Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month

This post originally appeared on The Hungry Sprout.

Magical Dining Month

September is a great month to visit Orlando as the city celebrates its restaurants, dining and cuisine by throwing a month long party called Orlando’s Magical Dining Month.  Orlando has fast become an incredible destination for foodies with many celebrity and top awarded Chefs opening restaurants here.  This is the time of year where you can experience some of the city’s best places to eat on a mere $33 a person.  Dinner includes your choice of an appetizer, an entree and a dessert from a special Magical Dining menu.

The Ballroom at Church Street The Hungry Sprout

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Magical Dining Month kickoff party sponsored by Yelp and Visit Orlando.  Eight of the over 75 participating restaurants set up tables at The Ballroom at Church Street and handed out tastings of their amazing offerings for their Magical Dining Month’s menu.

YellowTail Snapper Napa Restaurant The Hungry Sprout

One of the first we sampled was the Seared Yellowtail Snapper with Lemon Risotto, Broccolini and a Charred Bell Pepper Coulis from Napa at the Hyatt Regency Orlando.  The fish was perfectly cooked, the broccolini perfectly wilted and pepper coulis perfectly spicy.

Vesuvio Pasta at Fiorenzo The Hungry Sprout

Next up was the Vesuvio from Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse, also at the Hyatt Regency Orlando.  Hand spiraled pasta with butternut squash, baby spinach, fresh pear, ricotta salata and toasted pine nuts in a spicy pepper sauce.  Also very well executed.

Cuba Libre Pork with Slaw The Hungry Sprout

Cuba Libre was handing out Mango Mojitos along with slow roasted marinated pulled pork with Vigorón slaw.

Cuba Libre Rice Pudding The Hungry Sprout

They also served up some desserts including a delicious cinnamon rice pudding……oh so yummy.

Ruth Chris Shrimp The Hungry Sprout

Ruth Chris’ Steakhouse was offering tasting of their filet and shrimp.  We didn’t try the filet but the BBQ shrimp were divine.

Hemingways Crab Cakes The Hungry Sprout

Hemingway’s at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress was offering their famous crab cakes with sweet corn coconut grits.

K Restaurant Pork with Berry The Hungry Sprout

K Restaurant in College Park offered tastings of their Roasted Pork with berry preserves.

Seafood Minestrone K Restaurant The Hungry Sprout

They also served a Seafood Minestrone with clams, oysters, shrimp, summer beans, bacon broth, local greens.  I did not realize I was eating a bacon broth until after my first bite but it was pretty tasty, especially if you love bacon.

Salted Cod Fritters Siro Urban Italian Kitchen The Hungry Sprout

Perhaps one of my most favorite dishes of the night were the Salted Cod Fritters from Siro Urban Italian Kitchen at the Orlando World Center Marriott.  (I may or may not have had more than my fair share of those.)

Siro Urban Italian Kitchen Pressed Watermelon Salad The Hungry Sprout

Siro was also offering a pressed watermelon and heirloom tomato salad- also one of my favorites.

Vanilla Panna Cotta Siro Urban The Hungry Sprout

For dessert Siro served their Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with a Raspberry Coulis.  Interesting enough as everything Siro served was not part of their magical dining menu.  The Panna Cotta is on the menu, but with apricots instead of the raspberry.

Puff N' Stuff Caramel Chocolates The Hungry Sprout

Puff N’ Stuff Catering had a display of confections such as Candied Orange tarts and Passion Fruit Caramel Chocolates.

Onli Natural Sparkling Water The Hungry Sprout

Beverages were being offered by Onli All Natural Sparkling Waters.

In looking over the menus at the over 75 restaurants participating in the event, nearly all have at least one entree that is seafood and not a beef, chicken or pork entree.   Several, including The Melting Pot and Cuba Libre have at least one all Vegetarian option.  For $33 a person it is certainly worth taking a look over some of the menus.  Many of these restaurants are the fancy fine dining establishments that many of us would otherwise probably never have the opportunity to enjoy.

The event runs from September 1 through September 30 with a special preview week that began August 25.  For a complete listing of all the participating restaurants and to view the menus visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month.

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First Annual O-Town Mac Down

Bar Harbour Seafood Southwestern Seafood MAc and Cheese  (1)

What I Ate Wednesday is a recap of What I Ate Saturday.  Chad and I went to the first annual O-Town MacDown at the Orange County Convention Center.  Over 40 competitors from the region’s restaurants, culinary schools and charity foundations set out to the win the title of best mac and cheese in Orlando.  The event was sponsored by Sea World and benefitted the Give the Kids World Village, a 70 non-profit resort for children with life threatening diseases and their families.

O-Town Mac Down tickets

Chad and I had pre-purchased our tickets for $10 which included unlimited tastings of all the mac and cheese we could eat.  We also each received a gold coin.  After we filled up and sampled all the macs, we would drop a coin into the jar of our favorite dish.  Here is just a small sampling of what we ate:

Second Harvest Four Cheese Mac with Green Apple Twists  (1)

Four Cheese Mac with Green Apple Twists from Second Harvest Food Bank Culinary Kitchens

Emeril's Chocolate Hazelnut Pasta with Candied Bacon and Pistachio Ice Cream

Chocolate-Hazelnut Mac with Pistachio Ice Cream and Candied Bacon from Emeril’s Tchoup Chop

Toasted Truffle Honey Mac and Cheese (3)

Truffle Honey Mac and Cheese from Toasted Crafted Grilled Cheese and Burgers

Taverna Opa Achilles Mac (1)

Anchilles Mac from Taverna Opa Greek Restaurant

Cuba Libre Mac and Cheese Empanadas  (1)

Mac and Cheese Empanadas from Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar

Smokey Bones Pulled Pork and Popcorn Mac and Cheese (2)

BBQ Pulled Pork and Popcorn Mac from Smokey Bones

One of the more creative versions we had was the mac and cheese with pulled pork and popcorn from Smokey Bones.  Starting Sept. 15, Smokey Bones will be offering a mac and cheese bar on the menu.  There will be over 1000+ ways to make your own mac and cheese, including popcorn.  That should be interesting and a great option for a Vegetarians, who probably don’t make it to BBQ resturants very often.

Smokey Bones Bubbleade (8)

Smokey Bones Strawberry and Blueberry Bubbleade

Smokey Bones also offered samples of their new Bubbleade beverage- lemonade served with boba balls in either blueberry, mango or strawberry flavors.

Renaissance at Sea World Aleppo Peppers Smoked Bacon Jack Cheese (3)

Most of the dishes were centered around bacon, smoked brisket or pork belly.  This was definitely not a place for a Vegan though a small number of places did offer Vegetarian versions of their mac and cheese.

Charley's Steakhouse Lobster Mac and Cheese (4)

Lobster Mac from Charley’s Steakhouse

Bar Harbor Seafood Southwestern Seafood Mac and Cheese  (3)

Southwestern Seafood Mac from Bar Harbor Seafoods

Bayou Gold with Smoked Andouille and Creole Relish (1)

Smoked Andouille and Creole Relish Mac from Santiago Bodega Tapas

Yellow Brick Road Jalapeno Mac and Cheese (2)

Jalapeno Mac from Yellow Brick Road

Cordon Blue Southwest Mac and Cheese with Smoked Pork Belly  (3)

Smoked Pork Belly Mac and the Vegetarian version from Cordon Blue Culinary Arts Academy

Margaritaville French Onion Mac and Cheese (1)

French Onion Mac and Cheese from Margaritaville

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After much deliberation, we gave our gold coins to the Quinoa and Cauliflower Mac and Cheese from Collette’s Clean Eats.

For $10 we certainly got our fill of food.  We can’t for next year!

For more information on the event –> O-Town MacDown Give Kids the World Event

*Pictures courtesy of my sister blog- The Hungry Sprout

Thanks to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for hosting the linkup!

And there’s only a few days left to enter the giveaway for a $250 giftcard to the Two Smitten Boutique. Enter here -> Win $250 to Two Smitten

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