Jan 222015
 

Love or hate the day, February 14 is swiftly approaching. Valentine’s Day always stirs up mixed emotions in people, some love the excuse to eat extra chocolate and swoon over their roses, for others the day ends up being one giant disappointment. I personally enjoy the decorations and the excuse to wear my beautifully obnoxious Lilly Pulitzer Valentine’s Day sweater.

Whether you’re single, dating or married, it’s virtually impossible to ignore the day. We’ve rounded up the best ways to celebrate regardless of your relationships status.

For a Romantic Evening:

  • Luma on Park- Sure it’s pricey, but isn’t she worth it? All kidding aside, Luma always serves up a fabulous and memorable meal. Plus, their wine list is incredible and extensive. We’re fond of the Steakhouse Wedge and Margherita Pizza (fancy, I know!)
  • American Gymkhana – There’s no shortage of bites on the six-course tasting menu. Make room for a Kama’s Bounty dessert with Saffron Kalakand, Granny Smith Jalebi and Callebaut-Chili Bon Bons. Six-Course Tasting Menu available for $65 per person; wine parings available for an additional $35 per person.
  • Café de France – This quaint cafe has been serving up authentic French food on Park Avenue since 1982! The Coq Au Vin is sensational and everything is crafted under the watchful eye of the French owners.
  • Norman’s – Does it get any more romantic than dining at the The Ritz-Carlton on Valentine’s Day? Norman’s is serving up a four course meal with offerings ranging from Mango “Barbecued” Grilled Cobia to Strawberry Grouper Ceviche.  Reservations required!

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For a Laid Back Celebration:

  • Rome’s FlavoursThis former fro-yo shop has been transformed into an Italian mini paradise! Order their authentic pizza, crack open a bottle of wine and finish the evening with the gelato trio and espresso.
  • 4 Rivers Smokehouse + The Sweet Shop – Enjoy sweet options like Chocolate Espresso Marble Cake – a traditional red velvet cake covered in whipped vanilla bean frosting and coated in a marble glaze – or the Salted Caramel Oatmeal Cream Pies – classic oatmeal cream pies filled with salted caramel and a cream filling.
  • Briarpatch – Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this year, so why not avoid the evening crowds and head out for a relaxing brunch? Order the Raspberry Lemon Cream Pancakes for a fail-proof meal.

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For Avoiding the Crowds:

  • Winter Park Valentine’s ConcertSkip the madness and celebrate a few days early in Central Park. On Sunday, February 8, the Park Avenue Merchants Association will host “The Sweetest Sounds: A Valentine Concert in Central Park” from 4 – 6:30 p.m. Bring a picnic basket (with some Fresh Market prepared foods perhaps?) and enjoy these sweet sounds with your sweetheart for free!

For Celebrating with Friends:

  • ScratchOrder a bunch of small plates and some wine flights with your best buddies for a tasty and relaxing evening. Make sure the cheese plate with house-made fruit preserves ends up on your table too!
  • Rocco’s Tacos- With over 250 varieties of tequila, guacamole prepared tableside and Molcajetes, you’re virtually guaranteed a good time. Reservations are hard to come by, but there’s always ample bar space.

However you celebrate, make sure it’s memorable!

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Photo Credits: Briarpatch, Roco’s Tacos, Norman’s

Jan 212015
 

The seventh annual Downtown Food & Wine Fest is set forFebruary 21 and February 22; all feasting and drinking will take place overlooking Lake Eola on Robinson Street!

“The Downtown Food & Wine Fest is one of our Downtown’s signature cultural events, showcasing the best of Orlando’s culinary scene. Events like this continue to expand Downtown’s offerings and bring more and more people to our urban core to celebrate the beauty, diversity, and vibrancy of our community,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

Admission is $15 per person, per day with advance online purchase.  For all-weekend Fest fans, a two-day ticket is available for $20 per person with advance online purchase. Food and beverage tickets are available at the Fest for $2 each; food and beverage offerings range from one to four tickets.

A limited number of Wine Tasters Club passes will be available for purchase for $15 per person at the Fest. Club members will enjoy up to five 2 oz. pours of their choice throughout the Fest and a souvenir lanyard.

Thirty  top restaurants are scheduled to present culinary tastings including the return of the 2014 Foodie Award winners as honored by a panel of Orlando elected officials, food writers and reporters and celebrity chefs. Here are the winner’s from last year’s festival:

  • 2014 Foodie Award: Smiling Bison – Pretzel Bread Pudding
  • 2014 Best Overall Menu: Kasa Tapas & Raw Bar
  • 2014 Best of Show: Siro at Orlando World Center Marriott

See you there Orlando!

Staying Connected

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*Note: Spork will receive complimentary tickets to this event. All opinions and reviews belong to Spork. Photo credits – Downtown Food & Wine Fest.

 

Jan 202015
 

Among the myriad of fro-yo places, Menchies consistently reigns supreme. The flavors are made with real ingredients (fruit, hormone-free milk, etc.) and the topping selections are outrageous ranging from heath candy to sour strips.

I’ll never be able to decide between fruit or chocolate flavors, so I usually mix the flavors all together and then top with loads of candy. During a recent trip I become an instant fan of their new Sweet ‘n’ Tangy Peach Mango! It’s made with real juicy mangos and tangy peaches for a yummy fruity flavor. Give it a whirl next time and top with lots of sour candies!

In other fro-yo news, National Frozen Yogurt Day is coming up on February 6. Rumor has it you can enjoy a free 6 oz. cup of frozen yogurt from 4-8 p.m. at Menchies! Impossible to turn down right?

For more flavors and location information head to www.menchies.com. Plus sign-up for their rewards club here, during my last visit I scored a $5 off coupon with my points! Hooray for fro-yo!peach_mango[1]

Photo Credit: Menchie’s

Menchie's Frozen Yogurt on Urbanspoon

Jan 192015
 

In honor of National Coffee Break Day on January 20, Dunkin’ Donuts is encouraging Orlando residents to take a coffee break and head over to select SunRail stops for FREE treats to start the morning off right.

The Dunkin’ Donuts sampling team will be at three SunRail stops in the Orlando-area on Tuesday, January 20 from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. to treat commuters to a morning coffee break. Guests can enjoy Dunkin’ Donuts’ 100% hot or iced Colombian Roast coffee, a medium roast with a full-bodied flavor and sweet finish, and the new Chocolate Croissant featuring a flaky croissant dough with chocolaty filling, served warm. There will also be gift card giveaways!

Dunkin’ Donuts’ Colombian coffee is registered by the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, which ensures the coffee is produced to the highest standards. Dunkin’ Donuts’ Colombian Packaged Coffee is also the brand’s first packaged coffee with the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal, made with 30% coffee beans sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.

WHERE/WHEN:

  • DeBary Station: 6:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
  • Lake Mary Station: 6:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
  • Sand Lake Station: 6:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

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Photo Credit: Dunkin’ Donuts

Jan 192015
 

Head out to Tin Roof to grab a beer, feast on shrimp and grits and check out some of the best singers and bands in Orlando during their grand opening bash this Saturday.

The “live music joint” located in the new I-Drive 360 and it’s the first of its kind in our city! The grand opening celebration will run from noon until close, featuring live music all day and night.

Taking the stage:

  • David Oliver Willis: noon -1:30 p.m.
  • Bryan Malpass: – 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Hayfire: 5:00 – 8:30 p.m.
  • David and Whitney: 10 p.m. – Close

Top local and regional bands on the Tin Roof stage, usually from 10 pm – 2 am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with acoustic sets during the week. Tin Roof is not a ticketed venue, but cover charges will apply at certain times. Free cover for Florida residents on Fridays however!

“Our goal is to showcase the best local and regional bands and musicians and provide a setting where everyone in the house has a great seat,” said William Hodges, Tin Roof Regional Manager.

The menu also takes center stage at Tin Roof, for our original menu review click here. Filled with an eclectic mix of “Americana” fare, the apps, entrees and desserts all come with the twist. There’s plenty of variety, but we’d recommend the shrimp and grits!

Headquartered in Nashville, the first Tin Roof opened in 2002 near Nashville’s famous Music Row. It quickly became a favorite for both performers and music fans! Head out for a memorable experience and yummy plates! Tin Roof is located at 8371 International Drive (I-Drive 360).  For more information visit www.tinroofbars.com/Home/Orlando.

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Photo Credit: Food by Spork, Band image by Tin Roof

Tin Roof · A Live Music Joint on Urbanspoon

Jan 172015
 

Sure, we just celebrated a new year, but I think we can all agree October will move in swiftly. For some the fall means football and back-to-school, but for us it signals the imminent arrival of Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival and the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic.

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic is returning for its sixth year on Friday Oct. 30, and Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, at the Epcot Resort Area hotel.

The two-night, outdoor festival will feature more than FORTY stations with culinary selections from the hotel’s award-winning restaurants and wine from more than 30 wineries. Guests will also enjoy live music, a beer garden featuring local and seasonal brews from around the world and food and beverage seminars led by the hotel’s chefs and certified beverage experts. Other events just can’t compare.

So when you’ve “walked” around the world multiple times, are tired of fighting the Epcot Food & Wine Festival crowds and looking for a sensational culinary experience, head to the Food & Wine Classic at Swan and Dolphin.

More details about the event, including specific ticket packages, will be announced later. For the latest information, visit www.SwanDolphinFoodandWineClassic.com, like www.facebook.com/swananddolphin or call 1-800-227-1500.

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Photo Credit: Swan and Dolphin

 

Jan 162015
 

The traveling culinary circus, Outstanding in the Field,  will be on the road for its Winter Tour — a one-month series of warm-weather dinners in Louisiana, Florida and Hawaii. The roving “restaurant without walls” kicks off its winter tour with a visit to New Orleans, followed by four dinners in Florida and a trip to the Hawaiian islands.

In the summer of 1999, Jim Denevan came up with the idea of setting a table on a farm and inviting guests to an open-air meal in celebration of the farmer and the gifts of the land. Since that first event, Outstanding in the Field has staged table-to-farm dinners in all 50 states across the US and nine countries around the world,welcoming more than 80,000 people to its long table set in farm fields and orchards, on beaches and mountaintops, in barns and greenhouses. Hundreds of talented chefs — including dozens of Top Chefs and James Beard award winners and nominees — have cooked in OITF’s pop-up kitchen.

Outstanding’s communal table, carefully composed alongside the ingredients for the evening’s meal, inspires lively conversation at the table and a broader discussion about food, community and the meaning of place. After a tour of the farm, diners take their seats alongside the farmers, cheesemakers, ranchers, foragers, fisherfolk, brewers, winemakers and other local food artisans who have provided ingredients for the feast, coming together in delicious communion to break bread and share stories.

Saturday’s Central Florida  dinner with chef Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant is sold out, but Sunday’s dinner still has a few open seats!

  • January 18: Lake Meadow Naturals Farm, Ocoee, FL – Guest chef Kathleen Blake, The Rusty Spoon, Orlando. Dale Volkert’s farm is one of OITF’s favorite winter stops, so we’re doing two dinners this year – the second with up-and-coming chef Kathleen Blake. Details and tickets here!

Cheers to the roving restaurant without walls, thrilled they are stopping in our neighborhood this weekend!

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Photo Credit: Outstanding in the Field