Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fuji Sushi is Stil One of Our Favorites

I have gotten in the habit of eating just average sushi. Sushi that is pretty good, but I only pick it up or eat out because it is close to home, such as Mikkado Sushi in Lake Mary. This is a fact I was reminded me of on our recent visit to Fuji Sushi Japanese Cuisine in Winter Park, Fla., with friends.

I savored each bite because I had not tasted sushi so fresh and delicious, with such unique flavors, for so long. I tried two rolls that were new to me: the Honolulu Roll, which featured crispy coconut shrimp, chopped peanuts and mango, with a sweet misco
sauce. It is one of my new favorites and the sauce paired perfectly with this roll. I also had the Louisiana Roll, which included cooked crawfish, avocado and sesame seed. I expected this to be spicier and more flavorful, but I still really liked it.

Friends tried the Alaska Roll, a delicous combination of raw salmon and cream cheese and the Black Widow Roll, which has soft shell crab, scallions, spicy mayo and eel sauce. This is another really tasty roll. The Volcano Roll is another one of our favorites - especially that delicous sauce on top. 

Let us know your favorite sushi spot in Central Florida!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Where to Celebrate Valentine's Day in Orlando

There are so many romantic restaurants to choose from in Central Florida, that we wanted
American Gymkhana
to tell you about just a few that you may not have thought of. While some are five-star, upscale restaurants, others provide a very nice atmosphere on a budget.

Here are some of Flavorful Excursions' top choices:

1. Bull & Bear, inside the Waldorf Astoria. We had the most romantic dinner date and best food in Central Florida when we ate at this steak and seafood restaurant. Every appetizer, entree and dessert is unique and executed perfectly. Because of its price tag, this is a restaurant to reserve for special occasions.

2. Emeril's Tchoup Chop. This is a another restaurant that foodies will appreciate. We love the new chef's Hawaiian-inspired and healthy dishes, such as meat and veggie skewers from its Robata grill and the Ahi Tuna Poke Rice Bowl. Don't forget dessert, which is different every night. One recent feature was Baklava Cheesecake! While it is an upscale eatery, there are some affordable apps and happy hour specials that will help you stretch your dollars further.

Emeril's Tchoup Chop
3. Shula's 347 Grill. We have romantic dinners here often, in part because it is close to home but we also love that we can have an affordable meal in an upscale atmosphere. Servers and staff and always professional and friendly. While you can spend more to order Shula's delicious filet or scallop entree, you can save money by choosing one of their delicious burgers or the Mahi Sandwich. Its Happy Hour app and cocktail specials are also not to be missed. Just make sure you leave room for dessert. They make the most delicious Apple Cobbler and Creme Brulee, and we love their homemade sorbets.

4. Highball & Harvest, inside the Ritz Carlton Orlando, is a true farm-to-table eatery that has gotten rave reviews. Chefs pick produce from the garden on-site to use in the Southern-inspired dishes, such as Shrimp and Grits and Chicken and Dumplings. I can't wait to try this restaurant for myself.

5. American Gymkhana. This is another new restaurant that I haven't yet been able to try, but have heard wonderful reviews about its food. And it's atmosphere is perfect for a special occasion. The restaurant serves modern Indian and fusion cuisine and it is featuring a special $65 6-course tasting menu for Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Where Alton Brown Will Eat in Orlando

When Alton Brown arrives in Orlando for his Alton Brown Live Show at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts this Saturday, February 7, he will want to check out all the local eats.

While restaurant suggestions on Flavorful Excursions' Facebook page have included upscale restaurants such as The Ravenous Pig, K Restaurant and the Rusty Spoon, those are not the places we predict he will eat. Judging by his stops in all other cities along his tour, Alton looks for the local diners, the hole-in-the-wall places that have been there forever, and those with delicious, fatty and fried foods.

Based on that criteria, we believe the great culinary educator and TV personality will choose Donut King in Winter Park. The shop has been a fixture in Sanford for years, and recently expanded to Winter Park. Alton will love Donut King's version of the cronut, and anything chocolate. Other possible breakfast stops include The Coop and Cask & Larder. Even though Cask & Larder is more upscale than many restaurants Alton visits, it has - some believe - the best Southern brunch in town.

Beefy King will likely be Alton's lunch stop, we predict. More than 42 years old now, Beefy King is known for the best roast beef sandwiches in Central Florida. Other possible stops include 4 Rivers BBQ and Hawkers Asian Cuisine. While we don't think Alton will travel to Maitland, he should also check out the decades-old Kappy's Subs. Locals know it has the best greasy fries, hot dogs, cheeseburgers and sandwiches around.

Where do you think Alton Brown should eat while in Orlando? Please below or on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/flavorfulexcursions.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Yes, You Can Eat These Flowering Cupcakes!

I have found delicious new cupcakes in Central Florida! Baker Jamie Hyman is creating gorgeous centerpieces with a myriad of cupcake flavors. I am here to tell you that they don't just look pretty. They are also some of the best cupcakes I have ever eaten. I was lucky enough to be invited to a tasting of some of Babycakes Arrangements' treats this weekend. The cupcake itself is so light and moist. The frosting is also light and delicious. Not like many fake-tasting frostings. What more can you ask for in a cupcake?

While she has been baking cakes and cupcakes for friends and events for years, Hyman just recently made Babycakes a full-time business. And I'm so glad she did. She is offering something different than any other cupcake shop, with her beautiful centerpiece displays that can be
used for weddings, birthdays and other events. She makes all sorts of custom cupcakes, such as one for a couple who wanted a gender reveal. The baby's gender was hidden in little cake balls inside the cupcakes!

To put in your order for Valentine's Day - or just to satisfy your sweet tooth - call Babycakes at 321-277-4549 or visit www.babycakesarrangements.com. Your cupcakes will be delivered to your door!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top Orlando New Year's Eve Celebrations

There are all types of concerts and huge parties in and around the
theme parks in Orlando, but I prefer the more intimate and unique events - as well as the gatherings that foodies would appreciate.

Here are some of Flavorful Excursions'  top New Year's Eve events in Orlando:

1. Enzian Theater's annual James Bond New Year's Party. Come "dressed to kill" as James Bond or your favorite Bond girl and you could win a fabulous prize. "Diamonds are Forever" starts at 5:30, and the New Year's Eve party with champagne, signature cocktails and a DJ begins at 8.

2. The Orlando Museum of Art is holding its first New Year's Eve party! It features red carpet entry and valet, live music by Soul Funktion, yummy food and drinks and fireworks.

3. Rangetsu Japanese Restaurant and Bar. This year, the restaurant is featuring taiko drummers at 9 p.m. and midnight, along with its delicious sushi and special dishes.

4. Sam Snead's. Enjoy prime rib, Grouper Oscar, and other special New Year's Eve dishes while listening to Mudel & Co.

5. Carmel Kitchen Winter Park. Enjoy a special menu, including cold water lobster tails, and 90+ point rated wine for $10 per glass. This is the atmosphere for a fun but laid-back New Year's Eve!

Where will you be ringing in 2015? Leave your suggestions for us in the comments section below!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Don't Miss Crane's Roost Christmas Lights...and Pizza

One of the must-visits this holiday season is Cranes Roost Park's Christmas light display. It is probably the best non-residential display in town. Kids and adults love walking the mile around the lake to see the oversized animal displays and lit arches. My favorite part, though, is the massive Christmas tree near the "dancing fountain".

Before we went to see the great lights the other night, we ate at the nearby Tuscan Pizza (formerly Red Brick Pizza) near Marshall's, so we could easily walk to the lights. Tuscan Pizza is a very family-friendly place that has pretty good food (not excellent, but pretty good). There are flat-screen TVs and remote controls at each table, which I don't like, but I guess it helps keeps kids occupied. You order your pizza, salads or sandwiches at the counter, and they are made-to-order in front of you.

We tried the Mushroom, Hamburger and Mozarella pizza which was fairly good. Not the best we've ever had, but some good flavors. We were suprised that the Chinese Chicken Salad was so good, with fresh ingredients including mandarin oranges. Our favorite part was the dessert, with several gelatos and sorbets to choose from, at a reasonable price. The pistachio gelato is a must-try, as is the strawberry sorbet.

While I wouldn't make a special trip to Tuscan Pizza, it is definitely a fun, convenient place to dine when visiting the magnificent Christmas lights at Crane's Roost.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Where to See Awesome Christmas Lights

This Winter Park family must be fans of the Osbornes, the famous family in Arkansas that added so many Christmas lights to their house that they had to buy houses around them to expand their light display. Finally, they were shut down by the city and donated their lights to Walt Disney World, which now features the Osborne Dancing Lights at Disney Hollywood Studios.

Every year around this time, my family makes the short trip to Winter Park to view not only the main house in this neighborhood that is covered with lights, but also the other houses in the neighborhood. Two houses feature garages full of mini town displays, complete with bridges, waterfalls and even mini hot air balloons. These houses have become a tourist attraction, and one offers the ability to donate to disabled veterans. 

Back to the main house that drew us to the area in the first place: something like 800,000 lights are used on the outside of the house. But we also love the garage display with life-size Santa and Mrs. Claus and the beautiful window displays with working toy trains. The front yard is covered with lit mechanical Christmas displays, such as teddy bears riding a ferris wheel. I can honestly say I have never seen anything like this.

Make sure to take your family to this amazing sight this year. And let us know which other neighborhoods have great Christmas lights displays in the comments section below!

Where: Garden Grove Circle, Winter Park, Fla.