This Weekend In Orlando…

This coming weekend is another one full of great events for food lovers here in Orlando! It starts today, in fact, with the first day of Orlando Restaurant Week, and continues with the Winter Garden Harvest Festival, numerous farmer’s markets, and three Food Truck Bazaars!

Orlando Restaurant Week

I have looked forward to the 2012 Orlando Restaurant Week all year! Last year, I took full advantage of the various amazing deals that were offered and tried several restaurants that I had not been able to previously. My favorite last year was (the now-closed) McCormick & Schmick’s. We liked it so much, in fact, that we tried both the lunch and dinner menus! Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to sample the menus of restaurants you perhaps weren’t sure if you’d like, or that you may not be able to afford on a regular basis, because of the great two or three course prix fixe menus that they offer during this period. Lunches are offered for either $10 or $15, and dinners run $10, $15, $25, or $35. No matter which one you choose, they all seem to be amazing deals this year, and there are some highly rated and talked about venues on the lists this year. Some of these include K Restaurant in College Park, Matteo’s Ristorante on International Drive, Fleming’s Steakhouse and Morton’s Steakhouse in Dr. Phillips, and Copper Canyon, The Capital Grille, Taverna Opa, and The Oceanaire Seafood Room all at Pointe Orlando. Additionally, this year The Daily City’s Food Truck Bazaar is also featured under the $10 dinner option! Links to all of the available prix fixe menus can be found here.

Planning to go to one or more of the Orlando Restaurant Week spots? Let me know where you’re going, and how it is after you’ve been! I’m going to try a few myself, obviously, but I won’t be able to make it to them all.

Orlando Restaurant Week 2012 runs from May 3rd until May 12th.

Winter Garden Harvest Festival

On Saturday, May 5th, is the very first Winter Garden Harvest Festival, brought to the area by A Local Folkus, LLC, the City of Winter Garden, and Slow Food Orlando. The festival will be located in downtown Winter Garden, right next to the regular weekly farmer’s market, and focuses on celebrating local food. In addition to the live entertainment, activities, demonstrations, and vendors during the day, there is a Farm to Table dinner being held in the evening. This dinner will feature local chefs and local produce, and will include cocktails, wine, beer, and music. Tickets for the $75 dinner can be purchased here.

The Winter Garden Harvest Festival sounds like it is going to be an amazing event, full of just what Orlando needs – more attention paid to the awesome talent and resources that we have right here in our own city.

Farmers’ Markets

If you want to go to a farmers’ market in Orlando on the weekend, odds are there is one near you on at least one of the days. Obviously, some markets are better than others, depending on what you are looking for, but they all offer an opportunity to get outside on a weekend morning and mingle with your neighbors, which is never a bad thing! Here is a list of some of the markets in town; if you know of one that isn’t listed, please let me know in the comments and I will add it!

Winter Park Farmers’ Market – Saturday mornings from 7am until 1pm.
This market is wonderful. There is produce galore, freshly baked bread, local cheese, plus much, much more. There are also several ready-made food vendors, so come for breakfast and eat while you walk around!

Lake Eola Farmers’ Market Sundays from 10am until 4pm

Winter Garden Farmers’ MarketSaturdays from 9am until 2pm

Sand Lake Farmers Market – Saturdays from 9am until 2pm

Maitland Lake Lily Farmers’ Market – Saturdays from 9am until 2pm

Hunters Creek Farmers’ Market – Saturdays from 9am until 2pm

Most of the vendors at the markets will only take cash, so make sure you stop by an ATM on your way!

Food Truck Bazaars

This weekend there is not one, not two, but three Food Truck Bazaars! Formed by The Daily City, the Food Truck Bazaars are a great way to get the family and friends together, support your local food trucks, and have an awesome meal. On Friday, May 4th, the Food Truck Bazaar will be at the Kissimmee Civic Center from 5pm until 8pm. On Saturday, May 5th, also from 5pm to 8pm, the food trucks are headed to downtown Sanford, and on Sunday, May 6th, they’ll be in Orange City at John’s Appliances (911 S. Volusia Avenue). Most trucks do take cards, but it is recommended that you bring your own chairs.

Want more information? Click one of the above links, or follow @TheDailyCity or @FoodTruckBazaar on Twitter!

Know of a food event taking place this weekend that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@Orlndofoodie)!

Have an awesome weekend, everyone!

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Big Wheel Truck

Originally posted on Blogger on July 15, 2011

 
I was so excited about setting up Food Truck Friday when I first started. And then I got busy with, well, everything, and Fridays just seemed to slip by, and I’d completely forget to write a food truck post! Ooops. But don’t you worry (because I know, I know, you were worrying), Food Truck Friday is back, and what better way to bring it back than by talking about one of the two trucks from my very first (official) food truck adventure ever!

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Orlando’s Food Trucks: Korean BBQ Taco Box

Originally posted on Blogger on June 9, 2011

This week I’m writing about a food truck that I’ve been heaping praises on for weeks now; ever since I first tried the Korean BBQ Taco Box on my very first Official Food Truck Adventure, I just cannot stop singing this awesome eatery’s praises.

Photo taken from http://www.kbbqbox.com/about.php

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Orlando Food Trucks: The Treehouse Truck

Originally posted on Blogger on June 3, 2011

I am loving the local Orlando food truck scene, and so I’ve decided to devote a day each week (Friday!) to one of the awesome trucks around town. I figure that they are multiplying so quickly at the moment that it will be a LONG time before I run out!

I first tried the Treehouse Truck at The Daily City‘s second Food Truck Bazaar. It was my last truck of the evening, so I was incredibly full at the time, but I still managed to try a few bites of the chimoo and a fried PB&J, and they were both delicious.

The Chimoo – a huge sandwich filled with skirt steak, chicken, sweet potato fries, cole slaw, and mango BBQ sauce. Genius.

I got the opportunity to try another item from this awesome truck a couple of weeks ago when they were set up in Thornton Park with the Big Wheel Truck for the evening. This time, I rushed over after work to get there before they closed up for the night, and the truck was not nearly as busy as it had been at the food truck bazaar. Because of this, I was able to chat with a couple of the guys at the truck for a few minutes while waiting for my Aggie’s Porto Sammie to be made. These guys clearly love what they are doing, and that make the fact that what they are cooking up is fantastic all the more excellent. The Porto Sammie was so delicious and messy; the marinated portobella mushroom along with red peppers and melty provolone cheese is so hearty you will NEVER miss the meat!

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Orlando Food Trucks: The Crooked Spoon

Originally posted on Blogger on May 28, 2011

I had been trying to get to The Crooked Spoon for lunch for the past few weeks but life (or laziness!) kept getting in my way. So, when I was ready for work a bit early the other day, I decided to stop by their spot at the Citgo station on the corner of E. Colonial Dr. and Fern Creek. I ordered both the lamb burger and the macaroni and cheese, and even filled my car with gas while I waited for my food to be ready!

The folks working at this awesome truck are super friendly (and responded to my tweeted question regarding whether or not they take credit cards-they do-in the time it took me to drive from my house to their location), and the food is super tasty.

I opened my lamb burger as soon as I sat down at work and it smelled and tasted amazing. I had never had ground lamb before in anything but a gyro, and now I can’t wait to experiment with it at home! So, so good. I shared about a third of it with my friend and found myself wishing I hadn’t!! Of course, I was completely full by the time I finished the burger and accompanying chips, so the mac and cheese was put into the fridge for the following day.

This photo SO does not do the burger justice 😦

The next day for lunch I warmed the mac and cheese up in the microwave at work and brought it back to my desk, eager to enjoy the item I’d heard the most good things about from this gourmet food truck. I will be honest; I am a bit of a macaroni and cheese purist. I like noodles, cheese (preferably a variety), seasoning, and some sort of crispy topping. I am not much of a fan of veggies or meat mixed in; at that point, I feel like it has become a casserole, not macaroni and cheese. That being said, the cheesy flavors and topping on the macaroni and cheese from The Crooked Spoon were great, even after being reheated in the microwave. I was not a huge fan of the peppers and bacon scattered throughout but again, that is more due to my feelings about macaroni and cheese in general and not that the flavors were bad. They weren’t, far from it.

Would I go to The Crooked Spoon food truck again? You bet. Over, and over. I only wish the lamb burger was part of their regular menu. However, since it isn’t, I’ll have the opportunity to try the other items this truck has to offer.

The Crooked Spoon Food Truck on Urbanspoon

The Daily City Food Truck Bazaar #2

Originally posted on Blogger on May 2, 2011

I feel silly titling this post “#2,” as I didn’t get to go to Food Truck Bazaar #1, but well…that’s what it was called, so there you go. I arrived at the parking lot behind Dillard’s at Fashion Square Mall around 8:00pm and was surprised and excited by the huge crowds that had already formed. Groups with chairs were scattered throughout the parking lot and around the trucks themselves, everyone enjoying their finds. The weather was perfect, nice and cool compared to the heat we’d had all day.

I started out at the Firehouse BBQ truck, determined to try as many of the “non-regular” trucks as possible. The line was long, but moving steadily. One of the things I noticed last night was that no one seemed to MIND the lines. Having worked at Disney for eight years, seeing people happily wait in line amazed me. Apparently food is a better motivator/end-goal than a five minute ride. Firehouse BBQ had a good system going, where people waited in one line to place their order and pay for their food and then moved to the back of the second (much shorter!) line to wait for their food to be prepared. I am not much for barbecue, but decided to try out the brisket sandwich. The meat was well cooked and super flavorful, but I’ll be honest: I don’t have a lot to compare it to. Would I order it again? Absolutely. So good. The potato salad had great flavors in it, but was a little too rich for me.

Brisket-y goodness, baked beans, and potato salad

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An Impromptu Food Truck Outing

Originally posted on Blogger on May 1, 2011

I was hungry when I left work on Friday night, so decided to make my way down to South Orange Blossom Trail to see what food trucks were out already. It was already 10pm by the time I made it to the area, so of course there were at least four or five trucks out and about. I couldn’t get the thought of a previous arepas experience out of my head, so decided to stop off at the Saman Arepas Bistro food truck located in the parking lot of All Transmission World just north of Central Florida Parkway. The parking lot was packed, with two more trucks located at the other end and a live band going. The atmosphere was festive and the weather was fantastic. After parking, I got in line, trying to eavesdrop on what those in front of me were ordering. My spanish is poor at best, so I just tried to match up the few utterances of meat types that were listed on the side of the truck with the three different types of cheese offered.

This truck is great. They have at least six different types of meat options (including beef, pork, ham, chicken, shrimp, and chicken salad) and three cheese options (queso blanco, queso guayanese, and yellow cheese (I can’t remember the spanish for that one! Darn it!)), and for $5 you get a corn arepas that is deliciously crisp and soft all at once stuffed FULL of your own custom combination of meat and cheese. They also have several bottles of sauces (all appear to be mayonnaise based, but were not labeled) and a bowl of salsa verde up on the counter.

My eyes were bigger than my stomach (as always; I need to start bringing a team of 8 with me to these things just so I can try EVERYTHING), so I ordered a beef, a shrimp, and a pork, all with queso blanco. I ordered them to go, and they pop out of the window steaming hot and packaged all neatly in paper. I put some of the salsa verde on the beef, but kept the other two plain, leaving the pork one all wrapped up to bring home.

In my opinion, the beef arepa was the best by far. The meat is seasoned and shredded perfectly and packed into the amazing bread along with crumbled queso blanco. With the salsa verde added in, it makes this amazingly filling little bundle of tasty goodness.

The photo is a bit blurry, I know, but trust me. AMAZING, people. Amazing.
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A Food Adventure in Tampa Bay

Originally posted on Blogger on April 25, 2011

I spent the last couple of days in the Tampa Bay area, managing to travel through seven (I think it was seven) counties in the process. I ate a TON, and most of it was amazing. I had bought a Groupon for The Brunchery in Tampa, so I headed there first. I’ve got to be honest, after reading all of the good reviews The Brunchery had online, I was a little disappointed. In fact, had I not had the Groupon, I would’ve been very disappointed. I ordered the lox omelet, which came with home fries and toast, and an iced tea. I’m wondering if maybe their sweet breakfast items are better than their savory ones, as those were the ones most touted online. Nothing I ate was bad, and the home fries were actually pretty good, but the omelet, which was advertised as being full of “lox, onions, tomatoes, and cream cheese,” had what appeared to be just salmon inside, not actual thinly sliced smoked salmon (lox!!). Other than that, though, it wasn’t bad. I enjoyed my food, and I left full, I just did not get as high a quality experience as I’d expected.

Oh! While this isn’t exactly a food-eating adventure, it is still worth sharing. While stopping for Starbucks on my travels, my supreme nose for a bargain (have I mentioned I’m Jewish? Ohhhh stereotypes!) sniffed out an excellent find. There was a gourmet supermarket and deli that was open for its very last day. That made me sad, as once I stepped inside it looked like an amazing place for out of the ordinary cooking finds. However, because it was their last day, they were running a special “we need to get rid of everything” sale. A plastic shopping bag could be filled with products for $10, and a shopping basket for $30. If it hadn’t been the last hour of the last day, I could have easily filled a shopping basket or two. However, the pickings were a bit slim, so I stuck with one bag. Boy, though, did we manage to cram a lot in one shopping bag! I can’t wait to start looking for recipes to use the random things I purchased (from pure pink Himalayan garlic salt to Java Rub to rose water to mirin); I’d say there was at least $70 worth of stuff in there.
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The First Official Food Truck Adventure

Originally posted on Blogger on April 23, 2011

I made my first impromptu food truck trip a couple of weeks ago, stopping at a latin truck for a couple of arepas before getting Twistee Treat for dessert. The food was so good, and so exceeded my expectations, that I was instantly hooked on Orlando food trucks and seriously wanting more.

Hence, I spent the next day doing some searching on various food trucks in the Orlando area and boy was I surprised at how popular and diverse they seem to be! After finding the Orlando Food Truck Map, I knew I had to start trying them all. Which, of course, finally brings us to tonight, the very first OFFICIAL FOOD TRUCK ADVENTURRRRREEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

I had planned to go to the Food Pod on Wednesday night at Firestone Live, but ended up not making it out, so tonight was the first night, and of course the trucks present at the Food Pod were foremost in my mind. I’m not sure why, but the Korean BBQ Taco Box was at the top of my list. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Korean food, and I love tacos. Barbeque is hit or miss for me, but Korean barbeque is an entirely different ballgame and I’m aware of that. However, I just think it was the combination of foods that tickled my mind and made me want to try it SO badly. They closed at 9, though, whereas the other trucks I was considering for tonight didn’t even open until at least 10pm. I didn’t care; I was a girl on a mission. I made it to the big yellow truck by 8:30 and didn’t have to wait in line. I promptly ordered the beef taco box, and stood waiting while they made it up fresh for me. For just under $6, I got a HUGE box of food with amazing smells emanating from it. With my beef taco box in my passenger seat, I quickly zipped through the Starbucks drive thru for iced coffee and headed up Orange Avenue to meet my friend. We had about an hour to kill at that point before the other trucks started opening up, so we dove into the taco box.

The beef taco box consisted of (obviously) a pretty large-sized taco (filled with shredded barbeque beef, lettuce, and some sort of orange saucy deliciousness), two pieces of breaded fried tofu (tofu nuggets! Delish!), two pieces of “fried rolls” as they are called on the website (I have no idea what was in them, but also…SO GOOD), ginger salad, and a chicken wing with spicy sauce. SIX DOLLARS, PEOPLE. So worth it. We quickly devoured the entire thing and contemplated our next move before deciding to do a quick drive around the Orange Ave/Washington St. area to assess our options and decide how much more food our stomachs could hold. After seeing the night’s menu for Big Wheel Provisions, we knew that was a must-stop, and even though we located the Treehouse Truck and El Arepaso de Orlando and knew that the Vegan Hot Dog Cart was nearby, we decided just Big Wheel would be enough for tonight. Besides, we had to save something for another night!
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