Desserts

Here’s your guide on where to find holiday desserts and drinks at Universal Orlando!  The desserts are made fresh daily by R & D Chef Robert Martinez Jr. and his pastry team.

Holiday Desserts:

  • Red Velvet Yule Log – You can find a slice at Croissant Moon Bakery in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, as well as the Beverly Hills Boulangerie and San Francisco Pastry Company in Universal Studios Florida

  • Apple Strudel on a Stick – Drizzled with Christmas color frosting, this apple strudel on a stick is a must! Found at Croissant Moon Bakery in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, as well as the Beverly Hills Boulangerie and San Francisco Pastry Company in Universal Studios Florida

Additional treats: Reindeer cupcakes, waffles on a stick, cheesecakes, ribbon pastries and a variety of sugar cookies (found in multiple locations around the parks)

  • Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen Holiday Treats – Unique holiday treats are featured at the display case in Toothsome. Items include: Candy Cane Cheesecake Truffle Pop, Chocolate Dipped Bacon with red and green sprinkles, Snickerdoodle Macaron, Peppermint Cheesecake Macaron, Cranberry Cheesecake Macaron, Spiced Cranberry Truffle Cake, Peppermint Gingerbread Artisan Cake, Snickerdoodle Truffle, Peppermint Cheesecake Chocolate Shots, Eggnog Specialty Chocolate, Candy Cane Cheesecake Specialty Chocolate

Festive Sips:

  • Cranberry Margarita – Can be found at Finnegan’s Bar & Grill in Universal Studios Florida and Mythos in Universal’s Islands of Adventure

o   Ingredients: Tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice and cranberry juice shaken and served on the rocks. Garnish with a lime wedge, fresh cranberries and a sugar/salt rim

  • Pumpkintini – Can be found at Mythos in Universal’s Islands of Adventure

o   Ingredients: Dark rum, orange liqueur, apple cider and pumpkin puree garnished with a cinnamon sugar rim

  • Apple Cider Irish Mule – Can be found at Lombard’s Seafood Restaurant in Universal Studios Florida

o   Ingredients: Irish whiskey stirred with apple cider, topped with ginger beer and a cinnamon stick and apple slices for garnish

  • Harvest Margarita – Can be found at Confisco Grille at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

o   Ingredients: Tequila, Cointreau, nectar agave, apple cider, pumpkin puree, lime juice. Garnished with a cinnamon sugar rim

  • Apple Pie on the Rocks – Can be found at Finnegan’s Bar & Grill in Universal Studios Florida

o   Ingredients: Vanilla vodka, apple juice and cinnamon

  • Jack Frost – Can be found at Lombard’s Seafood Restaurant in Universal Studios Florida and Confisco Grille in Universal’s Islands of Adventure

o   Ingredients: Vodka, prosecco mixed with lemonade and a sugar rim

Non-alcoholic options:

o   Hot Butterbeer – a seasonal favorite found in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley

o   Candy Cane Frozen Beverage – served park wide at the food & drink carts

o   Eggnog Frozen Beverage – served park wide at the food & drink carts

Universal Orlando
6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 363-8000
universalorlando.com

 

The second annual Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner at Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen & Bar in Winter Park returns on Monday, Dec. 24.  The Christmas Eve extravaganza will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is limited to the first 50 guests.  This special 7-course prix fixe menu will feature all-inclusive new world and old world wine pairings.   Reel Fish will also be open from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Dec. 24 offering its regular dinner service.

Tickets to are $69 per person (plus tax + gratuity) and can be reserved by calling (407) 543-FISH (3474).

In the spirit of holiday giving, Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen & Bar will donate 10% of the dinner’s proceeds to the Coastal Conservation Association.

*Menu and wines subject to change based on availability*

Feast of the Seven Fishes is a tradition that originated in Southern Italy and is celebrated on Christmas Eve with a 7-course seafood dinner to commemorate the wait of the midnight birth of baby Jesus.  Because Christmas Eve is a vigil or fasting day,  the abundance of seafood reflects the observance of abstinence from meat until the feast of Christmas Day itself.

Owner Fred Thimm (right) and James Gallagher from Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits who personally went over each wine with us.

Octopus Ceviche

Shrimp Mac & Cheese

Baked Clams Casino


Whiskey Shrimp – Wild-Caught Key West Pink Shrimp with Jack Daniels Cream Sauce on Sour Dough

Seafood Nachos – Blue Crab & Crawfish, House-Made Wontons

Whole Fried Hog Fish (pictured – so good!) and Genuine American Red Snapper with Smothered Tomatoes & Okra

Gulf Oysters Shooters featuring Tito’s Vodka

Cioppino – Clams, Shrimp, Scallops, Grouper, Tomato Broth over Linguine

Mike’s Famous Carrot Cake.  This was the best carrot cake I’ve ever had in my life!

Seven-Layer Chocolate Cake

Chef Mike served up a wonderful Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner with his own personal flair.

Reel Fish is celebrating the holidays with a variety of other festive specials, including:

  • Get a FREE $10 bonus gift card for every $50 in gift cards purchased.
  • Book a group dinner with 15 or more guests and receive a 10% discount AND $10 gift card for each person in their party.  To book a holiday party contact Fred Thimm at (202) 957-7377 or fred@reelfishcoastal.com.
  • Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen + Bar will feature a live DJ, food & drink specials and a midnight Champagne toast to ring in the New Year on Dec. 31.
  • New Fall/Winter menu featuring fresh local fish, signature salads and additional non-seafood options like all-natural Creekstone Farms steaks and FreeBird chicken.

Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen & Bar
1234 N. Orange Ave, Winter Park, FL
reelfishcoastal.com

What are your plans for Christmas?

Every year, my family dines at one of the Rosen Hotels for their Christmas Day buffet and we take a picture with Mr. Rosen himself, pictured above.  It’s become a family tradition of ours ever since we met him during a Christmas Day buffet back in 2014 when he greeted our table and asked us how we were doing.  My mom immediately recognized him from reading about him in the papers and asked him if he was Mr. Rosen and he confirmed and allowed us to take a picture with him.  He’s seriously the best.

Life came back to a full circle when I was invited to attend Rosen Hotels & Resorts’ first-ever Holiday Night of Lights media event to preview what each hotel is doing for their Christmas Day buffet & holiday events this year.  The night started with all 50 bloggers and friends hopping onto a snazzy two-story bus (our “sleigh” for the night that was generously donated by City Sightseeing Tours Orlando) to visit all 7 Rosen properties and see their holiday lights, with delicious bites at each stop.

Photo credit: Rosen Hotels & Resorts

At Rosen Hotels, their attention to detail is always impeccable, nothing ever gets overlooked and the customer service is top-notch.  I am so looking forward to making it out to the Christmas Day buffet at one of the Rosen Hotels this year with my family.

First Stop – Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista for chocolate peppermint mocktinis, Santa Claus mopolitan, crab cakes, caprese skewers, dunking donut station, sweets, and a tour of the beautiful Bella Vista event venue.

Second Stop – Rosen Inn Closest to Universal for a hibachi performance from the Shogun chefs (I wasn’t able to get a picture of them in action because they were super fast) and sushi & sake from the Sakura Bar.

Third Stop Rosen Inn International for “The Rosen Tree” lighting, cesar salad cups and sweet & spicy meatballs

Fourth Stop – Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando for selfies with an elfie, chicken wellington, mushroom puff and Christmas cookie

Fifth Stop – Rosen Plaza – for a sneak preview of the upcoming Dec. 15 Iced Out! event (free to the public), an ice luge with a signature cocktails, fig & manchego lollipops, lobster corndogs and baby lamb chops prepared by Executive Chef Michael and team.

Sixth Stop – Rosen Centre – for a greeting by Christmas carolers, a real gingerbread house, Harry’s ropa vieja empanada, pineapple ceviche, strawberry cheesecake, pumpkin cheesecake, and drinks from Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill

Seventh Stop – Rosen Shingle Creek for a sneak preview of the charity trees (which will be displayed in the hotel’s grand lobby) decorated by 24 local non-profits throughout Orlando, and a festive mix and mingle with the hotel and charity partners.

Thanks Mr. Rosen for hosting us in such a family way!

Hummingbird – Layers of moist banana-pineapple cake with pecans, filled and topped with house-made molasses buttercream, finished with golden chocolate antlers and a sparkling red nose. This is an 8″ round (serving 10-12 guests) available for $60.

We were invited to The Glass Knife in Winter Park for a media preview of their new collection of holidays offerings hosted by Executive Chef Stuart Whitfield and The Glass Knife team and we were very impressed with everything we tried.  The desserts were not overly sweet and had a nice flavor balance, making it very easy to eat.  At The Glass Knife, their three main focuses in dessert-making are: texture, flavor and complexity.

Fun fact: The Glass Knife gave away 365 pieces of cake on Saturday, November 10, 2018 to celebrate their one year anniversary.

Chocolate Onyx Pastry – A smooth, Onyx Coffee-infused pastry cream center, touched with salted caramel and a delicate coffee crunch atop a chocolate biscuit beautifully encased in a dark chocolate mousse

Black Forest Pastry Flourless – chocolate cake, layered with morello cherry pâte de fruit, lavish cherry cake and fluffy whipped cream, topped with two cherry mousse encased amareno cherries veiled in a ruby red glaçage and finished with a fine, gold-dusted chocolate plate.

Also pictured: Peppermint Bark Iced Latte

Eggnog Panna Cotta Silky – house-made eggnog panna cotta, layered with zesty blackcurrant gelée, finished with a spiced shortcrust biscuit crumble and meringue trees.

Chocolate Peppermint – Lush layers of rich chocolate cake, filled and finished with house-made chocolate peppermint buttercream, dripped with a chocolate ganache and topped with a whimsical medley of holiday treats. This is an 8″ round (serving 10-12 guests) available for $60.

Southern Red Velvet – Vibrant red, cocoa-infused cake layered with delectable cheesecake and rich cream cheese icing, then finished with house-made buttercream and a contemporary swirl of gilded holly leaves. This is an 8″ round (serving 10-12 guests) available for $60.

Coconut Cream – Classic white cake infused with cream of coconut, filled with layers of coconut custard and macaroon cream, finished with our own house-made buttercream and lustered confetti coconut, crowned with pastel trees. This is an 8″ round (serving 10-12 guests) available for $60.

Carrot – Wonderfully spiced carrot cake layered with house-made pineapple jam and rich cream cheese icing, finished with a wisp of our own house-made buttercream and garnished with vivid red poinsettias and edible 23 karat gold flakes. This is an 8″ round (serving 10-12 guests) available for $60.

A slice of the carrot cake

Gingerbread – Moist gingerbread cake layered and frosted with house-made stout buttercream, topped with a wintery gingerbread house vignette. This is an 8″ round (serving 10-12 guests) available for $60.

For more information, please visit: theglassknife.com

The Glass Knife
276 S ORLANDO AVE
WINTER PARK, FL 32789

407-500-CAKE

Hanging out with Operation Manager Alex & Executive Chef Frank Galeano

We were invited to a media preview at Tapa Toro, located in front of ICON Orlando 360, to meet their newly appointed executive chef Francisco “Frank” Galeano & taste their new winter menu.  Tapa Toros new winter menu offers unique dishes that will take you on a culinary journey of Spanish flavors and culture.

Roasted Eggplant “Steak” – roasted eggplant steak, cauliflower, capers, kale, gold raisins, almond, smoked tomato jam, honey

Xeres Chicken – confit leg of chicken, herb roasted potatoes, olives, gold raisins, oyster mushrooms, sherry pan sauce

Spiced Lamb – eggplant fondue, orange & cumin glazed baby carrots, green olive salsa

Chocolate Tarte

Tapa Toro’s entire lineup of new dishes include:

  • Piquillos Rellenos, Moroccan-Spiced Lamb Stuffed Piquillo Peppers, Migas, Preserved Lemon, Tetilla Fondue
  • Berenjenas Sevillanas, Panko-Crusted Eggplant Romesco Sauce, Seasonal Chutney, Local Honey
  • Blistered Shishitos, Fire-Roasted Shishito Peppers, Sesame, Lemon, Lemon-Basil Aioli
  • Bronzino, Fennel, Radish, Tomatoes, Shallots, Crispy Garbanzo Salad, Caper Lemon Dressing
  • Quinoa Salad, Peruvian Red Quinoa, Dried Fruit, Spiced Pepitas, Crispy Kale, Roasted Root Vegetables, Greens, Sesame Carrot Vinaigrette
  • Valencia Salad, Valencia Orange, Shaved Fennel, Olives, Peruvian Potatoes, Shallots, Greens, Mint-Orange Dressing
  • Clams & White Bean, Cedar Key Littleneck Clams, Chorizo, Parsley, White Bean, Pimenton, Grilled Bread
  • Herbed Chicken Bocadillo, Herb Marinated Chicken Breast, Grilled Vegetables, Red Pepper Aioli, Ciabatta Bun
  • Chuleta de Cochinillo, 10 Ounce, All-Natural Pork Chop, Carrot Puree, Fabada, Valencia Orange Glaze, Chimichurri Sauce
  • Salmon a la Plancha, Sauteed Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, Fennel Broth, Piperade
  • Spiced Lamb, Eggplant Fondue, Orange and Cumin Glazed Baby Carrots, Green Olive Salsa

Tapa Toro’s daily happy hour is from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., featuring half-price sangria, and tasty bites.

Additionally, Tapa Toro wants to be your home for the holidays, showcasing a special Christmas Eve and Christmas Day three-course menu, which at $30 per person includes all-you-can-eat-winter paella, Candy Cane Beet Salad, dessert and live entertainment.

This year, the restaurant is featuring two New Year’s Eve events:

  • Early Seating from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. includes a 4-course meal, champagne toast at 6 p.m. (midnight in Spain), and priority seating for flamenco dinner show, priced at $35 per person.
  • Evening Seating from 9 p.m. to close includes a 5-course meal, champagne toast at midnight, and flamenco dinner show, priced at $75 per person and $60 per child under 12.

For more information, please visit: tapatoro.com

(Source: Tapa Toro)

Tapa Toro
8441 International Dr #260, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 226-2929

Cows ‘n Cabs, one of Central Florida’s premiere culinary and philanthropic events, returned to 150 North New York Avenue in Winter Park’s Central Park West Meadow for its seventh year on Saturday, November 3 from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.

More than 25 of Central Florida’s top chefs and restaurants showed up to serve some of their favorite dishes, making it a night full of delicious gourmet food and drink pairings.  Hosted by 4 Rivers Smokehouse founder John Rivers and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits’ David Larue, the open-air country-western themed event benefited two local non-profit organizations: After-School All-Stars and Elevate Orlando.

Over the last six years, Cows ‘n Cabs has donated more than $520,000 to local charities.

Beautiful Syedi, wife of Chef Joseph Creech, Hunger Street Tacos

Quesadilla, Chef Joseph Creech and Chef David Creech


Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen + Bar – Reel whiskey shrimp, Chef Mike Zajac

Todd English’s Blue Zoo – Yellowfin tuna tartare, Chef Jason Wiggin

1921 Mount Dora – St. John’s River “Nashville Hot Frog Legs”, Chef Norman Van Aken

Hawkers Asian Street Fare – Bulgogi beef taco, Chef Kariloly Arias

STK – Short rib taco, Chef Jonathan Fahey

STK – Chef Jonathan Fahey

Luke’s Kitchen and Bar – Shrimp and snapper ceviche, Chef Brandon McGlamery

Luke’s Kitchen and Bar – Brussel sprouts, Chef Brandon McGlamery

The Coop – Fiesty chicken sandwich, Chef John Rivers

The Sweet Shop – Chef Jenny Herbert

The Sweet Shop – Chef Jenny Herbert

The Sweet Shop – Chef Jenny Herbert

The Sweet Shop – Chef Jenny Herbert

The Sweet Shop – Chef Jenny Herbert

4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa – Taco cone with brisket barbacoa, Chef John Rivers

Reyes Mezcaleria – Canitas taco, Chef Wendy Lopez

K Restaurant – Red wine-braised beef short ribs, Chef Andrew Fisher

K Restaurant – Chef Andrew Fisher

Pizza Bruno – Chef Bruno Zacchini

Pizza Bruno – Octo & tots, Chef Bruno Zacchini

Pizza Bruno – Margarita pizza, Chef Bruno Zacchini

The Glass Knife – Apple spice petit cake, Chef Stuart Whitfield

Taverna Opa – Keftedes “greek meatballs” with tzatziki sauce, Chef Vassillis Coumbaros

Tapa Toro – Pork belly matambre, Chef Francisco Galeano

The Polite Pig – Prime rib slider, Chef James Petrakis

The Ravenous Pig – Crispy oyster steak tartare, Chef James Petrakis, Chef Julie Petrakis and Chef Nick Sierputowski.  These were my favorite dish of the night!  I kept popping the oysters in my mouth like candy.

The Ravenous Pig – Chef James Petrakis, Chef Julie Petrakis and Chef Nick Sierputowski

Proper & Wild – Beet tartare, Chef Emily Congdon

Proper & Wild – Heart of palm crabcake, Chef Emily Congdon

Soco Thornton Park –Southern style bbq grilled kalbi, Chef Greg Richie

Morimoto Asia – Chef Yuhi Fujinaga

Morimoto Asia – Asian bbq beef taco, Chef Yuhi Fujinaga

Morimoto Asia – Chef Yuhi Fujinaga

Umi Japanese Restaurant – Japanese Tonkatsu

Dixie Dharma – Creamy cashew mac ‘n cheez, Chef Shaun Noonan

Peterbrooke Chocolatier – Chef Daniel Lehr

Peterbrooke Chocolatier – Chef Daniel Lehr

Peterbrooke Chocolatier – Chef Daniel Lehr

Foxtail Coffee Co. – Lain Yeakle

Terralina Crafted Kitchen

Terralina Crafted Kitchen – House-made porchetta with apple mostarda, Chef Justin Plank

Terralina Crafted Kitchen – Chef Justin Plank

The Rusty Spoon – Smoked Florida mullet, Chef Kathleen Blake

Chef James Petrakis from The Ravenous Pig

For more information, please visit: cowsncabs.com

Aussie Mate Burger – Beef pattie, caramelized onion, grilled bacon, egg, American cheese, lettuce, tomato & beetroot on a sesame bun.

We were invited to The Golden Pod – Restaurant & Bar on International Drive (located next door to The Tilted Kilt) for a media preview with other local foodies and our experience was simply amazing.  The Golden Pod is Orlando’s best kept secret.  They have high quality food and superior service in a pleasant environment.

Here are some interesting takeaways about The Golden Pod:

  1. The owner is from Australia.
  2. They make their own chocolate in house.
  3. They serve grilled kangaroo but I wasn’t ready to try it so I ordered the Aussie Mate burger (picture above) and it was really tasty.
  4. You can print any photo on your coffee via cellphone.  Selfie lattes, anyone?
  5. They are open daily until 2am.

For our appetizer, we ordered the crispy calamari and it was fried to perfection.

A Superfood Bowl – Brazilian acai, banana, almond milk and topped with granola, seasonal fruit, and pink chocolate pearls (optional).  Easily one of the best açaí bowls I’ve ever had.

My friend Gustavo (@dafoodie) ordered the Trio of Sliders and he tore them up!
– Pulled pork with slaw and spicy dressing
– Crumbled and chickened tenderloin, avocado and arugula
– Beef with cheese and tomato chutney

My friend Anthony ordered their Cookies ‘n Cream Shake and he enjoyed it!

Gustavo’s wife, Mary, ordered their Vanilla Love Pod and she loved it! It’s a chocolate dome over vanilla ice cream, pear compote and hazelnuts.  Warm chocolate sauce is poured over the chocolate dome to melt it down before consumption.

For more information, please visit: thegoldenpod.com

The Golden Pod – International Dr.
7653 International Dr #100, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 776-9206

We were invited to experience Orlando’s newest dinner show, Orlando Forum Rock Dinner Show located at 6362 International Drive, Orlando FL 32819 (near the old Wet n’ Wild) and we absolutely loved everything about it!  They have great entertainment, delicious and fulfilling dinner, friendly staff, and a relaxed & intimate atmosphere.

During our media dinner, we watched Elvis, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Prince, and Katie Perry for a whole hour of popular high energy covers and choreographed dancing that will keep your eye on stage.  They not only looked the part but they also sounded the part, making it really fun to sing along to every song they performed.  The backup singer and backup dancers were all perfection as well.

These Vegas-style nightly dinner shows are available every day of the week starting at 6:30pm.  For the full names of the cast, menu, tickets prices, and more, please visit: orlando-forum.com

Seasons 52 is launching a fixed-price menu just in time for fall!  The restaurant’s Harvest menu allows guests to choose a soup or salad, entrée and Mini Indulgence dessert for just $29.95.  The menu features the freshest ingredients that autumn season has to offer – like Bosc pears, mushrooms, butternut squash and Caulilini – and is available now through November 21.

We were invited to Seasons 52 – Altamonte Springs to taste their new Harvest menu and we were very impressed with our entire visit.  The food was so good and fresh and the best manager I’ve ever encountered, Claudia Ortiz (who started there as a server, then bartender, then got promoted to manager) and her staff took care of us really well.  You can’t go wrong at Seasons 52 – Altamonte Springs.  Highly recommended!

STARTER
Select a cup of soup or salad:

– Butternut Squash Soup

– Porcini Mushroom Bisque. I highly recommend!

or

– Spinach and Caramelized Bosc Pear Salad
– Organic Field Greens

 

ENTREE
Select one:

– Cedar Plank-Roasted Salmoncrushed potatoes, Caulilini, grilled lemon, dill-mustard sauce.  I highly recommend!


– Wood-Grilled Filet Mignon
roasted mushrooms, Caulilini, Yukon mash, red wine sauce.  I highly recommend!

or

– New! Mediterranean-Style Australian Lamb Shank* – sautéed green beans, Yukon mash
– New! Venison Chop* – venison ragout, Caulilini and sweet potato mash
– New! Short Rib Lasagna* – mozzarella, grass-fed beef Bolognese

 

MINI INDULGENCE
Select one:


– Pumpkin Pie or Poached Pear Cheesecake

* Entrees exclusive to the Harvest menu.

Guests can complement their meal with recommended wine pairings available for an additional cost by the glass or try a seasonal cocktail, such as the Pearfect Storm.

For more information, please visit: seasons52.com/events/harvest-menu

Seasons 52 – Altamonte Springs
463 E Altamonte Dr. Altamonte Springs, FL 32701
(407) 767-1252

We were invited to Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine to check out their newest location in Lake Nona.  This is their third location in the Central Florida area along with locations in Winter Park and Dr. Phillips.  The restaurant itself is simply breathtaking, you will find one-of-a kind pieces imported from Turkey throughout the whole restaurant which makes for a beautiful ambiance.  The food was full of flavor, hearty, and served in generous portions, perfect for sharing.

MIXED APPETIZER (Karisik Meze) – A combination of Humus, Babaganoush, Sautéed Eggplant, Tabbuli, Ezme, Cacik, Haydari and Zetinyagli Yaprak Dolma

LAVAS (Hollow Bread) – Our signature, baked- to-order bread creation. Highly recommended for all soups & appetizers

FRIED CALAMARI (Kalamar Tava) – Crispy fried calamari served with a light pine nut infused sauce

LAMB SHANKS – Seasoned to perfection with our authentic Turkish spices and seasonings, braised slowly over 5 hours with a medley of fresh carrots, onions & bell peppers until the meat is tender enough to fall off the bone. Served with rice pilaf.

GRILLED SEA BASS (Levrek Izgara) – Fresh Mediterranean sea bass (whole or fillet), chargrilled and served with mixed green salad & choice of rice pilaf or french fries

CHICKEN ADANA KEBAP – Grilled skewers of hand-ground chicken seasoned with fresh garlic, red bell peppers, light hot peppers & parsley

DARK CHOCOLATE MOUSSE – A rich mousse made with Peterbrooke dark chocolate and a hint of Turkish coffee

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT BAKLAVA – Peterbrooke chocolate, freshly ground hazelnuts and flaky filo dough topped with citrus infused syrup

PISTACHIO BAKLAVA – House-made baklava with layers of crispy, thin pastry dough filled with pistachios and topped with citrus infused syrup

Be sure to check out Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine next time you are in the Lake Nona area!

Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine – Lake Nona
6900 Tavistock Lakes Blvd. Orlando, FL 32827
407-313-2506
bosphorousrestaurant.com

CRISPY CANTON: Crispy egg noodles, pork, shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, spring onions, savory soy sauce

We were invited to Hawkers Asian Street Fare to check out their new fall/winter menu and we were very impressed with our tasty visit.  Fans can experience seven new menu items at all locations now through Spring!

“Our inspiration for the dishes come from our desire to curate a menu that closely reflects what one might find on the streets of Asia.  Authenticity is what we’re focusing on so that we can offer a taste of the unique experiences that we’ve had while eating through the streets of Asia.”  said Kaleb Harrell, Co-Founder of Hawkers Asian Street Fare, pictured below with Co-Founder Allen Lo.


PRAWN CHIPS: Crispy puffed prawn chips dusted with Hawkers’ Five Spice seasoning (only available at the bar)

CHICKA-RONES – (not new but a must try!) Filipino-style crispy chicken skins tossed in jerk seasoning

‘DRY-POT’ CAULILINI: Celery, spring onions, red peppers, Szechuan peppercorn

SALT-N-PEPA RIBS: Crispy pork riblets, ginger, serrano peppers, garlic, onions

ROTI CANAI – (not new) This appetizer is a classic and a must for every Hawkers visit!

SEOUL HOT CHICKEN STEAMED BAOS: Two per order, steamed buns, filled with Seoul hot chicken

SHANGHAI STIR FRY: Steamed rice cakes, pork strips, shiitake mushrooms, spring onions, napa, bean sprouts, lo mein sauce

JO-HÉ BAG O’ DONUTS: Tender pastry puffs rolled into a doughnut shape, deep-fried to perfection and tossed in a cinnamon-sugar

SPIKED THAI TEA – I heard raving reviews about this adult drink from other people at my table.  I ordered mine non-alcoholic and it was still super delicious!

To find the location closest to you, please visit eathawkers.com/locations/

We were invited to a media event at SUSURU, a retro Japanese izakya (gastropub) located in Lake Buena Vista near Disney Springs to preview the new space and unique food & drink menu.  We were very impressed with our visit.

SUSURU will feature a yakitori grill that will cook meat over a Bincho-tan charcoal.  The restaurant will also feature a sake bar with Japanese unique craft cocktails created by Nadine Rodriguez, also known as “Typsy Gypsy”, a very talented and worldly mixologist in Orlando.  Guests will be able to experience a Japanese gastropub, something Orlando has not experienced before.  The goal of SUSURU is to recreate the “fun, friendly atmosphere with communal eating” that the owner experienced while living and traveling in Japan.

SUSURU is the sister concept of College Park’s Jade Sushi & New Asian owned by Lewis Lin and managing partner Kenny Ly.  They are anticipated to be open in early October 2018 at 8548 Palm Parkway, Orlando, FL, with dinner only service to start.

(Source credit: SUSURU)

Astro boy mule

My Kewpie boba tea – garnished with Kewpie baby, cotton candy, pocky stick

Tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelette)

Yakitori (chicken)

Radish salad

Tomatoes

Grilled mushrooms

Yakitori (chicken)

Grilled brussels sprouts

Tori paitan ramen – chicken chashu, creamy double chicken broth, fried burdock root, shoyu soft egg, scallions

Tsukune – Japanese chicken meatball, yakitori tare. sauce: orange, miso, wasabi, spicy mentaiko, cheese

Matcha tiramisu

Thank you SUSURU for the gifts!  You must check out SUSURU for a one-of-a-kind experience when they open in late October!

SUSURU
8548 Palm Parkway, Orlando, FL
Instagram & Facebook: @susuruorl

Atlantic Salmon with cucumber & fingerling potato salad, cucumber horseradish broth, cucumber slaw.  Seriously, it was the BEST salmon I’ve ever had!

Thank you everyone that came out to the Tasty Chomps x Magical Dining x DoveCote (voted Best Restaurant 2018 by Orlando Magazine) meet-up hosted by Visit Orlando with special guest Aldo Ferrari!  This year through Visit Orlando, $1 of each meal during #MagicalDining (click here for more info) will benefit two charities: Best Buddies & Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida.

Thank you Cory O’Born from Visit Orlando for gifting us all with official 2018 Visit Orlando Magical Dining wine glasses afterwords, it was a nice surprise after a great dinner!

Follow Tasty Chomps Food Blog on facebook to find out where we will be meeting up next!  I just realized that I didn’t get the black & grey shirt memo but I was wearing a black uniform at work beforehand so that should at least count for something, right?!

Left to right: Shan Li, Kasie Wade, Cory O’Born, Aldo Ferrari, Patrick Rosario, Marvin Zarra, Frank Galeano, and then there’s me!

Fire Roasted Tomato Soup with Florida rock shrimp, basil & olive oil

Ham & Cheese Grits with house-made rogue mayo

Pork Cutlet with potato pancake, caper brown butter, beurre blanc

Chocolate Mousse with marshmallow fluff, bay leaf crumble, marinated strawberries

Dovecote crème brulee

DoveCote Brasserie
Bank of America Center, 390 N Orange Ave #110, Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 930-1700
visitorlando.com/magicaldining/restaurants/DoveCote-Brasserie/46031

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!

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