alcohol

My friend from college and owner of DOMU, Sonny Nguyen

My former co-worker and good friend, Dallas Perdue, tending the bar while being filmed by the Travel Channel.

*Will be featured on the Food Paradise episode*
Pigs In A Blanket Bao – Chashu ends, persian cucumber, pickled cabbage, scallion, spicy kewpie mayo

Domu Wings – coated with kimchi butter sauce.  These are my favorite wings in the whole world!  Must try!

*Will be featured on the Food Paradise episode* Richie Rich – Miso-shoyu pork bone broth, chashu, ajitama brûlée, kikurage, scallion, fried garlic, black garlic oil, domudama

Uni Mazemen – Uni butter sauce, ikura, micro greens, crispy quinoa, chives, fresh uni

Chuka – Roasted corn, menma, torched tomato, cucumber, shiitake mushrooms, ontama, sesame vinaigrette

Check out DOMU soon for delicious ramen, wings & bao and be sure to keep an eye out for the Food Paradise episode airing in the next couple of weeks!

DOMU
3201 Corrine Dr. STE 100 Orlando, Florida
(407) 960-1228
http://domufl.com

Duffy’s Sports Grill invited us to check out some items from their menu, new and old. Duffy’s Sports Grill consists of 35 locations throughout Florida (including Orlando!) and more than 80 TVs in each location. It is the perfect place to catch your favorite team game or sit back and enjoy a great meal.

Of course, it was after work and the weekend began so we decided to check out some drinks. We discovered with delight that ordering the S’mores Girl Scout Cookies specialty Martini comes with cookies. Who doesn’t like an adult version of milk and cookies? The martini is very tasteful and nice for a night with the girls.

If you are not too fond of a milky liquor, how about Pear…fect Martini? Or two because Duffy’s Sports Grill offers 2 for 1 drinks all day every day. Music to your ears, right?

Loaded Potato Skins include bacon, scallions, jack & cheddar cheese, and sour cream. Textures ranging from smooth/creamy to crispy creates a nice touch to the savory flavors.

Crispy Calamari is dusted in seasoned flour and garnished with crispy cherry peppers, served with marinara and spicy kickin’ bayou sauce. They weren’t kidding when they said the spicy kicking’ bayou sauce had a kick to it, but is nice with the appropriately seasoned calamari.

Seasame-Crusted Ahi Tuna is seasoned, seared in sesame oil and served with cucumber salad and Soba noodles in Asian dressing. Each item on this plate is chilled and has its own flavor unique to one another. I’m not mad we ordered this dish and would order it again!

These ribs are dressed with Duffy’s Sports Grill’s new Korean BBQ Sauce. The ribs have tender parts and crispy sections depending on where you take your bites. The delicious sauce has a balance between sweet and spicy. Also, I hear it is great on wings when it comes to watching a game or in general.

Of course, I can’t go to a sports grill without ordering wings. This is a plate of hot boneless wings served with blue cheese and celery. The hot sauce here is on the vinegar side of the hot sauce spectrum.

Blackened Beef Tenderloin Tips served with Horseradish cream sauce and the options of two sides. Here, we decided on grilled zucchini and sweet potato fries as our sides. The tips were room temperature, but delicious; it would be a greater delight if they were hot. The grilled zucchini were fresh and had a crunch to them, which was to my liking. The sweet potato fries were made well and sapid.

As there is the S’mores Girl Scout Cookies specialty martini mentioned above, there’s a S’mores Girl Scout Cookies specialty involving cupcakes that you could order for dessert. $1 from each order of the cupcakes and/or martinis will go towards Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida!

For more information  check out the Duffy’s Sports Grill website.

Ping’s Dessert – Japanese cotton cheese infused with matcha, matcha macaroon, durian ice cream, dark cherry soup.

Every season Yuki Hana hosts an Omakase dinner which means “leave everything up to the chef”.  I always look forward to Yuki Hana’s Omakase dinners because I know a lot of time, preparation, and research goes into each Omakase dinner to draft up and provide an adventurous menu for their guests.  This Omakase dinner was extra special because they were also celebrating their Five Year Anniversary.  If you haven’t been to an Omakase dinner experience at Yuki Hana, you are truly missing out on a local mind-blowing culinary adventure.  No experience is the same and you will never forget how spectacular it is.

Sakitini with pomegranate, arugula syrup, citrus, fish sauce, spicy shiitake sugar rim and dehydrated lemon slice.


Chef Steven’s Amuse – Sweet potato puff, cured cobia sashimi, edamame crème fraiche, pickled shallot.  The edamame crème fraiche filling inside the puff was ridiculous, I loved it.  The cured cobia sashimi was the perfect fish for this delicious appetizer.


Chef Steven’s 1st Course – Hokkaido scallop, sweet shrimp with heads crispy fried, tossed in uni mayo, anchovy powder, seasoned anchovy, ume gel, and shiso. Perfect balance of soft & crispy.  Delicious!

Chef Steven’s 2nd Course – Madai, charred negi soy gel, jalapeño foam, citrus marinated cucumber, and crispy salmon skin.  Those crispy salmon skins were AMAZING.  I loved this refreshing dish.

Chef Steven’s 3rd Course – Crispy hand roll cone with unagi, bacon jam.  Second picture is chu-toro tartare, ikura, furikake.  Who doesn’t enjoy eating a hand roll?  No chopsticks needed!

Chef Albert’s 4th Course – Congee with lobster, clams, shrimp, uni and squid ink rice chips.  This was my favorite!  I wanted to lick the plate after I was finished eating but didn’t want to get any weird looks.  I wish the squid ink rice chips with uni was an appetizer on their regular menu.  I’m obsessed with them!  My biggest weakness is chips.

Chef Albert’s 5th Course – Poussin served with winter green, sesame dressing, pickled cucumber, whipped tofu, charred orange.  This was the best grilled chicken that I have ever eating in my life.  The seasoning was perfection.

Chef Albert’s 6th Course – Bison skirt steak, shaved truffle, asparagus, Shimeji mushrooms, beet, black pepper sauce.  Divine!

Ping’s Dessert – Japanese cotton cheese infused with matcha, matcha macaroon, durian ice cream, dark cherry soup.  So much heart and passion went into this dessert.  It was heavenly.  I love homemade cakes, ice cream and macarons!

The kind and hardworking owner of Yuki Hana, Ping Jiang, and her team of dedicated an talented chefs.

This was my third Omakase experience at Yuki Hana and the skills, quality, creativity, and taste just keep getting better.  I am looking forward to their next Omakase dinner.  I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to attend these dinners on behalf of Tasty Chomps.  I hope to see you all at the next one!  Please follow Yuki Hana on IG at @yuki_hana_sushi for their latest updates and upcoming events.

 

Yuki Hana Fusion Sushi
3635 Aloma Ave Oviedo, Florida 32765
(407) 695-8808
http://sushiyukihana.com

Happy 2018, Food Friends!

Can we all agree that glitter and unicorn desserts are so 2017? Well maybe not, but a girl can dream.

I caught up with some of Orlando’s coolest chefs to find out what they see coming to a table near you in 2018, and here’s what they had to say.

The Verdict:

  • Crazy desserts are out; smaller, savory sweets are in
  • Asian eats are here to stay
  • RIP to unnecessary gluten-free dishes
  • Say hello to veg cuisine, it’s here and it’s not playing

HAWKERS Asian Street Fare – Kaleb Harrell 

“Ethnic desserts – We are revamping our entire dessert line because we feel customers are ready. Desserts that have a savory edge, are fruit-based, or just have ingredients outside of mainstream will gain popularity as the size of desserts decreases. Today’s customer would rather have a few bites of something amazing to end their meal than a bowl of corn syrup.

Savory cocktails – This one has been on the fringe for a while, but I think 2018 is the year for savory cocktails to take hold.  Think meat stocks, dry rub ingredients, and vegetable instead of fruit juices. 

Fast and fresh – This is the mecca for market share in lunch business.  A few companies are doing well and expanding quickly, but it’s a race to see who keeps consistency. Virtually every diner is looking for a fast, and ultra fresh lunch option. How many days can you eat a Chick-fil-A salad for lunch?

Vinegars and sours – Fermented flavors are gaining more popularity and will continue in the next year. Look for pickling, fermenting, gourmet mustards, and generally bold flavors in small quantities to continue.  Cheese and charcuterie are amazing, but the accoutrements are starting to take center stage.”

Black Rooster Taqueria – John Calloway

“I think we will see a lot of cauliflower. Gluten-free has reached its peak, so we will see more artisan and/or rustic breads and people milling their own flours.

Mexican will still be everywhere, but I believe Indian food is the next big cuisine.

Food as medicine will also be a big focus. From all of the juice bars to doctors and nutritionists prescribing specific foods and diets, we’ll be getting back to our roots with the earth healing our bodies.”

K Restaurant – Michelle Hulbert

“I think there will continue to be interest smaller desserts – that are portion-control friendly. Over-the-top, gigantic desserts will be a thing of the past. The healthier sides of sweets will include more seasonal fruits.  I think in general we will see a larger focus on vegetables as the star and less starch-heavy dishes.”

K Restaurant –  Ryan McLaughlin

“I think in 2018 we will see a continued movement toward more vegetable-forward dishes, a dedicated focus on limiting food waste, and an even stronger movement within the chef community to support small, sustainable farms that are focused on the ethical treatment of animals.”

Tapa Toro – Wendy Lopez 

“I see familiar foods becoming more prominent on menus at restaurants. Think pork rinds and hot dogs. They will be reimagined with new ingredients and presentations.

I think we’ll start to see lesser-known cuts of meat appear on menus around town – like Vegas strip and Oyster steak. We’ll start to see more family-style dining options at restaurants. At Tapa Toro, we see groups of people passing plates around the table. Why commit to one entree when you could try a little bit of everything?”

Pizza Bruno – Bruno Zacchini

“I’ll start with pizza! For me, I see Neapolitan pizza still going strong but new styles and types will become the next thing from Detroit squares to Roman thin crusts and artisan slice pies with farm-to-table ingredients. Pizza has so many styles most people have never seen so it’s really wide open.

Overall fast casual is going to keep happening and moving forward with counter service places and places focusing on singular dishes done extremely well.  Flavors for me are Middle Eastern, more regional Asian (think Bangrak), and Italian, of course! I also think that in 2018 we’ll continue to see veg-centric cuisine making its way onto more menus.”

Valhalla Bakery + Valkyrie Doughnuts – Celine Duvoisin 

“I see a bubble bursting of the stuff on stuff on stuff on stuff. (Not that I’m not going to do excessive shit until it dies.)

I think that more Asian popularity will happen, I foresee a rise in proper ramen coming to town and possibly Asian desserts. We’ve hit this wall of sugar hell, with no one hitting the less sweet almost savory desserts.

Hopefully an end to the gluten-free obsession.

My fingers are crossed for more Mediterranean-type places that focus on macro-based foods as fuel instead of insanely over designed places that don’t have the food to seal the deal.”


Is this roundup missing something, or are you seeing a trend worth sharing? Comment below and cheers to new year!

Snack on,
Chauniqua Major, but we’re friends so call me Major!

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Wagyu Gyoza

We were invited to the All You Can Eat NYE dinner at Yuki Hana Fusion Sushi and it was the perfect last meal to finish off 2017.  The ambiance of the restaurant is dreamy, perfect for a date night, the owner and staff are super nice, and the food is innovative while still maintaining its integrity and delicious taste.  You never know what to expect when you order at Yuki Hana Fusion Sushi because they always blow you away with their creativity; it’s always a nice surprise whenever your food arrives at your table and is presented right in front of you.  Overall, it is a fabulous restaurant that you need to experience for yourself, especially during their special event dinners!

Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Seasonal Vegetables

Octopus Fritters

Seared Pork Belly With Seasonal Vegetables With House Curry On The Side

Chicken Yakitori

Oxtail Taco

Oysters

House Cured Salmon
Assortment of Nigiri – Tuna, Salmon, Yellowtail (Chef’s Pick)
Ahi Poke

Assorted Rolls – American Dream Roll, Fuji Mountain Roll, Shrimp Tempura Roll, Fire Cracker Roll (with scallops fried on the top), Citrus Roll (with cobia on top), Katana Roll (with tuna on top), and Salmon Madness Roll

Sake Steamed Clams

Banging Shrimp

Chocolate Cake

Japanese Cotton Cake

Matcha Creme Brûlée

Sake Poached Pear

Be sure to check out Yuki Hana Fusion Sushi soon!  They host many special events so follow them on instagram (@yuki_hana_sushi) to stay up-to-date!

 

Yuki Hana Fusion Sushi
3635 Aloma Ave Oviedo, Florida 32765
(407) 695-8808
http://sushiyukihana.com

At Yuki Hana they provide guests with a beautiful, modern dining experience and the freshest, most flavorful Japanese dishes around.  From innovative sushi featuring fresh fish from the world’s finest markets to flavorful fusion dishes prepared with locally sourced veggies and herbs, every plate on their menu is fun, flavorful, and a new adventure.  No matter the occasion, they are always more than happy to welcome you in and treat you to an unforgettable evening of bites and sips.  Visit them and experience the finest in Japanese cuisine all under one roof.

Every season Yuki Hana hosts a special dinner showcasing their chef’s creativity and talent.  We were invited to their Chef’s Multi-Course Tasting Event and as always, we were impressed with how creative and well thought-out each dish was.  Not only did the food look good but it also tasted delicious as well.  Each dish that came out was like an exciting surprise, we were all blown out of the water with their innovation, presentation and quality.  Yuki Hana Fusion Sushi exceeded our expectations with every dish that they delivered that night.  They are like food scientists, they know their stuff, they are creative, and they just keep getting better and better.  You can tell that each dish was hand made with hard work, love and intention.


Begin – Butterfly Pea Crystal, Citrus Sake


Appetizer – Amuse-Bouche, Squash Dumpling

1st Course – Cape Cod Oyster, Wasabi Foam, Cocktail Pearl, Lemon Confit

2nd Course – Shima Aji, Wasabi Asparagus, Kombu Chip, Crispy Garlic, Ume Ponzu

3rd Course – Nigiri Tasting
Mussel (mussel puree, garlic chip)

Hamachi Tartare (tobiko, cured egg snow)

Tuna (tare, avocado)


Kohada (charred negi vin)

Break – Frozen White Chocolate Lychee Gusher

4th Course – Seared Shiromi, Cabbage Menage, Bacon Seaweed, Dashi Aioli (My favorite!)

5th Course – Roasted Beef, Oxtail Croquette, Pickled Pumpkin, Sweet Potato Sphere, Roasted Leek, Honey Soy (my second favorite!)

Dessert – Persimmon 5.0, Gelato, Compressed, Gel, Meringue, Soup (it was delicious!)

Special thanks to owner Ping Jiang and her talented staff for their hospitality and amazing food!  Be sure to check out Yuki Hana Fusion Sushi soon, you won’t regret it!

Albert DeSue – Executive Chef
Steven Phan – Head Sushi Chef
Edwardo Mena – Sous Chef
Lance Herbas – Sushi Chef
Steven Chang – Sushi Chef

(Cover photo and last photo taken by Quay Hu)

Yuki Hana Fusion Sushi
3635 Aloma Ave Oviedo, Florida 32765
(407) 695-8808
http://sushiyukihana.com

Three things that I love:
1.  4 Rivers Smokehouse – I used to work for 4 Rivers Smokehouse Catering back in 2015.
2.  Winter Park – I went to elementary school, middle school and high school in Winter Park.
3.  Supporting charity events – who doesn’t?!

Combine all those three things that I love and what do you get? COWS ‘N CABS.

Central Florida’s annual Cows ‘n Cabs returned for its seventh year on Saturday, November 11 from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.  Hosted by 4 Rivers Smokehouse founder John Rivers and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits’ David Larue, the event benefited the After-School All-Stars and Elevate Orlando.  This 21+ up charity event returned to 150 North New York Avenue in Winter Park’s Central Park West Meadow and featured more than 30 of Central Florida’s top restaurants including 4 Rivers Smokehouse, The Ravenous Pig, Hunger Street Tacos, Holler & Dash, and Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen.

This is a must attend event for all food enthusiasts.  Cows ‘n Cabs does it right year after year and they are always getting better!

Cow ‘N Cab – Beef Over Creamy Polenta & Cabernet Reduction

The COOP “Fiesty chicken” – Fried Chicken Topped With Lettuce, Pickle, & Fiesty Sauce On A Slider

4 Rivers Smokehouse Sweet Shop – Chocolate Wine Cupcake, Red Velvet Hot Chocolate with House-Made Cream Cheese Marshmallows

ABC Fine Wine & Spirits – Dominick, Wine and Spirit Specialist

Soco Restaurant in Thornton Park – Confit of Pork Rilette with Pickled Apples, Mustard, and Pumpernickle Crostini

Tamale Co. – Cochinita Pibil Tamale and Carne Asada Tamale

The Sanctum – Buffalo Chickun Slider and Bleu Cheez Wedge Salad

Luke’s Kitchen and Bar – Luke’s Crab Cake with Celery Lemon Tartar

STK (Disney Springs) – Dry aged Sirloin of Beef with Smoked Poblano Pepper-Pumpkin Seed Puree and Pickled Butternut Squash

Foxtail Coffee – Cold Brew

Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen – Pork Tenderloin “Pastrami” Banh Mi Sandwich, Truffle Aioli and Pickled Vegetable

Drew Estate

Dove Tale

Tapa Toro – Sliced Corned Beef, Braised Red Cabbage, German Potatoes

Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park – Mini French Macarons, Chocolate Covered Bacon, Chocolate Covered Popcorn

Holler & Dash – The Four O Seven

Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen & Bar – House Ceviche and Shrimp with a Grit Cake

Grey Goose

Fantasy Fare Food Truck (Disney Springs) – Achiote-Orange Rubbed Salmon Taco

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar (Disney Springs) – Smoked Duck Carnitas Bao

The Daily Poutine (Disney Springs) – French Fries, Beef Poutine Gravy, Mushrooms and Cheese Curds

D-Luxe Burger (Disney Springs) – Curried Lamb Burger

F&D Kitchen / F&D Cantina – Guanjillo Chili and Black Bean Quinoa Chili

1921 by Norman Van Aken – Five Spice Crispy Chicken Wings, Fish Sauce Caramel & Thai Herb Salad

Norman’s – Guava-Pasilla Barbecued Pulled Pork Tostada with Black Bean Puree

Morimoto Asia (Disney Springs) – US Wagyu Beef Nigiri, smoked soy, fresh wasabi

Hunger Street Tacos – Fried Avocado Taco, Panko breaded and fried avocado, shredded cabbage, red onion, serrano-lime crema, cilantro, queso cotija

Urbain 40 – Umami-laced Angus Brisket & Short Rib Burger Slider, Caramelized Sweet Onion Compote & Pimento Cheese

The Ravenous Pig – Green Eggs and Ham

The Polite Pig (Disney Springs) – BBQ Cheddar Sausage on Mini-Bun

K Restaurant – Cider Braised Pork Jowl, spiced apple sauce, brussels sprouts salad

Pizza Bruno owner – Bruno Zacchini III

Taverna Opa Orlando – Mini Souvlaki

Hawkers Asian Street Fare – Pork Belly Dumplings and Singapore “Chili” Crab

Sus-Hi Eatstation – Sushi bowl

Amorette’s Pastisserie/ The Ganachery (Disney Springs) – Assortment of Sweet Delights

P is for Pie – Christmas Story Hand Pie with Roast Duck, Caramelized Onions, Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Cranberry Goat Cheese
Salted Honey Bourbon Hand Pie and Caramel Maple Pumpkin Pie

Pop Parlour

For more information, please visit www.cowsncabs.com.
(Source credit: Cows ‘n Cabs)

We were invited to a media preview at the award-winning nightlife and entertainment destination on International Drive “Mango’s Tropical Café” to try the new à la carte menu prepared by Executive Chef Angel Ramirez and to watch their sensational live entertainment.  It was my first time at Mango’s Tropical Café and I cannot wait to go back.  Their venue is spacious, the food was great, and the performers were all amazingly talented.  It was the best dinner show that I have ever witness in my entire life!

One of the many private rooms at Mango’s Tropical Café.  The Voodoo Room was where our media preview event was hosted.

Mango’s Cuban Sandwich – Slow roasted pork, tender ham and Swiss cheese, served with fries and/or gourmet onion rings

Rosa Vieja Tacos – Three large soft tacos with their homemade all beef “Rosa Vieja”, shredded cabbage, tomato, red onion, sharp cheddar cheese and drizzled with a cilantro aioli.  Served with yellow rice, sour cream, salsa and guacamole

Pico de Gallo, guacamole and sour cream

Lobster Ravioli – Ravioli filled with lobster meat topped with Mango’s homemade creamy pink sauce, served with a fresh baked garlic roll

Prime rib sliders – Three Prime Rib sliders topped with caramelized onions and horseradish cream sauce, served with au jus for dipping

Chicken Parmigiana Sliders – Three sliders served on homemade garlic bread with marinara sauce for dipping

Mango’s Tropical Ceviche – Tender fish ceviche in fresh lime juice, served with chips

Wild Mushroom Pizza – Sautéed portobello and button mushrooms in garlic, olive oil and rosemary, topped with caramelized onions and mozzarella cheese

Mango’s Chicken “al Ajillo” – Tender chicken strips sautéed in a garlic, white wine and lemon sauce, served with white rice, black beans and maduros

Tradional New York Style Pizza – Classic thin crust pizza with mozzarella cheese and our homemade marinara sauce

Caribbean Creole Chicken – Tender chicken breast sautéed in a garlic, onions, peppers, tomato, cilantro, white wine, paprika and lemon, served with white rice, black beans and maduros

Brett’s Southwestern BBQ Burgers – Topped with sharp cheddar cheese, Applewood smoked bacon and gourmet onion rings, topped with Mango’s homemade BBQ sauce and your choice of French fries of gourmet onion rings

Passion Fruit Mojito

Coconut Mojito

Mango Mojito

The upstairs bar

Celia Cruz experience

Michael Jackson Tribute performance

Be sure to check out Mango’s Tropical Café soon for the new à la carte menu and amazing live entertainment!

Mango’s Tropical Café
8126 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
http://mangos.com/orlando
(407) 673-4422

The Day of the Dead is a Mexican tradition in remembering deceased ancestors and friends.  We were invited to the inaugural Day of the Dead event at Cocina 214 and I had a great time celebrating this Mexican tradition for the first time.  The event offered delicious light bites and two exclusively-themed drinks such as the “Alma Buena” that came with a flashing LED multi-colored ice cube and a shot of Black Raspberry Sangria to pour into your drink for a fun swirl of colors and also the “La Mariposa” that was served with a rim of sugar and butterfly gummies on a pom-pom food pick.  The event also included fun activities sponsored by el Jimadaor such as the color your own shirt station which they gave away free shirts for and the promotion table where they gave out free scarves to everyone who filled out a quick survey.  First come, first serve.

Cocina 214 in Park Avenue of Winter Park is known as a vibrant, hip, brunch, lunch, dinner restaurant, with a lively, yet relaxing atmosphere. It’s edgy yet approachable and perfect for family and friends.  They are building their second location at 357 S. Atlantic Avenue Daytona Beach, Florida 32118 with the same concept as the original location – contemporary Mexican and Tex-Mex kitchen with authentic dishes that combine bold flavors and the freshest local ingredients all served up in a vibrant, elegant and fun setting.

Alma Buena “ The Good Soul” – EL Jimador Tequila, Blue Curacao, Sweet & Sour, Agave, topped with Black Raspberry Sangria
The intent of day of the dead is to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.

La Mariposa “ The Butterfly” – EL Jimador Tequila, Blood Orange Liqueur, Fresh Lime, Agave, splash of Soda
According to traditional belief among Michoacán’s Mazahuas the monarch butterflies are souls of ancestors who return to Earth for their annual visit.

Color your own shirt station, sponsored by el Jimador.

Free el Jimador scarf for filling out a quick survey.

Tortilla chips and salsa

Fried Avocado Bites – lightly breaded hass avocados fried served with chipotle cream dipping sauce (Vegan)

Mushroom & Spinach Quesadilla – sautéed mushrooms, fresh spinach

Brisket Quesadilla – beef brisket, pico de gallo

Trio of guacamole, queso and fire-roasted salsa

Rotisserie Chicken Tacos served with veggie rice, queso fresco, roasted corn on corn tortillas.  Served with sautéed poblano salsa.

If you missed out on the Day of the Dead festivities this year, be sure to drop by Cocina 214 and check out their updated Happy Hour menu full of delicious new cocktails and quick bites served up with a twist.  You don’t want to miss the annual Day of the Dead event next year!

(Source credit: Cocina 214)

Cocina 214
151 E Welbourne Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 790-7997
http://cocina214.com

James and Julie Petrakis are really committed to bourbon & barbecue.   They own the popular gastropub Ravenous Pig and James Petrakis was voted Best Chef in Orlando ’17.   On April 10,  James & Julie Petrakis along with James’ brother Brian opened the doors to their newest project The Polite Pig, a fast-casual barbecue & bar joint located at Disney Springs.

James & Julie Petrakis cook book sold at The Polite Pig

James & Julie Petrakis believe that the best thing to go with barbecue is beer and bourbon so they built a bourbon bar.

Hop Salt Pretzel – with Beer Cheese Fondue and IPA Mustard

Clockwise:
The Southern Pig Sandwich – with Fennel-apple Slaw, Tangy Mustard BBQ, Duke’s Mayo, and Smoked Pork. Served with a Pickle Spear
Brisket Sandwich– with Pimento Cheese, Lil’ John’s BBQ, Picked Jalapeños and Crispy Onions. Served with a Pickle Spear
Sweet Potato Tots – with Parmesan Cheese
– Crispy Brussel Sprouts– with Whiskey-Caramel
– BBQ Cauliflower – Paprika Sour Cream
BBQ Sausage Hoagie – with IPA Mustard, Peppers and Onions, Cheddar Sauce, and Pickle Relish. Served with a Pickle Spear

This was the best meal that I have ever had at Disney Springs and I cannot wait to go back to The Polite Pig for more.  The barbecue had the perfect balance of flavors, the brussel sprouts were the best brussel sprouts I’ve ever had in my entire life, the bbq cauliflower was surprisingly good, and the sweet potato tots were crisp and seasoned just right.

Double Layer Chocolate Cake

We got to chat it up with Dick & Marti Waters, owners of Palm Ridge Reserve.  They are the suppliers of the whiskey for The Polite Pig and their distillery is an hour away north from the Polite Pig, near the Ocala National Forrest.  What makes their business so special is that they have no employees, it basically just a husband and wife team giving it their all every single day since 2009.  They produce a premium, handmade, micro-batch whiskey.  From fermentation to distillation and barreling to bottling, it’s all done by them, by hand, on their farm.

Farm to table whiskey.  They use small barrels because the sloshing in smaller barrel breaks down the whiskey faster.  Dick Marti told us that the best place in the world to make whiskey is in Florida because the humidity helps the barrel sweat from condensation.

The four grains they use to make bourbon: Florida corn, barley malt, flake dry, & rye malt


Be sure to check out The Polite Pig for some delicious bourbon & bbq soon!

The Polite Pig
1536 Buena Vista Dr, Orlando, FL 32830
(407) 938-7444
politepig.com

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MAKE YOUR EVENT UNFORGETTABLE
CUSTOM MENUS – STAFFING – EVENT RENTALS – BAR AND BEVERAGE

We were excited to be the first food blogger to be invited to check out the Cocktail Catering facility to learn more about what their catering company is all about and also enjoy a nice lunch prepared by the talented Chef Sharon.  I enjoyed everything that she prepared for us!  Really wish I had more of Chef Sharon’s steak in my life!

Appetizer – Strawberry and walnut salad
Entrée – Sirloin, Cilantro Lime Rice, Corn

Dessert – Brownie, chocolate chip cookie, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, strawberries

Food tastings are available to clients.  If you are not satisfied with your initial food tasting, you just tell them what you want to change, they will tweak it, and you come back for a second tasting.  Tastings are free.

Cocktails Catering is a “Best of Orlando” catering company for 2017 and many previous years.  They are a scratch kitchen that prepares countless dishes from Caribbean food to Indian food and everything in between.   They also take pride in their delicious signature cocktails and appetizers.  They service in Orlando, Tampa, & St. Augustine area.  From their award winning catering to their event rentals, they can help you with every detail for any event.

Linen appointments are available to help you paint a picture of your event and get your ideas flowing.  You are more than welcome to bring your own decor to your linen appointment to help visualize your table setup.  Rosetta fabrics and table runners are also available.

From galas, corporate events, quinceañeras – they do all types of events so they have a variety of plates to choose from.

Decorated television panels that play a slideshow during your event


Glamorous cake by Sprinkles Custom Cakes

They are currently running an offer of $20 off any service if you leave an initial review on Google, Wedding Wire, or The Knot and $5 off for any review after that.  They also have a booking incentive of a FREE sangaria station for your next event.

Be sure to check out Cocktails Catering soon for any of your upcoming events!

Cocktails Catering
9640 Boggy Creek Rd. #5
Orlando, FL 32824
(407) 446-2878
www.cocktailscatering.com

We were invited to the media preview of the Sunday Brunch Buffet at Mesa21 and it was an amazing “brunch with a view” experience consisting of delicious food, beautiful authentic interior and exterior design, extraordinary service, and a breathtaking view of Lake Ivanhoe with the occasional bird sightings.  I cannot wait to come back and introduce my friends to this new Sunday brunch experience.

Sunday Brunch from 11am to 3pm
$25 Adults
$20 bottomless mimosas & Bloody Maria’s
or $40 for both
$10 for 6 – 12 years old
Children under 6 years old eat FREE

Salad bar

Carvery Station: Roast beef

Fresh mixed vegetables

Mexican rice

Tortilla strips, shredded mozzarella cheese, and Mexican soup.

Fresh house made crispy corn tortilla chips

Salsa verde

Chips & Pico de Gallo – Corn tortillas served with fresh pico de Gallo, salsa verde, and salsa rancheros.

Mexican Pancakes – Fluffy pancakes & French Toast – Thick sliced brioche bread topped with powdered sugar.

Eggs a la carte – scrambled over medium, over hard, poached.

Egg Burrito – Egg & cheese.  Egg, Pico & Guacamole.  Egg & Chorizo.

Quesadilla – Crispy corn, cheese filled quesadilla with choice of salsa verde or salsa roja.  Topped with crema & quest fresco.

Taco Station – house made corn or flour tortillas with your choice of protein.

Mexican Bolillo (a traditional Mexican bread) with your choice of protein and garnishes.

Dessert Bar

Fruit Platter

Assorted Cheesecakes & Yogurt Parfait

Citrus cake

Chocolate cake

Patio bar

Mesa21
1414 N Orange Ave Orlando, FL 32804
(407) 930-8000
For the complete Sunday brunch menu, go to https://m.opentable.com/restaurants/mesa-21/menu/444037/brunch-menu/1

We were invited to a media event at a new lakefront restaurant named The Waterfront.  This American restaurant was bought in February and opened in April.  Everything is made in house except the bread.  It is important to support independent restaurants in Orlando, Florida so make sure you check them out!

Adult Swim Saturdays every Saturday in August at 2pm.


Outdoor patio with a roof to protect you from the sun or rain.  Or both.  Florida weather.



Food, brews, and views.

Chips & Pimento Dip – Salsa, Jalapeños, Corn Tortillas.  The pimento dip is prepared with pimento cheese, poblano peppers, garlic, and baked in the oven.

Wings – House Hot

Paired with the “Florida Crush” – Effen Blood Orange Vodka, Triple Sec, Fresh-Squeezed Florida Oranges, Lemon-Lime Soda

Crab Cake Sliders  – Arugula, Tomato, Pickled Red Onion, Avocado, Remoulade.  The blue crab is from Gulf of Mexico and they use the meat from its claws.

Tuna Poke Salad – Ahi Tuna, Seaweed Salad, Arugula, Romaine, Cucumber, Tomato, Radish, Avocado, Sesame Seeds, Sweet Onion Vinaigrette

Paired with the “Jennie Jewel” -Effen Cucumber Vodka, St. Germain, Fresh-Squeezed Lemon, Simple Syrup and Lime, Mint

The Waterfront Burger – Ground Chuck, Swiss, Blue Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Bacon, Arugula

French Dip – Roast Sirloin, Swiss Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Au Jus, Horseradish Mayo

Paired with the “Dixie Belle” – Jim Beam Black, Muddled Mint + Cucumber, Simple Syrup, Fresh-Squeezed Lime

Pan Roasted Catfish – Sautéed Kale, Cheddar Grits, Remoulade, Pickled Red Onion
Fried Chicken Thigh – Hot Honey, Cheddar Grits, Pickled Green Beans


Steak Frites – Pan Roasted Sirloin, Cut Fries, Blue Cheese Butter

Paired with House Red Wine – 2015 Drumheller Cabernet Sauvignon

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie  – Whipped Cream
Bread Pudding – Key Lime Syrup, Whipped Cream

Paired with a sampling of the “Margaret” – Jim Beam Vanilla, Butterscotch, Cocoa, Licor 43, Irish Cream

The Waterfront
4201 South Orange Ave
Orlando, Florida, FL 32806
(407) 866-0468
@TheWaterfront

This new, exclusive, and interactive bourbon pairing dinner takes fine dining to a whole new level.

The Capital Grille, a fine dining American restaurant, recently hosted an exclusive, interactive, and educational bourbon pairing dinner with Buffalo Trace at their Millenia Mall location in Orlando, Florida.  We were invited for a media preview and was highly impressed with what the culinary staff, bar team, and Buffalo Trace representative brought to the table.  Here are some scenes from our flawless five-star dinner.  The Capital Grille will be having more special dinners like this in the weeks and months to come so be sure to contact them soon about the next one happening in October!

First Course
Authentic A5 Wagyu Carpaccio
Chive Oil, Sea Salt – The highest premium cut of steak.


Eagle Rare 10 Year – This whiskey is masterfully crafted and carefully aged for no less than ten years.  This drink contains complex aromas of herbs, honey, hints of orange peel, leather, toffee, and oak with a bold and dry finish.


Assorted Breads


Second Course
Seared Scallop and Foie Gras, Sherry Vinaigrette
Wild Mushroom Sauté


Buffalo Trace Bourbon – The Capital Grille culinary & bar team’s take on the Manhattan.  This drink is strong, aromatic, and not much is added to it to keep it pure and simple.


Third Course

Berkshire Pork BBQ with Charred Vidalia Onion
And Caramelized Peach Glaze
Late Summer Succotash


E. H. Taylor Bourbon


Fourth Course

Dry Aged Sirloin, Roasted Bone Marrow
And Short Rib Ragout
Shaved Summer Truffle, Asparagus, Cabernet Reduction – 35 day aged sirloin.


Blanton’s Bourbon and Blanton’s Infusion with figs, blackberries, and thyme.

Dessert
Spiked Root Beer Float
Bourbon Cream
Taste: sweet, vanilla, bubbly soda, and then bourbon.

Be sure to check out The Capital Grille – Millenia Mall soon.  They plan on making these special dinners a regular occurrence featuring different spirits & wine in the future.  Cheers!

The Capital Grille – Millenia Mall
4200 Conroy Road, Orlando, FL 32839
Phone: (407) 351-2210
http://www.thecapitalgrille.com

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Itta Bena a new speakeasy style restaurant on the second floor of Pointe Orlando,  named after a small town in Mississippi,  hometown for notable blues legends such as B.B King and Smoky Babe.

Itta Bena has a classy yet relaxed feel to it, where upon entering you are welcomed by the soothing notes of the piano and warm lighting.

We were invited and had dinner with owner of Itta Bena (as well as B.B King’s and Lafayette’s which are located on the same floor as Itta Bena) Tommy Peters.

Tommy was very insightful and talked to us about his vision of the experience, as well as guided us through each course through the night.

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Caesar Salad

We started the night off with the Caesar Salad – note I am a sucker for Caesar Salad.

I like to consider myself a caesar salad connoisseur and this was indeed a really good salad. The cheese, dressing, and croutons all put together in perfect equilibrium, it definitely prepared my stomach for the numerous glasses of wine I graciously finished that night.

Abita BBQ Shrimp
Abita BBQ Shrimp

Next on deck was the Abita BBQ Shrimp, a New Orleans (Nawlins) inspired dish with jumbo shrimp in a caramelized sauce with Abita bread (beer bread!).

The dish was hearty, and it was quite obvious that this was some good ol southern soul food as I quickly devoured this dish and was not sure if I would be able to make it through the rest of the night.

Grilled Salmon Filet
Grilled Salmon Filet

On to the main dish! I had the Grilled Salmon, with wild rice pilaf, grilled salmon topped with a lemon caper cream and green beans.

The dish was excellent – besides being a sucker for caesar salads, I love seafood and the lemon caper cream with its slight notes of zest brought out the fish which melted in my mouth.

Mixed together with the rice pilaf and you have an amazing dish, and the understanding of each ingredient working together in unison is apparent. Like the Abita BBQ Shrimp, I licked this plate clean, and I really wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish dessert at this point, mainly because I was being fed my dining companion’s food items that they could not finish!

Vanilla Bean Creme Brule
Vanilla Bean Creme Brule

I mustered the strength and found my second wind for dessert.

I’ve mentioned before that I am not a big dessert person, but I do enjoy my creme brule. Flaky, creamy, and delightful this dish brought the final touches to the night and satisfied my appetite.

If you’re in the area I recommend you stop by here for dinner, it’d be a nice date place, very romantic atmosphere and fantastic dishes, and while you’re at it stop by B.B Kings and Lafayette’s we went there with Tommy Peters afterwards and he showed us around, an excellent place to watch live bands with great talent!

Check them out!

Itta Bena
Address: 9101 International Dr #2210, Orlando, FL 32819
Phone:(407) 757-2910
http://ittabenadining.com/orlando/

In preparation for National Beer Day, I was invited to enjoy some grub and friendly conversation at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill in Orlando’s Artegon Marketplace.

The restaurant is known for its trademark 95-foot guitar-shaped bar, a stage for live country music concerts, Whiskey Girls, beer in mason jars, and a VIP “gazebo” for private parties as well as their smokin’ meals, entertainment and hospitality.

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At Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, they like to make everything on location and in-house. This means that they make their own pasta, smoke their own meats and cheese, create their own sauces, etc fresh right in the kitchen.

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We started with Slow Roasted Pulled Pork Sliders with country slaw and crispy onion strings on the side. The sliders were easy to bite into and may leave some of its tasteful yet lightly sweet BBQ flavor on your taste buds. The coleslaw stacked on the pulled pork balances the sweetness of the BBQ sauce. The subtly spiced onion strings were crunchy, but dense because it isn’t similar to large strips of onions smothered in batter before being deep-fried.

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Toby’s Wings can be made with Traditional, Honey Gold, or Savory Dry Rub sauces/seasonings. They can be traditional or boneless and are served with Served with celery, carrot, and ranch or bleu cheese. Our Honey Gold Toby’s Boneless Wings were sweet, but were a little spicy from cayenne and chipotle mixed into the mustard-based sauce. These wings aren’t drowned in sauce and just how I liked them.

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The beer served with the sliders and wings was Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale 6.5% ABV made by Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, CO. It has a hoppy note and is assertive but balanced flavors of pale malts and citrusy floral hops from start to finish. I normally don’t drink pale ales, but if I did, this would be the one I sip on when out and about with friends! It is super light and smooth to the palate.

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The American Soldier Burger is one of Toby’s classics. It is fire-grilled and topped with American cheese. It is free for active military with ID. The burger can be made to your liking (ie well-done, medium, rare, etc). It’s a nice item to have when you’re in the mood for a quick and easy bite. It was served with fries cut and made fresh with every meal, which you can tell once you bite into them.

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From the smoker, guests can choose one meat, two meats or three meats.

The Meats: pulled pork, beef brisket, baby back ribs (1/2), smoked turkey breast, spicy sausage links, smoked pulled chicken. At the event, we were served baby back ribs and they were smoked in one of the largest smokers on International Dr. in Orlando, FL. The meat was covered in a mellow sweet BBQ sauce, but the sweetness doesn’t overpower the taste of it being smoked. The meat is mostly lean and falls off the bone really easily.

The baby back ribs were served with creamy coleslaw, sweet potato tots, calico baked beans, and creamy mac & cheese.

  • The mac & cheese had a lot of cheese, stringy and topped with basil. The noodles were super soft.
  • The coleslaw was refreshing and cool compared to the other warm sides and dishes served.
  • The calico baked beans were made with bourbon. These weren’t bad, but wouldn’t be one of my choices for a side.
  • Last but not least, the sweet potato tots! These were fabulous and my favorite. The outside was crunchy, while the interior was very smooth and velvety.

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The entrees were paired with Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial/Double IPA 9% ABV made by Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware. 90 Minute has a great malt backbone that stands up to the extreme hopping rate and packs a punch. The first beer Dogfish Head continuously hopped, allowing for a pungent, but not crushing, hop flavor.

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For dessert, we decided to split two delicious sweets. The Hot Caramel Apple Tart is an American classic made with Granny Smith apples, salted caramel, cinnamon and a hint of brown sugar. This was another favorite of mine to have at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill. Let’s just say that I’d order this every time I visit although it could a bit more ice cream.

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A popular item of Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill is the Deep Fried Strawberry Twinkie “Shortcake”. The Famous Hostess Twinkie is deep-fried and served warm with a berry sauce and sprinkled with sweet powdered sugar. For us, the sweet berry sauce was replaced with chocolate and caramel. This isn’t my favorite because it is super sweet, but now I can see why everyone likes Twinkies so much, especially when they’re fried because I was able to share my first Twinkie experience with Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill.

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Before we finished up the evening, we were introduced to the American Girl Cocktail, which requires 1oz Wave Blue Raspberry Vodka, 0.5oz Blue Curacao, 0.5oz Grenadine, and ½ a bottle of Smirnoff Ice. This can be a nice pink drink for anyone who needs a light social drink.

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Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill is open

  • Sunday – Wednesday – 11am – midnight (kitchen open until 10pm)
  • Thursday – Saturday – 11am – 2am (Kitchen open Fri-Sat until 11pm)

Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Father’s Day Pairing Guide

Don’t Forget The Wine!

Father’s Day is around the corner. If you haven’t picked out something special for good ol’ dad, don’t sweat it – we have a few recommendations to make this Father’s Day extra special. For those of you who were triumphant in braving the Orlando shops and malls to find that perfect gift, we’d like to remind you that no gift is complete without wine. If you got him chocolate – get him wine! If you’re taking him out to dinner – get him wine! Is he receiving a beautiful white dress shirt? Again, get that man some wine – STAT. To showcase which wines pair beautifully with our Father’s Day foodie picks, we interviewed wine expert, Roger Beery of Bacchus & Beery.

After surveying a total of 81 dads across the nation and figuring out what they really want for Father’s Day, Roger Beery and I discussed which wines pair exquisitely with these top picks.

Dark Chocolate

For the dad with the sweet tooth, we recommend dark chocolate from Peterbrooke Chocolatier on Park Avenue. Their Dark Chocolate will pair beautifully with a Cabernet Sauvignon. Why? Roger recommends this variety because the tannins in wine can accentuate the slight bitterness found in dark chocolate. He suggests pairing dark chocolate with a Vintage Port – it’ll put a smile on dad’s chocolate covered face.

peterbrooke

Photo Credit: Unique Michael

 

Marshmallows

For the classy dads out there, we recommend Wondermade’s Gold Champagne Marshmallows. What’s so special about these bites? They are capped with 24 karat gold! Roger recommends pairing these beauties with sparkling wine or champagne, as the bubbles will help to balance the gooey deliciousness of the gourmet marshmallow. He specifically suggests a brut style sparkler from J vineyards or Mumm Napa Valley. 

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Photo Credit: Wondermade 

 

Steak

Let’s face it. A hungry dad is not a happy dad. A majority of dads will order a steak on Father’s Day – a Porterhouse Steak to be exact. As agreed with Roger, a great steak calls for a great Cabernet Sauvignon. Why? Roger recommends this variety because the tannins and red fruit are made to pair with the juicy cut. He even recommends taking the extra step and ordering a unique small production Cabernet directly from the winery: Dunn Vineyards, Alpha Omega Winery, Corison Winery, or John Anthony Vineyards to impress. For local picks, he recommends Jordan Winery, Caymus Winery, and Shafer Vineyards, as they are consistent Cabernet standouts.

Steak

Photo Credit: Allen Brothers  

 

Shrimp & Grits 

Taking dad out for a nice lunch? We recommend the Shrimp & Grits at Marlow’s Tavern. Why? White Cheddar Grit Cake, Spinach, Roma Tomato, Shallot and Roast Tomato Beurre Blanc all combine together to create a flavorful experience. Roger recommends pairing this delicious dish with a dry rose’, as it is not your grandmother’s sweet white Zinfandel. Dry rose’s are crisp, refreshing and less sweeter. Pour dad a glass of manly rose’ of Pinor Noir such as Belle Glos or Copain.

Shrimp

Photo Credit: Unique Michael 

 

Blue Cheese

It’s okay to be cheesy this Father’s Day – just don’t forget the wine! Blue Cheese is a popular choice and is often given to dads who are cheese connoisseurs. They can be salty and pungent, making wine pairing tricky. Roger recommends pairing Blue Cheese with a sweet or dessert wine such as a Sauterne or Late Harvest Riesling. If your dad doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, Roger recommends Smith Madrone Dry Riesling (Napa) or Chateau Ste. Michelle. We also wholeheartedly recommend Michelle Riesling (Washington) for its hint of sweetness.

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Photo Credit: Cornucopia Cheese 

 

 

 

About Roger Beery  

Roger and Donna Beery began writing Bacchus and Beery Wine Blog in 2009 as a way to express their mutual love of boutique wines, winemakers and wine country. What began as a little hobby has grown into one of the most widely read wine blogs. Today Bacchus and Beery focuses on wine travel, winemaker interviews and wine reviews. In the Fall of 2014 with their son, Conch, a winemaker in Sonoma, they will make their first wines for their new, yet to be named, wine label. As Roger said, “it’s time for the writer to get a little dirty in the winery.”

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Olive Garden consists of 800 restaurants inspired by the foods and wines of Italy. They’re known for their warmth and caring family of hosts, waiters and waitresses. On April 9th, I was able to experience their warmth and was treated as family when I paid a visit after hearing rumors of a new menu for 2014.

Although the people of Olive Garden were great, I can’t say the same about all of the new food menu – some were hits, and some were real misses. The lighting was also very dim, which provided a nice relaxing atmosphere to enjoy after a long day of work. However, I have a feeling that the dim lighting was also to conceal how the food was not presentable and didn’t make me say: “YES! I’m excited to try this!”

THE BEST

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The dinner menu features a number of things and started out well with the greatly known breadsticks that were moist, warm and full of flavor!

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Polenta Shrimp alla Greca was nicely presented with a refreshing taste. The shrimp were made just right, but make sure you take the tail off before consuming.

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The Spicy Calabrian Wings were my favorite dish of the evening! It was zesty and just to my liking! I could eat this all day. Note: if you are sensitive to hot and spicy food, you may want to take your time and test one before ordering a large number.

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The Crispy Risotto Bites consisted of a dense and creamy risotto with bits of mozzarella fried to have a crunchy outer shell to provide a nice contrast to the texture.

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As you enjoy your appetizers, you can get your hands on a Peach Bellini frozen cocktail consisting of a blend of Zonin Prosecco and fresh peaches. This cocktail is nice to have on a hot day and is one of my favorites.

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If you’re not in the mood for a frozen cocktail, maybe you can try a Strawberry-Limoncello Martini. This martini consists of Smirnoff Citrus Vodka, Caravella Limoncello and strawberries. This drink has a strong alcohol taste, but it is minimized a tad with the help of fresh strawberries.

THE REST

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The Antipasti Italian Meats and Cheese had a mixture of vegetables, meats and cheese that is usually served in Italy. From a healthy standpoint, you may pass on this, as the vegetables present won’t provide much nutrition and the deli meat toppers will probably raise your sodium levels and cholesterol. The dish came as seen in the photo and seem as though it was put together in a hurry and cut right out of their individual packaging.

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The Roasted Tomato Caprese is a lighter salad. I like this better than the Antipasti Italian Meats and Cheese. The kale is crunchy, the salad is colorful and the mozzarella bites are a delight. Each vegetable provided a different texture and different taste to your palate. The roasted tomatoes were scarce and those that were found were bitter. The dressing they used for this salad was the same for the other salad; both had Italian dressing.

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Smashed Chicken Meatball Sandwich

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The Smashed Chicken Meatball Sandwich is nicely presented with a side of fries with a garlic seasoning sprinkled on top. The sandwich had fluffy buns that were rich in flavor. The chicken patty itself did not have a texture you’d imagine chicken to have as though it was over-processed and synthetic. The fries were limp and cold to eat.

The “Cucina Mia” section will allow you to create your own entrée out of six different pastas and five different sauces. Although they say the sauces are “made-from-scratch”, they tasted like any other sauce you can buy in your local grocery store at any brand.

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The Large Paccheri with Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato and Chicken Meatballs was bland, had only a hint of sauce and had what it said in the name: a single, small “sun-dried tomato”.

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When taken apart, the meatball doesn’t look appealing; its taste wasn’t pleasant either and reminded me of the texture of cat food. The large paccheri were rolled up tight or suctioned together to one another. The “creamy” sauce noted on the menu description didn’t exist. It was more of a drop of sauce given that didn’t even provide emollient between the paccheri.

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All I have to say about the Vegetable Penne Primavera is that it is very bland, maybe more than Chef Boyardee from the can.

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The Chicken Abruzzi was nicely presented and can be greatly paired with a Pinot Grigio or any white wine. I like the Pinot Grigio because of how smooth it is and is easy on the taste.

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The Pappardelle Pescatore consisted of fresh seafood and asparagus. Yet, that doesn’t make up for how watery and flavorless the sauce and pappardelle was.

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The Chicken Primavera with Giant Fusilli was overpowered by a heavy hand of basil. Other than that, it did not have much flavor. Although the lightness demonstrates “Leggeri,” which means “lighter Italian fare,” the moist chicken tasted very gelatinous.

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The Wild Berry Layer Cake was very refreshing and moist. I believe the actual cake was soaked into sweet milk and reminded me of the Tres Leches cake that can be traced back to Central America and Mexico. If you have a major sweet tooth, you can try this cake!

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The Caffè Mocha Latte (above) and Caramel Hazelnut Macchiato (not shown) were very watery and did not have very much coffee inside.

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To have any hint of coffee/espresso/caffeine, Lavazza Espresso was added. Each specialty coffee was paired with sweet biscotti that I like with or without the coffee.

All in all, the new menu is a great effort from the Olive Garden, however it falls far short of its goal. The best dish to get would be the spicy calabrian wings.

Olive Garden on Urbanspoon

Located in the heart of Orlando’s Downtown Arts District, the Grand Bohemian is an artistic boutique hotel designed to inspire unforgettable experiences.  Also a member to The Kessler Collection portfolio, each hotel’s art, music, and cultural influences are personally acquired for that hotel by the Kessler family.

I had the opportunity to take a group tour to explore the hotel and view the Kessler Collection Signature Grand Bohemian Gallery celebrating the work of French artist, Jean Claude Roy.  The last stop on our tour ended at the hotel’s restaurant located on the first floor named, “The Boheme”.

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Our group received a five course meal prepared by Executive Chef Laurent Hollaender from northeastern France.  Chef Hollander’s execution in all his dishes surpassed expectations, and the group dinner was filled with good conversation and good company.

Chef Hollaender’s style of cooking consists of Italian influences finished with a touch of elegance.  Chef Hollaender’s dishes are a true work of art as they are not only visually appealing but quite satisfying on the lips.  His dishes were in fact impressive.

Be aware that the menu at The Boheme changes every month, so make sure to check out the menu regularly.

Get in my belly.

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Amuse Bouche: TATARE DE SAUMON ET SA COURONNE DE CONCOMBRE
Salmon Tarate served in a Cucumber Crown and Quail Egg
Eating directions: Pour quail over salmon and stir in blackened salt to taste.
Choice of Wine – Cremant Brut Rose, Lucien Albrecht
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Hors d’oeuvre: PINCETTE DE FOIE GRAS ET CANARD FUME
Duck Foie Gras Terrine, Smoked Duck Breast, Toasted Brioche Beets and Carrot Chutney
Choice of Wine – Gewürztraminer, Trimbach
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Poisson: RAVIOLE GEANTE DE FRUIT DE MER
Lobster, Sea Bass and Mussels Ravioli with Onion Compote White Wine Butter Sauce and Lobster Reduction
So smooth and creamy. It tasted like heaven on Earth. If this is what heaven tastes like, I’m ready for my afterlife.
Choice of Wine – Pouilly-Fuisse, Louis Jadot
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Viande: PETIT FILET MIGNON AU MORILLES ET CHANTERELLES
Grilled Petit Filet Mignonette with Morels and Chanterelles Sauce Pommes Anna, Fall Vegetables
Choice of Wine – CIGALUS, Gerard Bertrand
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According to the Grand Bohemian staff, this wine “can’t compete with any other wine in the world.”
Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) and Merlot (50%)
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Dessert: TARTE MOELLUSE AU CHOCOLATE ET CRIOTTES Marinated Cherries in Brandy from Sarlat, Valrhona Chocolate Hanache, French Vanilla Ice Cream. The design of this dish was inspired by French artist Jean Claude Roy, who joined our table for dessert. Choice of Wine- Banylus, Chapoutier
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Menu signed by Jean Claude Roy

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After dinner, the staff at Grand Bohemian generously gifted each of us with a portrait made of chocolate that was painted by Jean Claude Roy himself. Although it is edible, but it’s too pretty to eat. For now I will keep this chocolate portrait framed on my wall.

You are what you eat. After this dinner, I would consider myself elegant.

Photos taken by Krystle Nguyen with the Nikon D5000 DSLR

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Eternal Tap can be a little hard to find and very easy to miss, just back of Hamburger Mary’s parallel to the railroad tracks in downtown Orlando. Probably better known for its beer and whiskey cocktails, Eternal Tap has a lot of potential, especially with the space inside the Church Street Station, but is in need of improvement in several areas. The best thing to get here really are the beer cocktails and the unique drinks.

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The food department is in need of a lot of work, especially in regards to sourcing of ingredients and preparation. Although service was very friendly, timing and coordination with the kitchen also needs improvement.

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The place is quite gorgeous, with old brick settings from the Church Street Station motif, but maybe a little bit too bright

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Below the main area, a small almost speakeasy type bar area is available for small parties.

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A scene of monks preparing barrels of libations

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Nutty Rum Runner – Rogue hazelnut rum, banana liqeur, splash of soda, fresh pineapple juice, fresh orange juice

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The pizza was probably the best food item here, as the Full Barrel pizza with pepperoni, ham, mushroom, onion and green pepper was actually quite delicious. The cheese and the ingredients went well together, though ultimately I wished the crust had a bit more flavor to it.

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A bit chewy and a bit too fatty, the chicken wings reminded me a bit too much of the frozen wings in the little red bags at the grocery store. I would not recommend the wings at this time.

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The pretzels here also can easily be passed over, reminiscent of the pretzels served at the concession stand at the Amway Arena – rather flavorless and uninspired, despite the layers of parmesan cheese on top.

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I really hope that Eternal Tap is able to turn around in their food department, or maybe cut back on the poorer quality items and focus on what is best here: the drinks at the bar.

 

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Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine region of Germany made of an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are usually varietally pure and are seldom oaked and in terms of importance for quality wines, it is usually included in the “top three” white wine varieties together with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

In the late nineteenth century German immigrants brought with them Riesling vines, named Johannisberg Riesling to qualify them as “legitimate” German Riesling. New York, particularly in the Finger Lakes region, was one of the earliest U.S. producers of Riesling. Plantings started to appear in California by 1857 and followed in Washington State in 1871.

The grape is currently on the rise in Washington State but on the decline in neighboring Oregon. Riesling from this area ranges from dry to sweet, and has a crisp lightness that bodes well for easy drinking. Often there will be an easily detectable peach and mineral complex. Some Washington State winemakers, such as Chateau Ste. Michelle, are adapting German-style Riesling production methods, and even partnering with well-known German vintners like Dr. Ernest Loosen to create specialty wines such as the Eroica Riesling. With annual productions of over 600,000 cases a year, Chateau Ste. Michelle is the worldwide leader in the production of Riesling wines by volume.

Summertime is coming and the warm weather is one of many great reasons to enjoy delicious Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling. The noble Riesling grape is unique among all varietals for its unsurpassed versatility. And Chateau Ste. Michelle brings Riesling to a very high level, serving beautifully both as a refreshing sipping wine and as a phenomenal complement to an almost endless range of foods. That’s because this varietal delivers a rush of fresh, yet complex fruit notes balanced by a crisp acidity.

Chateau Ste. Michelle winery was among the first to plant Riesling in Washington state more than 40 years ago, and continues to champion the grape to this day; helping to usher in its recent rise in popularity. Wine connoisseurs around the world are currently enjoying a “Riesling Renaissance” with Chateau Ste. Michelle producing the #1 selling Riesling in America. Riesling is more than just sweet – the varietal offers styles for every meal, with a natural balance of acidity and sugar, lightness of alcohol, and fruit-forward flavors.

Riesling is great as a sipping wine on its own, but its versatility is what makes it the perfect food wine. From tapas and appetizers to fish or poultry, and almost anything in between, Chateau Ste. Michelle has you covered making every meal special. Try it with hearty mains (like dishes with chili-laced sauces and spicy marinades), sides such as roasted root vegetables, or fresh oysters and appetizers of cured meats and cheeses. The choice of Riesling styles makes them capable of bringing out the best in every menu, including the spice and zest of Asian, Mexican, Indian and more.

Check out this awesome tool that you can use to find out what your food pairs with what wine.

CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE RIESLING STYLES


Dry Riesling
The Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling is a crisp, dry and refreshing style of Riesling. It exhibits fresh flavors of white peach and mandarin orange, and ends with a clean f nish. This is an incredibly versatile food wine and my favorite with oysters. – BOB BERTHEAU, WINEMAKER


Columbia Valley Riesling
“Our Columbia Valley Riesling is a blend of Riesling from throughout Washington’s Columbia Valley. We craft it to be a refreshing, off-dry Riesling vintage after vintage. The wine delivers sweet lime and peach character with subtle mineral notes. This is our “any day Riesling” that is a pleasure to drink and easy to match with a variety of foods.” – BOB BERTHEAU, HEAD WINEMAKER


Harvest Select Sweet Riesling
“Our Harvest Select Riesling is made in a slightly sweeter style than our ‘Columbia Valley Riesling’ but still shows the elements of classic Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling. It offers beautiful crisp Washington Riesling character with rich flavors of ripe pears and peaches. The fresh fruit punch and richness is balanced with crisp acidity to keep the wine in harmony. This is a perfect patio sipping wine or would be a great match with Thai food.” – BOB BERTHEAU, HEAD WINEMAKER

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