Oct 012017
 

Step away from your desk. I repeat, step away from your desk. It’s time to get outside and enjoy the wonderful world of lunch! Bring back the mid-day break and explore a new spot for your afternoon meal. While there’s no such thing as a free lunch, these are certainly worth paying for in Downtown Orlando.

Rusty Spoon: As a two-time James Beard Award Nominee, Kathleen Blake is queen of downtown cuisine. Her Lake Meadow “Red Devil” Stuffed Eggs are killer, while her half pound grass fed beef burger stuffed with bacon and Gruyere is sure to put you in the perfect food coma. Lunch or dinner now is the time to visit Rusty Spoon.

Cuban American Cafe: Located inside The Fairwinds Corporate Tower, this authentic Cuban spot has been serving up the best Cuban coffee and sandwiches for 12 years! Pop in for a taste and get out for less than 10 bucks.

Le Gourmet Break: The family that owns this spot moved from France a few short years ago to open a restaurant in Orlando. We’re now the lucky recipients of their pastries made on site and baked fresh daily. They also serve breakfast all day which means you must try their Omelet Croissant. It’s buttery, flaky and everything you’d hope for in a breakfast-fusion sandwich.

DoveCote: Open morning, noon and night their burger and croque monsieur alone are worth a trip out of the office. Bonus points for their stylish space and tasty wine list.

Put down the mouse and pick up a fork. #TeamLunch

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Oct 012017
 

We all know that #OrlandoDoesntSuck, but did you also realize how many fabulous (and famous) companies are based right here in The City Beautiful? By now you’ve probably heard of The Dinner Party Project where you join seven strangers for dinner. 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 a meal.

We recently attended an event at Bloomingdale’s with fashion bloggers and local businesses. As an Orlando native, it’s fun to find emerging companies and people doing cool things in our city. We were certainly introduced to a host of companies and here’s a few of our favorites from the evening!

  • Corkcicle: Did you know this national company started in a College Park garage? We’re loving their new stemless tumbler, perfect for chilling that rosé  all day.

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  • Inbloom Florist: This local shop has beautiful arrangements and offers same day delivery for when you really need to say “I’m Sorry.” Check out their upcoming Wine and Design series for a Pumpkin Palooza.
  • Little Blue Donut Truck: This roaming donut shop is now expanding into a brick and mortar shop. Find them soon at 223 W Fairbanks Ave in Winter Park!

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  • Gypset: One of my favorite gems around town, this mobile boutique has some of the most fabulous jewelry. One of my all time favorite pieces is from this spot! Shop here.
  • Ashley Brooke Designs: So enjoyed meeting Ashley Brooke during the dinner, turns out our husbands used to work together! It really is a small world after all. She has so many pretty pieces on her site, including these mugs to make your mornings a little more fun and fabulous.

And while we’re on the topic of local businesses, here’s a shameless plug for mine….giddy paperie! Shop our Instagram for all things bright and cheery. To find out more about Dinner Party Project click here and sign up for their next event.

 

 

Photo Credits: Corksicle, Lettermade

Oct 012017
 

Just as quickly as the season arrives, so it also ends. All things food and wine are well underway at Disney, but not for much longer. In the sea of events, one that’s not to be missed is Food & Wine Weekends at Waldorf Astoria and Hilton Bonnet Creek happening now through November 12. Presenting exceptional wine and culinary events over the course of nine weekends, the resorts’ Food & Wine Weekends are designed to complement the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

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These weekends include a macaron bar, traditional Royal Tea and Bar du Chocolat with champagne tasting. You can also make reservations to enjoy the tasting dinners at the hotels’ signature restaurants, Bull & Bear, La Luce and Zeta Asia.

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We attended the Taste of La Luce which takes place Fridays and Saturdays from 6 – 11 p.m. Experience a four course meal for just $55 and be sure to add on the wine pairings for an extra $35. Go with a friend who doesn’t mind sharing their meal and order all ten options to experience each choice on this prix-fixe menu. We enjoyed a fun and flavorful evening and highly recommend adding La Luce to your list of fall culinary events!

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Antipasti
Zuppa Ribolita
or
Carpaccio di Melone
🍷 Villa Sandi ‘Il Fresco’ Spumante Rose, Veneto, Italy

Primi
Ravioli al Nero di Sephia
or
Gnocci Aurora
🍷 Rocca di Montemassi ‘Le Focaie’ Sangiovese, Tuscany,Italy

Secondi
Risotto with Braised Short Rib
🍷Castello d’Albola Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany, Italy
or
Italian Seafood Stew
🍷 Bruno Giacosa Roero Piedmont, Italy

Dolci
Almond Stuffed Baked Apple with Salted Caramel Gelato,
or
Hot Chocolate Mousse Cake
🍷Coppo Moncalvina Moscato d’Asti, Italy

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Oct 012017
 

For some strange reason I became obsessed with spicy foods after college. My family thinks it’s bizarre, but I can take the heat. I’ve become the person that will ask for dishes extra spicy at restaurants and roll my eyes when waiters warn me about how spicy a dish is. From pizza to sandwiches, here’s how to spice up your life with some blazing dishes around town.

Pizza Bruno: Their spiciest pies include Crimson Ghost and Five-Ohhhhh. The first is loaded with calabrian chilies, hot soppressata, fresh mozzarella, basil and a dash of hot honey to balance out all that spice. The other serves up mozzarella, pickled jalapeños, prosciutto, roasted pineapple, garlic, sauce swirl. Ask for extra jalapeños if you can handle the heat.

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Pig Floyds: One of my favorite sandwiches is the Barbakoa Bánh mì which is stuffed with pulled pork, lucky dragon sauce, pickled jalapeños and fresno peppers. Get extra jalapeños and douse your toppings with their Hot BBQ sauce or Sriracha for an added kick. Pro tip….you can have this delivered to your doorstep with Postmates! It’s magical.

Hawkers: Their pad thai is full of stir-fried rice noodles with shrimp, chicken, eggs and red chili pepper topped with crushed roasted peanuts and a lime wedge. You can order it mild or spicy, but obviously you want the spicy version.

Publix: If you haven’t had a buffalo chicken pub sub, you’re missing out on our grocery store’s greatest gem. Just make sure you call ahead, because nobody wants to stand in those endless deli lines – you’ve got spicy food to devour!

Williamson Bros.: Sometimes I carry hot sauce in my purse. Sometimes. There’s nothing more disappointing than ordering a “spicy dish” only to find out it’s pretty bland and (gasp) the restaurant only has Tabasco (ewww). This Atlanta based company makes all their own sauces and their hot sauce is one of my new favorites. Perfectly balanced and works with a variety of dishes. Their BBQ sauce is equally delightful, from Chipotle to Classic Carolina, pick up some sauces from Williamson Bros. during your next trip to Publix or shop online.

I’ll leave you with this thought….if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. 

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Photo Credits: Williamson Bros.

Aug 312017
 

The much anticipated Epcot International Food & Wine Festival starts today! For a record 75 days you can walk, taste and swirl your way around the world. And while there are endless bites and sips to experience inside the park, there’s also a growing number of fun foodie activities at surrounding restaurants and resorts. We’ll be sharing all of the must try food and wine at Epcot soon, but in the meantime here’s where we recommend experiencing this epic festival in neighboring spots.

Food & Wine Weekends at Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek

Food & Wine Weekends events will be held from September 8 through November 12, 2017, some highlights include:

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  • The Taste of Bull and Bear ($125 plus optional wine pairings): Experience a five-course menu comprised of exquisite food and wine pairings – all prepared by the illustrious chefs of Waldorf Astoria Orlando.
  • The Taste of La Luce ($55 plus optional wine pairings): From the kitchen of La Luce at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, enjoy an exclusive four-course menu with recommended wine pairing featuring the best of La Luce. We’re going next week, so check back for photos and our review soon!
  • The Taste of Zeta Asia ($40 plus option sake and beer pairings): Explore perfect pairings of sake or beer with Asian-inspired dishes.
  • Chocolate and Champagne Tastings: A decadent selection of à la carte chocolate treats hand-crafted by Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s pastry team. A selection of champagnes are available, as well. Highlights include chocolate truffles, exotic chocolate cakes and bowls of beautiful bon-bons.

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  • Macaron Bar: Whether indulging in a pre or post-dinner treat, guest can visit the Macaron Bar to try an assortment of flavors, hand-made by the resort’s world-class pastry team. We had the chance to taste an array of these treats, they were divine! We’ll be back for more.

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Join STK Orlando and Master Sommelier George Miliotes of Wine Bar George on October 20 at 9:30 p.m. for some of the wildest wines you’ve never heard of… and a few you may never taste again! Head to the wine party on STK’s rooftop featuring pairings, with varietals such as Saperavi from Georgia and Macvin du Jura from France. Tickets are $75 per person—plus tax, gratuity included.

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Four Seasons

Partake in sweet celebration of National Chocolate Day this September 13, 2017 at a one-of-a-kind Dessert Party at Capa restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort. Executive Pastry Chef Rabii Saber has prepared a delicious assortment of desserts, and will showcase his award-winning “Curtain Rise” chocolate cake. In addition, the Resort will welcome Master Sommelier George Miliotes for this special event, who will present dessert wines and specialty drinks to accompany the sweet smorgasbord. Tickets are $55 per person and must be purchased online.  The September 13 event will begin at 8:00 pm and conclude at 10:00 pm.

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Swan & Dolphin

The two-day Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic offers guests unlimited tastings at more than 50 stations featuring culinary selections from the resort’s award-winning restaurants and wine from more than 30 wineries. Upgraded ticket options allow guests to enjoy access to a beer garden featuring a wide selection of craft beers and Oktoberfest-inspired cuisine. The event also includes hands-on seminars with the hotel’s chefs and certified beverage experts.

These are just a few of the many events this fall! Stay hungry Orlando.

Aug 152017
 

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month returns Aug. 25 – Oct. 1 (!!) with an unprecedented number of restaurants — more than 100 — each offering a three-course, prix fixe dinner menu for just $35 per person. Celebrating its 12th year, the popular dining initiative provides a variety of options for local foodies or visiting gourmands who are looking to try out a local favorite or one of the newest additions to Orlando’s growing culinary scene. PLUS for the first time, six restaurants from Walt Disney World Resort join the program’s growing line-up.

This year’s restaurants, from downtown Orlando to Restaurant Row and beyond, offer a menu and setting for every occasion. A full list of all participating restaurants, menus and OpenTable reservations are available now at OrlandoMagicalDining.com. 

Since it’s nearly impossible to visit every location (if you succeed at this call me, we should be friends) here’s our top recommendations for places to visit!

Rusty Spoon: We visited as part of a preview event and so enjoyed everything from the veggies to dessert. They don’t skimp on portion size (or flavor) and you’ll have the chance to experience some cuisine from a James Beard nominated chef! Go for the seasonal item to start, we had some fabulous grilled peaches, moved on to the massive Crispy Sesame Chicken and finished with some donut holes and chocolate cake. You can’t go wrong here with any of the choices on this menu!

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Ravenous Pig: Check out the new space at this Winter Park spot and enjoy some shrimp and grits, local fish and cake! You’re bound to have a fun and tasty time while at the Pig.

DoveCote: A downtown gem, make sure you put this spot on your list if you haven’t been yet or want to visit again! 

Ravello: One of my favorites from last year! You must get the pasta! Don’t miss your chance to dine at the always lovely Four Seasons for such a steal! Start with the House Made Charcuterie and Cheese Board, then order the House Made Bucatini Amatriciana
guanciale, onion, pomodoro sauce and finish with an Affogato with vanilla housemade gelato and café Umbrian espresso. In a word, divine! Ravello is one we’d recommend visiting multiple times, it’s just that fun and fabulous! And for your non Magical Dining visits they have some pretty awesome pizza too. Wash it all down with selections from their Italian wine list.

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Dragonfly: While known for sushi, they also have a myriad of other notable menu items. Use Magical Dining to explore all the options and experience dishes from Pork Ramen to Whole Branzino and even Matcha Cake. Find them along Sand Lake!

F&D Kitchen: We’re putting on our list this year as we haven’t been to this Lake Mary spot yet, but we’ve heard good things. Put some new places on your list this fall, we’ve got our eye on their fried green tomatoes and milk and cookies.

Luma: Another solid Winter Park spot time after time, get your reservation early because this place always fills up in September! 

Eleven: Check out this Reunion Resort restaurant for Baked Salmon, Sirloin with duck fat marble potatoes and rooftop views! Remember our last visit? We loved it! 

Last year, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining raised a record $195,125 for the Russell Home for Atypical Children enabling the organization to modify and refurbish the girls’ dorm as part of the home’s major renovation project. The dorm will be named after Visit Orlando and Magical Dining Month. Happy dining for a good cause this month! 

The Rusty Spoon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Aug 112017
 

Short on vacation days? Yeah, I hear ya. But with so many culinary gems around town (both new and established) it’s easy to take a mini vacay through a dining experience. Between the unspoken “no phones at the dinner table rule” (except to take that Insta photo), a night off from dishes and a glass of wine (or two), a culinary staycation is the perfect mini-break to unwind and recharge. While the dining options around town are endless, here’s where we’ve enjoyed “vacationing” this summer. So while it’s one billion degrees outside, cool off and cool down with an evening away from it all.

PS: Scroll alll the way down to see our latest giveaway! You’ll find the perfect souvenir for upcoming travels.

Urbain 40:

  • Four-time James Beard award nominee and Director of Culinary Operations for Boulevard Restaurants, Chef Tim Keating, is highly passionate about using the freshest seasonal produce, sustainable meats and seafood, most of which are locally sourced. Chef Keating has put his spin on the fare served at Urbain 40 with 23 new dish additions and changes, crafting them into seasonal favorites including the Duck Confit Trofie Di Abruzzo Pasta, Char-Crusted Angus Steak and Rock Shrimp & Cape Bay Scallop Ceviche “Cocktail”. You must try the steak if nothing else, it was magnificent! Keating’s bright menu brings new life this fun Dr. Phillips spot.

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Highball & Harvest:

  • I’ve always been a fan of Highball, they were one of the first restaurants we covered when Spork initially launched. Breaking the mold of hotel restaurants, Highball & Harvest combines rustic authenticity with Ritz-Carlton refinement to feature interactive dining and a Southern culinary adventure. Since his arrival, Chef Scott Pizzo has hit the ground running and revamped the menu at Highball & Harvest using ingredients from local purveyors and our on-site farm at Whisper Creek Farm. Order some of his new dishes including ​the H&H Cuban Sandwich, Harvest Salad (which is loaded with incredible veggies) and this savory burger. Spare room for dessert because they’ve come back with some really well done sweets to round out your meal. Complete your staycation with a spa visit and lazy day by the resort’s pool.

highball and harvest

highball and harvest

The Parkview:

  • Sometimes we love visiting an old favorite that’s been updated with a fresh take. With their new chef and creative wine flights you’ll want to put The Parkview back on your list of places to visit. This Park Avenue wine bar is turning out dishes such as Duck Crostini, Truffle Mac and Cheese, local leaf salads and fun takes on seafood. It’s always enjoyable dining at a place where people are passionate about all aspects of the experience. With a focus on small, quality producers their wine list is bursting with wines worth trying. We can’t refuse a wine flight, so if you’re feeling adventurous order The Hanging Garden flight with sips from Lebanon, Greece, Turkey and Israel! Wine geeks and novices alike will enjoy the experience here and we’re already looking forward to our next visit.

parkview

parkview

Marlows:

  • If you’re looking for a solid burger or some killer hummus (no really, it’s awesome) make Marlow’s part of your summer plans. With multiple locations around Orlando, their tavern-fare is always a safe bet with options to make everyone in your group happy.

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Rocco’s Late Night Fare:

  • Happy hour is great and all, but sometimes it’s challenging to leave work and get to a restaurant before the bargains end. Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar has you covered with “After Midnight”, their new late night happy hour presented by Corona. This wallet-friendly affair takes place nightly from midnight until close at all Florida locations. Enjoy $2 tacos and $5 snacks including guacamole and quesadillas. Wash it down with $3 Coronas and house wine, and $5 specialty drinks, or kick it up a notch with half-off select shots from the Wall of Tequila. After all, it’s midnight somewhere.

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Prato:

  • Prato is now offering a happy hour menu! Experience the items Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. The menu will include their signature pizzas for $10 (order the Widowmaker) and Italian plates ranging from $5 to $9. Drink specials will include cocktails for $7, glasses of European wines for $5, and beers under $6. See you on the Ave.!

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Hawkers:

  • It all started with a craving. Four Florida-based college buddies all longed for the unapologetic flavors of true Asian food —dumplings with bounce, spicy curries and crisp pork belly. Their intense curry itch made way for the creation of Hawkers Asian Street Fare, a casual, experience-driven concept, that serves up small-plate Asian street food. At Hawkers, the founders Kaleb Harrell, Allen Lo, Wayne Yung and Kin Ho–all traveled the world to curate a menu of handed-down family recipes and hand-picked popular street foods from all over Asia —Korea, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan to be exact. They also have a new menu launching next Wednesday, but don’t worry their beloved pad thai is still available! PS – when you’re not doing the whole culinary staycation thing you can order Hawkers on UberEats! We do it allllll the time.

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The Shores Resort & Spa:

  • This Daytona Beach resort boasts a signature restaurant, Azure, which serves artfully inspired dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as 24-hour room service. Azure offers beachfront dining available on an elevated outdoor terrace, giving tableside views of the oceanfront pool and the sparkling Atlantic Ocean. With nearly unobstructed views of the glimmering ocean, you’ll be able to take in the incredible view alongside some creative cuisine. This fun dish, Island Tuna Poke with lemon scented tuna, coconut-rice custard and passion fruit foam is fun and tasty to enjoy beach-side!

the shores

the shores

Cocina 214:

  • This acclaimed contemporary Mexican Kitchen & Bar is a combination of the Spanish word for kitchen, “cocina” and the Dallas area code, “214.” The idea for opening Cocina 214 developed when two of the owners from Texas missed the Tex-Mex and Mexican food they had grown up eating. They wanted the same authentic, fresh and quality food here in Florida. In addition to a new location (in early 2018) they are also rolling out some new menu items. We had a chance to taste some of the fabulous additions including fried avocados, Mexican corn and a brownie served over  a bubbling base of butter! If you haven’t visited this Winter Park (and soon to also be Daytona Beach) spot in awhile make plans to return for some margaritas, guacamole and tacos. PS: see that bubbling butter brownie in action here.

cocina 214

cocina 214

cocina 214

Bulla:

  • The people watching here is always enjoyable, there’s a lively scene at the bar and throughout the restaurant. We’d recommend stopping in for quick glass of Albariño or Tempranillo and grabbing some of their tasty churros for dessert.

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Now for the promised giveaway! As a memento for all of your travels, take home this super creative Orlando print by local artist, Jennifer Beck. This street map features markings of all the roads and major bodies of water all around Orlando . This décor product features thousands of street lines and several bodies of water both big and small. Look all around to find your favorite landmarks around the city as you follow the highways, waterways and even rail or mass transit system lines. I mean, how cool is this map? To enter, simply shoot us the private message “Orlando Print Giveaway!” on Instagram @SporkOrlando. Dying for your own print? You can find one here.

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