Coffee

Seafood Linguine – Lobster meat, scallops, shrimp, calvados, cream

There is just something calming about dining to the smell of saltwater with the view of the ocean in front of you.  We were invited to Daytona Beach’s newest beachfront hotel and the fourth Hard Rock Hotel in Florida to check out their restaurant, Sessions, and stay overnight.  Our experience at Sessions was exceptional.  The food, service and energy was unlike any other media event that I have ever been to.  Our server named Pastor was fantastic.  I give Sessions 5-stars!

Dining at Sessions restaurant will exceed your expectations.  Luxurious rock-star style, contemporary decor and celebrity-style atmosphere coupled with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean adds to experience.  Dine on unforgettable breakfasts, savory lunch offerings and innovative suppers that will leave you wanting more.  Craft cocktails and libations are also available at Sessions indoor/outdoor bar.

Artisan Charcuterie & Cheese – Mini cornichons, pickled peppers stone mustard, sourdough

Tuna Tartare – Avocado, shallot, scallion, dash soy, wonton chips.  My favorite appetizer!

Crab Cakes – Spicy aioli, cucumber relish

New York Strip – Rainbow carrots, crispy onion, sautéed onions and bell peppers.  It was amazing!

Crème Brûlée – Strawberries, blueberries.  This dessert was perfect, so addicting!

Red Velvet Cheesecake – Philadelphia cream cheese frosting, strawberries, blueberries.  It was beautiful and delicious!


Constant Grind the total café experience, serving up hot and cold drinks, quick bites, house-made gelato, and more.

Take a plunge in the heated pool and enjoy the tunes from the underwater speakers or lounge on the oceanfront pool deck.

Wave Terrace is located on the third floor of Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach.  Wave Terrance is Daytona’s newest experience serving up local beer, craft cocktails and an inspired seafood menu featuring ceviche, gazpacho, fresh seafood towers and straight from the oven bread—in a chic casual atmosphere.  Add glowing fire pits and live music and you have a night out that can only be Hard Rock.

 

Frank Sinatra impersonator.  He sounded exactly like him!

The kiddie pool is shaped like a guitar

The Elvis impersonator got the crowd rocking the entire night!

Didn’t bring your yoga gear on tour at at Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach? #RockOm you covered. Experience peace of mind in the comfort of your hotel room with a yoga kit that includes a Manduka PROlite yoga mat and convenient Go Play carrier, all delivered to your room free of charge.  A regionally-inspired Yogitoes towel is also available for purchase. On-demand yoga videos are available on your hotel room TV, as well as on your personal device at HardRock.com.

Snap a pic of your best yoga pose around the hotel, post to instagram with the hashtag: #RockOm. If your pic is selected, you can win a custom Yogitoes Hard Rock yoga towel.

We throughly enjoyed our stay at Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach and we felt like celebrity rockstars the entire time.  The music-inspired property is only two months old as they just opened on May 1, 2018.  I highly recommend staying at this hotel during your next visit in Daytona Beach, FL!

(Source credit: Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach)

Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach
918 N Atlantic Ave, Daytona Beach, FL 32118
(386) 947-7300
http://hardrockhoteldaytonabeach.com

Today, I was humbled…inspired…by coffee. Axum Coffee in Winter Garden, to be exact. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true, one-hundred-percent of Axum’s profits are donated “to make a better world” (as clearly defined on their coffee menu above the counter).

Insert on Coffee Menu

Being the sometime skeptic I am, I needed further proof. I spoke to the charming and intelligent, young girl behind the counter who spilled the beans (get it…coffee beans…moving on). No lie, it’s a true statement. Profits go to the city of Axum, Ethiopia (hence the name of the coffee), a city void of clean water, adequate medical care, and streets over-crowded with orphans and beggars, most of which are physically-impaired in some way. For over ten years, since the coffee shop opened, Axum has been supplying the means necessary to help this community. However, their charity extends to other non-profit organizations as well (locally, nationally, and internationally). Organizations that fight human trafficking, aid women and children in need, place children in need of homes with loving families, and so on. Axum wants their coffee shop to be a place of openness in which people come together, to share ideas, in order to help those in need and our world as a whole, “We had been envisioning a gathering place for the community to do life together.  Not just a place about the coffee, tea, smoothies, pastries, panini and desserts, but rather a place about people in the community coming together around a cause.  A place about helping those in need: locally, nationally and internationally.  A place about giving instead of taking.  A place where guests are not just numbers, but people with stories to tell.  We wanted to find a way to tangibly touch the lives of people in need: orphans, human trafficking victims, the poverty-stricken, those without potable water, etc while creating a place that unites the local community.” (http://axumcoffee.com/our-story/)

Humbled by the giving attitude of Axum as I am, fantastic tasting coffee and food can’t hurt, right? First, I love the feeling of Axum in Winter Garden (Axum coffee can also be found in other locations in Clermont and Dr. Phillips), the industrial feel of the piping that covers the high ceilings, over-sized windows that gladly welcome in the Florida sun, plenty of comfy seating inside and out, with painted walls in tranquil hues of blue and mahogany.

Front Corner Seating in Axum

With so many specialty coffee combinations to choose from (plus the usual favorites), thankfully, I had a good friend with me who suggested I order the Creme Brûlée. So glad I did! Made with espresso, caramel sauce, vanilla syrup, your choice of milk, and topped with foam and sugar in the raw…this is my new favorite! I felt like I had dessert before lunch. Axum coffee is beyond smooth-tasting to begin with, but this drink takes it to a-whole-nother level. Not to mention, it’s pretty. Expertly decorated topping like a piece of art.

Creme Brûlée Espresso

Of course there are many other drink options to pick from: black, green, and herbal teas, smoothies, cold drinks like Italian soda, hot chocolate, and several types of coffee/espresso drinks (cold brew, french press, manual brew, Americano, Cappuccino, etc.) You can also take some delicious Axum coffee home with you (perfect for those days when you can’t make it out of the house because of some menial task like laundry, or your daughter is sick, you know…life…or, is that my life?).

Coffee To Go

As if my Creme Brûlée espresso wasn’t treat enough, of course, my hungry eyes had to try more. Not just pastries, muffins, and other sweet favorites, but Axum also offers savory bites (panini, quiche, bagels, etc). Now, you tell me your will-power is strong enough to resist these goodies:

After much back-and-forth with my friend (what do you want? – well, what do you want? – you pick – no, you pick…you know how that story goes, got to be polite and all), we settled on the Caprese Panini and Bacon Quiche to share. They were hard to share, but, we kept our cool. The Caprese Panini was perfectly toasted, buttery, with soft mozzarella, sweet tomatoes, and zesty pesto. Not heavy or dense, the Bacon Quiche tasted light and airy, but also had a perfect combination of savory and salty from the cheese and bacon.

Caprese Panini
Bacon Quiche

Cozy spot, heart-warming talk with an amazing friend, and delicious food, what could be better? How about something sweet to only confirm how much I love Axum?! Thankfully, my friend and I didn’t do the “what do you want” dance, and we quickly decided on what to order. We are smart women…we know our desserts. Next up – the Coconut Creme Bomb and Peanut Butter Pie. No lie, at first bite of the Coconut Creme Bomb, I rudely interrupted my friend’s story and said, “What is this? Why does it taste so good?” Simply fantastic! Imagine, if you can, your best Pina Colada flavor and favorite yellow cake, got together, and well, you get it. A perfect amount of white icing with flakes of coconut adorn the outside, and sweet, coconut cream nestled between two layers of soft, yellow cake on the inside. Heavenly. However, the Peanut Butter Pie is no slouch, and also deserves a bow. If you love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate (as I do), this pie is perfect for you. The chocolate pie crust is rich and the peanut butter is velvety.

Coconut Creme Bomb
Peanut Butter Pie

Axum also offers vegan sweets from CayCakes Bakery. If you read my last blog (of course you did), you will remember my husband is now on a vegan kick (no joke, we had vegan burgers last night for dinner), and after a brief phone conversation while I was enjoying my lunch at Axum, in which he told me he ate avocado with salt and olive oil for his lunch, I figured, I better bring something home for him. My husband was very happy with his vegan cinnamon bun and vegan cinnamon, brown sugar pop tart.

CayCakes Bakery Items Sold at Axum

I would say, after our two desserts, our lunch date was complete. It was exactly what I needed – a good cup of coffee, terrific food, and conversation with a loving friend. Also, in a comfortable and inviting spot – Axum Coffee in Winter Garden – doing “good” for the community here and far.

 

Axum Coffee

CayCakes Bakery

 

 

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

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

Well, hello!

I’m Major, TastyChomps.com’s newest contributing food writer. To kicks things off, I’ve conducted a Q&A with myself (we all talk to ourselves, right?).

My stories will include everything from chef interviews, recipe features and industry news to kitchen gadgets, healthy eats, foodie fashion and even workout tips to keep the pounds off!

Check back for stories and send suggestions! And, if you catch me cruisin’ down Orlando Avenue sipping cold brew blasting NPR, holla at me!

Q: When did you fall in love with food? 

A: October 4, 2006 was the day that my love affair with food began. It all started with a sweet introduction to Blue Bird Bake Shop’s Downside Up cupcake.

Q: Where are you from and what do you do? 

A: I’m a New York native turned avid Orlandoan. By day, I’m publicist at a super cool PR/creative agency in downtown Orlando, and at night, I’m fighting the good fight against boring snacks as a foodpreneur with Project Pop, my organic kettle corn company.

Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with top chefs and restaurants throughout the country, so I know my way around the kitchen. I am also obsessed with fitness, so check out my Instagram to follow my gym chronicles!

Q: What are you currently drinking? 

A: My everyday, fail-proof drink is Dandelion Communitea Cafe’s iced coffee with plain soy milk and one pump of agave. Go in, and tell them Major sent you. You will not regret it! I also just purchased a great bag of beans from Lucky Goat Coffee Co. in Tallahassee. It’s pretty amazing.

Coffee Shop

Q: What is always in your fridge?

A: Homemade cold brew, coconut water and at least three different types of organic greens

Q: Where do you shop for groceries? 

A: You can find me on Saturday mornings at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market, or shamelessly running around Trader Joe’s, while juggling 15 items in my hands.

Lemons

Q: What’s your earliest memory of food? 

A: My dad would sit me down for hours on Saturday mornings to sip water straight from fresh coconuts, while he watched karate movies. I have my dad to thank for my obsession with all things coconut.

Q: Current obsessions? 

A: Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar’s Vegan Tuna Melt,  Ashley Brooke Design tumblers, Bearded Brothers’ organic energy bars and Orlando-themed tanks from Go Big Tees.

Q: Where can we follow you on Instagram? 

A: @Majorcreates + @EatProjectPop

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

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We found out recently that there is a donut shop near by our house that makes all their donuts in house. With the recent opening of Donut King in Winter Park, it seems Orlando is ripe for a donut renaissance that would make even Homer J. Simpson proud.

Sip and Dip is located off of the main stretch of US-192 in sleepy St. Cloud. The place is run by a happy Thai couple and has been open for almost 20 years since opening here in 1996. The clientele is local and loyal, and I can see why.

The display case prominently placed in the center calls attention to your eyes immediately. The bright fluorescent lighting illuminates yellow trays of rainbow sprinkled glazed donuts, plump glazed bear claws, red velvet chocolate donuts, apple fritters, and many, many others. The display reminds me of Donut King for some reason, and even the smell and taste are similar – sweet and fluffy and altogether a delight to eat. One donut is $0.98, while buying in bulk at a dozen brings in an even better deal at $7.49 for a design. With quality and tastes like this, there is no reason ever to go back to the run of the mill Dunkin’ Donuts.

In addition to their heavenly donuts, Sip and Dip also offers a nice list of bagel and croissant sandwiches and kolaches, which are stuffed hot dog wrapped in bread with cheese and jalapeno peppers, fresh and hot.

The Thai owners even bring a taste of their home here with an assortment of Thai tea and flavored boba teas available for order.

I can’t wait to go back!

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Display case of wondrous donuts at Sip and Dip
Display case of wondrous donuts at Sip and Dip
Rainbow sprinkled vanilla frosting donuts
Rainbow sprinkled vanilla frosting donuts
Coconut and nuts donut
Coconut and nuts donut
Red velvet and more
Red velvet and more

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Assorted toys and gifts for the little ones
Assorted toys and gifts for the little ones
A beautiful mural of space and donuts - note, the big "dipper"
A beautiful mural of space and donuts – note, the big “dipper”
Bacon, egg, and cheese croissant - very good
Bacon, egg, and cheese croissant – very good
Jalapeno and cheese kolache hot dog in a bun
Jalapeno and cheese kolache hot dog in a bun
You know what's up
You know what’s up

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Sip and Dip Donuts – St. Cloud
Website: https://www.facebook.com/sipndip
Mon – Sat: 5:00 am – 11:00 pm
Sun: 5:00 am – 5:00 pm

Sip & Dip Donuts on Urbanspoon

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

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

THE BEST

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE REST

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

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

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Smashed Chicken Meatball Sandwich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Olive Garden on Urbanspoon

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barnie's coffeekitchen orlando

barnie's coffeekitchen orlando

barnie's coffeekitchen orlando

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I was recently invited to Barnie’s Coffeekitchen on Park Avenue to try their weekly chef’s dinner menu and talk to their management about some of the upcoming projects at Barnie’s.

Their dedication to community and food is refreshing and evident in their sourcing of local ingredients from local farms.

FarmToTable

Interview with Barnie’s Coffeekitchen Executive Chef Camilo Velasco, an alumni of Disney’s Victoria and Albert’s, Chef Norman Van Aken’s Norman at the Ritz Carlton and Tuyo in Miami.

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Ginger ruby red – sparkling Cava wine – poured over  ginger and ruby red grapfruit juice ice.

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barnie's coffeekitchen orlando

The weekly chef’s dinner menu is always changing and can be had at Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen on Park Avenue only Fridays and Saturday evenings for now

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Snapper ceviche crudo with Florida Citrus – orange, lemon, grapefruit marinade

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Wild Mushroom Tart – Hen of the Woods mushrooms in a rich truffle scented custard, baked in a flaky crust – one of my favorites!

barnie's coffeekitchen orlando

barnie's coffeekitchen orlando

Pompano wrapped in Bresaola with an herb potato gratin and tomato confit

barnie's coffeekitchen orlando

Moroccan Spiced Lam Rack – cooked sous vide – over a bed of Harissa spiced lentils and herb crusted potatoes.

barnie's coffeekitchen orlando

Roasted Figs with Tahitian Vanilla Gelato, Pedro Ximenez sherry

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Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen Executive Chef Camilo Velasco with Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen President/CEO Jonathon Smiga

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Dinner-Sept 2

All in all, the menu is very impressive and is definitely a must try. The kitchen wins extra kudos points for working in the limited space that they have and without real stoves – creativity points all around.

Barnie's CoffeeKitchen on Urbanspoon

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Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen recently opened a location at the downtown Orlando CityArts Factory at the corner of Pine St. and Orange Ave. The Winter Park based Barnie’s was founded in 1980 and has in recent years begun a transformation – led by CEO Jonathon Smiga – from being just another coffee shop on the block to something really special, focused on community and the craft of coffee brews.

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They are committed to supporting earth friendly and organic practices by offering a selection of Organic, Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance coffees and even have a roaster in house at their Park Avenue location.

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The coffee roaster at the Park Avenue location.

The most recent location is at

29 S. Orange ave.
Orlando, FL 32801
407.722.8363

Monday – Friday
7:30am – 5:30pm
Open late for Third Thursday at CityArts

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This Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen location has a more urban setting and a menu more conducive to takeout for eating outdoors or back at the office.

At its core, it shares the CoffeeKitchen values of crafted coffee drinks and farm to table foods. Espresso are hand-pulled off a La Marzocco Strada by seasoned baristas and each drink finished with a flourish of latte art.

A selection of high quality coffees microroasted at the Park Ave location, along with flavored favorites, are available by the cup using the Pour Over method, giving customers the epitome of custom hand-brewed coffee.

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Coffee Art – Paintings made with Coffee by Artist Steven Minkel

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The menu will offer locally sourced breakfast, lunch, and pastry options made from only the best ingredients. Pastries are baked fresh daily, bread is brought in from Olde Hearth Bread Co., and all salads and sandwiches are created by trained chefs. New dishes will be making their way into the space, such as a Caprese Panini, a Muffaletta, and European street savories such as salami or prosciutto ficelle sandwiches that are perfect to pair with a house-made soup or nutritious quinoa salad. For the morning crowd, add to your latte or micro-roast with a smoked salmon bagel, Breakfast Panini, or Energy Bowl – a frozen blend of Acai and other berries topped with bananas, Greek yogurt, and granola.

Barnie's CoffeeKitchen on Urbanspoon

BARNIE’S COFFEEKITCHEN GRAND OPENING AT CITY ARTS FACTORY – GIVEAWAY PACKAGE CONTEST
WIN a $50 Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen gift card, Barnie’s global blend coffee, a mug, and Barnie’s Blend Pronto ALL TOGETHER – Giveaway ends Tuesday October 1 at 12:00AM.

By doing ALL four things below:

1. Subscribe to TastyChomp’s E-mail Newsletter
2. Answer the question in the comments below: “What is your favorite Barnie’s coffee flavor?”
3. and 4. Like both Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen and TastyChomps on Facebook using the Rafflecopter thing below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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I first heard about this place via @TheDailyCity’s post and very cool video.

In the video, a young barista operates this almost chemistry lab type of set up to boil water in these beakers to make coffee, a method called siphoning. Truly a beautiful operation to observe in action if you have the chance.


A video I made at Vespr using the amazing Vine app on my phone

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In a siphon coffee brewer: when warmed by a heat source, vapor pressure increases in the lower chamber, forcing the water downwards and through the central pipe into the upper chamber where it is mixed with the coffee grounds. When the heat is removed, the water flows back down with the freshly brewed coffee.

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Co-founded by Full Sail grad Edd Siu, Vespr Craft Coffee and Allure is a beautiful space with dark woods, open air seating, and a very relaxing soundtrack with notes of The XX. Really a nice place to study or do some creative work. Plus students receive a 10% discount so make sure to bring your student I. D.

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They use the Japanese Hario syphon vacuum coffee maker system as an option for guests to taste a truly unique experience to have coffee here in Orlando. The standard method of brewing is through the use of the Trifecta, automated machine, kind-of like a super high tech French press.

The company uses freshly ground coffee that is made to order, with fair trade and fair priced coffee that is of single origin.

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Vespr is committed strongly to environmentally sustainable initiatives and you can see that in their use of compostable rather than oil-based cups and straws.

They also use small independent bakers and purveyors around the country like Orlando based Wondermade for their handcrafted marshmallows.

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Edd shows off the Barrel Smoked Iced tea – notes of cedar wood, mint, barrel aged maple syrup

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The Barrel smoked iced tea made with cold brewed black tea, mint, and a barrel aged maple syrup mixed with smoke.

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The smell bar where you can take in all the scents for your drink

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Single origin coffees (changes seasonally)…

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and Signature beverages most between $4 and $5

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Currently open 8:30am to 9pm, they hope to later open from 7am to 10pm. They are located on the west side of Waterford Lakes (a building down from the Panda Express). It’s easy to miss if you don’t look for it so make sure you look for it!

Also, this June 1, Saturday, is the grand opening of Vespr Craft Coffee and Allures from 5pm to 9pm and there will be live music, as well as contests and prizes.

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We are also giving away 5 pairs of tickets to Vespr for free beverage. To enter, e-mail us with the answer to the following question: “What is your favorite type of tea?” E-mail us at tastychomps@gmail.com – sorry the comment system is down!

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Vespr Craft Coffee and Allures on Urbanspoon

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