Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Yelp's Free Fire & Ice Event in Orlando

Yelp is hosting a free culinary and music event on July 7 at the Heaven Event Center in Orlando, Fla. Did I mention that the food, drinks, and music is FREE? Yelp’s “Fire and Ice” Gala, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m., features sweets and food from CakeShooters, Jeremiah’s Italian Ice and Cocktails Catering. Drinks are provided by Orlando Brewing, Winter Park’s Grand Touring Vodka, vitaminwater, and Honest Tea.

The entertainment will include a belly dancer, djs, a magic show, and fun from Games2U, and 02 Breathe. While the event is free, Yelp is encouraging people to bring donations to support United Arts of Central Florida (

Address: 8240 Exchange Dr., Orlando, Fla., 32809.

Meanwhile, I recently had the opportunity to try the new summer chocolate bar flavors from Seattle Chocolates ( I would definitely recommend the new confetti Birthday Cake car, but the flavor of SC’s Campfire S'mores is just off. Overall, Seattle Chocolates’ products are yummy and can be found at specialty stores across Florida.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Orlando's Top Dog-Friendly and Foodie-Friendly Restaurants

There is something so comforting about sitting outside your favorite café, sipping on a hot latte or a glass of wine. I love that many restaurants in Orlando let you bring your pet, while you are sitting outside on their patios. There was a flap a couple of years back about whether or not restaurants in the city should allow dogs. I am so glad the answer was yes! I am a big proponent of enjoying time with your pet, while appreciating nature and the great food that is being served.

My dog owner friends say that among the top places to eat with pets are: RelaxGrill at Lake Eola, Spice, White Wolf Café, Metro Espresso Pizza Café, Dexters, Panera Bread, and Pisces Rising in Mount Dora. Relax Grill features a unique mix of Middle Eastern, Greek, and American cuisine – and, of course, a great view. The two Spice locations – one on Park Avenue and the other on Lake Eola – are also popular. Check out Spice’s extensive brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays, with prices ranging from $9 to $12 per entrée.

White Wolf Café, which sports vintage antiques and live entertainment, consistently gets rave reviews on its food from locals. Don’t forget to try the cinnamon rolls and the Greek focaccia bread. Meanwhile, Pisces Rising features a great view of Lake Dora and some of the best fresh seafood in town.
Where are your favorite spots to eat with your dogs?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hawkers Sports Cheap, Tasty Asian Food

Only open a few months, Hawkers Asian Street Fare is delighting the downtown Orlando restaurant-going crowd with something different. Hawkers, 1103 North Mills Ave., is named after street vendors throughout Asia who “hawk” their hand-made wares. Essentially, you are eating delicious Asian street food in appetizer-sized portions, priced much cheaper than entrees at most restaurants around town. You can order two small plates and unique beers and wines for $3 to $5 for a total bill of $15 to $20 each.

Among our favorite dishes at this fun, casual spot are:  Char Kway Teo (Malaysian stir-fried noodles with shrimp, chicken and scallions), pot stickers, and Hawkers Five Spice Fish Tacos.
However, if you are expecting great service and the best Asian food you have ever had, don’t hold your breath. Hawkers is still working out its serving and communication kinks. I had a bad experience trying to order entrees without certain ingredients I am allergic to. It was impossible for Hawkers to alter recipes or get the order correct.

Still, I believe that Hawkers provides something new to the city, and will be around for a long time.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hotel Deals For Harry Potter & Star Wars Fans

Do you have relatives visiting Orlando this summer? Tell them about some of the area hotels that are offering great deals and access to theme parks. Tying into Disney World’s renovated Star Tours 3D attraction, The Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista is offering Star Wars fans a rate of $55.99 per night. Available through June 12, the package also features a buy one, get one free breakfast and a buy one, get one free dinner. The hotel is geared towards families, and features Ozzie’s Splash Zone for Kids at its pool area.

Another unique deal - the “Wizarding Wonders” package - comes from The Castle Hotel on International Drive. Guests receive accommodations, transportation to Universal Orlando Resort, magical potion beverages, and movie tickets for the final Harry Potter movie, which will be released July 15. Rates for the package, which is available through July 31, start at $144 a night.
What are your travel plans this summer? Will you be taking a staycation, or visiting somewhere exotic. Let me know which cities and attractions you would like to receive travel advice on.

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