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!

Food Events Galore!

April seems to be the “it” month for food events in Orlando, doesn’t it? There was Taste of Winter Park, Taste of College Park, multiple Food Truck Bazaars, and this coming, final weekend is no exception! There are four major events going on this weekend, and I encourage you to visit at least one or two of them; they all seem like such fun!

The Festival of Chocolate

The Festival of Chocolate runs from Friday, April 27th through Sunday, April 29th at the UCF Arena. The event includes activities for adults and children alike, so bring the whole family if you can! Tickets are $15 for adults and $9 for children (for one day at the festival) and include entrance to most of the competitions and demonstrations throughout the festival. Advance ticket purchases through the website also include entry into a drawing to help judge the “Best of” chocolate indulgence competition (for adults) and in the ice cream eating and cookie stacking competitions (for children). Several vendors will also be present and selling their best confectioneries all in exchange for “chocolate chip” coins that can be purchased either in advance or at the festival itself ($1 = 1 coin).

Want to make your experience at the festival even more exciting? Sign up for one of the chocolate classes that are being offered! For $20, you can take a class in such topics as creating gumpaste roses, making chocolate truffles, cupcake decorating, and many more. There are also chocolate and wine pairings throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday that cost an additioal $10 (and are obviously for guests 21 and older only).

On Friday night only, visitors to the Festival can see The Cocoa Couture Fashion Show at 8:00pm. What a cool way to start the weekend!

The thing that excites me the most about the event, though? The free demonstrations! I can’t wait to see Chef David Ramirez from the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort talk about and demonstrate the art of chocolate showpiece making, and also to see Chef David Arnold of MTI Culinary Arts talk about making savory dishes from chocolate (something new for me!).

If you want to purchase tickets to the Festival of Chocolate, you can follow this link here.

 

Winestock

On Friday night, April 27th, in Altamonte Springs’ Cranes Roost Park is Winestock 2012. The event is from 7pm until 10pm, with ticket costs of $30 in advance and $40 on the day of. There will be live music and plenty of wine and craft beer to go around. In addition, several local restaurants (including Cafe Murano and Rangetsu) will have food available for an additional charge. Tickets for Winestock can be purchased here or at Cork & Olive on Lake Mary Blvd in Lake Mary.

 

Central Florida Food Blogger Bake Sale

This event is one for a great cause. My friends Julie (from The Little Kitchen) and Katie (of Katie’s Cucina) have organized this amazing bake sale to benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign as part of the National Food Blogger Bake Sale.

Julie, Katie, and several other local food bloggers will be set up on Saturday, April 28th from 10am until 1pm at 427 S. New York Ave in Winter Park outside of the Winter Park Harvest Festival offices. Last year they raised $1300 through their bake sale; this year they have upped their goal to $2000. I was unable to participate this year, but I will definitely be stopping by to purchase some goodies and help them reach their goal!

A few of the bloggers are also taking pre-orders for baked goods, and Julie is even willing to ship some of her amazing treats for a donation of $100! For more information, visit Julie’s blog post here and Katie’s post here.

The Great American Pie Festival

On Saturday, April 28th, and Sunday, April 29th, the Great American Pie Festival is taking over downtown Celebration! The Never-Ending Pie Buffet ($10 for adults and $5 for children) is the biggest draw for the festival, but there will also be numerous demonstrations, entertainment, pie decorating, and (of course!) a pie eating contest!

For those of you with children, there is a children’s area that offers activities (pie making and eating), bounce houses, and crafts. The children’s area has a fee of $10 per child.

Also, if you follow the pie festival on Twitter and Facebook, they are giving away sets of two pie buffet tickets each day!

Each evening there will also be an awards ceremony for the Crisco National Pie Championships (at least one of these has been aired on the Food Network in the past), with the amateur awards on Saturday and the professional and junior awards on Sunday.

For a full schedule of the festival’s various activities, click here.

Taste of Pointe Orlando

On Sunday, April 29th, from 2pm until 5pm, most of the restaurants at Pointe Orlando are gathering together to offer a taste of the venue for those who purchase tickets. Popular local eateries including Copper Canyon Grill, Maggiano’s Little Italy, and Taverna Opa will all be offering samplings of their menu items; it’s sure to be a fun (albeit filling!) event!

Tickets for Taste of Pointe Orlando are $30 and can be purchased here.

 

The Daily City Food Truck Bazaar

This week’s food truck bazaar is on Sunday, April 29th, in downtown Avalon Park from 5pm until 8pm. This event always promises great food and a great time. Bring chairs and be ready to meet lots of fellow foodies and eat amazing food! In the past, there have been anywhere from 8 up to 30 plus trucks at the bazaar, so there is always something for everyone. Bring the whole family! You can read about my first trip to a Daily City Food Truck Bazaar here.

 

 

This is just a sampling of the events going on around town this weekend! Are you planning to attend any of them? Let me know in the comments, and maybe I will see you there!

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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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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