Drinking Local at This Year's Taste! Central Florida

Taste! Central Florida Orlando's annual premier culinary event took place August 19th at the Orlando World Marriott Center. While this is the 27th year for the annual foodie event this is the first year the event went all local. The name changed and with the focus on local, the proceeds are all local this year as well. 100% of the funds will be used to fight hunger in Central Florida. I applaud the vendors, volunteers, and the guests who came out to support the cause.

I've been coming to the event for the last four years. This year I decided to take advantage of the great rate they were offering attendees. Hubs and I got there early enough to enjoy a drink at the pool beforehand. 🍹 This may have set precedent on how my evening would go.
Cocktail poolside at Orlando World Marriott Center


The Orlando World Marriott Center donates the event space each year. This is a huge event! There are over forty restaurants and food vendors along with 20+ beverage sponsors!
Span of ballroom at Taste! Central Florida at the Orlando World Marriott Center


If you can't make the event you can still bid on some great prizes!
Silent Auction Set up at Taste! Central Florida


While this is considered the "foodie" event to go to in Orlando, I love all the drink options as much!

The Taste is four hours long. That's a lot of eating and drinking! I covered a lot of ground, but I still missed out on so much amazing food and drink. Here are some of the drinks I sampled and enjoyed that evening.

Orange Blossom Brewing Co. is always setting up their fun tasty tap car.🍺
Orange Blossom Brewing at Taste! Central Florida

This was the first Taste for Big Top Brewing. Their PB&J Pale Ale was👌
Big Top Brewing at Taste! Central Florida

Local Rogue Pub set up shop and was serving Motorworks beer. My favorite is the Midnight Espresso.
Motorworks Brewing with Rogue Pub at this year's Taste! Central Florida

I was a happy lady to see Red Cypress offering their Carl IPA. One of my favorite Florida beers!
Red Cypress Brewing Carl beer at this year's Taste! Central Florida

The Strawberry Infused Lemonade was my favorite drink of the evening. It's made with rosemary and lavender vodka and it's delicious!
Cocktails at this year's Taste! Central Florida

Now I'm not much of a whiskey gal, but the Suntory Whisky with club soda was actually nice.
Suntory Whisky at this year's Taste! Central Florida

This Piña Expreso was offered at the Marriott booth. It looked quite delicious and I'm sure it was tasty, but I put it aside and forgot to come back for it😢
Pina Espresso cocktail at this year's Taste! Central Florida

I did get to try some Big Storm Oktoberfest at the Marriott booth. This was paired with a Wienerschnitzel Slider. Prost!
Big Storm Brewing at this year's Taste! Central Florida

I was happy to see my favorite brewer at the event. I got to enjoy a couple of Crooked Can beers with their head brewer Kent. They were set up next to the Sweet by Holly cupcakes. and I paired a couple of their cupcakes with this Freedom Ride Stout.
Crooked Can Brewing at this year's Taste! Central Florida

Orlando Brewing was back again this year serving up their IPA. Nice to see them showing continued support.
Orlando Brewing at this year's Taste! Central Florida

Moving on from the alcohol I needed some coffee☕. The line for lattes was too long so I was happy to find some cold brew from Lineage. You've got to try their White Cold Brew.
Lineage Cold Brew at this year's Taste! Central Florida

One of my favorite "treats" of the night was the S'mores milkshake from the Florida Dairy Farmers. Hubs said his Strawberry Cheesecake was amazing as well.
Florida Dairy Farmers at this year's Taste! Central Florida

Not to be outdone by the dairy farmers Universal had these Twinkie Milkshakes!
Twinkie Milkshakes at this year's Taste! Central Florida

The most interesting drink was this concoction at the Marriott booth. It was fascinating to watch them make it.
Fund drinks at this year's Taste! Central Florida

The event was another success raising $317,359. That money goes straight back to our local charities Second Harvest Food Bank and Coalition for the HomelessThough the event takes place every August there are ways you can help throughout the year. Check out their websites for more information on other events and ways to volunteer.
Cockatails, beer wine at this year's Taste! Central Florida

Cheers to another successful Taste! 🍷🍸🍹🍺


~ Kelli
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As a Taste! Central Florida Media Ambassador I was invited to the event in exchange for media promotion.

Dining to Make a Difference at Talk of the Town Restaurants

In just one year Talk of the Town Restaurant Group has engaged the Central Florida community to raise over $200,000 for deserving charities. This hefty sum of money supported Special Olympics Florida athletes, the OneOrlando Fund for Pulse Nightclub victims and several other worthy causes. Talk of the Town Restaurant Group, owned by the Woodsby family, is expanding their fundraising efforts to help even more communities in need by creating a “Round Up for Charity” program.

THE EFFORT CONTINUES
Talk of the Town Restaurant Group was founded in 1974 by the father and son team of Charley and Ron Woodsby. For over 40 years, personal donations from the Woodsby’s have greatly improved the quality of life for those struggling in our local neighborhoods. In keeping with the family tradition of giving back, Clark Woodsby, Senior Operating Partner, has joined his father and grandfather to create a private charity - Talk of the Town Restaurant Group Foundation. “Being born and raised in Lakeland, I’m passionate about this community and want to give back to Central Florida where I grew up”, says Clark.

As part of this Foundation, all restaurants in the Talk of the Town family will participate in the “Round Up for Charity” program, in which guests can round up their checks to the nearest dollar to support different charities each month. Participating restaurants include:
·         Charley’s Steak House
·         FishBones
·         Johnnie’s Hideaway
·         MoonFish
·         Texas Cattle Company
·         Vito’s Chop House
All operational costs of the Foundation are paid for by the Woodsby family so that 100% of the money collected goes directly to those in need.

I recently had an opportunity to experience many delicious dishes from the Talk of the Town Restaurants. I also sampled some of their house wines as well. Both were lovely.



I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this Cantaloupe Martini! I'm not much of a cantaloupe person, but I found this drink to be the right amount of sweet for a cocktail🍸

I wish I had thought about showing a comparison on how big these shrimp were.

I have never seen shrimp this big! I thought they were lobster at first. Amazing!

I'm a big fan of Tun and this roll didn't disappoint.

There was a nice kick in the roll, spicing it up.

This melt in your mouth Tenderloin was delicious.

Easy to cut with your fork and the mashed potatoes were equally as good.

By now it was hard to pick out a favorite. I really enjoyed everything I tried.

I think the Chilean Sea Bass may have been my favorite. The Szechuan Green Beans were the perfect side dish to compliment the fish.

This was my first experience trying any of the Talk of the Town dishes. I discovered that a few of their restaurants offer a great Happy Hour all week too. Can't beat that.


WHAT’S NEXT?
Talk of the Town Restaurant Group is partnering with Hello! Florida Destination Management to benefit the Hello! Florida Field Trip Fund. This fund enables Orange County Public School children who are experiencing poverty or homelessness to attend STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) focused field trips at no cost. In the past two years, Hello! Florida has sent over 1,200 local children on fun, educational school field trips that they would not otherwise have been able to afford. All proceeds from the “Round Up for Charity” program in August will be donated to the Hello! Florida Field Trip Fund.

I'm impressed with the food and equally impressed at their charitable giving. It says a lot about a company that gives back to the community. Their August charity is dear to my heart. I have school children and I know there are many in the school that can't afford to go on field trips. I can't imagine being left out. I hope you will consider dining at a Talk of the Town restaurant and round up to make a difference in our community.

Map of Talk of the Town restaurants


To learn more about Talk of the Town Restaurant Group Foundation, visit www.TalkoftheTownRestaurants.org

~ Kelli
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Editor's Note: I was invited as a guest to try the menu. All opinions are mine. Please do not use photos without credit.


Bakeries in Orlando

There are lots of great bakeries in Orlando to check out. Here are a few that I enjoy. I especially love to pair desserts with beer!💗


Blue Bird Bakeshop
Cafe 906
Crossiant Gourmet
Gideons' Bakehouse
Gigi's Cupcake
A post shared by Exploring Orlando🍊 (@exploringorlando) on
Olde Hearth
P is for Pie
A post shared by Exploring Orlando🍊 (@exploringorlando) on
Se7en Bites
Sister Honey's
The Gourmet Muffin
Valhalla Bakery

You can find these goodies on my map

~ Kelli
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Exploring Sanford Florida

I always enjoy exploring Sanford. This historic Florida town nestled alongside Lake Monroe has a lot to offer. The town is known as the "Historic Gateway City" and is filled with historic buildings. The downtown offers some great places to shop and dine.

Sanford is also a cultural hub for the area with the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center and the monthly Sanford Art Walk. It's also a local food and craft beer destination.

It's a great town to explore whether it be for a date night, a night out with friends or an afternoon with the family. I always have a great visit. 🎇
map of sanford florida
The city has a great video to entice you to visit.👇

Here are some of my discoveries in Sanford.

Places
Aerosim Flight Academy
A post shared by Exploring Orlando🍊 (@exploringorlando) on


Riverwalk


St. John's River
A post shared by Exploring Orlando🍊 (@exploringorlando) on


Beer & Drinks
Celery City Craft
My Blog Post


The Imperial at Washburn Imports Sanford
My Blog Post
A post shared by Exploring Orlando🍊 (@exploringorlando) on


Sanford Brewing Company
My Blog Post


Wops Hops
My Blog Post


Bites
Hollerbach's Willow Tree
My Blog Post


Tennessee Truffle


Coffee & Tea
Palate Coffee & Brewery


Treats
Wondermade


Here's my post on nearby nature to enjoy.
A post shared by Exploring Orlando🍊 (@exploringorlando) on


Check out my map for more exploring.👇


~ Kelli
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Taste! Central Florida is Returning August 19th with an All New Local Focus

Taste! Central Florida, the region’s premier fundraising food, and beverage tasting event, returns to Orlando World Center Marriott on August 19 with an impressive roster of 40 restaurants and more than a dozen brewers, distilleries, wine purveyors, and specialty beverage vendors. 

This is a great local event I look forward to every year! 

This annual celebration of the community’s culinary excellence invites guests to an evening of tasting portions of signature dishes accompanied by craft beers, cocktails, fine wines, and specialty beverages to help Central Florida children struggling with hunger get access to the meals they need. 
No kid hungry Food cans at taste of the nation in orlanod

One of the largest fundraisers of the year for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, Taste! Central Florida is a volunteer-driven event with chefs, brewers, wine purveyors, and beverage vendors donating their time, talent and creations, more than 300 event volunteers, in-kind support from a variety of local business partners, and the generous backing of Orlando World Center Marriott. 

New to this year’s event are nine of the area’s most noteworthy restaurants including The COOP, Ace Café, Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen, Eleven Restaurant at Reunion Resort, Plancha at Four Seasons Resort Orlando, Satu-Li Canteen at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Savor at Osceola Heritage Parks, Raglan Road, and Urbain 40 American Brasserie.
craft beer at raglan road in disney springs
Irish beers at the pub🍻

Tapas & beer at Chroma in lake nona orlando
Tapas for two👌

Several popular brewers, spirit vendors, wine purveyors, and specialty beverage vendors will give guests plenty to sip on including Acqua Panna & San Pellegrino, Beam Suntory, Beso Del Sol Sangria, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, Crooked Can Brewing Company, Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards, Orange Blossom Brewing Co., Orlando Brewing Co., Pabst Brewing Company, Palm Ridge Reserve Whiskey, RedCypress Brewery, Rico Foods/NOI Caffe, Rogue Pub, Scavi & Ray Winery, Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Wild Buck Whiskey/Njoy Spirits. 
orange blossom brewing obb craft beer
Florida fresh beer🍺

Also new to the event is the way proceeds will benefit childhood feeding programs in Central Florida. With a new name and focus, Taste! Central Florida will direct 100 percent of the funds raised from this year’s event entirely to local anti-hunger efforts to make an even greater impact on hungry children throughout Central Florida. 

Drink a beer for a great cause. My recap of last year's event.

“In previous years, our event helped battle childhood hunger and food insecurity both locally and around the country,” said Michele Byington, co-chair of Taste! Central Florida. “This year, we are advocating solely for those in our own community, since the fastest growing segment of the hungry and homeless population in Central Florida is families with children.”

 Guests will also enjoy a fully automated mobile silent auction featuring signed memorabilia, stays at upscale hotels, dining experiences, rounds of golf on area courses, and exotic adventures and getaways. 
Silent Auction table at Taste of the nation at Orlando world Marriott center
Lot's of great offerings at the Silent Auction

The Giving Tree raffle, sponsored by Edible Orlando, returns for the third year inviting guests to win a taste of Orlando’s most popular establishments. For a $50 donation, guests can select an envelope hanging from a towering tree containing a concealed gift certificate ranging from $25 to $300 in value. 
edible orlando magazine ad for taste! Central Florida
Local 💗 with the Giving Tree

The event’s ever-popular Instant Wine Cellar game is back offering participants a chance to win more than 150 bottles of wine valued at more than $2,500. There are only 300 chances to win this exquisite wine collection. Each key is a $25 donation.
Guests can also win fine bottles of wine with the Ring Toss for Wine fundraiser. Rings are available for purchase to toss onto wine bottles ─ 3 tosses for $15. When a ring lands around a bottle neck, the guest wins a bottle of wine to take home. 

Orlando World Center Marriott is offering Taste! Central Florida guests an exclusive rate to stay at the resort during the weekend of the event. A special rate of $129 per night for a standard room (additional $25 daily resort fee applies) is available between August 18 – 20. Guests can reserve their room at the discounted rate by clicking here or call (888) 789-3090 with the discount code Taste August 2017 before July 28, 2017.

WHEN: Saturday, August 19, 2017 6:45 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. 
WHERE: Orlando World Center Marriott 8701 World Center Dr., Orlando 
TICKETS:👉$150 each 
ATTIRE: Cocktail / Semi-Formal 

PARTICIPATING RESTAURANTS 
1. 4 Rivers and The COOP 
2. Ace Café 
3. Benihana 
4. Canvas Restaurant & Market 
5. The Capital Grille 
6. Catering for Good/Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida 
7. Centerplate 
8. CFHLA Food & Beverage Council 
9. Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen 
10.Cress Restaurant 
11.Dragonfly Robata Sushi and Grill 
12.Eleven Restaurant at Reunion Resort 
13.Empress Sissi 
14.Florida Nitro 
15.Fresh Point 
16.Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center 
17.Hemisphere Restaurant at Hyatt OIA 
18.JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes/Primo 
19.K Restaurant and Wine Bar 
20.Marlow's Tavern 
21.Nestle Professional 
22.Orlando World Center Marriott
23.Plancha at Four Seasons Resort Orlando 
24.Raglan Road 
25.The Ravenous Pig 
26.Red Wing Restaurant 
27.Ritz Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes/Highball & Harvest 
28.Rosen Shingle Creek │A Land Remembered 
29.Rosen Shingle Creek │Cala Bella Restaurant 
30.Satu-Li Canteen at Disney's Animal Kingdom 
31.Savor at Osceola Heritage Parks 
32.Seasons 52 Fresh Grill 
33.SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando 
34.STK 
35.Sysco 
36.Universal Orlando 
37.Urbain 40 American Brasserie 
38.The Whiskey 
39.Yak & Yeti 

For more information, visit tastecfl.org. FOLLOW US! Facebook: www.facebook.com/tastecentralflorida •Twitter: @tastecflInstagram #tastecfl


 ABOUT TASTE! CENTRAL FLORIDA Featuring the area’s most accomplished chefs, brewers, wine purveyors, and beverage vendors, Taste! Central Florida is an annual celebration of the community’s culinary excellence offering an evening of tasting portions of signature dishes accompanied by fine wines, craft beers, cocktails, and specialty beverages. This volunteer-driven event is one of the largest fundraisers of the year for the children’s feeding programs of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida.