Fun Food Ideas March 5-11

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Remember when you had to hunt down “exotic” ingredients like balsamic vinegar or gochujang chili paste? Sure, you could always find gator meat in Orlando, but what about elk steaks or even vegan “Spam”? Specialty markets around Central Florida have just boomed in the last few years. If you can find a recipe online, you can certainly find the ingredients to give it a go. Check out some amazing local markets in the latest print edition of Edible Orlando and “Your Shopping Guide to Flavorland.”

Orlando is a constantly-evolving food community, thanks to new markets, new restaurants, new festivals and new “nights out.” Edible Orlando writer John Graham always has his eyes open for what’s going on around town. Each week, he sorts out the top five bits of food fun for the week ahead.

Bark and Brew, Plant Sale

Around 20 breweries (and a cidery and a meadery) will be part of Saturday’s Bark and Brew from 2-8 p.m. at Oviedo’s Center Lake Park. In addition to food trucks and live music, there will also be pet activities and demos, including a wiener dog derby open to both dachshund and wannabes (mixed/small breeds). Beer punch cards that let you buy tasting pours or full beers along Craft Beer Row are $25 for ten punches. Friendly, leashed dogs are welcome. Hourglass Brewing, Orange County Brewers and Playalinda Brewing Company will all be there. All are listed in the Edible Orlando Artisan Guide, a handy way to keep up on who is crafting delicious and local food and drink.

Saturday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., is also the annual Garden Festival and Plant Sale run by the UF/IFAS Orange County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers. This event is at the extension campus on S. Conway Rd. Free Exploration Gardens tours will cover everything from green beans and tomatoes to avocados, mulberries, mango and guava. There are multiple classes through the day, including a quick class on growing veggies from your kitchen scraps at 1:15 p.m. Pay attention, beer lovers: Hops are a new specialty crop being tested and you can check out the Hops Yard too. Garden tours start at the top of the hour. The last one starts at 2 p.m.

Vegan Churros, Meatball Day, Raglan Road

The “It’s Just Yoga” Health & Fitness Festival is Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., at Lake Eola Park. For a donation to New Hope for Kids, you get access to a day of outdoor yoga classes in a variety of disciplines and “Central Florida’s Largest Meditation Gathering.” But now you’re asking, “Where’s the food?” Multiple food vendors will be at the festival marketplace, including Brazilian Fun Foods, which makes churros that are both vegan and gluten-free. BFF also has a new product line of vegan/gluten-free Troof Truffles and chocolates.

courtesy of The Meatball Stoppe

Wednesday is National Meatball Day. To celebrate, The Meatball Stoppe on Lake Underhill Rd. will be selling their “Nonna’s Traditional” meatballs for a dollar each from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. There’s a limit of ten per person. “Otherwise, they’ll wipe us out!” says Chef Isabella. Look for the spot on the wall where Guy Feiri spray-painted his name and face while visiting for “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” The Meatball Stoppe also makes meatball recipes as diverse as chicken marsala, lamb, crab, gator, sausage, and even a couple vegan options.

Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant at Disney Springs is getting a head start on St. Patrick’s Day. The restaurant is kicking off The Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival on Friday and going for six days until next Thursday, March 17. Raglan Road is bringing in multiple Irish bands for the party, playing both inside and out. Just for the festival, Crooked Can Brewing is releasing So Berry Les, a hard seltzer with Florida strawberries and key lime juice. It’s named as a tribute to Raglan Road co-owner John Cooke’s father, Les. Raglan Road’s menu includes both traditional Irish items (fish and chips) and more unique plates (Guinness-glazed baby back ribs). Check out the Edible Orlando interview with Raglan Road Executive Chef Mark O’Neill for his inspirations.

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