Orlando

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

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

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

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

Virgin sangria

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

Steam Bun & Carving Station

White Fish Bun served with Japanese tartar sauce, lettuce, tomato

Roasted Garlic Herb Strip Loin served with Shiso pesto and Japanese horseradish

Gyoza – Pork dumplings, la-yu soy vinegar

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

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

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

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

Curry Rice – Pork, carrots, potato

Robata Grilled Vegetables – Corn, turnips, baby carrots

Tuna, White Fish, Salmon

Build Your Own Poké

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

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

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Pelican’s Bar & Grill at the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier adds specialty dishes to the menu for a full experience only offered during dinner time, offering guests new flavorful options in seafood, steak, and pasta in addition to the restaurant’s traditional menu.

We were able to try some classic and new specialty dinner menu features at Pelican’s Bar & Grill.

The Original Pieradise is a unique blend of tropical color and flavor. Midori melon liqueur, peach schnapps, banana liqueur, pineapple juice, orange juice, and cranberry juice. If you’re not fond of the taste of alcohol, this place is for you as the taste of alcohol is nonexistent.

Cool As A Cucumber is a refreshing blend of cool flavors will leave you begging for more after a long hot day on the beach. Fresh English cucumbers muddled with simple syrup, sour mix, soda, and topped off with gin. The only complaint I have is how the drink was not mixed very well.

Mixed Berry and Strawberry Daiquiris are some options of the Build Your Own Drink at Pelicans. Each involves fresh fruit to bring the flavors to your taste buds.

Not only does the pier offer fruity and/or refreshing drinks, but the pier also offers a number of craft beers. It’d be a nice place to bar hop by trying all of the beers on the pier as each location with a bar has a different variety of beer from one another.

The Chicken Flatbread has so many delicious flavors to it. I love the fresh greens that come from local markets. The chicken is tender, but not very moist.

The Cocoa Beach Pier Cream Clam Chowder consists of a combination of vegetables, clams and potatoes in a rich creamy broth. It is made at least every other day with fresh vegetables and clams. This is my all time favorite clam chowder! I wish I had a bowl next to me at this very moment.

This Lobster Roll consists of 4oz of fresh and tender Maine lobster tossed in the right blend of spice and mayonnaise before being served on a buttery toasted authentic roll straight from Boston. It can be served with crispy Original Bent Arm Ale® Beer Battered Sidewinder Fries or Pier Slaw.

I am a sucker for lobster rolls and this one is pretty swell with flavors added by the buttery toasted roll as the spices on the lobster are very subtle. The fries served with our roll have a salt and vinegar powder on top, which adds a nice twist to the delicious fries.

The Blackened Fish Tacos are made with fresh local fish topped with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, and sour cream in large tortillas. The flavors of the blackened fish are subtle, but it allows the house-made pico de gallo to shine through.

The Southern-Fried Gator is a creation of fresh gator loin marinated for 24 hours and lightly southern-fried in the Chef’s seasonings. It is served with a VERY spicy mango habanero sauce and cool ranch dressing. Trying it with a mix of both the sauces makes a cool mix better than setting your mouth on fire with the spicy mango habanero sauce on its own. Don’t fret, fries are served with this dish and can be found at the bottom of the bucket under the gator.

Tuna Poke is fresh sushi-grade tuna seasoned and mixed with hijiki, mirin, sesame seeds, olive oil, soy sauce, lemon and lime juice before being served with lavash and fresh avocado slices. The tuna is very fresh and the flavors are fine. My least favorite part of this dish is the lavash.

The Lobster Mac and Cheese consists of an abundance pieces of buttery and tender lobster in a house-made four cheese sauce. The mac and cheese is very smooth, the pasta was silky to the bite and the lobster added a different texture as well as sweet notes to the dish. This dish was one of our favorites and we wouldn’t mind coming back for more!

This Florida Key Lime Pie is from the Florida Key Lime Pie Company down the road from the pier. The consistency is very much like a cool custard and hits the palate well by not being too sweet or too tart.

The new supplemental menu offers eight enhanced selections from Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier Executive Chef Stephen Stewart starting daily at 5 p.m., adding to the Pier’s appeal as an evening destination. Guests seeking an ideal date night can enjoy options such as a nori tuna steak wrapped in seaweed or filet mignon while enjoying spectacular sunsets and night time views of the Atlantic Ocean through Pelican’s floor-to-ceiling windows.

Reservations are not required, but accepted, and can be made by calling the Pier at (321) 783-7549.

  • Hours: Sunday – Thursday 11 AM – 10 PM, Friday – Saturday 11 AM – 11 PM
  • Happy Hour: 4 PM – 7 PM Monday through Friday (free parking available after 4:00 PM)
  • Check out the website to Experience the Cocoa Beach Pier.

Seafood Tower – King crab, jumbo Gulf shrimp, oysters, crab ceviche, Ahi tuna poke

We were invited to Paddlefish to celebrate their most recent accomplishment of being voted “Best Seafood Restaurant” by Orlando Magazine’s 2018 Dining Awards.  We enjoyed indulging in a delicious 5-course wine pairing dinner showcasing “Best of Paddlefish” dishes amid the rooftop of their luxurious steamboat.  Tickets to the sold out event was $115 per person.  Paddlefish offers fresh and delicious seafood dishes, exceptional architecture and decor, an attentive and friendly staff, and the most gorgeous view that you will ever get from any establishment on Disney Springs property.

Executive Chef Steve Richards welcoming guest at the Best of Paddlefish dinner.

Mini Maine Lobster Roll

Lobster & Corn Chowder 

Our wonderful sommelier of the evening.

August Kessler, Riesling, Germany

Sea Scallop – cauliflower puree, crispy Brussels sprouts

Cider Braised Veal Cheeks – parsnip puree

Dessert Trio – key lime pie, flourless chocolate cake, strawberry cheesecake

June Specials:

  • Paddlefish will be hosting wine tastings the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month through September.  Their in-house Sommelier team will lead these tastings on the rooftop deck and wine flights will be served with light bites and tastings.  Guests must be 21+ to attend.  Tickets and additional details can be found here.
  • Celebrate National Vanilla Milkshake Day on Wednesday, June 20, at Paddlefish!  Paddlefish will be offering their famous vanilla brownie milkshake for just $5 all day long!
  • Now through June 30, guests can enjoy a bottle of rose and half a dozen oysters for only $40, only available on the third deck.

Be sure to check out the June specials at Paddlefish soon!  It’s a fun filled month at Paddlefish that you won’t want to miss!

(Source credit: Paddlefish)

Paddlefish at Disney Springs
1670 Buena Vista Dr.  Lake Buena Vista, FL
(407) 934-2628
paddlefishrestaurant.com

A significant number of travelers desire a unique and delicious culinary experience while on vacation. Because of this, we are incredibly excited to announce Reunion Resort’s “Taste Of Eleven” menu where guests can experience a taste of Eleven from Monday through Thursday, from 5:30pm – 7pm.  Choose an appetizer, entree and dessert for only $29 per person (plus tax and gratuity).  This special menu is the perfect way to explore the restaurant’s food and breathtaking views at an amazing value.

Eleven is located on the 11th floor of Reunion Resort.  Views of the Magic Kingdom and Epcot fireworks are available nightly from the restaurant.

My mom & I in the resort lobby.

The clean and spacious bar.

Breathtaking landscape views from the restaurant’s dining area.

Glass doors provide access to the resort’s rooftop pool.


Complimentary Bread & Butter

Crispy Calamari – Chorizo, Pickled Chiles, Broiled Lime

Sherried Onion Soup – Gruyere, Sourdough Crostini

Baseball Sirloin – Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus

Cedar Planked Salmon

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée – Fresh Seasonal Fruit Compote

Raspberry Cheesecake – Garden Berry Coulis

Eleven is a very nice restaurant with good food and a beautiful rooftop view.  The manager Kyle and our lovely server Raquel treated us like rock stars.  Be sure to check their “Taste of Eleven” menu from Monday through Thursday, from 5:30pm – 7pm!

(Source credit: Eleven)

Eleven
7593 Gathering Dr, Kissimmee, FL 34747
(407) 396-5290
reunionresort.com/dine/eleven

“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

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


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

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

Matchata & Vietnamese iced coffee split cup

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

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Specials in Orlando this Father’s Day:

Bulla Gastrobar – Winter Park –

Executive Chef Charles (Chad) Mathews and Executive Sous Chef Mariano Vegel have more in common than their culinary titles: they’re also both fathers.  This Father’s Day, Bulla Gastrobar will be offering a puzzle for kids and dads to solve together – in exchange for a plate of complimentary Churros. Chef Charles (Chad) Mathews

Mathews’ grandfather owned a deli. The recipes his grandfather cooked came from his own grandfather. As far as cooking with his kids goes: “On my days off, we do a lot of cooking at home. I’ll whip out the air fryer, and we’ll make hash browns together. One day, I want my kids to be interested in food, and to know that anywhere you go, the one thing you have in common with others is food. Being surrounded by love as you enjoy a meal with your family… it’s a powerful feeling.”

Chef Mariano Vegel

For Vegel, time with family and friends is what makes a meal worth savoring. When he’s not at work, he enjoys cooking with his twin school-age sons. And each day, he takes to heart his father’s advice: “With every dish you cook, imagine that a loved one is going to eat it.”


Hawker’s Asian Street Fare –
Give dad a taste of the street at Hawkers this year. On Sunday June 17, dads can dine in and receive 20 percent* off their entire bill and a complimentary oneTiger Bomb or a Tiger pint. All they (well, the family) has to do is check-in on Yelp to enjoy the perks.
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Pharmacy Orlando
  • Orlando Weekly’s Bite 30 | Friday, June 1-Saturday, June 30 – Join us throughout the month of June and enjoy a $30 three-course, prix-fixe menu in celebration of Orlando Weekly’s Bite 30.  Click here to make your reservation.
  • Happy Hour – 50 percent off our entire dinner menu and select cocktails from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday through Thursday. Enjoy.  Think Big Bites Lobster Rolls with House Slaw (Reg. $12 / Happy Hour Pricing $6); Cape Canaveral Littleneck Clams Arrabiata with “Sop It Up” Crouton and Corn (Reg. $14 / Happy Hour Pricing $7) and our Cowart Ranch Wagyu Burger on a brioche bun with house made fries (Reg. $20 / Happy Hour Pricing $10).
  • Friday Pie Day – Kick off the weekend with Pharmacy’s Pie Day.  Bring your appetite and $20 and enjoy any of Chef Falsone’s gourmet pizzas and a glass of house wine or a beer. Available every Friday from 5 p.m. to close. Limited to one pizza offer per person.
  • Pre-Father’s Day Chopped Challenge Saturday, June 16 – Treat your dad to culinary experience where he’s the star.  $60 enters him into our “Chopped” team challenge where a team of 6 will compete in a mystery basket competition against another team of 6! Our Food & Wine’s Top Ten chef, Loren Falsone will direct you in a professional kitchen to create a meal in this timed mystery basket challenge to win prizes against the competing team!  Post event, sit down and enjoy your creations with wines and beers chosen by Pharmacy’s very own “Libation Specialist”. Dominick Tardugno.  To book dad or yourself for the challenge, click here.
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Celebrate Dad this Father’s Day Weekend at ICON Orlando 

New “ICONic Dad” Package includes Craft Beer Flight and a Soda Float Bar, Tailgate Games, Priority Boarding

Make Father’s Day extra special with a visit to the newly named ICON Orlando! Guests can now book the “ICONic Dad” package for just $139 (plus tax). The package includes a private family capsule for up to four people (additional tickets available for $20 per person plus tax, limit up to 4), a craft beer flight for dad featuring Orange County Brewers, a soda float bar for non-alcoholic options, tailgate games for the whole family to enjoy and priority boarding! Children under 3 and parking are always free. To make a reservation and for more information visit, ICONorlando.com/fathersday.

WHEN:                 June 15 – June 17, 2018

WHERE:               ICON Orlando,8375 International Drive Orlando, Florida


The Capital Grille

For those looking to let Dad rest this Father’s Day, The Capital Grille is offering an off-menu feature on Sunday, June 17: a 20 oz. Wagyu Bone-In New York Strip. Available only by request, this generous offering is the perfect way to make Dad feel special on his big day.

In addition to the classically prepared dish, raise a glass to Dad with the deservingly paired Faust ‘Liberation’ Cabernet blend of Napa Valley, an exclusive wine for The Capital Grille’s guests, hand-picked by our Advanced Sommelier. Faust, “Liberation,” Napa Valley has primary notes of blackberry fruit, mocha and licorice perfectly balanced by pretty aromas of potpourri and sweet vanilla from 100-percent new French oak barrels.


Eddie V’s

This year Orlando residents can celebrate Dad at Eddie V’s over prime seafood and steak, while also giving him a chance to win an exceptionally unique experience; a 3-day, 2-night Gulf fishing adventure. The winner and a guest will embark on a weekend fishing excursion with Eddie V’s Executive Chef Ray Comiskey, who will treat them to dinner at Eddie V’s on day one. On the second night, the day’s catch will be prepared by Chef for everyone to enjoy.

Guests should ask their server for more details on Sunday, June 17 to help their Dad win an adventure he will never forget.


Enzo’s Hideaway at Disney Springs

Sunday Supper is kicking off on Father’s Day June 17 inside Enzo’s Hideaway at Disney Springs. Gather your loved ones around one of our communal tables to enjoy a hearty spread of cured meats, cheeses, pasta, entrees and sweets, shared family-style, in an intimate setting that focuses on bringing people together with the promise of good food and meaningful conversation. This is a weekly event where the only menu being served will be the Sunday Supper menu and the regular menu will not be available. Bring a bottle (or two) of your favorite wine to toast  with no additional corkage fee! This family-style feast is $45 a person and $19 for children nine and under (price does not include tax or gratuity).  

To view the menu and make reservations, visit: https://www.patinagroup.com/enzos-hideaway/menu#Sunday+Supper

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Ace Cafe Orlando

Join Ace Cafe Orlando on Sunday, June 17th for the Ultim-ACE Dad’s Day, featuring special brunch and beverage items that are sure to fuel any tank. Dad grinds it out all week and deserves a day to relax, so bring him out to the Ace for a day filled with awesome cars and bikes, delicious food, giveaways and a cigar roller on site (for purchase).
Loosen up that tie and bring it into the Ace to enter to win the Ultim-ACE Dad’s Day Experience gift basket! The Ace will donate all new and gently-used neckties to the Covenant House of Florida to help homeless young men who are actively interviewing for jobs and in need of the proper business attire.
  • Car & Bike Show from 11am to 2pm with a DJ outdoors
  • Brunch from 10am – 2pm, with special brunch food/beverage menu items, reservations required.
  • Ultim-ACE Dad’s Day giveaway items
  • Bring in your new or gently-used necktie to be donated to the Covenant House of Florida
  • Cigar roller on site

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Tony Roma’s

Tony Roma’s on International Drive, known for its traditional Baby Back Ribs, is the perfect lunch or dinner spot to show dad that you’re thankful for everything he’s done. Dad can also enjoy a special menu from June 16 -17for just $35. The menu includes a 12 oz. New York Strip, grilled to perfection and topped with creamy, spicy Kickin’ Shrimp and served with his choice of salad or soup and a fresh vegetable.

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Del Frisco’s

Del Frisco’s on International Drive, is serving up a delicious slow roasted herb crusted Prime Rib served as a 16 oz. or 20 oz., just for dad on Sunday, June 17th. The 16 oz. is available for $45 and the 20 oz. for $55. The Prime Rib pairs perfectly with a Del Frisco’s signature Old Fashioned.


Tapa Toro (I-Drive 360, 8441 International Dr)

Make Father’s Day unforgettable with a pig roast at Tapa Toro! Enjoy a three-course meal with suckling pig and flamenco entertainment for $28 per person. Plus, complimentary 20oz beer, bourbon tasting & cigar lounge while supplies last. Sunday, June 17 from 5 – 11 p.m.

Reservations: https://tapatoro.restaurant/fathersday-dinner


Taverna Opa (Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Dr)

Have you ever seen your dad dance on a table? Would you like to? Party with Pops at Taverna Opa this Father’s Day! Dad eats free with family-style menu for four. One offer per party. Plus, Greek entertainment all day. Sunday, June 17 from noon – 11 p.m.

Reservations: https://opaorlando.com/fathersday

I had the honor of tasting nine different sakes from distilleries all over Japan. The tasting was hosted by the Consulate-General of Japan in Miami and UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.  

Douglas Mueller, owner of a Japanese cafe and grocery store in Jacksonville, led the tasting. Mueller claims to have gained his experience from traveling through Asia. He has picked up a lot of knowledge from the locals who live there. Sake will differ in taste depending on what region of Japan you are in. The beverage usually has an alcoholic content of 14-17 percent. Since sake is made out of rice, the grains are milled to a certain degree.

He began by saying sake was served from a whole range of temperatures. You cold drink it either hot or cold. The temperature will affect the taste. Drinking it hot will give a rounder taste. However for premium sake, it is normally served slightly chilled. There were two grades of premium sake; Ginjo and Daiginjo. The grains for Ginjo sake are 40 percent milled away and it is considered to be “super premium sake”. Daiginjo is at least 50 percent milled away and is classified as “ultra premium sake”.

 

Mueller describes these as the “Nine great sakes of Japan”.

 

 

 

 

  1. ) Junamai Daiginjyo

milled to 23 percent, alcohol content is 16 percent by volume, serving temp is 50-50 degrees fahrenheit.

 

2.) Junmai Daiginjyo

milled to 35 percent, alcohol content is 16 percent by volume, serving temp is 41 degrees fahrenheit.

3.) Junmai Daishinsyu

Milled to 38 percent, alcohol content is seven percent by volume, serving temp is 50 degrees fahrenheit.

4.) Episode

Milled to 40/50 percent, alcohol content is 16 percent by volume, serving temp is 50-59 degrees fahrenheit.

5.) Aizu Homare

Milled to 40/50 percent, alcohol content is 16 percent by volume, serving temp is 41-50 degrees fahrenheit.

6.) Kiddo

Milled to 45 percent, alcohol content is 15 percent by volume, serving temp is 41 degrees fahrenheit.

7.) Karaku

Milled to 50 percent, alcohol content is 15 percent by volume, serving temp is 50-59 degrees fahrenheit

8.) Mizubasho Pure

Millled (n/a), alcoholic content is 13 percent by volume, serving temp is 41-46 fahrenheit.

9.) Kishu Umeshu

Milled (n/a), alcoholic content is 20 percent by volume, The brewing begins the day the plums are picked, that’s why there is no milling.

According to Lexi Grant from Pierson Grant “the ultimate goal is for sake to become a staple of Orlando’s restaurant, catering and hospitality industry, allowing both residents and visitors to experience sake and Japanese culture in Orlando”.  

 

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Smokey Bones consist of grill masters who respect the power of the open flame. We were recently invited to visit one of the Smokey Bones locations, which we ended up choosing the first ever Smokey Bones! What’s better than checking out Smokey Bones for the first time by visiting the first Smokey Bones restaurant?

The first Smokey Bones restaurant opened up in Central Florida at 3400 E Colonial Dr Orlando, FL, United States. It is wonderful knowing of historical locations around the corner, especially when it is a home of delicious food, delicious drinks and wonderful staff. If you happen to visit the first Smokey Bones restaurant we went to, ask for Jeff because he is an all-star employee that took care of us during our visit.

The Smooth Bourbon Blackberry Lemonade is one of the most popular drinks at Smokey Bones. It’s made of Maker’s Mark or Buffalo Trace Bourbon, blackberry purée, fresh squeezed lemonade, a dash of natural spice, and topped with prosecco sparkling white wine. After seeing an image, I should have tried it. Something so pretty must taste delicious too, no?

Instead, I had the Long Island Lighter Fluid, which I forgot to photograph since I was so thirsty. The Long Island Lighter Fluid consists of BACARDÍ Superior Rum, Svedka Vodka, New Amsterdam Gin, Patrón Citronge, citrus sour, Coke, and lemon squeezed. When reading the ingredients, it may seem strong and you are absolutely correct.

I was told, “you’ve never tasted wings like these” and they were accurate. These Smoked Wings are slow smoked to double the intense flavor before dusted with house seasoning and drizzled with a sweet glaze. The flavors are very unique because there are so many flavors dancing on my taste buds from being salty, sweet and savory. They are cooked well to have crispy skin, yet moist and tender meat.

New to the menu is the 1 lb Smoked Pork Chop that is sweet brined for 24 hours before being slow smoked and grilled all in-house. Here, it is served with Fresh Steamed Broccoli and Big Cheese Macaroni. The pork chop is flavorful in every bite, yet a bit dry. The broccoli is tender and seasoned nicely, while the Big Cheese Macaroni would make any cheese lover’s day.

Smoked St. Louis Ribs are probably our favorite item from the menu from what we tried this visit. These ribs were seasoned and hand rubbed before slow smoked for 4 hours and brushed with a sweet, smokey BBQ sauce. These ribs fell off the bone and were delicious. This dish is highly recommended for you to try.

With the ribs, we had Fire-Roasted Corn and Loaded Cheese Fries as sides. The loaded cheese fries were pretty nice, but would’ve been better if they were thinly cut.

The Texas-Style Beef Brisket platter is a 1/2 lb brisket that was hand carved and hand rubbed before slow smoking for 14 hours and served with a signature BBQ sauce. The brisket is delightfully tender and flavorful. This is our second favorite item from the menu.

It’s served with amazing Sweet Potato Waffle Fries that we could not get enough of! The other side is a Loaded Baked Potato.

On the side of the table, there are a number of barbecue sauces for you to choose from and add to your dishes if you fancy an extra layer of sauce.

From the salad menu, there’s the Stacked Baked Potato & Salad. The loaded baked potato is topped with pulled pork or Texas-Style Beef Brisket, cheddar jack, bacon, sour cream, and green onions. You can have a choice of Garden Greens or Caesar side salad along with the garlic bread.

The Stacked Baked Potato is filled with flavor and textures. The crispiness of the bacon is a nice touch to the smooth cheese and savory pulled pork.

Smokey Bones isn’t all about barbecue as they have a number of burgers, sandwiches, and pasta dishes as well. Photographed here is the Sausage & Asiago Melt, which consists of grilled sausage, Asiago, a tomato sauce drizzle, and cracked black pepper. The flavors are pretty subtle besides the grilled sausages,  which were a bit saltier than desired. Overall, the creaminess of the dish takes the prize.

Last, but not least, is this Hot Bag O’Donuts. The donuts are fluffy, yet dense. They arrive warm to the table and in the bag. The bag is shaken up to evenly distribute the cinnamon sugar before the donuts are poured onto the plate to be dipped in either chocolate or raspberry dipping sauces or enjoyed on their own. They are made just right and the only thing I’d want is some bacon added on top…yum!

For more information or to find a Smokey Bones near you, check out their website.

The Impossible Burger – Famous Impossible Burger Patty, Lettuce, Onions, Tomatoes, HK Style, Black&Bleu Style, Buffalo Style.  Omit cheese to make it 100% vegan.

We were invited to Hot Krust on Sand Lake Road (near Whole Foods) to taste their new vegan panini.  “The Impossible Burger” panini was my favorite! It tasted so much like real beef that I had to double check with the friendly owner, Khabeer, if it was really meat-free.

“The Impossible Burger” panini with baked tater tots.  No fryers are used at Hot Krust.

Behind the screens picture captured by my mom.

Roasted Beet & Chickpea Burger – Roasted Beet and Chickpea patty, Vegan Garlic Mayo, Pineapples, Homemade Mano Chutney, Onions, Spinach

The sweet potato waffle fries are always baked, never fried.

The gelato panini it not vegan but it was so cool to see one of my food pictures blown up!

Be sure to check out Hot Krust soon for some delicious vegan paninis!

Hot Krust
8015 Turkey Lake Rd #200, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 355-7768
http://hotkrust.com

Beets & Burrata – Cherry tomatoes, radish, beech mushrooms, white balsamic

We were invited to Four Seasons Resort Orlando to check out the new menu items at PB&G, short for pool bar & grill.  The restaurant has added several new healthy options, perfect for those who prefer to eat on the cleaner side and/or those who are currently working on their summer bod!

Fruit & Berries – Bourbon vanilla granola, lemon honey Greek yogurt, coconut.  The granola had bourbon vanilla in it and it tasted really great!

Watermelon & Prosciutto – Pressed watermelon, herbed goat cheese, prosciutto, marinated blueberries, arugula

BLTA – Smoked bacon, bibb lettuce, tomato, avocado, parmesan cheese vinaigrette.  This was the best salad that I’ve ever had!  The bacon was perfection. 

Herb-Citrus Shrimp – Grilled pineapple, spinach, baby kale, quinoa, red union, cucumber, feta cheese, red wine vinaigrette

Seared Ahi Tuna – Kale, cabbage, cucumber, jicama, mango, crispy wontons, wasabi ginger cream, sesame vinaigrette

Lobster Roll – Avocado, tomato, remoulade, Hawaiian roll.  The crab is 100% real, 100% delicious!  Omit ketchup and fries to make it healthier.

Chirashi Bowl – Spicy tuna poke, salmon poke, sushi rice, avocado, soy glazed mushrooms, cucumber, edamame, carrot, seaweed salad, spicy mayo

S’mores for dessert!  Because life is all about balance, right?

Kudos to our talented and wonderful chefs!  We really enjoyed our meal.

 

Upcoming Events at Four Seasons Orlando Resort:

Saturday, 06.09
Global Wellness Day
8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Enjoy special fitness classes for Global Wellness Day, plus spa treatments and a healthy cooking demo and lunch.

 

Sunday, 06.17
Father’s Day Brunch at Plancha Restaurant
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Three course brunch (appetizer buffet, choice of entree, dessert buffet), bottomless mimosas and Bloody Mary for $68 per person.  Dads will receive a choice of a complimentary bourbon or complimentary cigar.

 

Four Seasons Resort Orlando
10100 Dream Tree Boulevard
(407) 313-7777
fourseasons.com/orlando/

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The first Friday in June is National Doughnut Day and this year it falls on Friday, June 1st, 2018.

Doughnut Day was established by The Salvation Army in 1938 to honor The Salvation Army’s “Doughnut Lassies,” who served the treats to soldiers during World War I. The “Doughnut Lassies” are often credited with popularizing the doughnut in the United States when the troops returned home from war.

The Salvation Army celebrated the first National Doughnut Day in Chicago in 1938 to help raise funds during the Great Depression and commemorate the work of the “Doughnut Lassies.”

Here are some ways to celebrate for National Doughnut Day here in Orlando, with lots of specials including free doughnuts:


Krispy Kreme
Any donut free – no purchase necessary, but we suggest a cup of dark roast for ultimate dunking.

Krispy Kreme Winter Park
1031 S. Orlando Avenue (17-92), Winter Park, FL 32789

Krispy Kreme Millenia
4080 Millenia Blvd., Orlando, FL 32939

Krispy Kreme Kissimmee – East
5310 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway
(192 / Mile Marker 11.5), Kissimmee, FL 34746

Dunkin Donuts
Free “classic” donut with purchase of a beverage.

Wawa
Any donut free with purchase of a specialty beverage.

The Donut King
Free glazed donut – No purchase necessary.
208 S. Highway 27, Minneola
3716 Howell Branch Road, Winter Park
thedonutking.com

The Glass Knife
Offering a complimentary glazed doughnut with a purchase of a coffee on Friday, June 1 from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.; they will also be debuting their newest edition, the “Doughnut Banana Split;” and last, but certainly not least, offering one lucky Instagram winner complimentary donuts for a year. Entering the contest is simple – like the post the post on @theglassknifewp Instagram page, follow @theglassknifewp and tag 3 friends. The contest ends at 11:59 am EST on Friday, June 1. Details can be found on their Instagram page.

DUCK DONUTS
710 Centerview Blvd, Kissimmee, FL 34741
(407) 350-5832
One free donut (bare, cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar) no purchase necessary. There will also be raffles, music, an area for guests to take pictures, and warm, fresh donuts – made to order. ?With each free donut, each guest will receive a coupon for their next trip to DUCK DONUTS.

First Watch will open their newest location in Waterford Lakes, next to Chuy’s, on Memorial Day, May 28.  This location is different than the rest of their Central Florida locations because it is about 1,000 square feet larger and includes its own bar.

Fun facts:
– First Watch is a Florida-based company. They opened their first restaurant in Maitland in 1993.
– They now have 300 locations nationwide.
– They don’t use microwave ovens, heat lamps, or fryers.

The dining area is modern and spacious.


The Waterford Lakes location is the second location with a bar, the first is Jacksonville.

Million Dollar Bloody Mary, Cinnamon Toast Coconut Milk

Pomegranate Sunrise, Morning Glory, Vodka Kale Tonic

Lemon Ricotta Pancake with Scrambled Eggs, Bacon. Side of Seasoned Potatoes and Biscuit.

 Smoked Salmon & Roasted Vegetable Frittata with Salad and Ciabatta Toast.

Roast Beef & Havarti Sandwich

Housemade Granola


Kale Tonic (Non-Alcoholic).  I need more of this fresh juice in my life!

Be sure to check out the new First Watch – Waterford Lakes soon for delicious breakfast or brunch and amazing service!  Shout out to our wonderful server, Myles.  He is the best!

(Source credit: First Watch)

First Watch
1448 N. Alafaya Trail Suite 150. Orlando, FL 32828
(941) 907-9800
firstwatch.com

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4 Rivers Restaurant Group will debut four new limited-time-only “Smokehouse Summer” dishes at its locations in Florida and Georgia (excluding downtown Orlando).

The Squash Blossom Quesadilla is a great vegetarian choice. All of the flavors blend well and the ingredients are fresh in each bite.

The Beef Short Rib Neat Nachos were tender, but it doesn’t stand out to the point where I would be ordering it again.

Although 4 Rivers is a Smokehouse, it doesn’t stop them from building a beautiful and delicious Charcuterie and Fromage Board. This would have to be my favorite thing from the night. I was tempted in carrying the whole board out to my car!

Available from June 4 to Aug. 4, the Smokehouse Barbacoa Bowls will be offered in four varieties – Brisket Barbacoa, Nana’s Pork Sofrito, Chicken Tinga and Black Bean & Cilantro Rice.

Each of the Smokehouse Barbacoa Bowls have their specific flavors that are slightly unique from one another.

The Chicken Tinga may be my favorite of the night with its juiciness.

Nana’s Pork Sofrito has a beautiful story behind it, which you should ask your waiter/waitress about. It is made by a local grandmother with all her love and care shared to 4 Rivers owner, John Rivers. I’ve heard rumors that the sauce may be found at Publix in the future.

4 Rivers Sweet Shop will also offer two limited-time-only summer specials. In June the featured dessert will be a Mountain Dew and Doritos Cupcake and in July a Coca-Cola and Potato Chip Cupcake. Each of these desserts have interesting ingredients that you may not think they would blend well together; yet, to your surprise, they are all delicious.

My favorite dessert would have to be the Key Lime Brûlée with Rum-Infused Whipped Cream. It is nice, creamy and the key lime is not overwhelming whatsoever.

While visiting their local Smokehouse, 4 Rivers guests can show their summer spirit by taking pictures at the Smokehouse Summer photo booth with their friends, family and food. Guests are encouraged to share their photos with #4RSmokehouseSummer on social media for chances to win prizes. All prize packages include a beach towel, beach tote, 4R koozie, magnet and pen. Weekly rotating prizes include 4R spice rubs and BBQ sauces, 4R insulated water bottle and an autographed copy of John Rivers’ The Southern Cowboy Cookbook.

In addition to these additional eats, 4 Rivers will offer a few events and promotions:

  • Teachers enjoy 10% off of their meal during this summer event with a valid ID.
  • Children can invite their dad on a date for Father’s Day: A Date with Dad from June 15-16 to enjoy family friendly activities.
  • 4 Rivers Smokehouses will also be open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on the Fourth of July.
  • Cooking Demos will take place with 4 Rivers at local hardware stores cooking their signature favorites.
    • The first demo and sampling is at University Ace Hardware located at 3755 Alafaya Trail from 11am-3pm.
  • Be on the lookout for a backpack drive in a few months. Diners can trade a FULL backpack (with items from a list to be provided by 4 Rivers) for students at locally selected Title 1 elementary schools for a free sandwich.

For more information, please visit 4 Rivers Smokehouse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The space is clean and impeccably designed.

Citrus Club offers amazing food with amazing views.

General Manager Jeff Jump welcomes media guests.

Executive Chef Relner Drygala goes over the new menu.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When you combine excellent tasting beer from Orlando Brewing, with the delicious, farm-to-table food of American Kitchen Bar & Grill and Chef Venoy Rogers III, what do you get? A perfect pairing! We were invited to the American Kitchen Bar & Grill, located inside of the B Resort & Spa, for a special preview of the restaurant’s Tap Takeover. Beginning this Friday, May 25th, American Kitchen embarks on a new and exciting partnership with Orlando Brewing, “the only U.S.D.A. certified organic brewery east of Colorado”. The restaurant will now serve some of Orlando Brewing’s most popular beers on tap, while also incorporating the beer in a few new dishes. I had the fantastic, and most appreciated, opportunity to sample these dishes and beer a few nights ago, and now…I’m ready for the main event on Friday night! American Kitchen is hosting an open house with special drinks and menu items, plus, giveaways and raffle prizes. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I could sure use a spa treatment from Aveda Spa, located inside the B Resort. A spa gift certificate is only one of the terrific raffle prizes to be awarded on Friday night.

My night at the Tap Takeover Preview was only made better when I got the chance to meet and speak with Chef Venoy. Before coming to American Kitchen, Chef Venoy was the Executive Chef of Essensia restaurant, located inside the Palms Hotel & Spa in Miami. A San Diego native, Chef Venoy’s experience in the culinary world is expansive, but he always stays true to using fresh, local, farm-to-table ingredients in his menu. American Kitchen offers a variety of these dishes, including Tomato Tartare, Forest Mushroom Mac-n-Cheese, Blueberry Grilled Cheese, Grilled Fish Tacos, and Bourbon Chocolate Cake, just to name a few. When speaking with Chef Venoy, his passion, his love, for cooking, for using the best ingredients, for making food fun and creative, shines through immediately. It’s written all over his face…his dedication to creating unforgettable dishes for those who come to American Kitchen, sometimes at the sacrifice of time spent with his family for extra long hours in the kitchen. But, as he said to my husband and I, he does it all for the love of those he loves and for his love of food. How lucky for us patrons!?!

Here’s a glimpse of our night at the American Kitchen and Orlando Brewing Tap Takeover Preview:

Beers on Tap and Special Menu Items

 

Beers on Tap

Music Provided by DJD Entertainment Professionals

Specialty Drink: “Greg Norman”
Foie Gras Donuts with Fig Marsala Sauce
Short Rib Flatbread with Pickled Ramps and Manchego
Smoked Crispy Chicken Sandwich with House Aioli and Coleslaw
Crispy Fish “Chips” and Beer Battered Potato Sticks with Orlando Brewing Beer Vinegar

GM of B Resort and Spa: Michael Allen with Chef Venoy Rogers III
Chef Venoy Rogers III
Meeting Chef Venoy Rogers III

American Kitchen Bar & Grill is a must-try all on its own; but, with the addition of Orlando Brewing, it’s even better. I have to admit, my drink of choice is not usually beer. However, after tasting Orlando Brewing’s La Guera Blonde Lager and I-4 IPA, while enjoying salty and sweet Foie Gras Donuts and the tender, flavorful Smoked Crispy Chicken Sandwich, I’m hooked! But, don’t take my word for it. Enjoy the pairing yourself at American Kitchen Bar & Grill. I know I will again…and again…and again.

 

American Kitchen Bar & Grill 

Orlando Brewing 

B Resort & Spa

DJD Entertainment Professionals 

 

Martini Pop Band – Lindsey, Jeremy, Rachel

We were invited to indulge in some of the best flavors that Central Florida has to offer during the inaugural Orlando Sentinel Foodie Awards Celebration at Celine Orlando, located in downtown Orlando.  The Orlando Sentinel’s Foodie Awards program has been recognizing the best food and dining experiences in Central Florida since 1998, but this was their first-time kick off event, inspired by Orlando Sentinel food reporter Lauren Delgado and their passionate readers.  General admission tickets included access to the party, live entertainment, and food and drink tastings from over 20 Foodie Awards winners and finalists.

Palm Ridge Reserve owners Dick and Marti Waters.  I always enjoy seeing them!

Create Your Nature (Best Vegetarian/Vegan) – Blackberry crumble oatmeal

Create Your Nature (Best Vegetarian/Vegan) – Holy frijole salad

Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream

Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream

Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream

K Restaurant – Duck breast, white beans, favs beans, English peas, rainbow chard, crispy pork, pea tendrils for a garnish.  (My favorite dish of the night!)

Dajen Eats – “Honey” Ginger Chipotle Cauliflower Bites.  She’s amazing!

1921 By Norman Van Aken – Florida fish & passion fruit ceviche with torched sweet potato and puffed sourghum

1921 By Norman Van Aken – Stone fruit gazpacho with peaches, pickled plums, buttermilk & basil

Maxine Earhart from Maxine’s on Shine

Maxine’s on Shine – “Chicken Maxine’s” – Diced chicken bread pan seared, roasted shallots, mushrooms, cherry tomato, marsala wine cream sauce, penne

Maxine’s on Shine – Rum balls – Classic cake with rum soaked raisins, covered in dark chocolate

Thai Island (Best Thai) – Pad Thai, Panang CK (Thai Curry), Tom Kona (Coconut Soup), Thai Custard (Dessert)

Tamarind Indian Cuisine (Best Indian) – Vegetable Samosa

Tamarind Indian Cuisine (Best Indian) – Tandoori Chicken Tikka

Tamarind Indian Cuisine (Best Indian) – Chicken Biryani

Border Grill Fresh-Mex (Best Mexican) – Carnitas tacos, grilled chicken tacos, shredded beef tacos, chips & house-made queso dip

Tapa Toro – Shrimp Causa – Peruvian style shrimp salad, potato salad, Aji Amarillo, cilantro, micro herb

Dunkin’ Donuts (Best Coffee)

Big Fin Seafood Kitchen – “Signature New Orleans-Style Shrimp” – Blackened shrimp on a bed of crawfish grits and New Orleans vegetables (sun-dried tomatoes, cremini mushrooms and spinach) topped with Cajun cream sauce.

Orlando Meats – Pork Rillettes – Olive oil, bread, Dijonnaise, hot almond

Orlando Meats – Gateux Matilda – blueberry cheese custard

Jeremiah’s Italian Ice (Best Frozen Treats)

Chef Eddie’s (Best Soul)

Grills Lakeside Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar – Tahitian Tuna Poke Cups, Grilled Filefish

Eddie V’s Prime Seafood – Pacific Ahi Tuna Tartar

Mynt Fine Indian Cuisine – Basil Malai Kabab, Chilly Baby Corn, Vegetable Pekora, Chicken Marsala (Nan & Rice)

Francesco’s Ristorante Pizzeria – Beef Tenderloin, Vegetarian Tortellini

Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café (Best German) – Nurnburger Sausage, Heaven and Earth Potatoes, Sauerkraut

Jenn from DaJen Eats being interviewed by Orlando Sentinel reporters Sarah Espedido and Lauren Delgado.

For more information, visit: www.orlandosentinel.com/foodiecelebration

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The Halal Guys was started as a NYC food cart but now has grown throughout the nation. They just opened last year in Central Florida near the University of Central Florida. At this Central Florida location, they offer deals daily. For this month, they are offering special group discounts and children get free side of fries or falafel with purchase for Ramadan.

Ramadan is a special time of year for Muslims for fasting, from sunrise to sunset for a whole month. At sunset, there is usually service and then a family or community feast. Fasting includes not eating but also refraining from harmful or hurtful activities. In the past 10 years, the number of Muslims in Central Florida has grown over 10 times according to the US census, ranking as the second fastest growing religion in the region only after Roman Catholicism. This year, Ramadan is the May 15 – June 24.

Beef is cooked on a vertical broiler and cut when ready throughout the day to maintain freshness for each order. The beef is moist and flavorful.

Chicken is chopped on the stove with beautiful steam rising. The chicken is very tender and tasted delicious with their white sauce as well as their hot sauce.

The most popular order is the combo platter, which has both chicken and beef. Their dishes can be made per person or to cater for a gathering.

This is what a small combo platter looks like – pure deliciousness! I was right, it tasted as great as it looks. This includes a special white sauce from The Halal Guys. There are a number of other options. For instance, a spicy sauce with a major kick. As Ricky would suggest it, “you should try it! It is really hot.”

If you are not fond of meat, have some falafel instead. Falafel is a deep-fried ball, doughnut or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. It is a great alternatives for those who prefer a meat substitute.

Sometimes, fries can be used as a substitute to the rice in dishes or you could order it as a side. Again, children get free side of fries or falafel with a purchase for Ramadan.

 

Other sides available include Hummus and Baba Ghanouj, respectively shown in the photographs. Both are made well and a delight to have as a side or snack with some pita bread.

For dessert, check out their baklava. I can taste it now looking at this photograph. If only I could pull out baklava to eat from my photograph. Until that is a possibility, stop by The Halal Guys for an order.

For more information, visit The Halal Guys.

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Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen brought Tasty Chomps in to taste some popular items they are rolling out this summer. Not only that, but we were able to learn how to stack the homemade onion rings similar to how they are delivered to our table in a beautiful presentation. Our presentation may not be as beautiful, but we did our best!

The new summer cocktail is a Watermelon Vodkarita and it is dangerously delicious. You can’t taste the alcohol and it is so refreshing it’ll make you want more constantly throughout the summer.

The Warm Honey Butter Croissants are mice and fluffy. Although I am not fond of carbs, I may make an exception for these croissants.

The Homemade Onion Rings are nice and crisp. They come with two sides for you to try with. This stack was created more nicely than my stack since it was by Cheddar’s amazing Executive Chef, Brittany Neisen.

The Chicken Tender Platter isn’t only popular for the kiddos. They’re ordered and enjoyed by all. They come with a few sauces and Buffalo still takes the prize on being my favorite.

New Orleans Pasta has a nice cajun flavor to it. If only I wasn’t allergic to shrimp.

Some sides include broccoli cheese casserole, freshly made coleslaw, mac ‘n’ cheese, and black beans.

The Blackened Salmon with Mango Salsa is my favorite. The salmon is made well and it is not overcooked. The flavors are fresh and slightly sweet, naturally from the mango.

The Salmon & Strawberry Salad is refreshing for a summer day. It comes with a strawberry vinaigrette made at Cheddar’s each day, similar to the majority of what you find on the menu.

Last, but not least, is the Homemade Chocolate Fudge Cake. It is served with ice cream, whipped cream and drizzles of chocolate and caramel. The cake itself is very rich and not too sweet. On the other hand, the icing will add more sweetness to your bite.

For more information, please visit Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen.

From April 10 – June 16, guests at BRAVO Cucina Italiana will have the opportunity to pick one appetizer and two of BRAVO’s classic Italian dishes and receive a half portion of each.  What a great way to taste two entrees at an affordable price!

Lunch is $14.99 and dinner is $17.99.

Choose one appetizer:
Soup of the Day
Italian Wedding Soup
Lobster Bisque (add $1)
BRAVO Chopped Salad
Casar Classic
Insalata Della Casa

Choose two entrees:
1/2 Pasta Woozie: Grilled chicken, fettuccine, alfredo, spinach
1/2 Pasta BRAVO: Grilled chicken, mushrooms, rigatoni, roasted red pepper cream
1/2 Chicken Parmesan: Pomodoro, mozzarella, herb linguine
1/2 Shrimp Fra Diavolo: Spicy tomato cream sauce, campanelle pasta, shrimp
1/2 Mama’s Lasagna Bolognese: BRAVO’s signature meat sauce, alfredo, ricotta, mozzarella

BRAVO will also offer a seasonal Warm Berry Cake and drink specials including the Strawberry Fizz, Strawberry Mango Cosmo and Strawberry Basil Smash.

* At select locations.  Available Sunday – Thursday only.  Promotion ends June 16, 2018.

In addition, BRAVO will offer a spring gift card promotion perfect as a gift for moms, dads and grads!  For every $100 in gift cards purchased, guests will receive a free $25 bonus card.

Keep scrolling to view pictures from our recent media dine of when got to taste their current spring promotion.  BRAVO is a beautiful restaurant with good food and a very nice staff, especially Victor who took care of us.


Complimentary bread and herb oil


Calamari Fritti – creamy horseradish, marinara


Crispy Shrimp Napoli – green onions, charred tomato Napoli sauce


Lobster Bisque with sherry, diced shrimp


BRAVO Chopped Salad – chopped greens, cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes, olives, feta, red wine vinaigrette


Left to right: Pasta Woozie: Grilled chicken, fettuccine, alfredo, spinach
Pasta BRAVO: Grilled chicken, mushrooms, rigatoni, roasted red pepper cream


Left to right: Chicken Parmesan: Pomodoro, mozzarella, herb linguine
Shrimp Fra Diavolo: Spicy tomato cream sauce, campanelle pasta, shrimp


(Seasonal) Warm Berry Cake

Open kitchen that you can walk up to and watch chefs prepare your meal


Beautiful outdoor seating


Be sure to stop by BRAVO soon to check out their affordable spring menu promotion before it ends on June 16, it is worth it!
(Source credit: BRAVO Cucina Italiana)

BRAVO Cucina Italiana on Sand Lake’s Restaurant Row
7924 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando, FL 32819
https://www.bravoitalian.com/seasonal-features.html
(407) 351-5880

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On May 11, Wild Florida hosted Wild Paint Night Out where folks were able to meet two albino alligators, indulge in hearty BBQ and paint their hearts away. The goodies at the buffet was provided by Chomp House Grill which is the restaurant located right inside of Wild Florida. Cole slaw, baked beans, deep fried brownies, their signature alligator and pulled pork/pulled chicken sandwiches were on the menu. Executive Chef of Chomp House Grill, Ramon Ayala, said that the creation of the menu came from “just playing around with it and being creative.” Ayala adds that he only does these dishes for banquets and events only. 

Besides the savory food, we got to venture back in the park itself and visit all of the animals. I got to see lemurs, porcupines, several gators, zebras, snakes, foxes and plenty of wild birds. The freely roaming peacocks were also a memorable sight to see.

Above all the animal encounters I had, my favorite interaction was getting to go inside the habitat where the two albino gators were. The gators names were Blizzard and Snowflake and they were surprisingly more friendly than I expected. I was able to walk right up to the rim of the pool where they were kept. Staring directly into their glazed eyes with nothing but open space in between my being and their floating bodies was unlike anything I had experienced before. I was captivated by how majestic and peaceful they were. They did not hiss or growl. Both gators just swam up to the rim where I knelt. 

Afterwards, I proceeded to the event room where dozens of canvases and brushes were set up next to plates of paint. The objective was to paint a picture that copied a picture of an albino alligator that was already painted on a canvas. At the end, the best painting done by an adult and child were given recognition. I did a pretty decent job with my painting and I am very happy with it. 

Overall, Wild Florida has a lot to offer in terms of getting outdoors and experiencing a real taste of Florida. The interaction one gets with the animals is very hands on. There is something to look at everywhere you turn. Also, towards the end of the event I was able to catch a gorgeous sunset over the lake. It was definitely a sight to see. 

Wild Florida also offers boat rides to guests. According to their website, they offer deals for Florida residents in which you can get 15 percent off one hour airport tours. As for anyone in the military, a teacher or a first responder, you can get 15 percent off of the boat rides and other events.


Visit Wild Florida’s website at wildfloridairboats.com or drop by their location at 3301 Lake Cypress Rd, Kenansville, FL 34739.

We were invited to the Pre-Opening Party for Wine Bar George at Disney Springs; and it was certainly a “magical night”. The rain stopped just in time for the party to begin, and a rainbow appeared. How perfect is that?

Wine Bar George officially opens Saturday, May 19th, and from my experience during the event, I only see a very busy future ahead for George and his amazing crew (I’m booking my babysitter in advance to return soon). George Miliotes, Master Sommelier (one of only 249 in the world), has personally hand-picked every available ounce of wine in the wine bar. Paired perfectly with small bites (such as house-made meatballs, jicama salad, grilled octopus), family-style platters (such as skirt steak and wine braised chicken), charcuterie and artisanal cheese boards, and desserts (olive oil cake and key lime pie).  One dessert is an event in itself: The Chocolate Experience (pairings of wines and chocolates). Plus, other amazing offerings of beer and cider, and specialty cocktails. Presently, Wine Bar George is the only Master Sommelier-led wine bar in Florida. George brings a lifetime of wine knowledge and education to his new venture. Practically growing up with a glass of wine in his hand (I like this family), working alongside his father (Chris Miliotes) at a young age in his father’s former restaurant off of John Young Parkway, Chris’ House of Beef, success with California Grill, Seasons 52, and Capital Grille, George Miliotes and Wine Bar George are truly special. George also has an amazing crew working by his side, and from what I saw, working extremely hard. All of them passionate about being an intricate part of Wine Bar George, and it shows with their every gesture and word, so quick to recommend the perfect pairing, and share what they know and love with guests. As if the fantastic staff, wine, and food isn’t enough to love this place, there is also the amazingly beautiful atmosphere of Wine Bar George. Soft lighting, large paneled windows overlooking great views of Disney Springs, oak floors, elements of stone and metal, brick walls, and hints of George’s personal wine collections and treasures, make up the two-story (a bar on both levels) wine bar with plenty of comfy seating. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I don’t think my pictures (taken on my iPhone) adequately do the beauty of this place justice. Until you can see for yourself, here’s a sampling of our night at Wine Bar George:

Meeting Chris Miliotes
Meeting George Miliotes

I want Wine Bar George to be my Cheers, where the staff knows my name, I have my very own bar stool in both the upstairs and downstairs bar, and my favorite glass (or glasses) of wine awaits when I enter. This was an event I will never forget and I loved the experience of trying new wines hand-picked by George, eating delicious bites, talking with the amazing staff and fellow foodies, and having the honor of meeting George Miliotes and his father, Chris (both completely modest and easy to talk to). I know you will enjoy Wine Bar George as much as I did…so, plan a visit soon…but, if I find you sitting in my stool at the bar…game on (who am I kidding…I’ll just smile at you and find another spot).

 

Wine Bar George

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/disney-springs/wine-bar-george/

 

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Popular Vietnamese-American eatery Viet-Nomz is opening a second location soon at 11798 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32817.

This is the former location of Pita Pit at the plaza on the corner of Colonial Drive and Alafaya Trail with the Lucky’s Market.

Known for their modern take on Vietnamese cuisine with banh mi style tacos as well as more traditional Pho and rice noodles, this will be Viet-Nomz second location after their first on University and Goldenrod.

More to come soon.

 

Photos courtesy of Viet-Nomz and Chris Bhulai

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Earth Feast: Kamayan-style Filipino Charity Dinner
MONDAY MAY 21, 2018 @ 6:30PM — 9:00PM
Benefiting: IDEAS For Us

Kadence who will be preparing a sumptuous Kamayan-style Filipino feast. In the spirit of Earth Day, guests will gather around the table as a family and use their hands (it’s what “kamayan” means, after all) to enjoy a mountain of grilled Florida seafood, an array of veggies, and rice served atop banana leaves.

There will be delicious food, fresh drinks, locally brewed beer, and live entertainment to welcome you to a special evening benefiting one of Orlando’s most unique and impactful charities: IDEAS For Us. You may know them through their programs here in Orlando: The Hive, The Solutions Fund, and Fleet Farming.

This is a charity event and the ticket price is a 100% tax-deductible contribution. Please consider making an additional donation or choosing a “Swag Option” (50% tax-deductible) for extra goodies that can help keep you cooler than ever this summer.

Link to tickets: https://ideasforus.networkforgood.com/events/6381-earth-feast-kamayan-style-filipino-charity-dinner

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Chef Olé was founded with the intention of teaching about gourmet Spanish food, sourced from companies with more than 100 years history of producing the best products in Europe.

Their gift boxes are named after famous Spanish artist and are composed of exclusive selection of Spanish gourmet products, designed to enhance the flavors of food by further improving the tastes. We were recently sent a box to test out – here are some photos!

PICASSO BOX CONTAINS:


1-Extra virgin olive oil, variety HOJIBLANCA, first oil press, company with 200 years of tradition. 17.6 fl.Oz./ 520 ml.


2-Spicy paprika from La Vera, product with PDO. Used by Top Chef winner 2017. 1.41 Oz / 40 g.


3-Chamomile olive bell. Manzanilla olives and extra virgin olive from Bajo Aragón. 4.23 Oz. / 120 g.


4-Citrus salt flakes. Without preservatives, without colorants 130 years tradition 5.64 Oz / 160 g.


5-Pedro Ximénez balsamic cream, a tradition since 1923. 8.46 Oz / 240 g.

https://www.chefole.com/

I used the spicy paprika to make some Vietnamese Bo Kho.

Beef
2 to 2 ½ pounds boneless beef chuck or brisket cut into 1½-inch chunks
1/2 packet of Bo Kho Spices

For the Stew

3 tablespoons oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced thinly
4 tablespoons tomato paste
8 cups of water
2 cups of pure coconut water/juice
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon spicy paprika
8 large carrots, peeled and cut on the bias into 1½ -inch chunks
1 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons soy sauce

wide rice noodles or egg noodles

Combine the beef with bo kho spice packet and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Bo Kho: Add the ingredients including the beef together in large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer for 1 hour.

After an hour has passed, add the carrots, salt, and soy sauce. Simmer for another 40 minutes.

Cook your noodles per package instructions, transfer to bowls, and ladle the soup over the top.

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