I-Drive

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!

We were invited to Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, located at Pointe Orlando, to celebrate their ten years of service in Orlando and the release of a new cookbook by national renowned chef and restaurateur Guillermo Pernot and co-author Lourdes Castro.

Guests enjoyed live entertainment and an open bar along with an array of passed and stationary tapas, ceviches, and desserts from Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernot’s second cookbook, CUBA COOKS: RECIPES AND DESSERTS FROM CUBAN PALADARES AND THEIR CHEFS (October 2018), $40 each.

Cuban Porchetta – pork belly and pork loin roast with Moros y Cristianos pilaf

Sopa de Cilantro – chilled cilantro soup with tempura of clams

Tacos de Berenjenas – malanga tacos with eggplant salad

Ceviche de Pez Perro – hog fish ceviche with blackeyes peas, coconut milk, cilantro and cachucha Chile sauce

Buñuelos de Espinaca – spinach and manchego cheese fritters, served with goat cheese sauce

Alitas de Pollo a lo Chino – Chinese barbeque chicken winglets

Croquetas de Pollo – chicken croquettes with cachucha aioli

Tostones con Ropa Vieja de Pato – braised pulled duck legs with Hawaiian tostones

Churros con Chocolate

Chef Guillermo Pernot and Lourdes Castro have thoughtfully collected recipes and stories that reveal a vibrant contemporary cuisine.  Throughout the book, readers will find illuminating and insightful notes about Cuba’s culinary heritage, as well as helpful notes found with every recipe.

Guillermo Pernot is a nationally renowned chef and restaurateur, and chef-partner at Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar in Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Orlando and Washington, DC.

Lourdes Castro is a professor, recipe developer, and author of three cookbooks.

To purchase a cookbook, please visit: cubalibrerestaurant.com/en/orlando/cookbook

(Source: Cuba Libre)

Cuba Libre – Pointe Orlando
9101 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 226-1600

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

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

We were invited to Tony Roma’s on International Drive to try their limited-time only “Spice So Nice” menu, available now through Dec. 23!  We were very impressed with our visit from start to finish.  The food was packed with bold flavors and cooked to perfection and the service was top notch.  Be sure visit Tony Roma’s on I-Drive as soon as possible to enjoy these dishes crafted to bring the flavor before they are gone!

Jalapeño Buffalo Shrimp – Enjoy a double dose of heat with these crispy shrimp tossed in Buffalo sauce and packed with bits of fresh Jalapeños. Cool it down with classic ranch dressing for dipping.

Chimichurri Salmon – The bright flavors of their chimichurri sauce pair perfectly with grilled salmon, served with saffron & kale rice and seared garlic green beans.

Black Pepper Ribs & Filet Medallions with Horseradish Butter – Their World-Famous Baby Back Ribs get an added boost of flavor with a new black pepper BBQ sauce. Enjoy a half rack alongside two tender filet medallions topped with horseradish butter for a hint of heat. Served with hearty mashed potatoes and seared garlic green beans.

Spiced Cider Romatini® – The flavors of cinnamon apple pie with a boozy kick make this cocktail a great way to start or finish a meal. Crafted with Ole Smoky Apple Pie Moonshine®, Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey®, apple cider and lemon juice, it’s served chilled, but sure to warm you up.

Cinnamon Apple Cranberry Cobbler – Apples and cranberries spiced so nice with cinnamon and baked with a crunchy cobbler topping. Served warm with two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream.

After dinner, the media team got to make our own spices with Brandon, the owner of Tony Roma’s on I-Drive!  Thank you Brandon for your hospitality!

Tony Roma’s – I-Drive
8560 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 248-0094

For more information about Spice So Nice, please visit tonyromas.com/tr_specials/spice-so-nice/tonyromas.com

We were recently hosted by Yard House for an exclusive tasting of their celebration of Oktoberfest now until Oct 28, 2018. This Oktoberfest, they’re serving a New American twist on some German favorites.

The Jumbo Bavarian Pretzel is a Traditional Bavarian pretzel paired with horseradish mustard and beer cheese sauce. Even the smallest section of the pretzel would make you believe it isn’t soft and chewy; however, you’d be mistaken because each bite of the entire pretzel is soft, chewy and delicious. If I could, I’d eat 10 pretzels a night.

I have found Heaven on Earth and it is disguised as a Double Pork Burger: served with white cheddar, arugula, red onion, tomato, bacon tomato jam, Dijon mustard on a pretzel bun. The pork is juicy, tender and full of flavors.

Another delicious dishes is the Chicken Schnitzel, which is a traditional schnitzel chicken served with a side of ripped potatoes and Brussels sprouts topped with malt vinegar aioli. The chicken is nice and crispy, while the vegetables are seasoned to perfection. They must have heard I love Brussels sprouts because they brought out plenty for me to enjoy. Good news for me is how these Brussels sprouts can be enjoyed year round at Yard House.

Not only the Brussels sprouts are enjoyed year round, but so is the Poke Nachos full of flavor and fresh ingredients on house-made wonton chips.

To finish off, we tasted 3 different desserts in a mini trio sampler. Although they were associated with words like “mini” and “sampler,” there’s nothing small about the portions provided.

The Chocolate Soufflé Cake is like a lava cake that is rich in dark chocolate and topped with vanilla ice cream.

Cheesecake Brûlée comes out looking like flan, but tastes like a delightful cheesecake with crisp sugar like a creme brûlée.

Last, but not least is the Peach Apple Cobbler that was my favorite out of the three desserts we tried. It may be the Southern girl in me, but I can never deny a warm cobbler served with ice cream!

Yard House boasts the world’s largest selection of draft beer, and this Oktoberfest, the restaurant is pouring a number of extra beers.

  • Sam Adams Octoberfest: A blend of rich malts for a hearty, smooth flavor with notes of caramel creating a brew that’s perfect for the season
  • Weihenstephan Festbier: This Festbier produced by the world’s oldest continuously operating brewery has a rich body with a balanced finish and represents the Bavarian way of celebrating
  • Ayinger Oktoberfest: A beer with a deep golden color tinted with amber, lightly sweet with a malty nose balanced with floral hops
  • Paulaner Oktoberfest Wiesn: This German beer has a deep golden color and is full-bodied from Munich and Pilsner malts with a balanced fragrance of hops
  • Goose Island Oktoberfest: A bold American take on the German style, this beer provides a dry, malty body with notes of toffee and burnt sugar

After our tasting, we were able to go upstairs and check out the amazing keg room that overlooks the dining area. How does this look? Amazing, right?

If beer isn’t your fancy, check out some cocktails like this one that changes color when adding some agave to a tequila cocktail.

0 262

Lake Nona’s first Latte Art Throwdown featured Central Florida’s best-of-the-best baristas showing off their skills. Food trucks and an assortment of craft beers were available.  The event was held at Jacq & Jack and many came to watch the show.  Here are some pictures from the event.

Jacq & Jack is located at 6900 Tavistock Lakes Blvd ste 110, Orlando, FL 32827.  You can also give their website a visit at http://jacqandjack.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

Kevin Pabis, son of local food bloggers Richard and Irina Pabis (@celebritychef4u).

We were invited to Main Event Entertainment to eat, bowl, and play!  The food offerings were all delicious!  You have to try their Skillet Mac & Cheese which consists of cavatappi pasta, grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon, creamy blend of melted cheeses, green onions topped with CHEEZ-IT crumbs.  CHEEZ-IT are one of my life-long favorite snacks.  Throw some of its crumbs on top of a loaded-baked chicken/bacon mac & cheese and you’re golden.

Tomato Caprese Skewers – served with balsamic drizzle (these were super popular at our table, a blogger’s son said that it was his favorite dish!)

Calamari – zesty marinara sauce and fresh shaved parmesan cheese

Chicken Quesadilla – grilled chicken, jack & cheddar cheese, chipotle mayo &fresh made pico de Gallo (this was my mom’s favorite dish!)

Roast Beef Dippers– shaved roast beef, horseradish mayo, lettuce, tomato, red onion served on buttery garlic knot bun

Italian Pesto Pizza – fresh basil, roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, creamy basil pesto,feta, mozzarella & provolone cheese

Assorted Dessert Bars – lemon, raspberry rhapsody, pecan chocolate chip, & caramel, oatmeal

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts – with salted caramel and raspberry sauce

A variety of gelato.

Billards.

VIP bowling lanes.

Bar area with alcoholic beverage options.

Bowling alley.

A variety of arcade games.  Everyday deal:  1/2 price games 10pm to close.

Local food bloggers Ashelyn Vazquez (@orlandomag) with her guest, and Sean (@orlandofoodguys).

Samantha (@samantheah) & Mattia Joyce Castellano (@mattia_joyce) racing on the motorcycles

Carolina Grabova (@carolinagrabova) plays a racing game for her instagram story.

My favorite game at the arcade was their zombie-killing game in the first ever roam-free virtual reality room.  I don’t have a photo of it but I do have a video clip of it on my instagram (@bytiffanynguyen). Imagine a game that doesn’t feel like a game.  Where your body is the controller and your mind believes it’s real.  It was so realistic that other attendees were seriously spooked after they finished playing!  I enjoyed playing it though and I am looking forward to coming back and playing it again.  Be sure to check out Main Event Entertainment next time you are in the I-Drive area to experience the zombie-killing game for yourself!

(Source credit: Main Event Entertainment)

Main Event Entertainment – Pointe Orlando
9101 International Dr Suite 1032, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 352-3300
mainevent.com

Peanut Pad Thai With Seasoned Grilled Shrimp
Do you love delicious food, crafty cocktails, and fun games?  If your answer is yes, than KINGS Orlando is the perfect place to be any day of the week!

We were invited to check out KINGS Orlando, an upscale dining and entertainment venue.  During our visit we got to try a few items from their Asian-inspired menu (pictured below) and we also got to bowl.  We had so much fun cannot wait to go back! Our server Kimberly was super friendly, engaging, and down-to-earth.  Her communication skills were on point so we always knew what was going on at all times.  Kimberly was the best server that I’ve ever had and I know she is going to go far in the KINGS company one day SOON!

Free game on Sunday with lunch reservation
Fried Bang Bang Calamari
Buffalo Chicken Wontons
Peanut Pad Thai With Seasoned Grilled Shrimp (my favorite!)
Baja Street Tacos With Seasoned Grilled Shrimp
Private room
Be sure to check out KINGS Orlando soon for food, fun, and more!
Kings Dining & Entertainment
8255 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 363-0200
kings-de.com/orlandokings-de.com/orlando

0 775

Runway to Hope’s Christmas Tree

Rosen Hotels & Resorts is known for being charitable and the holidays are no exception.  We were invited to check out 16 local charities gathering at Rosen Shingle Creek to decorate a tree in honor of their charity followed by a cocktail reception.  Rosen Shingle Creek is proud to display a very special collection of Christmas Trees decorated by each of their Non-Profit Partner Organizations in the hotel’s festive lobby adding an extra level of good tidings to the hotel’s multi-million dollar holiday decor.

Mark NeJame, co-founder of Runway to Hope

Pork Taco – Marinated Cabbage, Cojita, Cheese, Mexican Crema

Chicken Taco – Marinated Cabbage, Cojita, Cheese, Mexican Crema

Fish Taco – Marinated Cabbage, Cojita, Cheese, Mexican Crema

Penne Pasta with Tomato, Basil, Calamatta Olives, Sun-dried Tomato, Capers and Parmesan Cheese

Tri-Color Cheese Tortellini Shitake Mushrooms, Sweet Peas and Peppers in Pesto Alfredo Sauce

Holiday White Chocolate & Milk Chocolate Fudge


Jack and Lee Rosen JCC


Girl Scouts of America, Citrus Council

The Pixel Fund


Osceola School for the Arts


The Harris Rosen Foundation


A Gift for Teaching


Canine Companions for Independence


Nemours Children’s Hospital

The Orlando Union Rescue Mission


The Elizabeth Parsons School of Dance

Best Buddies International


American Cancer Society

Florida Hospital Transplant Institute

Valencia College Foundation

The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando


Compassionate Hands and Hearts

Shepherd’s Hope

We hope you enjoy their trees as much as we enjoyed watching them decorate it!  All of these organizations host their annual gala events at Rosen Shingle Creek and all events are unique and available for ticket purchase or donations.  Please visit their Holiday Tree Display at Rosen Shingle Creek’s hotel lobby!

(Source Credit: Rosen Hotel & Resort)

Rosen Shingle Creek
9939 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819
(866) 996-9939
http://rosenshinglecreek.com

We were invited to a media preview at the award-winning nightlife and entertainment destination on International Drive “Mango’s Tropical Café” to try the new à la carte menu prepared by Executive Chef Angel Ramirez and to watch their sensational live entertainment.  It was my first time at Mango’s Tropical Café and I cannot wait to go back.  Their venue is spacious, the food was great, and the performers were all amazingly talented.  It was the best dinner show that I have ever witness in my entire life!

One of the many private rooms at Mango’s Tropical Café.  The Voodoo Room was where our media preview event was hosted.

Mango’s Cuban Sandwich – Slow roasted pork, tender ham and Swiss cheese, served with fries and/or gourmet onion rings

Rosa Vieja Tacos – Three large soft tacos with their homemade all beef “Rosa Vieja”, shredded cabbage, tomato, red onion, sharp cheddar cheese and drizzled with a cilantro aioli.  Served with yellow rice, sour cream, salsa and guacamole

Pico de Gallo, guacamole and sour cream

Lobster Ravioli – Ravioli filled with lobster meat topped with Mango’s homemade creamy pink sauce, served with a fresh baked garlic roll

Prime rib sliders – Three Prime Rib sliders topped with caramelized onions and horseradish cream sauce, served with au jus for dipping

Chicken Parmigiana Sliders – Three sliders served on homemade garlic bread with marinara sauce for dipping

Mango’s Tropical Ceviche – Tender fish ceviche in fresh lime juice, served with chips

Wild Mushroom Pizza – Sautéed portobello and button mushrooms in garlic, olive oil and rosemary, topped with caramelized onions and mozzarella cheese

Mango’s Chicken “al Ajillo” – Tender chicken strips sautéed in a garlic, white wine and lemon sauce, served with white rice, black beans and maduros

Tradional New York Style Pizza – Classic thin crust pizza with mozzarella cheese and our homemade marinara sauce

Caribbean Creole Chicken – Tender chicken breast sautéed in a garlic, onions, peppers, tomato, cilantro, white wine, paprika and lemon, served with white rice, black beans and maduros

Brett’s Southwestern BBQ Burgers – Topped with sharp cheddar cheese, Applewood smoked bacon and gourmet onion rings, topped with Mango’s homemade BBQ sauce and your choice of French fries of gourmet onion rings

Passion Fruit Mojito

Coconut Mojito

Mango Mojito

The upstairs bar

Celia Cruz experience

Michael Jackson Tribute performance

Be sure to check out Mango’s Tropical Café soon for the new à la carte menu and amazing live entertainment!

Mango’s Tropical Café
8126 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
http://mangos.com/orlando
(407) 673-4422

0 1105

Hotelier, Humanitarian & Hospitality Legend Harris Rosen & I standing in front of his grandparents’ portraits.

Whenever I run into the President and COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts, Harris Rosen, I feel like I am spotting a unicorn – it always happens quick and fast, and you have to catch it before it disappears. I was in for a real treat when I attended the media sneak peek of Rosen Plaza’s winter holiday events and Harris Rosen surprised us all with a low-key special guest appearance to welcome us and share a few stories with us about his family, hotels and food.

For those who don’t know, my family respects Mr. Rosen, he is our biggest role model. Mr. Rosen started out with humble beginnings in New York City’s Lower East Side where people did not have a lot of money and he worked very hard to accomplish everything he has now (including hitchhiking to his first business pitch!) and he donates a lot of his earnings back to the community. The first time my family met Mr. Rosen was back on Christmas Day in 2014 at the hotel’s annual Christmas brunch buffet (open to the public) when Mr. Rosen stopped by my family’s table and greeted us and asked us all how we were doing. My mom was the only one who recognized Mr. Rosen at the time since she is an avid reader and had recently read an article about him. My mom quickly put everything together and asked the man at our table if he was Harris Rosen and he replied yes. Shortly after we met him, we witnessed him picking up a small piece of garbage off the ground while there were plenty of his employees around the room that he could have asked to pick it up for him but he choose not to – and it was at that exact moment that we began to realize how humble and hard-working Mr. Rosen is, to be working hard even on Christmas Day, a day most people take off, especially those who can afford to.

My family has made it a tradition every year since our first encounter with Mr. Rosen to dine at one of his hotels on Christmas Day to enjoy their delicious brunch buffets and say hi to him and take pictures with him.  My family pictures are included below, with my review to follow.  I hope you enjoy the rest of this post!

First time meeting Harris Rosen, 2014


We brought my relatives from Vietnam to Christmas brunch at the Rosen hotel and they are big fans of Harris Rosen as well, 2015.

Christmas Day at Rosen Plaza, 2016

Jack’s Place is named after Harris Rosen’s late father.

Caricature of celebrities drawn by his Jack Rosen when he worked at as a security engineer at the Waldorf Astoria in NY.  Jack’s Place displays 175 drawings out of his thousands of celebrity caricatures – they have the largest autographed celebrity caricature collection in the world.  Caricature artists come in on Friday and Saturday nights at Jack’s Place to draw restaurant guests.

Sculpture of Jack Rosen

Petite Filet Mignon Toast Garganzola

Manchego Cheese Crisp & Fig Lollipop

“You’re more important than me.”  Founder Harris Rosen (left) said to one of his managers, John Nichols (center), before John spoke to the media.  That was humbling to witness!

“We cater to any eater – those with celiac disease. We take time to prepare what our guests asks for.” -Harris Rosen

Octoberfest Big Boss Pretzels With Warm Alligator Drool Beer Cheese and Honey Mustard Dipping Sauces


Indian Pumpkin Craving

Edamame Dim Sum

Shrimp & Pork Dim Sum

Deer Ice Sculpture Carved By Chef Ricki

Jumbo Cocktail Shrimp

Crab Claws

Ceviche

Pulled Pork On A Pina Colada Roll with Guava BBQ & Crispy Sriracha Slaw

Grilled Bratwurst Banh Mi With Pickled Cucumber Petite Cucumber Sprout Garnish

Alligator Drool

Blue Harris

I highly recommend visiting the Rosen Plaza for the holidays to enjoy festive decor, yummy eats, frosty sips and the chance to mingle with Mr. Rosen – if you’re lucky enough to run into him as I have been these past few years on Christmas Day as he is making his rounds at all of his hotels.

For more information about future events, check out the links below.

Winterfest – https://www.rosenplaza.com/winterfest/

Iced Out! – https://www.rosenplaza.com/icedout/

The incredible holiday buffets –
Thanksgiving Day – https://www.rosenplaza.com/thanksgiving/
Christmas Day – https://www.rosenplaza.com/christmas/

 

Rosen Plaza
9700 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 996-9700
rosenplaza.com

0 1700

If I had to choose one restaurant to eat at every day for the rest of my life it would be: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House.  My first visit was a five-star experience with top-notch service and high-quality food in an astonishing environment.  The whole experience felt divine, like I was dining in Heaven, a place I did not deserve to be at, but I was there.

To clear up any confusion, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House has one location in Orlando, FL.  They are no longer operating in their original location off Lee Road and have relocated in 2015 to their newest location on International Drive, directly across from Pointe Orlando.   They also recently released their biggest menu relaunch so now is the perfect time for all my readers to check out their newest location and experience their unforgettable food and impeccable service for yourselves.  Below are a few pictures from my breathtaking experience at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House from when I was invited to taste their newest menu additions prepared by Executive Chef Greg Thompson.  I hope you enjoy my post!

By The Glass (BTG) Wine Additions
• La Marca Prosecco
• Taittinger Brut Champagne
• Pierre Sparr Cremant Rosé Brut
• Scott Family Estate “Dijon Clone” Chardonnay
• Cakebread Napa Valley Chardonnay
• Castello Banfi “San Angelo” Pinot Grigio
• Benziger Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc
• Love Block Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
• Del Frisco’s Private Reserve Cabernet
• Luke Wahluke Slope, WA Cabernet
• Scattered Peaks “DFDE Exclusive” Cabernet
• Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot
• Ben Marco Malbec
• Hahn “SLH” Santa Barbara Pinot Noir
• Gothic “Nevermore” Pinot Noir
• Enroute “Les Pommiers” by Far Niente Pinot Noir
• Volpaia Chianti Classico
• Campo Viejo “Reserva” Rioja
• Axios 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Sapphire Bramble – Bombay Sapphire | Domaine de Canton | Lemon | Blackberry | Basil | San Pellegrino Limonata

Old Fashioned Forty-Six – Maker’s Mark 46 | Earl Grey Tea Syrup | Earl Grey Bitters

Cocktail Additions
• Añejo Old Fashioned
• Bacon & Barrel
• Blood Orange Manhattan
• Elixir
• Harvest Manhattan
• Honey Comb Spritz
• Old Fashioned Forty-Six
• Plum Rosé
• Sapphire Bramble
• Sidecar a là Poire
• Traditional Negroni

Chilled Alaskan King Crab Legs, Iced Jumbo Shrimp, Chilled Crab Claws, & Hand-Selected Moonstone Oyster from Point Judith Pond, Rhode Island

Charred Octopus – Gigante Beans, Tomatoes, Olives, Capers, Lemon & Cold-Pressed Olive Oil

King Salmon – Simply Prepared Fresh Fish Finished With Himalayan Sea Salt – High In Omega-3 Fatty Acid,  Healthy And Delicious!

45 Day Dry Aged Double Bone Prime Ribeye “The Double Eagle” – 16 oz.

45 Day Dry Aged Prime Ribeye – 16 oz.

14 Day Dry Aged Colorado Prime Lamb – 16 oz.

From left to right:
• 45 Day Dry Aged Prime Ribeye
• Brussels Sprouts – Smoked Bacon, Caramelized Onions & Lemon Butter
• Grilled Asparagus with Romesco Sauce
• 14 Day Dry Aged Colorado Prime Lamb
• Spaghetti Squash Gratin – Parmesan Cream & Roasted Pistachio
• Uptown Del’s Potatoe – Melted Fontina, Chives & Shaved Truffle
• 45 Day Dry Aged Double Bone Prime Ribeye “The Double Eagle”

Butter Cake – Butter Pecan Ice Cream, Fresh Whipped Cream & Caramel Sauce

Warm Banana Bread Pudding – Caramel Sauce & Vanilla Ice Cream (Award-winning!)

Lemon Cake – Six Layers, Lemon Buttercream Icing & Lemon Glaze

Chocolate Mousse – Salted Caramel Chocolate Fudge & Miniature Chocolate Cookies

Menu Additions
• 45 Day Dry Aged Double Bone Prime Ribeye “The Double Eagle”
• 45 Day Dry Aged Prime Ribeye
• 45 Day Dry Aged Prime Strip
• 14 Day Dry Aged Colorado Prime Lamb
• Charred Octopus
• Chilled Shrimp Tasting
• Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras
• Seared Rare Wagyu Beef Carpaccio
• Creamed Corn with Blistered Shishito Peppers
• Grilled Asparagus with Romesco Sauce
• Spaghetti Squash Gratin
• Uptown Del’s Potato
• Simply Prepared Halibut
• Simply Prepared Salmon
• Simply Prepared Scallops
• Jalapeño-Bacon Burger (Texas stores only)
• Chocolate Mousse

The Veranda Room upstairs can be reserved for a cocktail event or any special event –  you name it, the sky is the limit.


Be sure to check out the new location and menu at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House soon!

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House
9150 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 351-5074
http://delfriscos.com

0 1101

More than 10,000 baking professionals, industry buyers, pastry chefs, cake artists, retail bakers, hobbyists and everyday foodies from around the world are expected to attend the Cake Fair at the Orange County Convention Center from October 13-15, 2017.  This delicious show is a feast for the eyes (not to mention nose and stomach)!

The Americas Cake Fair will have something for everyone: live theater main stage demonstrations by renowned cake designers and sweets-centric television personalities, including “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro; more than 100 hands-on classes, demonstrations and business seminars taught by the world’s most skilled cake decorators and industry professionals; a live global cake challenges; traditional cake competitions; and an exhibit hall overflowing with new products and services, including some items for cash and carry.

From the art of airbrushing to mastering chocolate modeling, all classes and demonstrations will provide instruction on the latest techniques. All classes are three hours in duration and must be booked in advance online.

Other Cake Fair features include:

  • The Sugar Art Fashion Show on Friday evening, October 13, with models strutting the runway adorned by cake costumes and edible ensembles, co-hosted by Celebrity Chef Emily Ellyn, best known as the Retro Rad Chef from Food Network & Fashion Stylist / On-Air Style Expert Melanie Pace, and benefitting Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

Emily Ellyn (right)

  • An exclusive VIP Meet & Greet on Saturday, October 14, where guests can meet and mingle with their favorite television personalities, headliners and cake artists
  • Live Global Cake and Chocolate Challenges, where international teams and individuals will battle for top honors
  • Traditional cake competitions offering cash prizes for contestants across all skill levels
  • Themed “zones” sprinkled around the show floor, including a Kids Zone for a yummy interactive experience for budding cake artists; and The ACD Magazine Cake Zone sponsored by American Cake Decorating Magazine for a delectable introduction to fondant and other skills

Ticket Prices


Attendees can enjoy sweet savings by purchasing tickets online, and can save even more when attending the show on multiple, consecutive days. Prices start from $30 for regular, single-day adult admission with advance online purchase.

Stay up to date on Cake Fair event updates, special offers, and exclusive contests by following the show on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@cakefair).  For more information, visit www.cakefair.com.

(Source credit: Cake Fair)

UPDATED:

Retro Rad Chef from Food Network Star, Cupcake Wars, and Cutthroat Kitchen Winner Emily Ellyn and Celebrity Baker Mich Turner

The Chocolate Genius – Paul Joachim

Emilly Ellyn and Nancy Farmer

Food Network’s Farmhouse Rules Nancy Farmer, Elizabeth Townsend, and Emilly Ellyn

I am a Digital Ambassador for The Americas Cake Fair, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending the show and reporting my opinion within this blog, The Americas Cake Fair has provided me with complimentary tickets and other exclusive opportunities.

0 1662

Five Star New Year’s Eve marks its fourth year with the launch of its signature all-white-and-gold-themed celebration in Orlando’s I-Drive 360. The Miami acclaimed fête has been hosted and attended in Miami by actor Ryan PhillippeDJ Robin Schulz, Brazilian actor Macos Mion, soccer star Ronaldo “The Phenomenon” Nazario de Lima and renowned Brazilian actress Isabeli Fontana, to name a few.

fivestar2

Mirroring its Miami counterpart, Orlando’s party features an opulent celebration including exclusive access to full-service bar with premium libations, food all night long including dishes like Poached Lobster with Gruyere Cheese FondueBraised Pork with Lentils and KaleChimichurri Rubbed Beef TenderloinCrème Brûlée, and Chocolate Covered Strawberries, to name a very few, a boutique and styling suite, a private cigar room, sounds by live on-site DJs, recreational activities, and service from on-site concierge.

five-star_people

Admission packages to the event will start with General Admission ranging between $290 and $390, which features a full-service open bar with beverages, beer, vodka, whisky and prosecco. The Table Top package is priced at $4,000 granting guests a reserved bar space for six guests and access to the full-service open bar through the night. The VIP Table experience priced at $9,900 offers an exclusive VIP entrance, full-service open bar with beverages, beer, vodka, whisky and champagne, as well as dinner and breakfast for 10 people. The Gold Lounge package, which accommodates 16 people, is priced at $20,000 and features a VIP separate entrance, full-service open bar with beverages, beer, vodka, whisky and champagne, exclusive dinner and breakfast, a dedicated butler service, and private transportation for the entire party.

Valet parking is available, but Ubering is recommended.

Tickets available at: http://fivestarnye.com/

We can’t wait to see you at the event!

Photos are provided by Five Star New Year’s Eve.

About Concept ID:

Concept ID is a marketing and communications agency with clients like 1 Hotel & Homes, In List, Casa Cor, Hooch App and experience in events like Kevin Hart’s Heartbeat Weekend, Oculto, and Five Stars New Year’s Eve. Their unique solutions in the Miami/US market have made them successful in their creation, production and project management of accounts in entertainment and sports. For more information on Concept ID, visit www.conceptid.us or call 786-768 -2447. For additional details on Five Star New Year’s Eve, visit www.fivestarnye.com  or call 786.768.2447.

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!

https://youtube.com/watch?v=kqslsT7W4IQ%3Frel%3D0%2520frameborder%3D0%2520allowfullscreen

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

 

0 1560

Tommy Bahama, known for it’s beach chic apparel, also serves guests at several successful restaurants. The brand’s Island Time Happy Hour welcomes guests to a tropical theme that matches the new wave of culinary restaurants that are appearing on the recently renovated International Drive. We were recently invited to attend a media tasting to showcase their new menu!

FullSizeRender(1)

Executive Chef Matthew Oakley showcases Tommy Bahama’s new spring influenced happy hour menu items. Fried Green Tomatoes is the outstanding dish among the appetizers. The refreshing Grapefruit and Jicama Salad is a great choice for lighter spring time fare.

Of the entrees, the Pan Seared Whole Branzino is the favorite. The boldness to serve whole fish at a more mainstream establishment is to be applauded. It is prepared with the right combination of herbs and grilled citrus.

Chef Matthew prepares a personal dessert creation, which is now on the menu of all Tommy Bahama’s Restaurants. The Brown Butter Blondie sets itself apart by not following other chocolate based desserts. The incorporation of Hawaiian Sea Salt adds a special element of enhancement for the classic Blondie flavor.

The Pineapple Paradiso is the favorite of the two newly minted cocktails. General Manager Nancy Lingo recommends some of the more classic cocktails including the Cloudy Coconut, a dessert unto itself, as well as Tommy Bahama’s classic Mai Tai, which paired well with all the dishes sampled.

Ever in need of a happy hour that not only serves good food, but also provides great cocktails and outstanding service? Tommy Bahama’s is hard to beat.

Special Thanks to: Executive Chef Matthew Oakley, General Manager Auruto Coronel, General Manager: Nancy Lingo, and our Server Jessica.

Appetizers

FullSizeRender_3(1) Fried Green Tomatoes with a Plantain Crust, Jalapeno Cilantro Aioli, and Charred Corn Salsa

FullSizeRender_4 Filet Mignon Flatbread with Bacon, Garlic Aioli, Honey Roasted Onions, Gruyere, and Crispy Shitakes Mushrooms

FullSizeRender_2(1)Salad Grapefruit & Jicama Salad with Baby Greens, Red Cabbage, Macadamia Nuts, and Mojito Vinaigrette

Entrees
FullSizeRender_1Pan Seared Whole Branzino with Jiacama Hash and Jalapeno Brown Butter

FullSizeRender_2Roasted Prawn Papperdelle Pasta with Lemon Parmesan Broth, Citrus Gremolata, and Fresh Herbs

Dessert
FullSizeRender_3Brown Butter Blondie with Toasted Macadamia Nuts, White Chocolate Mousse, Hawaiian Sea Salt Caramel, and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Fresh Cocktails (L to R:  Mai Thai, Hibiscus Lime Cooler, Pineapple Paradiso; Cococut Cloud in second row.)
FullSizeRender_1(1)Pineapple Paradisio: Bacardi Pineapple, St-Germain Elderflower, Creme de Banana, Scratch Sour, and Fresh Pineapple

Hibiscus Lime Cooler: Ketel One, Cointreau, Pineapple, Hibiscus Syrup, and Lime

0 3517

Offering prime steak, fresh seafood and top of the line hospitality, Del Frisco’s Orlando is an exceptional steakhouse, and one of the newest additions to the restaurants on International Drive.

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House features an impressive, diverse wine list of more than 1,200 labels,  including a number of notable verticals from both old and new world producers.

With two floors that include two bars, four private dining rooms and a picturesque patio, Del Frisco’s Orlando boasts over 400 seats.

The restaurant’s price point is closer to probably better for those with an expense account or for a special occasion, but the dishes from the succulent lobster tails and lobster mac and cheese  to the juicy ribeye steaks. Leave room for dessert – the crispy on the caramelized outside, pillowy soft on the inside butter cake with butter pecan ice cream is really one of the best desserts in Orlando.

SONY DSC

Executive Chef Greg Thompson spoke with us recently about Del Frisco’s and his background in cooking.

He tells us, “Del Frisco’s commitment to quality, in everything we do makes us stand apart. From the staff to the ingredients and the restaurant standards we hold, we embrace this commitment to quality each day.”

What are some of the most popular items at Del Frisco’s here in Orlando?
The Crab Cake, for sure. It’s one of the best I’ve ever had! Also, of course the Bone In Filet!

How did you get your start in cooking? Where were you before Del Frisco’s?
I love to eat! I was always fascinated by the metamorphosis of ingredients into magnificent food; almost like alchemy. I am a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, and I worked in NYC for a long time before a stint in Charlotte, NC (both are great food towns). I have traveled around the world opening up steakhouses in locales like Beijing, Shanghai, and Mexico City as well as the lower 48 states and Canada.

What is your favorite childhood food to eat?
Ice cream! It’s still my favorite food, to this day.

If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life from Del Frisco’s – what would that one thing be?
Definitely the Butter Cake!

What were some of your favorite eats while traveling the world?
The Chicken Thigh Sliders at Blue Frog in Shanghai, and also anything at Da Dong in Beijing! I also really love Tacos “al pastor” in Mexico City.

What is your favorite thing to eat at home after a long day?
A really good deli sandwich piled high with all the “fixings”

Take an inside look at Del Frisco’s:

Private Rooms available
Private Rooms available

SONY DSC SONY DSC

House baked bread
House baked bread
Classic Caeser Salad  - $9.5
Classic Caeser Salad – $9.5
Crab Cake with Cajun Lobster Sauce - $19
Crab Cake with Cajun Lobster Sauce – $19
Thick Cut Bacon Au Poivre Bourbon Molasses Glaze - $14.5
Thick Cut Bacon Au Poivre
Bourbon Molasses Glaze – $14.5

SONY DSC

Broiled Lobster Tail Carved tableside & served with drawn butter & lemon.
Broiled Lobster Tail
Carved tableside & served with drawn butter & lemon.
Bone-In Prime Ribeye 22 oz. - $59
Bone-In Prime Ribeye 22 oz. – $59

SONY DSC

Seared Chilean Sea Bass Crab Fried Rice & Black Bean Garlic Sauce - $44
Seared Chilean Sea Bass
Crab Fried Rice & Black Bean Garlic Sauce – $44
Lobster Macaroni & Cheese - $16.5
Lobster Macaroni & Cheese – $16.5
Buttercake Butter Pecan Ice Cream, Fresh Whipped Cream & Caramel Sauce - $12
Buttercake
Butter Pecan Ice Cream, Fresh Whipped Cream & Caramel Sauce – $12

Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

DSC_0117

My sweet tooth was satisfied at Sugar Factory’s media event last Thursday. Sugar Factory is located right next to the Orlando Eye on International Drive. One side is a candy store and the other side has a bar and seating area. I heard of Sugar Factory just this year while researching places to visit in Chicago a few months back. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to stop by during my trip so as you can imagine, I was ecstatic when I found out Sugar Factory was coming to Orlando, Florida. I got to taste popular drinks, milkshakes, food, $99 ice-cream, and took a bag full of candy home. Extra bonus for parents – these drinks featured here all come virgin for the kiddos!

DSC_0001

DSC_0004

DSC_0003

 

DSC_0006

Started it off with the Ocean Blue. Hpnotiq cocktail featuring gummy sharks and dry ice!

DSC_0022

 

Next was the Mai Tai. A Tahitian style drink. Fresh orange and pineapple juices blended with coconut and light rum and then topped with a oat of Dark Myers rum, with dry ice!

DSC_0032

 

My personal favorite is the White Gummy. A fruity cocktail that was so delicious! Comes with dry ice of course!

DSC_0062

 

Lastly, the most visually stunning, Lollipop Passion. A mix of melon, coconut and pineapple. Garnished with lollipops and dry ice!

DSC_0082

Fried Macaroni and Cheese with Tomato Bacon Jam.

DSC_0030

Meatballs with Marinara, Fontina Fondue, and Polenta.

 

DSC_0036

Red Velvet Pancakes

DSC_0076

 

From left to right, Chocolate Milkshake, Birthday Cake Milkshake with a candle, and Berry Milkshake with candies.

DSC_0110

Sugar Factory’s World Famous King Kong Sundae $99. Includes 24 scoops of ice cream, topped with Chocolate and Caramel Sauce, Whipped Cream, Gummy Bears, Waffle Cones, Oreo Crumbles, Brownie Chunks, Chocolate Chips, Bananas, Toasted Marshmallows, Reese’s Pieces, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Giant Lollipops, and sparklers!

DSC_0140

DSC_0151

GTNphotoLogo

By Gina Nguyen

0 2512

Itta Bena a new speakeasy style restaurant on the second floor of Pointe Orlando,  named after a small town in Mississippi,  hometown for notable blues legends such as B.B King and Smoky Babe.

Itta Bena has a classy yet relaxed feel to it, where upon entering you are welcomed by the soothing notes of the piano and warm lighting.

We were invited and had dinner with owner of Itta Bena (as well as B.B King’s and Lafayette’s which are located on the same floor as Itta Bena) Tommy Peters.

Tommy was very insightful and talked to us about his vision of the experience, as well as guided us through each course through the night.

20150915_191750_HDR
Caesar Salad

We started the night off with the Caesar Salad – note I am a sucker for Caesar Salad.

I like to consider myself a caesar salad connoisseur and this was indeed a really good salad. The cheese, dressing, and croutons all put together in perfect equilibrium, it definitely prepared my stomach for the numerous glasses of wine I graciously finished that night.

Abita BBQ Shrimp
Abita BBQ Shrimp

Next on deck was the Abita BBQ Shrimp, a New Orleans (Nawlins) inspired dish with jumbo shrimp in a caramelized sauce with Abita bread (beer bread!).

The dish was hearty, and it was quite obvious that this was some good ol southern soul food as I quickly devoured this dish and was not sure if I would be able to make it through the rest of the night.

Grilled Salmon Filet
Grilled Salmon Filet

On to the main dish! I had the Grilled Salmon, with wild rice pilaf, grilled salmon topped with a lemon caper cream and green beans.

The dish was excellent – besides being a sucker for caesar salads, I love seafood and the lemon caper cream with its slight notes of zest brought out the fish which melted in my mouth.

Mixed together with the rice pilaf and you have an amazing dish, and the understanding of each ingredient working together in unison is apparent. Like the Abita BBQ Shrimp, I licked this plate clean, and I really wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish dessert at this point, mainly because I was being fed my dining companion’s food items that they could not finish!

Vanilla Bean Creme Brule
Vanilla Bean Creme Brule

I mustered the strength and found my second wind for dessert.

I’ve mentioned before that I am not a big dessert person, but I do enjoy my creme brule. Flaky, creamy, and delightful this dish brought the final touches to the night and satisfied my appetite.

If you’re in the area I recommend you stop by here for dinner, it’d be a nice date place, very romantic atmosphere and fantastic dishes, and while you’re at it stop by B.B Kings and Lafayette’s we went there with Tommy Peters afterwards and he showed us around, an excellent place to watch live bands with great talent!

Check them out!

Itta Bena
Address: 9101 International Dr #2210, Orlando, FL 32819
Phone:(407) 757-2910
http://ittabenadining.com/orlando/

Last Wednesday, we decided to visit Kings Bowl on International Dr. in Orlando, FL. It was a spacious venue with plenty of bowling lanes, pool tables, and bars. What’s more is that they also have a restaurant inside of Kings Bowl. This summer, Kings Bowl decided to add around 14 dishes and 5 drinks to their menu. Fair warning, the lighting wasn’t great for photography so we may not have photos for every dish and drink. Also, many of their 14 dishes are meals split up separately (i.e. a chicken dish may also have the quinoa salad, but the salad is also sold on its own); therefore, grouping will occur in this post.

DSC_0485

The Drunken Bear Martini is a sweet drink that contains raspberry vodka, peach liqueur, sour mix, lime juice, and it is garnished with gummy bears. Along with it is an Orange You Old Fashioned?, which is a bourbon drink with orange liqueur, simple syrup and orange bitters.

DSC_0482

 

 

DSC_0516

The Apple Raisin Chicken Salad and sandwich contains mostly the same ingredients plus or minus the toasted multigrain bread. Instead of bread, the sandwich can be served as a lettuce wrap instead. The salad is very delightful as the mixture of apples, raisins and chicken is always refreshing.

DSC_0512

The Turkey, cranberry and brie sandwich contains toasted multigrain bread that may have a weird smell because the oil it was toasted with was cooked incorrectly. I couldn’t get past the smell to enjoy the sandwich.

DSC_0502

DSC_0508

The chicken wings can be Teri-Dactyl (Spicy BBQ and Teriyaki sauce) or Kings’ Famous Baked Caribbean Jerk wings. I prefer the Caribbean Jerk sauce over the Teri-Dactyl because the latter is very sweet and overpowering. Nevertheless, the wings themselves are very moist and cooked well.

DSC_0501

There wasn’t anything specifically special about the BBQ Pulled Pork Wontons. They were tasty, but oily.

DSC_0528

DSC_0493

The Mango Lime Grilled Chicken Breast is served with a mango salsa, avocado, sour cream, Southwestern quinoa, and steamed broccoli. The Southwestern quinoa can also be ordered as a salad and the only difference is that it includes kale, Feta, carrots, and a cilantro lime vinaigrette. The chicken breast is cooked well and is still juicy on the inside. There isn’t anything really special about the quinoa side or salad.

DSC_0517

 

The Turkey and Hummus Wrap is packed with protein and veggies. It’s a nice item if you’d like a refreshing dish on a hot summer day.

DSC_0519

 

The Ginger Soy Glazed Salmon is a bit dry, but the flavors are delicious. The baby bok toy is extremely salty and the brown rice is ok. However, the glazed baby carrots are delicious and I could eat them all day.

DSC_0529

The marinated artichoke and spinach pizza was interesting and delicious. The downside is how oily the pizza and the crust was.

DSC_0546

This pizza is basically an Americanized taco spread out. Another way of thinking is if Taco Bell made a pizza. My favorite part of this dish is the crust, which is more crunchy as well as still a bit chewy.

The burgers weren’t photographed, but they are essentially the same thing with one or two different items switched around for each burger. The most interesting is the burger that contains peanut butter, bacon, grilled pineapple, and Sriracha. The peanut butter works well with the beef where the bacon adds a salty and savoriness to the burger. The grilled pineapple is new and adds a sweetness to it as well.

DSC_0540

 

The “homemade” health bar cake is served with whipped cream and a rum caramel sauce. The lower portion of the cake is dense and chewy, while the top is creamy and smooth. I prefer the top portion as it isn’t as sweet as the cake portion. Eating it together is the best way even though it is fun to dissect it and take it apart.

Feel free to visit Kings Bowl America – Orlando for more information on their menu and summer bowling deals.

0 2348

Hidden in a rather desolate plaza on Universal Blvd, Japan Food Aki is a good introduction restaurant to Japanese home cooking. They’ve got the sushi rolls and nigiri, as well as the various pork and beef katsu curry dishes popular in Japanese cuisine.

In the 1800s, the Japanese were on their way to modernization and were enamored with the curries brought overseas to them by the Dutch via the Indian colonies. It became a national hit along with the fried pork cutlets (katsu) in the 1900s.

The sushi quality might not be the best in town, but the value is there – especially for happy hour, which lasts from 5:30pm – 6:30pm weekdays with rolls that can be found for $2.50 and nigiri sushi for $1.00 a piece.

It is a good place to start for your exploration and journey into Japanese cuisine.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Click to add a blog post for Japan Food Aki Restaurant on Zomato

From Atlanta, Georgia to Orlando, Florida comes a classic American tavern fare called Marlow’s Tavern. At Marlow’s Tavern, there are a large number of dishes and cocktails updated each season. On that note, the neighborhood Taverns, in Winter Park and Pointe Orlando, are bringing back popular seasonal specials that we were lucky enough to have a few plates. Every ingredient comes in fresh 6 days a week and bread comes in 7 days a week because Marlow’s Tavern does not consist of a freezer besides a small one for ice cream and chocolate chips as well as to keep the food fresh for that day.

As executive chef and co-founder of Marlow’s Tavern John C. Metz said, “there is something about these hearty dishes that we all start craving in the fall.” With that, Marlow’s Tavern brings us a Ribs & Whiskey menu that offers an assortment of sweet and tangy dishes. The Ribs & Whiskey menu is available at the Winter Park and Pointe Orlando locations Tuesday, September 23 through Monday, October 27. From the starters to entrees and sides to desserts, Marlow’s Tavern aims to please and each guest craves each item after experiencing it for the first time.

DSC_0019

To begin with, we shared a few starters that included J.T.’s Kettle Chips, which were crispy potato chips crowned with Gorgonzola cheese, bacon, Roma tomato and scallions. Eating this was like eating nachos where parts of the chips would be crunchy, while other parts in the cheese are a bit softer, but nonetheless packed with flavor. In my opinion, I like the softer chips, but I don’t fancy getting my fingers dirty…yet, that’ll give me an excuse to lick my fingers after eating J.T.’s Kettle Chips. Remind me to thank J.T. for his contribution of this delicious snack to the Marlow’s Tavern menu.

I recommend having a plate of J.T.’s Kettle Chips with your friends and having a glass of SweetWater Whiplash GA BAV 6.2%, which is also on this special Ribs & Whiskey menu. SweetWater Whiplash GA ABV 6.2% is an American style Belgian IPA, with a subtle flavor in combination with citrusy, piney hops, well balanced with tart, dry finish. Sweetwater originates in Atlanta, Georgia and is considered to be a neighborhood tap. At all times, Marlow’s Tavern will have at least two neighborhood taps on hand.

DSC_0023

Besides the SweetWater Whiplash, A Kick From Ginger can also be a nice drink to have with the chips…or anything on the menu, for that matter. A Kick From Ginger contains the original Kentucky bourbon, Old Forrester, along the original Atlanta ginger ale, Red Rock. This is a nice drink to sip on after a long day while kicking your feet up…as long as your feet are not on the bar counter.

DSC_0018

For instance, order yourself a Shrimp & Crab “Nacho” Plate along with A Kick From Ginger and you’ll know what I’m talking about. This starter consists of rock shrimp, crab, Pepper Jack cheese, and fresh jalapeño. Each bite will make the rainy days a little bit brighter. Please note that because the jalapeños used are fresh, it will have a spicy note to every bite.

DSC_0014

The Daily Smoke-House Flatbread offers slow-roasted pulled pork, basted with our secret sauces and the best ingredients the farm has to offer, served on brioche. This flatbread brought a welcomed surprise taste of sweetness that is refreshing and light to eat. Packed with ingredients fresh and delicious that’ll keep you wanting more and more.

DSC_0024

With the flatbread, I indulged in a Georgia Peach Lemonade that consists of Minute Maid Lemonade, peach nectar, Jack Daniel’s Honey whiskey, and a frozen peach. This drink is cute, tasty and refreshing as long as you remember to mix thoroughly as the alcohol may settle at the bottom.

DSC_0025

When lemonade isn’t on the mind, R&W S’weet Tea is another possibility. It is made up of Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka, fresh lemon, agave nectar, topped with a shot of Shock Top beer, and a kick of orange.

DSC_0031

After the starters, the entrees were now making their way to the table. A Pig With Buns is a slow-roasted pulled pork with Jack Daniel’s® Honey Glaze, House-Made Pimento cheese, dill pickles, and crispy tobacco onions on a buttery onion roll with a side of Granny Smith Apple Cabbage Slaw. Eat with caution, as an experience of explosive flavors will take place with plenty of textures in each bite from the crispy tobacco onions to the tender pulled pork.

DSC_0033

Marlow’s Ribs & Whiskey Hookup is a feast with: slow-cooked Smithfield James River ribs and drunken chicken with Granny Smith apple-cabbage slaw, Southern fried mac and pimento cheese and house-made sweet corn and jalapeño muffins. This plate consists of a bit of everything from the Ribs & Whiskey menu and is made to share. The Drunken Chicken is very lean and isn’t overpowered by too much flavor. This can be eaten on it’s own if ordered that way, but it can also go well with a salad.

The Granny Smith apple-cabbage slaw is very unique to the taste and will grow on you like the House-made Sweet Corn and Jalapeño muffins. Although it may be assumed that the muffins will be sweet according to its name, but it also has a hint of cinnamon to it. At Marlow’s Tavern, these muffins are very moist and delectable.

DSC_0035

The slow-cooked Smithfield James River ribs are made St. Louis style and are “finger lickin’ good”. They come with a choice of favorite barbecue sauce, including Jack Daniel’s glaze, Hoisin barbecue and Marlow’s chipotle barbecue. Each was great, but the Jack Daniel’s glaze came out on top in my book along with Marlow’s chipotle barbecue! These ribs are served with each side listed in the hookup. You’ll want to try the Southern fried mac and Pimento cheese. Along with the other sides, this is a blast to the South in every bite.

DSC_0051

Last, but not least is the Bourbon Bread Pudding, which is a Crème-brulee-soaked Cuban, vanilla bean and a splash of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee honey whiskey for sippin’. Unlike other bread puddings you may have tried, Marlow’s Tavern Bourbon Bread Pudding isn’t soggy! It comes out warm with a scoop of cold, delicious vanilla bean ice cream on top. To fully experience this dish, a little of the bread pudding and the ice cream should be on each spoon. If the bread pudding is eaten without the cold ice cream, it may be too sweet to the palate.

For casual to formal special occasions, social gatherings, and corporate events, just say “Meet Me at Marlow’s” to enjoy great food and beverage with world-class hospitality in a relaxed and welcoming environment. To book your group dining experience, contact Annette Medina at 407.741.3215 or amedina@marlowstavern.com.

RA Sushi has branched out all over the states. It’s the 1st in Orlando, 4th in Florida and 26th in the United States. The RA Sushi located in Orlando can hold up to 260 guests and provides Happy Hour (4-7pm Mondays-Fridays) throughout the entire restaurant instead of just at the bar like some places.

Although it just opened July 30th in Orlando, They are already dishing out a new menu, in addition to their current offerings that consist of over 100 dishes and 150 drink specialties that are mainstream and originally created at RA Sushi. When I say “mainstream”, they still have an RA twist on them to make you feel like you can’t find anything like it anywhere else.

On September 10, 2014, we were invited to Ra Sushi to preview and experience a number of delicious items ranging from appetizers to desserts.

If you have an allergy, they’ll be sure to keep you from contacting any dish that contains those ingredients (ie, me from eating anything coming into contact with shrimp or items that have touched shrimp).

DSC_1057
To start with, we were served Garlic Edamame, which are steamed soybeans sautéed in a garlic butter and Asian seasoning. Not only were the shelling seasoned, it seems as though the flavors seeped in and also came from the soybeans themselves.

DSC_1066
RA’llipop* is a roll that consisted of raw tuna, salmon, yellowtail, spicy tuna mix, lettuce, asparagus, and cucumber wrapped in lobok. It’s served skewered with a garlic ponzu sauce. The entire roll will melt in your mouth. You’ll only realized that you ate something because of the crunch provided by the vegetables the fish is encased by as well as a hint of spicy from the tuna mix.

DSC_1069
The Viva Las Vegas Roll* is a popular item on the menu. Ingredients: Kani kama crab and cream cheese rolled in rice and seaweed, lightly tempura battered, and topped with spicy tuna, kani kama crab mix and sliced lotus root; finished with a sweet eel sauce and spinach tempura bits. The lotus root has a nice crunch but is dense and had a little heat. The crab and spicy tuna mix is smooth and creamy to provide a contrast to the lotus root. Unfortunately, I was unable to try the roll itself because it contained shrimp, but my colleagues seemed to love it and didn’t leave a single roll on the plates they came on.

DSC_1080
The Yellow Monkey Roll is a vegetarian friendly roll that is nice and tropically refreshing. It is made up of mango, roasted red pepper, marinated artichoke, and cream cheese rolled in rice and seaweed, topped with mango and cashews before drizzled with a kiwi wasabi sauce.

DSC_1082
The Crazy Monkey Roll is one of my favorites and is creamy from the salmon, cream cheese and avocado. The sweet sauce drizzled on top added a nice surprise to the roll itself. This is a little different to the Yellow Monkey Roll because it is made up of smoked salmon, mango and cream cheese topped with avocado, red beet tempura bits and cashews, then drizzled with mango and sweet eel sauces.

DSC_1086
The Lobster Shrimp Roll is another roll I unfortunately could not try, but I visually enjoyed the heart shape roll as it came out. Ingredients: lobster, cucumber and avocado rolled and topped with shrimp; served with an Asian pesto sauce.

DSC_1099
After sushi, we took a break from eating to enjoy Sake Flight 8 that consists of three 2 oz. pours of Kizakura “Pure”, Sho Chiku Bai Nigori “Crème de Sake” and Kizakura “Pure” Stars – range from sweet, dry to sparkling.

DSC_1101
The Tuna2 Salad is a refreshing dish with two types of tuna: ahi and albacore. It was a mixture of different textures ranging from smooth to crunch thanks to the variety of ingredients. Ingredients: seared ahi and albacore tuna drizzled with a garlic ponzu sauce, placed over a bed of mixed greens with sliced avocado, jalapeño, cilantro, fried wontons and cashews; served with an onion soy vinaigrette.

DSC_1106
The first entrée was the Spicy Chicken Teriyaki Udon, which is stir-fried Asian vegetables tossed with chicken and udon noodles in a spicy teriyaki sauce. For you chopstick experts, even you may wish to use a fork for this meal because of how slippery the udon is! The sauce the udon is dressed with isn’t overpowering and adds the right amount of flavor to each noodle and vegetable that will please your palate.

DSC_1109
The Chicken Katsu is usually a favorite for children and adults whether they don’t wish to have any sushi or if they want something Southern, but with an Asian twist. Panko breaded chicken with coleslaw is served with an Asian BBQ dipping sauce. With or without the Asian BBQ sauce, the chicken was marvelous and I’m drooling over the thought at the moment.

DSC_0001
The Bara Chirashi Bowl* is a bowl of rice topped with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, shrimp, avocado, and cucumber with Asian green vegetables dressed with poki sauce. This is like sushi in a bowl that can deliciously fill your stomach so you can continue on with your productive day!

DSC_0005
Last, but not least, the dessert served was Banana Split Maki. It is RA’s version of sushi for dessert that consists of a fried banana maki topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit drizzled with raspberry and chocolate sauces.

*As mentioned on the RA Sushi website, “consuming raw or under cooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish or eggs may increase your risk of food borne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions”.
More dishes and information can be found on www.rasushi.com. You could also join their email list and Get Hooked Up! They’ll give you a $20 RA gift certificate every year during the month of your Half Birthday as well as something special the month of your actual birthday!

Location: 9101 International Drive Suite 1008, Orlando, FL 32819
Hours: 11am-11pm daily with lunch served until 3pm

RA Sushi Bar Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Chef's Spotlight

0 200
First Watch's debut cookbook, "Yeah It's Fresh", is now available in participating restaurants.  Price: $23.95 First Watch has spent close to four decades laying the...

Featured Articles

0 340
DESCRIPTION Inspired by street food classics born in Tokyo, and seasoned with the flavors of the deep South Southern Kitchen, this 6-course dinner event by...