Through the grape-vine I heard about the Annual Taste of Winter Park hosted by the The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. My foodie heart did skip a beat on hearing that Winter Park’s popular dining destinations as well as upcoming eateries and hidden gems will be showcasing their deliciousness in one place. An evening of all you can eat and drink with live entertainment for an all-inclusive unbelievably reasonable price of $40 dollars.
Needless to mention that I am a regular at Park Avenue and am guilty of being partial to a few restaurants. That said, The Taste of Winter Park seemed the ideal opportunity to indulge in eateries I had yet to venture too hoping to add a few to my long list of favorites *wink*. The event was held at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market, ideally perched in the gorgeous downtown of Winter Park, how apt!!
Being privy to a few earlier food events in Winter Park, I was well aware of the popularity and ensured that we arrived a tad shy of 5 o’clock. Beautiful people dressed suavely of all ages venture out of their comfort zone to indulge themselves in an evening bound to create memories to last a life time. Now, my husband for some odd reason has not yet attended even one food event, so I was super excited to have him share this special moment with me. We dived straight into the food and drinks as we hadn’t eaten a morsel all day, in preparation for The Taste of Winter Park feast.
Shall we dive in? Let’s talk about my favorite topic, food!
Mellow Mushroom: Now I am a serious pizza lover and there are very few pizzas which are at par or worthy enough for my taste buds. Now with that out-of-the-way, I was pleasantly surprised with Mellow Mushroom. The crust was light, the toppings flavorful, and the pesto sauce added the zing to the slice. Nicely done! I guess I have no excuse left but to bring the family one day to experience the restaurant’s entire collection.
Jermiah’s Italian Ice: Did you know that Jermiah’s just opened their newest location, guess where, Lake Mary? What a coincidence, since I live there, LOL!! We chose the mango flavor, light and refreshing.
Eat More Produce: I have been to Eat More Produce before but only to eat at the weekly food truck event. For those who are new to Eat More Produce, it is fresh produce, deli, and beer/wine store with emphasis of sourcing locally sustained products. Beautiful cuts of filet mignon were being grilled to perfection, served with a kale salad, I loved it!!
Barefoot Wine: We tasted the Brut and sweet Moscato, light and ideal for this time of the year.
Luma on Park: Luma, one of my favorite Winter Park eateries was stationed right next to Barefoot Wine. Unfortunately, since they were serving a beautiful White Georgia Shrimp gazpacho; I had to take a pass due to my shell-fish allergies. They did serve a gorgeously looking pie but it was too early to venture in to sweet land.
Ravenous Pig: I had my eye out for Ravenous Pig since, they were revealing a brew from their upcoming new eatery Cask and Larder. Ron, the brew master for Cask & Ladder proudly showcased the Ruby Red – Ravenous Pig. When I questioned the name assuming that it should have been Cask & Larder Brew, I was informed by Ron that Ruby Red in fact wasn’t their own brew. I did enjoy the grapefruit and Indian coriander brew, but left a tad disappointed since, I anticipated with all the hype generated that the beer presented was from their own brewery! Meatballs, mini lobster rolls, and a sweet dish were served. The meatballs were delicately flavored by contrast the lobster roll was simply too dry.
Winter Park Fish Co: I have seen their food truck at various events and even spotted them driving around town. Winter Park Fish Co. chose three unique samples, beautifully presented for the Taste of Winter Park. Salmon sliders, sashimi tuna, and salmon mousse in cucumbers. One couldn’t help go for seconds, especially the sashimi tuna. The salmon slider though flavored well, lacked in moisture.
Fleming’s Steakhouse: The beautiful Rebecca, operating partner greeted us in front of Fleming’s station. Perfectly cooked steak and shrimp was on the menu. Fleming’s is the ideal place to hold celebrations and corporate events.
Olive Garden: Olive garden showcased a mac & cheese penne pasta and braised beef, portebello, cheese tortellini with creamy Marsala sauce. I am a beef lover, so I instinctively grabbed the tortellini. The sauce was luscious, beef tender, and tortellini cooked al dente. Now why don’t the serve this quality at their restaurant? I would definitely visit them then.
Miller’s Ale House: The girls at Miller’s Ale were super friendly and sweet. They even gave me an extra chicken zinger since I couldn’t taste their jambalaya (shell-fish allergy). The chicken was tender and extremely flavorful. I should check out Miller’s Ale one of these days, after all beer and good food is right up my alley.
4 Rivers Smokehouse & Sweet Shop: Having Chef Rivers himself serve us, indeed a humbling experience. Four Rivers never ceases to amaze me. Quality ingredients, playful sides, impeccable customer service, 4 Rivers is one of the finer eateries Winter Park has to offer its residents. I did manage to sneak in a taste of the brisket and margarita ice cream from the sweet shop. The brisket was a tad heavier on the salt and the margarita flavor too over powering for my liking. Every one is allowed a bad hair day, once in a while.
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro: My husband is more a fan of Southeast Asian Cuisine than I am. Still, I willing dug into my lettuce wrap. After all there was no carbs involved, it should be easy on the palate. Generous helping but lacked in flavor. That seemed to be theme at Taste of Winter Park. Either the dishes were highly seasoned or under-seasoned.
The Meat House: The Meat House humbly calls themselves your neighborhood butcher & grocer. After sampling their smoked in-house sausage, I beg to differ. I am quite looking forward to trying the various goodies available at this gourmand meat shop. They even carry the tasty ‘swamp salsa’ which I bought a packet of, but sadly forgot to carry it home.
Ruth Chris Steakhouse: Ruth Chris by far had the longest lines we encountered. The sweet potato and streusel was to die for! light, fluffy, and ultra buttery. The only dish I refused to share with anyone. In contrast the steak and bearnaise sauce were a let down. Perhaps keeping the steak out too long, toughened the texture?
Crispers: I have to mention the enterprising young lady who took it upon herself to elegantly serve us while we were waiting in line for Ruth Chris. If it wasn’t for her, we won’t have had a chance to taste Crispers signature salad. More restaurants and businesses should hire staff like this young lady. Now this is customer service! The salad was light and flavorful. A refreshing welcome from all the meat floating around.
Bosphorous Turkish Restaurant: Bosphorous needs no introduction to Winter Park diners. I tend to visit Bosphorous when I crave their Lavas and mixed cold appetizer plate. For a change, I got to meet Chef Ertane who even obliged me by offering Lavas. Thank you kindly, chef!!
The Bohemian Bakery: Ms. Holly, called herself the ‘Bohemian Baker’, while offering me her decadent chocolate mousse cake with great pride. One small bite was all it took to realize how ‘decadent’ it truly was. Ultra light and smooth, I was totally enamored with her baking skills. The lavender tea cake with chamford icing was moist with hints of chamford; the lavender was a bit overpowering for me though. At present you can order their luxurious indulgences only on-line, though they are looking for store front opportunities. Ms. Holly was kind enough to send me home with a big slice of her mousse cake once she heard that my son loves mousse.
Ancient Olive: What can I say about Ancient Olive? I simply adore this place; check out my recent review of them here. They also own The Spice & Tea Shop located across their shop on Park Avenue. On the menu was Waterkist Heirloom Tomatoes salad and strawberry sweet dish. One could choose from various flavors of balsamic vinegars or olive oils. Did I mention I went back for seconds?
Sprinkles: Sprinkles showcases a wide variety of cupcakes including their exclusive ‘cake shooters’. Beautiful presentation with moist flavors.
Mi Tomatina: is a new contender in the fine dining scene for Winter Park, aptly named after the annual tomato festival held in the Valencia (origin of paella region). I tend to wait a few months before I visit a newly opened restaurant, gives them time to iron out their kinks. A bold contender I might add, served braised oxtail with roasted peppers and truffle bruschetta. I adore oxtails, in fact only recently I made my Oxtail marmalade. Even though I was stuffed, I had no choice but to taste the bruschetta. Duly impressed, I have to check the restaurant for myself and that too soon, I might add.
Old Hearth Bread Company: Most patrons who appreciate a freshly baked loaf of bread are already familiar with Old Hearth Bread Company. Not to mention, their constant presence in the various food trucks sandwiches. Olde Hearth focuses on purchasing the highest quality ingredients and creating products that are healthy and tasty for their customers and you can undoubtedly appreciate the exceptional results through their assortment of baked goods. In particular, I enjoy their brioche slider buns and olive bread. Of course, once they heard me mention how much I relished their brioche buns, swiftly they made me a to go goodie bag. How generous, thank you!!
Peterbrooke Chocolate: Peterbrooke may perhaps have stolen the show with their chocolate fountain display, offering strawberry, marshmallows, and graham crackers as accompaniments. What a fun and interactive ways to impress your patrons.
Whole Foods Market: Whole Foods Market is the only place in CFL where I purchase my cheese and miscellaneous gourmet hard to find ingredients. A regular at Whole Foods, yet they never cease to amaze and impress me. Whole Foods Winter Park was also participating in the opening night party of Florida Film Festival. As the opening night party was held on a Friday, I was unable to taste the delicious goodies from the party (I fast on Fridays). To my pleasant surprise, the gentleman behind the station (my apologies for not knowing his name) personally addressed me and said ‘ today is not Friday, so why don’t you taste the bison burger’? I was blown away that with all the traffic he encounters every day, he remembered me. Kudos!! Whole Foods offered Bison sliders with blue cheese slaw and their refreshing tomato gazpacho shots.
Menchies: As we walked in a food comotosed, our very last stop had to be Menchies. Now I am a frequent visitor of Menchies as they are literally located in my backyard in Lake Mary; a dangerous proposition since I can walk to them any time I have major Menchie withdrawl. Regardless of how full we were, it was the ideal ending to our delightful evening of extravagant proportions.
My sincerest apologies for not being able to personally visit each of the wonderful eateries, Winter Park proudly calls home. The Taste of Winter Park was truly an epicurean delight of extravagant proportions. Below are few snaps I managed to shoot in between my gastronomical gluttony. I appreciate you reading through this long post but The Taste of Winter Park deserved a comprehensive article.
4 Rivers Smokehouse
The Ancient Olive / The Spice & Tea Exchange
Bailey’s Coffee Service
The Bistro on Park
The Bohemian Baker, LLC
Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine
Brio Tuscan Grille
Eat More Produce
Fiddler’s Green Irish Pub & Eatery
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Florida Distributing Co.
Jeremiah’s Italian Ice
John & Shirley’s Catering
Kilwin’s Chocolates & Ice Cream
Luma on Park
The Meat House
Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt at Winter Park Village
mi TOMATINA, Paella Bar
Olde Hearth Bread Company
The Olive Garden
Orlando Ale House – Winter Park
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
Panera Bread Company
The Ravenous Pig
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
Shula’s Steakhouse at WDW Dolphin
Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen
Tolla’s Italian Deli & Café
Tropical Smoothie Café
Wayne Densch, Inc.
Whole Foods Market
Winter Park Chocolate
Winter Park Fish Co.
This event couldn’t have been possible without the generous contributions of the Taste of Winter Park Sponsors. A big thank you to all the sponsors and special mention to Rob Sharpstein.
Barefoot Wine & Bubbly
Full Sail University
Whole Foods Market
Ferrell Wealth Management &
Florida’s Finest Linen Service
Subaru of America
Winter Park Fish Co.
Central Florida Lifestyle Publications
Orlando Home & Leisure
Orlando Family Magazine
The Park Press
WFTV Channel 9
Winter Park/Maitland Observer
WMFE 90.7 FM
WMMO 98.9 FM
WUCF 89.9 FM