I love Orlando
I’ve been in love with this city since I was a toddler and my parents toted me over to Epcot, Discovery Island and Wet ‘n Wild. I was so enamored with “the city beautiful” that I returned to it back in 1994 to attend college at UCF. I loved its nightlife so much that I moved into the heart of downtown Orlando and into a teeny tiny apartment near Lake Eola just so I could experience that vibrance on an every day basis.
Over the past 20 years I’ve taken great pride and joy in seeing how far Orlando’s food and craft beverage scene has come.
2016 Orlando Taste of the Nation
As a lover of my city’s food and beverage scene, the singular event I look forward to every year is the Taste of the Nation at the Marriott World Center near Walt Disney World.
This annual charity event broke records in 2016 with over 3,000 people in attendance and nearly $300,000 raised! That’s going to feed a lot of hungry people in Central Florida.
The price tag for a ticket into the event is $150 but the value received goes way beyond the cost.
A Look at the Sips and Bites
Here’s a look at just a small sampling of the more than 44 bars and restaurants we were able to experience in one night.
CROOKED CAN BREWERY
Crooked Can (my fave brewery at the event) opted not to bring my favorite brew, Domestic Bliss, but that gave me the opportunity to try a sublime IPA instead. We claimed a group table right next to them and I may or may not have had more than one can of High Stepper.
ORLANDO WORLD CENTER MARRIOTT
The Orlando World Center Marriott hosted the event and went “all out” on their display.
JW MARRIOTT & RITZ CARLTON GRANDE LAKES
Orlando’s Grande Lakes Resort is comprised of the JW Marriott and the Ritz Carlton. I was sad that I discovered their amazing beer garden in the final moments of the night. I would have loved to spend more time here.
And ermahgurd…Lineage Black Cold Brew!!!!
HIGHBALL & HARVEST – RITZ CARLTON
One half of Grande Lakes brought braised pork belly and a watermelon dish.
WHISPER CREEK FARMS: THE KITCHEN
…While the other half also did their version of pork belly, peaches and cream, surplus ale and cheese and pretzels.
GAYLORD PALMS RESORT AND SPA
If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time you’d know that MOOR and OLD HICKORY STEAKHOUSE have a special place in my heart.
Grilled peaches and pork belly with a side of bourbon and honey…
CIGAR CITY BREWING
Another local (Tampa) brewery I will always give a nod to. Cigar City presented guests with some if its top sellers.
FLORIDA FARM DISTILLERS
My husband enjoyed making stops at both the COCA-COLA booth and FLORIDA FARM DISTILLERS for samplings of their Palm Ridge Reserve handmade micro batch Florida whiskey which he promptly mixed together.
CUBA LIBRE RESTAURANT & RUM BAR – POINTE ORLANDO
Cuba Libre brought little mason jars of pickled Florida shrimp with root veggies and tarragon.
DRAGONFLY ROBATA GRILL & SUSHI
Dragonfly sushi had the most visually impressive offering of the night.
Their grilled octopus was “on point”…both figuratively and literally.
There are literally too many things for me to list here without making this post drag on for days… And there were so many things that I just didn’t get around to trying because I was just too full…like these mini indulgence desserts from SEASONS 52.
And one of the best parts of the night was the opportunity to bid on dozens and dozens of amazing items all of which benefited the and .
I wanted so badly to purchase an envelope from The Giving Tree. $50 per envelope and each envelope contained a restaurant gift certificate which ranged in value from $50 – $150! Needless to say, they completely sold out before I could get my hands on one.
If you’ve ever considered attending Orlando’s Taste of the Nation, let this post be the final encouragement you need! You will not regret it!
For more info on this “not to be missed” annual event check out http://ce.strength.org/orlando. See you all in 2017!!!!