As 2015 comes to a close, I couldn’t leave it behind without making a list of some of my most awesome food experiences the year brought my way. From tacos to empanadas and French toast to Ethiopian cuisine, Central Florida showed me just how diverse and amazing it can be when it comes to vegetarian and vegan options. Without further ado, and in no particular order, I present my list of awesomeness! (Be sure to click the titles for more information.)
In this episode, watch as Daya Chef Hector shows me how he makes one of my favorite dishes at the restaurant, Buffalo Cauliflower Bites. If you were (or still are) a fan of buffalo chicken wings, this is such a great alternative! Spice, crunch, and the accompanying blu cheese dressing (which is vegan too!) will make you forget all about the meat option.
Be sure to watch Part 1 of my visit to Daya, where I help make Crab-less Cakes!
Chicken and waffles. I can’t say that I am a connoisseur of the dish, but I can certainly say that I’ve traveled a distance to try some of the more popular renditions, along with conducting important business of course. In Atlanta, there was Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles and, in LA, there was Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. (Not that this matters, but I crowned Gladys Knight’s the winner.) Since jumping to the other side, I have been on the lookout for a meat-free edition of the dish. After years of looking, I finally stumbled across Daya‘s Chicken (Seitan) and Waffles brunch item, and yes, it was so worth the wait.
There’s a new vegan restaurant in town, and it is so good! I am both happy and excited to introduce to you Daya, which is described as “an upscale, 100% plant based restaurant.” Located in the city of Winter Park, I can tell you that Daya is definitely different from your ordinary vegan restaurant. From the beautiful layout and design of the restaurant to the attention paid to the plating of the food, I am quite excited to see Daya flourish into Central Florida’s new “it” place for meat-free dining.
Here I am, once again, writing about another one of my experiences at Ethos Vegan Kitchen. I can’t help it. Ethos is just really good at what they do, which for me is making food that reminds me of my meat-eating days and also reminds me why a meat-free lifestyle can be just as tasty.
Although I frequent Ethos a lot, I’m pretty good at being intentional about trying something new each time I go. On my most recent visit, I went all out and had a completely new experience, and I’m quite glad that I did. Since it was the time of year for all things pumpkin, I dove in head first and had my very first experience eating pumpkin pancakes. Let’s just say, I will definitely start trying more things made with pumpkin.
The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando has been hosting thousands of Orlando residents and visitors at its annual Latin Food & Wine Festival event for years. I am sad yet happy to say that after missing the event by days for a whole bunch of years, this year I finally caught it early enough to put it on my schedule and attend!
On a recent rainy Friday afternoon, I paid a visit to one of Orlando’s newest coffee shops, VESPR Coffeebar. Not only did I experience a great cup of coffee, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that they served some top-notch, made in-house, vegan treats, as well.
Each week, I share my favorite vegan dishes from restaurants around Central Florida on Orlando’s own Real Iron Dad Radio.
Last week I shared with you that IronDAD offered me a great opportunity to add my recommendations for eating out meat free in Orlando to his weekly podcast. I am happy to share the first edition of my addition to the IronDAD weekly podcast with you! Not only do you get to hear me give a quick blurb about one of my favorite vegan dishes at Black Bean Deli, but you also get to hear IronDAD‘s 10 tips on how to begin a healthy lifestyle. Check it out, and let me know what you think!
From my house to the nearest vegan eatery is more miles than I would like to travel on a lazy weekend afternoon. Living on the west side of Central Florida, this has been one of my most recent food struggles. This may not sound like a struggle per se, but finding the energy to drive for at least 30 minutes to get, what I admit is awesome, food is just way too much for my mind and body to take on a non-work day. But as you have [hopefully] read, I continue to find the energy to do such a thing weekend after weekend. Well, except for a recent weekend when, instead of venturing to the Winter Park, east, or downtown parts of town, I went just a little bit down the road to visit Winter Garden’s newly and much lauded Plant Street Market. Among the many eateries, bakeries, coffee shops, and knick knack shops, was Press’d a.k.a the answer to my close-to-home-vegan dreams. It is where I would quench my appetite for a meal that I didn’t even know I missed until I had it again—the remixed version, of course.
The rainy Saturday that I found myself walking into Teak Neighborhood Grill was quite unexpected. Minutes before I pulled into the restaurant’s parking lot, I was only a few miles away sitting in the parking lot of a medium-sized shopping center. I was there for Mediterranean food, but after about 10 minutes of searching, it finally dawned on me that maybe the restaurant forgot to inform Foursquare that they were, in fact, no longer at that location — or probably any location. Usually never out of ideas, I was stumped on what I should eat. I had no desire to drive very far, which for a foodie like me is a problem because my part of town doesn’t offer many great choices outside of the regular chain restaurants. But thankfully, Foursquare didn’t fail me again when it directed me to Teak Neighborhood Grill. It wasn’t the healthiest of food outings, but it sure served up some great vegetarian bar food.
My introduction to what I now know as the awesomeness of Basal Eatery started with a simple request from a friend: “Hey, let’s go to this dinner next Monday.” Vegan, plant-based food. Only 10 people. $20 for a three course meal + wine. An opportunity to have an extraordinary evening on an otherwise ordinary weekday. It wasn’t a hard sell. I was in, and I remained excited all the way to the time… well, honestly, even after having already “done the do,” I remain excited about this new addition to the vegan-scape of Central Florida.
My recent visit to the newly opened Marlow’s Tavern Waterford Lakes had all the makings of a “disappointing restaurant visit.” There was the fact that it is part of a chain AND that it reminded me very much of a sports bar. If it weren’t for the invitation to try a few of the items on the menu gratis and meet a few local food bloggers, I’m not sure I would have ever found my way inside of Marlow’s. But thankfully, the media and blogger tasting event gave me an opportunity to see how _____________ (I’ll let you fill in the blank) I was being. I left Marlow’s with a tummy full of really great vegetarian-friendly food and a reminder of the whole “judging a book by its cover” thing.
It started as just a simple girl’s day out, but after a great brunch, an extended stay at the nail salon, and a chat between friends over cupcakes, it turned out to be so much more.
Cinco de Mayo 2015 will go down as the very first time that I took part in the celebration. I will admit that my celebration of the day, that at the time I had completely no idea what it represented, was a mistake. How does one celebrate Cinco de Mayo by mistake? Well, in an attempt to schedule a much needed drink outing with a friend on a dead night in downtown Orlando, I, ironically, scheduled our outing on what is probably one of the most rowdiest days in the year. Before I could even think of rescheduling, I received an email from Ethos Vegan Kitchen alerting me to their special Cinco de Mayo menu, and the rest, as they say, was vegan history.
Every morning from Monday to Friday, you can find me on Central Florida’s 408 toll road heading east for what can be between a 30 to 45 minute rush-hour drive to work. I have come to really not enjoy this drive. Because I dislike it so much, I make it a point to make this journey only when necessary, which for me is only during the weekday. However, a few weekends ago after lucking up on one of Scott Joseph’s, a famed Central Florida food critic, NPR clips I decided that I had to add one more long drive to my week to try one of Central Florida’s newest restaurants: Spoleto.
It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was hungry! I was both hungry and, because I have been partaking in a little retail therapy over the past few weeks, a bit economically challenged. Before checking my bank account earlier that morning, I had great plans of visiting this upscale Mexican restaurant and then sharing my great meat-free findings. However, upscale anything just did not fit into my budget. So, I had to downgrade my lunch plans. Not wanting to use up too much gas and with my new $15 or under budget, I decided to finally try a restaurant that was probably no more than 10 minutes away. I was a bit skeptical until the amazing smells floating from Ocoee’s That One Spot Burgers hit my nose.