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Bob Marley: A Tribute To Freedom

6000 Universal Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 224-2264






Bob Marley’s at Universal Orlando City Walk is a one-of a kind celebration of music and culture as Bob Marley– A Tribute to Freedom takes you on a musical journey through the life of the "King of Reggae." Bob Marley’s songs of faith, hope, rebellion, and determination have brought inspiration and joy to audiences everywhere. Working closely with Rita Marley and the Bob Marley Foundation, they have created a replica of Bob’s home on 56 Hope Road in Kingston, Jamaica. Inside you will find artifacts, photos, and video clips from his legendary career surrounding visitors in the open-air veranda and courtyard.

The cuisine features Jamaican-influenced appetizers, entrees and desserts. Some of the most popular items are the Oxtail Stew, the Sun is Shining grilled chicken breast marinated in Jamaican curry sauce, and the Taste of Jamaica appetizer platter featuring veggie & beef patties, mango wings and yucca fries.

Although the seasoning is pretty accurate for the most part, some of the heat has been dialed back a little bit, I suppose to appease the masses. After all, it is in a tourist corridor. We really enjoyed everything we had, but speaking as someone who has been to Jamaica, the heat on certain dishes could have been amped up a bit more.  

Just about every night of the week you can expect a live Reggae band or various live acts at Bob Marley’s. Always good music and good vibes.

The Taste of Jamaica A tour of Island Flavors features veggie & beef patties, jerk wings, and yucca fries for 14.99. Everything was delicious, but lacked the proper Island heat that I remember from my last visit to Jamaica.
Catch A Fire Chicken Sandwich  with char grilled and  jerk seasoned chicken breast on coco bread with lettuce, tomato, cucumber sauce and yucca fries was pretty tasty. Coco bread is a mildly sweet bread made with coconut milk and is slightly starchy.

Sun is Shining Curry Chicken  with char grilled chicken breast that can be ordered bone in or boneless with Jamaican curry sauce, sweet corn, okra, white rice, seasonal vegetables, grilled pineapple and shredded coconut was a real palate pleaser.

The Reggae Jamaican Jerk Chicken  is a marinated bone-in half chicken that is char grilled and roasted served with Caribbean rice and beans and sweet plantains.  At $14.99 this is a pretty good deal. I was more than stuffed after eating this, and it was pretty damn good. It certainly is a “ Belly Full Entree”  

Whether you want to go for the food or the music...or a little bit of both, Bob Marley : A Tribute To Freedom is certainly worth a visit. I dined with a party of three and the food, music and vibes were all good.
Bob Marley’s the  restaurant  is open from Sunday - Thursday 4pm - 10pm and Friday - Saturday 4pm - 11 pm. The Bar and nightclub portion goes from 9pm until 2am, and it’s 21 and older after 9pm with a $7.00 cover charge. 
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Eats and Beats : WMC Edition

WMC is here and Electronic Dance Music ( EDM ) is about to become a way of life for South Beach dwellers and visitors for 2 weeks all over Miami. We love EDM, but we also love food too, and after all of that dancing, you need to refuel. Here are some great ideas of ways to enjoy the best of both worlds...Eats and Beats in South Beach.
We’ve put together a survivor’s guide of some cool restaurants to enjoy with decors and menus that are reminiscent of genres of EDM because well, ya gotta eat at some point.
House Music -  Bagatelle Miami
House is one of the most popular and recognizable forms of EDM and so is Bagatelle in the culinary world. With outposts in New York, St Barth, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, St Tropez, and Dubai- Bagatelle Miami just recently opened to the delight of globetrotters, neighbors, foodies, celebrities and tastemakers everywhere. Signature dishes include Tartare de Thon and Gnocchis Truffes a la Parisienne. (2100 Collins Avenue)



One of the genres that's been around the longest, techno  injects soul into its deep digital sounds. Similarly Siena Tavern housed in an historic Art Deco building in the heart of South Beach offers diners an experience that is simultaneously comfortable, vibrant and social. Signature dishes include the Wagyu Beef Meatball and Housemade Gnocchi. (404 Washington Avenue)


Trance - Seaspice
Trance is one of the most emotional jerking genres because of its building up of melodic tunes and its repetitive synths and no other location encapsulates those feelings more than Seaspice on the Miami river.  Patrons can choose arrive by boat and sit by the water with the stunning Miami skyline or inside under the one of a kind installation by Artist Carlos Betancourt. Signature dishes include Australian Rack of Lamb and Alaskan King Crab Linguini. (422 NW North River Drive)
Down Tempo -  Coya
With slower paced tracks steeped in dance music, the relaxing and often sensual or romantic feel of Down Tempo is a perfect soundtrack for Coya. Coya is a journey of the senses designed to take guests on a culinary adventure exploring the multi-dimensional flavors of Peru. From the food and drink to the menu and décor, Coya invites both local residents and seasonal visitors of Miami to join in its celebration of an ancient, vibrant culture and cuisine. Signature dishes include Calamares Fritos con Ocopa and Solomillo de Res. (999 Brickell Avenue)




Drum & Base - Cecconi's
Emerging from England, Drum and Bass’s obvious emphasis on the drum work and bass-line gives it its name. Similarly, Cecconi’s is inspired by the original London location which was founded in 1978 and resides in the recently renovated Art Deco Sovereign Hotel, now Soho Beach House. Cecconi’s offers superior service that entices the discerning tastes of its fellow Miami denizens and savvy visitors alike. Signature dishes include Plin agnolotti and Parpadelle with Duck Ragu. (4385 Collins Avenue)




Moombathon - The District
Moombahton is an eclectic mix of house music and Raggaeton. The District embodies the best dishes of North, South, Central America and the Caribbean crafted by James Beard Foundation semifinalist, Chef Horacio Rivadero. The District incorporates fresh and locally driven ingredients in each dish in order to take guests through a culinary journey of contemporary Pan-American cuisine. Signature dishes include Curry Tacu Tacu & Afro Cuban Pork. (190 NE 46 Street)

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Crimson Tavern at Orlando Airport Marriott

7499 Augusta National Dr, Orlando, FL 32822
(407) 851-9000
View Website Here


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again...Some of the best dining in Central Florida can be found inside some of the great hotels and resorts scattered throughout our community. Sure, Orlando is experiencing a restaurant renaissance of sorts, but that also includes many great hotels.


I was recently invited to a “Lamb Everything” dinner at Crimson Tavern inside the Orlando Airport Marriott Lakeside and I was thoroughly impressed with the restaurant, and the hotel itself. I don’t live too far away from Crimson Tavern, but like many of us, It’s never on my list of restaurants to visit, mainly because I think of the hotel only. I can assure you though, Crimson Tavern is a place you need to visit soon, and here’s why...


It isn’t too often that many of the items which appear on a diner’s plate come from just a few hundred feet away, and in the restaurant’s own Chef’s Garden. At Crimson Tavern, diners are invited to take a stroll through the nearby 2,500 square foot Chef’s Garden and see what is ready to be harvested and will soon end up on the menu or quite possibly, on their plate that very evening.

For Executive Chef Anthony Hull, Crimson Tavern truly defines the “farm to table” culinary movement. The restaurant actually came about because there was an open dining space at the Orlando Airport Marriott and since much of the hotel’s senior management were all serious foodies, including General Manager Chris Donohue, the logical step was to create a restaurant that represented what most chefs believe is an iconic way to eat : Farm to Table.

Since every dish is the sum of its components, the farm to table philosophy means a strong connection to the surrounding farms and artisans. The culinary team works very diligently to develop partnerships with many of Orlando's best purveyors to source the finest ingredients available. They also invite the local farm community to grow for them, which helps these farms to sustain a way of life. Additionally, as the Chef’s Garden grows and evolves (it currently produces approximately 20,000 pounds of food per year), more of the fruit trees will start to produce and evolve the experience even further as they will supply many of the ingredients, which the team can use for jamming and pickling.

In fact, the culinary team is exploring the branding and retail sale of their homemade condiments and jams. They will continue to make hot sauce, pickles, jams, and chutneys from their garden and seasonal offerings. As the BBQ program grows (the restaurant offers seasonal Friday Night Barbecues) a line of rubs and sauces will also become available.
According to Chef Hull, “The main reason we are producing these products is to control what goes into them, not just from a flavor standpoint, but also a wellness aspect by eliminating additives and unnatural ingredients, and if we have a really good harvest, it is also a way to preserve the extra product”.

Chef Anthony Hull of Crimson Tavern, spent much of his youth in England cooking with his grandmothers. While he enjoyed the opportunity to practice his latest jokes on them, they in turn, would tell him the jokes they had also heard. “To this day, I have vivid memories of my grandmother trying to tell me a joke and laughing so hard she could not get to the punch line.” During this time, his grandmothers love of baking, making jams from fruits harvested from the family garden, and pickling onions and beets and storing them under the stairs for the holidays became entrenched in his DNA. When his paternal grandmother had the faith to let him cook the Christmas turkey from start to finish, it was probably the single defining food event that made him decide to become a chef.

Here are some of the highlights of Chef Hull's "Lamb Everything Dinner".....


Peak Organic Simcoe Spring Ale



Meatballs with ground lamb leg, mortadella, house pomerola, tarentaise and alpine cheese.  


Pickled lamb tongue with hydroponic arugula, garden pumpkin blossoms and granny smith apple vinaigrette.


Ramen Bowl, house pulled ramen, lamb breast & belly, lamb dashi, Kissimmee river oyster mushrooms, poached lake meadows pullet egg, crispy taro.



Roasted Saddle & Loin with charred baby artichokes, cannellini beans, lamb reduction, arbequina olives in a true grit petite sirah.



Parksdale farm Strawberry Gelato with house spun gelato (house preserve, cream, whole milk),cardamom shortbread and strawberry basil flower salad.


The restaurant can fit 80 people, the private dining room can seat up to 16, and semi-private dining on the upper deck is up to 30 guests.

Price range: Appetizers: $7 - $18
Salads and Sandwiches: $7 to $16
Entrees: $20 - $26
Desserts: $9

Beverage menu features 21 domestic, imported, and artisanal beers, 30 wines by the glass or bottle including two sustainable wines, and 7 signature cocktails. The wine list focuses on domestic wines from California and the East Coast as well as a number of international wines from Argentina and Australia.

Hours of Operation: Open daily
Lunch: 11:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Dinner: 5 p.m. to midnight.

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Primo by Melissa Kelly

JW Marriott
Orlando Grande Lakes
4040 Central Florida Parkway
Orlando FL 32837
407-393-4444

Primo by Melissa Kelly is another one of Orlando's great hotel restaurants. The Primo brand and name may sound familiar, because the Orlando Grande Lakes location is the second one of three locations. Chef Kelly's first restaurant in Rockland Maine, is a world class and critically acclaimed restaurant that is set in a 19th century Victorian style house.

The idea of Primo is a "home-grown" concept that emphasizes the freshest local ingredients to create imaginative and dazzling recipes that are based on contemporary Italian cuisine. Chef Kelly grew up on Long Island, and her earliest cooking lessons took place in her Italian grandmother's kitchen. In fact, she still favors Mediterranean accented foods.


Chef Kelly attended the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York and graduated first in her class. Her post-graduate education took place in some of the top restaurant kitchens in the country with a resume that includes the posh Greenbrier Hotel, West Virginia, Bluebeards Castle, St. Thomas USVI and An American Place in New York.



Continuing to broaden her culinary skills,Chef Kelly moved west to work with Reed Heron of restaurant Lulu and the legendary Alice Waters of Chez Panisse. She is also the 2013 and 1999 James Beard Foundation's Best Chef: Northeast. She was also nominated in 1998.



In 2003 Chef Kelly partnered with JW Marriott to open a second Primo at Grande Lakes Orlando, and a third location followed in 2005 at JW Marriot Starr Pass Resort in Tucson, Arizona. Primo is a licensed agreement between JW Marriott, Chef Melissa Kelly and Price Kushner with the help of Mariano Vegel who is the Chef de Cuisine at Primo Orlando.

Primo by Chef Melissa Kelly features Italian flavors using ingredients cultivated from the resort’s on-site Organic Garden. The “home-grown” Primo concept pioneered farm-to-fork dining in Orlando upon opening in 2003.



The robust flavors that guests will experience are produced through classical cooking and preparation methods with strong inspiration from cuisines off the coastal regions of Italy, France and Spain. Primo cuisine features ingredients cultivated from the resort’s on-site Primo Organic Garden as well as the resort’s 7,000-square-foot garden at Whisper Creek Farm. Other ingredients are sourced from Central Florida’s small organic farms.



The Design and Decor of Primo is a Mediterranean setting, with the earthy colors of wood, stone and copper. There is an ambiance of colors as green, gold, amber, and rust offer an elegant, but casual atmosphere through the soft textured wall coverings, carpeting, window treatments, and fabrics. Special details include Venetian light fixtures, a mosaic entry, and an exhibition kitchen that creates a warm, yet sophisticated dining experience.



Here are a few examples of Chef Kelly's master culinary skills that you will find on display at Primo, Orlando Grande Lakes.



Slow Cooked & Grilled Octopus with lima beans, artichokes, calabrian pesto, ‘nduja sausage and smoky potato chips.



Cold Smoked Tuna Tartare with tonatto sauce, confit tomatoes, mint, sesame oil, bottarga, crispbreads.





Farmer Salad primo lettuces, garlicky levain croutons, house cured bacon, soft poached whisper creek farm egg, white balsamic vinaigrette.



Squid Ink Linguini  made with“Frutti Di Mare”calamari, jonah crab, rock shrimp, clams, charred pepper, tasso ham, pimenton crumb.





Sautéed Scaloppine of Pork Saltimbocca in a sage infused mushroom-madeira jus with prosciutto, spinach and roasted garlic mashed potato.



Caramello with a caramel pate choux-caramelized hazelnut gelato and toasted caramel marshmallow.



Primo is open only for dinner 7 days a week from 6 pm to 10 pm.



Prices: Appetizers $14.00 to $18.00
Entrees $30.00 to $53.00
Desserts $10.00 to $11.00



Primo by Melissa Kelly on Urbanspoon

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Sushi 101 from RA Sushi

So...You’re sitting at a local sushi restaurant, and as a sushi novice, you don’t know what to order. You read words like Nigiri, Sashimi, Maki, etc.. and you wander…what does it all mean?
Well the folks at RA Sushi have put together a quick guide to deciphering the menu so you don’t embarrass yourself in front of your hot date.


Sashimi is raw fish sliced into thin pieces.

Nigiri is a specific type of sushi comprising of a slice of raw fish over pressed rice.

Maki is sushi rolled up using a bamboo mat, typically with seaweed.

Edamame is a fancy word for soy beans and tempura is a fancy word for fried. If you’re nervous about ordering raw fish, ask for a vegetarian roll, like RA Sushi’s Crunchy Yami Roll.


If you want to really impress your date, you can drop some sushi knowledge on them by letting them know that technically the word sushi refers only to the rice and not the fish.....and lastly...Never rub your chopsticks together!

Arigato.
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The Meatball Shoppe

7325 Lake Underhill Rd.
Orlando FL. 32822
(407) 270-6505



East Orlando's newest dining spot is a little place called The Meatball Shoppe. I say little enthusiastically though, because the shop is small inside, but full of great flavor and great character. That great character is attributed to the owners of this establishment - Isabella Morgia di Vicaria, a first-generation American, born of Italian heritage in Brooklyn, NY. and her Husband Jeff Morgia.

Isabella and Jeff have over thirty years of time and experience combined in the restaurant and food industry. Isabella’s Bella Cucina, a catering company that the couple operates, has been in business since 1992 in Central Florida. A few years ago, Isabella and Jeff were thinking of ways to bring something new and innovative to Central Florida... and The Meatball Shoppe was born. With the aquiring of a location for The Meatball Shoppe, Isabella’s Bella Cucina also acquired a larger kitchen facility that will make it possible for the two companies to support each other. The Meatball Shoppe will also serve as a retail space for Isabella’s Bella Cucina.

Isabella believes her meatballs are special and are a representative of the best of many cultures including the Mediterranean and Latin American Countries. Jeff says his love of meatballs comes from the nostalgia 
that takes him back to when he was growing up, and they’re warm, inviting and are universally loved by all. 

The concept of The Meatball Shoppe is to bring you the classic and traditional Italian meatball and then take it in a different direction. The menu is based on tradition fused with innovation that brings new life to the ‘classic meatball’. Patrons can expect to find a combination of an old world style with a retro feel and fresh originality.

When ordering you first choose "How would you like them" your options are "On Top", "Alone" and "Smash". If you select "On Top" you then you select a side you would like your meatballs on top of. Choices include Creamy Polenta, Penne Pasta with choice of sauce, Gluten-Free Pasta, Pasta Aglia Olio and a White Bean Ragout. If you want your meatballs by themselves, you would choose "Alone" and they are served atop a bed of arugula. The "Smash" option gives you the meatballs smashed on freshly baked focaccia.

Next you select the type of meatball you would like. The list of meatballs includes Nonna’s traditional Italian meatballs, Vegetarian, Gluten free Jeffy’s sausage,  Mediterranean grass fed lamb with pita bread and tzatziki sauce, Spicy pork, Chicken Marsala and a Reuben ball topped with a traditional Reuben Sauce.

Your next step is to pick a sauce. Sauces  available are Roasted Tomato Sauce, Isabella’s Signature Pesto, Creamy Provolone , Rich Marsala Mushroom Sauce, Spicy Pork Sauce. You can mix and match all you want, but the sauce selections go hand in hand with your meatball choice. You can also get a fried egg to top everything off, if you choose.

I had the opportunity to go to a blogger and foodie meet up recently, and I got to sample a bit of everything at The Meatball Shoppe. Everyone really enjoyed the flavors and creativity of all the meatballs we sampled. They were firm and seasoned well and the sauces and sides were quite tasty too. 


I ordered Jeffy's Sausage meatball smashed on focaccia with creamy provolone sauce and a fried egg on top. That was a pretty damn good sandwich.


Nonna's traditional Italian with roasted tomato sauce.








Mediterranean grass fed Lamb with pita bread and tzatziki sauce on top of creamy polenta.






Vegetarian Meatball on top white bean ragout.









Chicken Marsala Meatball with Marsala Mushroom Sauce. 







The Meatball Shoppe is open Monday to Saturday, for lunch or dinner from 11 AM to 8 PM. Stop by and say hello to Isabella and Jeff and enjoy great company along with great food.They will satisfy the kid in you with fun, delicious meatballs and satisfy your more sophisticated adult palate with gourmet flavors.

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