The “B” in B Resort Orlando MUST Stand for BBQ!

Talk about your innovative restaurant choice. In a sleek, contemporary resort hotel… put in an upscale BBQ joint. And, in the vein of naming things with one letter highlighted, call it American Q.

collage of American QI had the pleasure of tasting my way through the menu with other local food/restaurant/travel bloggers last week, and may I just say… if you’ve a “hankering” for southern flavors set in style, give it a try.

When you walk in, you kind of get the feeling you’re not in a run-of-the-mill restaurant. Smack dab in the front is an old ’51 Ford F1 red pick up and on the back is the bed. Not just ANY bed, but the “Flat Bed Bar,” an all-you-can-eat assortment including an incredibly tender chili con carne, a potato bar, peel-and-eat shrimp, assorted salads, soups, and other seasonal favorites. It’s $34.95 for adults and $10 for kids age 7 and under. Oh, and did I mention it includes “Cowboy Carvings”? Nine different items are brought right to your table. Save room for Brisket Of Beef with Texas Bark and Picanha Of Beef. Fans of chiaroscuro will be in heaven. (Say… with these options, the paleo diet seems doable.)

If, however, you want to have a couple of courses, start with some down-home appetizers and bar treats. First, make sure you try the crab deviled eggs. Not too “crabby.” Not too “plain ‘ol” egg flavor. They’re just the right combination of creamy egg goodness with the unmistakable texture and flavor of blue crab and rémoulade. Unusual, yes. Delicious? (Yes, please. I’ll have another!) Make sure you also give the Swine Candy a try. It’s bacon: spiced and candied with molasses. Bacon lovers: You’re welcome. You could also try the alligator boudin with roasted tomatoes, peppers & okra. Yeah, you read that right!

Entree selections include every kind of ribs you can think of, house-made sausage, Texas Bark Beef Ribs, chicken, salmon, and a Gulf Shrimp, Blue Crab & House Made Andouille Sausage Cajun Boil. Executive Chef Justin Leo and staff have created quite the varied selection. Sauces include Kansas City, Carolina, Texas Mustard, and Mango Heat. Try ’em all and pick your favorite. Did I mention you should arrive hungry?

Crafted cocktails should not be missed, either, especially the thyme cucumber martini. It’s light and refreshing. Just what the doctor ordered to balance the meal, though the lavender margarita was a good fit, too. How ever will I decide? (I guess I’ll have to go back again!)

If you’re in the mood for BBQ and want to up the anti on ambiance and quality, check out American Q. It’s the place to B for down home, and up town all in one.

Magical Dining Starts Tonight

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining starts tonight, August 25!

Untitled-2Starting tonight and continuing all September long, Orlando foodies can celebrate the area’s amazing culinary scene during Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining month. Over 75 FFFCLogoFinalrestaurants are participating in the prix fixe dinner offerings that include appetizer, entrée and dessert for $33 (read the full lineup here). From sumptuous seafood, to savory steaks (and everything in between), Magical Dining is the ultimate way to try all the restaurant’s finest offerings for a fraction of their usual price. To top it off, diners are supporting not only our incredible food community, but donating to charity at the same time. One dollar from each meal will be donated to the Foundation for Foster Children.

If that wasn’t enough, many hotels are offering a “Stay and Dine” packages where you and a guest can enjoy the Magical Dining Menu plus a night’s stay. Just a small sampling includes:

  • Hyatt Regency Orlando — $169 per night plus tax. One night in a standard room and Magical Dining dinner for two at Napa Steakhouse.
  • World Center Marriott — one night in a King or Double Room and Magical Dining dinner for two at Siro: Urban Italian Kitchen from $219 per night.
  • Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress — starting at $179.00 per night plus tax, enjoy one night at the hotel and Magical Dining dinner for two at Hemingway’s Restaurant
  • Rosen Shingle Creek — $185 per night in Deluxe Accommodations and dinner for two at A Land Remembered, Magical Dining menu
  • Bohemian Hotel, Celebration — $199.00 per night plus tax, for a night in a Town View Guest Room, and dinner for two off the Magical Dining menu at the Bohemian Bar & Grill

With all these choices, I know I’m hard-pressed to pick a favorite. Last year I tried A Land Remembered and Fogo de Chao. At the blogger preview this year I sampled Siro: Urban Italian Kitchen and tonight at the special behind-the-scenes Yelp Kick Off I’m excited to taste menus from Hemingway’s,  Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse, Napa, K Restaurant, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Siro Urban Italian Kitchen, and Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar.

Follow #MagicalDining on social media to “virtually” enjoy every bite. Make your reservations to enjoy in person. Mangia, mangia!

What are your favorites? Any menus that blow you away?

 

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.

Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen… Not Just Coffee, But Dining

latte art BarniesWhen I first heard “Coffee Kitchen,” my first thought was “oh, my mom would like this.” She and my step-dad are coffee NUTS. They must drink a pot a day. I, on the other hand, like coffee as a special occasion (or black and mixed with local honey for a cough, but that’s another topic). I wasn’t sure what would be “on tap” at the Eat, Meet, and Tweet-up, but as a food lover and “adventure eater” I looked forward to sampling all they had in store and expected mainly… coffee. Boy were my expectations limited!

Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen is a new concept. It’s not “just” a coffee shop, nor is it like most restaurants. The Winter Park location has alley-way seating (perfect for Florida’s lovely summer evenings) and is a great place to unwind while enjoying Farm-to-Table creations. Don’t expect coffee and a pastry or ready-made sandwich, either. Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen is a place to leisurely dine. Breakfast and Sunday brunch offerings include quiche that’s been described as “best ever” by a loyal customer, and specialty organic egg dishes like the Israeli Shakshuka, featuring one of my favorites: feta cheese.BarneysCoffeeKitchencollage

For lunch, enjoy one of their “shared plates.” I’m partial to the Avocado Mash (because, let’s be honest, avocados are just plain awesome). The Caprese Tartine is has wonderful heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella with a balsamic glaze. Also quite lovely is the Fig & Brie Tartine with Duck Prosciutto.

For dinner, served Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Barnie’s offers mouthwatering seasonal choices like Scallops with Spring Alliums paired with perfect wine selections (in this case, Au Bon Climat – Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc).

I’m a soup person, so it’s no surprise that the Carrot Soup with Ginger and Coriander is a stand-out in my book. Chef Camilo Velasco generously shared his recipe which is perfect for Spring! (Easter dinner, anyone?)

Carrot Soup with Ginger and Coriander
Ingredients:
2 1/2 lbs of carrots, sliced
1/4 oz ginger
1/2 tsp coriander
1 small onion, diced
1 QT vegetable broth
4 oz butter
Heavy cream
Directions:
Sauté the carrots and onions in butter until onions are translucent. Add the vegetable stock. Incorporate ginger and coriander to taste and simmer until the carrots are tender. Blend in a blender and then strain. Add additional seasoning if desired.

To finish: add heavy cream while hot until desired consistency is reached.

Florida’s “original coffee company” offers over 40 hand-selected coffees, many of which are single origin, Fair Trade, Organic or Rainforest Alliance Certified.

Check out their two Florida locations:

Park Avenue – Winter Park
118 South Park Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789
Tel: (407) 629-0042

City Arts Factory
29 South Orange Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801

Tel: (407) 722-8363