Sunday, April 26, 2015

McDonald's tests touchscreen ordering and a new "Create your Taste" menu at location near UCF

If you've ever ordered a Big Mac with no onions at McDonald's and gotten a Big Mac with extra onions, no pickles and extra "Special Sauce," you'll appreciate the new ordering system testing at a location near UCF in Orlando.

This is a test. This is only a test.

One of only two locations testing the system in Florida, McDonald's wants to not only get your order right, but also attract tech-savvy students with the ordering system, free wi-fi and web-connected tablets spread around the dining room.

How does it work?

Step right up to one of three large touchscreens standing tall near the regular ordering counter and you're presented beautiful screens full of colorful food photography -- similar to the touchscreen ordering system at Wawa, but way bigger and more colorful.

You can select anything you'd like from the regular menu, but I'd suggest you try something off the "Create your Taste" menu. I created my own Quarter Pounder with grilled onions, mushrooms and bacon on an artisan roll with American cheese. There's all kinds of other toppings available and you can also choose a chiabatta roll, lettuce as your "bun" and sharp white cheddar or pepper jack cheese. It's fun to create your own taste.

Relax, your food is on the way.

Anyway, make your selections, pay with a credit card, take a pager, sit down and wait for your food to arrive on a nice little tray, drink and everything. The fries even came in a miniature fry basket. I kinda missed the iconic red and yellow-striped paper fry container.

If this ordering system comes to a McDonald's nearer me, I'll be very happy. The test system made eating at McDonald's a unique experience, one I'd be happy to experience again.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Spoleto My Italian Kitchen opens its first U.S. location and it's near UCF in Orlando! Go us.

The wait is over for East Orlando residents: Spoleto - My Italian Kitchen is now open and serving up its signature fresh pastas, flatbreads and salads.

 Located at Plaza on University, this is the first U.S. location for Spoleto, which has more than 380 locations in Brazil, Mexico and Costa Rica. Two additional Orlando locations are scheduled to open later this year, one at the Florida Mall and another in Winter Park.  
"The plan is to grow our brand throughout Orlando before expanding nationally through corporate and franchise stores," said John Velasquez, President of Spoleto USA.
The Spoleto concept delivers the highest level of Italian Culinary in a fun and interactive way, where guests have the freedom to craft their personally-inspired pasta, flatbreads, and salads with more than 30 different farm-fresh and house-prepared ingredients, herbs, dressings and oils. 
"The goal at Spoleto is to give our guests the Culinary Freedom to experiment with amazing Italian Culinary. We want them to be in control of this open kitchen, working with our chefs to craft their perfect meal," said Velasquez.
In the mood to just eat and not create? Spoleto has several Chef-crafted dishes to choose from, including their special Spaghetti Polpette Grande (Giant Meatball), Penne Palermitana, Artichoke and Goat Cheese Flatbread as well as Fig, Prosciutto, and Burrata Salad.   You can also finish off your meal with a guest favorite - the Nutella Flatbread with Strawberries!
"Our UCF location has received great reviews and excitement, and we look forward to bringing this fine casual experience to our new Orlando locations and soon the rest of the USA," added Velasquez.
Guests can noodle over which pasta to pick - some of which are whole grain, gluten free and seasonal pastas. Then choose from several protein options including bacon, roasted herb chicken, or a house-made giant meatball. Then its veggie time, with a wide variety of fresh produce and flavors including broccoli, truffle-roasted mushrooms, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, eggplant, zucchini, caramelized onions and many more. From there, guests have a choice of cheese (gorgonzola or an Italian cheese blend) before topping it off with a favorite sauce (pesto, marinara, bolognese, alfredo or brodo di pollo) and other savory seasonings. Upgrades include balsamic pearls and truffle oil.
In the mood for a warm, crispy flatbread? Guests can select from the same fresh ingredients to dress it up before it's placed in the 1500 degree stone fired oven! Top it off with balsamic glaze, fresh herbs, and fresh grated parmesan cheese.
Salad lovers can choose from a mix of locally-grown baby lettuce from McGregors Farms, "Little Gem" lettuce with baby red and green romaine, or baby organic spinach. They can also choose from the same local ingredients, cheeses, and proteins like herb marinated shrimp, prosciutto or roasted herb chicken. Then select from Spoleto's house-made dressings (balsamic vinaigrette, blood orange vinaigrette, Caesar or red wine vinaigrette).

Blaze Pizza, well, blazes into Orlando near UCF

“The City Beautiful” will soon get its next biggest attraction, and it’s not a roller-coaster or theme park ride. Orlando’s pizza-lovers and University of Central Florida students can soon get “fire’d up” for the arrival of the nation’s leading build-your-own pizza concept – Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza!

Blaze Pizza is a modern day “pizza joint,” known for its custom-built artisanal pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s’more pies. The Kentucky-based Millennial Restaurant Group, which is franchising the concept in four states, today announced the groundbreaking of their first Orlando location at 4100 N. Alafaya Trail, across from the main University of Central Florida campus, near Bar Louie and Burger Fi. The fast-casual concept, known for its chef-driven menu and casually hip restaurants, will custom-build its newest location to suit the 3200-square foot space which includes seating on an outdoor patio. The restaurant will be open from 11:00 a.m. to midnight, Sunday through Wednesday, and will stay open until 1:00 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

What makes Blaze Pizza different? Blaze uses an interactive assembly line format that allows guests to create their own artisanal pizzas. Customers choose an unlimited amount of toppings from a wide variety of house-made sauces, fresh vegetables and hand-selected meats and cheeses – all for under $8. The 11” personal pizzas are then sent to a blazing hot open-flame oven — the centerpiece of the restaurant — where dedicated pizzasmiths ensure that the thin-crust pies are “fast-fire’d” in under 180 seconds.

“The Orlando community expects greatness for every venture, and that’s just what we’re giving them with this unique pizza experience,” said Laurie Ruggles Managing Partner for Blaze in Florida. “Blaze Pizza is great for UCF students looking for a fast, quality pizza option that won’t break their budget. We are bringing back the classic pizza joint, but with a modern, fast-as-lightning twist.”

Blaze Pizza makes its own dough from scratch using a recipe developed by critically-acclaimed Executive Chef Brad Kent (“The Pizza Whisperer”), which requires a 24-hour fermentation period to produce his signature light-as-air, crisp crust.  The restaurant’s menu also accommodates a range of dietary needs, with gluten-free dough and vegan cheese.  The restaurant will also offer selection of wine and craft beers.

The Millennial Restaurant Group is developing restaurants in Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia. The partnership consists of James Patterson Sr., Jim Patterson II, Ulysses (Junior) Bridgeman, Wayne Albritton and Collins Cogan.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

McFadden's Orlando parties this weekend and Vanilla Ice is your host!

Some say there are only two kinds of people in the world; the Irish and those who wish they were. Both will want to be a part of the McFadden's Restaurant & Saloon grand opening celebration set for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 9, 10 and 11.
More than 2,000 people came out to McFadden's for a sneak preview on St. Patrick's Day. There's even more in store for the grand opening celebration.
Thursday, April 9: McFadden's will be closed to the public for a private event, then open to the public at 10 pm.
Friday, April 10: Join the entire crew from XL 1067's Johnny's House for a live nighttime broadcast. It will also be Ladies Night (the first of many) - that means the gals get half price drinks from 9pm - 11pm. There will be a Lucky Ladies Lottery - one lucky lady will win a tropical vacation package! It's also Megacon weekend, so McFadden's is holding a costume contest. Come as your favorite comic book, sci-fi or super hero character. You better come big - the grand prize winner will get $1,000 in cash! 

Saturday, April 11: McFadden's throws the biggest Saturday night party on I-Drive, hosted by the one and only Vanilla Ice, live in person! Visit to RSVP and be a part of this unforgettable party. McFadden's famous Fishbowl drinks will be flowing each and every Saturday night
Located in Vue at 360, this is McFadden's 15th location and the only one in Florida. McFadden's provides a great view of The Orlando Eye from both inside and on the outdoor patio. Find out why McFadden's is the place for birthday and bachelorette parties.
For more on McFadden's, or to book your next party, or call 407-930-2550.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Try McDonald's new Mini Bundt Cakes for free

Just tried the new Mini Bundt Cakes at McDonald's and they're really cute and really good.

Double chocolate was my favorite but there's also cinnamon. Love the little box they come in.

Wanna try them yourself? Just share this post on Facebook or Twitter and I'll pick a random winner. Good luck!