Winter Park

Hey, hey!

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

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

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

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Eats: Mixed, raw and clean options 

1. The Sanctum | Colonialtown North

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

2. Dandelion Communitea Cafe | Mills 50 District

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

3. Infusion Tea | College Park

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

4. Create Your Nature | Winter Park

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

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Drinks: Cold-pressed, blended and over ice options 

1. Juice Bar | The Milk District

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

2. Juice’d | Thornton Park

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

3. Grounding Roots | College Park

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

4. New Moon Market | College Park

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

5. Skyebird | Audubon Park

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

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

Snack on,

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

Special Brunch Edition: Cask & Larder partnered with Funky Buddha Brewery for a beer brunch. The event featured a reception with bites and beers, followed by a three-course meal paired with a perfect beer for each course.

Cask & Larder, in Winter Park, Florida, is a local neighborhood gathering spot with a dedication to artisanal foods while creating seasonally fresh dishes. For this event, Cask & Larder reserved the bar area to host its brunch and it was the perfect space for guests to taste the beer brunch menu.

Everything about the menu was exciting and the event exceeded my expectations. It’s hard to pick a favorite because each dish was delicious – the roasted oysters, foie gras french toast, smoked tuna tartine, corned beef hash (with the soft boiled egg!), and ice cream sandwich.

If you would like to learn more about Cask & Larder events, click here to sign up for the mailing list or follow Cask & Larder on FaceBook.

Funky Buddha Hop Gun IPA and C&L Pale Ale
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Ramp Butter Roasted Oysters with bacon crumbs ~paired with~ Funky Buddha Hop Gun IPA and C&L Pale Ale
Mini Foie Gras French Toast with pickled blueberries
Funky Buddha Floridian Hefeweizen and C&L Wit
Hop Smoked Tuna Tartine with millet bread, pickled kabocha squash, compressed peaches, radish and farro ~paired with~ Funky Buddha Floridian Hefeweizen and C&L Wit
Crispy Corned Beef & Hash with bearnaise, picked ramps & mushrooms, ramp green soubise and a soft boiled egg ~paired with~ Funky Buddha Blood Orange IPA and C&L Maibock
Ice Cream Sandwich with chocolate stout semifreddo and chicory cookie ~paired with~ Funky Buddha Vanilla Espresso Porter and C&L Coffee Blonde

About Cask & Larder:
Cask & Larder offers southern-sourced seasonal dishes, craft beers brewed on-site and fresh-shucked oysters from our oyster bar. We look forward to serving you good food with casual southern hospitality.

Address: 565 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
Phone: (321) 280-4200
Website: www.caskandlarder.com

About Funky Buddha Brewery
Funky Buddha Brewery was founded in 2010 in Boca Raton, Florida, and is committed to producing bold craft beers that marry culinary-inspired ingredients with time-honored technique. Our mantra is big, bold flavors, made exactingly with natural ingredients. So, for example, if we say a beer will taste like peanut butter and jelly, you can be sure you’ll smell and taste the fresh roasted peanuts and fruity berry jam. Our flagship beers such as Hop Gun IPA and Floridian Hefeweizen, also strive towards big, bold flavor. It’s who we are. Our Brewery is located in the heart of Oakland Park’s new Culinary Arts District.

Address: 1201 NE 38th St, Oakland Park, FL 33334
Phone: (954) 440-0046
Website: www.funkybuddhabrewery.com

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One of our favorite sushi restaurants in town, Umi Winter Park, recently released two new lunch options for $15, changing on what is fresh for the day and filled with chef’s choice items like kimchi fried rice and nigiri. The food at Umi is as delicious and fresh as it is beautiful.

“We challenged ourselves to create and customize something totally unique and high-end for lunch, offering a lot more food and quality than a traditional bento box,” explained Gilles Lorin, concept director for Umi Winter Park.

“It had to be a complete meal, offering raw and cooked items, and be different every day, based on our chef’s choice. The response has been tremendous.”

See the Press Release Below for more information:

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The Bento Tray is available in two choices, either Raw or Cooked.

Each one is served as a complete and balanced lunch with miso soup and ginger salad.

In order to ensure a unique and fresh meal every time, some raw and cooked dishes vary daily depending on what the chef prepares for the week.

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The Raw Bento includes cuts of sashimi and nigiri from Snapper, Yellowtail Hamachi, Bluefin Toro, Salmon and Tuna.

Guests could be presented with a Mini Korean Chirashi Bowl, a Mini Sake Don Bowl or something completely new and different depending on what the chef has in mind that day.

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Standard dishes include Kimchi Croquettes and Bacon-wrapped Cherry Tomatoes.

The Cooked Bento is prepared with a filet of Robata teriyaki-glazed Salmon over a bed of vegetables as well as an order of Chef Stanley’s homemade recipe of Bibimbap.

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Just like the Raw Bento, this tray includes the standard Kimchi Croquette and Bacon-wrapped Cherry Tomatoes and either a Mini Korean Chirashi Bowl, a Mini Sake Don Bowl or something completely new and different depending on what the chef has in mind.

For reservations and information, call (407) 960-3993 or go to www.umiwinterpark.com. Serving lunch Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Serving dinner Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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At the beginning of this month, we were invited to check out the grand opening of TR Fire Grill in Winter Park to try out handcrafted cocktails and dishes.

TR Fire Grill, which is part of Romacorp Inc, is a different concept from their other restaurant Tony Roma’s.

TR Fire Grill displays a more unique and down to earth vibe which prides themselves in fresh local ingredients, and local chef talents to match.

The atmosphere was astounding with live music which they pride themselves of showcasing local talent on the regular.

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The cocktails offered at TR Fire grill were quite delicious, simple ingredients mixed together with expert precision to make a refreshing cocktail.

From cocktails such as The Swindler (shown above), with ingredients such as Fireball Whiskey, Apple Moonshine, Cinnamon, and fresh pressed lemon and lime made to their Wood Aged Margarita which contained Agave Nectar, Oak Aged Tequila, Grand Marnier and lime, all the drinks showcased that night were delectable to the palate however, was sure to put you in a “good mood” after a few drinks.

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The food was splendid with dishes from Hawaiian Ahi Tuna (made with grilled pineapple salsa, edamame, crisp wonton tostada, apricot shallot sauce) to creative dishes such as their Shrimp & “Grits (containing smoked pork sausage, Sam’s Bayou sauce, jalapeno cheddar polenta) – each dish with their own different characteristics and personalities to them.

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Check Them Out!

TR Fire Grill

http://trfiregrill.com/

1035 N Orlando Ave #101

Winter Park, FL 32789

(407) 708-3600

 

 

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Pesce Piccata

Last week we were invited to attend Brio Tuscan Grille to try out some new additions to their menu which were added in late August.

Brio which means “lively” or “full of life” is apparent in the various dishes served to us that night.

Brio’s philosophy is “eat well to live well”, this being said Brio stands by its pledge to create it’s dishes with the freshest of ingredients in order to fully bring to you the taste of the Tuscan country villa.

Mango Grigio (right)
Mango Grigio (right)

We started the night with a Mango Grigio. The featured cocktail of the month of September, this drink which was topped by an orange, was indeed refreshing, a very casual drink I must say, one in which is easy to drink. The Mango Grigio awoken our senses and prepared our palettes for the amazing meals that we were to have for the course of the night.

Tuscan Kale Caesar
Tuscan Kale Caesar

For our appetizer, we were given the Tuscan Kale Caesar -this salad which contains tricolored lettuce, marinated kale, pancetta, tomatoes, chopped egg, croutons, Parmesan and Caesar dressing. It was a very light meal to satisfy our ever so diligent hunger.

The croutons were very soft and not typical of the teeth-shattering croutons commonly found in salads, and even the pancetta (which is essentially Italian bacon) did not overwhelm the light nature of the dish.

All the ingredients worked in perfect unison, but I must note that the variety of ingredients allowed the dish to have a different delectable taste with every bite.

Braised Beef Pappardelle
Braised Beef Pappardelle

For the main course, we were given the braised beef papparedelle and the pesce picatta. The papparedelle is a very hearty dish consist of rosemary pappardelle, crimini mushrooms, roasted carrots, red onions and tomato porcini sauce.

Don’t take the size of this dish for granted -this dish which is rich in its flavors will fill you in a very satisfying way.

Besides the papparedelle, the other dish which was in fact my favorite dish perhaps because I am a sucker for seafood based dishes, was the pesce picatta which consist of wild-caught cod, toasted almonds, lemons, capers, roasted garlic sauce, and angel hair pasta tossed with roasted vegetables.

A zesty dish, brought forth by the lemons and garlic which further brings out the excellent flavors of the cod.

Torta di Cioccolata
Torta di Cioccolata

With enough room in our stomachs for dessert, we were given Brio’s signature dessert the Totra di Ciocolata containing a vanilla bean gelato, anglaise sauce, topped with a chocolate drizzle, this dish which was simple yet amazing.

For any dessert connoisseur or sweet-tooth junkies out there, this is a must try, with its warm center and cool gelato top the combinations of its richness is similar to that of a lava cake.

However bring Brio’s culinary expertise and you have perhaps a very delectable dessert.

With locations in Winter Park (the location we attended) and Millenia, Brio is a must try for any occasion whether it be for a date night or a semi-fancy affair Brio is a must go for your needs and will not disappoint with it’s ambience, excellent staff, and even more excellent dishes.

Check Them Out!

http://www.brioitalian.com/winter_park_village.html

 

 

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Cocina |214 is a contemporary Mexican and Tex-Mex kitchen. The name is a combination of the Spanish word for kitchen, “cocina” and the Dallas area code, “214.” The idea for opening COCINA|214 developed when two of the owners from Texas missed the Tex-Mex and Mexican food they had grown up eating. They wanted the same authentic, fresh and quality food here in Winter Park.

Dragon Fruit Local MargaritaWe started off with a this season’s local cocktail – The Dragon Fruit Margarita.
It was a sweet, almost dessert like drink, so personally I like the salt rim to balance out the sugar in the drink. And because it is seasonal, it’s only here for a limited time.

Avocado BitesFried Avocado Bites (10)
lightly breaded hass avocados fried served with chipotle cream dipping sauce. This was almost too addicting, I had to stop myself before I get full from just eating fried avocados. The chipotle cream sauce does sneak up on you with its heat so dip cautiously.

Isidro's CaesarIsidro’s Caesar (13)
romaine, cotija cheese, fried onions strings, grape tomatoes, homemade croutons and Caesar dressing. I actually prefer the fried onion strings over croutons in regular caesar’s salad. It adds a subtle crunch and more flavors.

Mango CevicheMango Ceviche (13)
snapper, serrano peppers, red onion, red bell pepper, citrus, mango. I absolutely love cevhice, and although this one had a bit too much lime for me the mango helped bring back a little sweetness to the sour punch.
Mexican CornMexican Corn (9)
grilled corn, cayenne pepper, lime, cotija, queso fresco. A delicious way to eat corn, that natural sweetness with cheese and loads of spices and hint of lime.

Snapper Frito TacosSnapper Frito Tacos (16)
lightly fried wild snapper, coastal slaw, pico de gallo, chipotle cream sauce. Snapper is much less flaky than cod so it won’t fall all over the place once you bite into it. It all tasted really fresh and the corn tortilla really aids in bringing out the flavors of the tacos. 

Cauli Frito TacosCauli Frito Tacos (13)
lightly fried cauliflower, coastal slaw, red bell peppers, chipotle cream sauce. I personally prefer this over the cod tacos. The fried cauliflower has a sweetness to it that plays so well with cream sauce and a dash of lime juice. This is probably one of my favorite vegetarian options out there.

Snapper VeracruzSnapper Veracruz (25)
fresh wild snapper, tomato, olive, caper, with herb topping and veggie rice. It was nice step away from the mundane salmon dish that’s offered in a lot of other places.

Cheese Enchiladas-Mexican styleCombo Enchilada (14)
3 Enchiladas Mexican-style with romaine lettuce, queso fresco, onions, sour cream, grape tomatoes & veggie rice. A hearty dish, that’s filling and combination of different textures. 

Maria's Gourmet BurgerMaria’s Gourmet Burger (16)
grilled pineapple on an Angus beef burger, Olde Hearth Bread poppy seed bun, Monterrey jack cheese, served with grilled Mexican corn. Everything came together so well on this burger. Especially the pineapple, it was a bit odd, but it really made the burger all the more savory. 

Churrosand of course we ended things lightly with some Fried Churros and Dulce de lechedipping sauce.

Cocina | 214 

151 E Welbourne Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 790-7997

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Swine & Sons Provisions, from the owners of the The Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder, will expand offerings to include breakfast beginning Monday, July 27, at its 595 West Fairbanks Avenue shop in Winter Park.

The morning menu will feature hot egg sandwiches, quiches, pastries, house cold brewed coffee, espresso drinks and rotating seasonal specials.

Chefs Rhys and Alexia Gawlak of Swine and Sons
Chefs Rhys and Alexia Gawlak of Swine and Sons

Breakfast hours will be Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Swine & Sons will continue to serve lunch weekdays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and will offer a limited menu consisting of grab-and-go options, charcuterie, beer and wine between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

The breakfast menu will not be available on weekends, for now, but the full lunch menu will be served from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday, and from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday.

To celebrate the launch of the new breakfast menu, Swine & Sons will offer hot breakfast sandwiches all day (7 a.m. until 5 p.m.) on Monday, July 27.

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Here are a few of the new items:

Breakfast @ Swine & Sons

Sandwiches

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Biscuit Sandwich – Egg, House-Made Canadian Bacon, Tomato Jam

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Fried Chicken and Waffle-wich – Smoked Honey, Pickled Gypsy Peppers, Cornbread Waffle

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Breakfast Focaccia Panini – Egg whites, tomato-basil goat cheese spread, marinated sweet peppers

Plates

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Baked Egg – Grits, Smoked Tomato, Potatoes, Onion, Sausage, Kale

Baked Egg en Croute – Caramelized Onion, house-cured Bacon

Baked Egg en Croute – Spinach, Fontina

Sweets

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Cinnamon Bun

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Chai Spiced Coffee Cake

Bento Boxes

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Smoked Salmon Spread with Bagel Chips

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Salumi and Cheese

Swine & Sons’ breakfast is a collaboration by James Beard-nominated chefs/co-owners James and Julie Petrakis and their Swine & Sons partners, Rhys and Alexia Gawlak.

“Neither The Ravenous Pig nor Cask & Larder are open during breakfast time, so this was the perfect chance to add an option for people to enjoy Swine Family restaurants at all hours,” said James Petrakis.

“Swine & Sons breakfast offers quick takeout for people on the run, as well as a neighborhood hub where guests can read the newspaper while enjoying a cup of coffee.”

Swine & Sons will also offer breakfast catering services for local businesses and private gatherings.

For more information on Swine & Sons, visit www.SwineandSons.com or follow on social media at:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/swineandsons
Twitter – @SwineandSons
Instagram – @SwineandSons

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Tuna by Tuna roll

Led by chefs who formerly led the sushi kitchen at Seito’s Sushi in nearby Baldwin Park, Umi on Park Avenue has become one of my favorite sushi restaurants in the Winter Park area. The ambiance is chic and calm, almost like you have been transported, having traveled to some distant exotic place outside of Central Florida. The owners, who have roots in Korea, may have brought this international aesthetic with them to Winter Park.

I was delightfully surprised with the sear and flavor of their ribeye steak beef from their robatayaki charcoal grill. Another highlight from their robata menu: bacon-wrapped enokitake – seared bacon-wrapped golden needle mushrooms, brushed with our house balsamic teriyaki glaze.

Umi means sea or ocean in Japanese, and so of course the sushi is a must try.

My wife loves tuna, so naturally we ordered the Tuna by Tuna (raw & spicy) 14, a spicy tuna roll wrapped with tuna sashimi, tobiko fish roe, scallions, and drizzled with spicy kobachi sauce – refreshing and delicious.

I ordered the sashimi (raw) platter, a chef’s selection – an assortment of 14 pieces, and was delighted again by the presentation and the creative cuts that were given, with lots of pieces not typical to most sashimi plates, like uni sea urchin and sweet ebi shrimp. All very fresh, and tasty, yet again.

For dessert, we ordered the Mille-feuille, kind of like a deconstructed napoleon. Nice flaky puff pastry layers, crispy with chocolate ganache custard, and tangerine fruit slices, mint, and toasted shaved coconut and white chocolate.

All in all, a very unexpectedly enjoyable meal at Umi, and we will be returning soon.

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Sushi bar at Umi
Sushi bar at Umi
Ribeye steak robata skewers
Ribeye steak robata skewers
Tamago egg nigiri
Tamago egg nigiri
Tuna by Tuna roll
Tuna by Tuna roll

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Sashimi platter at Umi with slices of tuna, snapper, oyster, and more
Sashimi platter at Umi with slices of tuna, snapper, oyster, and more
Deconstructed Mille Feuille
Deconstructed Mille Feuille

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Though they now have moved onto larger pastures at 1600 W. Fairbanks Avenue, 4 Rivers Smokehouse had their original location at 2103 W. Fairbanks Ave. – where B&B Junction stands now. B&B Junction, if you haven’t been yet, serves up some of the best burgers in town – you need to visit them asap!

We’re taking a trip down memory lane here today, back to the summer of 2012. A simpler time – memories of eating ribs and bbq in the tiny shop where it all started, just in time for the Fourth of July. As tiny as it may be, it now has grown to over 4 locations locally in Central Florida and one in Jacksonville and another in Tampa in the works.

Here it is…so tiny now that we see it again…but the potential was there….

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Still got the cherrywine sodas…
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The smoked beef brisket – always a classic…SONY DSC

Look at those tender ribs….SONY DSC

The burnt ends sandwich – made with the ends of the brisket….classic…SONY DSC

Banana dream – always wonderful pastries here, too, and now they have a whole sweet shop insideSONY DSC

BBQ Smoked wings…SONY DSC

Still got the great sides…SONY DSC

Fin. Trip down memory lane.
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PRESS RELEASE: 30th ANNUAL TASTE OF WINTER PARK ANNOUNCES WINNERS

Winter Park, Fla. (April 21, 2015) – On Wednesday, April 15, the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce hosted the 30th annual Taste of Winter Park presented by CenturyLink, the organization’s annual food festival. More than 40 of the area’s finest restaurants served over 1,300 attendees with unlimited food and beverage samples.

“The Taste of Winter Park continues to be one of Central Florida’s best foodie events,” said Patrick Chapin, President/CEO of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, noting that this year the event expanded into New York Avenue to accommodate additional vendors and guests. “We’re proud to showcase the many fine dining opportunities in Winter Park and bring the community together for a fun evening.”

Throughout the event, guests had the opportunity to taste from more than 40 vendors, including 10 new participants, and partake in a silent auction and raffle drawing. The highlight of the evening was the awards presentation. Judges included Mark Baratelli, publisher, The Daily City; Pam Brandon and Katie Farmand, editors, Edible Orlando; Josh Garrick, columnist, Winter Park/Maitland Observer; Rona Ginden, dining editor, Winter Park Magazine; Ricky Ly, food blogger, Tasty Chomps; Heather McPherson, food editor and restaurant critic, Orlando Sentinel; Megan Ribbens, web producer, Orlando Business Journal; and Scott Richardson, food writer, The Park Press.

Hamilton’s Kitchen at The Alfond Inn was honored with Best Main Course for Chef Bill’s roast pig dish.
Best Appetizer/Side Dish was presented to Lombardi’s Seafood for its lobster bisque.
Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park earned the Best Dessert award for its handmade chocolate chip cookie shot glasses.
The Best Booth Display went to 4 Rivers Smokehouse.
The Best Healthy Dish was presented to Orchid Thai for its mieng kum.
Mi Tomatina’s chilled octopus salad with zinfandel vinaigrette was named the Best Fresh Florida Dish.
Finally, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits took home the award for best beverage with its cherry vodka limeade.

The Taste of Winter Park is made possible by our presenting sponsor CenturyLink, and support from Andrea Kudlacz, Anytime Fitness, Bar Method, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, C&S Press, Central Florida Lifestyle, Dr. Drew Byrnes Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, Edible Orlando, Ferrell Wealth Management/ Ferrell & Kelly CPA’s, Florida’s Finest Linen Service, Florida Frame House & Gallery, Full Sail University, Gilded Home, GO Travel, Hunter Vision, Integrative Physical Medicine, Luma on Park, Massey Communications, Orlando City Soccer, Orlando Family Magazine, Orlando Food Tours, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Orlando Solar Bears, Sysco Central Florida, The Alfond Inn, The Ancient Olive, The Park Press, The Spice & Tea Exchange, Title Boxing Club Winter Park, UCF Athletics, Viking River Cruises, WFTV Channel 9, Whole Foods Market Winter Park, Winter Park Magazine, Winter Park Village, Winter Park/Maitland Observer, WMMO 98.9 FM, WUCF 89.9 FM and YMCA.

The Taste of Winter Park is held annually at the Winter Park Farmers’ Market. For information on the 31st annual Taste of Winter Park scheduled for April 2016, contact the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce at (407) 644-8281, visit www.winterpark.org or follow the event on Facebook and Twitter.

The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce represents more than 800 businesses, community organizations and individuals in an effort to develop, promote and sustain a vital, thriving business climate throughout the community and to initiate, support and enhance the civic, educational and economic well-being of the area. For more information, visit www.winterpark.org.

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All Photo credits go to: Andrea Kudlacz

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Winter Park’s Cask and Larder, the Southern Pubhouse, recently debuted a late night menu featuring some “Asian” influenced creations from the Japanese style Shoyu and Miso Ramen to Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches, all created with the careful attention to quality that the Ravenous Pig restaurant group has come to be known for.

I came by around 10:15pm on their debut night and the bar area where the menu is available was already packed with people. I ordered the Shoyu ramen (misspelled as Shyoyu on the menu?) which is a soy sauce based broth – the rift here on it was the delightfully crispy pork belly and a 60 minute sous vide egg, as well as house pickled daikon and collard green kimchi. The kimchi gave the broth a nice spicy finish and the ramen noodle soup itself was quite delicious. My favorite part of the dish was the excellent crispy pork belly!

By the time I finished my soup, around 10:45pm, the house had 86-ed (or sold out of) all their late night menu items. Quite the successful test venture with this menu, I’d say.

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The Late night Menu – available only at the Bar

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The Shoyu Ramen with 60 minute egg, pork belly, house pickled kimchi and daikon, kombu seaweed.

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Boca has changed a lot since it’s first appearance on the corner of Park Ave.
One change I noticed immediately was an island bar the put on the left side of the restaurant, it completely changed the ambience – it was more open, more lively, and inviting to the guests that walk by.

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Also, they have a new chef – Jake.  Jake and his team integrated the concept of fresh, simple, and local to the new menu items and I was able to taste their executions.

11122555_10206155480628100_331481755_nRicotta Gnudi
English peas, bacon marmalade, 7 minute egg, breakfast radish, Meyer lemon.
A creamy sweet base, with a silky poached egg that made the texture ever more enticing. Then with the fresh watercress salad on top that made the dish light and refreshing. It was a beautiful way to open up a brunch course.

Farms: Lake meadows/ Long and Scott Farms

11245456_10206155478988059_1339942215_nArctic Char 
Carrot Dashi, Mirin cured beets, Heirloom carrots, dill flower
Fresh Arctic Char on a bed of various garden picked vegetables along side with a savory carrot broth.
Farm: Frog Song Organic Farms

11263825_10206155477628025_750028051_nChicken Wing
Fried green tomato salad, buttermilk nage, onion-scapes
Breaded wing that is so tender it just falls off the bone, with a nice touch of acidity from the green tomato.

Farms: Lady Moon Farms/ Florida Classic Grower 
11125795_10206155473347918_106373884_nWild Boar Ribs
Bacon creamed corn, sweet pepper gastrique, squash blossom polenta.
The boar ribs were cooked to perfection, I didn’t even have to use my knife to get it off the bones. Super savory and mouth watering, especially on the bed of bacon creamed corn.
Farms: Pero Family Farms/ B&W Growers 

I also had a chance to check out another type of restaurant that’s by the same owner in a little nook of Park Ave. that’s a couple of steps away from Boca called Atlantic Beer and Oysters (ABO).

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I was able to try this incredibly fresh oyster that’s been slightly enhanced with a little bit of cucumber jalapeño mingonette and ABO cocktail sauce.

Did I also mention they also this super cool and groovy speak-easy type of bar upstairs?

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Very chill and vintage feel, it’s as if you’re taken back in time to enjoy a couple of drinks.

Boca believe in local, simple, and honest.  All menus are seasonal and fresh, meaning all menu items are fresh and based upon seasonal availability. So check in with them here and there so you don’t have to miss out on any of creations.

358 North Park Avenue
Winter Park, Florida 32789
Phone 407.636.7022

Monday  –  Sunday
11 AM – 11 PM

 

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Donut King is a family owned donut shop that opened in late 2007 in Minneola, Fl, and just a few months ago – they opened their second location on Howell Branch road, on the eastern edges of Winter Park / Casselberry.

Suffice it to say, this location is a lot closer to us on the east side than the Minneola one.

Unlike the first location, they are only open 5 a.m.-8 p.m daily.

What makes these donuts such a joy to eat? They’re soft, pillowy, and large – and quite delicious.

Throw your caution and diet to the wind before entering.

Some of the highlights are the glazed donut and the bacon maple glazed donut, but they have red velvet glazed, sprinkles, vanilla, pretty much all the favorites.

In addition to their donuts, they also have hot dog rolls, breakfast croissant sandwiches, and little slider hamburgers called castle burgers. They do not, however, have their jambalaya and fried chicken wings that is available in the first location…yet.

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

The Winter Park Farmers’ Market is one of my favorite weekly farmer’s markets here in Orlando.

Located just a block away from bustling Park Avenue, it’s the perfect Saturday morning outing for both friends and families to stroll around and grab little bites to eat or take home, before or after a meal on the Avenue.

It’s held at the old train depot, now the Winter Park Historical Musuem located at 200 West New England Avenue every Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is usually packed with folks walking their dogs and is a great opportunity for people watching.

Some of my favorite things to get here are the freshly popped kettlecorn – the best found in the city – from Mountain Kettle Corn, lovely croissants from Chez Vincent, fresh fruit jams from Ginger Jams and Jellies, artisan breads from Olde Hearth Bread Co, and a delicious breakfast bagel inside the Winter Park Farmer’s Market building.

Winter Park Farmers’ Market
200 West New England Avenue
Winter Park, Florida
407-599-3275

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Off of Park Avenue on Morse Blvd, Croissant Gourmet, run by French Pastry Chef Francois Cahange, is one of the many joys that I think of when wandering around Winter Park’s popular shopping and restaurant area.

In addition to some of the best French pastries in town, also serves up some very delectable sandwiches, quiche, crepes, and salads for lunch.

Two display cases hold the wonders of Croissant Gourmet: fruit tarts topped with raspberries and blueberries, éclairs, Napoleons, assorted croissants, apple turnovers, macarons, and many more all made fresh and locally.

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The beautiful pastry cases
The beautiful pastry cases
Jalousy pastry
Jalousy pastry
Almond Croissants
Almond Croissants

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Plain croissants
Plain croissants
Strudel
Strudel

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“As a young chef, it is just about the food – at the end of the day, make sure it tastes good and cook from the soul” – Chef Matthew Cargo, chef di cucina, Prato

Chef Matthew Cargo is an Orlando Native and currently the chef di cucina at Prato in Winter Park, Florida since its opening three years ago. He recently traveled to California for one month apprenticing under two Michelin Star restaurants which included Quince SF (2-Michelin Starred) and Meadowood Napa (3-Michelin Starred).

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A Boone High School graduate, Cargo went on to attend the Le Cordon Bleu OCA and then accepted a position as a line cook at Luma on Park in 2009 where he met Chef Brandon Mcglamery.

Chef Matthew Cargo told us, “His philosophy about food and techniques were very inspiring to me as a young Chef, and he mentored me to push myself through the ranks of the kitchen to gain the knowledge and fundamentals that we preach and practice day in and day out.”

“He called me one night three years ago and asked me do you have your passport? We’re going to Italy next week for 12 days and we’re going to open a new restaurant and you’re going to be the chef de cuisine.”

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He’s been chef di cucina of Prato ever since. It’s been a whirlwind three years, and so it was due time to take a short break and some travel.

“We’ve got a chef driven menu at Prato, it’s been a growing experience for me and Brandon as well. We work with what we have, what’s in season, and what space we have with creative freedom,” Chef Cargo said.

“My trip to Cali was a soul search “Sabbatical”. Prato is a beast of a restaurant – the numbers are huge and we are super successful, but I felt that at the time that Prato was not what Brandon and I wanted it to be. With a small kitchen and 170 seats, I have always continued to push and strive to make Prato great because it’s very close to my heart and soul.”

“Chef [McGlamery] said in the beginning I’m giving you this restaurant because you have earned it, good luck kid – he has always supported me 100%. It’s a story to you young inspiring chefs – hard work pays off.”

“I was 29, tired and struggling to hold my team together, questioning the food I was doing. I want it always to better, push, push – most people can’t do that everyday, but I did.”

prato1He went to California this past summer, unpaid,  and stayed in hostels while working at Quince SF and Meadowood Napa.

“I realized that food is great, but Orlando is my home and I want to be apart of making this city know for food like LA, SF, NY – with all of us, I believe we can make difference!”

“I went to California in search of what food should be and how the caliber of a chef is judged. I wanted to work in the most intense driven kitchens to see if Michelin star cooking was the end all be all, most importantly well respected in every aspect. What I came to discover is that I lean to more of soulful/honest cooking, which is Prato.”

“I want Orlando to be known – we’ve gone a long way in the past few years – we keep pushing and try to be part of the community – together with Cask and Larder, Ravenous Pig, all these restaurants are all here to make the community.”

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What are some of your favorite dishes on the menu right now?

Ribollita for sure, it’s a peasants dish (stew/soup) kind of twist layered with toasted ciabatta and topped with a poached Zenn Naturals Golden Egg and Serrano Mostarda.

Madai Snapper Crudo, Buttermilk Panna cotta, castlevatrano olive fritto.

Meatballs are always OG status.

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What are you planning for the coming winter season?

Stick with what’s available and hopefully score some white truffles!

Where do you dine when not at Prato?

Grandma’s house, C&L (Cask and Larder), King Cajun Crawfish, and the Patty melt at the Hideaway.

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What are some interesting facts about yourself that most people might not know?

I’m an Amateur Hand Model.

Growing up, what were some of your favorite childhood eats?

“Canned pears topped with miracle whip and cheddar cheese”…trust me.

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Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen, led by CEO Jonathon Smiga and Executive Chef Camilo Velasco, has made a remarkable transition in the past few years from a mall staple with over 110 shops to 2 company owned neighborhood coffee shops in Winter Park and Downtown Orlando.

Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen has joined coffee’s “third wave” movement, allowing for greater care and attention to the brew, from the sourcing to the brew method, whether it’s pour over or drip cones.

They’ve also expanded their reach into the online sales world greatly by offering not only their special branded coffees by the bag, but also have kept up with the times by having Keurig style single serve coffee cups and instant brewsticks, all with their signature flavors.

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The Kitchen part of Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen in Winter Park is often overlooked or as some would say, one of Winter Park’s best kept secrets.

The food churned out by Chef Camilo Velasco in the tiny space behind the coffee brewing stations at Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen is nothing short of awe inspiring.

Even though they have the typical to-go type sandwiches and salads you’d expect for a coffee shop, on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, the cafe turns into a sort of intimate chef’s tasting room with all sorts of culinary delights that excite and intrigue the senses.

On a recent visit to Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen, over some fanciful dinner conversation with the rather fascinating Mr. Smiga and accompanying marketing team, I was surprised and delighted on several occasions by what came out from the tiny kitchen in the back of the room that night.

Barnie's CoffeeKitchen CEO Jonathon Smiga with Executive Chef Camilo Velasco
Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen CEO Jonathon Smiga with Executive Chef Camilo Velasco

Chef Velasco’s dishes are some of the best on the competitive Park Avenue, where countless other restaurants vie for Winter Park customers. The Zellwood corn chowder, for example, is chockful of local Zellwood corn and crunchy, crispy chorizo bits, like bacon, in a rich, creamy broth, a nod to Chef Velasco’s Latin roots.

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Chef Velasco, a protege of the James Beard acclaimed award winning chef Norman Van Aken of Norman’s, has honed his craft here and demonstrated great skill and technique in his new fall chef’s menu dishes, from the potato gnocchi with duck confit to the local grilled pompano, delicate and shimmering on top of baby bok choy in a roasted red pepper, coconut broth.

Each dish on the menu is graciously paired with a thoughtful wine suggestion as well, each glass tempered to accentuate the flavors or complement the richness of a dish.

Save room for dessert, the olive oil cake and Sicilian pistachio gelato with macerated berries is a sweet delight, and almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

Give the chef’s dinner menu a try this fall, you might be surprised by what you’ll find tucked inside the coffee shop on a Park Avenue street corner.

Loch Duart Salmon Tartare - Pickled ramps, salsa verde and radish - 11.oo
Loch Duart Salmon Tartare – Pickled ramps, salsa verde and radish – 11.oo
Zellwood Corn Chowder - Spanish chorizo - 7.oo
Zellwood Corn Chowder – Spanish chorizo – 7.oo
Potato Gnocchi  - Duck confit, brown butter, and sage - 10.oo
Potato Gnocchi – Duck confit, brown butter, and sage – 10.oo
Florida Pompano, Roasted red pepper, coconut milk broth, and baby bok choy - 16.oo
Florida Pompano, Roasted red pepper, coconut milk broth, and baby bok choy – 16.oo
Olive Oil Cake and Sicilian Pistachio Gelato With macerated berries - 7.oo
Olive Oil Cake and Sicilian Pistachio Gelato With macerated berries – 7.oo

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For more information about hours and menu, visit http://barniescoffeekitchen.com/pages/our-cafe

Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen
118 S. Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 407.629.0042

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Chili Jam Fried Rice with Beef and Fried Tofu - Sweet and Spicy

This tiny Thai restaurant has been on Aloma for as long as I’ve known – and it’s been suggested that this is the first Thai restaurant in Orlando. It was long past over due for a visit so I went with a friend recently for lunch to check out their offerings.

I must admit, I am not the biggest fan of Thai food. I don’t know why but the noodle and rice dishes I have found in Orlando’s Thai restaurants have been more subdued or just rather bland than I am accustomed to – after a few bites, I’d get bored with my dish.

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For some reason, I have this feeling that the dishes have been “dumbed” down a notch to not offend any Western sensibilities – read: less of the “Thai hot” flavors. I am not a fan of scorching Thai hot either, but maybe a medium between the two extremes of hot and mild/bland is where the real authentic flavor is.

Anyways, I was happy to discover that Thai Villa’s dishes stay true to the Thai palate and were quite full of flavor.

I make it a point to look for and order the “Stuffed Chicken Legs” each time I see it on a menu at a Thai restaurant. It’s one of my favorite Thai dishes – a whole chicken drumstick and wing that’s been stuffed with a mixture of ground pork, noodles, and mushrooms, and then grilled or fried. The ones here are fried and are an ample serving for two – they hit the spot, tasty, fresh, and filling as an appetizer.

For my lunch, I ordered the chili jam fried rice with beef and crispy tofu, while my dining companion ordered the traditional chicken pad thai. My fried rice was very enjoyable with nice sweet chili spice flavors and the crispy crunch from the fried tofu. A little dash of crushed peanuts from the house spice jars and it’s a hit. The chicken pad thai that I sampled from my friend was also quite good.

I can see why this place is packed for lunch, and would definitely return.

Closed Wednesdays.

Thai Villa on Urbanspoon

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Stuffed Chicken Wings
Stuffed Chicken Wings
Chicken Pad Thai
Chicken Pad Thai
Chili Jam Fried Rice with Beef and Fried Tofu - Sweet and Spicy
Chili Jam Fried Rice with Beef and Fried Tofu – Sweet and Spicy

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Swine & Sons Provisions Marks Latest Endeavor from Acclaimed Florida Chefs James and Julie Petrakis

Winter Park, Fla. – Swine & Sons Provisions, a new endeavor from James and Julie Petrakis, chefs/owners of The Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder, is slated to open February 2015. The third Winter Park operation from the James Beard-nominated husband/wife tandem will reflect Cask & Larder’s sophisticated southern cuisine and Ravenous Pig’s innovative flare for modern fine dining, while introducing a novel takeout concept to Central Florida.

Located immediately west of Cask & Larder on Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park, Swine & Sons Provisions will specialize in takeout charcuterie, butcher sandwiches, seasonally inspired homemade ice creams, signature spices and rubs, scratch-made biscuits, daily pastry offerings and more.

S&S Rendering 1Swine & Sons Provisions will also offer growlers of beer sourced from Cask & Larder’s Brewery. Favorites from The Brewery, including the Red Drum, IPA and Wit varietals will be available, along with a handpicked selection of boutique wines.

“Since opening Ravenous Pig seven years ago and on the heels of celebrating Cask & Larder’s second anniversary, we’ve not only been humbled by the community’s support, but also its encouragement to keep growing,” said Julie Petrakis. “Swine & Sons Provisions is an extension of our first two locations but geared more to people with limited time or to those looking to recreate some of their favorite dishes at home.”

Longtime Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder Chef de Cuisine Rhys Gawlak will join the Petrakises as a partner in Swine & Sons Provisions. Additionally, he will spearhead the charcuterie program at the store as well as oversee daily operations. Gawlak will showcase a collection of cured meats and cheeses as part of the charcuterie offerings and regularly incorporate seasonally fresh local ingredients into the daily selections.

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Fellow Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder alum, Koralyss Dominguez, will join Gawlak at Swine & Sons Provisions to oversee its delectable pastry and dessert items. Dominguez will feature some of the most popular sweet treats created during her tenure at both restaurants, which have a cult-like following, while also unveiling new works of culinary art.

Keeping it in the “Swine Family,” Kailey Krips, currently a manager at Ravenous Pig, will also be part of the Swine & Sons Provisions launch team as its store manager.

“It’s a passion of Julie and I to keep our hometown on the forefront of the most progressive culinary trends,” said James Petrakis. “When conceptualizing Swine & Sons Provisions, we pulled inspiration from places like Craftsman & Wolves, Boccalone, Star Provisions and Two Boroughs Larder. We’re giving it a Florida twist and couldn’t be more excited to debut the new concept in Winter Park.”

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WHERE WILL YOU BE LOCATED?
Look for their new space located in the same plaza as Cask & Larder on the corner of Fairbanks and Pennsylvania (in the old UBreakiFix next to the cleaners).

Swine & Sons Provisions is also proud to announce the launch of its website at www.SwineandSons.com. Branding for the store, including its website, is being led by Orlando-based Hatchet Design. The team at Hatchet has been involved with numerous design and branding efforts at Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder since their inceptions.

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Regular Swine & Sons Provisions updates are also available via social media at:
http://www.swineandsons.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/swineandsons
Twitter – @SwineandSons
Instagram – @SwineandSons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Orlando finally has a Shake Shack to call its own – the New York based burger joint created by legendary restauranteur Danny Meyer will open this Wednesday July 30th 2014 at 119 North Orlando Avenue at the intersection of West Morse Boulevard in the Orlando suburb of Winter Park. Locals may know it as the “Trader Joe’s Plaza,” familiar with the parking issues that already exacerbate the trip to the area.

But despite the parking issues, the trip is so worth it, and here is why:

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1. The Original Shackburger – Ok, maybe this might not be so surprising, but this juicy, flavorful burger is one of the best in town in a very crowded field, and despite its small stature, the burger packs a lot of satisfying punch. As a burger traditionalist, nothing beats a good quality burger patty topped with cheese, tomato, and lettuce. The bun is a bit soft for me, but altogether the burger is definitely a heavy hitter among the many burger contenders in Central Florida. Note, the fries here are the crinkle cut, rather than hand cut fries available else where. They tasted fresh and crispy.

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ShackBurger – Cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce

 2. The SmokeStack Burger – Spicy bacon? yes please – The SmokeShack is a Cheeseburger topped with all-natural applewood smoked bacon, slightly sweet and surprisingly spicy chopped cherry pepper and ShackSauce.

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SmokeShack – Cheeseburger topped with all-natural applewood smoked bacon, chopped cherry pepper and ShackSauce

3. Something really delicious for our vegetarian friends – the ‘Shroom Burger – no, Shake Shack isn’t serving up those frozen soy tofu burgers you see at all the other burger joints. This ‘Shroom burger is house fried battered portobello mushroom filled with oozing, melted muenster and cheddar cheeses, topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce – it pleasantly holds its own on the menu and is definitely a highlight amid the meatier burger menu.

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‘Shroom burger is house fried battered portobello mushroom filled with oozing, melted muenster and cheddar cheeses, topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce

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4. A Local Flair with Audubon Park’s P is for Pie Bake Shop in their “Concretes” – Little known fact about this Winter Park location of Shake Shack – they are using local Audubon Park bake shop P is for Pie’s Key Lime Pie for their Key Lime Pie Oh My Concrete vanilla custard dessert – a very nice local touch. See the full menu here

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Another sweet local touch – Shake Shack in Winter Park will also donate 5% of sales from the Winter’s Wonderland concrete to the local non-profit BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation, a local non-profit that provides year-round support for children and families in Orlando and Central Florida who are facing cancer and other hematological illnesses.

5. Stunning Hidden Lake Views at Shake Shack in Winter Park – It’s not just for the particularly good burgers – juicy, flavorful, tender on a soft bread bun – but also a great reason to visit is to see the stunning sunset views over Lake Killarney. Really lovely, beautiful place to have a burger and a shake or a “concrete” frozen custard ice cream, and kick back and relax in Central Florida.

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Bonus: you can even play ping pong back here on the Shake Shack branded table tennis area while you enjoy your burgers and shakes in the patio on Lake Killarney.
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PRESS RELEASE: SHAKE SHACK TO OPEN FIRST-EVER ORLANDO, FLORIDA, LOCATION ON WEDNESDAY, JULY 30TH

Beloved Burger, Hot Dog and Frozen Custard Stand Parks it in Winter Park

NEW YORK, NY – July 29, 2014 – It’s a Shack world after all! Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) is proud to announce it will open its fourth Shake Shack® in Florida on Wednesday, July 30th, at 11:00AM.

The newest addition to the Shack family is located at 119 North Orlando Avenue at the intersection of West Morse Boulevard in the Orlando suburb of Winter Park.

Established in 2004 in New York City’s Madison Square Park, Shake Shack is a critically acclaimed, modern day “roadside” burger stand known for its 100% all-natural Angus beef burgers, griddled-crisp flat-top dogs, fresh-made frozen custard, craft beer and wine, and much more. A fun and lively community gathering spot with widespread appeal, over the past decade Shake Shack has earned a cult-like following in Florida and around the world.

“We opened our first Florida Shake Shack in Miami Beach four years ago. We’ve had our eye on Central Florida for some time, and we’re thrilled to finally be a part of this community and further our commitment to the state,” said Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti. “Being located alongside Lake Killarney is ideal, and we look forward to having locals and visitors alike join us for a ShackBurger on our outdoor patio space complete with fire pit, lounge chairs, and even a ping-pong table.”

Like its Sunshine State predecessors in Miami Beach, Coral Gables and Boca Raton, Winter Park’s menu will feature all the Shake Shack classics, plus a selection of delectable frozen custard concretes to satisfy those sweet tooth cravings.

Exclusive to the Winter Park Shack is Winter’s Wonderland (vanilla frozen custard, marshmallow sauce and crispy crunchies). A long-time fan favorite that originated at Shake Shack’s flagship location in NYC will also be offered, the Shack Attack® (chocolate frozen custard, fudge sauce, chocolate truffle cookie dough and Mast Brothers Shake Shack dark chocolate chunks, topped with chocolate sprinkles). Last but certainly not least, is a beloved classic from the Miami Beach Shack that will now be served in Winter Park as well, the Key Lime Pie Oh My (vanilla frozen custard blended with a slice of key lime pie from Orlando’s own P is for Pie Bake Shop).

As part of its community outreach efforts and mission to Stand for Something Good®, the Winter Park Shake Shack will donate 5% of sales from the Winter’s Wonderland concrete to BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation, a local non-profit that provides year-round support for children and families in Orlando and Central Florida who are facing cancer and other hematological illnesses. Learn more at www.basecamp.org.

In keeping with Shake Shack’s eco-friendly mindset and commitment to green architecture, the interior walls of the Winter Park Shack are clad in once lost century-old lumber that was recently salvaged from Northern Florida’s Suwannee River. The Shack also features energy-efficient kitchen equipment and lighting. Chairs and booths are made from lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and tabletops are made from reclaimed bowling alley lanes. To keep guests virtually connected, free Wi-Fi is available.

For more information, including a list of all current Shake Shack locations, please visit www.shakeshack.com.

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Chicken Dog – Shake Shack chicken, apple and sage sausage

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Chocolate Shake

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Shake Shack on Urbanspoon

Photos by Krystle Nguyen

Park Ave is hands down the highest visited spot in Winter Park. However, there are still many hidden treasures to be found around this hotspot.

One day, I decided to explore Winter Park to see what more it had to offer. After ending up on Pennsylvania Avenue, I checked out a few of the local shops; a few being Riffle Paper Company and Pure Blends Apothecary and Spa. After a short lived shopping spree, I ran through the rain and ended up at Fresh Cafe.

Before you continue reading, please note I had absolutely no intention of coming here. However, the combination of rain and post-shopping fatigue brought on some serious soup cravings.  Upon entering, an EXTREMELY friendly staff welcomed me into the dim lit restaurant – the main source of light being the melancholy sun through the wide window.

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I sat down at a small wooden table and took in the surroundings. Beautiful wood tables. Posh designs. Calming atmosphere. The ambiance is indescribable and that’s a good thing because it’s one of the best places in Winter Park to go on a date. Fresh is known for its ethics. They are globally inspired yet locally sourced. Meaning, they use locally sourced organic ingredients.

The server tried his hardest to get my full attention but my eyes kept scanning the restaurant. Every detail. All the plants. He got really close to me until it was obvious that I couldn’t ignore him for much longer and asked me what I’d like to drink. My typical response is “Water,” and I said just that.

The waiter smiled and said “We have different infused waters,” pointing to various containers behind the counter. My eyes were instantly fixated on herbs floating in giant containers of water. I can’t remember all of the combinations, but I ended up choosing Rosemary instead of my second choice, Lavender.

My mood instantly changed for the better after taking a sip of the Rosemary infused water; it was fresh, earthy, and breathtaking. Every sip felt like a new breath of fresh air. A new server approached me and asked me how the water was.

I smiled and said “Yes..please” assuming he was inquiring if I wanted more. By this point, my mind was gone. I wasn’t listening to anyone. I felt like I was in a whole new world. It sounds cheesy but it’s true. The combination of the ambiance with the rosemary water was extremely euphoric.

Water
Infused Rosemary Water 

After getting my own bottle of Rosemary water, I looked over the menu and asked the server what he recommended. He pointed out the Tikka Masala Chickpea Soup, which sounded absolutely amazing since I’m from India and have felt homesick lately. The soup was very interesting – almost like a cross between curry and a creamy bisque. The texture was smooth and slightly thick. I asked the server how it was made. He said “We slow cook the chickpeas with the spices, puree it, and it continues to slow cook for hours.” The soup had notes of cardamom, cumin, tomato, coconut, and garlic. Overall, I’d give it an eight out of ten stars. The soup is delicious but it could use more spice. Maybe roasted red peppers or habanero?

Soup
Tikka Chickpea Soup

For my entree, I tried the Mrs. Saigon Salad, which had julienne Cabbage, Daikon, Cucumbers, Carrots, Scallions, Peanuts, Cilantro, mint, basil sesame-ginger dressing on a bed of black rice. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the combination but I wasn’t disappointed with it either. The cold rice felt undercooked and the sauce was zesty its best but ended up being boring. The vegetables were fresh and crisp but the ginger dressing took away the original flavor.

Saigon
Mrs. Saigon Salad

For dessert, I opted for the Bananas and Chocolate Bread Pudding, which was served with homemade whipped cream. Bread Pudding is not one of my favorite desserts. However, the combination of deep chocolate and creamy banana works well together. The dish is served warm and pairs beautifully with the cooly creaminess of the whipped cream. At first, I found the texture to be awkward until I felt a crunch. There were walnuts! Yum! The combination of rich flavors, creaminess, and crunchy texture set the bar for future bread puddings. Overall, I give the bread pudding a nine out of ten. My only issue with it was the flavor. A hint of cinnamon or peppermint would take the dish to a whole new level!

Banana
Bananas and Chocolate Bread Pudding 

Fresh Cafe is an amazing restaurant. The customer service is superb and the cuisine is absolutely delicious. If I had to give it a rating, I’d give it a nine out of ten.

Fresh Café on Urbanspoon

Do you ever crave pasta? I’m talking about a giant bowl of pasta that could feed at least five people. Well, I recently had one of those days and decided to head to Italio in Winter Park. I’ve been to Italio twice in the past but never really paid attention to the food. The past few times were more  “Get food in my stomach and head to wherever in a hurry” instances. However, I never left fully satisfied and wanted to know why.

If you’ve never been to Italio, it’s a visual sensation, showcasing bold red tones and Italian embellishments. The concept is fast casual like Chipotle, but feels slightly nicer. At Italio, you are able to choose a piada (wrap), noodles, or salad bowl. There are three main sauces, and an overwhelming amount of toppings.

If you’re not a control freak, there are prefixed “Chef Selections” to choose from.

Chef

Chef’s Menu 

I ended up making my own pasta bowl, because that’s the true meaning of happiness. The Italio employee asked me to pick between two types of noodles: whole wheat or regular. I obviously opted for the regular. Next, I was asked to pick something from the grill. My options were steak, chicken, chicken fritte (breaded), shrimp, italian sausage, meatball, and veggie. As someone who doesn’t like complicated options, I chose the chicken. Selecting the sauce was a challenge since I had to try all three of them. Here’s what I thought:

1) Basil Pomodoro: Tastes like Tostidos Salsa. Bland and boring.

2) Artisan Alfredo: Creamy but lacks flavor. The claimed “garlic” does not exist in flavor.

3) Spicy Prima Rosa: This sauce is neither spicy or creamy, so it completely failed the taste test.
I ended up going with the Artisan Alfredo since it stood out from the rest.

Food

For the toppings, I ended up selecting mushroom, roasted red peppers, chickpeas, roasted garlic, and mozzarella.

Food2

Here’s the honest truth, and this is from eating here a total of three times:

– The food is NEVER hot; it’s always an awkward lukewarm. It would be great if my pasta was steaming!

-The Alfredo sauce is devastatingly boring. I tried using the roasted garlic and mozzarella to give it more flavor but it didn’t work. The sauce reminded me of my first time trying to make Alfredo when I was seven. 

– The assortment of toppings is amazing. I’m going to try a salad next time. Maybe it’ll be dynamic.

– The bowl is huge, so you will get full but you won’t walk out extremely impressed. However, the concept is fast casual and not a fine Italian restaurant. Don’t set your expectations high. 

– The staff makes me sad. When I asked to try the sauces, they acted like it was a huge burden.

 

On the bright side, Italio has one treasure I’ll keep coming back for.

CANNOLI. CHIPS. WOW. WOW. WOW. 

Cannoli

I’m not a cannoli person by any means. but their take on filled cannolis is really amazing. They are in the form of chips and are served with a creamy cannoli dip. The combination is mind blowing. However, the dip was slightly powder sugary on my  latest visit. Maybe it’s hit or miss? Either way, try the cannoli chips if anything!

Italio – Winter Park
276 S Orlando Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 960-1860
www.italiokitchen.com

Father’s Day Pairing Guide

Don’t Forget The Wine!

Father’s Day is around the corner. If you haven’t picked out something special for good ol’ dad, don’t sweat it – we have a few recommendations to make this Father’s Day extra special. For those of you who were triumphant in braving the Orlando shops and malls to find that perfect gift, we’d like to remind you that no gift is complete without wine. If you got him chocolate – get him wine! If you’re taking him out to dinner – get him wine! Is he receiving a beautiful white dress shirt? Again, get that man some wine – STAT. To showcase which wines pair beautifully with our Father’s Day foodie picks, we interviewed wine expert, Roger Beery of Bacchus & Beery.

After surveying a total of 81 dads across the nation and figuring out what they really want for Father’s Day, Roger Beery and I discussed which wines pair exquisitely with these top picks.

Dark Chocolate

For the dad with the sweet tooth, we recommend dark chocolate from Peterbrooke Chocolatier on Park Avenue. Their Dark Chocolate will pair beautifully with a Cabernet Sauvignon. Why? Roger recommends this variety because the tannins in wine can accentuate the slight bitterness found in dark chocolate. He suggests pairing dark chocolate with a Vintage Port – it’ll put a smile on dad’s chocolate covered face.

peterbrooke

Photo Credit: Unique Michael

 

Marshmallows

For the classy dads out there, we recommend Wondermade’s Gold Champagne Marshmallows. What’s so special about these bites? They are capped with 24 karat gold! Roger recommends pairing these beauties with sparkling wine or champagne, as the bubbles will help to balance the gooey deliciousness of the gourmet marshmallow. He specifically suggests a brut style sparkler from J vineyards or Mumm Napa Valley. 

gold

Photo Credit: Wondermade 

 

Steak

Let’s face it. A hungry dad is not a happy dad. A majority of dads will order a steak on Father’s Day – a Porterhouse Steak to be exact. As agreed with Roger, a great steak calls for a great Cabernet Sauvignon. Why? Roger recommends this variety because the tannins and red fruit are made to pair with the juicy cut. He even recommends taking the extra step and ordering a unique small production Cabernet directly from the winery: Dunn Vineyards, Alpha Omega Winery, Corison Winery, or John Anthony Vineyards to impress. For local picks, he recommends Jordan Winery, Caymus Winery, and Shafer Vineyards, as they are consistent Cabernet standouts.

Steak

Photo Credit: Allen Brothers  

 

Shrimp & Grits 

Taking dad out for a nice lunch? We recommend the Shrimp & Grits at Marlow’s Tavern. Why? White Cheddar Grit Cake, Spinach, Roma Tomato, Shallot and Roast Tomato Beurre Blanc all combine together to create a flavorful experience. Roger recommends pairing this delicious dish with a dry rose’, as it is not your grandmother’s sweet white Zinfandel. Dry rose’s are crisp, refreshing and less sweeter. Pour dad a glass of manly rose’ of Pinor Noir such as Belle Glos or Copain.

Shrimp

Photo Credit: Unique Michael 

 

Blue Cheese

It’s okay to be cheesy this Father’s Day – just don’t forget the wine! Blue Cheese is a popular choice and is often given to dads who are cheese connoisseurs. They can be salty and pungent, making wine pairing tricky. Roger recommends pairing Blue Cheese with a sweet or dessert wine such as a Sauterne or Late Harvest Riesling. If your dad doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, Roger recommends Smith Madrone Dry Riesling (Napa) or Chateau Ste. Michelle. We also wholeheartedly recommend Michelle Riesling (Washington) for its hint of sweetness.

cheese

Photo Credit: Cornucopia Cheese 

 

 

 

About Roger Beery  

Roger and Donna Beery began writing Bacchus and Beery Wine Blog in 2009 as a way to express their mutual love of boutique wines, winemakers and wine country. What began as a little hobby has grown into one of the most widely read wine blogs. Today Bacchus and Beery focuses on wine travel, winemaker interviews and wine reviews. In the Fall of 2014 with their son, Conch, a winemaker in Sonoma, they will make their first wines for their new, yet to be named, wine label. As Roger said, “it’s time for the writer to get a little dirty in the winery.”

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The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce hosted the 29th Annual Taste of Winter Park presented by CenturyLink on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, showcasing more than 40 of Central Florida’s top chefs, bakers, caterers and confectioners for a fun evening at the Winter Park Farmers’ Market.

All-inclusive tickets featured unlimited samples of signature dishes, refreshing beverages and decadent desserts.

The 29th Annual Taste of Winter Park included samplings from John Rivers’ new concept, The COOP and live entertainment from saxophonist Johnny Mag Sax, raffle prizes and more and lasted from 5 – 8:00 p.m, just barely enough time to try all the glorious food and beverage offerings!

More than 40 of the area’s finest restaurants served over 1,300 attendees with unlimited samples of unique culinary creations, steakhouse favorites, quality seafood, decadent desserts and a variety of coffees, teas, wine and beer.

“The Taste of Winter Park continues to be one of Central Florida’s best foodie events,” said Patrick Chapin, President/CEO of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. “We’re proud to showcase the many fine dining opportunities in Winter Park and bring the community together for an unforgettable evening.”

Throughout the event, a select panel of judges from local media outlets sampled each menu item to determine the recipient of seven coveted awards. Judges included Pam Brandon and Katie Farmand, editors, Edible Orlando; Ricky Ly of TastyChomps.com; Megan Ribbens, web producer, Orlando Business Journal; Scott Richardson, food writer, The Park Press; and Mark Baratelli, owner/founder, TheDailyCity.com.

This year I was sad to note that Cask and Larder, Prato, Luma on Park, and the Ravenous Pig were not present. Luckily, there were a few new comers who were able to hold up the torch of local, delicious food like the Hamilton’s Kitchen at the Alfond Inn, which featured locally farm-raised whole roasted pig with Apopka Wild field greens tossed in oregano vinaigrette, fried mac and cheese lollipops with sweet pepper aioli, and house made ricotta cheese “Heavens to Betsy” jams on crostini – one of my favorites of the night!

 Winners of the Taste of Winter Park included:

Best Entree – The Coop – Chicken Biscuits

Best Appetizer – Marlow’s Tavern – Ahi tuna poke 

Best Decor / Presentation – Orchid Thai

Best Drink – Bungalow 23

Best Dessert – Cocina 214 – Tres Leches

Best Healthy Eating – Bosphorous Turkish Kitchen

Best Fresh From Florida – Hamilton’s Kitchen at Alfond Inn

Sunrail - still on practice run - officially open May 1st - first two weeks in May is free to ride!
Sunrail – still on practice run – officially open May 1st – first two weeks in May is free to ride!
The Meat House in Winter Park
The Meat House in Winter Park
Grilled sugarcane skewered Kalbi shrimp and pineapple atop Avo Kyu roll - The Meat House in Winter Park
Grilled sugarcane skewered Kalbi shrimp and pineapple atop Avo Kyu roll – The Meat House in Winter Park
Grilled steak tips with wild mushroom and burgundy wine sauce - The Meat House in Winter Park
Grilled steak tips with wild mushroom and burgundy wine sauce – The Meat House in Winter Park
The Meat House in Winter Park
The Meat House in Winter Park
John and Shirley's Catering - chicken, yellow rice, swamp salsa
John and Shirley’s Catering – chicken, yellow rice, swamp salsa
Mitchell's Fish Market in Winter Park
Mitchell’s Fish Market in Winter Park
Carrot Cake Cupcake - Mitchell's Fish Market
Carrot Cake Cupcake – Mitchell’s Fish Market
Seared ahi tuna - Mitchell's Fish Market
Seared ahi tuna – Mitchell’s Fish Market
Johnny Mag Sax Entertainment
Johnny Mag Sax Entertainment
Tolla's Italian Deli and Cafe - Chicken touscan with pasta
Tolla’s Italian Deli and Cafe – Chicken touscan with pasta
The Coop - Chicken and Biscuits, pimento cheese grit squares, and cinnamon roll bread pudding
The Coop – Chicken and Biscuits, pimento cheese grit squares, and cinnamon roll bread pudding
Chef John Rivers of The Coop
Chef John Rivers of The Coop
ABC Fine Wine and Spirits
ABC Fine Wine and Spirits
Carmel Cafe and Wine Bar
Carmel Cafe and Wine Bar
Brian Waggoner - Carmel Cafe and Wine Bar
Brian Waggoner – Carmel Cafe and Wine Bar
Braised short ribs, creamy polenta, edamame hummus w pita chips - Carmel Cafe and Wine Bar
Braised short ribs, creamy polenta, edamame hummus w pita chips – Carmel Cafe and Wine Bar
Orchid Thai Cuisine
Orchid Thai Cuisine
Orchid Thai Cuisine - Summer Rolls
Orchid Thai Cuisine – Summer Rolls
Orchid Thai Cuisine - chicken satay
Orchid Thai Cuisine – chicken satay
Orchid Thai Cuisine - pad thai noodles
Orchid Thai Cuisine – pad thai noodles
Smart Coffee HD
Smart Coffee HD
Smart Coffee HD - Chicken and Waffles
Smart Coffee HD – Chicken and Waffles
Smart Coffee HD - Tomato Soup
Smart Coffee HD – Tomato Soup
Smart Coffee HD - Hamilicious Breakfast sandwich
Smart Coffee HD – Hamilicious Breakfast sandwich
Miller's Ale House - University Blvd
Miller’s Ale House – University Blvd
Miller's Ale House - University Blvd - Cajun chicken pasta and jambalaya
Miller’s Ale House – University Blvd – Cajun chicken pasta and jambalaya
Park Plaza Gardens - mini crab cake with spicy aioli
Park Plaza Gardens – mini crab cake with spicy aioli
Marlow's Tavern - ahi tuna poke
Marlow’s Tavern – ahi tuna poke
Marlow's Tavern - shrimp and grits
Marlow’s Tavern – shrimp and grits
Hamilton's Kitchen at Alfond Inn
Hamilton’s Kitchen at Alfond Inn
Hamilton's Kitchen at Alfond Inn - Whole Roast Pig
Hamilton’s Kitchen at Alfond Inn – Whole Roast Pig
Hamilton Kitchen's locally farm-raised whole roasted pig with Apopka Wild field greens tossed in oregano vinaigrette, fried mac and cheese lollipops with sweet pepper aioli, and house made ricotta cheese "Heavens to Betsy" jams on crostini
Hamilton Kitchen’s locally farm-raised whole roasted pig with Apopka Wild field greens tossed in oregano vinaigrette, fried mac and cheese lollipops with sweet pepper aioli, and house made ricotta cheese “Heavens to Betsy” jams on crostini
Hamilton's Kitchen
Hamilton’s Kitchen

SONY DSC

Fiddler's Green Irish Pub
Fiddler’s Green Irish Pub
Fiddler's Green Irish Pub - Shepherd's Pie and Corned beef egg roll
Fiddler’s Green Irish Pub – Shepherd’s Pie and Corned beef egg roll
PF Chang's
PF Chang’s
PF Chang's chicken lettuce wrap
PF Chang’s chicken lettuce wrap
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse - Sliced beef tenderloin, shrimp
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse – Sliced beef tenderloin, shrimp
The Wine Barn
The Wine Barn
The Wine Barn - Margherita
The Wine Barn – Margherita
The Wine Barn - Double Diablo pizza
The Wine Barn – Double Diablo pizza
The Wine Barn - wood fired oven
The Wine Barn – wood fired oven
The Wine Barn - wood fired oven
The Wine Barn – wood fired oven
Kilwin's Chocolates
Kilwin’s Chocolates
Mellow Mushroom pizza
Mellow Mushroom pizza
Shula's Steakhouse at WDW Dolphin
Shula’s Steakhouse at WDW Dolphin
Shula's Steakhouse at WDW Dolphin
Shula’s Steakhouse at WDW Dolphin
Shula's Steakhouse at WDW Dolphin
Shula’s Steakhouse at WDW Dolphin
Shula's Steakhouse at WDW Dolphin - Bacon wrapped barbeque shrimp with ny strip, creamed spinach
Shula’s Steakhouse at WDW Dolphin – Bacon wrapped barbeque shrimp with ny strip, creamed spinach
Italio
Italio
Italio - shrimp alfredo basil pesto pasta, bruschetta with cannoli
Italio – shrimp alfredo basil pesto pasta, bruschetta with cannoli
Whole Foods Market - Thai kale salad, guava bbq chicken
Whole Foods Market – Thai kale salad, guava bbq chicken
Sonny's BBQ
Sonny’s BBQ
Sonny's BBQ
Sonny’s BBQ
Sonny's BBQ - Sliced beef brisket and redneck eggrolls
Sonny’s BBQ – Sliced beef brisket and redneck eggrolls
Tijuana Flats
Tijuana Flats
Tijuana Flats Norrito
Tijuana Flats Norrito
Tibby's New Orleans Kitchen
Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen
Tibby's New Orleans Kitchen - Andoille sausage jambalaya
Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen – Andoille sausage jambalaya
Tibby's New Orleans Kitchen - Andoille sausage jambalaya
Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen – Andoille sausage jambalaya
Cocina 214
Cocina 214
Cocina 214 - chicken fajitas
Cocina 214 – chicken fajitas
Cocina 214 - Tres Leches Cake
Cocina 214 – Tres Leches Cake

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Crispers' Signature summer salad
Crispers’ Signature summer salad
Inside the Winter Park Farmer's Market building
Inside the Winter Park Farmer’s Market building
Winter Park Chocolate - fountain
Winter Park Chocolate – fountain with Alea Z.
Bosphorous Turkish Kitchen
Bosphorous Turkish Kitchen
Bosphorous Turkish Kitchen - White bean salad and kebabs
Bosphorous Turkish Kitchen – White bean salad and kebabs
Bosphorous Turkish Kitchen - baklava
Bosphorous Turkish Kitchen – baklava
Sprinkles cakes
Sprinkles cakes
Sprinkles cakes - mini pina colada cupcakes
Sprinkles cakes – mini pina colada cupcakes
Hanging out with fellow food bloggers Kelli Matheny  www.ExploringOrlando.com   and Lisa Wilk  www.TasteCookSip.com
Hanging out with fellow food bloggers Kelli Matheny www.ExploringOrlando.com and Lisa Wilk www.TasteCookSip.com
Peterbrooke Chocolatier's chocolate covered popcorn
Peterbrooke Chocolatier’s chocolate covered popcorn
Peterbrooke Chocolatier's Jami Wray and staff
Peterbrooke Chocolatier’s Jami Wray and staff
Krispy Kreme man
Krispy Kreme man
Krispy Kreme man
Krispy Kreme man
Sweet by Holly
Sweet by Holly
Sweet by Holly - cake pops and cupcakes
Sweet by Holly – cake pops and cupcakes
Barnie's CoffeKitchen
Barnie’s CoffeKitchen
Barnie's CoffeKitchen Chef Camilo Velasco
Barnie’s CoffeKitchen Chef Camilo Velasco
Chef Velasco with Valencia Professor Chef Kenneth Bourgoin
Chef Velasco with Valencia Professor Chef Kenneth Bourgoin
Jeremiah's Italian Ice
Jeremiah’s Italian Ice
Bungalow 23 Cocktails
Bungalow 23 Cocktails
 Rob Sharpstein, the Chair of the Taste of Winter Park committee, Ashley Ringler,  Director of Events and Sponsorship Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, and staff announcing the winners
Rob Sharpstein, the Chair of the Taste of Winter Park committee, Ashley Ringler,
Director of Events and Sponsorship
Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, staff, and Patrick Chapin, President/CEO of Winter Park Chamber of Commerce announcing the winners
Best Entree - the Coop
Best Entree – the Coop
Best Dessert - Cocina 214
Best Dessert – Cocina 214
Best Display - Orchid Thai
Best Display – Orchid Thai
Best Healthy Eating - Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine
Best Healthy Eating – Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine
Best Fresh From Florida - Hamilton's Kitchen at Alfond Inn
Best Fresh From Florida – Hamilton’s Kitchen at Alfond Inn

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Sope de carne asada steak

Blink and you just might miss it.

El Pueblo is a tiny authentic Mexican restaurant space on Aloma Ave just east of Forsyth in Winter Park. It is a hole in the wall that is a bit of a remarkable hidden gem, serving some of the best Mexican antojitos or “small bites” street food on the east side of town.

El Pueblo, Winter Park
El Pueblo, Winter Park

It’s a bit shady looking on the outside, but the interior is nice and clean with beautiful murals of scenes from Mexico. The staff is nice, despite the language barriers. The love for food transcends languages, and luckily, the menu is in English and Spanish.

Inside, the TVs play the day’s telenovela soap operas from Telemundo and a huge jukebox sits towards the front, ready to play some Mexican tunes.

Interior of El Pueblo
Interior of El Pueblo
Menu at El Pueblo
Menu at El Pueblo

Most of the antojitos are between $1.50 and $2.50 while the platters go up to $12.00, all very affordable. In fact, you might get full off of ordering a few tacos and a sope here.

Pork al Pastor tacos at El Pueblo
Pork al Pastor tacos at El Pueblo

The best tacos in Orlando still go to Border Grill off of Kirkman Road, but I do love the sopes here at El Pueblo. The tacos here are good, served Mexican street style with nice fresh corn tortillas and cilantro and onions and a slice of lime, but the sopes are excellent.

Gordita - fried tortilla taco sandwich
Gordita – fried tortilla taco sandwich

Sopes here at El Pueblo are crunchy, fried corn tortillas topped with tasty refried beans, fresh lettuce, queso fresco, tomatoes, and avocado as well as your choice of meat ranging from barbacoa to pastor pork and chicken and carne asada steak. It’s like a tiny mountain of crunchy nacho joy.

The Sope - so delicious
The Sope with barbacoa pulled beef – so delicious

On a recent visit, my friend and I shared a fajita platter with shrimp, beef, and chicken. Definitely very filling and homey. This is what I’d imagine Mexican diner food to be like, a little greasy but comforting at the same time.

Steak shrimp and chicken fajita
Steak shrimp and chicken fajita

They also have a nice selection of aguas frescas here, fresh, sweet fruit juices ranging from melon to pineapple, hibiscus, and of course, horchata, depending on the day.

Melon Aguas Frescas - also comes in pineapple, horchata (rice cinnamon), hibiscus flavors
Melon Aguas Frescas – also comes in pineapple, horchata (rice cinnamon), hibiscus flavors

Drop by El Pueblo if you are on the east side of Orlando and hankering for cheap, authentic Mexican street food. I want to visit again soon, to try their traditional Mexican soups and flautas.

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El Pueblo on Urbanspoon

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