Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Top 8 New Dishes at Epcot Food and Wine

Epcot International Food and Wine Fest, Epcot, Walt Disney World
Loaded Macaroni and Cheese
Every year, there are a ton of new events that are offered as part of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. However, I don't want to pay for those pricey events with celebrity chefs. I just want to try the new food dishes at all the different countries around Epcot. 

This year, the Festival features 30 new dishes. Here are the ones I am most excited about trying:

1. Loaded Macaroni and Cheese with Nueske's Pepper Bacon at the new Farm Fresh Pavilion. Of course, bacon pairs perfectly with mac 'n cheese!

2. Seared Venison Loin with Wild Mushroom Marsala Sauce in the New Zealand pavilion. I pretty much always love what New Zealand has to offer!

Epcot Food and Wine Festival, Epcot, Walt Disney World
Grouper with Coconut Sauce
3. Pesado con Coco - Seared Grouper with Pigeon Peas, Rice and Coconut Sauce in the Dominican Republic pavilion. I love grouper...and coconut! This pavilion also has a new Yucca Souffle with Griddled Cheese!

4. Liquid Nitrogen Chocolate-Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel at the new Chew Lab pavilion. It will be my second dessert made with liquid nitrogen! Plus, it contains most of my favorite dessert flavors combined into one scrumptious mouthful.

5. Croissant Aux Escargots: Escargot Croissant with Garlic and Parsley in the France pavilion. I always get the escargot dish here. I am curious to see what a combination of escargot and croissant taste like - I am sure it is delicious!

6. Pork Spareribs with red wine, fennel and cheesy mascarpone grits in the new Sustainable Chew pavilion.

7. Layered Meat Pie with Mashed Yucca in Brazil. I have never tried this, but it sounds delicious.

8. Miso Udon with steamed shrimp, vegetables and noodles in a spicy broth in the Japan pavilion.

I also want to try the new liquid nitrogen cocktail - Smoking Hibiscus. I will visit the Food and Wine Festival soon, and let you know the best - and worst dishes - we ate. Watch for more details. 

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Related posts:

What's new at Epcot Food and Wine Fest


The Best Dishes at Epcot Food and Wine Fest


Thursday, September 24, 2015

What it's Like to Dine at Commander's Palace

New Orleans restaurant, New Orleans, seafood
It has been a dream of mine to dine at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans – a historicrestaurant that dates back to 1893 – for many years. The only other one that I HAVE to visit sometime in my lifetime is Le Bernardin in New York.

More famous chefs – including Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme– have come out of Commander’s Palace than any other U.S. restaurant. So I was basically like a giddy schoolgirl when I arrived, and insisted that my husband take my photo outside the restaurant. When you walk in the building, you also sense the history of dining at such a fine establishment.

Plus, the service is outstanding. Three different servers are working with your table at any one time. Our appetizers were delicious. We would suggest the Butcher Plate with foie gras, hog’s head cheese and Muscadine honey chutney,  as well as the Shrimp and Tasso Henican with 5 Pepper Jelly and Tobasco Buerre Blanc. The ham and lightly breaded shrimp are a perfect combination for this tasty and different appetizer.

Commander's Palace New Orleans restaurant
The star of our two entrees was the Chicory Coffee Lacquered Quail, which is stuffed with boudin. We loved the perfectly-cooked quail and the deep flavors of the sauce. The boudin is overpowering if you eat it alone, but pairs well with the quail. The Yellowfin Tuna, served with yellow tomato coulis, was also delicious. I would have liked a touch more salt to draw out the flavor of the beautiful fish. My favorite part of this dish was the Pistachio Pesto Popcorn Rice, which sported a nice kick of heat and a strong fresh basil flavor that I would not have previously thought would be so delicious paired with rice.

I have heard Commander’s Palace desserts – including the Bread Pudding with whiskey anglaise – are to die for, but we simply had no room left after our outstanding meal. If you haven’t dined at Commander’s Palace, you must visit to try their one-of-kind, upscale take on Southern cuisine.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Outstanding Food and Service at Brennan's

It is difficult to describe how exciting it was to visit such an iconic New Orleans restaurant as Brennan's. The restaurant opened in 1946 and was a successful upscale restaurant until 2013, when Brennan family conflicts over ownership resulted in the French Quarter landmark closing. However, restaurateur Ralph Brennan purchased the restaurant and it underwent a $11 million renovation, re-opening in 2014.

The eatery has certainly been restored to its former glory - and then some. Brennan's will soon open a wine room to complement its 300-plus dining room seating and dining rooms for private parties.

Now to the important part: the delectable food and experience we had at Brennan's. First, the servers, dining room captain and management make you feel like royalty, and take care of your every need. This is definitely the place to go if you want to feel special. 

The food, of course, was outstanding. We started with the Turtle Soup, which sported deep layers of flavor. Its kick of spice really made the dish. The appetizers you should try at Brennan's include the Blue Crab Remolaude and Veal Sweetbreads. The slightly sweet
sauce was a wonderful complement to the tender sweetbreads. They were one of the best - and most light sweetbreads - we have ever had. The New Orleans BBQ Lobster was also delicious - we have never tried a BBQ sauce like that - but the lobster was slightly overcooked and I would have loved more fresh thyme.

For entrees, the Smoked Pepper Seared Tuna was outstanding. We loved the barbecue/ smoky flavor to the tuna, which was the best tuna we tasted while in town. The black-eyed peas served with the dish had a wonderful smoky flavor as well. The Sauteed Flounder with Israeli cous cous was also perfectly prepared and the cous cous was delicious.

Now to dessert. Brennan's is the birthplace of Bananas Foster. Literally. Our server explained the history of the dish as he was preparing it table-side. I may have zoned out, as I was too busy drooling over the bananas being carefully heated in a sea of melted butter, brown sugar and banana liqueur to pay attention. Served with vanilla ice cream, this is the most outstanding dessert we have had in quite awhile.

Where: 417 Royal St., New Orleans. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

GW Fins Features One-of-a-Kind Seafood

halibut, scallops, seafood, New Orleans restaurant, New Orleans
GW Fins' signature "Scalibut"
I HAD to dine at GW Fins in New Orleans. I am a lover of fresh seafood, and knew that the executive chef and owners at GW Fins work directly with fishermen to bring in fresh Gulf seafood daily. The menu, printed daily, features 10 to 15 different fresh seafood items. Plus, my friend told me about their Sizzling Oyster Appetizer, truly a unique dish that combines cold-smoked raw oysters on oyster shells heated to 400 degrees and topped with rock salt. 

The appetizers we tried were equally as unique and delicious. The Yellowfin Tuna Tartare, which was served with avocado, wasabi and mango, was so delicate. It truly honored the taste and texture of the tuna, without adding strong sauces to mask the flavor. The avocado-wasabi mixture complemented the tuna perfectly. We also highly recommend the Lobster Dumplings, topped with fennel and served atop a lobster butter. The lightness of the dumplings was surprising and we loved their mild flavor.
New Orleans seafood restaurant, New Orleans, fish, seafood
Wasabi Crusted Wahoo

The Firecracker Tuna Tacos with pickled ginger slaw and avocado aioli were very unique, and made for the perfect bite. The fresh fish, mixed with the spicy heat, was a nice surprise, and the aoili was a delicious addition. The Crispy Pork Belly with compressed watermelon and ginger slaw was lighter than expected and the subtle sweetness of the pork belly glaze made it truly unique in a world that loves pork belly.

We were even more impressed with our entrees. We had to try the house specialty, the "Scalibut". This one-of-a-kind dish features seared, thinly-sliced scallops, arranged like fish scales, atop a perfectly-cooked, moist halibut. The delicate Pea Shoot Butter is a perfect companion to the fish - and the snow peas. We would highly recommend this dish. 

The Wasabi Crusted Wahoo, seared rare and served with pickled ginger slaw, sticky rice, bok choy and sweet soy butter was a revelation. First, we have never tried wahoo rare, and now we must have it this way all the time. The ginger slaw sounds simple, but it was complex. It tasted like high-end fried rice and was the perfect companion to the wahoo. We could have licked the plate.

The dining experience was second-to-none. The professionally-trained servers are very friendly and take care of your every need. The only caveat: this restaurant is in high demand, even during the week. Open only for dinner, you must make your reservation days or weeks in advance.

Where: 808 Bienvelle St., New Orleans. 504-581-3467.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Go to Crepevine for Yummy Brunch or Dinner

By Guest Bloggers Shelby Lynn Gurley and Sarah Hawthorne
The Crepevine in Altamonte Springs, Fla., is a place where you feel welcome right when you walk in with a friendly staff, a clean look to the restaurant and 90's music playing overhead. And the restaurant stays true to its tagline: fast, fresh, friendly. The Crepevine is open from breakfast to dinner, so we tried them for dinner.
In a sub-style ordering process, you can pick from one of the crepes suggested on the menu behind the counter or design your own. Every crepe is made fresh to order right in front of you. 

If you like Caesar salad, the Czar Crepe is the way to go. The ingredients are fresh, the chicken is amazing, and it's ooey gooey yummy with cheese. The Shoeless crepe is a mouthwatering assortment of roast beef, ham, bacon, cheese, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and ranch. They certainly don't skimp on the meat in this crepe. 

If you still have room for dessert, we recommend the Gilberto. This sinfully delicious, sweet crepe features fresh strawberries, bananas, whipped cream, nutella, and chocolate syrup. You can order it with your savory crepes and they will wait until you are ready for dessert to make it, so it's hot and fresh. It's the perfect dish to share between four people, but they won't judge if you order one just for yourself.

The restaurant focuses mainly on crepes, but they also make excellent fresh salads and have a few other offerings such as Hummus & Carrot Dip, yogurt parfait, and even mimosas. 

Crepevine just makes you all warm and cozy inside, from their bright smiles to the fancy but heartwarming food. It's the perfect place to end a long day - surrounded by friendly people.

Related post: Top 3 Brunches in Orlando...So Far

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Unique Brunch Fare at Another Broken Egg

As you all know, I could eat breakfast foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That is one of the reasons I was happy that Lake Mary has another brunch restaurant that we can enjoy during the week. Peach Valley Cafe has some good dishes, but service is very slow. I am hoping for a different experience at the new Another Broken Egg at 920 International Parkway.

My first visit was a preview - the restaurant was not officially open yet - so there were still some service and food kinks to work out. But I love that the dishes we tried were unique to other breakfast/ brunch chains and most were very tasty. I also love the atmosphere of this location - the orange and brown tones are very welcoming and the decor is modern. Everyone - from the manager greeting us at the front door to the servers - were very friendly.

We started with the City Grits, creamy grits with roasted garlic, onions and smoked Gouda, topped with bacon, tomatoes and green onions. This was a different take on grits than we had before, and was very good. Stan's Mardi Gras omelette was also different than anywhere else. It includes yummy andouille sausage, crawfish and shrimp and is topped with a tomato Hollandaise sauce. The omelette itself was yummy - and huge - but I didn't really like the sauce or think it was necessary. I would suggest asking for it on the side, and then just add a bit for flavor. Our pancakes were tasty but a little dense, which may be the restaurant just working out the kinks before opening.

All-in-all, I would definitely recommend breakfast or lunch at Another Broken Egg!