alcohol

Seafood Tower – King crab, jumbo Gulf shrimp, oysters, crab ceviche, Ahi tuna poke

We were invited to Paddlefish to celebrate their most recent accomplishment of being voted “Best Seafood Restaurant” by Orlando Magazine’s 2018 Dining Awards.  We enjoyed indulging in a delicious 5-course wine pairing dinner showcasing “Best of Paddlefish” dishes amid the rooftop of their luxurious steamboat.  Tickets to the sold out event was $115 per person.  Paddlefish offers fresh and delicious seafood dishes, exceptional architecture and decor, an attentive and friendly staff, and the most gorgeous view that you will ever get from any establishment on Disney Springs property.

Executive Chef Steve Richards welcoming guest at the Best of Paddlefish dinner.

Mini Maine Lobster Roll

Lobster & Corn Chowder 

Our wonderful sommelier of the evening.

August Kessler, Riesling, Germany

Sea Scallop – cauliflower puree, crispy Brussels sprouts

Cider Braised Veal Cheeks – parsnip puree

Dessert Trio – key lime pie, flourless chocolate cake, strawberry cheesecake

June Specials:

  • Paddlefish will be hosting wine tastings the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month through September.  Their in-house Sommelier team will lead these tastings on the rooftop deck and wine flights will be served with light bites and tastings.  Guests must be 21+ to attend.  Tickets and additional details can be found here.
  • Celebrate National Vanilla Milkshake Day on Wednesday, June 20, at Paddlefish!  Paddlefish will be offering their famous vanilla brownie milkshake for just $5 all day long!
  • Now through June 30, guests can enjoy a bottle of rose and half a dozen oysters for only $40, only available on the third deck.

Be sure to check out the June specials at Paddlefish soon!  It’s a fun filled month at Paddlefish that you won’t want to miss!

(Source credit: Paddlefish)

Paddlefish at Disney Springs
1670 Buena Vista Dr.  Lake Buena Vista, FL
(407) 934-2628
paddlefishrestaurant.com

A significant number of travelers desire a unique and delicious culinary experience while on vacation. Because of this, we are incredibly excited to announce Reunion Resort’s “Taste Of Eleven” menu where guests can experience a taste of Eleven from Monday through Thursday, from 5:30pm – 7pm.  Choose an appetizer, entree and dessert for only $29 per person (plus tax and gratuity).  This special menu is the perfect way to explore the restaurant’s food and breathtaking views at an amazing value.

Eleven is located on the 11th floor of Reunion Resort.  Views of the Magic Kingdom and Epcot fireworks are available nightly from the restaurant.

My mom & I in the resort lobby.

The clean and spacious bar.

Breathtaking landscape views from the restaurant’s dining area.

Glass doors provide access to the resort’s rooftop pool.


Complimentary Bread & Butter

Crispy Calamari – Chorizo, Pickled Chiles, Broiled Lime

Sherried Onion Soup – Gruyere, Sourdough Crostini

Baseball Sirloin – Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus

Cedar Planked Salmon

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée – Fresh Seasonal Fruit Compote

Raspberry Cheesecake – Garden Berry Coulis

Eleven is a very nice restaurant with good food and a beautiful rooftop view.  The manager Kyle and our lovely server Raquel treated us like rock stars.  Be sure to check their “Taste of Eleven” menu from Monday through Thursday, from 5:30pm – 7pm!

(Source credit: Eleven)

Eleven
7593 Gathering Dr, Kissimmee, FL 34747
(407) 396-5290
reunionresort.com/dine/eleven

I had the honor of tasting nine different sakes from distilleries all over Japan. The tasting was hosted by the Consulate-General of Japan in Miami and UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.  

Douglas Mueller, owner of a Japanese cafe and grocery store in Jacksonville, led the tasting. Mueller claims to have gained his experience from traveling through Asia. He has picked up a lot of knowledge from the locals who live there. Sake will differ in taste depending on what region of Japan you are in. The beverage usually has an alcoholic content of 14-17 percent. Since sake is made out of rice, the grains are milled to a certain degree.

He began by saying sake was served from a whole range of temperatures. You cold drink it either hot or cold. The temperature will affect the taste. Drinking it hot will give a rounder taste. However for premium sake, it is normally served slightly chilled. There were two grades of premium sake; Ginjo and Daiginjo. The grains for Ginjo sake are 40 percent milled away and it is considered to be “super premium sake”. Daiginjo is at least 50 percent milled away and is classified as “ultra premium sake”.

 

Mueller describes these as the “Nine great sakes of Japan”.

 

 

 

 

  1. ) Junamai Daiginjyo

milled to 23 percent, alcohol content is 16 percent by volume, serving temp is 50-50 degrees fahrenheit.

 

2.) Junmai Daiginjyo

milled to 35 percent, alcohol content is 16 percent by volume, serving temp is 41 degrees fahrenheit.

3.) Junmai Daishinsyu

Milled to 38 percent, alcohol content is seven percent by volume, serving temp is 50 degrees fahrenheit.

4.) Episode

Milled to 40/50 percent, alcohol content is 16 percent by volume, serving temp is 50-59 degrees fahrenheit.

5.) Aizu Homare

Milled to 40/50 percent, alcohol content is 16 percent by volume, serving temp is 41-50 degrees fahrenheit.

6.) Kiddo

Milled to 45 percent, alcohol content is 15 percent by volume, serving temp is 41 degrees fahrenheit.

7.) Karaku

Milled to 50 percent, alcohol content is 15 percent by volume, serving temp is 50-59 degrees fahrenheit

8.) Mizubasho Pure

Millled (n/a), alcoholic content is 13 percent by volume, serving temp is 41-46 fahrenheit.

9.) Kishu Umeshu

Milled (n/a), alcoholic content is 20 percent by volume, The brewing begins the day the plums are picked, that’s why there is no milling.

According to Lexi Grant from Pierson Grant “the ultimate goal is for sake to become a staple of Orlando’s restaurant, catering and hospitality industry, allowing both residents and visitors to experience sake and Japanese culture in Orlando”.  

 

32 local brewers came together at the Central Florida Top Brewer Festival on May 17. All of the brewers had to draw four ingredients out of a hat to come up with a beer. They chose a one grain, one hop and two other random ingredients. Each brewer got a chance to show their creativity. Guests were given three beer caps and chose their top three brewers by giving them one of their caps. At the end, the attendees and the judges score come up with an overall score that determines the winning beer. “We quickly determined that we were making a brown ale, more of a dessert style because we wanted to insert some caramel malts in there,” states Josh Greenberg, co-owner of Wolf Branch Brewing. Greenberg goes on to say they partnered with The Glass Knife which is a dessert shop located in Winter Park, Florida.

They wanted to partner with someone in the community who did exceptional dessert pairing. The Glass Knifes’ Executive Chef, Stuart Whitfield, decided to put together a small tart dessert. The center of the tart contained lemon boysenberry cream.

The winner of the competition was Intracoastal Brewing Company. Their competing beer was called “Rip Current”. It contained biscuit, comet, elderberries and oak chips. According to Intracoastal, their beer was “brewed with lactose then fermented on huge amounts of black currants and elderberries with a touch of vanilla beans and American oak chips”. Rip Current was actually my favorite beer out of all the ones I tasted. Its unique red color led into an almost sour taste which worked well for this beer.

“We definitely wanna continue this festival. We wanted to collab with bloggers, restaurants… just any local business that’s gonna be able to be highlighted for the creativity and awesomeness,” said Oscar Bowen, co-founder of the Central Florida Top Brewer Beer Festival.

Sharing some of the other beers I tasted…here is the “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” by Bowigens Beer Company. The ingredients are, (as stated by Bowigens), “red x, cascade- cryo hop, tomato, dandelion root”. The style is Bloody Mary Gose.

Here is the “Candyman, Candyman, Candyman” by Deadly Sins Brewing. According to Deadly Sins, their ingredients are “Munich, Newport, jellybeans and limes.

Here is the “Peep This MF!” by Hood’s Up Brewery. They state their ingredients to be, “flaked wheat, centennial, watermelon and marshmallow peeps”.

Bowen says they would like to have at least 80 vendors at the next festival. He would also like to make it an annual fest. 

With fellow media guest Andi Perez, Yelp’s community director, in the private dining room. 

The Citrus Club is one of Orlando’s best kept, most exclusive secrets.  Citrus Club is an elite, membership-only, private business-networking club on the 18th floor of the BB&T building in Downtown Orlando, across from the Grand Bohemian Hotel..  I had the pleasure of being the first to preview and taste their new seasonal menu during an exclusive media dinner.  Our fantastic 10-course meal was made so delightful and fulfilling thanks to Executive Chef Relner Drygala and his amazing culinary team, General Manager Jeff Jump, Social Media Relations Allie Otterbacher, and the awesome staff.

Social Media Relations Allie Otterbacher preparing to host the media dinner.

The space is clean and impeccably designed.

Citrus Club offers amazing food with amazing views.

General Manager Jeff Jump welcomes media guests.

Executive Chef Relner Drygala goes over the new menu.

Avocado Crab Salad – Avocado stuffed with lump crab salad, served on balsamic field greens.  It was delicious!

Ahi Tuna Tartar – Avocado, red onion, cilantro, pickled ginger seaweed salad, yuzu emulsion, finished with sweet soy and wonton crisp.  I was very impressed with the presentation and taste of this appetizer!

Baked Chèvre – Red wine balsamic, marinara, fresh pesto and crostini.  It was delicious!

Chipotle Bourbon Glazed Salmon – Prima Donna Gouda grit cake, sautéed Swiss chard.  Great tasting salmon.  I was not a fan of grits until I had their Prima Donna Gouda grit cake, it seriously changed my life!

Pan Seared Scallops – Red pepper and spinach, parsnip potato puree, orange carrot butter sauce.  Beautifully executed and prepared scallops.

Asian Noodles Tofu Bowl (vegan) – Stir-fried vegetables, rice vermicelli, tofu, lemon ginger broth, bean sprouts and basil

Bone-in Chicken Breast – Spinach and mushrooms tossed with hand-made sweet potato gnocchi, sage sundried tomato pesto.  This was my first time having sweet potato gnocchi and I feel like I have been missing out on sweet potato gnocchi my entire life!

Rosemary Crusted Lamb Rack – Truffle potato foam, asparagus, red wine demi glace

Chocolate Cake – Dark chocolate mousse with salted Dulce de leche ganache center, rich chocolate cake and caramelized-cocoa nib toffee.  Perfect for chocolate lovers!

Baileys White Chocolate Cheesecake – Baileys cheesecake with a chocolate salted cookie crust topped with mascarpone mousse.  It was delicious!

Citrus Club
255 S Orange Ave Suite 1800, Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 843-1080
clubcorp.com/Clubs/Citrus-Club

When you combine excellent tasting beer from Orlando Brewing, with the delicious, farm-to-table food of American Kitchen Bar & Grill and Chef Venoy Rogers III, what do you get? A perfect pairing! We were invited to the American Kitchen Bar & Grill, located inside of the B Resort & Spa, for a special preview of the restaurant’s Tap Takeover. Beginning this Friday, May 25th, American Kitchen embarks on a new and exciting partnership with Orlando Brewing, “the only U.S.D.A. certified organic brewery east of Colorado”. The restaurant will now serve some of Orlando Brewing’s most popular beers on tap, while also incorporating the beer in a few new dishes. I had the fantastic, and most appreciated, opportunity to sample these dishes and beer a few nights ago, and now…I’m ready for the main event on Friday night! American Kitchen is hosting an open house with special drinks and menu items, plus, giveaways and raffle prizes. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I could sure use a spa treatment from Aveda Spa, located inside the B Resort. A spa gift certificate is only one of the terrific raffle prizes to be awarded on Friday night.

My night at the Tap Takeover Preview was only made better when I got the chance to meet and speak with Chef Venoy. Before coming to American Kitchen, Chef Venoy was the Executive Chef of Essensia restaurant, located inside the Palms Hotel & Spa in Miami. A San Diego native, Chef Venoy’s experience in the culinary world is expansive, but he always stays true to using fresh, local, farm-to-table ingredients in his menu. American Kitchen offers a variety of these dishes, including Tomato Tartare, Forest Mushroom Mac-n-Cheese, Blueberry Grilled Cheese, Grilled Fish Tacos, and Bourbon Chocolate Cake, just to name a few. When speaking with Chef Venoy, his passion, his love, for cooking, for using the best ingredients, for making food fun and creative, shines through immediately. It’s written all over his face…his dedication to creating unforgettable dishes for those who come to American Kitchen, sometimes at the sacrifice of time spent with his family for extra long hours in the kitchen. But, as he said to my husband and I, he does it all for the love of those he loves and for his love of food. How lucky for us patrons!?!

Here’s a glimpse of our night at the American Kitchen and Orlando Brewing Tap Takeover Preview:

Beers on Tap and Special Menu Items

 

Beers on Tap

Music Provided by DJD Entertainment Professionals

Specialty Drink: “Greg Norman”
Foie Gras Donuts with Fig Marsala Sauce
Short Rib Flatbread with Pickled Ramps and Manchego
Smoked Crispy Chicken Sandwich with House Aioli and Coleslaw
Crispy Fish “Chips” and Beer Battered Potato Sticks with Orlando Brewing Beer Vinegar

GM of B Resort and Spa: Michael Allen with Chef Venoy Rogers III
Chef Venoy Rogers III
Meeting Chef Venoy Rogers III

American Kitchen Bar & Grill is a must-try all on its own; but, with the addition of Orlando Brewing, it’s even better. I have to admit, my drink of choice is not usually beer. However, after tasting Orlando Brewing’s La Guera Blonde Lager and I-4 IPA, while enjoying salty and sweet Foie Gras Donuts and the tender, flavorful Smoked Crispy Chicken Sandwich, I’m hooked! But, don’t take my word for it. Enjoy the pairing yourself at American Kitchen Bar & Grill. I know I will again…and again…and again.

 

American Kitchen Bar & Grill 

Orlando Brewing 

B Resort & Spa

DJD Entertainment Professionals 

 

Martini Pop Band – Lindsey, Jeremy, Rachel

We were invited to indulge in some of the best flavors that Central Florida has to offer during the inaugural Orlando Sentinel Foodie Awards Celebration at Celine Orlando, located in downtown Orlando.  The Orlando Sentinel’s Foodie Awards program has been recognizing the best food and dining experiences in Central Florida since 1998, but this was their first-time kick off event, inspired by Orlando Sentinel food reporter Lauren Delgado and their passionate readers.  General admission tickets included access to the party, live entertainment, and food and drink tastings from over 20 Foodie Awards winners and finalists.

Palm Ridge Reserve owners Dick and Marti Waters.  I always enjoy seeing them!

Create Your Nature (Best Vegetarian/Vegan) – Blackberry crumble oatmeal

Create Your Nature (Best Vegetarian/Vegan) – Holy frijole salad

Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream

Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream

Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream

K Restaurant – Duck breast, white beans, favs beans, English peas, rainbow chard, crispy pork, pea tendrils for a garnish.  (My favorite dish of the night!)

Dajen Eats – “Honey” Ginger Chipotle Cauliflower Bites.  She’s amazing!

1921 By Norman Van Aken – Florida fish & passion fruit ceviche with torched sweet potato and puffed sourghum

1921 By Norman Van Aken – Stone fruit gazpacho with peaches, pickled plums, buttermilk & basil

Maxine Earhart from Maxine’s on Shine

Maxine’s on Shine – “Chicken Maxine’s” – Diced chicken bread pan seared, roasted shallots, mushrooms, cherry tomato, marsala wine cream sauce, penne

Maxine’s on Shine – Rum balls – Classic cake with rum soaked raisins, covered in dark chocolate

Thai Island (Best Thai) – Pad Thai, Panang CK (Thai Curry), Tom Kona (Coconut Soup), Thai Custard (Dessert)

Tamarind Indian Cuisine (Best Indian) – Vegetable Samosa

Tamarind Indian Cuisine (Best Indian) – Tandoori Chicken Tikka

Tamarind Indian Cuisine (Best Indian) – Chicken Biryani

Border Grill Fresh-Mex (Best Mexican) – Carnitas tacos, grilled chicken tacos, shredded beef tacos, chips & house-made queso dip

Tapa Toro – Shrimp Causa – Peruvian style shrimp salad, potato salad, Aji Amarillo, cilantro, micro herb

Dunkin’ Donuts (Best Coffee)

Big Fin Seafood Kitchen – “Signature New Orleans-Style Shrimp” – Blackened shrimp on a bed of crawfish grits and New Orleans vegetables (sun-dried tomatoes, cremini mushrooms and spinach) topped with Cajun cream sauce.

Orlando Meats – Pork Rillettes – Olive oil, bread, Dijonnaise, hot almond

Orlando Meats – Gateux Matilda – blueberry cheese custard

Jeremiah’s Italian Ice (Best Frozen Treats)

Chef Eddie’s (Best Soul)

Grills Lakeside Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar – Tahitian Tuna Poke Cups, Grilled Filefish

Eddie V’s Prime Seafood – Pacific Ahi Tuna Tartar

Mynt Fine Indian Cuisine – Basil Malai Kabab, Chilly Baby Corn, Vegetable Pekora, Chicken Marsala (Nan & Rice)

Francesco’s Ristorante Pizzeria – Beef Tenderloin, Vegetarian Tortellini

Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café (Best German) – Nurnburger Sausage, Heaven and Earth Potatoes, Sauerkraut

Jenn from DaJen Eats being interviewed by Orlando Sentinel reporters Sarah Espedido and Lauren Delgado.

For more information, visit: www.orlandosentinel.com/foodiecelebration

Grilled center cut filet – filet mignon, grilled and seasoned perfectly, fingerling potato, radish, sugar snap peas, charred scallion oil & roast shallot sauce. (MY FAVORITE!)

Marlow’s Tavern is a bar & grill chain offering American pub fare in a classic setting with sports playing on the televisions.  The menu at Marlow’s Tavern changes three times a year.   We were invited to check out the new spring/summer menu at Marlow’s Tavern – Waterford Lakes (near UCF) and we really enjoyed everything we ate.  The food was delicious and the service was very welcoming and accommodating.  I highly recommend checking out Marlow’s Tavern – Waterford Lakes for any occasion.

That’s Not Mai Tie – Cana brava rum, raspberry syrup, orgeat, Myers dark rum & fresh lime.

Firecracker shrimp – Szechuan tempura shrimp, red & poblano peppers, peanut, cracklin spicy sauce. It was amazing!

Pastrami egg roll – Montreal smoked pastrami, Napa cabbage, sautéed onions, carrot, smoked thousand island sauce in a crispy egg roll.

Chicken tortilla – prestige farms chicken, sliced thin, crisp field greens, avocado, tomato, carrot, cucumber, fresh cilantro, tortilla, honey lime vinaigrette. One of the best salads I’ve ever had!

Side of fried okra.

Chicken salad wrap – house-made curry chicken salad, romaine, broccoli slaw, golden raisin, fresh cilantro, grilled tortilla.

Marlow’s special of the day – Blackened mahi sandwich – served on a ciabatta bun with a jicama slaw and house made citrus aioli.  

Grilled Atlantic salmon – jumbo cous cous, broccoli, carrot, red onion, golden raisin, parsley, toasted almond & port wine reduction.

Seared jumbo scallops – simply seasoned & perfectly seared, roast jalapeño corn grits, Spanish chorizo, poblano, roma tomato, roasted tomato fondue, palsied olive oil.

N.Y. style cheesecake – classic creamy vanilla cheesecake, strawberry, powdered sugar and cinnamon crisp.

Thank you Executive Chef Matt Tolson for an amazing nine-course meal and superior hospitality!  We really enjoyed everything that we ate and thank you Laura Richeson for hosting us!

Be sure to check out Marlow’s Tavern – Waterford  Lakes soon to taste their new spring/summer menu,  it is delicious!

Marlow’s Tavern – Waterford Lakes
547 N. Alafaya Trail, Building J1, Orlando, FL 32828
(407) 757-0606
http://marlowstavern.com

Dry aged New York strip – certified Angus beef prime, textures of sunchoke, petit vegetables, ghost block-huckleberry reduction, black summer truffles.  It was divine!

We were invited to the inaugural Wine & Dine Chef’s Table at American Kitchen Bar & Grill.  This intimate night was dedicated to showcasing the chef’s creativity and talent through an elegant four course tasting menu prepared and served by Executive Chef Venoy Rogers III.  We also had a Certified Sommelier Daniel Castillo taking us through a journey of fine wine pairings.

American Kitchen Bar & Grill is a rustic-chic eatery offering New American eats using a farm-to-table concept.  They source local and sustainable product whenever possible and grow their own greens and herbs as well.  Their menu is a melting pot of multiple influences and techniques with an artisan approach.

We really enjoyed our experience and food at the inaugural Inaugural Wine & Dine Chef’s Table.  We look forward to more Wine & Dine Chef’s Tables in the near future and we hope you give them a try soon.  They are worth checking out and I heard from many people that their Duck Fat Fries are amazing!


The living garden where they harvest all their greens and herbs used that are used to create their signature dishes.


Amuse bouche – foie gras donut.


Certified angus beef tartare – local organic quail egg, capers, Florida citrus, spent grain croutons, cured lake meadows natural egg yolk, garlic flowers, Dijon.

This dish was amazing and it blew my mind.  Tartare is usually prepared cyclindar but this one was rectangular and it was a game changer.


Heirloom beets and local goat cheese – whipped turtle creek goat cheese, beet soil, pistachio, spent grain, wild hibiscus, sunflower-poppy seed vinaigrette.

Ak s’mores – chocolate-espresso cremeux, ancho chile marshmallow, cinnamon, served with coffee.

This dessert was inspired by a camp fire.  It really did make me long for being cozied up at a real camp fire with a cup of coffee in one hand and and cooked s’mores in the other.

Michael D. Allen – manager and amazing host.


The talented Executive Chef Venoy Rogers III.


Left to right:

Tara Ifill (manager), Khabeer (our kind and gracious server), Alicia (marketing), Molly Meeker (sales maanger), Daniel Castillo (certified sommelier).


Daniel Castillo – our engaging and interactive certified sommelier.


Many thanks to the American Kitchen Bar & Grill crew for hosting us and their superior hospitality!  We felt like family!  Be sure to check them out soon next time you are in the Disney Springs area!

American Kitchen Bar & Grill
1905 Hotel Plaza Blvd, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
(407) 827-3080
http://americankitchenbarandgrill.com

Double cut grinned pork chop – Charleston SC double corn grits, pork belly collards, fried super sweet onions

We were invited to a media dinner at a nice speakeasy on Sand Lake Road called Pharmacy Orlando,  a prohibition-chic haunt with a hidden door featuring craft cocktails, New American plates & pizza.

It took me a few minutes of wandering aimlessly around and asking a few locals where the speakeasy’s hidden entrance was located but I found it and it was totally worth the hunt.  Pharmacy Orlando is located on the first floor of a multilevel shopping/business complex, near Regions bank, behind secret elevator doors.  The inside is dim with an intimate ambiance and relaxing vibe.  The food (“medicine”) was delicious and the staff was knowledgable and attentive.

Classic cheese fondue – 100 year old sourdough crostini, spicy pickled green beans

Margharita – sciue-sciue tomato, green h2ouse purple micro basil

Half pound Cape Canaveral garlic & butter rock shrimp (this was my favorite appetizer!  In this picture we had already eaten half of our order)

Tomato & prosciutto bruschetta with burrata cheese & farm poached egg

Greenh2ouse romaine & kale green goddess caesar – house smoked bottarga, local tomato confit, parmigiana reggiano

Florida fresh tang fried chickens with lime, scallions & sesame

Meatball grandé with Nana’s spicy sauce and fried cheese polenta

Pharmacy Mac & Cheese – wild mushrooms, poached farm egg, 3 cheeses

Cape Canaveral roasted whole vermillion snapper – (delicious medium bodied white fish) Peruvian chimichurri, fried plantains, lime

Be sure to check out Pharmacy Orlando soon to pick up your medication and elixirs!

Pharmacy Orlando
8060 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 985-2972
http://thepharmacyorlando.com

If you’re in downtown Tampa for Cinco de Mayo/The Kentucky Derby and don’t know what to do, definitely consider visiting the Westin Hotel’s Blue Harbor for their first event since their grand opening, Cinco de Derby, happening from 3PM-12AM! I previewed a few of the specialty drinks that they’re going to be featuring this Saturday. Nonetheless, they have their Happy Hour from 4PM-7PM with some amazing full-sized appetizers for you to much on while you sip away!

First we started off with their calamari and cheese sample platter. The fried calamari sat on top a bed of veggies and then topped off with what reminded me of shrimp chips! The seasoning and sauces of this dish was amazing and probably one of the favorite calamari dishes I’ve had so far. The cheese platter was great, as well! The fruits were so fresh and sweet, and there was a nice assortment of cheeses that paired very nicely with the salami and pepperoni. I really liked how they had a couple of jams on the side with honey too.

Tropical Fire Water (shown above.) This was probably one of my favorite drinks. Though it’s not a featured specialty drink for the event, you should still give it a try! Beware there’s a bit of added spice to it, so if you’re not really into spicy, you may not be a fan.

Passion Fruit Mojito with a Pea Flower Infusion

Featured below are their three specialty drinks that they will be having at the event for just $10 each! Each were so good, my favorite was the Spicy Mia-Rita! All of their featured drinks use fresh ingredients with some Don Julio, yummm!

Cucumber Agave Lime Margarita (shown above)

Hightailing Jalisco Julep (shown above)

Spicy Mia-Rita (shown above)

Meet Will! The man behind the geniusness of these creative drinks. Definitely stop by and say hi and try his creations and tag him on Instagram @cocktailsbyfrost, ask him from a Scorpion Sting (those are good, but beware they have a little kick to them!)

All in all, I had a really great time at Blue Harbor Bar & Eatery! Their drinks are definitely one of a kind with such creativity and thought put into them. Definitely something to check out! Happy eatings though everyone (or maybe in this case drinking), until next time!

Orlando’s new premier golf-entertainment destination has arrived!  Drive Shack – a three-story, indoor/outdoor all-weather golf-entertainment complex pairing the most advanced golf games and technology with good eats, cold drinks, and long drives is now opened in Lake Nona’s vibrant Sports and Performance District.  Drive Shack’s flagship location features 90 hitting bays with a 220-yard range, a full-service restaurant and bar, an outdoor lounge, three fully equipped meeting and event rooms for parties up to 1,000, and a complimentary game lounge with classic games like shuffleboard, skee-ball, basketball arcade and Pac-Man.

Orlando is home to the very first Drive Shack.  Additional locations are expected to open in Raleigh, N.C., Richmond, Va., West Palm Beach, Fla., Marietta, Ga., and New Orleans, La.

Below are some pictures from our media preview visit.  The brunch menu is available from 9am-11am on the weekdays, 9am-2pm on the weekends.

Deep-dish spinach quiche – spinach and Swiss cheese quiche in a rustic buttery crust

Skillet baked cinnamon buns – hot & fresh from the oven drizzled with icing

Loaded morning tots – crispy tater tots, melted cheddar cheese blend, bacon crumbles, and green onions topped with a sunny side up egg

Chocolate chip pancakes – fluffy pancakes sprinkled with chocolate chips, topped with whipped cream and strawberries, and served with maple syrup

Truffled tots

Grilled chicken breast slider – Swiss cheese, tomato, and lemon aioli

Classic all-beef slider – cheddar cheese, DS secret sauce, and a dill pickle

Complimentary game lounge

Outdoor bar

The meats flatbread – Italian-style, all-beef meatballs, chunky pork sausage, pepperoni, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil

Maple bourbon bacon wings – delightfully sticky with a savory, sweet fin

Bavarian pretzel sticks – fresh from the oven sprinkled with crunchy salt, served with tangy honey mustard and rich pimento cheese dips

Gardender’s Cup & Bushwood Clubhouse

The veggies flatbread – red and green peppers, Kalamata olives, caramelized onions, and marinara sauce with mozzarella and ricotta cheeses

Mediterranean dips & veggies – Garlic hummus and tzatziki dips with fresh-baked pita chips, crisp cucumber, bell pepper, and grape tomatoes

Stacked nachos – freshly made tortilla chips topped with melted cheese, black beans, pico de Gallo, sour cream, jalapeños, green onions, salsa, and guacamole

Mahi tacos – three grilled flour tortillas with blackened mahi-mahi, cider slaw, and cilantro lime aioli

Hole in one – cheddar cheeseburger loaded with crisp applewood-smoked bacon, a fried egg, shredded lettuce, and tomato, topped with our housemate bacon-tomato-onion jam and avocado mayo with French fri

Bucket of balls – Italian-style, all-beef meatballs in a zesty marinara sauce, served with toasted garlic bread and grated Parmesan cheese, and topped with fresh torn basil

Rocky road parfait – chocolate pudding layered with toasted marshmallow, chocolate cookie crumbles, and salted peanuts topped with chocolate sauce 

Strawberry shortcake parfait – shortcake layered with fresh strawberries and whipped cream

Salted butterscotch parfait – salted butterscotch pudding with gingersnap cookie crumbles, layered with whipped cream and caramel sauce

Churros – hot and crispy then dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with a warm chocolate sauce

Be sure to check out the new Drive Shack – Lake Nona soon!  It’s so much fun!

(Source credit: Drive Shack)

Drive Shack – Lake Nona
7285 Corner Dr, Orlando, FL 32827
driveshack.com
(407) 553-8820

Duomo Gelato – Uses fresh, premium ingredients and a secret Italian recipe to create rich, creamy gelatos. The hotel serves more than 50 irresistible flavors at Gelateria on the Harbor Piazza.

Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando introduces Flavor by Loews Hotels, an innovative food and beverage experience serving up some of the best of Florida’s local flavor at each hotel.  Rolling out nationally across the brand, Flavor by Loews Hotels is built on partnerships with artisan food and beverage vendors ranging from bakers to gelato makers to brewmasters.

A culinary experience designed to showcase hyper-local flavor.

Mini chicken slider, mini Italian sausage slider, mini crabmeat slider.

Olde Hearth Bread Company – Specializes in handmade, high-quality artisan breads, which guests can enjoy at Sal’s Market Deli.

A variety of bruschetta.

Jake’s Steak & Frites – Kissimee River oyster mushrooms, herb roasted char grilled, black Angus beef ribeye, house made smoked ketchup.

Crooked Can Brewing Company – A local favorite known for its quality craft beers and laid back vibe. Jake’s American Bar serves four of Crooked Can’s popular brews.

Webb’s Honey & Ginger Glazed Salmon – cilantro rice, pickled vegetables, edamame sambal olek.

Grilled Pineapple Salad – Pure Produce arugula & crosse, grape tomatoes, red quinoa, roasted red peppers, crisp plantain, citrus vinaigrette.

Mexican Sopes – Palmetto Creek Farms pulled pork, refried beans, oaxaca cheese, pico de gallo.

Raspberry cheesecake gelato with crispy pearls.

Strawberry blackberry sherbet with chocolate drizzle.

Raspberry cheesecake and pistachio gelato.

Executive Chef Leon Teow thanking staff and guests for being a part of Flavor by Loews Hotel.

(Source credit: Loews Hotels)

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando
5601 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 503-1000
loewshotels.com/portofino-bay-hotel/dining/flavor

There is nothing better than playing hooky.  Leave your responsibilities, your obligations, your worries behind and go play!  This is exactly what my husband and I did on a Friday afternoon while the kids were in school.  Granted, my husband took the day off from work and I work from home, but still, it felt delightfully naughty of us to take some time for just us two.  Especially, time spent at Disney Springs, “hiding out” at Enzo’s Hideaway. Sometimes you just need an escape, and that’s how we felt dining at Enzo’s, an old rum-running underground tunnel during the prohibition era, that was later turned into a restaurant by Enzo himself when he accidentally stumbled upon it. Maria and Enzo, a lovely, Italian couple, new to Orlando straight from Italy (Enzo literally flew in on his airplane), here to bring us three divine places to eat: Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante, Pizza Ponte, and Enzo’s Hideaway.  All three eateries located in Disney Springs, but Enzo’s Hideaway is not as obvious to find, given the mystery of its origins.  This “secret location” can be found below Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante, underground, giving it a very cozy and romantic feel, but also perfectly welcoming to families and friends of all ages.

Entrance to Enzo’s Hideaway at Disney Springs

Our amazing waiter told us this heart-warming backstory about Maria and Enzo, and how their three restaurants came to be.  Personally, I love when Disney does this with its establishments.  It makes the dining experience even more special (that might be my own opinion, but I am a storyteller after all).  Rumor has it that the original concept of this speakeasy included a password-only entrance; hence, the window in the top-center of the door.  The idea was scrapped, but the door remains.

Enzo’s Hideaway Speakeasy-Style Door

Once inside, diners are whisked away to another time period, listening to popular music by classic Italian crooners (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and more), seated under vintage-style Edison bulb lighting, at mahogany wood tables and booths with red-cushioned seats, while curiously reading the graffiti decorating the “tunnel” walls.  I couldn’t help but feel we stumbled upon an old, Italian restaurant on the streets of the Bronx or Brooklyn.  Any minute Martin Scorsese is going to walk in and start filming.  I can see my Italian relatives scurrying around their deli and restaurant in Toms River, New Jersey, while I hang-out behind the counter with my accordion-playing, great-grandfather who calls me bella.  I’m home.

Enzo’s Hideaway Mock Bar – Prohibition Style
Enzo’s Hideaway Dining Room
Enzo’s Hideaway Graffiti-Themed Walls
Enzo’s Hideaway “Gambling Room”
Enzo’s Hideaway Table Setting

Now, on to the best part of our secret date – the drinks and food!  I’m a sucker for anything with Prosecco in it (Prosecco by itself too), so, it didn’t take long for me to notice the Luciano Spritz on the menu, made with Solerno Blood Orange, Aperol, blood orange juice, and Villa Sani Prosecco.  However, the Sangria, also caught my attention.  What is a girl supposed to do with this dilemma?  Order two drinks when it’s barely past noon?  Sadly, this is not an option, when picking up kids from school is involved.  I got it!  Demand, no, politely ask my husband to order the Sangria – problem solved.  Enzo’s Sangria made with a house blend of Malbec, Burgundy, Apricot and Peach Brandy, seasonal fruits, and cinnamon spice simple syrup is refreshingly sweet and smooth. It complimented the bubbly, soured-sweetness of my Luciano Spritz nicely.  Both drinks were the perfect accompaniment to our appetizer – Salumi e Formaggi for two.  This antipasto platter is made-to-order, with fresh cuts of meat and cheese sliced in front of you at Enzo’s very own “deli counter”.  The platter consists of 24-month-cured Prosciutto, Salame Piccante, Finocchiona, 24-month-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Fontina, olives, pickled vegetables, bread sticks, and a mustard fruit spread.  The meat, cheese, pickled vegetables, breadsticks were all delicious, but the mustard fruit spread really took me by surprise.  A spread I have never seen or tried before, but can’t wait to have again.  Sweet from the fruit, but spicy, almost like the taste of horseradish – a perfect pairing with each of the three cheeses.

Enzo’s Hideaway Luciano Spritz
Enzo’s Hideaway Sangria
Enzo’s Hideaway Salumi e Formaggi

As we fork-fenced over our antipasto, a truce was called just in time to peruse the lunch menu.  Another quandary – everything looks good!  My husband ordered the Polpettine – classic meatballs with polenta, and I chose the Porchetta and Provola Panini – pork roast, provolone, grainy mustard, pear aioli, spicy cherry peppers, and arugula.  If you like the combination of salty and sweet, this panini is for you.  The pork and provolone was tender, the aioli tangy, with peppery arugula, and a zesty kick from the mustard and cherry peppers.  As the loving wife I am (sharing is caring), my husband and I exchanged plates halfway through the course, as he finished my panini, I enjoyed the meatballs and polenta. The polenta was so soft it practically melted in my mouth, and the meatballs were delicate, yet hearty, gently swimming in a luscious tomato sauce.

Enzo’s Hideaway Porchetta and Provola Panini
Enzo’s Hideaway Polpettine

Our secret lunch almost complete, our waiter asks us if we will be having dessert.  As they say, when in Rome – yes! He recommends his favorite dessert on the menu – Maritozzi con Panna.  Imagine a sweet roll stuffed with cream and Nutella, sprinkled with powdered sugar – forget imagining it, have it now!  I don’t think my explanation can clearly justify how fantastic this dessert is, but, I’ll give it a try.  The bread reminds me of a dense dinner roll that has been dusted with powdered sugar, while the cream is velvety, but not overly-sweet, which makes sense when paired with the Nutella, whose job is to make everything sweet.

Enzo’s Hideaway Maritozzi con Panna

We left our secret rendezvous with huge smiles on our faces, and full stomachs to match.  I am absolutely in love with Enzo’s Hideaway and plan to return very soon.  The dinner menu has even more delectable entrees to pick from, including a pasta dish with a thick meat sauce made with beef short ribs (I’m having that).  Enzo’s Hideaway also offers a late-night dining experience on Thursdays through Saturdays through 2am, featuring prohibition-style cocktails and a special late-night menu (I’ll need an afternoon power nap to enjoy this).  In conclusion, whether you’re playing hooky or not, Enzo’s Hideaway is the perfect spot to get “lost”, leave the stresses of life behind, and unwind, speakeasy style.

 

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/disney-springs/enzos-hideaway/

https://www.patinagroup.com/enzos-hideaway

 

Calligraphy artist writes guest’s name in Japanese.

We were invited to experience the Sakura (cherry blossom) Festival, a month-long celebration of the arrival of spring and the cherry blossoms at Morimoto Asia – Disney Springs.

The restaurant was decorated with Instagram-worthy décor, showcasing the pink blooms of the Sakura. Similar to the festivals in Japan, guests attended a series of ticketed events and enjoyed special menu items inspired by the Japanese cherry blossoms.

The month-long Sakura Festival concluded with a family fun day inspired by the traditional Matsuri (festival) of Japan.  We got to enjoy unlimited sushi, ramen, yakisoba, street food, mochi, cocktails/mocktails, origami artist, calligraphy artist, games and giveaways.  You definitely need to experience this one of a kind event for yourself next year!

Celebrity Disney expert Lou Mongello and I.

A station in partnership with their Disney Springs neighbors, Uniqlo.

Okinawa Breeze – strawberry kiwi limeade (mocktail).

Winter Sakura – cherry calpico soda (the best mocktail in the world!).

Onigiri.

Shrimp tempura, california, spicy tuna, spicy salmon.

The back side of the previous dish.

Eel & avocado sushi.

Okonímiyaki.

Takoyaki.

Tonkotsu ramen bar.  It was delicious!

Tonkotsu ramen.

Dango – kinako (roasted soy flour), mitarashi (sweet soy glaze), kurogoma (black sesame).

Executive Chef Yuhi Fujinag preparing mochi.

Mochi.

Origami artist.

Ramune ring toss.

Ramune ring toss prizes.

Connect 4 with candy prizes.

Yakitori.

Yakisoba.  It was sooo good!

Be sure to check out the 2nd Annual Sakura Festival at Morimoto Asia – Disney Springs next year!  You will love it!

(Source credit: Morimoto Asia)

Morimoto Asia – Disney Springs
1600 East Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
patinagroup.com/morimoto-asia/sakura
(407) 939-6686

Recognized as the region’s premier food and wine pairing event, the 26th Heart of Florida United Way Chef’s Gala at Walt Disney World Resort featured unlimited sampling of signature dishes prepared by 23 of Central Florida’s top chefs, along with thoughtfully paired fine wines.  The evening also included a sparking wine reception, live music and a silent auction filled with unique items and trips. 

This year they served over 460,000 individuals and raised a record-breaking $300,000+ towards the fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Central Florida.  95 cents of every dollar raised is invested back into the community to fund critical programs.

Chef’s Gala – what a tasteful way to make a difference in the world!

All beverages were generously donated.

All silent auction items were generously donated.

Live performance by an amazing band

Flying Fish – Disney’s BoardWalk: Chef LT Majoras
Cool Water Lobster and Slow Poached Shrimp, Spring Melon, Hearts of Palm, Shaved Serrano and Cava Vinaigrette

SLATE: Chef Jacob Woolf
Smoked Brisket, Jalapeño Creamed Corn, Charred Scallion Vinaigrette and Annatto Oil

Artist Point – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge: Chef Michael Gonsalves
Sweet Maiz Soup – Dungeness Crab, Avocado, Spring Radish, Ramp Mole, Greens

Urban Tide – Hyatt Regency Orlando: Chef Chef Jared Gross
Plantain-Crusted Atlantic Cod, Roasted Red Beet and Crème Fraiche Mash, Kumquat Mostarda

Todd English’s bluezoo – Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort: Chef Jason Wiggin
Crispy Puffed Rice Shrimp, Wasabi Pommes Puree, Sweet Thai Chili

Shutters – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort: Chef Mark Donovan
Caribbean Goat Curry with Fragrant Island Rice and Cilantro-Lime Crema

Hemisphere – Hyatt Regency Orlando: Chef Jeffrey Powell
Chilled California-Style White Fish Ceviche with House Fried Corn Chips

Ale & Compass Restaurant – Disney’s  Beach Club Resort: Chef David Hutnick
Slow Smoked Pork Tenderloin, Bacon Jam, Vermont Cheddar Grits, Barbecue Gastrique and Herb Salad

The Turf Club Bar and Grill – Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa: Chef Dan Marozzi
Pan Seared Salmon Slider – Seared Ora King Salmon, Horseradish Pickled Cucumber Slaw, on a Dill Gougère

blu on the avenue: Chef Tony Krueger
Hot Smoked Scottish Salmon, Dukkah Drop Biscuit, Bacon, Pickled Serrano, Aged Maple Syrup, Flowers

Morimoto Asia – Disney Springs: Chef Yuhi Fujinaga
Foie “PHO”, Kona Kanpachi, Shiso

Latitude and Longitude – Orlando World Center Marriott: Chef Kyle Anderson
Low-Country Perloo Carolina Gold Rice, Chicken Thighs, Andouille Sausage, Florida Rock Shrimp

The Hollywood Brown Derby – Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Chef Craig Schleider
Spicy Togarashi – Crusted Ahi Tuna, House-Made Kimchi, Bamboo Rice and Ginger-Soy Glaze

STK Orlando – Disney Springs: Chef Aaron Taylor
Goat’s Milk Ricotta with Crushed Peas, Mint and Charred Spring Onion

Jiko – The Cooking Place – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: Chef Eddie Mendoza
Mandazi

Jiko – The Cooking Place – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: Chef Eddie Mendoza
Isitambu – Zulu-Style Samp, Beans with Oxtail and Quail Egg

Tiffins – Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park: Chef Robby Sayles
Blanquette de Veau, Crispy Sweetbreads, Forest Mushroom Ragout and Charred Pearl Onion

Le Cellier Steakhouse – Epcot®: Chef Kevin Downing
Lamb Loin, Confit Marble Potatoes, Spring Vegetable Vinaigrette and Pinot Noir Syrup

Primo by Melissa Kelly – J.W. Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes: Chef Eric Santiago
House-Made Casarecche Pasta, Lake Meadows Duck Confit, Local Mushrooms, Ramp Pesto and Shaved Pecorino

Bull & Bear – Waldorf Astoria Orlando: Chef Richard Brown
Seared Shrimp Scampi with Pinot Grigio Butter, Black Venus Rice Risotto and Parmesan Cheese

Cinderella’s Royal Table – MAGIC KINGDOM Park: Chef Axel Martinez
Blood Orange Braised Beef Short Rib, Melted Leek and Kohlrabi Puree and Sweetie Drop Peppers

Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company: Roast Master Chris DeMezzo
Made-to-Order Specialty Coffees

Amorette’s Patisserie – Disney Springs: Pastry Chef Yoly Lazo Colon
Amorette’s Petite Signature Cake – Chocolate Chiffon, Raspberry Pate Fruit, Red Velvet Cake, Chocolate Biscuit, Dark Chocolate and Cherry Mousse

Gideon’s Bakehouse: Owner Steve Lewis and Chef Nicole Beebe
Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie and Pistachio Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie

Epcot® Bakery Team: Pastry Chef Noah French
Meyer Lemon Tart with Mandarin Orange Jam

Beautiful and breathtaking fireworks are the perfect way to end an amazing night.  Be sure to check out this amazing event next year!

(Source credit: Chef’s Gala)

Chef’s Gala – Epcot Showplace
200 Epcot Center Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
(407) 939-5277
ChefsGala.org

Kevin Pabis, son of local food bloggers Richard and Irina Pabis (@celebritychef4u).

We were invited to Main Event Entertainment to eat, bowl, and play!  The food offerings were all delicious!  You have to try their Skillet Mac & Cheese which consists of cavatappi pasta, grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon, creamy blend of melted cheeses, green onions topped with CHEEZ-IT crumbs.  CHEEZ-IT are one of my life-long favorite snacks.  Throw some of its crumbs on top of a loaded-baked chicken/bacon mac & cheese and you’re golden.

Tomato Caprese Skewers – served with balsamic drizzle (these were super popular at our table, a blogger’s son said that it was his favorite dish!)

Calamari – zesty marinara sauce and fresh shaved parmesan cheese

Chicken Quesadilla – grilled chicken, jack & cheddar cheese, chipotle mayo &fresh made pico de Gallo (this was my mom’s favorite dish!)

Roast Beef Dippers– shaved roast beef, horseradish mayo, lettuce, tomato, red onion served on buttery garlic knot bun

Italian Pesto Pizza – fresh basil, roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, creamy basil pesto,feta, mozzarella & provolone cheese

Assorted Dessert Bars – lemon, raspberry rhapsody, pecan chocolate chip, & caramel, oatmeal

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts – with salted caramel and raspberry sauce

A variety of gelato.

Billards.

VIP bowling lanes.

Bar area with alcoholic beverage options.

Bowling alley.

A variety of arcade games.  Everyday deal:  1/2 price games 10pm to close.

Local food bloggers Ashelyn Vazquez (@orlandomag) with her guest, and Sean (@orlandofoodguys).

Samantha (@samantheah) & Mattia Joyce Castellano (@mattia_joyce) racing on the motorcycles

Carolina Grabova (@carolinagrabova) plays a racing game for her instagram story.

My favorite game at the arcade was their zombie-killing game in the first ever roam-free virtual reality room.  I don’t have a photo of it but I do have a video clip of it on my instagram (@bytiffanynguyen). Imagine a game that doesn’t feel like a game.  Where your body is the controller and your mind believes it’s real.  It was so realistic that other attendees were seriously spooked after they finished playing!  I enjoyed playing it though and I am looking forward to coming back and playing it again.  Be sure to check out Main Event Entertainment next time you are in the I-Drive area to experience the zombie-killing game for yourself!

(Source credit: Main Event Entertainment)

Main Event Entertainment – Pointe Orlando
9101 International Dr Suite 1032, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 352-3300
mainevent.com

At Duffy’s Sports Grill, Chef Eric Parker allowed us to have a sneak peak of his new healthy spring menu insert at Duffy’s Sports Grill and I am more than happy to share it with you all. The new menu will launch in April and it includes Orange Ginger Mahi, Tuna Poke Stack, Burrata Salad, and Tequila Lime Shrimp Tacos.

Burrata Salad – Burrata cheese served with local vine-ripe tomatoes and power greens, finished with balsamic and fig dressing. The greens and tomatoes are very fresh while the balsamic and fig dressing adds a sweet note to the dish. The Burrata cheese is a nice creamy touch and ties all of the flavors together.

Tuna Poke Stack – Ahi Tuna tossed with Duffy’s signature poke sauce stacked with freshly made pineapple salsa and mashed avocados, dusted with nori and tossed sesame seeds, Sriracha smear. Although Duffy’s is known as a sports grill, they do not hide from adding new and unique dishes, such as this. I thoroughly enjoyed this fresh dish and would come back for more!

Tequila Lime Shrimp Tacos – 3 mini flour tortillas loaded with marinated grilled shrimp, shredded cabbage, homemade pico de gallo and guacamole. Make sure you ask for lime as it adds a nice citrus touch to the dish and we all know I love lime.

Also, you can’t have your Tequila Lime Shrimp Tacos without some tequila!

It was great having a sit down with Chef Eric Parker and a shot of tequila.

Orange Ginger Mahi – is a sweet and lean Mahi Mahi with an orange ginger glaze over stir fried Soba noodles with broccoli, red bell peppers and onion, finished with pineapple salsa. I am not too fond of the Soba noodle flavors, but the Mahi Mahi was pretty great.

Key Lime Pie – cool and creamy key lime filling in a rich graham cracker crust. Duffy’s mentioned how it is an oversized piece of tropical bliss and they were not wrong.

Red Velvet Mini Donuts – red velvet mini donuts spun in sugar and served warm with cream cheese icing for dipping.

The donuts are very fluffy and moist.

As you can tell, this dish is one of my favorite items on the menu.

Duffy’s wouldn’t be Duffy’s with some delicious drinks. They are adding Effen Cucumber Martini and St-Germaine Cooler to their drink menu. Pictured is the Effen Cucumber Martini, which is a refreshing take on a classic cocktail, Effen Cucumber Vodka, agave syrup, mint, and a splash of lime.

Visit a nearby Duffy’s Sports Grill this month to experience the new healthy dishes yourself.

Photos by: Terrence M. Gross

We were invited to the first “Guest Chef Series Dinner” at Morimoto Asia last night during their inaugural Sakura Festival.  Our guest chef was Executive Chef Hitoshi Sugiura and he was exceptional.  Chef Hitoshi flew in all the way from Japan for the event and was joined by Morimoto Asia’s very own Executive Chef Yuhi Fujinag & Chef de Cuisine Chef Hung Huynh.  All three chefs prepared for us an collaborative six-course Pan-Asian dinner, paired with wines from across the globe.  Morimoto Asia plans on hosting a Guest Chef Series Dinner every quarter.

Chef Hitoshi has a history of creating unique menus for restaurants and events while having received acclaimed notoriety including the “Top 8 Chef” at Italy’s 2017 Vegetarian Chance competition. Chef Hitoshi currently leads the team and menu creation as Executive Chef of Patinastella Restaurant in Tokyo, Japan.

Fresh cherry blossoms that were flown in from Japan for the inaugural Sakura Festival at Morimoto Asia.


First Course (Chef Hitoshi)
Bouquet – daikon, tofu, ginger, sesame seed puree, hazelnuts, maple syrup (almost too beautiful to eat!)

Second Course (Chef Hitoshi)
Spanish Mackeral with Shiso Sauce – Spanish mackerel, broccoli, Japanese mustard, shiso (this was one of my favorites!)


Third Course (Chef Hung)
Wok-fired Maine Lobster – ginger, scallion, jalapeño, zucchini noodle


Fourth Course (Chef Hung)
Roasted Poussin – goji berry koshihikari rice, Chinese sausage, foie gras, chicken jus


Fifth Course (Chef Yuhi)
Mishima Reserve Wagyu Ribeye – slow braised rib cap, porcini dashi, morels (simply elegant and wonderfully rich, another of my favorites!)

Dessert – Sakura and Peach Bavarian with Sakura Gelato

Our talented pastry chef


Cheers to our wonderful host, Sommelier – Eric Bandauski.

Guest Chef Hitoshi Sugura. Many thanks for making the long journey to celebrate with us.  Well done chef!

The ceiling fixture colors were modified to reflect the spirit of the Sakura Festival.

Be sure to grab your tickets to the inaugural Sakura Festival at Morimoto Asia – they will be hosting a series of events until Sunday, April 15!

(Source credit: Morimoto Asia)

Morimoto Asia – Disney Springs
1600 East Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
https://www.patinagroup.com/morimoto-asia/sakura
(407) 939-6686

Peanut Pad Thai With Seasoned Grilled Shrimp
Do you love delicious food, crafty cocktails, and fun games?  If your answer is yes, than KINGS Orlando is the perfect place to be any day of the week!

We were invited to check out KINGS Orlando, an upscale dining and entertainment venue.  During our visit we got to try a few items from their Asian-inspired menu (pictured below) and we also got to bowl.  We had so much fun cannot wait to go back! Our server Kimberly was super friendly, engaging, and down-to-earth.  Her communication skills were on point so we always knew what was going on at all times.  Kimberly was the best server that I’ve ever had and I know she is going to go far in the KINGS company one day SOON!

Free game on Sunday with lunch reservation
Fried Bang Bang Calamari
Buffalo Chicken Wontons
Peanut Pad Thai With Seasoned Grilled Shrimp (my favorite!)
Baja Street Tacos With Seasoned Grilled Shrimp
Private room
Be sure to check out KINGS Orlando soon for food, fun, and more!
Kings Dining & Entertainment
8255 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 363-0200
kings-de.com/orlandokings-de.com/orlando

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost, Road Not Traveled

This is Florida’s best kept secret.  Streamsong Resort is nestled in Fort Meade, FL (2 hours from Orlando) and is a hidden gem, literally and figuratively.  This 5-year old resort stretches out to 16,000 acres and the land was formerly used for mining phosphate also known as P2O5, which became the name of one of their restaurants.

Interior of P205

The resort is breathtaking, the food was so good – the best I’ve ever had in my entire life, the customer service was top-notch, and nature really did its job. Out of all the assignments I’ve done for Tasty Chomps, this one was my favorite.

Thank you Diana & Michelle from The Zimmerman Agency for hosting us! We all had an amazing time and we couldn’t have asked for a better weekend escape.  Everything was perfection.

The one-of-a-kind/state of the art infrastructure at Streamsong Resort attracts bountiful of visitors, however, you won’t find any of them lounging around the main lobby on a sunny day.  You can find them outside utilizing three of the country’s top luxury golf courses, bass fishing on the serene lakes, shooting sporting clays, practicing archery, going on a walk on the nature trails, dining at the five casual or fine dining restaurants, sunbathing at the lakeside infinity pool, or getting pampered at the AcquaPietra – the resort’s European-style grotto spa that looks like elephant legs dipped in an ocean. The healing pools has various temperatures from warm to ice-cold. The wet sauna was my favorite because it was a heated steam room that had cold water running down from a shower head… It was a pretty exhilarating experience feeling two sensations at once.  Streamsong Resort has a lot of offer on and off-site. My room alone came with a beautiful view, free Wi-Fi, complimentary bites from The Zimmerman Agency, a Keurig machine, a mini-fridge, two televisions, a therapeutic shower and a mini-library of literary classics… perfect for a rainy day.

Smoked almond bark (the best chocolate bark I’ve ever had!), brown sugar smoked bacon, smoked monchego
Red sangria – Cabernet Sauvignon, josh cellars, blackberry brandy, freshly squeezed orange juice, spriteWhite sangria – chardonnay, josh cellars, triple sec, lavender bitters, apple juice, freshly squeezed orange juiceSottaTerra, the resort’s restaurant that is under Earth.Private limousine (right) and a shuttle (left) that runs every 15 minutes.

Jim & Maria from the hospitality team were extremely welcoming and accommodating.

Chef demonstration with Executive Chef Michael Ford at Streamsong Blue No. 1.  A really nice guy.
Shrimp Cocktail – shrimp, kumquat, cilantro, chives, rum, olive oil, red onion, chili flakes, plum sauce, lime, red bell peppers, horseradish, watercress, napa cabbage.
Fifty-Nine Restaurant & Bar, the epitome of a luxurious seafood and steakhouse.
Key west yellowtail with coconut curry & handmade coriander noodles
 72-hour pastrami short rib with popcorn grits & pickled vegetables
Four peppercorn mizayaki Kobe ribeye with unagi glacé. I highly recommend this!  Best thing I ever ate. My palate is forever changed and will never be the same.
Bone Valley Tavern, the resort’s newest and most popular dining experience.
Tuna wonton – pineapple, avocado mash, puffed rice
Smoked bacon – apricot dressing, frisse
Rotisserie chicken – potato puree, jus lie, chives
Haberno Mary (virgin version) outdoor fire pit — the perfect spot for a glass of wine and stargazing.
One-pound meatball atop alta cucina tomato sauce
Linguine pesto & diver scallops
Veal ossobuco with truffle risotto & gremlota
Mason jar strawberry shortcake – strawberry ice cream, Florida strawberry filling, biscuit crumble.  The strawberry ice cream was the perfect touch to this classic dessert!
Cast iron skillet cabernet and amarena cherry cobbler
S’mores – dark chocolate brownie, graham crust, brûlée marshmallow
 Golf lovers will experience a new standard at their three critically-acclaimed luxury golf courses: Red, Blue, and Black; the only destination in the world where three distinct golf courses were designed by four legendary architects.
The view from my room.  Serene lakes and streams offer best-in-class bass fishing. 
Outdoor pursuits include sporting clays, archery, nature trails and a lakeside infinity pool.
The intimate haven features 228 spacious, modern guest rooms; 25,000 sq. ft. of flexible conference and function space, with distinctive outdoor venues.
The grotto-style AcquaPietra spaPreserved Megalodon shark teeth that were all found on Streamsong Resort property.

(Source credit: Streamsong Resort)

Be sure to check out Streamsong Resort soon for an unforgettable experience!  You will love it!

Streamsong Resort
1000 Streamsong Dr, Bowling Green, FL 33834
(888) 294-6322
http://streamsongresort.com

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

My friend from college and owner of DOMU, Sonny Nguyen

*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

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