Swan Dolphin, Disney Springs, La Nouba & A Lot of Fine Dining

Contributing to various blogs in addition to writing for my own is a lot of fun. It’s great being on a team while still keeping my own point of view. Recently my friend Lee Allport asked me if I’d enjoy visiting Disney’s Swan and Dolphin as her representative at a weekend celebrating La Nouba’s 2,000th performance at Disney’s Springs.

In my first post I shared about the impeccable Swan and Dolphin hotels, some incredible food including Todd English’s Blue Zoo and Cib’s Smokehouse. I had a bit of adjectival inadequacy, however. There are only so many words for yummy (or beautiful as in the case of the resort).

“I’ve had the pleasure of staying at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort on a number of occasions, usually for conferences and family get-togethers, but it’s been a few years since I’ve been. While the resort exuded whimsy before, now—thanks to the multi-phase, multi-year, $125 million redesign project—guests are welcomed by classic, modern interiors with a nod to water-themed architecture. Sleek elegant lines and a color palate mirrored from the shore offers guests a serene and sophisticated atmosphere perfect for business travelers and family guests alike. The largest makeover in the history of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel does not disappoint!”

Continue reading all about my experiences at Walt Disney World Swan and Dophin, Blue Zoo and Cib’s Smokehouse here and join in on the (contributed) adventure!



Downtown Food and Wine Fest: A Feast for the Senses

Downtown Food & Wine Fest 2015 1200 x 1200This weekend Orlando will be a food-lover’s dream-come-true when the 7th annual Downtown Food and Wine Fest comes to town Saturday, February 21 (noon to 9 p.m.) and Sunday, February 22, 2015 (noon to 7 p.m.). More than 30,000 foodies and wine lovers are expected to experience unique local cuisine paired with wines from around the globe. The Fest is held on E. Robinson Street at Lake Eola, in the heart of Orlando.

Dave Robbins, senior vice president and market manager, CBS RADIO Orlando (event presenter and producer) commented, “Through the power of radio and the strength of our FRLA restaurants, foodies and fans come together to celebrate an event that truly brings our community together to indulge in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Orlando.”

Over 30 of Orlando’s top restaurants will be on-hand serving up Tapas-style plates for anywhere from $2 to $6. Just a few of my favorites include Hard Rock who will have their Award Winning Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Marlow’s Tavern (serving up their shrimp and grits that I LOVE!), Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe (give their Pretzel w/ Obatzer Cheese Dip a try) and Cooper’s Hawk with Red Wine Braised Short Rib.

There’s a Wine Taster’s Club with a special wine sampling lanyard that will allow you to sample 2 oz. samples of 5 different fine wines, but there are over 50 types of wine on tap. Little Black Dress Wines are the official wine of the 2015 Downtown Food & Wine Fest. Check them out along with all the other amazing offerings.

Entertainment lineup includes musical entertainment and Lifehouse Saturday and Loverboy on Sunday. Plus there will be other acts throughout the weekend, including Osteen Florida native, CeCe Teneal.

A glimpse of my last meal at Siro at Orlando World Center Marriott.

A glimpse of my last meal at Siro at Orlando World Center Marriott.

As a highlight of this celebration of Orlando’s Culinary Scene, restaurants will compete for the 2015 Golden Fork awards. Judges for the 2015 Downtown Food & Wine Festival will include Kayla Becker the Host of Orlando My Way,  Kala Rama from WKMG- Local6 news, Bo Outlaw, Orlando Magic Community Ambassador, and Scott Fais,  News Journalist on News 13. Previous winners include:Smiling Bison – Pretzel Bread Pudding, 2014 Foodie AwardKasa Tapas & Raw Bar,2014 Best Overall Menu; Siro at Orlando World Center Marriott, 2014 Best of Show (winner in 2013 and 2014).

For the Ultimate experience, buy tickets for the Ultimate Fest Experience that includes the Wine Taster’s Club, $20 in food tickets, great viewing of the bands, plus VIP parking! Click here for all the ticket options.

See you this weekend for a fabulous foodie FEST!


Disclosure: I was given two admission tickets for the event in exchange for writing about this fun food event. I’ll be buying my own food and wine. And lots of it!

Orlando Home Show and Hamilton’s Kitchen

OHS_150Fall cleaning just doesn’t have the same ring as “spring cleaning”, but I swear that’s the mood I get in when I go to the Orlando Home Show. Aisles and aisles of how-to products and services along with the great demonstrations and specialty exhibits get the ideas flowing! Not to mention all the cooking and food demos/ideas/suggestions/products (and tastings, Oh My!).

Go to the Orange County Convention Center Oct 24–26 for the Orlando Home Show, your one-stop spot for shopping all things home and garden.

I had the privilege of hearing about the show ahead of time at a preview event held at Hamilton’s Kitchen in The Alfond Inn at Rollins College. In addition to being given some insight into the show’s great offerings and home and garden celebs, as part of a “Meet Eat & Tweet” we were able to get a special preview of Chef Marc Kusche’s Cooking Stage appearance. Edible Orlando helped sponsor the event to get local food bloggers excited about both the Home Show, and the restaurant. (May I just say… mission accomplished!) Chef Marc and his staff make everything from sauces and dressings on up to the main course options from scratch. Every day. The quality locally-sourced ingredients and farm freshness can be tasted.

HamiltonsOur meal included exceptional fall flavors like a creamy pumpkin soup with almond foam and jalapeno cheddar biscuits that have just enough heat to keep them interesting, but not so much you’re grabbing for your water. Next on the menu was a grilled flatbread with prosciutto and mozzarella with a squash hash and a beet and picked carrot salad with ricotta and micro greens.

Insider tip: You must try beets with pickled carrots salad. The combination of flavors
was unexpectedly amazing, and the tender, salty crunch of the carrot in the same
bite as the dense, earthy beet was more than my mouth could stand. I’m
not a big “salad person,” but this is one I now crave.

Speaking of craving, my absolute favorite dish of the night was Lobster Risotto with garlic Shrimp. The richness of the lobster that infuses every bite of the risotto, combined with a little bit of heat and bouncy tender-/crisp-ness of the shrimp. Oh!

Chef Marc Kusche, executive chef, created these, and many other dishes for us to taste and guests at Hamilton’s Kitchen to enjoy. One can only imagine what his Cooking Stage appearance will bring. I, for one, hope to get some inspiration for meals I can re-create at home. Or (and more likely) I’ll just get hungry and go visit Chef Kusche and his amazing team at Hamilton’s Kitchen.

While at the Orlando Home Show I’m sure to get some home remodeling/decorating/beautification tips and inspiration, too. Or (and more likely) I’ll grab some brochures and business cards to have someone help me in these endeavors. What?! You know that’s one of the reasons you go, too!

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Visit Hamilton’s Kitchen at The Alfond Inn, 300 E. New England Ave, Winter Park. For reservations, call 407-998-8089.

Buy Orlando Home Show tickets by clicking on this link. Use the code BLOG for $4 off.

Other Edible Orlando chefs on the cooking stage include: Hari Pulapaka of Cress, Camilo Velasco of Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen, Mark Jeffers of Highball and Harvest, and don’t miss Todd Wilbur, the author of 10 cookbooks including Top Secret Recipes.

It’s Not Too Late For Free Child Admission to Dine with Shamu

With each full-paid adult reservation made and used between now and December 25, 2012, you can get a free child’s meal (for kids ages 3 to 9)—a $19 value!.

Our family had a TON of fun watching the whales and the trainers “do their thing” while we dined. And, yes, it was more than eating. It WAS dining! Chef Hector Colon and his staff prepared delicious creations with something for just about every taste. All items served are fresh, seasonable and come from sustainable sources.

Tickets can be purchased on site (if available) or ahead of time online (click here).

Magical Dining 2012

Shingle Creek at A Land RememberedLast week I had the immense pleasure of dining at A Land Remembered, the Triple A, Four Diamond award-winning steakhouse in the gorgeous Shingle Creek hotel by Rosen. Every bite was divine.

I don’t really need to be prodded to visit again, but they are participating in “Orlando Magical Dining Month,” sponsored by Visit Orlando, so I know where I’ll be at least once in the next 30 days!

All through September 2012, over 70 top-rated restaurants will be offering prix fixe 3-course meals (select appetizer, main course, and dessert) for $30 per person, with one dollar from every meal going to this year’s charity, the Edgewood Children’s Ranch.

If you have a hunger for gourmet food that needs to be satisfied, tour the finest restaurants Central Florida has to offer.

Read more about it on Visit Orlando’s website and I’ll see you at A Land Remembered. Oh.. and Season’s 52. OH and maybe Timpano. Or Flemming’s…. Calla Bella? Decisions, decisions!