Feature

“East Meets West” is a special chef collaboration dinner featuring Chef Elek Kovacs of The Osprey Tavern and Chef Huy Tin of Seito Baldwin Park.

The Osprey Tavern is an upscale-casual New American restaurant that features seasonal cuisine and Seito Baldwin Park is a Japanese restaurant that serves contemporary Asian offerings using a combination of traditional and innovative cooking techniques. Although both of these restaurants have distinct styles of cuisine, the collaboration brings together a brilliant 8-course tasting menu paired with fine wines, sake and spirits.

The 8-course menu consisted of key ingredients for each dish that both chefs used in preparing their dishes. All of the dishes were great, but I’ll share some notes on what stood out to me. The first plate was the perfect introduction to the event, a savory egg dish topped with ikura and paddlefish caviar. Following that was a beautiful plate of mackerel accompanied with pineapple salad and peanut-sesame. This was very reminiscent of fresh ingredients you would find in an Asian dish. The pork and seared scallop dish was paired with Amabuki Ginno Kurenai Junmai, a Japanese sake with a beautiful rosé color. Another notable dish was the pan-roasted duck sitting on a crisp puff pastry. For the finale, Pastry Chef Kristy Carlucci created a melt-in-your-mouth toasted marshmallow meringue dessert.

Was it worth the hype? Absolutely. Both Chef Elek Kovacs and Chef Huy Tin are remarkably talented and I enjoyed everything that was presented that evening. The amount of effort and preparation that went into this event was impressive and is worth the occasional indulgence. From the cordial staff, beautifully prepared courses and even down to the hand-sewn table runners (Sue Chin has a talent for design and decorating!). I was thrilled to join Orlando restauranteurs Jason and Sue Chin at this much anticipated and sold-out event. Jason and Sue own both of the restaurant concepts and have been a driving force in elevating Orlando’s culinary scene.

The Osprey Tavern [Website]
Address: 4899 New Broad St, Orlando, FL 32814
Phone: (407) 960-7700

Seito Baldwin Park [Website]
Address: 4898 New Broad St, Orlando, FL 32814
Phone: (407) 898-8801

 

Chef’s Table at The Osprey Tavern
Egg(²)
Seito (left): Chawanmushi, bottarga, ikura / Osprey (right): White chocolate custard, champagne gelée, paddlefish caviar
Seito (left) / Osprey (right)
Mackerel + Celery
Seito (left): Shima aji, celery pineapple salad, peanut-sesame / Osprey (right): Norwegian mackerel croquette, celeriac, horseradish
Pork + Shellfish
Seito (left): Pork, romanesco, Asian pear, XO / Osprey (right): Seared scallop, giardiniere, prosciutto foam
Duck + Mushroom
Seito (left): Duck thigh roulade, shiitake and oyster mushroom stir fry, chestnuts / Osprey (right): Pan roasted duck breast, duxelles vol-au-vent, royal trumpets
Seito (left) / Osprey (right)
Melon + Tea
Melon + Tea: Pompano tartare with lemongrass, kaffir lime, ginger, honeybush tea, cantaloupe granita
Beef(²)
Beef(²): Creekstone prime bourbon ribeye, five spiced braised oxtail, broccolini, soubise
Beef(²)
Baked Alaska
Baked Alaska: Cherry, Jasmine Rice, Black Sesame, Almond

If you’re in downtown Tampa for Cinco de Mayo/The Kentucky Derby and don’t know what to do, definitely consider visiting the Westin Hotel’s Blue Harbor for their first event since their grand opening, Cinco de Derby, happening from 3PM-12AM! I previewed a few of the specialty drinks that they’re going to be featuring this Saturday. Nonetheless, they have their Happy Hour from 4PM-7PM with some amazing full-sized appetizers for you to much on while you sip away!

First we started off with their calamari and cheese sample platter. The fried calamari sat on top a bed of veggies and then topped off with what reminded me of shrimp chips! The seasoning and sauces of this dish was amazing and probably one of the favorite calamari dishes I’ve had so far. The cheese platter was great, as well! The fruits were so fresh and sweet, and there was a nice assortment of cheeses that paired very nicely with the salami and pepperoni. I really liked how they had a couple of jams on the side with honey too.

Tropical Fire Water (shown above.) This was probably one of my favorite drinks. Though it’s not a featured specialty drink for the event, you should still give it a try! Beware there’s a bit of added spice to it, so if you’re not really into spicy, you may not be a fan.

Passion Fruit Mojito with a Pea Flower Infusion

Featured below are their three specialty drinks that they will be having at the event for just $10 each! Each were so good, my favorite was the Spicy Mia-Rita! All of their featured drinks use fresh ingredients with some Don Julio, yummm!

Cucumber Agave Lime Margarita (shown above)

Hightailing Jalisco Julep (shown above)

Spicy Mia-Rita (shown above)

Meet Will! The man behind the geniusness of these creative drinks. Definitely stop by and say hi and try his creations and tag him on Instagram @cocktailsbyfrost, ask him from a Scorpion Sting (those are good, but beware they have a little kick to them!)

All in all, I had a really great time at Blue Harbor Bar & Eatery! Their drinks are definitely one of a kind with such creativity and thought put into them. Definitely something to check out! Happy eatings though everyone (or maybe in this case drinking), until next time!

I’ve heard about Tampa’s Busch Garden’s Food and Wine Festival over the years, but never had the chance to go until now! With it being my very first foodie festival, I was not disappointed. This year being their 4th annual event, Busch Gardens had an array of cuisines, wines, craft beers, and cocktails to choose from with vegetarian and gluten free options available, as well. Guests have the option of sampling a number of foods and drinks throughout the park, while enjoying the animals and rides too; a plus for parents and their kids.

To start off our evening, our eyes were caught by the Char Siu Duck on a Steamed Bun and the Grilled Lamb Chops with Tabouleh & Tzatziki at Field House Eatery. The grilled lamb was my favorite! The meat was cooked and seasoned nicely and wasn’t gamey at all, when paired with the tabbouleh and tzatziki sauce it balanced the dish perfectly.

Next, we visited Artisan Eats, there we sampled the Duck Fat Truffle Fries with Parmesan Truffle Aioli and the Fleur de Mer Rosé.

Coast to Coast Cookery’s Pan-Seared Steak with Chimichurri & Roasted Poblano Hash, Flourless Chocolate Torte with Raspberry Sauce, and Swamp Head Brewery, Wheat Night Honey Cream Ale.

Garden Gate Café’s Truffle Seafood Mac & Cheese with Shrimp, Scallops, and Cod in a Creamy Gruyere Bechamel with White Truffle, Hawaiian-Seasoned Tuna Poke, You’re My Boy Blue Blueberry Brew, and Graffiti Orange American Wheat Beers. I’m a huge fan of tuna, so that was definitely one of my top dishes.

Now by this point, we were already getting full but we decided to end our night with Chef’s Plantation’s Salmon Cake with Lemon Aioli, Comfort Kitchen’s Fried Plantain Cups filled with Stewed Chicken, and Tasty Taqueria’s Frozen Mojito! The salmon cake and lemon aioli was such a light and refreshing dish that regardless of how full I was, I couldn’t stop eating it.

There were so many other cabins and vendors we missed out on, but the ones we visited definitely didn’t disappoint. From food to entertainment, Busch Garden’s Food and Wine Festival has something for everyone! You can visit Busch Gardens and experience this all yourselves, every weekend from March 3rd – April 29th. Happy eatings, everyone! Until next time.

Author: Melissa Dam
Photo Creds: Cindy Nguyen

Happy 2018, Food Friends!

Can we all agree that glitter and unicorn desserts are so 2017? Well maybe not, but a girl can dream.

I caught up with some of Orlando’s coolest chefs to find out what they see coming to a table near you in 2018, and here’s what they had to say.

The Verdict:

  • Crazy desserts are out; smaller, savory sweets are in
  • Asian eats are here to stay
  • RIP to unnecessary gluten-free dishes
  • Say hello to veg cuisine, it’s here and it’s not playing

HAWKERS Asian Street Fare – Kaleb Harrell 

“Ethnic desserts – We are revamping our entire dessert line because we feel customers are ready. Desserts that have a savory edge, are fruit-based, or just have ingredients outside of mainstream will gain popularity as the size of desserts decreases. Today’s customer would rather have a few bites of something amazing to end their meal than a bowl of corn syrup.

Savory cocktails – This one has been on the fringe for a while, but I think 2018 is the year for savory cocktails to take hold.  Think meat stocks, dry rub ingredients, and vegetable instead of fruit juices. 

Fast and fresh – This is the mecca for market share in lunch business.  A few companies are doing well and expanding quickly, but it’s a race to see who keeps consistency. Virtually every diner is looking for a fast, and ultra fresh lunch option. How many days can you eat a Chick-fil-A salad for lunch?

Vinegars and sours – Fermented flavors are gaining more popularity and will continue in the next year. Look for pickling, fermenting, gourmet mustards, and generally bold flavors in small quantities to continue.  Cheese and charcuterie are amazing, but the accoutrements are starting to take center stage.”

Black Rooster Taqueria – John Calloway

“I think we will see a lot of cauliflower. Gluten-free has reached its peak, so we will see more artisan and/or rustic breads and people milling their own flours.

Mexican will still be everywhere, but I believe Indian food is the next big cuisine.

Food as medicine will also be a big focus. From all of the juice bars to doctors and nutritionists prescribing specific foods and diets, we’ll be getting back to our roots with the earth healing our bodies.”

K Restaurant – Michelle Hulbert

“I think there will continue to be interest smaller desserts – that are portion-control friendly. Over-the-top, gigantic desserts will be a thing of the past. The healthier sides of sweets will include more seasonal fruits.  I think in general we will see a larger focus on vegetables as the star and less starch-heavy dishes.”

K Restaurant –  Ryan McLaughlin

“I think in 2018 we will see a continued movement toward more vegetable-forward dishes, a dedicated focus on limiting food waste, and an even stronger movement within the chef community to support small, sustainable farms that are focused on the ethical treatment of animals.”

Tapa Toro – Wendy Lopez 

“I see familiar foods becoming more prominent on menus at restaurants. Think pork rinds and hot dogs. They will be reimagined with new ingredients and presentations.

I think we’ll start to see lesser-known cuts of meat appear on menus around town – like Vegas strip and Oyster steak. We’ll start to see more family-style dining options at restaurants. At Tapa Toro, we see groups of people passing plates around the table. Why commit to one entree when you could try a little bit of everything?”

Pizza Bruno – Bruno Zacchini

“I’ll start with pizza! For me, I see Neapolitan pizza still going strong but new styles and types will become the next thing from Detroit squares to Roman thin crusts and artisan slice pies with farm-to-table ingredients. Pizza has so many styles most people have never seen so it’s really wide open.

Overall fast casual is going to keep happening and moving forward with counter service places and places focusing on singular dishes done extremely well.  Flavors for me are Middle Eastern, more regional Asian (think Bangrak), and Italian, of course! I also think that in 2018 we’ll continue to see veg-centric cuisine making its way onto more menus.”

Valhalla Bakery + Valkyrie Doughnuts – Celine Duvoisin 

“I see a bubble bursting of the stuff on stuff on stuff on stuff. (Not that I’m not going to do excessive shit until it dies.)

I think that more Asian popularity will happen, I foresee a rise in proper ramen coming to town and possibly Asian desserts. We’ve hit this wall of sugar hell, with no one hitting the less sweet almost savory desserts.

Hopefully an end to the gluten-free obsession.

My fingers are crossed for more Mediterranean-type places that focus on macro-based foods as fuel instead of insanely over designed places that don’t have the food to seal the deal.”


Is this roundup missing something, or are you seeing a trend worth sharing? Comment below and cheers to new year!

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

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Special Brunch Edition: Cask & Larder partnered with Funky Buddha Brewery for a beer brunch. The event featured a reception with bites and beers, followed by a three-course meal paired with a perfect beer for each course.

Cask & Larder, in Winter Park, Florida, is a local neighborhood gathering spot with a dedication to artisanal foods while creating seasonally fresh dishes. For this event, Cask & Larder reserved the bar area to host its brunch and it was the perfect space for guests to taste the beer brunch menu.

Everything about the menu was exciting and the event exceeded my expectations. It’s hard to pick a favorite because each dish was delicious – the roasted oysters, foie gras french toast, smoked tuna tartine, corned beef hash (with the soft boiled egg!), and ice cream sandwich.

If you would like to learn more about Cask & Larder events, click here to sign up for the mailing list or follow Cask & Larder on FaceBook.

Funky Buddha Hop Gun IPA and C&L Pale Ale
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Ramp Butter Roasted Oysters with bacon crumbs ~paired with~ Funky Buddha Hop Gun IPA and C&L Pale Ale
Mini Foie Gras French Toast with pickled blueberries
Funky Buddha Floridian Hefeweizen and C&L Wit
Hop Smoked Tuna Tartine with millet bread, pickled kabocha squash, compressed peaches, radish and farro ~paired with~ Funky Buddha Floridian Hefeweizen and C&L Wit
Crispy Corned Beef & Hash with bearnaise, picked ramps & mushrooms, ramp green soubise and a soft boiled egg ~paired with~ Funky Buddha Blood Orange IPA and C&L Maibock
Ice Cream Sandwich with chocolate stout semifreddo and chicory cookie ~paired with~ Funky Buddha Vanilla Espresso Porter and C&L Coffee Blonde

About Cask & Larder:
Cask & Larder offers southern-sourced seasonal dishes, craft beers brewed on-site and fresh-shucked oysters from our oyster bar. We look forward to serving you good food with casual southern hospitality.

Address: 565 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
Phone: (321) 280-4200
Website: www.caskandlarder.com

About Funky Buddha Brewery
Funky Buddha Brewery was founded in 2010 in Boca Raton, Florida, and is committed to producing bold craft beers that marry culinary-inspired ingredients with time-honored technique. Our mantra is big, bold flavors, made exactingly with natural ingredients. So, for example, if we say a beer will taste like peanut butter and jelly, you can be sure you’ll smell and taste the fresh roasted peanuts and fruity berry jam. Our flagship beers such as Hop Gun IPA and Floridian Hefeweizen, also strive towards big, bold flavor. It’s who we are. Our Brewery is located in the heart of Oakland Park’s new Culinary Arts District.

Address: 1201 NE 38th St, Oakland Park, FL 33334
Phone: (954) 440-0046
Website: www.funkybuddhabrewery.com

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BRIO Tuscan Grille at Winter Park Village in Winter Park is celebrating springtime with its fun-filled Bunny Brunch.

BRIO’s Bunny Brunch offers plenty of delicious items for both adults and children. Dishes on the adult menu include Eggs, Home Fries & Bacon, Sicilian Omelette, Berries & Cream French Toast, and Ham & Biscuit Benedict. Children’s entrees are scrambled eggs, bacon and fresh fruit; and French toast with bacon and fresh fruit. In addition to the Bunny Brunch menu, my guest and I were able to get a taste of the Calamari and Spicy Shrimp & Eggplant appetizers recommended by our friendly server, Sterling.

The new menu options appeal to many different tastes and Executive Chef Eric Carter did a beautiful job with the dishes. BRIO offers flexible options to cater dietary preferences and can substitute entrées with egg whites or turkey sausage. There is also a light gluten free menu with entrées under 550 calories.

To add festivity to the brunch, the Easter Bunny walked around greeting guests at every table for photo opportunities and there was also a face painting station for children.

The restaurant decor is classically polished with white linens and dark marble details. There is a large indoor dining room and outdoor terrace to accommodate any party size, and I opted for outdoor seating to relax in the perfect morning light and weather.

brio-1brio-2

brio-5
Sicilian Omelette: Cherrywood smoked ham bacon, Fontanini sausage tomato compote, Mozzarella Provolone and Parmesan cheeses. Served with brunch potatoes.
brio-13
Ham & Biscuit Benedict: Two poached cage free eggs, Cherrywood smoked ham, house made biscuit, hollandaise. Served with brunch potatoes.
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Eggs, Home Fries & Bacon: Scrambled eggs, bacon, brunch potatoes, toast. (Turkey sausage available upon request)
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Berries & Cream French Toast: Mascarpone cream cheese stuffed French toast, honey, cinnamon, fresh berry compote. With Applewood smoked bacon.
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Berries & Cream French Toast – my favorite dish!
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Calamari Fritto Misto
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Spicy Shrimp & Eggplant: Pan seared shrimp in a black pepper cream sauce over Romano crusted eggplant. Recommended by our server and it was delicious!
brio-19
Executive Chef Eric Carter and Tiffany Nguyen posing with the Easter Bunny

 

BRIO at Winter Park Village
480 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789

BRIO offers Call Ahead Seating and Reservations. (407) 622-5611

BRUNCH AT BRIO ~ Available Saturday & Sunday until 3:30pm.

Located in the heart of Orlando’s Downtown Arts District, the Grand Bohemian is an artistic boutique hotel designed to inspire unforgettable experiences.  Also a member to The Kessler Collection portfolio, each hotel’s art, music, and cultural influences are personally acquired for that hotel by the Kessler family.

I had the opportunity to take a group tour to explore the hotel and view the Kessler Collection Signature Grand Bohemian Gallery celebrating the work of French artist, Jean Claude Roy.  The last stop on our tour ended at the hotel’s restaurant located on the first floor named, “The Boheme”.

DSC_9164 DSC_9171 DSC_9175

Our group received a five course meal prepared by Executive Chef Laurent Hollaender from northeastern France.  Chef Hollander’s execution in all his dishes surpassed expectations, and the group dinner was filled with good conversation and good company.

Chef Hollaender’s style of cooking consists of Italian influences finished with a touch of elegance.  Chef Hollaender’s dishes are a true work of art as they are not only visually appealing but quite satisfying on the lips.  His dishes were in fact impressive.

Be aware that the menu at The Boheme changes every month, so make sure to check out the menu regularly.

Get in my belly.

DSC_9213
Amuse Bouche: TATARE DE SAUMON ET SA COURONNE DE CONCOMBRE
Salmon Tarate served in a Cucumber Crown and Quail Egg
Eating directions: Pour quail over salmon and stir in blackened salt to taste.
Choice of Wine – Cremant Brut Rose, Lucien Albrecht
DSC_9232
Hors d’oeuvre: PINCETTE DE FOIE GRAS ET CANARD FUME
Duck Foie Gras Terrine, Smoked Duck Breast, Toasted Brioche Beets and Carrot Chutney
Choice of Wine – Gewürztraminer, Trimbach
DSC_9240
Poisson: RAVIOLE GEANTE DE FRUIT DE MER
Lobster, Sea Bass and Mussels Ravioli with Onion Compote White Wine Butter Sauce and Lobster Reduction
So smooth and creamy. It tasted like heaven on Earth. If this is what heaven tastes like, I’m ready for my afterlife.
Choice of Wine – Pouilly-Fuisse, Louis Jadot
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Viande: PETIT FILET MIGNON AU MORILLES ET CHANTERELLES
Grilled Petit Filet Mignonette with Morels and Chanterelles Sauce Pommes Anna, Fall Vegetables
Choice of Wine – CIGALUS, Gerard Bertrand
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According to the Grand Bohemian staff, this wine “can’t compete with any other wine in the world.”
Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) and Merlot (50%)
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Dessert: TARTE MOELLUSE AU CHOCOLATE ET CRIOTTES Marinated Cherries in Brandy from Sarlat, Valrhona Chocolate Hanache, French Vanilla Ice Cream. The design of this dish was inspired by French artist Jean Claude Roy, who joined our table for dessert. Choice of Wine- Banylus, Chapoutier
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Menu signed by Jean Claude Roy

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After dinner, the staff at Grand Bohemian generously gifted each of us with a portrait made of chocolate that was painted by Jean Claude Roy himself. Although it is edible, but it’s too pretty to eat. For now I will keep this chocolate portrait framed on my wall.

You are what you eat. After this dinner, I would consider myself elegant.

Photos taken by Krystle Nguyen with the Nikon D5000 DSLR

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