Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Oktoberfest? Rumtoberfest! at Bahama Breeze Island Grille now through Nov. 2nd

Bahama Breeze Island Grille, the restaurant that gives guests the feeling of an island escape, is celebrating rum through November 2 with Rumtoberfest®. The six-week long event includes a host of new food and drink offerings, instant win prizes and special Thursday night events in each restaurant.

The rum revelry will peak each Thursday in October, as each Bahama Breeze restaurant celebrates RumThursty. Beginning at 8 PM each week, the late night parties will feature live music, contests and, of course, rum. 

I attended the very first RumThursty at the Altamonte Springs location and had a great time. The new rum mojitos are fantastic. I recommend the pineapple, but everyone I tried was good. Love those cane sugar stalks in each drink!

During each RumThursty night, guests can enter to win a trip to the islands in Bahama Breeze’s Instagram Sweeps. One winner will be selected each week to receive a getaway for two to the Super-Inclusive® Breezes Resort & Spa in the Bahamas. To enter guests must post a photo on Instagram from the restaurant using #RumSweeps. Offering more chances to win, each Bahama Breeze will also host in-restaurant giveaways for gift cards, t-shirts and more each RumThursty party.

“Rumtoberfest is Bahama Breeze’s take on Oktoberfest, full of great food and drinks and good times with friends and family,” said Michael Kneidinger, president of Bahama Breeze. “Guest feedback from Rumtoberfest was incredible last year, so we knew that we had to bring the celebration back bigger and better this year.”

To celebrate one of the world’s favorite rum cocktails, Bahama Breeze has introduced five new fresh fruit mojitos. Each hand-crafted drink features fresh-pressed sugar cane juice, crushed mint and fresh fruit. Variations range from sweet to spicy, including a Strawberry Mojito crafted from Bacardi DragonFruit rum and fresh strawberries and the Mango Jalapeño Mojito made with Cruzan Mango rum, mango puree and fresh jalapeño peppers.

Bahama Breeze is also offering a premium rum flight to showcase the spicy aromas and complex flavors of rum. The Island Rum Tour features Seven Fathoms, Pyrat XO Reserve and Zaya Gran Reserva 12 Year rums. The flight is presented in tasting glasses on a custom board accompanied by tasting notes for each selection.

The chefs at Bahama Breeze have created two new rum-infused dishes for the occasion. Inspired by the classic cocktail, Rum and Coke Wings feature Bahama Breeze’s signature chicken wings smothered in a house-made sauce with Myers’ Original Dark Rum. For a sweet finish to any meal, the classic Rum Cake is made with Bacardi Oakheart Rum and topped with raisin butterscotch sauce and vanilla bean ice cream.

For additional details on Rumtoberfest and your chance to win a trip to the islands, please visit www.rumtoberfest.com

Note: I dined compliments of Bahama Breeze.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Dining Touchdown: David's Club at Omni Orlando ChampionsGate Resort Review

Surrounded by 36 lush holes of golf, and behind those enormous gates off I-4 in Davenport, sits the Omni Orlando Resort. I've driven by hundreds of times on the way to Tampa but I've never had the chance to enter the gates of the exclusive golf resort. Until now.

I was recently invited to sample the "ingredient of the month" at David's Club inside the Omni Resort and I dined on a college football packed Saturday night. There might not be a better place in the Orlando area to grab a great meal, relax with drinks and friends, play some pool, and, of course, sit back in comfy leather chairs and enjoy the game on the giant televisions around the restaurant and lounge area.

The featured ingredient for September was snapper, and Executive Chef Robert Ash informed me that he sources his snapper from waters surrounding Florida and pays particular attention to sourcing other menu ingredients locally as well. It's obvious to Chef Ash that freshness matters, and it was obvious from the first bite to the last that the menu revolves around freshness and seasonal ingredients.

I started my snapper tour with a Snapper Ceviche ($11). The snapper was firm, flaky and tender like only a lime marinate can "cook" fish. The fish was tossed with jalapeno, tomato, cilantro and lime caviar. The juicy vessels added a punch to the dish that I really liked.

Next on the featured menu I sampled the Smoked Snapper ($13) in a lime crema with capers, chives, red peppers, fresh cilantro and crispy brioche toast for dipping. Another great snapper dish and perfect dip for football.

Traditionalists, this is your dish. You don't see this kind of cooking everywhere these days but I really appreciated the thought and care that went into the Snapper en Papillote ($25) featuring Lane Snapper, carrots, potatoes, chayote and lavender cooked in a white wine butter sauce inside a parchment bag. A delicate piece of fish deserves the elegant flavors and an intricate preparation of this dish. This was one of my favorite dishes of the night.

My favorite snapper dish of the night had to be the Blackened Snapper ($27). To be honest, I love anything blackened, but especially a nice piece of fish. This Lane Snapper was a nice piece of fish and atop a black bean spread, topped with a peach salsa and served with delicious corn arepas, this was the snappiest snapper of the evening.

Dessert was snapper free but amazing in its own right. The Peaches N Crème ($8) was a delight. What a way to end the evening: grilled peaches served in a single-barrel bourbon anglaise and topped with spiced pecans. Lightly sweet from the carmelization on the grill, the peach taste and aroma was amped from the heat and cooled by the rich sauce. I loved it.

After dinner, my guest and I enjoyed a game of pool and sat a while in nice, comfy leather seats to watch some college football. The atmosphere was tasteful and clubby, but the patrons were casually dressed, if not a little rowdy from the college rivalries on screen. Service was attentive and professional. I liked the entire experience: great food, nice atmosphere (but not pretentious), fun crowd, reasonable prices and excellent service.

The featured flavor for October is Mango. Check in every month to see what exciting flavor Chef Ash has cooked up.

If you're willing to make the drive out, or are staying in the Disney area, I recommend David's Club at the Omni Orlando ChampionsGate for college football night, or any night.

4 ½ Touchdowns out of 5

David's Club
Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate
1500 Masters Blvd.
Championsgate, FL 33896

Note: I dined compliments of David's Club.

David's Club on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Crepevine in Altamonte Springs Review: Fresh? Yes. Delicious? Oh yes!

Crepes. You either love them or you've never tried them. Simple as that. Who doesn't love a banana and chocolate crepe sprinkled with powdered sugar?

If you're a crepe fanatic -- I know I am -- check out The Crepevine in Altamonte Springs. They've been open a few months now, but I just recently discovered them tucked away in The Village Shops Plaza behind TGI Fridays on W. State Road 436. The place is really cool and the crepe ingredients couldn't be fresher.

I stopped by for a menu sampling recently and I discovered that crepes are not only sweet indulgences, but that they're perfect for breakfast and even a lunch or light dinner. A crepe works as a thin, light vessel for all the good stuff you put inside, whether it's strawberries and whipped cream, bacon, eggs and cheese, or chicken, lettuce and tomatoes. It's what's on the inside that counts.

I started my sampling with a breakfast crepe: the Shacker ($5.95) with sausage, bacon, eggs, cheese and spinach and tomatoes (or your choice of veggies). You can dive right in with a knife and fork, or simply pick up the wrapped crepe in your hand and bite away. Everything was made right in front of my eyes and the artistry involved in making the crepe from batter on a hot griddle to the drizzling of chocolate is fun to watch.

Next I sampled the Czar ($7.99) with double chicken, cheese, romaine lettuce, tomatoes Caesar dressing and Parmesan and then the Wobbles ($7.99) with chicken, turkey, cheese, mushrooms, onions, spinach, tomatoes and a Cajun remoulade. Crepes are light and airy themselves, but when packed with this much good stuff they become "Man Crepes" and really fill you up.

Stuffed, but of course I couldn't resist a dessert crepe. Who could? I tried the Gilberto ($6.60) and was amazed at the presentation and the sweet perfection of this decadent desert. Imagine fresh strawberries, bananas and whipped cream stuffed into a light fluffy crepe and drizzled with chocolate syrup and Nutella -- a whole lot of it. This is the crepe of my dreams, and my dreams have become reality at The Crepevine.

5 Dreams Realized out of 5

The Crepevine is open Sunday through Thursday 7:30 am to 9:00 pm and Friday through Saturday 7:30 am to 10:00 pm. Beer and wine is available.

The Crepevine
249 W. State Road 436
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714

Note: I dined compliments of The Crepevine.
The Crêpevine on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 25, 2014

After hours street party at this year's Epcot International Food and Wine Festival keeps the party going into the night

Courtesy Disney
Who's going to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival this year? I know I am but I'm really looking forward to this year's new after hours street party every Thursday from 9:45 PM to 1:00 AM. It's a separate ticket from the regular festival ($79 per person) and features select food and beverages from the festival's marketplaces, live musical performances, and live DJ entertainment for your dancing enjoyment. Festival dates: September 19th through November 10th, 2014.
Here are some details, but be sure to visit the Epcot website for more info on the street party and the festival itself:

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - Late Nights Live!
Between the United Kingdom Pavilion and World Showcase Plaza
9:45 PM to 1:00 AM
$79 per person

Tax is not included. Price includes admission to Epcot during the event for the day purchased. Theme park admission is included for the special event only. All attractions, entertainment and other offerings outside of the designated event area will not be available. If Guests wish to enjoy the theme park prior to the event, additional theme park admission will be required.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Start your wining: Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic returns Oct. 31st

Courtesy Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin
The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic returns for the fifth year to the Epcot Resort Area hotel October 31 – November 1, featuring more than 40 food and wine stations; 10 food and wine seminars and the opportunity to meet the masters behind the culinary magic.
Amidst a backdrop of live entertainment, celebratory surprises and even some spooky fun on Halloween night, guests will enjoy numerous opportunities to sip and savor all weekend as they stroll along the hotel’s causeway.
The two-night event offers an enticing array of culinary options from the hotel’s award-winning signature restaurants: Il Mulino New York Trattoria, Shula’s Steak House and Todd English’s bluezoo, as well as wine and spirits sampling from around the globe. 
Courtesy Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin
The food selections are as innovative as they are enticing, ranging from Italian arancini, marrying Carnaroli rice, Osso Buco and spicy tomato sauce, and the Asian-inspired grilled scallops with puffed rice, edamame and ponzu jelly; to barbeque handcrafted bacon, accented with sweet potato puree and caramelized onions. And, the hotel’s World Champion Pastry Chef, Laurent Branlard, provides intrigue on the sweeter side with finishing touches like a chocolate crunch Napoleon with hazelnut daquoise and chocolate whipped cream, and a lemon peel mousse dome with blueberry cream and lemon angel food cake at its center.
Courtesy Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin
“We’re excited about the fifth annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic,” said the hotel’s Director of Food & Beverage, Tony Porcellini. “This year, we’ll present even more intriguing wine selections from around the globe; showcase our culinary creativity with exciting new dishes; expand on our seminar offerings, and introduce a beer garden! Our goal is to make this event bigger and better each year and have fun doing it!” 
New to the event this year are:
  • A beer garden, featuring a variety of local and seasonal brews from around the world, alongside homemade bar snacks made by the hotel’s culinary experts. An upgraded ticket option provides guests access to the beer garden. 
  • The Cheese Course seminar, which pays homage to fromage with a unique look at the art of wine and cheese pairing.  
  • The Fine Art of Sushi and Sake seminar, which will teach guests how to identify quality sushi and sake flavor profiles and pair the two. 
  • A hands-on Caipirinha seminar, where guests will learn both the traditional recipe and try some unique twists to this ever-popular Brazilian cocktail.  
  • Tequila University, offering an in-depth look at tequila, its different styles, the artisans who make it and the secrets to making the perfect margarita. 
  • Returning seminars include: pasta-making, Italian wines, modern mixology, beer, wine-blending and champagne. All seminars require separate tickets in addition to the causeway tickets, and space is limited. 
To add to the event’s appeal, guests can enjoy a meet and greet with celebrity chef Todd English, the namesake of the hotel’s Todd English’s bluezoo restaurant. Guests can also meet and enjoy world-class desserts from the hotel’s very own executive pastry chef, Laurent Branlard, the world’s only two-time World Champion Pastry Chef. Barbeque fans shouldn’t miss the Cib’s Smoke House station for signature barbeque dishes from the hotel’s executive chef Robert Ciborowski.
With 17 restaurants and lounges, a distinguished culinary and beverage team and unmatched customer service, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel continually receives national recognition for its food and beverage program. The hotel boasts more than 70 certified wine sommeliers and 1,400 wine selections, including organic and rare vintages. The hotel’s restaurants are annual winners of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence including Shula’s Steak House, a three-time recipient of the exclusive Best of Award of Excellence.
Tickets to the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic are available as part of a hotel package or individually. For more information or to book, please visit www.SwanDolphinFoodandWineClassic.com or call 1-800-227-1500.


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