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We can recycle and pay attention – and still have fun. Central Florida is a thriving food community. Every week, there is so much going on that you might miss something wonderful! Edible Orlando writer John Graham keeps an eye on all the restaurants, holidays, and festivals and picks the top five each week in and around Orlando. Here’s five five bits of fun you should know about, Saturday to Friday.
Saturday, Gentry’s BBQ General Store celebrates its new Winter Park location, just behind the Krispy Kreme on 17-92. Gentry’s originally opened in Ivanhoe Village about three years ago, specializing in grills, smokers, outdoor kitchens and classes. Stop by to sample what’s cooking from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Among the demos and food samples, Memphis in May World Champion team member Mat Griner will be smoking a whole hog, North Carolina style. Author Craig Tabor (aka Big Green Craig) will be signing books and That Sharpening Guy from Sanford will be there sharpening knives.
We told you last week that Mardi Gras is really a one-day thing, although folks like to expand it into a season. Fat Tuesday is finally here on, well, Tuesday, and here’s how folks are celebrating. Sunday, Johnny’s Other Side is having a crawfish boil, 4-5:30 p.m., along with gumbo, red beans and rice, and king cake. The $15 cover benefits Boone High School.
SeaWorld is adding Mardi Gras flair to its Seven Seas Food Festival, now through March 6. The Gulf Coast Market already serves up gumbo, barbecue po’ boys, and bananas Foster beignets. For the mardi party, SeaWorld adds a pop-up parade, live music, and a street party. Seven Seas Food Festival is Thursday-Sunday until May 8.
Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen will have Fat Tuesday drink specials all day and live music from 6-10 p.m. at both the Winter Park and Altamonte Springs locations. That’s also the last day for multiple special Mardi Gras menu items including king cake, shrimp corn fritters, crawfish empanadas and 32-ounce hurricane buckets.
And here’s one Tuesday event that isn’t really tied to Fat Tuesday … but could be. The Monroe in the Downtown Orlando Creative Village is throwing its first Birds & Brews Backyard Party, 6-9 p.m. Your $35 ticket gets you access to fried chicken, five local breweries, and live music from The Four One Fives.
The EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival kicks off Wednesday. With it, almost 20 outdoor kitchens are serving up unique eats through July 4. The new items include crispy mojo-marinated pork belly with plantain chips, Mediterranean flatbread with za’atar (pictured), and strawberry cheesecake funnel cake topped with strawberry ice cream. There will also be limited-time menus. Some items available in April will be replaced with new menu items by June. In-park dining requires a park reservation and valid admission for the same park on the same date for each person in your group, age 3 and up. (If you plan on stopping by EPCOT’s Mexico pavilion, check out our Artisan Q&A with La Cava del Tequila’s Tequila Ambassador, Hilda Castillo.)
The Florida Strawberry Festival kicks off Thursday in Plant City and runs through March 13. Just a few of the strawberry dishes include strawberry shortcake (of course), chocolate strawberry shortcake milkshake, and strawberry brisket tacos. Plus, you can’t miss the strawberry fritters, strawberry kettle corn, and “The Favorite” (an Amish doughnut, covered in hot fudge, whipped cream and Plant City strawberries). Or you can opt for a big bowl of strawberries. Concerts include Lauren Daigle, Bobby Bones, Sammy Hagar, The Beach Boys, and Boyz II Men. Festival Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids 6-12. Headliner concerts and midway are ticketed separately.
And we’ll wrap up the week with the natural way to follow Mardi Gras – a Lenten Fish Fry Friday. Orlando’s Holy Family Catholic Church and The Men of Holy Family are beer-battering and frying fish for the 26th year, Fridays through April 8, 5:30-8 p.m. For $12, you get fish, French fries, green beans and coleslaw. Kids meals are $5 for ages 6-12 and come with mac and cheese. Kids five and under eat free. You can take a meal home with drive-through or carry-out. If you eat in, enjoy a family style, all-you-can-eat meal. Desserts, beer, and wine are extra. The fish fries aren’t limited to Holy Family parishioners. All are welcome.
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