Cool as it is, the Audubon Park Garden District gets even cooler with two additions on Corrine Drive—one serves more than 200 varieties of craft beers, stouts and ales; the other gives brick and mortar to nomadic food producers by creating an indoor farmers’ market.
Sporting a straw fedora, a beard and pretty impressive tattoo sleeves, Brent Hernandez has been building his brewski empire since 2005. The owner of Redlight Redlight is moving his bar from Bennett Road to its new location at 2810 Corrine Drive. Opening is set for September.
Excited about the history behind the “Carrier” building, part of a shopping plaza that was built in the 1950s, Hernandez says he felt strongly about preserving the original sign above the entrance, with vintage neon that illuminates the inside where concrete floors and reclaimed wood patchwork set the mood.
Here, it’s about the cold one: two beer engines, 25 drafts and more than 200 bottle choices. “I’m really proud of our sour beer selection,” says Hernandez. “The fermented ones with the wild yeast.” For the fall, Brent recommends local brews: Saint Somewhere’s Pays du Soleil and Cigar City’s Oktoberfest Märzen.
The East End Market breathes new life into an old church building at the corner of Corrine Drive and East End Avenue—a 14,000-square-foot locavore shrine featuring food vendors, a commissary kitchen, a restaurant, event space and a vegetable garden.
Tenants include Cuts & Craft Artisan Meats, owned by proprietors Rhys and Alexia Gawlak and featuring locally sourced and hormone- and antibiotic-free meats and handmade charcuterie; Wild Ocean Seafood Market, with two longstanding storefronts in Brevard County, offering local, wild-caught seafood and prepared items; Fatto in Casa, featuring Elisa Scarpa’s Italian sweets and prepared Italian foods to go; Local Roots, with fresh local produce, dairy and grocery items; and Olde Hearth Bread Company, selling artisanal breads, crackers and sweets.
Henry and Michelle Salgado of Spanish River Grill in New Smyrna Beach will open a restaurant at East End featuring Salgado’s casual Cuban-Spanish cuisine. The new restaurant will be named Txokos Kitchen and will feature cuisine of the Basque region — a departure from the Latin-inspired menu at Spanish River.
Plans are to partially open during the Winter Park Harvest Festival Nov. 17–18, and to be in full swing by January 2013. The market’s team wears many hats: John Rife is a commercial real estate developer and the man behind the Winter Park Harvest Festival, and Gabby Lothrop operates the Audubon Park Community Market—the neighborhood’s favorite weekly farmers’ market.
“We will gingerbread it up, add industrial rustic elements, but keep the patina of the neighborhood intact,” says Rife.
“In addition to the market, we will be able to have cooking classes, farm-to-table dinners, organize conferences, show films,” says Lothrop. “I would love to eventually see someone having an all-local wedding in our event space.”
Farm-to-fork reaches new heights
Whisper Creek Farm at JW Marriott Grande Lakes enhances dining experience
Imagine this: After a short ride in a pedicab—or charter bus, if you’re part of a large group—you are delivered to a walkway framed by a rustic gate. Your senses take over. If you listen closely, you just might hear the whisper of water. The mouthwatering aromas that mingle with the air of a cool, starlit October evening will draw you into the opening just beyond the crunch of pine-straw paths.
The stars you thought you saw are lanterns, hanging from oak and pine trees. You have just entered a food-lover’s paradise situated in a slice of Florida scrub on the southern edge of the 500-acre Grande Lakes Orlando property shared by JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton. Take a seat and enjoy what is sure to be an unforgettable dining experience.
Welcome to Whisper Creek Farm. It doesn’t get any fresher than this: tables, cook and beverage stations in the midst of orange, lemon and avocado trees and a 7,000-square-foot garden chock-full of vegetables and herbs. When it comes to farm-to-fork fare, this latest entry takes the cake—or, more specifically, the Laura Chenel Chevre cheesecake with Plant City strawberry jam, salted pine-nut brittle and sage anglaise, listed as a dessert offering in the plated-meal package. Included in menus specially designed by JW Marriott Executive Chef Chris Brown and his staff to highlight fresh-from-the-Whisper-Creek-garden produce are such taste sensations as squash jam and collard greens with ham hocks.
Complementing dishes prepared from the fresh-picked bounty grown and managed by My Yard Farm are items sourced from such other well-known operations as Lake Meadow Naturals and Palmetto Creek. To satisfy a taste for education, the story of Whisper Creek Farm and its partners is told on plaques along the walkways.
Whisper Creek’s story begins with the Osceola County Grown 2nd Annual Farm to Fork Dinner in May 2011. The event was such a success that the Marriott chefs who cooked for it were inspired to create such events on a regular basis. The search for a site close to the hotel and large enough to accommodate 250 diners led them to their own backyard, where site preparation began in earnest in July for an Oct. 13 kickoff.
The Whisper Creek Farm experience will be on the JW Marriott menu October through April. Included among the offerings, and perhaps the one about which Brown expresses the most enthusiasm, is a menu centered around live-fire Argentinian barbecue, served up by the same chefs who started the fires earlier in the day. The first public event at Whisper Creek Farm will be a fundraiser for Slow Food Orlando on October 12 (tickets and details available at slowfoodorlando.org), with additional public events advertised through the hotel’s mailing lists, much as the hotel’s wine and beer dinners and Griffin Cooking School are.
“The possibilities are endless as to what we can do,” Brown says. “We’ll just have to see who else wants to play out here.”
A Trifecta of Good Eats
Magical Dining Month, Eat Local Week, Eat Local First Orlando
This fall, dining in Central Florida can save you money and support a good cause. Magical Dining Month kicks off Sept. 1 with more than 60 restaurants offering three-course dinners for $30. Several of the restaurants source locally, including Spencer’s for Steaks and Chops, K Restaurant and Luma on Park.
Deep Blu Seafood Grille joins this year’s roster, serving a choice of braised beef short ribs in blackberry demi-glace or nori-seared yellowfin tuna in sweet soy reduction. At all of the participating restaurants, $1 from each meal will be donated to Edgewood Children’s Ranch. For a complete list of dining spots, visit orlandomagicaldining.com.
Another tasty celebration is Eat Local Week Nov. 9–16, with prix fixe menus from $15 to $45 that highlight local farmers and artisans. Print a scorecard at eatlocalweek.com or at locations listed on the site, and each time you dine at one of the restaurants, you earn 25 points—when you reach 100 points, you can exchange them at one of the Eat Local Week special events to win local food.
Eat Local First Orlando recently started connecting the community to locally owned restaurants throughout the city. “By simply eating local, we can all make a positive difference on the Orlando economy,” says Jim Thomas, “chief idea guy” behind the program. To receive restaurant specials, go to facebook.com/EatLocalFirstOrlando and click “Like.” You also can share opinions with restaurant owners by filling out an online survey.
‘Fresh, Wild and Local’
And the catch of the day might include an unusual critter
Strict regulations, unpredictable weather and even foreign species impact the availability of local seafood, but one spot you always can find “fresh, wild and local” is Flagler Avenue Seafood Market & Grille in New Smyrna Beach, where longtime pals John Kinney and Clint Yates opened two years ago.
“We wanted to support the local network of fishermen. We actually strive to sell out of fish to keep it fresh, thanks to daily visits from our area captains,” says Kinney, who fillets up to 40 fish a day.
Flagler Avenue Seafood expects to sell more than 20,000 pounds of local seafood this year, thanks to a broad selection of native fish, plus a small amount of exotic imports from Loch Duart, a sustainable salmon company in Scotland. Their “old-school ice cases” hold seasonal options such as cobia, flounder, grouper, jacks, porgies, snapper, sea bass and shrimp—and, occasionally, the voracious, tasty lionfish.
Lionfish, a relentless predator in U.S. and Caribbean waters, is an unusual catch to feature on a menu, but some sustainable-seafood advocates say the best way to conquer the invasive fish—thought to have been released from fish tanks in southern Florida in the late 1980s—is to eat it until it no longer exists outside its native habitat in the western Pacific.
“Lionfish have a poisonous sting, but a delicious, mild flavor, similar to black sea bass,” says Kinney. “It’s difficult to source, but we hope more fishermen will trap lionfish to help reduce threat to Florida’s abundant waters. Customers can help by creating a demand.”
But lionfish isn’t the most popular dish in the kitchen, where everything is fresh, never frozen, says Chef Ryan McClean. “We prepare 95 percent of the ingredients every day, and vegetables come from within a 50-mile radius,” he says. His most popular dish is the ahi poke bowl—onions, avocadoes and jasmine rice topped with yellowfin sashimi marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and scallions.
—Story and photo by Nancy DeVault
SUPER VEGAN TO SUPER BURGERS
With an unintended balance of yin and yang, two new restaurants, one vegan, one beef-centric, opened just blocks apart in Winter Park.
Ethos Vegan Kitchen relocated from Lake Ivanhoe in Orlando to New York Avenue in Winter Park (the former Urban Flats location). “We have a bigger kitchen, more seats, better parking and a bar for beer and wine,” says Chef Kelly Shockley, who owns the vegan
restaurant with wife Laina. “Our goal is simple: a more enjoyable experience for our customers.”
Even without meat, eggs or dairy, Ethos has a loyal following of carnivores and vegans alike. Shockley’s popular sheep’s pie (his meat-free version of a shepherd’s pie) remains on the new menu, along with an expanded variety of calzones, pizzas with non-dairy cheese, and European sausage rolls (all vegan, of course).
At the corner of Park Avenue and Fairbanks, the new BurgerFi is at the opposite end of the spectrum, with hormone- and antibiotic-free beef burgers and kobe beef hot dogs (but there’s a quinoa burger, too). Hand-cut fries and onion rings are cooked in peanut oil, and dessert is custard made with cream, sugar and eggs.
Insiders know to ask for items on the “secret menu” such as Parmesan and herb fries with garlic aioli, or the Supreme Burger with bacon, grilled mushrooms and American cheese. (You can find the secret menu at www.burgerfi.com.). The menu includes red and white wines (four of each) and beers.
The Park Avenue location is the first of eight for Central Florida, says Jim Pagano, BurgerFi franchise owner. The name, BurgerFi, is short for “BurgerFication of the nation,” with plans to roll out 150 of the quick-service restaurants across the U.S.
Elevating the Culture of Coffee
As founder of the Coffee Roasters’ Alliance in Longwood, Joey Chase travels the globe in search of the rarest and most exclusive coffee treasures in hidden places.
With more than 1.5 billion cups of coffee consumed every day around the world, Chase says he wants to share with others what it takes to grow and make the best coffee. He’s working to elevate the culture of coffee and create an understanding behind the industry—the farmers, their families and their pursuit of excellence.
The mission behind his Central Florida business is to take coffee back to being independently produced and locally roasted. With the mantra “seed to cup,” the alliance seeks the best beans from small family farms that practice environmental sustainability. With 20 years’ experience in the industry, Chase has developed close relationships with coffee farmers and says that he believes their product will create prosperity for generations.
“We sell only the top 3 percent of exceptional specialty coffee that is certified fair trade organic from over 30 countries like Honduras, Brazil and Columbia,” says Chase.
The alliance’s goal is to have a roaster in each state to distribute the freshly roasted beans. So far, they are in Florida and Colorado, and soon Nevada and Pennsylvania.
“As soon as people try fresh roasted coffee, they won’t ever go back,” says Chase.
Visit www.roastedlocally.com to purchase in bulk from the Coffee Roasters’ Alliance with free shipping, and to watch the pilot of Chase’s Hunting Grounds: Where the Coffee Grows. You can also purchase the coffee also at Whole Foods Markets.