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Showing posts with label Farm to fork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Farm to fork. Show all posts

Chef Norman Van Aken's 1921 Is Set To Open This Summer...


142 E 4th Ave
Mount Dora, FL 32757
352-385-1921
View Website Here


Chef Norman Van Aken, Florida’s only multiple James Beard award winning chef, author of six cook books and a memoir, and known as the founding father of New World cuisine, announces his newest restaurant, 1921 by Norman Van Aken (“1921”).

Opening in Mount Dora this summer, the refined rustic restaurant has a forward thinking outlook on ingredients and culinary traditions that encompass the local community, as well as Florida cuisine.

Situated in a converted home built in 1921, the restaurant serves as a reminder that America, and its varying historic cuisines, are made up of a vast array of recipes and flavors imparted by a wide range of explorers and immigrants. These culinary styles have become entrenched in the land and local communities found throughout Florida and the world.

“With close access to some of the best local produce, meat, and seafood Florida has to offer, Mount Dora is a fitting location for us in terms of sourcing ingredients for our menu and connecting the restaurant with the local community that shapes our philosophy,” said Chef Van Aken. “I will be working directly with Chef de Cuisine, Camilo Velasco, to celebrate modern cooking while also incorporating time honored traditions of Florida.”

The philosophy of 1921 embraces sustainable practices when sourcing ingredients. The restaurant will work closely with local farms and purveyors within Mount Dora and the surrounding area, maintaining an allegiance to the local growers, producers and food artisans of Florida.

Chef Van Aken states, “1921 is my love letter to Florida and encompasses the totality of the state from its cuisine to its art to its culture and beyond. Just as the Modernist artists create their works from the tapestry of varying art styles, we create our menu out of the intricate matrix of cuisines found here.”

Working in collaboration, Chef Van Aken and Chef Velasco will serve up hand crafted cuisine from the state of the art kitchen. Menu offerings at 1921 will change regularly, providing guests the opportunity to experience a wide selection of fresh Florida flavors from snacks and starters such as the Grilled Okeechobee Mushroom Tostadas ($9), to flatbreads and salads like the Smoky Maduro Plantain Flatbread ($14) and Florida Avocado and Summer Squash Salad ($11).


Main plates include such items like the Wood Grilled Eye of Ribeye with red chimichurri marinated sweetbreads, ember roasted carrots and tomatillo ($36) and the Sour Orange Mojo Roasted Cornish Hen ($24), cooked in 1921’s wood oven.


The restaurant’s dynamic beverage and bar program will feature a library of unique spirits with multiple ice shapes as well as cocktails including barrel-aged, carbonated on tap, and seasonal creations. 1921’s Wine Director, Scott Geisler, will work closely with Chef Velasco to complement the menu, selecting from the restaurant’s list of global wines varying from eclectic to familiar, recent releases, and storied vintages. Additionally, the beverage program will highlight draft beers from multiple Central Florida craft breweries as well as a variety of bottled and canned beers from around the world.


The opening of Chef Van Aken’s highly anticipated 1921 restaurant completes the elegant Mount Dora Modernism Museum complex. The creation, design and execution of this exceptional cultural, shopping and dining collaboration is the brainchild of partner Main Street Leasing.  A feast for the eyes, as well as the palate, the restaurant features an extensive collection of artwork, with select pieces on loan from the Modernism Museum. This unique joint partnership between Main Street Leasing and Chef Van Aken brings the art of dining to life in its truest sense.

Reservations are available beginning Tuesday, August 16th by calling (352)-385-1921, or by going to http://1921nva.com/


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Crimson Tavern

7499 Augusta National Dr.
Orlando, FL 32822
(407) 851-9000

Just a mile from the Orlando International Airport, you will find the Orlando Airport Marriott Lakeside. I’ve stayed at this hotel before, and it's a wonderful place for tourists and locals alike. I have also eaten at the hotels main restaurant Crimson Tavern on a few occasions. 

Crimson Tavern focuses on locally sourced cuisine with an impressive array of delights for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is redefining what hotel dining is all about. The property's management is comprised of a group of die-hard "foodies" and as a result, Crimson Tavern embodies what is on the cutting edge of the modern food movement: Farm-to-Table cuisine. 

Farm to Table has also gotten quite controversial recently as Laura Reiley, the food critic at the Tampa Bay Times wrote an article worthy of a Pulitzer Prize titled Farm to Fable. In the series of articles, Laura goes in depth to report and investigate how the average restaurant consumer is being lied to about where Tampa Bay area restaurants were sourcing their food from. You can bet this happens in Orlando and all over the country as well.

It's really a staggering article and worth a read if you love food like I do. Here is the link : Farm To Fable

I bring up the article from the times, because Crimson Tavern is one of the few restaurants that I know of, that you can see with your own eyes where they source food from. The restaurant has its own 2,500 square foot Chef's Garden and the culinary team works hard to develop partnerships with many of Orlando's best purveyors to source the finest ingredients available in the region. 


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. In the restaurant’s own chef’s garden, diners are invited to take a stroll through the nearby 2,500 square foot area 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.

Executive Chef Anthony Hull also pulls from his own roots back in England and resurrects many old school cooking techniques including pickling, jamming, and preserving to prepare much of what diners see on the menu. Chef Hull, truly strives to define the “farm to table” culinary movement with a philosophy that includes a strong connection to the surrounding farms and artisans. They also invite the local farm community to grow for them, which helps these farms to sustain a way of life.

I was recently invited to a special Milk & Honey dinner where we sat outside in the chef’s garden. The theme of course was food and drinks made with or using milk and honey infused products in the ingredients.


Our first beer pairing was the Swamp Head ‘Wild Night Honey Cream Ale.” That honey you see next to the beer is from While the Sun Shines Apiary in Central Florida and is about as fresh and delicious as honey can be.

The Swamp head went really well with the first course of Charred House Ricotta with garden greens, preserved lemon and crispy garbanzo.

Our second course was a dish of local seafood that featured jumbo shrimp, fresh fish and crispy frog legs in a coconut curry sauce with cauliflower. This dish was paired with a Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc.

For our third course we had a rather special treat of a homemade ‘Fwaffle” which is a waffle made with Foie Gras served with crispy chicken skin sausage and honey braised shallots with a house vinegar gastrique.

The “Fwaffle” was paired with Ten Ten Havakon Milk Stout that gave a nice amount of sweet and bitter to compliment the meal.

In an effort to showcase how Chef Hull and his team recycle and reuse food in a variety of interesting ways, we were treated to house baked bread with a candle made of rendered lamb fat. As the candle burns, it creates quite a flavorful dip for the bread.

Our fourth course was a dish of milk fed lamb “Pot au Feu” with bunching onions, potatoes and heritage carrots. This was perhaps some of the most flavorful and tender lamb I have ever tasted. We were served “Sir Adrian’s Mead” for our drink...which is a house made alcoholic beverage made with fermented honey and various spices….and is very potent.

For a palate cleanser before our final course, we enjoyed Hibiscus Tea picked right from the garden.

Our fifth and final course for the evening was a fabulous Warm Olive Oil cake with house spun whey ice cream, smoked honey and strawberry.


Additionally, Chef Hull and his team looked closely at ways in which they could not just recycle, but reuse food scraps from the kitchen and came up with the following efforts, which are now in place:

-Coffee grounds are recycled and used as a natural pest deterrent in the Chef’s Garden


-Scraps from the roasted beets are used to make the beet cured salmon appetizer.

-When fish are cleaned in the restaurant, the skins are boiled and pureed into cat food for the two rescue cats that live in the garden and keep the squirrels and snakes away.

-The kitchen dehydrates onion peelings to make onion powder, and mushroom stems for powder to add to the house-made steak seasoning for additional umami flavor.

-When there is an abundance of fresh herbs from the Chef’s Garden, they are dried to save and use at a later date.

-If there is an excess of any items harvested that cannot be used fresh, they are pickled and preserved.

-Beef fat is rendered and put into the Béarnaise sauce. The hotel is also experimenting with making beef fat candles, which can be served to guests who can dip bread in the fat as it melts.

-All bacon fat from breakfast is saved and used for braising greens, re-fried beans, and enriching the house-made barbecue sauces.

-The restaurant menus are printed on 100% recycled paper, and when damaged or reprinted, old menus are cut up and used as underliners in the restaurant.

-Used soap from guest rooms is given to a company called Clean the World who purifies it and reforms it into bars which are then sent to Third World countries.

From communal tables to private dining rooms and microbrews to wine flights, Crimson Tavern has the perfect evening for you. Regional charcuterie, international cheese plates and many other seasonal specialties all have a place on the menu. 


If you want a restaurant that is casual and friendly and offers locally sourced ingredients with an honest farm-to-table mentality that you can see up close and personal… stop by and say hello to Chef Hull and his team at Crimson Tavern.

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. Lunch is served from 11:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. and dinner is from 5 p.m. to midnight.

Crimson Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen

4040 Central Florida Pkwy
Orlando, FL 32837
(407) 206-2300


Say hello to the all new restaurant and brewery at JW Marriott...
Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen.

As the name implies, this new restaurant is focused on getting the most out of the resort’s on-site farm, and really amplifying the farm to fork dining scene in Orlando. If the food is not enough to impress you, they do have a pretty magnificent nano brewery on site as well.

The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Orlando,Grande Lakes continues to set the bar high for the farm-to-fork experience in Orlando, which is quickly becoming a top culinary destination. The Kitchen at JW Marriott Orlando Features the inaugural batch of beer from The Brewery at Grande Lakes, an in-house first-of-its-kind nano-brewery producing house-made brews on tap and served throughout the resort. 

The Kitchen showcases a rustic yet polished design and is intended to have the vibe of eating in your family’s kitchen, with a variety of communal, high-top, sofa, outdoor, and bar seating with rich woods, steel blues, and leather accents throughout. Menu items at The Kitchen include everything from snacks to small plates and sandwiches, charcuterie & cheese boards, and flatbreads that will feature seasonal ingredients from the 7,000-square-foot on-site garden at Whisper Creek Farm.


The Kitchen’s sausages and charcuterie, prepared by the JW Marriott butcher, pair perfectly with The Brewery’s hops-laden creations. Signature menu items prepared in the restaurant’s open-air display kitchen includes fresh pickled vegetables, hop-salted house pretzels served with “Surplus” Ale cheese fondue, and a smoked ham sandwich with a farm fried egg. In addition to showcasing The Brewery’s seasonal brews, The Kitchen’s six taps will rotate between five seasonal selections from The Brewery, and the always-available Surplus Honey Citrus Ale which is Grande Lakes’ flagship beer.

JW Marriott Grande Lakes and Whisper Creek Farm: The Brewery are the first Marriott property to launch a nano-brewery, and as such, they have brought in a local Cicerone certified brew master to lead The Brewery. The Brewery will produce 28 gallons of beer weekly including five styles of beer created each season. The current lineup will feature a Dark, Wheat/Light, Amber, IPA and a Special Brew (a seasonal made from the freshest farm ingredients). Signature Special Brew varieties will include the Maple Bacon Stout, Soup of the Day IPA, and Ghost Pepper Wheat.


To complement The Brewery launch, Grande Lakes Orlando is collaborating with nearby Florida Beer Company. The Cape Canaveral-based brewery is helping to develop The Kitchen's flagship beer named Surplus, a signature Floridian honey citrus ale that is to be distributed throughout the resort’s outlets and available year round (naturally infused with Grande Lakes honey sourced from the resort's-property apiaries).

The launch of the on-property brewery furthers the resort’s ever-expanding commitment to sustainable cuisine, which started more than ten years ago with Primo Garden providing fresh produce and herbs for award-winning Chef Melissa Kelly's Primo restaurant at JW Marriott Orlando. Since then Grande Lakes has launched several apiaries, baked all its bread in house (by a 30-strong pastry team), welcomed 30 chickens to a Whisper Creek Farm coop, and opened Highball & Harvest at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando in September 2014, featuring Southern-inspired cuisine with ingredients from Whisper Creek Farm.


You should already know by now, that whenever the Ritz Carlton and JW Marriott Orlando decide to launch a new culinary adventure, it's always a top notch affair, and The Kitchen is no exception. I was invited to a media preview and got to sample some of the food and craft beers on tap. Everything was exceptional, of course.


We started with a serving of Chive Biscuits with Pork Butter and Apple Moonshine Jam. The butter was savory with a slight pork flavor and the jam was sweet and tart all at once.


The Kale Pesto Flatbread is topped with eggplant, balsamic onions and arugula, all from Whisper Creek Farm. We enjoyed these dishes with a Farmhouse Brown Ale.


Nothing says farm to fork more than an outstanding salad, and the Whisper Creek Farm Harvest Salad really delivered. Made with fresh picked vegetables, pickled vegetables and a citrus ricotta cheese, this salad paired perfectly with a WCF Lemon Tea Ale.

Our first main dish we sampled was the Seared Grouper with Anson Mills grits. This was served in a savory broth made from ham hocks, topped with leeks and paired with Surplus Pale Ale.


Next Up, we had the Whisper Creek Smoked Ham and Farm Fried Egg sandwich served on house-made Whisper Creek Farm honey pecan roll. This sandwich was inspired in part by a popular ham sandwich on the original 1927 Marriott Hot Shoppe Menu and it was delicious. The Lemon Grass Amber Wheat Ale that accompanied this sandwich was light and had a crisp finish.


The Surplus Kumquat Gelato was a tasty treat to end our meal, and it paired wonderfully with the Paradise Orange Wheat.


The Brewery.jpg

In addition to brewing signature beer for The Kitchen, The Brewery also operates as a highly unique back-of-house Chef’s Table for intimate evenings and group events.

The Kitchen’s small plates are carefully planned by the JW Marriott culinary team and brought to life by Chef de Partie Jason Shapiro who joined Grande Lakes Orlando in 2009, and since then has been involved in the resort’s farm-to-fork efforts including the creation of Whisper Creek Farm.

Located just off the main JW Marriott lobby, The Kitchen seats 100 indoors and 50 on the outdoor terrace. The restaurant is open from 5 p.m.to 11 p.m., with the bar open until midnight. The space can also be utilized as a brand-new social meeting space, bookable for group functions during the day.

Grande Lakes Orlando is a 500-acre resort with a luxury 582-room Ritz-Carlton and a deluxe 1,000-room JW Marriott hotel situated at the headwaters of the Florida Everglades. Orlando’s luxury leader provides an authentic, local experience from its farm-to-fork dining offerings to its Grande Lakes Adventures Experiences, which include kayaking, eco-tours on Shingle Creek, and a fishing school.

Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen on Urbanspoon
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Highball & Harvest at Ritz Carlton

4012 Central Florida Parkway
Orlando, FL 32837
(407) 393-4422
View Website Here

When it comes to going out for dinner, a lot of people tend to forget that some of the best restaurants in Orlando can be found inside some of the areas great hotels and resorts. Some times these restaurants are upscale and may be out of your price range, while others are very modestly priced and offer great food with impeccable service.

When you think of the Ritz Carlton name, you automatically think of ultimate luxury and glamour, with good reason. The Ritz Carlton name has been synonymous with luxury on a grande scale for over one hundred years. Aside of the beautiful architecture and an outstanding  dedication to service, the company is also known for fine dining...after all Louis Diat, a French chef at the Ritz-Carlton in New York City, is most often credited with the invention of Vichyssoise there back in 1917.

The Ritz Carlton here in Orlando is steadily upholding the brand name and has been one of the leading luxury resorts in the area. The Grande Lakes property is comprised of The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Orlando that sits on 500 acres with a luxury 582 room Ritz-Carlton and a deluxe 1,000 room JW Marriott hotel situated at the headwaters of the Florida Everglades. In following the Ritz heritage, the Orlando hotel is also synonymous with great food and has a very nice offering of restaurants on the property, including Chef Norman Van Aken's famed establishment Norman's.

What makes the all new Highball & Harvest restaurant such a unique experience is that guests can enjoy some really great farm to table food created by top chefs at a better price point. The Grande Lakes property continues its dedication to farm-to-fork dining and authentic, local experiences with the opening of its new casual dining concept, Highball & Harvest. The restaurant features innovative and interactive dining, handcrafted cocktails, and a creative, playful menu that features seasonal Low Country and Cajun-inspired cuisine from young, Southern-raised Chef de Cuisine Mark Jeffers.

H&H offers hyper-local dishes infused with Floridian citrus and ingredients from nearby purveyors as well as the resort’s own 7,000-square-foot Whisper Creek Farm, which opened in October 2012. Ingredients from local farms and Whisper Creek Farm will be specifically noted on the restaurant’s seasonal menu. H&H’s railroad-inspired design  features communal seating, a large bar/lounge area, a raw oyster bar (with chefs shucking oysters by hand), and custom hand painted dishware.

Signature dishes include H&H Pig-n-Potatoes, a decadent all-day breakfast dish, house-made beef jerky, dips with pickled veggies presented in a rustic tackle box, and a signature H&H Hot Sauce made from Whisper Creek Farm peppers. The resort’s thirty-strong pastry team, that works magic baking everything from scratch, has created one of the restaurant’s most exceptional offerings: Parker House Rolls made from old-world Khorasan wheat, served up warm and moist with significantly less gluten than typical bread.

The thirst-quenching heart of the restaurant is an interactive cocktail table, where knowledgeable bar chefs muddle ingredients while instructing over carefully curated and personalized cocktail classes. H&H will offer a hand-crafted, seasonal cocktail menu. Signature cocktails include: the Moonshine “Whistle-Stop,” the refreshing “Green Acres” with house ginger beer and jasmine tea, and a “Cranberry Cobbler” mixed with honey from the resort’s on-site apiaries. Most cocktails will be served on the rocks with hand-carved ice, sculpted bar side with a Japanese ice saw and often infused with herbs and citrus from Whisper Creek Farm. H&H will also feature Central Florida’s largest selection of wines from the cask, carefully selected by Advanced Sommelier Kris Soto, to ensure perfect temperature control and freshness.

I had the privilege to attend a grand opening event and of course got to sample quite a bit of the menu. I can truthfully say, I was really impressed with just about everything I was able to try. The flavors, seasoning, presentation and overall enjoyment of each dish I sampled was mouthwatering and delicious.


We began with the Parker House Rolls made from old-world Khorasan wheat, served up with an apple butter and an herb butter. This bread was amazing and just melted in your mouth.


Our first starter was the Crab Cake and Fried Green Tomato with a Cajun remoulade and corn chow-chow. Generous amounts of crab meat and zesty fried green tomatoes made this enjoyable. 

Our next starter was The Southern Spread with pimento cheese dip, smoked fish dip, pickled veggies, lavash, and sourdough bread. The pimento was spicy and delicious, and the fish dip had a very good smokiness and flavor.

For my entree I chose Chicken Fried Chicken with potato puree, garlic kale and watermelon. This is hands down some of the best fried chicken I have had in quite some time. Seasoned right and fried perfectly.

The Blackened Grouper with a hominy ragout, andouille, and pickled okra was very flaky and tender. The hominy was a nice accompaniment with a rich and wonderful flavor.


Another favorite was the H&H Pimento Cheese Burger, made with double short rib patties, bacon, pimento cheese and spicy pickles. This was a burger of epic proportions and pretty darn good.


The Grilled Line Caught Swordfish was also a very nice treat. The dish comes with beluga lentils, cilantro coulis, and mango.





Although I did not personally taste the Booker's Skirt, I was told that is was a superb steak offering with grilled corn & tomato salad and a potato puree.



The desert selections were impressive as well. The Strawberry Shortcake  with poached rhubarb and bubble gum ice cream was a tasty treat.




Baby Donuts were a crowd favorite with cappuccino ice cream and a tube of Nutella.






The Warm Chocolate Cake was very rich and decadent, but oh so delicious. It is served with a bourbon pickled apple chutney and a vanilla sauce inside of a light bulb. A great idea for desert.



We really enjoyed the H&H Key Lime Tart with Winter Park honey infused oranges.





As I said earlier, I really enjoyed Highball & Harvest and look forward to a return visit there. All of the food was impeccable, and the service was top notch. Most of the menu offerings are modestly priced with starters ranging from $4.00 to $16.00 and entrees ranging from $16.00 to $32.00. Highball & Harvest is a great way to experience gourmet quality fine dining with fresh ingredients that will not break the bank, or your budget. Whats even better is that all guests of H&H receive complimentary valet parking. I can not wait to return there and try out some of the other selections...especially the fresh shucked oysters with the H&H house made hot sauce. This has potential to be my new favorite restaurant.

In 2015 the resort will open a new casual dining restaurant at the JW Marriot property called The Kitchen. The new restaurant will be spotlighting charcuterie, Whisper Creek Farm ingredients, and beer from the JW Marriott Orlando Nano Brewery.

Highball & Harvest on Urbanspoon
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