Desserts

Plant Street Food Tour Owners & Experience Guides, Matt Kent & Alyssa Hostetler are all smiles at The Whole Enchilada’s one-of-a-kind rooftop bar.

Launched in August, Plant Street Food Tour is a new walking food tour owned by Matt Kent & Alyssa Hostetler, a Winter Garden couple who are passionate about showing off the culinary scene on Plant Street in Historic Winter Garden.  They have hired their friends as Experience Guides, all of whom are foodies and entertainment professionals from the theme park and theater market in Orlando!  The food tour lasts from 90 mins to 2 hours and consists of taking a brisk walk down historic Plant Street with many tasty stops along the way, sampling delicious food and drinks from a variety of restaurants while learning some surprising history about downtown Winter Garden and their many small businesses.

Plant Street Food Tour offers 5 different food tours: Mornin’ Sunshine Brunch Tour, The Flavorhood Tour (the tour that I got to experience), Booze & Brews, A Sweet Treat, Date Night, or you can customize your food tour to your specific tastes and group size, making it perfect for any special occasion.

Prices start at $30 per person, but you can save $5 on any tour by using promo code CHOMP5 at checkout on plantstreetfoodtours.com

We began our tour by meeting at the Citrus Fountain on the intersection of South Boyd St and Plant Street.  Fun fact:  The spot where the Citrus Fountain is located was once a railroad track used to ship oranges.

First stop: Chef’s Table at the historic Edgewater Hotel

Duck fat fries with aioli from Chef’s Table was the first dish on our food tour.  I could not stop eating them, they were seriously addicting!  I wanted to eat all of it in one sitting but Matt let know me to save room for the other culinary delights that were remaining on our food tour so I took a few bites and packed the rest of the fries in a to-go box.  I am glad that Matt warned me because I was full by the end of our 2 hour food tour.

Everything is made from scratch at Chef’s Table.  Pictured: Mini beef wellington.

After dinner, we got to meet the manager at Chef’s Table, Matt Womick.

The cuban sandwich from Savoree were sooo good!  It was the best cuban sandwich that I’ve ever had!

The pastry selection at Axum Coffee.

Snickers iced coffee from Axum Coffee, it was good.  This coffee shop gives away all of their profits to a variety of charities.

Hasselhoff tacos and skrimp tacos (yum!) from The Whole Enchilada.  I loved the ambiance of their rooftop bar, I would have not known about this rooftop bar had it not been for the food tour.  I am so grateful and I am excited to share this restaurant with my friends.

Pastries at Rosallie Le French Cafe

Pistachio gelato

Plant Street Food Tour makes exploring Winter Garden’s historic downtown area cool, fun, and tasty!  For more information, visit plantstreetfoodtours.com

Bull & Bear’s Petite Filet of Beef and Stuffed Lobster Tail – chasseur sauce, potato pave, fresh arugula salad

We were invited to Waldorf Astoria Orlando for a media preview of their 8th Annual Food & Wine Weekends happening every weekend starting September 14, 2018 through November 11, 2018 at Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek.

The sister hotels are hosting Food & Wine Weekends, a complement to Epcot Food & Wine Festival, to celebrate fine wine & culinary arts designed for those who truly savor the artistry of fine culinary preparations.

Food & Wine Weekends features innovative dishes from their renowned restaurants, unique food and wine pairings, intimate chef talks, and interactive demonstrations.

The Taste of Zeta Asia

Mount Fuji Signature Roll – Crab salad, cucumber, tuna, yellowtail salmon, wasabi mayo, tobiko, micro cilantro

Kanji Signature Roll – Spicy salmon, cucumber, avocado, tobiko, sriracha, micro cilantro

Short Rib Bibimbap – Short rib, fried egg, blanched spinach, namul, Japanese rice, gochujang sauce

The Taste of La Luce

Lasagna Napolinata – Mozzarella di Bufala, tomato, basil

Risotto Duo Di Mare – Shrimp, scallops, saffron, English peas, oven roasted tomato, reggiano gremolata

The Taste of Bull & Bear

Petite Filet of Beef and Stuffed Lobster Tail – chasseur sauce, potato pave, fresh arugula salad

Raspberry mint mocktail

Bar du Chocolat at Peacock Alley, Saturdays 6:30pm-10:30pm – A decadent selection of à la carte chocolate treats hand-crafted by Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s world-class pastry team.  Highlights include chocolate truffles, exotic chocolate cakes and bowls of beautiful bon-bons.

La Pâtisserie: Master Pastry Class at Sir Harry’s, Fridays 4:30-5:30pm – Learn the secrets of the Waldorf Astoria Orlando world-class pastry team as they host a complimentary gourmet baking demonstration. From delicate pastries to the perfect cookie, you’ll learn tips on how to make, bake and decorate the perfect dessert.

Pop Culture at MYTH Bar, Saturdays 8pm-10pm

Home-made, fresh fruit popsicles, creamy organic ice pops and adult poptails!  Choose from a variety of gourmet toppings, including hand-dipped chocolate, caramelized almonds, sweet coconut and chocolate vermicelli.

For more information, please visit WaldorfAstoriaOrlando.com/food-wine and HiltonBonnetCreek.com/food-wine.

(Source: Waldorf Astoria Orlando)

Waldorf Astoria Orlando
14200 Bonnet Creek Resort Ln, Orlando, FL 32821
(407) 597-5500

Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
14100 Bonnet Creek Resort Ln, Orlando, FL 32821
(407) 597-3600

Fresh and delicious piña colada

We were invited to The Ritz-Carlton for an end of the summer pool bash at Bleu Pool Bar showcasing their new Latin & Caribbean inspired menu.  The food was excellent and the service was phenomenal.  The frozen drinks are always prepared with the freshest ingredients.

BLEU Nachos – Green Chile / Queso Blanco / Jalapeños / Cilantro Crema Guacamole / Pico de Gallo Roasted Salsa



Signature Tacos – Grilled Flour Tortilla / Cilantro Slaw / Roasted Salsa / Crema / Queso Fresco / Pique Verde

Carne Asada – Papaya-Marinated Skirt Steak

Chicken Verde – Roasted Chicken

Crispy Avocado – Tempura-Fried Avocado


BLEU Salad – Mixed Greens / Spiced Tostone / Heirloom Tomatoes / Feta / Crispy Quinoa / Breakfast Radish / Pickled Sweet Onion / Passion Fruit Dressing


Florida Tropical – 
Spinach & Lolla Rossa / Avocado / Mango / Pomegranate / Almonds / Creamy Coconut-Lime Vinaigrette


Conch Fritters – Homemade Jamaican Jerk Aioli


Ceviche – 
Ahi Tuna / Avocado / Mango Salsa / Plantain Chips



Make Your Own Sweet Taco – Assorted Toppings

Tada!!!  What a beautiful ice sculpture!

Be sure to check out the new menu at Bleu the next time you are at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando!

Bleu at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando
4012 Central Florida Parkway Orlando, FL 32837
(407) 206-2400
ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/florida/orlando/dining/bleu

We were invited to the magical Ravello at Four Seasons Orlando for a sneak peek and taste of their Magical Dining Month menu this year.  Our dinner was held in their private demonstration kitchen located in the back of the restaurant and it came complete with our own private chefs and wait staff.  It was truly a wonderful experience to be able to witness and smell all of our meals being cooked right in front of us by their talented and passionate chefs.  The food was outstanding and the wait staff took care of us so well as always.

What is Magical Dining Month?

  • 3 courses – Appetizer, Entrèe, and Dessert
  • Price: $35 per person plus tax & gratuity
  • Over 100 + participating restaurants
  • Beginning August 24 through September 30
  • Through Visit Orlando, one dollar from each meal will benefit Best Buddies and Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida.
    Click here to view menu and make reservations

Fresh dough from Italy

The talented Executive Chef Fabrizio Schenardi welcoming us to Ravello.

Choice of Appetizer

Frisella | Pappa al Pomodoro | Mozzarella – warm pugliese bread, extra virgin olive oil, mozzarella, greens

Chef Riccardo Sala preparing a delicious course for us!

Calamari | Fregola – sauteed calamari, fregola, crunchy zucchini, grape

Choice of Entrèe

Brasato e Polenta – braised beef Piedmont style, Barbera wine sauce, soft polenta

Florida Red Fish | Rapini | Salsa Verde – red fish, bell pepper, broccoli rabe, garlic, salsa verde, potato

Reginette Pasta | Gamberi | Melanzane – shrimp, reginette pasta, eggplant, olives, marjoram, tomato sauce

Choice of Dessert


Torta Della Nonna
– honey, pine nuts, raspberry

Salted Caramel Budino – chocolate, coffee, vanilla cream

Add a Course


Veal -Parmesan-Breadcrumb Crust, Tomato Fonduta

Spaghetti – homemade spaghetti, San Marzano tomato, crunchy basil ($9)

Margherita Pizza – tomato, basil, mozzarella ($16)


Umbria Coffee Tiramisu ($5)

Big thank you and princess kisses to Four Seasons Orlando publicist Dana Berry for the invite & the chefs and wait staff at Ravello for the exceptional meal and service as always!!

Please contact Private Dining Coordinator Robbie Wilcox at (407) 313-6914 if you’d like to reserve the private demonstration kitchen for your next event.

Ravello at Four Seasons Resort Orlando
10100 Dream Tree Blvd Orlando, FL 32836
(407) 313-6161

You must check out Big Fin Seafood Kitchen this year during Magical Dining Month if you want a delicious meal for a great value.  Big Fin Seafood Kitchen, voted “Best Seafood Restaurant in Orlando“,  offers global, fresh seafood, steaks and pasta, on Sand Lake Road.  This is their 9th year participating in Magical Dining Month.

What is Magical Dining Month?

  • 3 courses – Appetizer, Entrèe, and Dessert
  • Price: $35 per person plus tax & gratuity
  • Over 100 + participating restaurants
  • Beginning August 24 through September 30
  • Through Visit Orlando, one dollar from each meal will benefit Best Buddies and Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida.
    Click here to view menu and make reservations

Choice of Appetizer

½ Dozen Freshly Shucked Raw Oysters – can be served raw (1st pic) or steamed (2nd pic)


Caesar Salad – Romaine, Parmesan cheese, garlic croutons

Cup of the Soup of the Day – Manhattan Clam Chowder

Choice of Entrèe


Shrimp Orleans – blackened shrimp, spinach, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, crawfish Parmesan grits with a Cajun cream sauce

Broiled Main Lobster Tail – served with garlic mashed potatoes and French style green beans

Filet Mignon – served with garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus

Big Fin Trio – deep fried popcorn shrimp, bay scallops and catfish served with French fries and coleslaw

Upgrade: Add a 3 oz broiled lobster tail to any entree +$12

Choice of Dessert

“Apple Pie” Bread Pudding – braised cinnamon apples, salted caramel sauce, crumb topping, vanilla ice cream

Ooey Gooey – a gooey-layered pie cake topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and raspberry (ask your server for today’s flavor)

Key Lime Pie – a Florida favorite topped with whipped cream & a lime slice

Thank you Visit Orlando for hosting us and thank you Big Fin Seafood Kitchen for the amazing dinner and service!

Big Fin Seafood Kitchen
8046 Via Dellagio Way Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 615-8888

Pork Chop – sweet potato puree, collard greens, onion jam

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month is fast approaching!  We were invited to James Beard Award nominee, The Ravenous Pig to preview their 3-course (appetizer, entrée and dessert) Magical Dining Month menu.  The menu is available to the public Friday, August 24 through Sunday, September 30 for $35 plus tax & gratuity. This year, through Visit Orlando, one dollar from each meal will benefit Best Buddies and Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida.

Choice of Appetizer

Steak Tartare – capers, egg, shallot, toast

Shrimp & Grits – Cape Canaveral shrimp, Anson Mills grits, green tomato chutney, chorizo oil

Gatherer Salad – baby greens, avocado, pickled beets, radish, goat cheese, pistachio granola, herb vinaigrette

Choice of Entrèe

Mushroom Risotto – summer mushrooms, parmesan broth, chili oil with black truffle supplement

Black Grouper – chana masala, cucumber raita

Pork Porterhouse upgrade

Choice of Dessert

Coffee Panna Cotta – persimmon sorbet, chocolate cardamom shortbread, compressed persimmons

Spiced Citrus Cake – elderflower chantilly, bay leaf crumble, poached pears

Thank you Sweet Rockaway PR for the invite and thank you Chef James Petrakis and The Ravenous Pig for the amazing service and dinner!  Be sure to check out The Ravenous Pig this year for Magical Dining Month!

For more information, please visit: visitorlando.com/magicaldining/restaurants/The-Ravenous-Pig/44356/

The Ravenous Pig
565 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 628-2333

JINYA Ramen Bar officially opens today!  Experience Japanese offerings and ramen at the Thornton Park District like it was meant to be – with thick, rich broth in perfect balance with handmade noodles.  We got a sneak peek of JINYA Ramen Bar yesterday during their media event and we are very happy with this new addition in the downtown Orlando area.

Crispy Chicken – juicy fried chicken thigh with an original garlic pepper served with mixed baby greens and JINYA’s original ponzu sauce.  It was delicious!

Spicy Tuna Taco – spicy tuna in a crispy wonton taco shell.  This was so good!!  You gotta try this one!

JINYA Quinoa Salad – baby greens, green kale, broccoli and white quinoa, kidney beans, garbanzo beans tossed with goma seasame dressing, corn and cherry tomatoes

JINYA Bun – steamed bun stuffed with slow braised pork chashu, cucumber, and baby mixed greens served with JINYA’s original bun sauce and kewpie mayonnaise.  One of the better buns in Orlando!  The flavors were on point!

Chicken Chashu Bowl – slow-braised chicken breast “chashu”, ground chicken sober, spinach, green onion, rice, seasoned egg, sesame seeds

Sake

Spicy Chicken Ramen – chicken broth, chicken chashu, spinach, spicy bean sprouts, green onion, served with thin noodles

A sample of the JINYA Tonkotsu Black

JINYA Tonkotsu Black – pork broth, pork chashu, kikuragem green onion, nori dried seaweed, seasoned egg, garlic chips, garlic oil, fried onion, spicy sauce served with thin noodles.  This one was my favorite!

Panna Cotta – homemade panda cotta with caramel cream sauce, graham cracker, vanilla ice cream

Behind the scenes shot from yesterday’s media event!


A special appearance by the chef from Japan.  Thank you Chef and JINYA Ramen Bar owner Trang Liao for having us!  Be sure to check out JINYA Ramen Bar – Thornton Park soon for some delicious food!

JINYA Ramen Bar
8 N Summerlin Ave Orlando, Florida
(407) 704-1825
http://jinya-ramenbar.com

Tijuana Flats is bringing together the best of both tacos and burgers for one epic mashup of deliciousness – a tortilla filled with ground beef, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, ketchup and mustard.

For a limited time try two Cheeseburger Tacos with seasoned fries for just $7.89.

The Cheeseburger Taco will be available at all Tijuana Flats locations now through September 9.

Add Fries & Queso
Side – $2.99
Appetizer – $5.29

Or try the Cheeseburger Tacos with these popular menu items:

Tijuana Trio – A basket of warm chips, with a side of handmade salsa, queso or guacamole.

Cookie Dough Flautas – Chocolate chip cookie dough loaded into a flour tortilla, lightly fried & topped with powdered sugar. Served with a side of chocolate syrup.

(Source: Tijuana Flats)

Tijuana Flats
94693 Gardens Park Blvd., Orlando, FL 32839
(407) 965-5090
https://tijuanaflats.com

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

Atlantic Salmon – Quinoa, kale, preserved lemon, almond, black olive

We were invited to DoveCote Brasserie (voted Best Restaurant 2018 by Orlando Magazine) for an intimate evening with representatives from Sonoma County Winegrowers to talk current events in Sonoma County and predictions on the 2018 harvest season while enjoying a delicious meal.

Our wonderful host Amy Landolt, Director of Marketing & Public Relations, provided an annual update on Sonoma County’s progress in its initiative to become the first 100% U.S. sustainable wine region by 2019.  We also talked about how the huge wildfires breakouts in Sonoma County affected their vineyards.

We were relieved to hear that their vineyards did not burn because there is so much moisture in the vines.  The vineyards acted as a natural fire break, not only surviving, but helping to slow and stop the spread of wildfires – as seen below in the picture from the Sonoma County Winegrowers’ 4th Annual Sustainability Report.  We also learned that helicopters picked up water from the vineyards’ irrigation ponds (the blue image below) to put out wildfires.

Amy informed us that celebrity chef Guy Fieri is from Santa Rosa, CA in Sonoma County and he has stepped in to help feed first responders and victims of the tragic wildfires in the area.  He is seriously an amazing GUY!!!

More pictures from the Sonoma County Winegrowers wine-pairing dinner below:

Country Pate – Grilled ciabatta, house mustard, pickled cauliflower

Although I did not partake in any consumption of wine, I heard raving reviews about each and every one of them from the other guests at our table.  La Follette Chardonnay was the fan favorite of the evening.

DC Caramelized Onion Soup – Oxtail onion broth, ciabatta, comte cheese

Braised Short Ribs – Potato confit, trumpet mushrooms, red wine reduction

Rachel Thralls, Sonoma County Wine Education Consultant

Coffee mousse, bay leaf crumbs, whipped cream

For more information, please visit sonomawinegrape.org.

(Source: Sonoma County)

DoveCote Brasserie
Bank of America Center, 390 N Orange Ave #110, Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 930-1700
dovecoteorlando.com

Fried Chicken & Doughnuts – two pieces of Chef Art’s famous fried chicken served with house-made sugar doughnuts.

Home is where Chef Art is.  No matter how far his travels have taken him – from being Oprah’s personal chef to opening four incredible restaurants across the country – Celebrity Chef Art Smith calls Florida home. Now, Chef Art has returned to share his farm fresh Florida dishes with you.

A two-time James Beard Foundation award winner, was Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef for 10 years and cooked for two Florida governors in Tallahassee.

The name Homecomin’ Florida Kitchen is a nod to Chef Art’s return to Walt Disney World after his first cast role in The Magic Kingdom College Program in 1981, now known as the Walt Disney World College Program.” -Homecomin’ Kitchen

“Welcome home!”  We were invited to Homecomin’ Kitchen in Disney Springs to check out their new brunch menu that runs every Sunday from 10am – 2pm.  The manager Allen and our server Jesus gave us their full attention despite the restaurant being crazy packed along with long line.  With 13 servers running on floor and 1 bartender: our fabulous Florida Southern cuisine food came out timely and fresh.

Walk-ins accepted.  Reservations are not required but highly recommended.

Momma’s Mac and Cheese

Potato Gratin Mash

Cheddar Cheese Drop Biscuits With a Side of Hot Honey & Sawmill Gravy

Fried Catfish (from the main menu) – Accompanied by Hushpuppies, Grits & a Side of Remoulade

Florida Grouper (from the main menu) – Fresh Grilled Grouper, Braised Kale, Collard Greens with French Fries


Hummingbird Cake – The famous pineapple-banana cake with cream cheese frosting from Chef Art’s bestselling cookbook “Back To The Table”.  Served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Beautifully painted wall.

The tree that was used for this table was struck by lightning so you can see lightning scars on it.

Chef Art Smith’s James Beard Foundation Awards

Be sure to check out Homecomin’ Kitchen soon for their new Sunday brunch!

Homecomin’ Kitchen
1602 East Buena Vista Drive, Orlando, FL 32830
(407) 560-0100
homecominkitchen.com

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

The 5th Annual Bite Night presented by Publix Aprons Cooking School was held at the Orchid Garden & Ballroom at Church Street this past Monday.  Bite Night is the grand finale of Bite30 and the premiere of Bite Magazine 2018.  The event featured over 20 of the city’s top local restaurants and chefs serving bite-size samples of their most creative dishes, plus an open bar, live entertainment, silent auction and benefiting Edible Education Experience.  Chef Kathleen Blake of The Rusty Spoon was awarded with the inaugural Bite Award for her outstanding contributions to the culinary community.

Upcoming events: United We Brunch flash sale is happening now! It’s just like Bite Night, but Bloody Mary’s, Mimosas, Bacon & Eggs! Get tickets at UnitedWeBrunch.com

(Source credit: Orlando Weekly)

Duck & Drake Kitchen – Ouinoa Verde Sliders – Edamame, Garbanzo & Quinoa Patties with Avocado Aioli served with Root Vegetable Chips

Tartine Orlando –  Crab and Shrimp Stack with Avocado Mousse, Spice Crème Fraiche and Pickled Onions

El Buda – Shrimp Chicharron with Peking Style Duck

K Restaurant – Seasonal Florida Fish/Crudo with Traditional Accompaniments and Gazpacho Sauce

Urbain 40 – Yellowfun Tuna Tataki, Wakame & Pickled Vegetable Slaw, Gochujang Aioli, Cilantro Oil & Sweet Soy, Cahaba Farms Spicy Greens

Publix Apron Cooking School – Butter Poached Florida Rock Shrimp, Corn Nage, and Handmade Pasta

Hunger Street Tacos – Octopus Aquachile

Hibiscus Tomatillo Avocado Cilantro

Watermelon in Mezcal

Key Lime Mousse Chile Pequin

The Glass Knife – Spumoni Cake Bite

The Glass Knife – Mini Crème Brûlée Doughnut

The Glass Knife – Lemon Meringue Tart

The Stubborn Mule – Cauliflower Salad

The Tipsy Cookie – Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookie, Royal Caramel Apple Cookie

Andy’s Frozen Custard – Vanilla Custard with Crushed Oreos

Crudo – Huckleberry Tomato, Arugasabi, Lemon, Salmon, Grouper, Tuna

Key West Pink Shrimp on a Grit Cake with Tase Gravy

Orlando Meats – Buttermilk Glazed Doughnuts 

Orlando Meats – Port Rillettes – Fermented radish, sourdough, kewpie

Tartine – Cinnamon Sugar Pork Rinds with Cream Cheese Glaze

Escargot with Garlic Herb Butter served with House-Made Petite Danish Cup

Pizzeria Roberti – Beet and Mozzarella Salad with Hazelnut Whip

Won this cooler bag from the Topgolf prize wheel

The Sugar Sow – Bacon Mac N’ Cheese

Publix Aprons Cooking School – Mahi-Mahi Ceviche, Toasted Fennel Salted Watermelon Slices

Artisan’s Table – Kielbasa Sliders – Creamy Mustard & Onion Sauce

Devine Wine & Grill – Beet Salad with Ahi Tuna

Cuban Mojo Chicken

Violectric – an electric string quintet plus keyboards and drums performing classic and modern rock tunes.  They were amazing!

Pork Ramen – Bean sprouts, menma, mayu, beni shoga, hard boiled egg, tonkotsu broth, scallion

We were invited to Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi to check out their new Unlimited Izakaya Lunch, available every Sunday from 11am – 2:30pm.  Reservations are required – call (407) 370-3359 to reserve your spot.

Adults: $39.00
Children (5-12): $19
Under 5: FREE

All-You-Can-Drink Mimosa, Cucumber Infused Bloody Mary, Saké Sangria: $15 per person

Virgin Sangria

Hand Roll & Nigiri Sushi Station – Your choice of: Tuna, Yellowtail, Salmon, White Fish

Steam Bun & Carving Station

White Fish Bun – Japanese tartar sauce, lettuce, tomato

Roasted Garlic Herb Strip Loin – Shiso pesto and Japanese horseradish

Gyoza – Pork dumplings, la-yu soy vinegar

Japanese Slider – Beef burger on fresh baked bun, shies, fried shallots, cabbage, tomato, honey wasabi mayo

Chicken Katsudon – Egg, onions, carrot, scallion, togarashi

Crispy Shrimp – Candied walnuts, jalapeño, cilantro, garlic yuzu mousseline

Takoyaki (Octopus Fritters) – Octopus, Japanese mayo, takoyaki sauce, aonori, bonito flakes, beni shoga

Curry Rice – Pork, carrots, potato

Robata Grilled Vegetables – Corn, turnips, baby carrots

Tuna, White Fish, Salmon

Build Your Own Poké

Dessert-of-the-day – Brownie Cake and Passion Fruit Tart

Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi
7972 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 370-3359
http://dragonflyrestaurants.com/orlando-florida/

We were invited to a media preview at the new Zero Degrees, an Asian-Hispanic fusion chain with unique drinks and snacks.  We tried a few of the menu items and my favorite one of them all was the Strawberry Milk Boba Tea topped with fresh chopped strawberries, pictured above.


Mangonada – Mango slush with chamoy, Tajin and fresh mango chunks

Spicy dole whip – Pineapple Dole Whip float with fresh strawberries, dressed in chamoy and Tajin

Matchata & Vietnamese iced coffee split cup

Zero Degrees
5282 W Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32808
(407) 487-4597
zerodegreescompany.com

Ocean’s Bounty Sustainable Fish and Sea Salt Dusted Filet Mignon – Harvest Vegetable Melange, Leek Fondue and Cassis Red Wine Demi by Chef Tim Majoras, Flying Fish

When Disney chefs collaborate with Second Harvest Food Bank for a good cause, beautiful things happen.  It was an honor to attend this charity dinner as a media guest.

Chefs from Disney’s BoardWalk Resort Restaurants prepared a delicious dinner at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida as part of the Chef’s Night Series. The team was led by Andrew Larkin, Executive Chef, Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and will include Chef Rich Smich, Trattoria al Forno; Chef Paul Napoli, ESPN Club; Chef Tim Majoras, Flying Fish; Pastry Chef Kurtis Baguley, Disney’s BoardWalk Resort restaurants and Sommeliers Katie Hanewall, Trattoria al Forno and Ted Letsch, Flying Fish.

Chef’s Night brings Central Florida’s top chefs into Second Harvest’s Community Kitchen to celebrate delicious food and raise funds for a good cause.  All proceeds benefit Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program, which provides students with the skills and inspiration they need to obtain an entry-level position in a food service establishment.

Hor d’oeuvres

Insalata Salad – House-Pulled Mozzarella, Heirloom Tomatoes and Aged Balsamic
Chef Rich Smich, Trattoria al Forno

Spring Gnocchi  – Carrot, Celery, Onion, Pea and Corn.  Loved this dish!  I could have eaten it all night!
Chef Rich Smich, Trattoria al Forno

Ciabatta Rolls with Ricotta Cheese and Herb Oil

Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad – Baby Kale, Brussel Sprouts, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Ciabatta Bread Crisp
Chef Paul Napoli, ESPN Club


Ocean’s Bounty Sustainable Fish and Sea Salt Dusted Filet Mignon – 
Harvest Vegetable Melange, Leek Fondue and Cassis Red Wine Demi
Chef Tim Majoras, Flying Fish

Vahlrona Chocolate Semolina Torta  – Brachetto Raspberry Crema
Mascarpone Cream Mousse – 
Blueberry Lime Compote, Hibiscus Meringue and Rye Bourbon Caramel
Pastry Chef Kurtis Baguley, Disney’s Boardwalk Resort

Be sure to check out the next out the next Chef’s Night happening on August 30, 2018.  Join the Tasty Trio, three deliciously experienced food and wine experts Tonda Corrente, owner of La Femme Du Fromage, Lisa Wilk, founder of Orlando Uncorked, and Jill Ramsier, co-owner of Quantum Leap Winery for a 4-Course dinner journey where wine, cheese and chocolate confections by Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park are featured in every course.  Tickets available at https://linktr.ee/feedhopenow.

More pictures from the most recent Chef’s Night below:

(Source credit: Second Harvest Food Bank)

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
411 Mercy Drive Orlando, FL
407-514-1070

FeedHopeNow.org

Urban Hibachi in Lake Nona (located near PDQ) will be officially open this Saturday, June 2, at 11 a.m.  The restaurant will be offering a grand opening discount of 25% off all day.

Keep scrolling for more pictures from the Urban Hibachi in Lake Nona pre-opening media event this past Wednesday.

Steak Hibachi

Salmon Carpaccio

Urban Hibachi owner (middle) takes photo with friends and family.

Miso Soup and Ginger Salad

Spicy Maguro Sunshine

Salmon Hibachi

Urban Poke Bowl

Volcano Roll

Bainstorm Roll

We got our dessert togo and it was still delicious!  Green tea tiramisu was my favorite!

Fried cheesecake xangos.  This dessert is typically served with vanilla ice cream but since we got ours togo, we got an extra serving of fried cheesecake in place of vanilla ice cream.

Be sure to check out Urban Hibachi – Lake Nona soon for some beautiful and delicious food!

Urban Hibachi – Lake Nona
11954 Narcoossee Road, Suite 101
Orlando, Florida 32832

Shrimp Medeterraneo – Sautéed shrimp in extra virgin olive oil, with scallions in a homemade butter sauce. This was my favorite dish!

Bella Italia Ristorante is an authentic Italian restaurant that opened a year and a half ago in Winter Garden and they are truly a great addition to the area.  Bella Italia Ristorante serves century-old family recipes in a clean and elegant dining room that’s accessible and comfortable for families.  Family owned and operated by husband and wife team Leonard and Dorina Kodra, Bella Italia Ristorante takes pride in being the neighborhood spot everyone feels welcome to for Sunday dinner — and all week long.  Bella Italia Ristorante wants their guests to feel like family, and puts great emphasis on providing friendly and sincere service where you can feel the warmth from their staff.

Beautiful restaurant, lovely owners, excellent authentic Italian food and great service.  My mom and I thought the food was the best Italian food we’ve ever had.  We both highly recommend this place!

When I walked in there was a musician in the dining room playing on his keyboard while singing “You are so beautiful to me”.  I love hearing that song because because it reminds me of when Alfalfa sung it to Darla in The Little Rascals!

Media guests dining at the communal table

Meatball Parmesan – Homemade meatballs served in our homemade marinara sauce topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

Bruschetta – A traditional topping of garlic, chopped mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil, and shaved parmesan cheese. Served with toasted bread.

Shrimp Medeterraneo – Sautéed shrimp in extra virgin olive oil, with scallions in a homemade butter sauce.

Calamari Fritti – Calamari finely dusted in a light flour crust, fried, and served with marinara sauce.

House Salad with Ranch Dressing

Housemade Cheesecake

Be sure to check out Bella Italia Ristorante the next time you are in the Winter Garden area, you will love it!

(Source credit: Bella Italia Ristorante)

Bella Italia Ristorante
13848 Tilden Rd #192, Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 347-3277
bellaitaliaristorantefl.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The space is clean and impeccably designed.

Citrus Club offers amazing food with amazing views.

General Manager Jeff Jump welcomes media guests.

Executive Chef Relner Drygala goes over the new menu.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Side of fried okra.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Amuse bouche – foie gras donut.


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

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


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

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

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

Michael D. Allen – manager and amazing host.


The talented Executive Chef Venoy Rogers III.


Left to right:

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


Daniel Castillo – our engaging and interactive certified sommelier.


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

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

We were invited to check out Sofra Mediterranian Grill located next to The Orlando Eye and we really enjoyed our visit.  The food had a lot of flavor, the staff was nice and engaging, and the restaurant was relaxing and beautiful.  I highly recommend this restaurant to everyone!

Happy Hour is from 4pm-7pm every day.  Enjoy 1/2 off hand-crafted cocktails, $4 beer, and $4 shooters.

Hummus with fresh baked pita (a must!)

Family platter (really flavorful!)


Zaatar manakish

Chocolate lava cake

Be sure to check out Sofra Mediterranian Grill next to The Orlando Eye soon for some flavorful food and a welcoming atmosphere!

Sofra Mediterranian Grill
8371 International Dr #60, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 930-8645
http://soframediterraneangrill.com

I’m worried about my husband. A couple weeks ago, he ate at a vegan restaurant…and liked it. Last week, he made a sandwich with vegan cheese and vegan mayonnaise. But, it wasn’t until he came home with vegan bacon from Publix, that I knew he had truly gone to the dark side. This may not seem suspicious to most, but this is coming from a man who rolls his eyes when I suggest humus as an appetizer, and who proudly wears a t-shirt with the phrase Part Wolf embroidered on the front. So, twenty questions later, the five stages of grief behind me, I now accept the fact that my husband isn’t a complete traitor, he just simply likes eating vegan (on occasion). Hey, I can be vegan too (on occasion), and after eating at Dixie Dharma and Valhalla Bakery, I can eat vegan AND love it!

Dixie Dharma and Valhalla Bakery are both located inside Market on South in Downtown Orlando on South Street. I had the pleasure of trying Dixie Dharma’s Beet Tartare during the Beard in Baldwin event a few weeks ago, and I immediately knew I would visit the establishment soon (don’t tell my husband). To my over-joyed surprise, upon entering Market on South, I also found Valhalla Bakery (I stalk their donuts on Instagram). My vegan dreams came true: dinner and dessert! Now, this was by far not a date night. In a moment of sheer insanity, my husband and I decided to go as a family of four. Our ten-year-old son is an adventurous eater, but our seven-year-old daughter is not. Our chances of a happy dinner is always 50/50. Thankfully, Market on South is a kid-friendly environment with inside and outside seating, and tons of local craft beer and wine to choose from. Which is exactly what we ordered first: Quantum Leap Winery Kaley’s Rescue Red and Quantum Leap Winery Garda White. Both drinks were the rescue we needed. The red and the white are smooth and easy on the palate, with no bitter aftertaste. Thank you, Market on South, for a heavy pour (see…kid-friendly).

Quantum Leap Winery Garda White, Quantum Leap Winery Kaley’s Rescue Red

While we sipped on wine and the kids drank their Martinelli’s Gold Medal Apple Juice in the old-school glass bottle (the kids loved this), we decided on dinner. Thankfully, Dixie Dharma offers vegan hotdogs. A perfect choice for my picky-eater! But, will she be fooled…stay tuned. My son, a huge lover of chili, cheese dogs, ordered the HillBilly Chili Dawgs. My husband (#1 healthy eater) ordered four Nopales Tacos, and I ordered the Florida Fried Green Tomato (the secret’s in the sauce…get it?). Our meals would not be complete without sides. Dixie Dharma offers three different versions of mac and cheese: original, garlic, and buffalo. We decided on the original and buffalo, plus a side of Crispy Brussels and Cheesy Homies. Don’t forget: everything you are about to see is 100% vegan.

HillBilly Chili Dawgs with Cheesy Homies
Nopales Tacos
Florida Fried Green Tomato with Crispy Brussels and Original Mac and Cheese
Buffalo Mac and Cheese

My son’s chili dogs (of course I had a taste), were no ordinary hotdogs. Two vegan, not-dogs in pretzel buns, covered in house-made, Indian-spiced, chili and cheese sauce, with blackened onion and scallions. The chili alone was amazing! It was spicy but also sweet, and I loved the texture of the hearty beans. After two chili dogs, my son tapped-out (a win for my husband and I), and we finished off his side of Cheesy Homies. I need a bigger plate of these. Imagine a bowl of mini baked potatoes covered in cheese…and then imagine yourself smiling.

Tacos with jackfruit and cactus…any takers? I know that sounds crazy, but, it’s truly delicious, and it completely satisfied my need for meat. My taste buds were fooled! The Nopales Tacos are made with jackfruit carnitas, smoked Nopales cactus, blackened onions and corn, chili lime aioli, and pickled radish on a grilled corn shell. I love tacos: steak, chicken, fish, and now…jackfruit and cactus! I am simply amazed by the taste of these tacos. The jackfruit and cactus is tenderly cooked and shredded, creating a perfect bed for the crunchy pickled radish and tangy aioli. These are no dainty tacos, they are filling. We mistakenly ordered more than we had room for…but guess who is having them for lunch tomorrow…me (I bet you guessed my husband).

Finally, on to my dish: the Florida Fried Green Tomato. A delicious sandwich of Texas toast, thick-sliced green tomato, breaded, and deep-fried, with smoked, eggplant remoulade, toped with garlicky kale and the house chow-chow. Crunchy and tender at the same time. The tomato is sweet and lightly breaded, giving it an airy feeling instead of the greasy, fried food effect. My husband liked this sandwich so much, he finished one of my halves (and that’s why I’m eating his leftover tacos). My side of mac and cheese, made with creamy cashew, was silky and velvety, cheesy-perfection, with a crunchy, bread crumb topping. The Buffalo Mac and Cheese was just as good as the original, but with a spicy kick from the buffalo sauce. The Crispy Brussels were also outstanding! Charred in all the right places, mush-free (is that a word), without the bitter aftertaste some brussels sprouts dishes can have. Honestly, I know brussels sprouts get a bum rap, but Dixie Dharma does them proud.  So, did we enjoy our dinner? Was my daughter fooled by her vegan hotdog? What do you think:

Dinner is Done

Obviously, we loved our dinner at Dixie Dharma, and we will return, more than just occasionally. Dinner is done, but there is always room for dessert! My son, who couldn’t eat another bite, mysteriously had room for a S’mores Bar, while the rest of us shared Coconut Cream Pie and a Sprinkled Vanilla Cupcake. All egg free, dairy free, and vegan (not gluten free…that’s a whole other conversation). Thank you, Valhalla Bakery, for these fantastic goodies! I was shocked by the amount of sweets to choose from: cookies, brownies, blondies, doughnuts, pies, cakes, cupcakes, you name it!

Valhalla Bakery – Take Your Pick!
Coconut Cream Pie
S’mores Bar and Sprinkle Vanilla Cupcake

My poor son, we all had a couple bites of his S’mores Bar, which was chocolatey, chewy goodness. The Coconut Cream Pie was luscious and rich, and refreshingly not too sweet. Our Sprinkle Vanilla Cupcake had the perfect amount of thick, vanilla frosting, to match the spongey, vanilla cake. It had the ideal frosting to cake ratio. By the way, when it comes to sweets, my daughter is adventurous (she tried all three desserts without being asked, and loved them all).

No, I’m not a true vegan (neither is my husband, don’t let him fool you), but I am a fan of creative and tasty dishes…which Dixie Dharma and Valhalla Bakery have mastered with their vegan fare. Therefore, I am a huge fan of Market on South, and I am greatly looking forward to my next meal there (sans kids).

 

Dixie Dharma

Valhalla Bakery

Quantum Leap Winery

Market On South

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Truffled tots

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

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

Complimentary game lounge

Outdoor bar

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

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

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

Gardender’s Cup & Bushwood Clubhouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source credit: Drive Shack)

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

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