This weekend the annual Taste! Central Florida took place, and it was an evening of great food and drink which raised funds for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and the Coalition for the Homeless.
The numbers have yet to come in, but it’s safe to say the event raised a lot of money that will stay in Central Florida to help those in need.
Since I can’t report on the numbers, I’m going to list my choices for favorites at the event. Keep in mind I have food allergies so I couldn’t try everything. But of the dishes I tried, here’s my most memorable:
Best Dish Overall:
It was so hard to pick a winner, but I have to give this to the J.W. Marriott’s Primo and their meatballs in tomato sauce with creamy polenta. I may have even gone back for a second sample of this. The meatball had a great flavor, which was complemented by the fresh tomato sauce, and a polenta that was very creamy and not chunky at all.
Best Beef Dish:
This was a very hard award, but I have to give this pick to Highball and Harvest at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando. Chef Pizzo put together a coffee-rub and braised short rib terrine with Lineage coffee BBQ sauce and a bacon jam hush puppy. It was such a great twist on Southern classics.
Close runner-up was the Brisket and Creamy Grits from 4 Rivers Smokehouse and The Coop.
Dish that would have Made My Gramma Proud:
The Orlando World Center Marriott team went with a German theme this year, and my Eastern European gramma would’ve loved their Weinerscnitzel Slider. The pork was lightly breaded and fried golden brown. It was perfect.
Most Fun Dish:
This one goes to the Twinkie Milkshake offered by Toothsome Chocolate Emporium at Universal Orlando. It tasted just like a Twinkie from my childhood. I don’t know that I could drink a whole big mug of it, but the sample size was just right to make my tastebuds happy.
Most Unusual Drink:
Tucked away in a corner of the J.W. Marriott display were these little bottles, which upon closer inspection contained whiskey infused with lemon, hibiscus, and black tea. The taste of the Smoked Black Tea Elixir was like an Arnold Palmer with a warm kick in the back of your throat. Tasty!
Best Mixed Drink:
I’m a big fan of the Doc Holiday at Highball & Harvest and was happy to see it here. It mixes housemade blueberry jam and house ginger beer with Tito’s Vodka, for a tangy twist on a mule.
Best Craft Brew:
So many great local breweries in attendance, but the one that captured my heart (and taste buds) was the Strawberry Rhubarb from Small Town Brewery. It tasted just like the delicious pie minus the crust – slightly sweet and slightly tart. Mmmm…
This easily goes to the Pandora display from the Satu-Li Canteen at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Their design team went all out to give the booth a design that mimicked the mystical land of the movie.
Most Whimsical Display:
This one goes to Universal Orlando for their booth displays of fruit animals and chocolate art. I was a fun display, and it went well with the items they were serving.
A big thanks to all the chefs, restaurants, and beverage vendors that offered up such great food and drink at Taste! Central Florida! You help make this event so amazing. Thanks also to the sponsors, and most of all to those who bought tickets and participated in the auction and games.
Did you go? What were your favorites? Let me know in the comments.
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