In Orlando: Blue Zoo

20130304-010635.jpg
I just got back from a Business trip to Orlando and stayed at Disney’s Swan & Dolphin Hotel. I was at this same hotel last year for the same conference so was familiar with the property and the food options. Blue Zoo is a Todd English restaurant located in the hotel that I didn’t get a chance to try last time around. I have been to his restaurants in Washington DC and Las Vegas.

It was our first night in Orlando and we were able to get seated at a booth in the bar area. The four of us shared the Classico flatbread which had roasted tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and basil. This was a nice starter to share. It wasn’t spectacular, but I found the tomato sauce to be really good. Must be the roasting.

20130304-010702.jpg
We each ordered our own item, but we did some sharing and I was able to taste everyone’s dish. One colleague who was feeling like crab, ordered the crab nachos which had lump crab, black beans, salsa, and cherry peppers. This is probably the last thing I would have ordered because of the combination, but it was better than I expected.

20130304-010751.jpg
Another dish was the raw bar selection platter. It came with main lobster tale, oysters, clams, jumbo shrimp, ceviche, and tuna crudo. The restaurant takes pride in sourcing the freshest seafood. I had a clam, shrimp, and a piece of lobster tale and thought it was excellent. My friend who ordered the dish was happy with it except her last bite. She had one bad oyster and had to spit it out.

20130304-010825.jpg
Another dish ordered was the black truffle heritage chicken. The chicken came with truffle potato gnocchi and spinach. Who would have thought the chicken would be the best dish. The chicken breast was juicy and had a crispy skin. But the real star was the gnocchi. It was soft and fluffy with a slight char and the truffle flavor was wonderful.

20130304-010853.jpg
I was looking closely at their bar menu and decided to order the burger. It came with delicious homemade potato chips. My gourmet burger was grilled to a perfect medium rare which is what I requested. The meat was extremely juicy and eating it made me feel like I was on vacation. It hit the spot.

20130304-010923.jpg
Blue Zoo had a couple of glitches, but overall I think it rates well for Orlando.

Advertisements

Celebrity Chef: Cat Cora

20120311-193938.jpg
Whenever I travel for work, I would alway pack my tennis shoes and gym clothes, but rarely end up pulling it out of the suitcase. This time while I was in Florida, I did pull it out because I had to get my Weight Watcher activity points in. I found that our hotel the Swan and Dolphin had a one mile loop walking trail. I could loop around three times and earn three activity points. It’s a good thing I did because that is how I discovered Kouzzina, Iron Chef Cat Cora’s restaurant located on the Boardwalk. I had to dine here just because she is the only female Iron Chef. The restaurant is open for dinner as well as breakfast. I tried both.

20120311-193956.jpg
Kouzzina means kitchen in Greek and serves Mediterranean food. Although I was excited to be having dinner here, I knew I was in Florida and wanted to play it safe. I would start with my favorite Greek soup, Avgolemono. To me, lemon and chicken is like peanut butter and jelly. They go well together. Chef Cora’s soup did not have the exact consistency or texture that I expected, but it was still good. It was a tad thicker, had a more pungent lemon flavor, and had orzo when I expected rice. I now realize that you can use rice or orzo to make this soup. The Asian in me likes the rice.

20120311-194246.jpg
My friend who enjoys Greek appetizers ordered the Kouzzina sampler as her entree. It came with lamb meatballs, shrimp skewers, marinated olives, spiced cashews, dolmas, hummus, and pita. The platter of items was very mediocre. My favorite thing was the spiced cashews.

20120311-194351.jpg
I continued to play it safe and ordered the wood-grilled rib eye steak which was topped with an herb salsa and came with broccolini and potatoes. This was great. I wiped off some of the herb salsa, but everything else was delicious and met my expectations.

20120311-194433.jpg
The one thing I noticed about Kouzzina was that they could work on their plating. Plating was a hot mess. I guess in Florida they care more about abundance than they do presentation.

I came back the next morning for breakfast with my colleague. We shared two items. One was the French toast baklava, which was grilled fig and anise country bread with honey, walnuts and cinnamon. It also came with a side of chicken sausage.

20120311-194622.jpg
The second item was the warm phyllo filled with semolina custard and cinnamon sugar.

20120311-194521.jpg
Chef Cat Cora proved she could do breakfast. These Greek influenced breakfast plates were well worth my second visit and three more loops around the walking trail.

Magic Kingdom: Snacks

20120304-225102.jpg

I’m in Orlando, Florida on a business trip. My conference ended today so I purchased an after 2pm ticket to Magic Kingdom.

I didn’t have lunch except for a couple of pieces of fruit so I was pretty hungry when I entered the park. There are a lot of choices of snacks to eat at Magic Kingdom. What would I have? My friend back home at that moment had just text me to not to forget to have a giant turkey wing. Ooh, that sounded good to me. I felt like I needed some protein. I was fairly close to Frontierland where there is a stall that sells this carnivorous item.

20120304-224901.jpg
As I got closer and closer to the wagon selling the turkey, I passed several people biting into what was actually gigantic smoked turkey legs. It took me about five minutes to get through the line to buy the drumstick. I personally love smoked meats as well as eating turkey parts. This turkey leg was temperature hot, fresh, moist, juicy, and very flavorful. Although I felt somewhat awkward holding and eating this huge piece of meat, it was worth feeling this way as it was delicious.

20120304-225130.jpg
About an hour later, I was ready to dive into a sweet snack. Unlike the turkey leg, I knew I was getting this next snack before arriving at Disney World.

20120304-225234.jpg
In Magic Kingdom at Adventureland, you can get dole whip at a stand called Aloha Isle. Dole whip is a pineapple flavored soft serve. The last time I had it, I was in Anaheim at Disneyland. Although I got a plain soft serve, you can also get a float with pineapple juice.

20120304-225457.jpg
These snacks were great and held me over until dinner.