Eating in Orlando Vol. 3
Summer is in full force and my sweat-soaked body is finding more and more reasons to stay in my air-conditioned home and cook rather than brave the sweltering heat. However, having worked within the hospitality industry for the better part of my adult life I know the pangs of summer sales slumps all too well. When possible I believe it's good to continue to show your local love for mom and pop shops when you can, especially in the third quarter. So despite my heat rage keeping me in hiding more than usual, I'll still be fanning myself around town, wearing the same amazingly forgiving overalls I can't seem to take off, glistening and eating.
It took awhile for me to visit Smith & Adams Confections, but I found myself under the blazing sun in the shopping center off E. Colonial & Bumby, where they've found a home for their storefront. I saw a sign teasing me with mention of gelato. Everything is handmade in their kitchen which is open to view once you enter their doors. I chose watermelon and passion fruit as my two flavors. I was actually taken aback at how rich and vibrant the watermelon was. There are plenty of other sweets in the case to distract you when you visit, but the gelato is a real winner.
I know the Sanctum isn't exactly new, but if it were feasible and I could get a grip on my Oprah-like addiction to bread, I'd love to feast at Sanctum daily. Instead, I try to make my visits as fun and filling as possible. I recently took two friends who had yet to dine there and we partook in a healthy dinner of bowls and of course a little wine. Sanctum is always keeping it fresh, even taking crowd favorites off the menu to make room for new bowls that have yet to disappoint. Pictured below are two of their colorful sushi bowls. Filled with brown sticky rice, tamari roasted sweet potatoes, baby greens, edamame, carrot ribbons, sunflower sprouts, avocado, crispy tofu, pickled radish & toasted Nori finished with ginger-miso dressing & wasabi aioli. I was actually surprised that at 7 pm on a weeknight this place wasn't filled with hungry veggie lovers. Put down the bread and visit them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner soon.
Ah yes, now back to CARBS.
Sometimes you pass by a restaurant almost daily and never realize it's there. That was Antonella's Pizzeria, hiding in plain sight on Fairbanks in that oddly placed and cramped shopping strip that now houses Ethos Kitchen as it's anchor. The time had come to give it a try, mainly because I hadn't had good garlic knots since my trip to Nashville last year, which is completely unacceptable. Garlic knots are very important part of my food pyramid.
This is a family owned business, and our waitress was so educated on the history and the menu that I assumed she was a blood relative. We started with garlic knots and a Caprese salad. The garlic knots were light, fluffy, soft and heavily coated. I'm sure the odor I emitted for days after was not pleasant, but I dared not brush any of the fresh garlic goodness off these glorious knots. The salad was equally delicious and was a great portion size. For the pizza we chose our own mixed toppings of meats and veggies. For me a good pizza is all in the crust. I like mine thin, crispy, yet soft in the right places. Antonella's hit all the marks I personally look for, and our service was pretty outstanding. I think Oprah would approve.
I should probably make a shirt that says "Will travel for doughnuts". Thankfully the Little Blue Donut truck has been circling Orlando for awhile now so I only had to take a quick trip down to Ocoee to see how these doughnuts stacked up against the rest. Unlike a lot of doughnuts around town, these are cake doughnuts made fresh and then you choose from the toppings on the menu and watch as they are prepared for you right in the truck. There is nothing quite like a warm doughnut, and it's even more startlingly satisfying when someone slathers peanut butter on it and drizzles on some Siracha. If you are a doughnut purest, that's fine, but I'll try any concoction once, and in the case of the Little Blue Donut truck, I will repeat.
Full disclosure, I was pretty bummed when Eternal Tap on Church Street closed. Despite living minutes from downtown, I don't frequent it that often to eat mainly because few things are good enough to make me deal with paying for parking coupled with undoubtedly annoying nighttime patrons. However, Eternal Tap reeled me in, just to close not long after it opened. That spot has been vacant for awhile, but now is home to Maddey's Craft & Cru. Their culinary vision is to take you through the five Burroughs of New York and introduce new items while holding on to some standards. We checked it out during the soft opening and tried what seems to already be a popular choice on their menu - the pizzas. We split the Diavolo Pizza, which came with Fennel sausage, spicy copa, picked fresno, & house ricotta as well as the Maddey's Buger that had minimal toppings consisting of green tomato jam, cheddar and Parmesan fries. While our meal was good the jury is still out if Maddey's has what it takes to keep me coming back for frequent visits, but that's just the grandma in me talking. Check it out for yourself.
If you haven't already heard, Valhalla Bakery will be opening up a shop solely for it's extremely popular doughnuts, called Valkyrie Doughnuts, over near UCF. While that may not excite those of us living closer to Market on South, I have hopes that the new shop will alleviate some of the long lines on the weekends and more doughnut lovers won't get turned away. Perhaps even maybe, just maybe I will have a chance at the coveted first in line on Sunday pin.
What I honestly can't wait for is the opening of Buttermilk Bakery's shop on Orange Avenue. I drive by and stare as though somehow I will acquire x-ray vision and see through the brown paper blocking the windows as they get the space ready. This family owned business is so beloved here that I can only imagine the lines that will form when it opens soon. Now that is something worth sweating over.
Til the next round-up, keep eating local.