Saturday, August 23, 2008

Central Florida Foodies Rejoice! It is Epcot Food & Wine Festival and Orlando Magical Dining Month time again!

It's coming up on Foodie paradise time in Central Florida. First, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (paid) dining and tasting experiences go on sale at 7 am, Monday, August 25th. Get ready with your choices and call 407-WDW-FEST. It can take a while to get through so have some back-ups if you don't get your first choices. The best listing of available offerings that I usually find is at AllEarsNet here. The official Disney website is here. The theme is Foodie Cities of the World and they are offering a real premium experience in the Bocuse d'Or Grand Gala. It's also really pricey at $425 per person but it would probably be a once-in-your-lifetime experience. And, if you can't get the paid dining experiences of your choice, there are always the food and drink samples you can pick up at the many Festival marketplaces surrounding World Showcase during the event. This year, the Food & Wine Festival is Sept 26 - Nov 9, 2008.

Also, it is Orlando Magical Dining Month all through September. What is that, you may ask? It's a program that the Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau puts together with various restaurants around town to offer $29 and $19 prix fixe 3-course meals from September 1 - 30, 2008. The official Orlando Magical Dining Month website is here. There are some good restaurants on there such as Fleming's and Roy's and Ran-Getsu. Most of the higher-end restaurants offer the $29 meal with the others at the $19 price point but some, like Emeril's restaurants, offer $29 for dinner and $19 for lunch. I tried some new restaurants last year and it was a good way to try a restaurant for not so much cash. A lot of the restaurants are in the tourist corridors such as I-Drive and Universal but there are a few in Winter Park and other places. Make sure to check out what is offered on the lower priced prix fixe menu before making a reservation and heading out, though. The special dining menus typically only offer 2-3 choices for appetizer, entree, and dessert, with no substitutions. Still, it's a great bargain and makes a fun night out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ice Cream Review - Bruster's Real Ice Cream, 971 North S.R. 434, Altamonte Springs, FL

Bruster's of AltamonteWhen you arrive at Bruster's Real Ice Cream parlor in Altamonte Springs, you get the feeling that the circus just came to town. Maybe it is the bright red and white building, or maybe it is the bright balloons placed around the building, or maybe it is the bubble machine spewing hundreds of bubbles from the roof. Yeah, maybe that's it.

The building was relatively big so I thought for sure theFree ice cream for toddlers and babies!re was an inside order counter and seating. But when we stepped up, I realized that the inside was just for the order takers and it was filled with row upon row upon row of waist-high ice cream freezers. So, we perused the outside menu board. It listed out all the flavors of ice cream they had for the day along with all the products such as cones, cups, sundaes, cakes, shakes, ices, etc. For those of you with really young kids, have them stand next to the height chart by the front order counter. If they are less than 40 inches tall (most likely for 3 and unders) then they get a free infant ice cream cone. Bonus!

There are two types of kids sundaes: the Dino Sundae which is vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and sprinkles topped with a ginormous green, colored-sugar topped dinosaur cookie; aKid's Dino Sundaend the Dirt Sundae which is vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and topped with oreo cookie pieces and gummy worms (each $2.19). Peanut Butter Cup sundaeBoth boys ordered the Dino Sundae. I was checking out the sundaes as well. They have quite the unusual assortment including a traditional banana split served with cut-up banana pieces and a pretzel rod (?). I decided to go with the Peanut Butter Cup sundae ($4.43). Our order taker got to work and I handed the sundaes to the boys as soon as they were done and told them to sit at one of the outdoor shaded tables. The boys dug in eagerly, taking bites of the giant cookie along the way. My sundae wasn't that big but made up for that in pure richness. It was vanilla ice cream loaded with huge pieces of peanut butter cups, chocolate sauce,Scoops tattoo a thick peanut butter sauce, and topped with whipped cream and a cherry. BB finished first and had eaten most of his ice cream and two-thirds of his cookie. He decided to go up and ask what happened to the bubbles as they had stopped coming off the roof by now. I saw him go up to the counter and then came back with a handful of Fun ice cream cakessomething. He had been given about 20 temporary tattoos of "Scoops" the Bruster's mascot. BB was very happy about this as he loves temporary tattoos and promptly forgot about the bubbles (and maybe that was the point). I was also able to only finish about two-thirds of my sundae as I was afraid I would go into sugar shock -- it was delicious but super rich. LB only finished about one-third which is typical for him. I would love to try some of the other sundae variations next time we are in the area again. There is also some really fun looking ice cream cakes that would be great for a kid's birthday party.

Check out their website:

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