Sep 172014
 

Florida “fall” is always interesting, most weekends I’m torn between a beach day or staying in town to start a new routine. I love summer for the slow pace, but am always eager to welcome fall with all of its football and special events. Orlando has bevy of culinary events in the coming week, here’s a few of our picks!

  • Winter Park Annual, Wine & Dine- Wednesday, October 15, features over 30 of Orlando’s best restaurants and shops under one roof. The evening will include tastings, hors d’oeuvres, craft beers and wine. Purchase a “Park Ave” VIP ticket for unlimited (yes, neverending) fine wines, champagne and craft beers. Check out this bevy of restaurants in attendance and grab your tickets for the ultimate Winter Park feast! Most tickets for similar events run $100+, so we’d say this is a pretty good deal at $40.00 – $70.00. For full details and tickets click here.
  • Pantry to Plate, Chef’s Challenge- Thursday, September 18, a unique dining event that will test the talents of well-known Central Florida chefs as they prepare a four-course dinner using ingredients found solely in JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry. Kathleen Blake of The Rusty Spoon, Hari Pulapaka of Cress Restaurant and John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse and The COOP will be judged on taste, presentation, and creativity. Celebrity Chef Cat Cora will emcee the event. All proceeds from Pantry to Plate will go to support JFS Orlando. Tickets are $125 per person or $1,000 for a table of ten. Click here for tickets and event details.
  • Beer Garden (sponsored by The Hammered Lamb) – Enjoy brews and entertainment in the field next to The Venue on the corner of Virginia Drive and New York Avenue.
  • Food Trucks (sponsored by The Food Truck Bazaar)
  • Wine Stroll – Visit merchants along Virginia Drive and sample wines. Merchants include The Barefoot Spa, Project 7 Yoga and more.

Get out of the house this weekend and indulge your taste buds!

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Sep 172014
 

I-Drive is getting all sorts of upgrades, from Yard House to the Orlando Eye, a once run-down tacky tourist area is taking a remarkable turn. It’s time to add Cooper’s Hawk, a uniquely modern, yet casual, dining experience to the list of I-Drive enhancements. Coupled with an exclusive and active wine club, Cooper’s Hawk was named “Breakout Brand 2013” and “Hot Concept 2010” by Nations Restaurant News, and that’s not a title that comes easily in today’s competitive dining market.

The restaurant also features one of the country’s largest wine clubs, offering subscribers monthly wines, special discounts, invitations to exclusive events, rewards, and annual domestic and international wine trips. The Orlando location boasts an impressive menu in addition to a wine and cheese tasting area inside their wine-themed retail shop.

We visited Cooper’s Hawk before the grand opening and quickly found a few menu favorites. Beyond the menu, the space is expansive, impressive and perfect for a variety of evenings from a family meal to relaxing outside or catching a football game in the bar that’s packed with seating.

Here’s our “must order” picks for your next visit to Cooper’s Hawk:

  • Asian Pork Belly Tostados – I’m pretty picky about pork belly, but this appetizer was flavored to perfection with scallions, sesame seeds, cilantro, radishes and topped with a sweet chili BBQ sauce. I’d happily go back for this appetizer and a glass of champagne!
  • Chef Matt’s Monthly Cheese Tasting – Y’all, this cheese was fantastic! I love the idea of a rotating cheese and wine tasting on the main menu. I’ve sampled a lot of cheese in my time and I’d recommend this dish to start any meal at Cooper’s Hawk.
  • Roasted Vegetable and Goat Cheese Flatbread – Crispy flatbread topped with mozzarella, roasted grape tomatoes, pesto, julienne basil and a balsamic glaze. Cooper’s Hawk knows how to serve a flatbread that’s perfectly crisp and layered with flavor.
  • Chicken Giardiniera – Parmesan breaded chicken with shaved parmesan. Sounds simple enough, but the chicken was tender and coated with the right amount of crispy goodness. Sometimes it’s nice to experience a non-Southern chicken, and this one’s a winner in our book.

Go experience Cooper’s Hawk for yourself, you won’t be disappointed! Cooper’s Hawk newest location is located at 8005 International Drive, Orlando, FL. For locations and menu details visit www.chwinery.com.

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Wine Glasses w Logo

 

Photo Credit: Cooper’s Hawk

Sep 162014
 

A second Shake Shack will open in Spring 2015! If you missed our original post on the Winter Park location, click here. Orlando’s newest Shake Shack will be located at I-Drive 360, Orlando’s up-and-coming dining, entertainment and shopping destination.

Established in 2004 in New York City’s Madison Square Park, Shake Shack is a critically acclaimed, modern day “roadside” burger stand known for its 100% all-natural Angus beef burgers, griddled-crisp flat-top dogs, crinkle cut fries, fresh-made frozen custard, craft beer and wine.

The I-Drive Shack’s menu will feature all the Shake Shack classics plus a selection of location-specific frozen custard concretes. As is the case with all Shacks, the I-Drive location will be constructed with recycled and sustainable materials, and feature energy-efficient kitchen equipment and lighting.

I-Drive just received yet another upgrade! We’re loving all the expansion in a once run-down super touristy area of Orlando. What other attractions and restaurants do you want to see on I-Drive?

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Sep 132014
 

Ritz Carlton, the ultimate luxury hotel, king of relaxation and exceptional service. With the opening of Highball & Harvest, it’s time to add “culinary superiority” to their list of accolades. This casual “come as you are” restaurant features interactive dining, handcrafted cocktails, beautiful interiors and an exceptionally creative menu. If you missed our original post on H&H, click here.

Spork got a peek inside the menu last week during an exceptional lunch. We were incredibly impressed by Highball and Harvest’s modern approach to Southern cuisine. They’ve taken the Southern dining trend to another league. I was a little intimidated to write this post because I wasn’t quite sure how to do the flavors and plates justice with words and pictures. Nevertheless, I’d give H&H a 10+ out of 10 and we’re thrilled to share some highlights from our recent meal.

  • Parker House Rolls, made from Khorasan wheat (Egyptian old-world grains) and served warm with less gluten than typical bread, a complimentary bread presentation made from scratch by the resort’s 30-person pastry team. Served with house-made herb butter and apple butter, you’ll want to ditch any low carb diet you’re on for these rolls.

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  • Interactive cocktail table with handcrafted, herb-infused cocktails. All cocktails are served on the rocks with hand-carved ice, sculpted bar side with a high-end Japanese ice saw and infused with Whisper Creek Farm herbs and fruits. If I didn’t see it myself, I wouldn’t believe they hand-cut ice, but hey this is The Ritz-Carlton, so they would go the extra mile for cocktail ice. We tasted the Orange Ave Officers Club with Death’s Door Gin, Pimm’s #1, Passionfruit and Ginger, garnished with an orange slice and served in a beautiful glass. I’m not usually a gin drinker, but this drink was enough to change my mind!

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  • The Southern Spread, a lavish spread of house-made pimento cheese, smoked fish dip, perfectly pickled vegetables and served with Benne-Seed Lavash and sourdough bread pieces. The presentation was outstanding and I’m convinced there’s no better way to eat pimento cheese and vegetables!

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  • Crab Cakes and Fried Green Tomatoes, perfectly battered crab cakes wedged between fried green tomatoes, topped with a Cajun Remoulade and Corn Chow-Chow, this starter was a tasty take on two Southern classics.

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  • Blackened Grouper, served over Hominy Ragout, Andouille and Pickled Okra. Fresh from the coast, this grouper was a perfectly composed seaside dish. The Andouille and Pickled Okra complimented the grouper, if I wasn’t trying to save room for dessert, I would have inhaled my entire plate.

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  • Sweet Treats, OH MY GOODNESS, we experienced a true sugar paradise to end our meal. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but you can’t miss the H&H Key Lime Tart cut into shareable slices, served with a Margarita sorbet. The Baby Donuts were perhaps the most fun to eat, with creamy Cappuccino Ice Cream and your own tube of Nutella! These sugar crusted donuts melted in my mouth. Make sure you save room for these culinary masterpieces.

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We’re dying to go back to H&H for more Southern goodness. Make a reservation today to experience Orlando’s newest culinary gem. Highball & Harvest is located at 4012 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando, FL 32837 inside The Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes.

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Lobby Bookshelves

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Shrimp and Grits with shaved fennel and goat cheese

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Garnier-Thiebaut napkins {our favorite}

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Interiors

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Strawberry Shortcake

Sep 122014
 

We recently partnered with Mainly Southern, their publication provides a curated selection of all things Southern. This digial Southern community is filled with destinations, foods, new products and timeless classics. Our “Beyond the Mouse” post highlights some of Orland’s unique sights and eats sans theme park. Here’s a peek into our picks, visit Mainly Southern for a full report!

Mainly Southern {Beyond the Mouse}

Fairy tales, pixie dust and Mickey Mouse probably come to mind when you think about Orlando. If you’ve ever traveled to our theme park mecca you probably wonder if people actually live here, and if so, why? What you probably don’t know is that after taking a short trip down I4, Orlando is filled with quaint neighborhoods, incredible boutiques and a culinary scene that’s grabbed the attention of the James Beard Foundation.

Located a few miles from Downtown Orlando, the city of Winter Park is bursting with charm and some of the South’s best restaurants. If you’re headed to Orlando and burned out from too many “magical days,” head north for some unforgettable meals and hidden gems.

Click here to continue reading on Mainly Southern!

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Photo Credit: Cask & Larder

Cask & Larder on Urbanspoon

Briarpatch Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sep 122014
 

Winter Park Annual will host their Wine & Dine event Wednesday, October 15 featuring over 30 of Orlando’s best restaurants and shops all under one roof. This glittering evening will feature tastings, hors d’oeuvres, craft beer and wine. You can even opt-in to a prix fix meal from The Coop, 4Rivers Smokehouse, Carmel Cafe and John and Shirley’s Catering. Purchase a “Park Ave” VIP ticket for unlimited (yes, neverending) fine wines, champagne and craft beers.

Check out this bevy of restaurants in attendance and grab your tickets for the ultimate Winter Park feast! Most tickets for similar events run $100+, so we’d say this is a pretty good deal. For full details and tickets click here.

Sample of Restaurants (click here for complete list):

  • Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant
  • Carmel Cafe & Wine Bar
  • 4 Rivers Smokehouse
  • The COOP
  • Mellow Mushroom
  • Brio Tuscan Grille
  • P is for Pie
  • K Wine Bar
  • Shake Shack
  • Jeremiah’s Italian Ice
  • Sweet by Holly Cupcakes
  • Peterbrooke Chocolatier
  • Sushi Pop

Date: October 15, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Cost: $40.00 – $70.00

Where: Winter Park Farmer’s Market (200 W. New England Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789)

See you there! And mark your 2015 calendars for Winer Park Annual’s Chowder Festival on January 24!

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Photo Credits: Winter Park Annual

Sep 052014
 

It’s 6:00 p.m., you’re hungry, tired and burned out from the day in your cubicle. Your family inevitably asks the dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?” Unless you fridge is brimming with produce and meats you probably have one of two options; take-out or frozen pizza. But now there’s an even better option in Orlando, Farm-Haus.

Farm-Haus is an Orlando based dinner delivery company that uses local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. Developed by husband and wife team, Patrick and Brittany Lyne, together they focus on the need for nutritious, delicious and convenient weeknight meals for busy professionals and working families. As part of their initiative to give back to the Orlando community, Farm-Haus will be donating proceeds from the sale of each meal to local hunger programs in Central Florida.

While we love cooking, it’s nice to check something off our ever-growing to-do list. The Farm-Haus team was kind enough to deliver their fabulous Pan Roasted Pork Chop with Sweet Potato Hash and Golden Squash this week. We feasted on an array of tasty ingredients including potatoes, squash, thyme and bacon all topped off with a pan-roasted pork chop. It was such a treat to not stress about dinner and know that a hot, fresh meal was on its way! Heck, I even got in two hours of yard work because I wasn’t cooking dinner or washing dishes!

Farm-Haus is currently serving a handful of Orlando neighborhoods as a part of their soft
opening. These neighborhoods include Baldwin Park, Audubon Park, Colonialtown North and
the Mills 50 District. Meals change weekly and are delivered Monday through Thursday, between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Grab your meal at www.Farm-Haus.com!

PS – Share your Farm-Haus’ meal on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with #FarmHausOrlando for a chance to win meals for a month!

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Big thanks to Farm-House for providing our meal. First four photos belong to Farm-Haus, all other photos by Spork.