Fast Casual

Churro Bread Pudding by Tapa Toro

Hi, food friends! Did you know that in August 2016, 7.1 trillion gallons of water fell during the Louisiana floods? Lives were lost, and more 140,000 homes were destroyed. I was deeply impacted and decided to create Good Through Food, a new Orlando-based organization that strives to make lives better through food-related efforts. This past Monday, we launched the first initiative to help called Project 001. Louisiana, which includes local restaurants creating and selling Louisiana-inspired dishes and desserts to help raise funds for those in need.

From October 24  through October 31, local restaurants are selling a Louisiana-inspired dish to help raise funds for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, a Louisiana-based charity that seeks to assist South Louisiana residents, which make up the majority of the 30,000 people that were displaced from their homes because of the floods, only to return to neighborhoods they couldn’t recognize. Chefs and restaurants will donate 25, 50 or 100 percent of proceeds to the charity.

5 Participating Restaurants: (Eat one dish or eat them all to give back):

I-Drive

1. Tapa Toro: Churro Bread Pudding

2. Taverna Opa: Loukomades (Greek Beignets) — check out how to make them here!

Audubon District

3. P is for Pie: P is for Pecan Caramel Hand Pie + Coffee

Historic Longwood 

4. Collette’s Clean Eats: Shrimp, Blue Crab & Turkey Sausage Gumbo with Organic Brown Rice

Mills 50 District 

5. Black Rooster Taqueria: NOLA Pork Belly Taco

Please share your dishes on Instagram using the hashtag #GoodThroughFood. For more information, visit GoodThroughFood.com. Restaurants can still sign up, so spread the word.

Connect on social media on Facebook and Instagram. Check out the video below to learn more.

Thank you so very much for your support, it means everything!

Let’s do good together…

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

Shareable Images for Social:do-good eat-and-give join-us lets-do-good

 

Kale yeah! Salads are no longer the side piece. As consumers become more ingredient conscious, chefs and restaurateurs across the globe are being pushed to think beyond traditional proteins, and experiment with ethnic flavors and greens-based dishes to accommodate varying palates. Caesar salad, move over and make room for quinoa and farro bowls topped with spicy broccoli, roasted chickpeas and basil.

This month happens to be National Salad Month, and thankfully, here in Florida, we’ve got an abundance of fresh greens and vegetables to mix and match to whip up amazing creations. We’ll start with three places in town to get your salad fix.

Forks up. . . let’s eat our way to summer.

1. The Sanctum Cafe

Sanctum

Dish: Savage Salad – Organic greens, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, eggplant and corn – all roasted and tossed with bell peppers, sweet onions, carrot ribbons, celery, jicama, zucchini, peas and pepitas. Served with rosemary dressing.

Local Fare: Corn from Long & Scott Farms (Zellwood, Fla.), Deer Park Peaches (Saint Cloud, Fla.) and salad greens and microgreens from The Greenhouse (Apopka, Fla.).

Favorite Salad Ingredient: “Roasted cauliflower is one my favorite toppings!” – Chef-Owner Chelsea Savage

2. The COOP

The COOP

The Skinny: The new salad bar costs $9.99 per person and includes an endless amount of offerings, such as locally-sourced greens and vegetables, proteins and house made dressings.

Local Fare: The COOP is trekking around the state and shopping with Alderman Farms (Boynton Beach, Fla.) and L&M Farms (Palatka, Fla.).

Favorite Salad Ingredients: “I like the grilled vegetables and the specialty salads that rotate daily at the end of the bar. One of my favorites is a Hoppin’ John Succotash that Whitney makes and a few more are grilled asparagus, roasted tomatoes and feta cheese.” – Chef-Owner John Rivers

3. Dixie Kharma
Photo Credit: LemonHearted.com
Photo Credit: LemonHearted.com

Dish: Hail Kale Salad – Garlicky kale, blackened corn, pickled beets and watermelon rind and smoked tempeh

Local Fare: In this salad, Dixie Kharma’s uses Florida-grown corn and watermelon. When available, they toss in baby kale grown in their pallet garden located in front of Market on South.

Favorite Salad Ingredients: “We love to mix it up. Local ingredients are our first choice. Everything from peppery greens and herbs are a must. Pickled veggies, fruits and roots, heirloom beans and grains are also great.” – Dixie Kharma crew

Greens Guide  

Here’s a handful of local shops to visit to stock up on greens, grains and vegetables. This list is in no way inclusive of our local offerings in Central Florida, so comment with your local go-to store! 

What To Buy Right Now

Bell Pepper | Blueberry | Cabbage | Cantaloupe | Carrot | Celery | Cucumber | Eggplant Grapefruit | Guava | Mango | Mushroom | Orange | Papaya | Peaches | Radish | Sweet Corn | Tangerine | Tomato | Watermelon

Seasonal Recipe – Taverna Opa Orlando’s Watermelon Feta Salad Pizza
Taverna Opa Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 Watermelon slice
  • 1 Oz. Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 6 Kalamata olives, sliced
  • 5 Mint leaves
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Balsamic glaze

Directions:

  • On a cutting board, slice the watermelon in half
  • Place the flat side down, and cut a one-inch thick slice, then cut into five slices
  • Plate on a round dish and add feta cheese, olives, mint leaves and drizzle with balsamic glaze

Snack on,

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

+++

Sapporo Ramen is one of my favorite places for Japanese ramen noodle soup here in Orlando. After having visited Tokyo and trying some of the most popular ramen shops there, I can comfortably say that Sapporo Ramen is among the most authentic ramen in town, and rivals some of what I tasted in Japan.

Sapporo is a city on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, known for their cold weather, the home of the Sapporo Brewery, and the founding place of the miso ramen.

Miso ramen became popular around 1965, featuring a broth that combines copious amounts of miso and is blended with oily chicken or fish broth – and sometimes with tonkotsu or lard – to create a thick, nutty, slightly sweet and very hearty soup.

The Spicy Miso Ramen
The Spicy Miso Ramen

Miso ramen broth tends to have a robust, tangy flavor, so it stands up to a variety of flavorful toppings: spicy bean paste, butter and corn, leeks, onions, bean sprouts, ground pork, cabbage, sesame seeds, white pepper, and chopped garlic are common. The noodles are typically thick, curly, and slightly chewy.

Recently, Sapporo Ramen introduced a new spicy miso ramen along with a curry noodle ramen to their line up of ramen which includes tonkatsu, miso, and shoyu. I found it to be quite flavorful, with just enough spice to be not overwhelming, and great when paired with the sweet corn and salty bamboo shoots.

Another thing I like about Sapporo is their variety of Japanese street food items offered from the takoyaki octopus balls topped with quivering bonito flakes to the imagawayaki desserts, a pancake like bun filled with sweet bean paste.

Creamy Pork Tonkotsu Ramen
Creamy Pork Tonkotsu Ramen
The Kitsune Udon topped with fried tofu skin
The Kitsune Udon topped with fried tofu skin
Imagawayaki dessert
Imagawayaki dessert

Sapporo Ramen
5080 W Colonial Dr
Orlando, Florida
(407) 203-6777
Tue – Sun: 11:30 am – 8:00 pm
Check out their facebook page at Sapporo Ramen

Do you ever crave pasta? I’m talking about a giant bowl of pasta that could feed at least five people. Well, I recently had one of those days and decided to head to Italio in Winter Park. I’ve been to Italio twice in the past but never really paid attention to the food. The past few times were more  “Get food in my stomach and head to wherever in a hurry” instances. However, I never left fully satisfied and wanted to know why.

If you’ve never been to Italio, it’s a visual sensation, showcasing bold red tones and Italian embellishments. The concept is fast casual like Chipotle, but feels slightly nicer. At Italio, you are able to choose a piada (wrap), noodles, or salad bowl. There are three main sauces, and an overwhelming amount of toppings.

If you’re not a control freak, there are prefixed “Chef Selections” to choose from.

Chef

Chef’s Menu 

I ended up making my own pasta bowl, because that’s the true meaning of happiness. The Italio employee asked me to pick between two types of noodles: whole wheat or regular. I obviously opted for the regular. Next, I was asked to pick something from the grill. My options were steak, chicken, chicken fritte (breaded), shrimp, italian sausage, meatball, and veggie. As someone who doesn’t like complicated options, I chose the chicken. Selecting the sauce was a challenge since I had to try all three of them. Here’s what I thought:

1) Basil Pomodoro: Tastes like Tostidos Salsa. Bland and boring.

2) Artisan Alfredo: Creamy but lacks flavor. The claimed “garlic” does not exist in flavor.

3) Spicy Prima Rosa: This sauce is neither spicy or creamy, so it completely failed the taste test.
I ended up going with the Artisan Alfredo since it stood out from the rest.

Food

For the toppings, I ended up selecting mushroom, roasted red peppers, chickpeas, roasted garlic, and mozzarella.

Food2

Here’s the honest truth, and this is from eating here a total of three times:

– The food is NEVER hot; it’s always an awkward lukewarm. It would be great if my pasta was steaming!

-The Alfredo sauce is devastatingly boring. I tried using the roasted garlic and mozzarella to give it more flavor but it didn’t work. The sauce reminded me of my first time trying to make Alfredo when I was seven. 

– The assortment of toppings is amazing. I’m going to try a salad next time. Maybe it’ll be dynamic.

– The bowl is huge, so you will get full but you won’t walk out extremely impressed. However, the concept is fast casual and not a fine Italian restaurant. Don’t set your expectations high. 

– The staff makes me sad. When I asked to try the sauces, they acted like it was a huge burden.

 

On the bright side, Italio has one treasure I’ll keep coming back for.

CANNOLI. CHIPS. WOW. WOW. WOW. 

Cannoli

I’m not a cannoli person by any means. but their take on filled cannolis is really amazing. They are in the form of chips and are served with a creamy cannoli dip. The combination is mind blowing. However, the dip was slightly powder sugary on my  latest visit. Maybe it’s hit or miss? Either way, try the cannoli chips if anything!

Italio – Winter Park
276 S Orlando Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 960-1860
www.italiokitchen.com

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