One of the great but underappreciated things about living in Central Florida during winter is that we still have fresh, local produce. Folks up north are digging out of snow, while local Florida farmers are digging up carrots and beets, onions and cauliflower, even peanuts. Check out the latest issue of Edible Orlando for the lowdown on butterfly pea flower, a local crop that’s great as tea or even a coloring for Easter eggs.
Of course, Orlando is also great in February because we can get outside in short sleeves and check out the local festivals. Each week, Edible Orlando writer John Graham is on the hunt for what’s going on in Central Florida, whether that’s a street festival, a chili cookoff, or dinner in the middle of a farmer’s field. Below, he covers five events for fun and food in the coming week.
Mardi Party, Solar Bears
Mardi Gras is the last day before Lent, a final chance to get in a little gluttony before forty days of sacrifice. This year, that’s March 1 – but some folks start early. This Saturday from 4-9 p.m. is the annual Sanford Mardi Gras Street Party in Historic Downtown Sanford. Among the 30+ food trucks will be Top Hat Catering, part of Meals on Wheels, Etc. for Seminole County. Chef Delaño Lambertclare is from New Orleans and will be dishing out his jambalaya, crawfish étouffée, and bread pudding. Proceeds benefit Meals on Wheels, Etc., which provides meals and services to Seminole County seniors.
The Orlando Solar Bears hockey team is throwing a food fest on Saturday right before the 7 p.m. game against the Indy Fuel. Just a few of the 30+ vendors that will be serving it up along Church Street outside Amway Center include Portillo’s, Jimmy Hula’s, Tijuana Flats, Cholo Dogs, Cheese to Share, and Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream. Ticket packages for both the food fest and the hockey match start at $40.
Fun and Food in Orlando
A new chili cook-off is coming to Orlando on Saturday! It’s sanctioned by CASI, the Chili Appreciation Society International. The Central Florida Chili Cookoff will be Saturday, 12-5 p.m., at Hamlin Town Center, which is technically in Winter Garden. Teams can win in multiple categories, including CASI rules (no beans, pasta, or other filler), open (anything goes), restaurant, vegetarian, showmanship, and people’s choice. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the gate. The chili cook-off and accompanying cornhole tournament benefit Legacy Events for Education.
Remember us saying how some folks celebrate Mardi Gras early? The East Orlando Chamber of Commerce is hosting its Mardi party, Feast in the East, on Thursday, 4:30-8:30 p.m. It will be held in The Pavilion at Avalon Park Community Center. The night is a chance for restaurant members to show off their catering and to-go menus. Admission is $35. It gets you all-you-can-eat samples, adult beverage samplings, non-alcoholic beverages, and a bingo card with prizes from participating restaurants. Plus, there’s a separate raffle for a Big Green Egg.
Lastly, Southern Hill Farms in Clermont is kicking off its Farmer’s Harvest dinner series on Friday, 6-9 p.m. (They’ll do it on March 18 and April 29 too.) Picture a night outside on the property with a sunset cocktail hour, firepits, cornhole, rocking chairs, and live music. For February, chefs Sharon Brenner and Bill Baxter from Sugar Grove Catering will create the menu. So far, we only have hints of their plans, which include charcuterie, hanging chickens, flaming donuts, and a strawberry basil mojito. Tickets for the night are $100 a person with no kids, no pets, and “comfortable, farm-appropriate shoes.”
For more inspiration, visit our Archives.