Authors Posts by Katherine Nguyen

Katherine Nguyen

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Katherine Nguyen is a Dental Hygienist working in Orlando, FL. She also has a major in Molecular Biology and Microbiology and minor 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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We were able to explore some dishes on the new menu of Cocina 214 with some new delicious drinks. The new menu is launched at both their Winter Park and Daytona Beach locations.

The Nacho Macho was brought out for everyone to share while we wait for the main dishes. The Nacho Macho is a vegetarian and gluten free dish made up of tortilla chips toped with queso, black beans, pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, and sour cream. All of the ingredients mesh well as they dance on your tastebuds.

The Chicken Fajitas is served with sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole, fresh homemade tortillas (corn or flour), rice, and beans. The vegetables with the chicken fajitas are delicious and chicken shows beautiful charred markings. There is also a vegetarian version of the chicken fajitas for those that don’t fancy meat!

The Chicken Flautas are served with refried beans, guacamole, romaine lettuce, queso fresco, sour cream, tomatoes, and verde salsa. This dish is delicious with a crispy texture under all the sauces and vegetables. The sauces add a moistness to each bite you take of this dish.

Wash down your bites with The Cocina Guavarita, which is the Margarita Contest Winner. It’s made with Don Julio Blanco, Cointreau, and guava all served on the rocks. It’s slightly tart from the guava, but refreshing.

For a stronger kick, try the Flex On The Beach. It’s made of Tierras Organic Tequila, Peach Schnapps, pineapple juice, Blue Curacao, lime juice, and agave served on the rocks. This is my favorite of the two, but try them both and let me know what you think!

Don’t worry, there are additional drinks and bites you can also try, which includes the happy hour menu.

After dinner, try some delicious desserts as well as taste a variety of spirits and tequila Cocina 214 has in stock.

For more information, check out their website.

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A little wedge of Wisconsin was brought to Central Florida to share. Their most famous and award-winning cheesy residents are hitting the road and showcased at Winter Park for a VIP cheese event at the Winter Park Farmers’ Market on Thursday, November 8.

This special gathering included hors d’oeuvres from Swine & Sons, an opportunity to mingle with Wisconsin cheese experts, a build-your-own cheeseboard station, Instagram photo ops, a few mystery surprises, and – of course – all the Wisconsin cheese our hearts (and mouths) could ever desire. This was a ticket to experience the best of Cheeselandia without having to leave home.

Inside, there’s a build-your-own cheeseboard station that ran out of different cheeses and meats to add to the plate if you don’t find it quickly. However, we turned around and added items from the main station of treats for us to try.

One of the most fun part of the night is having an awesome photo op as well as designing our own cheeseboard. We won’t post our awesome photo op, but I’ll show you my plate…that is probably messier than anything.

Along with the bites, we were offered white wine, red wine, rosé, and beer. Certain drinks tasted better with different bites. To learn about pairing, we experienced a nice cheese pairing.

The different types of Wisconsin cheeses could be paired as so. My favorite was the Sartori Merlot Bellavitano with dark chocolate, while others had different palates.

So many cheeses were present that have been aged various number of years.

To top off a fun and cheesy night, we were given a lunch box with a number of cheese we were allowed to choose from the available options provided!

For a little slice of heaven, check out their website: https://www.cheeselandia.com

Pollo D’oro is a Latin American family owned restaurant created by two brothers and their families working together to bring you delicious and authentic flavors. Everyone at this restaurant is warm and welcoming from the time you walk through the door to ensure you the best experience they can offer.

The menu offers a number of dishes where the protein can be ordered on its own or in a meal for yourself or family portion. Meals offered include options for certain sides, while you can order other sides separately.

You can see everything behind the scenes when looking past the counter to see how your dishes are made. All meats are fresh and marinated in tropical juices and spices. Here, you can see my chicken being cooked on the grill made per order, which may take a little time before it makes it to your table to ensure freshness.

While waiting for your food, check out the sauce bar filled with delicious concoctions you can create for your palate. My favorites include the garlic sauce for fried items, while I enjoy the house sauce and pink sauce for my grilled chicken. The house sauce has nice spices, while the pink sauce is more mellow and is mayonnaise based.

With your grilled chicken, they also provide some tortilla if you’d like to create a mini taco or wrap yourself. Adds a little fun to your meal!

The Grilled Chicken was SO flavorful, moist and tender with crispy skin. The flavors are amazing and makes my mouth water starting a few hours after eating this dish. I wish I had more… if only I lived closer. The yellow rice brings its own flavors to the table and served with some vegetables mixed in.

Grilled chicken with bone-in isn’t your fancy for this meal? Try their Boneless Chicken Breast Platter, which can be served with white rice and beans like how it is pictured here. The chicken is served on fresh lettuce and tomato slices with cooked onions to top it off.  Again, the chicken is flavorful, tender and moist no matter what method it’s made and served. The beans at this restaurant is soft but not mushy, which makes a nice additional protein to your dish.

Another chicken dish not photographed (because I was too excited and ate it fast) is their Fried Chicken Wings, which is great when dipped in the garlic sauce.

If you’re not in the mood for chicken, Pollo D’oro also offers other proteins offered in platters, sandwiches or salads. However, they may suggest the chicken for your first visit because it is their bread and butter!

Sweet Plantains can be offered as a small or large side. Both options are great to share with friends and family while enjoying your meal. Growing up in South Florida, I have missed delicious sweet plantains and I’m glad I found a place can make it similar to the sweet plantains I’ve had when down south.

Before you leave, try the unique Tres Leches (3 Milk Flan) cake made in-house. It’s unique at this location with the fruit they’ve added to the cake. A little pineapple adds a new touch to the cake itself.

For a taste, stop by Pollo D’oro at 4542 Hoffner Ave, Orlando, FL 32812 or give them a call at (407) 270-4757.

Hours:

  • Sunday 11a-5p
  • Monday-Saturday 11a-9p

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Mooyah, owned by seasoned franchisee and Ben & Jerry’s Orlando CEO Tareq Qarman, will move into the 4,200 square foot space formally optioned by Hogan’s Beach Shop and will open in 2019.

The nationwide fast-casual, better burger restaurant serves mouthwatering made-to-order beef, turkey and veggie burgers, all-beef hot dogs,  hand-cut French fries, handcrafted shakes made from real ice cream and more delicious cuisine.

“We had identified this opportunity some time ago, thinking Mooyah would excel on I-Drive,” Qarman said.  “Mooyah has an outstanding reputation and food quality, and we are taking it further, bringing an exciting video arcade within the space.  It will be a real destination for families, friends and parties!”  Qarman also stated he believes this will not be his only Mooyah in Central Florida.  Qarman currently operates seven Ben & Jerry’s retail locations, including at Icon 360 on International Drive.

From artery clogging burgers and hotdogs to healthy and lighter options, we can’t wait to try them all and wash them down with delicious shakes once Mooyah opens in the Hollywood Plaza Entertainment Complex!

For more information on Mooyah Burgers, visit https://www.mooyah.com/.

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Liam Fitzpatrick’s Restaurant and Irish Pub joins together with Colonial Town Park plaza neighbors Graffiti Junction, Dexter’s of Lake Mary, Duffy’s Sports Grill, F&D Cantina and Corona Cigar Company to welcome the 10th anniversary “Halloween Block Party” on Saturday, October 27, 2018 starting at 8pm.

The eek-citing event is free and open to the public, and all guests (21 & up) are invited to drink, dance and dress in their Halloween best outside Liam Fitzpatrick’s and around the festive plaza, while enjoying two live DJ’s spinning throughout the night, tasty brews and bites and the area’s biggest costume contest awarding $1000 in cash prizes for the winners.

For the 10th anniversary, Liam’s Halloween Block Party will support Orlando City Youth Soccer, who will be on site collecting donations and receiving 100% of proceeds from a specialty Halloween shot all night.  Orlando City Youth Soccer is the preeminent youth club in Central Florida, whose core values are player development, parental guidance, coaches education and community outreach.

If you prefer to sit down and have a more relaxing meal, check out some new drinks and bites on the menu at Liam Fitzpatrick’s. Galway Martini, Killarney Special Martini and the Dublin City Cosmo are some of the delicious cocktails available at Liam Fitzpatrick’s. Liam Fitzpatrick’s is mainly known for their Irish dishes, but what you should know is how there are tasteful cocktails there as well.

If you’re more of a fan of tequila and margaritas, try the Irish Margarita, which consists of Jose Cuervo Gold tequila, orange liqueur and cider. Have a salt rim or any other type of rim you’d like. So many at Liam Fitzpatrick’s Restaurant and Irish Pub would recommend this drink. For someone who is not fond of tequila, I dig it!

Some dishes are similar to the ones before, except Chef added twists to the recipes to bring a little spice to the table. For instance, the Scotch Eggs. Before, the Scotch Eggs consisted of hard boiled eggs; however, it now is made with a soft boiled egg where the gooey yolk provides moisture for the tender sausage meat.

The Roasted Black Skillet Mussels are tender, juicy and fresh 1 lb. P.E.I. mussels made with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon, sea salt, drawn butter,  and ciabatta. It is like a taste of the ocean in every bite as if I was on the coast having mussels fresh from the ocean itself.

The Beef Carpaccio is made with USDA Prime Beef, fried capers, pickled shallots, and horsey sauce with a side of arugula, tomato, lemon & Parmesan salad, fried egg, and grilled ciabatta. Having a slice of the beef with the ciabatta makes the crispy ciabatta have a nice and creamy texture.

Did you know that Liam Fitzpatrick’s Restaurant and Irish Pub had burgers? Have a bite of the Greasy Spoon Burger. The patties are tender and moist with lots of flavors from sweet to sour from the sauces and ingredients added to the burger.

Porter’s Famous Fish & Chips is originally made with Beer-battered cod at Liam Fitzpatrick’s, but they switched it up with Haddock. Cod tends to be softer as haddock is drier and flakier but sweeter in taste.

The Skillet Cookie is a giant chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream topped by chocolate sauce. This is one of the most delicious desserts I have tried in Central Florida. The cookie itself is made with semi sweet chocolate chips so it’s not too sweet. The ice cream adds a nice coolness to the warm cookie.

Visit Liam Fitzpatrick’s for more information about the Halloween Block Party, Orlando City Youth Soccer and the menu itself.

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The Polite Pig recently released private barrels of Elijah Craig Small Batch Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey and Whistle Pig 10 Year Straight Rye Whiskey, along with their latest Cask and Larder brews. We stopped in for a taste of some drinks as well as tasty bites off the menu.

The first words to slip out of your lips when you make your order, besides asking how the staff is doing, is for an Apple Cider Whiskey Sour for only $11 and only here during the Fall Season that many seem to celebrate outside of Florida. It consists of rye whiskey, apple cider, lemon, brown sugar, and cinnamon. I’m more of a gin type of girl, but I could get used to this all year round.

While waiting for our main course that’ll make your jaw drop, we tried the Fall Harvest Pork Belly Taco. Crispy smoked pork belly, squash and cabbage slaw, cranberry gastrique, seasoned pumpkin seeds, and pickled onions. The flavors are subtle, but sweet to the tastebuds.

Not sure what to order? Try the Butcher Board (for 2), which includes pork shoulder, smoked chicken, brisket & bbq cheddar sausage with slaw, house pickles, 2 cornbreads and a choice of 2 market sides. The bbq cheddar sausage is slightly salty from the cheddar, but still tasty. The pork shoulder is moist and the brisket is tender. The smoked chicken is flavorful and moist without being overcooked. Each taste delicious with the sauces The Polite Pig sauce bar offers. My favorite is the peppery sauce.

Add some ribs for $6 to your board. The ribs are fall-off-the-bone and seasoned with a rub created by the chefs of The Polite Pig.

The sides include BBQ Cauliflower. No one is ever interested in cauliflower, not even the name, but these aren’t bad thanks to all the flavors added to make it less like a vegetable.

One of my favorite sides at The Polite Pig are Sweet Potato Tots topped with parmesan cheese.

Want something more creamy than the tots? Try the Mac and Cheese made with aged cheddar and topped with breadcrumbs. It tastes even better as a leftover.

To top off all the dishes, we tried the Buttermilk Cheese Pie. It is thick and sweet. Not my cup of tea, but it’s possibly yours. Give it a go and let me know what you think!

Stop in at The Polite Pig and see what they offer yourself. For more information, visit their website.

We were recently hosted by Yard House for an exclusive tasting of their celebration of Oktoberfest now until Oct 28, 2018. This Oktoberfest, they’re serving a New American twist on some German favorites.

The Jumbo Bavarian Pretzel is a Traditional Bavarian pretzel paired with horseradish mustard and beer cheese sauce. Even the smallest section of the pretzel would make you believe it isn’t soft and chewy; however, you’d be mistaken because each bite of the entire pretzel is soft, chewy and delicious. If I could, I’d eat 10 pretzels a night.

I have found Heaven on Earth and it is disguised as a Double Pork Burger: served with white cheddar, arugula, red onion, tomato, bacon tomato jam, Dijon mustard on a pretzel bun. The pork is juicy, tender and full of flavors.

Another delicious dishes is the Chicken Schnitzel, which is a traditional schnitzel chicken served with a side of ripped potatoes and Brussels sprouts topped with malt vinegar aioli. The chicken is nice and crispy, while the vegetables are seasoned to perfection. They must have heard I love Brussels sprouts because they brought out plenty for me to enjoy. Good news for me is how these Brussels sprouts can be enjoyed year round at Yard House.

Not only the Brussels sprouts are enjoyed year round, but so is the Poke Nachos full of flavor and fresh ingredients on house-made wonton chips.

To finish off, we tasted 3 different desserts in a mini trio sampler. Although they were associated with words like “mini” and “sampler,” there’s nothing small about the portions provided.

The Chocolate Soufflé Cake is like a lava cake that is rich in dark chocolate and topped with vanilla ice cream.

Cheesecake Brûlée comes out looking like flan, but tastes like a delightful cheesecake with crisp sugar like a creme brûlée.

Last, but not least is the Peach Apple Cobbler that was my favorite out of the three desserts we tried. It may be the Southern girl in me, but I can never deny a warm cobbler served with ice cream!

Yard House boasts the world’s largest selection of draft beer, and this Oktoberfest, the restaurant is pouring a number of extra beers.

  • Sam Adams Octoberfest: A blend of rich malts for a hearty, smooth flavor with notes of caramel creating a brew that’s perfect for the season
  • Weihenstephan Festbier: This Festbier produced by the world’s oldest continuously operating brewery has a rich body with a balanced finish and represents the Bavarian way of celebrating
  • Ayinger Oktoberfest: A beer with a deep golden color tinted with amber, lightly sweet with a malty nose balanced with floral hops
  • Paulaner Oktoberfest Wiesn: This German beer has a deep golden color and is full-bodied from Munich and Pilsner malts with a balanced fragrance of hops
  • Goose Island Oktoberfest: A bold American take on the German style, this beer provides a dry, malty body with notes of toffee and burnt sugar

After our tasting, we were able to go upstairs and check out the amazing keg room that overlooks the dining area. How does this look? Amazing, right?

If beer isn’t your fancy, check out some cocktails like this one that changes color when adding some agave to a tequila cocktail.

Duffy’s Sports Grill welcomes you to try their new features this football season as you cheer on your favorite team to win with your family and friends!

Share some loaded nachos with Nachos, Seven Ways to Sunday with housemate corn tortilla chips topped with slow simmered black beans, creamy white queso, pico de gallo, cilantro-onion relish, locally grown jalapeños, sour cream, fresh guacamole, and your choice of protein. The price varies by protein. For us, we picked the seasoned ground beef, which was slightly more salty than I’d like, but this dish is great to share with friends or a party of one.

After a plate of nachos, try the Smokey Brisket Burger Melt which is served with a side of french fries. This dish is tender and filled with flavor. It has to be my favorite of all the football features. However, I do wish it was a bit more moist.

The Lobster Roll is a taste of New England bites made with fresh lobster and it is served cold. Have a taste with some fries or coleslaw.

Maybe you’re not a brisket or lobster person. How about a beef hotdog? Duffy’s Sports Grill offers the Frito Dog, which is a chargrilled, all natural, uncured beef hotdog served with Duffy’s signature chili, cheddar jack cheese, onion, signature sauce, and Fritos. I’m a sucker for hotdogs and this is a different twist. It was definitely a mouthful.

Don’t forget to wash down the delicious bites with some cocktails! Here, we have the Pineapple Martini and Gummy Bear Martini. Both were made well.

For more information, visit a Duffy’s Sports Grill location today!

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Grape & The Grain serves a wide variety of wine spanning the globe, a generous selection of craft beer from local breweries, frosé, sangrias, Prosecco on tap, a mimosa bar on Sunday, small plates like charcuterie and specialty cheeses, food trucks and various live musicians on weekends to round out the tranquil vibe.

My favorite part of this wine bar, besides the wine and food, includes their warm welcome of our furry friends! Bring your friendly furry friends along to relax in the back while you sip on a nice drink.

We were lucky enough to recently experience the wonderful vibes of Grape & The Grain. They generally have charcuterie and specialty cheeses for indulge with the wine. For other food options, they turn to local friends to bring their food trucks each weekend to share an experience and keep things local.

The wines are from wonderful suppliers, which I recommend hearing from the owner, Christian. I wouldn’t want to spoil anything, nor take the experience of seeing the passion behind his eyes as he tell you about his wine bar and all that it brings to the table.

Here’s a sneak peak of unique poems on the back of each bottle of The Inquisitor.

The 1,200 square foot Spanish-style, vintage interior houses a rotating for-sale art exhibit that pushes the limits, with a new local Orlando artist featured every six weeks. Not only will you find local artworks throughout the building, but the bathrooms have artwork on the walls too. To clearly see the art, hold up your phone and open the camera for a view.

Most enchanting is Grape & The Grain’s spacious outdoor garden with a 1,000 square feet wood deck and grass area, covered trellis with Edison bulb lights, Adirondack chairs and a private driveway for food trucks, all wrapped in a custom fence lined with hanging succulents and seven-foot Italian Cypress trees. 

Grape & The Grain is owned by seasoned hospitality and real estate professionals, husband and wife team Christian Arqueros and Alexie Fonseca, along with sister Maritza Arqueros.  “We’ve been fortunate to travel throughout Europe and South America over the years, and one thing we always loved most was sitting in a ‘piazza’ enjoying a glass of wine, watching the people walk by and the musician playing the sax or accordion for a euro going table to table,” says Alexie.

“That spun the idea of how can we get something like this in Orlando?  Why wait for someone else?  We can create it ourselves.  The timing was just right, we found a hidden gem in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Mills 50 and turned it into a vision we’d been working on for years.”

Join Grape & The Grain Wine Bar with or without your furry friends. Grape & The Gran is located at 1110 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803. Hours of operation are Tuesday thru Thursday 5pm-12am, Friday and Saturday 4pm-2am, Sunday 1pm-7pm.  For more information, call 407-674-6156 or visit www.grapeandthegrain.com.

Terralina Crafted Italian opened this summer in Disney Springs of Orlando, FL Starting July 23, Terralina Crafted Italian will begin hosting a late-night happy hour from 9-11 p.m. Sunday – Thursday on the patio. Specials include $5 Beers and half-price wines by the glass.

Every meal comes with fresh bread made in-house at Terralina. The bread is dense and delicious. I suggest having it with the pickled vegetables that comes with it.

Some may dip the bread into the extra virgin olive oil that is made especially for Terralina, but it doesn’t tickle my fancy.

One of guests’ favorite appetizers include herb ricotta-stuffed Fried Olives, which are unique and tasteful. It is served with shaved parmesan that adds a robust flavor on its own.

The Crispy Eggplant Fries were more soggy than anything. I can assure you that eggplant can become crispy if made correctly. Although they weren’t crispy as promised by the name, they are delicious and creamy! It is served with some lemon-caper aioli that adds to the creaminess of each bite.

This Rigatoni Calabrese includes housemate sausage, tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, and escaroles. Escaroles are usually bitter, but there is no bitterness in these greens. The pasta was made to perfection and the sausage was the best part with the abundance of flavors it releases in each bite.

The Lemon Panna Cotta is served with candied thyme that adds such uniqueness to each bite of the panna cotta. The panna cotta itself is served at room temperature, which is a great way to whip together ingredients without the ingredients separating from one another. This dessert is refreshing for a hot Florida summer.

If you’d like some tasty cocktails, the Cozy Terrace is nice for the summer. It was mixed well and refreshing with the cucumber.

The Negroni has nice orange notes, but it was not mixed very well. If you’re a gin type of person, this drink is for you.

Maybe you’re a bourbon type of person. Try the Revered Heritage, which is nice and strong.

For more information, check out the Terralina Crafted Italian website.

Since first opening their doors, visitors of The Mills 50 District have given its newest resident “Grape & The Grain Wine Bar” a very warm welcome, and now Grape & The Grain is celebrating the closing of the season AND their official grand opening with a special “Summer Wine Down” event on Thursday, August 23.

From 5pm-9pm, all are invited to the intimate, artsy, relaxing craft beer and wine garden to invigorate all the senses and enjoy Grape & The Grain’s large variety of international fine wines, local craft beer, frosé, frozen sangria and more, with the first 100 guests receiving a free glass of Prosecco.

In addition, the evening will feature a special appearance by in-house artist Jay “J Bon” Bonadio “The Unsigned Artist” and live art to be auctioned off for A Gift For Teaching charitable organization to help provide children with school supplies.  Plus, Flamenco Guitarist Jorge Mendoza will perform live inside with DJ Leony spinning in the garden and a popular local food truck on-site.

Join Grape & The Grain Wine Bar for “Summer Wine Down” celebrating the official Grand Opening on Thursday, August 23 from 5pm-9pm.

Grape & The Gran is located at 1110 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.

Hours of operation are Tuesday thru Thursday 5pm-12amFriday and Saturday 4pm-2am, Sunday 1pm-7pm.

For more information, call 407-674-6156 or visit www.grapeandthegrain.com.

We were wonderfully invited to enjoy dinner at Eddie V’s to celebrate summer with some Sparking Sounds, which meant oysters and sparkling cocktails. However, let’s shed some light on the experience and menu items you can find for a longer time duration.

Of course, you can’t attend the Sparking Sounds celebration without delicious cocktails. Photographed are the Lemon Rosemary Spritz (left) and Red Dragon (right). The Lemon Rosemary Spritz is made with Aviation Gin, St-Germain Elderflower Liqeur, Roederer Brut, and fresh lemon. The Red Dragon is made with Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum and fresh muddled Strawberries, mint, and lime. Both are very refreshing, but they weren’t mixed very well.

Also, there’s no way anyone should attend a prime quality seafood restaurant and not have some oysters. Photographed here are two Capital oysters from Spencer Cove, WA. I don’t know about you, but I fancy West Coast oysters over East Coast oysters. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t mind a challenge if you bring others to my plate. These Capital oysters were fresh and you could taste the ocean.

If you’re not fond of enjoying bold oysters on their own, you could try them with some flavor like this Asian Fusion.

The Tartare of Pacific Ahi Tuna is made with curry and sesame oils, avocado, mango, and citrus. Each ingredient was fresh and delivered on a nice sesame cracker for additional texture. Yet, I would have liked the tuna to be a colder temperature than room temperature.

The Jumbo Lump Crab Cake is sautéed Maryland style with spicy chive remoulade. The crab cake is tasteful and I prefer it without the lemon. There’s a dominant sweet, but slightly spicy note to this dish. The lemon would have been nice if there were no additional flavors to the crab besides the natural sweetness from the crab itself.

Chilean Sea Bass is steamed Hong Kong style with a light soy broth. The broth adds a sweetness to the buttery sea bass. The sautéed spinach that comes along for the ride is slightly saltier than preferred, but it is balanced out when eaten with the sea bass in the same bite. Like some spice? Take a bite of the sautéed ginger provided with the dish to the left of the sea bass.

One of Chef’s Classics include a vegetarian dish – Miso Marinated Tofu served with fried rice and sautéed vegetables. The tofu is on the soft spectrum of the texture scale; I believe crispy tofu would have added more texture and make the tofu more exciting. A bite of the tofu with the fried rice will balance out the abundance flavors offered to the palate by this dish.

For some extra texture, try their Grilled Asparagus with sea salt, fresh lemon and a drizzle of butter. I was grateful to have my own professional hand model to pour our butter for us. The butter adds a nice smoothness to the crunchy asparagus I loved so much.

There isn’t a proper meal if it doesn’t include a decadent and cheesy dish, which brings the Truffled Macaroni and Cheese into play. Each bite coats your mouth with rich and earthy flavors.

To end the night, we experienced the Hope Diamond made with Grey Goose Vodka, Combier Pamplemousse Rose Liqueur, Lemon, Pea Flower Tea, and a Diamond Ice Cube. This drink notes romance, indulgence, and hopes for the best in life. It represents the elegance of the classy and upscale experience at Eddie V’s. Not only that, but it is fun and allows you to take part in making it by pouring in some ingredients yourself to see the liquid change colors!

Our nearby Eddie V’s in Orlando is located at:

  • 7488 West Sand Lake Rd
    Orlando, FL 32819

The hours at Eddie V’s include:

  • Sun – Thu 4:00PM – 11:00PM
  • Fri – Sat 4:00PM – 12:00AM

Feel free to give them a call at (407) 355-3011 for a nice dinner to celebrate an event or life in general.

For more information, visit Eddie V’s.

Through July 29th, Eddie V’s will host Sparkling Sounds, an unparalleled combination of seasonal taste preferences and themed live music in the sophisticated vibe of the V Lounge, featuring champagne and champagne duet pairings starting at $14, plus $8 seasonal oyster duets. These special menu features are offered for a limited time only during the summer.

Guests are invited to raise a toast with Sparkling Duets such as Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, CA & Roederer Brut, Perrier Jouet, Grand Brut & Delamotte, Brut, Le Mesnil sur Oger and A French Master & A Madame.

Complementing the champagne pairings is a special menu of culinary-forward, seasonal oyster trios including Batter-Fried Oysters, Carpetbagger and Eddie’s Rockefeller.

In the V Lounge, guests can sip creative Sparkling Cocktails such as the Melon Sparkler or Citrus Pearle, all finished tableside in a generously portioned champagne coupe glass.

Live trio performances will pay tribute to the music of various eras of jazz, such as Soulful Fusion, Future Classics and Martini Swing.

Tune in for a post reviewing Eddie V’s Sparkling Sounds at the end of this month!

Your nearby Eddie V’s…

  • Orlando
    7488 West Sand Lake Rd
    Orlando, FL 32819
    (407) 355-3011

    Sun – Thu 4:00PM – 11:00PM
    Fri – Sat 4:00PM – 12:00AM

For more information, please visit Eddie V’s.

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WHAT:  Downtown Orlando’s dynamic cultural community, The Downtown Arts District, announce the return of its newest popular program “Art After Dark” Semi-Formal Soiree for Young Professionals.  Art After Dark introduces young professionals to the Arts District and its mission through social interaction, arts engagement and networking.

Guests will experience the celebration in a unique, creative setting by strolling through CityArts Factory’s seven different galleries, while meeting emerging local artists and enjoying art engagement opportunities, including henna, custom fashion sketches, poems on the spot, create your own canvas, storytelling one-liners, photo opportunities with designs from the 2018 Trash 2 Trends fashion show, a silent auction, music and much more.

Within the galleries, complimentary craft cocktails and gourmet lite bites will be served by Artisan’s Table, El Buda, Hunger Street Tacos, Lazy Moon Pizza, Mediterranean Blue, Orange County Brewers, Tequila Herradura, Coopers’ Craft and Insomnia Cookies.

HOW:  Limited Early Bird tickets are $30 per person until July 14 (or until sold out), $40 online between July 14 – July 28, or $45 at the door.  Art After Dark is a limited engagement with entry for 250 attendees.

WHEN:  Saturday, July 28, 2018 from 7pm-10pm.

WHERE:  Art After Dark is held at City Arts Factory, 29 South Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801.

WHO:  The Downtown Arts District is a dedicated nonprofit organization for advancing arts and economic development in the City of Orlando.  Established in 2000, the Arts District represents and serves the arts community by providing promotional and financial assistance to art and cultural venues, public art projects and signature events.  Comprised of a series of cultural communities, the Arts District encompasses the visual arts, literature, the performing arts including music, drama, film, dance and arts and culture-related retail businesses.

WHY:  The Arts District is the producer of a series of mission-based events and programs to heighten visibility for the arts including the monthly 3rd Thursday Gallery Hop and Art Walk, annual themed arts celebrations La Mascara and Dia De Los Muertos, Orlando Story Club, the award-winning network, OrlandoSlice.com, and much more.  In addition, the Arts District is the parent company to City Arts Factory, Downtown’s collective of community art galleries, a photography studio and SAK Comedy Lab.

To purchase tickets to Art After Dark, go to http://artafterdark2018.eventbrite.com, and for more information on Downtown Arts District, visit www.orlandoslice.com.

Roque Pub is a fun and local spot where you can stop by and meet your friends for a drink or enjoy a meal throughout the day. We were invited to taste a few dishes and drinks offered. With drinks, there are over 450 different beers and 20 different wines. I was happy to see that they had one of my all time favorites – KilKenny Irish Red Nitro!

Chef Eva likes to add zest to her dishes and create beauty in her masterpieces. From time to time, she’ll create a new flavor or item for the menu. You can try any of these if you ask what the Chef’s specialty is for the day you visit.

We started with the Spinach & Artichoke Dip. It consists of spinach, artichokes and a blend of jarlsberg, asiago, mozzarella, parmesan, and cream cheese/served with tortilla chips. The dip is delightful and requested by all. It is nice and creamy from all the cream cheese added.

The Silo was suggested by Chef Eva as guests tend to order. Chef Eva also mentioned how she has a lot of fun making this dish. It consists of roast beef, jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and garlic aioli sauce on a toasted ciabatta roll. The ingredients used are very fresh and you taste it with each bite. The flavors are very subtle and I would like it to be equally spread out for each bite.

Wings are a staple at any bar that serves food. This dish is 10 savory wings tossed in your choice of one our signature hot, teriyaki or dry rub wing sauces. Served with a side of celery and your choice of ranch or bleu cheese.

The wings we tried had a special sauce Chef Eva created with apricots, chili and ginger. It has a brilliant mix of sweet and spicy. The wings are steamed as the first step of cooking these.

The Publican is a Philly Steak flatbread with jack cheese, cream cheese, green peppers, onions, and Italian seasoning. It is a great drunk food and wouldn’t mind ordering a few for myself and my friends after a few drinks. The cheeses on the flatbread are very fresh and flavorful; the cheese has to be my favorite part.

Chef Eva has a limited amount of space and supplies in the kitchen, which gives her more credit to her creations due to the steps she takes to make the dishes. For instance, her creative flavors she added to the wings for this visit.

The Roque Pub family is very small but loving towards one another as well as their guests. They host many events for you to discover on their Facebook account, which includes an upcoming beer and wings pairing. For more information, check out their Facebook or website.

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Pelican’s Bar & Grill at the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier adds specialty dishes to the menu for a full experience only offered during dinner time, offering guests new flavorful options in seafood, steak, and pasta in addition to the restaurant’s traditional menu.

We were able to try some classic and new specialty dinner menu features at Pelican’s Bar & Grill.

The Original Pieradise is a unique blend of tropical color and flavor. Midori melon liqueur, peach schnapps, banana liqueur, pineapple juice, orange juice, and cranberry juice. If you’re not fond of the taste of alcohol, this place is for you as the taste of alcohol is nonexistent.

Cool As A Cucumber is a refreshing blend of cool flavors will leave you begging for more after a long hot day on the beach. Fresh English cucumbers muddled with simple syrup, sour mix, soda, and topped off with gin. The only complaint I have is how the drink was not mixed very well.

Mixed Berry and Strawberry Daiquiris are some options of the Build Your Own Drink at Pelicans. Each involves fresh fruit to bring the flavors to your taste buds.

Not only does the pier offer fruity and/or refreshing drinks, but the pier also offers a number of craft beers. It’d be a nice place to bar hop by trying all of the beers on the pier as each location with a bar has a different variety of beer from one another.

The Chicken Flatbread has so many delicious flavors to it. I love the fresh greens that come from local markets. The chicken is tender, but not very moist.

The Cocoa Beach Pier Cream Clam Chowder consists of a combination of vegetables, clams and potatoes in a rich creamy broth. It is made at least every other day with fresh vegetables and clams. This is my all time favorite clam chowder! I wish I had a bowl next to me at this very moment.

This Lobster Roll consists of 4oz of fresh and tender Maine lobster tossed in the right blend of spice and mayonnaise before being served on a buttery toasted authentic roll straight from Boston. It can be served with crispy Original Bent Arm Ale® Beer Battered Sidewinder Fries or Pier Slaw.

I am a sucker for lobster rolls and this one is pretty swell with flavors added by the buttery toasted roll as the spices on the lobster are very subtle. The fries served with our roll have a salt and vinegar powder on top, which adds a nice twist to the delicious fries.

The Blackened Fish Tacos are made with fresh local fish topped with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, and sour cream in large tortillas. The flavors of the blackened fish are subtle, but it allows the house-made pico de gallo to shine through.

The Southern-Fried Gator is a creation of fresh gator loin marinated for 24 hours and lightly southern-fried in the Chef’s seasonings. It is served with a VERY spicy mango habanero sauce and cool ranch dressing. Trying it with a mix of both the sauces makes a cool mix better than setting your mouth on fire with the spicy mango habanero sauce on its own. Don’t fret, fries are served with this dish and can be found at the bottom of the bucket under the gator.

Tuna Poke is fresh sushi-grade tuna seasoned and mixed with hijiki, mirin, sesame seeds, olive oil, soy sauce, lemon and lime juice before being served with lavash and fresh avocado slices. The tuna is very fresh and the flavors are fine. My least favorite part of this dish is the lavash.

The Lobster Mac and Cheese consists of an abundance pieces of buttery and tender lobster in a house-made four cheese sauce. The mac and cheese is very smooth, the pasta was silky to the bite and the lobster added a different texture as well as sweet notes to the dish. This dish was one of our favorites and we wouldn’t mind coming back for more!

This Florida Key Lime Pie is from the Florida Key Lime Pie Company down the road from the pier. The consistency is very much like a cool custard and hits the palate well by not being too sweet or too tart.

The new supplemental menu offers eight enhanced selections from Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier Executive Chef Stephen Stewart starting daily at 5 p.m., adding to the Pier’s appeal as an evening destination. Guests seeking an ideal date night can enjoy options such as a nori tuna steak wrapped in seaweed or filet mignon while enjoying spectacular sunsets and night time views of the Atlantic Ocean through Pelican’s floor-to-ceiling windows.

Reservations are not required, but accepted, and can be made by calling the Pier at (321) 783-7549.

  • Hours: Sunday – Thursday 11 AM – 10 PM, Friday – Saturday 11 AM – 11 PM
  • Happy Hour: 4 PM – 7 PM Monday through Friday (free parking available after 4:00 PM)
  • Check out the website to Experience the Cocoa Beach Pier.

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Smokey Bones consist of grill masters who respect the power of the open flame. We were recently invited to visit one of the Smokey Bones locations, which we ended up choosing the first ever Smokey Bones! What’s better than checking out Smokey Bones for the first time by visiting the first Smokey Bones restaurant?

The first Smokey Bones restaurant opened up in Central Florida at 3400 E Colonial Dr Orlando, FL, United States. It is wonderful knowing of historical locations around the corner, especially when it is a home of delicious food, delicious drinks and wonderful staff. If you happen to visit the first Smokey Bones restaurant we went to, ask for Jeff because he is an all-star employee that took care of us during our visit.

The Smooth Bourbon Blackberry Lemonade is one of the most popular drinks at Smokey Bones. It’s made of Maker’s Mark or Buffalo Trace Bourbon, blackberry purée, fresh squeezed lemonade, a dash of natural spice, and topped with prosecco sparkling white wine. After seeing an image, I should have tried it. Something so pretty must taste delicious too, no?

Instead, I had the Long Island Lighter Fluid, which I forgot to photograph since I was so thirsty. The Long Island Lighter Fluid consists of BACARDÍ Superior Rum, Svedka Vodka, New Amsterdam Gin, Patrón Citronge, citrus sour, Coke, and lemon squeezed. When reading the ingredients, it may seem strong and you are absolutely correct.

I was told, “you’ve never tasted wings like these” and they were accurate. These Smoked Wings are slow smoked to double the intense flavor before dusted with house seasoning and drizzled with a sweet glaze. The flavors are very unique because there are so many flavors dancing on my taste buds from being salty, sweet and savory. They are cooked well to have crispy skin, yet moist and tender meat.

New to the menu is the 1 lb Smoked Pork Chop that is sweet brined for 24 hours before being slow smoked and grilled all in-house. Here, it is served with Fresh Steamed Broccoli and Big Cheese Macaroni. The pork chop is flavorful in every bite, yet a bit dry. The broccoli is tender and seasoned nicely, while the Big Cheese Macaroni would make any cheese lover’s day.

Smoked St. Louis Ribs are probably our favorite item from the menu from what we tried this visit. These ribs were seasoned and hand rubbed before slow smoked for 4 hours and brushed with a sweet, smokey BBQ sauce. These ribs fell off the bone and were delicious. This dish is highly recommended for you to try.

With the ribs, we had Fire-Roasted Corn and Loaded Cheese Fries as sides. The loaded cheese fries were pretty nice, but would’ve been better if they were thinly cut.

The Texas-Style Beef Brisket platter is a 1/2 lb brisket that was hand carved and hand rubbed before slow smoking for 14 hours and served with a signature BBQ sauce. The brisket is delightfully tender and flavorful. This is our second favorite item from the menu.

It’s served with amazing Sweet Potato Waffle Fries that we could not get enough of! The other side is a Loaded Baked Potato.

On the side of the table, there are a number of barbecue sauces for you to choose from and add to your dishes if you fancy an extra layer of sauce.

From the salad menu, there’s the Stacked Baked Potato & Salad. The loaded baked potato is topped with pulled pork or Texas-Style Beef Brisket, cheddar jack, bacon, sour cream, and green onions. You can have a choice of Garden Greens or Caesar side salad along with the garlic bread.

The Stacked Baked Potato is filled with flavor and textures. The crispiness of the bacon is a nice touch to the smooth cheese and savory pulled pork.

Smokey Bones isn’t all about barbecue as they have a number of burgers, sandwiches, and pasta dishes as well. Photographed here is the Sausage & Asiago Melt, which consists of grilled sausage, Asiago, a tomato sauce drizzle, and cracked black pepper. The flavors are pretty subtle besides the grilled sausages,  which were a bit saltier than desired. Overall, the creaminess of the dish takes the prize.

Last, but not least, is this Hot Bag O’Donuts. The donuts are fluffy, yet dense. They arrive warm to the table and in the bag. The bag is shaken up to evenly distribute the cinnamon sugar before the donuts are poured onto the plate to be dipped in either chocolate or raspberry dipping sauces or enjoyed on their own. They are made just right and the only thing I’d want is some bacon added on top…yum!

For more information or to find a Smokey Bones near you, check out their website.

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4 Rivers Restaurant Group will debut four new limited-time-only “Smokehouse Summer” dishes at its locations in Florida and Georgia (excluding downtown Orlando).

The Squash Blossom Quesadilla is a great vegetarian choice. All of the flavors blend well and the ingredients are fresh in each bite.

The Beef Short Rib Neat Nachos were tender, but it doesn’t stand out to the point where I would be ordering it again.

Although 4 Rivers is a Smokehouse, it doesn’t stop them from building a beautiful and delicious Charcuterie and Fromage Board. This would have to be my favorite thing from the night. I was tempted in carrying the whole board out to my car!

Available from June 4 to Aug. 4, the Smokehouse Barbacoa Bowls will be offered in four varieties – Brisket Barbacoa, Nana’s Pork Sofrito, Chicken Tinga and Black Bean & Cilantro Rice.

Each of the Smokehouse Barbacoa Bowls have their specific flavors that are slightly unique from one another.

The Chicken Tinga may be my favorite of the night with its juiciness.

Nana’s Pork Sofrito has a beautiful story behind it, which you should ask your waiter/waitress about. It is made by a local grandmother with all her love and care shared to 4 Rivers owner, John Rivers. I’ve heard rumors that the sauce may be found at Publix in the future.

4 Rivers Sweet Shop will also offer two limited-time-only summer specials. In June the featured dessert will be a Mountain Dew and Doritos Cupcake and in July a Coca-Cola and Potato Chip Cupcake. Each of these desserts have interesting ingredients that you may not think they would blend well together; yet, to your surprise, they are all delicious.

My favorite dessert would have to be the Key Lime Brûlée with Rum-Infused Whipped Cream. It is nice, creamy and the key lime is not overwhelming whatsoever.

While visiting their local Smokehouse, 4 Rivers guests can show their summer spirit by taking pictures at the Smokehouse Summer photo booth with their friends, family and food. Guests are encouraged to share their photos with #4RSmokehouseSummer on social media for chances to win prizes. All prize packages include a beach towel, beach tote, 4R koozie, magnet and pen. Weekly rotating prizes include 4R spice rubs and BBQ sauces, 4R insulated water bottle and an autographed copy of John Rivers’ The Southern Cowboy Cookbook.

In addition to these additional eats, 4 Rivers will offer a few events and promotions:

  • Teachers enjoy 10% off of their meal during this summer event with a valid ID.
  • Children can invite their dad on a date for Father’s Day: A Date with Dad from June 15-16 to enjoy family friendly activities.
  • 4 Rivers Smokehouses will also be open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on the Fourth of July.
  • Cooking Demos will take place with 4 Rivers at local hardware stores cooking their signature favorites.
    • The first demo and sampling is at University Ace Hardware located at 3755 Alafaya Trail from 11am-3pm.
  • Be on the lookout for a backpack drive in a few months. Diners can trade a FULL backpack (with items from a list to be provided by 4 Rivers) for students at locally selected Title 1 elementary schools for a free sandwich.

For more information, please visit 4 Rivers Smokehouse.

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The Halal Guys was started as a NYC food cart but now has grown throughout the nation. They just opened last year in Central Florida near the University of Central Florida. At this Central Florida location, they offer deals daily. For this month, they are offering special group discounts and children get free side of fries or falafel with purchase for Ramadan.

Ramadan is a special time of year for Muslims for fasting, from sunrise to sunset for a whole month. At sunset, there is usually service and then a family or community feast. Fasting includes not eating but also refraining from harmful or hurtful activities. In the past 10 years, the number of Muslims in Central Florida has grown over 10 times according to the US census, ranking as the second fastest growing religion in the region only after Roman Catholicism. This year, Ramadan is the May 15 – June 24.

Beef is cooked on a vertical broiler and cut when ready throughout the day to maintain freshness for each order. The beef is moist and flavorful.

Chicken is chopped on the stove with beautiful steam rising. The chicken is very tender and tasted delicious with their white sauce as well as their hot sauce.

The most popular order is the combo platter, which has both chicken and beef. Their dishes can be made per person or to cater for a gathering.

This is what a small combo platter looks like – pure deliciousness! I was right, it tasted as great as it looks. This includes a special white sauce from The Halal Guys. There are a number of other options. For instance, a spicy sauce with a major kick. As Ricky would suggest it, “you should try it! It is really hot.”

If you are not fond of meat, have some falafel instead. Falafel is a deep-fried ball, doughnut or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. It is a great alternatives for those who prefer a meat substitute.

Sometimes, fries can be used as a substitute to the rice in dishes or you could order it as a side. Again, children get free side of fries or falafel with a purchase for Ramadan.

 

Other sides available include Hummus and Baba Ghanouj, respectively shown in the photographs. Both are made well and a delight to have as a side or snack with some pita bread.

For dessert, check out their baklava. I can taste it now looking at this photograph. If only I could pull out baklava to eat from my photograph. Until that is a possibility, stop by The Halal Guys for an order.

For more information, visit The Halal Guys.

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Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen brought Tasty Chomps in to taste some popular items they are rolling out this summer. Not only that, but we were able to learn how to stack the homemade onion rings similar to how they are delivered to our table in a beautiful presentation. Our presentation may not be as beautiful, but we did our best!

The new summer cocktail is a Watermelon Vodkarita and it is dangerously delicious. You can’t taste the alcohol and it is so refreshing it’ll make you want more constantly throughout the summer.

The Warm Honey Butter Croissants are mice and fluffy. Although I am not fond of carbs, I may make an exception for these croissants.

The Homemade Onion Rings are nice and crisp. They come with two sides for you to try with. This stack was created more nicely than my stack since it was by Cheddar’s amazing Executive Chef, Brittany Neisen.

The Chicken Tender Platter isn’t only popular for the kiddos. They’re ordered and enjoyed by all. They come with a few sauces and Buffalo still takes the prize on being my favorite.

New Orleans Pasta has a nice cajun flavor to it. If only I wasn’t allergic to shrimp.

Some sides include broccoli cheese casserole, freshly made coleslaw, mac ‘n’ cheese, and black beans.

The Blackened Salmon with Mango Salsa is my favorite. The salmon is made well and it is not overcooked. The flavors are fresh and slightly sweet, naturally from the mango.

The Salmon & Strawberry Salad is refreshing for a summer day. It comes with a strawberry vinaigrette made at Cheddar’s each day, similar to the majority of what you find on the menu.

Last, but not least, is the Homemade Chocolate Fudge Cake. It is served with ice cream, whipped cream and drizzles of chocolate and caramel. The cake itself is very rich and not too sweet. On the other hand, the icing will add more sweetness to your bite.

For more information, please visit Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen.

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Nature’s Table is dedicated to using fresh and healthy ingredients to create food that not only tastes great, but can also be good for you. From fresh fruit used in their salads and smoothies to spinach and kale in their protein bowls, you can always feel good about choosing Nature’s Table for lunch.

All protein bowls at Nature’s Table include red quinoa, baby kale and spinach – ingredients that are rich in iron, protein and fiber. These foods will help you focus and give you the energy to power through your day. Below are two of Nature’s Table’s most popular bowls.

The Sesame Thai Bowl is a blend of different grains and vegetables topped with all-natural chicken breast, scallions, sliced almonds, and Sesame Thai aioli sauce. The sauce adds a slight spiciness to the bowl.

The Carnitas Bowl was my favorite with its tender marinated carnitas, especially if there’s extra lime to add a fresh citrus touch to the bowl.

Nature’s Table plans on bringing Mexican and Mediterranean twists to their dishes throughout this year. This Greek Protein Bowl includes Tzatziki and olive tapenade created by Michael Navarro.

Each Nature’s Table may include items on the menu that isn’t found at other locations. At the RDV location, you can find a number of desserts and other to go items for your fast pace schedule after a nice workout. This Coconut Creme Pie was light and tasted like a healthy version. It won’t leave you guilty about having a delicious dessert.

If you’re not convinced about the pie, how about supercharging your day with an Açaí Bowl full of superfoods? It was the first açaí bowl I have eaten and I feel as if I now have a new addiction to them. These bowls are made to order and is only $6.99. These may only currently be found at the RDV location along with the coconut creme pie.

Watch your meals be made through a glass window whether it’s a salad, smoothie, bowl, etc.

Nature’s Table is also going green. They fully recognizes the importance of sustainability and has recently joined forces with World Centric to offer compostable bowls in their restaurants. The goal is to eliminate the use of petroleum-based foam containers, and instead use compostable bowls made from sugarcane and wheat straw fiber, complemented by plant-based plastic lids.

Find a Nature’s Table near you…

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We were invited to a vineyard style lunch with Master Sommelier George Miliotes and winemaker Andy Erickson from Leviathan as a preview to George’s location opening this Spring in Disney Springs.

Wine Bar George will be the only Master Sommelier-led wine bar in Florida.

During lunch, I experienced a preview of what’s to come with future winemaker events at Wine Bar George and it left me wanting more.

George and Andy gave us a sneak peek of details not released to the public about Wine Bar George.

For instance, they will have wines on tap along side a number of beers selected by George and his Executive Chef. Aside from the wines on tap, George plans on having over 140 different wines on the menu to have a glass or an entire bottle.

Speaking of the menu, it’ll mention a number of unique signature dishes that are small plates to share or large dishes suggested for sharing family style. I only say it is suggested because I could probably consume the entire dish myself.

The Grilled Romaine with dressing and pecorino wafers salad is a nice added to the menu by Executive Chef Ron as a request by George’s daughter who requests it at almost every gathering. The pecorino wafers line the bowl; they add texture and a sharp flavor to the salad.

This Jicama-Kholrabi Salad with mint vinaigrette and pickled jalapeño is very unique and refreshing. Great for a warm day in Florida…which consists of 364 days a year.

Executive Chef Ron (left), Winemaker Andy Erickson (center) and Master Sommelier George Miliotes (right).

For more information, please visit Wine Bar George.

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Whether you decide to sit outside in the warm Florida sun or inside the unique restaurant, Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill have a number of drinks and meals for you to enjoy. You can find Harry’s inside Rosen Centre Hotel along with many of their other restaurants serving a variety of cuisines to please your palate.

Here is a little insight to the poolside restaurant menu.

Cayman Island Calamari – Crispy Island Spiced Panko Calamari served with Cayman Aioli. If you are not fond of the calamari texture, this is a calamari dish for you as it is more crispy than anything from the panko coating. The Cayman aioli sauce will add a nice flavor to the crispy appetizer.

Island Coconut Shrimp – Crispy Coconut Gulf Shrimp usually served with Orange Chili Sauce. These shrimp are a decent size and fresh. They are lightly seasoned and also go well with the Cayman aioli sauce on our plate.

Oh My “Gorgonzola” Dip – with Caramelized Onions, Garlic, Roasted Tomatoes & Artichokes served with Baked Roti Bread. The dip itself is very flavorful and one bite will not be enough. In my opinion, I would prefer the dip with the to stones over the roti bread. Maybe you could try it both ways and let us know your preference!

Island Mahi Mahi Wrapped in Banana Leaf – Island All-Spiced Mahi wrapped in Banana Leaf. Served with Jasmine Rice, Coconut Curry and Mojo Tostones. The Mahi was slightly dry, but a little drizzle of lemon will help that as well as add a nice citrus kick to brighten up the coconut curry flavors. The jasmine rice had notes of coconut as well as it was topped with coconut shavings.

Jamaican Jambalaya – Chicken, Shrimp and Chorizo Sautéed with Onions, Peppers and Tomatoes with Zesty Creole Sauce served over Rice and Beans. This dish is a favorite of Harry’s and we can see why. The proteins are prepared on the side and added to the sauce when ordered, which allows alterations to occur when clients have allergies. The sauce is already slightly spicy, but you can crank up the spicy level by letting your waitress and chef know your preference on spice level when given a scale of 1-10. We tried the dish with a level 9 on the spicy scale and we were not disappointed; don’t worry, we could still taste the other flavors this dish offered.

Trio of Tropical Sorbets – Mango, Coconut and Pineapple served in a Chocolate Wafer Shell with Fresh Fruit. We were aware of the delicious dessert alternatives, but we wanted something light after our full meals. The coconut sorbet was our favorite of the three.

Zested Mojito – Bacardi Limon Rum with Fresh Muddled Mint and Lime Shaken Vigorously and Topped with Soda. The drink was made strong and delicious. The mint added was not so fresh and the notes of mint were masked by rum.

Pineapple Upside Down – Svedka Vanilla Vodka and Malibu Coconut Rum Served Neat with Pineapple and a Splash of Maraschino. This drink was sweet like fruit punch, which hid the taste of alcohol. This can be very dangerous if you plan on having a few. At that point, go with a bucket deal that they have at this restaurant. If you’re not a fan of sweetness, squeeze a lemon into the drink and it’ll cut the sweetness for you.

For more information on the cocktail bucket deals and Harry’s in general, please visit Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill.

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We were happy to explore Lion’s Pride, which is a Soccer Pub & Grill found on Church St. of Downtown Orlando, FL. As stated by their motto, “Big screen soccer action for every game; great food at every seat,” they did not disappoint.

This elite soccer fan-den showcases past and present game memorabilia, club level seating, semi private suites, and a private dining space. A stadium experience is provided in a comfortable soccer-centric environment when you are unable to hop in the stands at the stadium yourself.

The menu features sports bar favorites elevated to a new level. Local and fresh ingredients, signature drinks and the very best craft beers compliment the diverse menu served by a welcoming staff. Lucky us, we experienced a Five Course meal pairing that highlighted a number of delicious meals found at Lion’s Pride.

Peppered Tuna with avocado relish and cilantro lime slaw served with a mini draft of Blue Moon and a fresh orange wedge. The tuna was so fresh it swam onto my plate. Each item on this plate had its unique flavors and we could not have enough of the flavors. Warning: a bite of each all together will make your tastebuds dance.

Petite Brisket Tacos with shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomato, Queso Blanco & chipotle aioli served with Sam Adams Winter Lager. These tacos were juice and the tortillas were fluffy. Chef created another delicious item on the menu as all the flavors of these tacos blended well.

If you are a salad person, how about the Caprese Salad with red and yellow vine ripe tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil oil and balsamic glaze? This was paired with a 2015 Terra d’ Oro Blended Chenin Blanc. Lion’s Pride was not kidding when they said their ingredients were fresh. The basil oil and balsamic glaze are very light and do not overpower the freshness of the salad.

Shrimp & Lobster Risotto with creamy parmesan served with Lion’s Pride Signature Hand Muddled Marquita. The risotto was cooked perfectly, but please make sure the staff is aware of any allergies in advance.

Also, the drink packs a powerful punch but it is healthy with all the citrus in the drink, right?

Blue Cheese Filet with garlic Boursin mash potato and red wine demi glaze served with a 2015 Emmolo Napa Valley Merlot. Be sure to notify your waiter/waitress your preference in temperature for the filet. I had forgotten to notify the staff of my preference, yet they know me so well. The filet is very moist, tender and expressed mineral flavors; the mineral flavors make each of the filet unique to one another and enhanced by the blue cheese.

If you’re not a fan of red meat, how about a salmon? The salmon was cooked well, very moist and fresh. The Chef does not cringe at the thought of substitutions as he is here to accommodate to everyone’s nutritional needs.

The desserts include a Chocolate Mousse and a Romeo & Juliet pastry served with lion’s Pride Famous whiskey based Red Sangria and Passion Fruit Pureed Champagne respectively. The Romeo & Juliet is a guava and cheese pastry that is a warm hug to your tastebuds. Both desserts were great, but the chocolate mousse was my favorite. Who doesn’t love chocolate? Feel free to hand me your portion if you don’t love chocolate as much as I do.

If this post hasn’t persuaded you to visit, maybe knowing that their Happy Hour runs to 8pm will convince you to stop in. For more information, please visit Lion’s Pride.

At Duffy’s Sports Grill, Chef Eric Parker allowed us to have a sneak peak of his new healthy spring menu insert at Duffy’s Sports Grill and I am more than happy to share it with you all. The new menu will launch in April and it includes Orange Ginger Mahi, Tuna Poke Stack, Burrata Salad, and Tequila Lime Shrimp Tacos.

Burrata Salad – Burrata cheese served with local vine-ripe tomatoes and power greens, finished with balsamic and fig dressing. The greens and tomatoes are very fresh while the balsamic and fig dressing adds a sweet note to the dish. The Burrata cheese is a nice creamy touch and ties all of the flavors together.

Tuna Poke Stack – Ahi Tuna tossed with Duffy’s signature poke sauce stacked with freshly made pineapple salsa and mashed avocados, dusted with nori and tossed sesame seeds, Sriracha smear. Although Duffy’s is known as a sports grill, they do not hide from adding new and unique dishes, such as this. I thoroughly enjoyed this fresh dish and would come back for more!

Tequila Lime Shrimp Tacos – 3 mini flour tortillas loaded with marinated grilled shrimp, shredded cabbage, homemade pico de gallo and guacamole. Make sure you ask for lime as it adds a nice citrus touch to the dish and we all know I love lime.

Also, you can’t have your Tequila Lime Shrimp Tacos without some tequila!

It was great having a sit down with Chef Eric Parker and a shot of tequila.

Orange Ginger Mahi – is a sweet and lean Mahi Mahi with an orange ginger glaze over stir fried Soba noodles with broccoli, red bell peppers and onion, finished with pineapple salsa. I am not too fond of the Soba noodle flavors, but the Mahi Mahi was pretty great.

Key Lime Pie – cool and creamy key lime filling in a rich graham cracker crust. Duffy’s mentioned how it is an oversized piece of tropical bliss and they were not wrong.

Red Velvet Mini Donuts – red velvet mini donuts spun in sugar and served warm with cream cheese icing for dipping.

The donuts are very fluffy and moist.

As you can tell, this dish is one of my favorite items on the menu.

Duffy’s wouldn’t be Duffy’s with some delicious drinks. They are adding Effen Cucumber Martini and St-Germaine Cooler to their drink menu. Pictured is the Effen Cucumber Martini, which is a refreshing take on a classic cocktail, Effen Cucumber Vodka, agave syrup, mint, and a splash of lime.

Visit a nearby Duffy’s Sports Grill this month to experience the new healthy dishes yourself.

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Fun times at Adobe Gila’s run Tuesday-Sunday at Pointe Orlando with their indoor and outdoor bars as well as live music.

We started our journey on their menu with their Hand Crafted Guacamole made fresh to order from rice avocados and their freshest ingredients. Although the menu says the same words, each word rings true in my opinion.

The Brisket Sandwich, served with french fries, is absolutely flavorful. Make sure to try the brisket on its own, which you’ll taste the smokiness of the delicious brisket. This is my favorite item on the menu.

Ahi Tuna Tacos with a drizzle of cucumber wasabi sauce, served with yellow rice and black beans. The ahi tuna is seared nicely and the cucumber wasabi sauce adds an interesting and smooth touch to the dish. If you’re not a fan of wasabi, this sauce may not be your favorite; however, it may grow on you.

Chorizo Burger is one of the many unique Gila Burgers on the menu, served with seasoned french fries. This Chorizo Burger is a grilled burger topped with spicy chorizo, Pepperjack cheese, lettuce, and pico de gallo. The burger is very tender and moist even if it was served to us well done.

When at Adobe Gila’s, you should try their pork. We decided to have it as our protein with the fajitas. It’s prepared with Mojo sauce with grilled peppers and onions. Lettuce, fresh pico de gallo, cheese, and tomatoes are on the side for you to wrap on your own with flour or corn tortillas. The pork is flavorful and moist. No regrets in picking this option as our protein!

Don’t forget to order a drink with your delicious food. How about a Coconut Margarita or Adobe Colada? The Adobe Colada, among other Bikini Drinks, at Adobe Gila’s will come with a festive souvenir glass you are able to keep!

For more information, please visit Adobe Gila’s.

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