Buffet

Did you know that Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida has catering?  We were invited to their amazing facility to check out their newest business, Catering For Good!

What is Catering For Good?  A full service caterer.  All menu items are prepared by an award winning culinary team lead by Chef Jill Holland using the highest quality and freshest ingredients purchased from national and local vendors.  The menu includes selections for breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktail receptions including wine and beer or a full bar. Catering For Good was listed in Orlando Business Journal as “Top 20 Business Caters”.

Here’s the best part…

All proceeds benefit the Second Harvest Culinary Training Program, a 16-week program that provides qualified, at-risk and economically disadvantaged adults in Central Florida with the culinary and life skills training needed to pursue a sustainable career in food industry.  100% of the graduates of this program have been placed in higher paying jobs, helping them become self-sufficient and begin life long careers.

Catering For Good offers room rentals at their unique and beautiful venues that can accommodate 10 to 200 guests – the venues are perfect for business meetings, work shops, luncheons, networking events, get togethers, holiday parties, bar or bat mitzvah, birthdays, showers, and weddings for those who wants to give back to their community on their special day.

Thanks to you, Catering For Good is not just feeding the line… but shortening the line.

Raspberry Brie

Harvest Sparkler – Prosecco and cranberries.  Non-alcoholic version in the back row.

The amazing Chef Jill Holland

Key Lime, S’mores, and Raspberry Creme Brûlée dessert shooters

Loved hearing Chef Shaneka Jimerson’s (Culinary Training Program graduate) inspiring testimony!

Thank you to the talented Culinary Training Program students for preparing our delicious lunch!

For more information, or to make an appointment and take a tour, please contact Lanette Jarvis at (407) 514-1048, email ljarvis@feedhopenow.org, or visit their website: FeedHopeNow.org

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
411 Mercy Drive Orlando, FL

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On May 11, Wild Florida hosted Wild Paint Night Out where folks were able to meet two albino alligators, indulge in hearty BBQ and paint their hearts away. The goodies at the buffet was provided by Chomp House Grill which is the restaurant located right inside of Wild Florida. Cole slaw, baked beans, deep fried brownies, their signature alligator and pulled pork/pulled chicken sandwiches were on the menu. Executive Chef of Chomp House Grill, Ramon Ayala, said that the creation of the menu came from “just playing around with it and being creative.” Ayala adds that he only does these dishes for banquets and events only. 

Besides the savory food, we got to venture back in the park itself and visit all of the animals. I got to see lemurs, porcupines, several gators, zebras, snakes, foxes and plenty of wild birds. The freely roaming peacocks were also a memorable sight to see.

Above all the animal encounters I had, my favorite interaction was getting to go inside the habitat where the two albino gators were. The gators names were Blizzard and Snowflake and they were surprisingly more friendly than I expected. I was able to walk right up to the rim of the pool where they were kept. Staring directly into their glazed eyes with nothing but open space in between my being and their floating bodies was unlike anything I had experienced before. I was captivated by how majestic and peaceful they were. They did not hiss or growl. Both gators just swam up to the rim where I knelt. 

Afterwards, I proceeded to the event room where dozens of canvases and brushes were set up next to plates of paint. The objective was to paint a picture that copied a picture of an albino alligator that was already painted on a canvas. At the end, the best painting done by an adult and child were given recognition. I did a pretty decent job with my painting and I am very happy with it. 

Overall, Wild Florida has a lot to offer in terms of getting outdoors and experiencing a real taste of Florida. The interaction one gets with the animals is very hands on. There is something to look at everywhere you turn. Also, towards the end of the event I was able to catch a gorgeous sunset over the lake. It was definitely a sight to see. 

Wild Florida also offers boat rides to guests. According to their website, they offer deals for Florida residents in which you can get 15 percent off one hour airport tours. As for anyone in the military, a teacher or a first responder, you can get 15 percent off of the boat rides and other events.


Visit Wild Florida’s website at wildfloridairboats.com or drop by their location at 3301 Lake Cypress Rd, Kenansville, FL 34739.

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

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Hotelier, Humanitarian & Hospitality Legend Harris Rosen & I standing in front of his grandparents’ portraits.

Whenever I run into the President and COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts, Harris Rosen, I feel like I am spotting a unicorn – it always happens quick and fast, and you have to catch it before it disappears. I was in for a real treat when I attended the media sneak peek of Rosen Plaza’s winter holiday events and Harris Rosen surprised us all with a low-key special guest appearance to welcome us and share a few stories with us about his family, hotels and food.

For those who don’t know, my family respects Mr. Rosen, he is our biggest role model. Mr. Rosen started out with humble beginnings in New York City’s Lower East Side where people did not have a lot of money and he worked very hard to accomplish everything he has now (including hitchhiking to his first business pitch!) and he donates a lot of his earnings back to the community. The first time my family met Mr. Rosen was back on Christmas Day in 2014 at the hotel’s annual Christmas brunch buffet (open to the public) when Mr. Rosen stopped by my family’s table and greeted us and asked us all how we were doing. My mom was the only one who recognized Mr. Rosen at the time since she is an avid reader and had recently read an article about him. My mom quickly put everything together and asked the man at our table if he was Harris Rosen and he replied yes. Shortly after we met him, we witnessed him picking up a small piece of garbage off the ground while there were plenty of his employees around the room that he could have asked to pick it up for him but he choose not to – and it was at that exact moment that we began to realize how humble and hard-working Mr. Rosen is, to be working hard even on Christmas Day, a day most people take off, especially those who can afford to.

My family has made it a tradition every year since our first encounter with Mr. Rosen to dine at one of his hotels on Christmas Day to enjoy their delicious brunch buffets and say hi to him and take pictures with him.  My family pictures are included below, with my review to follow.  I hope you enjoy the rest of this post!

First time meeting Harris Rosen, 2014


We brought my relatives from Vietnam to Christmas brunch at the Rosen hotel and they are big fans of Harris Rosen as well, 2015.

Christmas Day at Rosen Plaza, 2016

Jack’s Place is named after Harris Rosen’s late father.

Caricature of celebrities drawn by his Jack Rosen when he worked at as a security engineer at the Waldorf Astoria in NY.  Jack’s Place displays 175 drawings out of his thousands of celebrity caricatures – they have the largest autographed celebrity caricature collection in the world.  Caricature artists come in on Friday and Saturday nights at Jack’s Place to draw restaurant guests.

Sculpture of Jack Rosen

Petite Filet Mignon Toast Garganzola

Manchego Cheese Crisp & Fig Lollipop

“You’re more important than me.”  Founder Harris Rosen (left) said to one of his managers, John Nichols (center), before John spoke to the media.  That was humbling to witness!

“We cater to any eater – those with celiac disease. We take time to prepare what our guests asks for.” -Harris Rosen

Octoberfest Big Boss Pretzels With Warm Alligator Drool Beer Cheese and Honey Mustard Dipping Sauces


Indian Pumpkin Craving

Edamame Dim Sum

Shrimp & Pork Dim Sum

Deer Ice Sculpture Carved By Chef Ricki

Jumbo Cocktail Shrimp

Crab Claws

Ceviche

Pulled Pork On A Pina Colada Roll with Guava BBQ & Crispy Sriracha Slaw

Grilled Bratwurst Banh Mi With Pickled Cucumber Petite Cucumber Sprout Garnish

Alligator Drool

Blue Harris

I highly recommend visiting the Rosen Plaza for the holidays to enjoy festive decor, yummy eats, frosty sips and the chance to mingle with Mr. Rosen – if you’re lucky enough to run into him as I have been these past few years on Christmas Day as he is making his rounds at all of his hotels.

For more information about future events, check out the links below.

Winterfest – https://www.rosenplaza.com/winterfest/

Iced Out! – https://www.rosenplaza.com/icedout/

The incredible holiday buffets –
Thanksgiving Day – https://www.rosenplaza.com/thanksgiving/
Christmas Day – https://www.rosenplaza.com/christmas/

 

Rosen Plaza
9700 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 996-9700
rosenplaza.com

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Tne Lowdown –

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

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

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

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

Click to add a blog post for Santiago's Bodega on Zomato

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American Q is a new restaurant located just outside of Downtown Disney, spawned as a collaboration between the new B Hotels & Resorts and the acclaimed New York City restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow of China Grill Management, bringing a “Brazilian rodizio” take to traditional American barbecue.

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With an industrial, farmhouse-chic vibe,  the flatbed of a 1950s cherry-red, Ford F1 pickup truck houses an all-you-can-eat appetizer and salad buffet with homemade soups and chili, a baked potato bar, peel-and-eat shrimp, a selection of hot and cold seasonal vegetables, and a variety of salads.

A delectable selection of smoked meats and poultry, from the Carolinas and Kansas City to Latin America, are carved tableside by “cowboy/cowgirl” servers.

We were recently invited to check out the new place and found some great barbecue, and lovely sauces, but also some areas that greatly needed improvement, particularly overall service and improving on the buffet bar.

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Upon arrival, we were greeted by our server, but were never explained the directions regarding the buffet vs. a la carte option. So we were a bit at lost what to do after sitting down and getting our drink orders in –  do we go to the buffet bar or do we wait to get our orders in so that the server knows what we are each getting?

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Our server was very nice, though, and was very cordial throughout the evening, and I am guessing it is more of a management or procedural issue. Hopefully they will improve on this soon.

Another area for improvement – the flat bed truck was impressive but the salads and even the mac and cheese were rather pedestrian and uninteresting, especially when compared to other rodizio buffet style salad bars in the area.

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The strongest aspect of dining at American Q: the smoked meats from the beef brisket to the turkey, all had great flavor, accentuated by the variety of barbecue sauces available at the table.

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DEVILED CRAB STUFFED EGGS – blue crab & rémoulade – the yolk was a bit runny for what I was accustomed to for deviled eggs

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JERK CHICKEN WINGS – mango chow and ALLIGATOR BOUDIN – roasted tomatoes, peppers & okra

The highlight of the meal
The highlight of the meal

TABLE SIDE CARVINGS
SLOW SMOKED TOM TURKEY DRUM WITH MAHOGANY GLAZE
BACON WRAPPED BONELESS CHICKEN THIGHS
HOUSE MADE SAUSAGES
SMOKED PORK SHOULDER WITH SPICED ONIONS
COLD SMOKED & GRILLED TURKEY THIGH WITH TURKEY CHORIZO STUFFING
CAROLINA STYLE FLANK STEAK
BRISKET OF BEEF WITH TEXAS BARK
PICANHA OF BEEF
VEGETABLE BROCHETTE

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JAPANESE OLD FASHIONED
Hibiki whisky, chai simple syrup & Angostura bitters

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HOUSE BAKED CORNBREAD – served at the end of the meal, apparently here at American Q it takes a while for cornbread to get to the table.

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CROISSANT BREAD PUDDING – warm apple compote, another highlight of the meal – dessert

American Q on Urbanspoon

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Hidden inside the Pioneer Hall at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is a 90 minute foot-stompin’, hand-clappin’ family friendly musical starring six young actors set in the Wild, Wild West, and offering endless buckets of fried chicken and ribs. And, surely, plenty of corn and cheese to go around the table the whole night.

When it launched on June 30, 1974, the high-energy dinner show was created in the heyday of dinner theaters for Walt Disney World guests with a summer college intern cast. This September, the musical dinner show celebrates its 40th Anniversary.

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“Hoop-Dee-Doo was upbeat, and guests came for the corny jokes, good food and lots of fun,” said Forrest Bahruth, show director, Disney Parks & Resorts Creative Entertainment and the original choreographer for the dinner show. “Forty years later, the heart is still in it, the energy is still there.”

Marilyn Kay Magness was one of those summer college interns who played the part of Dolly Drew in the original cast, and is still with Disney over 40 years later. Today, she is executive creative director, Disney Parks, Creative Entertainment and she accompanied us recently on a media dinner to showcase the 40th anniversary of the dinner show.

Throughout the night, you could feel that Marilyn was watching the latest cast for the musical revue with a careful eye and commenting on the little changes here and there to the routine that had been made over the years.

For example, the routine for the dessert was originally “Apple Pie Hoedown” until it was replaced with “Strawberry Short Cake Walk” in 1979 when Disney discovered that the strawberry shortcake could be made with a little higher profit margins.

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As that first summer ended and guests were clamoring for more, Walt Disney World Entertainment already was auditioning a full-time cast, and Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue opened as a permanent show on Sept. 5, 1974. Today, it’s one of the country’s longest-running dinner shows and has presented more than 37,000 performances. More than 10.5 million guests have seen the high-spirited show.

And while Hoop-Dee-Doo has been fine-tuned over its 40-year run, the heart of the show never has changed: a slice of Americana, old-fashioned family fun and heaping helpings of good, down- home food. It was like what nostalgia would feel like if you were growing up in America in the 1850s.

Performers sing, dance and act their way through the timeless classic. “I love to go and hear kids squeal with delight at Six Bits, but also hear strong American ballads,” says Vazzana. “Families tell me it’s the first time they’ve seen a Broadway-style show – it’s obtainable and accessible, quintessential Disney.”

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Looking Back

In true Disney fashion, Walt Disney Imagineers designed Pioneer Hall in authentic Wild West style with 1,283 hand-fitted pine logs from Montana and 70 tons of stones from North Carolina to re-create a look from the late 1800s. The building opened April 1, 1974.

Themed entertainment is always part of the Disney story. While Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue was being written and cast, a group of country-Western musicians called The Star-Spangled Washboard Band opened in Pioneer Hall, according to an historical timeline by Larry Billman, author/writer and Disney entertainment consultant, who was the author and writer of the original show.

Bob Jani, the director of Entertainment for both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, saw the potential for a “dinner theater show” and hired Billman. After multiple rewrites (the first version was called “We’re With You, Mother McCree!”), Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue was born.

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Students from the Disney World Fine Arts College Workshop program, an 11-week work experience program, auditioned for the three female and three male character performers in Hoop-Dee-Doo: Six Bits Slocum and Dolly Drew (comic relief), Jim Handy and Flora Long (the singers), and Johnny Ringo and Claire de Lune (the dancers).

“The college students sent us video auditions, and we had more than 600 applicants,” said Bahruth. The cast arrived at Walt Disney World Resort in early June for quick rehearsals, and the show opened on June 30, 1974.

Through the decades, the show saw some small revisions to songs and dance numbers, but the basic premise – a Wild West show in an old-timey music hall with a romantic leading lady and man – always remained as the guests clapped, stomped their feet and sang along, all the while sharing an all-American dinner around a communal, “please pass the cornbread” table.

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The Food

Today, servers dish up about 900 pounds of fried chicken every night, and cooks spend about six hours each day just breading the chicken. Add 400 pounds of pork ribs, slow cooked starting at 11 a.m. daily on a big outdoor smoker.

For sides, there’s 120 pounds of corn, 400 pounds of potatoes to be mashed and 30 gallons of baked beans. It takes 15 gallons of strawberries and 12 gallons of whipped cream to make the strawberry shortcake dessert.

Servers are part of the show, happily slamming all-you-care-to-eat metal buckets of ribs and chicken on the tables as they sing and dance their way through the dining room. Beer, wine, sangria and soft drinks are part of the menu.

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Side salad at the Hoop-de-doo
Side salad at the Hoop-de-doo
Corn bread at the Hoop-de-doo
Corn bread at the Hoop-de-doo
Corn and baked bean sides at the Hoop-de-doo
Corn and baked bean sides at the Hoop-de-doo
Baked beans at the Hoop-de-doo
Baked beans at the Hoop-de-doo
Fresh fried chicken at the Hoop-de-doo
Fresh fried chicken at the Hoop-de-doo

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Strawberry shortcake at the Hoop-de-doo
Strawberry shortcake at the Hoop-de-doo

The Show Today

With three shows nightly at 4 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., guests can select from three different seating options based on floor or balcony tables. (Price includes tax and gratuity.)

Ages 10 and older    

Category 1 – $66.99

Category 2 – $61.99

Category 3 – $56.99

Age 3 to 9-                        

Category 1 – $35.99

Category 2 – $30.99

Category 3 – $29.99

Category 1 is first-floor level with tables nearest the stage. Category 2 is either a table on the first floor behind the Category 1 seating below the balcony or in the center of the balcony. Category 3 tables are on the right or left side of the balcony on the second floor.
For reservations, book online or call (407) WDW-DINE up to 180 days prior to your visit.

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Fun Facts

• Today one member of the original cast from the college program still works for Disney – Marilyn Kay Magness, who played the part of Dolly Drew. She’s executive creative director, Disney Parks, Creative Entertainment.
• An early draft of the show was titled The Whoop-Dee-Doo-Revue, which was revised to Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.
• Principal songwriter was Tom Adair, who also wrote words for the score for Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” and the “Mickey Mouse Club.”
• In 1979 the song “Apple Pie Hoedown” was replaced with “Strawberry Short Cake Walk” when shortcake replaced apple pie on the menu.
• The writers added a nod to Disney legacy with “The Legend of Davy Crockett,” skit, complete with a coonskin cap and bear puns.
• Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue was part of the opening entertainment at Tokyo Disneyland in 1983, with Larry Billman and Forrest Bahruth directing and staging the new version. The show played there until 1995.

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So. Much. Fun.

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue on Urbanspoon

Brazilian-inspired appetizers and delicious small plates with authentic tastes and flavors. Unwind over the region’s fresh cocktails and carefully selected wines.

For a more casual way to enjoy Fogo de Chão, the Fogo culinary innovation team developed a modern menu concept available at every Fogo de Chão bar that features shareable small plates, signature caipirinhas, specialty cocktails and beers, bold red wines, and refreshing white wines.

Some of my favorite options on the Bar Fogo menu were The Picanha Sirloin Sliders and Chilean Sea Bass. The sliders are perfect for sharing and composed of two house favorites: Three cheese bread and house sirloin. In addition, the popular Superfruit Lemonade and classic Caipirinha are refreshing companions to any Bar Fogo small plate.

Additionally, the drinks are made with fresh fruit and based on traditional recipes with a Brazilian twist. Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail and a signature drink at Fogo de Chao. Most of the drinks are on the sweeter side but they are accommodating to adjustments.

The full dining menu at this steakhouse features an extensive variety of fire-roasted meats that are carved to each guest’s preference. Diners can enjoy selections such as the house specialty picanha sirloin, filet mignon, ribeye, lamb chops, chicken wrapped in bacon, and pork ribs, to name a few, or try the newly-introduced lighter seafood selection.

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Jumbo Iced Shrimp Cocktail // Spicy Brazilian cocktail sauce
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Jumbo Iced Shrimp Cocktail // Spicy Brazilian cocktail sauce
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Superfruit Lemonade, Fogo® Premium Caipirinha, The São Paulo Sling, Mango Refresco
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Crispy Parmesan Polenta Fries // Spicy Brazilian pepper aioli
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Warm Hearts of Palm and Spinach Dip // Crispy toasts
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Grilled Spiced Shrimp Skewers // Jumbo Tiger Prawn Shrimp with Malagueta pepper sauce
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Malagueta pepper sauce // Composed of Malagueta peppers to add a little heat and horse radish
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Grilled Beef Tenderloin Skewers // Seared with Kosher salt and srevied with a side of Chimichurri salsa to add flavor
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Chimichurri salsa is a very popular sauce used to flavor meat
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The São Paulo Sling 14 // Veev Acai Spirit, Cedilla Liqueur De Acai, 03 Premium Orange Liqueur, fresh pineapple, lemon, cherry, Angostura bitters

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Brazilian Martini 14. Veev Acai Spirit, mango puree, Passion fruit juice, Brazilian Orange juice, limes, Brazilian Guarana Extract
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Picanha Sirloin Sliders – Pao de Queijo 10 // Made of two house favorites: Three cheese bread sliders, and house sirloin
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Picanha Sirloin Sliders
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Mango Chilean Sea Bass // Hand seared Chilean Sea Bass served with a fresh mango and strawberry relish
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Mango Chilean Sea Bass
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Fogo Malbec
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Charcuterie Board // Manchego cheese, prosciutto, guava paste, black mission figs, grilled bread

Fogo De Chao
Address: 8282 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
Phone:(407) 370-0711
http://www.fogodechao.com/locations/orlando/

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Avu Avu is a new tropical Polynesian themed restaurant for the Buena Vista Palace Hotel, located near Downtown Disney. It replaces The Outback restaurant which had been a staple here long before that other Outback started in Tampa.

The restaurant serves up a all you can eat rodizio style concept which entails a prix fixe menu where servers bring forth various cuts of meat, rotating around your table with skewers, until you are full.

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The space has been there for over 25 years and has started to show some signs of aging, and would probably do well with some major upgrades and renovations.

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Monsoon Platter of Pot Stickers and Guava Chai Rib Bites

The menu starts with tasty appetizers, like the tropical chips with lotus root and an edamame dip and the Monsoon Platter of Pot Stickers and Guava Chai Rib Bites. The platter comes with special dipping Sauces including Mango Chili Lime, Sesame Soy Caramel (similar to a peanut sauce),and Spicy Soy.

Flame-grilled meat skewers, including Root Bear BBQ pork, Kalbi Marinated Sirloin and Coffee Colada Chicken, make their way around . The feast ends with a Caramelized Pineapple Coconut Milk Cake for dessert.

Overall, my favorites of the meal included the guava chai beef short rib bites and the kalbi marinated sirloin!

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Below is the full menu with prices:

experience the legend of avu-avu
with an all-you-can-eat tropical island dinner.

Adults $29.95 • Kids $13.95

Welcome
Edamame Dip and Tropical Chips

Monsoon Platter
Chicken Pot Sticker & Guava Chai Rib Bites
Dipping Sauces, Mango Chili Lime, Sesame Soy Caramel, Spicy Soy

Salad
Tossed Greens, Shredded Carrot & Cabbage
Rice Crackers, Toasted Coconut, Carrot Ginger Vinaigrette

AccomPaniments
Stir Fried Udon Noodles and Lemon Garlic Broccoli

Flame Grilled skeWers
Coffee Colada Chicken Breast
Root Beer Barbequed Pork
Citrus Ginger Shrimp
Kalbi Marinated Sirloin

Dessert
Caramelized Pineapple Coconut Milk Cake

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Avu-Avu Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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This past Thursday, March 15, Fogo de Chão (pronounced fo-go dèe shoun), the authentic Southern Brazilian steakhouse that’s been named one of Zagat’s top U.S. restaurants, opened in Orlando on International Drive just south of Sand Lake Road. I recently attended a preview dinner at the restaurant.

The name Fogo de Chao is Portuguese for “fire on the ground”, developed during a time when Brazilian cowboys gathered around a fire to roast the evening’s meal. It sits in the same location where restaurants Bogard’s and India Blue once were before they were razed for the construction of Fogo De Chao.

The restaurant’s dining experience is based on the centuries-old gaucho tradition known as churrasco, the art of roasting meats over an open charcoal fire. A prix fixe menu features 15 freshly grilled meats carved tableside from roasting skewers. Also featured are traditional Southern Brazilian side dishes on a sumptuous more than 30 item gourmet salad and sides bar.

The restaurant offers a 200-label wine list, for which it has received Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence for the past eight years. Guests can also enjoy decadent desserts include the restaurant’s signature Papaya Cream, made with fresh papaya.

During my visit, I noticed that the acoustics of the building made it very difficult for me to carry on a conversation with my dining partner. Maybe it was all the caipirinhas that all the guests had enjoyed during the evening making everyone a little bit more rowdy than usual, but I don’t think that was the case. If you go, be prepared for a busy, exciting evening with a lot of noise. The place is sure to be bumpin’.

Upon entering Fogo De Chao (shaped on the outside oddly enough like a Native American teepee hut or a fire pit ?), there is a large bar/waiting area where you can order from their impressive selection of 200 wines or get that awesome and popular caiprinha, the national cocktail of Brazil.

At the center of the building is a long salad bar area that serves up not only your typical salad items but also proscuitto, smoked salmon, shitake mushrooms, salumi, manchego cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and more. Those of you who have been to Brazilian steakhouses before, like the nearby Texas De Brazil up the street, will know to be wary of the salad bar area and to tread lightly in its waters. The Gaucho meat parade will soon be marching to your table.

At your table you are given a circular disc, one side red meaning stop, the other green meaning go. Flip the green side up and soon the gauchos arrive with sticks of grilled PICANHA (Top Sirloin – Garlic or Traditional seasoned), FILET MIGNON, BEEF ANCHO (Ribeye), ALCATRA (Top Sirloin), FRALDINHA (Bottom Sirloin – one of my favorite cuts), COSTELA (Beef Ribs), CORDEIRO (Lamb – just wonderful here), FRANGO (Chicken), COSTELA DE PORCO (Pork Ribs), LOMBO (Pork Loin), or LINGUICA (Sausage). They arrive very quickly in rapid succession so just be ready for them as it might take you by surprise when they all arrive at once with all this meat in your face, like a kid in a meat candy store for sure. When you’ve had enough, just turn your disc over to red for them to stop.

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Rack of Lamb, full of wonderful flavor

Out of all the meats, I would have to say the bottom sirloin, lamb chops, and rack of lamb were my favorite, all very seasoned flavorfully and grilled to a nice temperature for enjoyment. The pork ribs were a bit dry and may have needed some more seasoning. Obviously there will be comparisons between Texas De Brazil and Fogo De Chao as they are both going to be Brazilian steakhouses on International Drive. Texas De Brazil is wonderful, ambiance and meats, and all, but Fogo De Chao’s meats were more memorable and had more flavor than Texas’. They both have a warm place in this meat eater’s heart for sure.

Fogo De Chao serves mashed potatoes and sweet bananas with their meats to cleanse the palate between cuts. They also have this nice fried polenta dish that reminded me of this yummy fried tofu that my mom would make at home, we ordered a few more rounds of the fried polenta for our table because we loved it so much. They also used this thin metallic plate especially made from Brazil that I at first thought was fancy plastic ware until my friend Pearleen of Megayummo told me no, it’s actually nice silverware from Brazil. Thank you Megayummo!

For dessert, my favorite would have to be the authentic Brazilian dish: papaya cream, made with fresh papaya and topped with a chassis/currant liqueur. Soft, delicate, delightful. The other desserts were great too but this one dessert stood out among the creme brulee, flan, and chocolate molten cake.

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Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça (sugar cane rum), sugar, and lime, with some mint thrown in for measure and crushed.

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Wine Room at Fogo De Chao

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Center Salad Bar

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Pork ribs, a bit dry and in need of a bit more seasoning

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Lamb chops at Fogo

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Fried Polenta cakes

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Fogo’s Signature Papaya Cream

Operation hours and prices are as follows:

Lunch
$26.50 (Salad Bar Only – $19.50)
Monday – Thursday: 12:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Friday: 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

$35.50 (Salad Bar Only – $19.50)
Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Dinner
$42.50 (Salad Bar Only – $19.50)
Monday – Thursday: 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Sunday: 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Children five years of age and under enjoy complimentary dining. Children six to 10 years of age dine at half the prices listed above. Beverages, desserts, taxes and gratuity are additional.

Fogo do Chão Orlando is located at 8282 International Drive, a quarter mile south of Sand Lake Road and about a mile north of the Orange County Convention Center.

Fogo de Chão on Urbanspoon

6 4223
Texas De Brazil Churrascaria- Orlando – International Drive




Texas de Brazil Churrascaria in Orlando has to be one of my favorite restaurants of all time. When I found out many years ago that churrascaria is basically a term in south America for “steak house”, I immediately set my sights on visiting Texas De Brazil. Situated just south of the newly renovated Prime Outlet mall on International Drive, Texas de Brazil offers you one of the most ridiculously copious amounts of delicious meat and food that the carnivore in us would ever wet dream about (and it’s pretty affordable too when you sign up for their e-mail list serv on line).

Inside, the decor is elegant with earthy tones and large mirrors adorning the walls, filled with loud touristy families as well as couples out on a date. At the front is a hotel-like welcome lobby where the hostess seats you as well as a bar on the left. There are also a few private rooms for large parties, one of which my party is seated on this night.

The occasion is a anniversary of sorts, celebrating the end of another eventful, memorable year with the brothers of Pi Delta Psi Fraternity Incorporated at the University of Central Florida.
What better place for a group of young men to relax than a meaty steak-filled all you can eat buffet where you don’t even have to get up for more?

In addition to their meats, there is actually a sizable salad and antipasta bar filled with various appetizing dishes such as tomatoes, spring greens, olives, salami, pasta, lobster bisque, even sushi. The items are quite delicious but you must remain focused. There is only so much space in your tummy, and if you want to get the most of your money, save it for the glorious meats that will be coming to the table shortly. Otherwise, pace yourself here at Orlando’s Texas De Brazil if you would like to just enjoy the food rather than go into a meat-induced coma at the end of the night.

Our waiters for this evening are attentive and prompt, quickly filling our drink glasses through the evening and also bringing out their amazing garlic mashed potato and sweet cinnamony fried banana sides that help wash the palate as you chomp down.

Sim, por favor – reads the green plastic disk meaning “yes please, bring it on”.
And the meat continues to come, and come, and come until you flip over the disk onto the red side signifying your surrender, signifying that you are indeed a weakling unable to man up to the onslaught of Brazilian meat cuts. Green = good to go, Red = stop please.

Surly men in blue button up shirts arrive one by one, rotating through the room in rapid succession, wielding their metal spears of fire-rotisserie roasted meaty delights.

There are so many meats I lose track: crispy shanks of lamb, tender garlic roasted chicken, bacon wrapped filet mignon, flank steak, Parmesan encrusted pork, on and on.

“Please grab my meat”, they ask, pointing to to the metal clip sitting next to your plate.
You have to help them grasp some of the cuts as they slice and carve through for your piece, and the little clip does just the trick.

Round and round they go, quickly and unending. “Chorizo sausage? Filet mignon? Sirloin steak?” the gauchos (South American cowboys) ask as they hoist the skewer racks of meat onto the table. This must have been what it was like in time of the wild wild west set in Brazil.

I know its a chain, and yes sometimes the meat is a bit too well done for my tastes, I enjoy it nonetheless for the sheer quantity and overall quality of the meats. You can also ask them to get you a more rare piece or more done depending on your tastes and they will happily get it for you when its ready.

Texas de Brazil also has a impressive dessert plate, with creme brulee, new york cheesecake, key lime pies, banana foster pie, and more.

Alas, after hours of eating, with our brains awash in meat sauce, we settle for defeat and raise the red flag. The meat stops flowing, and with our belt buckles loosened, we must head off to pay the fiddler.

Tasty Chomps Rating
5 out of 5 MEAT COMA INDUCING TASTY CHOMPS!!!!!
To sign up for their email list serv and get their amazing deals visit:
http://www.texasdebrazil.com

Texas De Brazil
www.texasdebrazil.com
5259 International Dr
Orlando, FL 32819-9476
(407) 355-0355


Texas de Brazil on Urbanspoon


mr gaucho

chorizo sausage

flank steak

filet mignon

bacon wrapped filet mignon

garlic chicken

garlic chicken

lamb shank

shank of lamb

it is a movable feast

sirloin steak


The red flag of defeat


Dessert Tray at Texas De Brazil Orlando


texas de brazil’s banana foster cake


cheesecake

check, please

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