Mother’s Day Elegance in Central Florida

Happy Mother's Day graphicMy first Mother’s Day was memorable to say the least. We wanted to go out for brunch, but since my little man was such a little baby, I thought “casual” would be the best plan of attack. Good thing, as we got more than we bargained for (and D got a full-bath experience, LOL). Long story short (you can read the long story here if you’d like). While it was somewhat lacking in elegance, it made up for it in humorous stories! Now that he’s older, my dream brunch involves being pampered, having sumptuous food (of course I love that every day!) and, if at all possible—champagne. (And if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!)

As I’ve looked through the options by hotels and my favorite restaurants, I find they’re not lacking in variety. From Winter Park and a once-a-year special coffee at Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen (recipe at end of post) to Orlando and some of the finest hotels, it seems that mama can be very happy. The only downside: Deciding where to go!

Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse at the Hyatt Regency Orlando offers a full spread of all mom’s favorites, including sparkling wine, juice and tea. Of note to this foodie: Wild Atlantic Stripped Bass Barigoule. One: it’s seafood (that I adore), and two: there’s artichokes. What’s not to love? If seafood’s not your thing there are tons of carved meats, and some chef’s creations made to order including Eggs Benedict and Eggs Victor (a version of Eggs Benedict using ham, Swiss cheese and a Mornay sauce. I had to ask. Don’t judge.). They will also be whipping up pasta and risotto, too. And I have to say house-made vanilla and espresso chocolate gelato sound mighty nice….

Speaking of coffee, if you enjoy a quality cup now and again as I do, head over to Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen in Winter Park. Their Mother’s Day offering includes a special cuppa brewed and prepared exclusively on mom’s big day… The Vanilla Rose Latte! Those foam-swirled drinks always look too good to drink (but somehow I manage… and I think you might, as well).

Orlando hotelsRosen Shingle Creek is putting on their usual decadent spread! It’s taken me about 5 minutes to browse the entire menu. Pan Seared Veal with Wild Mushrooms, Red Watercress and Champagne Foam sounds mouth-watering, as does the seafood Station. Oh, and the Asian Soup and Peking Duck Crepes Station, and the French Style Flat Bread Station. And the Dim Sum and Sushi Station. Seriously. Mama might need a cart! Side note: How cute does a Brie Cheese Profiterole with Honey and Pistachio sound? I know. Brie…. (*Squeals with delight!*)

I’ve always enjoyed the buffet at Tradewinds at the Renaissance Hotel by SeaWorld. I’ve piled many a plate high with their made-to-order omelets and my son really “digs” the pancake station. (Chocolate chips IN the pancakes? Yes, please!) The Carving station (from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) includes Winter Park Honey Glazed Ham and Prime Rib.

A few things stand out for me browsing the Rosen Centre menu: Artichoke & Mushroom Salad with Lemon & Basil (again: LOVE artichokes), and a Banshoo Sushi station featuring Chef Yoshi’s Signature Rolls, California Rolls and Spicy Tuna Rolls. Is it just me or is sushi just FUN to eat?! Also on the menu is Pinot Noir Braised Short Ribs with Julienne Vegetables (which makes me thirsty AND hungry at the same time). They’re also serving a specialty of Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill: Chimichurri Crusted Flank Steak. So many options, so little time.

Hemingway’s champagne brunch at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress features Hemingway’s signature island-inspired selections like Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, Chilled Kobe Tenderloin, and Hibachi Style Sea Bass sound tempting, and “free-flowing champagne.” (I know… that got me, too!)

For a more laid-back Mother’s Day, visit Marlow’s Tavern in Winter Park. They’re known for their Sunday Brunch. On Mother’s Day they will have their regular menu items, plus a la carte brunch entrees. I’m kind of partial to the Bloody Mary bar they do so well, but on Mother’s Day perhaps one of their other specialty cocktails are worth a try while sitting out on their patio. Nah. Who am I kidding?! I love the Bloody Mary Bar! Oh, and did I mention Crab Cake Benedict?!

Another hotel option, is at Rosen Plaza. A hot buffet has a Mojo Spiked Pork Loin and Cornish Game Hen with Wild Rice and Forest Mushrooms to name a couple. Also available: an Antipasto and chilled salad bar, omelet station, and carving station with prime rib and glazed ham. All these options are making me hungry!

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to have a tough time deciding on where to go this Mother’s Day. Will it be a favorite? Or should we try something new? Or will my husband and wonderful son make me breakfast in bed (including a special Vanilla Rose Late and champagne)?

Browses through this small sampling of the offerings in and around Central Florida. Where will you go? Please post your ideas! And Mama… wherever you spend your day: Be Happy!

Hotel Brunch Details for Mother’s Day Sunday, May 11, 2014

Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen
118 South Park Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789
407.629.0042
Sunday hours 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Spring Brunch Menu: $13.95 – food only – beverages a la carte; $19.95 – with choice of sparkling or still wine

Hyatt Regency Orlando
9801 International Dr., Orlando, FL, 32819
407.345.4570 or email orlando.regency.dining@hyatt.com.
Seating available 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
$64 per person, plus tax and gratuity; $32 children ages 5–12.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
One Grand Cypress Blvd., Orlando, Florida, 32836
407.239.3854 or make reservations online
Seating available 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
$69 per person, plus tax and gratuity; $34.50 per child ages 4–12.

Marlow’s Tavern
1008 S. Orlando Avenue (17-92); Winter Park, FL 32789
407.960.3670
Open Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Brunch a la carte

Marriott’s Renaissance Hotel by SeaWorld
6677 Sea Harbor Drive  Orlando  Florida  32821
407.351.5555
Brunch from 6:30 a.m.– 2:30 p.m.; Carving station from 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
$22 per person, plus tax and gratuity; $9.95 for children 12 and under

Rosen Centre
9840 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
407.996.8551 or make reservations online
Seating available 11 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
$41.95 per person, plus tax and gratuity; $16.95  per child ages  4–12

Rosen Plaza
407.996.0256 or or make reservations online
Seating available 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
$36.95 per person, plus tax and gratuity; $15.95 per child ages 4–10
(Visit website for a $3 off coupon!)

Rosen Shingle Creek
407.996.3663 or or make reservations online
Seating available 11:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
$65.95 per person, plus tax and gratuity; $29.95 per child ages 4–11

 

 vanillarose latteVanilla Rose Latte
Recipe courtesy
Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen

Delicate Vanilla Rose Essence:
1 Tbsp of rose water for every 1 cup of vanilla simple syrup. Mix with a wooden or plastic spoon not metal. (to be gentle with the flavoring). (Rose water can be found at your local natural food grocer, like Whole Foods, Fresh Market, etc.)

 Drink Recipe: 16oz
1oz vanilla-rose syrup2 shots espresso (or strongly brewed coffee)
Steamed milk of choice
Garnish with a whisper of brown sugar and a rose petal in the cup,
and petals on the place setting.

Real Kids Shades Stand Up to Real Kids

Shingle Creek Golf, Aquatica by SeaWorld, Real Kids Shades

Style: Flex Royal for ages 3-7

Kid models in magazines always look so polished (as do models of any age, I suppose). They’re smiling, never having a tantrum, and if they are running pell-mell in some sporting or roughhousing activity, they certainly have no accessory malfunction. If they are wearing cool shades, they are NOT falling off. Their glasses are chosen for looks and for style, with doubtful much consideration for practical things like UV rating, durability, or EEEK cost.

Thankfully Real Kids Shades has a line of children’s eyewear that takes a mom’s wish list into consideration and is not short on either form OR function.

Our family put the line of Real Kids Shades through a battery of tests. Some we liked more than others, and a couple we plain loved. Here is the breakdown:

Five Stars  
★★★★★ Flex Duo—The Flex Duo has 100% UVA/UVB sun protection as well as a wrap-around design that keeps peripheral sunlight to a minimum. Their extremely flexible frames in cool two-toned colors hold up to the abuse kids throw at them.

Dinosaur World

Style: Flex Duo, Black/red

We took our Flex Duos on our summer staycation in and around Central Florida. Our Flex Duos went to Busch Gardens in Tampa and Dinosaur World in Plant City, near Lakeland. Whether climbing on play equipment or scampering up dinosaur bones, they stayed put, which is key in our bright Florida sun. A neoprene strap is included which we found to be a vital accessory. How many kids sunglasses are lost because they are dropped or left behind? Despite having an issue with the strap being too snug to fit over the ends (the first one), we still give this style 5 stars, as the company quickly sent out a replacement.

Flex Duo Real Kids Shades

Style: Flex Duo, Black/red

Daniel, age 5, said they were comfortable to wear, and “didn’t hurt at all.” He thought the colors were “cool,” and even when he wasn’t wearing the band they stayed put through lots of play. He gives the Flex Duo two thumbs up.

★★★★★ Xtreme Sports—With shatterproof, impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses, the Xtreme Sports model is ready for action! Our kiddo took them through their paces on his bike. The wraparound design with mesh back is perfect for wear with helmets. There are even anti-fog vents for sweaty kids (like mine) who don’t want to get all fogged up while pretending to be Evel Knievel (with, ahem, training wheels). “I don’t like it when my eyeballs are sweaty,” he said.

Shingle Creek Golf

Style: Xtreme Sport, Black/silver

“The pad on top is good,” said Daniel, referring to the foam-backed polycarbonate lenses. Not only does it cushion little active faces, but it keeps out more light and prevents sweat from dripping down into his eyes from his forehead.

He also wore them out on the golf course running after balls and into more than our fair share of sand traps at beautiful Shingle Creek. Out on the 14th hole he had the best of both worlds. He was protected. And he looked CUTE!

Four and a Half Stars
★★★★ ½  Xtreme Elements—Off to the beach, splash park, or waterpark? Then your kids need Xtreme Elements. These glasses protect kids eyes from the sun and the elements (i.e. water and sand). Note, however, that they are not goggles and therefore are not designed to be submerged in chlorinated water. Yes, they’re perfect for splash pads, waves, and sprays, but they’re not to be worn as your little guppy tries to see how long he can hold his breath in the pool! The foam protects eyes from water and other elements from rolling down into their eyes, but it doesn’t seal out water and is not meant to be used under water as extensive subjection to chlorine could break down the foam gasket. That said, Daniel thought they were “way cool” (we have the blue flame style) and he loved that the neoprene headband made them float (just like him!).  If the foam gasket were designed to withstand the summer pool and SeaWorld, Aquatica schedule a little longer, it would have received 5 stars. They are by far Daniel’s favorite to wear, despite the slight gasket issue.

Four Stars
★★★★ Flex—The bendable rubberized frames make the Flex glasses super comfortable to wear. The boy and girl versions have distinct lens styles. The boy frames are more sleek, while the girls have that big lens “movie stahhhh” vibe. Shatterproof polycarbonate lenses ensure safety along with that style. When worn with the included neoprene strap, they stay firmly in place. Our one caveat to these was that when not worn with the strap they were quite loose. Bendy is good, and my son wears these in the car, and on the beach. I do insist the strap is on, as I can see these coming off in hard play (and that’s the only kind we seem to have around here!).

Why Have Your Children Wear Sunglasses?
I started Daniel in sunglasses when he was a baby. My nephew had retinoblastoma and he lost one of his eyes. While glasses would not prevent this type of blindness, it made me start reading about how important it is to protect children’s eyes, if not for now, but for their future.

Eye damage from the sun is cumulative and can occur even on cloudy days. Kids who don’t wear protective eyewear are at greater risk for:

• Cataracts
• Age-related macular degeneration
• Pterygia – abnormal tissue grown on the whites of the eyes
• Skin cancer around the eyes
• Photokeratitis – sunburn of the cornea

Riding on water ride at Aquatica by SeaWorld.

Style: Xtreme Elements, Blue flame

At Aquatica
I interviewed a few lifeguards at Aquatica about kids and sunglasses. Adrian, from Jamaica, said he estimates only 6% of kids he sees each day wear sunglasses. “There are way more adults wearing sunglasses than kids,” he noted. In an unscientific tally I found a similar percentage of child usage, while about 40% of adults were protecting their eyes (although many were, no doubt, concentrating only on the style).

Parents I spoke with were either passionate about glasses (and their kids were wearing them) or didn’t really seem to be aware the sun could damage their kids’ eyes. Sam, a tourist with his family, said they forgot the kids’ glasses at home so they bought some on site. (Real Kids Shades cost around $14.99 and are available at their website.)

What to Look For
When selecting protective eyewear for your kids, be sure to look for a few key features:

  • Third-party verification of 100% UV-A/UV-B protection
  • No phthalates, lead or bisphenol A
  • Impact-resistant frames and lenses (acrylic lenses can shatter)

Set a good example for your kids and YOU wear sunglasses each and every day. While it doesn’t hurt to look stylish, focus on safety. Choose a brand that blocks block 100% of both types of ultraviolet rays, UV-A and UV-B. A UV 400 rating is best. Make it a habit to put them on your child, even if he (or she) doesn’t like it at first. It’s a habit to grow into. And if you get some of the great offerings sold at Real Kids Shades, they’ll not only be as safe as possible, they’ll look great on their closeup!

Note: I contacted Real Kids Shades about reviewing their product as it was “right up our alley” as a travel-loving family insistent on sun protection. I was provided samples which we evaluated during heavy use over the summer. This review was written after field testing and is my opinion. The 5-year-old reviewer was paid $1 to sit still long enough to tell me what he thought.