Restaurant review on Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food restaurant at Universal Orlando's CityWalk! A must to visit if you are vacationing in Orlando, Florida!

Last night, I had the chance to attend a media event for the brand new Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food restaurant at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk. Since all I crave right now is Mexican food this event was right up my alley. Plus, I haven’t been to CityWalk in a while and I wanted to see for myself all the updates they’ve been working on.

Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food is located in the heart of Universal CityWalk, right next to the groove nightclub.  Visitors to the vibrant, two-story restaurant can enjoy two unique dining experiences, both featuring a delicious menu that combines authentic, traditional Mexican fare with all-new flavors – all made from scratch using the freshest ingredients.Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food Restaurant

I took full advantage of having one of my last girls nights out for a while. I met up with my friend, Kristen from Yellow Bliss Road (who just so happened to be visiting from California on vacation with her family), and Christine from Cook the Story. When we got to the restaurant we started off with delicious house-made chips and salsa on the spacious outdoor patio. The mariachi band was playing popular music that you’d here on the radio–not your traditional mariachi music!  I sipped on an agua fresca while the girls tried one of the signature margaritas. Restaurant review on Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food restaurant at Universal Orlando's CityWalk! A must to visit if you are vacationing in Orlando, Florida!

When we got inside I immediately noticed the eclectic decor; a mix of traditional Mexican folk art with new-aged style decorating. Lots of bright and vibrant colors. Antojitos takes diners on a journey through the cantinas, street carts and markets of Mexico City for craveable Mexican fare that is unlike any other.  The restaurant has two floors and each floor has a different menu.

Guests can choose to dine downstairs and enjoy a more casual dining experience that includes items like carnitas al pastor tacos (made with beer and chile braised pork, grilled pineapple and guajillo salsa) and oaxaca enchiladas (chicken tinga and house made mole sauce, queso fresco and lime crema). Click on the link to find all the offerings for the the Antojitos Menu.


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Opal Apples at Broetje Orchards - Washington State from KatiesCucina.com

Back in September, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington State to learn all about apples. Not just any apples. Apples grown at Broetje Family Orchards owners of  First Fruits; specifically the Opal® brand apple (among all the other varieties the family grows). I was accompanied by Kevin from Closet Cooking, Lindsay and Bjork from Pinch of Yum, and my dear friend Leslie from The Hungry Housewife.

Broetje Orchards - Washington State from KatiesCucina.com

In just three short days, during my visit to Prescott Washington, we toured some of the 6,000+ acre farm the Broetje family owns. We learned the story of how the orchard came to life first hand from Ralph and Cheryl Broetje. Ralph and Cheryl are amazing entrepreneurs, philanthropist, and all-around humble and caring people.

Ralph Broetje

(Founder, Ralph Broetje pictured above)

“Broetje Orchards was founded by Ralph and Cheryl Broetje in 1967 and has grown to become one of the largest privately owned and operated orchards in the country.  Based on the founding dream to help those in need, and a servant leadership philosophy to empower others, 50% of profits are invested annually to further our mission of “bearing fruit that will last.”  One of the most recent ventures, Ralph and Cheryl have gotten into is a new variety of apple!

Broetje Orchards Opal Apple

(compliments to my lovely hand model, Leslie from The Hungry Housewife)

The Opal® apple was discovered in Europe in 1999. The Opal apple was bred naturally (meaning non-GMO). The non-browning characteristics in Opal were discovered by chance, when Topaz and Golden Delicious were cross-bred, creating Opal. Cross-breeding is a traditional and natural method for creating new varieties. Browning is caused by a specific enzyme in apples which cause apple flesh to discolor when exposed to oxygen. Opal has a naturally low occurrence of this enzyme, thus slowing the browning process when cut.

Opal Apples at Broetje Orchards - Washington State from KatiesCucina.com

In March of 2010, Opal® brand apple made its debut appearance in the United States grown exclusively by Ralph Broetje, Broetje Orchards in Washington State. Opal® Brand apple is being marketed and distributed exclusively in North America by FirstFruits Marketing of Washington.

Opal Apples at Broetje Orchards - Washington State from KatiesCucina.com

The Opal® brand apple variety has been praised for its bright yellow color accented with natural russeting at the stem, but is recognized above all for offering a distinctively crunchy texture and sweet and tangy flavor.  In addition to its great taste, Opal® apple doesn’t brown after slicing so it is perfect for snacking and lunches! Seriously, this apple is delicious. Its crisp and refreshing and best of all is low oxidizing, so it takes a while for it to brown!

I created a quick video from my trip to Broetje Orchards. It will give you an idea of how the apple process goes from start to finish. Unfortunately, Opal Apples were not in season when we were there, so you will see other varieties of apples in the packing facility.


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Taste of the Nation from KatiesCucina.com

Last year, I was invited to attend Taste Of The Nation event and was unable to attend due to family being in town. After turning down the invite I vowed I would attend the Taste of the Nation event in 2013.  All the proceeds from the event including the live auction and silent auction go to support Share Our Strength, which as you may know helps end childhood hunger.

This is the same organization that we do our annual food blogger bake sale for each year! So, it was a no brainer to not go and support such a great cause. All in all they raised $245,000 for childhood hunger relief in Central Florida!

Taste of the Nation from KatiesCucina.com

When we walked in I was blown away by the massive room filled with food, friendly people, tables, and items to be auctioned off!

Taste of the Nation from KatiesCucina.com

This year they did their silent auction via mobile app. All the items for the auction were donated anywhere from golf games to hotel stays to celebrity memorabilia! During the middle of the event they also did a live auction for some of the big ticket items like 2 tickets to the American Music Awards and 2 tickets to the ESPY’s… not just tickets, but hotel, limo, etc… 


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Taste of the Nations Orlando

Photo Credit: Taste of the Nations Orlando

Next month, Share Our Strengths Taste of the Nation® Orlando returns August 10  for their 24th annual fundraising event! If you live in Central Florida you are in for a big treat. Tantalize your tastebuds with appetizers, entrees and desserts from more than 30 of Central Floridas finest chefs and restaurants complemented by silent and live auctions and live entertainment.

As you know Share Our Strength is an organization that I’ve been supporting over the past few years to help end childhood hunger. This is the same organization that we host our annual Food Blogger Bake Sale for each year raising thousands of dollars. Last year, the Taste of the Nation event drew more than 2,200 attendees and raised $249,000 for Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

2013 TASTE OF THE NATION ORLANDO

When: Saturday, August 10, 2013
6:45 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Where: Orlando World Center Marriott
8701 World Center Dr.
Orlando, Florida 32821

Tickets: $150 each

Attire: Cocktail / Semi-Formal

Purchase Tickets HERE


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Do you love to travel? If your anything like me your always scheming of a way to travel at any given moment. The holiday season is in full swing and in case your plans don’t include jetting off to a vacation hot-spot you can re-create some of your favorite destinations (or destinations you dream of one-day visiting) in the comforts of your own home.

Mark Addison

I recently had the opportunity to interview, designer and entertaining expert Mark Addison. I asked him how us budget-friendly people can still throw a stay-cation bash without breaking into the vacation savings. I think we can all re-create those tiki bars and tropical drinks–all in the comfort of your own home with some of Mark’s tips and tricks.

1. Tell me about how to create a stay-cation party theme?

As with any theme you have to start with inspiration. Great inspiration for a stay-cation party can be found in the pages of your favorite travel magazines.  Choose a specific destination or you run the risk of your party becoming a cliché luau or a generic tikki party.

 

2. I love to travel and always maintain a strict budget. I do the same when hosting parties. Tell me how you recommend to throw a lavish party without breaking the bank?

Every budget conscious party planner begins with a comprensive party plan and a detailed budget to keep them on track, on budget and on time. Another cost saving tip is to look at what you already have at home that can be repurposed in unexpected ways; vases for food service, a festive throw or sarong as a tablecover, etc… Focus on decorative touches in areas of your home that your guests will frequent such as the front door, setting the tone when guest walk-in and in the bathroom as well (the two most visited places of the home).  The majority of your budget should be spent on food and beverages and using pre-prepared foods that you “spice” up can be a considerable time and cost savings.

 

3. How do you typically announce to your guest about the theme? Whether emailed or snail mailed, inviations are the first visual clue that you give your guests an indication of the theme and what is expected of them at the party.  Create a collage of your inspiration images in invitations to set the tone.  Travel themed invitaions such as passports and postcards can be very effective to set the tone with a little bit more work and creativity

The invitation is also is the place where you can request guests come in a particular attire to compliment the theme and if there are any special instructions you need to impart (i.e. prompt start time or prepared to participate in a specific activity)


4. Do you encourage others to dress the part?

The invitation is the place to request a specific attire; “flip flops and bathing suits” or “safari gear and ”.  Offer your guests a reward to dress the part, “come barefoot and beautiful to see what the future holds

 

5. Do you recommend guest bringing a dish or should the hostess do all the work?

Typically my hostess rule is if you are giving a party, then you really shouldn’t ask guests to “pitch in” or bring dishes unless your are clear that it is a pot luck dinner.  If your are set on having guests bring dishes, then very clear advance notice is required to insure guests won’t feel put off and will bring dishes that compliment the theme and each other.  Make a clear statement on the invitation that each guest is expected to participate and to what extent.

 celebrity-inspired holiday Stay-cation with Mark Addison

6. Do you have a particular stay-cation theme you enjoy most?

Living in New York, I tend to gravitate to a tropical destination theme like the Caribbean or an exotic themed destination such as South Africa.  Tropical and exotic themes offer the opportunity to serve frozen cocktails during the winter.  With Parrot Bay frozen pouches, making a frozen cocktail has never been easier. The time needed to prepare frozen cocktails usually takes away from the atmosphere. Parrot Bay frozen pouches makes it easy to entertain friends without the hassle of prep work and clean up.  They’re available in three different flavors – Strawberry Daiquiri, Mango Daiquiri and Piña Colada. You can glam them up with fresh fruit skewers* to compliment the three flavors. Create an interactive MYO fruit skewer station for the guest to get into the action and create their own drink garnishes.  The food should be specific to the exact destination as traditional food vary greatly from one tropical destination to another.  A classic ceviche* served with scrisp tortilla chips and Pineapple Shrimp Skewers are perfect for a tropical destination, while Cape Malay Sosaties* (aka kebabs) service with South African yellow rice* is ideal for an exotic destination. Theme the décor with items you may have around the house and summery beach towels and a festive sarong as table covers.  Brightly colored flowers and votives adorned with shells add tropical touches to the bar area and food stations.

Visit Mark’s blog to get drink and food recipes on the following themes:

For those who can’t travel this holiday season I hope this inspires you to throw a stay-cation themed party and enjoy a few comforts of vacation in the comforts of your own home.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated to interview Mark. I love to travel and entertaining and felt that this was a fabulous opportunity to share with my readers. 


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I hope you’ve enjoyed my foodie travels through Barcelona, Spain. Now it’s time to start seeing the rest of the Mediterranean! After spending 3 nights and 4 days in Barcelona, Spain. My husband and I boarded the brand new Carnival Breeze.  We picked this cruise for its itinerary not for the ship or brand. However, we are loyal Carnival cruisers so it was a plus that we got to sail on a brand new ship throughout the Mediterranean. The ship was huge and had so many dining options. I can’t imagine only sailing on this boat for 7 days. You would never get to try all the options. Thankfully, we were on the ship for 12 days and had a little more time to try everything although we still didn’t have enough time in our days to try everything. *Remember, we ate lunch off the ship every day we were in port and ate dinner in Venice.

Mongolian Wok on Carnival Breeze

Ever since the first time Carnival introduced the Mongolian Wok on its ship it has been a tradition of mine to get a wok bowl made on the first day for lunch. As soon as we boarded the ship that was the first place we went to. The lines are always long, but well worth the wait. I love it because you can pick and chose all of the veggies you want as well as a choice of 3 proteins. Which I typically tend to skip and just have a veggie loaded bowl with a few rice noodles!

RedFrog Pub on the Carnival Breeze

After lunch, we made our way over to the RedFrog Pub on lido deck. They also have a RedFrog Pub on deck 5 as well that typically has live music throughout the evening. My husband is big into craft beer and he was pretty excited to give Carnival’s signature craft brew a try. He enjoyed it and had a few while we were on board throughout our trip. One thing we never got to do was have food at RedFrog. They have a “bar” style menu with conch fritters and chicken wings for a fee of $3.50 per plate. SO next time, we are on a ship that has a RedFrog we will sure to check that out.

The Taste Bar on the Carnival Breeze

Later that evening we continued to explore the ship and stumbled across The Taste Bar (deck 5). That evening they were showcasing two items from Cucina del Capitano the for-fee Italian restaurant on board. The hand whipped ricotta bruschetta was out of this world delicious and Nonna’s meatball wasn’t too bad either. It was a perfect pre-dinner appetizer (even though neither of us were really hungry to eat dinner at all that night). We ended up eating at Cucina del Capitano on a whim one of our evenings (I think it was the evening we were in Naples). Unfortunately, I failed to bring my camera and document our meal. Our meal was amazing and for the fee of $12 per person you got a lot of food! After that night, I begged my husband each night there after to eat at the Italian restaurant. Unfortunately, we never made it back to the restaurant. So I guess that means we just need to go on another cruise to make it over there.

Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse on the Carnival Breeze

We splurged our first night of the cruise and treated ourselves to the Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse on the Carnival Breeze. This is another for-fee restaurant with a steep charge of $35 per person. You were allowed to order 1 appetizer, 1 salad/soup (or 2 appetizers with no salad or soup), a main entree, and a dessert. It’s not like a free for all like all the other restaurants on board. We ate at the steakhouse the first night because I had heard through the grapevine that all those who dined on the first night received a free bottle of wine! So to me that was a deal in itself! My husband chose the escargot as his appetizer which he said was out of this world and the best he has ever had. I went with the ahi tuna tartar which was good, but very salty and had tons of citrus in it. The chef brought out a mini meatball and a gazpacho tasting for us to try. We both chose to try the lobster bisque which was kind of a disapointment. It was more like a lobster puree with very little pieces of lobster in it. I was expecting chunks of lobster.

Steaks at Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse on the Carnival Breeze

Four our main course, I opted with the filet mignon and lobster tail. Both equally delicious. I’ll have you know that I finished all my lobster and half of my steak. At this point I was so full, but I felt like there was no turning back. My husband opted with the spice-rubbed prime ribeye steak. He isn’t a big steak fan but he has had a few steaks in his time that have knocked his socks off. He was hoping that this would do the same. Sadly, it wasn’t very flavorful. When you read “spice-rubbed” you would think it would be bursting with flavors. He still says it was good but not as great as some of the other steaks he has had. Not pictured are the sides we ordered. They let you order as many sides as you’d like. They aren’t super large for multiple people to share (mainly to take a bite and try). I opted for the Yukon Gold Mash with Wasabe Horseradish sauce and the Creamed Spinach with Garlic. Both were equally delicious and of course I had no problem finishing either of them. My husband enjoyed a loaded baked potato and some steamed broccoli (he ordered that knowing I would want some)!

Dessert at Fahrenheit 555 on the Carnival Breeze

Even though we had a massive meal we were not about to skip dessert. Lets face it–its the most important part of any meal! My husband went with the cheesecake with hazelnut biscuit and I enjoyed the chocolate sampler. The picture of the cheesecake does not do it justice. This slice of cheesecake was like the size of my head! And it was creamy and rich tasting. A complaint I often have with cruise lines is that they don’t produce a good piece of cheesecake. This premium cheesecake was amazing! Our almost 3 hour dinner was delicious, and I’d definitely eat there again on future cruises even though some of our courses weren’t as great as others. I still highly recommend it because for the quality of food and the price you would never be able to get a full meal like that off shore!

Guy's Burger Bar

I know that Guy Ferreri was just in the news on not good terms (his new restaurant got the worst reviews in New York Times history); however, his burger bar on the Carnival Dream got an A+ in my book. I’m not a big burger person and definitely have to be in the mood for one. Let me just tell you–I craved burgers on this trip after having just one! I think we had 5 burgers in total (in a 12 day span)!

Guy's Burger Bar on the Carnival Breeze

It did strike me odd that they had a “menu” yet when you went to order a burger they were not cooked to order per say as you requested it from the menu. They handed you a burger with or without cheese and a hearty helping of the most amazing fries (EVER). Then you proceeded on to the toppings bar where you made your own burger. I actually like this better only because I was able to put as much bacon and onions on my burger that my little heart desired!

Punchliner Comedy Brunch

I was excited to see that Carnival has created a special “comedy” brunch for seas days. However, once we attended the first brunch we realized that there wasn’t anything too special about this other than the menu. The menu is Mexican themed and after reading it online it sounded awesome. Meh… after our first experience at brunch I wasn’t sold (yet my husband kept insisting we go back. First off, I don’t eat egg yolks and only eat egg whites. I’ve been like that forever now. I’ve never had an issue ordering egg whites on a cruise ship. That was until I tried customizing my brunch options and I got a big fat NO! I was shocked and frankly taken back from it. I ended up complaining to the maître d’ given the fact that all of these brunch items should be cooked to order so I really didn’t understand what the big deal was. The next time we arrived at the dinning room for brunch I had to give my order to the hostess which was beyond inconvenient and of course I got my food as soon as my husband finished ordering. (Pictured above: Bloody Mary, Juevos Rancheros, Fruit and Cottage Cheese Dish, Bread/Muffin/Pastry Basket).

Another big downfall about this comedy brunch is that there really ins’t any comedy. The comedians from the night before talk for 5 minutes give one family-friendly joke and go on there way. Its mainly to remind everyone to make it to the comedy club that evening. I think this would be much nicer and probably more like an actual comedy brunch if they hosted this in the comedy lounge and had it held as a premium event. Needless to say, I’ll skip this  brunch the next time we sail on Carnival. It’s not worth my time and energy to argue with waiters over an egg white.

Fat Jimmys BBQ on the Carnival Breeze

Another for-free feature that Carnival has added to the larger fun ships is Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ. This is only offered on sea days and when I read reviews online about it everyone complained of long lines. Well that was right on par! We got to the bbq joint right after it opened and waited 20 minutes in line. Keep in mind I woke up feeling horrible that day. SICK! It was the day we were getting into Venice–the port I had looked forward to the most. I was hot and cold with the chills, a sore throat, and stuffed-up nose. I really wasn’t in the mood for bbq but we wanted to give it a try. After waiting in line we finally got our food and went inside to eat (its served outside on the 5th deck). We had a few bites and both of us hated it. All those minutes wasted standing in line for horrible bbq. Now, keep in mind. We are from the south. We know good bbq! So we are kind of bbq snobs.

Katie eating Chicken Noodle Soup on the Breeze

Thankfully, the place where we chose to sit for lunch just so happened to have a salad and soup bar. I had no idea nor was this really advertised any where on the ship. It was where we had the tasting on our first night. I think it was a gift from above that one of the soups they were serving was chicken noodle. At the time my husband still wasn’t feeling good (he started getting sick a few days before me). We both ditched the bbq and downed 3 bowls of soup, each. Then after, our bellies were full I asked my husband if he wanted to go back to our room and take a nap before hitting the streets of Venice, Italy. That nap is what got me through a fabulous evening in Venice (more of that to come later)! I did learn that The Taste Bar is opened for lunch on sea days and served up salads, wraps, and a choice of 3 soups. Its not busy and the quality of food is great!

We also had the opportunity to eat at Bonsai Sushi towards the end of the cruise. This is Carnival’s first for-fee sushi bar. For the price and quality of sushi I felt that it was very good. You don’t get a large selection which is unfortunate, but you get quality sushi (way better than the free stuff they hand out). My husband and I split a ship ($15) which came with miso soup for two, side salad (on the boat not 2 individual salads), Bonsai Triple E Roll, California Roll, and 6 pieces of sashimi. We  also tried the Tuna & Mango Tartare for an additional $3. We were plenty full and for under $25 you can’t beat a meal like that!

Another place not pictured is the Blue Iguana Cantina. We had breakfast there one morning. They have a burrito bar as well as make fresh huevos rancheros almost daily. Once again, we had issues with the egg whites. Even though they were cooking eggs for huevos rancheros they could not cook me egg whites. So I had the pleasure of standing in not one but two lines! By the time I got my egg whites and waited back in the Blue Iguana Cantina line my eggs were just about cold, and they cut the line off after me because they were closing. Trust me–at that point I would have probably went irate on them if they would have not served me. I will say that my burrito was tasty. After we got back and doing more research I read online that they served arepas for breakfast as well. No where was that posted. During the lunch hours of 11:30-2pm they serve tacos and have a salsa bar out for both breakfast and lunch.

We ate in the sit-down dining room almost every night. The food was average. Nothing really stood out and of course because we love to cruise I have my favorites like the Chocolate Molten Cake. I ordered that just about every night for dessert. Some nights it came out runny and other nights it was thick like cake. Either way its good in my book. My husband and I are big cruisers and really enjoy cruising. Sadly, over the years we have both noticed that Carnival’s quality of food has declined. Its still edible but we find ourselves board with dinner on an almost nightly basis. I think it might partially have to do with the fact that we’ve cruise so much.

Do you like to cruise? If so, is there a favorite dish you enjoy eating?


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Driscoll's Berries

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend an event hosted by Driscoll’s at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival. They hosted a dozen bloggers from around Central Florida. Driscoll’s commitment to delicious, healthy eating was demonstrated in multiple live culinary demos by Chef Jon Ashton and Dietician Wendy Bazillian.  Together they prepared three courses that added flavor, flair, and fabulous health benefits to mealtime.

Driscoll's Berries Culinary Demo

The culinary demo that I attended started promptly at 5pm at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival Center. I’m embarrassed to say, but in the years I’ve been to the Food & Wine fest I’ve never been in the festival center! Now, that I know it exist I’ll be going in their each year.

Meeker Vineyard 2005 FroZin

We started the culinary demo with a glass of FroZin, a dessert wine from Meeker Vineyards. The Meeker Vineyard is a family-owned winery in Sonoma County, California. I’m not a fan of white Zinfandel. Although, this was not like any Zinfandel I’ve ever tasted. This dessert wine delivers incredibly fresh Zinfandel aromas and flavors. From the first sip you taste the berry aromas.

Meeker Vineyard FroZin

Disney hostess, Pam Smith introduced  Co-Winemaker Lucas Meeker took the stage to talk about the history of The Meeker Vineyard and all about the 2005 FroZin that we were drinking (retails for $24). His passion for wine making shines through as well as his knowledge!   It was so hard for me to slowly sip this wine. It was so good. I could have easily guzzled a bottle down during the demo. But I knew that wasn’t really lady like or proper. Nor were they handing out multiple glasses of wine to drink!

Chef Jon Ashton and Dr. Wendy Bazillian

Next up, it was time for Chef Jon Ashton and Dietician Wendy Bazillian to take the stage. Chef Jon Ashton was so animated and started the demo off by doing a toast to the crowd!

Driscoll's Berries Tasting

Servers began passing out our three course tasting. Pictured above (bottom) Brie & Blackberry Wonton, (middle) Strawberry Bruschetta, (top) Thai Turkey Meatball. All three were spectacular. Chef Jon Ashton started with the Brie & Blackberry Wonton and built up from there. It made sense as the flavors began to intensify throughout each course!

Chef Jon Ashton

As Chef Jon Ashton talked about the recipes he also walked around the audience. Giving me the chance to capture this photo! As you can tell from the photo–he is very animated! One thing that Chef Jon Ashton said really resinated with me; “Relatable recipes you can make in your kitchen“. I strive to do this all the time, so I enjoyed the fact that he has similar beliefs as I do!

Oh and don’t worry, I’ll be posting the recipes in the next month. I plan to make all three for upcoming get togethers because I know everyone will thoroughly enjoy them!

Chef Jon Ashton and Dietician Wendy Bazillian

 Dr. Wendy Bazillian gave insightful berry facts throughout the demo. Did you know “one serving of strawberries has more vitamin C than one medium orange“? Who knew! I didn’t!

Dr. Wendy Bazillian also spoke about storing your berries:

  • Keep them in the container
  • Store in the coolest place of the refrigerator
  • Clean before eating
After the culinary demo we had the chance to talk with Chef Jon Ashton and Dietician Wendy Bazillian about cooking and berries and everything in between. After talking with them we made our way over to Downtown Disney to Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant.

Wolfgang Puck's Restaurant

I was excited to try the sit down restaurant since I have only eaten at the quick service restaurant attached. The food was delicious. We started with vegetable spring rolls, followed by mixed green salad. Almost our entire group of 20 chose the spicy beef goulash and spaetzle for dinner. For dessert everyone was served a slice of cheesecake with fresh berries!

Unfortunately, Chef Jon Ashton wasn’t able to have dinner with us, but Dr. Wendy Bazillian was! I sat across from her and enjoyed talking with her. She has published multiple books and makes frequent appearances on national morning shows such as The Today Show. I asked her what her tips were for doing short cooking segments since I’ve recently done two. I always want to learn and improve so it was great hearing her talk about what to expect and what to never expect from a morning show!

Disclaimer: I received the culinary demo and dinner for free. I was not compensated to post about this event. All opinions are my own.


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Las Ramblas Market, Barcelona Spain

One of my favorite things that we got to experience while visiting Barcelona, Spain was walking around the Boqueria Market in Las Ramblas. It was a rainy Saturday and with loosing one full day the day prior thanks to the airlines we weren’t about to sit in our hotel room. Instead, we got golf size umbrellas from our hotel and hit the pavement running. Well, maybe not running. Maybe more of a brisk walk. The front desk at the Hilton Barcelona (which by the way–the hotel was amazing) recommended we visit the Las Ramblas Boqueria market no later than lunch time since it is closed on Sundays. After my husband and I grabbed our hop-on hop-off passes we decided to make our way down to Las Ramblas.

Las Ramblas Market, Barcelona Spain

Since it was raining I opted to leave the DSLR cameras back at the hotel. I was fearful they would get ruined in the rain. So all the photos we took on our first day in Barcelona were taken using our iPhones. Which also meant that all the video I filmed this day was done on the iPhone.

Without further ado… here is my first of 5 Europe travel videos!!!

I hope the video gave you a good idea of how it is at the Las Ramblas Market. As you can tell I am not fluent in Spanish and got yelled at a few times by the locals. Such is life.

Las Ramblas Market, Barcelona Spain

One of my favorite parts of the market was all the fresh juice. We made the mistake by purchasing our first juice upon entering the market and we paid 2.50 in euros. As you saw in the video, once we got into the heart of the market you could find juices for one euro. At the time, our exchange rate was $1.28. You could never get a fresh pressed juice for $1.28 in the United States! So I felt the need to splurge on juices. My husband and I had 4 juices in about an hours time while exploring the market.

Las Ramblas; The Boqueria Market: Barcelona, Spain

La Boqueria Market or Sant Josep is the place to go for any item you need for a delicious Mediterranean meal, or simply for some extra fruits and treats on the go. The Boqueria has everything you could possibly imagine under one tall metal umbrella. Sant Josep market is the largest of Barcelona’s 39 food markets, and it is also the largest in Europe. 

Looking for more information on the Boqueria Market? Head on over to the Suite Life. They have a great post that explains the history of the market as well as more details of what you can find.

If you ever make it to Barcelona, Spain you must not miss the  Boqueria Market! You can shop for souviniers and eat breakfast or lunch while roaming around the market!

The Boqueria Market: Barcelona, Spain 

Address: La Rambla, 89 bis – Plaça de la Boqueria

Phone: 933 182 584 / 933 182 017

Website: www.boqueria.info

Hours of Operation: Monday-Saturday, 8am to 8.30pm

 


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Last week I shared what my breakfast consisted of in Barcelona, Spain while on vacation last month. If you remember from my Airplane Food post, my husband and I had a difficult time getting to Barcelona thanks to a silent pilot’s strike going on.

Night 1: Café & Té

Cafe & Te in Barcelona Spain

On our first night (extremely jet-lagged) we decided to stay close to our hotel. We walked a block or so to the local mall and wondered around. Frustrated and extremely hungry we ended up at Café & Té. Little did we realize that it’s a franchised restaurant that can be found all over Spain! Drinking a very potent glass of sangria might not have been the best for me, but it sure did taste good!

Cafe & Te Pasta Trio

My husband was craving comfort food so he went for the pasta. I warned him it would be nothing like what we eat at home, but he still went with it. He ordered the Pasta Trio that consisted of: Spaghetti Bolognese, Tagliatelle Carbonara and Ricotta Tortellini with Spinach. He liked it but agreed that the flavors were so different!

Cafe & Te in Barcelona Spain

I went with the special of the night. 3 tapas items and a sangria for 12 euros. I choose the potato crusted chicken strips; which at the time when I was reading the menu I thought it read potatoes and chicken–when it came out it was totally not what I had expected. However, I loved the chicken strips! I could have easily eaten another order! My second plate of tapas was a tomato and mozzarella salad. I figured it was a safe choice, and I was right. It was delicious and the mozzarella melted in my mouth! My third choice (which I thought was safe) totally threw me for a curve ball. I ordered a mini burger and let me tell you. It did not taste like a traditional burger! The beef patty tasted more like a pork sausage breakfast patty. I had one bite and gave the rest to my husband. But it was ok, because that meant it gave me a reason to roam around and get dessert!

We found a crepe stand outside of the mall, and I insisted that we split a dulce de leche crepe. It was pure bliss and oh so sweet.

Day 2:

We had a late dinner. We didn’t sit down to eat until almost 9:30 at night. We wandered down dark alley ways through Las Ramblas looking at different menus until we found a place that we were intrigued by. This was the night I wanted to have Paella for dinner.

Colon Mediterranean Kitchen, Barcelona Spain

We found Colon Mediterranean Kitchen. We liked that it was busy and it had an English translated menu! We also were drawn in at the fact that they had a Paella dinner for 2 for 19 euros! Dinner for 2 for $24 American dollars? I’m sold! We got to choose 3 tapas plates to start with. Naturally, because I love olives, I chose the marinated olives. We both were enjoying the Potatoes Bravas (fried potato with a spicy mayonnaise like dipping sauce), and we took a risk and ordered the squid rings (aka calamari in the states). We found it odd that the squid rings didn’t come with a dipping sauce. Thankfully they smothered our Potatoes Bravas with sauce, so we just used that! For our main course we chose the seafood paella chocked full of mussels, clams, crawfish, shrimp, bay scallops, and chunks of lobster. This Paella was massive and could have easily fed four very hungry adults. Sadly, we were only able to eat half of the steaming hot pan they brought to our table.

Coffee Gelato in Barcelona Spain

By the time we were done sipping sangria and beer it was close to midnight. Although I was pretty full, I felt the need to get my gelato fix. So I had my first gelato in Europe. A cafe gelato (coffee). It was so rich and creamy and strong (like coffee)! After I ate it I was afraid I would be up all night from the caffeine! Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.

Day 3:

I’ll share both lunch and dinner on this day. Lunch was just too good to not share.  On our last day in the city, we rode on the hop-on, hop-off bus. We decided to get off at a quaint little part of town to grab a bite to eat. We figured it was where more locals were and a little more off the tourist path. Little did we forget to realize that it was around 3pm and most places close in between lunch and dinner. Oh, and it was Sunday! Since the weather looked like it was getting bad we decided to find a restaurant and take a little break from all the walk we had been doing.

Sangria in Barcelona

I enjoyed a massive glass of sangria. Note to self: I typically don’t drink at lunch time so this made for one tired Katie.

Lunch at Canalla in Barcelona Spain

The menu at Canalla wasn’t large, so we were a bit limited on what to order. I saw that they had barratta and I was sold (even though it was 11 euros). We also ordered the Potatoes Bravas (although this version was our absolute favorite on our trip). We also ordered to meat croquettes, and my husband partook in the special: one extra-large beer and a canape for 4 euro. The beer alone was worth 4 euro and the canape was 3.50. He opted for the jamon and cream cheese canape and enjoyed it. All of our food was great, and the drinks were even better. The back room of the restaurant which is where we were sat was very eclectic. The walls were lined with vintage newspaper. It also made for great people watching. My husband and I enjoyed looking at what everyone else ordered.  2 hours later and we were ready to hit the road again.

Tapa Tapa in Barcelona Spain

Sunday was another late dinner night. Especially since we had lunch at 3pm! We had also been walking all day and my feed were sore and I was exhausted. By the time we finished the Magic Fountain show it was 9:30. I just wanted to eat and go to bed. I was also contemplating just going to bed at that point. But we found a few restaurants nearby. We decided to go with TapaTapa. Once again, little did we realize, we picked a chain restaurant. The inside decor was modern and had eclectic artwork on the walls.

Tapa Tapa in Barcelona Spain

We had a feast this evening. I’m sure that the waitress thought we were pigs! My husband enjoyed a local beer while I sipped on a glass of red sangria. We shared tomato bread, (more) potatoes bravas, tomato mozzarella salad (that had chopped walnuts in it), a grilled vegetable platter, and a shrimp and monkfish skewer (not pictured). My husband also enjoyed a plate of fried potatoes with ham and eggs (pictured middle right). All-in-all our dinner was good.

I’m excited to share my adventures in the Las Ramblas market next week (it’s a video)!

If you want to see more vacation photos from Barcelona, head on over to my DIY blog Sew Woodsy.

 

 


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breakfast in Spain

If there is one meal out of the day we love the most in my household its breakfast. Even when we are traveling and on the go we make time to have breakfast. We stayed in Barcelona, Spain for 3 days/nights before our Mediterranean cruise. Thanks to an abundance of Hilton points we were able to stay in Spain for virtually free. The Hilton offered a buffet breakfast at a very steep price, so my husband and I decided to venture out each day for breakfast. Thankfully, there was a local restaurant right next to our hotel (that came highly recommended to us by family who stayed at the same Hilton). Restaurante Piscolabis Diagonal served delicious breakfast at a very reasonable price!

breakfast in barcelona

They also had English menus. Heck, everywhere in Barcelona had not only English menus but multiple different languages available for a menu. I noticed though, at most places you got one menu for the table. In all the places we dined we also noticed that their were no salt and pepper shakers on the tables. You had to ask for it and it seemed like each restaurant had a very limited number (like 2 or 3). So they would bring it to you and wait for you to salt and pepper your food and then take the shakers from you. Just a tid bit of information in case you ever travel to Spain!

Breakfast in Spain

On our first morning in Barcelona we got up late (for us) and didn’t wander outside of the hotel until close to 11 am. It had been raining and the day before we had been up for over 24 hours so sleeping in was much needed! We started our breakfast with a little cafe (or coffee in English). I ordered my husband a cafe americano which is a shot of espresso followed by a cup of hot water. I ordered a shot of espresso for me. By far, this was one of the best espressos I had on our trip. It was delicious and I could have easily downed 5 shots, but chose not too since I didn’t want to be buzzing around the city! orange juice in spain

Everyone that I talked to told us that we had to try the freshly squeezed orange juice while in Spain. Unfortunately, I can’t drink orange juice, but my husband can. So he gave it a try and loved it. Although, he said it was much more tart than American orange juice. But I reminded him that’s because it is freshly squeezed and no additives are put in the beverage. These machines were in virtually every restaurant we went into (even Starbucks)!

egg white potato omelete

My husband ordered the breakfast special which consisted of fried eggs, bacon, and potatoes (not pictured). Thankfully, our server spoke very good English and understood that I wanted the egg and potato omelet but I wanted it with egg whites only. It doesn’t look too appetizing but it was one of my favorite breakfasts abroad! I also learned about tomato bread. It comes with everything in Spain. I instantly fell in love although my husband, Jon, wasn’t digging it as much. Which meant more tomato bread for me! I later learned that all it is–is a baguette with fresh tomato rubbed on it. I thought they poached it or did something special but one waitress told me it is fresh tomato.

Starbucks in Spain

We woke up early (for Barcelona terms) on our second morning in the city, and made our way out of the hotel by 9am. We were sad to see that Piscolabis was not open yet, so we decided to give Starbucks a try in Spain. We vowed before the trip that we would not eat at any American chains during our time in Europe but it was early on a Sunday morning and not too much was open. Plus, Starbucks had free wifi!!! We both enjoyed locally made croissants (way better than the typical ones you would get in the states) and my husband stuck with his cafe americano while I enjoyed a caramel machiatto and a half hour of free wifi. My husband was happy to read that we were limited to 30 minutes of free wifi since he practically had to peal me out of the store. At that point it had been 3 days with no internet. I was jonesing (and maybe even twitching) for internet!

Breakfast in Barcelona

Thankfully on our last morning in Barcelona, Piscolabis was open for breakfast. However, none of the servers on staff could speak/understand English making it so incredibly difficult for me to order my egg white potato omelet. Let’s face it… we are creatures of habit. We started our breakfast with a cafe americano and espresso followed by croissants. Then ordered an egg breakfast which I know isn’t normal for Europeans or at least in Barcelona. They are content with coffee and croisant. Us piggy Americans have to have a full breakfast!

Breakfast in Barcelona

I knew I was going to have an issue ordering my egg whites from the moment our waiter approached our table. I even tried saying “juevos blanco” which in my mind translated to “white eggs”, but that wasn’t cutting it. Little did I realize I should have learned how to say “egg whites only please” in Spanish. I tried drawing a picture, but apparently my drawing is just as good as my Spanish! ha! So my husband ordered the fried egg special again and I ordered tomato bread. When all else fails I at least know I like that. And of course had an uber carb filled breakfast. My sweet husband, cut some of his egg whites from his fried egg and gave it to me (pictured above, taken from our iPhone).

I hope you enjoyed my breakfast foodie travels in Barcelona!


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