alcohol

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 Menu
$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
11am to 3pm

Patio bar

Salad bar

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

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

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.

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

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

Dessert Bar

Fruit Platter

Assorted Cheesecakes & Yogurt Parfait

Citrus cake

Chocolate cake

For the complete Sunday brunch menu, go to https://m.opentable.com/restaurants/mesa-21/menu/444037/brunch-menu/1

Mesa21
1414 N Orange Ave
Orlando, FL 32804
Call to make a reservation: (407) 930-8000

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.

Bar

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. 

gold

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.

cheese

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

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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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