Saturday, May 28, 2011

Food Truck Follower

Oh food truck how I love thee. 

I can just not get enough of the food trucks here in Orlando. Tonight after work I went to Red Eye BBQ truck. I've seen them at the Maitland Food Pod event, but just never have enough room. After work this evening I headed over to Howl at the Moon on International Drive. Red Eye BBQ can be found there Thursday to Sunday from 6pm to close.

Tonight I orded the loaded fries-pulled brisket, bbq sauce, and cheese. AMAZING!! I  took the food with me, but there is tables and chairs outside of Howl.
Once I started eating I could not stop. this is well worth your 6 dollars. The meat was great and BBQ sauce was perfect. Awesome! 
Don't let me be your only judge-try it out for yourself. I'm sure you will love it. One bite at a time!!

Mediterranean Meal

Today I was taken to Tahini Mediterranean Grille & Cafe in Oviedo. I've tried gyros while I was abroad so I was looking forward to this meal. I decided to have a shawarma with tahini. When the meal was delivered to the table I couldn't believe how big the sandwich! I tried to finish, but I just couldn't eat the whole thing. It was delish and tasted very fresh.
I would come back here for sure to try other items on the menu. Tahini is also in the works of having a drive through-pretty exciting. It looks as if the place is fairly new. Lots of seating and it was pretty empty when I was there only about 3 other people in there eating, but it did get some traffic-mostly people taking the food to go. If you want to try something new, Tahini has a meal for you. Happy eating!! One bite at a time!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Orlando Fringe Festival

I'm always complaining about the lack of art in Orlando-well the Fringe Festival is here until the 30th! Make a trip downtown to see a show. I just bought tickets to Bitches of the Kingdom.
 A parody about the Princesses. It's received great reviews. Make sure to check out a show before its over. I'll let you know how the show is after Monday! 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What the Truck?

Food Truck that is...
Tuesday I went to the Maitland Food Truck Pod at Lake Lily Park. I arrived early to beat the crowds, that's right people were lining up waiting for the trucks to open their windows at 6pm. The food truck craze is making a great impression on the people of Orlando. There were a total of 8 trucks to show up.

I came on a empty stomaching and planned on buying until my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I started with Big Wheel Provisions. This truck is ran by a vetran chef, Tony Adams. He uses only local foods. I  had a blueberry soda, fried eggplant, and a pork belly sandwich (because I had heard great things about it). Also a plus they take credit cards through an ipad and can text you the receipt (i love technology)! So now it's time to chow down-I go for the eggplant first-hot and fresh and the marina sauce was so good! Sandwich time- I didn't want to put it down. 

So I'm pretty full after that meal, but I can't stop after just one truck. I headed to Korean BBQ Taco Box. So many choices, but I decided to play it safe and take the chicken taco to go. The chicken taco also comes with a chicken wing, salad, pork, and tofu. It's a whole meal for only 6 bucks. Can't beat it. I ended up saving the food until the next day and I heated everything up- amazing! The sauce the chicken was in- yum, yum, yum!!!! 

My last stop at the food pod event-Yum Yum Cupcakes. Last time I tried to get one they sold out!! I've read some articles about the guys that run Yum Yum and they are from Philadelphia! When it was my turn to order- I made sure to get one of each. The guys were super sweet-they even hooked me up with a cupcake on the house-Philly special! I haven't tried them all yet, but I can tell you the cream cheese icing is to die for. So far my favorite is the carrot cake! I'm not even a fan of carrot cake, but you can taste how fresh it is and see all of the ingredients-actually pieces of carrot, raisins, and nuts. ( They also take credit cards.)

Every Tuesday- 6-9pm the Maitland Food Pod will be happening. Make sure to bring plenty of cash and a empty stomach. The food pod is a recipe for success and a great time. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Beach Day Experience

Hello Readers- I had two days off now time to catch up on my local adventures. Monday I figured I would take a drive to the beach-I recently got a new bathing suit and it was time to get some sun. Looking like Casper the friendly ghost over here. I drove to Cocoa Beach and when I arrived I noticed there weren’t many people on the beach and couldn’t really figure out why until about 5 minutes into my stay-love bugs!

For those of you who don’t know about these lovely creatures, they only come out about twice a year-April/May and then again in August/September. The love bug has a short life only about three or four days. Well enough science information, I’m on the beach and they are in swarms. I’m talking these bugs are crawling on my sunglasses, arms, and legs. I tried to deal and I just couldn’t! So I took a 15 minute drive down the road and I stopped at Indian Harbor Beach.

Ok-so fewer people, fewer love bugs-now I can relax, but it doesn’t end there. I’m sitting in my little beach chair watching this guy fish trying to pull in his line and he’s having a pretty hard time. I’m thinking to myself what if he got a sting ray or a shark…and what do you know the man had a sting ray caught on his line. Crazy! Another fisherman assisted him to remove the line and get him back into the water. What a day at the beach!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tea Party for Two

This evening I met a friend I had lost touch with at Wishes Brew Tea House in the Hunter's Creek area of Orlando. Months ago my friend Kym and I planned to go there and never got the chance. Both of us are pretty avid tea drinkers, but we didn't expect the long list of tea that Wishes presented to both of us.

After catching up on our girl talk we decided on the Casablanca and One night in Paris. Both were red teas. Each of us had a scone which are made in house. I had a cinnamon scone and she had blueberry.
I felt like a little girl having a tea party with Kym. We were having great conversation and the atmosphere was just perfect. There are different tea cups and tea pots on each table. The place is small just as a tea house should be. The price for the scone and individual pot of tea came to $8.50 which is a bit high, but its the surroundings that make it enjoyable.
They have some great ideas here that I think they need to expand upon. For example when our checks came they arrived like this:
It looked just like a book. Which I have seen other places use cigar boxes. But then you could open it up:

The Wishes Brew Tea House is a nice place to catch up with a girl friend, mother, or any other family member. I think it would be a great place to try in the morning. You can even purchase some loose tea to take home with you and have your own tea party at home or host one there! Cheers to a good cuppa tea!

Tapas Crazy

I have been in love with tapas since I found out what they were. I love the small portions because I really enjoy trying several different types of food. I have started to serve my own tapas at my house when I have visitors. It's enjoyable for everyone to sit down and try what they want and not be forced into a meal they do not enjoy. Here is a picture from the tapas I served last night!

So here's some of the things I served:
Fish tacos-I use a mild fish-Tilapia
Cheese-if you don't know what kind go to Whole Foods and pick up the four pack already cut-its different every time
Red Pepper Hummus-Sabra is my favorite
Fresh Fruit-Cantaloupe, Cherries, and Strawberries
Guacamole and Chips
Bread and Olive Oil
Don't forget your favorite drink of choice!!

** With the cantaloupe cut it up and put a little black pepper and balsamic glaze on top. It just makes it taste amazing!

Social Media within the Food Industry

While my mother was in town I was looking to take her some place she does not usually get the opportunity to eat at. We were looking for a food truck I had recently ate at, but no luck since the truck did not update their Twitter page for the day, so I was unsure of the location. Next best place-Café Tu Tu Tango. This restaurant is located on International Drive and serves international tapas.
Empanadas from Tu Tu Tango
Social media integration is one of the keys to success in today’s society. I love food trucks because there is something unique ordering your food outside and there only being a limited quantity for the day. Without consistency of updates you can lose loyal followers.

Café Tu Tu Tango has a website, Facebook, and Twitter account.  The restaurant’s website is very refreshing, the layout is simplistic and easy to navigate. Unfortunately, the Facebook page only exists as a location, but not a page by the restaurant itself. Tu Tu Tango’s Twitter page does get updated every few days, but not on a day-to-day basis. I believe if they worked on this a bit more it would help to draw more people in based on any specials they may be having.

How does this restaurant draw the crowd? Mainly, it’s location and word of mouth. I’ve never had anything I didn’t like from Tu Tu Tango.  Situated right in tourist central-many people walk by and the bright colors catch their attention.

Two great tools I’ve learned about in the food world: Foodspotting and Urbanspoon. If you have a smart phone these are must have apps! Foodspotting allows you to choose what state and city you are in and look for the best foods! Urban spoon brings up what I call a slot machine and you can lock in how much you want to spend, where you are and what type of food you are looking for and jackpot! It’s pretty amazing what we can do and tip of our fingers. Several years ago I didn’t think I would be carrying around a mini computer in my purse. Now I can locate what type of food I would like in the 5-mile range. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

What Else To Do At Disney?

Ever try running through the park at night after it’s closed? Disney’s runs are for everyone. I’ve done almost every run Disney World has to offer and I have fun every time.  Saturday evening my mother and I ran the Everest Challenge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It was a 5k (3.1 miles) with obstacles and a scavenger hunt. The run started in the parking lot and took you into the park, backstage, and back out of the park. There are runners on every level and even people power walking. After finishing the 5k we continued to run to complete the scavenger hunt to find the Yeti! We had a ton of fun as it felt like we were running the amazing race. Everyone gets a medal in the end. 

Make sure to check the Disney Run site and see if there are any runs coming up on your next visit. I’ll be traveling to Philly in September for a half marathon! 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Food Truck Heaven

So my 2nd food truck event-this past Tuesday at The Plaza Theatre. Not as many food trucks, but the quality was there. My favorite-Arepas el Cacao-pick up to five ingredients and its only 5 bucks. I had chicken, beef, shrimp, and gouda! To die for!

I then tried pinchos from Casa de Chef-it had a sweet BBQ glaze. The meat was so tender!

 For dessert, Mister Softie-don’t judge, but as a child my Dad said that they never washed their hands so I would call him the “Dirty Hand Man” and would never eat their ice cream. It’s pretty genius on my parent's behalf!

Oh and I learned some new words when ordering my ice cream:
Up North                        Down South
Twist                              Swirl
Jimmies                          Sprinkles

Can’t wait till we meet again food trucks! 

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

So I don’t want to be a total hypocrite, but you know who you are-celebrating Cinco de Mayo and you don’t even have the slightest clue what the day is about. Most people use today to throw back some Mexican beers, have a tequila shot or ten, have a margarita pitcher, and then mix in some tacos or nachos to puke up later.

Well here’s some information-pass it on before you forget what you are celebrating: 

Cinco de Mayo—or the fifth of May—commemorates the Mexican army's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Be Safe!

Orlando Restaurant Week

If you live in Orlando or anywhere nearby this is the week-Orlando Restaurant Week. Check out the site, find a restaurant you are interested in going to, decide how much dough you want to dish out, and go eat!!! Restaurant week is on until this Saturday the 7th. There are options for dinner and lunch.

My personal choice was OLV. A four-course meal for $15 could not be beaten. And it was delicious! Choices for a starter are soup or salad. (I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture) Then option of two flatbreads so Dean and I ordered both. Margherita and Portabella Mushroom. I think I favored the Margherita, but trust me both were very good. Then for the entrée-Dean had Scallops and I had beef tenders. I tasted the scallops and they were very tasty. My beef was cooked just to my liking and the sauce was great. Finally, I was forced to stuff in dessert with two options again we ordered both-crème brulee and bread pudding. There were 3 small crème brulee on the plate each with a different fruit on the bottom. The bread pudding was nice and fresh.

I will definitely be returning to OLV. They have different specials during the week and a monthly wine and cheese pairing. Yum-something just up my alley. Bon Appetite!

Margherita Flatbread

Beef Tenders

Digital Lanscapes for Restaurants!

Working in the food industry is very competitive. How are restaurants and food trucks connecting with their target audience?

Most restaurants today have their own website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.  If they don’t they are out of touch with today’s digital age. Having contact with your audience is crucial. Let’s look at one of my favorite chain restaurants-The Melting pot. They have their company website, Facebook, and Twitter. These platforms are a crucial part of marketing. They can let the public know about any specials they are having. It’s free advertising!

I’ve started to become a part of the food blogger scene in Orlando.  Every event that I learn about has been through Yelp!, Facebook, Twitter, or through a blog! It’s amazing how every company is using these platforms. These tools are helping entrepreneurs turn their passion of cooking into something larger than life. The local food community is starting to take off.  Personally, I really enjoy learning about different food trucks.  Most recently, I tried Arepas El Cacao. It had amazing food! They do not have a website, but you can find their location through twitter. This is the common way to find the location of Orlando food trucks.

Without social media the local food community would not be able to flourish. Large commercial restaurants would still thrive because they have the money to pay for advertising. In an article from The New York Times, it stated, “…some food outlets are experimenting with attracting customers and increasing business through digital approaches, which can be cheaper than paper coupons and print advertising.” Buffalo Wild Wings has been experimenting with foursquare where you check in to let others know where you are. The goal is to keep people coming back for more and create a buzz. Having a relationship with the company and their food is the ultimate goal.

In the end, it comes down to the food and the overall experience. The food has to be good the experience has to match it. Social media can attract, but in the end you have got to keep the customer wanting more!



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sunday-Gospel Brunch!

So this past Sunday I was graced with the presence of an old friend from high school, Matt! I haven't seen him in years! As he has been spending the week here with family and close friends at Disney, I wanted the opportunity to show him there was more in Orlando. We were limited on the time we had-it had to be breakfast or brunch...ok Leann think....where can we go? Got it-Banana's American Diner for the Sunday Gospel Brunch!
This is not your mom's gospel brunch-we are talking drag queens lip synching to gospel and other music. This is not for sensitive-they will call out the straight, gay, and lesbians sitting in the audience. Be prepared for them to steal your $4 mimosas or have you drink a glass of wine with them.  There are two shows at 11:30 and 1pm. Make sure you call ahead to make reservations. The food is just as good as the entertainment. I've been there once for dinner and now for the brunch. This time I had the breakfast burrito! Yum, Yum, Yum! Hurry up and make your reservation now all you sinners!

Pass me a Pint!

To finish off my trip home, I have been waiting to go to The British Chip Shop in Haddonfield, NJ. I've had an obsession with England ever since I was little. I was able to spend four months in London my senior year at Temple University. Ever since I've wanted to go back! Any food or things from England I get really excited! So obviously, I had to stop make a stop at The British Chip Shop. 

 The atmosphere was really nice inside-exactly like a pub in England. Dark and high top tables-decorated with different British teams. I went with the staple food fish and chips. They offer 3 sizes-jack (small), queen (medium), or king (large). I opted for the queen size for dinner. My mother and I split a side order of mushy peas. The waitress said it was a small portion, but it was way more than expected. I had a Ribena to drink- I wish they had the light version, but not offered! (Not sure what beers they have to offer-if any-didn't look!)  Then for pudding (dessert) I had a freshly baked cinnamon raisin scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam. OMG! Delish!!! If anything I would be back for the scone! 

All in all, I felt like I was back in the UK minus the accents. The chip shop is owned by a British family-the son is the chef. Across the street is an English shop owned by the husband and wife, where you can find British foods and novelties. Cheers!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Food to Cure that Hangover-or Anytime!

So hopefully, you've been reading about my food adventure. I started in Atlantic City, NJ then over to Philadelphia. I failed to mention my breakfast I had before heading for that mouthwatering cheesesteak at Jim's. One of my favorite communities in Philadelphia is Northern Liberties. It has been developing into a hip/trendy neighborhood of the young, upcoming professionals. Honey's Sit-N-Eat is located on North 4th Street. How do I explain Honey's......its a small place...fresh ingredients....hip waiters/waitresses with tattoos covering their arms..the atmosphere just completes everything. 

Really-if you are ever in Philadelphia, make sure Honey's is on your list of places to stop and visit. I had the breakfast quesadilla with avocado cream on top and my mother had the wheat pancakes with strawberries, blueberries, and granola. Both were out of this world. Ofcourse, the prices are a bit high, but in some instances, you pay for what you get! See our food below and try not to drool on your keyboard!!