Authors Posts by Ricky Ly of TastyChomps.com

Ricky Ly of TastyChomps.com

953 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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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.

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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

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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

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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)

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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.
https://www.facebook.com/SimplySweetsbyRay
@_Simply.Sweets_

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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 TheDailyCity.com 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
cappadociaturkishcuisine.com/

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

914 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803, (407) 704-8863
kingcajuncrawfish.com/

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
http://ttranvista.wix.com/vietnamcuisineorlando#!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
http://lechoneralatina.net/lechon2014/

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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.

 

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KOREAN BURRITO $7.98
Marinated bulgogi, Kimchi fried rice, scallions, Sriracha and cilantro. SONY DSC

JAPADOG $3.05
Chinese sweet sausage. Avocado, wasabi, cucumber, spicy mayo, cabbage, fumi and scallions.
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PANKO CRUSTED COD TAKO $3.52
Served in a sweet and sour onion sauce, with mixed cabbage and scallions.
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ASIAN GINGER APPLE FRIED SPRING ROLL $3.05
Served with a key lime condensed milk.
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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….

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Still got the cherrywine sodas…
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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.

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Shinjuku

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.

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Shibuya

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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PRESS RELEASE: 30th ANNUAL TASTE OF WINTER PARK ANNOUNCES WINNERS

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 www.winterpark.org 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 www.winterpark.org.

# # #

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!
goofballs
goofballs
Kalbi beef
Kalbi beef

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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 healthycentralflorida.org.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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

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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.

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The Late night Menu – available only at the Bar

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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

Ingredients
– 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

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Directions

– 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

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– 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

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Video instructions on youtube:

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tasty-trends-in-todays-food-event

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.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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: wmfe@wmfe.org.

 

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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.

MENU:

  • 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 www.foodbankcentralflorida.org or call 407-514-1048 for more information.

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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

Source: http://www.china1togo.com/
Source: http://www.china1togo.com/

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.

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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)

 

Source: http://kungfubistro.com/
Source: http://kungfubistro.com/

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

 

Source: http://www.whatscookingmaui.com/
Source: http://www.whatscookingmaui.com/

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

 

5. They serve Crab Rangoon

Source: http://kleberly.com/
Source: http://kleberly.com/

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.

 

Source: http://www.popsugar.com/Make-Homemade-Fortune-Cookies-Happier-Chinese-New-Year-33841236
Source: http://www.popsugar.com/Make-Homemade-Fortune-Cookies-Happier-Chinese-New-Year-33841236

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:

 

 

Source:  http://www.goarlo.com/
Source: http://www.goarlo.com/

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

 

 

8. The soy sauce packets looks like this:

Source: https://patapete.wordpress.com/tag/kari-out-soy-sauce-is-the-devil/
Source: https://patapete.wordpress.com/tag/kari-out-soy-sauce-is-the-devil/

“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.”

Bonus:

Source: http://www.kusinanimaster.com/
Source: http://www.kusinanimaster.com/

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.”

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“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.

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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.

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Gumbo

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

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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:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pier-407-Cajun-Crab-Seafood/789990021079617

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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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The 105,000 square-foot Dining Pavilion at the Florida Mall will feature unique dining options, additional retailers and an expanded seating area, opening in phases throughout the summer. Also of note, Wassabi, the sushi conveyor belt restaurant near the center of the mall has closed. A new business will take its place soon.

On June 1st, Puerto-Rico based El Meson Sandwiches, named one of the top restaurant chains in the world by Travel + Leisure, opened with huge lines – and no signs of abating. Either they’re really good at what they are doing with sandwiches, or they need to get more efficient with their lines. El Meson features unique options like all-day breakfast and healthy vegetarian menu items. The Florida Mall restaurant is El Meson’s first U.S. location.

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Located between American Girl and Dillard’s on the north side of the mall, the Dining Pavilion will offer a total of 23 restaurants, five of which are new-to-market concepts, including El Meson Sandwiches, CARVERA Argentinian Grill, Carlo’s Bakery, la Madeleine and Bubbleology. The additional restaurants to join the Dining Pavilion include Tobu, Five Guys Burger and Fries, Charley’s Philly Steaks, Dumpling and Noodle Bar, Chicken Now, A&W All American Food, Asian Chao, Sbarro, Taco Bell, Häagen-Dazs, Spoleto Italian Kitchen, Nature’s Table, FRESH – Healthy Café, Jamba Juice, Ugrean, and SUBWAY.

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Boasting more than 1,400 indoor and outdoor seats, the Dining Pavilion will exude a contemporary feel, featuring bright floors and impressive millwork, in addition to numerous first-class amenities such as a large seating lounge featuring 85-inch TVs, LED lighting, expansive restrooms and two family rooms, new way-finding signage, enhanced Wi-Fi throughout the mall, and outlets with USB connectivity to charge electronic devices. Guests will find a redesigned exterior entrance at the front of the space, which will better accommodate customer flow into The Florida Mall and the pavilion.

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In addition to new dining options, the Dining Pavilion will also feature five new retailers, including Morana, SportsAction, Inc., Ron Jon Surf Shop, Yankee Candle, GNC and Delores Jewelers.

“The addition of unique restaurant concepts, new retailers and enhanced amenities within the new Dining Pavilion will provide our shoppers with more choices when they visit The Florida Mall,” said Brian Hanson, general manager of The Florida Mall. “We look forward to introducing the sleek, reimagined space to our community and visitors, offering a fresh new customer experience that is well-suited to our market.”

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New-to-Market Concepts

Name: El Meson Sandwiches
Description: Puerto-Rico based El Meson Sandwiches is renowned for its Caribbean-inspired grilled sandwiches on artisan bread and its 100 percent Arabica coffee. Named one of the top restaurant chains in the world by Travel + Leisure, El Meson features unique options like all-day breakfast and healthy vegetarian menu items. The Florida Mall restaurant will be El Meson’s first U.S. location.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 717

Name: CARVERA Argentinian Grill
Description: CARVERA Argentinian Grill will open its first location outside of Puerto Rico in a modern space at The Florida Mall. CARVERA is a neighborhood fast-casual grill restaurant with a diverse menu based on traditional Argentinean comfort food. It will offer the local community the quality and flavor of exquisite meats cooked to perfection on the grill. CARVERA creatively adapts the Argentinean cuisine with a fusion of regional dishes to bring the perfect balance from diverse cultures to any table; thus, offering a compelling alternative to traditional ethnic style venues. CARVERA’s mission is to provide a flavorful hint of the Argentinean spice in Hispanic and US markets by offering customers a typically ethnic array of the best Argentinean made-to-order dishes with fresh ingredients from the highest quality, at reasonably family-affordable prices. Combine a casual friendly ambiance, with a diligent staff, to create a sense of ‘place’ in order to reach the goal of overall value in the lunch/ dining experience.
Opening Date: Summer 2015
Square Footage: 1,778

Name: Carlo’s Bakery
Description: Carlo’s Bakery is known for our delicious pastries, desserts & cakes. Originally opened by Carlo Guastaffero in 1910, Carlo’s is a family owned bakery featured on the TLC hit show Cake Boss. The Florida Mall concept will be its first location in the state of Florida.
Opening Date: Summer 2015
Square Footage: 2,231

Name: la Madeleine
Description: The popular la Madeleine will make its Florida debut with the new Florida Mall location. From the signature fireplace to crave-worthy food, each la Madeleine welcomes guests to relax, visit with friends and family, and enjoy their country French fare.
Opening Date: Fall 2015
Square Footage: 4,517

Name: Bubbleology
Description: Hailing from London, Bubbleology offers bubble tea, a refreshing flavored fruit and milk tea served ice cold or piping hot and filled with chewy natural tapioca balls. The teas are rich with antioxidants and have a base of green tea, black/red tea or white tea. Customers can enhance the flavor with natural fruit flavors and/or milk.
Opening Date: Summer 2015
Square Footage: 120

Name: Morana
Description: The Florida Mall will be the first Florida location, and one of the first US boutiques outside of California for the Brazilian accessories brand. The boutique is known for high-end fashion jewelry and accessories that are synonymous with style and sophistication.
Opening Date: Summer 2015
Square Footage: 768

Name: SportsAction, Inc.
Description: SportsAction, Inc. is an athletic footwear retailer with several stores located in south Florida in the most important and premium malls. SportsAction specializes in providing quality products and great styles in a variety of brand name performance, sports lifestyle and soccer footwear, apparel and accessories. SportsAction is in the process of expanding and continued growth with the opening of this new location in Central Florida, helping to achieve their mission.
Opening Date: Fall 2015
Square Footage: 4,489

Casual Dining
Name: Tobu
Description: This quick service Asian concept sets the bar for the next generation of fast food concepts by offering a variety of distinct and delicious menu items presented in a clean, eye-catching store. The menu includes your choice of fresh chicken, beef, pork, tofu, and sushi rolls served alongside delicious sides such as mixed vegetables, egg rolls, steamed or fried rice, salad and more. Tobu provides an innovative style and unique alternative at malls by serving only the finest ingredients presenting the best possible dining experience.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 1,419

Name: Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Description: Five Guys Burgers and Fries specializes in handmade burgers cooked to perfection on a grill, served with fresh-cut fries cooked in pure peanut oil. The popular fast-casual concept uses the freshest of ground beef to create 250,000 possible burger options with all the toppings you could stuff between fresh-baked buns.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 732

Name: Charley’s Philly Steaks
Description: Charley’s Philly Steaks are made with 100 percent USDA choice steak, 100 percent all-white meat chicken breast and fresh deli meats. Each Philly steak is grilled fresh, right when it’s ordered.
Opening Date: June 2015
Square Footage: 732

Name: Dumpling and Noodle Bar
Description: Dumpling and Noodle Bar brings the noodle bowl concept into the 21st century by combining a modern and appealing restaurant aesthetic, dynamic ordering system and exciting “kitchen to bar” service offerings with diverse Asian fusion inspired by udon and ramen options. Each menu item can be paired with unique and deliciously-blended teas and slushes. The concept has been designed, from top to bottom, to attract customers with a fresh and modern brand and design, and an even-flow trendy and social atmosphere that keeps coming back for more. This is a lunch and dinner experience you won’t want to miss!
Opening Date: June 2015
Square Footage: 400

Name: Chicken Now
Description: Chicken Now is a counter-serve concept known for its chicken fingers served in sandwiches, wraps and salads. Original or grilled, this delicious concept serves only the freshest chicken, cooked to order the way you like it. Chicken Now is dedicated to providing customers with the highest quality service, catering to families and people of all ages.
Opening Date: June 2015
Square Footage: 795

Name: A&W All American Food
Description: A&W All American Food is a fast-food outlet serving namesake root beer and floats that can be paired with a variety of delicious burgers, lightly breaded chicken fingers, hot dogs and French fries. Satisfy your taste buds and grab a soft-serve blended dessert treat to finish off your meal.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 600

Name: Asian Chao
Description: Asian Chao delivers healthy alternatives with zesty and tangy flavors like Orange Chicken, Beef & Broccoli, Vegetable Medley, and other popular dishes. The first Asian Chao opened at The Florida Mall in 1991.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 600

Name: Sbarro
Description: As the pre-eminent, quick service New York pizza place worldwide, Sbarro serves made-from-scratch dough prepared daily, San Marzano style tomato sauce, and hand-shredded 100 percent whole milk mozzarella. The restaurant also prides itself on offering other Italian-American cuisine including spaghetti, lasagna and baked ziti served with Carmela Sbarro’s signature sauce.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 618

Name: Taco Bell
Description: Taco Bell is the nation’s leading Mexican-inspired quick service restaurant chain serving made to order and customizable tacos, burritos, and specialties like the exclusive Doritos® Locos Tacos, gourmet inspired Cantina Power Menu and lower calorie Fresco Menu.
Opening Date: June 2015
Square Footage: 623

Name: Häagen-Dazs
Description: Häagen-Dazs is a counter-service chain offering the purest and finest of ice cream sorbet and frozen yogurt. Originating in New York, Häagen-Dazs went from offering only three flavors – vanilla, chocolate and coffee – to innovating the frozen dessert experience with distinctive flavors such as vanilla swiss almond, butter pecan, and dulce de leche, among others.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 240

Health-Conscious
Name: Spoleto Italian Kitchen
Description: Spoleto Italian Kitchen is an international brand with restaurants located in Brazil, Mexico and Costa Rica. The Florida Mall location is an interactive eatery where diners can create their own pastas, flatbreads, salads and desserts.
Opening Date: June 2015
Square Footage: 2,509

Name: Nature’s Table
Description: Nature’s Table offers great menu choices such as gourmet wraps and paninis, classic sandwiches, salads and delicious protein bowls. It’s a perfect blend of the traditional and the new, the healthy and the indulgent. The restaurant recently introduced a new menu this year featuring many flavorful options.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 718

Name: FRESH – Healthy Café
Description: FRESH – Healthy Café features a wide variety of fresh and healthy foods, including wraps, grilled paninis, salads and soups. Pair these delectable offerings with the concept’s renowned smoothies or fresh squeezed juices for the perfect health experience. FRESH also offers a delicious kids’ menu that all kids will enjoy!
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 224

Name: Jamba Juice
Description: Jamba Juice offers smoothies, fresh-squeezed juices, yogurt and fruit blends, wheat grass shots, slow-cooked, steel-cut oatmeal made with 100% organic oats, and healthy baked goods.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 280

Name: Ugrean
Description: Ugrean strives to provide a healthy and flavorsome dining experience that will surprise both your senses and expectations. All food is sourced from the most responsible local farmers, suppliers and traders to meet and exceed customer’s expectations. Ugrean’s menu includes signature salads, fresh juices, and create-your-own salads with fresh ingredients, in addition to tarts, gelato, macaroons and more for the sweet tooth. The concept will be reintroduced under the new brand name, ugrean, previously known as ‘Fifth Avenue Bistro’.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 607

Name: SUBWAY
Description: SUBWAY sandwiches are made to order right in front of the customer, precisely the way they want – using freshly baked breads, select sauces and a variety of delicious veggies and toppings. Top off your sandwich with a sweet-tooth satisfying dessert.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 797

Retailers
Name: Ron Jon Surf Shop
Description: Ron Jon Surf Shop, the World’s Most Famous® surf shop brings the beach to you! All the great names and assortments in swimwear, casual clothing, surfboards, skateboards and beach accessories you’ve come to expect from Ron Jon can be found at Ron Jon Surf Shop at The Florida Mall.
Opening Date: Fall 2015
Square Footage: 8,343

Name: Delores Jewelers
Description: Delores Jewelers is a family owned and operated high-end jewelry store that has been in business since 1975. The retailer that specializes in one-of-a-kind custom jewelry designs and creation, and also offers fine jewelry pieces from authorized dealers for PANDORA, Alex & Ani, Vanna K, Simon G, Artcarved, Camelot, Benchmark, Mars and more. Delores Jewelers promises to provide excellent customer service and looks forward to assisting customers in finding the best jewelry.
Opening Date: Summer 2015
Square Footage: 1,691

Name: Yankee Candle
Description: The Yankee Candle Company, Inc. is a leading designer, manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer of premium scented candles. Yankee Candle has more than a 40-year history of offering distinctive products and marketing them as affordable luxuries and consumable gifts.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 1,422

Name: GNC
Description: GNC sets the standard in the health and nutrition industry by demanding truth in labeling, ingredient safety and product potency, all while remaining on the cutting edge of nutritional science. General Nutrition Centers is the world’s largest company of its kind devoted exclusively to helping its customers improve their quality of life. The new GNC will be the second location for the brand at The Florida Mall.
Opening Date: Summer 2015
Square Footage: 2,080

Photos from a recent trip to The Florida Mall

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The Old Food Court
The Old Food Court

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Orlando Whiskey Festival is brought to you by Whiskey & Bizz, LLC, and is the first ever Whiskey Fest to hit Central Florida. Features will include fine single malt, blended Scotch and American whiskies including Bourbon and rye, flavored whiskies and flavored moonshine.

This tasting event allows guests to sample over 50 whiskey Brands and interaction with industry professionals.

Gourmet menu selections will be available on site from some of Winter Park’s most popular restaurant groups. An outside lounge area will include live entertainment and a cigar vendor.

Orlando Whiskey Festival will also feature a limited-release whiskey auction (silent and live) with over 40 different whiskies – including the unattainable Pappy Family. All net proceeds to benefit The Lovely Project.

DETAILS
Saturday, June 13th at Mercedes Benz of Orlando
810 North Orlando Avenue in Maitland, FL.
VIP admission begins at 5:30 pm with general admission beginning at 7:00 pm.
The last pour is at 10:00pm.
Website: http://orlandowhiskeyfestival.com/index.php/home.html

Each guest with a VIP or General Admission ticket will receive a Glencairn glass engraved with a commemorative “Orlando Whiskey Festival” logo, upon entrance for sampling the available spirits.
Attendance is limited and Orlando Whiskey Festival is expected to reach capacity. There will be no ticket sales at the door the day of the event. All tickets must be purchased in advance, online.

OUTSIDE LOUNGE
Outside live entertainment from The Mellow Relics, cigars from Oliva and Drew Estate and craft beer from
PH3 Agency + Brewery.

Restaurants featured at the event include: 4 Rivers Smokehouse, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, The Ravenous Pig, Luma on Park, Cask and Larder, Prato, The Coop, and K Restaurant.

Founded by friends Shaun Roberts and Mark Matuszek, Whiskey & Bizz a monthly event focused on educating, networking, friendships, bonding over our favorite spirits, all the while trying to strengthen our community by donating proceeds to a local non-profit. All net proceeds raised from their events go to benefit The Lovely Project – a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, headquartered in Orlando, Florida. The next get together after the Orlando Whiskey Festival is August 3rd.

The Lovely Project is a Non-Profit Organization, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, that exists to empower girls by providing them with tools, education and peer-mentorship for living a purposeful, productive life. Every day in America, girls face a mountain of seemingly impossible hardships that exist because of their gender. Seven out of ten girls ages 15-17 won’t even bother to participate in normal, everyday activities due to a lack of self-worth. This void that so many young girls experience can be an unfortunate result of family dysfunction, abuse, bullying, poverty, impossible beauty ideals, learning disabilities and obesity. A staggering 75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities like cutting, bullying, smoking, drinking, or disordered eating.

The Lovely Project invites girls ages 11-19 to experience a loving and caring environment where they are taught about their immense Value, powerful Voice and unstoppable Valor.

The primary goal of this organization is to empower young girls in Central Florida through programs that are designed to teach them:

1.) That they are valuable assets to our culture and society.

2.) Their ideas and opinions matter and their voices have power.

3.) They have the potential and ability to effect positive change within their families and community, even when faced with intense difficulty. You can read more about The Lovely Project at www.thelovelyproject.org.

The Orlando Whiskey Festival is the primary fundraising event Whiskey & Bizz will host this year to benefit The Lovely Project. 100% of the net proceeds raised from this event will go directly towards funding the programs and resources that keep The Lovely Project functioning in Central Florida.

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I may have written off this place as just your typical run of the mill, if not tired, Vietnamese restaurant, having not visited in maybe 10 years since my days in college.

Maybe it’s because I had a secret bias against restaurants that serve dual cuisines – you know, like those dual Chinese / Sushi take out places you see around town. Often times when restaurants end up dividing attention among more than one cuisine, they end up neglecting one or the other or both cuisines, resulting in substandard fare.

I have to apologize to Viet Garden (which tauts its Vietnamese and Thai cuisine) for it does Vietnamese cuisine quite well. The restaurant is one of the oldest Vietnamese restaurants in the Mills 50 District but definitely deserves another look.

I particularly was surprised and delighted to see the breadth and depth of the Vietnamese cuisines offered, in addition to your typical dishes, they had quite a few unique and seldom seen noodle soups and home style Vietnamese family plates that are hard to find elsewhere.

I ordered their dumplings, which aren’t really Vietnamese, but excellent nonetheless – home made with plenty of delicious pork filling and a nice dumpling skin that had the right amount of chewiness to it. I ordered the special rice platter for my main and really enjoyed the thit nuong, or grilled Vietnamese pork, as well as the crispy tofu shrimp skin that came along with the plate.

Overall, definitely would return. My dining companions from WMFE would agree.

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Dumplings – quite fabulous, home made dumplings

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Fried Spring Rolls

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The Pho – Beef Noodle Soup

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Tampa based Bavaro’s Pizza Napoletana & Pastaria has opened its first location in Orlando in Winter Springs this week. It will be open this week for dinner from 5pm-10pm starting this Monday, and starting next week, will be open for lunch as well from 11am-10pm.

The Napoletana style pizza is thin & soft with a slight crisp to the crust; with a nice smokey char to the pizza crust from the wood burning ovens and topped with ingredients imported from Italy or locally grown and organic. Dan Bavaro, the founder was taught by 3rd generation, Neapolitan families.

The restaurant bases their entire menu around a stunning Italian imported wood-fired brick oven, hand crafted by the Ferrara’s; a 3rd generation Neapolitan family. The restaurant also makes its own pastas and sauces, which are sold in stores such as Whole Foods, Winn-Dixie and Costco.

Chirag Kabrawala and his parttners have full-time day jobs (He’s an attorney and his 3 other partners include a cardiologist, hotel developer, and luxury tour operator), and despite their rigorous schedules, they made time each Thursday evening to meet at a local restaurant for pizza typically (pizza was the “lowest common denominator” because two of his partners are vegetarian and they could all agree on pizza).

Chirag told us, “While exploring for new styles of pizza, I introduced them to pizza cooked in the Neapolitan style; we took trips to Miami, Atlanta, NYC, and even Tampa, where we were fortunate enough to connect (and in my case, reconnect) with Dan Bavaro, who is making Neapolitan pizza that is arguably among the best being served in the United States. Although Dan was very much reluctant to expand his restaurants, we finally (after nearly a year) agreed to become “partners” with him (and not franchisees), ceding most control of the menu and operations of our restaurant, while us 4-partners preserve, enhance and maintain his vision by working in the restaurant nearly every day. ”

“We are cooking pizza in the Neapolitan style, and we’re very much proud to be offering truly homemade pasta and desserts, all prepared before you in our 100% open kitchen, where nearly every seat in the restaurant has a view of all kitchen operations.”

Bavaro’s
1468 Tuskawilla Road
Winter Springs, Florida
(321) 422-3600
http://bavarospizza.com/

Their dinner menu: http://bavarospizza.com/images/dinner.pdf#zoom=100%

A Sneak Peek Inside Bavaro’s

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Owner and Founder Dan Bavaro at the helm
Owner and Founder Dan Bavaro at the helm
Chefs make their own pastas in house
Chefs make their own pastas in house
Imported fine flour from Italy
Imported fine flour from Italy
The oven uses stacks of wood nearby
The oven uses stacks of wood nearby
The oven gets up and above 900 degrees
The oven gets up and above 900 degrees
The wood burning oven is imported from Italy
The wood burning oven is imported from Italy

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Cheesy garlic bread
Cheesy garlic bread
Verde salad
Verde salad
Organico Salad
Organico Salad

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Proscuitto pizza
Proscuitto pizza
Carne Pizza
Carne Pizza
Margherita Pizza
Margherita Pizza

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Lunch Service has begun!

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Mr. Chirag Kabrawala
Mr. Chirag Kabrawala
Panini
Panini
Deli panini
Deli panini
Pasta - Tagliatelle with Vodka sauce - the vodka sauce is addicting
Pasta – Tagliatelle with Vodka sauce – the vodka sauce is addicting
Margherita pizza with sausage, salami, and topped with egg
Margherita pizza with sausage, salami, and topped with egg
El Crudo Pizza
El Crudo Pizza

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Photos by Hoang Nguyen
Words by K. Duong

The 2015 Winghouse Beauty Pageant is an annual event hosted by Winghouse, that coincides with the famous Daytona Bike Week.

Contestants are judged on personality and appearance, with these 30 women who are from all over Florida. Representing the best of the Winghouse Girls and their respective Winhgouse, from Largo to their newest location in Sarasota, the winner of this year’s pageant will not only be crowned Miss Bike Week but also serve as a judge for next year’s pageant.

From the Winghouse signature “Naked” Chicken wings to the sauce covered Buffalo Chicken sandwich all of which tasted great. Customer service matched the quality of the food, our waitress Xoa was friendly and attentive.

“This is the one event you definitely won’t want to miss,” says Crawford Ker, founder of Ker’s WingHouse Bar & Grill.

Founded by the National Football League’s (NFL) Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos alumnus, Crawford Ker, the first WingHouse opened in Largo, FL in 1994. Now, WingHouse has 24 locations throughout Florida with plans to grow into the rest of the Southeast.

Signature items include the “Naked” Chicken Wings: skinless drummettes marinated, baked, and tossed in one of the wing sauces, and the Dallas Burger: two juicy 8 oz. BBQ burgers topped with bacon.

WingHouse features state-of-the-art TV packages for all the big games and fights. The authentic sports memorabilia and our fun, friendly, casual environment make WingHouse the ideal place to be a sports fan. Select locations offer WingHouse “Game Zones” complete with arcade style games and pool tables. The main attraction at the WingHouse is their version of “The Girl Next Door”, the World Famous WingHouse Girls. The WingHouse Girls are the foundation of their concept. They serve tables, tend bar, work as hostesses, participate in brand promotions and are the company’s cheerleaders.

The WingHouse Girls are attractive and polite. As ambassadors of our mission to be “brilliant on the basics”, their great service, positive attitudes and pretty smiles encourage guests to make frequent visits and become loyal customers. The WingHouse strives to create quality and memorable experiences for every guest. For more information, visit www.winghouse.com.

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One of my favorite Cajun restaurants in town, King Cajun Crawfish on Mills Avenue has some of the best fresh crawfish and fried shrimp and oyster poboy sandwiches in Orlando with reasonable prices and friendly staff.

I love their crawfish with shabang sauce – owner and chef Ha Nguyen adds orange rinds to the mix of garlic, butter, and spicy peppers for that extra bang in the sha bang.

Mrs. Nguyen ran a Cajun restaurant in Louisiana for over 15 years before moving to Orlando to be closer with her family after Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast in 2005.

I love their fried oysters and fried shrimp po boys as well. Jambalaya and gumbo are both hearty and delicious.

Definitely save space for dessert – get the beignets, fried donuts topped with heapings of powdered sugar – just don’t choke on it. Wash it down with a hot or iced cup of Vietnamese coffee.

King Cajun Crawfish of Orlando on Mills Ave
King Cajun Crawfish of Orlando on Mills Ave

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Gumbo with shrimp
Gumbo with shrimp
Jambalaya rice
Jambalaya rice
Fried Shrimp Po Boy
Fried Shrimp Po Boy
Fried Shrimp plate
Fried Shrimp plate
Oyster Poboy sandwich
Oyster Poboy sandwich

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Crawfish with Shabang sauce
Crawfish with Shabang sauce

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Look into the Fried Oyster Po boy sandwich
Look into the Fried Oyster Po boy sandwich

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Mrs. Ha Nguyen shows off her fresh live crawfish delivered straight from Louisiana
Mrs. Ha Nguyen shows off her fresh live crawfish delivered straight from Louisiana
Beignets - New Orleans' very own powdered sugar donuts
Beignets – New Orleans’ very own powdered sugar donuts
Beignets served best with some hot or iced Vietnamese coffee
Beignets served best with some hot or iced Vietnamese coffee
Live crawfish
Live crawfish
Mrs. Ha Nguyen interviewed by Matthew Peddie and Brendan Byrne of WMFE
Mrs. Ha Nguyen interviewed by Matthew Peddie and Brendan Byrne of WMFE for the What is Little Vietnam series.

King Cajun Crawfish
914 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 704-8863
https://www.facebook.com/kingcajuncrawfish

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Tne Lowdown –

This tapas restaurant (which also has a branch in Key West) just off of Mills Avenue on Virginia Drive (I think they still call it part of Ivanhoe Village?), has a $39.95 all you can eat weekend brunch that includes all you can drink mimosas and sangria. Saturdays, no reservations needed, but Sundays, reservations are a must.

Items include prime rib, crab legs, leg of lamb, roast chicken, as well as sliced cheese, cured meats, chorizo paella, sweet maple bacon, biscuits and gravy, and more.

Save space for the french toast – a fried croissant take on the dish with lots of powdered sugar. Go hungry.

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Santiago’s Bodega
802 Virginia Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 412-6979
www.santiagosbodega.com

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Don’t judge a book by its cover – This tiny restaurant has served as home to quite a few different restaurants over the year – I think due to its small space, but this iteration is a winner. It is tiny, just maybe 8 tables, seat maybe 40 in the whole building.

Tucked between a nail supply shop and a Vietnamese owned wedding cake shop, just a few doors down from Saigon Market and Tasty Wok, I love Vietnam Cuisine for their banh cuon, velvety smooth rice crepes stuffed with woodeared mushroom and ground pork, pork sausage, Vietnamese sweet fish sauce. pour it over.

Known for their take on northern Vietnamese dishes – other than Lac Viet, most other Vietnamese restaurants in town specialize in the southern cuisine of Vietnam. The cha ca thanh long is a popular dish, a type of fish patty with tilapia spiced in turmeric and herb (what herb) =, I think it is a play on a fish becoming a dragon. Also, bun cha ha noi, a rice vermicelli dish with pork meat balls and sweet fish sauce for dipping. It’s like tsukeman Vietnamese noodles – Vietnamese rice spaghetti and pork meatballs ? Also, great pho here with lots of meat cuts and ox tail. Generous portions.

On the way out, I get a few banh bao, a type of stuffed pastry stuffed with pork meat, hard boiled egg, Chinese sausage. It’s known as a poor man’s meal and popular street food – you can get full off of just one bao. It was popular in Hong Kong years ago, but I guess owners got smart and cut back on it so their customers wouldn’t get full off of just one pork bun.

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Get the banh cuon – velvety smooth rice crepes stuffed with woodeared mushroom and ground pork, pork sausage, Vietnamese sweet fish sauce. pour it over.

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Cha Ca Thanh Long

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Beef Noodle Soup aka Pho

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Special Rice plate with egg, grilled pork chop, pork casserole

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Bun bo hue, with blood pudding

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Stir fried noodles

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More Pho

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Rare to find blood pudding in Bun Bo Hue in Orlando – very authentic!

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Bun Cha Ha Noi

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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

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