Kate Higgins

House ricotta and crab cavatelli

House ricotta and crab cavatelli

I like food. A lot.

I like food that is fresh, exciting and innovative. I like food that surprises me with it’s complexity of flavors in the same bite. Food that goes well with wine. And beer. Food that is bright and colorful. And fun. Food that is slow, and moseys to my plate without having to ride cross country with an Amtrak ticket in it’s back pocket.

So when I’m able to experience all of this, I jump at both the opportunity and the chance to tell others. Napa is a new restaurant located in The Peabody Orlando and describes itself as “drawing on inspiration from Wine Country” while having a menu that is”comprised of organic, sustainable farm-to-fork selections”. Intrigued, my friends and I enjoyed a fantastic lunch over at Napa a few weeks ago.

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Seito Sushi

Seito Sushi

Yes, there is actually a town, just outside of Disney World, called Celebration (perhaps not surprisingly, though,  it was originally developed by Disney). Taking a stroll around the Town Center in Celebration is one of my favorite things to do in Orlando.  It’s even better during the holidays and is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.  While you’re there, make sure you check out three fun things to do in Celebration:

1.  Enjoy “the snowfall.”  That’s right folks, it snows nightly in Celebration.  Through Friday December 31st, you can enjoy and experience the holiday season in a unique way in Orlando.  Snow falls in the Celebration Town Center at the top of the hour between 6pm and 9pm.  You can also enjoy other seasonal festivities such as ice skating, horse and carriage rides, photos with santa, and train rides for the kiddies.

  • Ice Skating:  $10 for a minimum of 1/2 hour (skates included) 4pm -10pm daily
  • Horse and Carriage Rides:  $25 for the first two passengers, $10 per additional
  • Horse and Carriage Holiday Home Tour  $25 per person
  • Train Rides: $5
  • Singing along with the Charles Dickens Carolers:  Free

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Islands Dining Room at Universal's Royal Pacific Resort, Orlando

Islands Dining Room at Universal's Royal Pacific Resort, Orlando

Hooray! My favorite time of the year is just around the corner! Thanksgiving marks the time when all things are good. Starting with that perfect bite: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing a gravy and ending with holiday cookies and the smell of all things Christmas. If you’re visiting Orlando for the holiday, or if you’re a local just looking for a place to have a nice meal, here are three suggestions to get out and about — and eat at! – on the infamous turkey day.

1. Islands Dining Room at Universal’s Royal Pacific Resort-a Lowes Hotel. The resort itself is a prime example of vacation luxury. The South seas exotic theme leads to that perfect feeling of zen that we are all looking for while traveling. The large, Indonesian-style Islands Dining Room will provide the perfect backdrop for a festive Thanksgiving buffet. Traditional turkey meals will be offered as well as the all-time favorite prime rib. There will also be a variety of food stations including: sushi, stir fry, omelet and waffle (until 2pm). Besides the food you can enjoy live music, hula dancers, face painting for the kids and the chance to get up close to some Universal characters.
Hours:
11am – 8pm
Price:
$43.95 for adults with champagne included
$17.95 for kids 12 and under, kids under 3 are free

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Lake Eola

Take a walk around Lake Eola and feed the swans

If you’re visiting and staying at a resort like the recently revamped Peabody Orlando, take a break from the theme parks to check out part of the local culture. Here are three things that an Orlando native enjoys to do downtown on a Sunday afternoon!

Hue in Orlando

Hue in Orlando

1. First, have brunch at Hue. I’ve been a fan of this restaurant for quite some time. And it’s not just because they have an awesome Bloody Mary bar. It’s a great place to people watch and I’ve always had fantastic service. The brunch menu has a great variety of options ranging from traditional sandwiches (my favorite is the Turkey Brie and Brandy Poached Pear Croissant) to fun breakfast items like the three different scramble platters (go for number 2: ham, spinach and cheddar with the sweet potato mash). But I think my favorite brunch pairing with the Bloody Mary Bar is the Steak and Eggs: Petite Filets, Scrambled Eggs and Tater Tots.

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La Nuova Cucina

The written word almost cannot express how much you will enjoy your meal at La Nuova Cucina. But I’ll give it a try anyway.

The Checklist:  Not even open for a full year yet, this restaurant really has its act together and meets all of my requirements when looking at restaurants I’d recommend to others. Cool space? Check. Clean? Check. Good service? Check. Decent wine list? Check. Outstanding food? Double Check.

The Place:  La Nuova Cucina is located on Sand Lake Road and is pretty much an independently-owned shining gem stuck between a swarm of heavy hitting chain restaurants. My first feeling when I entered the restaurant was that it reminded me of what I envision modern bistros in Italy to look like. The space is small, but it gives more of an intimate feeling rather than a claustrophobic one. Exposed brick and simple art work adorn the walls, and the floor is a rather nice dark wood. Seating is comfortable with detached pillows on each chair. I also caught a glance into the kitchen on my way to the restroom and was impressed by its organization and clean environment. (And, for the record, I loved the wallpaper in the ladies room!)

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Only the Freshest Seafood from the Oceans of Planet Earth!

Mmmm… delicious seafood.

The setting: I headed out the other night to the area in Orlando with the most upscale restaurants per square foot: Sandlake Road, AKA Restaurant Row. Located just off Universal property, this strip of road is infamous for its great food. And Moon Fish is definitely included.

Owned by the conglomerate Talk of the Town, Moon Fish doesn’t fail to be, well, the talk of the town. Swanky and hip without being snooty, this is exactly the atmosphere that works for a restaurant. The seating is comfortable, the music is trendy in that semi-trancy kind of way, and I literally felt like I was transported to a far away vacation spot while I was dining.

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Crepes at Brio Tuscan Grille

Trivia Question:
Where can you get a good Italian meal, a nice glass of wine, partake in some good people watching, and do a little window shopping at some of the swankiest stores in Orlando?

Answer: Brio Tuscan Grille at the Mall at Millenia

The setting: Brio has multiple locations around Florida, and while I’ve been to two of them, I think I’ve officially decided on the Mall at Millenia location being my favorite. The ambiance is, well, perfect in many different aspects. The dining room is large and open, but segmented into different dining areas with half walls and a variety of seating options. Read More »

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