Aug 292016
 

Summer’s end is near, and Magical Dining month is here! With restaurants around Orlando serving up some of their best dishes at magical prices, it’s the perfect excuse to re-energize your dining routine. Now through October 2 experience a $33 three-course dinner from 90 restaurants around town. Included in this lineup is Ravello at the Four Seasons with a menu that’s equally luxe and affordable.

Modern Italian cuisine is the specialty at Ravello restaurant. From bread made in their wood-burning oven, to regionally influenced Italian specialties, including handmade pasta, you’re sure to enjoy a magical evening at the Four Seasons. We sampled a preview of the menu last week, here’s what we feasted on and thoroughly enjoyed.

Tomato and Mozzarella Focaccia: For an additional $5 make sure you add this gooey, pillow-soft bread to your experience. This savory, yet delicate bread is exceptional and layered with ingredients of flavorful proportions.

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First Course (choice of):

  • Carpaccio: paper thin piedmontese beef with cured mushrooms, pickled radish and watercress. Similar to the dish we raved about at Capa, but with a slightly different composition and flavor profile.

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  • Artichoke Torte: Akin to a quiche, but richer and fuller than your typical brunch fare. My pick for your first course choice!

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  • Caesar Salad: Hearts of romaine with Parmesan and focaccia croutons.

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Pasta Course ($9 additional):

  • If you order nothing else, GET – THE – PASTA. With flour from Napoli, san marzano tomatoes and housemade spaghetti, this dish offers a true taste of Italy.

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Second Course (choice 0f):

  • Braised Short Rib: with local heirloom carrots and soft polenta – my husband’s favorite dish of the night.
  • Pan Seared Local Redfish: a local fish cooked to perfection surrounded by crushed olive oil potatoes, broccolini and key lime basil.

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  • Pollo: Bell & Evans chicken (same place Victoria & Albert’s sources their chicken) with herb crusted potatoes and seasonal vegetables. A massive portion for such a tiny price!

Dessert (choice of):

  • Florida Strawberry Crostata: with limoncello crema and mango-passion fruit sorbet.
  • Hazelnut Budino: Y’ALL. There’s a layer of salted caramel hidden beneath this layer of semi-dark chocolate custard. End your night on this sweet note.

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With 90 restaurants to choose from, you have some tough dining decisions ahead of you. Just make sure you put Ravello at the top of your list. This taste of affordable luxury is not to be missed.

Ravello Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Aug 282016
 

Last night we grazed at Orlando’s Taste of the Nation, if you’ve never been to this event you must go next year! As food lovers, there’s nothing better than walking into a massive room filled with culinary delights to sample at your leisure.

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Forty two leading chefs and restaurants, served up endless plates during last night’s event. Every dollar raised fights hunger and homelessness in the Central Florida. Local beneficiaries include Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Florida Impact.

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After hours of sampling dishes from the area’s finest Chefs, we rolled ourselves out of the Marriott. Here’s a few of our favorite dishes from the night, can’t wait to visit these chefs in restaurant!

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  • Seasons 52: Fresh Summer Truffle Risotto, Shaved Italian Black Truffle, Roasted Mushrooms, Corn, Chive Oil and a selection of wines!
  • Nova Scratch Kitchen: Pecan-smoked Bacon-roasted Diver Scallops with Vermont White Cheddar Anson Mills Grits.
  • Highball and Harvest at Ritz-Carlton: Palmetto Creek Pork Belly, Braised Pork Belly with Zellwood Corn.

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  • Florida Nitro Ice Cream: Assorted Liquid Nitrogen Ice Creams and Sorbets including a Tito’s infused sorbet!
  • Capa at Four Seasons Resort Orlando: Crispy, Blistered Shishito Peppers with Chorizo paired with one of their signature cocktails.
  • Eddie V’s: Ahi Tuna Tartare on Sesame Lavosh with Avocado and Citrus.
  • Sanpellegrino: Tito’s Vodka mixed with a fruity, bubbly beverage.
  • The Capital Grille: The best of the night! Kona Rubbed Sliced Filet with Horseradish Cream and Sam’s Mashed Potatoes.

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Make sure you attend next year’s 28th annual event!

{PS: look what we found, sporks!} :)

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Aug 252016
 

From buckets of buttery popcorn to king salmon with sun-kissed melon, Walt Disney World offers quite the range of culinary offerings and experiences. The average Disney vacation is filled with family time, iconic attractions and the occasional Mickey Mouse ice cream bar. However, there’s a side of the mouse that goes beyond character dining and endless queue lines. It’s a magical world filled with luxurious hidden gems. If you’re looking for a theme park experience sprinkled with high-end pixie dust, be sure to add one of these experiences to your Orlando agenda.

For our full Disney luxe story, head over to TravelPulse!

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Aug 232016
 

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I’m a little behind, but July 1 was International Reggae Day! To celebrate, Bahama Breeze hosted a Reggae Fest from July 1 through August 13.

You see, my love for the Caribbean is deeply rooted. My dad’s family is from the Bahamas, so I know a thing or two about fresh fish, peas and rice and the beauty of a ripe plantain. 

For this experience, I decided to invite some of the people I love most — including my dad, who happens to have a picky palate.
 
The evening began properly with a warm welcome from the staff and fun at the table as sang along with Lauryn Hill to the track “Turn The Lights Down Low” by Bob Marley.
 
For starters, we ordered the Conch Fritters, Fried Shrimp, Curry Goat served with naan and the Taste of Jamaica, which caught my eye because it included callaloo — a green, leafy vegetable. Imagine collard greens, but different. From this dish, plated to resemble the Jamaican flag, I sampled the callaloo, rice and plantains. I honestly enjoyed everything I tasted, and my guests raved about the Jerk Chicken and other proteins.

Moving on, we ordered our entrées. The table boasted two orders of Jerk Chicken Pasta, my Shrimp & Mahi with Lemongrass Sauce Bowl, and a Steak Oscar. 

Health Note: At Bahama Breeze, you’re empowered to order your preferred portion size. With many of the entrées, they offer you the choice of a full or half option. Although this idea of portion control is not a new concept, it was refreshing to be asked, because it’s not common.

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About 30 minutes passed, and we entered into the final stretch. Bellies were full, pants were a bit tighter and we all still committed to dessert. We devoured two orders of the Banana Nut Bread Supreme, which includes sliced bananas, vanilla ice cream on warm banana nut bread with hot butterscotch brandy sauce and the Chocolate Island that has a rich chocolate mousse on a fudge brownie island in chocolate sauce and vanilla bean anglaise.
 
The night didn’t end there. Following our desserts, we headed to the outdoor deck where we walked right into the middle of Orlando Reggae Party’s mic check.  The music started at the same time as the Olympic track races, so we stayed around to enjoy the atmosphere. After giving my dancing shoes some play, we left with amazing memories.
 
Snack on,
Chauniqua Major, but we’re friends so call me Major!
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Aug 222016
 

There’s one magical place in town that serves up a vacation state of mind. Victoria & Albert’s, the only AAA Five-Diamond restaurant in Central Florida, is filled with Riedel crystal, Cristofle silver from France and renowned cuisine by Chef Scott Hunnel. With its low lighting and limited tables, you’re instantly transported to a level of luxury that’s both comfortable and exquisite.

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You’ll enjoy a nostalgic trip back in time when the ritual of dining out was civilized and lavish. If you’re in the main dining room you’ll be handed a seven-course, seasonal menu with wine pairings, all of which are customized daily. Our husband-wife server team gracefully explained every aspect of the menu and dining experience all while making us feel like the only table in the restaurant. At Victoria & Albert’s food is an art form, featuring vivid colors and textures, making you wish seven courses could evolve into 17. Even the restaurant’s wine cellar has been recognized by Wine Spectator magazine with an “Award of Excellence.” With more than 700 selections on the menu and 4,200 in the cellar, your toughest decision for the night may just be what to drink.

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From the King Salmon to Long Island Duck with Soba Noodles, every bite was masterfully prepared and paired alongside fine wines. With each course you’ll be given a choice between two dishes, which means you can really try all 14 dishes if your date orders the opposite selection. I’ll spare you the list of everything we tasted, but here are some of the culinary highlights from our evening at Victoria & Albert’s:

  • Long Island Duck with Soba Noodles, with Poet’s Leap Riesling, Columbia Valley 2014
  • King Salmon with Sun Kissed Melon, with Granbazan Albarino “Etiqueta Ambar”, Rias Baixas 2014
  • Alaskan Halibut with Creamy Leeks and Fennel, with Cadaretta SBS, Columbia Valley 2013
  • Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin with Dashi Scented Rice, with Ridge “Three Valleys” Sonoma County 2013
  • Palmetto Farms Quail with Asparagus Ristto, with Domaine Grosbois “Gabare” Chinon, Loire 2013
  • Grand Marnier Soufflé
  • Caramelized Banana Gâteau

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What to know before you go:

  • Make reservations early, as in 90-120 days before your arrival. Seriously, set an alarm on your phone, tables wait for no one. {407.824.1893}
  • There are two seatings daily September through June, one seating daily July through August. Chef’s Table seating is 6 p.m. daily.
  • Dinner is $185 per person (tax and gratuity not included), $250 with wine pairing
  • Jackets are required for men (tie optional) and “dinner attire” for women
  • Come hungry (and thirsty), because you’ll want to enjoy every last bite and sip

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Victoria & Albert's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Aug 202016
 

It’s hot, down pouring, or you’re just feeling plain lazy, but you still want something besides cereal for dinner. So what’s a gal to do? Download OrderUp, an on-demand delivery app and online platform recently acquired by Groupon. With the click of a button, you can order food from more than 150 Orlando area restaurants.

All available at the touch of an app, simply select a restaurant, see what items are available for delivery and place and pay for your order. There is typically a $3.99 delivery fee, and some restaurants have a minimum order – but that’s small pennies compared to the convenience of local fare delivered to your door.

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Since launching a year ago, OrderUp has delivered 28,000 chicken wings to hungry houses all over the city and have expanded to UCF, College Park, Baldwin Park and Winter Park. Laid end-to-end the 2,842 sushi rolls OrderUp has delivered could go around the Orlando Eye and still have enough to scale the height of the SunTrust building. In celebration of the delivery service’s birthday, we were invited to a progressive dinner in College Park featuring Jade Sushi & New Asian, The Peppy Bistro and Hubbly Bubbly Falafel Shop. With a vast variety of cuisine, you’re sure to find something for every craving in the app. Here’s some of our favorite eats you can enjoy with OrderUp:

  • Anthony’s Pizza: Bianca Pizza with mozzarella and ricotta cheese with garlic and olive oil
  • Kasa Restaurant and Bar: Kasa corn with miso lime aioli and manchego
  • Le Gourmet Break: Omelette Croissant with your choice of toppings from bacon to cheese
  • Jade Sushi: The WOW Bao with cola pork belly, steamed bun and pickles
  • The Peppy Bistro: Parpadelle alla Vodka with grilled chicken
  • Hubbly Bubbly: Falafel with a secret blend of freshly ground chickpeas and signature herbs and spices, lightly fried until crispy

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So make it a delicious night in and enter EATIT at checkout for $7 off your first order. Download the app or visit orderup.com for dinner delivered.

Aug 152016
 

Bulla (“boo-ya”) Gastrobar will officially open its doors this fall at Lakeside Crossing in Winter Park. Boasting two private dining spaces and both indoor and outdoor seating, the 5,500-square-foot restaurant seats more than 200 guests. Bulla will focus on straightforward cooking techniques with authentic Spanish flair.

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Bulla – which is Spanish slang for “chatter” – prides itself on its energetic, vibrant atmosphere. Designed by Celano Design Studio, Bulla will project a welcoming feel with warm, stylish décor all inspired by modern European design mostly taken from the traditional tapas bar and cervezerias of Barcelona. Upon arrival, guests will see outdoor seating blended with a lively interior playing off a Barcelona marketplace. The main dining room will offer traditional seating accented by deep blue, rich leather, and dark and light woods. The tapas bar will be highlighted by an open expo kitchen and a large bar.

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The menu will highlight vibrant Spanish cuisine that is simple and clean, with an artisanal twist. Executive Chef Rebolledo will bring his extensive culinary experience, talents and unending love for Spain to Winter Park, incorporating some of his favorite Spanish dishes, including tapas and paellas.

Menu highlights include:

  • Huevos ‘Bulla’ – Eggs, homemade potato chips, Serrano ham, potato foam, truffle oil
  • Croquetas de JamónIbérico ham croquettes, fig jelly
  • Arroz a Banda Arroz bomba, calamari, clams, shrimp, branzino
  • Cubano Ibérico Pan de cristal, bellota ham, piparras, presa bellota, tetilla cheese, mustard aioli

Chef Rebolledo and Chef Plasencia’s culinary team will work with a Josper Oven, a coveted and important aspect of the Bulla kitchen only seen in a few restaurants throughout the United States. The Josper is both an oven and grill, ensuring a quick cook time, vast flavors and a top-notch finished dish.

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The bar will be the center attraction at Bulla – serving both classics and new cocktail selections. Highlights include:

  • La Madrileña Bulleit Bourbon, La Gitana Manzanilla, apple cinnamon syrup, lemon juice
  • Rosa Salvaje Tito’s Vodka, strawberry-ginger syrup, lemon juice, Fever Tree ginger beer
  • Seville Sour Gran Duque d’Alba brandy, La Gitana Manzanilla, simple syrup, lemon juice, egg white, red wine
  • A selection of Sangrias – Including white wine, red wine and Bulla’s signature Sangria de Cerveza

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Bulla Gastrobar, located at 110 Orlando Ave., Suite #7, will open daily for lunch and dinner and will serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Email info@bullagastrobar.com using the keywords “Can’t wait” to receive a $20 gift card to use once the restaurant opens!