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Interview with Central Florida’s 2022 James Beard Awards Semi-finalists

Our local Orlando / Central Florida’s food scene recently had several chefs and restauranteurs nominated for the 2022 James Beard Awards, a top honor in the food industry.

“The mission of the James Beard Awards is to recognize exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive,” according to the James Beard Foundations website.

The James Beard Foundation recently announced the semifinalists for its chef and restaurant categories with four Orlando culinarians who were nominated:

  • Henry Moso of Kabooki Sushi for Best Chef: South,
  • Rabii Saber of the Four Seasons Resort Orlando for Outstanding Pastry Chef,
  • Evette Rahman of Sister Honey’s for Outstanding Baker and
  • Jason and Sue Chin of the Good Salt Restaurant Group for Outstanding Restaurateur.

We recently spoke with them via e-mail to get their responses on being nominated for this prestigious award and what this means to them and Orlando –

Interview with Henry Moso – Kabooki Sushi – Nominated for Best Chef: South – James Beard Award

Visit Orlando Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2021 - Tasty Chomps: A Local's Culinary Guide

What does this award mean to you?

It means everything for me and the team. It’s a reminder for us to keep doing good work for the community.

What does this award mean to Orlando?

It is a great recognition for our food industry to keep us pushing each other and keep creating perfecting our craft.

What do you have planned for this year?

Expanding next door space for both locations and possibly scouting for the 3th location.

What are your favorite ingredients to use right now?

Seasonal fish and citrus.

What makes a good chef in your opinion? 

The chef must be a consistent calm, focus and self motivate – a drive with great creative mind.

Interview with Rabii Saber from Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World – Nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef

A Sweet Celebration of Four Seasons Orlando Executive Pastry Chef Rabii Saber - Tasty Chomps: A Local's Culinary Guide

What does this award mean to you?

Being nominated as a James Beard Award semifinalist for the second time is a lifetime achievement for me.

It’s extremely rewarding to have years of dedication and hard work recognized by such a prestigious foundation, and it feels great to know there are people out there who appreciate what I’m doing.

It’s truly an incredible feeling, and at the same time motivation to keep pushing myself.

What does this award mean to Orlando?

The culinary scene in Orlando is growing and becoming more diverse year after year.

There are so many great chefs and restaurateurs in the City Beautiful that are dedicated and passionate about what they do, and their cumulative focus on improving and delivering an outstanding product to the community and tourists alike leads to this type of recognition.

I believe it’s time for this amazing city that we all call home to be noticed and not left overlooked.

How can people try your delicious creations here in Orlando?

At Four Seasons Resort Orlando, guests can enjoy our desserts in any of the resort’s six restaurants, ranging from a quick scoop of gelato at Lickety Split, our lobby level cake, to placing a custom cake order for any type of celebration, to house-made pastries and more.

I also do my best to stay in touch with the community and participate in as many local events as possible.

I was lucky enough to be invited to be featured during the Party of the Senses at Epcot Food & Wine Festival for three years in a row, and always collaborate with our restaurants during annual events including the Windermere Wine & Dine and Taste of Windermere, which benefit great causes.

What do you have planned for this year?

Coming out of the pandemic and seeing things slowly get back to normal, my focus is to rebuild our incredible pastry team and revamp our offerings at the resort.

The goal is to have completely new dessert offerings in all of our restaurants by the time we reach the holiday season.

This way, we can keep our guests happy and surprised with new menu items, while also keeping the team motivated to take on new challenges.

Something that is baking in our pastry shop is our new chocolate bar and bonbon collections, coming out soon.

Interview with Jason and Sue Chin from the Good Salt Restaurant Group – Nominated for Outstanding Restauranteur

Inside Look: Ramen Rumble 4 presented by Morimoto Asia Orlando x Good Salt Restaurant Group - Tasty Chomps: A Local's Culinary Guide 

What does this award mean to you?

Being a James Beard semi-finalist is, without a doubt, one of the greatest honors that we have ever been bestowed.

This recognition is especially meaningful to us because of what it means for our team.

They all put a tremendous amount of heart into each of the restaurants and this accolade is validation that the work that they do is worthy of national recognition.

What does this award mean to Orlando?

This year’s round of semi-finalists is huge for Orlando! There has certainly been a feeling of being “skipped over” in the past several years as there was not really much representation from our city.

With there being five semi-finalists from Orlando, we are hopeful that this year’s JBF awards will be inspiring to chefs and restaurateurs in our community and that this will continue to be an upward trend.

What were some challenges that came with the pandemic and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenges came with the uncertainty. There were many times where we were saying to each other, “Well, we’ve had a good run. I guess this is it.” We got through it as best we could by staying nimble and pivoting quickly when the need arose.

We also had tremendous support from our communities as they rallied around us to do whatever they could to help keep us open. We are forever in debt to them.

We are thankful that we were able to pull out of it and still be able to be open, as we know there were many that were not as fortunate. We will say that a silver lining in the whole thing was being able to identify shortcomings in our industry as a whole.

We know that many restaurant owners and operators have already begun to make significant changes in how they do business to create a healthier and more sustainable work environment.

What do you have planned for this year?

This year is all about looking inward at our group and seeing what we can do better. We have had some exciting upward movement with several of our key staff members to help ensure that our restaurants are able to continually improve and that we will be ready if and when we get an opportunity to do something new.

What makes a good restaurateur in your opinion?

There are so many things a restaurateur must balance, but I feel the ultimate measure of what makes a good restaurateur is their ability to inspire and empower their team to create a culture of inclusion and positivity within their restaurants. That culture will be palpable as soon as you step through the doors of any restaurant. A good restaurateur must also do good by their communities, knowing that what they do and how they do it can make a positive impact.

Interview with Evette Rahman, owner/head baker, Sister Honey’s – Nominated for Outstanding Baker

Press & Awards — Sister Honey's Bakery

What does this award mean to you?

It is an honor to get recognized in an ocean of bakeries. It validates that we are doing the right thing.

What does this award mean to Orlando?

The rest of country will know that we are not just for theme parks and vacations, but also a dinning destination. Orlando should be proud.

What do you have planned for this year?

We would love to expand into a bigger and better operation.

What are your favorite ingredients to use right now?

We use many different ingredients for the products that comprise our menu. We love to experiment and develop new items when the schedule allows.

What makes a good baker in your opinion?

A good baker has consistency across the board. There should be a never ending desire to improve and progress.

What are some of your most popular items right now at Sister Honey’s?

Can I say everything! It’s difficult to keep up with the demand, because things sell out in a blink of an eye. Some top sellers are coconut cake, pineapple cake, hummingbird cake, pistachio cake, key lime pie, strawberry pie, tiramisu, cookies, cupcakes, and on and on!

Update: Our candidates were not able to move forward to the final round but hopefully next year.

Inaugural MCO-BQN Overnight Puerto Rico Experience with Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines recently announced new nonstop flights to Puerto Rico from Orlando.  The low-cost airline begun flying nonstop from Orlando International Airport to Rafael Hernández International Airport (BQN) in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico starting on March 24, 2022.  With the addition of Aguadilla, Frontier will offer more than 80 nonstop destinations from Orlando.  The airline said fares for the new route will start at $59.

Brad Dean, CEO of the tourism organization Discover Puerto Rico, said: “We’re thrilled about the addition of Frontier’s new route connecting Orlando and Aguadilla to our already expansive list of nonstop routes to Puerto Rico. This new flight will benefit our diaspora immensely, and will allow Orlando residents, and those with connecting flights, to easily explore our island’s west coast.”

Puerto Rico Tourism Company executive director Carlos Mercado Santiago noted that “the government of Puerto Rico continues to work on expanding the air access options [at] all the airports on our island while remaining committed to increasing economic activity from the tourism industry within all regions of Puerto Rico… This new route positions our island as an even more attractive and accessible destination to visit, while contributing to the creation of new jobs in the western region.”

I was generously hosted by Discover Puerto Rico, the Island’s Destination Marketing Organization, to fly with other local bloggers on Frontier Airline’s first ever flight service from Orlando (MCO) to Aguadilla (BQN), Puerto Rico on March 24, 2022. The flight itself was so much fun with free flags, sunglasses, cookies, and Puerto Rico trivia for flight voucher prizes.  No passport or visa is required to travel since Puerto Rico is considered U.S. territory and the main currency is the U.S. dollar. All major credit cards are accepted.

Once we landed at Aeropuerto Internacional Rafael Hernandez Marín in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, we were welcomed with a fun reception followed by a press conference with Frontier’s Domestic and International Sales Manager, Alfredo Gonzalez.  MCO has increasingly become a focal point of Frontier’s network. The ULCC described Aguadilla as “a charming town on Puerto Rico’s western coast known for its stunning beaches and engaging attractions.” He added: “Our new service to Aguadilla further bolsters our growing commitment to Puerto Rico.”

Afterwords, we checked into our own rooms at Parador Villa Parguera in Lajas, PR.

The stunning view from my hotel room.

Then we changed and headed out for dinner at 101 West Kitchen.

One of the trivia questions on the flight was: “what drink did Puerto Rico invent?” Answer: the Piña Colada!

Firecracker Shrimp

Seared Tuna Steak

Coconut Shrimp

Arancini Piccolo

Ribeye Steak with Carrots and Asparagus

Almond Crusted Salmon with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

The next morning we ate brunch at Aquamarina, the restaurant inside our hotel.

Over easy egg, sautéed potatoes, and toast.

Same as above but with bacon.

After brunch we went on a Historic Dowtown San German Tour at Plaza Fundadora de Pueblos.

Then we walked to Porta Coeli Church, one of the oldest church in PR.

And then visited a old building that used to be City Hall.

Walking by the Comedy Theatre.

We also met a doctor at Botica Museum who taught us so much about the history of their medicine.

Then explored artifacts at the San German History Museum.

Followed by some sightseeing.

Afterwords, we had lunch at Porticos Restaurant.

Yuca frita con Picadillo – Cassava strips served with tender ground beef, garlic sauce, cilantro and cheese.

Piña Colada.

Buñuelos de Bacalao – yam, yautía roots and cod fritter.

Se formó el Bembé – fried wings.

After we changed, we visited Valmar in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico where we got to meet the owner and enjoy a memorable dinner on the beach.

Ostras Rockefeller – Virginia oysters bathed in gratin spinach sauce.

Camarones con Coco – Shrimp breaded in coconut, accompanied with sweet and sour pineapple sauce.

Pulpo Valmar – Steamed Spanish octopus tentacles in a sauce of butter, garlic, De La Vera paprika, fingerling potatoes and spices.

Dorado Ceviche – Halibut cubes marinated in salt, pepper, garlic, Peruvian chili, purple onion and lime, accompanied with tostones.

Tostones – Smashed fried plantain.

Langosta Termidor – Whole lobster in bechamel sauce fused with shallots and cognac finished with parmigiano reggiano au gratin.

Salmón – Pan Seared.

Mar y Tierra – Filet mignon, lobster, and black tiger shrimp in cognac sauce.

Lavender ice cream.

After dinner we went on the Bio Bay Tour Experience with with Captain Cachi of Paradise Scuba & Snorkeling Center.  La Parguera is a bioluminescent bay found in the southern town of Lajas.

The bay’s glowing effect is made possible by micro-organisms called dinoflagellates, which emit a short burst of light when the water is agitated.

The next morning we had brunch at Mimosa Brunch Farm To Table before heading back to the airport to fly back home to Orlando, FL.  We loved their fresh juices – especially the passion fruit and pomarrosa.

Ham Croquette – Smoked meat croquette with spicy papaya sauce.

Rabbit Empanadilla – Local rabbit confit with mozzarella cheese and herbs.

Orange Maple French Toast – Sweet potato bread soaked in tangerine batter, served with dulce de coco, maple sweet potato pureé and tropical fruits.

Sweet Sunshine – Sweet concha mexicana stuffed with smoked salmon, cream creese, scallions, and pico de gallo. Sweet potato French toast with dulce de coco, Homemade Yogurt with honey and granola, Greens & fruit salad with passion fruit vinaigrette.

Thank you Discover Puerto Rico for having me!

For more information, visit: https://flights.flyfrontier.com/en/flights-to-puerto-rico

Food Waste Prevention Week is April 4 – 8, 2022

TastyChomps is proud to be a sponsor of Food Waste Prevention Week – this April 4-8, 2022.

Why is Reducing Food Waste Important?

It Saves Money

Wasting food is expensive. Every year, Americans lose more than $218 billion on wasted food. In Florida, the average family of four throws out around $1,600 worth of food annually. Households are responsible for the most wasted food. If we begin to reduce and prevent food waste, we can save that money that is wasted on spoiled food.

It Protects the Environment

Reducing food waste is the #1 personal action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while safeguarding critical natural resources. When food is wasted, it goes into a landfill. Once in a landfill, food waste breaks down and emits greenhouse gasses, including carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). Methane is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide, making it more damaging to the environment. If we reduce food waste, we could save the environment from this damage.

It Reduces Hunger

In the US, approximately 40% of all food grown and produced is never eaten. That’s a lot of food wasted that could go to people that don’t have access to food. 1 in 5 people lack consistent access to nutritious food, while up to 3 million tons of wasted food goes to landfills annually. Recovered food provides an additional source of nutritious food.

WAYS THAT YOU CAN TAKE ACTION AGAINST FOOD WASTE

At home

  • Save leftovers and store/freeze food in portion-ready containers
  • Cook only what is needed for that meal
  • Make one night a weekly “leftover” night to empty the refrigerator before shopping again
  • Audit what you throw away; it will influence your next shopping trip
  • Keep kitchen essentials on hand (grains, spices, sauces) that bring new life to old meals
  • Freeze ripe fruits and vegetables before baking, cooking and filling in gaps in recipes
  • Compost

When shopping

  • Plan menus for the week and prepare a shopping list
  • Stick to your shopping list
  • Match your shopping to the reality of your week
  • Buy smaller quantities, if appropriate, to avoid spoilage and waste
  • Don’t shop hungry
  • Pay in cash so the amount your spending is tangible
  • If you bought items that you won’t use, donate them before the expiration date

At work

  • If you bring a lunch, bring only what you will eat
  • In the case of leftovers, save for the next day, if you have a work refrigerator
  • If you brought too much, share with others
  • If ordering takeout/delivery, save leftovers or share an order

for more info, visit https://www.savethefoodfl.com/

Central Florida Food Trends, Culture, Identity and Durian Tastings with WMFE’s Matthew Peddie

A few years ago in 2015, I first worked with Matthew Peddie for a special WMFE series called Little Vietnam in Orlando – it was a fun program, commemorating the Vietnamese American community in 40 years since the fall of Saigon – one of the first if not only series on this subject.

This past week Chef, culinary educator and Food Network star Emily Ellyn; Global Cooking School CEO and founder Hari Pulapaka; myself, Tasty Chomps food and restaurant blog publisher Ricky Ly; and Orlando Weekly restaurant critic Faiyaz Kara joined WMFE’s Matthew Peddie on the show Intersection for a conversation about what makes the culinary scene here unique, and the latest food trends in Central Florida.

It was a bittersweet and slightly pungent outing, as this was Matt’s last episode of Intersection with WMFE – he is joining WUSF’s Florida Matters show as host, a show about tough issues, highlights little-known stories from our part of the world, and provides a greater perspective of what it means to live in the Sunshine State, and so finally after many years of twitter back and forths – we finally had our durian tasting with Matt at the station and bid our farewells to Matt.

Faiyaz brought the goods and we brought the taste buds – it was a fun time had by all, though we did have to make sure to sanitize thoroughly afterwards to avoid offensive after smells. I think we may need to make #durianforall a real thing – maybe a durian tasting challenge for Orlando’s restaurants is in the foreseeable future? Let us know your thoughts!

Wishing Matthew Peddie all the best on his new endeavors!!!

Read and listen to the story here: https://www.wmfe.org/food-culture-and-identity-in-central-florida/197657

SOLD OUT – Upcoming Event: 10th Annual Science of Wine – Saturday April 23, 2022

SOLD OUT – EVENT IS SOLD OUT AS OF 4/20/2022

Orlando Science Center’s 10th Annual Science of Wine

Next Event: April 23, 2022 | 7:00 – 10:00 pm

The 10th Annual Science of Wine fundraising event, benefiting the Orlando Science Center, is a unique wine and food tasting with an educational twist.  This event offers a chance to celebrate with others who enjoy the culture of wine while also benefiting Orlando Science Center’s mission to “inspire science learning for life.”

 Tickets for the event are available for purchase online at www.osc.org/wine. Tickets can be purchased until April 10 for the discounted price of $110/each. After April 10, they will be $125. Members of Orlando Science Center can purchase event tickets for only $100.

Ready your mind – and palate – for a night of wining, dining and learning at one of Orlando’s most unique food and wine events, the Science of Wine!

Sip, savor and support the mission of Orlando Science Center!

Uncork your inner sommelier (and scientist!) at the 10th annual Science of Wine, presented by Southern Glazer’s Wines and Spirits.

The Science of Wine is not just another wine tasting, but an oenological odyssey with presentations on multiple aspects of wine growing and wine tasting in addition to samples of more than 150 fine wines from the world’s most important wine regions and some of the best food from your favorite region, Central Florida!

$100 Members &Young Professionals

$110 Early Bird | $125 General Admission

Early Bird Rate March 1 – April 10.

Tickets: http://www.osc.org/wine

Photography credit: Roberto Gonzalez Photography

Grande Lakes Orlando – Spring 2022 – Event and Activity Guide – The Ritz Carlton and JW Marriott Grande Lakes

The latest and greatest event and activity guide from the Grande Lakes Orlando team has been released for Spring 2022 –

Below are a few of the new selections pertaining to dining highlights this season:

Dining Offerings 

HIGHBALL & HARVEST
Southern inspired cuisine, handcrafted cocktails. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

KNIFE & SPOON
Signature New American steak and seafood-forward cookery conceived and led by award-winning Chef John Tesar. Open for dinner.

BLEU BAR & FOOD
Poolside restaurant and bar, featuring classic burgers and salads with fun twists.
Open from lunch to dusk.

FIRST DROP
Locally roasted coffee, fresh juices, handcrafted milkshakes, sandwiches, salads, pastries and snacks.

FAIRWAYS PUB
Signature clubhouse fare and a variety of draught beer and scotches. Located at The Golf Club. Open for lunch.

VITALE SPA CAFÉ
Featuring healthy cuisine including power drinks, smoothies and salads located at The Spa. Open for lunch.

LOBBY LOUNGE
Reimagined cocktails in the “sunroom chic” solarium.

The Ritz-Carlton – Spring 2022 Special Events

EASTER THEMED-CRAFTS
Offered during Ritz-Kids Open House – Friday, April 15 – Sunday, April 17, 10am – 11:30am

EASTER EGG HUNT
Experience the classic Easter activity at our beautiful Whisper Creek Farms. Each child will get to keep the prizes found in eggs as well as their own Easter basket. April 17, 10:30am – 11:30am $65 per child – Reservations required, call 407-393-4977

EASTER BRUNCH AT KNIFE & SPOON
Now open! Voted #1 2020 Best New Restaurant in Orlando (Orlando Weekly) and one of the Top 3 2020 Best New Restaurants in the U.S. (USA Today 10 Best), Knife & Spoon features New American steak and seafood conceived and led by award-winning chef, John Tesar.

Sunday, April 17, 12pm – 7pm. 250++
Reservations required, call 407-393-4034

EASTER AT HIGHBALL & HARVEST
This Southern-inspired restaurant pays homage to days gone by and provides the ideal setting to make your celebration together truly special. The menu features ingredients from local farms and the resort’s own garden. Á la carte menu and special menu insert.

Sunday April 17, Breakfast 7am – 11am,
Lunch 11:30am – 2pm and
Dinner 5:30pm – 10pm

Reservations required, call 407-393-4034
For overnight resort guests only.

MOTHER’S DAY TEA
Treat Mom to our signature Mother’s Day Tea with live entertainment. Includes a
special gift for Mom. Saturday, May 7 & Sunday, May 8 at 11am & 3pm
The Ritz-Carlton Lobby Lounge, $95 per person
Reservations required, call 407-393-4034

MOTHER’S DAY AT THE SPA POOL
This Mother’s Day, give the gift of relaxation with a treatment at The Ritz-Carlton Spa. Give in to the soothing elements of nature and emerge refreshed, relaxed and revitalized. This
wellness retreat offers 40 treatment rooms, a full salon and an array of services. Between or post-treatment, relax in the outdoor lap pool or enjoy a healthy meal at Vitale, a Spa Café featuring a Moet Ice and Mimosa Bar. Saturday, May 7 & Sunday, May 8, 1 1am – 3pm
Reservations required, call 407-393-4200

MOTHER’S DAY-THEMED CRAFTS
Offered during Ritz-Kids Open House
Friday, May 6 – Sunday, May 8,
10am – 11:30am

MOTHER’S DAY BRUNCH AT HIGHBALL & HARVEST
This Southern-inspired restaurant pays homage to days gone by and provides the ideal setting to make your celebration together truly special. The menu features ingredients from local farms and the resort’s own garden.
Sunday, May 8, 12:30pm – 7pm
Reservations required, call 407-393-4034

MOTHER’S DAY AT KNIFE & SPOON
Now open! Voted #1 2020 Best New Restaurant in Orlando (Orlando Weekly) and one of the Top 3 2020 Best New Restaurants in the U.S. (USA Today 10 Best), Knife & Spoon features New American steak and seafood conceived and led by award-winning chef, John Tesar. Á la carte menu and special menu insert.
Sunday, May 8, 12pm – 7pm.
Reservations required, call 407-393-4034

ANIMAL SHOW

Experience the wild side of Florida. Meet a knowledgeable and entertaining Gator Wrangler from GATORLAND who will share stories of close encounters with some of the world’s most feared predators.

May 29th at 3:30 PM Location TBA.
Open to all Resort Guests

MOVIE ON THE LAWN
Enjoy a family friendly movie on Saturday, May 28 at 6:30pm Located on Da Vinci Lawn.

MEMORIAL DAY AT HIGHBALL & HARVEST:
This Southern-inspired restaurant pays homage to days gone by and provides the ideal setting to make your celebration together truly special. The menu features ingredients from local farms and the resort’s own garden. Á la carte menu and special menu insert.
Sunday, May 29, Lunch 11:30am – 4pm and Dinner 5:30pm – 10pm
Reservations required, call 407-393-4034

MEMORIAL DAY
SPECTACULAR FIREWORKS!
Sunday, May 29, 9pm. Complimentary
for overnight resort guests only.

Introducing Knife Burger
Three-time James Beard “Best Southwest Chef” semifinalist, Top Chef season 10 contestant and head chef of our own Knife & Spoon, John Tesar, brings us Knife Burger, located poolside at the JW Marriott.

It is his mission to bring you the best tasting patty in town, that’s why we source our beef from high-quality, Texas raised cattle. We are proud to source our beef from cattle that is Texas raised. You’ll want to try out 44 Farms ground sirloin patty. Once you do, you’ll never look back! If you haven’t tried the ozersky, magic burger or our pimento cheese burger you are seriously missing out.

PRIMO BY MELISSA KELLY
Experience sensible contemporary Italian cuisine at its best. Open for dinner.

CITRON, AN AMERICAN BRASSERIE
Enjoy contemporary and colorful American cuisine. Open for breakfast.

WHISPER CREEK FARM: THE KITCHEN
Farm-inspired comfort food and craft beer. Open for dinner.

KNIFE BURGER
Burgers and shakes from Celebrity Chef John Tesar along with all of your favorite pool side frosty delights serving up all spring. Open from lunch to dusk.

STARBUCKS®
Serving your favorite beverages, snacks and pastries.

LOBBY LOUNGE
Overlooking the resort’s scenic gardens and lakes, the elegant lobby lounge serves appetizers, craft beer and wine by the tap, glass and bottle.

JW Marriott – Spring 2022 Special Events

EASTER WEEKEND CARNIVAL AND FOOD TRUCK RALLY

Games, arts, crafts, food trucks with your favorite treats, join the fun all weekend long! Saturday, April 16 – 17, 11am – 5pm
Valencia Patio

EASTER BREAKFAST BUFFET AT CITRON

Energize your morning with delicious breakfast dishes at Citron.
Sunday, April 17, 7am – 12pm

EASTER BRUNCH AT PRIMO

The newly renovated Primo welcomes you for Easter Brunch. Enter Mediterranean inspired
bliss on your Easter morning.
Sunday, April 17th, 10am – 3pm
Open to resort guests.

PRIMO MOTHER’S DAY CELEBRATION

Reward Mom with some of Melissa Kelly’s brunch favorites and assorted spritz
cocktails at the newly renovated Primo restaurant. Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8, 10am – 3pm

THEMED BUFFET NIGHTS AT CITRON FOR MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND
Enjoy our culinary team’s amazing creations accompanied by live entertainment Saturday & Sunday, May 28 & 29

MEMORIAL DAY
SPECTACULAR FIREWORKS
Sunday, May 29, 9:00pm
Complimentary for overnight resort guests only.

for more information, visit: grandelakesorlando.com

 

 

The Chef and I at the Hall on the Yard – Now Open!

Regionally acclaimed, Nashville restauranteurs, husband and wife team Executive Chef Chris Rains and Erica Rains bring their culinary experience to Orlando’s newest dining concept, the Hall on the Yard, with two diverse and delicious concepts.

The Hall On The Yard is a collection of 9 diverse culinary offerings, 5 curated event spaces, 3 premium cocktail bars, showcased in 1 eclectic building.

The Rains are the founders behind The Chef and I, a modern take on approachable gourmet fusing international flavors into beautiful, well balanced dishes and Pasion a new Latin fusion themed restaurant putting new takes on classic Mexican, Puerto Rican and Cuban fare.

Michael Morrison serves as Chef de Cuisine – formerly Head Chef of Loretta Keller’s Famed Coco500 & Exec Chef of Hiro Sone’s Michelin Starred Ame in SF. He serves alongside Sous Chef Travis Chasteen.

As part of the Hall at the Yard, a development in Ivanhoe Village in downtown Orlando, the restaurateurs will bring some of their home-run menu creations from Nashville and add some other dishes using the best of all the local items. One of the main elements of The Chef and I is to use fresh and local ingredients, highlighting the culture of the local market and bringing Chef Chris Rains’ own unique take on the dishes.

About the Team – Erica and Chris Rains

In 2007, a ‘Love at First Sight’ story began. Executive Chef Chris Rains was cooking for the Nashville Predators NHL hockey team, global superstars in music and entertainment, and thousands of attendees. Erica Rains had recently moved back to her hometown of Nashville, and both had given up on love.

The two were cosmically connected online and on 11-11-07, Chris and Erica met and fell in love and the rest was history. Just months after meeting, The Chef and I catering division was born.

Since then, this power couple has created a multi-million dollar culinary firm with a large catering division, an event venue, a flagship restaurant in the high end downtown Nashville district known as The Gulch, and a strong online division with virtual events, classes and merchandise. The Chef and I on Ninth is known for its interactive nature with the show kitchen, its approachable gourmet food, casual cool atmosphere, the daily chefs’ tasting menus, and incredible cocktails.

Now, The Chef and I comes to Orlando and The Rains’ are excited to become part of the thriving culinary scene that highlights chef-driven concepts like theirs.

Interview with The Chef And I / Pasion owner and executive chef, Chris Rains

Tasty Chomps: What are your inspirations behind the food at The Chef and I? The flavors and ingredients are truly some of the most creative we have seen!

Chef Chris Rains: At a very young age I became intrigued at how texture and depth of flavor can really take any bite to the next level. So, from the first time eating a really crispy fish and chips with a caper Cornichon tartar sauce and a little bit of age small vinegar as a child I have strived to always create that perfect bite. Years later as I entered the chef world, I always keep that in mind. But at the end of the day I like straightforward ingredients, bold flavors and depth with texture and subtle underlying flavors.

What was food in your childhood like? What was the role of food growing up? What are your favorite foods growing up?

My mom was a horrible cook, horrible may be a strong word so let’s use generic instead. Lol. she knows this, as I make reference to it all the time, but in reality my grandmother’s from both sides were fabulous cook’s. My paternal grandmother cooked and moved like a chef in the kitchen and my maternal grandmother had a grasp of all the Classic dishes. Meals for us were always about family, love and seasonal fresh ingredients. Growing up in Seattle we always had fresh Fish, crab, produce and those meals shaped my youth. My favorite foods growing up were strawberries, blackberries, honey, fresh fish and crab.

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

The Chef Answer is “the next dish” and that is what excites me about food. But if you stop by and see what we are doing you must have the caramelized cauliflower appetizer, the duck and waffles and the hot salt chicken.

What do you wish people knew about The Chef and I?

That we provide experience in addition to great quality food creations. We offer chefs tastings at our counter and a seat at our show kitchen allows you to converse with our chefs while your meal is being prepared

Tell us about your background and culinary experience before the Chef and I

I started as a dishwasher, I believe every Kitchen employee should. It gives you a respect for that position. I worked my way up all through high school and then ended up landing at a Sheraton hotel. There I realized that being a chef was a career, and I spent the next eight years working my way up to head restaurant chef. After that I had the opportunity to run the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville for 8 years then finished up with the NHL Nashville predators by handling the restaurant and suites for the team. I had the opportunity to cook all around the country and world with that last position which led me to start our own business ventures.

If you could eat any meal for the rest of your life, what would that meal look like?

As a chef I prefer something I can hold in my hand. So that being said give me a kick ass burger or patty melt with crispy toasted bread and a little bit of spice.

Upcoming plans for 2022?

Now that we have hit our stride at the Hall, my plans for this year are to get a little more comfortable being a Floridian and move forward on my wife and I’s next project, that involves an experience driven culinary destination around food. It will be called the Chef And I experience.

 

Must Try Dishes at The Chef and I

Carmelized Cauliflower with Local Whipped Goat Cheese – pan roasted cauliflower seasoned with fresh herbs and sea salt, served on grilled focaccia crostini, whipped goat cheese, pistachio pesto, candied nuts and local honey

Granny Smith Apple and Arugula Salad – peppery arugula tossed with granny smith apple matchsticks, imported feta cheese, roasted red bell peppers, and candied nuts, tossed in a roasted Fresno chile and local honey vinaigrette – Add a protein (Chicken, Smoked Salmon, Shrimp or Bacon)

House Pimento Cheese and Bacon – our house made pimento cheese blend with gouda and sharp cheddar folded with roasted red bell peppers and garlic spread on focaccia toasts with smoky bacon lardons, sweetened bourbon glaze

Duck and Waffles – crispy skinned farm raised duck breast, cooked medium and sliced over duck fat sage buttered waffles with macerated maple blackberry syrup

Local Pork Sausage and Pimento Cheese Benedict – Free-range Woodsmoke Farms’ pork sausage, pan roasted and served over grilled focaccia with our house made pimento cheese and a white wine beurre blanc. Finished with a sunny side egg

Pan Roasted Beef tenderloin – hand cut beef shoulder tenderloin, seasoned with cracked pepper and sea salt, cooked medium rare and served with whipped Yukon potatoes, smoked charred cherry peppers and a red wine demi-glace

Dark Rum and Fig Ice Cream – a vanilla based ice cream folded with aged rum and dried black mission figs, A Chef and I classic all the way from Nashville, TN *available while supplies last

The Chef and I  Orlando
at The Hall on the Yard
1412 Alden Road, Orlando, FL
(Ivanhoe Village)

https://www.thechefandiorlando.com/

Thu 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Fri-Sat 11:00 am – 2:00 am
Sun 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am – 5 pm.

The 16 Best Local Coffee Shops in Orlando and Central Florida

Throughout Orlando, you won’t have any difficulty discovering new and unique coffee shops local to the area. Whether you’re looking for a trendy craft coffee bar with sweet creations or a classic coffee spot ideal for remote working, you’re sure to find it here.

Here are 16 of our all-time favorite local coffee shops throughout Central Florida.

16 Best Local Coffee Shops in Central Florida

1. Craft & Common

47 E Robinson St UNIT 100, Orlando, FL 32801

(407) 723-8078

CraftandCommon.com

Photo by: Craft & Common

2. Lineage Coffee Roasting

Multiple Locations

(407) 205-8096

LineageRoasting.com

Photo by: Lineage Coffee Roasting

3. Qreate Coffee + Studio

1212 Woodward St #1, Orlando, FL 32803

(407) 601-1796

QreateCoffee.com

4. Foxtail Coffee Co.

Multiple Locations

FoxtailCoffee.com

Photo by: Foxtail Coffee Co.

5. Deeply Cafe & Bottle Shop

111 N Magnolia Ave #50, Orlando, FL 32801

DeeplyCoffee.Square.Site

Photo by: @orlandodogspots

6. Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar

444 N Bumby Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

(407) 893-4994

DrunkenMonkeyOrders.com

Photo by: @orlandobrewreview

7. Cups and Pups Coffee

1307 Edgewater Dr, Orlando, FL 32804

(407) 350-7917

CupsandPupsCoffee.com

Photo by: Cups and Pups

8. Vespr Coffee Bar

626 N Alafaya Trail Suite 105, Orlando, FL 32828

(407) 930-6430

TheVespr.com

Photo by: Vespr Coffee

9. New General Cafe

155 E New England Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

(321) 972-2819

NewGeneral.us

Photo by: New General Cafe

10. Easy Luck Coffee & Bodega

2425 E South St, Orlando, FL 32803

EasyLuckOrlando.com

Photo by: Easy Luck Coffee and Bodega

11. DUO58 Community Coffee Bar & Cafe

2842 S Alafaya Trail, Orlando, FL 32828

(407) 900-4386

Duo58.org

Photo by: DUO58

12. Achilles Art Cafe

2869 Wilshire Dr #103, Orlando, FL 32835

(407) 601-6500

AchillesonWilshire.com

Photo by: Achilles Art Cafe

13. Stardust Video and Coffee

1842 Winter Park Rd, Orlando, FL 32803

(407) 623-3393

StardustVideoandCoffee.com

Photo by: @savrycooks

14. Mahogany Coffee Shop & Cafe

212 W 1st St, Sanford, FL 32771

Instagram.com/Mahogany.Coffee

Photo by: Mahogany Coffee

15. Framework Craft Coffee Bar

1050 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

(407) 494-4377

framework-craft-coffee-bar-llc.square.site

Photo by: Framework Coffee

16. Downtown CREDO

885 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801

(407) 519-0643

DowntownCredo.com

Photo by: Downtown Credo

BONUS – Rosso Coffee Bar

at Marketplace at Avalon Park

3801 Avalon Park E Blvd Ste. 100, Orlando, FL 32828
https://marketplaceatavalonpark.com/ 

In Memory of Orlando Chef de Cuisine George Foss of Tori Tori

Tori Tori’s Chef De Cuisine George Foss will be remembered always for his passion for food, his love for his daughter, and his warm heartedness and friendship. He was recently profiled in this beautiful piece by the Orlando Sentinel’s Amy Drew Thompson recently here. He will be dearly missed by all.

Foss and his daughter, Annabella, in August 2021. "They had a plan to open an ice cream shop together one day," said George Foss Sr.GoFundMe has been set up to help Foss’ family with funeral and other expenses, as well as a college fund for his daughter, Bella. To contribute: gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-george-foss.

 

Orlando’s 5 Best Irish Restaurants and Pubs

Whether you are looking for a nice pint of Guinness, or a bowl of Shepherd’s Pie with some Irish tunes and dancing, we have you covered – just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Check their websites for specials.

Here are Five of Orlando’s Best Irish pubs and restaurants

1. Claddagh Cottage Irish Pub on Curry Ford West

2421 Curry Ford Rd, Orlando, FL 32806
(407) 895-1555
http://claddaghcottagepub.com/

The Claddagh Cottage is a cozy, neighborhood pub that has been around for over 20 years, known for its proper pints of Guinness, delicious home-style food, and authentic Irish atmosphere. A big part of the pub’s history is traditional Irish music, and owners Scott & Vicki have run the bi-weekly traditional Irish music session at the Claddagh since 2001. The EOWS (Every other Wednesday Session) is the same as you would find in any pub in Ireland, drawing both amateur and professional musicians from Orlando and beyond.

Hours
Pub Open 4pm-’til Every Day
Kitchen Open Mon-Sat: 4pm-10pm, Sunday: 4pm-9pm

2. Fiddler’s Green in Winter Park

544 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 645-2050
https://fiddlersgreen.pub/

Fiddler’s Green Irish Pub opened almost 20 years and has been bringing a piece of Ireland ever since to Winter Park FL. With authentic Irish decoration, live music, and 24 beers on tap, their menu carries classic dishes like Corned Beef, Cabbage, Fish and Chips as well as Pub Fare including fresh grilled hamburgers and hand breaded fish and chips. Their menu has even been featured on the Food Network’s “Best of” Series.

Hours
Monday – Friday – 11:30am – 2:00am
Saturday – 11:00am – 2:00am
Sunday -11:00am – 12:00am

3. Raglan Road at Disney Springs

1640 Buena Vista Dr, Orlando, FL 32830
(407) 938-0300
raglanroad.com

The Irish owners of Raglan Road have brought in top chefs from Dublin to present you with the very best of modern Irish cooking—from fish & chips to brilliantly reimagined classics like Shepherd’s Pie. 4 imported bars (some of which have been sliding glasses for 130 years) and an ambiance from Raglan Road’s interior—shipped lock, stock and beer barrel from Ireland to Disney Springs. Catch talented singer-songwriters and energetic bands belting out Irish tunes, popular ballads and pub classics on multiple stages.

Hours
Monday – Thursday: 11AM–11PM
Friday: 11AM–11:30PM
Saturday: 9AM–11:30PM
Sunday: 9AM–11PM

4. The Harp and Celt in Downtown Orlando

25 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 481-2928
http://harpandcelt.com/

The Harp and Celt Irish Pub and Restaurant, a family owned business, opened 10 years ago in 2007 just as our country was going into an economic downturn. Serving traditional Irish food along with a full bar. Orlando’s top pub to watch soccer and sports from around the globe with a full selection of beer, Irish Whiskey, wine and more.

Hours
Monday – Thursday: 11:00 AM – 1:00 AM
Friday: 11:00 AM – 2:00 AM
Saturday: 10:00 AM – 2:00 AM
Sunday: 10:00 AM – 12:00 AM

5. The Sullivan in Downtown Sanford

116 E 1st St, Sanford, FL 32771
(407) 878-2530
https://www.facebook.com/TheSullivanPublicHouse/

Downtown Sanford’s Premier Irish Pub! The Sullivan Public House is a classic Irish Bar offering up the best Irish beers, whiskeys, and plates.

Hours
Monday – Thursday – 5:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Friday – 5:00 PM – 1:00 AM
Saturday -12:00 PM – 1:00 AM
Sunday -12:00 PM – 8:00 PM

24 Hours at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, Colorado: A Food Lover’s Guide

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa is a serene winter oasis in the heart of Colorado. Centrally located at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain, Park Hyatt offers easy access to winter activities like skiing, snowboarding and more, but the resort also features some impressive luxury dining experiences.

We were invited to stay at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa to celebrate the newly hired Executive Chef, Santosh Koradi. Here is our Food Lover’s Guide to Park Hyatt Beaver Creak.

24 Hours at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek: A Food Lover’s Guide

Day 1:

Check In

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa is the epitome of luxury in the mountains. After being greeted by the complimentary valet staff and checking in, you can make your way to your resort suite.

The amenities at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek are some of the best in Colorado. Guest rooms are spacious and clean, but the best part is the unbeatable view you can enjoy right from your balcony.

Winter Activities

After checking in, we highly recommend exploring the exciting winter activities available nearby. Beaver Creek Mountain offers some of Colorado’s most notable ski and snowboarding trails, and Park Hyatt Beaver Creek is a ski-in/ski-out resort located right in the midst of all the action. You can either bring your own gear, or easily rent some during your stay.

If you’re not much of a skier or snowboarder, you can also take a seat by one of the outdoor fire pits and simply enjoy the view.

Dinner at 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill

Later in the evening, we made our way to Park Hyatt Beaver Creek’s main dining location: 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill. We were invited to sample a six-course “Purple Theme Chef’s Table Dinner” from the new Executive Chef Koradi.

Course #1: Purple Potato Artichoke Tortellini 

The first course of our purple-themed chef’s tasting dinner featured a purple tortellini dish with purple potato and artichoke filling, served with sage butter and purple caviar.

The paired cocktail featured purple potato, rosemary, ginger beer, ice and amaretto. This drink was light, tasty and it complemented the flavor profile of the tortellini wonderfully.

Course #2: Wood Fired Grilled Scallops

Next on the tasting menu, we sampled the delicious Wood Fired Grilled Scallops, served with dry martini purple carrot mousseline, purple cabbage and purple oil.

The cocktail pairing served with this dish was made with shrimp, tomato juice, vodka, lime juice and celery salt.

Course #3: Purple Beetroot Hummus

Our third course consisted of a lovely beetroot hummus prepared with purple cauliflower, purple endive and fried basil. This dish was very light and the flavors were both unique and tasty.

Course #4: Sous Vide Pistachio Crusted Colorado Lamb Chop

Next, we sampled the Colorado lamb chop, served with chili honey glazed purple kohlrabi, purple onion and mint chimichurri. This dish is a must-try for meat lovers.

Course #5: Poached Elk

It’s not a true Colorado dining experience without elk. This poached elk dish featured poached black garlic, purple potato corn velouté and beet microgreens. Another must-have dish if you’re a fan of red meat.

Course #6: Blueberry Berry Pie Bar

Our final course of the evening was a decadent Blueberry Berry Pie Bar. This dessert was made with homemade java plum ice cream and purple sweet potato spuma, served on top of a miniature ice sculpture. This dessert was incredibly unique, with a combination of flavors we’ve never tasted before. If you have the chance to order this dish, we highly recommend doing so.

The dessert cocktail pairing featured bourbon, coconut milk, nutmeg, Sambuca and passion fruit puree. This cocktail is winter in a glass (and quite strong).

Although many of these entrees and bites are not available to order at 8100, the restaurant offers a variety of delicious eats on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Below are some of their most popular dinner entrees and desserts, available to order today.

Colorado Striped Bass Ceviche 

Colorado Cheese and Charcuterie

Jidori Chicken Breast

Best Chili on the Mountain

Chocolate Dessert

Day 2:

Breakfast at 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill

In the morning, head back to 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill for a lovely breakfast spread to help you fuel up for the day. We ordered the Grapefruit Brûlée, Avocado Toast and 2 Eggs Any Style.

Grapefruit Brûlée

The Grapefruit Brûlée is a light and sweet breakfast dish, served with fresh berries and Devonshire cream. This dish is perfect if you don’t want a breakfast that’s too heavy.

Smashed Avocado Toast

8100 offers their own take on this classic breakfast dish. This is another great option for those looking for a light breakfast. It’s served with fresh greens, a poached egg, tomato and pickled onions.

Steak & Eggs

If you’re looking for a heartier breakfast option, we recommend ordering the Steak & Eggs. This breakfast entree comes with freshly seasoned wagyu steak, eggs, breakfast potatoes and toast. It’s extremely filling, and the steak was cooked to perfection.

Spa Day at Exhale

Before you head out, we highly recommend stopping by Exhale, located on the first floor of Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort, for a relaxing spa day. Choose from a variety of calming spa treatments, from massages to facials. We enjoyed a lovely full body hour-long massage. Services at Exhale also include 1 hour in the Aqua Sanitas Roman Bath experience before treatment.

Whether your time at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa is filled with active winter activities or delicious eats, Exhale Spa is the perfect way to end your trip.

While we visited in the middle of the winter, Park Hyatt Beaver Creak is open year-round through all four seasons. To learn more about this luxurious winter resort and to book your stay today, click here.

Rocco’s Italian Grille in Winter Park

Rocco’s Italian Grille is a hidden gem located inside a vintage 1940’s building in Winter Park, next to The Glass Knife.  The neighborhood has changed some since the opening of Rocco’s over 15 years ago but one thing has remained the same – the consistency of Rocco’s award-winning authentic Italian cuisine prepared by their experienced native chefs.

Proprietor Rocco Potami was born and raised in Italy and he has always been passionate about cooking.  His restaurant offers recreated recipes of his homeland which he has spent years researching, developing, and perfecting.  Rocco has 40 years of experience cooking in Central Florida and it is evident when you indulge in his extraordinary dishes. Rocco’s uses only the freshest meats, imported pastas, and sauces made from scratch to serve a broad selection of dishes from each of Italy’s regions.

We were invited to try Rocco’s favorite menu items and they all exceeded our expectations. From the appetizers, to our entrées and dessert, everything was incredibly delicious.  The service was first class as well.

Here are some popular menu items at Rocco’s Italian Grille:

FRESH BREAD WITH GARLIC AND ROSEMARY OLIVE OIL – a really great starter courtesy of Rocco’s.

BURRATA – soft and creamy.  The essence of freshness and delicacy, yet simultaneously the most intensely milky thing you have ever eaten.

CARPACCIO CON RUCOLA – Named after the 15th century Venetian painter. Thinly sliced aged beef drizzled with infused white truffle oil topped with Parmigiano Reggiano shavings, argula, capers, and lemon

DI CESARE – a deliciously crispy salad with homemade croutons that were incredibly addictive.

RUCOLA E PARMIGIANO – Arugula, julienne tomatoes, Parmigiano shaves in extra virgin olive oil and lemon dressing.

PAPPARDELLE SHRIMP TERRE – Pappardelle with shrimp, braised in a white wine tomato basil cream sauce, topped with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and basil.

SCALOPPINE DI VITELLO ALLA ROCCO – Veal scaloppine topped with roasted peppers, prosciutto and Fontina cheese, deglazed with white wine, finished with a rich demi-glace sauce and served with vegetables of the day.

The veal was tender and the sauce was rich.  The julienne vegetables complimented it very well.  Every bite was pure perfection and there was not a speck left behind on my plate.

CANNOLI – ricotta cheese, dried fruit, chocolate morsels.

CHOCOLATE DELIGHT CAKE – with imported blood orange coulis.

Rocco’s Italian Grille is a hidden treasure that has a beautiful and welcoming ambiance, exceptional dishes, and five-star service. Be sure to check them out the next time you are in the Winter Park area, you will love it!

Rocco’s Italian Grille
400 Orlando Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 644-7770
roccositaliangrille.com

Fundraiser to Support the People of Ukraine – World Central Kitchen – Disaster Relief Fund

Update 3/20/2022 – In less than 2 short weeks, we have achieved our goal of $10,000 raised thanks to the compassion and generosity of our Central Florida and Orlando community. Big thank you to Amy Thompson of Orlando Sentinel (What can you do to help Ukraine? Feed them) and Holly Kapher of Orlando Weekly (Support Ukraine at these local Orlando restaurants) for covering the story, as well as to the support of local friends and restaurants (Domu, Tori Tori, Peterbrooke Chocolatier, Hinckley’s, The Ravenous Pig, and many more) who all helped support and donate. The war continues, and as of today, over 3 million Ukrainian refugees have fled, many still in need of hot meals – if you are able to, please continue sharing this fundraiser with family and friends to help support the people of Ukraine. We are also still collecting recipes from local chefs and community members for a digital thank you recipe collection e-book to send out to donors after the fundraiser is over. If you have a family recipe to share, please e-mail us at tastychomps@gmail.com.

José Andrés’s nonprofit World Central Kitchen (WCK) is now in Poland, Romania, and Moldova feeding “hot, nourishing meals” to tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees coming across the border at all hours. The aid group says it is also working with restaurants in Odessa and Lviv, two cities in Ukraine, to feed those who remain there.

The WCK most recently arrived in Moldova and began serving chicken over plates of pasta, fresh bread from local restaurants, and tomato salad. The nonprofit group is heading to Slovakia and Hungary as well to find out how to support refugees arriving from Ukraine.

All proceeds to benefit World Central Kitchen disaster relief funds (worldcentralkitchen.org) – Chef Jose Andres and team are currently providing hot meals for refugees from the Ukraine conflict on the ground.

To donate, visit: https://donate.wck.org/team/411729

As a thank you to donors, we are compiling a recipe book tentatively titled “To Ukraine with Love: Recipes from the Heart of Central Florida to the People of Ukraine” – if you would like to submit a recipe please fill out the below recipe submission or email tastychomps@gmail.com with the below email by 3/30/2022:

Recipe Submission Form:
https://forms.gle/VrKyReHgSxXnNw4j8

Recipe Name:
About the recipe:
List of Ingredients:
Preparation Instructions:
About You/Chef/Restaurant:
Send photos if any to tastychomps@gmail.com

We will send donors a copy via e-mail in PDF format in early April after we compile. Donor – Sign up for the Recipe Book: https://forms.gle/hJ6mBwwKXmSYZey47

Terminology All Whisky Drinkers Should Know – A Guide from Glenlivet

Terminology All Whisky Drinkers Should Know

a whisky drinker raising a toast

Whether you’re a seasoned whisky drinker or whisky novice, brush up on your whisky knowledge with our terminology guide. Impress your fellow whisky drinkers with your arsenal of phrases and definitions. Pour yourself a glass of whisky and test your knowledge.

Types of Whisky

With so many different types of whisky available, knowing your malt from your grain can seem like a minefield so we’ve compiled a list so that you can distinguish your whiskies and impart your wisdom to fellow whisky drinkers.

Malt

Malt whisky is made from a fermented mash consisting of malted barley.

Grain

Grain whisky is made from any type of grain, this could include wheat, corn or rye. Malt whisky on the other hand is made from malted barley only.

Blended

Blended whisky is what you imagine it to be: it is a mixture of different types of whiskies. A blend can include as many as 15 to 50 different single whiskies, the amounts of which are dependent on the specific company producing it. Because each whisky has its own distinctive characteristics, some blends don’t work seamlessly together. Therefore, the whiskies must be expertly blended to complement and enhance the flavors.

Scotch

Scotch is whisky that is made exclusively in Scotland. Scotch whisky cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world because it is the specific landscape, water, and climate of Scotland that makes this whisky so unique. There are five whisky regions across the country with each creating their own distinct whisky with different flavour profiles. For example, whisky from the region of Islay tends to evoke a peaty, smoky flavor, whereas the Lowland promises soft and smooth whisky with flavors including honeysuckle, cream, grass, ginger and toffee which gives an overall lighter taste.

Single Malt Scotch vs Blended Scotch Whisky

You can get Scotch whisky as a single malt, a single grain, or a blend. Single malt or grain whisky comes from a single distillery, which whisky drinkers often consider makes it an elite spirit. Blended, on the other hand, is made from a mixture of different Scotch whiskies that complement and enhance the different flavors in the mix.

group of whisky drinkers

Whisky Glasses

As all whisky drinkers will attest, having the right glass when drinking whisky can make all the difference. From the perfect ambiance to the perfect whisky, the correct glass will complete the experience.

Tulip Glass

The tulip glass, also known as the copita after the traditional Spanish glass from which it is based on, is a favorite amongst whisky drinkers and connoisseurs. The shape of this glass is perfect for appreciating the complex flavours of the spirit. It has a stem, which prevents the hand from coming too close to the nose and affecting the scent of the whisky, whilst the round shape at the bottom and narrowed rim guides the aromas to your nose as you drink. This shaped glass is also great for swirling your whisky.

Glencairn

The Glencairn whisky glass is not dissimilar to a tulip glass, however it has a shorter more solid base as opposed to a long stem. This glass is also perfect for swirling to ‘open up’ the aromas of the whisky so that you can have a more nuanced tasting experience and taste the depth of flavors. The shape of this glass also funnels the aroma of the whisky towards the nose as you drink.

Old-Fashioned

The Old-Fashioned glass is perhaps the most instantly recognisable glass amongst the whisky glasses. It is short with a thick base and a wide rim and is perfect for whisky cocktails or whisky on the rocks.

whisky drinker with an old fashioned glass

Whisky Terms

Dram

A dram is a unit of volume usually associated with whisky. There is no fixed measurement for a dram, and it has changed over time, however nowadays if you order a dram you are most likely to receive a standard shot size of either 25ml or 35ml.

Neat

Ordering a neat whisky means that the spirit is served without any mixer or additional flavors – a favorite amongst whisky drinkers.

On the rocks

This simply means a spirit served over ice.

Open up

‘Open up’ in relation to whisky refers to the change in flavor once the spirit has been left open to the air. You can ‘open up’ your whisky by swirling it in your glass or by adding a drop of water. Opening up your whisky can unveil a more nuanced and richer combination of flavors that are not recognised initially.

Whether you’re a new or seasoned whisky drinker, this short guide will give you a refresh of the most important whisky terms and phrases to help you on your way to becoming a connoisseur.

Local Orlando Specials for Easter Weekend 2022

This is an article in progress – will update as more are announced.

Highlights include:

  • Aurora at the Celeste Hotel in East Orlando
  • JW Marriott Bonnet Creek Resort in Orlando
  • Grande Lakes Orlando Resort
  • Tabla Indian Restaurant
  • STK at Disney Springs
  • Pointe Orlando

Here are our selection of local Orlando Specials for Easter Weekend 2022:

Aurora at The Celeste Hotel – East Orlando

4105 N Alafaya Trail, Orlando, FL
689-205-0100
Dine in Only

Reservations required – P: 689.205.0100 or MIKE.TRUDNAK@THECELESTEHOTEL.COM or directly through OpenTable.

Easter Bunny Breakfast

The 2 weekends prior to Easter, April 2nd, 3rd, 9th & 10th

Join Aurora for a modern take on a breakfast with the World Famous Easter Bunny!  Breakfast will begin at 9:00 am and the cost is $40 per adult, $25 for children 12 and under and 3 and under are free.  The Buffet will include classic favorites such as eggs benedict, Quiche, Bacon, Sausage, Waffles, Pancakes, French toast, Fresh Fruits and much more!  The Bunny will be around to greet all of the tables as well as a private photo experience where families can take their own photos with the bunny in our photo area.  Breakfast will be followed by an Easter Egg hunt for all of the children on the Endeavor Event Lawn.  Be sure to book soon to enjoy some relaxed family time with great food and the one and only Easter Bunny.  Reservations required – P: 689.205.0100 or MIKE.TRUDNAK@THECELESTEHOTEL.COM or directly through OpenTable.

Bunny Tea Time

The 2 weekends prior to Easter, April 2nd, 3rd, 9th & 10th

Join Aurora for a delicious assortment of finger sandwiches, canapés, scones, pastries, fruit, desserts and of course tea!  Peanut butter and jelly, and hot chocolate for smaller adventurers. The Bunny will be around to greet all of the tables as well as a private photo experience where guests can take their own photos with the bunny in our photo area.  Bunny Tea will begin @1:00pm and the cost is $36 per adult, $22 per children 12 and under and 3 and under are free.  Reservations required – P: 689.205.0100 or MIKE.TRUDNAK@THECELESTEHOTEL.COM or directly through OpenTable.

Easter Day Brunch Buffet

April 17th 11am-4pm

Aurora will be offering a special Easter Day Brunch Buffet that will run from 11am-4pm on Easter Day. $75.00 per adult, children 12 and under $25, 3 and under free. This menu ties together our flavorful cuisine with traditional holiday elements. Featuring unlimited mimosa’s, multiple made to order stations such as Prime Rib and 3 other carved meats , Risotto Station, chef curated cheese display, omelet station, salad station, seafood display, children’s buffet, breakfast favorites, more than 25 feet of desserts and more!  Reservations required, P: 689.205.0100 or MIKE.TRUDNAK@THECELESTEHOTEL.COM or directly through OpenTable.

JW Marriott Bonnet Creek Resort in Orlando

EASTER WEEKEND
PETER RABBIT EASTER BRUNCH
April 17, 12.30 – 3 pm
Celebrate at Unreserved Food Bazaar over a traditional
Southern brunch buffet. Sip special Easter Mimosas as you
enjoy live entertainment including a visit from the Easter
Bunny offering the perfect moment for a family photograph.
Reservations are required: +1 407.919.6300
135/guest, 35/child 4-12, Complimentary under 4

EASTER EGG HUNT
April 17, 9 am, 10 am & 11 am
Join us for a special Easter Egg Hunt with sweet treats and
surprises around every corner at the 6th Floor Activity
Lawn. For enhanced safety measures, guests have three
different times to choose from, offering plenty of eggs for all
of our youngest guests. Children will have a hopping good
time with the Easter Bunny making special appearances
throughout the morning. Guest count is limited and
reservations are required available for booking online.
Complimentary for all resort guests

EASTER BUNNY VISIT
April 15 – 16, 4 – 5 pm
Whether on your way out for an afternoon adventure or
in from a morning of fun, visit the Easter Bunny in the
hotel lobby greeting guests from 4 to 5 pm on Friday and
Saturday. Guests are invited to bring their phone or camera
to preserve their memory and capture a special photo with
the Easter Bunny.

The Ritz-Carlton at Grande Lakes Resort – Easter 2022 – Special Events

EASTER THEMED-CRAFTS
Offered during Ritz-Kids Open House – Friday, April 15 – Sunday, April 17, 10am – 11:30am

EASTER EGG HUNT
Experience the classic Easter activity at our beautiful Whisper Creek Farms. Each child will get to keep the prizes found in eggs as well as their own Easter basket. April 17, 10:30am – 11:30am $65 per child – Reservations required, call 407-393-4977

EASTER BRUNCH AT KNIFE & SPOON
Now open! Voted #1 2020 Best New Restaurant in Orlando (Orlando Weekly) and one of the Top 3 2020 Best New Restaurants in the U.S. (USA Today 10 Best), Knife & Spoon features New American steak and seafood conceived and led by award-winning chef, John Tesar.

Sunday, April 17, 12pm – 7pm. 250++
Reservations required, call 407-393-4034

EASTER AT HIGHBALL & HARVEST
This Southern-inspired restaurant pays homage to days gone by and provides the ideal setting to make your celebration together truly special. The menu features ingredients from local farms and the resort’s own garden. Á la carte menu and special menu insert.

Sunday April 17, Breakfast 7am – 11am,
Lunch 11:30am – 2pm and
Dinner 5:30pm – 10pm

Reservations required, call 407-393-4034
For overnight resort guests only.

JW Marriott at Grande Lakes Resort – Easter 2022 Special Events

EASTER WEEKEND CARNIVAL AND FOOD TRUCK RALLY

Games, arts, crafts, food trucks with your favorite treats, join the fun all weekend long! Saturday, April 16 – 17, 11am – 5pm
Valencia Patio

EASTER BREAKFAST BUFFET AT CITRON

Energize your morning with delicious breakfast dishes at Citron.
Sunday, April 17, 7am – 12pm

EASTER BRUNCH AT PRIMO

The newly renovated Primo welcomes you for Easter Brunch. Enter Mediterranean inspired
bliss on your Easter morning.
Sunday, April 17th, 10am – 3pm
Open to resort guests.

Tabla Indian Restaurant

 

For more information, visit: tablacuisine.com

— Tabla Locations — 

Tabla Indian Cuisine – Lake Nona
9971 Tagore Place
Suite 9 Orlando, Fl 32827
(407) 743-2847

Tabla Indian Chinese Thai – Winter Park
216 N Park Ave Ste H, Winter Park, FL 32789
(321) 422-0321

Tabla Indian Restaurant
5847 Grand National Dr., Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 248-9400

STK AT DISNEY SPRINGS

Spring is finally here and STK is pulling out all the stops this month.  Known for its high-energy atmosphere and exceptional, signature, and seasonal offerings, the city’s modern steakhouse and chic lounge is offering an Easter Brunch available all weekend, along with wallet-friendly cocktail specials in honor of Tax Day.

Treat the family to a special Easter Brunch available all day on Saturday, April 16, and Sunday, April 17.  Indulge in the Dungeness Crab Deviled Eggs, dressed crème fraiche, rocket leaves, maple bacon, for $34; or the Slow Roasted Prime Rib, severed with charred baby carrots, pesto, ricotta, and salsa verde, for $73; or the Colorado Lamb T-Bone, served with green peas, mint, smoked bacon, for $67. Just for the occasion, STK will stay open one hour later Sunday, April 17. For more details on the menu, visit here.

Cocktail lovers can kick off the week by taking advantage of Tax Day specials available all day on Monday, April 18. Celebrate Tax Day by sipping (and saving) with $10.40 specialty cocktails at the bar or patio.

POINTE ORLANDO

Celebrate Easter at Pointe Orlando

Want an amazing Easter feast without having to do the dishes? We have compiled a list of amazing options to choose from. Grab your family and make your reservation today. Click the restaurants below to get more information on each.

THE TAP ROOM AT DUBSDREAD

The Tap Room at Dubsdread will be offering its popular Sunday brunch buffet.

Reservations are necessary and can be made by calling 407-650-0100.

Nile Ethiopian Orlando – Celebrating Over 15 Years in Orlando

Founded in 2006, Nile Ethiopian Restaurant has featured authentic made from scratch Ethiopian cuisine for over 15 years.

Owner Abeba Gonetse transports diners from Central Florida to a traditional Ethiopian home kitchen where everything is cooked from the heart.

Ethiopian cuisine is characterized by the use of spices such as cumin and cloves as well as tibs (sauteed meat), wat (stewed dishes), and a fermented sourdough bread called injera.

There are also fantastic vegetarian / vegan options included stewed cabbage, mixed lentil beans, collard greens, and more. Definitely get the Taste of the Nile veggie platter for those interested in plant based dishes.

Nile Ethiopian is also known for their traditional coffee ceremony – a must try for any coffee lover – where green coffee beans are hand roasted in a flat pan over hot coals, ground in a pestle and brewed in a black clay pot called a jebena.

The ceremony is considered a sign of respect and friendship and usually performed by the woman of the household as an honor.

Inside the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony at Nile

Here is a Foodie’s Guide to Ethiopian Dishes to Try at Nile Ethiopian

Tomato Fitfit – Diced tomatoes, red onions, jalapeno peppers, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice mixed with pieces of Injera.

Azifa – Mixture of lentils, finely chopped red onions ? , jalapeno peppers, olive oil, lemon juice and Ethiopian mustard. Served cold

Sambusa – Deep fried pastries stuffed with lentils, finely chopped red onions and jalapeno peppers

Kitfo Special – Minced beef infused in house herbs, and spiced butter accompanied with a side of house cottage cheese and collard greens. Traditionally served raw (like an Ethiopian beef tartare)

Beef Tibs – Seasoned lean beef sautéed with red onions, tomatoes and jalapeno peppers. Served hot and sizzling

Taste of Nile for 2 – – Vegan! – Shiro (Ground chickpeas simmered with red onions, garlic, tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, and house herbs), Misir Wat (Red lentils stew seasoned with spicy herbs, red onions, and garlic), Kik Alicha (Yellow split peas stew seasoned with turmeric, red onions, garlic, and jalapeño peppers), Tikel Gomen (Cabbage stew simmered with turmeric, carrots, red onions, garlic and jalapeño peppers), Gomen (Collard greens stew seasoned with house herbs, red onions, garlic, and jalapeño peppers), Tomato Fitfit and Fosolia (Green beans and carrots)

Chef’s Special For 2 – Doro Wat. Doro Alicha. Beef Alicha Wat. Beef Tibs. Tikel Gomen. Gomen. Misir and Kik Alicha

Tej – House made Ethiopian Honey Wine 

 

 

Nile Ethiopian
7048 International Drive
Orlando, Florida 32819
Mon- Fri 5 PM – 9PM
Sat and Sun 12PM – 9PM
https://www.nileorlando.com/ 

First Look: Tasty Chomps x Tabla – A Taste of… Tabla Secret Menu – March 3rd thru March 13th 2022

“A Taste of… presented by Tasty Chomps x Tabla” is a new secret menu for foodies to get a “Taste Of…” a local Orlando restaurant with a special pre-fixe menu (similar to Magical Dining) for dine in or take out for a limited time.

Starting March 3rd thru 13th, 2021, guests can get a 3-course dinner at Tabla for just $40 per person, plus tax and tip.

They just recently opened their third location (Lake Nona) and this menu will be available at all three during this limited time period – it is a great way to test out the menu for a good price.

There are also quite a few vegetarian options for those interested in plant based options.

Tasty Chomps x Tabla – A Taste of… Tabla

Secret Menu

 March 3rd thru March 13th 2022

$ 40 Per Person + Tax & Tip
(Menu Available at all three locations: Lake Nona, Winter Park and Kirkman Rd Locations)

Appetizer

Served with Chutney

Choose One

Chili Paneer
(Marinated Paneer Cheese with Onions, Bell Peppers and Indo-Chinese Chili Garlic Sauce)

Mixed Pakora
(Spiced Cauliflower, Potato, Paneer and Onion Fritters – can be made Vegan & Gluten free)

Chicken Manchurian
(Crispy Cauliflower or Chicken Fritters tossed in Tabla’s Signature Manchurian Sauce)

Main Course

Served with Pulao Rice, Dal Tadka, Naan, Pappadum, Pickle

Choose One

Vegetable Navratan Korma
(Vegetables in creamy nutty, almond based curry sauce)

Chana Masala
(Chickpeas cooked home style with Onions, Tomatoes & Ginger – Can be made Vegan & Gluten free)

Butter Chicken
(A North Indian Delicacy. Chicken cooked in a flavorful Tomato Cream Sauce)

Dessert

Choose One

Chocolate Samosa with Chai Latte Ice Cream

Gulab Jamun Brulee

Cassata Ice Cream

To make a reservation, call Tabla and mention the “Tasty Chomps Taste of Tabla Secret Menu” from March 3rd thru March 13th, 2021.

Tabla Indian Cuisine currently has three locations. The secret menu will be available at all three: Lake Nona, Winter Park and Kirkman Rd. locations.

For more information, visit: tablacuisine.com

— Tabla Locations — 

Tabla Indian Cuisine – Lake Nona
9971 Tagore Place
Suite 9 Orlando, Fl 32827
(407) 743-2847

Tabla Indian Chinese Thai – Winter Park
216 N Park Ave Ste H, Winter Park, FL 32789
(321) 422-0321

Tabla Indian Restaurant
5847 Grand National Dr., Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 248-9400

Charlie’s Bakery and Creamery – Orlando Icon Under New Ownership and Celebrates 50 Years in Business

Founded in 1971, Charlie’s Bakery has been a mainstay in the Orlando Conway area community for over 50 years. Recently, the original owners sold their bakery to the Hage family who are now taking over the shop – rebranding and updating the bakery, adding a home-made ice cream component, keeping many of the same Charlie’s original recipes, as well as adding a few touches of their own (like the family carrot cake recipe!). The iconic “chef’s hat” logo can be found on the pastries and items that kept the original “Charlie’s” recipes untouched.

“We are excited to carry on the rich history and tradition that Charlie’s Bakery has given to the Conway community for 50 years” said Tricia Hage, new owner. Charlie’s Bakery will now be known as Charlie’s Bakery & Creamery.  Owning an ice cream shop has always been a dream of new owner, Tricia Hage, combining her love of family, tradition, community and all things sweet, including homemade ice cream.

Charlie’s Bakery and Creamery owner Tricia Hage

“It is without saying that Charlie’s has been a landmark and a tradition to this community. Our family has known and loved Charlie’s since its inception in the 1970’s,” said Hage. “We look toward the future with some new additions, traditions and family recipes of our own. Our family has been a part of this community for over 75 years. The Hage family has been small business owners for generations in the Greater Orlando area and we are excited to carry on that legacy.”

Tricia Hage is an entrepreneur, lifelong Orlando resident, and the new owner of Charlie’s Bakery & Creamery. For over 20 years, she has been a self-taught baker and an avid businesswoman. Tricia’s mother-in- law, Sandy, is also an avid baker. Her delectable recipes and love of baking inspired Tricia.

Without fail every birthday, Sandy would always make ice cream cookie sandwiches and ice cream pies for Tricia. You could probably walk in today to her mother-in-law’s house and open the freezer and find a wrapped ice cream cookie sandwich.

Living and working in Conway has always been what Tricia and Troy have done, they are lifelong residents and entrepreneurs. Being a part of and working in this community is the heart of who they are. Today, Tricia looks forward to Charlie’s Bakery & Creamery carrying on its rich history that is deeply rooted in this community and will continue to sweeten the lives of those it serves for generations to come.

Tasty Chomps Interview with Charlie’s new owner Tricia Hage 

Tasty Chomps: What are some of your favorite items right now at Charlie’s?

Tricia Hage: Most of our pastries are popular because no one else has them…napoleon, eclairs and cream horns to name a few. I don’t know of anyone else in the area that carries those daily.

– What makes Charlie’s special to you?

It’s history. I love that it was a family-based business and now I want to carry on that tradition. When I first bought the bakery, it felt like Gary’s and now it feels like mine. I want to continue to build upon the legacy of Charlie’s Bakery and continue to sweeten the lives of our customers for generations to come.

– Tell us about the new ice cream at Charlie’s

The ice cream is homemade; we make it right here in the store and we also try to use natural products when we can vs. dyes. We have come up with lots of good and creative recipes! We love ice cream, and we keep trying until we get the best of the best of every recipe we create. We don’t stop until its exactly where we want it. We buy high end ingredients because we think it makes a difference and are committed to making it the very best!

What are some things people can get with ice cream / flavors while there?

We have traditional toppings and cones. We also have dairy free flavors! At all times we will at least have 2-4 dairy free flavors in the case, that is also very important to us as I have a lot of friends who are dairy free, so I wanted to make sure I had some dairy free options for everyone.

Do you have a favorite?

Cookie butter with the Biscoff cookies, cotton candy and dairy free almond joy.

– What are some other upcoming plans for Charlie’s?

We have just renovated and updated the entire storefront. We are so excited about the new look, new display cases and of course the addition of homemade ice cream! I’m just so excited to see my vision and dream come together! My hope is to run this bakery & creamery and be successful. I want people to be happy, have less waiting and to also ensure guest have a good visit and experience. I take pride in my product.

– What are the most popular items at Charlie’s?

Strawberry Shortcake, Strawberry Cheesecake and Key Lime Pie.

– What are some upcoming seasonal things you will be doing?

Seasonal ice cream flavors, gingerbread men at Christmas and we have a special re-grand opening over Valentine’s weekend, Show Your Love for Charlie’s.

Charlie’s Bakery and Creamery
http://charliesbakery.com/
3213 Curry Ford Rd, Orlando, FL 32806
(407) 898-9561

Marketplace at Avalon Park – Now Serving Breakfast – Breakfast Burritos, Tacos, Sandwiches, Churros, Hot Chocolate and more

Update: 2/28/2022 – Pico De Gallo informed us they are taking a pause on breakfast for now until further notice. Call ahead to find out what is available.

The Marketplace at Avalon Park is a brand new and innovative food hall, general store, commissary kitchen and event space that just celebrated their grand opening this past year in downtown Avalon Park in East Orlando. It is such a cool new addition to Eastern Orange County and is sure to be a delightful space for families and neighbors for a long time to come.

They recently debuted new breakfast options, perfect for east Orlando locals on the go. Now you can start your mornings off right with a breakfast hot off the griddle from three of restaurants at Marketplace at Avalon Park – Rosso Coffee  BarPico De Gallo and Nola at Avalon Park.

With everything from tostadas to pancakes to a breakfast sandwich, you’ll have plenty of tasty options to choose from.

So don’t go hungry on your way out the door – start your day off right with breakfast from one of these three eateries!

Rosso Coffee – Hot Coffee, Pastries, and Biscuit Sandwiches for breakfast

Rosso Coffee Bar is open 7 days a week starting at 7:30 am for breakfast and serving a wide variety of hot drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, americanos and other specialty beverages that pair nicely with its baked goods.

Whether you’re looking for a morning jolt to get going or need to satisfy your sweet tooth before lunch, Rosso Coffee has what you need.

Nola Breakfast sandwich with Rosso Coffee

The Nola breakfast biscuit is perfect for on-the-go! A mouthwatering house made Nola buttermilk biscuit filled with eggs, smoked ham and Monterey Jack cheese. Dine in or grab one to go from Rosso Coffee in the Marketplace at Avalon Park.

Butter Corn Garlic Bread

Pico De Gallo – Breakfast Burritos, Tacos, Tostadas, and Pancakes

Breakfast Burritos, Tacos, Tostadas, Pancakes are all under $10 and made fresh to order. Pico is open for breakfast Monday-Friday, 7 am – 10:30 am.

BREAKFAST MENU includes:

  • Burrito Breakfast – Refried beans, Chorizo, and eggs wrapped in a 10” tortilla.
  • Single Taco Breakfast – Refried beans, Chorizo, and eggs with choice of Soft or Crispy tortilla shell.
  • Arepas con huevos – Grilled Arepa with eggs
Breakfast Burritos from Pico De Gallo
Arepas con Huevos

Churros x Hot Chocolate

Grab some churros from Pico De Gallo and a cup of hot chocolate from Rosso’s for a truly delicious breakfast! This is a staple in Mexico City if you ever have been.

 

BOOZY BRUNCH

If you are looking to turn breakfast into a boozy brunch, all you need is to add a mimosa from Avalon General Store when they open at 11 am.

With Rosso Coffee, Pico De Gallo and Nola inside The Marketplace at Avalon Park serving breakfast, you can get your first meal of the day before you start your busy day. Each venue serves different menu items so we recommend checking out all of them for a great breakfast experience.

Marketplace at Avalon Park
3801 Avalon Park E Blvd Ste. 100, Orlando, FL 32828
https://marketplaceatavalonpark.com/

50 Years of Walt Disney World Food and Beverage – Interview with Karen McClintock

Walt Disney World, the largest theme park in the world, first opened its doors on Oct. 1, 1971 – 50 years ago. Today, Walt Disney World is home to four theme parks, two waterparks, golf courses, a shopping destination and 27 resort hotels, leaving an indelible mark on Central Florida’s economy and culture – from hospitality to food and beverage.

As the 50th anniversary celebration at Walt Disney World continues to run through the end of 2022, we spoke with Karen McClintock, Global Public Relations Manager – Food & Beverage – Content Creation & Digital Integration for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products about the food and beverage scene at Disney – how it has changed over the years and where it is going next.

Tasty Chomps Q and A With Karen McClintock, Walt Disney World 

Tasty Chomps: Looking back over the years, what are some seminal / breakthrough foodie moments at Disney World that you remember most?

Karen McClintock: In the early years, food and beverage at Disney was mainly considered an amenity except for a few locations, notably Victoria & Albert’s and restaurants at EPCOT such as Les Chefs de France opened by French culinary legends Roger Vergé, Gaston Lenôtre, and Paul Bocuse. But overall, the culinary highlights for many were hot dogs, hamburgers, and churros! Here are just two seminal moments, in my opinion, for Disney Food & Beverage.

First, in 1995, the perception of Disney dining drastically changed when we opened California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. This was a cutting-edge restaurant – especially for a theme park – catching the attention of the culinary world and, of course, our guests, paving the way for many other elevated dining experiences – both table- and quick-service – at all Disney sites.

Second, in 1996, the first EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival was held, and it was such a groundbreaking moment for Disney Food & Beverage. (I coordinated the earlier 4-day “wine festivals” for several years for Disney’s Food & Wine Society. At that time, we thought those wine “festivals” were soooo busy with only a few thousand attending each day! Hahahaha!)

The cultural backdrop and expansiveness of EPCOT made it the perfect venue. Food Network had debuted a few years prior, so it was the ideal combination of the culinary talent and creativity from the Disney chefs and sommeliers for all the marketplace offerings and the “celebrity” chef element. A highlight for me was meeting Julia Child, an honored attendee for a benefit gala in 1997.

How has the philosophy of food and beverage transformed, evolved, revolutionized over the past 5 decades?

The overall Disney philosophy of creating unforgettable stories, experiences, and products that capture the imagination of generations of people around the world, extends to Disney Food & Beverage. To that end, we have evolved and transformed through the years with various areas of focus with the ultimate goal of making every guest feel special.

Choices and options with great diversity
• We offer so many diverse dining choices and options – from food trucks to Five Diamonds – that enable our guests to choose what satisfies their cravings at their convenience and budget.
• We feel guests with food allergies and special diets should also have choices and options. Disney strives to be an industry leader in serving guests with food allergies and special diets. Disney guests can find hundreds of plant-based offerings on menus by looking for the plant-based menu icon, a green leaf.

Blending cuisine with storytelling
• Our guests are immersed in Disney stories at our themed restaurants, making these dining experiences distinctly Disney.

Environmental stewardship
• The Walt Disney Company’s commitment to environmentality goes back to our founding more than 90 years ago. Walt himself said that “Conservation isn’t just the business of a few people. It’s a matter that concerns all of us.”

o Maximize energy efficiencies and provide plant-based and plant-forward options on menus.
o Conserve water resources in kitchens and serve 100% sustainable seafood.
o Prevent food waste and optimize recycling programs and Disney Harvest donations.
o Continue to reduce single-use plastics and replace them with sustainable materials when possible.
o Drive environmental efficiencies and sustainable design for our food and beverage facilities.

Technology
• Technology through the years has brought our food and beverage operations to a whole new level for safety, efficiency, and quality. This includes mobile order, inventory controls, and HACCAP controls.

Lots of new openings here with the new space themed restaurant at Epcot, Steakhouse 71, La Creperie… what are some other upcoming plans for food and beverage in the near future?

The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is exciting, taking food and beverage to a whole new level. (Sorry – can’t reveal details quite yet – but here is a link to the blog post!)

What are some of your favorite “Disney” food memories over the years as a part of the team?

I started my career with Disney in 1992, so I was fortunate to be on the ground floor of an exciting and transformational time for Disney Food & Beverage. It was a small but mighty team led by Dieter Hannig (vice president of Food & Beverage), responsible for so many incredible concepts that shaped food and beverage across all Disney sites. Those early years, when we opened California Grill and the unique restaurants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, as well as the reimagination of Cítricos and ‘Ohana, were truly memorable. We all knew we were part of something extraordinary.

Starting in these early years, I was fortunate enough to partner with Pam Brandon, a former publicist with Disney PR, current Edible Orlando editor and cookbook author. Pam and I have collaborated on 20+ Disney cookbooks over the years. We have hosted multiple media events in Florida, California, and New York City at the esteemed James Beard House. We have even coordinated events on a farm – Edible Orlando’s Field to Feast event with Disney chefs cooking on Long and Scott Farm to benefit Second Harvest Kid’s Café! All great highlights as we both have a passion for telling the Disney Food & Beverage story.

Tell us about your time in Shanghai! What are some lessons and things learned that you took back from that trip?

Opening Shanghai Disney Resort was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. To open this beautiful resort was so much fun and so much work! I was there for over four months working alongside our Shanghai cast members and fellow cast members from Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. We did not have too much downtime, but when we did, exploring Shanghai and surrounding cities was simply amazing – especially with other foodies.

I know it sounds (Disney) cliché, but it really is a small world – especially in the food and beverage world! You can accomplish anything with talented and passionate people with a common goal and vision – regardless of cultural differences.

Images Courtesy of Walt Disney World

Industry Profile: In-Depth with Brad Czerkies of Brad’s Underground Pizza

Brad Czerkies of Brad’s Underground Pizza – the man, the myth, the legend – we were obsessed with this obscure Instagram only one-man pizza army shop for months, but recently they came up from the underground to open a pick up/delivery spot inside the Collab Kitchens backed by the Tung brothers of Bento Restaurant Group. We got to speak with Brad recently to talk about his background and his love for pizza!

Industry Profile: In-Depth with Brad Czerkies of Brad’s Underground Pizza

Tasty Chomps: What did you do before getting into pizza?
Brad Czerkies of Brad’s Underground Pizza: I grew up in the North Suburbs of Chicago until I was 21. I’ve been in Central Florida since 2009. I have an interesting background. I come from the entertainment field. I played in a band, I was a Knight at Medieval Times, I was an Audio Engineer and Video Editor for a film studio, and most recently I was a Professor at Full Sail University.

What inspired you to start Brad’s Underground?
I felt like there were a lot of people like me in Orlando, who wanted a different option than what was being offered in Orlando.

I’ve wanted to open a pizzeria for years, but I couldn’t get the ingredients I was looking for. I have to get them shipped in from Chicago. In the beginning I had to fly there, buy the ingredients, and bring them back on the plane. Luckily I only had to do it a couple times and it was in December and February so everything stayed frozen until I landed in Florida.

That picture (below) is of me in the Chicago O’Hare airport pushing 200lbs of frozen Cheese and Sausage packed in duffle bags. People looked at me like I just robbed a bank. I did feel like maybe I got away with something. I want to thank the TSA for believing in me and my dream. They could have easily told me I couldn’t bring it through.

How did it take off?
I started making pizza on the weekends for any of my students from Full Sail. It gave me practice and they loved free pizza. The students would order through instagram. They chose a day and time and I would make the pizza and deliver it to them for free. I did it for free because I wanted to see if I could do it and if people liked it. I then did a pop up at Full Sail’s Hall of Fame event, and the response was incredible and it encouraged me to continue. Word started to spread and my followers grew.

I continued to make the pizzas and deliver them to people until my Underground Pizzeria was starting to catch some mainstream. One night I go to bed and there’s 1000 new followers and 300 new messages. A month goes by and there’s over 1000 messages from people that want to order. At some point Instagram stopped sending them to my inbox. Maybe it was full? but I know there’s a lot of unanswered messages and for that I’m very sorry.

When did you officially open?
Johnny Tung, owner of Bento, was one of the people who messaged me. He had a place called Collab Kitchens and there was space available. It had 4 of the big kitchen items I needed, and I could get started right away without having to wait months. He gives people like me a chance to grow in the restaurant industry and I am very thankful. I moved into the Collab Kitchens location at 4400A Curry Ford Road, Orlando in July, and was officially open in August 2021.

What can guests expect in the near future from Brads? Any new plans?
I have a lot of ideas, but for now I’m concentrating on just pizza. I do however have plans on adding new menu items. I just don’t know when or how soon that could be.

What are some of your goals and dreams for Brad’s Underground?
One of my goals is to figure out a way to do more volume. Maybe hire an employee. My long term goal is to have 50 locations in 50 years. I have dreams of expanding across all of central florida.

How would you describe your pizza styles? What is your food philosophy?
I make a Deep Dish, Double decker and Tavern style pizza. I call my pizza Orlando’s PIzza, because I want to give the people of Orlando their own identity. Maybe one day I’ll have something that will be known as Orlando style pizza, but until then let’s just call it Orlando’s pizza.

I’m a fan of any good pizza. It doesn’t matter where it comes from. Chicago, NY, New Haven, Detroit, Orlando. If it’s good it’s good. If it’s bad, then it’s bad.

What are some of the most popular dishes right now?
Deep Dish pizza. But I suggest trying all of them and deciding which one is right for you.

Order online at: https://www.bradsunderground.com/ pick up at Collab Kitchens – 4400A Curry Ford Road Orlando, FL 32812

Heirloom’s Valentine’s Day Dinner for Two – Delivered!

Heirloom is designed to encourage and support the value of family meals.  Heirloom provides a family meal without the time-consuming prep and clean up.  It is their goal to serve you and your busy lifestyle so you do not have to compromise quality time with your family.

This Valentine’s Day – don’t miss out on their special delivery set dinner for two – order by this Friday 2/11/2022 to make sure you receive the order on February 14, 2022.

VALENTINE’S DINNER FOR TWO
Regular price $80.00

VALENTINE’S DINNER FOR TWO

FENNEL & CITRUS SALAD 
FENNEL FROND, MIXED GREENS, PICKLED FENNEL, ORANGE SEGMENTS, GRAPEFRUIT, SUNFLOWER SEEDS, GOAT CHEESE, TARRAGON GREEN GODDESS DRESSING

GRILLED BREADS EUROPEAN BUTTER

SELECT ONE ENTREE FOR YOUR PAIR:

BACON WRAPPED FILET
ROSEMARY THYME DEMI, HERB BRINED CAULIFLOWER, ROASTED FINGERLING POTATOES

OR

PARMESAN CRUSTED AIRLINE CHICKEN
POTATO GNOCCHI, ROASTED PEPPER, SPINACH, CARAMELIZED ONION, PESTO CREAM

DESSERT

SALTY GANACHE BROWNIE VANILLA CHANTILLY

The order also comes with a bottle of KOS wine:

KOSELIG or “KOS” for short is a Norwegian word that loosely translates to coziness and the good part of life.  It’s about being content, connected, and around those you love.  It’s about having a glass of wine by the fire, enjoying hot coffee on a cold morning, lighting a new candle, and enjoying life’s small indulgences.  

2019 Pinot Grio / “CALIFORNIA” / 750 ml / ABL: 12.9%

The grapes for this 2019 Pinot Grigio were carefully sourced and selected from various vineyards throughout the state of California and are bottled/cellared in nearby Buellton, CA.

TASTING PROFILE: Melon / Citrus Zest / Crème Fraiche
FOOD PAIRING: Oysters / Sea Bass / Grilled Chicken

Free local delivery Monday, February 14th, use code CUPIDDELIVERS at checkout to remove delivery charge.

HOW IT WORKS:

1. CHOOSE – Select items from their weekly fresh-made individual or family sized meals or party platters.  Add items to complement from their pairings and market.  You can even order Heirloom for multiple weeks in one visit.

2. DELIVER – Free weekly delivery on a select day, based on your zip code, or any day delivery for a fee.  If you are not home to receive your order, you can leave a cooler out for them.  Pick-up is also available at their Tampa or Orlando offices.

3. HEAT & EAT – Follow simple reheating instructions for your oven or microwave to enjoy ther chef prepared meals at home in minutes.  Relax and start planning your Heirloom order for next week or catering for your upcoming event.

Enjoy chef prepared meals delivered locally to your door in Orlando, Tampa and surrounding areas by using code “TASTYCHOMPS” to take $25 off your first order, no expiration or exclusions.

Interested in placing an order?  Use our personalized link below to automatically apply $25 off your first order.

https://orderheirloom.com/discount/TASTYCHOMPS

About Puff ‘n Stuff Catering:
Since 1980, Puff ‘n Stuff Catering has been the premier catering and full-service event planning company in Central Florida.  In 2003, Warren Dietel acquired the company with plans to expand and in 2010 theye grew to serve Florida’s West Coast as well. They have been a big part of important events for families and businesses in these communities and they look forward to continuing that tradition with Heirloom.

Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen offering a Four Course Romantic Menu for Valentine’s Weekend

The newly opened restaurant by Bravo’s Top Chef winner Richard Blais, Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen, offers couples an intimate dining experience surrounded by lush greenery, vintage-inspired décor, oversized windows, and screened-in wrap-around porches.

From Friday, February 11 through Monday, February 14, the restaurant will offer a four-course dining menu carefully curated for Valentine’s Day. We are told that Sunday may be the best day to book right now based on current availability. Make sure to book ASAP before this menu sells out.

The day is all about love! So the Four Flamingos team wrote this menu to reflect all the things they love about Florida. You will find a lot of fresh, locally sourced seafood and produce. Items like Florida shrimp cocktail, Crab & ricotta raviolo and plantain gnocchi with oxtail “bolognblais” that they make in house.

The Ice Cold Oysters and Pearls, served with hibiscus hot sauce, make for the perfect aphrodisiac item for couples to share, while the crab and ricotta ravioli incorporates lobster tail and truffle foam for a truly decadent main course.

Noteworthy cocktails topped with liquid nitrogen bubbles complete a memorable, and instagrammable, dinner for two.

A nod to the four species of flamingo native to the Americas and the bird’s tendency to gather and feast in groups, Four Flamingos at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress features cuisine inspired by tropical flavors and ingredients from Florida, including native fruits, vegetables, seafood and more.

Blais is widely recognized as the first winner of Bravo’s Top Chef All-Stars and recently announced co-star of the new Gordon Ramsay / FOX cooking competition, Next Level Chef. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and trained at The French Laundry, Daniel, Chez Panisse and el Bulli.

The Valentine’s Day menu shows off some of the creativity and “chemistry” aspects that Chef Blais is known for.

Valentine’s Day at Four Flamings Menu Highlights include:

Scallop Ceviche – Coconut, Papaya, Granita

Tuna Tostada with Smoked Trout Roe – and Passion Fruit “Yoke”

Dry Aged Pinchos – 20 Day Dry Aged Beef with Chef Richard Blais’ Yacht Sauce

Whole Grilled Lobster

The full cocktail and wine menu is also available – don’t miss out on the eye catching Roseberry Bomb as well.

Roseberry Bomb
Strawberry-Infused Ketel One Vodka*, Crème de Peche, Citrus, Rosemary

Mango del Fuego
Jalapeno-Infused Maestro Dobel Tequila*, Cointreau, Mango, Hibiscus Syrup*, Grapefruit Salt

Key Lime in the Coconut
Stoli Vanilla Vodka, Midori, Key Lime Shrub*, Pineapple, Coconut Foam

Get Toasted
Siesta Key Toasted Coconut Rum, Tempus Fugit Banana Liqueur, Coconut Cream, Pineapple, Cinnamon Bark Syrup

Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Address: 1 Grand Cypress Blvd, Orlando, FL 32836
https://fourflamingosorlando.com/

$150 per person plus tax & gratuity includes a canape and four courses – RSVP by calling 407-239-1234 or visiting
https://fourflamingosorlando.com/reservations

Upcoming Event: Feast in the East presented by East Orlando Chamber of Commerce – February 24th, 2022

On February 24th, the East Orlando Chamber of Commerce is hosting their annual Feast in the East, featuring the Catering and To-Go offerings from their Restaurant Members.

This event is back after a year hiatus due to the pandemic, and who is ready to welcome foodies from all over for samplings and tastings of delicious food and beverages. Attendees have an opportunity connect with restaurateurs to learn about their offerings while sampling their treats. Admission is $35 which includes all you can eat samples, adult beverage samplings, non-alcoholic beverages, and also chances to win prizes from participating restaurants by completing a BINGO Card.

Other activities include, wine pull, drawing for a Big Green Egg, and voting for favorite Savory and Sweet treats.

Located in the heart of Avalon Park, the venue is at The Pavilion, the Avalon Park Community Center, 13401 Tanja King Blvd, Orlando, FL 32828. Doors open at 4:30 and the event runs till 8:30 PM. Event tickets are $35. Call 407-277-5951 or visit www.EOCC.org for more details.


Andrew Cole, President/CEO of East Orlando Chamber of Commerce stated, “We’ve all heard how our restaurants have been hit hard over the last year. By reinstating this event, we encourage attendees to patronize these restaurants, especially if they enjoyed their samplings and met the operators. This is a great opportunity for our restaurants to make new connections and build relationships for catering opportunities, office meetings and celebrations.”

The East Orlando Chamber of Commerce Feast in the East is Thursday, February 24, 2022 from 4:30 PM – 8:30 PM at The Pavilion, the Avalon Park Community Center, 13401 Tanja King Blvd, Orlando, FL 32828. Visit eocc.org or call 407-277-5951 to purchase tickets.

About the East Orlando Chamber of Commerce
Since 1946, the East Orlando Chamber of Commerce has been committed to the growth and development of the area’s businesses and communities. We represent the local businesses throughout the 440 square miles of East Orange County, dubbed the “440 Corridor” which includes everything east of I-4. We service the powerful hi-tech Research Park and the state-of-the-art healthcare corridor in Lake Nona. The mission of the East Orlando Chamber of Commerce is to be the leading resource in business advocacy, community engagement, and regional connectivity, creating a positive business climate and a sense of unity throughout the region.

Foodie’s Guide to Fort Collins, Colorado: Winter 2022 Itinerary

Located about an hour and a half north of Denver, Fort Collins is a charming Colorado city with a small town feel. During the summer, Fort Collins offers a variety of outdoor activities from hiking to whitewater rafting. During the colder months, you can dive into different winter adventures like skiing, snowshoeing and ice-skating. Although no matter what time of year you visit, you’re guaranteed to enjoy some incredible food in Fort Collins.

During our visit, we were on a mission to explore some of the very best dining experiences and eateries throughout Fort Collins. Here is our Foodie’s Guide to Fort Collins, Colorado: Winter 2022 Itinerary.

Foodie’s Guide to Fort Collins, Colorado: Winter 2022 Itinerary

Day 1:

Check in to the Armstrong Hotel

Our first stop in Fort Collins, Colorado is the Armstrong Hotel, a lovely boutique hotel located right in the heart of Old Town Fort Collins. This hotel was originally built in the 1923, and the influence of the 1920’s can be found throughout the hotel from the symmetrical architecture to the design style.

The Armstrong Hotel offers a variety of rooms and suites, with some impressive amenities from onsite dining to a massage and wellness center. The Armstrong Hotel is also only steps away from most of Old Town’s best restaurants a local shopping spots.

We stayed in a Corner Suite, which featured a spacious living room space, a sofa, an eating space and a large king bed. The suite was comfortable and the decorations added a modern flare to the 1920’s style theming.

Dinner at RARE Italian

For our first meal, we walked down the street to RARE Italian for some authentic Italian cuisine. RARE offers a carefully curated menu with direct influences from Italy and American Italian immigrants. The atmosphere is elevated and welcoming at RARE, and most importantly, the food is excellent.

We began our dinner with some wine. We went with the De Stefani Redentore Sauvignon Blanc (left) and the Vino dei Fratelli American Super Tuscan Cabernet/Sangiovese (right). Both were excellent.

For our starters, we enjoyed an Italian Cheese Board and the Peach Bruchetta. RARE offers a customizable cheese board option, where guests are welcome to select which cheeses, meats and sides they’d like to try. We selected the Burrata, Teleggio and Piave Vecchio cheeses with Prosciutto di Parma, and it was the perfect dish to pair with the wine.

The Peach Bruschetta is a seasonal appetizer that is exceptionally tasty. If it’s on the menu when you visit RARE Italian, it’s simply a must.

For our entrees, we ordered the Linguini Carbonara and the Dry-Aged New York Strip. For pasta lovers, the Linguini Carbonara is a wonderful choice. This dish combines Rustichella di Abruzzo Linguini, Guanciale and Parmigiano-Reggiano, creating a flavor palette that is both delicious and elevated.

RARE Italian is famous for its variety of steaks, all of which are dry-aged in-house at the restaurant. We ordered the Dry-Aged New York Strip, which was seasoned to perfection and absolutely worth the hype.

A trip to RARE Italian in Fort Collins isn’t complete without trying one of their decadent desserts. We ordered the Sage Crème Brûlée, and it did not disappoint. This dish features unique sage flavors and is topped with hazelnut brittle and candied berries. We’ve never tried anything quite like it before, and we mean that in the best way.

Day 2:

Breakfast at Ginger and Baker

Ginger and Baker is a lovely restaurant located within the historic Northern Colorado Feeders Supply building. Inside, you’ll find charming eating spaces as well as a bakery, rooftop, a gift shop and more. We made our way to this Fort Collins staple for breakfast.

We highly recommend trying the Graham Cracker Latte if you’re able to make it to breakfast at Ginger and Baker. This delightful morning drink features tasty flavors and even a homemade marshmallow. This latte is a must.

We also couldn’t say no to one of Ginger and Baker’s fresh cinnamon rolls. It was just as delicious as you’d imagine.

For our breakfast entrees, we started strong with the Garden Skillet. This dish is made with two over-medium eggs, Hazel Dell mushrooms, butternut squash, spinach, onions, peppers, potatoes, cheddar, pico de gallo and your choice of toast. The flavors meshed perfectly to create a savory and filling breakfast entree to remember.

We also ordered the Egg Breakfast. You really can’t go wrong with this classic entree, made with two eggs, bacon, sausage or country ham, breakfast potatoes and your choice of toast.

Overall, our breakfast at Ginger and Baker was both delicious and memorable.

Lunch at Dae Gee Korean BBQ

Later in the day, we walked to Dae Gee Korean BBQ, which is conveniently located right next door to he Armstrong Hotel. Dae Gee offers an impressive unlimited bbq menu, and we were lucky enough to sample their Unlimited Dinner BBQ, featuring Sogogi Bulgogi (Rib-Eye Beef), Sam Gyeob Sal (Pork Belly), Dae Gee Bulgogi (Pork), Dak Bulgogi (Chicken), Chadol (Brisket), Galbee (Short Ribs) and Chicken Dumplings.

You can enjoy the Unlimited Dinner BBQ for $38 per person. The Unlimited Lunch BBQ is also available for $30 per person, the only difference being it doesn’t include the Short Ribs.

Although the barbecued meats are typically the star of the show, we must point out the array of delicious side dishes that come with a Korean BBQ meal at Dae Gee. The sides include Napa Cabbage Kimchee, Kimchee Jun (Kimchee Pancake), Cucumber Kimchee, Pickled Yellow Korean Radish, Potato Salad, Fish Cakes with Vegetables, Fermented Onion & Jalapeños, Jangjorim and Sticky Rice. All were delicious, but my personal favorite was the Cucumber Kimchee.

The Chicken Dumplings were outstanding. The outer layer was nice and crispy, while the chicken filling was cooked to perfection.

For anybody who isn’t familiar with Korean BBQ, it’s a barbecue style in which the customers are invited to grill their own meat using grills built into the dining tables. The meat comes pre-seasoned, and all you have to do is grill it to your own preference.

The Dae Gee Bulgogi (Pork), Dak Bulgogi (Chicken) and Chicken Dumplings were the favorites at our table.

Dae Gee Korean BBQ has a few locations across the state of Colorado, including in Denver, Westminster and Aurora.

Dinner at The Armstrong Hotel

After a day of exploring Fort Collins at your leisure, we recommend heading back to the Armstrong Hotel for a private dinner. You can head downstairs to Ace Gillett’s Lounge & Supper Club for a romantic underground dinner. Or, you can opt for a quiet and peaceful dinner in your room like we did.

For dinner, we enjoyed a delicious cheese tray, crackers and drinks from the comfort of our hotel suite.

The cheese platter featured a variety of cheeses, strawberry slices, blueberries, chocolates and honey.

We sipped on some delightful champagne as well as the Ruby Soho for Two, a specialty cocktail made with Noco Gin, Aperol, Grapefruit and Elderflower. Both the presentation and flavors of this drink will instantly transport you to a whimsical mad tea party.

This dinner was a lovely reminder that a dinner doesn’t have to be extravagant to be amazing.

Day 3:

Breakfast at Mugs Coffee Lounge

For our third and final day in Fort Collins, we started off with a light breakfast at Mugs Coffee Lounge. Located directly next to the Armstrong Hotel, Mugs Coffee Lounge is the ideal spot for a quick breakfast bite whether you’re on the go or you wish to sit down and get some work done.

To begin our day, we ordered a Snickerdoodle Oat Milk Latte, a regular Black Coffee and a Veggie Breakfast Burrito. Both coffees were great, and the breakfast burrito was extremely flavorful.

Lunch at Vatos Tacos + Tequila

A little later, we ventured through the snow for some Mexican bites at Vatos Tacos + Tequila for lunch. Vatos Tacos is an awesome taco shop located in The Exchange at Fort Collins, an exciting outdoor food hall that’s open all year round.

The Street Tacos at Vatos Tacos + Tequila are a must. For lunch, we ordered the Chicken, Pork Belly, Mango Fish, Fried Avocado and Beef Barbacoa Street Tacos, all of which were phenomenal.

We also ordered the Chicken Nachos, which are served with beans, chicken, cheese, jalapeños, pico de gallo and guacamole. These nachos were wonderful, and we highly recommend ordering them along with some street tacos during your next visit to Vatos Tacos.

Vatos Tacos currently has two locations in Colorado, one in Fort Collins and one in Loveland. They plan to open a new location this year in Denver near the Sloan’s Lake neighborhood.

Ice Cream at Old Town Churn

It wouldn’t be a successful trip to Fort Collins without stopping by Old Town Churn Ice Cream. This unique ice cream shop is also located at The Exchange, making it the perfect stop for dessert after enjoying lunch or dinner at one of the surrounding restaurants.

If you’ve ever been to Little Man Ice Cream Company in Denver, you may recognize some of your favorite ice cream flavors at Old Town Churn.

Old Town Churn is worth toughing out a snow storm for — it’s really that good.

We ordered the seasonal Peppermint Mocha as well as the classic Space Junkie flavors. The Peppermint Mocha was the perfect combination of rich chocolate and refreshing peppermint. The Space Junkie is incredibly unique, combining the flavors of raspberry with tasty marshmallow and brownie bites. It’s hard to explain, but the Space Junkie is a fan favorite for good reason.

One of the perks of enjoying ice cream in the Colorado winter is being able to take your time eating it, because it definitely won’t be melting in this weather!

For more information about Fort Collins, Colorado and its many unique dining experiences and attractions, go to VisitFtCollins.com.

 

 

Now Open – Light on the Sugar Bakery #2 – Winter Park

Light On The Sugar is a family owned bakery and coffee shop founded by Yixi Qui and his wife Wen Qui known for their gourmet coffee, tea and pastries with an Asian twist.

Under the mentorship of Jimmy and Johnny Tung, Light On The Sugar founders, Yixi Qiu and Wen Pan, recently opened their second location at 501 Orlando Avenue in Winter Park at Lee Road.

This comes just a few short months following the opening of Light on the Sugar’s sister concept, Sugardough Bakehouse, which opened in Audubon Park in August of 2021 to a line of eager customers.

The new address is 501 Orlando Avenue in Winter Park, Fl next to Bento and Blaze Pizza at the corner of Lee Road and US 17/92.

Everything is baked in house daily creating French goods with Asian inspired flavors such as Matcha, Ube, Taro, Black Sesame and many more. The menu rotates weekly because they are always coming up with new ideas, so follow them on instagram to stay updated with their new flavors.

Light on the Sugar Bakery #1 –  4270 Aloma Ave, Winter Park, FL
NEW* Light on the Sugar Bakery #2 501 Orlando Ave, Winter Park, FL
https://www.lightonthesugar.com/

Inside Look at the New Light on the Sugar #2

The Heart Cream Puff is back just in time for Valentine’s Day – a chocolate heart cream puff filled with chocolate cream is now available for a limited time at both locations.

Purple everything – have you heard of ube? Ube halaya or halayang ube is a Philippine dessert made from boiled and mashed purple yam. Some of the purple pastries and drinks at Light on the Sugar include:

  • Ube Cheesecake Crepe Cake
  • Ube cheesecake
  • Ube Cheesecake Cream Puff
  • Ube Panna Cotta
  • Taro Latte

Black Sesame Raspberry Tart
– Housemade black sesame seed praline almond cream
– Raspberry Compote
– Mini choux
– Whipped black sesame cream
– Fresh raspberry cream

Black Sesame Cream puff!
– Housemade black sesame praline blend with whipped pastry cream and topped off black sesame seed candy piece.

Lunar New Year Set – this sale is over but check it out anyway!

The year of the Tiger! ? ROAR?This year, there were 6 different types of handmade macarons with a surprise RED ENVELOPE! Each set came with one surprise special offer, grand prize winner can win up to a $100 LOTS gift card!

Lunar New Year Macaron Set $29.99
– ?Tiger: Passionfruit
– ?Orange: Chocolate orange
– ?Lucky Bag: Nutella strawberry
– ??Mahjong: Matcha Oreo
– ? Tiger Paw: Black sesame
– ?Ingots: Lychee

Why is it light on the sugar? It’s based off of the Eastern Asian and French culture where desserts are sweet, but usually with less sugar content than desserts from the West. They have larger percentage of natural fruit ingredients, and can be served not only after meals and with tea, but also during meals as essential part of Chinese Ying and Yang tradition of eating “balanced” meals.