Authors Posts by Nhi Nguyen

Nhi Nguyen

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Nhi Nguyen loves traveling and believe that the best way to experience the culture is through their food. She encourage others to try everything at least once and is always open for adventures and ideas. Her favorite leisure activity is to share good food with good company! Nhi earned her Associate of Arts (A.A) at Valencia State College, and is currently working on her Bachelors of Preclinical and Health-sciences at the University of Central Florida. She’s hoping to become a traveling Physician Assistant, because she wants to explore and travel the world while enjoying the career that she loves.

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I’ve lived in Florida almost all my life but it wasn’t until recently that I explored St. Augustine. I completely missed the St. Augustine Field Trip train back in elementary school and it took me decades later to decide to give this little town a visit.

The eats in this little town are so rich in the history as St. Augustine is the “Nation’s Oldest City”

Started off with a “light” lunch with some friends at this off the road spot Cap’s On the Water features sunset views, oyster bar, and local seafood dishes

We cheered the day off with some refreshing drinks. The majority went with the Sunset Martini (12)which featured St.Augustine’s Gin with lemon, grapefruit and basil.

So far the day is off to the right note with the Oysters Rockefeller (13) 1/2 dozen oysters baked with spinach, bacon, breadcrumbs, and parmesan. Somewhat healthy.

The Peel N’ Eat Shrimp featured Mayport Shrimps were one of the freshest steamed in shell shrimp I’ve ordered anywhere. Simply served with butter, cocktail sauce, and old bay seasonings.

Our next plan was to explore George Street but before we do we needed a pick me up and decided to drop in Relampago Coffee Lab. 

Recently opened they have the regular coffee shops options but an extensive pour over loose leaf tea options.

I cooled off with an Iced Latte. 

We wandered around the little streets of St. Augustine and got lost with hidden alley ways and doors that opened to mom and shops.

If something catches your eye or spark an interest- Go and have a look! Most likely those places will have a tale or two since St. Augustine is so rich with history.

 We popped in Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum to have our mind blown with some record breaking facts and stories before heading to dinner.

We dined in The Floridian a local and seasonal cafe with a southern flare offered one of the most romantic spaces in St.Augustine.

Brisket Pasole (24.50)
Braised CartWheel Ranch beef brisket, simmered in a rich roasted tomato, blackeyed pea, and pepper stew. Served over Congaree and Penn purple rice grits and topped with a fried egg and green tomato salsa.
I believe this was one of their Seasonal Steak and Potatoes ($MP) dish featuring a tender Flank Steak on a bed of mashed potatoes and crispy Kale.
I was happy with BOTH dishes- which is a rare occasion. Usually, I favor one over the other but this was like choosing my favorite child. I couldn’t bare to do so.
We ended our evening with a Ghost Tour which had a Tour guide who led us to local pubs and bars that are supposedly “Haunted”. At each stop we would order a drink and surround the guide as he narrates the stories of how ghosts, figures, and paranormal activities had enriched some of the guests experience in St. Augustine.

We’ve all heard and seen Planet Hollywood as it was the iconic building at the old Downtown Disney. Well, along with Disney’s revamping to Disney Springs, Planet Hollywood is also new and improved. Planet Hollywood Observatory offers a new dining experience altogether with a fun and spunky environment to match their menu creations from Guy Fiery.

We began with this impressive ferris wheel of appetizers. The High Roller Platter (34.99)  is meant to be shareable for four people offering a varieties of bites that includes the Famous Chicken Crunch, Texas Tostadas,  Buffalo Wings, Five Cheese Dip, and Peri-Peri Shrimp. 

The entrees came rolling in soon after starting with the L.A Lasagna (19.99) which was definitely a twist to the traditional lasagna dish. A tube of pasta stuffed with ricotta and bolognese meat sauce then lightly fried to a golden brown and then topped with roasted garlic cream & tomato basil sauce.

BBQ Ribs (29.99) was next. Plated on the cutest miniature picnic table with a baby bucket of fries. The ribs are slow cooked St.Louis Style smothered in BBQ sauce.

The Turkey Pic-A-Nic (16.99) reminded me of thanksgivings in a sandwich with the roasted turkey breast and cranberry relish. The kettle chips in the middle provided a nice texture separations between the layers of flavors all inside a garlic-buttered pretzel bun.

Guy’s award wining burger Bacon Mac-N-Cheese (18.99)  also winner of NYC Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash! Was a monster of a burger containing Applewood smoked bacon, 6 cheese mac-n-cheese, onion straws, Donkey Sauce all in between buttered brioche buns.

Next would probably be the kid’s favorite items on the menu

Chocolate Comet (14)  Classic chocolate milkshake that’s overtopped with chocolate goodies like double chocolate brownies, frosting, candies, and a cookie straw. A chocolate Coma all in one.

This unicorn milkshake is The Strawberry Big Bang (14). There’s an entire slice of a birthday cake that’s hanging on top of a the classic hand spun strawberry milkshake! Then it’s doused in magical sprinkles and chocolate chips.

Planet Hollywood Observatory offers a fun and exciting way to dine with the whole family involved and both nostalgic and current.

Planet Hollywood Observatory

Address: 1506 East Buena Vista Drive, Orlando, FL 32836

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SeaWorld introduces the all-new Seven Seas Food Festival.

“We have taken what our fans loved about Bands, Brew & BBQ and Viva la Musica and rolled that into this all-new event that expands all the offerings – more concerts, more food, more craft brew and more fun!”

Set sail on this taste adventure each Saturday February 11th through May 13th.

There are culinary marketplaces set up through out the park with live performances from country, Latin music, and rock artists as you sample and sip your way around.

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The dishes are inspired by many different cultures such as Korean, Brazilian, Mediterranean etc..

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Local craft beers will also be served for a fun day in the sun!

Each marketplace serves different types of food depending on the theme of the station.

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At the Gulf Coast Market – Braised Short Ribs
with Jalapeno Corn Grits, Aged Balsamic Demi and Crispy Fried Onion StringsIMG_20170128_140558Brazilian Churrasco
Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri & Garbanzo Frito

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At the North Atlantic Market- Grilled Venison Sausage Slider
with Caramelized Red Onions, Sweet Red Peppers and Whole Grain Mustard

IMG_20170128_140511At the Pacific Coast Market- Grilled Cheese Pound Cake
with Cheddar Cheese & a Raspberry Sauce

IMG_20170128_140646At the Caribbean Market- Chocolate Tres Leche
Traditional Latin Dessert with Chocolate Cake Soaked in Condensed Milk, Evaporated Milk and Milk Chocolate

There’s a lot of options to what the family will find yummy (including the picky ones) as you enjoy the park.

For more information about the festival you can click here. 

SeaWorld Orlando

Address: 7007 Sea World Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
Customer service: 1 (888) 800-5447

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This past weekend was The Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown BBQ competition, bringing attention to Central Florida as a BBQ enthusiast destination as Top-Nations Pit-masters (by invitation only) come and put their skills to the test.

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The event’s General Admission is 5$ and free for kids 10 and under. Parking was also free with an extended lot away from the Zoo that had shuttles running back and forth every 15 minutes.

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Here was the full day’s Event Schedule for Sonny’s Smokin Showdown:
7:30 AM
Judges Check-In
8:30 AM
Judges Meeting (Mandatory)
12:00 PM
Kid’s Donut Eating Contest
12:30 PM
Cooking Demo
1:00 PM
Rib Eating Contest
1:30 PM
Cooking Demo
2:30 PM
Meet the Masters
3:00 PM
Live Music: Hayfire
5:00 PM
Live Music: Rockit Fly
6:00 PM
Awards Ceremony
7:15 PM
Live Music: Jill’s Cashbox
8:30 PM
Live Music: Frankie Ballard

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As you can see the entire day is filled with family-fun activities as well as entrees to be purchased a la carte from local vendors.

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There was a designated kid’s area so you won’t have to worry about the young ones getting bored while you chomp away!

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The lines will get pretty long so I’d get there early so you would beat the rush.

DSC03604 There are a lot of different price points but pretty much everything is affordable so you’re not breaking the bank to get full.

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All the Pit-Masters were hard at work keeping up with the crowd’s appetite & making sure everything is fresh and tasty! Here’s a list of the 2017 competitors:


Swineholio
Mcadoo Heights BBQ
Accutech BBQ
Lo’ -N- Slo’ BBQ
Panther Creek COOKers
High i Que
The Smoking Hills
Big Show Cookin’ Team
Wolf’s Revenge BBQ
Lucky’s Q
INHOGNITO
Road Crew BBQ
Lang BBQ smokers
Honky Tonk Smokers
Sauced! BBQ
Sweet Smoke Q
Smoke This
The Pit Crew, Ga
Big Ugly’s BBQ
Czech Cherokee
Top choice BBQ
Team Unknown BBQ
Holy Smokes
Swamp Boys
Budmeisters bbq team
Uncle Kenny”s BBQ
Smokin’ Hoggz BBQ
Buckshot BBQ
Victory Lane BBQ
Serial Griller
Checkered Pig
Hot Wachula’s
Real South BBQ
All In Que
Smoking Butt Heads
Helping U BBQ
Hot Mess BBQ
Iowa’s Smokey D’s BBQ
Quetopia
big daddy Q
Balch’s Blazin bbq
Smokin’ Lonestar
Oklahoma Joe’s Serious Que
One Man Pits

The invitations-only competitors battled it out in different meat categories such as ribs, chicken, brisket etc.. as well as a bonus mystery meat category ( which did not count in overall scores).

Among the competitiors, Cajun Blaze Competition BBQ took home the Grand Championship as well as $20,000 out of $68,000.

A huge congratulations to the team!

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There are tons of other vendors for you to peruse around and check out the merchandise booths.

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Overall it was definitely a fun-filled day that was meant to bring every BBQ lovers to central Florida. Make sure to catch the event next year!

Catch more scenes from the event on Sonny’s Smoking Showdown Invitational.

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Disney is collaborating with Heart of Florida United Way 25th annual Chef’s Gala which will take place on Saturday Feb. 4th, 2017.  A night full of exquisite cuisine from more than 20 of Central Florida’s Top chefs, along with thoughtfully paired fine wines, live music, and silent auction.  United Way’s largest fundraiser, Chef’s Gala will benefit local programs that provide food, shelter and other services to thousands of central Floridians in need.

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This year’s Gala will feature one of Disney’s newest and experimental restaurant- Tiffin’s. Laying in Animal Kingdom Tiffin’s tells the stories of the travels and expeditions of the imagineers, especially Joe Rohde’s.

There are three main dining rooms, one holding it’s own unique story and experience, we were seated in the Harambe, Africa room as we prepare to chomp the global inspired menu.

We started with a trio of appetizers.

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  1. Lobster-Popcorn Thai Curry Soup
  2. Roasted Baby Beets
  3. Marinated

The star of the Trio was definitely the Lobster-Popcorn Thai Curry Soup with Basil Emulsion. It definitely packs a flavorful punch and slight hint of lemon grass.

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Tamarind-Glazed Short-Rib had a cauliflower puree and vegetable variations to accompany it. Incredibly tender. Smokey and slightly sweetened by the glaze.  This dish will be featured at the 2017 United Way’s Chef’s Gala.

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Hosin-Glazed Grouper with forbidden rice hidden inside swiss chard with a turmeric sauce. Every bite into this dish was so delightful! There were great textures and arrays of notes definitely one of my favorite dishes by Tiffins.

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We ended with some dessert sample (From Top left to Bottom Right)

  1. Passion Fruit Tapioca
  2. Calamansi Mousse
  3. Lime Cheesecake
  4. South American Chocolate Ganache

The variations in the dessert really shows how versatile Tiffin’s menu really is. Along with the great menu options the restaurants also holds many exciting adventures that will entice the guests.

 

Tiffins

Theme park exploration-inspired restaurant/lounge serving African, Indian & South American cuisine.
 
Address: 2901 Osceola Pkwy, Discovery Island, Orlando, FL 32830

Heart of Florida United Way Chef’s Gala

Recognized as the region’s premier food and wine pairing event, Heart of Florida United Way Chef’s Gala features exquisite cuisine from more than 20 of Central Florida’s top chefs, along with thoughtfully paired fine wines, live music and a silent auction. Hosted by Walt Disney World Resort and raising nearly $300,000 each year, Chef’s Gala is historically United Way’s largest fundraiser for education, income, health and basic needs programs that serve thousands of Central Floridians in need.

2017 Participating Restaurants

Artist Point – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
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California Grill – Disney’s Contemporary Resort
deep blu Seafood Grille – Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek
Jiko – The Cooking Place – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Jungle Skipper Canteen – Magic Kingdom® Park
La Luce
Le Cellier Steakehouse – Epcot®
Narcoossee’s – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Primo by Melissa Kelly – J.W. Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes
Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant
Soco Restaurant
STK Orlando – Disney Springs
Tiffins – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Todd English’s bluezoo – Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort
Disney’s Boardwalk
Urban Tide – Hyatt Regency Orlando
Yachtsman Steakhouse – Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts

Desserts & Coffee:

Amorette’s Patisserie – Disney Springs
Bake Me A Cake
Disney’s Yacht & Beach Bakery – Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Co.

  • Heart of Florida United Way

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Midici, a Neopolitan Pizza Company just recently opened their doors to guests on December 30th, 2016 in Kissimmee, FL.

I will go ahead and address the question- Another Pizza Place? I understand this shoulder shrugging when it comes to a new franchise in town. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty everything I ordered was. I actually fell in love with the restaurant a little more when I began talking to the staff and understand the concepts behind the restaurant.

Sticking to the Neopolitan brand they have their ingredients shipped from Naples and their flour is strictly just flour, double zero, natural salt, yeast, and water.

I started off with the House Meat and Cheese (16) which included black truffle cheese (sottocenere al tartufo), goat cheese, parmigiano-reggiano, black truffle salami (tartufo), prosciutto di Parma, spicy Italian salami (calabrese). served with gourmet pickles, 2 mustards, fresh pears, king walnuts, organic honey, and wood fire-toasted ciabatta bread.

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As well as the Burrata with Beets & Balsamic (6) fresh soft burrata cheese, all natural red beets, lemon vinaigrette. Amazing textures for a simple dish.

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My guest had the  House Made Italian Peeled Tomato Soup (6) Traditional thick Italian soup made with crushed peeled tomatoes imported from Italy, parmigiano-reggiano, housemade pesto, wood fire-toasted ciabatta bread croutons, fresh organic sweet basil. (can be requested gluten-free)

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We choose 3 different pizzas from the menu

Truffle and Vegetables Pizza (14) truffle cream, fresh ricotta cheese, all natural fresh mushrooms, all natural Fresno chilis, fresh whole mozzarella, fresh organic sweet basil, organic non-gmo extra virgin olive oil, parmigiano-reggiano, topped with baby arugula and fresh grape tomatoes after bake for a refreshing crunch. This one was hands down my favorite. The touch of truffle was just enough to elevate all the components in the pizza.

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Double Pepperoni (9.5) crushed Italian peeled tomatoes (sauce), fresh whole mozzarella, gourmet pepperoni, spicy Italian salami (calabrese), parmigiano-reggiano, organic non-gmo extra virgin olive oil, fresh organic sweet basil. We added mushrooms to complete Jonathan’s (my guest) usual pizza order and it was said that He can’t go back to Dominoes’ again.

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We split the Bacon N’ Egg (10) fresh whole mozzarella, all natural applewood smoked bacon, freshly cracked free-range egg, wood fire-roasted fingerling potatoes, oregano, parmigiano-reggiano, fresh organic sweet basil, organic non-gmo extra virgin olive oil (no tomato sauce). My recommendation is to take the crust and scoop up all the delicious yolk on the plate!

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The dinner ended on a rich sweet note with Signature Nutella Calzone & Fresh Berries (6) House Neapolitan dough, light, thin, soft and chewy, baked fresh with Nutella©, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, hidden inside, topped with a hint of balsamic reduction, and shaved coconut. What a decadent treat.

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Side story- The CEO actually convinced the developer of Nutella to create their product with Non-GMO ingredients so that Midici will stay true to their claim of being a Non-GMO restaurant.

I was able to catch a moment with the CEO of Midici and I had to ask him how is the restaurant able to make any profit since the ingredients are promised to be fresh, imported, and affordable.  He told me it was in the volume that the orders are made. The restaurant encourages the guest to stay and chat to enjoy the ambience and the company of their guests. The enivironment is made to be like a european cafe to get people to stay, sip, and get comfortable.

“People is the best thing to happen to people” is what was relayed to me by the staff. So each franchise location is based on the franchisee versus convenient locations.

Midici is “Fast Fine” is bringing my new year in with a yummy start!

MidiCi The Neapolitan Pizza Company
Address: 720 Centerview Blvd, Kissimmee, FL 34741

 

 

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Fall is in full swing here in Orlando! With the new weather and seasonal offerings, STK in Disney Springs has come up with some new and exciting fall items to embrace the change.

Starting with the first drink of the night The Poisoned Apple – Malibu rum, Procsecco, Grand Marnier Liquor, and cinnamon. Very crisp, light, and sweetened with the caramel rim.

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This one’s The Fall Harvest- Maker’s Mark, apple cider, pumpkin cinnamon syrup, lemon juice, and egg white Boozy and frothy definitely something to sip on.
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We began the dinner with a beautiful Buratta salad on a spread of arugula puree, olive croutons and chopped heirloom tomatoes.
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Next stop is the Baby Beets salad with orange, toasted pistachio, and goat cheese.
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We moved onto appetizers plates with Seared Scallops with a Short Rib & barley risotto in a red wine sauce.
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The main entrees then took the stage with Florida Grouper with black mussels, chorizo, and aged sherry vinegar.
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The Seared Tuna had thumbelina carrots, black sesame tahini, and preserved lemon.
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A very indulgent dish Grilled Maine Lobster with shiitake mushrooms, red chiles, and ginger coconut broth.

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Thanksgiving is also approaching very quickly (next week!) thankfully STK is offering a Thanksgiving special.

Duck Fat poached Turkey Tenderloin with Sweet Potato-Brown Butter Puree, Caramelized Apple-Cranberry Chutney and Bourbon-Black Pepper Gravy (33)

And you can bring your kids along because they have a Kid’s Special.
Grilled Turkey Tenderloin with Sweet Potato fries and cranberry ketchup (13)

With the amazing weather lately I would definitely check out STK’s Rooftop dining area.

STK ORLANDO 

Address: Disney Springs, 1580 Buena Vista Dr, Orlando, FL 32830

(407) 917-7440

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dsc03338Disney’s International Food and Wine Festival featured event ‘Rockin’ Burger Block Party returned for the second time on September 30th, 2016 with some more fun and mashups of burgers for us to indulge our tastebuds in.

dsc03350Showcasing Disney Spring’s main restaurants and Disney Celebrity Chef Maneet Chuahan with her Malai Chicken Mushroom Burger. 

dsc03341You make your way around to different stations with their featured burgers and accompanying spirits and cocktails.

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Truffle Wagyu Burger from STK

dsc03346Chef James O’Donell won our hearts over as he loaded our burgers with truffle shavings.

dsc03351Southern Classic Burger topped with a Fried Green Tomato, Pimento Cheese, Lettuce, and Bacon from D-Luxe Burger 

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Celebrity Chef Maneet Chuahan with her Malai Chicken Mushroom Burger. 

dsc03360Beer Battered Burger from Cookes of Dublin 

As if the burgers weren’t enough to fill you up… there were side stations for you to much on as well.

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Rockin’ Burger Block Party—held select Fridays, September 30 through November 11, 2016, during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

Disney’s Epcot World Showcase
200 Epcot Center Dr, Orlando, FL 32821

Next event: November 11 – Chef Jehangir Mehta
https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/epcot/food-wine-rockin-burger-block-party-event/

 

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ORLANDO, FL Earls Kitchen + Bar recently opened at The Mall at Millenia on Wednesday, September 21, 2016. The opening will mark the second Florida location and 68th restaurant overall for the iconic restaurant group, which had its beginnings in Vancouver, Canada and started an expansion into the eastern United States in 2014 in South Florida.

Earls Kitchen + Bar marries “modern, made-from-scratch cuisine and a world-class beverage program with beautifully designed dining rooms offering a relaxed culinary experience.”

According to Earls founder and CEO Stan Fuller, the company is “more a collective of individually compelling restaurants that share core values than a traditional chain.”

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Overseen by Executive Chef Simon Zanotto the Orlando menu will be tailored to the local market, relying on regional and seasonal products that showcase the restaurant’s commitment to quality and sustainability.

In addition to sourcing local ingredients where possible, Black Angus Beef is Certified Humane® (raised without antibiotics or added growth hormones and fed a natural vegetarian diet) and all seafood is sustainable certified.

We started off with some house cocktails.

dsc03252Marilyn Monroe (10)
Skyy vodka, passion fruit, vanilla, fresh lime and prosecco.
dsc03275Old Fashioned (12)
Maker’s mark bourbon, demerara sugar, and rootbeer bitters.
dsc03276Grapefruit Negroni (10)
Bombay dry gin, campari, aperol, carpano antica, fernet branca and grapefruit.

There were a variety of drinks that celebrated the classics and introduced the twists.
I was quite drawn to the architecture and the design of the restaurant so I asked for a little tour.

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dsc03254Thrush Holmes: Anarchy (2015)
dsc03262Pascal Vochelet: Punk Attitude (2015)

dsc03267Andrew Spear: Juice Birds (2016)

We continued the night over about 10 dishes served family style.

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Starting from top left to right
1. Korean Spicy Wings
2.California Roll
3. Spinach Artichoke dip with 3 cheese blend 
4. Sicilian Calamari 

machines-1Starting from top left to right
1.Hunan Kung Pao (11) 
2.Bibimbap (12)
3.Fresh Atlantic Salmon (20)
4.Steak with Chimichurri and grilled cherry tomatoes (26-40)

The dish that won me over the night was this pefectly cooked beauty below

dsc03335Bronx Burger (14.75)
Battered onion rings, red pepper relish, aged white cheddar, citrus arugula, on a freshly baked brioche bun.

Overall, the architecture and design elements of Earl’s impressed me more than the food.

However Earl’s Kitchen + Bar definitely achieved the sense of being independent from the overcast of Mall Of Millenia.

Also look for to Happy Hour at Earls with twice daily sessions Monday through Friday – from 3PM to 6PMand again from 9PM to midnight offering specials on wine, beer, cocktails and appetizers.

But if that weren’t enough, there are also “Weekly Rituals” – tempting promotions running Monday through Thursday with nightly specials on kitchen offerings, different craft cocktails, craft beers and even “That’s How We Roll Tuesdays” featuring $3 sushi rolls and half-priced bottles of wine.

Earls Kitchen + Bar is located at The Mall at Millenia,  4200 Conroy Road in Orlando. The restaurant will offer lunch and dinner daily along with weekend brunch. Ample parking will be available.

Telephone407-345-8260; Website: www.earlsrestaurants.com

Facebook: facebook.com/earlsrestaurants

Instagram: @earlsorlando

                  @earlsrestaurant

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

Tasty Chomps’ Nhi Nguyen’s Top 5 Tastes at the Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016

  1. The Capital Grille

    Chef: Jason O’Neill, Matthew Price
    Kona Rubbed Sliced Filet with Horseradish Cream and Sam’s Mashed Potatoes. “Melt-in-Your-Mouth” with very simple seasonings and sides making the beef the star of the dish. It had us coming back for thirds.
    Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016

  2. Seasons 52 Fresh Grill

    Chef: James Messinger
    Fresh Summer Truffle Risotto with shaved Italian Black Truffle, Roasted Mushrooms, Corn, Chive Oil
    Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016

  3. Artist’s Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort

    Chef: Michael Gonsalves
    Local Hen Egg-Yuzu Custard with Hibiscus, Lingonberry, Matcha, Garden Sorrel, and Wild Blooms. Incredibly engaging dessert with a slight acidity from the Yuzu. Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016

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

    Chef: Nathan Hardin
    Braised Pork Belly from Palmetto Creek,  Zellwood Corn, Favas, Fennel, and Mustard Frills.DSC03174

  5.  Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi

    Chef: Ray Leung
    Sesame Soy Glazed Baby Octopus
    , Chilled and Skewered, Served Cold. I believe this caught everyone’s attention like an episode of “Bizarre Foods”. It gave me the familiar feeling of nightly street fares in Asia that’s fun and tasty.Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
    This list was just a small compilation of the many participating restaurants in Orlando. Here some more memories from the night:

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Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
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Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Chef Hari and Jennefer Pulapaka of Cress Restaurant in Deland
Chef Hari and Jennefer Pulapaka of Cress Restaurant in Deland
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
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Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
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Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Gaylord Resort team
Gaylord Resort team
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Disney's Artist Pointe team
Disney’s Artist Pointe team
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
The Capital Grille's Chef Jason
The Capital Grille’s Chef Jason
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Eddie V's Team
Eddie V’s Team
Seasons 52
Seasons 52
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016

Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016

Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Chef Fabrizio Schenardi of Four Seasons Orlando
Chef Fabrizio Schenardi of Four Seasons Orlando
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Marlow's Tavern Team
Marlow’s Tavern Team
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
A Land Remembered at Rosen Shingle Creek team
A Land Remembered at Rosen Shingle Creek team
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Chef Bryan Thoman of Canvas Restaurant
Chef Bryan Thoman of Canvas Restaurant
Chef Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant
Chef Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant
Chef Kathleen Blake and team of The Rusty Spoon
Chef Kathleen Blake and team of The Rusty Spoon
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Chef Ray Hideaki Leung and Chef David Song and team of Dragonfly Orlando
Chef Ray Hideaki Leung and Chef David Song and team of Dragonfly Orlando
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016
The Osprey Tavern Team
The Osprey Tavern Team

Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016 Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016 Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016 Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016

The Giving Tree
The Giving Tree
Chef Ashley Nickell of Ash
Chef Ashley Nickell of Ash

Through all the fun and excitement the event exuded the important message that brought everyone together is that no kid should go hungry.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/OrlandoTaste
Twitter: @OrlandoTaste
Instagram: @OrlandoTaste
#OrlTaste

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I was invited to relive the travels of Vassilis and Katerina Coumbaros (Taverna Opa’s owners) to Greece through their limited edition menu, ‘Summer in Greece’. The menu will feature three authentic dishes that are made with fresh, Greek ingredients and are inspired directly by the country’s latest food trends.

The limited menu will be available from June 29 to August 6, with dishes ranging from $7 to $15.

DSC03094Sfoliata (7)
A blend of Greek cheese wrapped in flaky puff pastry layers. It was recommended to us to drizzle some honey with it! and it took it to a totally different direction, definitely worth a try.

DSC03112Kefte (15)
Kefte Kabob, usually ground beef and ground lamb, in an open face pita bread. Along with tzatziki sauce, red onions, tomatoes, and fries.

DSC03126Loukoumades (7)
Greek style beignets that’s densely packed dipped in syrup and sprinkled with crushed peanuts.

Although the menu features special limited edition dishes I invite you to also try their regular menu items as well.
DSC03105Orlando Mango (9)
Malibu mango rum, pineapple juice, splash of banana liqueur.
DSC03100 DSC03103Saganaki (10)
Vlachotiri cheese flamed table side with brandy. Melty and gooey goodness.

DSC03110Slow Roasted Lamb (24)
They roasted the lamb for a about 9 hours before serving it. Also includes lemon potatoes and seasonal veggies. Incredibly tender but not grassy or gamey.

Along with the tasty dishes, Taverna Opa offers a fun and lively environment with live belly dancing shows everyday around 7:00 PM.
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The entire restaurant pauses as the focus is now on the belly dancer. As she entertains the crowd she also invites guests to get on top of their tables and show off some of their own moves!
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My experience was great. I do recommend this place for large parties, such as birthdays or reunions. The laid back environment will encourage guests to have fun and loosen up for their visit in little Greece of Orlando.

Taverna Opa of Orlando 
Address: Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Dr #2240, Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: (407) 351-8660

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DSC03019“Tiffins” is an indian word to describe a lunch box used by travelers for a light meal during the day. Tiffins, the restaurant, is meant to showcase the experiences of the Imagineers as they travel the globe to research and design the unique park of Disney’s Animal Kingdom here in Orlando, Florida.

DSC03014We began our journey in the Nomad Lounge, and like Tiffin’s it also focuses on storytelling. Each hang tag above the bar are from guests’ own anecdotes that inspires the cocktails on the menu. They can be purchased for 1.00$ and 0.85$ will be donated to Disney’s conservation funds.
DSC03002This was recommended to me by the staff at Guest Relations as he raved on about how much he loves Tiffins. The Hightower Rocks has bits of lime leaves, sweet and sour mix, house watermelon batch, and silver tequila. Definitely refreshing!

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We start off with our first course. On the left is the salad of Roasted Baby Beets with goat cheese crema, walnut granola, and sun-dried cherry vinaigrette. Then it’s the Sustainable Seasonal Fish Crudo, which currently is the Japanese Hamachi with a roasted corn salsa.
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Our second course is the Black-Eyed Pea Fritters with Zhough Yogurt and Peppadew Puree. DSC03050Marinated Grilled Octopus with an artichoke barigoule, saffron aioli, lemon-caper olive oil.  The Octopus had been sous vide for about 5 hours and then quickly tossed on the grill for a nice char.

DSC03055For my main entree I chose the Whole-Fried Sustainable Fish. This one happens to be a Yellowtail Snapper with fermented black bean sauce, Som tam, and peanuts.
This dish is quite familiar to me and brought out a comforting feeling. The fish was light and mild with the perfect texture. I thought it was genius to set up the fish the way it is on the plate as well, usually it’s laid on one side. However, with the fish sitting up, one side of the fish did not get dull and soggy while the other side remain crispy.

I was able to snap some of the other guests main entree choices as well.

DSC03069Grilled Head-On Prawns with tomatoes, roasted fennel, olives, and sea urchin butter sauce.

DSC03061Hosin-Glazed Halibut with forbidden rice, swiss chard, and turmeric sauce.

DSC03060Berbere-Spiced Lamb Chop with mustard greens, lentil stew, and tomato-mint jam.

DSC03073We approached the end of dinner with a teensy cup of Mustang, an Ethiopian inspired coffee made with brown sugar, butter, and Crown Royal. Definitely perked me up a bit.

DSC03085Dessert was a sampler of Calamansi Mousse (front), Lime Cheesecake (left), Passion Fruit Tapioca (back), and South American Chocolate Ganache (right). My favorite would have to be the lime cheesecake. I’m usually not a lemon/lime dessert fan but the flavour was so delicate that I thoroughly enjoyed every bite.

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The magical aspect about Disney’s signature restaurant is that you forget you’re still in the little town of Orlando, Florida. The incredible details of sculptures and rich stories that are offered along with the dining experience really have you believe that you are one of the imagineers traveling the world. DSC03030

The travel-inspired artwork includes a static, three-dimensional piece that features prayer flags blowing in the wind. “As our research team traveled up the high mountains of Nepal, the winds were strong,” explained O’Brien. “The prayer flags are rarely seen hanging, they are always blowing.” This portrayal of the motion is realistically captured in the display which will hang above a corner booth in the Trek Gallery.

“Tiffins is not about a make-believe place, it’s about real people and places,” said O’Brien.

 

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DSC02779Every spring, the Rotary Club of College Park hosts the Taste of College Park Food & Wine Festival. The festival takes place at the Historic Dubsdread Ballroom. This year’s event is scheduled for Thursday, April 21, 2016.

The Taste of College Park combines food, wine, music, and silent & live auctions for an extraordinary evening in College Park. Nearly a dozen local restaurants and distributors provide the food and wine; local retailers supply items for the silent and live auction. College Park businesses and Rotary Club members sell nearly 500 tickets.

The event was intimate and lively as it was held in a quaint ballroom that then opens up to an outside gathering.
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You’re able to experience the quaint and rustic ballroom

as well as the open outside in the patio.

DSC02788Although I suggest you come early to get a taste of everything because it can get crowded quite fast.

The event allows you to indulge in as many servings of your favorite dish crafted by the participating restaurants as you can handle… as well as wine and beverages.

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The Outpost: Root chips

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The Outpost: Pulled pork on polenta and mango salsa DSC02758

Infusion Tea: Vegetarian options- Fried eggplant, Spring rolls, avocado on toast.DSC02760

Rusteak set up DSC02762

Rusteak: Blueberry Gin Sling DSC02764

Rusteak: “The Port” Shrimp salad

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North Quarter TavernDSC02770

 

North Quarter Tavern Deli slices sandwich DSC02771Citrus 

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Citrus: Rock Shrimp Sandwich DSC02780

K Restaurant: Gazpacho 

DSC02786Cookie Cousins: Sugar cookies

All in all I do recommend Taste of College Park Food and Wine festival for those enjoy an intimate setting and not have to wander too far to get a taste of each venue!

13123361_1006528039382905_5527811727976678273_oAnd congratulations to the title winners of the night. See you next year!

 

 

 

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DSC02896What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, or barley) leads to damage in the small intestine.  It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.

The Melting Pot Orlando offers a variety of options ranging from drinks, entrees, and dessert that does not contain gluten.

The Menu and environment can seem a little intimidating for those who have never been but with the patience of the staff I was able to get a hang of the dining experience.

Step. 1 (optional) Pick a gluten free drink!
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I had a Berry Mojito while my guest has the Sunrise Sangria. 

Step 2. Choose your Cheese

We had to agree on 1 cheese choice and we went with the “Fresh! Spinach Artichoke”
Which includes Fontina and Butterkäse cheeses, fresh spinach, artichoke hearts and garlic.

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The ingredients are mixed into vegetable broth.
DSC02871With the cheese being the last ingredient

DSC02873Stir continuously until it becomes a gooey consistency

DSC02878We then enjoy it with some gluten free bread, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and granny smith apples that’s surprisingly quite delicious.

Step. 3 Choose your meat options
I went with the Surf & Turf while my guest went with the Classic which offers a variety of proteins (shrimp, chicken, pork, and beef).

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The meat comes raw so that you can enjoy the cooking at the table experience.DSC02888We also had to decide on a broth for the cooking style and we agreed on the “Mojo” a Caribbean-seasoned bouillon with a distinctive fresh-garlic flavor and a citrus flair.

Step 4. Choose your Chocolate Fondue

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Again, we had to agree on one option and that is “The Flaming Turtle” it’s an irresistible combination of milk chocolate, caramel and candied pecans flambéed tableside.

DSC02903We had a selection of sweets to go with the chocolate dipping including: Strawberries, gluten free brownies, Marshmallows, bananas etc..

My guest and I definitely enjoyed our experience at the Melting Pot! It’s such a fun and interactive way to dine (especially on dates). I would say to be patient with your server since each table requires so much attention and steps to ensure the safety and the enjoyment of the guests.

 

The Melting Pot

Address: 7549 Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

 

 

 

 

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I had the pleasure of dining at Capa, a restaurant sitting on the top floor of one of of Florida’s most beautiful resort The four Seasons. We started off in the lounge area with a very hip and modern décor. The open windows allowed in plenty of light to set the lively ambiance.

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We then were introduced to some cocktails first the Vodka and Tonic:

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Naranja GinTonic (17)
Tanqueray No. 10 | Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic Orange, Juniper, Sage, Thyme

As well as a Gin and Tonic.

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Capa GinTonic (17)
Caorunn Gin | Fever Tree Mediterranean Gala Apple, Juniper, Key Lime, Fennel

Both drinks were delicately prepared so that the aromatics were a central part of the experience.

DSC02937The hordeurves started off with Artic char. They were addicting little bites that would burst with flavors of apples, buttermilk, and roe on top of a rye crisp.

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We then had Datiles made with medjool dates, almond, bacon, maple, and tamarind. A harmonious combination between salty and sweet. I would let these cool a little since it proved to be difficult to conquer in one bite without scorching your mouth.

DSC02950Moving onto the Pan Con Tomate Y Bellota. A finely sliced of cured ham with bread and tomatoes. Simple and focused on Bellota as the center piece.

DSC02941The Albondigas: Duck meatballs, lentils, escebeche, carrots. The duck was nice and tender without the gaminess, an overall very comforting dish.

DSC02979 The entree arrived and it was glorious. The Bone In Ribeye from Arkansas City, KS was grilled to a beautiful medium rare with the melt in your mouth fatty goodness. Honestly, my favorite part of the dinner – I went back to gnaw on the bone.

DSC02971Everyone had to take a snap of it!

DSC02986The photo snapping continued with the Pork Chop from Portland, OR. Charred and sweetened with kumquats.

IMG_1675Photo by Kristine Young

We ended dinner with a rather simple dessert. DSC02992

Churros with caramel and chocolate sauce dipping.

I really enjoyed my experience at Capa. The venue and atmosphere was very lively and inviting that’s quite perfect for a date night or even a girls night out. I’m excited with the new seasonal changes to the menu bringing in vibrant flavors and twists to the luxurious Four Seasons of Orlando.

DSC02968Cheers to great food and great company!

Capa

Address: 10100 Dream Tree Blvd, Orlando, FL 32836

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chef-owner John Rivers and Chef Whitney Miller of The COOP, a Winter Park neighborhood restaurant, introduced “A Southern Affair,” a new cooking demonstration series that launched on March 16. For this series guests are invited to a demo hosted by Rivers, Miller and/or a visiting guest featuring an easy-to-make, Southern-inspired recipe, followed by a sampling of the dish and an open format question and answer session on The COOP’s indoor patio.  The interactive and intimate experience offers the unique opportunity for guests to learn from and sample dishes with award-winning chefs from near and far. The first event of the series kicked off last month with Crawfish-Pimento Mac n’ Cheese and White Chocolate Bread Pudding Beignets.

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Every Wednesday, 30 to 40 guests are invited to a demo hosted by Rivers, Miller and/or a visiting guest featuring an easy-to-make, Southern-inspired recipe, followed by a sampling of the dish and an open format question and answer session on The COOP’s indoor patio.  The interactive and intimate experience is set to take place on the third Wednesday of every month and will offer the unique opportunity for guests to learn from and sample dishes with award-winning chefs from near and far.

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The two will kick off the first event of the series with Crawfish-Pimento Mac n’ Cheese and White Chocolate Bread Pudding Beignets. DSC02712Chef John Rivers helping out with the Crawfish Mac N’ Cheese.

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Then both Chefs got their hands dirty for the white chocolate bread pudding beignets.

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At the end of each demo we got a little sample of each to know what it tastes like for when we cook it at home. The Mac N’ Cheese were creamy with a bit of a kick.
DSC02728The beignets were crispy out the outside and fluffy and sweet towards the core.

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Overall the event was quite informational and fun as we got to learn how to make the tasty dishes while also interacting with the Chefs.

I’m excited for the next live demonstration happening on April 27th with Chef Greg Richie of Soco Thornton Park! Richie will join Chef John Rivers and Chef Whitney Miller for a cooking demo and tasting of some Southern favorites.

Here’s a little clip of how the event went!

 

The COOP
13.7 mi · 610 W Morse Blvd
(407) 843-2667

 

 

 

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In February, my boyfriend and I were able to snag some cheap round trip tickets to Washington, DC from JetBlue since they were having a deal( ~97$ for a round trip).

I did some quick research and asked some friends about the places we should hit up since we were on such a tight 2 and half days schedule.

Here’s a brief break down of what our day consisted of.

Day 1)

We landed in DC and had already made a rental car reservation through PriceLine since we can cancel the car rental without any additional fees and we can pay at pick up.

We decided to go with Alamo because they had shuttles taking us to and from the location. We didn’t have to wait very long for paper work and to pick up our car either! In fact, we ended up getting a free upgrade on our car because they ran out of the smaller car options.

Our first restaurant pick was Founding Farmers 

DSC02258Classic Deviled Eggs (5$)
Fresh farmed eggs with a classic creamy mixture. Simple and generous portions.

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My boyfriend went for the Chicken and Waffles (15$)
I became quite jealous as soon as I took a bite of his plate… It was incredible. The chicken was tender and flavorful without that heavy breading some fried chicken may have. DSC02265I had the Shrimp and Grits (16$)
Again, the portions were quite generous. It was hearty and earthy with fresh veggies. However, it didn’t hit a home run with me as far as the flavor profile wise for that comfort southern meal as I was hoping it would.

The waitress recommended we go check out Renwick Gallery a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum that focuses on American craft and decorative arts from the 19th to the 21st century.

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There were about 9 rooms and each room is filled with different art installations.

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Each art exhibit had their own media specialty DSC02279This one was one of my favorite. Guests were invited to lay down on huge carpet and this structure took over the ceiling space above you. The back lights would change color subtly and it would create this wave of moods as the structure reflect the slight hue changes.

It was noted to us that we should take a look at the monuments both during the day and at night since they possess a different experience for each time periods.

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The Washington Monument DSC02290Lincoln Memorial (looking from Washington Monument)

For dinner we went to Bonchon Chicken 

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Korean Fried chicken in Soy Garlic and Spicy. (10 pc 12$)
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Takoyaki (7$)DSC02300
Bulgogi (15$)

Honestly, I was a little disappointed with the whole hype. I would either pick out another Korean restaurant or  just go for the chicken because that’s their main dish. The rest of the dishes fell short or I could’ve gotten it anywhere else.

Day 2)
I met up with a childhood friend who is currently living in DC and he took us to Plan B. The location was definitely nice since it was close to most Smithsonian museums, Botanic Garden, and the Capitol.

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The New Englander (15$). A classic burger with lobster chunks on top. A solid burger but could use a little extra sauce.
DSC02371The 3 Shrooms (12$). Mushrooms prepared in 3 different ways: sauteed mushrooms, mushroom spread, and truffle mayo in between some pretzel buns. Quite tastier than the New Englander in my opinion.

For next few hours we went museum hopping!

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Inside Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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There are multiple floors with various types of exhibits. DSC02386

There were some land mammals and some ocean creatures.

We took a stroll down a couple of blocks towards the United States Botanic Garden.
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Flowers greeted you as soon as you come through the doors.
DSC02422 Inside the “Tropical” green house

DSC02417 Spotted some wildlife on our walk!

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The Washington Monument during the day (view from Lincoln memorial)
DSC02322Walking up the steps to The Lincoln Memorial.

All of this sight seeing made us hungry and we couldn’t get a reservation for Blue Duck Tavern earlier than 10:30 PM that evening…

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We decided to check out a local fish market for pre-dinner grub and hoped that they would shuck some fresh oysters for us.DSC02463
and they sure did! We went with the Blue point oysters. They were amazing… slight ocean brine, quite sweet, and incredible crisp texture. We got really excited when they offered a lobster bisque and clam chowder soups, not only that but they also steam live blue crabs and snow crab legs!

So after we dug our face into this meal we started getting ready and head towards Blue Duck tavern  since it was highly recommended that we go.

DSC02472I was still a little full from the pre-dinner so I went with an appetizer as my main dish.
Beet cured Salmon and crispy chicken skin while my boyfriend went for an actual entree and got their Lamb Shanks.
I was more impressed with the Lamb entree since it was packed with flavors and the meat was so delicate and tender.
The dinner could get a little pricey- we had 2 drinks, an appetizer, and an entree for a little under 100$ excluding tip.

Day 3)
We saved the zoo for it’s own day since it was a little further out and a lot of museums closes at 5:00PM

DSC02482The Fennec Fox

DSC02478Giant Panda!

DSC02497Galapagos Turtle

We had a little extra time before heading back to the airport so we thought we should venture off to Virginia and try out Honey Pig (a korean BBQ place that’s also in Atlanta, Georgia) since it was only 25 minutes out.

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To be frank, SAVE YOUR MONEY and go elsewhere. The service made us felt rushed and unwelcome even though there were only 3 tables around us. They tried to shove all of our meat portions onto the grill and when we asked to take our time they completely neglected us. The food wasn’t that amazing either… I honestly could get it anywhere or even make it at home.

On a higher note- We drove back to DC and visited Milk Bar. Another one of my must if you ever visit DC.

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It was right next to Momofuku- which I was upset we didn’t get to try.DSC02503I got their Cereal Milk Affogato  
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I also bought some cookies and truffles for myself and some friends back in Orlando. These cookies were absolutely delicious! Great texture and balance of savory and sweet – Just the way I like them.

Thanks for reading up on my Washington, DC adventure!

For more food photos check out my personal Instagram page: @enhighwin_eats

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Something sweet has popped into the local 4Rivers location!

Chef-owner John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse, recently announced a refresh of The Sweet Shop, his celebrated in-house bakery line of house-made desserts, introducing an assortment of more than 30 new artisanal baked goods that just launched to all 4Rivers smokehouses statewide.

The Sweet Shop’s revival comes after months of recipe development alongside Amanda Eubanks, The Sweet Shop’s head baker; Andrea Zelen, Director of Bakery Operations; and Jenny Herbert, Central Bakery Manager.

“The new desserts are inspired by memories of my favorite bakeries growing up and, of course, my love for sweets,” said Rivers.  “I tried to introduce a rustic, homey experience that plays on my childhood nostalgia, while keeping it fun; because after all dessert is the favorite part of most meals!”

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My guest and I started “light” with the Mason Jar Desserts ($4.50).

S’mores rich chocolate mousse layered with graham cracker crumbs and toasted marshmallow top.
Brown Butter Strawberry Shortcake- brown butter cake cubes topped with a fresh strawberry filling and piled high with a brown sugar whipped cream and dust of powdered sugar
Lemon Meringue- tart lemon custard layered with a light meringue

The strawberry shortcake was my absolute favorite.  It had just the right amount of sweetness combined with such delicate textures between the fruit, cake, and whipped brown sugar cream. I can’t rave about this enough- This is a dessert that I crave for!

DSC02539Top view.

DSC02551Towards the middle we have the Red Velvet Cake ($4.50) a classic red velvet cake filled and frosted with cream cheese frosting.

This was the most underrated dessert in the bunch, so simple but executed so beautifully that it just so satisfying to bite into. I could see myself warming this up in the morning with a hot cup of tea to get my day started.

At the bottom left we have the Classic Whoopee Pie ($2.99) white frosting smushed between two layers of chocolate cake. A tad sweet for me since I am a savory dessert person- but it pairs perfectly with a glass of milk!

Then there’s the Strawberry Pop Tarts ($2.75) flaky house pie crust filled with gooey strawberry filling and topped with a vanilla glaze and rainbow sprinkles. Oh my goodness! what a delicious take on a nostalgic snack, making it ten times tastier and less cardboardy.

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just look at that filling!

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Mini Cinnamon Streusel Bundt Cakes ($3.75), butter cake filled with a cinnamon brown sugar center, topped with a crunchy streusel and drizzled in vanilla glaze.  A delightful condense version of a whole cake that goes so well with a nice cup of coffee.

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ABOUT THE SWEET SHOP

The Sweet Shop, is a dessert storefront featuring homemade comfort-sweets. The in-house bakery delights sweet-minded guests with creative takes on cupcakes, cookies, pies, and much more. The bakery is open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is closed on Sundays.

DSC02557The staff is incredible as well! Such sweet personalities to go with the sweet shop.

I can’t thank them enough for such a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to come back…. Save me Strawberry Shortcake Mason Jar! I’m going through withdrawals.

4 Rivers Smokehouse

Address: 1600 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

 

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Each year Omni Hotels’ culinary team travels the globe in search of unique and bold flavors. This year, their quest led them to Chile, where on the Western edge of South America, they discovered rustic flavors,

warm and welcoming people, a compelling landscape and some of the best wines in the world.

Chile’s geographic barriers – the Atacama Desert to the north, the Andes Mountains to the east, the Patagonian ice fields to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west – protect its grape-growing valleys from harsh weather, making it literally, a winemaking paradise.

This year, Omni partnered with Wines of Chile to create a culinary treat presenting a dedicated Chilean dinner and bar menu paired with hand-selected wines that reflect Omni’s utter enchantment with the region. This installment of Omni’s annual “Flavors of the World” culinary series. will be available at properties across the U.S. from October 1 through December 31, 2015.

We were recently invited to check out the upcoming menu as part of a media preview. For more information, visit: http://www.omnihotels.com/culinary/chile and for the full menu, here.

DSC01992MILCAOS CON PEBRE DE PALTA (9) – fried potato cakes topped with avocado, banana pepper, tomato and Chilean sea salt. Great combination of crispy and smoothness.

DSC01974CHACARERITO – Traditional sandwich with beef steak, raw green beans, tomato and banana peppers. The vegetables gave the sandwich multiple layer textures and interest.

DSC01998SOPA DE CHOCLO CON PINO DE CHAMPIÑONES  (8) – Delicious corn soup with mushroom, acorn squash, hard-cooked egg and basil puree. The hard-boiled egg actually worked really well as a solid component in the soup. 

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EMPANADA CON PEBRE (9)
“Pino” chopped beef, onions, hard cooked eggs, raisins and green olive
”Camarón Queso” prawns, cheese and spring onion
“Pequen” traditional country empanada with caramelized onionThe caramelized onion empanada was super savory that you won’t even notice there’s no meat in it. 

DSC02003CHORITOS CON PEBRE (12) – steamed mussels with tomato, onion, bell pepper and cilantro. 

DSC02026BACALAO CON TOMATICÁN (35) – light and flaky seared sea bass with braised tomato, yellow corn and cilantro salad. 

DSC02016COSTILLA CON PURÉ PICANTE (23) – pork ribs slowly cooked in beer and palm honey with potato puré and Chilean smoked chili pepper. There’s a sweetness from the great molasses barbecue sauce as a well a smoked pepper after taste. 

DSC02025QUINNOTO DE CHAMPIÑONES CON PEBRE DE PALTA (19) – golden Chilean quinoa slowly cooked with roasted mushroom and avocado. A ‘healthier’ opt from the regular risotto. 

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ARROZ CON LECHE Y SALSA DE MANJAR (7) – short grain rice cooked with milk, cinnamon, orange and dulce de leche. I’m not a huge pudding person, but this I can do. 

DSC02046TRES LECHES CAKE (7) – sponge cake soaked with three milks and served with fresh strawberries. Probably one of the best Tres Leches I’ve had, and I believe it’s the difference in the top layer of whipped cream. Extremely light and fluffy and not overwhelming to pair with the decadent layers that are on the bottom.

DSC01967PISCO SOUR (10) – Capel Premium Pisco, lemon juice, sugar and crushed ice mixed together to create this Chilean classic cocktail. 

Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate
(407) 390-6664
1500 Masters Blvd, Champions Gate, FL, 33896

I had a chance to dine with a intimate group of media, Jason, and Sue Chin (the owners of Seito and Osprey Tavern in Baldwin Park) for Seito Baldwin Park’s 15 Year Anniversary.

Honestly, it was one of the best culinary tasting experience I’ve had this year, featuring a 9 course omakase dinner. Omakase means (in a Japanese restaurant) a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef and literally means “I’ll leave it up to you.”

Here are a few of the dishes from the exceptional 9 course omakase dinner:

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9. Baked Glacier Point oyster – sambal froth, nori butter, black tobiko, almond flour.

It was lightly crispy and so buttery soft…delicious.

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8. Japanese sea bream – pickled sweet peppers, apple, orange gastrique, lemongrass oil.

There’s something about this white fish that makes the ending notes so clean and palatable. You wouldn’t even need ginger to cleanse your palate for the next course.

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7. Pork belly kakuni with braised savoy cabbage, pickled green beans, Japanese mustard.

I could’ve eaten about 9 more of this and gained some kind of cholesterol problem but it will be worth it. This cube of pork belly was so beautifully glazed with a slight hint of Japanese mustard for a hint of tang. It completely melted in your mouth without the unpleasant residue that fat could sometimes leave on your tongue.

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6. Whole roasted Branzino – lime leaf, kyurizuke, barrel-aged white soy, nuoc cham, house sriracha.

Probably my favorite way to enjoy branzino. Seito’s was so simply seasoned that the flesh of the fish really shined. This is definitely a dish to share and enjoy with your table.

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Stuffed with Kaffir lime leaves to rid of the fishy smell and taste.

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Jason was kind enough to help separate the fish for us.

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Never let any part go to waste. ( fish cheeks, eyeballs, and crispy fins are some of my favorites)

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5. Salmon tataki on a bed of daikon nest, relish, fried garlic, dark tosa soy.

Restaurants usually serve tuna tataki since the meat of tuna stays intact when it’s cooked, but salmon’s flaky nature makes that difficult. Seito was decided to challenge that but cutting the sashimi pieces first then taking their time to sear each edge of the salmon. 

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4. Tokyo turnip salad – Okinawa potato puree, caramelized mountain yam, bacon miso dressing.

Jason and his team always manage to impress me with their salads creations. People usually hear the word salad- and think “boring” but that is the complete opposite for this salad. The Okinawa potato was sweet and blended to a perfect puree to harmoniously accompany fresh turnips and yams. 

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3. Beef tenderloin – miso marble potatoes, blistered shishito peppers, ginger-scallion pesto, malbec pho jus.

Wonderfully cooked to a tender medium rare.

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2. Smoked yellowtail toro – uni foam, holy grail, cherry smoke.

The smoke infused flesh of the fish was really bold, however it did not take away from the freshness of the raw fish. 

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1. Kabocha bread pudding – sesame butterscotch, ginger-vanilla creme, pumpkin powder, granola.

I love ending on a sweet note, and this definitely hit the spot without being too sugary. However, I did wanted a side of ice cream to accompany the bread pudding, but that could just be me being basic. 

Everything about Seito’s Sushi new innovations continues to blow me away, from their creative use of the protein to the modern twist on traditional classics.

Unfortunately, not everything from this anniversary dinner course will be available on their regular menu, but it does show the depth and talent that the kitchen and chefs of Seito possess.

I’m really excited to return and enjoy their full Omakase dinner options, I’m sure nothing will be subpar.

Congratulations again to Seito Sushi Baldwin Park on their 15 Year Anniversary!

Seito Sushi Japanese Restaurant
 4898 New Broad St
(407) 898-8801

 

 

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The Rockin’ Burger Block Party is a special event that occurs during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival where you can dine on a mouthwatering menu full of incredible burgers and enjoy some of the best music of the century….and we were lucky to be invited to experience this great event recently.

Here at the Rockin’ Burger Block Party, you can party the night away and savor specialty sliders created by Disney’s Chefs.

These tantalizing burgers and beverages are inspired by recording artists who have left their mark on the world of food and music.

And while you enjoy these scrumptious treats, a DJ spins their best tracks.

Special guests also come by and on November 6th, you can meet with “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro as he hosts the third big burger event of the 20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

Below are only a few sample out of the 16 Burgers that are featured at the event!

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for more photos of the gallery click HERE !

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I was fortunate enough to go on the night Andrew Zimmern was hosting.12038137_10207212644536537_8085919021370208598_nand was able to snag a photo with him!

Rockin’ Burger Block Party
World ShowPlace Events Pavilion
September 25, October 8 and November 6, 2015
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

 

Call (407) 939-3378 starting July 30, 2015 to book your spot at the Rockin’ Burger Block Party—taking place on select days September 25 through November 15, 2015!

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THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15 – “TRY SOMETHING NEW!”  Clinton Kelly and Carla Hall visit Disney’s Magic Kingdom; the cast of “The Festival of The Lion King” performs.
I was lucky enough to be a part of the crowd for the live taping of the show!
DSC01703Although Florida’s weather can be unpredictable and brutal, the entire cast was lively and entertaining.
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DSC01737Carla was super bubbly and fun during every aspect of the show
DSC01734 DSC01731Clinton was also upbeat as he dances to “shake it off” during commercial break.
DSC01725Mario and Michael made a great duo as they work together to brain storm on the dishes.

“THE CHEW” CELEBRATES THE 20TH EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL
FROM WALT DISNEY WORLD, OCTOBER 12–16

Guest Appearances by Alfonso Ribeiro and Bellamy Young

For the first time in the history of ABC’s “The Chew,” the show traveled to Orlando, FL to tape a week of programs highlighting all of the food, fun and festivities of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Walt Disney World Resort. Co-hosts Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Carla Hall and Clinton Kelly had a magical experience with stellar dining, thrilling rides and one-of-a-kind experiences, including visiting Animal Kingdom and buckling in for a high-speed adventure at Test Track presented by Chevrolet in Epcot.

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Guests included Alfonso Ribeiro (ABC’s “AFV”) and Bellamy Young (ABC’s “Scandal”) . “The Chew” also surprised its live audience with appearances from the classic Disney characters Mickey Mouse and Goofy and a performance from the cast of Disney’s “Festival of The Lion King.”

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Listings for the week of OCTOBER 12-16 (subject to change; weekdays, 1:00 p.m., ET; broadcast in stereo):

MONDAY, OCTOBER 12 – “THE CHEW’S FAMILY VACATION” – Carla Hall makes a delicious Norwegian roasted salmon & ranch potato galette; Michael Symon visits The Land at Epcot to check out the center’s hydroponic gardening program and makes a meal with its vegetables; Mickey Mouse and Goofy stop by to say hello.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13 – “MAKING MEAL MAGIC” — Alfonso Ribeiro (ABC’s “AFV”); Mario Batali and Michael Symon square off with their recipes for angel hair with Brussel sprouts, bacon and walnuts and shrimp Fra Diavolo over linguine.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14 – “EASY FIVE STAR FEAST” — Mario Batali visits Iron Chef Morimoto’s new restaurant at Disney Springs, Morimoto Asia; Bellamy Young (ABC’s “Scandal”).

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15 – “TRY SOMETHING NEW!” — Clinton Kelly and Carla Hall visit Disney’s Magic Kingdom; the cast of “The Festival of The Lion King” performs.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16 – “YOUR PERFECT PARTY PLAN” — The perfect party snacks and cocktails; “The Chew” co-hosts stop by the Rockin’ Burger Block Party; a look back at some of the show’s favorite moments at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival from Walt Disney World.

About “The Chew”
Celebrating and exploring life through food, “The Chew,” is an innovative and groundbreaking daytime series co-hosted by a dynamic group of engaging, fun, relatable experts in food, lifestyle, and entertaining. Produced by Gordon Elliott’s Chew Productions for the ABC Television Network, “The Chew” serves up everything food — from cooking and home entertaining to food trends, restaurants, holidays and more — all aimed at making life better, fuller and more fun. Featuring celebrity chefs Mario Batali, Michael Symon, and Carla Hall, entertaining expert Clinton Kelly and health and wellness enthusiast Daphne Oz, “The Chew” is a leap forward into a delicious new kind of lifestyle series. Follow “The Chew” (@thechew) and hosts Mario Batali (@mariobatali); Michael Symon (@chefsymon); Clinton Kelly (@clinton_kelly); Carla Hall (@carlahall) and Daphne Oz (@DaphneOz) on Twitter ™


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DSC01620A small group of Orlando Food Bloggers and I were invited to sneak preview of the Second Annual Couple’s Cook Off at Aggressive Appliances and it was so much fun! I would definitely recommend this event to everyone. Whether you are competing or spectating, the entire family will surely enjoy the experience.

About The Couple’s Cook-Off

The Couple’s Cook-Off is a fast-paced, hands-on cooking competition in a state-of-the-art kitchen showroom hosted by Edible Orlando Magazine and Orlando Date Night Guide. Five couples will compete against one another on October 9 and October 23.

The winning couple from each preliminary round will compete in the final round on November 14, along with a wild-card couple. One lucky couple will walk away with the Grand Prize.

Contestants pay $150 per couple for preliminary rounds; there is no charge to compete in final round, but friends may come to observe and enjoy cocktails, beer and samples from local vendors for $15 per person. Proceeds to benefit the Culinary Training Program at Second Harvest Food Bank.

This is my first cooking ‘competition’ and quite frankly I did not know what to expect. However, I’ve always loved watching Chopped and other food competitions, so the thought of participating in one was super thrilling to me.

We arrived at Aggressive Appliances and I was mesmerized by their showroom. They’ve been here for about 30 years and is always changing with the new and improve state-of-the-art appliances.

We were greeted with the friendliest staff and immediately felt at home with their welcoming environment.

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They
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They even provided us with snacks, and overload us with carbs to prepare us for what was about to come.DSC01501

We mingled with the other food bloggers aka our competitors of the night and at this point Jonathan (my guest) and I had no idea what we were in for.
DSC01502but of course we calmed our nerves with some bubbly wine.

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We made our choice of which kitchen we get to work with (don’t be fooled by the smile, we were super nervous) – Celebrity Chef for You – Irina Pabis and I shared a kitchen.

DSC01513While Taste Cook sip – Lisa Wilk and Spork orlando- Lauren Yochum shared the other.

At this point we were told we had a secret ingredient that we all have to incorporate in our dish, and it was eggs (shouldn’t be too hard right?).  However, we only have 45 minutes to prepare 3 small plates for the judges to taste and score. (we we’re freaking out by this point.)

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The competition has begun!

The judges lift the blanket off the ‘limited’ ingredients table. We had a short amount of time to scatter and gather what we wanted to cook with.DSC01521

I had no idea what I was doing….I just literally picked up what ever looked good.

DSC01516The judges & coordinators were thoroughly entertained by our chaos.

DSC01528At this point…I still don’t know what I was doing…and Jonathan was as lost as I was.

He kept looking at me asking so….what are we doing? while I’m just staring at a packet of turkey patties.

(As you can see I kept the glass of wine nearby because – obviously – I need a drink from all this anxiety.)

DSC01540We figured we should start chopping stuff, and Jonathan was on cutting/chopping on duty.

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Here he is meticulously chopping bell peppers, garlic, and ginger.

DSC01546The other couples started doing so as well.

Fast forward to many blank stares at the ingredients and the kitchen appliances later…

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We finally started to put something in a hot pan!

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Pan frying some rustic potatoes in olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme.

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At the same time Irina had started cooking her meatballs in the skillet, and potatoes in the pan as well.DSC01569

Lauren and her husband has got some bacon going!
DSC01544Lisa had started something fancy in her pan.

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The competition is more than halfway through and we’re still trying to figure out how to work the touch pad on the induction stove top.
DSC01575But- we have our main entree cooking up in some sunflower oil!

DSC01557 DSC01584The other competitors were still going strong with their entries.

With minutes left, the entire place was building with anticipation.

We’re still incredibly shaky and nervous as we have no idea how our food tasted since we didn’t even get a chance to taste it during the process. Before we knew it, the final products were brought over to the judges table as soon as it was plated.

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Here is our finished plating!

Scotched eggs, pan fried potatoes, and a side of baby tomatoes in a balsamic vinaigrette topped with sharp parmesan, fresh basil, and sprinkles of ginger.

we wanted to counter balance all the fried stuff with a sweet palate cleanser.

DSC01589and of course there’s always a little mishap during the competition ):

DSC01591Irina’s team:  meatballs with grilled asparagus, tomatoes, and figs.

DSC01609Lisa’s Team: grits and something fancy, I honestly forgot what she called it… but it had pancetta, bread, figs, and goat cheese. It was delicious!

DSC01606Lauren’s Team: serving breakfast for dinner with eggs, toast, BACON, cheese and everything tasty.

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The Judges are hard at work, tallying up our scores.

and the winner is……. Nhi & Jonathan!

DSC01616I’m proud to say we took home first place & the grand prize!

I will be returning to the main Couple’s Cook Off competition as a JUDGE in November!
which I’m thrilled about!

I want to thank all the amazing staff at Aggressive Appliance and everyone there that helped us create such a fun, exciting, and memorable preview night.

Also for cleaning up our mess….yikes!

 

2nd Annual Couples Cook-Off

Presented by Edible Orlando and the Orlando Date Night Guide, the contest will give couples the chance to compete in one of 2 qualifying rounds, with 2 winners from each semi-final cook-off advancing to the finals on Saturday, November 14, 2015.

** ONLY five couples will get the chance to compete in each semi-final round.

There will be two winning couples from each qualifying round. Each semi-finalist winning couple receives complimentary admission to the finals.

There are five prizes to give away to winners, the value of which total over $2,500:

  • A two-night gourmet getaway to JW Marriott, Grande Lakes including dinner for two at Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen, breakfast each morning in Citron, An American Brasserie, and two spa passes to the Ritz-Carlton Spa
  • Wolf gourmet blender
  • Tassimo coffee system
  • Miele canister vacuum
  • KitchenAid stand mixer

The 1st place couples will win the Grande Lakes giveaway + their choice of culinary prizes. The 2nd through 4th place winners will win their choice of the remaining prizes.

**Entry is $150 PER COUPLE with a portion of proceeds supporting Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Entry includes all food, sit-down dinner with wine after semi-final rounds + a fabulous swag bag filled with surprises.

For more information on the competition and to sign up visit the following link below.

http://www.orlandodatenightguide.com/2015/09/join-us-for-the-2nd-annual-couples-cook-off/

 

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Cocina |214 is a contemporary Mexican and Tex-Mex kitchen. The name is a combination of the Spanish word for kitchen, “cocina” and the Dallas area code, “214.” The idea for opening COCINA|214 developed when two of the owners from Texas missed the Tex-Mex and Mexican food they had grown up eating. They wanted the same authentic, fresh and quality food here in Winter Park.

Dragon Fruit Local MargaritaWe started off with a this season’s local cocktail – The Dragon Fruit Margarita.
It was a sweet, almost dessert like drink, so personally I like the salt rim to balance out the sugar in the drink. And because it is seasonal, it’s only here for a limited time.

Avocado BitesFried Avocado Bites (10)
lightly breaded hass avocados fried served with chipotle cream dipping sauce. This was almost too addicting, I had to stop myself before I get full from just eating fried avocados. The chipotle cream sauce does sneak up on you with its heat so dip cautiously.

Isidro's CaesarIsidro’s Caesar (13)
romaine, cotija cheese, fried onions strings, grape tomatoes, homemade croutons and Caesar dressing. I actually prefer the fried onion strings over croutons in regular caesar’s salad. It adds a subtle crunch and more flavors.

Mango CevicheMango Ceviche (13)
snapper, serrano peppers, red onion, red bell pepper, citrus, mango. I absolutely love cevhice, and although this one had a bit too much lime for me the mango helped bring back a little sweetness to the sour punch.
Mexican CornMexican Corn (9)
grilled corn, cayenne pepper, lime, cotija, queso fresco. A delicious way to eat corn, that natural sweetness with cheese and loads of spices and hint of lime.

Snapper Frito TacosSnapper Frito Tacos (16)
lightly fried wild snapper, coastal slaw, pico de gallo, chipotle cream sauce. Snapper is much less flaky than cod so it won’t fall all over the place once you bite into it. It all tasted really fresh and the corn tortilla really aids in bringing out the flavors of the tacos. 

Cauli Frito TacosCauli Frito Tacos (13)
lightly fried cauliflower, coastal slaw, red bell peppers, chipotle cream sauce. I personally prefer this over the cod tacos. The fried cauliflower has a sweetness to it that plays so well with cream sauce and a dash of lime juice. This is probably one of my favorite vegetarian options out there.

Snapper VeracruzSnapper Veracruz (25)
fresh wild snapper, tomato, olive, caper, with herb topping and veggie rice. It was nice step away from the mundane salmon dish that’s offered in a lot of other places.

Cheese Enchiladas-Mexican styleCombo Enchilada (14)
3 Enchiladas Mexican-style with romaine lettuce, queso fresco, onions, sour cream, grape tomatoes & veggie rice. A hearty dish, that’s filling and combination of different textures. 

Maria's Gourmet BurgerMaria’s Gourmet Burger (16)
grilled pineapple on an Angus beef burger, Olde Hearth Bread poppy seed bun, Monterrey jack cheese, served with grilled Mexican corn. Everything came together so well on this burger. Especially the pineapple, it was a bit odd, but it really made the burger all the more savory. 

Churrosand of course we ended things lightly with some Fried Churros and Dulce de lechedipping sauce.

Cocina | 214 

151 E Welbourne Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 790-7997

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The moment you walk through the entrance doors, you are welcomed by a tempting deli case of fresh meats and cheeses, irresistible desserts and the aroma of fresh-baked bread. Before it was an industry trend, TooJay’s had already established their authenticity with classic Reubens, pastrami sandwiches and legendary black and white cookies.

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It seems like new restaurants are popping up daily with creative and modern remakes of every possible dish you can think of. However, recently I visited Toojay’s.

A friendly restaurant chain that’s been opened for decades (35 years this year!) that offers traditional delicatessen and gourmet baked goods. The original location was founded by Jay Brown and Mark Jay Katzenberg, the two “Jays” who combined their names to form the “brand. The partners’ first deli was established on the island of Palm Beach, where it is still open and flourishing today.

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I began with the Matzo Ball Soup (3.99/5.49)

The Matzo balls were light and fluffy, almost like a dumpling without the wonton shell. Served in a rich chicken broth with carrots and onions (the same broth you would taste in chicken noodle soup).

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Loaded Latkes (8.99)

Homemade crispy potato pancake bites topped with melted cheddar, crunchy bacon, fresh tomatoes, sour cream and chopped scallions. Definitely a shareable plate.

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Triple J’s (9.79)

Corned beef, roast beef, turkey and Swiss cheese rolled with lots of Cole slaw and Russian dressing. A genius way to stack meats, since everything was kept together & I didn’t have bits of slaw falling all over the place. Also, all the meats are carved on the spot when ordered, so everything is fresh!

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Wood_wall_photo_by_Nhi_Nguyen_Tastychomps

Sofrito Cafe is a new mom & pop restaurant near Disney that’s really trying to focus on their community.
Above is a ‘Community Bookcase” for you to take a look & dive in to explore, from interactive board games to Old hispanic books. There’s also a world map in the restaurant to pin where you’re from to show all the diverse people that come into Sofrito Cafe everyday.

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I began with some fresh juices Mango (left) and an uncommon, but delectable fruit Soursop (right).

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Click to add a blog post for Sofrito Latin Cafe on Zomato

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