Orlando

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Take a musical journey through the Caribbean during this interactive dinner show. Enjoy authentic food, songs and dances inspired by the islands. Savor the vibrant colors, delightful tastes and rich sounds of the Bahamas, Cuba,  Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad. This is your island escape. Come do the limbo, jump into the conga line and take part in the festivities.

Includes all-you-can-eat buffet, plus complimentary non-alcoholic beverages. Wine, beer and Planter’s Punch are also complimentary for those ages 21+.

CARNAVAL TICKET: $71** adult, $36** child (ages 3 – 9)
Children under age 3 complimentary.

PRIORITY TICKET: $81** adult, $41** child (ages 3 – 9)
Sit closer to the action with seating in the first two rows of tables nearest the stage.
Children under age 3 complimentary.

TIME:
Dinner Buffet Seating: Begins at 6pm
Show: 7pm – 7:45pm

LOCATION:
Under the outdoor Cayman Court pavilion at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.

PARKING: Complimentary self parking (with validation stamp) or $5 valet parking.

AGES: All ages welcome.

Buy tickets at this eventbrite website.

Photographs of the food and event are below. Check out the menu for the event!

Our delightful feast was prepared by Chef de Cuisine, Ryan McLaughlin

We were invited to K Restaurant in College Park to preview a few dishes from their new Brunch menu which will launch this Sunday, January 21 from 10AM-2PM and includes carafes of Mimosas & Bloody Marys. We also got to try dishes from their dining menu which changes daily according to the availability of fresh ingredients from locally sourced Central Florida farms and artisans, so be sure to check out their website beforehand for their updated menu. We enjoyed meeting the owner Chad Phelps (pictured above) and his wonderful team. The restaurant is quaint and dreamy, making it the perfect spot for a date or a casual meet-up with good friends trying out great fresh and local food. You must check out K Restaurant in College Park soon if you have not already! It is incredible.

The talented kitchen staff

The amazing serving staff

Pork Belly Benedict

Chicken and Biscuits with Sausage Gravy

Fried green tomatoes

Shrimp and Grits

Basket of Biscuits and cinnamon maple honey butter

The following dishes are from their dining menu of the night:

Arancini

Oysters with champagne

Oysters with herbs

Charred Octopus – Waterkist Farm tomatoes and peppers, olive oil, lemon

Wild Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Toast

Duck Cassoulet – great northern and cranberry beans, chard, pork belly, duck confit

Shared Vegetable Platter

K Filet – smashed red bliss potatoes, rainbow carrots, truffle oil, veal demi-glace with a serving of vegetables

Lemon Meringue Tarts

French Toast Bread Pudding – cinnamon anglaise, caramel

Plated dessert course by the lovely Pastry Chef, Michelle Hulbert

Chocolate Orange Grand Marnier Pistachio Layer Cake (my favorite!)

Chocolate Mousse Torte

Almond Cake – fresh blackberries

Their beautiful outdoor patio

Be sure to check out K Restaurant soon!  Stop by K Restaurant this Sunday,  January 21 from 10am-2pm to kick off their new Brunch with them!

K Restaurant
1710 Edgewater Dr, Orlando, FL 32804
(407) 872-2332
http://krestaurant.net/

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We were invited to a media preview of the 2nd annual Epcot International Festival of the Arts at Walt Disney World.  The month-long festival runs from January 12 – February 19, 2018 and includes an art walk, photo ops, chalk art, culinary offerings, live music, stage performances, art seminars, activities designed with families in mind and so much more.  They’ve rolled everything you love about the arts into one spectacular salute.

Official Festival of the Arts merchandise


These four pins are redemption prizes for the scavenger hunt

Design your own screen printed t-shirt with Enemy Ink

Masterpiece Kitchen
Smoked Salmon Tartare, Caviar, Crisp Lavash and Traditional Accompaniments (delicious!)

Painter’s Palate (Odyssey, Festival Center)
Trio of Savory Croissant Doughnuts: Whipped Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese with Fresh Herbs (V), Chicken Salad with Shaved Fennel and Fresh Herbs, Spicy Tuna with Wasabi and Seaweed Salad (really enjoyed biting into these cronut pairings!)

Gallery Bites: A Trio of Hors d’Oeuvres: Chilled Shrimp with Cucumber Cream Cheese on a Crostini, Traditional Deviled Egg with Candied Bacon, Crispy Truffled Risotto Ball with Truffle Aioli
Festival of the Arts White Chocolate Painting with Chocolate Easel (GF)(V)

Festival of the Arts White Chocolate Painting with Chocolate Easel (GF)(V)

Decadent Delights (Promenade)
S’mores Tart: House-smoked Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Mousse, Toasted Marshmallow Meringue, Graham Cracker Dust and Malted Milk Chocolate Sauce

The Destructed Dish
Deconstructed Strawberry Cheesecake: Whipped, New York Style Cheesecake with Fresh Florida Strawberries and Sugar Cookies with Micro-basil (great dessert dish!)

Deconstructed Breakfast: Twinings® Spiced Apple Chai Tea Shake with Maple Syrup, a Waffle Crisp and Candied Bacon (non-alcoholic) (caution: this is a sweet one!)

The Artist’s Table
Roasted Pork Roulade with Butternut Squash Purée, Marble Potatoes and Baby Carrots with a Red Wine Sauce featuring Melissa’s Produce

Cuisine Classique
Seared Corvina with braised Ratatouille and Lemon-Thyme Beurre Blanc (GF)

Pop Eats
Sous Vide Poulet Rouge Chicken Roulade with Apples and Sage served with Warm Brie Fondue, Blueberry and Beet Gel and garnished with Apple and Beet Chips (GF)

Pop’t Art: Modern-design Sugar Cookie with Strawberry Filling (V)

Sous Chef Daniel Contreras

Disney on Broadway Concert Series preview with Jenn Gambatese and Kevin Massey

Jim, a long-time Disney pianist

Trailblazing Ladies of Disney Animation, Presented by Mindy Johnson, Author of Ink & Paint – The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation

They gifted all of us a copy of Mindy Johnson’s book (retails for $60)

Be sure to check out Epcot International Festival of the Arts soon before it ends on February 19.  You will love it!

(Source credit: Walt Disney World)

Epcot
200 Epcot Center Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
(407) 939-5277
disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/epcot-international-festival-of-the-arts/

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Florida-based breakfast, brunch, and lunch restaurant chain First Watch has recently unrolled a new coffee program, called Project Sunrise, using a new single-origin coffee sourced from women coffee growers in Huila, Colombia.

The coffee program helps support a women-led growers organization called Mujeres en Café in Huila, Colombia.

Traditionally, the coffee growing industry in Colombia has been male-dominated. Due to the country’s decades-long civil conflict, many women in Huila lost their husbands, brothers and sons and have now taken over the family business. Together, they formed Mujeres en Café and embarked on a mission to create sustainable businesses that elevate the lives of their families and improve conditions in their rural communities.

“During our visit to Huila, we met groups of women in several villages who have dedicated their lives to producing great coffee. They are proud of their work and were eager to welcome us into their homes, walk us through their farms and share their stories,” Shane Schaibly, corporate chef and VP of culinary strategy for First Watch, said in an announcement of the new coffee program.

“Each year, we serve more than 8 million cups of coffee in our restaurants. Through Project Sunrise, that gives us 8 million incredible opportunities to support these hard-working women and their families in Huila in 2018.”

The high-quality beans these women grow and harvest in Huila are exported to the U.S. and roasted by the experts at Royal Cup Coffee in Birmingham, Alabama, exclusively for First Watch. The restaurant company pays a premium for these single-origin beans, which will be relayed back to the women farmers in Huila to help improve their quality of life and help facilitate their operations.

Schaibly spent months working with coffee growers and roasters to develop a coffee that would complement the complex dishes, flavors and textures found on the First Watch menu. First Watch’s new Project Sunrise coffee fits the bill – it features a medium body, with hints of cherry, orange, toasted nuts, honey, milk chocolate and caramel, which makes for an ideal complement to First Watch’s variety of fresh breakfast, brunch and lunch dishes.

For more information on First Watch’s Project Sunrise, visit blog.firstwatch.com.

We were recently invite to try some of the new coffee at First Watch as well as sample some seasonal dishes like the millionaire’s bacon, four slices of hardwood smoked bacon baked with brown sugar, black pepper, cayenne and a maple syrup drizzle, and the cinnamon chip panacake. I enjoyed their new coffee, particularly the rich depth of flavor that complimented the dishes well.

Coconut milk chia seed pudding with fresh bananas, berries, blackberry preserves and housemade granola. Served with whole grain artisan toast topped with almond butter and Maldon sea salt.
Coconut milk chia seed pudding with fresh bananas, berries, blackberry preserves and housemade granola. Served with whole grain artisan toast topped with almond butter and Maldon sea salt.
Millionaire’s Bacon
Avocado Toast
Cinnamon Chip Pancake

Happy 2018, Food Friends!

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

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

The Verdict:

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

HAWKERS Asian Street Fare – Kaleb Harrell 

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

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

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

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

Black Rooster Taqueria – John Calloway

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

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

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

K Restaurant – Michelle Hulbert

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

K Restaurant –  Ryan McLaughlin

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

Tapa Toro – Wendy Lopez 

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

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

Pizza Bruno – Bruno Zacchini

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

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

Valhalla Bakery + Valkyrie Doughnuts – Celine Duvoisin 

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

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

Hopefully an end to the gluten-free obsession.

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


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

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

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“Where the Locals Eat”

Known as one of the best places for breakfast in Jacksonville, winning multiple accolades, Metro Diner has finally expanded further into the Orlando area near the always brunch-happy UCF area in East Orlando. The first Central Florida is in Altamonte Springs.

Founded in Jacksonville in 1992, over 25 years ago, Metro Diner specializes in breakfast specials and comfort diner food and was recently featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” on the Food Network. Let the flavor town train roll on!

On a recent visit, the place was packed with local professionals in from the cold on their lunch breaks. People love breakfast and brunch in Orlando and there seems to be more and more options each day.

I ordered their signature Fried Chicken and Waffle – the fried chicken was nice and crispy, but the waffle was the real star – light and fluffy yet also with a nice crisp. The strawberry butter was also a wonderful touch to this sweet and savory dish.


Fried Chicken & Waffle $15.49
Half a fried chicken and a Belgian waffle, topped with powdered sugar and sweet, strawberry butter. Served with their special honey tabasco, sweet and spicy sauce.


Metro Diner
11650 University Blvd
Orlando, FL 32817
https://metrodiner.com/locations/florida/orlando-university/

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I was born and raised in Palm Beach County so have many memories of Jon Smith Subs growing up. They were the mom and pop corner sub shop where I lived. I was excited to hear that they have finally made their way up to Orlando (though all the way out in Oviedo) and dropped by during the opening recently.

The first Jon Smith shop opened in 1988 in Palm Beach County, FL serving up their signature marinated grilled sirloin steak and real chicken breast subs.

I ordered the Steak Bomb –  Sirloin steak, Grilled onions, peppers, mushrooms, bacon, tomatoes & provolone. My sub was quite delicious – the bread was fresh as was the steak. I think next time I’ll try their traditional steak with cheese and forgo the other ingredients – ok maybe I’ll keep the bacon.

The manager/owner was in, a Oviedo native, greeting and welcoming each family and patron entering the shop – it was quite the welcome sight.

Jon Smith Subs – Oviedo
3607 Aloma Ave, Oviedo, FL 32765
https://jonsmithsubs.com/locations/oviedo-fl/
Mon-Sat 10:00am-9:00pm
Sun Closed

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Winter, brief it may be, has arrived to Central Florida with the latest frosty blasts covering most of our region this past week.

The Spanish-inspired Bulla Gastrobar has recently debuted their Winter Menu, featuring savory, hearty dishes that will certainly warm any foodie’s appetite this winter.

Here is the menu:

Sabores de Invierno
Winter Menu

Padrones Rellenos $8 – Shishito peppers stuffed with Mahon cheese, encrusted with panko crumbs and a spicy tomato dipping sauce

Caldo Gallego $8 – Galician Soup, White beans, pork shank, chorizo, kale

Piquillos a la Vizcaina $11 – Ground beef and pork stuffed piquillo peppers, bechamel sauce, black currants

Lechon Asado $23 – Slow Roasted Pig, Pork Demi, Panadera Potatoes

Chuletas de Cordero $23 – Lamb Chops, Honey Beer Reduction, Kale, Potato Foam

Some of my favorites from the menu included the:

Padrones rellenos, crunchy panko crusted, stuffed shisito peppers filled with mahon cheese – each bite oozes with warm cheese – perfect.

The Piquillos a la Vizcaina, stuffed piquillo peppers were both savory and sweet – savory from the ground beef and pork and bechamel cheese sauce but also a touch of sweetness from the black currant reduction and nutty sliced almonds.

If you are a fan of lamb chops, try the chuletas de cordero – subtly sweet from honey reduction, it’s a hearty dish with delicate potato foam and crispy kale.

My absolute favorite on the menu is the lechon asado, thrice cooked slow roasted pig with a pork demi sauce and panadera potatoes – thick and juicy, the pork just melts in your mouth with the crispy pork skin is a fantastic treat.

The menu lasts all winter until March so visit soon!

Bulla Gastrobar
110 S Orlando Ave #7, Winter Park, FL 32789
bullagastrobar.com

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We were invited to the media preview and grand opening of Maria and Enzo’s Ristorante with a special dedication moment including leadership from Disney, Patina Restaurant Group and Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.  Following the dedication, we went inside the brand new Italian restaurant for a media reception and we celebrated National Spaghetti Day with some apps, pasta, wines, cocktails and sweet treats; perfect for the occasion.  Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante is a warm and dreamy restaurant with friendly staff, delicious food, and airline themed aesthetics that is adventurous and playful.

The backstory is that the building was a once-abandoned Disney Springs airline terminal from the 1930s.  Italian immigrants Maria and Enzo owned a small bakery business inside the airline terminal and they purchased the entire building after the airline terminal closed down.  As an airline pilot, Enzo was drawn to the abandoned airline terminal and to open a spacious restaurant in it was a dream of his and Maria, who both wanted to introduce Italian cuisine to guests at Disney Springs.

CACIOCAVALLO FRITTO – fried sicilian cheese, spicy tomato and pomodoro sauce

SPAGHETTI ALLA CHITARRA – burrata and meatballs

ARANCINI DI CARNE – fried rice stuffed with meat ragù, peas and mozzarella.  They were delicious!

PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED BREADSTICKS

CHERRY TOMATO AND MOZZARELLA SKEWERS

Delicious TIRAMISU!

These were the best CHEESECAKE POPS that I have ever had in my life!

CANNOLI– sheep’s milk ricotta, chocolate chips, candied orange.  It was the best cannoli that I have ever had in my life!

Randomly selected guests will be upgraded upon arrival to the First Class Lounge and will receive a more upgraded level of service.  Guests 21 years of age or older will be served a complimentary glass of Prosecco and kids will receive a complimentary airline pin.

Be sure to book a reservation at Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante, link below, so you can experience this amazing new restaurant for yourself!
BONUS:
We also got to take a tour around the new Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar.
…and The Edison.
Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante
The Landing, Disney Springs, 1570 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
(407) 560-8466

mariaandenzos.com

Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar
1570 E. Buena Vista Drive Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830
(407) 560-9288
enzoshideawayfla.com

The Edison
1570 E. Buena Vista Dr. Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830
(407) 560-9288
theedisonfla.com

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In a world where the customer is always right, is it no wonder that the chipotle style concept where guests get to customize and choose their own ingredients has become more and more popular?

Located in far flung Oviedo/Winter Springs – at the southwest intersection of Tuscawilla and Red Bug Lake – is Big Kahuna’s Island Style Bowl. It’s a chipotlified version of a poke joint where you can order your various raw fish topped with items such as avocado, fried onion chips, mango,  and more all on top of rice and a drizzle of sauce. They slice their fish fresh daily just like they do in the islands and it shows in the taste of the bowl. It’s a small place but the freshness in poke fish is critical for obvious reasons and in this regard Big Kahuna shines.

Make sure to save room for the insane $6 Pineapple Dole Whip Float, it’s essentially a pineapple soft serve paradise served inside a pineapple. Don’t worry they give you straws and spoons so you can dig at it.

Big Kahuna’s Island Style Bowl
1450 Tuskawilla Rd #108 · (407) 543-3700
http://www.bigkahunasbowls.com/

Pitmaster Brandon Manly teaching us how to make some delicious eats for the holidays.

We were invited to check out this free and public event hosted by Sonny’s BBQ last Saturday at Williams Sonoma on Park Avenue in partnership with Peterbrooke Chocolatier.  I loved that the event landed on a Saturday afternoon because I frequent the popular Winter Park Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings so I was able to pick up a few things and walk over to the cooking demo afterwords.  During our cooking demo we learned how to make Stuffed Pork Loin with Cranberry Agave Glaze, Smoked Turkey, Gruyère Potatoes, and Chocolate Bacon Holiday Bark.  Everything was delicious!

Sonny’s BBQ – Winter Park
3390 University Blvd Winter Park, FL 32792
(407) 671-2002
sonnysbbq.com

Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park
300 S Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 644-3200
http://peterbrookewp.com

Williams Sonoma – Park Avenue
142 S Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 628-5900
williams-sonoma.com/stores/us/fl/winter-park-park-avenue

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Meatballs with lingonberries, mashed potatoes and gravy, sautéed red cabbage and apples, Jansson’s temptations

We were invited to celebrate the season at IKEA’s annual Swedish Julbord smorgasbord – a nationwide event at participating stores.  A traditional Julbord is a highlight of Swedish cuisine, consisting of local and family specialties enjoyed with family and friends.

Tickets for the all-you-can-eat buffet featuring traditional Swedish dishes were $16.99 per person / $4.99 for kids 12 and under, or at a discounted rate for IKEA FAMILY members ($12.99 per person / $2.99 for kids 12 and under).

IKEA Food Range and Product Developer, Peter Ho, says, “The Julbord buffet is at the center of the classic Scandinavian holiday celebration, uniting family and friends alike.  It is a much anticipated tradition in Sweden that we enjoy sharing with customers all over.”

The cutest Christmas reindeer!  An IKEA employee informed me that they were sold out, unfortunately.

Swedish cheeses, crispbread, thin bread, softbread

Gravad lax with mustard sauce

Christmas ham

Swedish potato salad

Hard boiled eggs

Assorted desserts

Daim cakes with and without chocolate, Swedish fish

Coffee, tea, fountain beverages

Pickled herring, Swedish cucumber salad, Red beet salad, Hard boiled eggs, Christmas ham, Gravad lax with mustard sauce

Poached salmon, Jansson’s temptations, sautéed red cabbage and apples, mashed potatoes and gravy

Swedish Santa Lucia processional

Swedish Santa

Thank you Swedish Santa for the complimentary tote bags!

(Source credit: IKEA)

IKEA
4092 Eastgate Dr. Orlando, FL 32839
+1 (888) 888-4532
ikea.com/us

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Mai’s Bistro is a new fast casual restaurant that has opened up in Orlando’s Mills 50 District, specializing in Vietnamese street food such as banh mi, Vietnamese sticky rice, and banh cuon rice crepes. They bake their own bread and sweets and make everything in house.

On a recent visit, I loved their banh cuon rice crepes and their variety of both sweet and savory Vietnamese sticky rice (xoi). You could get bbq roast pork, chinese sausage, or shredded chicken for savory sticky rice and jackfruit for sweet sticky rice. They bake their bread from scratch on site and their grilled pork banh mi is one of the best i have had. Their staff was very friendly and hospitable. Will try again soon and update!

Mai’s Bistro in Mills 50
830 E Colonial Dr A, Orlando, FL 32803
Menu: maibistrousa.com
Phone: (407) 730-8538

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Pizzeria Roberti can be found tucked in a small corner on the east side of Orlando, off of Curry Ford and Chicksaw Trail.

Here you will find one of the best pizzas in Orlando – from the crispy, tasty house-fermented crust to the house-made mozzarella cheese, Pizzeria Roberti is the real deal.

Joseph Roberti, owner and chef of Pizzeria Roberti, takes a lot of pride in his work and it shows through the quality of the food here.

Roberti tells us, “Our pizza on the surface is a New York Style Pizza, but underneath it is much more complex than that. In reality it is a combination of Artisan style pizza, Neapolitan style pizza, and traditional New York style pizza.”

“Our dough is made from cultivated yeast produced in house similar to the production of artisan sourdough breads (Artisan characteristic). Our sauce is made from San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy and less than a handful of all fresh ingredients (Neapolitan characteristic). We bake our pies in a traditional bakers pride pizza oven (New York characteristic), but we cook them at a high heat between 550 and 575 degrees Fahrenheit (similar to a Neapolitan characteristic). Our cheese is a combination whole milk and part-skim Grande Mozzarella (New York characteristic).”

Specialty – Breakfast Pizza – topped with egg, chives, ham, bacon, cheese

“Every ingredient of our specialty pies is produced in house. Our specialty slice pies are often garnished to order not unlike a dish coming out of a high end restaurant. And that is just the pizzas. We also have beer, wine, salads (all dressings made in house), subs, appetizers (such as our homemade fresh mozzarella), pastas (all sauces made in house), and vast catering menu. We are off to a great start in developing our concept and look forward to continually evolve as we grow.

Panko Crusted Mozzarella “Sticks”

“As a kid my father used to take me to a local pizza shop a few days a week and the cooks used to teach me little things here and there. By the age of 8 or 9 I made my first slice pie. Fast forward a bit to 14, I was now living in Orlando, Fl, and about to start high school. I was looking to get started in my cooking career and I got my shot at a neighborhood pizzeria & bar. I started as a prep cook, then learned the hot line, then pizza station, and even serving from time to time.”

Brined and Fried Chicken Wings with Garlic, Parmesan Cheese – Divine

“I liked my job but had ambitions for more, I wanted to pursue a career as a professional chef. As soon as I got my license I took a job on I-drive as a dishwasher in a much bigger and more known restaurant. It was a step backward, but it was also a foot in the door with a successful brand. Fast forward again about 3 years, I worked at few spots around Orlando, most notably the Citrus Club under chef Scott Haegele, and went to culinary school.”

“Upon graduating culinary school I decided to go back to New York to learn how to transition from a cook to a chef. I got my shot, this time with accomplished chef Hung Huynh who took me under his wing, trained me, and gave me the exposure and opportunity to work with many great culinarians.”

“Fast Forward another 4 years, I’m living in Miami, at this point a chef myself running various kitchens. In 2015 I created a company “Motion Hospitality Group” as a hospitality consulting business, with the intention of one day opening a place of my own. Fast Forward to today where Motion Hospitality Group currently owns and operates its first restaurant concept: “Pizzeria Roberti”.”

What are your first childhood food memories?

One of my first memories with food was when I was around 5 or 6, my parents weren’t home and my brother was watching me. He must have fallen asleep or something, and I made an apple omelet. The first thing I have ever cooked by my memory.

What are some of your favorite dishes at Pizzeria Roberti?

My favorite dishes at the pizzeria are the pesto & margherita pizzas, chicken marsala with farfalle pasta, and the pizza dough zeppoles.

What do you like to cook for “comfort food” at home with your family?

My Favorite thing to eat at home is Mom’s Lasagna.

Housemade meatballs – tender, braised, crisp on the outside

The Sauce

“Our pizza sauce consists of a combination of San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy and all fresh ingredients including fresh herbs and garlic. San Marzano tomatoes are known for their natural sweetness and low acidity.”

The Dough

“Our dough is made in house with our specially cultivated yeast, which is fermented on premise. This is an important characteristic of our dough because it creates a more robust flavor and the natural fermentation of our dough, makes it healthier and more digestible.”

Zeppoli

Pizzeria Roberti
Address: 2751 S Chickasaw Trail Suite 107, Orlando, FL 32829
https://pizzeriaroberti.com

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One of the world’s tastiest holiday traditions will receive a “Florida-style” twist with the debate of a limited time only “Feast of the Seven Fishes” menu at Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen + Bar. This menu is offered from December 24, 2017 to January 6, 2018, including a seven-course seafood and wine Christmas Eve extravaganza to kickoff the celebration.

The December 24 dinner will begin at 6:30pm and is limited to the first 25 guests. We were invited to taste the menu as a sneak peak to provide everyone insight of what is to come!

The Bahamian Conch Fritters are served with a mango sauce. The mango glaze adds a nice sweetness to the conch fritters. Conch fritters are crispy, yet smooth in textures. The flavors are mild without the mango sauce.

The Red Grouper Ceviche is fresh and cooked nicely with a lemony zest.

The Smoked Rainbow Trout Fish Dip is a tad salty, but balanced when eaten with some saltine crackers. The trout has a texture similar to tuna. Be careful as it may have bones.

The reception snacks above are paired well with Col De Salici Extra Dry Prosecco, which is a vintage Prosecco.

The Mayport Shrimp on Grit Cake with Seafood Gumbo Sauce was cooked really well. The grit cake is crispy on the outside, while smooth and creamy on the inside. The shrimp was caught off of Jacksonville, FL.

The Nueske’s Applewood Smoke Bacon-Wrapped Scallop with Butter Beans has an abundance of textures and flavors that blend well when eaten all together. When taken apart, the bacon may be salty so make sure you’re eating it with the scallop and butter beans. The scallop is very delightful and cooked well. The butter beans were very smooth and a type of bean I would like for someone who is not fond of beans.

The savory and salty plates are paired with the Stags Leap Wine Cellars Aveta Sauvignon Blanc. It is very smooth with so many notes of fruit. The fruit notes are prominent in smell before it hits your palate.

The Whole Fried Hog Snapper and Black Sea Bass with Smothered Tomatoes & Okra is paired with Spatz & Hall Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast.

  • The Fried Hog Snapper is very fresh with a corn flour seasoning. The meat has a slight sweetness to it.
  • The Black Sea Bass is slightly dry in certain sections, but very tender and moist in other regions because the moistness depends on what area you pull the meat from. Nonetheless, the fish is very fresh! The outside is very crisp and flavorful.

The Lobster Ravioli is very fresh and house made. It is served with a Seafood Bolognese Sauce that brings it all together. The lobster ravioli even tastes great alone without the sauce if you are sensitive to red sauce. It is paired with Stags Leap Wine Cellars Hands of Time Red that is full in flavor.

The oyster of the Gulf Oyster Shooters (featuring Tito’s Vodka) is very fresh. There is a rim of Old Bay around the glass that goes well with the shot. It is absolutely earthy as it is suggested by the menu.

The Famous Carrot Cake is famous for a reason as it is moist and has a chewy texture to it, which is delightful in my opinion.

The Red Velvet Layer Cake is very moist and thick as it coats the palate. The cakes are paired with the Prunotto Moscato D’ Asti. The Prunotto Moscato D’ Asti is very smooth and delightful for a dessert wine as I am not usually fond os sweet wines. This dessert wines is not as sweet as the usual dessert wines that are paired.

For more information, please visit Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen + Bar or their “Feast of the Seven Fishes” Facebook Event.

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Wall St. Plaza Cantina brings a new Feliz Hour taco menu with new tacos and deals you can only get on Tuesdays between 2-7pm. We were invited to try each as well as Terremoto’s new tequila.

The tacos can be served on soft white flour, white corn tortilla, or hard yellow corn shells. The white corn tortilla is a tad dry for my fancy, but the hard yellow corn shell was good. Yet, our favorite has to be the soft white flour tortilla.

  • Taco de Pescado (back left) – white fish grilled “a la plancha” and topped with shredded cabbage and cilantro cream. The grilled fish is tender and has a good kind of unique taste.
  • $2 Tuesday Taco (back center) – choose ground beef or shredded chicken. In this case, we tried the ground beef. It’s a traditional taco of Wall St. Plaza Cantina on a hard yellow corn shell with shredded iceberg lettuce as well as topped with Monterrey and cheddar cheese. It is simplistic, yet delicious.
  • Pollo Frito (back right) – fried chicken strips tossed in a house honey chipotle sauce before being topped with shredded cabbage and cilantro crema. This was my favorite taco of the night. Sweet with a slight hot kick to the end. The chicken has a crispy coating from being fried; yet, it does not heat up the cabbage and cilantro crema, which makes me very happy for it not to do because the cabbage and cilantro crema adds a fresh touch to the taco.
  • Tico Taco (front center) – house braised, shredded pork with onions, cilantro on a white corn tortilla and a signature tico sauce. The shredded pork is slightly dry,  but the flavors are nice. The onions add a nice crunchy texture to this dish.

Terremoto was present with their jalapeño lime infused tequila as well as their churro infused tequila. You can have them in a margarita form or shot form. Both are tasty depending on your mood!

For more information, please visit Taco Tuesday.

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On Monday, Dec. 11, K Restaurant launched their first, monthly, Yappy Hour. To inaugurate this series of tail-wagging fun they have partnered with Woof Orlando from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Orlando locals are invited to bring their furry four-legged friends out and enjoy free spent-grain dog treats made from local breweries and enter-to-win two raffles with prizes including gift certificates for a free grooming.

We were able to experience what “Doggie chaperones” can expect when it comes to tongue-in-cheek Yappy Hour dishes from Chef Ryan McLaughlin as well as drink specials as K Restaurant is excited to share that they just received their full liquor license.

Crispy Pig Ears are fried with dates pepper hot sauce and herbs. The pig ears are sliced thinly to make them crispy like a chip. They are lightly salted and delicious with or without the hot sauce. Be careful, the hot sauce is thick and has a major kick to it.

“Pawsta” is fried ravioli with ricotta filling. Served on marinara with pecorino cheese and herbs. The fried version of ravioli is very airy like a puff pastry. Each ingredient subtly blends well together upon the palate.

“Milk Bones” are veal bone marrow bones with charred bread and radishes. The bone marrow is very smooth and works well with the bread and radishes. The charred bread adds a saltiness to each bite. We almost ordered a second round of this dish!

The Cosmo-paw-litan (left) is made with vodka, orange shrubb, lime, and cranberry juice. A simple drink to socialize with. The Snoop Dog (right) was our favorite out of these two. The Snoop Dog is made with gin and pineapple juice; it is like a tropical version of a Screwdriver.

Since we were still slightly hungry after all the samplings, we ordered the Ricotta Gnocchi off the main menu, which changes up from time to time so you can come back to try new items all the time. The Ricotta Gnocchi is made with duck confit, butternut squash, garden greens, brussel sprouts, and sage veloute. Everything is made in-house and as fresh as possible for each order. Our specific plate was a tad more salty than I would prefer, but the dish is still delicious nonetheless.

The Ricotta Gnocchi was paired nicely with a 2014 Carmenere made in Valle Del Maule, Chile. This wine has a smooth and solid flavor with notes of spices, black cherry and blackberries.

For more information, visit the K Restaurant & Wine Bar Event Page.

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Chef Trina Gregory-Propst is amazing.  She was the one who recommended my family’s restaurant, Saigon Noodle and Grill – Bumby to the Food Network producers when they asked her if she knew of any good Vietnamese restaurants in Orlando to be featured on an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”.  My family had no idea that Triple D was coming to our city (for the first time ever) so we did not expect to be contacted by them, however, when they reached out to us we knew that it was truly a blessing sent from God.  We accepted the offer to film an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” and it has changed our lives for the better.  We are now recognized worldwide and we have met so many loyal Triple D fans from all across the world.  Chef Trina’s restaurant SE7EN BITES was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Drives” and both of our restaurants are located in the Milk District, so we are actually neighbors.  What an honor it is to put our city and district on the Triple D map with Chef Trina.  My family cannot thank her enough for what she has done for our small restaraunt business.  We are so grateful for her and her awesome wife’s friendship!

Chef’s Night is an evening at the food bank featuring some of Central Florida’s best chefs and cuisine, all to benefit their Darden Foundation Community Kitchen’s Culinary Training Program.  The Culinary Training Program provides qualified, at-risk and economically disadvantaged adults with the culinary and life skills training needed to pursue a sustainable career in the food industry.  When you support Chef’s Night, you are helping to change lives, and help pull your neighbors in need out of poverty.

SE7EN BITES specializes in nostalgic southern comfort food with a modern twist.  Chef Trina has loved to bake since her Grammy first introduced her to baking when she was a child.  Grammy helped develop Trina’s love for all things sweet.  Add in a professional culinary education, talent and passion and the result is a great recipe for local Orlando Goodness.  Chef Trina created a 5-course “Brinner” menu, a delicious combination of breakfast served at dinner.  Special thanks to SYSCO for donating all of the food to Chef’s Night to make the event a success.


Bloody Mary and Mimosa Bar

Deviled eggs with candied bacon (best deviled eggs that I have ever had in my life!)

Pimento Cheese Biscuit bites with sweet red pepper butter (so yummy!)

Appetizer Course – Fried grit cake with tomato jam, Andouille and dressed Arugula

Salad Course – Citrus Pistachio Salad

Main Course – Colonel Marmalade in the Kitchen with a Knife.  Biscuit stacked with Pimento Cheese, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, over medium egg, sausage gravy and finished with a dollop of Orange Blossom Marmalade (so delicious!)

Dessert Course – Cinnamon Roll Sundae Grammies, Cinnamon Roll topped with Vanilla Ice Cream Espresso Maple Caramel, Garnished with Milk & Salted Caramel Crumble

Chef Trina with her awesome wife, Va Propst.

The talented Se7en Bites staff

This lovely lady just got hired by Chef Trina to work at her restaurant, SE7EN BITES!  Big congratulations!!  (P.S. – She looks familiar.  I think we went to high school together.  So cool!)

Follow @themichaeljavier on instagram – he’s a cool dude, I want his charisma!

If you missed out this year, be sure to join us at the next Chef’s Table at Second Harvest Food Bank!  Details will be posted on their website so keep an eye out for it.

(Source credit: Second Harvest Food Bank)

Second Harvest Food Bank
411 Mercy Drive Orlando, FL 32805
(407) 295-1066
feedhopenow.org

Se7en Bites
617 N Primrose Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 203-0727
se7enbites.com

 

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(Seasonal!) White Chocolate Berry Bread Pudding: vanilla bean gelato, housemade berry sauce, anglaise ($6.95) On this chilly day, I cannot stop thinking about this warm and beautiful seasonal dessert.  It was so rich and decadent, with all the right flavors. My mom and I had to wait a little bit for it because the kitchen wanted to make it hot and fresh right out of the oven for us, hence why the vanilla bean gelato was instantly trickling down from it, but it was worth the wait.

‘Tis the season at BRIO Tuscan Grille! The restaurant is offering many ways to celebrate this season, from new menu items, seasonal dishes and cocktails and special events including:

Sat. Dec. 16 – Breakfast with Santa
Sun. Dec. 31 – New Year’s Eve party with complimentary prosecco, party favors, balloon drop and live music.
Call BRIO Tuscan Grille – Winter Park Village at (407) 622-5611 and ask for the manager, Kiki, for more information!

Nationwide:
– Facebook & Instagram Contest: BRIO’s “12 Days to Win!” Facebook and Instagram contest gives fans a chance to win various prizes from Monday, Dec. 4–Friday, Dec. 15. BRIO will post a different question regarding the holidays each day. Those with winning answers will receive incredible BRIO prizes such as: gift cards, brunch for six, a chef’s dinner, a Happy Hour party for 12, and BRIO for a year (a $1,200 value)!

– Bonus Gift Card Offer:  From Monday, Nov. 13–Saturday, Dec. 30, BRIO guests will receive a $25 bonus card with every $100 in gift cards purchased. The bonus card is valid Monday, Jan. 1 – Thursday, March 15, 2018. BRIO gift cards can be purchased at a local BRIO restaurant or online at www.BrioItalian.com/giftcards.

(NEW! ) Buffalo Chicken Nachos – Cheddar cheese sauce, creamy horseradish, Gorgonzola, green onions, celery, house-made potato chips ($5)

(NEW!) Crispy Shrimp Brio – Spicy Remoulade, green onions ($6)

(NEW!) Warm Margherita Dip – Four cheese blend, tomato compote, Reggiano, basil, grilled ciabatta ($5)

(Seasonal!) Spicy shrimp bruschetta – Fontina, charred tomato, lobster butter ($12.50)


Bulleit Nog-Chata: Bulleit Rye whiskey, RumChata, simple syrup, crème anglaise, cinnamon, nutmeg, cinnamon sugar rim ($9)


Salted Caramel Martini: RumChata, Kahlua, Absolut Vanilla, caramel swirl, salted rim ($9)

Two-Course Combos: your choice of soup or salad, with choice of entrée:
Soups – Soup of the day, Lobster Bisque (add $1)
Salads – Brio Chopped Salad, Caesar, or Wedge


Surf & Turf: 14-oz. strip steak, black pepper shrimp, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus (the two-course meal is priced at $34.95 with this entrée)


Grilled Chicken with Balsamic Glazed Peppers (light entrée): farro, quinoa, grape tomatoes, asparagus, capers, Marcona almonds, feta, pesto vinaigrette (the two-course meal is priced at $19.95 with this entrée)

Grilled Branzino: roasted red & gold beets, farro, Marcona almonds, marinated kale, lemon vinaigrette, feta (the two-course meal is priced at $26.95 with this entrée)

Caramel Mascarpone Cheesecake – Anglaise sauce, vanilla whipped cream ($4.25)

Thank you Mom for being my plus 1 to a few of my foodie events!  Be sure to check out BRIO Tuscan Grille – Winter Park Village soon for the holidays!

(Source credit: BRIO Tuscan Grille)

BRIO Tuscan Grille
480 N Orlando Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 622-5611
http://brioitalian.com

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Runway to Hope’s Christmas Tree

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

Mark NeJame, co-founder of Runway to Hope

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

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

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

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

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

Holiday White Chocolate & Milk Chocolate Fudge


Jack and Lee Rosen JCC


Girl Scouts of America, Citrus Council

The Pixel Fund


Osceola School for the Arts


The Harris Rosen Foundation


A Gift for Teaching


Canine Companions for Independence


Nemours Children’s Hospital

The Orlando Union Rescue Mission


The Elizabeth Parsons School of Dance

Best Buddies International


American Cancer Society

Florida Hospital Transplant Institute

Valencia College Foundation

The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando


Compassionate Hands and Hearts

Shepherd’s Hope

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

(Source Credit: Rosen Hotel & Resort)

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

At Yuki Hana they provide guests with a beautiful, modern dining experience and the freshest, most flavorful Japanese dishes around.  From innovative sushi featuring fresh fish from the world’s finest markets to flavorful fusion dishes prepared with locally sourced veggies and herbs, every plate on their menu is fun, flavorful, and a new adventure.  No matter the occasion, they are always more than happy to welcome you in and treat you to an unforgettable evening of bites and sips.  Visit them and experience the finest in Japanese cuisine all under one roof.

Every season Yuki Hana hosts a special dinner showcasing their chef’s creativity and talent.  We were invited to their Chef’s Multi-Course Tasting Event and as always, we were impressed with how creative and well thought-out each dish was.  Not only did the food look good but it also tasted delicious as well.  Each dish that came out was like an exciting surprise, we were all blown out of the water with their innovation, presentation and quality.  Yuki Hana Fusion Sushi exceeded our expectations with every dish that they delivered that night.  They are like food scientists, they know their stuff, they are creative, and they just keep getting better and better.  You can tell that each dish was hand made with hard work, love and intention.


Begin – Butterfly Pea Crystal, Citrus Sake


Appetizer – Amuse-Bouche, Squash Dumpling

1st Course – Cape Cod Oyster, Wasabi Foam, Cocktail Pearl, Lemon Confit

2nd Course – Shima Aji, Wasabi Asparagus, Kombu Chip, Crispy Garlic, Ume Ponzu

3rd Course – Nigiri Tasting
Mussel (mussel puree, garlic chip)

Hamachi Tartare (tobiko, cured egg snow)

Tuna (tare, avocado)


Kohada (charred negi vin)

Break – Frozen White Chocolate Lychee Gusher

4th Course – Seared Shiromi, Cabbage Menage, Bacon Seaweed, Dashi Aioli (My favorite!)

5th Course – Roasted Beef, Oxtail Croquette, Pickled Pumpkin, Sweet Potato Sphere, Roasted Leek, Honey Soy (my second favorite!)

Dessert – Persimmon 5.0, Gelato, Compressed, Gel, Meringue, Soup (it was delicious!)

Special thanks to owner Ping Jiang and her talented staff for their hospitality and amazing food!  Be sure to check out Yuki Hana Fusion Sushi soon, you won’t regret it!

Albert DeSue – Executive Chef
Steven Phan – Head Sushi Chef
Edwardo Mena – Sous Chef
Lance Herbas – Sushi Chef
Steven Chang – Sushi Chef

(Cover photo and last photo taken by Quay Hu)

Yuki Hana Fusion Sushi
3635 Aloma Ave Oviedo, Florida 32765
(407) 695-8808
http://sushiyukihana.com

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Don’t walk, run.  Epcot is hosting its inaugural International Festival of Holidays now through December 30th.  It is a great event packed with seasonal food and beverage specialties, festive merchandise, and live entertainment only being offered exclusively during the festival.

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is a festival like no other, featuring the joyous holiday traditions of their 11 World Showcase nations.  Enjoy unique food and beverage offerings at the expanded Holiday Kitchens abound – with a festive global tour as costumed performers bring time-honored traditions to life throughout World Showcase!

We toured the new Festive Center which includes the “Cookie Nook” and other festival goodies.  Cookie Nook is the brand new & biggest feature at Odyssey.  Cookie Nook has already sold over 10,000 cookies since it opened last week.

Make your own FREE snowflake ornament at the Festive Center (same building as Cookie Nook) and take it home with you or hang it on the mini Christmas tree.

Lunch time!  All food items for the festival are distinctly different to celebrate different traditional food from different regions.

Bavaria Holiday Kitchen, Germany – Cheese Fondue In a Bread Bowl with Fresh Steamed Baby Vegetables and Marble Potatoes featuring Melissa’s Produce

Yukon Holiday Kitchen, Canada – Seared Salmon with Crown Royal Maple Whiskey Glaze, Parsnip Silk, Apple Chutney and Hazelnut Croquant

Traditional French Canadian Tourtiere with Canadian Ketchup

American Holiday Table – Slow-roasted Turkey with Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans and Cranberry Sauce

Feast of Three Kings – Roasted Pork with Smashed Yuca and Pickled Green Bananas

Thank you Epcot for the generous goodie bags!

Rockin’ the festive Disney ears with my celebrity friend and Disney expert, Lou Mongello.

The festival includes merchandise that you cannot find anywhere in the world, exclusive to Disney, and some for only this park – like artisan Reinhard Herzog, who creates personalized glass-blown ornaments at the Holiday Market.

Festival gear and exclusive Annual Passholder t-shirt (middle).

Explore the Festival – We encourage you to enjoy some of the cultural entertainment throughout World Showcase at your leisure including:

Sigrid Meets Julenissen The Christmas Gnome (Norway) – Celebrate the season with laugher, as the unsuspecting storyteller Sigrid encounters Julenissen, a magical, mischievous gnome.

El Mariachi Coco de Santa Cecilia (Mexico) – Inspired by the Disney•Pixar film “Coco” and the celebration of Dia de Muertos.

Mostly Kosher (Between Morocco and France) – Capture the joy of Hanukkah and Klezmer music with this unique, high-energy indie band.

Joyful: A Celebration of the Season (Fountain View Stage) – The ‘JOYFUL!’  singers celebrate two holidays of the season— Christmas and Kwanzaa—with spirited, uplifting R&B, Pop and soul-stirring renditions of classic holiday music.

Voices of Liberty (American Adventure Rotunda) – Embrace the spirit of the season with the festive a cappella holiday music of the Dickens Carolers.

Candlelight Processional at America Gardens Theatre – A joyous retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by a 5-piece orchestra and a glorious massed choir.  The celebrity narrator that evening was actress/comedienne Ana Gasteyer from but not limited to: Saturday Night Live and Mean Girls.

NARRATORS

  • Nov. 24- 26 – Laurie Hernandez – NEW!
  • Nov. 27-28 – Matt Bomer – NEW!
  • Nov. 29 – 30 – Ana Gasteyer
  • Dec. 1-3 – Whoopi Goldberg
  • Dec. 4-5 – Pat Sajak – NEW!
  • Dec. 6-8 – Jodi Benson
  • Dec. 9-11 – Kurt Russell – NEW!
  • Dec. 12-14 – Warwick Davis – NEW!
  • Dec. 15-17 – Trace Adkins
  • Dec. 18-21 – Neil Patrick Harris
  • Dec. 22-24 – CCH Pounder – NEW!
  • Dec. 25-27 – Jaci Velasquez
  • Dec. 28-30 – Chandra Wilson

Festival of the Holidays version of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.  The World Showcase Promenade comes alive nightly with the brilliance and splendor of music, lights, lasers, water fountains and custom pyrotechnics.  With the song “Let There Be Peace on Earth” at its center, this special musical finale brings the message of peace and goodwill.

I am going to wrap this up like a gift!  Be sure to check out the inaugural Epcot International Festival of the Holidays before it ends on December 30th, you don’t want to miss this!

(Source credit: Walt Disney World)

Epcot
200 Epcot Center Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
(407) 939-5277
https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/holiday-festival/

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We may have found our new favorite hang out location. Orange County Brewers open industrial design features exposed brick walls, wood accents, a beautiful Florida-themed mural and customized ceiling design, long tables/group interior seating and outdoor seating via patios in the front and rear of the brewery.

Inside or out, it is pet friendly so bring your furry four-legged puppers!

In addition to regular food and drink service, OCB will offer tours, and Brewmaster Amanda will organize multiple group activities that will involve education for anyone who would like to learn more about beer. OCB beers will also be distributed via City Beverages.

Led by Head Brewer Amanda Roberts, the brightly-colored, 3,400 square-foot facility located on the corner of Orange Avenue and Jefferson Street, will brew a variety of different styles of beer, including Ales, Lagers, Pilsner, Stouts, IPAs, Hefeweizen and Porters.

Whether you are a beer lover or not, you’ll end up finding a beer at OCB that you will love with the help of Amanda and her beer-loving family. Order a flight to try a number of beers or go big with a full glass! Also, OCB offer a wide selection of wine if that tickles your fancy.

Orange County Brewers will include a full service craft pizza kitchen with a wood-burning oven called “Orlando Pizza and Wing Co.” serving pizza, wings, salads and sandwiches.

These wings…are brilliant. From the time OCB open, they start to smoke their wings. The skin is wonderfully crispy while the meat is tender and juicy.

Try the wings with some sauces. Our favorite sauces include: Classic Buffalo, Strawberry Jalapeño and Pineapple Habanero. The Classic Buffalo is our #1 choice; keep in mind that not all buffalo sauces are delicious, but this is excellent. The Strawberry Jalapeño is very fresh and we believe it will taste great with salads too. The Pineapple Habanero is unique and delicious with a slight kick at the end.

The Mac & Cheese Pizza is creamy and savory. with a chewy, yet crispy crust. It was the first time I tried a Mac & Cheese Pizza and this was not a let down.

The Tree Hugger Pizza is full of flavors and textures. The goat cheese makes the pizza different from others and it is quite different. This is a healthier choice when choosing a pizza.

Orange County Brewers is located at 131 North Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801.

Hours of Operation

  • Sunday thru Wednesday 11:30am-12am
  • Thursday thru Saturday 11:30am-2am

Happy Hour

  • 4pm-7pm

For more information, call 407-914-2831 or visit www.theocbrewers.com and www.facebook.com/orangecountybrewers.

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Lobster tacos

I’ve been a fan of Duffy’s since I was young, growing up in South Florida where the chain is quite prevalent, well-known for their tasty wings and sports bar atmosphere. They recently opened up a few restaurants here in Orlando and invited us to check out their new seasonal menu. My favorite was the Oktoberfest inspired fried pork schnitzel!

Here’s a quick look at the new Seasonal Features + Fun Cocktails at Duffy’s Sports Grill (Address: 315 N Alafaya Trail, Orlando, FL 32828)

Their Lobster Tacos, Tequila Lime Steak Tacos, Jumbo Lump Crab Macaroni & Cheese and Blazin’ BBQ Cheeseburger are the newest specialty features on their football menu.

Blazin’ BBQ Cheeseburger includes: 1/2 lb. char-grilled Certified Angus Beef® with signature Jack Daniels® Single Barrel BBQ sauce, pepper-jack cheese, hot bacon and hot bacon jam, grilled onion, pepper-crusted bacon and house-made burger sauce on a toasted King’s Hawaiian® roll with choice of one side.

Lobster tacos

 

Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl with Avocado

New menu item on the regular menu includes:

New York Reuben, featuring ½ lb. shaved corned beef with sauerkraut and swiss cheese on grilled rye bread.
Homemade Meatloaf- made from scratch daily, while supplies last.
Mussels Marinara

 

New cocktails include:

Southern Sling, featuring Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, Banana Liqueur and Bitters
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select, a special barrel selected just for Duffy’s with subtle notes of caramel and spice with bright fruit notes and sweet aromatics. Served neat or on the rocks

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We were invited to check out F&D Cantina – Lake Mary in Colonial TownPark which recently just opened in August.  The restaurant is owned by the same owners as F&D Kitchen and Bar.

The Mexican-inspired decor was eclectic and spectacular.  I recently celebrated The Day of The Dead for the first time so I do understand the skeletons aesthetics while some others may not – The Day of the Dead is a Mexican tradition in remembering deceased ancestors and friends.

The staff was very accommodating.  The food came out very timely, they don’t play, which I appreciated and the presentation of the food is unique and well thought out.  I tried the bacon wrapped jalapeño, sizzling chicken enchiladas, and the shrimp and chorizo street tacos (that was my favorite!).

Bacon wrapped jalapeño – 4 stuffed jalapeños with Chihuahua cheese and glazed with jalapeño jelly


Sizzling chicken enchiladas – Served with habanero/jalapeños pesto cream sauce topped with cotija cheese, pickled red onion and green onion

Shrimp and chorizo street taco – red peppers, sautéed onions, avocado, and chili de arbol aioli

Be sure to check out F&D Cantina – Lake Mary soon!

F&D Cantina – Lake Mary
1125 Townpark Ave Unit 1071
Lake Mary, FL 32746
(407) 915-7012
fdcantinalakemary.com

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Join Bahama Breeze Island Grille for Thanksgiving Dinner. It is the first time where select Bahama Breeze locations in the Central Florida area will be open on Thanksgiving for guests to enjoy an exclusive, one-day only Thanksgiving menu 11am to 11pm.

Of course, we were given a preview to give you an insight on what is served. As we waited for our Thanksgiving Dinner, we had a Jumbo Lump Crab Stack to lead up to the entrée. It consisted of premium jumbo lump crabmeat stacked high with chilled shrimp, avocado and fresh mango. Each ingredient was fresh and abundant to share between two.

The Bahama Breeze Thanksgiving Dinner includes sliced jerk turkey and pork with island-inspired sides. These sides were cornbread stuffing, cranberry-pineapple chutney and guest’s choice of mashed potatoes or cinnamon mashed sweet potatoes.

The meats were seasoned well, while others may believe it is a bit over salted. The gravy was delicious and broth-based. The cornbread stuffing is rich and savory with each bite. The garlic mashed potatoes are delicious, but I fancy the cinnamon mashed sweet potatoes (as seen in the corner of this photograph).

When you think you’re done, Bahama Breeze also has a Pumpkin Praline Pie. It is a pumpkin pie with a crunchy praline topping, served with whipped cream and cinnamon as well as a pudding-like consistency of sauce. The sauce is subtle and delicious when combined with the pie. The pie is delightful and a traditional end to a Thanksgiving dinner.

Little do you know, the pie was not the end for us. We ordered The Rum Raid, which is a featured and limited addition to the menu. It is great for parties of at least two people. It is considered to be the “Ultimate island experience” with 8 rum-filled drinks of the Caribbean.

Shipwrecked (blue drink in the back) and One Love (with the green pineapple stirrer in the former photograph) are two of our absolute favorites from The Rum Raid. Drinking these made us feel as if we were laying somewhere on a beautiful beach with absolutely no worries on our minds.

Another featured and limited time cocktail is the Coquito, which is a Puerto Rican holiday favorite. It is rich, creamy and rum-spiked. It is made with Silver Rum, Coco Lopez and sweet milk topped with ground cinnamon. This creamy cocktail is found in a different category of favorites as the texture is different from the cocktails of The Rum Raid.

For more information, please visit Thanksgiving Dinner at Bahama Breeze Island Grille.

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