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 or call 1-800-227-1500.

Monday, September 8, 2014

With a farm-fresh take on resort dining, Highball & Harvest opens at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes

Highball & Harvest (“H&H”) at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes has opened. Blending rustic design elements with contemporary Ritz-Carlton refinement, the signature restaurant features interactive dining (from table-side handcrafted cocktail experiences to bar-side oyster shucking), a novel railroad-inspired design with a substantial bar area, and a playful Southern-inspired menu.
Comprised of The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes continues its dedication to farm-to-fork dining and authentic, local experiences with the opening of H&H, helmed by the resort’s rising young Chef de Cuisine Mark Jeffers who joined The Ritz-Carlton, Orlando in 2007. Having grown up on the water, the Daytona, Florida native pulls his culinary inspiration from his hometown state as well as his extensive travels around the South, from Low Country-infused Charleston to Cajun-spiced New Orleans. Chef Jeffers’ dishes are hyper local, infused with Floridian citrus and ingredients from nearby purveyors and the resort’s own 7,000-square-foot Whisper Creek Farm, which opened in October 2012 and continues to expand. The thirst-quenching heart of the restaurant will be its hands-on cocktail bar experience.
Highball & Harvest’s most unexpected offerings:
  • Parker House Rolls, made from Khorasan wheat (Egyptian old-world grains) and served warm and moist with less gluten than typical bread, a complimentary bread presentation made from scratch by the resort's 30-person pastry team. 
  • Signature dishes: Pig-n-Potatoes, an all-day breakfast dish of poached egg, potato hash, and tender pork cheeks with sweet peppers, caramelized onions, H&H Hot Sauce, and hollandaise sauce. The Southern Spreads, pimento cheese dip and smoked fish dip served with pickled veggies, benne seed lavash, and grilled sourdough presented in a metal tackle box. Smoked Lamb Brisket with boiled peanut “baked beans” and collards.
  • Raw Oyster Bar with signature house-made H&H Hot Sauce. Chefs shuck oysters by hand and teach diners all-things-oysters.
  • Interactive cocktail table with handcrafted, herb-infused cocktails. Knowledgeable bar chefs muddle ingredients while curating a personalized cocktail experience. Cocktails are served on the rocks with hand-carved ice, sculpted bar side with a high-end Japanese ice saw and infused with Whisper Creek Farm herbs and fruits. Signature cocktails: “The Last Wish” served over an ice sphere with orange peel, the “Doc Holliday” with house ginger beer and blueberry jam, and the “Back 40 Punch”, a refreshing take on a bourbon cocktail mixed with sweet tea and lemon.
  • Cask wine. Central Florida’s largest selection of wines from the cask. This method ensures perfect temperature control and freshness, and is eco-friendly by reducing the amount of wine bottles used.
Reflecting the importance of the resort’s home at the headwaters to the Florida Everglades, H&H’s one-of-a-kind design takes a note from its Central Florida locale, an agricultural industry epicenter. A play on the region’s “Iron Harvest” railroad, H&H exudes a casual elegance of rustic sophistication–warm accents of reclaimed pine wood columns, industrial metal, juxtaposed with refined white brick walls and a checkered marble floor at the Market Station where the breakfast buffet is served. Noteworthy artistic elements include a large abstract still-life mural, traditional antique Killim rugs, custom hand-painted dishware, farm tool accessories, an apothecary chest of rare liquors, and linen fabrics. H&H, designed by The Johnson Studio, offers a variety of seating, from communal dining in a lounge area with a horseshoe-shaped bar to casual leather-padded seats, a modern interpretation of a farm chair.
"The dishes we create at Highball & Harvest are designed to give restaurant-goers a sense of nostalgia while enjoying southern classics infused with regional flavors,” says Chef Mark Jeffers. "We start with locally sourced products and allow the quality of the ingredients speak for itself."
The opening of Highball & Harvest at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes marks a series of improvements and renovations to the resort in the coming months. JW Marriott Orlando will open Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen in Spring 2015 spotlighting charcuterie, Whisper Creek Farm ingredients, and beer from Whisper Creek Farm: The Brewery opening in September 2014.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show returns to Orlando's Orange County Convention Center Sept. 7th through 9th

The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, the source to gain knowledge from insightful education to palate-pleasing food and drink trends; new product options and idea generating special events will bring together thousands of restaurant and foodservice professionals from Sunday, September 7 - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. This three day trade show and conference, sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association,offers educational programs, special events, new food products, and equipment and services from over 400+ exhibiting companies
"We are thrilled to be offering several new and exciting special features at the upcoming Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show including the Fresh from Florida Pavilion, the Roam Food Truck Academy, culinary demonstrations from Celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse, and others as well as returning highlights including the Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum, the Food Trend Experience, the prestigious ACF Culinary Competitions and much more," said Ron Mathews, Vice President, Restaurant and Foodservice Events Portfolio. Urban Expositions. "We look forward to this year's gathering where thousands of industry professionals will see the most innovative new products and trends in the restaurant and foodservice industry."
Highlights for the upcoming Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, include:
  • Fresh from Florida Pavilion - The top restaurant menu trend is focused on local sourcing and The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will sponsor the new Fresh from Florida Pavilion. This new pavilion, which will be part of the Food Trends Experience on the show floor, offers tantalizing organic, sustainable, artisanal, gluten-free and ethnic ingredients giving restaurant and foodservice operators the opportunity to source local, Florida offerings.
  • Culinary Demonstrations - Emeril Lagasse, American award-winning celebrity chef, restaurateur, television personality, and cookbook author will be conducting a culinary demonstration at the Show on Monday, September 8 at 1:00 pm. He will be joined by Chef Ryan Vargas, Chef de Cuisine at Emeril's Tchoup Chop, located at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal® Orlando. The chefs will come to together for an exclusive demonstration that will focus on the local and seasonal offerings from Florida.
  • Food Truck Academy and Pavilion - Mobile vending continues to grow in cities all over North America and now represents $1Billion in revenue. For those restaurant and foodservice operators wanting to open food trucks or carts will now find practical education and support services at the Roam Food Truck Academy which will be held in conjunction with the Show on Monday, September 8th. The one day fast track mini Roam Food Truck Academy will give restaurant and foodservice professionals all the fundamentals they'll need to launch a successful mobile food business. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn from national experts about business planning, permitting, equipment, production and food ideas, profits, sales and marketing. To register, click here: In addition, Prestige Food Trucks will be organizing a Food Truck Pavilion on the show floor.
  • The Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum will offer dozens of sessions focused on operational excellence, winning teams, maximizing profits, hot trends, and building loyalty. Sessions include the Foodservice Council for Women, Fine Dining - Is It Dead?, Making Menus Matter for Healthy Diners, Airport Franchising, What's Hot in the Social Media World for Restaurants, Trends in the Industry, and many more. For the complete conference program visit
  • The 2014 American Culinary Federation Culinary Arts Competition presented by US Foods. Chefs will compete in the R.L. Schreiber Apprentice/Jr. Member Florida State Championship Team Skills Competition; Taste of Elegance Pork Signature Recipe Competition, sponsored by Iowa Pork Producers Association; the USA Culinary Cup Team Competition, sponsored by Bari Beef International, Creekstone Farms, Dole, Rich's, Maple Leaf, MillerCoors, Barry Callebaut, McIlhenney Co., Wisconsin Cheese, Fresh from Florida, and Bar Harbor Seafood; The Florida Pastry Challenge, sponsored by The Culinary Source and Barry Callebaut; and the Florida Department of Agriculture Shrimp Signature Recipe Competition. Many of the award winning meals will be served during the Chef's Table Luncheons, a four-course surprise lunch prepared by the participating chefs.
  • The Food Trends Experience is where attendees will have direct access to product, flavors and ingredients driving the most recent trends in the market - healthy, organic, sustainable, ethnic, artisanal, and more. A few of the companies participating in the Food Trends Experience include: Amoroso's Baking Company, Captain Foods, Carmi Flavor & Fragrance Co Inc, Fresh Origins LLC, La Chiquita Tortilla, Northfork Bison Distribution Inc, Teaspoon Willie's, in addition to 50 more.
  • $35K Giveaway - Show Management will be giving away $35,000 in product vouchers - redeemable from the 2014 Distribution Partners.  Attendees can win $500 or $1000 vouchers to cash in for new products or menu items.
The 2014 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show is sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association ( For more information on exhibiting or attending, visit the official Show website at The tradeshow and conference is managed and produced by Kennesaw, GA based Urban Expositions, which offers a complete roster of trade show management services, including exhibit sales and marketing, operations, exhibitor/attendee promotions and services, media relations, seminar and event coordination, database development and management. Through a logical, hands-on approach, Urban Expositions has become one of the fastest growing and most successful trade show companies in the United States. Contact Urban Expositions


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