Dec 212014
 

The old Festival Bay was in major need of an update. Luckily, Artegon Marketplace has come to the rescue in a recent string of I-Drive area improvements. On behalf of all Orlando citizens, thank you developers for helping to make tourist central a little less tacky and a lot more tasty. Here are some of the highlights and must see places in Artegon Marketplace.

  • 165 artisanal shops and stores including local purveyors of goods and services including locally-sourced foods like David Ramirez Chocolates.
  • The Great Hall with an expansive “Sky Trail” ropes course and food ranging from from pizza to sandwiches and salads.
  • Free Wi-Fi both indoors and in the outdoor plaza areas. (Score, makes checking in on Yelp and sharing food photos easier!)
  • 5,800 parking spaces = no more parking nightmares.

Beyond shops and attractions the anchor restaurant is set to include Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill that features a menu influenced by traditional southern food mixed with American favorites. Inspired by Toby Keith’s country hit single, “I Love This Bar,” this restaurant is sure to serve up a full sensory dining experience!

The offerings will include shareable bites such as Whiskey Girl Wings and Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp and Grits. Entrees will include favorites like St. Louis Ribs and Should’ve Been A Cowboy burger made with crispy bacon, cheddar cheese, Toby’s barbeque sauce and crispy onion rings.

The trademark 85-foot guitar-shaped bar offers beer selections with mason jars. An extensive signature cocktail list includes the Georgia Peach, a refreshing concoction of Absolut Vodka, Hiram Walker Peach Schnapps, and Sierra Mist and the Southern Kiss made with Southern Comfort, Disaronno Originale Amaretto and Pepsi. Coming soon in 2015, we can’t wait to drink out of mason jars and eat Southern food!

Welcome to town Artegon Marketplace!

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Photo Credits: Artegon Marketplace

Dec 192014
 

Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen, is naming December 22 Santa’s White Christmas Day, the first ever day of appreciation for America’s favorite flavored Christmas coffee.

“Santa’s White Christmas Day is a holiday celebration for coffee lovers everywhere,” said Jonathan Smiga, CEO of Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen. “Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen is thrilled to celebrate the cultural significance of Santa’s White Christmas coffee, as nearly two decades of holiday tradition have included Santa’s White Christmas coffee. From coast to coast, we’ve heard people share their stories of holiday cheer around this perennial favorite and now Santa’s White Christmas coffee gets the appreciation it deserves.”

Flavors of coconut, nuts, sweet caramel, vanilla and other proprietary flavors create a taste profile that is smooth, rich and wonderful. Here’s how they’re celebrating!

  • Free Coffee! On Monday guests at Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen cafes who say “Happy Santa’s White Christmas Day” when ordering will receive a free cup of Santa’s White Christmas coffee. To celebrate the season, bags of Santa’s White Christmas coffee will be 22% off for one day only.
  • The entire Santa’s White Christmas Boutique on BarniesCoffeeKitchen.com will be 22% off with free shipping on orders of $50 or more on this one-day special shopping event.

Happy {free} caffeinating!

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Images provided by Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen 

Barnie's CoffeeKitchen on Urbanspoon

Dec 182014
 

December is synonymous with food, family and stuffing yourself. That’s why we love when Orlando restaurants and shops serve up speciality food just for the season. The overindulgent holiday meals only last for so long, drink and eat up with these seasonal offerings!

American Gymkhana {If you missed our tasting review, click here}

  • Parsi Blue Crab Cakes: Fresh blue crab cutlets parsi style, fluffed eggs, roasted green tomato chutney, ghost chilly mayonnaise.
  • Lamb Shank Paya: Slow braised lamb shank, aromatic herb and spice lamb knuckle stock, matchstick masala potatoes, tender apricot served with kheema naan.
  • Khajoor Tart:Date tartlet served with a smooth tamarind sauce, date and buttermilk ice cream with a walnut spice crumble.

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RA Sushi:

  • The Sake Sangria: Available in red or white, but go for the red for that extra festive touch. Ingredients include merlot, raspberry schnapps, orange juice, blackberry brandy and Sake! PS: December 20 is National Sangria Day, just in case you need an excuse to drink up.

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The Sweet Shop by 4 Rivers:

  • Christmas Cake Balls: Colorful and festive, why not indulge in a few of these over the weekend?

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Cocina 214:

  • Red Chef Made Sangria: An in-house secret recipe, but we did find out they use Cabernet Sauvignon as the base with flavors of pineapple, orange and cherry. Hands down my favorite sangria, and possibly drink, in Orlando! A must try next time you’re craving Mexican fare.

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The Sugar Suite:

  • Christmas Tree Cupcakes: Any sugary bite this bakery creates is fabulous. How adorable are these tree cupcakes? Sure to be pretty and delicious.

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Peterbrooke:

  • Chocolate Popcorn Stuffed Snowman: I’ll let the photo do the talking on this one. Tasty, right?

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Photo Credits: Owned by each business respectively 

 

Dec 152014
 

Pancakes and mimosas are overrated on a Sunday morning. Disagree? Head to Pig Floyd’s for your next Sunday morning meal and you might rethink your typical brunch fare.

Mills is exploding with tasty new restaurants and this self-proclaimed urban barbakoa joint is no exception to this growing group. I was a bit skeptical about the place since I’ve heard mixed reviews and am incredibly loyal to that other smokehouse across town. But after devouring a heaping plate of BBQ, grilled corn and wine, I think Pig Floyd’s could be a nice alternative for the long lines and Sunday cravings on Fairbanks. I love the diversity of barbecue in town, but Pig Floyd’s is just a little bit different and still a hidden gem. I was a bit surprised by the price, $22 for two sides, wine and meat – but it was worth every penny.

Here’s what we feasted on and thoroughly enjoyed this weekend!

Barbakoa Meat Platter:

  • Oakwood Smoked Brisket: A little fatty, but SO smoky and juicy once you cut around the fat. Thrill your taste buds by dipping in their homemade gluten free Hot BBQ Sauce.
  • Oakwood Smoked Pulled Pork: Smoky and meaty, this pulled pork was smoked and flavored to perfection. Why choose just one meat when you can go for two with their combo platter?
  • Grilled Corn on the Cob: Topped with chili, lime and cotija cheese – HOLY MOLY. I’ll never eat plain corn again, a side so tasty I’d go back just for this dish!
  • Cuban Black Beans & Rice: A nice alternative to traditional BBQ beans, but probably not something I’d order again. I’m not a huge beans and rice gal anyways, but it was a nice pairing with all that meat and corn.

We’re coming back for the butter chicken tacos and ribs! Hurry in before the lines grow and the secret gets out about Orlando’s newest barbecue haven. Pig Floyd’s is located at 1326 North Mills Ave., Orlando, FL 32803.

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Pig Floyd's Urban Barbakoa on Urbanspoon

Dec 132014
 

Spoleto, a popular chain of Italian restaurants in Brazil, Mexico and Costa Rica, has chosen Central Florida for its first location as it expands into America. Spoleto began in 1999, when restaurateurs Eduardo Ourivio and Mário Chady developed the concept in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brazil is home to the largest population of Italians outside of Italy – more than 25 million people. America’s first Spoleto is set for the UCF campus and a second location is planned for Winter Park.

Spoleto combines the speed of fast casual service with the sophistication and gourmet-quality food of your favorite Italian restaurant. Guests play Chef and choose from pasta, flatbreads, salads and soups while interacting with culinary experts to experiment with a variety of fresh, organic when possible ingredients – including 30 toppings – to create their own recipe to their taste and preference. It all takes place in a modern setting designed to create the perfect experience for food, fun and friends.

Spoleto puts a premium on fresh, local and sustainable ingredients when possible, as well as using healthy cooking techniques. Welcome to the neighborhood friends!

 

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Photo Credits: Spoleto

Spoleto on Urbanspoon

Dec 122014
 

“Excuse my ignorance” said London native, Oscar M. “But, what are grits?” As I started my meal with The Dinner Party Project, everyone chuckled at this question and quickly explained this Southern treat to Oscar.

On a recent Sunday night, eight strangers including myself, gathered in the home of  Dana Roquemore, founder of The Dinner Party Project. Created to draw the people of Orlando together over a meal, this simple concept is unprecedented in our city and taking off like crazy. In a constantly connected world, conversation is dwindling and screens are typically the first point of contact. Siri and I are BFF’s, but there’s something refreshing and invigorating about quality conversation and fantastic food shared with new friends. This creative concept is a new way to meet interesting people and enjoy freshly prepared meals. Everyone who attends has their name drawn at random, so each dinner is truly unique and special.

“I got the idea when I was at a crossroads in life. Everything seemed boring and I wanted to do something new,” Roquemore said. “Someone posed the question ‘What brings you life and joy?’ So, I thought about that, and I know that I LOVE food and people. I see people out socially, but I often don’t know their personal stories, or much about them.  So I thought, let’s mix it up and invite people over to share a meal with friends and strangers. There is something beautiful about sitting down and sharing a meal with people. It has a way of breaking down the barriers and therefore being more known as humans.”

After enjoying cocktails and brief introductions, our group gathered around the table for three courses of goodness prepared by Emily Weidner. Our first course accompanied by the question “Where were you on 9/11” brought deep conversation and a freshly prepared salad with a light and tangy dressing. It was fascinating to hear everyone’s point of view and the effects of that day on one’s life.

Next we were treated to the most delicious shrimp and yellow stone ground grits topped with chorizo and fresh cilantro from Emily’s garden. I’ve tasted a lot of shrimp and grits in my day, and these were some of the best. The yellow grits and tender shrimp topped with spiced chorizo were fantastic and made even better by dining with the chef herself.

Throughout the dinner and wine drinking we were charged with questions sparking conversation like “When do you feel most confident” and “If you could enact any law, what would it be and why?”

For the grand finale we were treated to rich and creamy coffee gelato made with kahlua.  Prepared by a fellow dinner party diner, this sweet treat ranks up there with the likes of what I’ve tasted in Italy.

We each arrived as strangers and left as friends, full and happy. To throw your name in the dinner party lottery email Dana at dinnerpartyprojectorlando@gmail.com. Each dinner is a little different, but they are all full of food and interesting people!

 

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Dec 112014
 

The City Beautiful is bursting with trendy restaurants and James Beard nominated chefs, but there’s another side to Orlando’s culinary scene, a side that’s full of local restaurants quietly serving up some of the best cuisine in their category. From tapas to cupcakes, we’ve scoured the city for Orlando’s best eats off the beaten path. After venturing out with this list, you’re sure to stumble upon new favorites and hidden gems.

Head over to Orlando My Way for all of our picks!

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Photo Credit: Yellow Dog Eats