Orlando

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Move over Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, there is a new Queen in town. Swords clanging, sparks flying, horses galloping – it is all a family-fun filled evening of gallantry and surprisingly good chicken.

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament has ushered in a new royal ruler as the lead role at the wildly popular Central Florida production. This past spring on April 19th, Medieval Times broke from tradition with a QUEEN taking over the King’s 34-year reign over the Orlando Castle.

This matriarchal move comes as a positive result of guest feedback on the roles that women played within the fantasy story-telling production, and is accompanied by a new script and storyline, new costumes, new music and more. It has already been unveiled at Medieval Times castles in Dallas, Chicago, New Jersey and Buena Park, CA and will debut at four additional North American castles following Orlando’s launch.

Tickets for the dinner and show start as low as $36.95, making it an attractive alternative for families looking for an evening of fun, or even groups of adults celebrating everything from birthdays to corporate events.

“Our new female queen is a sign of the times and we couldn’t be more excited to bring her to Florida,” said Doug Dorn, Medieval Times Orlando, FL General Manager. “The queen is fully in-charge. Her authority is sometimes challenged, but she quickly asserts herself as a strong leader.

Medieval Times’ Orlando, FL venue is the first castle to open and has entertained more than 20 million guests since 1986. The iconic Central FL castle performs more than 600 shows per year, that’s a lot of chicken!

In addition to epic battles of steel and swordplay, to royal falconry and horsemanship, there is an elaborate four-course meal fit for royalty (including vegetarian options), and the wide variety of libations and spirits, make for a festive evening of food and fun.

Medieval Times’ noble guests feast on garlic bread, tomato bisque soup, succulent roasted chicken, sweet buttered corn, herb-basted potatoes, the pastry of the Castle, coffee and two rounds of select beverages. Of course, it is the middle ages, so you will be eating with your hands. Don’t worry – wet naps are available upon request.

Royal Court’s Vegetarian Meals includes hummus, warm pita bread, carrot and celery sticks, three-bean stew with fire roasted tomato and brown rice, fresh fruit or Italian ice, coffee and two rounds of select beverages. Vegetarian meals available upon request.

In addition to the debut of the queen character and storyline, the new production features:

  • More than 700 new costumes for all nine castles’ performers including horses, all of which are custom-designed and hand-made at a dedicated costume shop near the Dallas Design District.
  • Two hundred new suits of armor, shields and helmets, all custom-designed and hand-made at a dedicated armory in Florida.
  • More than 350 team members and 225 horses who have rehearsed new lines and fight scenes for three months while still presenting the current show.
  • This include the queens undergoing an intense two months of training to become experts at riding the impressive Andalusian stallion for the new show.
  • New music composed by Dr. Daniel May, the composer and jazz pianist who scored “Everest” and other films, and has worked with notables such as Sting and The Moody Blues. He directed and recorded Medieval Times’ new show composition in Kiev with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine. This includes directing the choir in Ukraine with lyrics written by notable poet and choir member Solomia Gorokhivska.
  • A live-action film score precisely synchronized with every element of the show, from lights to fights; jousts to jabs; the Queen’s entry to curtain closings; and more.
  • A sound and light production featuring 120 hours of programming with 300 new music cues and 500 new lighting cues. Orlando, FL is one of several castles installing and programming a new LED lighting system that offers 256 colors versus the old 14-color system. The system is powered by 10 miles of cable and an estimated $1 million upgrade.

For more, visit www.medievaltimes.com.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/medievaltimes
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/medieval_times/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MedievalTimes
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/medievaltimes/

We got a sneak peak of the 2018 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. This 75 day long festival has 95 new food or beverage experiences. There’s a load of different kinds of family friendly fun that’s being launched this year such as candy sushi,  the Disney Du Jour Dance Party, three different new market places, nine new artists for the Eat to the Beat concert series, brand new seminars and having brunch with one of the celebrity chefs. 

First thing’s first, what’s on the menu this year? Let’s have a look.

Shown above is the Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Vinaigrette, Parmesan Cheese and Pumpkin Seeds by The Wine & Dine Studio.

Another item is the new Brunswick Slider: Slow-braised Beef Brisket “Pot Roast Style” with Horseradish Cream and Crispy Fried Onions on a Potato Roll with Pickled Vegetables on the side by Hops & Barley 

For those with a sweet tooth this will surely satisfy.  On the left side of the plates is Maple Bourbon Boursin Cheesecake with Maple Bourbon Cream, Caramel and Pecan Crunch by The Cheese Studio and on the right is Chocolate Picante: Dark Chocolate Mouse with Cayenne Pepper, Chili Powder and Mango by Flavors from Fire.  

Below is another dish from Flavors from Fire. They showcased Charred Chimichurri Skirt Steak on a Smoked Corn Cake with Pickled Vegetable Slaw and Cilantro Aioli. 

 Brazil featured a Moqueca: Brazilian Seafood Stew featuring Scallops, Shrimp and White Fish with Coconut-Lime Sauce and Steamed Rice shown below.

A flight of beer was also given out for us to try. It was a red, green and blue, none of which had food coloring in it. Red was the most approachable, green was stronger and blue was the strongest.

Besides the food and alcohol, we got to look at this years merchandise for the festival. John Rivers, founder and owner of 4 Rivers Steak House was also there to talk about his new food truck that he will be opened at Disney Springs and his new creation he’ll be serving. “Mexican places have taco salad but it’s kind of boring. Well, not boring, it’s very traditional. With people walking around, it would be very hard for them to eat. So, we came up with a different idea- we put it into a cone,” says Rivers. 

After I was done with the event, I enjoyed the five free fast passes given to us on our admission ticket. I was also given a goodie bag containing a 25 dollar gift card to use anywhere in Epcot (that was well spent) , chocolates, pancake mix, an exclusive Disney bottle opener and more!

Dave Kesting, general manager of Disney festivals says, “you wont be able to do it all in one day. Pace yourself, look a lot at the passport, find the items that you would like to see and use that as your guide to go around the festival.” 

 

  

 

30-year-old Orlando firefighter Lt. Emmanuel “Manny” Washington placed 3rd in this past season of the Food Network Star competition but he was #1 in our hearts this past weekend at his fun and entertaining cooking demonstration.

We were invited to check out Chef Manny FD’s “Build a Better Breakfast” live cooking demonstration this past weekend and we really enjoyed our time at his cooking class!  We learned how to prepare healthy and delicious breakfast meals and Chef Manny FD was genuinely funny.  He had us cracking up the entire time!  We were incredibly impressed with not only his cooking skills but also his teaching skills.  Chef Manny FD was able to teach a fun and interactive cooking class for all ages and skill levels.  You need to check out his upcoming family-friendly cooking demonstrations if you’re in the Central Florida area!

You can follow Chef Manny FD on facebook, twitter and instagram at “chefmannyfd” to stay up to date on his upcoming cooking demonstrations.

Chef Manny FD’s beautiful grandmother Georgia Bell welcoming the class.

Damian Priester, owner of Prestige Fitness, co-hosting the cooking demonstration.

Strawberry Pineapple Frozen Yogurt demo

Sweet Potato & Spinach Frittata demo

Vegetable Fritters with Chipotle Sour Cream demo

Hebni Nutrition Consultants, Inc.
2009 W Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32805
(407) 872-1333

We were recently invited to visit Clearwater Beach by the lovely folks at Wyndham Rewards to check out their Ocean Hai restaurant at Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach, recently awarded Four Diamonds by AAA.

The restaurant has a strong emphasis on seafood and pan-Asian cuisine featuring sumptuous sushi and sashimi platters to succulently pan-seared sea bass, all prepared under the culinary eye of Executive Chef Sean Ragan. Dishes are prepared with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, including seafood and farm-raised meats and poultry.

Chef Sean Ragan has over 25 years of professional experience in the hospitality and restaurant industries, previously working at Caretta on the Gulf at the Sandpearl Resort.

Throughout his career, he had been handpicked to train with highly regarded chefs such as Julia Child, Paul Prudhomme and Martin Yan, and cooked for other top restaurants including Oystercatchers under Chef Hans Hickel and Innisbrook Golf Resort and Spa as Executive Sous Chef. Most recently, Chef Ragan was named the 2015 Best Chef of Clearwater Beach – and the fine dishes at Ocean Hai live up to his curriculum vitae.

Born in New York, Chef Ragan was exposed to a melting pot of flavors and cultures, developing a passion for cooking and global cuisine. He received his degree with honors in Culinary Arts and Hotel Restaurant Management in 1994 from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. He is also ACF Certified, a recipient of the honored Le Cordon Bleu Medallion and belongs to the historic and distinguished Chaine des Rotisseurs and Societe Mondiale du Vin.

On our visit, we experienced the Omakase – “Chef’s Choice” – multi course tasting menu designed to allow guests to experience a sample of all of Ocean Hai’s cuisine. The cost is usually $75 per person with an optional $25 add on for wine pairings to go along with the dishes.

The first dish of the evening: Lobster Fried Rice, a decidedly elevated take on the traditional fried rice, with delicate pieces of lobster, saffron rice, crispy shallots, and topped with a sunny side up egg. I could not get enough of this dish!

Our second dish of the evening was the Tetsubin Miso Soup – the humble miso soup is brought to new heights here, with smoky charred tofu and smoked mussel, and finished tableside with a pour over from a hot kettle with dashi miso broth miso.

The next course, a delightful compressed watermelon salad that was truly a work of art – cubed, pressed watermelon, heirloom tomato, marinated feta cheese, slices of cucumbers, dollops of basil pesto, and some soy gastrique drizzle. It sings of summer.

To highlight their sushi, we tried their nigiri sushi sampler, with ultra-fresh slices of tuna, salmon, and yellowtail fish that had me reminiscing some time ago in Tokyo, Japan.

For the entree, my dining partner had the pan-seared then broiled Asian Sea Bass, a succulent flaky sea bass with a nice crisp from the pan sear, on top of black Forbidden rice with some sugar snap peas, shiitake mushrooms, and microgreens.

My entree was the Mongolian Lamb Chops, perfectly seared and delicious chops of lamb, accented by a dash of Chinese five spice, and served alongside roasted eggplant, baby bok choy, and crystalized ginger.

The evening ended on a high note – dessert that was playful and delightful – ube / purple yam “twinkie” and deconstructed strawberry cheesecake. Art on a plate. From start to finish, Ocean Hai soared to new heights in Asian cuisine.

Lobster Fried Rice | Saffron Rice | Peas & Carrot | Sunny Side Egg | Crisp shallot | Sweet Soy 20

Tetsubin Miso Soup | Dashi Broth | Smoked Mussel | Charred Tofu | Wakame 9

Compressed Watermelon | Heirloom Tomato | Marinated Feta | Cucumber | Basil Pesto | Soy Gastrique 11

Nigiri Sampler – Tuna, Salmon, Yellowtail Nigiri SushiAsian Sea Bass | Forbidden Rice | Sugar Snap | Shiitake Mushroom | Micro Green 38

Mongolian Lamb Chops | Roasted Eggplant | Baby Bok Choy | Edamame Yogurt | Crystalized ginger 42

Deconstructed Strawberry Shortcake DessertPurple Ube Twinkies

If you do come to Ocean Hai, make sure to plan to have dinner while the sun sets over the shimmering waters of the Gulf.

From Wyndham Rewards

  • Wyndham Rewards recognizes ordinary, hard working men and women for what they do every day. From the annual vacationer to the frequent traveler, no matter how often our members stay with us, they are all united under the same loyalty program.
  • Go free – With just 15,000 points, you’ve earned a free night at any Wyndham Rewards hotel. 15,000 points = a free night. It’s that simple.
  • Go fast – Get a room night at a Wyndham Rewards hotel for just 3,000 points, plus some cash.
  • Go get ‘em – For every qualified stay you’ll get 10 points for every dollar or 1,000 points, whichever is more.
  • Wyndham Rewards: InstagramTwitterFacebookOfficial Website 
  • Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach: InstagramTwitterFacebookOfficial Website 
  • Official Hashtags: #WyndhamGrand, #WyndhamGrandClearwaterBeach, #LiveGrand, #GrandLife

Stay and dinner at Ocean Hai provided by Wyndham Rewards and Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach. All other views are my own.

PIMENTO CRUNCH SANDWICH- crispy chicken, homemade pimento cheese, bibb lettuce, sea salt potato chips, bacon

PDQ, the abbreviation for “People Dedicated to Quality” opens today on the corner of Minnesota and Orlando Ave.  We got a first look of the restaurant yesterday during their media preview and we were very impressed with this new addition in the Winter Park area.  At PDQ you can expect great service and great-tasting food that is always fresh, never frozen.

This is their fourth location in Central Florida with two more locations coming soon in Waterford Lakes & Altamonte Springs.

Chef Mark’s son, Riley, working hard at the PDQ opening.

Riley’s mom told me that this was his 5th PDQ opening!

PDQ – Winter Park operator Cody Langford with his new crate!!  Every PDQ operator gets to design their own crate.

THAI PEANUT BOWL – crispy chicken, broccoli, mango salsa, peanuts, toasted coconut, rice, thai peanut sauce

YIA YIA’S GREEK SALAD – grilled chicken, mixed greens, red bell peppers, marinated cucumbers & tomatoes, kalamata olives, pepperoncini, feta, hummus, pickled onion, lemon-chile vinaigrette

CHILE-LIME CORN – sautéed corn with feta & scallions

ZUCCHINI FRIES – hand-breaded fresh zucchini with choice of homemade sauce

LOADED TOTS

HAND-BREADED TENDERS WITH FRIES

ALL THE SAUCES!

GENERAL TSO BOWL – available for a limited time only so it get it fast before it’s gone!

Be sure to check out PDQ – Winter Park the next time you are in the area!

PDQ – Winter Park
925 S Orlando Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 605-2312
eatpdq.com

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On August 16, 2018, Universal’s Aventura Hotel became Universal Orlando’s sixth hotel. The “prime value” hotel features 600 rooms, including 13 kids’ suites, and 17 floors, bringing the total number of hotel rooms at Universal Orlando to 6,200.

Special Grand Opening Rates
Rates start as low as $97 per night for a seven-night stay and $116 per night for a four-night stay in a standard room. When booking, guests will receive a free $50 hotel dining credit (per room) with a four-night stay or a free $100 hotel dining credit (per room) with a seven-night stay or longer. This special introductory offer is valid for reservations booked by September 30, 2017 for stays from August 1 to December 20, 2018.

Guests who stay at Universal’s Aventura Hotel will receive exclusive benefits including Early Park Admission to Universal’s theme parks, complimentary resort-wide transportation and charging privileges with a room key and more.

Universal’s Aventura Hotel will offer tech-savvy accommodations, including in-room tablets that allow guests to order pizza to their rooms in addition to controlling many of the rooms’ features like the TV and room temperature controls. The hotel will also include a virtual reality game room.

Bar 17 Bistro – Universal’s Aventura Hotel will feature Universal Orlando’s first-ever rooftop bar & grill, Bar 17 Bistro. Guests will be able to enjoy cocktails and small plates inspired by global cuisine, while taking in stunning views of all three Universal Orlando theme parks and the Orlando skyline.

Bao Buns – an entire section of their menu that features bao buns, with fillings that range from braised pork belly to lamb satay to tempura baby vegetable.

Firebird cocktail – made with tequila, jalapeno, strawberry and cilantro – a refreshing cocktail with just the right amount of kick.

Summer Beet & Glazed Fig Salad

Pineapple Turmeric Lemonade mocktail

Wagyu beef sliders

Urban Pantry – Universal’s Aventura Hotel will introduce something new and different to Orlando’s theme park food scene. Urban Pantry will be Aventura Hotel’s modern food hall. Here guests will enjoy diverse flavors, fresh ingredients and globally inspired dishes. Inspired by world-famous food halls and markets found in major cities like San Francisco and London, Urban Pantry fits perfectly into the contemporary and stylish vibe at Aventura Hotel.

Urban Pantry – Roast Station 2

The Roast Station will feature entrees like cuts of lamb and prime rib, plus chicken, salmon and paella. You can pair these dishes with sides like quinoa, couscous, roasted marble potatoes, spinach and seasonal veggies.

Urban Pantry – Pizza Station

At the Pizza Station you can watch chefs create mouthwatering pizzas topped with gourmet ingredients like prosciutto and smoked salmon. These are baked in high-temperature stone ovens with seating designed to let you watch your pie in the making. For dessert, indulge in a gelato sandwich, a pressed sweet bread bun filled with hazelnut chocolate and gelato.

Wok Station from Urban Pantry at Universal’s Aventura Hotel

The Wok Station lets you customize a hearty, healthy bowl of fresh ingredients. Choose stir fry or ramen-style, then pick your protein like steak, chicken, shrimp or tofu and top it off with your choice of vegetables. This station will also offer a selection of sushi and appetizers like tuna poke, crab spring rolls and dumplings.

Urban Pantry – Burger

The Burger Station serves delicious handhelds with your choice of grass-fed beef, Black Angus beef, turkey burger or vegetarian burger garnished with an assortment of cheeses and toppings like aged Gouda, bacon and fig jam, and roasted mushrooms. If you’re craving seafood, dive into the Florida Grouper sandwich. Don’t forget to add a pickle, French fries and savory dipping sauces.

Here are some more photos inside the new Aventura Hotel:

You must check out Big Fin Seafood Kitchen this year during Magical Dining Month if you want a delicious meal for a great value.  Big Fin Seafood Kitchen, voted “Best Seafood Restaurant in Orlando“,  offers global, fresh seafood, steaks and pasta, on Sand Lake Road.  This is their 9th year participating in Magical Dining Month.

What is Magical Dining Month?

  • 3 courses – Appetizer, Entrèe, and Dessert
  • Price: $35 per person plus tax & gratuity
  • Over 100 + participating restaurants
  • Beginning August 24 through September 30
  • Through Visit Orlando, one dollar from each meal will benefit Best Buddies and Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida.
    Click here to view menu and make reservations

Choice of Appetizer

½ Dozen Freshly Shucked Raw Oysters – can be served raw (1st pic) or steamed (2nd pic)


Caesar Salad – Romaine, Parmesan cheese, garlic croutons

Cup of the Soup of the Day – Manhattan Clam Chowder

Choice of Entrèe


Shrimp Orleans – blackened shrimp, spinach, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, crawfish Parmesan grits with a Cajun cream sauce

Broiled Main Lobster Tail – served with garlic mashed potatoes and French style green beans

Filet Mignon – served with garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus

Big Fin Trio – deep fried popcorn shrimp, bay scallops and catfish served with French fries and coleslaw

Upgrade: Add a 3 oz broiled lobster tail to any entree +$12

Choice of Dessert

“Apple Pie” Bread Pudding – braised cinnamon apples, salted caramel sauce, crumb topping, vanilla ice cream

Ooey Gooey – a gooey-layered pie cake topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and raspberry (ask your server for today’s flavor)

Key Lime Pie – a Florida favorite topped with whipped cream & a lime slice

Thank you Visit Orlando for hosting us and thank you Big Fin Seafood Kitchen for the amazing dinner and service!

Big Fin Seafood Kitchen
8046 Via Dellagio Way Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 615-8888

Seared Grouper Papparadelle – housemade pappardelle pasta, fresh peas, asparagus, pecan bacon, parmigian cheese broth

We were invited to The Alfond Inn for an exclusive press preview featuring a Hamilton’s Kitchen new menu tasting with Chef Stephen Doyle, a happy hour art tour of newly installed art as part of the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art with new Cornell Fine Arts Museum Curator Gisela Carbonell, and a champagne toast finale in the Conservatory, in honor of The Alfond Inn’s 5th anniversary on Saturday, Aug.18.

In the last five years, The Alfond Inn has made it on:

  • Travel + Leisure Best 100 Hotels in the World
  • Travel + Leisure Top 15 Best City Hotels in the Continental U.S.
  • U.S. News & World Report Top Hotels in Orlando, Condé Nast Traveler
  • Readers’ Choice Awards Top 10 Hotels in the U.S.
  • Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards Gest Hotels in Florida
  • AAA Four Diamond Award
  • Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence

Walnut Crusted Halibut – orzo pasta, petite spinach, lemon-dill Amish butter

Lemon Sage Chicken Gnocchi – Lake Meadows Chicken, basil-ricotta gnocchi, summer vegetables, lemon-herb butter sauce

Colorado Lamb Lollipop Chops – local mushroom risotto, balsamic maple bliss glaze, caramelized Brussels sprouts

Thank you for the invite, Kathy Hernandez & thank you for hosting us, The Alfond Inn!

The Alfond Inn
300 E New England Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789
thealfondinn.com
(407) 278-8159

El Cubano – roasted pork, black forrest ham, swiss cheese, mustard, house pickles with a side of tostones and a glass of virgin mojito

Dine in Plancha in Four Seasons Orlando from Monday, Aug. 20 through Saturday, Aug. 25 and enjoy a fabulous special of the El Cubano sandwich & choice of side for only $9 in honor of National Cuban Sandwich Day!  Regular price is $18 so that is an awesome deal.  Plancha is my favorite spot at Four Seasons Orlando for lunch.  The food and drinks there are really good!

Other special offers:

  • $5 mojitos (can be made virgin as well) on National Cuban Sandwich Day, Thursday, Aug. 23.
  • Happy Hour half off drinks from 3-6pm every Mon-Fri.

Plancha is a Cuban-American restaurant located in the stylish Tranquil Golf Clubhouse at Four Seasons Orlando, just a few minutes away from Disney Springs.  They are open daily from 11am-6pm.  You do not need a hotel reservation to dine there.  They have ample parking spots in their lot.

I highly recommend the following appetizers to go along with your El Cubano sandwich:

Tuna Tartare – avocado, ginger coconut vinaigrette, red onions, micro greens, jalapeño, tostones

Guacamole – Roasted corn relish, naan chips, Parmesan cheese

Chorizo Flatbread – smoked chorizo, crispy shallots, piquillo pepper sauce, manchego, cream cheese, arugula

Plancha Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort
10100 Dream Tree Boulevard Orlando, FL 32836
(407) 313-7777
fourseasons.com/content/dam/fourseasons/images/web/ORL/PDF/ORL-Plancha-Lunch-Menu.pdf

Pork Chop – sweet potato puree, collard greens, onion jam

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month is fast approaching!  We were invited to James Beard Award nominee, The Ravenous Pig to preview their 3-course (appetizer, entrée and dessert) Magical Dining Month menu.  The menu is available to the public Friday, August 24 through Sunday, September 30 for $35 plus tax & gratuity. This year, through Visit Orlando, one dollar from each meal will benefit Best Buddies and Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida.

Choice of Appetizer

Steak Tartare – capers, egg, shallot, toast

Shrimp & Grits – Cape Canaveral shrimp, Anson Mills grits, green tomato chutney, chorizo oil

Gatherer Salad – baby greens, avocado, pickled beets, radish, goat cheese, pistachio granola, herb vinaigrette

Choice of Entrèe

Mushroom Risotto – summer mushrooms, parmesan broth, chili oil with black truffle supplement

Black Grouper – chana masala, cucumber raita

Pork Porterhouse upgrade

Choice of Dessert

Coffee Panna Cotta – persimmon sorbet, chocolate cardamom shortbread, compressed persimmons

Spiced Citrus Cake – elderflower chantilly, bay leaf crumble, poached pears

Thank you Sweet Rockaway PR for the invite and thank you Chef James Petrakis and The Ravenous Pig for the amazing service and dinner!  Be sure to check out The Ravenous Pig this year for Magical Dining Month!

For more information, please visit: visitorlando.com/magicaldining/restaurants/The-Ravenous-Pig/44356/

The Ravenous Pig
565 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 628-2333

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Happy Hour just got a lot happier in Winter Park.

First, there were Happy Hour drink specials from 4 –7 p.m., then a second round of Happy Hour drink specials added from 9 p.m. – close … and now, Bulla Gastrobar in Winter Park is adding tapas to the Happy Hour lineup.

From 4 – 7 p.m. Monday through Sunday, guests can enjoy discounted tapas and half off all beer, wine and liquors at the bar.

· Bulla’s happy hour is available daily from 4-7 p.m.

· All beer, wine and liquors (including cocktails) are half off for happy hour

· $2 pours of draught craft beer, $3 bottles

· $6 craft cocktails

· $4-$5 glasses of sangria

· $4.50-$8.50 glasses of wine

· Three boards and nine small plates are featured on Bulla’s new happy hour

We got a sneak peek at the new menu for your viewing pleasure:

Chef Mariano Vegel showcases the new flatbreads on the menu

BOARDS
CHEF’S BOARD 18. Tetilla, Manchego, Jamón Serrano, Chorizo de Cantimpalo, olives
CURED MEATS 14. Jamón Serrano, Coppa, Chorizo de Cantimpalo
CHEESES 14. Tetilla, Murcia al Vino, Manchego

$5
HAM CROQUETTES Serrano ham, fig jelly
PATATAS BRAVAS Crispy potato cubes, spicy brava sauce, aioli
ANDALUSIAN GAZPACHO Spanish chilled vegetable soup
PIMIENTOS DE PADRÓN Blistered shishito peppers, sea salt
POTATO TORTILLA Traditional Spanish omelet, caramelized onions, garlic aioli

$8
SAUTÉED GARLIC SHRIMP Brandy, pepper flakes (no bread)
PINTXO MORUNO Cumin marinated grilled pork skewers, mojo verde, Greek yogurt
KALE SALAD Barley, roasted beets, Spanish goat cheese, lemon maple dressing
ALBÓNDIGAS Veal and pork meatballs, Manchego, tomate frito

CHEF’S BOARD 18. Tetilla, Manchego, Jamón Serrano, Chorizo de Cantimpalo, olives

HAM CROQUETTES Serrano ham, fig jelly

PATATAS BRAVAS Crispy potato cubes, spicy brava sauce, aioli

ANDALUSIAN GAZPACHO Spanish chilled vegetable soup

PIMIENTOS DE PADRÓN Blistered shishito peppers, sea salt
POTATO TORTILLA Traditional Spanish omelet, caramelized onions, garlic aioli

SAUTÉED GARLIC SHRIMP Brandy, pepper flakes (no bread)

PINTXO MORUNO Cumin marinated grilled pork skewers, mojo verde, Greek yogurt

KALE SALAD Barley, roasted beets, Spanish goat cheese, lemon maple dressing
ALBÓNDIGAS Veal and pork meatballs, Manchego, tomate frito

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Nothing screams summer more than a romantic dinner on a veranda – Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse offers a Prime Pair pre-fixe menu – all summer long!

Guests can indulge in a salad, side, and 8 oz. filet paired with Del’s infamous Jumbo Lump Crab Cake.

And with a wine selection of over 1,200 labels, they’ll also find their inner Sommelier on a warm summer night.

The Prime Pair is a pre-fixe menu which includes a salad, side, and 8 oz. filet paired with Del’s infamous Jumbo Lump Crab Cake. The deal ends on September 3rd.

Now through Labor Day, choose the two-course Prime Pair menu for just $59. It’s available daily and includes a salad and an entrée paired with our signature lump crab cake and a side dish. It’s the perfect way to enjoy a summer like no other.

PRIX FIXE MENU
CHOOSE ONE ITEM FROM SALADS, ENTRÉES & SIDE DISHES
$59 Per Guest

SALADS

DEL’S SALAD
Mixed Greens, Tomatoes, Shaved Carrots, Croutons & Crisp Bacon

CLASSIC CAESAR
Crisp Romaine Leaves, Shaved Parmesan, Texas Croutons & Caesar Dressing

Paired with Del’s Jumbo Lump Crab Cake

HAND-CUT FILET 8 oz.

MANHATTAN-CUT NEW YORK STRIP
Wild Mushroom Bordelaise Sauce

 

SIDE DISHES

CHÂTEAU MASHED POTATOES

SEASONAL ASPARAGUS

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La Luce is Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek’s signature restaurant created by famed Napa Valley chef and restaurateur Donna Scala. I first met Chef Donna Scala back in 2012 for a special dinner there – she was a breath of fresh air and always so full of light – La Luce.


Chef Donna Scala was an incredibly talented chef, gracious host and beloved friend who passionately operated La Luce in Orlando, Florida at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and Bistro Don Giovanni in Napa, California. In 2014, she tragically passed away at the age of 60, but her spirit lives on through her recipes and her restaurants. If you look closely at some of the paintings here, you may see her favorite vespa featured – which she loved to use to travel around the wine country in California.

Chef Alberto Navarrete Arias, who trained under Chef Scala for over 20 years in California, continues to helm the modern Italian country kitchen here at La Luce serving up dinner nightly from thin crust pizzas, homemade pasta, Mediterranean-inspired drinks and a Trattoria-style wine program.

In 1993, when Chef Donna Scala and her husband opened Bistro Don Giovanni in Napa Valley, back before the “trend” of the farm-to-table movement, they installed a garden to supply ingredients for Mrs. Scala’s Italian dishes like Pasta Alla Gianni.

The menu here at La Luce continues that tradition of fresh, seasonal ingredients. This summer, they are featuring a wonderful stone fruit salad (for those that don’t know that means fruit with pitted seeds like peaches, figs, etc.), a wonderful fig and speck pizza baked in house in their wood oven with a delightful crustm and freshly grilled lamb chops.

Take a look at their newest Summer Menu below from our recent (superb) dinner visit:

Pesca “Mocktail” – Pasco Peaches, Pomegranate

ASPARAGI AL FORNO
Baked Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus, Fontina, Parmesan Cream Sauce

STONE FRUIT
Local Greens, Shropshire Blue Cheese, Candied Hazelnuts, Moscatel Vinaigrette

PIZZE (PIZZA) – FIG and SPECK
Melted Leeks, Gorgonzola Dolce, Aged Balsamic – the proscuitto was crisp like BACON so good.

LINGUINI DI MARE
Roasted Mussels and Clams, Tomato, Garlic, Chilies, Pinot Grigio

AGNELLO AL SCOTTADITO
Grilled Lamb Chops, Warm Fregola and Kale Salad, Feta Cheese, Lemon

BUTTERSCOTCH PUDDING
HOUSE-MADE TOFFEE


La Luce at Hilton Bonnet Creek

http://www.laluceorlando.com/

JINYA Ramen Bar officially opens today!  Experience Japanese offerings and ramen at the Thornton Park District like it was meant to be – with thick, rich broth in perfect balance with handmade noodles.  We got a sneak peek of JINYA Ramen Bar yesterday during their media event and we are very happy with this new addition in the downtown Orlando area.

Crispy Chicken – juicy fried chicken thigh with an original garlic pepper served with mixed baby greens and JINYA’s original ponzu sauce.  It was delicious!

Spicy Tuna Taco – spicy tuna in a crispy wonton taco shell.  This was so good!!  You gotta try this one!

JINYA Quinoa Salad – baby greens, green kale, broccoli and white quinoa, kidney beans, garbanzo beans tossed with goma seasame dressing, corn and cherry tomatoes

JINYA Bun – steamed bun stuffed with slow braised pork chashu, cucumber, and baby mixed greens served with JINYA’s original bun sauce and kewpie mayonnaise.  One of the better buns in Orlando!  The flavors were on point!

Chicken Chashu Bowl – slow-braised chicken breast “chashu”, ground chicken sober, spinach, green onion, rice, seasoned egg, sesame seeds

Sake

Spicy Chicken Ramen – chicken broth, chicken chashu, spinach, spicy bean sprouts, green onion, served with thin noodles

A sample of the JINYA Tonkotsu Black

JINYA Tonkotsu Black – pork broth, pork chashu, kikuragem green onion, nori dried seaweed, seasoned egg, garlic chips, garlic oil, fried onion, spicy sauce served with thin noodles.  This one was my favorite!

Panna Cotta – homemade panda cotta with caramel cream sauce, graham cracker, vanilla ice cream

Behind the scenes shot from yesterday’s media event!


A special appearance by the chef from Japan.  Thank you Chef and JINYA Ramen Bar owner Trang Liao for having us!  Be sure to check out JINYA Ramen Bar – Thornton Park soon for some delicious food!

JINYA Ramen Bar
8 N Summerlin Ave Orlando, Florida
(407) 704-1825
http://jinya-ramenbar.com

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Are you a member of our Orlando Foodie Forum presented by TastyChomps? Join today: https://www.facebook.com/groups/orlandofoodieforum/

Also if you love our newsletter – make sure to forward it on and ask your friends to sign up!

Be the first to taste Tapa Toro’s Magical Dining Month prix fixe menu. Plus, you will enjoy a cocktail reception and wine pairings with your meal included in the price of your ticket. It’s going to be a FIESTA!

Tickets: https://tapatoro.restaurant/magical-dining-month-preview-2018/

Password: TASTYCHOMPS

LIMITED TO 20 GUESTS TOTAL.

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month

2018 MENU

— Appetizer —
Choose One:

Wahoo Crudo
pickled shallots / garlic chips / puffed farro / leche de tigre “cilantro lime foam”
gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian

Fabada “White Bean Soup”
pork belly / sausage / chorizo / scallion oil / smoked paprika
gluten-free, dairy-free

Rioja Braised Pears & Cabrales
lola rosa lettuce / arugula / shallots / queso de cabrales “blue cheese” / rioja wine dressing
gluten-free

— Entrée —
Choose One:
Grilled Mediterranean Sea-bass
red lentils / tomato / shaved apple / piquillo pepper
gluten-free, dairy-free

The Fryda Kawlo
pan fried cauliflower steak / herbed yogurt / marble potatoes / baby carrots / tomato sauce
vegetarian

Grilled Lamb
lamb chops / polenta cake / pickles veggies / romesco sauce
gluten-free

— Dessert —
Choose One:
Crema Catalana “Catalan Cream”
orange / fresh mint / brûléed sugar
gluten-free

Chocolate Mousse
almond cake / chocolate shortbread / almond crunch glaze /
salted caramel / white chocolate covered pretzels

Dinner & Wine Pairings $45
Limit: 2 tickets per guest

Wednesday, August 22
6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
at Tapa Toro on International Drive

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SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK HOSTS CHEF’S NIGHT FEATURING WINE, CHEESE AND CHOCOLATE: A PERFECT PAIRING

WHAT: The Tasty Trio – Three of Orlando’s top food and wine experts are partnering to host a four-course dinner at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida as part of the nonprofit’s Chef’s Night Series.

Tonda Corrente, owner of La Femme du Fromage; Lisa Wilk, founder of Orlando Uncorked; and Jill Ramsier, co-owner of Quantum Leap Winery, will lead guests on a “wine, cheese and chocolate” pairing journey featuring delicious food and specialty drinks, including chocolate from Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park.

Chef’s Night brings Central Florida’s top chefs into Second Harvest’s Community Kitchen to celebrate delicious food and raise funds for a good cause. All proceeds benefit Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program, which provides students with the skills and inspiration they need to obtain an entry-level position in a food service establishment.

MENU:

Passed Appetizers
Bruschetta – Olde Hearth Bread with Taleggio cheese, chopped strawberries, white chocolate and micro greens (Veg friendly)

Mini Taco – 2 versions
1) Chicken Mole, veggie mix, cilantro and Prairie Breeze Cheddar
2) Black Bean Mole, roasted peppers, grilled corn, jicama, cilantro and Prairie Breeze Cheddar (Veg friendly)
Quantum Leap wines

Salad
Butter or bib lettuce, roasted butternut squash, Meredith dairy feta, cashew brittle crumble, Apricot dressing (Veg friendly)
Quantum Leap wine

Entree
Pepper Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Wine Maker Cuvee & Chocolate Reduction, Potatoes Gratin and Roasted Carrots with Balsamic Chocolate Glaze and Crumbled Goat Cheese

*Vegetarian Options Available
Quantum Leap wine

Dessert
Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park’s Awarding-Winning Ultimate Dark Chocolate Brownie with Gjetost fondue and Mascarpone cream (Veg friendly)
Quantum Leap wine

WHEN: Thursday, August 30, 2018

6 – 9 p.m.

WHERE: Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

411 Mercy Drive

Orlando, Fla. 32805

COST: $75 per person

REGISTER: Purchase tickets at www.FeedHopeNow.org/ChefsNight or call 407-514-1070 for more information. Seating is limited.

____________

About Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
SHFBCF is a member of Feeding America – the largest charitable domestic hunger-relief organization in the United States. SHFBCF secures and distributes food and grocery products to approximately 550 local nonprofit feeding programs throughout Central Florida. Last year, with the help of food and financial donors, volunteers and a caring, committed community, the food bank distributed nearly 58 million meals to partner programs such as food pantries, soup kitchens, women’s shelters, senior centers, day care centers and Kids Cafes. In addition, Second Harvest’s 16-week culinary program teaches foodservice-based technical, life and employability skills to economically hard-pressed adults. Second Harvest is distributing enough food to feed 48,000 people a day. To learn more about SHFBCF, visit www.FeedHopeNow.org.

Terralina Crafted Italian opened this summer in Disney Springs of Orlando, FL Starting July 23, Terralina Crafted Italian will begin hosting a late-night happy hour from 9-11 p.m. Sunday – Thursday on the patio. Specials include $5 Beers and half-price wines by the glass.

Every meal comes with fresh bread made in-house at Terralina. The bread is dense and delicious. I suggest having it with the pickled vegetables that comes with it.

Some may dip the bread into the extra virgin olive oil that is made especially for Terralina, but it doesn’t tickle my fancy.

One of guests’ favorite appetizers include herb ricotta-stuffed Fried Olives, which are unique and tasteful. It is served with shaved parmesan that adds a robust flavor on its own.

The Crispy Eggplant Fries were more soggy than anything. I can assure you that eggplant can become crispy if made correctly. Although they weren’t crispy as promised by the name, they are delicious and creamy! It is served with some lemon-caper aioli that adds to the creaminess of each bite.

This Rigatoni Calabrese includes housemate sausage, tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, and escaroles. Escaroles are usually bitter, but there is no bitterness in these greens. The pasta was made to perfection and the sausage was the best part with the abundance of flavors it releases in each bite.

The Lemon Panna Cotta is served with candied thyme that adds such uniqueness to each bite of the panna cotta. The panna cotta itself is served at room temperature, which is a great way to whip together ingredients without the ingredients separating from one another. This dessert is refreshing for a hot Florida summer.

If you’d like some tasty cocktails, the Cozy Terrace is nice for the summer. It was mixed well and refreshing with the cucumber.

The Negroni has nice orange notes, but it was not mixed very well. If you’re a gin type of person, this drink is for you.

Maybe you’re a bourbon type of person. Try the Revered Heritage, which is nice and strong.

For more information, check out the Terralina Crafted Italian website.

Tijuana Flats is bringing together the best of both tacos and burgers for one epic mashup of deliciousness – a tortilla filled with ground beef, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, ketchup and mustard.

For a limited time try two Cheeseburger Tacos with seasoned fries for just $7.89.

The Cheeseburger Taco will be available at all Tijuana Flats locations now through September 9.

Add Fries & Queso
Side – $2.99
Appetizer – $5.29

Or try the Cheeseburger Tacos with these popular menu items:

Tijuana Trio – A basket of warm chips, with a side of handmade salsa, queso or guacamole.

Cookie Dough Flautas – Chocolate chip cookie dough loaded into a flour tortilla, lightly fried & topped with powdered sugar. Served with a side of chocolate syrup.

(Source: Tijuana Flats)

Tijuana Flats
94693 Gardens Park Blvd., Orlando, FL 32839
(407) 965-5090
https://tijuanaflats.com

Since first opening their doors, visitors of The Mills 50 District have given its newest resident “Grape & The Grain Wine Bar” a very warm welcome, and now Grape & The Grain is celebrating the closing of the season AND their official grand opening with a special “Summer Wine Down” event on Thursday, August 23.

From 5pm-9pm, all are invited to the intimate, artsy, relaxing craft beer and wine garden to invigorate all the senses and enjoy Grape & The Grain’s large variety of international fine wines, local craft beer, frosé, frozen sangria and more, with the first 100 guests receiving a free glass of Prosecco.

In addition, the evening will feature a special appearance by in-house artist Jay “J Bon” Bonadio “The Unsigned Artist” and live art to be auctioned off for A Gift For Teaching charitable organization to help provide children with school supplies.  Plus, Flamenco Guitarist Jorge Mendoza will perform live inside with DJ Leony spinning in the garden and a popular local food truck on-site.

Join Grape & The Grain Wine Bar for “Summer Wine Down” celebrating the official Grand Opening on Thursday, August 23 from 5pm-9pm.

Grape & The Gran is located at 1110 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.

Hours of operation are Tuesday thru Thursday 5pm-12amFriday and Saturday 4pm-2am, Sunday 1pm-7pm.

For more information, call 407-674-6156 or visit www.grapeandthegrain.com.

Did you know that Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida has catering?  We were invited to their amazing facility to check out their newest business, Catering For Good!

What is Catering For Good?  A full service caterer.  All menu items are prepared by an award winning culinary team lead by Chef Jill Holland using the highest quality and freshest ingredients purchased from national and local vendors.  The menu includes selections for breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktail receptions including wine and beer or a full bar. Catering For Good was listed in Orlando Business Journal as “Top 20 Business Caters”.

Here’s the best part…

All proceeds benefit the Second Harvest Culinary Training Program, a 16-week program that provides qualified, at-risk and economically disadvantaged adults in Central Florida with the culinary and life skills training needed to pursue a sustainable career in food industry.  100% of the graduates of this program have been placed in higher paying jobs, helping them become self-sufficient and begin life long careers.

Catering For Good offers room rentals at their unique and beautiful venues that can accommodate 10 to 200 guests – the venues are perfect for business meetings, work shops, luncheons, networking events, get togethers, holiday parties, bar or bat mitzvah, birthdays, showers, and weddings for those who wants to give back to their community on their special day.

Thanks to you, Catering For Good is not just feeding the line… but shortening the line.

Raspberry Brie

Harvest Sparkler – Prosecco and cranberries.  Non-alcoholic version in the back row.

The amazing Chef Jill Holland

Key Lime, S’mores, and Raspberry Creme Brûlée dessert shooters

Loved hearing Chef Shaneka Jimerson’s (Culinary Training Program graduate) inspiring testimony!

Thank you to the talented Culinary Training Program students for preparing our delicious lunch!

For more information, or to make an appointment and take a tour, please contact Lanette Jarvis at (407) 514-1048, email ljarvis@feedhopenow.org, or visit their website: FeedHopeNow.org

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
411 Mercy Drive Orlando, FL

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Drive Shack hosted their Caddyshack 28th Anniversary where guests from all over Orlando came out to golf, indulge in food and simply have a good time.

We also got a chance to ride in their ball collector out on the course while answering “Ballzoni Trivia”. I was asked questions based on the movie Caddyshack. While taking some laps on the course, our cart was at the mercy of golfers hitting their balls at us! If I answered a question wrong, Matt Franca , (my driver who is also the Drive Shack bar manager), would stop the cart and honk the horn for players to hit their balls at us. Luckily, our cart barely got hit.

The menu was kept simple and there was something for everyone. It consisted of soft pretzels, beef sliders, parmesan truffle tots, cheese quesadillas and chicken tenders.

I asked Franca why Caddyshack was chosen as their theme an what the inspiration behind the menu was.

He answered, “It’s such a fun crazy environment to work at, just like in the movie, everyone is really high energy and upbeat and it’s something we’ve just embraced since we opened…part of our core values at Drive Shack is to have fun. It’s bright and open; that’s what Caddyshack was about. If you go to the making of Caddyshack, there’s some really cool documentaries on there and it was just partying and a ton of fun. That’s just what we do here at Drive Shack. That’s why we really love Caddyshack and ran with it. A lot of the foods are just really easy to eat.”

They had their beer specials as well, so they wanted something that went well with that. They wanted the menu to cater to everyone.

His closing remarks on Drive Shack were, “Drive Shacks been opened for about 3 months now. We’re opening a bunch more locations soon. Theres a ton to be learned here. The gaming we created here really is revolutionizing this market in this industry. It’s getting a ton of people involved in golf that may not have gone out to a golf course and played 18 holes. It’s bringing a lot of family and just friends together. It’s a social aspect that’s extremely exciting. The games are incredible. There’s just so many different specials that we’re offering. We’re doing a draft party on August 16th.”

Overall, Drive Shack is the place to be to have a great time and kick back with a group. It is a family friendly environment and you won’t be disappointed with their good eats.

Drive Shack Orlando
7285 Corner Dr, Orlando, FL 32827
https://www.driveshack.com/

Atlantic Salmon – Quinoa, kale, preserved lemon, almond, black olive

We were invited to DoveCote Brasserie (voted Best Restaurant 2018 by Orlando Magazine) for an intimate evening with representatives from Sonoma County Winegrowers to talk current events in Sonoma County and predictions on the 2018 harvest season while enjoying a delicious meal.

Our wonderful host Amy Landolt, Director of Marketing & Public Relations, provided an annual update on Sonoma County’s progress in its initiative to become the first 100% U.S. sustainable wine region by 2019.  We also talked about how the huge wildfires breakouts in Sonoma County affected their vineyards.

We were relieved to hear that their vineyards did not burn because there is so much moisture in the vines.  The vineyards acted as a natural fire break, not only surviving, but helping to slow and stop the spread of wildfires – as seen below in the picture from the Sonoma County Winegrowers’ 4th Annual Sustainability Report.  We also learned that helicopters picked up water from the vineyards’ irrigation ponds (the blue image below) to put out wildfires.

Amy informed us that celebrity chef Guy Fieri is from Santa Rosa, CA in Sonoma County and he has stepped in to help feed first responders and victims of the tragic wildfires in the area.  He is seriously an amazing GUY!!!

More pictures from the Sonoma County Winegrowers wine-pairing dinner below:

Country Pate – Grilled ciabatta, house mustard, pickled cauliflower

Although I did not partake in any consumption of wine, I heard raving reviews about each and every one of them from the other guests at our table.  La Follette Chardonnay was the fan favorite of the evening.

DC Caramelized Onion Soup – Oxtail onion broth, ciabatta, comte cheese

Braised Short Ribs – Potato confit, trumpet mushrooms, red wine reduction

Rachel Thralls, Sonoma County Wine Education Consultant

Coffee mousse, bay leaf crumbs, whipped cream

For more information, please visit sonomawinegrape.org.

(Source: Sonoma County)

DoveCote Brasserie
Bank of America Center, 390 N Orange Ave #110, Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 930-1700
dovecoteorlando.com

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We were invited to La Tavola, which are Italian dinners based on its culture and cuisine. Well- known local chef Kevin Fonzo, formerly of K Restaurant, prepared fresh cooked Italian dishes that were paired with Franciacorta – currently the best “sparkling wine” in Italy.

There were five flights of wine. The first four flights consisted of two wines and the fifth was a single wine. Here is the menu as follows:

Wine Flight 1– DOCG Franciacorta La Valle Naturalis Extra Brut 2012 & DOCG Franciacorta Ricci Curbastaro Extra Brut

Wine Flight 2– DOCG Franciacorta Lo Sparviere Saten & DOCG Franciacorta Villa Franciacorta Saten 2013

Wine Flight 3– DOCG Franciacorta Majolini Brut & DOCG Franciacorta Ronco Calino Brut 2010

Wine Flight 4– DOCG Franciacorta Bonafidini Opera Rose & DOCG Franciacorta Antica Fratta Essence Rose 2011

Franciacorta: Flight 5 – DOCG Franciacorta Ferghettina Pas Dosé ‘Riserva 33’ 2010

Cheese, pastrami,sliced bread, olives, and roasted peppers were set on the table as a warm up. 
Here is a look at the dishes that were prepared and served by Chef Fonzo.

The chef says he chose these dishes because it was more about feeling comfortable at the table and the food went with every kind of wine. It’s like going to an Italian grandmother’s house on a Sunday.  He wanted it to be casual and encourage conversation.

“To me all the food tonight was from the heart. It’s food I grew up on,” says Fonzo. He is from New York but his grandparents are from Italy. His favorite dish that he served was the the tomato sauce and meatballs because that’s his comfort food. 

 Rashmi Primlani, creator of The Primlani Kitchen and presenter of the dinner shares her thoughts, “Italy is an enchanting land of endless discoveries, dreams, & vino.  Like India, Italy is one country where regionality is not only accepted, it is encouraged, revered, and passionately pursued.”

“What makes Italy particularly alluring is unlike the yuppies of the west, who voluntarily surrendered tradition for consumerism; Italians, including the champions of change, the younger generation, confidently and with great pride wear their cultural identity as a comfortable cloak or second skin, while crusading their local region onto contemporary stature. Speaking of Italian Wine, Franciacorta – Italy’s leading sparkling wine region’s quality conscientious producers, driven by passion and unwavering pursuit of perfection, undeterred by the wind or fashion, are forging exhilarating beauties dipped in sensuality and finesse. The single recurring note that dance in our minds – Franciacortais so much more than simply a toasting wine, it indisputably belongs on the dining table as every day affordable luxury, that marries well with all international cuisines, be it a family style meal or 12 course gourmand culinary experience. It’s our duty to share the love for Franciacorta!”

At the end the night, Fonzo brought out some fruits and sweets along with different cheeses as something light on the stomach since we all ate until our bellies were full. There was no strict pairing as we could mix and match freely to our liking.

It was a night well spent with other local food and wine lovers. We laughed, mingled and shared moments together as we broke bread around the large wooden table. It was an intimate and homey experience. The wine had an approachable taste and it’s true, it can be served with anything or you can drink it alone. It is not too harsh and the sparkling aspect gives it an enjoyable bounce and personality that you’ll love.

 

Facts about Franciacorta Wine as provided by the Franciacorta Blend of Passions presentation – 

 

The 1st Italian Sparkling Wine
produced exclusively through
second fermentation in bottle
to gain DOCG in 1995.

As for its current market: 

  • 117 producers
    • 19 townships included in the Franciacorta area (including
    municipality of Brescia)
    • 2,800 hectares of vineyards producing Franciacorta DOCG
    • 82% Chardonnay, 14% Pinot Nero, 4% Pinot Bianco
    • 350 hectares of vineyards producing Curtefranca DOC
    • 16.5 million bottles sold in 2015, 1.5 million of them abroad
    • The leading export market was Japan, which accounts for
    22% of the total exports, Switzerland and USA.

We were wonderfully invited to enjoy dinner at Eddie V’s to celebrate summer with some Sparking Sounds, which meant oysters and sparkling cocktails. However, let’s shed some light on the experience and menu items you can find for a longer time duration.

Of course, you can’t attend the Sparking Sounds celebration without delicious cocktails. Photographed are the Lemon Rosemary Spritz (left) and Red Dragon (right). The Lemon Rosemary Spritz is made with Aviation Gin, St-Germain Elderflower Liqeur, Roederer Brut, and fresh lemon. The Red Dragon is made with Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum and fresh muddled Strawberries, mint, and lime. Both are very refreshing, but they weren’t mixed very well.

Also, there’s no way anyone should attend a prime quality seafood restaurant and not have some oysters. Photographed here are two Capital oysters from Spencer Cove, WA. I don’t know about you, but I fancy West Coast oysters over East Coast oysters. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t mind a challenge if you bring others to my plate. These Capital oysters were fresh and you could taste the ocean.

If you’re not fond of enjoying bold oysters on their own, you could try them with some flavor like this Asian Fusion.

The Tartare of Pacific Ahi Tuna is made with curry and sesame oils, avocado, mango, and citrus. Each ingredient was fresh and delivered on a nice sesame cracker for additional texture. Yet, I would have liked the tuna to be a colder temperature than room temperature.

The Jumbo Lump Crab Cake is sautéed Maryland style with spicy chive remoulade. The crab cake is tasteful and I prefer it without the lemon. There’s a dominant sweet, but slightly spicy note to this dish. The lemon would have been nice if there were no additional flavors to the crab besides the natural sweetness from the crab itself.

Chilean Sea Bass is steamed Hong Kong style with a light soy broth. The broth adds a sweetness to the buttery sea bass. The sautéed spinach that comes along for the ride is slightly saltier than preferred, but it is balanced out when eaten with the sea bass in the same bite. Like some spice? Take a bite of the sautéed ginger provided with the dish to the left of the sea bass.

One of Chef’s Classics include a vegetarian dish – Miso Marinated Tofu served with fried rice and sautéed vegetables. The tofu is on the soft spectrum of the texture scale; I believe crispy tofu would have added more texture and make the tofu more exciting. A bite of the tofu with the fried rice will balance out the abundance flavors offered to the palate by this dish.

For some extra texture, try their Grilled Asparagus with sea salt, fresh lemon and a drizzle of butter. I was grateful to have my own professional hand model to pour our butter for us. The butter adds a nice smoothness to the crunchy asparagus I loved so much.

There isn’t a proper meal if it doesn’t include a decadent and cheesy dish, which brings the Truffled Macaroni and Cheese into play. Each bite coats your mouth with rich and earthy flavors.

To end the night, we experienced the Hope Diamond made with Grey Goose Vodka, Combier Pamplemousse Rose Liqueur, Lemon, Pea Flower Tea, and a Diamond Ice Cube. This drink notes romance, indulgence, and hopes for the best in life. It represents the elegance of the classy and upscale experience at Eddie V’s. Not only that, but it is fun and allows you to take part in making it by pouring in some ingredients yourself to see the liquid change colors!

Our nearby Eddie V’s in Orlando is located at:

  • 7488 West Sand Lake Rd
    Orlando, FL 32819

The hours at Eddie V’s include:

  • Sun – Thu 4:00PM – 11:00PM
  • Fri – Sat 4:00PM – 12:00AM

Feel free to give them a call at (407) 355-3011 for a nice dinner to celebrate an event or life in general.

For more information, visit Eddie V’s.

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Urbain 40 American Brasserie and Lounge, the 1940s big band era inspired restaurant on Sand Lake Road in Orlando, recently updated their menu for the summer. Helmed by Chef Tim Keating, with an extremely capable line-up of sous chefs and pastry chefs, has unveiled their latest offerings based on the best of the season.

Though Chef Keating was out this evening, the team held the high standards for Urbain 40 and definitely made him proud

Take a look below at what is new as well as some classics to try on your next visit to Urbain 40.

Urbain 40 American Brasserie on Orlando’s Restaurant Row
House baked bread

The highlighted items are the new seasonal ingredients and dishes

The Classic Mussels in Lemon Butter

Chef’s Seasonal Salad with strawberries, red onions, radishes, aged feta cheese, greek olives Wild Red Argentinian Shrimp Cocktail with Tito’s Spiked Roasted Tomato Cocktail Sauce Campagna Flatbread pizza with stracciatella, fennel sausage, roasted peppers, arugula, parmigiano reggiano The Blended Burger – Umami Burger – and the Grilled Gulf Coast Grouper Filet Truffle pommes frites (truffle fries) so good! Grilled Gulf Coast Grouper Filet with Fingerling Potato – spring onion – tiny pepper and summer crop squash hash Orecchiette alla Campana – Italian Fennel Sausage, Eggplant, Rhapini

Desserts!!!

Urbain 40 American Brasserie and Lounge
8000 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando, FL 32819
urbain40.com

We were invited to a media event at Nature’s Table – FIS (the tall building across the street from the RDV Sportsplex) to sample their delicious top-selling smoothies & açaí bowls.  As a fitness enthusiast who is currently enrolled in yoga teacher training, smoothies & açaí bowls have become my go-to fuel for something quick, healthy and easy in between yoga classes and lectures.  I highly recommend Nature’s Table anyone looking to go a healthier route for breakfast or lunch.  Nature’s Table has multiple locations throughout Central Florida so you are likely to be within a few miles away from one.

The Kale & Spinach Smoothie consists of fat free yogurt, 100% fruit juice, kale, spinach, mango and pineapple.

My favorite was the Rain Forest Rhumba Smoothie which consists of fat free yogurt, açaí, raspberries, blueberries.

Nature’s Table uses fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Lots of their fresh fruits come from Plant City, FL.  They do not use any powders.

Mango Mama Smoothie – No sugar added 100% fruit juice, mango, pineapple (low calorie smoothie)

Benefits of a Samabazon Açaí Bowl:

  • Fiber – helps keep you full, your belly healthy & may aid in maintaining blood sugar. 
  • Protein – strength & sustained nutrition. 
  • Omegas 3,6,9 – good fats for your brain & body. 
  • Powerful antioxidants – immunity, heart health, & free radical fighters.

(Source: Samabazon)

Give your day a healthy boost by eating smart at Nature’s Table!

Nature’s Table – Maitland
2001 Summit Park Dr., Orlando, FL 32810
http://naturestable.com
(321) 972-1822

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