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Alton Brown, the Food Network television personality of Good Eats, Iron Chef America, and Cutthroat Kitchen fame, will be returning to Orlando for his live “Eat Your Science” show at the Dr Phillips Performing Arts Center on April 22, 2017.

On his last visit to Orlando, he stopped by some local favorites such as Beefy King, Credo and Lineage Coffee, Skyebird Juice Bar, Olde Hearth Bakery, Kappo at East End Market, The Ravenous Pig, Pho 88, and Pom Pom’s Tea House and Sandwicheria.

On March 14, Alton Brown posted this on Facebook:

“Dear Orlando: The last time I was in your fine city for Alton Brown Live, you directed me to these fine establishments. Well…I’m coming back April 22 (http://bit.ly/EYSOrlando) and need your help again. Where should I go? #ABRoadEatsORL”

I humbly submit a few places for his next visit, including a few of my favorites.

Knowing he is probably on a tight schedule, I recommend visiting the Mills 50 area first, where he can hit up a few spots at once:

1. Mamak – Malaysian street food

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Dishes to try: Wontons in hot peanut sauce and the roti canai.

Mamak
1231 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 270-4688
www.mamakasianorlando.com/

2. Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa

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Dishes to try:  The Oak-smoked St. Louis ribs (half-rack $14.99, full $22.99) are truly among the best, if not the best, ribs in all of Orlando – slow-cooked with a crispy surface yet tender, fall of the bone meat within and a nice sweet flavor. Try it with the crispy sweet fennel apple salad.

Pig Floyds
1326 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 203-0866
www.pigfloyds.com

3. Chuan Lu Garden – Sichuan Chinese cuisine


Dishes to try: La Zi Fish, fried with Sichuan peppercorns and the pan fried house made dumplings.

Chuan Lu Garden
Phone (407) 896-8966
??1101 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
http://www.chuanluorlando.com/

4. Vietnam Cuisine:


Dishes to try: Banh cuon, a rice noodle crepe dish filled with mushrooms and pickled daikon radish.

Vietnam Cuisine

1224 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803

5. Seito Sushi at Baldwin Park:


Dishes to try: Pork Tonkotsu Ramen – made with a 24 hour pork broth, and topped with slices of braised pork belly, poached Lake Meadows soy pullet egg, and house made garnish

Seito Sushi
4898 New Broad St, Orlando, FL 32814
(407) 898-8801
www.seitosushi.com

6. The Osprey Tavern:


Dishes to try: Spicy Egg Pizza

The Osprey Tavern
4899 New Broad Street
Orlando, FL 32814 407-960-7700

7. The Donut King in Winter Park


Dishes to try: The Cronut or the Traditional Glazed Donut

Donut King
3716 Howell Branch Rd Winter Park, FL 32792
(321) 316-4817
http://www.thedonutking.com/

8. Viet-Nomz


Dishes to try: Vietnamese pork tacos and Vietnamese coffee

Viet-Nomz Vietnamese Pho & Street Fare

7581 University Blvd, Winter Park, FL 32792
Phone: +1 407-636-6069
http://vietnomzfl.com/

9. Shishco Mezze and Grill

Dishes to try: The Gyro bowl, a generous bowl with a large lavash flat bread base overflowing with bulgur wheat grain, sliced pickled red onion, chopped tomatoes, and slices of beef and lamb doner / gyro.

Shishco Mezze and Grill
118 Lake Ave, Maitland, FL 32751
Phone:(407) 661-1336
Menu: shishcomezzegrill.com

10. Bulla Gastrobar in Winter Park

Dishes to Try: Huevos Bulla, made with eggs, homemade potato chips, Serrano ham, potato foam and truffle oil. The dish is mixed at the table.

Bulla Gastrobar
110 S Orlando Ave #7, Winter Park, FL 32789
Phone: (321) 214-6120

Where would you send Alton Brown? Use the hashtag #ABRoadEatsORL on facebook, twitter and instagram to send him your recs.

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EPCOT’s origins may have started off as the template for the city of tomorrow but it has also become the premier host of excellent food festivals, including the International Food and Wine Festival, which runs in fall and The Festival of the Arts, a new addition for 2017, which runs prior to Flower and Garden.

The 24th EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival©, runs from March 1st to May 29th and showcases an abundance of flower displays, ranging from classic Disney characters to more intricate floral designs. Along with those displays, each country in the world pavilion also has a delicious sampling of food and complementing beverages, making for a delightful afternoon in the park. The following were but a small selection of the over 100 food and beverage items.

Urban Farm Eats: Crabless Cake with Crispy Vegatable Slaw, Lemon Vinaigrette and Old Bay Remoulade, the crabless cake with a delicious remoulade has a crisp exterior and a delicious vegetarian option.

Florida Fresh: Carne Asada with Black Bean Cake and Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream, this dish has the elements of a great southwestern style barbecue.

Smokehouse: Beef Brisket Burt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapenos, by far my most favorite dish, a balance of flavors with the heat from jalapenos and coolness of sour cream created a spoonful of delight.

La Isla Fresca: Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer with Steamed Rice and Coconut Lime Sauce, on a bed of herb flavored rice and coconut sauce brought the flavors of the tropics.

Northern Bloom: Seared Scallops with Green Beans, Butter Potatoes, Brown Butter, Vinaigrette and Apple-wood Smoked Bacon, on a bed of green beans with potatoes and bacon was my second favorite sampling.

Everything Berry: Warm Wild Berry Buckle with Pepper Berry Ice Cream, this refreshing dessert showcased a tasty blend of seasonal berries and an even tastier ice cream.

Florida Fresh: Key Lime Tart topped with Toasted Meringue, had true zest of key lime with a natural sweetness and tart flavors.

Tea, scones and Disney’s baking prowess were on display with both a selection of sweet and savory scones accompanied by a selection of Twining’s Tea©. The savory scone filled with the Earl Grey Butter and a side of tea was my favorite. I am partial to Earl Grey though.

The wine pairings included Floriography Blooming Red 2014 and Blooming White 2015 from the Western Cape of South Africa.

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Highlights for 2017 currently include:

  • Outdoor Kitchens offering delectable small plates, and flavorful non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages—along with several new food and refreshment kiosks
  • More than 70 world-renowned Disney-themed topiaries—including many totally original displays
  • Vibrant gardens, flower towers, wildlife habitats and walkways—some being presented for the very first time
  • Inspirational exhibits, seminars, how-to demonstrations and all-new farm-to-table dining experiences
  • Garden Rocks™ Outdoor Concert Series featuring throwback beats from fan-favorite bands—with an assortment of debuting acts and dining packages

Blossoming from March 1 to May 29, 2017, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival boasts fun-filled exploration for every age and interest. It is a foodie festival that is not to be missed for those who enjoy great food, beautiful flora and the Florida sunshine.

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The Raglan Road Irish Dancers perform at the Raglan Road Irish Pub at Disney Spring in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

This year, the 2017 Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant in Disney Springs is running March 16-19, featuring the most authentic St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Central Florida and a round-the-clock lineup of talented musicians, award-winning Irish dancers and authentic cuisine by Irish celebrity chef and PBS/Create TV personality Kevin Dundon.

The Irish craft beers served at the Raglan Road Irish Pub at Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

If you want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like the Irish, here’s some tips from Raglan Road (ha!):
1. Please don’t call the holiday “St. Patty’s.” It’s either “St. Patrick’s Day” or “St. Paddy’s.”
2. A shamrock has three leaves (not four – that would be a clover).
3. Americans invented the St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1737 in Boston.
4. Most Irish pubs do a full month’s business on St. Patrick’s Day.
5. Guinness sell 13 million pints on St. Patrick’s Day versus the usual 5 million daily.
6. Raglan Road is America’s #1 Irish Pub.
7. Green beer is an American invention. Raglan Road does not serve green beer.

We were able to chat with Raglan Road Master Chef Kevin Dundon in a Q & A recently:

Master Chef Kevin Dundon at Raglan Road Irish Pub at Disney Springs on December 13, 2017. Photo by Tom Burton

Tasty Chomps: Where did you get your inspiration to cook?

Chef Kevin Dundon: As a child, I remember watching my mother and my grandmother, busy in the kitchen. Mum instilled in me a sense of passion for the food we ate, and this is where my passion for food began. Mum always ensured we got involved in the preparation of family meals, and this trend now continues with my own children.

Favorite first memories of food?

My first memory is years back when I was a child. We were in Kilkee, County Clare for a weekend holiday. I went with my grandfather fishing. We caught mackerel, and that night my mum cooked some. Next morning, I decided I wanted to impress my grandparents with breakfast in bed. I prepared toast, tea and some lovely mackerel! The mackerel were undercooked, the tea was cold and so was the toast. They didn’t say anything, ate it all and said it was delicious. I found out years later of their kindness, the lengths they went to keep me happy!

Appetizer D’Lirrah, served at Raglan Road Irish Pub at Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vist, FL.

Best Dishes to Try at the Restaurant this year?

I love the Heaven on Earth Baby Back Ribs, glazed in a Guinness reduction – they are fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-the-mouth tender, and made to share!

What is one dish you would make for yourself to eat after a long day in the kitchen?

I love a bacon buttie, made on freshly buttered toasted sourdough bread, with crisp, hot bacon straight from the grill, freshly shredded lettuce, a slice or two of beef tomato.

Favorite local Orlando places to dine?

Obviously Raglan Road is my favourite place to dine; however, The Pharmacy in Orlando is a good spot too!

Smokie city, a baked haddock and cheese dip appetizer served at Ragna Road Irish Pub at Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vista, FL
Ger’s bread and butter pudding, a dessert served at Raglan Road Irish Pub at Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vista, FL.
Cashel king salad, served at Raglan Road Irish Pub at Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vista, FL
Fish and chips as served at Raglan Road Irish Pub at Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

PRESS RELEASE: 2017 Raglan Road Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival Runs March 16-19
at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant in Disney Springs
Award-winning new acts include Young Dubliners and The Byrne Brothers

Running March 16-19, the most authentic St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Central Florida will feature a round-the-clock lineup of talented musicians, award-winning Irish dancers and authentic cuisine by Irish celebrity chef and PBS/Create TV personality Kevin Dundon.

Guests can enjoy a mighty selection of beers, spirits and craft cocktails with Dundon’s exceptional Irish fare while musicians and dancers perform on multiple stages, indoors and out, from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. daily. Guests can accent their Irish holiday attire with complimentary face painting available for the occasion from noon to 8 p.m. throughout the festival. The stellar music lineup includes:

Young Dubliners – Quite possibly Celtic rock’s hardest working band, playing hundreds of shows to thousands of fans across the United States and Europe every year. Known for their exciting live performances, the Young Dubliners bring their hearty rock and Irish-infused tunes to the Raglan Road stage.

The Byrne Brothers – An exceptionally talented traditional Irish music family from Donegal. They are Luca, 12, on button accordion; Finn, 10, on banjo, mandolin and whistle; and Dempsey, 7, on whistle and bodhran (percussion). Their show combines exciting traditional Irish tunes with modern dance beats, and they’re known for their fun interaction with their audience.

HanaLena Band – A sister duo based out of Nashville, Tenn. Hannah and Caroline grew up in the heart of Mississippi and were surrounded by bluegrass, country and the Delta blues. Their unique blend of acoustic instrumentation, moving lyrics and tight vocal harmonies make for an entertaining show.

The Raglan Roots Coalition – More than 10 years down the road, Raglan Road felt it was time to shake its boogie – Roots style, with this popular Irish house band. Think soul-rocking Celtic bluegrass with some hip-swingin’, knee-shakin’ funky roots beats.

Swingin’ On the Gate – This four-piece band of multi-instrumentalists with roots in legendary Lisdoonvarna in County Clare have serious crossover credentials and musical pedigree including traditional and classical training. They are multiple medal winners at Fleadhs music competitions and have toured in Italy, Switzerland and the United States.

Rollickin’ Rua – A fresh and exciting four-piece traditional Irish music ensemble from Ireland and Scotland. Each of the accomplished musicians brings a wealth of musical talent and experience to their vibrant live show of music and song.

The Raglan Road Irish Dancers perform at the Raglan Road Irish Pub at Disney Spring in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

The Raglan Road Irish Dancers – Plucked from the cast and stages of the world’s greatest Irish dance shows, the Raglan Road Irish Dancers perform throughout the Mighty Festival. You can even learn some traditional Irish dance steps – no experience necessary!

The entertainment schedule will be posted at raglanroad.com. Festivities at Raglan Road will run from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. daily throughout the Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival.

It’s not bleedin’chowder!, a seafood and potatoes dish at Raglan Road Irish Pub at Disney Spring in Lake Buena Vista, FL

Guests can order from Raglan Road’s popular brunch, lunch, dinner and bar menus that include new dishes recently introduced by Master Chef Dundon. The dinner menu features loin of bacon and cabbage, the authentic Irish dish of St. Patrick’s Day, plus other Irish classics created with Dundon’s modern twists. Throughout the event, the restaurant’s Cooke’s of Dublin counter-service eatery will offer Irish favorites, as well, including fish and chips.

Keen eye for the shepherd’s pie, as served at Raglan Road Irish Pub at Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

On March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, guests will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis with a cover charge of $10 for each guest age 18 and older. Reservations can be booked for other festival days by calling 407/938-0300.

 

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Once known as “Downtown Disney”, the new Disney Springs has undergone a major renovation, with a strong array of new and diverse dining options.

Among new dining choices awaiting Town Center guests are restaurants developed by James Beard award-winning chefs. Frontera Cocina serves up gourmet Mexican cuisine and creative cocktails from the menu envisioned by celebrity chef Rick Bayless, a six-time James Beard Foundation winner. Chef Art Smith, two-time winner of the James Beard Award brings a unique taste of gourmet southern cuisine and Florida agriculture to the heart of Disney Springs with Homecoming Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine.

Guests can dine off a shipshape menu at The BOATHOUSE or enjoy, at Morimoto Asia, Pan-Asian cuisine from celebrity chef Matsaharu Morimoto, of Iron Chef fame. STK Orlando offers guests a fine dining experience set in chic, contemporary surroundings. Finish off the evening with a relaxing stroll to grab a signature gelato at Vivoli Gelateria or a crafted cocktail at Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar.

Some of the new specialty-dining locations are now open at Disney Springs:

Amorette’s Patisserie
B. Wolf’s Sausage Co.
D-Luxe Burger
Morimoto Asia Street Food
Sprinkles
The Daily Poutine
YeSake
STK Orlando
Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza
Coca-Cola Store and Rooftop Beverage Bar
Frontera Cocina
Homecoming – Florida Kitchen and Shine Bar

When completed, Disney Springs will have doubled the number of shops, restaurants and other venues for guests to explore, resulting in more than 150 establishments.

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Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate is currently in the midst of an extensive $40 million+ expansion project — on the heels of a contemporary redesign of their onsite Trevi’s Restaurant and the addition of a new outdoor garden terrace and bar among many other exciting enhancements.

We received a sneak peek of Trevi’s Restaurant and their menu.

Prosciutto Crostini with melon and fig – Smooth textures mixed with sweet and savory tastes wonderful for the upcoming sunny Florida days. Each bite will keep you coming back for more.

Grilled Artichoke Crostini with olive tapenade and goat cheese – Personally it would not be my first choice, but it is healthy and tasty as the flavors balance once another.

Shrimp and Tomato Crostini with parmesan and aged balsamic – Fresh shrimp with the smooth texture of parmesan and tart yet sweet flavors of the balsamic.

After being introduced to crostini bites, Trevi’s Restaurant created a demo to make the best sangria I have tasted. Sangria is not my favorite drink, but this one is dangerous because of its delicious flavors which helped mask the bitterness of alcohol.

Before a delicious family style meal, one of Trevi’s chefs demonstrated how they create hand made ravioli at Trevi’s Restaurant.


Porcini Ravioli, Lobster, Madeira Cream – Fresh lobster on top of delicious porcini ravioli. The flavors are all balanced and everything was cooked to perfection.

Enjoy some bread and whipped butter while you wait for your dishes to arrive at your table. The breadsticks are my favorite out of this bunch from taste to texture.

Beef Tartare with quail egg, capers, and white truffle mustard aioli – The beef tartare and quail egg both have a smooth texture. The white truffle mustard aioli is added to elevate the flavors of this antipasti.

Snapper Crudo with tomato, basil and citrus – This is the best snapper crudo I have had. Fresh with a citrus twist and full of lean protein. I highly recommend this dish at Trevi’s. If you were to visit Trevi’s Restaurant solely for this dish, it would be worth it.

Semolina Dusted Calamari with spicy tomato sauce – Arrives at the table right as it was placed on the dish. It is more salty than the usual calamari I have had, but it won’t negatively impact your impression unless you are on a low sodium diet. It is tasty with or without the spicy tomato sauce.

Caprese with heirloom tomato and aged balsamic topped with Burrata with extra virgin oil and smoked sea salt –  You can never go wrong with some creamy burrata balanced by the crispy heirloom tomato, crunchy salt and coarse pepper. Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella, while the inside contains stracciatella and cream, giving it an unusual, soft texture. Along with other dishes at Trevi’s, there’s a play on a number of flavors in this dish.

Pizza Napolitana with fontina, spicy sausage and caramelized onion – The crust is crusty and fontina is delightful. The sausage is not spicy as they say it is.

Chicken Diangelo with artichoke, red pepper and lemon wine sauce – The chicken is dry regardless of the sauce. The pasta is overcooked and mushy in texture.

Goat Cheese Polenta – A gourmet comfort food that is creamy and great for a windy day. I could use a bowl right now as I write this post.

Charred Broccolini – Fresh vegetables made crisp with a bit of char.

Baby Meatballs – Flavorful meatballs that fall apart upon touch or placed into the mouth. Many will love the crumbly and soft texture, yet I prefer a more dense nature to my meatballs.

Warm Zeppolis with chocolate sauce – Doughnuts topped with powdered sugar and a dense bread-like texture. Warm and sweet, but a tad dry.

Affogato with vanilla bean gelato – A scoop of vanilla bean gelato topped with a shot of hot espresso. What is better than ice cream and espresso? Nothing. It is smooth and sweet with a touch of caffeine. If only this was a large portion and on ice.

Meet the Chefs

Chef Luca Sterpetti

Chef Robert Gioia

We had a few questions for the Chefs of Trevi’s:

What is your favorite dish?

Chef Luca: My favorite dish is ICE CREAM especially hazelnut, coffee and chocolate.

Chef Gioia: My favorite dish I love to cook is my father’s Sunday gravy recipe served with pasta. It’s a simple dish, but very important to use fresh tomato and herbs. He would use pork and lamb in the sauce and that’s why, according to him, it was called gravy. To this day I hear arguments of what is “Sauce” and what is “Gravy”…

How did you get into the culinary field?

Chef Luca: By choice because I love to eat. Growing up, I was always involved with food some way. It was a means to stay close to my grandparents, parents, friends and relatives. All my life, I have tasted, breathed, felt and lived food. As a Chef, I am blessed to have been a part of so many different traditions from all regions of my own country, Italy.

Chef Gioia: I started cooking at the age of 14 in a resort in Catskill, NY. Before then, I was the dishwasher working at the age of 12, the owners were friends of the family. At a young age it taught me the importance of reliability and integrity in a work place. I believe a respect and knowledge for fundamental cooking and technique is what is truly important in creating great tasting dishes

About Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate

Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate is a part of the Omni Hotels family, which creates compelling, memorable guest experiences by tempting the senses in innovative ways, surrounding them with a balanced blend of scents, sounds, sights, textures and tastes.

Beginning a new chapter in its 13-year heritage, Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate is undergoing an extensive expansion project – its first since opening in 2004.

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Photos by Negin Alimohammadi

Chef Hari Pulapaka of Cress Restaurant in Deland recently hosted an outdoor family style meal for 300 featuring the cuisines of the 7 countries who are part of the Trump administration’s immigration ban – Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Here are a few scenes from the dinner captured by our good friend, Negin, who herself is an Iranian national who has lived here for the past 6 years as an engineer and who was personally effected by the immigration ban on her way back to Orlando from a family visit to Iran.

Chef Hari

Guests who attended could taste “deeply flavoured stews, herbaceous sauces, rustic breads, aromatic rice dishes, and complementing side dishes.”

“My goal is to present the meal with dishes from many countries during the same course to illustrate that there are few rules and most dishes complement each other and that the power of food as a great equalizer, at a communal table, is a lesson for the ages,” said Chef Hari Pulapaka in a recent interview.

The benefit dinner raised over $10,000 for International Rescue Committee (rescue.org), a global humanitarian aid, relief and development nongovernmental organization. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the IRC offers emergency aid and long-term assistance to refugees and those displaced by war, persecution or natural disaster.

Menu
Couscous with carrots, beets, broccoli and cauliflower (Syria)
Lamb maraq (Somalia)
Saffron rice pudding, rose water, dates (Iran)
Polow with saffron, raisins and cashews (Iran)
Roasted corvina with spices and olive oil (Iraq)
Wagyu beef and potato kubba (Iraq)



We’ve all heard and seen Planet Hollywood as it was the iconic building at the old Downtown Disney. Well, along with Disney’s revamping to Disney Springs, Planet Hollywood is also new and improved. Planet Hollywood Observatory offers a new dining experience altogether with a fun and spunky environment to match their menu creations from Guy Fiery.

We began with this impressive ferris wheel of appetizers. The High Roller Platter (34.99)  is meant to be shareable for four people offering a varieties of bites that includes the Famous Chicken Crunch, Texas Tostadas,  Buffalo Wings, Five Cheese Dip, and Peri-Peri Shrimp. 

The entrees came rolling in soon after starting with the L.A Lasagna (19.99) which was definitely a twist to the traditional lasagna dish. A tube of pasta stuffed with ricotta and bolognese meat sauce then lightly fried to a golden brown and then topped with roasted garlic cream & tomato basil sauce.

BBQ Ribs (29.99) was next. Plated on the cutest miniature picnic table with a baby bucket of fries. The ribs are slow cooked St.Louis Style smothered in BBQ sauce.

The Turkey Pic-A-Nic (16.99) reminded me of thanksgivings in a sandwich with the roasted turkey breast and cranberry relish. The kettle chips in the middle provided a nice texture separations between the layers of flavors all inside a garlic-buttered pretzel bun.

Guy’s award wining burger Bacon Mac-N-Cheese (18.99)  also winner of NYC Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash! Was a monster of a burger containing Applewood smoked bacon, 6 cheese mac-n-cheese, onion straws, Donkey Sauce all in between buttered brioche buns.

Next would probably be the kid’s favorite items on the menu

Chocolate Comet (14)  Classic chocolate milkshake that’s overtopped with chocolate goodies like double chocolate brownies, frosting, candies, and a cookie straw. A chocolate Coma all in one.

This unicorn milkshake is The Strawberry Big Bang (14). There’s an entire slice of a birthday cake that’s hanging on top of a the classic hand spun strawberry milkshake! Then it’s doused in magical sprinkles and chocolate chips.

Planet Hollywood Observatory offers a fun and exciting way to dine with the whole family involved and both nostalgic and current.

Planet Hollywood Observatory

Address: 1506 East Buena Vista Drive, Orlando, FL 32836

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Celebrating 24 years when it kicks off March 1, 2017, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will jump-start spring with blooms aplenty and gardens of edibles including toothsome morsels from the new Northern Bloom and The Berry Basket Outdoor Kitchens.

A new, next-generation Belle topiary from “Beauty and the Beast” will debut in France, and a redesigned “Cars” play garden will introduce a colorful new character topiary sure to capture children’s imaginations.

The 90-day festival, open March 1-May 29, will feature an irresistible array of new gardens and character topiaries, popular entertainers and tasty food and drink offerings:

Fresh, farm-market food and beverage flavors will debut at the new Northern Bloom and The Berry Basket Outdoor Kitchens that will join 13 returning Outdoor Kitchens. Delectable chef-inspired bites from Northern Bloom include Seared Scallops with French Green Beans and Butter Potatoes with brown-butter vinaigrette and Applewood smoked bacon. A Maple Popcorn Shake for sipping can become an adult libation with the addition of some Crown Royal Maple Whiskey. At The Berry Basket, the Lamb Chop with Quinoa Salad and Blackberry Gastrique can pair with the new Founders Raubeaus Pure Raspberry Ale.

Chef Gregg Hannon

One of the popular Outdoor Kitchen gardens, Urban Farm Eats, will return with savory bites, sweet treats and ideas for planting produce that can inspire growing numbers of guests who want to learn to grow their own edibles.

“A lot of people, including young children, are serious foodies now, and they have lots of questions about gardening,” says Eric Darden, festival horticulture manager. “We’re getting more and more people in their 20s and 30s asking, ‘How can I grow this?’ I think we’ll be creating more gardeners because people can see what’s possible.”

The festival, including all gardening programs, exhibits, concerts, complimentary English Tea Garden tours and special appearances, is included in regular Epcot admission.

For more information about the 24th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639) or visit www.epcotinspring.com.

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Maraq (Somalia)

The Trump administration recently issued an immigration ban from seven Muslim majority countries (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). This ban – the way it currently exists – was overturned by the federal judicial courts as unconstitutional. It not only banned refugees, but there were also cases of authorities detaining and deporting legal VISA holders and others, including here at the Orlando International Airport.

This story is personal to me as I am the child of refugees, my parents having escaped by fishing boat from Vietnam before finally being sponsored into the United States. The America I know and love has always been a welcoming and gracious nation, one full of opportunity and a place of safe harbor for those most persecuted and oppressed. If not for America’s open hearts, who knows if my parents would not have been one of the many thousands who died at sea or captured by pirates.

Chef Hari Pulapaka, a native of Mumbai, India, came to the U.S. for graduate studies in 1987. An Associate Professor of Mathematics, he has been at Stetson University since the fall of 2000. When not teaching or working on mathematics and related areas, he is at Cress, a restaurant in downtown DeLand that he owns with his wife, working as an active professional chef. He is also a four-time semi-finalist for the prestigious James Beard Award-Best Chef South and has been invited to cook on multiple occasions at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City.

Chef Hari Pulapaka is soon hosting a family style meal at Cress featuring the cuisines of the 7 countries who are part of the administration’s immigration ban – the 300 tickets are practically sold out at publication time of this article.

I was honored to speak to him briefly about the upcoming project.

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Tell us about how this dinner came about, what inspired you to create “7 Courses, 7 Countries”?
I was sitting in a plane on the tarmac in Atlanta, GA having just landed, coming off a Taste of Mathematics event hosted by the Mind Research Institute, when we heard that Delta Airlines was experiencing computer glitches nationwide and that it would be several hours before we could deplane.

At least I had a dedicated Wi-Fi connection. I logged into Facebook to find a number of posts related to the chaos and stress emanating from the Executive Order essentially banning US entry by citizens of the 7 countries. As a first generation immigrant, for some reason, I was struck by the callous and inhumane manner in which the Executive Order was enacted and impulsively felt the urge to resist with a message. So I posted that I was inspired to create such a dinner.

The reaction that ensued was mostly positive and encouraging. I usually do what I say, so, here we are.

What are your responses to criticisms about mixing politics and food?
That is a bunch of crap. First of all, business owners are human beings first. To expect them to not be vocal about political issues when they feel the natural urge to do so is almost an expectation of servitude.

“Shut up and cook” or “Shut up and get me my whatever”.

Secondly, the reality of the matter is that the United States Food System is as tightly woven with the political system as one can possibly imagine. Every decision made by consumers and producers have political implications and are influenced by politics.

The food industry lobby in Washington DC is quite impressive and I don’t necessarily mean that as a compliment. For example, they managed to make the health of future generations a political issue. I understand that the devil is often in the details, but the political will is both lacking and powerful, often to the detriment of progress.

So, if I’m guilty of mixing politics and food it is because I care about improving the state of food in this country and beyond. I’m ready to live with the consequences. I’ve done it my way since the inception and I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

Polow (Iran)
Polow (Iran) – Courtesy Hari Pulapaka, Cress Restaurant

Tell me about the ingredients and dishes that are going to be served, what kind of research or assistance will you be getting in crafting these dishes? What prior experiences have you had with these 7 cuisines?
It is still premature for me to give anyone a full menu, but I’ve always prided myself on supporting American farmers and farms. On some occasions, I’ve gotten ingredients produced in another country, but by and large, our ingredients are produced in the United States. So, the menu will be a series of dishes representing culinary influences from Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Libya, and Yemen (SISSILY).

Guests can expect deeply flavoured stews, herbaceous sauces, rustic breads, aromatic rice dishes, and complementing side dishes. My goal is to present the meal with dishes from many countries during the same course to illustrate that there are few rules and most dishes complement each other and that the power of food as a great equalizer, at a communal table, is a lesson for the ages. Many of the cuisines have significant intersection with flavours I am used to creating whether they are from the Indian subcontinent or the Middle-East. So, I would like to think that I am not out of my proverbial league.

But, I guess time will tell and our guests will ultimately decide. It’s $40 a person for a lot of food with all the proceeds going towards charity. Need I say more? My research has and will include a lot of reading and imagining. But in the end, my own (global) sensibility will have to lead the way.

As an immigrant, what are your thoughts about what is going on right now, what can we hope for?
On the one hand, I am hopeful that the growing resistance by both immigrants and multi-generational citizens against this climate of hate and prejudice is a sign that the America we love (as immigrants) is alive and well. On the other hand, it is disheartening to have to justify our presence to natives after having already sacrificed so much and more importantly having given so much towards the growth and betterment of this place we now call home. My hope is that ultimately, decency will prevail. But my greater hope is that bigotry and discrimination will end once and for all in my lifetime (I’m not holding my breath).

Maraq (Somalia)
Maraq (Somalia) – Courtesy Hari Pulapaka, Cress Restaurant

What do you hope that people will come away with from this dinner?
First and foremost, I hope people will come away with believing (even more) in the healing power of food amidst differences of opinion and ideology. Secondly, I am hopeful that guests will feel empowered to be messengers in favour of inclusivity across the spectrum. I hope that our generation, the next one, and beyond will forge ahead with demanding and finding better solutions to the complex problems of the world. And lastly, I hope that people begin experiencing before judging.

——–
“7 Courses – 7 Countries”

“7 Courses – 7 Countries” is a family-style meal presented by Cress Restaurant with guest collaborators featuring the amazing cuisines of IRAQ, IRAN, LIBYA, SOMALIA, SUDAN, SYRIA, and YEMEN. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to a soon to be determined non-profit organization dealing with immigrant and refugee issues. The cost to attend is $40, all-inclusive. BYOB. Sunday, February 26, 2017, 4-6 pm. For Tickets, Visit Here.

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Known for their seafood dishes, Bonefish Grill in Longwood recently underwent a new renovation with an industrial, sleek look that harkens back to an estuary or mangrove idea – a place where fish love to hang out at. There’s even a large decorative art piece of a shiny metallic fish on one of the walls.

In a way Bonefish Grill is a higher end version of Red Lobster. We were recently invited to check out the new digs and were impressed with the improvement in design as well as in the dish executions.

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Bonefish Grill
Bonefish
Bonefish’s new interior decor
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Bonefish Grill – Inside Look
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Bonefish’s new light fixtures
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Crab and Corn Chowder at Bonefish – very delicious.
Bonefish
Crab-Crusted Alaskan Cod garlic and crab crumb dusted, topped with lump crab, white wine lemon butter sauce
Bonefish
Bonefish special miso glazed chilean seabass with greens
Bonefish
Bonefish’s signature Macadamia
Nut Brownie- flourless brownie, raspberry sauce, vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with macadamia nuts

Bonefish Grill
1761 W State Rd 434, Longwood, FL 32750
https://www.bonefishgrill.com/locations/fl/longwood

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Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is known for their excellent steaks and wine selection.  Guests can now celebrate Valentine’s Day at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar from Feb. 10-19 with a special three course prix fixe menu.

Guests can enjoy a three-course prix fixe menu, starting at $79.95

Menu includes:

o   Amuse-Bouche: Shrimp and Sea Scallop

o   Salad: choice of Fleming’s Salad or Modern Caesar

o   Entrée Duo: 8-ounce Filet Mignon with choice of New Zealand Ora King Salmon or Australian Lobster Tail

Menu enhancements include:

o   Dessert: Raspberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding

o   Wines from JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset

For reservations, visit www.FlemingsSteakhouse.com Follow Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar on Facebook and Instagram at @FlemingsSteakhouse.

There are two locations in Orlando:
8030 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando, FL 32819
933 N Orlando Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

CONTEST: $100 Giveaway to Fleming’s!

E-mail us at tastychomps@gmail.com by 5pm on February 25th with your answer to these two questions:

  1. What one dish would you try at Fleming’s?
  2. Where is your favorite place for Steak in Orlando? (Can be any)

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SevenSeasLogo_wBackground

SeaWorld introduces the all-new Seven Seas Food Festival.

“We have taken what our fans loved about Bands, Brew & BBQ and Viva la Musica and rolled that into this all-new event that expands all the offerings – more concerts, more food, more craft brew and more fun!”

Set sail on this taste adventure each Saturday February 11th through May 13th.

There are culinary marketplaces set up through out the park with live performances from country, Latin music, and rock artists as you sample and sip your way around.

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The dishes are inspired by many different cultures such as Korean, Brazilian, Mediterranean etc..

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Local craft beers will also be served for a fun day in the sun!

Each marketplace serves different types of food depending on the theme of the station.

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At the Gulf Coast Market – Braised Short Ribs
with Jalapeno Corn Grits, Aged Balsamic Demi and Crispy Fried Onion StringsIMG_20170128_140558Brazilian Churrasco
Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri & Garbanzo Frito

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At the North Atlantic Market- Grilled Venison Sausage Slider
with Caramelized Red Onions, Sweet Red Peppers and Whole Grain Mustard

IMG_20170128_140511At the Pacific Coast Market- Grilled Cheese Pound Cake
with Cheddar Cheese & a Raspberry Sauce

IMG_20170128_140646At the Caribbean Market- Chocolate Tres Leche
Traditional Latin Dessert with Chocolate Cake Soaked in Condensed Milk, Evaporated Milk and Milk Chocolate

There’s a lot of options to what the family will find yummy (including the picky ones) as you enjoy the park.

For more information about the festival you can click here. 

SeaWorld Orlando

Address: 7007 Sea World Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
Customer service: 1 (888) 800-5447

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Event Features Over 60 Unique Eats and More Than 55 Local and International Craft Brews

For 14 consecutive Saturdays, the Seven Seas Food Festival is coming to SeaWorld Orlando Feb. 11 – May 13, 2017.

Each week guests can sip and sample their way around the world of international coastal cuisine while enjoying craft beers, paired wines and specialty entertainment.

The fun extends beyond the food with live performances each Saturday from top country, rock and Latin music artists.

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Seven Seas Food Festival Headline Entertainment:

While new flavors will tempt guests’ taste buds throughout the park, live entertainment will have everyone dancing, singing and laughing along to some of their favorite artists. The Seven Seas Food Festival brings 14 live acts to SeaWorld Orlando’s Bayside Stadium.

  • Lynyrd Skynyrd (February 11)            
  • Lee Brice (February 18
  • Bill Engvall (Feb 25)       
  • Styx (March 4)     
  • Justin Moore (March 11)
  • ZZ Top (March 18)         
  • Phillip Phillips (March 25)     
  • Coming Soon (April 1)   
  • Village People (April 8)      
  • Commodores (April 15)      
  • Oscar D’León (April 22)    
  • Olga Tanon (April 29)        
  • Grupo Mania (May 6)
  • Coming Soon (May 13)     

 Seven Seas Food Festival Coastal Cuisine:

Complete with 11 new global markets, guests will set sail on a taste adventure as they discover more than 60 unique Asian, Latin, European, Polynesian and North Atlantic dishes throughout the park. A wide of array of wine, specialty cocktails and over 55 local and international craft brews will be featured exclusively during the Festival as well. A selection of menu highlights include:

  • Asian Market- Peking Duck Lo Mein with Fresh Oriental Vegetables
  • Korean Market- Bingsu Salted Vanilla Ice Cream topped with Caramel Popcorn
  • Mexican Market- Braised Chicken Adobo with Mole Sauce
  • Caribbean Market- Cinnamon Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Sweet Plantain Mash
  • Florida Market- Fried Kataifi Orange drizzled with Local Honey
  • Mediterranean Market- Smoked Cured Salmon topped with Sweet Dill Mustard
  • North Atlantic Market- Banana & Caramel Cheesecake topped with Whipped Cream & Caramelized Bananas
  • Brazilian Market- Brazilian Churrasco with Chimichurri & Garbanzo Frito
  • Pacific Coast Market- Braised Pork Cheeks with Savory Apple Polenta
  • Polynesian Island Market- “Loco Moco” Grilled Spam, White Rice, Scrambled Egg & Brown Gravy
  • Gulf Coast Market- Southern Creamy Cheese Grits with a Blackened Shrimp

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In addition to the market stops, the event will feature a wide array of BBQ and comfort cuisine including Slow Smoked Ribs, caramelized in a SeaWorld original BBQ sauce, Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese and a Grilled Kielbasa Sausage Sandwich. A complete menu of the Seven Seas Food Festival delights can be found online at SeaWorldOrlando.com/SevenSeas.

SeaWorld’s Seven Seas Food Festival begins at 11 a.m. every Saturday, Feb.  11 – May 13 and continues through park close. Like all special events at SeaWorld, the Seven Seas Food Festival is included with park admission.

Best Way to Play:

The best way for guests to experience the Seven Seas Food Festival is with an annual pass. SeaWorld Pass Members can purchase reserved concert seating during an exclusive presale beginning January 19.

For more information, park hours and to purchase tickets, visit www.SeaWorldOrlando.com.  Follow SeaWorld on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest Seven Seas Food Festival details and information.

 

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You may have heard of Paramount Fine Foods with their opening at I-Drive 360 and their butcher shop on Alafaya Trail. They are actually based out of Canada but recently moved into the Florida market with a full sit down restaurant at the I-Drive 360 location. Recently, the owners opened up a fast-casual concept near UCF on University Blvd in the former location of Pie Five Pizza, which was Greens and Grille before that for many years.

We were recently invited to check out the new restaurant. It’s a very simple concept – very much similar to a Mediterranean version of Chipotle where guests go up to the counter and order.

Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando

You start with a base, choosing from:

Rice Bowl
Tabbouleh Salad
Hummus Bowl
Fattoush Salad
Saj Wrap
Greek Salad
Pita Wrap

and then pick a meat or main:

Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando

Chicken Shawarma
Beef Shawarma
Chicken Kebab
Kafta
Falafel

and sides:

Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando

Lettuce
Diced Tomato
Parsley
Onion Mix
Pickled Turnips
Pickled Cucumbers

My favorite cuts are the beef and chicken shawarma with the pickled turnips and Lebanese rice. Very filling and delicious. The desserts are freshly made in house as well with a baker (except for the baklava).

Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Pita wrap at Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Pita wrap at Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Fried Falafel – for the vegetarian lovers – at Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Surprisingly very good french fries at Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando
Beef stuffed Kibbeh – kind of like Lebanese empanadas – very delicious – at Paramount Lebanese Kitchen at UCF Orlando

Overall, I would definitely come back to try their very affordable and delicious Mediterranean style bowls and wraps again.  The meat was tender and flavorful, and the rice and pickled veggies complimented every thing quite well. Although the staff seemed to still be training at the time, this is understandable as things are still just coming together at the store.

 

Paramount Lebanese Kitchen UCF
11325 University Blvd, Suite 206, Orlando, 32817
407-203-3219
http://www.paramountfinefoodsusa.com/locations/UCF

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Hello Sweeties Candy & Confections is a sweets shop created by Desiree Kurtz in Lakeland, FL. We contacted Desiree with a initial order of English Toffee with Almonds and Pecans because of a craving after trying the Epcot Canadian Pavillion Maple Bark. Desiree added samples of other treats for us to photograph and taste.

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English Toffee with Almonds and Pecans – delicious and balanced between flavors and textures. The toffee sweetness was offset by the semisweet chocolate; however, the toffee is a bit overwhelming when the chocolate dissolved.

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Peanut Brittle – will stick to your teeth. It is a great job security for Dental professionals. Some may say it is too sweet, but I don’t believe it is. One of my favorite treats of all time! I even bring it to class to munch on during lectures and have it as a snack during study sessions.

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White Chocolate covered Peanut Butter Fudge and Peanut Butter Fudge with White Chocolate Drizzle – these are dense, sweet, and creamy. A perfect gift for your significant other, best friend, or business associates to let them know you’re by their side.

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Double and Triple Chocolate Cake Pops – tasty and dense, yet fluffy. Make sure you don’t leave it out too long if you have refrigerated it. It will become soggy. For many of those who do not know, chocolate is not meant to be refrigerated because condensation will form and alter the appearance and texture. Chocolate keeps best between 65 and 70°F, away from direct sunlight, and protected from moisture. However, if you do refrigerate chocolate, allow the chocolate to come down to room temperature before enjoying it because cold chocolate doesn’t melt or disperse flavor as nicely.

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Peppermint Bark Popcorn and S’mores Popcorn – sweet and fluffy. The texture will remain crunchy if kept in the fridge to maintain freshness. It’s a unique twist to have for movie nights or a stroll in the park.

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When we asked Desiree how she came about and decided to create her own sweets company, she replied saying, “A few years back we were pretty short on funds for Christmas so I decided to make candy as gifts for my mom and sisters. It was a hit with all of them so each year for the past few I have made their gifts. I decided to turn it into a business this past Christmas when I realized how much I actually enjoy making sweet treats.”

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This past weekend was The Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown BBQ competition, bringing attention to Central Florida as a BBQ enthusiast destination as Top-Nations Pit-masters (by invitation only) come and put their skills to the test.

Showdown Crowd

The event’s General Admission is 5$ and free for kids 10 and under. Parking was also free with an extended lot away from the Zoo that had shuttles running back and forth every 15 minutes.

Behind the Scenes Food 4

Here was the full day’s Event Schedule for Sonny’s Smokin Showdown:
7:30 AM
Judges Check-In
8:30 AM
Judges Meeting (Mandatory)
12:00 PM
Kid’s Donut Eating Contest
12:30 PM
Cooking Demo
1:00 PM
Rib Eating Contest
1:30 PM
Cooking Demo
2:30 PM
Meet the Masters
3:00 PM
Live Music: Hayfire
5:00 PM
Live Music: Rockit Fly
6:00 PM
Awards Ceremony
7:15 PM
Live Music: Jill’s Cashbox
8:30 PM
Live Music: Frankie Ballard

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As you can see the entire day is filled with family-fun activities as well as entrees to be purchased a la carte from local vendors.

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There was a designated kid’s area so you won’t have to worry about the young ones getting bored while you chomp away!

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The lines will get pretty long so I’d get there early so you would beat the rush.

DSC03604 There are a lot of different price points but pretty much everything is affordable so you’re not breaking the bank to get full.

Behind the Scenes Food 2

Behind the Scenes Food 6

Behind the Scenes Food 5

All the Pit-Masters were hard at work keeping up with the crowd’s appetite & making sure everything is fresh and tasty! Here’s a list of the 2017 competitors:


Swineholio
Mcadoo Heights BBQ
Accutech BBQ
Lo’ -N- Slo’ BBQ
Panther Creek COOKers
High i Que
The Smoking Hills
Big Show Cookin’ Team
Wolf’s Revenge BBQ
Lucky’s Q
INHOGNITO
Road Crew BBQ
Lang BBQ smokers
Honky Tonk Smokers
Sauced! BBQ
Sweet Smoke Q
Smoke This
The Pit Crew, Ga
Big Ugly’s BBQ
Czech Cherokee
Top choice BBQ
Team Unknown BBQ
Holy Smokes
Swamp Boys
Budmeisters bbq team
Uncle Kenny”s BBQ
Smokin’ Hoggz BBQ
Buckshot BBQ
Victory Lane BBQ
Serial Griller
Checkered Pig
Hot Wachula’s
Real South BBQ
All In Que
Smoking Butt Heads
Helping U BBQ
Hot Mess BBQ
Iowa’s Smokey D’s BBQ
Quetopia
big daddy Q
Balch’s Blazin bbq
Smokin’ Lonestar
Oklahoma Joe’s Serious Que
One Man Pits

The invitations-only competitors battled it out in different meat categories such as ribs, chicken, brisket etc.. as well as a bonus mystery meat category ( which did not count in overall scores).

Among the competitiors, Cajun Blaze Competition BBQ took home the Grand Championship as well as $20,000 out of $68,000.

A huge congratulations to the team!

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There are tons of other vendors for you to peruse around and check out the merchandise booths.

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Overall it was definitely a fun-filled day that was meant to bring every BBQ lovers to central Florida. Make sure to catch the event next year!

Catch more scenes from the event on Sonny’s Smoking Showdown Invitational.

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Disney is collaborating with Heart of Florida United Way 25th annual Chef’s Gala which will take place on Saturday Feb. 4th, 2017.  A night full of exquisite cuisine from more than 20 of Central Florida’s Top chefs, along with thoughtfully paired fine wines, live music, and silent auction.  United Way’s largest fundraiser, Chef’s Gala will benefit local programs that provide food, shelter and other services to thousands of central Floridians in need.

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This year’s Gala will feature one of Disney’s newest and experimental restaurant- Tiffin’s. Laying in Animal Kingdom Tiffin’s tells the stories of the travels and expeditions of the imagineers, especially Joe Rohde’s.

There are three main dining rooms, one holding it’s own unique story and experience, we were seated in the Harambe, Africa room as we prepare to chomp the global inspired menu.

We started with a trio of appetizers.

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  1. Lobster-Popcorn Thai Curry Soup
  2. Roasted Baby Beets
  3. Marinated

The star of the Trio was definitely the Lobster-Popcorn Thai Curry Soup with Basil Emulsion. It definitely packs a flavorful punch and slight hint of lemon grass.

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Tamarind-Glazed Short-Rib had a cauliflower puree and vegetable variations to accompany it. Incredibly tender. Smokey and slightly sweetened by the glaze.  This dish will be featured at the 2017 United Way’s Chef’s Gala.

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Hosin-Glazed Grouper with forbidden rice hidden inside swiss chard with a turmeric sauce. Every bite into this dish was so delightful! There were great textures and arrays of notes definitely one of my favorite dishes by Tiffins.

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We ended with some dessert sample (From Top left to Bottom Right)

  1. Passion Fruit Tapioca
  2. Calamansi Mousse
  3. Lime Cheesecake
  4. South American Chocolate Ganache

The variations in the dessert really shows how versatile Tiffin’s menu really is. Along with the great menu options the restaurants also holds many exciting adventures that will entice the guests.

 

Tiffins

Theme park exploration-inspired restaurant/lounge serving African, Indian & South American cuisine.
 
Address: 2901 Osceola Pkwy, Discovery Island, Orlando, FL 32830

Heart of Florida United Way Chef’s Gala

Recognized as the region’s premier food and wine pairing event, Heart of Florida United Way Chef’s Gala features exquisite cuisine from more than 20 of Central Florida’s top chefs, along with thoughtfully paired fine wines, live music and a silent auction. Hosted by Walt Disney World Resort and raising nearly $300,000 each year, Chef’s Gala is historically United Way’s largest fundraiser for education, income, health and basic needs programs that serve thousands of Central Floridians in need.

2017 Participating Restaurants

Artist Point – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
blu on the avenue
California Grill – Disney’s Contemporary Resort
deep blu Seafood Grille – Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek
Jiko – The Cooking Place – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Jungle Skipper Canteen – Magic Kingdom® Park
La Luce
Le Cellier Steakehouse – Epcot®
Narcoossee’s – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Primo by Melissa Kelly – J.W. Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes
Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant
Soco Restaurant
STK Orlando – Disney Springs
Tiffins – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Todd English’s bluezoo – Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort
Disney’s Boardwalk
Urban Tide – Hyatt Regency Orlando
Yachtsman Steakhouse – Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts

Desserts & Coffee:

Amorette’s Patisserie – Disney Springs
Bake Me A Cake
Disney’s Yacht & Beach Bakery – Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Co.

  • Heart of Florida United Way

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Midici, a Neopolitan Pizza Company just recently opened their doors to guests on December 30th, 2016 in Kissimmee, FL.

I will go ahead and address the question- Another Pizza Place? I understand this shoulder shrugging when it comes to a new franchise in town. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty everything I ordered was. I actually fell in love with the restaurant a little more when I began talking to the staff and understand the concepts behind the restaurant.

Sticking to the Neopolitan brand they have their ingredients shipped from Naples and their flour is strictly just flour, double zero, natural salt, yeast, and water.

I started off with the House Meat and Cheese (16) which included black truffle cheese (sottocenere al tartufo), goat cheese, parmigiano-reggiano, black truffle salami (tartufo), prosciutto di Parma, spicy Italian salami (calabrese). served with gourmet pickles, 2 mustards, fresh pears, king walnuts, organic honey, and wood fire-toasted ciabatta bread.

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As well as the Burrata with Beets & Balsamic (6) fresh soft burrata cheese, all natural red beets, lemon vinaigrette. Amazing textures for a simple dish.

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My guest had the  House Made Italian Peeled Tomato Soup (6) Traditional thick Italian soup made with crushed peeled tomatoes imported from Italy, parmigiano-reggiano, housemade pesto, wood fire-toasted ciabatta bread croutons, fresh organic sweet basil. (can be requested gluten-free)

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We choose 3 different pizzas from the menu

Truffle and Vegetables Pizza (14) truffle cream, fresh ricotta cheese, all natural fresh mushrooms, all natural Fresno chilis, fresh whole mozzarella, fresh organic sweet basil, organic non-gmo extra virgin olive oil, parmigiano-reggiano, topped with baby arugula and fresh grape tomatoes after bake for a refreshing crunch. This one was hands down my favorite. The touch of truffle was just enough to elevate all the components in the pizza.

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Double Pepperoni (9.5) crushed Italian peeled tomatoes (sauce), fresh whole mozzarella, gourmet pepperoni, spicy Italian salami (calabrese), parmigiano-reggiano, organic non-gmo extra virgin olive oil, fresh organic sweet basil. We added mushrooms to complete Jonathan’s (my guest) usual pizza order and it was said that He can’t go back to Dominoes’ again.

double-pepperoni

We split the Bacon N’ Egg (10) fresh whole mozzarella, all natural applewood smoked bacon, freshly cracked free-range egg, wood fire-roasted fingerling potatoes, oregano, parmigiano-reggiano, fresh organic sweet basil, organic non-gmo extra virgin olive oil (no tomato sauce). My recommendation is to take the crust and scoop up all the delicious yolk on the plate!

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The dinner ended on a rich sweet note with Signature Nutella Calzone & Fresh Berries (6) House Neapolitan dough, light, thin, soft and chewy, baked fresh with Nutella©, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, hidden inside, topped with a hint of balsamic reduction, and shaved coconut. What a decadent treat.

signature-nutella-calzone

Side story- The CEO actually convinced the developer of Nutella to create their product with Non-GMO ingredients so that Midici will stay true to their claim of being a Non-GMO restaurant.

I was able to catch a moment with the CEO of Midici and I had to ask him how is the restaurant able to make any profit since the ingredients are promised to be fresh, imported, and affordable.  He told me it was in the volume that the orders are made. The restaurant encourages the guest to stay and chat to enjoy the ambience and the company of their guests. The enivironment is made to be like a european cafe to get people to stay, sip, and get comfortable.

“People is the best thing to happen to people” is what was relayed to me by the staff. So each franchise location is based on the franchisee versus convenient locations.

Midici is “Fast Fine” is bringing my new year in with a yummy start!

MidiCi The Neapolitan Pizza Company
Address: 720 Centerview Blvd, Kissimmee, FL 34741

 

 

Hey, hey!

So you want to eat cleaner, huh? Every year, millions of Americans head to the gym with the hopes of dropping the holiday pounds, but as many of you know – the secret in the weight loss sauce is really what you consume. For a moment, let’s picture a new you — a you that likes kombucha, tea instead of a frappé and sometimes maybe a salad instead of the fries (blasphemy, I know!)

If you’re reading this, you probably love to eat just as much as I do, so consider committing to make small, but impactful changes every week until they become habits.

Let’s raise a smoothie to the new you in 2017 and explore my favorite places to eat clean in and around Orlando. Because hey, a little kale salad here and there never hurt anyone.

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Eats: Mixed, raw and clean options 

1. The Sanctum | Colonialtown North

Major’s Pick: Shiva Salad (Half Salad) Massaged kale, roasted butternut squash and house-seasoned tempeh with pink lady apples, celery, carrots and raisins. All tossed in curried peanut dressing and finished with candied walnuts, toasted chickpeas and flaked coconuts

2. Dandelion Communitea Cafe | Mills 50 District

Major’s Pick: The Giddyup ($6 on Mondays!): tempeh chili topped with blue corn chips and fresh diced tomatoes. Served with vegan queso or organic dairy cheddar cheese. Get in a bowl or wrap, and check out the new menu! (Tell them Major sent you.)

3. Infusion Tea | College Park

Major’s Pick: Nut & Honey wrap: local honey, organic cashew nut butter, bananas, strawberries, and granola for a sustaining wrap

4. Create Your Nature | Winter Park

Major’s Pick: Nutty By Nature bowl: blueberries, banana, organic granola, almonds, walnuts, pecasn, chia seeds, hemp seeds and local raw honey

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Drinks: Cold-pressed, blended and over ice options 

1. Juice Bar | The Milk District

Major’s Pick: Hale to the Beet Down: apple, kale, orange, lemon ginger

2. Juice’d | Thornton Park

Major’s Pick: Kale Smoothie: apple, banana, ginger, kale, mango, pineapple, spinach *add coconut water

3. Grounding Roots | College Park

Major’s Pick: Sweet Potato, Pineapple & Red Apple

4. New Moon Market | College Park

Major’s Pick: Cheeky Monkey: almond milk, banana, oats, almond butter with maca powder

5. Skyebird | Audubon Park

Major’s Pick: Thai Hot: spinach, celery, cilantro, orange, apple, lime, lemongrass and jalapeño

Share your food adventures with us on Instagram! I’m so excited to see what you let your palate explore in the year!

Snack on,

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

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Crown Maple’s singular, certified-organic maple products are featured at the Canadian Pavilion in Epcot® of Orlando, FL in the form of Maple Bark for Holidays Around the World Epcot®.

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This version Maple Bark contains pecans; it is absolutely delicious as it is not overwhelmingly sweet.

Although we only bought one bag, we wish we bought more.

A bite of the bark with a piece of the pecan on top is well balanced for the palate.

If you missed the Maple Bark from Epcot®, have no fear as you can make your own Maple Bark with this recipe from Epcot® that makes 24 pieces.

Ingredients

3/4 cup pecans
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided 1 1/2 tablespoons maple sugar

Recipe

  1. Combine pecans and sea salt in a medium pan. Toast over medium heat, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes, until brown and fragrant. Chop into small pieces and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Once butter is melted, add sugar and water, stirring continuously until temperature reaches 295°F. Immediately pour onto baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat and spread into a 9×13-inch rectangle. Cool for at least 3 hours.
  3. Melt 3/4 cup chocolate chips in a small bowl and spread over one side of the cooled bark. Immediately sprinkle half of the chopped pecans and maple sugar over the chocolate. Cool for 2 hours, until chocolate is set.
  4. Melt remaining 3/4 cup of chocolate chips. Turn bark over and spread chocolate on the other half of the bark. Sprinkle with remaining chopped pecans and maple sugar. Cool for 2 hours, until chocolate is set.
  5. Break into 24 pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

This recipe has been converted from a larger quantity in the restaurant kitchens. The flavor profile may vary from the restaurant’s version. All recipes are the property of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S., Inc., and may not be reproduced without express permission.

About Crown Maple

From bark to bottle, Crown Maple is a defining ingredient, delivering a gourmet maple experience like no other. Crown Maple is estateproduced from forests comprising the Taconic Hardwood Forest, a unique terroir which extends from the New York Eastern Mid-Hudson Valley to Central Western Vermont. Since the brand’s launch, the distinctive taste and versatility has won over discerning professionals and connoisseurs alike, elevating Crown Maple beyond a sweetener and into a defining ingredient.

All products are certified-organic, pairing the best nature has to offer with artisan craftsmanship and state-of-the-art production technology. From bark to bottle, Crown Maple is sustainably made on 800 acres of pristine land at Madava Farms in Dutchess County, New York, and truly sets the standard of excellence in maple production and flavor.

For more information about Crown Maple and their products, please visit Crown Maple.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The first Capital Grille was founded in Providence, Rhode Island in 1990 and quickly became a staple in the city’s up and coming downtown section. Businessmen were the driving force behind the restaurant’s original popularity, but it has since grown into a celebratory destination for all occasions – from holidays and birthdays to anniversaries and more.

That is true here too in Orlando, with the first Capital Grille opening in the Orange County Convention Area on International Drive and now with a second more modern and updated location at the Mall at Millenia. I’ve always been a big fan – from their great service to excellent quality steaks and ambiance – it’s great for any special occasion, and with the new bar menu, good even for those just stopping by on the way home from work or while shopping at the mall.


The Stoli Doli is the Capital Grille’s signature cocktail, and it is so popular that they pour enough each year to serve the country of Iceland for an entire evening. It’s made with made with Stolichnaya Vodka infused with fresh pineapple, chilled and served straight up.

This holiday season, the Capital Grille is offering several special items to go along with purchases of gift cards. In celebration of this announcement, we have partnered up with The Capital Grille to do a gift card giveaway worth $150. To enter read below:

For the holidays this year, The Capital Grille is helping guests give the gift of a true fine dining experience with a limited edition, stainless steel $1,000 gift card.

In addition, customers purchasing gift cards at The Capital Grille valued at $500 or above will receive an additional 10% added to the gift card’s value, as well as custom steak knives. The gift cards can be personalized with a voice memo or photo.

Other interesting facts:

· They hand make their mozzarella every 90 minutes.
· Their Sam’s Mashed Potatoes are named after The Capital Grille’s founder’s son.
· Skilled Pastry Chefs arrive when the sun rises to make fresh desserts daily.

The Capital Grille at Pointe Orlando
Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Dr · (407) 370-4392
The Capital Grille at The Mall at Millenia
The Mall at Millenia, 4200 Conroy Rd · (407) 351-2210

THE CAPITAL GRILLE $150 GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY CONTEST

One entry per person, winner will be chosen randomly on Friday December 23,2016 at 5pm!

TO ENTER:
1. Subscribe to our E-mail Newsletter -TastyChomps Newsletter here
2. E-mail us the answers to the questions below to tastychomps@gmail.com:
a. Did you subscribe to the e-mail newsletter? Yes/No
b. What dishes would you like to try the most?
c. How often do they make their mozzarella at The Capital Grille?
d. Where was The Capital Grille founded?

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The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes invites you to join the Pastry Team to build your own gingerbread house.

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Gingerbread School price includes a $10 donation to The Children’s Miracle Network and a personalized brick on Santa’s Workshop.

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Guests can use the life-sized gingerbread house in the Lobby for inspiration as they build and assemble their own creation at Santa’s Workshop, while enjoying some complementary drinks (i.e. hot chocolate, water, soda, etc).

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The fun-filled activity begins with guests building the house with pre-baked gingerbread panels on a wooden foundation, then choose from dozens of different types of candy and other edible details to decorate and personalize their house!

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Feel free to invite your significant other, your family, and your friends for a fun time. You will have so much fun that you will lose track of time like I did.

Treats and to-go kits available. Below are photos of containers of candy and bags of other treats to decorate your gingerbread house.

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Below are photos of the house we built with a Florida twist in the back!

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Make sure you don’t leave your house laying around in easy to reach places or your house might have some problems. Our pup couldn’t resist the temptation of how delicious the gingerbread house is from The Ritz-Carlton.

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Event dates are: December 10-11 and December 17-23

  • 9 a.m., 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. (6 p.m. classes on select dates)
  • $195 per family (4 guests per group maximum)

Space is limited for each Gingerbread School event and reservations are required. For more information and reservations, please call (407) 393-4648.

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Kona Grill joins Central Florida at its first location in Winter Park. It is one of the fastest growing restaurants in the US that offers Asian and American dining. It is one of the few restaurants that require all of their employees to try every dish on the menu when they begin working at Kona Grill.

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The Kona Calamari is slightly flavored with a nice and creamy spicy aioli on the side.

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The Yamada Roll is made up of tempera sea bass, crab mix, avocado, cucumber, soy paper, sweet * spicy sauce, and fried wonton silvers. It has a lot of the sauce on it, which can be a tad overwhelming. However, the sweet & spicy sauce is definitely balanced. The roll itself is big and falls apart if you are not careful.

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The Pan-Seared Tuna is made to your liking with rice, baby boo chop, and sweet-chili sauce. The tuna is very tender and can be dipped into the sauce for sweet touch. The baby bak chop is cleaned well and is not soggy. The tuna is fresh and flown in from Hawaii roughly 4 times a week; it can be ordered the night before for the next day.

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The Macadamia Nut Chicken is served with house mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, shoyu cream, and pineapple-papaya marmalade. The shoyu cream is unique and buttery. The chicken is very moist and the macadamia nut crust adds a nice contrast to the texture of the chicken. The mashed potatoes has unique notes at the end and the seasoned vegetables are made well as they are not overcooked.

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The Spiced Apple Bread Pudding is topped with candied walnuts, vanilla bean ice cream, and caramel sauce. There are wonderful scents and taste notes of cinnamon. You can taste the freshness of the ingredients in every bite. Every bit of this dessert is well balanced when combined in each bite. The candied walnuts are delicious on their own with a slight sweetness that is not overwhelming.

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The Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée is a passion fruit infused custard. There are hints of passion fruit. It is tasty and the texture is not too thick.

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The Moscow Mule consists of Tito’s Vodka, ginger beer, and lime. It is made strong at Kona so be prepared.

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The Strawberry Basil Lemonade is made with Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum, lemonade, basil, strawberry, and sprite. It is sweet and smooth.

Kona Grill Address: 110 S Orlando Ave #12, Winter Park, FL 32789

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With a swarm of the undead ambling around, Boardwalk Bowl is calling all would-be zombie hunters to help us defeat the zombies with a new, one-of-a-kind attraction, Zombie Boardwalk. The shooting-gallery style attraction fills 4,000-square-feet of Boardwalk Bowl, and it incorporates lifelike zombie figures that make perfect target practice.

While you’re there, taste some items on their menu. Below are photos of dishes we tried during our visit.

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Known for its epic sunrise to sunset views of the airport runway, the new Hemisphere at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport features a $3 million re-design of the 3,000 square-foot restaurant.

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The stylish new environment is a huge upgrade from the 1990s era setting it once had.

Led by Executive Chef Jeffery Powell, Hemisphere’s culinary team has designed a menu that infuses robust international flavors and seasonal local ingredients.

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Dinner highlights include Moroccan-inspired, dukka-crusted Lamb Chops, Grilled Gulf Prawns and a Wagyu Grass-Fed Beef Burger. The Hemisphere beverage menu complements the world kitchen concept with a carefully curated collection of wines and cocktails from each hemisphere. The wine cuvees are filled with 16 wine varietals from different regions around the globe.

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“My culinary philosophy is to work with local farmers to acquire the freshest ingredients available. Using complementary ingredients and showcasing each component through simple preparation and proper technique creates integrity and depth of flavor,” said Powell.

Powell’s culinary point of view mirrors Hyatt’s global philosophy –Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served. –and is reflected in the global offerings at McCoy’s Bar and Grill and the re-imagined Hemisphere restaurant, slated to make its debut in November2016.

At home, Powell enjoys cooking braised meats, practices slow cooking methods and explores new ingredients such as Moringa, an African green very high in vitamin C with other added health benefits.

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AVOCADO TOAST
tomato jam, tangy queso fresco, radish,pea tendrils
$8.95

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BURRATA MOZZARELLA
blood orange, pickled mustard seeds, micro greens, fire roasted bread
$11.95

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ROASTED BABY BEETS
whipped mascarpone, shaved fennel, pistachios, citrus zest, organic olive oil
$9.95

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HARICOT VERTS
nduja, red onions,organic sunny side up cage free egg
$10.95

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SOFT SHELL CRAB
fried green tomato, boursin, grits, arugula salad, smoked tomato vinaigrette, trinity relish
$15.95

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CHEF’S SIGNATURE PORK BELLY
slow pickled blueberries, candied jalapenos, sun choke puree
$16.95

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CHURRASCO STRIP STEAK
heirloom tomatoes, red onions, frisee, arugula,chimichurri
$28.95

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KEY LIME CHOUX AU CRAQUELIN
with torched meringue
10

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SAFFRON ARBORIO KHEER
cardamom fudge, pistachio mousse, pistachio tuile
10

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PLUM RAINDROP CAKE
fresh strawberries, lychee, orchid petals, toasted ground almonds
10

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PASILLA MOLTEN LAVA CAKE
licorice gelato, ginger snap sable
12

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BLACK FOREST PETIT GATEAUX
amarina cherry, chocolate cake, whipped cream quenelle
10

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Complimentary valet parking is available for all Hemisphere guests.Monthly wine dinners and seasonal brunches will be announced soon.

Hemisphere at Orlando International Airport
9300 Jeff Fuqua Boulevard
Orlando, FL 32827
www.hemisphererestaurant.com
407.825.1234
OpenTable Reservations: http://www.opentable.com/r/hemisphere-orlando

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