban sandwiches with ham, house-made roasted pork, Swiss cheese, house-made pickles, and mustard in Cuban bread before being pressed. This specific one did not make my list of favorite Cuban sandwiches. The bread is a bit tough and dry for each bite. Also, the contents were a bit too salty for my preferences.

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The Nutella Empanada is a fried pastry stuffed with Nutella and dusted with powdered sugar. It smells even better than it looks and it looks beautiful. I am sure it tastes just as great! Unfortunately, we did not try it due to allergies.

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The Coconut Flan is an egg custard with subtle hints of coconut. This has to be my favorite item on the menu (out of the items we tried) because desserts are the best and this was just heavenly with the texture at the consistency I like my flan to be at. Would I go back for more of this Coconut Flan? Absolutely! I am drooling just thinking about it now.

Fun Facts about Sofrito Latin Cafe:

  • Maria’s and Carlos’ Favorite Entrees: Roasted Pork and Rotisserie Chicken
  • Most Popular Plates: Cuban sandwich, Tripleta Sandwich, and Cheese Tequeños
  • Maria’s Dessert Obsession: Tres Leche

Location: 8607 PALM PKWY, ORLANDO, FL, 32836

More information: Sofrito Latin Cafe

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Disney Springs recently had a nice addition to their family.

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Sprinkles is the world’s first cupcake bakery by Food Network and their location at Disney Springs is the 20th location for the brand nationwide as well as the 12th Cupcake ATM nationwide that will dispense fresh cupcakes straight to customers.

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At Sprinkles, they offer freshly baked cupcakes and an assortment of ice cream and cookies. Not to mention, vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free cupcakes, cookies and ice cream are also available daily.

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Combinations can be made like this cookie ice cream sandwich. You can decide on what cookies and ice cream you’ll be served. Not a fan of cookies? How about a fudge brownie ice cream sandwich? The fudge brownie alone is moist, airy, thick, and sweet enough to give you cavities on impact.

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If you can’t decide between having ice cream or a cupcake, you can combine those too. Here’s a delicious Sprinkles cupcake with a scoop of red velvet ice cream in the middle.

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At Sprinkles, they have bits and pieces of the red velvet cake in their red velvet ice cream. I don’t think you can imagine how delightfully surprised I was when I discovered this fact. It adds a nice dense texture to the ice cream that I truly enjoyed.

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A variety of seasonal flavors will be available at various times throughout the year. They deliver within a 100 mile radius for online and phone orders – this could be great and horrible news for us all.

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When Sprinkles has extra food items at the end of the day, they donate to a nonprofit organization called A Grateful Mind that works to feed the homeless in Central Florida and provide programs for the area’s youth. How can you not support a good cause?

Feel free to join their perks program for benefits and rewards at Sprinkles Perks.

Bakery days and hours: Monday-Sunday 10am-midnight

ATM days and hours: Monday-Sunday 8am-2am

More information can be found at Sprinkles at Disney Springs.

 

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The Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando, FL hosts the Kitchen Challenge at their restaurant The Kitchen. This is a 30 minute challenge to eat “The Kitchen Burger” and “The Kitchen Sink” for $47+tax. If this challenge is completed within 30 minutes, this meal is on the house.

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We were happy to join and attempt to win this challenge with Michael Fritz as our representative.

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“The Kitchen Burger” is an 8oz Black Angus Beef Burger piled high with Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Onion Rings, Lettuce, Tomato and Chipotle Horseradish Aioli, a deep fried pickle on the side, and a full pound of French Fries.

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“The Kitchen Sink” is a 3lb, 7 layer cake. It is made up of Brownie, Peanut Butter Crunch, Chocolate Chunk Cookie, Pecan Pie, Vanilla Cheesecake, Devils Food Chocolate Cake and Vanilla Chiffon all covered with chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, and served with vanilla ice cream.

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Unfortunately, we could not beat the challenge. However, Michael ate more than the other two men competing against the time, of which we are proud of him for doing.

Please enjoy behind the scenes photos of the event below.

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Our behind the scenes video:

Hard Rock Hotel’s Kitchen Sink Challenge promo:

For more information, please visit Hard Rock Hotel.

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Inspired by the traditions of Southeast Asian cuisine, Genji is introducing Wok Street to Whole Foods Market Altamonte Springs, FL. For nearly 20 years, Genji has been providing select Whole Foods Market locations with sushi.

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These days, they are adding Wok Street bowls to their menu.

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Wok Street focuses on bold flavors and healthy dishes prepared quickly and affordably.

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At Wok Street, crisp vegetables meet marinated proteins, paired with white or brown rice and a variety of bold, homemade sauces and toppings. Choose from Wok Street’s signature bowls, or build-a-bowl with all of your favorites. All bowls are made with rice, or upgrade your meal with noodles for only $1.

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Wok Street Chicken contains chicken, ginger soy teriyaki sauce, brussels sprouts, garlic green beans, green papaya salad, scallions, fried garlic, and brown rice.

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Chinatown consists of steak, black pepper sauce, brussels sprouts, bean sprouts, cucumber, pickled ginger, tempura crunch, and white rice.

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Thai Curry King consists of golden tofu, Thai red curry sauce, garlic green beans, green papaya salad, bean sprouts, cucumber, crushed peanuts, and brown rice.

 

Background information

Genji Sushi began as a small restaurant in Philadelphia, dedicated to the finest quality all-natural sushi and Japanese-inspired cuisine. Today, Genji counters can be found in more than 165 Whole Foods Market locations in 18 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the U.K. At each location, skilled chefs prepare a variety of fresh items on-site, from sushi and sashimi to bao buns and authentic ramen. The company’s mission is to serve food-lovers with delicious Japanese-inspired food and knowledge to lead happy, healthy lives, and its goal is to contribute towards healthier food consumption habits on a global level. For more information, visit www.genjiweb.com.

Wok Street is now open at Whole Foods Market Altamonte Springs – 305 East Altamonte Drive Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32701

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