July 21, 2014

Exploring Orlando Enjoying Local Restaurants, Craft Beer, I-Drive, CityWalk & More

I did a lot of exploring this week.  I was all over Orlando. Wednesday I had a friend in town for a convention, so Bryan and I headed back down to International Drive to meet up for drinks. Bryan and I started at Café Tu Tu Tango. They have great BOGO drinks and $2 off tapas for Happy Hour.
Cocktail at Café Tu Tu Tango
Gummy Bear Cocktail
After a drink and some tapas we headed down International Drive to Pointe Orlando and met my friend at Cuba Libre. This is a beautiful restaurant. They also have a nice "Caippy Hour" with food and drink specials daily from 5pm-7pm.
Small Bar Bites at Cuba Libre Orlando
Shrimp Ceviche

Thursday I headed to World of Beer Lake Mary to join fellow Lady Crafters for a Belgian Beer Class. This was a fun and informative class that was free to boot!
Belgian Beers at World of Beer Lake Mary
Belgian Beer Flight
Continuing with the Belgian Beer theme, Bryan and I stopped by Barley & Vine for their Belgian Independence Day Bash on Friday. They were giving out beer swag from Duvel, Brasserie D'Achouffe, & other Belgian breweries.
Belgain Beer from Brasserie D'Achouffe
Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel
Saturday The Public House was celebrating their 1year anniversary with a pig roast. They had some great beers on tap making for a fun gathering with friends. I was so happy to enjoy a Terrapin Cinnamon Roll'd Wake-n-Bake 
Roasted Pig at the Public House
I capped off the weekend with a visit to CityWalk. Bryan and I took our youngest and a couple of her friends. I was surprised at how crowded it was for a Sunday. The girls had a fun time playing mini golf and shopping. Bryan & I explored the resorts and enjoyed a little ice cream.
The sunset at Island's of Adventure at Universal Orlando

Check out what others discovered in Orlando last week:

All Around Orlando enjoys a stay at Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

Kim and Carrie did some exploring in Ivanhoe Village and enjoyed an afternoon of Antique Shopping.

The Hungry Sprout checked out Se7ven Bites Bakery in the Milk District.

Fun in the Sun grabs a bite and enjoys a show at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney.

Looking ahead to this week on the blog, I'm going to do some exploring in Winter Park.

A few local events to check out this week:

Tuesday 7/22- Art Tastings with the Director ~ $25/$15 (members) 6pm-8pm

Wednesday 7/23- Fruit Trees for Florida ~ $14/$8 6:30pm-8pm

Friday 7/25- Sanford Art Walk ~ 6pm-9pm

Saturday 7/26- Café Tu Tu Tango Turns 20 ~ 3pm-11pm

Sunday 7/28- Vans Warped Tour ~ $38 11am

Monday 7/29- CaddyShanks Indoor Golf Challenge ~ $6 7pm

July 18, 2014

Exploring Sanford With a Visit to Hollerbach's Willow Tree Café

I remember how charming I thought Sanford was the first time I visited the historic town. Their main street in town offers a lot and makes for a nice afternoon of exploring. A fun way to get around this town is with Limo Cycle Tours. Grab some friends and enjoy some beers as you peddle your way around Sanford.
Limo Cycle Tours
The folks with Limo Cycle want you to have a fun time. There's beer on board and music to enjoy. They even have some mister fans for those hot Florida days.
Beer on the Limo Cycle Tours
One of my favorite places to enjoy a craft beer or cocktail is at the Imperial at Washburn Imports in Sanford. The setting for this bar is one of a kind. The bar makes for a great place to enjoy the sights in this furniture store while enjoying your handcrafted cocktail.
Cocktail at The Imperial Wine Bar & Beer Garden in Sanford
Summer Thyme
The Imperial Wine Bar & Beer Garden in Sanford
Another place in town that is a visual delight is Jeanine Taylor Folk Art.  Local folk artists display their work in a market like setting. Enjoy exploring in the gallery during the monthly Art Walk held the 4th Friday of each month.
Art Displayed at Jeanine Taylor Folk Art in Sanford

Art displayed at Jeanine Taylor Folk Art in Sanford
If you're coming to Sanford you've got to stop at Hollerbach's Willow Tree Café.  Folks have enjoyed delicious German food at the Willow Tree since 2001. Willow Tree is more than just dining it's an experience.
Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe | Exploring Orlando
There is patio seating out front where you can take in the view from downtown Sanford. Inside the restaurant they offer German entertainment that takes place Thursday - Sunday evenings.   
Dining room at Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe | Exploring Orlando

I wanted to dine at the Willow Tree Cafe for some time. I came to Sanford with friends, but we didn't have time to wait for a table. We've tried planning trips up to Sanford just to dine here, but something always came up. I was excited to be offered an opportunity to dine as a guest. I went with a group looking to experience some fun food and activities in Seminole County.

Theo welcomed us into his restaurant. We felt right at home with him all night long. It was a wonderful dining experience to hear Theo talk about his food and hear fun stories about the restaurant.
menu at Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe | Exploring Orlando
We started off the meal with a glass Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Weizen. This is a nice refreshing beer. This is one of the beers I suggest to people who aren't sure about craft beer. It has a nice grapefruit taste and is low in ABV.
German beer a tHollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe
Schöfferhofer  Grapefruit Weizen
After we enjoyed our beer with soup and bread Theo brought out Das Boot. This 3 liter glass boot is filled with German beer and is to be shared with friends. You take a sip and pass it along till it's all gone. They say "Drinking Das Boot is about sharing the joy of life with friends" It was definitely a joyful & tasty experience!

Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe | Exploring Orlando
Köstritzer Schwarzbier 
We enjoyed a family style dinner with so much delicious German food including; Bratwurst, Potato Dumplings, Spätzle and more. I was looking forward to the sauerkraut since no one in my family enjoys it. I miss eating it and was quite happy with getting my fill.

I was pleased with all that I tried. My favorite was the Chicken Schnitzel and Potato Dumplings. I would suggest going to the Willow Tree Café with friends and ordering a bunch of menu items and enjoy them family style. There is so much good food and it's nice to be able to sample the variety of German dishes served at the Café.
Bratwurst at Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe
Nürnberger Bratwurst
Chicken Schintzel at Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe | Exploring Orlando
Chicken Schintzel
Plated German food at Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe
After indulging on some great food we had little room for dessert. We couldn't resist and sampled the Apple Strudel and Black Forest Cake.
German cake display at Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe
What a fantastic dining experience. Theo was a gracious host who showed a lot of passion not only for his restaurant, but also Sanford. He has a sense of pride showing off this charming town. When you are able to live and work in a place you enjoy it shows.
Downtown Sanford

The town of Sanford is enough to draw folks in. If you're looking for even more fun in Sanford check out some of their regular events that they host such as:

Alive After 5 - 2nd Thursday of each month 5pm-8pm

Sanford Art Walk - 4th Friday of each month 6pm-9pm

Sanford's charming town is filled with unique shops, restaurants, bars and entertainment making for a fun place to explore.

Hollerbach's Willow Tree Café on Urbanspoon

July 15, 2014

Sail the Seas with Carnival and Cigar City Brewing

Craft beer lovers who enjoy cruising on Carnival Cruise Lines out of Florida just got a bit happier or should I say hoppier? Carnival recently announced that they would now be serving Cigar City Beer on their 13 ships that set sail from Florida ports.  

The celebration of this collaboration took place this past Sunday in Tampa aboard Carnival's Legend.
Carnival Cruise Ship Legend in the Port of Tampa
The Red Frog Pub on the ship was where the festivities took place.  Cans of Invasion Pale Ale & Florida Cracker were passed among the guests.  These are some great tasting beers. They are a bit on the lighter side making it nice to enjoy while you are on your cruise.  The Invasion Pale Ale is a citrusy hoppy session beer coming in at 5% ABV. The Florida Cracker gets its name from the Cracker Cowboys of the colonial-era settlers who came to Florida. This white ale has a hint of orange peel, coriander and vanilla making for a refreshing beer to enjoy in the sun.
Cigar City Beer on the Carnival Cruise Ship Legend
Invasion Pale Ale

Cigar City Craft beer in cans

Ice Sculpture on Carnival Cruise Ship Legend
Each year two million guests board on Carnival Cruise ships that leave from Florida ports.  This is a wonderful opportunity to expose travelers to Florida craft beer. Cigar City Brewing is a favorite among the locals, and tourists will now get a chance to see why.

Cigar City Beer & Carnival Cruise Ships pouring beer over ice sculpture

Cigar City Beer on Carnival Cruise Ships
Invasion Pale Ale
While we were here for the beer we also got to enjoy a little exploring of the Legend afterwards.  This is a beautiful ship!  Everywhere I looked was a visual delight. With many dining options, entertainment, a casino, spa, kid's activities and more you will have a great time while you're at sea. Everyone in your group will enjoy discovering what fun this ship has to offer.
Lobby of the Carnival Cruise Ship Legend

Steakhouse on Carnival Cruise Ship Legend

Dining room at Carnival Cruise Ship Legend

Gambling on Carnival Cruise Ship Legend

Lounge on Carnival Cruise Ship Legend

Lounge on Carnival Cruise Ship Legend

Waterslides on Carnival Cruise Ship Legend

View of Tampa Skyline from Carnival Cruise Ship Legend
Lovely skyline view of Tampa
Lounge seating on the deck of Carnival Cruise Ship Legend

Redfrog Pub on Carnival Cruise Ship Legend
Once the media event had come to a close a few of us decided to head over to Cigar City Brewing for a brewery tour. I have been to the brewery a handful of times, but I have never gone on the tour. You can register ahead for a tour online. We were winging it that day and showed up to the brewery just in time for the last tour of the day. They were able to fit us in, so we paid our $5 and got our souvenir pint glass filled with beer. I went with the Experimental Hop ADHA #527.  It was a solid IPA perfect to take along on the tour.
Craft Beer at Cigar City Brewing
Experimental Hop ADHA #527 IPA
You'll have to put your "beer' goggles on. It you are wearing open toe shoes you will need to slip on the blue stylin' booties. A word of caution there is no air conditioning on the tour and 4:00pm in the afternoon is hot in Tampa. Make sure you don't drink all your beer before the tour starts because you will want something to quench your thirst from the heat.
Brewery Tour at Cigar City

Our tour guide did a great job explaining the beer process.  We even enjoyed smelling the various hops, wood and grains that help add flavor to the beers.  We got to sample a taste of the Tocobaga Red Ale during the tour.  The tour took about thirty minutes.  There was time to get questions asked that you may have about the brewery or the process on how they make the beer.  The tour was fun to do with friends and I'd recommend it for anyone coming to visit the brewery.
Brewery Tour at Cigar City Brewing

Vats at Brewery Tour at Cigar City Brewing

Bike at Brewery Tour at Cigar City Brewing
Once we wrapped up with the tour I got a flight of beers to sample.  I have had the Cucumber Saison and the Cubano Espresso before.  Both of these beers are some of my favorites that Cigar City puts out.  I love the cucumber taste for a saison and the Cubano is wonderful with it's vanilla, coffee & cocoa nibs. The Peach was an American Sour Ale I felt needed a tad more peach flavor to balance the sour taste. The Cinnamon Apple IPA smelled and tasted like a fall candle.  I wasn't into that beer either, but I did get a sample of the Horchata Ale and it was great! This also reminded me of fall, but didn't overwhelm me with such strong fall flavors.
Beer Flight at Cigar City Brewing
Cucumber Saison-Peach American Sour Ale-Cinnamon Apple IPA-Cubano Style Espresso Brown Ale
During all my visits on the weekend there has always been a food truck parked out front.  They have a schedule of the trucks on their website.  I have never visited Cigar City Brewing during the week when they offer food from Cigar City Brewpub.  It's nice knowing you can visit the brewery and not have to worry about food.

The brewery is stocked with beer in cans or you can fill up growlers to go.  They also have some fun items such as beer books, beer soap, shirts and more offered in their gift shop.

Cigar City makes it enjoyable to Drink Like a Local and enjoy some great Florida craft beer. Now Carnival Cruise lets you enjoy it while on vacation at sea.


Cigar City Brewery Cafe on Urbanspoon

July 14, 2014

Exploring Orlando with visits to Leu Gardens, Animal Kingdom, Day Trip to Tampa, Enjoying Craft Beer & more

I started off last week with a lovely stroll through Leu Gardens.  Bryan and I took advantage of the free admission offered the first Monday of each month.  I like to visit later in the afternoon when the crowds aren't too busy.
The rose garden at Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando

July 12, 2014

A Day at Animal Kingdom Park

My youngest & I headed over to Disney's Animal Kingdom for an afternoon of exploring.  It was our first time seeing the Lion King in its new location.  Disney has done a wonderful job with this new addition to the Harambe Village.
Harambe village Disney's Animal Kingdom Park


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