Authors Posts by Ricky Ly of TastyChomps.com

Ricky Ly of TastyChomps.com

929 POSTS 16 COMMENTS
Florida native Ricky Ly founded TastyChomps.com in 2008 as a local Orlando food blog dedicated to finding the tastiest bits and pieces of Orlando as well as around the world. His first book, Food Lovers' Guide to Orlando: The Best Restaurants, Markets & Local Culinary Offerings (Food Lovers' Series) is available now on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. Photography is taken using a Canon EOS 6D and a Sony Nex-3. E-mail him at tastychomps(at)gmail.com. Google

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Hidden in a rather desolate plaza on Universal Blvd, Japan Food Aki is a good introduction restaurant to Japanese home cooking. They’ve got the sushi rolls and nigiri, as well as the various pork and beef katsu curry dishes popular in Japanese cuisine.

In the 1800s, the Japanese were on their way to modernization and were enamored with the curries brought overseas to them by the Dutch via the Indian colonies. It became a national hit along with the fried pork cutlets (katsu) in the 1900s.

The sushi quality might not be the best in town, but the value is there – especially for happy hour, which lasts from 5:30pm – 6:30pm weekdays with rolls that can be found for $2.50 and nigiri sushi for $1.00 a piece.

It is a good place to start for your exploration and journey into Japanese cuisine.

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Chilito Green Express

Located adjacent to a gas station on Semoran Blvd, just north of the Orlando International Airport, Chillito Green Express is a rather sleek, new rendition of the model made popular by Chipotle. In this case, they also serve Mexican cuisine, but here served by your local Mexican aunt rather than your local hipster friend.

Things are very clean in here, and the order process is pretty simple – walk up to the counter and let them know if you’d like a burrito, tacos, bowl, etc. and what meat, toppings, sauces, you’d like to go with it.

I ordered the tacos with al pastor style pork, chicken, and beef. Overall, not bad, quite fresh, but lacking in seasoning. A little salt, I think would help bring the flavors out.

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Chilito Green Express on Urbanspoon

Haitian cuisine is sometimes lumped in with “Caribbean cuisine”, with crossovers from Cuban, Jamaican, Dominican, and Puerto Rican cuisine. Despite the shared commonalities of rice and beans, plaintains, and stewed vegetables, there are quite unique characteristics to Haitian cuisine, owing to its rich history and culinary heritage of French, African, the Taíno natives, Spanish and Middle Eastern influence, comparable to that of creole or criollo (Spanish for creole) cooking with flavors full of spices and peppers.

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The Taino natives who lived on the island of Hispaniola gave the “barbecue” method of smoking meats to the cuisine, while the African slaves brough over by the Spaniard colonialists brough okra, ackee fruit, taro, pigeon peas, red beans, chayote, and spices. After the Treaty of Basil in 1659, the French took over the western half of the island, and brought with them their love for pastries, breads and cheeses still popular today in Haiti.

The flavor base of much of Haitian cooking is epis, a combination sauce made from cooked peppers, garlic, and herbs, particularly green onions, thyme, and parsley. It is used as a basic condiment for rice and beans and is also used in stews and soups.

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Kreyol Kafe on the east side of Orlando, off of Colonial Drive, just east of Alafaya Trail is a Haitian restaurant that is run by Nadege Trotter, a Registered Nurse who has been cooking Haitian food since she was a teenager. Though there are a few Haitian establishments on the west side of Orlando, there are not any in other parts of town, including the east.

Nadege told us, “I love my culture and I think it has a lot to offer, from food to art. I decided to open the kafe because as a new generation Haitian I wanted to bring a flavor that other cultures can come in and immersed themselves in and be really surprised. Also, there’s no Haitian items in this side of town.”

I stopped by for lunch recently and ordered the fried pork special, which comes with rice and beans, a salad, and an extra spicy pepper sauce concoction that you use to flavor your meal according to your tastes. Be forewarned – do not underestimate the spice power of the pepper sauce.

The fried pork was nice and crispy, and the rice and beans was quite flavorful.

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My favorite dish was the legume, or “legim”, a thick vegetable stew consisting of a mashed mixture of eggplant, carrots, chayote, spinach, watercress and flavored with epis, onions, garlic, and spices.

The Haitian patty (pate), not to be confused with the Jamaican patties, are made here at Kreyol Kafe with ground beef or chicken surrounded by a softer flaky crust.

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The dessert here at the bakery section of Kreyol Kafe is called the “Tablet” peanut drop. “To make the tablet dessert, we roast the nuts and add sugar, ginger and cinnamon and so forth,” Nadege told us.

Overall, a reasonably priced meal and a nice introductory restaurant into Haitian cuisine at Kreyol Kafe.

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Kreyol Kafe & Bakery on Urbanspoon

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This is a relatively new Thai restaurant located just a few miles north of the Orlando International Airport. The owners are family with the owners of SEA Thai, the popular Thai restaurant on Colonial Drive near the Fashion Square mall.

Decor is nice, a bit subdued. Thai food to me is a hit and miss – lots of noodles, lots of rice, lots of curry would be an over simplification. Sour, sweet, salty, spicy, bitter, all flavors that go together in Thai cuisine. Unfortunately at most Thai restaurants in America, the spicy portion is often toned done. Spice Thai, though good, was not an exception.

Sure, they have the spice rack with peanuts and chilis that you can add yourself. But, for some reason I feel the dishes I had, the panang curry, needed some more seasoning and spices. Overall, great if you are in the mood for Thai in the area, but it needs some spice.

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Pineapple steak

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Panang Curry with chicken and tofu

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On Friday, April 10, CFHLA conducted its 29th Annual Hospitality Education Fundraiser, Bacchus Bash!

Importantly, this activity was action packed, featuring nearly 50 food and beverage vendors and 4 stages of continuous live entertainment at the Orlando Premium Outlets Mall at Vineland Ave.

Relating to numbers, Bacchus Bash attracted over 20,000 Attendees and CFHLA is proud to announce that over $120,000 was generated for Hospitality Education!

This is the fifth consecutive year that Bacchus Bash earned over $120,000.

2015 CFHLA BACCHUS BASH AWARDEES

BEST MENU ITEM:

FIRST PLACE
Chef Bill’s Award Winning Roasted Pig
The Alfond Inn

SECOND PLACE
Smoke Gouda Beef Short Rib
JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes

BEST ORIGINAL DRINK:

FIRST PLACE
Prickly Pear Margarita
CFHLA Food & Beverage Council

SECOND PLACE
Bee Keeper
JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes

BEST DESSERT ITEM:

FIRST PLACE
Chocolate Praline Crunch
JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes

SECOND PLACE
Fat Elvis
Brio Tuscan Grille

BEST PRESENTATION MENU ITEM

FIRST PLACE
Guadalajara Burrito Bowls & Rukus Juice
DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld

SECOND PLACE
Soy & Ginger Painted Pork
The Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando

BEST PRESENTATION ORIGINAL DRINK

FIRST PLACE
Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shot
CFHLA Vacation Rental Council

SECOND PLACE
Cathy’s Infused Pineapple
DoubleTree by Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort/
Embassy Suites Orlando I-Drive / Convention Center

BEST PRESENTATION DESSERT ITEM

FIRST PLACE
Chocolate Praline Crunch
JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes

SECOND PLACE
Fat Elvis
Brio Tuscan Grille

MOST CREATIVE BOOTH

FIRST PLACE
Mexican BBQ
DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld

SECOND PLACE
Carnivale
Paramount Hospitality Management:
Floridays Orlando Resort, Avanti Orlando Resort
and The Point Orlando Resort

The DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld’s Mexican BBQ Booth

MOST INTERACTIVE BOOTH

FIRST PLACE
Face Painting
CLC World Resorts & Hotels

SECOND PLACE
Casino
Brio Tuscan Grille

MOST MONEY GENERATED (FOOD)

FIRST PLACE
DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld

SECOND PLACE
JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes

MOST MONEY GENERATED (BEVERAGE)

FIRST PLACE
CFHLA Food & Beverage Council

SECOND PLACE
CFHLA Vacation Rental Council

The JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Booth including Former
CFHLA Chairman Jim Burns of the Grande Lakes Resort

CFHLA would like to thank the
2015 Bacchus Bash Host:
Orlando Premium Outlets® –
Vineland Ave

CFHLA would also like to thank the
2015 Bacchus Bash Judges:

Richard Bilbao
Orlando Business Journal

Katherine Nguyen
TastyChomps.com Food Blog

Ashley Nickell
Corporate Executive Chef

Allison Walker
News 13 – Orlando

CFHLA President / CEO Rich Maladecki with the Bacchus Bash Judges

CFHLA “salutes” and recognizes
the following Bacchus Bash
friends and supporters…

Bacchus Bash Committee:

Chairman:

John Parkinson
DoubleTree Suites by Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort

Vice Chairs:

Stephanie Banks
DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando Downtown

Bill Friedrich
Embassy Suites Orlando I-Drive / Convention Center

Rod O’Connor
Avanti Resort

Louis Robbins
Former CFHLA Chairman

CFHLA ARC Board Liaison:

Debra Ray
Church Street District

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Bacchus Bash Orlando 2015
Bacchus Bash Orlando 2015
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Roy’s Restaurant Launches Korean-Inspired Prix Fixe Menu
Guests can enjoy a three-course prix fixe meal for just $39.95 per person

WHAT:
Roy’s Restaurant is amplifying traditional Korean cuisine by blending the most flavorful and distinctive ingredients from the region into a delicious, three-course prix fixe menu. Starting on April 8, guests can experience innovative Korean flavors for just $39.95 per guest before tax and gratuity.

WHERE:
The menu is offered at Roy’s Restaurant locations nationwide. To make reservations at your nearest location, please visit www.roysrestaurant.com. Not available in Hawaii or Pebble Beach.

OPPORTUNITIES:
The Korean culinary journey starts with choice of Crispy Calamari Salad or Wagyu Beef Mandoo. Next, guests can choose between the Loco Moco entrée, featuring a red dragon charred short rib, friend egg, kim chi and white rice or the Seasame-Crusted Mahi Mahi with garlic spinach, a kim chi pancake and creamy cilantro sauce. Dessert options include a Peanut Butter Mousse or Chocolate Soufflé. A Spiced Mango Martini is also available for only $9.90. Full menu details can be found here.

ABOUT:
The internationally-acclaimed Roy’s Restaurant is known for its unique and creative menu, a sensational adventure in bold flavors, and its sincere and engaging hospitality that is a welcome escape from the ordinary dining experience. Roy’s Restaurant was born by blending two dynamic principals: delicious food and hospitality inspired by the “aloha” spirit of the Hawaiian Islands. Inspired by his Japanese roots and native Hawaiian cuisine, Chef Roy Yamaguchi opened the very first Roy’s Restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1988. Today there are 20 Roy’s locations in the continental United States that are owned and operated by United Ohana, LLC, and another six in Hawaii, one in Japan and one in Guam. For more information about Roy’s Restaurants, please visit RoysRestaurant.com.

It’s a Chinese family tradition – while some folks sip on mimosas and munch on French toast on the weekends, others hit up one of the few dim sum restaurants in town for some steamed shrimp dumplings and a cup of Jasmine tea.

Dim sum, which means a little bit of heart, is the term used for the collection of small plates made of dumplings, sweet buns, and other little delectable bites, all eaten of course with tea and shared around a table with family and friends.

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One of the best dim sum restaurants in Orlando has been Ming Bistro. They recently went under new ownership changes and have even had some interior decoration changes. Gone are the chandeliers, replaced with lowered, black painted ceilings and dim lighting, giving the restaurant a slightly more sophisticated feel. Quality remains about the same, though some friends have noted a slight decrease.

Same are the long lines at the door of customers waiting for a table to clear (you can avoid this by going on the off hours – outside the 12pm-2pm peak hours on the weekends). They serve dim sum all day here, but you can only get the push cart service on the weekends. I prefer ordering my dim sum dishes by the menu a la carte – where you are guaranteed hot and fresh plates coming out from the kitchen, rather than something that may have been sitting out for a while.

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Service at Chinese restaurants have historically been quite lacking. It is a little better here, where a manager made the rounds asking how things were and the waitresses made sure the tables stayed clear.

How to Order Dim Sum

  • Make sure to order some tea, like Jasmine or Heung Pin, as well as a glass of water as it can get salty
  • As the carts make their way around the room, wave one of the ladies down to showcase her wares from the carts – one is steaming, the other not.
  • Each dish has a certain price range, from $3 to $5 depending on the size.
  • Drizzle a dab of soy sauce and some chili sauce on your dumplings to taste.
  • The shrimp rice paste can be ordered separately as can any of the dishes on the regular menu, such as beef chow fun.

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Typically, we order shrimp ha gow dumplings, siu mai pork dumplings, fried taro shrimp balls, chicken feet, steamed spare ribs, a plate of beef chow fun, salt and pepper calamari, and some egg custart tart pastries for dessert. Typically the bill comes out to be about $12 a person, great value.

My favorite dim sum dish here is the fried turnip pudding cubes, crunchy and salty, perfect with some hot chili.

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Beef Chow fun noodles SONY DSC
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Here are photos of the menu:

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This is a working post….what did we miss? comment below!

MAP of Hong Kong, Taipei, Osaka, Tokyo Eats and Sights

Hong Kong

Places to Eat
– Tsui Wah restaurant (theyre everywhere) – get the French Toast!!!
– Bee Chiang Hang – Beef jerky street food – also everywhere
– Dim Sum – Sam Hui Yaat or Maxim Palace Central or Tim Ho Wan
– Dessert shops – get the mango fruit snow tea or sago mango dessert
– Yat Lok – Roast Goose
– Mak’s Noodle Shops
– Kau Kee for Brisket

More great choices:
http://www.chowzter.com/fast-feasts/asia-pacific/Hong%20Kong
http://danielfooddiary.com/2014/07/25/hongkongfood/
http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2013/jan/21/top-10-hong-kong-speciality-restaurants
http://www.ladyironchef.com/tag/best-hong-kong-food/

Places to See
– Victoria’s Peak – top of HK
– Big Buddha at Lantau Island
– Temple Street Night Market
– Pacific Place mall
– Lan Kwai Fong – night time bohemian district

————————–
Taipei, Taiwan

Places to Eat
Din Tai Fung – Soup Dumplings
Yong Kang – Shaved Ice
Shin Yeh – Taiwanese
Beef Brisket noodles

Night Markets
Raohe Street Night Markets
Shihlin Night Market
Tonghua Night Market
Shida Night Market

Places to See
– Chiang Kai Shek Memorial
– Lungshan Temple
– Taipei 101
– Shi-Men Ting Youth shopping area
– Jiufen Old Street
– XiMending at Night
– ATT4Fun

——————-

Osaka, Japan

Things to Eat
– Okonomiyaki
– Takoyaki
– Kutsu karaage

Places to See
– Osaka Castle
– Dotonbori street food
– Osaka Aquarium
– Universal Studios Osaka
– Spa World
– Umeda Joypolis Sega

43 Things to do in Osaka

Kyoto
– Bike around town
– Kinkakuji Temple
– Fushimi Inari Tasha
– Gion geisha district
– Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

99 Things to do in Kyoto

Nara
– Nara Deer Park


===================

Tokyo, Japan

Places to Eat
– Tsukiji Fish Market
– Tokyo Station Ramen Street

Places to See
– Asakusa Temple
– Harajuku
– Ometesando
– Yoyogi Park
– Daikanyama, Shibuya, Nakameguro ebisu

101 Things to do in Tokyo

Exactly 40 years ago on April 30, 1975, the capital city of South Vietnam, Saigon fell to the forces of the communist North. There was panic in the streets as countless Vietnamese sought refuge at the American embassy, many who had worked along side the US – as soldiers, journalists, hairdressers, and more – during the decades long war. Fearing reprisals from the North, deservedly so, many fled that day airlifted out by helicopters and later, by boat – becoming refugees with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Thus began the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese – all in search of freedom and democracy, and a better future for their children, many of whom ended up in places like Australia, France, and right here in Central Florida.

My parents were both Vietnamese refugees. My mom, orphaned at age 12, escaped by a small rickety fishing boat headed out to the unknown wide ocean, leaving her brothers behind, with nothing but her unyielding dream of a new world beyond the Vietnam she had left behind. Eventually reaching Malaysia at a refugee camp, living there for a year before being sponsored to the United States by a kind family in Indiana. She met my father in South Florida where I was born and raised before moving to Orlando 13 years ago.

The Vietnamese American community in Orlando has grown through the decades along the Mills 50 District, starting from a small Asian grocery store to a restaurant to more and more. Now, Asian immigrants from other countries have settled in the area and opened up even more restaurants – from Malaysian to Sichuan Chinese and more.

I was honored these past few weeks to help lead a guided tour through the “Little Vietnam” area in our Mills 50 District for WMFE for their series on “What is Little Vietnam?“, helping to share stories from the Vietnamese American community, how they came to Central Florida, and what lays ahead for the community after 40 years.
WMFE’s What is Little Vietnam? Series

Orlando’s Hon Viet DanGroup keeps Vietnamese Culture through Dance

Vietnamese vets still fighters forty years after fall of Saigon

Family business continues to thrive since first settling in Orlando’s “Little Vietnam”

New development changes face of Orlando’s Little Vietnam

Chasing traditional medicine in Little Vietnam

Central Floridians remember Vietnam War

For Vietnamese, heritage endures at places of worship

New cultural center reflects diverse Asian community, including Vietnamese

Orlando’s Little Vietnam preserves its history to enrich its future

Two generations of Vietnamese-Americans, three decades apart

The young ones: Vietnamese youth redefine their community

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Trays of small bites from Vietnamese grocery store Tien Hung Oriental Market – one of the very first markets in the district – many of the businesses along this strip come from the family of Tien Hung. SONY DSC

Cecilia Nguyen, also Miss Vietnam Florida 2004, is the owner of the Tien Hung Jewelry Store – she takes cares of customers and is in charge of the store, taking over for her parents.  SONY DSC

Wall art at Chewy Boba Company – Quang Vu, a UCF alumni, and his family started Lollicup many years ago and were the first in Orlando to sell boba or bubble tea, a popular drink with roots in Taiwan, where little tapioca pearls are slurped through large straws.
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Steven Thach Luu mans the register at Chewy Boba Company, where they also sell macarons.

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One of my favorite dishes, Banh Cuon, a rice crepe noodle dish stuffed with mushrooms and ground pork – velvety smooth – found at Vietnam Cuisine restaurant.  SONY DSC

A look above from the meal – banh cuon, bun thit nuong, and bun rieu all at Vietnam Cuisine. SONY DSC

Bun Thit nuong cha gio – rice vermicelli noodles with veggies, egg roll, grilled pork and shrimp at Vietnam Cuisine. SONY DSC

Bun rieu, a special tomato, pork, and seafood noodle soup at Vietnam Cuisine.

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In recent years, more restaurants and shops from other Asian countries have sprouted up in the Mills 50 District. Mamak Asian Street Food specializes in Malaysian and pan Asian cuisine. SONY DSC

Traditional Eastern medicine shops and acupuncturists dot the corridor in Mills 50 District.

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Crawfish in garlic, butter shabang sauce, fried shrimp, jambalaya, po boy sandwiches, gumbo – all found at King Cajun Crawfish run by Ha Nguyen. Mrs. Nguyen worked in Louisiana and ran a cajun restaurant there for 15 years before moving to Orlando after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to be closer to her family. Many Vietnamese who immigrated to the US were sent to the gulf coast region and became fishermen and shrimpers, some facing discrimination from the KKK at the time. There is still a large community of Vietnamese Americans in New Orleans today in the neighborhood of Versailles.

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Brendan Byrne and Matthew Peddie of WMFE 90.7 FM News on location, digging into the crawfish.
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Chelsea, enjoying her crawfish at King Cajun Crawfish SONY DSC

Mrs. Ha Nguyen, the Queen Cajun at King Cajun. SONY DSC

Beignets – fried dough with powdered sugar

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Pho at Viet Garden, one of the oldest Vietnamese restaurants in Orlando SONY DSC

Dumplings as recommended by Crystal Chavez SONY DSC

The staff of WMFE with some of the personalities in the What is Little Vietnam series.

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First on TastyChomps.com – Chef Joseph Cournoyer – Burnett, who is currently the Chef de Cuisine of the Ravenous Pig is joining the team at The Osprey Tavern as the new executive chef.

The most popular dishes Osprey Tavern include the oysters, pizzas from the stone hearth oven and the delmonico steak out of the Josper, which is a wood burning oven/grill from Spain. Their craft cocktails have also been hugely popular.

Chef Cournoyer-Burnett, who graduated from Clark University in Atlanta, formerly served as Chef De Cuisine at Norman’s New World here in Orlando from 2001 to 2010, and then Chef De Cuisine at Loews Hotels before joining the Ravenous Pig.

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Chef Joseph Cournoyer joins The Osprey Tavern

Biography  – “Masterful technique and fearless flavors abound with Chef de Cuisine Joseph Cournoyer-Burnett, born in England and raised on Florida coast, Joseph’s extensive travels in India, Vietnam, Mexico and Europe add inspired techniques and components to his repertoire. As he rose in the ranks, from line cook to sous chef working under chefs such as 2010 Food & Wine Best New Chef Clay Miller, Joseph developed his own distinct approach to cooking. It was Miller who planted the seed that would soon blossom into an insatiable interest in locally-produced artisanal foods and, ultimately, guided Joseph to become chef de cuisine at NORMAN’S at The Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes in Orlando. He’s cooked alongside some of the world’s most renowned chefs, participated in a dinner at the prestigious James Beard House and presented at the 2007 Star Chefs Congress.”

The Osprey Tavern owner Jason Chin is excited to have Chef Joseph on board and looks forward to expanding the menu.

“We will also be working on a Saturday and Sunday brunch service, that will probably be ready around June or July,” Chin told us.

The Osprey Tavern
ospreytavern.com/
4899 New Broad St, Orlando, FL 32814
(407) 960-7700

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About 20 restaurants now host smoke-free patios, and more to come as ‘Breathe Free Winter Park’ encourages restaurants to join the movement.

Join leaders from Winter Park’s health and business communities as they announce “Breathe Free Winter Park,” a voluntary initiative aimed at eliminating smoking on all restaurant patios within the city.

Owners and managers of 20 restaurants, including Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen, Outback Steakhouse and 4 Rivers Smokehouse, offer smoke-free patios, as celebrated by the Breathe Free program.

“We want to stress that this program is entirely voluntary,” said Jill Hamilton Buss, executive director of Healthy Central Florida. “We’re simply making restaurant owners/managers aware of how few people actually smoke, and helping them go smoke-free if they choose to do so. And, we’re offering full support for the transition if they sign on, including providing a toolkit, signage, advertising and promotion and even staff training.”

Individuals, not just restaurants, also have a role to play.

“Anyone who prefers a smoke-free patio is encouraged to speak up and let restaurant owners/managers know they would prefer to dine smoke free,” added Hamilton Buss. “If they don’t hear from you, they don’t know.”

The citywide movement is the first of its kind in Central Florida, is designed to foster wellness, and be one more step in Winter Park’s journey to become the healthiest city in the nation.

Healthy Central Florida, the Winter Park Health Foundation, Florida Hospital and the American Lung Association in Florida, in partnership with Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen, are sponsoring the launch of Breathe Free Winter Park.

While smoking is banned inside Florida restaurants, diners are legally permitted to smoke on restaurant patios. No amount of secondhand smoke is healthy, and can trigger asthma attacks, headaches, sinus issues and more.

The Breathe Free initiative encourages all restaurant owners to consider going smoke-free for a healthier Winter Park. It also encourages all residents to speak up and let restaurant management know that they prefer smoke-free dining.

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WHEN: 10 a.m., Monday, April 27

WHERE: Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen
118 S. Park Ave., Winter Park

“Imagine dining outside at your favorite local restaurant. You’re enjoying a delicious meal with family or friends. Conversation is flowing, the food is outstanding and then suddenly, you get a whiff of cigarette smoke. Instantly, the moment is ruined.”

“Did you know that only 10% of Winter park residents smoke and less than 8% smoke every day? Yet most restaurants cater to smokers by allowing smoking on patios. Everyone knows that secondhand smoke is unhealthy – triggering asthma attacks, migraines or sinus problems. There are cancer-causing chemicals in cigarette smoke and according to a 2006 Surgeon General’s Report there is no risk-free level of exposure to second hand smoke. It is one reason why outdoor cafés have 5-20 times the pollution as sidewalks.

So what can you do about it? Well, if you like fresh air with your mouth-watering meal, you’re going to love a new effort from Healthy Central Florida (HCF), “Breathe Free Winter Park” (BFWP). HCF partnered with the American Lung Association, Rollins College, the Winter Park Chamber and others to develop this community-based initiative.

BFWP is a new, all-voluntary collaboration of residents, community organizations, restaurants and others to encourage restaurant owners and managers to consider becoming totally smoke-free – inside and out. BFWP is providing materials and planning assistance to help take local establishments from smoky to smoke-free. If restaurants choose not to participate, there are no penalties. They may just miss out on a great marketing strategy for the vast majority of their non-smoking customers – fully 90%!

If you like the idea of smoke-free outdoor dining, here’s what you can do. Please, very politely, speak up. Let a restaurant manager know that you love their food and their restaurant, but you’d love the experience even more if it was smoke-free – especially during these glorious months with cooler, drier weather. If non-smokers don’t speak up, restaurant managers don’t know. But always do it politely and patiently, especially if they are busy.

Being part of BFWP means that we’re in this together — all part of a larger health movement taking place in our community. We can lead the region in taking the next step toward better health – by having healthy air everywhere. Like and follow us on Facebook or check back to HealthyCentralFlorida.org for the latest updates on Breathe Free Winter Park. And please, share news of your favorite smoke-free restaurant!”

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Primo has a special place in my heart for several reasons.

Many years ago, it was the place, tucked away inside the JW Marriott at Grande Lakes, of one of the first “special” date nights I had with my now-wife, then girlfriend, May. It was a wonderful evening with fond memories of great food and great service, particularly for recent college graduates at the time.

Few in Orlando realize or know that Primo’s philosophy and practices towards simple, seasonal food has helped change Orlando’s food scene for the better – and continues to do so till this day.

Seasonal, fresh, local, and organic” – it’s now hard to remember a time when those terms were relatively still a novel concept in the local restaurant industry. One could argue that the farm to table movement in Orlando started here at Primo.

Chef Melissa Kelly, with her husband, pastry chef Price Kushner, opened the first Primo in Maine in 2000, a second at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando in 2003, and a third outpost in Tuscon, Arizona in 2005.

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Chef Melissa Kelly is ever passionate about her food – from sourcing and quality to sustainability – and it shows – in the way she speaks about the food system and her care for her pigs and greens. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and an alumni of the legendary Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, she is the first female chef to win the James Beard Foundation’s award for Best Chef twice – first in 1999, and most recently again in 2013 for the Northeast.

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Chef Melissa Kelly’s practical and simple advice to up and coming chefs, particularly female chefs who are often overlooked in the kitchens, is to remember to “keep your head down, work hard, have integrity, travel and read as much as you can.

Many of Chef Melissa Kelly’s alumni have taken this advice and nurturing environment and went on to excel in their respective fields in the restaurant industry.

Back in 2003, Primo was the proverbial primordial soup from which some of Orlando’s finest chefs emerged: pioneer chefs like Katherine Blake of The Rusty Spoon (who served as chef de cuisine of Primo from 2003-2008), Julie Petrakis of The Ravenous Pig and Cask and Larder, and Alexia Gawlak of Swine and Sons Provisions.

Primo was one of Lake Meadow Natural farm’s first clients – now their eggs and chicken are found in countless local Orlando restaurants.

Primo’s seasonally changing menu was one of the first to feature ingredients cultivated from an on-site organic garden, and from the resort’s own 7,000-square-foot garden at Whisper Creek Farm, in addition to sourcing from Central Florida’s small organic farms.

Spring is Chef Kelly’s favorite season – she “loves all the alliums and tender wild greens – all the pungent yet delicate flavors.”

And the garden is full of wonderful greens and herbs for the season.

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Named after Chef Kelly’s grandfather, Primo Magnani, Primo’s classical cooking and preparation methods draw strong inspiration from cuisines off the coastal regions of Italy, France and Spain. Chef Kelly grew up around her grandfather’s butcher shop, and learned all the Italian classics from her grandmother.

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Primo’s Chef de Cuisine Mariano Vegel, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, grew up cooking in his grandfather’s pizzeria and making fresh pasta from scratch every Sunday evening for family dinners. Chef Vegel joined JW Marriott Orlando shortly after graduating from the Instituto Argentino de Gastronomía in 2006.

On a recent media event, we were invited to sample some of the new as well as classic offerings at Primo, sharing the great things they do with food here.

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Slow Cooked and Grilled Octopus ($16) Lima Beans / Artichokes / Calabrain Pesto / ‘Nduja Sausage (made in house) / Smokey Potato Chips

Octopus is a popular dish in Mediterranean cuisine – and it can be tough to cook well if not given the proper care and technique. Thankfully here at Primo, it’s slow cooked tender for 1.5 hours and then grilled to give it a nice smokey char, quite nice flavors with enjoyably crispy and soft textures. The artichokes, marinated in a sherry vinaigrette, with microgreens, pesto, and house made spicy ‘nduja sausage all go wonderfully together with the octopus. Light and delicious.

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Cold Smoked Tuna Tartare ($16) Tonnato Sauce / Confit Tomatoes / Mint / Sesame Oil / Bottarga / Crispbreads

This tuna tartare is a classic Italian dish, inspired by Chef Mariano’s Christmas family memories and traditions, made with a creamy, tangy tonnato aioli traditionally made with fish sauce, anchovies, capers, and tuna. There’s big, bold flavors in this dish, made with yellowfin tuna, with care to source fish that are sustainable and regional. To Chef Mariano, this dish represents the intertwining of “happy food memories past,  with dining experiences present together for our guests.”

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Farmer Salad ($15) PRIMO Lettuces / Garlicky Levain Croutons / House Cured Bacon / Soft Poached Whisper Creek Farm Egg / White Balsamic Vinegrette

The Farmer’s salad is hearty enough for a light meal, savory and delectable, topped with house brined and smoked bacon and a perfectly soft poached egg picked fresh daily from the on-site Whisper Creek Farm. The Farmer Salad is one of the most popular dishes served at all three Primo locations, and Chef Melissa Kelly often has this dish as a meal.

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Squid Ink Linguini “Frutti Di Marie” ($34) Calamari / Jonah Crab / Rock Shrimp / Clams / Charred Pepper / Tasso Ham / Pimenton Crumbs

I loved this house made black squid ink linguini pasta – the medley of seafood from the uni and calamari to the jonah crab, rock shrimp, and littleneck clams were all so flavorful, and the charred pepper and salty tasso ham topped with pimenton cheese crumbs made the dish just come together beautifully.

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Citrus Glazed Sea Scallops ($34) Crispy Sunchokes / Wild Mushroom & Black Garlic Carbonara / Truffles / Pickled Vegetables

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Sauteed Scaloppine of Pork Saltimbocca ($36) Sage Infused Mushroom Madeira Jus with Prosciutto / Spinach / Roasted Garlic Mashed Potato

Something that never changes at Primo is their signature hearty pork saltimbocca dish – one of the original dishes inspired by Chef Melissa Kelly’s grandpa. The thick slices of pork sit on a sultry bed of prosciutto, spinach and roasted garlic mashed potato with a sage infused mushroom-madeira jus. It’s down home Italian comfort and soul food on a plate.

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Caramello ($10) Caramel Crusted Pate Choux Filled with Salted Caramel Cremeux / Caramalia Chocolate Ganache / Salted Caramel Popcorn / Caramelized Hazelnut Gelato / Toasted Caramel Marshmallow

For dessert, Primo’s pastry chef brought to us a true work of art – the Caramello, which showcases caramel 6 different ways from hazelnut caramel gelato to toasted caramel marshmallow – a fabulous ending to the meal.

If you’re looking for simple, fresh, seasonal cooking – whether with influences from Spain or Italy or France, Chef Melissa Kelly’s Primo restaurant is definitely a must try for any one serious about the farm to table movement in Orlando. You’ll find the heart is there in the cooking, in the ingredients from the gardens in the farm yard to the kitchens and dining room tables.

PRIMO
at JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes
Open for dinner 6-10 pm
407-393-4444
4040 Cental Florida Parkway
Orlando, FL 32837
GrandeLakes.com/JWMarriott/PRIMO

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Chefs Emily Bose and Jessica Tantalo started teaching classes together at East End Market about a year ago, starting with the kids cooking series. Last fall they started talking about starting their our own business that would produce meals for families in a variety of forms, focusing on local, sustainable products.

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Jessica Tantalo, who has worked in kitchens since the age of 15, is a Le Cordon Bleu graduate, sustenance and frivolity continue to lie at her heart’s core, along with a dedicated responsibility to support the local food movement. On a mission not only to educate everyone on the simple and rewarding techniques of cooking, but also to expand the pantry of the home cook. By removing the fear of the unknown, she hopes to empower experimental diners to eat seasonally and sustainably. She is also the Chef in Residence at the East End Market managing the commissary kitchen, culinary education and small business incubation program.

Emily Bose is a classically trained pastry chef, having graduated from LeNotre Culinary Institute in 2009. She also teaches classes at East End Market. She as well was influenced from a young age by her mother’s cooking and the at home family meal. She has three boys who test every kids meal before it goes to market. In her previous life, she was a prosecutor in Baltimore, Maryland for ten years.

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Fried Rillette Nuggets

Chefs Emily and Jes incorporated Emmabean this Winter and have been operating out of the East End kitchen until they are ready to get our own place.

They have recently launched their first product- the Emmabean lunchbox, designed for school children: focused on local, sustainable, delicious, kid friendly foods.

While Kappo’s chefs were away for a trip to Japan, Emmabean took over the space for a two week pop up. We got to talk to them about the experience recently.

How did the Emmabean Pop Up at East End Market go?
“The Pop Up was amazing and fun. We basically lived in the Kappo kitchen for two weeks. We got a great reception from the neighborhood, created yummy food and met some wonderful people.”

Jes: “I was interested to see if people would still appreciate the slow food approach, just as Kappo does, even though it was a more familiar cuisine. It was really celebrated as more of a dining experience instead of just eating and I really loved it. My favorite thing is always when people get excited or fall in love with something they wouldn’t normally order, like the radish or a turnip soup.”

Emily: “When you have such a small space, small number of seats and small staff, everything has to run like clockwork. We basically jumped into the deep end and had to get things running efficiently in like one minute. That was a challenge but fun at that same time. Our team had to work together seamlessly in front of our guests at all times. And of course singing to 80s pop music and cooking was a blast.”

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Butternut squash soup

Most popular item from the pop up?
Radish and the short rib. During brunch, the bacon won everyone over. It lived up to its’ name: Best Bacon Ever. And the mini chocolate pretzel pie.

What’s next for Emmabean?
We are getting back to our focus, which is kids lunches and supper club. We will continue to produce those out of the East End Market kitchen while we start planning for our steps to the next level. For now the best way to stay in touch with us and keep us with what we are doing is to like us on Facebook, follow on Instagram.

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What are your favorite ingredients to use?
Jes: I have always been a veggie fanatic and have had a long time love affair with fish. I always try to stay as disciplined as possible when it comes to seasonality, not only for the sustainability, but because that’s when things are at the height of flavor. I like using an ingredient everywhere for the few weeks that it’s available, like our strawberry centric brunch opening day of the pop up.

Emily: I also try to be true to seasonality. We had a period in the winter that it seemed that everything we created had kumquats. For desserts, I really love citrus– which is good since we are in Florida. And generally fruit is my favorite product to use.

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Chuy’s, the Austin-based restaurant, officially opened its doors of their newest Central Florida location at 6688 South Semoran Boulevard near OIA, is Chuy’s third location in Central Florida, joining Chuy’s Kissimmee and Chuy’s I-Shops, located on International Drive.

For more than 30 years, Chuy’s has served made from scratch Tex-Mex favorites that include Stuffed Chile Rellenos, Chicka-Chicka-Boom Enchiladas and Chuy’s famous Big As Yo’ Face Burritos. Flour and corn tortillas are hand-rolled all day on the authentic comal located in the dining room allowing customers to experience the freshness first hand.

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Elvis Green Chile Fried Chicken – chicken breast breaded with Lay’s potato chips, deep fried and smothered in Green Chile sauce and cheddar cheese. Served with green chile rice and refried beans.

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My favorite dish though is the decadent tres leches dessert, made from scratch at Chuy’s – fluffy, light, and so very satisfying.

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In addition, distinctive décor surrounds diners – an Elvis shrine, hubcaps on the ceiling and soaring eight-foot tall palm trees, among other eclectic treasures – to make Chuy’s the most fun and friendly restaurant in town. The Chuy’s motto is “If you’ve seen one Chuy’s, you’ve seen one Chuy’s!” because each restaurant’s eclectic décor is unique and no two restaurants are the same.

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“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to grow our presence in Central Florida with the opening of our third location,” said Jose Ortega, Owner/Operator of the new Chuy’s. “This community has really responded to our fresh Tex-Mex and incredible service and we’re looking forward to sharing it with more of the locals and tourists alike.”

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Chuy’s Central Florida restaurants are open seven days a week for lunch and dinner with a weekday happy hour from 4-7 p.m. complete with drink specials and the famous Fully-Loaded Nacho Car, offering a trunk load of FREE chips, salsa, chile con queso, taco meat and more. For more information about Chuy’s Orlando visit Facebook.com/ChuysOrlando.

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As part of the grand opening celebrations for its newest Orlando location at 6688 South Semoran Boulevard, Chuy’s Tex-Mex has donated more than $7,100 to its local charity partner, Give Kids The World Village (GKTWV), a nonprofit organization that provides week-long, cost-free Orlando dream vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. The presentation was held at the Give Kids The World Village on March 17.

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Donations from customers and contributions from Chuy’s were collected at special events during the restaurant’s grand opening celebrations, which were held to introduce the Chuy’s brand to the South Orlando area. In addition to the money raised at events, Chuy’s donated over $2,400 to the charity as a result of a social media fundraiser promoted by the restaurant.

“We’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the employees and guests of Chuy’s for their donation to Give Kids The World,” said GKTWV President Pamela Landwirth. “Chuy’s continued support helps us continue giving our precious children and their families the happiness that inspires hope.”

Chuy’s founders Mike Young and John Zapp were introduced to GKTWV while attending a management seminar at Disney in the late 1990s. Young and Zapp, inspired by the organization’s mission to fulfill the wishes of all children with life-threatening illnesses, spent the next decade raising money for the charity, donating a duplex, balloon stand and pool for the 70-acre Village in Kissimmee, Florida, where more than 135,000 have come to visit Central Florida since GKTWV opened its doors in 1986. This relationship, which started more than 17 years ago, continues with the new Chuy’s location. In 2013 and 2014, Chuy’s locations in Kissimmee and on International Drive donated more than $7,700 to GKTWV, along with donating food for events at the village for events.

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Donut King is a family owned donut shop that opened in late 2007 in Minneola, Fl, and just a few months ago – they opened their second location on Howell Branch road, on the eastern edges of Winter Park / Casselberry.

Suffice it to say, this location is a lot closer to us on the east side than the Minneola one.

Unlike the first location, they are only open 5 a.m.-8 p.m daily.

What makes these donuts such a joy to eat? They’re soft, pillowy, and large – and quite delicious.

Throw your caution and diet to the wind before entering.

Some of the highlights are the glazed donut and the bacon maple glazed donut, but they have red velvet glazed, sprinkles, vanilla, pretty much all the favorites.

In addition to their donuts, they also have hot dog rolls, breakfast croissant sandwiches, and little slider hamburgers called castle burgers. They do not, however, have their jambalaya and fried chicken wings that is available in the first location…yet.

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Donut King
3716 Howell Branch Rd Winter Park, FL 32792
(321) 316-4817
http://www.thedonutking.com/
The Donut King on Urbanspoon

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When Robert Ly & Teresa Tran founded Sus Hi Eatstation in August 2011, they sought to change the way people think about sushi – creating not only an amazing concept with good food,a solid system and operations, but also a fun and quirky environment for “Ninjas” to work in and for customers to dine in.

“Ninjas” are the folks behind the counter crafting up the Sus Hi dishes, as well as customers that dine there. I suppose it is a general term for all people that enter the world of Sus Hi.

Robert and Teresa came up with the idea while in an ice-cream shop one night and after a few months of R&D followed by the business development, Sus Hi Eastation was born.

They started very small with just 6 Ninjas and now their business currently employs over 35 Ninjas.

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They worked tirelessly for an entire year, every single day from the break of dawn until past midnight to keep the business running.

Now 3 years later, they have stepped out of the restaurant to work on expansion with their team. Without their team, Ninjas and customers, Sus Hi Eatstation will never be where it is today.

Robert and Teresa are extremely grateful for the support of such beautiful and positive people in their lives (including each other – they’re scheduled to wed this year).

“When you walk into Sus Hi Eatstation, you instantly become a Ninja. You are greeted as Ninja by Ninjas with fun nicknames. While in line, you’ll hear things like the resounding boom of the gong when your appetizers are ready, Ninjas yelling FIRE when they melt cheese and interesting greetings to draw you into the Ninja culture.”

“You’ll choose your style of sushi first – roll, bowl, or wrap? After you decide on your style, you’ll move on to choose the protein combination you’d like. Mix and match your favorite protein choice of tuna, spicy tuna, salmon, spicy salmon, krab, chicken tempura, grilled chicken, shrimp tempura, cooked shrimp, or steak. After that you’ll choose from an array of fresh ingredients like avocado, cucumber, cheese, bacon, scallions, jalapeños, mango, strawberries, sweet potato flakes, tempura flakes, masago and much more.. Lastly you’ll top it off with your favorite sauces. We have over 20 different sauces to choose from.”

Appetizers include krab rangoons that are made fresh daily as well as their newest item – rice fries, found only at Sus Hi Eatstation and currently flying out the door.

“Our most popular item is the rice bowl. Customers completely customize it from beginning to end so each bowl is different and unique in its own way,” said Teresa, co-owner of Sus Hi Eatstation.

“We cater to ALOT of vegetarians and vegans because we are very vegan friendly – more than half of our menu is vegan friendly,” Teresa told us.

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Last year, Robert and Teresa submitted an application to compete for the title of Brighthouse Regional Business of the Year in the medium sized business category.

Out of over 350 applicants, 170+ were chosen to give a 6 minute pitch in front of a panel of judges. This 6 minute pitch was “Shark Tank” style followed by an additional 6 minutes of question and answer.

“After our pitch, we were very confident that we will become one of the finalists for the event, but did not find out the results until a few months later when they announced us as one of the top 9 finalists! Months went by as we waited for the grand gala and alas, we took home the grand prize and placed first in our category!”

The grand prize included over $100,000 in promotional awards from Brighthouse Networks.

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The Sus Hi Eat Station’s team includes:

Robert Ly, Grandmaster Fun Ly – visionary

Teresa Tran, Grandmaster MISO EEL – integrator

Thomas Wang, Master spARC – management

Tiffany Chan, Master Turtle – marketing

Ryan Plaza, Master Time – relations

The core values of the Sus Hi team include FUN, PASSION, CREATIVITY & INTEGRITY

“As a team, we have fun together and create fun for our Ninjas through the environment and culture of the brand .”

“As a team, we are passionate about what we do and support our Ninjas in developing their own passions through retreats, events, challenges, transparency and genuine love.”

“As a team, we focus on creativity and being innovative and provide creative opportunities for our Ninjas to learn, grow and express themselves.”

“As a team, we believe in always doing the right thing and guide our Ninjas to establish the same values in their everyday life.”

Their goals for the upcoming year? Expansion to multiple locations and continuing to serve it up for their Ninjas.

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One of the newest, and I’d have to say one of my favorite, Indian restaurants in town – American Gymkhana – has announced that it will close after this April. It’s sad news for the space that once held Raga and Antonio’s before it. It’s a tough location, to be sure. With time, and maybe a different space, it would have done well. And that may still happen – if everything falls in place.

A few months ago, I stopped by for brunch and found it to be delightful – from lobster poached eggs benedicts to the bombay style wraps stuffed with tandoori chicken. Chef Aarthi Sampath did a wonderful job in the kitchen, who started at a culinary internship with Junoon, a Michelin-starred Indian concept in Manhattan, New York.

Meanwhile mixologist Hemant Pathak, who has been featured in GQ Magazine and ELLE Magazine, tended the craft cocktails menu to great acclaim.

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Chef Aarthi Sampath

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House Kale Salad

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Juhu Beach Lobster Benny – tandoori lobster / roasted corn / masala poached egg / pao bread

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The Mumbai Franki, a wrap stuffed with chicken, red onions, sweet peppers, garlic aioli and flaky paratha.

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Official statement follows:

OFFICIAL STATEMENT
From: Rajesh Bhardwaj
Re: American Gymkhana Closing Announcement
Date: Thursday, April 9, 2015

“Since the opening of American Gymkhana, a modern-Indian restaurant and cocktail lounge in 2014, the concept has flourished and has been well-received by the Central Florida community. Our team takes great pride in what we have built, so it is with regret to announce that due to operational and brand discrepancies with local partners involved, American Gymkhana will no longer be open for business after April 2015 in its current location. The decision to withdraw our concept and restaurant group from this project was made after considerate deliberation regarding our brand standards. We look forward to pursuing new ventures in the future within the growing food and beverage community in Orlando.”

“Please note this closing will not impact or influence our other restaurants operating outside of Florida. Again, we thank all guests, organizations, journalists, and specifically, the residents of Central Florida for allowing for us serve the community and be part of a growing food culture.”

- RB Hospitality Group

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I had a great time at Megacon this past Saturday. This was my first time ever at the annual comic book and sci-fi convention and it will probably not be my last.

Hundreds of attendees dressed up in cosplay – or “costume play” – as their favorite anime or super hero (or villain), steampunk character, and more. People were all very friendly all geeking out to their desired affinities.

Icons like Stan Lee of Marvel comics and Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead were present and guests could get their photos taken with them, for a fee.

Lots of comic books, collectible toys, action figures, and awesome artwork. Would definitely return next year – just get there early to avoid the lines.

Photo Gallery - Megacon 2015 in Orlando
Photo Gallery - Megacon 2015 in Orlando
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Here’s a new cool place you might not expect at a Disney property – a kind of speakeasy tiki bar, slightly hidden and only there if you are in the “know”.

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, latest addition to the newly reimagined Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, is a themed lounge serving up exotic drinks and small plates, while offering scenic views of the marina and Seven Seas Lagoon.

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Not related to the other Trader Joe’s, this bar was founded by Adventureland’s famous “head” salesman, Trader Sam, and is based on the original Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel in Disneyland Resort in California.

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The famous Trader Sam cocktails, available in Disney collectible Tiki mugs, are a mix of old and new. And visitors are in for some “magical” surprise when they order a few of the specialty drinks. Let’s just say it conjures up some old spirits hiding in the grotto’s walls.

Only at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto:
• Polynesian Pearl
• Nautilus
• Castaway Crush
• Tahitian Torch
• Dark & Tropical Stormy

Favorites imported from Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar:
• Krakatoa Punch
• Uh-Oa!
• HippopotoMai-Tai
• Shrunken Zombie Head

Sam’s No-Booze Brews:
• Schweitzer Fall
• Skipper Sipper

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Small bites at Trader Sam’s Grotto include chicken lettuce cups with hoisin ginger sauce; Hawaiian poke with Sriracha aioli and wonton chips; kalua pork tacos with shredded cabbage and pickled vegetables; pan-fried dumplings with soy-sesame dipping sauce; roasted chicken and pork pâté bánh mì sliders with pickled vegetables; salmon oshizushi (pressed sushi); corn-battered Portuguese sausages with curry ketchup, and a Headhunter Sushi Roll.

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Salmon oshizushi (pressed sushi)

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Roasted chicken and pork pâté bánh mì sliders with pickled vegetables

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Headhunter Sushi Roll

The lounge has 50 seats inside and 82 on the patio. No reservations are required.

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This is part of the Disney’s Polynesian Resort’s major re-imagination including a return to its original, 1971 opening day name: Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

Changes include an expansive redesign of the Great Ceremonial House, new food and beverage experiences, waterside villas and more.

When fully completed, the Polynesian-themed deluxe property will include some 360 deluxe studio villas and 20 two-bedroom, over-the-water Bungalows as part of the Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, the newest Disney Vacation Club Resort.

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There also are 484 traditional hotel rooms in a village of two-and three-story longhouses. Guestrooms feature a tropical motif complete with exotic prints and bamboo-style fixtures. Standard rooms offer two queen-size beds and a day bed, sleeping five.

Guests are welcomed to this family-favorite resort with a new entrance marquee featuring lava rock, tiki torches and flowing water surrounded by tropical hibiscus.

Trader Sam’s welcomes explorers to a mystical and tropical oasis featuring a lounge area with exotic cocktails served in souvenir mugs, paired with Polynesia-inspired small plates.

Other changes greeting Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort guests: the recently opened Pineapple Lanai kiosk, serving the world-famous Dole Whip soft serve and floats, and a new location for Capt. Cook’s quick-service restaurant.

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There’s pint-size fun at Lilo’s Playhouse, a supervised childcare offering. Stories unfold in this new whimsical children’s activity center where Lilo’s favorite classic Disney Little Golden Books tales such as Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp and Alice in Wonderland come to life. While parents enjoy a night out, youngsters can delve into dress-up, crafts, storytelling and other fun faves in themed areas.

A completely renovated feature pool area, a new children’s water play area and an enlarged deck for poolside seating with views of a scenic vista will open for guests in mid-April.

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Overlooking Seven Seas Lagoon, the 20 Disney Vacation Club Bungalows will be the first of this type of accommodation at Walt Disney World Resort. Each sleep up to eight guests, and feature a full kitchen, two bedrooms and even a plunge pool where Disney Vacation Club Members and guests can enjoy views of fireworks over Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon. This resort also will be the first to have connecting Deluxe Studios (located in longhouses) that will sleep up to five guests each, as well as kitchenettes and enhanced storage space for convenience and comfort. The first phase of Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows is scheduled to open April 1, 2015.

Existing dining options include ‘Ohana, located on the second floor of the re-imagined Great Ceremonial House, featuring a Disney Character breakfast and a family-style Polynesian feast where meats and seafood are grilled over an open fire pit. Kona Café, a unique family restaurant, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sandwiches, ice cream and pizza are available 24 hours a day at Capt. Cook’s. In an outdoors luau setting, Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show features traditional Polynesian fare, music, dancing and costumes. Shopping options include island fashions, bathing suits and casual sportswear.

For reservations, call 407/W-DISNEY or visit Disneyworld.com. To learn more about Disney Vacation Club, visit disneyvacationclub.com.

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For more events, make sure to visit the Orlando Foodie Calendar!

2015 Bacchus Bash

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Please CLICK HERE for additional details
This event will take place at Orlando Premium Outlets®- Vineland Ave
on Friday, April 10, 2015 – 5:00pm-10:00pm

Since 1987, “Orlando’s Biggest Street Party” has been dedicated to secure funds for Hospitality Educational purposes. Over the years, Bacchus Bash has donated nearly $1,000,000 to Central Florida hospitality Students and Hospitality Schools in Central Florida.

This annual food, beverage and entertainment festival features 70+ F&B and Entertainment booths and over 25,000 attendees.

Come to the party on Friday April 10th at 5 PM-10PM for drinks, food, entertainment, silent auction and more.

Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets
8200 Vineland Ave
Orlando, FL 32821

VENDOR BOOTHS
A & L Associates
Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza – Orlando
Benihana – Orlando
Brio Tuscan Grille
Caribe Royale Resort & Convention Center
CFHLA Allied Relations Council
CFHLA Security & Safety Council
CFHLA Vacation Ownership Council
Disney’s Art of Animation & Disney’s Pop Century Resorts
DOUBLETREE By Hilton Orlando At SeaWorld
Doubletree by Hilton Orlando Downtown
Doubletree by Hilton Walt Disney and Embassy Suites Orlando International Drive
Edlen Electrical
Grand Bohemian Hotel, Downtown Orlando
Hilton Orlando
Holiday Inn Lake Buena Vista in the Walt Disney World Resort
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes
Loews Hotels—Royal Pacific Resort
Marriott Orlando Airport
Melia Orlando Suite Hotel
Muse Gelato
Nickelodeon Suites Resort
Orlando World Center Marriott
Paramount Resort Collection
Pirate’s Town
Planet Hollywood Restaurant
Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel
Sea Dog Brew Pub
Servpro of Osceola County
UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management
Valencia College Foundation
Westin Lake Mary Orlando North
Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort
Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive

WINTER PARK’S ULTIMATE FOODIE FESTIVAL RETURNS APRIL 15

The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce’s annual showcase of local eateries has grown over the years to be known as “the ultimate foodie festival.”

The 30th Annual Taste of Winter Park presented by CenturyLink is expected to live up to the moniker on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, at the Winter Park Farmers’ Market. More than 45 of the area’s top chefs, bakers, caterers and confectioners are expected to participate.

“Each year the Taste of Winter Park attracts residents and tourists alike to experience a unique pairing of fine food, drink and live music on a fun evening in downtown Winter Park,” said Patrick Chapin, President/CEO for the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce.

Guests’ palettes will be tempted by a variety of cuisines as well as decadent desserts and refreshing beverages. In addition to the delicious dishes, guests will enjoy live entertainment by saxophonist Johnny Mag Sax.

Participating restaurants include: 4 Rivers Smokehouse, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, Another Broken Egg Café, Bailey’s Coffee Service, Barefoot Wine, Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen, Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine, Brio Tuscan Grille, Bungalow 23 Culinary Cocktail Mixers, Carmel Kitchen, Canopy Café, Cocina 214, Costco Wholesale, Crispers, Florida Distributing Company, Gator’s Dockside of Baldwin Park, Hamilton’s Kitchen at The Alfond Inn, Javatino, Jeremiah’s Italian Ice, John & Shirley’s Catering, Kona Ice of Winter Park, Krispy Kreme, Lombardi’s Seafood, Marlow’s Tavern, Mellow Mushroom, Mi Tomatina, Miller’s Ale House, Nelore Brazilian Steakhouse, Orchid Thai Cuisine, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Park Plaza Gardens, Peterbrooke Chocolatier, Pi Hole Pizza, Rogue Pub, Shake Shack, Smart Coffee HD, Sodexo at Rollins College, Sonny’s BBQ, The Bistro on Park Avenue, The Porch, The Wine Barn, Tijuana Flats, TR Fire Grill, Umi, Wayne Densch, Inc. and Whole Foods Market Winter Park.

Participants will compete for bragging rights in seven categories including best entrée, appetizer/side dish, beverage, dessert, healthy dish, Florida-inspired dish and booth display. An elite panel of judges will evaluate each entrant and award honors to the most deserving in each category. Judges include Mark Baratelli, publisher, The Daily City; Pam Brandon and Katie Farmand, editors, Edible Orlando; Josh Garrick, columnist, Winter Park/Maitland Observer; Rona Ginden, dining editor, Winter Park Magazine; Ricky Ly, food blogger, Tasty Chomps; Heather McPherson, food editor and restaurant critic, Orlando Sentinel; Megan Ribbens, web producer, Orlando Business Journal; and Scott Richardson, food writer, The Park Press.

New for 2015, the Taste of Winter Park will hold a drawing of chance for a 2-person European cruise courtesy of GO Travel and Viking River Cruises, valued at $10,000, as well as a silent auction. The drawing will be held during the Taste of Winter Park event. The winner may select from a variety of 8-day/7-night itineraries embarking in November/December 2015. Tickets are available for $10 each, or three for $25. Must not be present to win. The silent auction will feature a variety of packages from Winter Park Chamber of Commerce members including sports, theater, dining and artwork.

The 30th Annual Taste of Winter Park will be held Wednesday, April 15, 2015, from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Winter Park Farmers’ Market, 200 West New England Avenue, Winter Park, 32789. Tickets are available for $40 in advance for Winter Park Chamber members, $45 for non-members and $45 for everyone at the door. Tickets for both the event and the raffle can be purchased at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce located at 151 West Lyman Avenue, by calling (407) 644-8281 or online at www.winterpark.org. Stay up-to-date with event details at www.facebook.com/tasteofwinterpark or @WinterParkTaste on Twitter.

The Taste of Winter Park is made possible by our presenting sponsor CenturyLink, and support from Andrea Kudlacz, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, C&S Press, Central Florida Lifestyle, Edible Orlando, Ferrell Wealth Management/ Ferrell & Kelly CPA’s, Florida’s Finest Linen Service, Full Sail University, GO Travel, Hunter Vision, Integrative Physical Medicine, Massey Communications, Orlando Family Magazine, Sysco Central Florida, The Park Press, UCF Athletics, Viking River Cruises, WFTV Channel 9, Whole Foods Market, Winter Park Magazine, Winter Park Village, Winter Park/Maitland Observer, WMMO 98.9 FM and WUCF 88.9 FM.

The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce represents more than 800 businesses, community organizations and individuals in an effort to develop, promote and sustain a vital, thriving business climate throughout the community and to initiate, support and enhance the civic, educational and economic well-being of the area. For more information visit www.winterpark.org.

Taste of College Park
Presented by the Rotary Club of College Park

This year’s event is scheduled for Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 6:00 p.m.

Every spring Rotary Club of College Park hosts the Taste of College Park Food & Wine Festival. The festival takes place at the Historic Dubsdread ballroom.

The Taste of College Park combines food, wine, live music, 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.

Whether you are a local foodie looking to sample the latest fare from College Park’s best restaurants or a resident looking to enjoy an evening sampling great wines and listening to music, the Taste of College Park Food & Wine Festival is a casual and fun evening for everyone.

The Taste of College Park Food & Wine Festival is the Rotary Club of College Park’s premier fundraising event and one of the largest events in the College Park Community. In previous years, the club raised more than $30,000 for local charities including Ronald McDonald House of Orlando, the Christian Service Center for Central Florida, Princeton Elementary, Lake Silver Elementary, and scholarships & awards for College Park students.

Demographics

The Taste of College Park Food & Wine Festival targets across three generations of of the College Park community, brining in upscale professionals and residents of all ages. While College Park residents are the highest concentration of participants in years past, the event also is attended by residents of neighboring communities including Lake Ivanhoe, Winter Park, Orwin Manor, Lake Formosa and Downtown.

Event Exposure

The Taste of College Park Food & Wine Festival appeals to foodies and area professionals looking for a night on the town with friends, co-workers or clients.

The event is an excellent marketing vehicle for community partners looking to target an audience with buying power. Partner involvement builds brand awareness, helps you promote goodwill and positive community relations.

Taste of Pointe Orlando – April 19

This is Pointe Orlando — a place where you can elevate your dining experience at restaurants offering everything from casual fare to haute cuisine. Where you can discover a diverse collection of specialty shops. And where, when the sun sets, you can find a place pulsing with energy, music & live entertainment.
Tickets can be purchased at event on Sunday, April 19 for $35

On Sunday, April 19, Pointe Orlando invites you to enjoy samplings of food from our award-winning restaurants amidst equally delectable ambiance. Come relax and savor an afternoon full of delights at the Taste of Pointe Orlando.

Participating restaurants include:
Adobe Gila’s
B.B. King’s Blues Club
Copper Canyon Grill
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar
Funky Monkey Bistro & Bar
Maggiano’s Little Italy
Marlow’s Tavern
minus5 Ice Bar
RA Sushi
Taverna Opa
Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant & Bar

Proceeds benefit the Florida Hospital Esophageal Cancer Program:
Esophageal cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States. Acid reflux can lead to pre-cancerous Barrett’s esophagus which can be effectively treated to prevent esophageal cancer. The earlier the diagnosis and onset of treatment, the greater chance you will have of beating this disease. If you have frequent reflux get evaluated and treated to prevent cancer. Barrett’s esophagus is the single major risk of adenocarcinoma cancer which is the fastest growing gastrointestinal cancer and IT IS PREVENTABLE with a non-invasive procedure. Prevention is the key, there ARE steps you can take to prevent this disease. To learn more about treatment options visit www.FH-knowthefacts.com. All proceeds from this event will benefit the Esophageal Cancer Program at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute.

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/taste-of-pointe-orlando-2015-tickets-15982793967?aff=pointeorlando

Florida Hospital’s Gourmet Soiree 2015
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Gourmet Soiree - 1

https://www.floridahospital.com/landing/2014/solo/gourmet-soiree/

Florida Hospital invites you to roll up your sleeves and join the fight against childhood obesity with Food Network’s Chef Robert Irvine and over 70 of Central Florida’s most talented chefs.
Gourmet Soiree is an interactive dinner experience demonstrating how exciting healthy cooking can be.

Join us at Rosen Shingle Creek on Sunday, May 3, 2015 where we will feature a reception, live and silent auctions and a unique opportunity for you and your guests to prepare a healthy meal alongside your personal table chef.

To purchase individual tickets or a group table, please contact Jami Smith with at 407-303-9586 or Jami.Smith@FLHosp.org.

Rosen Shingle Creek Resort
9939 Universal Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32819
– See more at: https://www.healthy100.org/event/gourmet-soiree#sthash.1Sutr8ur.dpuf

Florida Hospital and Celebrity Chef, Robert Irvine invite you to roll up your sleeves and join the fight against childhood obesity.

Join us for an evening of fun with friends, interactive cooking and fabulous food while providing opportunities for the children and families in our community to live a healthy life.

Gourmet Soiree is a unique interactive dining experience, benefiting children in our community and other vital programs at Florida Hospital. Guests will not only watch chefs prepare incredible and healthy dishes before their eyes, they actively participate in the creation and preparation of their meal.

Healthy eating along with an active lifestyle can impact not only the person, but a community. Florida Hospital for Children’s Mission: fit Possible program is designed to teach kids about good eating habits and healthy life choices in fun, entertaining and memorable ways.

Hosted by Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine

With more than 25 years in the culinary field, Chef Robert Irvine brings his experience to the Food Network as host of the hit series Restaurant Impossible. A native of England, Irvine joined the British Royal Navy at age 15, where his skills in the kitchen quickly captured the attention of his superiors. Irvine’s culinary talents granted him the opportunity to work onboard the Royal Yacht Britannia as part of his service, where he prepared food for the royal family and sparked his culinary passion.

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Courtesy of Mark Baratelli of TheDailyCity.com

Second Harvest Hosts Chef’s Night to Benefit Culinary Training Program – Event Features Chef John Rivers from 4R Restaurant Group

Nationally celebrated Chef John Rivers, founder of 4R Restaurant Group, which includes 4 Rivers Smokehouse, The COOP and The Sweet Shop, recently hosted dinner for nearly 100 guests at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida as part of the second annual Chef’s Night series.

Mark your calendar, the next Chef’s Night will be on May 27 featuring Chef Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant.

Courtesy of Mark Baratelli of TheDailyCity.com
Courtesy of Mark Baratelli of TheDailyCity.com

Through this program, Second Harvest invites top local chefs into its Community Kitchen to prepare a multi-course prix-fixe menu for local residents and supporters. The program’s previous guest chefs include Chef Hari Pulapaka of Cress Restaurant and Chef Hector Colon of SeaWorld Orlando.

Courtesy of Mark Baratelli of TheDailyCity.com
Courtesy of Mark Baratelli of TheDailyCity.com

“When guests dine with us as part of the Chef’s Night series, they support our Culinary Training Program, which provides qualified, at-risk and economically disadvantaged adults with the skills needed to pursue a sustainable career in the food industry,” said Dave Krepcho, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. “We’re proud to partner with chefs like John Rivers to provide a delicious meal to our community while raising money for a great cause.”

Courtesy of Mark Baratelli of TheDailyCity.com
Courtesy of Mark Baratelli of TheDailyCity.com

Second Harvest’s 14-week Culinary Training Program provides free hands-on cooking and kitchen training, similar to the curriculum of professional culinary institutions. In addition to learning life skills and employability skills, participants also receive employment assistance.

Courtesy of Mark Baratelli of TheDailyCity.com
Courtesy of Mark Baratelli of TheDailyCity.com

“4R Restaurant Group is excited to partner with the Second Harvest Food Bank for this great event,” stated Chef John Rivers. “As a business owner and resident of Central Florida, it’s important to assist with the growth, education and ultimate success of those in our community. The act of giving back and supporting community members through education and interactive dinner experiences is woven into our brand’s DNA.”

For more information about future Chef’s Night events, visit www.FeedHopeNow.org.

Courtesy of Mark Baratelli of TheDailyCity.com
Courtesy of Mark Baratelli of TheDailyCity.com
Courtesy of Mark Baratelli of TheDailyCity.com
Courtesy of Mark Baratelli of TheDailyCity.com

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About Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

SHFBCF is a member of Feeding America – the largest charitable domestic hunger-relief organization in the United States. SHFBCF secures and distributes food and grocery products to approximately 550 local nonprofit feeding programs throughout Central Florida. Last year, with the help of food and financial donors, volunteers and a caring, committed community, the food bank distributed nearly 64 million pounds of grocery products – the equivalent of more than 53 million meals – to partner programs such as food pantries, soup kitchens, women’s shelters, senior centers, day care centers and Kids Cafes. Our community turns to Second Harvest’s partner agencies more than 71,000 times per week. To learn more about SHFBCF, visit www.FeedHopeNow.org.

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This Thursday, Orlando Weekly celebrated the Great Orlando Mixer – Orlando’s largest cocktail party in the city’s most elaborately decorated vintage venue – the Church Street Saloon, complete with 1920s costumes, hors d’oeuvres, live entertainment, and craft cocktails from the city’s top bars and bartenders.

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The winner of the 2015 Great Orlando Mixer winner was The Church Street Tavern – whose bartenders created a gin sticky, which included Cinnamon syrup infused grilled orange slices and St. Augustine gin blended with fresh squeezed orange juice – garnished with a cinnamon stick and orange twist.

The Hen House at Wall Street Plaza was runner up with an honorable mention going to Prato.

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St. Augustine Distillery provided much of the liquor for the evening, offering a Florida cane vodka, made with Florida-grown sugar cane, and a New World Gin, made with a blend of coriander, juniper, lemon peel and cassia.

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Food was provided by Seito Sushi at Baldwin Park, the new Urban Tide at Hyatt Regency Orlando, Segofredo, and Paxia.

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For more info, visit:
http://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2015/03/27/and-the-winner-of-the-2015-great-orlando-mixer-is

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Participating establishments included:

Dexters Thorton Park
Lil’ Indies
Luma
Olde 64
Prato
Santiago’s Bodega
Sideshow
Stardust Video & Coffee
The Church St. Tavern
The Hammered Lamb
The Hen House
The Rusty Spoon
The Treehouse
W XYZ
World of Beer Downtown

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Church Street Tavern
120 West Church Street Orlando, FLO 32801
407-985-5833
Templeton Rye Cocktail Madhatten – Muddled fresh basil in a jalepeno syrup. Stirred Templeton Rye with a dash of the most original bitters and garnished with a cherry tomato. St. Augustine Gin Cocktail Gin Stickey – Cinnamon syrup infused grilled orange slices. St. Augustine gin blended with fresh squeezed orange juice. Garnished with a cinnamon stick and orange twist.

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Lil Indies
1036 North Mills Avenue Orlando, FLO 32803
Templeton Rye Cocktail Vira Jira- Earthy, rich cumin accents light oak and spice notes of Templeton Rye. The addition of lime juice gives this approachable cocktail the spirit of Middle Eastern flavors.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail The Martingale – Nutty, bitter notes of Cardamaro and Averna draw out the flavors of hand ground herbs in the St. Augustine Gin moving the bright citrus notes of the gin front and center. The habanero shrub gently warms the earthy notes in the sumptuous sipper.

Dexter’s Thorton Park
808 East Washington Street Orlando, FLO 32801
407-648-2777
Templeton Rye Cocktail The Templeton – A warming mixture of Templeton Rye Whiskey with rosemary infused maple syrup and fresh squeezed lemon juice
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail The New Pear Fizz – A perfect blend between Ginger and pear smashed and served with fresh lemon juice and St. Augustine Gin.

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Luma on Park
290 South Park Avenue Winter Park, FLO 32789
407-599-4111
Templeton Rye Cocktail A Little R & R – Rhubarb bitters, powdered sugar, egg whites, soda & rhubarb stalk.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail Ponce de l’Orange – St. Augustine Gin, blood orange, grapefruit, agave & basil.

Olde 64
64 North Orange Avenue Orlando, FLO 32801
321-245-7730
Templeton Rye Cocktail The Settle Down – 2 sugar cubes, 2 large basil leaves, 3 blackberries, dash of grated cinnamon, 3/4 oz of Templeton rya, 1/4 oz of Lemon Juice, 1/2 oz of Club Soda garnished with a slapped bay leaf.
St. Augustine Cocktail The H.M.S. – 2 cardamom pods, pinch of kosher salt, 3/4 oz of St. Augustine Gin, 3/4 oz of jasmin green tea, 1/2 oz Lime Juice, 1/2 oz Agave nectar, garnished with crushed bay leaf.

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Prato
124 North Park Avenue Winter Park, FLO 32789
407.262.0050
Templeton Rye Cocktail The Muddled Mexican – Templeton Rye, Mexican cola reduction, vanilla syrup, muddled orange/cherry & orange/cherry bitters.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail Berried Treasure – Blackberry, rosemary simple syrup, lime & lemon bitters.

Rusty Spoon
124 North Park Avenue Winter Park, FLO 32789
407-262-0050
Templeton Rye Cocktail Templeton Rye: AZ-85 – Templeton Rye, ginger syrup & lemon juice.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail St. Augustine Gin, fresh blueberries & lemon verbana.

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Santiagos’ Bodega
802 Virginia Drive Orlando, FLO 32803
407-412-6979
Templeton Rye Cocktail 12 Days – Templeton Rye, Cinzano Vermouth Rosso, fresh orange, cinnamon, Angostura bitters, orange bitter, and agave.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail Aviles Street – Mandarin napoleon, luxardo cherry, lemon, fresh basil, raw honey.

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Sideshow
Wall Street Plaza 15 North Orange Avenue Orlando, FLO 32801
407-420-1515
Templeton Rye Cocktail Al’s Vice – A classic whiskey cocktail enhanced with homemade honey grapefruit syrup, orange bitters and a twist.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail First Flower – St. Augustine gin mixed with homemade vanilla lavender syrup, lemon juice and lavender bitters. Spring has arrived!

Stardust Video & Coffee
1842 Winter Park Road Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 623-3393
Templeton Rye The Sting – Templeton Rye, fresh habanero/peach puree spiced with cardamom and secrets, fresh squeezed orange and angostura bitters garnished with a citrus peel.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail Gidget Goes Hawaiian – St. Augustine Gin with muddled fresh ginger root, passion fruit juice and fresh squeezed orange, orange blossom water and grapefruit bitters garnished with a fresh basil sprig.

The Hammered Lamb
1235 North Orange Avenue Orlando, FLO 32804
407-704-3200
Templeton Rye Cocktail The Lamb Mae – Cherry, vanilla bean, and sage infused Templeton Rye Whiskey served over a king cube garnished with a lemon twist, sage leaf, and cherry.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail The Lamb Jam – St. Augustine Gin, a pineapple sage syrup and seasonal Jam served over ice cubes.

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The Hen House @ Wall St.
11 Wall Street Orlando, FLO 32801
407-849-9904
Templeton Rye Cocktail Templeton Moon-RYE-se – A whiskey infusion of organic apples, cinnamon and vanilla. A hen house secret recipe.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail Florida Fizz – A new school take on the old gin fizz, with some Florida twists. Made with locally sourced Florida Orange flower oil, Florida honey syrup and of course, St. Augustine Gin.

The Treehouse
68 East Pine Street Orlando, FLO 32801
407-205-2062
Templeton Rye Cocktail Blackberry Lemonade – Templeton Rye Whiskey, muddled blackberries, lemonade and mint.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail Cucumber Gimlet – Gin, cucumber, lime, elderflower, and jalepeno.

W XYZ (a loft hotel)
500 South Orange Avenue Orlando, FLO 32801
407-380-3500
Templeton Rye Cocktail Compass Rose – A modern twist on a classical Admiral with rosemary lemon juice and Templeton Rye.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail Ginarita – A refreshing spring time twist on a classic margarita, muddled cucumber and lime mixed to make this a must.

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World of Beer Downtown
431 East Central Boulevard Orlando, FLO 32801
407-270-5541
Templeton Rye Cocktail Capone’s Hideaway – Templeton Rye Whiskey pairs perfectly with a lemon-verbena shrub topped with champagne and garnished with a torched lemon peel.
Templeton Rye Cocktail Florida Sky – Florida take on an aviation cocktail made with St. Augustine Gin, creme de violet, hibiscus honey simple syrup, lavender bitters, and key lime juice.

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The team at the new Urban Tide restaurant at Hyatt Regency Orlando on International Drive
The team at the new Urban Tide restaurant at Hyatt Regency Orlando on International Drive

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Bento Asian Kitchen + Sushi has finally opened this week at the UCF / University location.

This is their 7th location in Florida, with other Bentos in Gainesville and Jacksonville.

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Bento Cafe was founded in Gainesville 13 years ago by University of Florida alumni Jimmy Tung, Johnny Tung and David Yu. This is the third location in Orlando, following the debut of Bento at the Plaza downtown and on Sand Lake Road.

The restaurant features entrees, such as Bento Boxes and noodle and rice bowls, alongside sushi options including sashimi, vegetarian or classical sushi varieties, with most of the dishes in the $7 to $9 range. There is also a full bar at this location.

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Some of my favorite dishes at Bento Cafe include the Chirashi sushi bowl, Spicy Korean chicken, teriyaki chicken, and the Cantonese pork chop. While in college, Bento Cafe was actually one of the first places where I tried many of the various cuisines from Asia for the very first time, at a very college budget friendly price. For that, I am forever grateful to them for opening up the doors to Asian cuisine, not only to me, but to thousands of college students around Florida.

We’ll be updating this post as more information comes in.

SPICY TUNA-SALMON DON 8.75
An assortment of fresh Sashimi on a bed of rice with masago, avocado, slices of cucumber, sesame seeds and wakame
Bento Asian Kitchen and Sushi
12101 University Blvd Ste 408
Orlando, FL 32817
(407) 658-8088

SUSHI HAPPY HOUR
Monday – Friday | 4 pm – 7 pm
Buy 2 rolls, get 1 Free!
SUSHI COMBO BOX
$8.75 from Open to 5 pm

Full bar at the UCF location
Full bar at the UCF location
Line is quite busy on the first day
Line is quite busy on the first day

Bento Café on Urbanspoon

Quickly Boba & Snow opened December 2014 in the Colonialtown Center strip plaza near the Orlando Fashion Square Mall, just north of the Orlando Executive Airport. It’s a little hidden, but word of mouth has gotten out and it’s been quite busy the past few visits I made there.

Spacious, and colorful – the interior’s visual highlight is that of local artist Boy Kong’s mural featuring the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac, racing in a frenzied fashion, possibly to grab some boba tea.

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Boba tea is a Taiwanese invention, made with syrupy sweet milk teas and small black tapioca pearls. It’s become quite popular in the US, particularly among the youth, who enjoy chewing and sipping on the drinks with their friends.

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Not only do they have boba, but they also make their own macarons in house – the owner is trained on the technique from a class she took while in Paris, France. They even make their own jumbo sized macaron ice cream sandwiches – great for Florida summertime eating.

Quickly is actually a franchise of an international chain of boba tea shops, so the menu is quite diverse.

Asian street food items feature here as well – from the egg waffle puffs, or gai dan ji, a popular Hong Kong street food, to the spicy popcorn chicken (my personal favorite!).

Definitely make a visit to Quickly Boba and Snow soon.

 

Quickly Boba & Snow
3214 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32803
407-270-4570.

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“Cooking comes from the heart,” Chef Henry Salgado said. “Being a chef involves much more than simply following a recipe. I see food as a celebration and cooking as a passion.”

Chef Henry Salgado is a 5th generation Floridian, from Tampa, and passionate about his Cuban-Spanish heritage. Through the years, he has turned his passion into a successful venture with both Spanish River Grill in New Smyrna Beach, and Txokos Basque Kitchen right here in Orlando at Baldwin Park’s East End Market. He’s been nominated multiple times for his work as Best Chef of the South by the James Beard Foundation Awards, and deservedly so.

Chef Henry grew up cooking with his Cuban grandmother and so was very much “into food” at an early age.

One of his favorite things to eat growing up was his “Cuban grandmother’s black beans and rice with a loaf of Cuban bread.”

In a recent interview, Chef Henry Salgado told us, “I was rail thin with a hallow leg and I ate everything I could get my hands on. I wasn’t a picky eater at all. I loved (still do!) to eat!”

Chef Henry Salgado began his career in foodservice at a young age when he took his first job as a busboy. By the age of 19, he had quickly moved up the ranks to become a corporate trainer for a national casual restaurant chain, and then went on to study at the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida.

“I cut my teeth at Max’s Grill in Boca Raton. I was very fortunate to work with many great chefs in South Florida as well as San Diego, at the Hotel Valencia and Wine Cellar and Brassiere. But when I landed in Atlanta and opened Horseradish Grill with Chef Scott Peacock and the late Miss Edna Lewis, it was a turning point in my career. That was when I became truly serious about my cooking.”

While at the Horseradish Grill in Atlanta, he fell not only in love with cooking,  but also the other love of his life, his wife Michele, and they eventually relocated to New Smyrna Beach, FL, where together they opened Spanish River Grill.

 “In the beginning we just wanted to be our own boss so we could surf and fish when we wanted. We had no idea then what was in store us and how my career as a chef would change.”

Henry’s specialty lies within the preparation of seafood, which he prefers to lightly season to bring out its natural flavors, rather than smothering it with overbearing sauces.

The Owners, Chef Henry and Michelle Salgado
Txokos’ Chef Henry and Michelle Salgado

Since opening Spanish River Grill, he has been nominated multiple times as Best Chef – South by the James Beard Foundation Awards (2012-2015) and in 2014, together with his wife, Michele, opened up Txokos Basque Kitchen at East End Market.

Here Chef Salgado explains the origins of “Txokos Basque Kitchen” while still under construction:

Chef Henry Salgado and Peter Lee of Txokos Basque Kitchen
Chef Henry Salgado and Peter Lee of Txokos Basque Kitchen

What are some of your favorite dishes on the menu now at Txokos?

Chef Henry: Anything I can grill, smoke or roast on the Asador grill. If I had to pick one dish it would be the Duck 2 Ways, foie baked in potato puree, mushrooms and duck egg.

What are you planning for the menu this coming spring season?

What’s interesting for me is to take the great foundation of a traditional dish and make it new, make it exciting. I’m really into beans and stews right now. The Spaniards love beans, perfectly cooked. I’m also looking at asparagus for the spring, wood grilled (of course) with a poached egg and maybe tinta. Also, the Calcot, which is the spring onion. The Catalonians have a festival just for the spring onion season. The onions are cooked over a wood fire, rolled in paper and served with romesco. I add crushed marcona almonds.

Where do you dine when not at Txokos here in Orlando or in New Smyrna Beach?

Orlando has so many good places to eat but the food I crave is Asian. I love Thai, Vietnamese, Korean BBQ. In NSB there is a new little Thai restaurant that is pretty good. But when the weather is good, there is nothing like an afternoon at JB’s Fish Camp, drinking bloody marys and eating rock shrimp on the deck over looking the intercostal.

What are some interesting facts about yourself that most people might not know?

I wanted to be a professional soccer player. I had scholarships coming out of high school but where my peers were going overseas to play, I wanted to play in the US and there was no league at the time. I love to fish and surf, although I haven’t been on a board in a long time. I’m an avid race car enthusiast too!

What are you excited about here in Orando for 2015?

I’m really excited for the Orlando City Lions and our new stadium. But from a culinary take Michele and I both feel that Visit Orlando is doing an amazing job to help overcome the perception that Orlando is an attractions only destination with big hotel and large chain restaurants. There is an uprising of independently owned restaurants and local businesses here that deserve recognition and they’re (we’re) getting it. So it’s an exciting time to be a business owner here and part of the Orlando food scene. The NY Times chose Orlando as #13 in “51 Places to go in 2015″, sandwiched between St. Vincent and Zimbabwe. How cool is that?!

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Restaurant Openings / Pop Ups

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Emmabean Pop up at East End Market till March 22
Chef Jes Tantalo, Pastry Chef Emily Bose, emmabeanfl@gmail.com

www.emmabean.net
For a limited time, stop by the Kappo space at East End Market to get a sneak peek of all that Emmabean’s multi-tarian, american cuisine has to offer, including kids lunches, breakfast & on-the-go or take-home meals. Chefs Jes and Emily will be there cooking up a storm while the Kappo team vacation in Japan.

When: Now through March 22
Tuesday – Sunday from 11am – 3pm
Takeaway Items available throughout the day
Where: East End Market
3201 Corrine Dr., Orlando, FL 32803

Downtown Credo Coffee opens second location at Florida Hospital – https://facebook.com.com/downtowncredo
Downtown CREDO is a local 501c(3) non-profit with a mission to improve the quality of lives in our nation’s cities by cultivating networks of meaning, impact and community. The coffee shop has a “pay as you like” model, and after the growers and Credo’s employees are paid, the remaining income goes toward the advancement of four local nonprofit organizations including New Image Youth Center, which serves at-risk youth in Orlando’s Parramore neighborhood through after-school programs, Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida, Green Up Orlando, and Keeping Orlando Beautiful.

Insert coffee to begin. A photo posted by Krystle Nguyen (@krystlenguyen) on

Shish Co Mezze Grill in Maitland.

http://www.shishcomezzegrill.com/

Doner, Kofte, Kebab, Lamb Chops, Felafel & Turkish Egg Rolls!

via Eatlocalorlando.com

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New Pier 407 Cajun Crab & Seafood has opened in East Orlando
Pier 407 Cajun Crab & Seafood Inc has opened in the former location of Dawat Indian on Colonial Drive right in front of Boardwalk Bowl
10725 E Colonial Dr Ste B, Orlando
Number of Seats : 49
http://pier407.daxym.com/

Photo Feb 26, 5 31 37 PM

BurgerFi at UCF’s Plaza now Open

Photo Mar 04, 12 42 43 PM Photo Mar 04, 12 41 44 PM Photo Mar 09, 12 11 01 PM

Coming soon

Spoleto by UCF
12101 University Blvd, Suite 219 Orlando, Florida
http://spoletoitalian.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SpoletoItalian
“Spoleto, a popular chain of Italian restaurants in Brazil, Mexico and Costa Rica, combines the speed of fast casual service with the sophistication and gourmet-quality food of a favorite Italian restaurant including pasta, flatbreads, salads, and soups.”
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TOCA BOCA ORLANDO TO INTRODUCE AUTHENTIC SPANISH CUISINE ON INTERNATIONAL DRIVE

New Tapas and Paella Location From Owners of Taverna Opa Orlando to Create Sixty New Jobs
ORLANDO, Fla. — Husband-and-wife duo, Katerina and Vassilis Coumbaros, who also own the celebrated Greek eatery Taverna Opa Orlando, announced today the opening of a second concept, Toca Boca Orlando, a Spanish restaurant slated to open April 23 in the center of the city’s new tourism complex at the I-Drive 360. Toca Boca will pay tribute to classic and contemporary Spanish cuisine with a robust tapas menu and “paella pit,” which will act as a focal point of the restaurant. Complementing the fare will be a flavorful menu of more than 20 libations, which includes an expansive list of imported wines, in addition to a full collection of spirits and signature cocktails.

Inspired by the culture’s dedication to food and wine, the Coumbaros’ traveled to Spain and developed a menu that leads with indigenous ingredients with imported signatures, such as jamón, chorizo, olives, wines and cheeses. “Celebration is the Spanish way of life, and Toca Boca will pay homage to this by fusing food and entertainment under one roof,” said Katerina Coumbaros. “Vassilis and I were inspired by the architecture, the culture and the cuisine of Spain. Toca Boca is our way of bringing all these memories home.”
Paella, a Spanish-cuisine staple made of rice, green vegetables and meat or seafood; will lead the menu, with four variations of the dish – vegetarian, chicken, seafood or steak. Guests can also enjoy traditional tapas such as Buñuelos, fluffy salted cod fritters; Gambas al Ajillo, a classic tapas dish of shrimp sautéed in olive oil, garlic, paprika and a splash of brandy; Albondigas, a Spanish meatball made with veal and beef combined with Manchego cheese and seasoned with parsley, garlic and Spanish paprika; and Patatas Bravas, fried white potatoes served with a spicy tomato aioli. Guests can also choose from other fare including a Museo de Queso platter of Spanish cheeses, such as Manchego Cheese, Cabra al Vino and Mahon Cheese while meat-lovers can enjoy a selection of traditional cured meats with the Museo de Carne platter featuring Jamón Serrano, Lomo Embuchado, and Fuet.

Toca Boca’s bar will feature an extensive selection of Spanish wines, spirits and cocktails, with specialties such as house-made sangria, the Corazon de España (gin and tonic) and Tinto de Verano, a light red wine served in a traditional Spanish wine pitcher called a porron.

Tina Marie Interior Design spearheaded the restaurant’s design with Spanish accents of imported mosaic tiles and a wall dedicated to traditional and interactive art. Furnishings and light fixtures are inspired by Barcelona and are spread over 5,000-square-feet of space. Indoor and outdoor entertaining can be had with five rooms dedicated to a bar and four private dining rooms available for parties, celebrations and corporate dinners. On any given night up to 270 guests can enjoy an experience similar to Taverna Opa Orlando with food, fun and entertainment as Toca Boca transforms with live music and tableside flamenco dancers.

ABOUT TOCA BOCA ORLANDO
Toca Boca Orlando, a locally-owned and operated Spanish tapas concept with a focus on cuisine from the region, is located at 8441 International Drive in Orlando, FL. Toca Boca Orlando will be open daily for brunch, lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. and Friday – Saturday from 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. and will accept both walk-ins and reservations. For more information, please visit tocabocarestaurant.com.

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Toca Boca - Credit Tina Marie Interior Design
Toca Boca – Credit Tina Marie Interior Design

Restaurant Closings

100 Montaditos, the popular Spanish sandwich shop, has filed for bankruptcy nationally, and has closed the local Orlando Waterford Lakes location.

According to Bungalower, the Thornton Park location of Tijuana Flats is scheduled to close later this month.

According to Central Florida’s Good Eats, That Deli! Sandwich shop will close on Saturday March 28th

That Deli! Facebook
Well we did it again! 1st Place Best Sandwich, 1st place Best Take Out and 2nd place Best Deli! – WOW! The last 6 years have gone by so fast and what accomplishments! We wouldn’t have been able to do it with out all our fan base! We THANK all of you!
You know, When Wendy and I created the Deli back in 2009, our expectations were fairly low. Roy just wanted to have some fun, Wendy wanted a good place to eat! and it gave all our kids, at one time or the other a job until they could find something they loved on their own! It got some through school, others opportunities to get some great experience and even the other employees better opportunities to grow. It has been so fun and amazing! We never expected to win the awards we have won or even imagined getting invites to compete in the World Food Competition in Las Vegas for the past 3 years! As the years progressed the Deli took on a life of its own! It is like a Community Center, a ‘Cheers’ bar, or even the place for select customers to debate with Roy on Politics, Religion and Sports! what a journey!

We have watched children grow into young adults, went through all the happy times and sad times with some of the best customers any business could have ever known! We feel like we have formed a huge family and are so thankful for the opportunity to serve the community!

As we say this, we are saddened that we will be bringing the Deli story to an end for at least the short term. We have pondered and pondered resigning a new lease or moving on to a new adventure. With rising food and other costs including equipment repairs and upkeep, it became at best a break even venture most months. With Roy’s knees failing and all the kids on their own it was time to make the decision to close the Deli! Our last day will be Sat. March 28th. We are so heart broken as we feel we are letting our new fond family down. But please know how much we appreciate each and every one of you and after a short mini retirement, hoping we can maybe come back with something bigger and better! So don’t remove us from Facebook. In the mean time, please know how thankful we are to have met you and served you!

Until we meet again….

Roy and Wendy

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