Oct 312014
 

American Gymkhana, a restaurant and lounge specializing in modern Indian cuisine, will open Saturday, November 8. Orlando is rapidly expanding its international options and we’re thrilled with this announcement as well. Most Indian food is well, intimidating if you’re not familiar with the flavors and what to order. American Gymkhana’s modern approach is sure to liven up your palate and introduce you to some new flavors. Spork’s getting a preview next week, we’ll be sure to share all the juicy details and flavor experiences!

Conceptualized by Rajesh Bhardwaj, the restaurateur behind New York’s Indian concept Junoon (a Michelin-starred restaurant), American Gymkhana is inspired by a traditional gymkhana – a place of assembly for the elite during the British Raj in India.  The kitchen is helmed by Mumbai native and New York transplant, Chef Aarthi Sampath, who uses imported spices sourced from Indian markets juxtaposed by Florida’s locally-sourced ingredients to create a balance of traditional and modern cuisine.

  • “Starters” are approachable and include dishes such as Gymkhana Chaat (iconic street food snacks), which includes a sampler of samosa, matar tikki and dahi vada while more modern takes on Indian dishes include Galoti Lamb Sliders with spiced yogurt, stuffed lamb and saffron bread.Also available to start are a selection of seven “Skewers” with options ranging from Dahi Kebab, a yogurt and cheese croquette with mango-apricot chutney and Kela Corn Seekh, plantain, corn kaffir lime and sweet pepper coulis to Kadak Seekh, minced lamb, cheddar and tempura batter.
  • “Mains” are broken up by Fish/Shellfish, Meat/Game, Poultry and Vegetarian selections. A standout dish is the Angrezi Chicken, roasted tomato, homemade butter and garam masala. The term angrezi, which is Hindi for the word British, offers a proper representation of the blending of British and Indian cultures from 1858 to 1947.
  • Other Mains include Meen Moilee, crisped seasonal fish, coconut milk, fresh turmeric, lemongrass and curry leaves, and Lamb Vindaloo, apple cider vinegar, black pepper, goan chilies and twice fried potato. Nodding to India’s robust vegetarian diet, a healthy selection of six options range from Kofta Hariyali, cheese fritters, methi, spinach and green peas to Market Vegetable Korma, coconut, cashew and ginger.

Check back next week for our full review! American Gymkhana is located on Orlando’s Restaurant Row, at 7559 West Sand Lake Road.

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Hendrick’s Smash – Photo Credit: American Gymkhana

Oct 302014
 

Winter Park is known for its majestic streets, quaint shopping district and extraordinary eats. You’re probably familiar with the mainstays of Park Avenue like Briarpatch or Barnie’s, but there’s a range of hidden gems and culinary finds all over Winter Park. Since it’s January 2014 debut, Orlando Food Tours has set out to showcase some of the area’s finest treasures with the Winter Park Walking Food Tour. Last weekend we ventured off the beaten path to taste some of Winter Park’s finest flavors. While we don’t want to spoil all the tour surprises, we do want to share a few highlights from our experience including our interview with Co-Founder, Kiel Cravatta.

Orlando Foods Tour Highlights:

  • Prato Pizza Tasting:Unhealthy as it is, I’ve always had a pizza obsession. There’s something about the cheesy, baked bread goodness that always makes my belly happy. The pizza at Prato is uniquely different as the pizza oven was handcrafted in Italy under the direction of Prato’s Chef! During our tour we sampled three different pizzas, including my personal favorite, the Widowmaker with caciocavallo cheese, romesco sauce, fennel sausage and a farm egg baked into the center. After sampling three pizzas and red wine we were happily full.

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  • Blood Orange Olive Oil:Our original obsession with The Ancient Olive began with our initial visit. During this tour we sampled the most delicious vanilla ice cream topped with their Blood Orange Olive Oil and a dash of sea salt. These toppings made even the Publix ice cream taste gourmet!
  • Scorpion Suckers:Okay, so we don’t quite have the stomach for this craziness, but that’s just one of many finds at Sassafras Sweet Shoppe. Nestled quietly behind Park Avenue, this gourmet vintage candy store will delight kids and adults alike! I’m especially fond of the Cry Baby Gum (I once ate an entire jumbo tub in a single month), so I was quite thrilled with a taste of an old favorite!

In addition to our tour we also recently chatted with Kiel Cravatta, Co-Founder of Orlando Food Tours for more on his new business.

What’s Winter Park’s best kept culinary secret?

I’d have to say The Ancient Olive, they have an expansive variety of olive oils and balsamic vinegars, all hand selected by the owners. Their team is very knowledgeable and helpful with everything from selecting olive oils for your kitchen to incorporating specific flavors into a dinner party with their products.

Besides the food, what can guests expect to experience on the tour?

There are a few historical and cultural architecture stops including Casa Feliz and Morse Museum. Additionally, we stop at the last piece of the original train platform!

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What will guests taste on most tours?

There’s a large spectrum of flavors and cuisine, all handpicked by our tour guides and staff. We can also fully support any dietary restrictions as well.

Any plans to expand beyond Winter Park?

Definitely! We are thinking about doing an evening tour and moving to other neighborhoods as well. We do have plans to expand and expect to release more details for 2015 soon. Additionally, we are also starting to accommodate private tours for a minimum of eight guests.

For a unique culinary experience visit OrlandoFoodTours.com and book your tour today. Spork readers will receive a 10% discount using the promo code “spork” at checkout. For more on Orlando Food Tours visit their website and Facebook page.

Prato on Urbanspoon

Sassafras Sweet Shoppe on Urbanspoon

Oct 302014
 

Orlando’s newest BBQ joint, American Q, is full of smoky goodness, cowboys and a variety of barbecue styles. Unique to American Q is their all-you-can-eat flatbed buffet served from the back of a cherry red ’51 Ford F1 pickup truck with homemade soups, chili, a baked potato bar, peel & eat shrimp, hot and cold seasonal vegetables, pastas and potato salads and a 20+ item salad bar. Even better, the bevy of BBQ meats and poultry are carved tableside by their specialty Cowboy Carvers. Click here for our original post on American Q for more on Orlando’s newest BBQ destination.

With more and more foods claiming a national holiday, the deviled egg is no exception, this year the food’s national holiday is Sunday, November 2. What better excuse to indulge in a classic? Deviled eggs may be known as an American favorite, but they actually started out as a popular European dish in the 18th century (even the French are big fans of their egg mimosas!)  Somewhere along the line, they made the trip across the pond and became a staple of Southern cuisine.

On November 2 American Q is celebrating the region’s favorite side dish with deviled eggs on the house! Just pop into the restaurant, wish your server a “Happy Deviled Egg Day,” and everyone in your party will receive a free deviled egg stuffed with blue crab and remoulade. Sounds like the perfect tasty twist on an old classic!

American Q is located inside B Resort & Spa, 1905 Hotel Plaza Blvd., Lake Buena Vista, FL and www.americanq.com. For reservations call the restaurant at 407.827.3080.

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Photo Credit: American Q

Oct 292014
 

In an effort to fight hunger this holiday season, the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Winter Park Village to host Happy Hour for Hunger. Presented by Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Mitchell’s Fish Market, the event will be held on Thursday, November 13, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Winter Park Village. The evening will include drinks and appetizers provided by Winter Park Village restaurants, plus live entertainment and a photo booth. All ticket proceeds will benefit Feed the Need, Winter Park’s community-wide initiative to raise funds for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

Food and beverage participants for Happy Hour for Hunger include Another Broken Egg, Edible Arrangements, Florida Distributing Co., Lime Fresh Mexican Grille, Mitchell’s Fish Market, Pizzeria Valdiano, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Tea and Tea and The Gourmet Cuisine at Rollins/Sodexo.

Tickets are available through the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce at www.winterpark.org and at the Winter Park Welcome Center for $20 in advance or $25 at the door.  Donations for Feed the Need are also available online at www.feedtheneedwp.org.

Oct 292014
 

Is the Cronut the new cupcake? This croissant-donut hybrid is popping up in seemingly every bakery nowadays. Originally crafted in NYC, this delectable creation has finally made it’s way to the larger donut shops. Dunkin’ Donuts is the newest player to join the game starting Monday, November 3. The Dunkin’ Donuts’ Croissant Donut will feature a delicate and flaky croissant ring and a glaze similar to a traditional donut. The Croissant Donut will be made in limited quantities and available at participating locations.

In other donut news, Dunkin’ Donuts is also serving the Halloween Pumpkin Donut, shaped like a jack-o-lantern, the pumpkin shaped yeast shell is filled with vanilla-flavored butercream and finished with orange icing and a jack-o-lantern face made with chocolate icing drizzle. This time of year I personally prefer Dunkins’ Pumpkin Munchkins with that fall flavor wrapped up into a single sweet bite. Besides a PSL, it’s the best way to get your daily dose of pumpkin!

What’s your go-to treat at Dunkin’ Donuts? Click here to find a location near you.

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Photo Credit: Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin' Donuts on Urbanspoon

Oct 272014
 

Smoothies are supposed to be healthy, but when Planet Smoothie started serving drinks clocking in well over 1,000 calories, everyone’s opinions of smoothies rapidly changed. With those mega caloric drinks on the market you might as well grab a carton of ice cream. Luckily, Orlando has an alternative for your smoothie habit.

Located in the heart of Sodo, The Smoothie Room serves up a variety of smoothies in addition to vegetable juices and an array of teas. Drinks are made fresh on site and are free of powders, concentrates, syrups and added sugar. During my first visit I tried the Purple Rain smoothie chocked full of apples, blueberries, bananas and a hint of lime. My drink was smooth, refreshing and so clearly full of nature’s goodness. Fresh, wholesome ingredients make all the difference when crafting a smoothie. If your idea of a smoothie comes from Planet Smoothie or Starbucks, it’s time to upgrade to The Smoothie Room!

The Smoothie Room is located at 25 W Crystal Lake St #163, Orlando, FL in South Downtown and www.thesmoothieroom.com. While you’re there check in on Yelp for $1 off your drink!

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Photo Credit: The Smoothie Room

 

The Smoothie Room on Urbanspoon

Oct 232014
 

It’s no secret that fall is synonymous with pumpkins, squash and apple pie, but after tasting one too many pumpkin lattes or seeing Trident Pumpkin Spice Gum (oh yes this exists), you might wonder what’s so special about fall flavors?

I’ll admit, I’m pumpkin obsessed, but this season I’ve decided to venture out beyond my pumpkin flavored coffee and experience fall’s bounty from pumpkins and beyond! Here’s our top picks for finding fall flavor around town:

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  • Buffalo Chicken Tenders (The Coop): Buffalo tenders, football games and tailgates are the epitome of fall Saturdays. Feed your friends with The Coop’s latest chicken addition, spicy and tangy Buffalo Chicken Tenders, also available by the bucket.

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  • Persimmon Salad (Cask & Larder): Royal trumpet mushrooms, butternut squash, loblolly tomme, arugula and mustard vinaigrette. It’s okay, I still don’t know how to pronounce loblolly tomme either, but this savory salad is unique, light and overloaded with nodes of fall.

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It may be 80 degrees outside, but at least we can pretend its fall with pumpkin flavors and seasonal vegetables!

 

 

Photo Credits: All images taken by restaurants respectively.