Aug 152014
 

Ritz Carlton, the ultimate luxury hotel, king of relaxation and exceptional service. With the opening of Highball & Harvest next month, it’s time to add “culinary superiority” to their list of accolades. In the coming weeks, the Grande Lakes location will open H&H serving up Southern comfort food and design featuring seasonal Low Country and Cajun-inspired cuisine from Chef de Cuisine Mark Jeffers. Mark was raised the South and will soon be serving hyper-local dishes infused with Floridian citrus and ingredients from the resort’s own 7,000-square-foot Whisper Creek Farm.

In a few weeks Spork is getting a sneak peek of H&H! We’ll be sure to share all that we can, but in the mean time here are a few highlights coming to a Ritz near you.

This casual “come as you are” restaurant will feature interactive dining, handcrafted cocktails and a creative, playful menu. H&H’s railroad-inspired design will feature communal seating, a large bar/lounge area, a raw oyster bar (with chefs shucking oysters by hand) and custom hand painted dishware.

Their signature dishes will include H&H Pig-n-Potatoes, a decadent all-day breakfast dish, house-made beef jerky, dips with pickled veggies and a signature H&H Hot Sauce made from Whisper Creek Farm peppers. We can’t wait to try their Parker House Rolls made from old-world Khorasan wheat, served warm and made in-house.

Most intriguing is the interactive cocktail table, where bar Chefs will muddle ingredients while instructing over carefully curated and personalized cocktail classes. H&H will offer a hand-crafted, seasonal cocktail menu—signature cocktails include: the Moonshine “Whistle-Stop,” the refreshing “Green Acres” with house ginger beer and jasmine tea and a “Cranberry Cobbler” mixed with honey from the resort’s on-site collection of beehives.

Most cocktails will be served on the rocks with hand-carved ice, sculpted bar side with a Japanese ice saw and infused with herbs and citrus from Whisper Creek Farm. H&H will also feature Central Florida’s largest selection of wines from the cask, carefully selected by Advanced Sommelier Kris Soto, to ensure perfect temperature control and freshness.

Hungry yet? We can’t wait to sink our taste buds into these Southern flavors. More pictures to come after our sneak peek of H&H. www.highballandharvest.com

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Photo Credit: Highball & Harvest

Highball & Harvest on Urbanspoon

Aug 102014
 

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.

Thirty five leading chefs and restaurants, including TWO James Beard Foundation Award semi-finalists, served up fabulous plates during last night’s event. Even better, all proceeds benefit Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger. Just $50 provides a week of nutritious meals to 34 homeless children, so each ticket purchased made a significant impact! Local beneficiaries include Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

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!

  • Cafe Tu Tu Tango: Korean Marinated Confit of Chicken with Grilled Buttermilk Cornbread and Sambar Butter. Hello delicious, making a reservation here asap.
  • Capa at Four Seasons Resort Orlando: Braised Spanish Octopus, Marinated in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Garlic, Thyme and Chili. I passed on the eight legged creature, but my husband is still raving about the dish.
  • Empress Sissi Cake & Pastry Specialties: Creme Brulee Cheesecake. Creamy, sugary goodness mixed into a melty cheesecake. Empress Sissi, who are you and where can we taste more of your fabulous desserts?!
  • LongHorn Steakhouse: Slow & Low” Braised Short Ribs, Horseradish Whipped Potato, Crispy Shiitake Mushrooms, Port Wine Braising Liquid and Petit Herbs. Fabulous! PS: have you tasted their new Peak Season menu?
  • Sea World Orlando: Sustainable Ahi Tuna and Halibut, cold-infused with Citrus Vodka and Coconut Rum over a Wakame Salad. The dry ice presentation was a feast for the eyes too! See below for a snapshot of their preparation.
  • Sushi Pop Restaurant: Gangnam Style Roll (Haha) Salmon Tartare topped with Local White Fish, Yang Yum Jung Sauce and Waterkist Farm Sprouts. Our search for Orlando’s best sushi is over, you win Sushi Pop! Where have you been hiding all this time?

Cue the food hangover, glad it’s Sunday so we can sit on the sofa in sweatpants. Thank you Orlando Taste of the Nation for the invitation, we thoroughly enjoyed the evening! If you missed out this year, make plans to be there in 2015!

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Aug 082014
 

There’s something nostalgic about chewing bubble gum and enjoying salt water taffy at the beach. The smells and flavors take you back to a time when decisions were easy and life was simple. So, we were giddy when we recently stumbled upon Beachside Candy Co. They’re an old fashioned candy and ice cream shoppe on Flagler Avenue in New Smyrna Beach. One step inside and we were instantly transported back to “The good ‘ole days.”

They carry a large selection of homemade chocolates and fudge as well as nostalgic candies. We filled our bag at the candy bar with everything from gummy worms to nerds and my personal favorite, Fruit Stripe gum (remember the temporary tattos on the wrappers?). Beachside Candy Co. also has close to 30 flavors of the ultimate beach confection, salt water taffy. While we didn’t get a chance to sample their housemade coconut haystacks or chocolate covered marshmallows, we’ll be back for more sugary goodness next time. Skip the beach truck popsicles and head to Flagler Ave. for nostalgia and the perfect sugar buzz.

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Beachside Candy Co on Urbanspoon

Aug 052014
 

Five years ago street fare was reserved for hot dog stands and sketchy food carts. It’s amazing how a concept can quickly turn from gross to gourmet. We recently ventured to the Mills 50 District for Orlando’s infamous Hawkers. If you haven’t been lately, it’s time to give this Asian street fare another taste.

We ordered a variety of dishes including their Roti Canai, Malaysian flat breads served with a side of signature spicy curry dipping sauce. All were equally delicious and washed down with $3 mimosas.

We’ve searched citywide for the best Pad Thai……and Hawkers, we pick you! Their authentic sauce is simmered for six hours and stir fried with shrimp, chicken, vegetables and red chili peppers. The dish is then garnished with peanuts and a squeeze of lime. Their noodles will leave your taste buds on fire, but you’ll ignore your spice tolerance once you experience this flavor.

Lettuce wraps usually taste like copycats from P.F. Chang’s, but Hawkers found a way to infuse flavor and spice into their version. The wraps are served with crisp lettuce cups and filled with stir fried mushrooms, water chestnuts, carrots, bean curd, garlic, ginger and choice of protein.

Three hours later we rolled ourselves out of Hawkers happy, full and a little bit spicer. Head to Hawkers to satisfy your next Asian craving. Hawkers is located at 1103 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL, 32803 and Hawkersstreetfare.com.

 

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Photo Credit: Instagram @hawkersstreetfare

Hawkers Asian Street Fare on Urbanspoon

Jul 312014
 

Returning for its 25th year, Orlando’s Taste of the Nation will take place August 9 at the Orlando World Center Marriott. The event celebrates Orlando’s culinary excellence and benefits Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Click here to purchase your tickets!

Today we’re taking a break from the Orlando dining scene to highlight volunteer opportunities with the Coalition for the Homeless. We recently visited their downtown campus and were completely blown away by their daily efforts to transform the lives of homeless men, women and children.

Coalition for the Homeless provides crucial services to help end the crisis of homelessness. Every day, the Coalition helps an average of 650 homeless individuals, about 200 are children. Those are staggering numbers, so we started thinking, who provides food for everyone and how?

The onsite team provided us a variety of ways to help our neighbors in need. If you can’t make it to Taste of the Nation, consider one of these options. You’ll never regret the time spent serving someone in need.

1. Food Donations

  • Not every meal is sponsored or served by a community group, so having a stocked pantry is imperative.
  • Immediate needs: canned/frozen fruit and vegetables, whole and 1% milk, instant potatoes, cereal, spices in bulk.
  • Items can be dropped off Monday-Saturday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., at 639 West Central Blvd, Orlando.

2. Kitchen Supplies

  • Just as you need tools in your own kitchen, the Coalition needs supplies to operate neat and sanitary kitchens and dining rooms.
  • Paper towels, napkins, foil, plastic wrap & storage bags
  • Spray bottles, mops, brooms, dustpans, household cleaners
  • Hand soap and dish detergent
  • Large and small garbage bags
  • Coffee mugs (new or used)

3. Meal Service

  • The Men’s Service Center offers new volunteer opportunities such as groups sponsoring or serving breakfast. There are also individual opportunities to assist in the dining room.
  • Option to cook a meal at your location, bring to the Coalition and serve onsite
  • Sponsor a meal or several meals.
  • Serve a routine breakfast, dinner or special lunch.
  • Make sandwiches for bagged lunches.
  • Contact Mary Vevera at marty.vevera@cflhomeless.org or 407-872-5784 for more details. Click here for more details as well.

Coalition for the Homeless served over 300,000 meals last year.  With the opening of their new Men’s Service Center, they are poised to serve even more this year. Look through your kitchen for donations or grab a group of friends and plan a few hours to serve!

And see you at Taste of the Nation!

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 Photo Credit: Coalition for the Homeless Central Florida

Jul 302014
 

Upgrade your sweet tooth with chicken n’ waffles at The Sweet Shop. The sweeter side of 4 Rivers Smokehouse is rolling out a new creation tomorrow, the Chicken N’ Waffle Cupcake!

There’s much debate over chicken and waffles originating from Thomas Jefferson’s purchase of a waffle iron from France or if it was born in South. We side with the South. Either way, this classic dish will be available in cupcake form at all 4 Rivers Smokehouses tomorrow for $3.75!

This fabulous cupcake is a butter cake blended with waffle batter then folded in fried chicken crispies. The cupcake is then drizzled with house made bourbon maple glaze, frosted with maple butter cream and topped with a waffle cone wedge. Oh my.

For more on The Sweet Shop click here for our original post Satisfying a Sweet Tooth – Best Bakeries Part I.

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Jul 302014
 

After endless months of anticipation, Shake Shack is finally open in Winter Park! Shake Shack originated from a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park in Manhattan. The original cart was quite successful with fans lining up daily. Today, this modern “roadside” burger stand serves up burgers, hot dogs, frozen custard, shakes, beer, wine and more. An instant neighborhood fixture in Manhattan, we’re thrilled they’re joining the Winter Park community.

We’re most excited about their beloved classic from the Miami Beach Shack that will now be served in Winter Park as well, the Key Lime Pie Oh My (vanilla frozen custard blended with a slice of key lime pie from Orlando’s own P is for Pie Bake Shop). Don’t let the long lines scare you, hop in the C-Line and skip the regular line for cold items!

Winter Park Shake Shack will also donate 5% of sales from the Winter’s Wonderland concrete to BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation, a local non-profit that provides year-round support for children and families in Central Florida who are facing cancer and other illnesses.

Spork got a sneak peek of Shake Shack’s food, view and creamy shakes last night. Here’s some of our favorite shots from the night. Even if you’re not crazy for burgers and french fries, Shake Shack is worth the visit for the outdoor patio complete with a fire pit, lounge chairs, ping-pong table and incredible view of Lake Killarney. Be sure to bring along your furry friend for a Pooch-ini, ShackBurger dog biscuits, peanut butter sauce and vanilla custard. See you at the Shack!

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Shake Shack on Urbanspoon