Coffee

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.

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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.

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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

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

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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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