Authors Posts by Ricky Ly of

Ricky Ly of

Florida native Ricky Ly founded 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 and Photography is taken using a Canon EOS 6D and a Sony Nex-3. E-mail him at tastychomps(at) Google

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by Kim Daorerk

Located in the historic Himmarshee Village in Ft Lauderdale, Himmarshee Public House has also launched a new indoor/outdoor bar as well as a new menu including 16 new dishes that reveal the old American comfort food tradition and new American Classic Cocktails. The new menu will be offered at both the new bar (Thursday through Saturday) and the restaurant’s main dining area daily.

Catering to the foodie, the 16 new dishes on Himmarshee Public House’s updated menu includes additions to Snacks & Bites section such as Sweet & Sour Pork Belly, Salads including the Kale Salad with mandarin oranges, toasted almonds, golden raisins and honey-almond vinaigrette; Quality Burgers & Sandwiches such as a Fried Chicken Caesar Sandwich with smoked bacon, creamy Caesar dressing and parmesan on toasted ciabatta; and American Classics like Maple Bourbon Salmon served with mashed potatoes and market greens. Guests can nosh on All-American fare such as Slow Cooked Meatballs with whipped ricotta and local basil, or the American comfort food classic, Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Nueske bacon, mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy.

“The new menu truly represents the identity of Himmarshee Public House, bringing out the heart of comfort food” added Falsetto. “We’ve added something for everyone with a variety of dishes that speaks to even the most discerning palate.”

We were recently invited to a media preview to check out the new bar area and menu, leaving quite impressed.

The new indoor/outdoor bar at Himmarshee Public House.

Himmarshee Public House debuts a new menu of old American comfort food and new American classic cocktails to celebrate the completion of its new indoor/outdoor bar.

Located in Fort Lauderdale, Himmarshee Public House has elevated the downtown area from a pub crawl street to a foodie paradise. It caters to visitors from day to night: featuring outdoor seating, indoor high top seating, a center bar with beautiful brick pillars, and an intimate indoor full-service dining area.

There are multiple large screen televisions around the inside, so you’ll never miss a sports game or special event while enjoying a night out at the bar.

Public House offers 40 beers on tap, ranging from South Florida locals Funky Buddha Brewery, to other in-state brewery, Cigar City. On weekdays, you can relax after work and enjoy their half-off happy hour from 4-7 pm.

The view of the indoor dining area, which is also available for private events and parties.

Motto of JEY Hospitality Group: Just Enjoy Yourself.

I started off my meal with a Smoking Old Fashioned. The craft cocktail is presented in a tumbler filled with hickory smoke, which a single ice sphere and Makers 46 is poured into. Garnished with an Amarena cherry and an orange peel, the hickory smoke adds new dimensions of smell and taste to this American classic.

Sixteen new dishes are featured on Himmarshee’s menu, including an appetizer menu available at the new bar during Happy Hour. These new Bar Bites include Warm Pretzels, Crispy Calamari, and Smoked Fish Dip. One absolute must-try is the Sweet and Sour Pork Belly. A refreshing watermelon salad is paired with a braised Duroc pork belly that is as equally tender and juicy to bite into. My favorite is the Slow Cooked Meatball, which is dressed with San Marzano tomato sauce, whipped ricotta cheese, and local basil. The meatball is hearty and flavorful. I soaked up the every drop of the ricotta cheese; you can taste the care made into that bar bite. The Bacon Wrapped Shrimp combines two popular meats from land and sea. The local caught shrimp is glazed in honey-sriracha sauce, which packs a spicy punch. It is served on a cooling cole slaw, but the bold taste is not for the faint of taste buds.

Left to right: Sweet and Sour Pork Belly, Slow Cooked Meatball, and Bacon Wrapped Shrimp.

Public House also offers four refreshing salads. I sampled the shaved Kale salad, which is topped with Mandarin oranges, toasted almonds, golden raisins, and a honey-almond vinegaratte. The kale is not bitter at all, which is what I was most afraid of, and the sweetness doesn’t over power the greens. It’s like Florida sunshine on a plate!

Kale Salad.

Entrée meals at Himmarshee Public House give you big flavors and generous helpings. My favorite is the Maple Bourbon Salmon. The fish is grilled and moist, while the sauce is light and flavorful. I also tried the Bell & Evans Chicken, which includes a pan roasted chicken thigh. The skin is crispy, but the chicken meat is juicy. Another must-try entrée is the Porter Braised Short Rib. The short rib is incredibly tender and bursting with flavor, thanks to its marinade in the “Pops” Wynwood Porter craft beer. The Wynwood Brewing Company is located in North Miami, in the Wynwood Art District, and it’s great to see Himmarshee use local artisan ingredients in their foods.

Left to right: Maple Burbon Salmon, Bell & Evans Chicken, Wynwood “Pops” Porter Braised Short Rib

The meal ended with the chef’s choice of dessert. I received a gorgeous chocolate tart with chocolate gnash filling, topped with powdered sugar. In line with the rest of the meal, the dessert had big flavor and a wonderful ending to a bold meal.

Chocolate cake dessert.

Whether you’d like a sit down meal or you’re looking for drinks at a fun spot, Himmarshee Public House caters to you. It’s energized by the liveliness of downtown Fort Lauderdale, or you can find an intimate table in the back of the restaurant.

For a special insider’s discount, ask the manager at any of the JEY Hospitality Group restaurants (Himmarshee Public House, ROK:BRGR, or Tacocraft) for the “Locals Only Card”. You will get a special card that gets you 25% off your entire bill at their Fort Lauderdale restaurants all summer long!?

For updates on menu changes, parties and special events, follow Himmarshee Public House on social media:,, Instagram/publichouseFTL.

Kim Daorerk

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Swine & Sons Provisions, from the owners of the The Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder, will expand offerings to include breakfast beginning Monday, July 27, at its 595 West Fairbanks Avenue shop in Winter Park.

The morning menu will feature hot egg sandwiches, quiches, pastries, house cold brewed coffee, espresso drinks and rotating seasonal specials.

Chefs Rhys and Alexia Gawlak of Swine and Sons
Chefs Rhys and Alexia Gawlak of Swine and Sons

Breakfast hours will be Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Swine & Sons will continue to serve lunch weekdays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and will offer a limited menu consisting of grab-and-go options, charcuterie, beer and wine between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

The breakfast menu will not be available on weekends, for now, but the full lunch menu will be served from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday, and from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday.

To celebrate the launch of the new breakfast menu, Swine & Sons will offer hot breakfast sandwiches all day (7 a.m. until 5 p.m.) on Monday, July 27.


Here are a few of the new items:

Breakfast @ Swine & Sons



Biscuit Sandwich – Egg, House-Made Canadian Bacon, Tomato Jam

Fried Chicken and Waffle-wich – Smoked Honey, Pickled Gypsy Peppers, Cornbread Waffle

Breakfast Focaccia Panini – Egg whites, tomato-basil goat cheese spread, marinated sweet peppers



Baked Egg – Grits, Smoked Tomato, Potatoes, Onion, Sausage, Kale

Baked Egg en Croute – Caramelized Onion, house-cured Bacon

Baked Egg en Croute – Spinach, Fontina



Cinnamon Bun

Chai Spiced Coffee Cake

Bento Boxes


Smoked Salmon Spread with Bagel Chips

Salumi and Cheese

Swine & Sons’ breakfast is a collaboration by James Beard-nominated chefs/co-owners James and Julie Petrakis and their Swine & Sons partners, Rhys and Alexia Gawlak.

“Neither The Ravenous Pig nor Cask & Larder are open during breakfast time, so this was the perfect chance to add an option for people to enjoy Swine Family restaurants at all hours,” said James Petrakis.

“Swine & Sons breakfast offers quick takeout for people on the run, as well as a neighborhood hub where guests can read the newspaper while enjoying a cup of coffee.”

Swine & Sons will also offer breakfast catering services for local businesses and private gatherings.

For more information on Swine & Sons, visit or follow on social media at:
Facebook –
Twitter – @SwineandSons
Instagram – @SwineandSons


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Wild Hare Presents: A Farm Supper Series, a series of 7 incredible suppers at your favorite local farms.

“Enjoy beautiful and seasonal 4 course meals planned, prepared and served to you under the stars by Jeff Kutner, Valencia College Culinary School graduate, and Wild Hare Owner, Cheryl Bryant. The delightful and fresh menus will be determined by crop availability. Join us as we raise our glass of wine or beer to our hardworking farmers, to the Central Florida growing sustainable food movement and to YOU for choosing delicious sustainability. Plant-based suppers are available, if requested at time of purchase. Save $35 dollars by buying complete series. Reservations are transferable.”


Suppers begin at 6PM. Seating is limited.
Full Series of Suppers is $420.00
Individual Suppers are $65.00

Celebrate the Fall Harvest with The Barefoot Farmer, Samsula, Florida
October 16th, 2015

The Bounty of Fall with The Farm at Rockledge Gardens, Rockledge,
Florida November 13th, 2015

Christmas at the Farm with The Barefoot Farmer, Samsula, Florida
December 11th, 2015

A New Year Begins with Rest Haven Farms, Geneva, Florida
January 23rd, 2016

Valentine’s Day with The Farm at Rockledge Garden,
February 14th, 2016

The Joy of Spring Vegetables with The Barefoot Farmer, Samsula Florida,
March 11th, 2016

Blueberry Season with A Natural Farm and Educational Center, Howey-in-the-Hills,
April 30th, 2016

To reserve your seat: Wild Hare Kitchen and Garden Emporium

For more information:

Find up on Facebook and check our Events tab:
Wild Hare Kitchen and Garden Emporium
or or
Call the shop: 321.203.4535 or stop by
335 North Ronald Reagan Blvd, Longwood, Florida, 32750

Wild Hare Kitchen and Garden Emporium
335 North Ronald Reagan Blvd
(North East Corner of Church Ave)
Longwood, Florida

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Nathan Hardin was recently appointed Chef de Cuisine of Highball & Harvest at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, a restaurant praised for its Low Country-style cuisine featuring ingredients from local purveyors and the resort’s 18,000-sqaure-foot Whisper Creek Farm.

A Tampa-native and graduate of the Culinary Arts from the Art Institute of Tampa, Chef Hardin will bring his experience and expertise in Southern inspired cooking to Highball & Harvest. Most recently, he was Executive Sous Chef at the award-winning restaurant Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in Miami Beach, where he worked with two-Michelin-starred Chef Danny Grant, and prior to that at Copperfish Grill and Oyster Bar in Tampa. At both restaurants he successfully led teams of more than 30 staff in the production of high-quality, exceptional local and seasonal specialty dishes. His earlier experience includes four years as Sous Chef and Head Line Cook at J Alexanders in Tampa.

Here is our recent interview with Chef Nathan Hardin as he assumes the position of Chef De Cuisine for Highball & Harvest.

Photo by Michelle Valle, Grande Lakes Orlando Resort


What are some changes that may come to Highball and Harvest under your leadership?

As a chef you always want to show respect to those who precede you, I don’t want to walk into a new establishment and tear the menu apart, instead I will continue to enhance the flavors and concepts of the current dishes. Yes of course, I will add a few of my own dishes, but that will come in due time. As of right now, I want to really utilize the amazing ingredients that we have growing in our farm. I have yet to have this sort of opportunity to truly be self-sustainable.

Please say you are keeping the Parker Rolls?

I figured this question was going to be of concern. Of course the parker rolls will stay on the menu. To me they are a reason in and of itself to come back to the restaurant. I would love to play with the accoutrements that come with the rolls, though. Switch them up with the seasons and what we can grow, and/or source locally.


Any favorite dishes on the menu now?

I must say, there is one dish that stands out, it would have to be the beet and goat cheese salad. Such a classic dish, that I think Mark Jeffers really did justice to. Roasted beets, with pickled candy cane beets, and a puree of golden beets. Is it necessary to put three variations of beets on one plate, no, but that’s what makes it. To top it off, spiced pecans, marinated hearts of palm, and goat cheese. Magic!

What are some popular dishes at the restaurant now?

The most popular dish is our Booker’s Skirt Steak. The steak is marinated for 24 hours, grilled, and then accompanied with a potato puree, grilled corn + arugula salad, and a charred onion vinaigrette. Right before the dish goes out, we shave a small amount of Winter Park Tomme cheese. This cheese is the perfect garnish for the dish, slightly acidic, and it just melts over the dish.

Booker's Skirt Steak
Booker’s Skirt Steak

How is Orlando so far compared to Miami and Tampa?

I wasn’t exactly sold on the city prior to actually visiting, and getting to know the people here. Now that I’m getting a little more familiar with the areas, I’m infatuated. So many great nooks and crannies to search out and enjoy. I definitely look forward to immersing myself in the food scene in the Winter Park and Mills 50 district. Feel free to send me any recommendations, I’m always hungry.

What do you do when you are not at the restaurant ?

I love to golf. It’s exactly the opposite of being in the kitchen, the other end of the spectrum. I am lucky to have a few friends from back home in Tampa, that are always willing to make the drive across the state to come play the immaculate courses in the Orlando area. I think it’s the peace and quiet that surrounds you on the course. The fact that before every shot, you know there won’t be a ticket ringing in. Just silence.

What are some great lessons that you have learned in the kitchen before coming to Highball and Harvest?

How long do you have?

If there was only enough time in the day. I guess I’ll just share one. Possibly the most important one. Short and concise conversations. Too many words, people get confused and lose interest, too few and you’re unclear with your intentions. Communication is what makes or breaks a team. If there’s a lack of communication in any facet of the kitchen we have issues. Whether it be someone walking behind you with a hot pan, or an item that has to be 86’d from the menu, or an allergy from a guest, these are all things that come back to communication. These conversations are what really allow us to thrive and give our guests the best possible experience.

Highball & Harvest

4012 Central Florida Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32837, United States
+1 407-393-4422

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I was born and raised in West Palm Beach – graduated high school there before heading to Orlando for UCF – so it has always had a special place in my heart and memories. The downtown Clematis Street district was always one of my favorite places to explore – from little kitschy shops like the Clematis Street News Stand to rowdy night clubs like Roxy’s.

West Palm Beach’s Clematis Street Dining District today is home to a vibrant collection of restaurants and shops near the waterfront and has evolved into an international cuisine capital.

Located within walking distance of one another, this area offers an extensive variety of authentic culinary menus including Cuban, Middle Eastern, French, Latin, Italian, Asian, Mediterranean and more.

Here are 5 Must Try Dishes from West Palm Beach’s Growing International Food Scene

Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar Signature Dish (Seafood Molcajete)
1. Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar Signature Dish – Seafood Molcajete

Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar opened in 2007 and serves fresh Mexican cuisine. Clematis Street was the original location and launching pad for this popular restaurant which now has multiple locations in South Florida. They are known for their made-to-order guacamole, prepared tableside.

Pistache Restaurant Signature Dish (SteakFrites)
2. Pistache Restaurant Signature Dish – Steak Frites

Pistache Restaurant opened in 2008 and is a classic Parisian eatery with a sophisticated French bistro ambiance.

3. Leila’s Restaurant Signature Dish – Rack of Lamb

Leila’s Restaurant opened in 2008 and serves an extensive Middle Eastern menu and is known for their authentic belly dancers

Kabuki Restaurant Signature Dish (Seared Ahi Tuna Roll)
4. Kabuki Restaurant Signature Dish – Seared Ahi Tuna Roll

Kabuki Restaurant serving sushi and Thai food which opened in 2011.

The Chick Pea & Hummus Bar Signature Dish (Falafel Salad Bowl)
5. The Chick Pea & Hummus Bar Signature Dish – Falafel Salad Bowl

The Chick Pea Grill & Hummus Bar opened in 2014 and is a favored lunch spot in downtown. They offer fresh, made-to-order Mediterranean cuisine and are known for their falafels.


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The Pastry team at Marriott World Center resort


Central Florida’s most celebrated chefs will gather on August 8, 2015 at the Orlando World Center Marriott to cook up support for the 26th installment of Orlando’s Taste of the Nation® for No Kid Hungry.

This is my favorite foodie event of the year – so many wonderful local chefs all cooking for a great cause.

Forty-four of the area’s most accomplished chefs will showcase tasting portions of signature dishes, accompanied by fine wines, craft beers and specialty cocktails, to ensure that no child grows up hungry in our city and across America.

Video from 2014’s Taste of the Nation Orlando

Newcomers include Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, Black Fire Bull, MOOR and Old Hickory Steakhouse at Gaylord Palms Resort, Highball and Harvest at Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, Itta Bena, Lafayette’s Music Room, Tapa Toro Tapas Bar, TR Fire Grill, The Whiskey, Urban Tide Hyatt Regency, and Yak & Yeti at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Along with appetizers, entrees, desserts and spirits, guests will enjoy a fully automated mobile silent auction featuring signed memorabilia, stays at upscale hotels, dining experiences, rounds of golf on area courses, and exotic adventures and getaways.

The event’s popular Instant Wine Cellar game returns offering participants a chance to win more than 150 bottles of wine valued at more than $2,500. There are only 250 chances to win this exquisite wine cellar. Each key is a $25 donation.


New to this year’s event is The Giving Tree, a towering tree that will give participants an opportunity to win a taste of Orlando’s most popular restaurants. For a $50 donation, participants are invited to choose a hanging envelope from the tree; each hanging envelope contains a restaurant gift card ranging from $50 to $200 in value.

Orlando’s Taste of the Nation is also serving up four tasty starter events to whet the community’s appetite for the main event while raising funds for national beneficiary Share Our Strength and local beneficiaries Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

World of Beer invites guests to toast to Taste of the Nation with select craft brews. One dollar for each pint sold at its Dr. Phillips location (7800 Dr. Phillips Blvd., Orlando) on July 23 from 4:00 p.m. to close and its downtown Orlando location (431 E. Central Blvd.) July 30 from 4:00 p.m. to close will directly benefit Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

Eola Wine Company welcomes guests to raise a glass to end childhood hunger with a series of weekly wine tasting events on Wednesdays from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. from July 1 to Aug. 5 for a $15 donation at the door.

Childhood Hunger is a solvable problem

All proceeds will benefit Share our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger, which includes local beneficiaries Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Eola Wine Company is located in downtown Orlando at 430 E. Central Blvd., Orlando.

The Ancient Olive is fighting childhood hunger with olive oil by donating $1 for each bottle of ultra-premium extra virgin olive oils, aged balsamic vinegars, and flavor-infused olive oils sold between July 7 and August 8. The tasting bar for premium extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars is located at 324 N. Park Ave., Winter Park. The Spice & Tea Exchange, located at 309 Park Avenue North, Winter Park, will also donate $1 for each gourmet grinder blend sold. Proceeds from both events will support Share our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger, which includes local beneficiaries Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.


Orlando-based Hawkers Asian Street Fare is committed to helping end childhood hunger locally and across the country with their Roti for a Cause campaign. Throughout the month of July, guests can enjoy a free round of Hawkers’ signature Malaysian-style flatbread Roti Canai for donating a minimum of $2 to Share Our Strength’s childhood hunger relief programs. Those who donate will be entered into a drawing to win a pair of tickets to Orlando’s Taste of the Nation. Hawkers Asian Street Fare has two locations: 1103 N Mills Ave., Orlando and 1001 Park St., Jacksonville.

With a 26-year legacy of combating childhood hunger locally and across the nation, Orlando’s Taste of the Nation has raised millions in critical funds to support children’s nutrition programs provided by local beneficiaries Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, regional beneficiary Florida Impact, and national beneficiary Share Our Strength.

“Last year, the Coalition served more than 300,000 meals, and Taste of the Nation’s fundraising efforts helped make that possible,” said Brent A. Trotter, president and CEO of Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. “Childhood hunger ends one meal at a time, and that responsibility must be a community effort. Taste of the Nation is a perfect example of our community coming together to help those in need, and we couldn’t be more grateful.”

Orlando’s Taste of the Nation is presented nationally by Citi and Sysco and sponsored nationally by media sponsor Food Network, and in select markets by Emmi Roth USA, OpenTable, and Kikkoman Sales USA, Inc. Special thanks to local sponsors AmeriFactors, Regions Bank, Darden Restaurants, Quality One Wireless, Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and Heron Lawn and Pest Control.



Saturday, August 8, 2015 6:45 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.


Orlando World Center Marriott 8701 World Center Dr., Orlando


$150 each


Cocktail / Semi-Formal

Participating Restaurants

Cala Bella Restaurant at Rosen Shingle Creek
Capa at Four Seasons Resort Orlando
The Capital Grille Orlando & Millenia
Cress Restaurant
Cuba Libre
Dragonfly Robata Sushi & Grill
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop
Empress Sissi Cake & Pastry Specialties
Fresh Point
Fulton’s Crab House, Downtown Disney
Highball and Harvest at Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
Itta Bena
JJ’s Grille
JW Marriott
K Restaurant and Wine Bar
Lafayette’s Music Room
Marlow’s Tavern
MOOR at Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center
Old Hickory Steakhouse at Gaylord Palms Resort
Opa Orlando
Orlando Airport Marriott Lakeside
Orlando World Center Marriott
Red Wing Restaurant
Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld
Seasons 52 Fresh Grill
SeaWorld Orlando
Second Harvest Food Bank – Culinary Training Program
Soco Thornton Park
Symphony Pastries
Tapa Toro Tapas Bar
Three2OH Ice Cream
TR Fire Grill
Universal Orlando Resort 42. Urban Tide Hyatt Regency 43. The Whiskey
Yak & Yeti Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom


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

Here is a discount code for our readers – READER10 will provide 10% discount. Please note that it is case sensitive.

Visit for more info and tickets!

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In a press release today, Nathan Hardin, formerly of Miami’s Yardbird Southern Table and Bar – has been appointed chef de cuisine of Highball and Harvest. He takes over for Chef Mark Jeffers who opened Highball and Harvest – Chef Jeffers was recently promoted to The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay in California.

Press Release –

Orlando, Fla. – July 15, 2015 – Nathan Hardin has been appointed Chef de Cuisine of Highball & Harvest at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. In this position, he will oversee all culinary operations of this new casual dining restaurant. Since opening in Fall 2014, Highball & Harvest has received high praise for its Low Country-style cuisine featuring ingredients from local purveyors and the resort’s 18,000-sqaure-foot Whisper Creek Farm.

A Tampa-native, Chef Hardin will bring his experience and expertise in Southern inspired cooking to Highball & Harvest. Most recently, he was Executive Sous Chef at the award-winning restaurant Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in Miami Beach, where he worked with two-Michelin-starred Chef Danny Grant, and prior to that at Copperfish Grill and Oyster Bar in Tampa. At both restaurants he successfully led teams of more than 30 staff in the production of high-quality, exceptional local and seasonal specialty dishes. His earlier experience includes four years as Sous Chef and Head Line Cook at J Alexanders in Tampa.

Chef Hardin received his Associate of Arts in Culinary Arts from the Art Institute of Tampa where he completed courses in pastry art, confectionary, kitchen management and restaurant and facility operations.

This is breaking news. Check back for more info soon.


Special Upcoming Event
Fun and Dine Weekend at Ritz Carlton

Friday, July 31 – Sunday, August 2, 2015
The Ritz-Carlton is hosting a Fun and Dine Weekend, showcasing Grande Lakes Orlando’s innovative and diverse dining venues. Attend just one or two events, or go for gastro-gold and attend all three!

Pub Crawl
Friday, July 31, 6:30 – 10 p.m.

This guided tour will visit various restaurants, where guests will enjoy a specialty beverage paired with a signature food item. From fine wine and fresh pasta in Primo, to Southern inspired cuisine and cask wines in Highball & Harvest, guests will experience cuisine as diverse as the resort.

$125 per person

Southern BBQ Class at Highball & Harvest
Saturday, August 1, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Our southern trained BBQ chefs will show you how to cook great, southern BBQ at home. Beer Can Chicken, Cedar Plank Salmon, and mouth-watering ribs will be the focus of the morning. After lunch, learn how to make specialty cocktails that will pair nicely with BBQ.

$100 per person (includes lunch)

White Apron Culinary Competition at Highball & Harvest
Sunday, August 2, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Join us for a fun, hands-on cooking experience – where YOU do all the cooking! Attendees will be split into teams, each led by a Ritz-Carlton Chef. Teams will then have 2 hours to create an appetizer, entree and dessert to share with the entire group and judges. Judges will vote based on presentation and flavor; prizes will be awarded to the winning team.

$100 per person (includes lunch)

Reservations required (407) 393-4648

Ask about special rate for overnight accommodations when booking your reservation for any of these “Fun and Dine Weekend” events. Space is limited; subject to change without notice. Prices do not include tax or gratuities.

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There are tons of great sushi restaurants, okay sushi restaurants, and not so great sushi restaurants here in Central Florida.

So, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite sushi restaurants that I personally recommend based on quality and experience.

In good sushi, I look for fresh fish, flavored quality rice, and overall just tastiness of the dish. Some are traditional Japanese sushi restaurants with minimal rolls, while others have lots of sushi rolls, but done well.

Here is’s List of the Top 15 Best Sushi Restaurants in Orlando:

1. Sushi Pop
310 W Mitchell Hammock Rd, Oviedo, FL 32765, (407) 542-5975,

2. Kabooki Sushi – 3122 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803, (407) 228-3839,

3. Kappo at East End Market – 3201 Corrine Dr, Florida 32789,

4. Sushi Tomi - 8463 S John Young Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32819, (407) 352-8635, Facebook Page

5. Seito Baldwin Park - 4898 New Broad St, Orlando, FL 32814, (407) 898-8801,

6. Shin Sushi – 803 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801, (407) 648-8000,

7. Yuki Hana Sushi - 3635 Aloma Ave, Oviedo, FL 32765, (407) 695-8808,

8. Sushi Kichi – 5386 Central Florida Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32821, (407) 778-1953,

9. Mikado’s – 6417 Raleigh St, Orlando, FL, (407) 822-1080, and 13586 Village Park Dr #306, Orlando, FL, (407) 851-9933,

Image via
Image via

10. Umi Sushi - 525 S Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789, (407) 960-3993,


11. Sushi House – 8204 Crystal Clear Ln #1300, Orlando, FL 32809, (407) 610-5921,

Image courtesy of Sushi House

12. Hanamizuki - 8255 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819, (407) 363-7200,

13. Sushi Lola’s – 2902 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL 32803, (407) 898-5652,

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14. Shari Sushi Lounge – 621 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801, (407) 420-9420,

Image via Shari Sushi Lounge
Image via Shari Sushi Lounge

15. Shakai Sushi Lounge – 43 E Pine St, Orlando, FL 32801, (407) 423-2688,

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Did we miss any of your favorites? Comment and let us know below!

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Fresh Dabba Indian Cuisine’ Founder Asif Fazal wanted to bring an Indian Meal Delivery Service to Central Florida. He called “Fresh Dabba”. Dabba is the term used for an Indian lunch box.

“Our service runs on a daily rotating menu so each day is different. We have a wide range of dishes but some of the most popular are Chicken Tikka Masala, Biryani, Palak Paneer, Daal, Mixed Vegetable Curry, Goat Korma, various tandoori BBQ items in chicken, beef, lamb, and fish. We also feature many popular Indian appetizers such as Samosas, Pakoras, and Kababs. In addition, we have a range of dessert including Gulab Jamun, Jalabi, and Ras Malai,” Asif Fazal, founder of Fresh Dabba told us.

A “dabba” is a tradition tiered Indian Lunch box with each tier containing a separate portion of the meal. There is an appetizer, a starter, the main, and rice/naan.

“We are a caterer so we don’t have dine-in or pick-up. The Fresh Dabba service is a delivery only service. Customers can see a weekly posted menu with each day featuring a non-vegetarian dish and a vegetarian dish. They select which day or days they would like the meals delivered and it arrives during our delivery time-frame between 12:30pm-3pm. The order is placed by at least the day before and delivery is free. Our price points are $10 for a non-vegetarian dabba and $9 for a vegetarian dabba.”

“We found that amongst the Indian Restaurants around, none of them deliver and to get a full meal which contains as much as one of our Dabbas would be quite expensive. We offer a great price point and free delivery. We are looking to roll out our service to the public within 1-2 weeks as we finish up the online ordering platform.”

Visit them:

We had some UCF students from the Gaming Knights club try some of the foods as well! Watch their reactions in the Youtube Video below!

1. Kuku Paka
A coconut chicken curry made with puréed onions and bell peppers, Appetizer was a meat somosa.
2. Mixed vegetable spinach curry
Appetizer was pakora (Battered and fried vegtables)
3. Afghani rice with BBQ chicken tikka and lamb mushkaki, served with mayonnaise mint sauce

Mr. Asif Fazal of Fresh Dabba


Kuku Paka
A coconut chicken curry made with puréed onions and bell peppers, Appetizer was a meat somosa. DSC_9188

Kuku Paka
A coconut chicken curry made with puréed onions and bell peppers, Appetizer was a meat somosa. DSC_9189 DSC_9190

BBQ chicken tikka and lamb mushkaki DSC_9195

Afghani rice with BBQ chicken tikka and lamb mushkaki, served with mayonnaise mint sauce DSC_9196

Mixed vegetable spinach curry
Appetizer was pakora (Battered and fried vegtables) DSC_9198 DSC_9199

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Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer Takes the “First Bite” at the Downtown Orlando Food Tour Kick-Off Event

Downtown Orlando Partnership (DOP) and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer will commence Downtown Orlando Food Tours on Wednesday, July 8 at the Downtown Orlando Information Center. Mayor Dyer, along with DOP President Scott Pamplin, will take the “first bite” at this kick-off event.

Downtown Food Tours will be open to the public beginning Saturday, July 11 and will take place from 2 – 4 p.m. Tours will run every Saturday thereafter. Guests will walk the Central Business District, visiting some of Downtown’s local favorites and sampling everything from oysters to tequila coffee. The tours will showcase the diversity of cuisines as well as rich history that Downtown Orlando has to offer. Founding restaurant partners include Artisan’s Table, Avenue Gastrobar, Ferg’s Depot, the Golden Knife, Le Gourmet Break and Waitiki.


The Downtown Orlando Food Tour showcases some of Downtown Orlando’s finest establishments and hidden gems in the Central Business District! Guests will visit several restaurant locations in Downtown and sample a variety of eclectic tastings hand selected by local chefs.

Date: Every Saturday
Time: 2 – 4 p.m.
Cost: $35/person
Location: Central Business District

Le Gourmet Break_7.8.15

Participating Restaurants include:


150 S Magnolia Avenue
Suite 102 E
Orlando, FL 32801

Mixed Fruit Mini Tart
Chocolate Ganache Mini Tart



26 Wall Street
Orlando, FL 32801

Crab Cake Sliders
Braised Short Rib Sliders



13 S Orange Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801

Truffle Fries
Five Cheese Mac
Loaded Tater Tots
Brussel Sprouts



78 W Church Street
Orlando, FL 32801

Craft Beer



22 E. Pine Street
Orlando, FL 32801

Tequila Coffee
Pecan Wood Smoked Bacon and Gorgonzola Crostini



63 E Pine Street
Orlando, FL 32801

Pao de Queijo
Crunchy Lamb Sticks
Passion Fruit Spoon



Downtown Orlando Tours is a collaborative initiative created in 2015 by community organizers and advocates. The food, gallery, history and other tours offered were created to provide residents and visitors insights into Downtown’s vibrant food, art and cultural scene. Each tour is hosted by a local organization and inaugural partners include the Downtown Orlando Partnership, Downtown Arts District and Downtown Development Board/City of Orlando.
Tour tickets are available now for purchase at

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Tuna by Tuna roll

Led by chefs who formerly led the sushi kitchen at Seito’s Sushi in nearby Baldwin Park, Umi on Park Avenue has become one of my favorite sushi restaurants in the Winter Park area. The ambiance is chic and calm, almost like you have been transported, having traveled to some distant exotic place outside of Central Florida. The owners, who have roots in Korea, may have brought this international aesthetic with them to Winter Park.

I was delightfully surprised with the sear and flavor of their ribeye steak beef from their robatayaki charcoal grill. Another highlight from their robata menu: bacon-wrapped enokitake – seared bacon-wrapped golden needle mushrooms, brushed with our house balsamic teriyaki glaze.

Umi means sea or ocean in Japanese, and so of course the sushi is a must try.

My wife loves tuna, so naturally we ordered the Tuna by Tuna (raw & spicy) 14, a spicy tuna roll wrapped with tuna sashimi, tobiko fish roe, scallions, and drizzled with spicy kobachi sauce – refreshing and delicious.

I ordered the sashimi (raw) platter, a chef’s selection – an assortment of 14 pieces, and was delighted again by the presentation and the creative cuts that were given, with lots of pieces not typical to most sashimi plates, like uni sea urchin and sweet ebi shrimp. All very fresh, and tasty, yet again.

For dessert, we ordered the Mille-feuille, kind of like a deconstructed napoleon. Nice flaky puff pastry layers, crispy with chocolate ganache custard, and tangerine fruit slices, mint, and toasted shaved coconut and white chocolate.

All in all, a very unexpectedly enjoyable meal at Umi, and we will be returning soon.


Sushi bar at Umi
Sushi bar at Umi
Ribeye steak robata skewers
Ribeye steak robata skewers
Tamago egg nigiri
Tamago egg nigiri
Tuna by Tuna roll
Tuna by Tuna roll


Sashimi platter at Umi with slices of tuna, snapper, oyster, and more
Sashimi platter at Umi with slices of tuna, snapper, oyster, and more
Deconstructed Mille Feuille
Deconstructed Mille Feuille


Click to add a blog post for Umi on Zomato

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Brigadeiro (bree-gah-day-ro) are Brazilian sweets, similar to chocolate truffles – and they are quite delicious. Rayana Neves, an Orlando local, recently started selling them here in town – and they are some of the best brigadeiros I’ve ever had.

For now people can get them by calling or sending a message on Facebook, usually asking for one day advance because she is currently working in an office also until she can go after her dream to work just with the sweets full time.

Rayana grew up in the state of Brasilia in Brazil and grew up with her family always cooking and an aunt who was making all kinds of sweets and had always loved it.

“I have never been to a school for cooking or pastry (even though I would love to). I just taught myself how to make the sweets and it just worked. I started always baking something or making Brigadeiro when friends would come over and one day my friends said I should start selling them,” she told us.

“I was back and fourth to Brazil at the time because my Husband was going through his permanent residency process, so the extra income was a plus. I started selling cupcakes at an English School there and would also sell by orders.”

She made brigadeiros for a graduation party, cupcakes as end of the year gift for a company, and so on. She has come back to Orlando for good and is now starting over with the business here.

“I make everything fresh to order and put a lot of care and love into it. I guess that’s why they’re so good. lol.”

These are the flavors she has so far:

1. Traditional = Milk Chocolate Brigadeiro
2. Dark = 53% Cocoa Brigadeiro
3. Noir = 70% Cocoa Brigadeiro
4. White = White Chocolate Brigadeiro
5. Two Lovers = Combination of Dark or Traditional Chocolate and White Chocolate
6. Prestigio = Coconut covered with Traditional or Dark Chocolate with Coconut Flakes
7. Coconut = White Chocolate with shredded Coconut
8. Peanut = Milk Chocolate Brigadeiro with crushed peanuts

9. Dulce de Leche = Dulce de Leche Brigadeiro
10. Nutella = Nutella Brigadeiro
11. Almond = Dark Chocolate Brigadeiro with shaved/sliced almond sprinkles
12. Walnut = White Brigadeiro with crushed walnuts
13. Key Lime = White Brigadeiro infused with lime
14. Passion Fruit = White Brigadeiro infused with passion fruit
15. Strawberry = White Brigadeiro with fresh made strawberry jam

and then she also does what is called “Olho de Sogra” which the translation is “Mother in Law’s Eye”

“Weird name but so good (My stepdad’s favorite). It is a Pitted Prune with Coconut Brigadeiro inside.”

Also new flavors include: Brownie Sandwich (Brownie, Brigadeiro, Brownie) and Bonbons (semi-sweet, dark or white chocolate with brigadeiro filling or passion fruit mousse filling)




The one with the regular chocolate sprinkles was the Traditional. Tiny sprinkles was Nutella. The half white, half traditional was Two Loves. Cononut in the center, traditional on the outside coated with coconut was Prestigio. Caramel colored one was Dulce de Leche and the white one was Coconut.

Box with 6 = $7.50
Box with 8 = $10
Box with 12 = $15

Visit Simply Sweets by Ray on Facebook and Instagram.

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Look into the Fried Oyster Po boy sandwich

Last week at our Tasty Trends Panel at WMFE 90.7 FM with Mark Baratelli of and Emily Ellyn – the Retro Rad Chef, there was a lot of interest in finding cheap eats around town. There are just so many options, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.

So without much further ado, here are some suggestions to start your week off – in no particular order – of some great local eats under $10. Diversify your lunch portfolio.

1. The Housemade Lamb Gyro Sandwich from Cappadocia Turkish Cuisine – $5.99

565 N Semoran Blvd, Azalea Park, FL 32807, +1 407-985-2668

2. The Fried Oyster Po Boy Sandwich from King Cajun Crawfish – $8.95

914 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803, (407) 704-8863

3. The Fried Basa Fish Fillet Box with fries from Washington Shores Seafood Market – $5.75

3593 Columbia St, Orlando, FL 32805, +1 407-293-8614

4. The Special Pork Chop Rice Platter with Fried Egg from Vietnam Cuisine – $7.95

1224 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803, +1 407-228-7053!menu

5. The Tripleta (Ham, Steak, Roast Pork) Sandwich from Lechonera Latina – $6.00

9998 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32817, +1 407-249-0207

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Known for their Latin – Asian fusion tacos, empanadas, and burritos, Tako Cheena is a perennial favorite especially among the late night crowd. It might be best to get things to go here as the restaurant is a bit tight in the seating area. Prices are cheap, and reasonable all under $10.00.



Marinated bulgogi, Kimchi fried rice, scallions, Sriracha and cilantro. SONY DSC

Chinese sweet sausage. Avocado, wasabi, cucumber, spicy mayo, cabbage, fumi and scallions.
Served in a sweet and sour onion sauce, with mixed cabbage and scallions.
Served with a key lime condensed milk.
Click to add a blog post for Tako Cheena by Pom Pom on Zomato

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Though they now have moved onto larger pastures at 1600 W. Fairbanks Avenue, 4 Rivers Smokehouse had their original location at 2103 W. Fairbanks Ave. – where B&B Junction stands now. B&B Junction, if you haven’t been yet, serves up some of the best burgers in town – you need to visit them asap!

We’re taking a trip down memory lane here today, back to the summer of 2012. A simpler time – memories of eating ribs and bbq in the tiny shop where it all started, just in time for the Fourth of July. As tiny as it may be, it now has grown to over 4 locations locally in Central Florida and one in Jacksonville and another in Tampa in the works.

Here it is…so tiny now that we see it again…but the potential was there….


Still got the cherrywine sodas…

The smoked beef brisket – always a classic… SONY DSC

Look at those tender ribs…. SONY DSC

The burnt ends sandwich – made with the ends of the brisket….classic… SONY DSC

Banana dream – always wonderful pastries here, too, and now they have a whole sweet shop inside SONY DSC

BBQ Smoked wings… SONY DSC

Still got the great sides… SONY DSC

Fin. Trip down memory lane.


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Tokyo is one of my favorite cities in the world – it’s super clean, the people are super nice, and they are among the most food obsessed cultures I have ever encountered.

For my friends who are travelling to Tokyo, Japan, here are a list of favorite places to visit:

Tsukiji Fish Market

If you’ve seen the film Jiro Dreams of Sushi, you know what the Tsukiji Fish Market is – the epicenter of the sushi universe. Visit it while you still can – the market is moving to a new area in the next few years leaving the status of the original location in the air. Check out the cool stalls inside the market, but I don’t know if it is worth it waiting 6 hours for a seat at one of the sushi shops inside. There are plenty of great sushi shops and other market shops just north of the main market that has just as fresh sushi and ingredients. Get there early though as tourists can make it quite the burdensome trek.




This is one of Tokyo’s most bustling district with lots of shopping and food. Walk on the northeast and northwest sides. On the north east is the district known as Kabukicho – Tokyo’s very own red light district full of bars and other disreputable joints, including the infamous Robot restaurant dinner theatre made famous by Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown episode in Tokyo.




Check out one of the world’s busiest walking intersections (made famous in the film Lost in Translation with Bill Murray) Shibuya 109 and 109 Men’s for youth fashion, Tokyu Hands for cool crafts, Hachiko the dog statue


Food Basements

All the Department Stores have them – the basement floor is like a supermarket on steroids. You can literally find almost every type of food here. My eyes glaze over. Each major rail station has them. Takashimaya, Mitsukoshi, Keio, Isetan are all just a few of the many. If you are looking for great restaurants, check the top floors as well – not your typical American mall food for sure.



Asakusa – Sensoji Temple

I love the little streets that lead up to the temple full of snacks and cool gifts. There’s even a little cake shop that the royal princess of Japan is known to frequent. Get your fortune read at the temple.


Harajuku / Omotesando / Yoyogi Park

Takeshita Dori is the street that Harajuku district is on – lots of stores for young girls and crepe shops, but I was not really interested in this area. The main road is Omotesando, covered in beautiful trees – go over to Kiddy Land – a 5 story toy store with a whole area for Studio Ghibli toys and more, and Oriental Bazaar for all your Japanese souvenir needs. If you have time, check out Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine – always interesting folks hanging out there on the weekends.

DSC08554 DSC08550 DSC08544

For all food lovers visiting Tokyo, I highly recommend Yukari Sakamoto’s Food Sake Tokyo book, it is a great in depth read all about Tokyo’s food scene.


Here are things you must eat while in Tokyo (more to come later):

  • Sushi – duh you’re in the epicenter of sushi.
  • Korean barbecue with Japanese Wagyu beef – Trust me your life will change.
  • Strawberry Mochi in Ginza if it’s in season
  • Izakaya – get the chicken skin teriyaki
  • Ramen – there’s a whole ramen street inside the main Tokyo Station – go grab some.
  • Gyudon – Beef Rice Bowls – pick one of the many options. You can’t go wrong, it’s so cheap.
  • Tempura, udon, curry katsu, katsu sandwiches, just eat everything.

I’m sure I missed something – what would you add to the list??

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Winter Park, Fla. (April 21, 2015) – On Wednesday, April 15, the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce hosted the 30th annual Taste of Winter Park presented by CenturyLink, the organization’s annual food festival. More than 40 of the area’s finest restaurants served over 1,300 attendees with unlimited food and beverage samples.

“The Taste of Winter Park continues to be one of Central Florida’s best foodie events,” said Patrick Chapin, President/CEO of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, noting that this year the event expanded into New York Avenue to accommodate additional vendors and guests. “We’re proud to showcase the many fine dining opportunities in Winter Park and bring the community together for a fun evening.”

Throughout the event, guests had the opportunity to taste from more than 40 vendors, including 10 new participants, and partake in a silent auction and raffle drawing. The highlight of the evening was the awards presentation. Judges included 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.

Hamilton’s Kitchen at The Alfond Inn was honored with Best Main Course for Chef Bill’s roast pig dish.
Best Appetizer/Side Dish was presented to Lombardi’s Seafood for its lobster bisque.
Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park earned the Best Dessert award for its handmade chocolate chip cookie shot glasses.
The Best Booth Display went to 4 Rivers Smokehouse.
The Best Healthy Dish was presented to Orchid Thai for its mieng kum.
Mi Tomatina’s chilled octopus salad with zinfandel vinaigrette was named the Best Fresh Florida Dish.
Finally, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits took home the award for best beverage with its cherry vodka limeade.

The Taste of Winter Park is made possible by our presenting sponsor CenturyLink, and support from Andrea Kudlacz, Anytime Fitness, Bar Method, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, C&S Press, Central Florida Lifestyle, Dr. Drew Byrnes Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, Edible Orlando, Ferrell Wealth Management/ Ferrell & Kelly CPA’s, Florida’s Finest Linen Service, Florida Frame House & Gallery, Full Sail University, Gilded Home, GO Travel, Hunter Vision, Integrative Physical Medicine, Luma on Park, Massey Communications, Orlando City Soccer, Orlando Family Magazine, Orlando Food Tours, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Orlando Solar Bears, Sysco Central Florida, The Alfond Inn, The Ancient Olive, The Park Press, The Spice & Tea Exchange, Title Boxing Club Winter Park, UCF Athletics, Viking River Cruises, WFTV Channel 9, Whole Foods Market Winter Park, Winter Park Magazine, Winter Park Village, Winter Park/Maitland Observer, WMMO 98.9 FM, WUCF 89.9 FM and YMCA.

The Taste of Winter Park is held annually at the Winter Park Farmers’ Market. For information on the 31st annual Taste of Winter Park scheduled for April 2016, contact the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce at (407) 644-8281, visit or follow the event on Facebook and Twitter.

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

# # #

All Photo credits go to: Andrea Kudlacz

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Often overlooked, this little restaurant in the heart of Maitland cooks up some of the best dishes from the Korean peninsula. It’s located right off of US 17/92 on Horatio Avenue and has decor reminiscent of a past French restaurant that once occupied the space prior.

Their dishes for dinner are excellent and I love their lunch bento specials, too.


Here’s 5 things I recommend ordering here at Seoul Garden:

Japchae – Kind of like a Korean lo mein noodle stir fry – this dish consists of veggies, clear buckwheat noodles, and a dash of soy sauce and sesame oil. It’s a little sticky, but fun to eat and share as an appetizer.

Kalbi – I think the award for best Kalbi, or Korean marinated beef short ribs, goes to Seoul Garden. Their beef ribs have always been of excellent quality with a nice sweet flavor and char from the grill.

Banchan – These are the Korean side dishes that come when you order a main dish like Kalbi or Bulgogi. The dishes consists of a variety of pickled vegetables and small plates of whatever is made fresh that day – sometimes mashed potatoes Korean style, pickled kimchi radish cubes, or sliced pickled cucumbers, tofu, and more. They’re great to provide some spicy, salty, sour complexities to complement your main.

Soon Dobu – Spicy silken tofu soup – this is about an 8 or so on the spice meter, so be ready for some heat in more ways than one – it’s served piping hot, too, boiling in a stone cauldron as it arrives to the table. Inside you’ll find anything from silky tofu to kimchi and pork or seafood, depending on the variety you choose. Great over rice.

Cinnamon tea – For dessert, this little cup of cool, sweet cinnamon tea with dash of a rice puff is quite the refreshing drink to end the meal.

Haemul pajun - seafood pancake!
Haemul pajun – seafood pancake!
Kalbi beef
Kalbi beef

Click to add a blog post for Seoul Garden on Zomato

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Winter Park restaurants encouraged to join ‘Breathe Free’ and ban smoking on outdoor patios as Winter Park becomes first city in Central Florida to ask restaurants to voluntarily prohibit patio smoking.


Leaders from Winter Park’s health and business communities are excited to announce the launch of “Breathe Free Winter Park,” an initiative aimed at voluntarily banning smoking — inside and out — of restaurants in the city.


While smoking isn’t permitted inside Florida eateries, diners can smoke at restaurant patios. Secondhand smoke is not only bothersome, but it can trigger asthma attacks, migraines and sinus issues.

Already, more than 20 restaurants have joined Breathe Free, including Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen, 4 Rivers Smokehouse, Outback Steakhouse, Bosphorous and others. Breathe Free organizers hope these model restaurants — and residents who advocate smoke-free dining — will encourage other eateries throughout Winter Park and all of Central Florida to go smoke-free.

Winter Park Mayor Steve Leary
Winter Park Mayor Steve Leary

“Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen is pleased to participate in Breathe Free Winter Park,” said Jonathan Smiga, CEO of
Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen. “We think our guests appreciate a clean and healthy environment in which to enjoy our specialty coffees and espresso drinks — along with our local, farm-to-table cuisine. Breathe Free Winter Park is a breath of fresh air.”


Breathe Free is an initiative of Healthy Central Florida (HCF), a community-based partnership founded by Florida Hospital and the Winter Park Health Foundation. HCF partnered with the American Lung Association, the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, Rollins College and others to take one more step on the road to becoming the healthiest community in the nation — the goal of Healthy Central Florida. With the launch of Breathe Free, Winter Park becomes the first city in Central Florida to ask all restaurants to fully ban smoking on their property.

Research shows only 10 percent of Winter Park residents smoke, and fewer than 8 percent smoke daily. That means restaurants are catering to a small group by allowing smoking on their patios.

“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.

Executive Chef Camilo Velasco of Barnie's CoffeeKitchen
Executive Chef Camilo Velasco of Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen

“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.”

For a full list of restaurants that already signed up for Breathe Free and to learn more about Health Central Florida, visit

Restaurant managers and owners who are interested in joining Breathe Free can contact Hamilton Buss at or 407-644-2300.


Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen CEO Jonathon Smiga speaks on the importance of Breathe Free  SONY DSC



This Latin, Asian, and Southern American BBQ fusion joint in Orlando’s Mills 50 district has a nice list of bites, including Matambre smoked brisket sandwiches topped with egg, Indian Butter chicken tacos and the Latin plantain and fried yuca sides.

But it’s all about the Oakwood Smoked St. Louis Barbecue Ribs here. Succulent. Juicy. Sweet, yet refined. Delicious. When you can get it, it’s really good. The problem is that it is can sell out fast, so call ahead and make sure they’ve got some ready for you.

Founded by Thomas “Tito” Ward Esteves, the founder of the Treehouse Truck, one of the first so called gourmet food trucks in Orlando, Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa is a an ode to his family’s deep love for food. Barbakoa is a form of cooking meat that originated in the Caribbean with the Taino people, from which the term “barbecue” derives.

The menu consists of sandwiches, tacos, platters, and sides, all done very well.

The Oak-smoked St. Louis ribs (half-rack $14.99, full $22.99) are truly among the best, if not the best, ribs in all of Orlando – slow-cooked with a crispy surface yet tender, fall of the bone meat within and a nice sweet flavor. Try it with the crispy sweet fennel apple salad.


The Indian butter chicken ($2.95), flavored in Indian an orange tikka currry sauce and topped with pepitas, jalapeno and cilantro – this was a favorite and definitely would order again.


The open faced Matahambre sandwich ($8.99), features slices of Oakwood smoked brisket with dabs of chimichurri sauce,  grilled tomatoes and topped with an over easy fried egg – and slathered a bit too much with mayonaisse. Accompanied with grilled corn on the cob, smokily charred and sprinkled with pepper, lime and salty Mexican cotija cheese



Click to add a blog post for Pig Floyd's Urban Barbakoa on Zomato

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Winter Park’s Cask and Larder, the Southern Pubhouse, recently debuted a late night menu featuring some “Asian” influenced creations from the Japanese style Shoyu and Miso Ramen to Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches, all created with the careful attention to quality that the Ravenous Pig restaurant group has come to be known for.

I came by around 10:15pm on their debut night and the bar area where the menu is available was already packed with people. I ordered the Shoyu ramen (misspelled as Shyoyu on the menu?) which is a soy sauce based broth – the rift here on it was the delightfully crispy pork belly and a 60 minute sous vide egg, as well as house pickled daikon and collard green kimchi. The kimchi gave the broth a nice spicy finish and the ramen noodle soup itself was quite delicious. My favorite part of the dish was the excellent crispy pork belly!

By the time I finished my soup, around 10:45pm, the house had 86-ed (or sold out of) all their late night menu items. Quite the successful test venture with this menu, I’d say.


The Late night Menu – available only at the Bar


The Shoyu Ramen with 60 minute egg, pork belly, house pickled kimchi and daikon, kombu seaweed.


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This is a recipe from my friend, Chelsea R. With limited materials and time, she was able to whip up a wonderful, tasty Georgia Peach Cobbler in less than 30 minutes.

We were graciously sent some ripe Georgia Peaches from The Georgia Peach Council since June and July is peak Georgia peach fruit season – check them all out by visiting #sweetgeorgiapeaches on social media.

Ripe Georgia Peaches
Ripe Georgia Peaches

So we had 4 peaches, and pretty much things left over in the pantry – some vanilla extract, some sugar, a box of cake mix from Betty Crocker – and a toaster oven.

Peeling the peaches
Peeling the peaches

– 4 Georgia Peaches, peeled and sliced
– 2 tablespoons of sugar
– 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
– 1 box of cake mix
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 2 tablespoons of butter



– Set oven to 375 degrees F

– On a hot pan, sautee the sliced peaches and add 1 tablespoons of sugar to get to a nice brown


– Transfer to a glass ceramic pan or oven ready pan

– Add cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of sugar

– Cover cover with cake mix

– Melt butter on pan and cover top of peach cobbler with butter

– Transfer to oven and set for 30 minutes

– Let cool for 15 minutes in oven

– Enjoy



Video instructions on youtube:

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DATE: Tuesday, June 30, 2015

TIME: 7 p.m.

LOCATION: The WMFE Studios, 11510 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32817

This panel of Central Florida food experts engage in a free-wheeling discussion on popular area restaurants, what is new or enduring on the Central Florida food scene, and other tasty food-related topics that may emerge. It’s moderated by WMFE reporter and All Things Considered host Crystal Chavez. It’s free and open to the public.

Current panelists include Mark Baratelli of The Daily City Food Truck Bazaar, chef and culinary educator, Emily Ellyn and Tasty Chomps food blogger, Ricky Ly.


The event is free and open to the public but RSVP is required!

How is seating determined? Seating not assigned. Seating is first-come, first served.

How do I contact the WMFE Member Services? Either via phone at 407-514-1750(Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.) or by email:




Chef Kathleen Blake, 2015 James Beard award nominee and owner of The Rusty Spoon in downtown Orlando, will prepare dinner at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida’sCommunity Kitchen as part of the Chef’s Night series and Catering for Good program. Guests will enjoy a four-course dinner featuring a locally sourced pub-style menu of American cuisine rooted in European flavors. Chef’s Night brings local top chefs into Second Harvest’s Community Kitchen to celebrate delicious food and raise money for a good cause.

All proceeds benefit Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program, which provides students with the skills and inspiration they need to obtain an entry-level position in a food service establishment.For more on our first Chef’s Night with John Rivers, click here.


  • Passed Appetizer: Amuse-bouche
  • First Course: Charred squid and octopus with Frog Song organic watermelon two ways with house pickled peppers and arugula
  • Second Course: Sweet corn, chorizo and local oyster mushrooms with fettuccine paprikash
  • Third Course: Lake Meadow roasted poussin with butternut squash skordalia and natural jus
  • Dessert: Peach cobbler with muse butter pecan gelato

WHEN: Thursday, June 25, 2015 from 6-9 p.m.

WHERE: Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, 411 Mercy Drive, Orlando, Fla. 32805

COST: $75 per person

TO REGISTER:  Purchase tickets at or call 407-514-1048 for more information.


Photo Credit: Jeffrey A McDonald
Photo Credit: Jeffrey A McDonald

Expand your palate. Make Rolls. Not War. Celebrate International Sushi Day on June 18 at Dragonfly.

Guests become the chef at the “Craft Your Roll” day through the five step prep of roll creation allowing guest to pick: the canvas; farm product; pairing; topping and sauce. Adding to the mix, guests are encouraged to name their dish and share socially using the hashtag #HowIRoll.

Crafting its role in the community, Dragonfly will donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the following charities:

  • Orlando: Community Food and Outreach Center
  • Gainesville: Ronald McDonald House


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In the United States, there are more Chinese restaurants than McDonald’s, Burger Kings and KFCs combined. As with any immigrant cuisine, the food often takes on characteristics popular to the host country’s own culinary tastes.

In South America, Peru has its own version of fried rice called chaufa, stir fried beef with potatoes called lomo saltado, and countless other Chinese dishes adjusted and adapted for Latin tastebuds.

In Japan, even, the lowly la mien, or noodle soup, has become adapted and converted into a very Japanese dish known around the world as ramen. Here in the US, we’ve got General Tso’s chicken and bourbon chicken. Syrupy sweet and fried, it’s the American way.

The history of Chinese immigration dates back to the mid-1800s when Chinese workers arrived in the United States to work as miners, railroad builders, farmers, and laborers.

The first Chinese restaurants were not opened by professionally trained chefs, but by immigrants who were denied work elsewhere or simply wished to feed their own communities. The Chinese restaurant business continued to expand throughout the early 1900s as Americans became intrigued with new exotic flavors at an inexpensive price.

Chinese restaurant-owners found ways to combine their traditional recipes with Western flavors in order to attract more American customers. As most of the immigrants came from the Guangdong region of China, most of the “Chinese” cuisine we know today in the US is heavily influenced by this region’s cuisine.

The Immigration Act of 1965 and Richard Nixon’s Visit to China in 1972 also increased both the diversity and popularity of Chinese cuisine among the American populace – but many of us have never tried true traditional Sichuan, Hunan, or Zhejiang cuisine. (Source: Smithsonian Institution: Sweet & Sour Showcase)

Here are 8 ways to know you’re at an American Chinese restaurant:



1. They serve General Tso’s Chicken


This sweet, slightly spicy, deep-fried chicken dish is named after General Tso Tsung-tang, or Zuo Zongtang, a Qing dynasty general and statesman, although there is no recorded connection to him.

In The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer Lee, descendants of General Tso still living in Xiangyin, when interviewed, say that they have never heard of such a dish.

Stories say it was developed by a chef in Taiwan, another in New York. Whatever the case, this dish is quintessential in the American Chinese restaurant menu.



2. Their name is some combination of the words “Dragon”, “Golden”, “Wok”, “Palace”, “China”, etc.


Dragons are considered royal, magical, and lucky. It’s generally considered to be a rain god as well, so Chinese restaurant owners love being associated with this powerful mythical creature.

I guess it helps to know you’re going to a Chinese restaurant if the name has China or Wok in it as well.

Palaces, also, quite a popular and imperial place to be, quite flattering for the diners I suppose. The number 8 is also very popular, and double or triple 8’s even more so because 88 sounds like (a homonym) for “get rich” in Chinese.



3. They use Broccoli (also known as western broccoli)



Traditional Chinese restaurants would use Chinese broccoli also known as gailan rather than western broccoli which originated in Italy and the Mediterranean.



4. Everything is Fried and Sweetened – it’s the American Way



Traditional Chinese cooking has a lot less deep frying and more stir frying, baking, or steaming involved.


5. They serve Crab Rangoon


Going on the fry theme – Rangoon’s not even a city in China – it’s named after Rangoon the former capital of Myanmar, now known as Yangon in Burma. Cream cheese is definitely not a Chinese ingredient. It was probably invented from a Burmese recipe in the US and adopted en masse by Chinese restaurants.



6. Fortune Cookies – they’re American as Apple pie. Actually they’re Japanese.



Fortune cookies are often served as a dessert in Chinese restaurants in the United States and some other countries, but are absent in China. The exact origin of fortune cookies is unclear, though various immigrant groups in California claim to have popularized them in the early 20th century.

As far back as the 19th century, a cookie very similar in appearance to the modern fortune cookie was made in Kyoto, Japan; and there is a Japanese temple tradition of random fortunes, called o-mikuji. The Japanese version of the cookie differs in several ways: they are a little bit larger; are made of darker dough; and their batter contains sesame and miso rather than vanilla and butter.

They contain a fortune; however, the small slip of paper was wedged into the bend of the cookie rather than placed inside the hollow portion. Makoto Hagiwara of Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco is reported to have been the first person in the USA to have served the modern version of the cookie when he did so at the tea garden in the 1890s or early 1900s.

The fortune cookies were made by a San Francisco bakery, Benkyodo. Fortune cookies moved from being a confection dominated by Japanese-Americans to one dominated by Chinese-Americans sometime around World War II.

One theory for why this occurred is because of the Japanese American internment during World War II, which forcibly put over 100,000 Japanese-Americans in internment camps, including those who had produced fortune cookies. This gave an opportunity for Chinese manufacturers. From Jennifer Lee’s article in the New York Times: Solving a Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside a Cookie



7. The menus look like this:




Apparently all made by the same few menu companies in New York.



8. The soy sauce packets looks like this:


“Packaged soy sauce is often a cocktail of processed ingredients that resemble the real thing: water, salt, food coloring, corn syrup, MSG, and preservatives. But soy sauce, strictly defined, refers to a fermented combination of soybeans and wheat whose earliest direct predecessor was first mentioned in writing in the year 160.”



Chop suey – it’s an American invention.

Meaning “miscellaneous leftovers”, it consists of meat (often chicken, fish, beef, prawns, or pork) and eggs, cooked quickly with vegetables such as bean sprouts, cabbage, and celery and bound in a starch-thickened sauce. One account claims that it was invented by Chinese American cooks working on the transcontinental railroad in the 19th century.

Another tale is that it was created during Qing Dynasty premier Li Hongzhang’s visit to the United States in 1896 by his chef, who tried to create a meal suitable for both Chinese and American palates. Another story is that Li wandered to a local Chinese restaurant after the hotel kitchen had closed, where the chef, embarrassed that he had nothing ready to offer, came up with the new dish using scraps of leftovers.

If you want to learn more about Chinese food in America, check out Jennifer 8. Lee’s great book “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles.”

“Lee takes readers on a delightful journey through the origins and mysteries of the popular, yet often overlooked, world of the American Chinese food industry. Crossing dozens of states and multiple countries, the author sought answers to the mysteries surrounding the shocking origins of the fortune cookie, the inventor of popular dishes such as chop suey and General Tso’s chicken, and more.

What she uncovers are the fascinating connections and historical details that give faces and names to the restaurants and products that have become part of a universal American experience. While searching for the “greatest Chinese restaurant,” readers are taken on a culinary tour as Lee discovers the characteristics that define an exceptional and unique Chinese dining experience.

Readers will learn about the cultural contributions and sacrifices made by the Chinese immigrants who comprise the labor force and infrastructure that supports Chinese restaurants all over the world.”

Check out her TED Talk on her Hunt for General Tso:

Reporter Jennifer 8. Lee talks about her hunt for the origins of familiar Chinese-American dishes — exploring the hidden spots where these two cultures have (so tastily) combined to form a new cuisine.

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Pier 407 is a new Cajun and seafood restaurant recently opened on East Colonial just west of Rouse Road. It’s a family owned and operated restaurant that “strives to serve authentic Louisiana cuisine at affordable prices.”

I dropped by recently to eat dinner with family and friends and was charmed by the friendly owners and their family. I guess you can add this to the list of many Vietnamese owned Cajun restaurants around town, many who have started after leaving Louisiana in the midst of Hurricane Katrina’s destructive wake.


They did a great job remodeling the space, which was rather sparse before with a few posters of Indian films, now the space has as an urban, rustic harbor warehouse feel.

The menu is hand-written, quite decoratively, on a chalk board, listing out their seafood dishes and specials from fried to steamed, po boy sandwiches, gumbo and jambalaya. The jambalaya was hearty and flavorful, yet somehow reminiscent of fried rice – delicious all the same.

I noticed the seasonings here give the seafood a more fresh taste, less heavy handed as some places can be. We ordered the $19.95 special that can with queen crab legs, crawfish, and shrimp. We also ordered the fried shrimp platter and the awesome mini beignet desserts. Really enjoyed the fried shrimp, but especially enjoyed the delightful panko crusted and seasoned fried potatoes that accompanied them.

It’s open from 3pm till 9pm daily now, but they hope to expand to lunch hours in the future.








Gumbo at Pier 407

Fried Soft Shell Crab
Fried Soft Shell Crab
Fried Shrimp plate
Fried Shrimp plate
Jambalaya rice
Jambalaya rice
Seafood combo special
Seafood combo special


Fried Beignet Donuts
Fried Beignet Donuts

Pier 407 Cajun Crab and Seafood
10725 E Colonial Dr
Orlando, Florida
(407) 734-5997
For more info, visit:

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Scenes from the event this Saturday June 13th, 2015 at the Mercedes Benz dealership in Maitland.  Proceeds of the event benefit the Lovely Project which helps underprivileged girls in the community. Lots of local as well as national and international whiskey brands, but the most amazing thing we saw last night was the 50 pound salt crusted smoked wreck fish from The Ravenous Pig team – just wow. Restaurants featured at the event included: 4 Rivers Smokehouse, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, The Ravenous Pig, Luma on Park, Cask and Larder, Prato, The Coop, and K Restaurant.



























































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