Tampa Tuesdays: Food and Wine Festival at Busch Gardens

It’s officially spring, and that means it’s time for the Food and Wine festival at Busch Gardens! I was invited to a media event a couple of weeks ago to check out some of the amazing food offerings, and wanted to share them with you for Tampa Tuesdays.

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When we arrived at Busch Gardens, we were immediately greeted by an adorable topiary, and of course some wine!

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There was food, music, drinks, and some friendly faces.

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Servers passed around some of the offerings, while others were found at the food booths just as you would find them in the parks during the festival. The bacon macaroni and cheese was my favorite, hands down! This was just one of the many offerings at the 13 food cabins, 65+ fine wines and 70+ craft beers!

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However the duck fat truffle fries were a close second.

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Each cabin had a menu board with the food and drinks available as well as prices. Some even had pictures which I found very helpful.

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The president of Busch Gardens, Stewart Clark, spoke a few words, and it was fun to see the excitement he had for the event.

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Megan and I had to try out more wine, of course.

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Bobby tried the lobster tart.

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Then I found the frozen sangria and the mango margarita. Both were amazing, and I may have had more than one! (pictured here with shrimp and grits.)

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One of the new pavilions is called “cooking with Coke”, and I really enjoyed the pulled pork sliders with Coca-Cola® Cherry BBQ sauce.

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Mango margarita pictured below.

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No lie, after I took the below photo, a bird swooped down and stole my Key Lime Berry Parfait Mousse with churro. How rude! Also pictured are scallops and lamb chops with tabouleh. The scallops were Bobby’s favorite of the evening.

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I may have had another plate of the bacon mac and cheese. It’s THAT good.

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Something else we got to do that you can also do if you come to Busch Gardens (for a fee) is pet and feed kangaroos. It was so cool! They ate out of these little cups and were super friendly. It made my night!

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At the end of the night, we were sufficiently stuffed, and couldn’t wait to try more food at the Food and Wine Festival when it opened the next day! We haven’t been back yet, but we plan to do so soon.

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Don’t forget that in addition to the amazing food offerings, there is an awesome concert line up including names like the Band Perry, Newsboys, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are also plenty of upgrades you can purchase to make your visit even sweeter. There are festival samplers starting at $29.99, and VIP packages starting at $24.99.

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A huge thank you to Busch Gardens for the invite. This is such a fun festival that’s great for the whole family! You can experience the festival for yourself on weekends through April 30th. Concerts start at 7:00 pm. For more info be sure to check out the event FAQ page.

QOTD: Have you ever attended the Food and Wine Festival at Busch Gardens? What dish looks the best to you?

*Disclosure: I was provided free entrance into this special event as media, however all opinions are my own.

The winner of my Cabot giveaway is Susan Smith! Susan, be sure to email me at heatherslookingglass@gmail.com. You can check out the rafflecoptor widget in the original post to see the winner into.

Tampa Tuesdays: Cooking With Cabot + A Giveaway

It’s time for another Tampa Tuesday post! As stated when I started these, not all posts would be specifically about Tampa, but would include things I do and experience in the surrounding areas. Today is one of those days, as I talk to you about a special Cabot Cheese event I attended in Orlando a couple of weeks ago. When I arrived at the beautiful East End Market in Orlando and headed upstairs to the APEX room, I was greeted and immediately pointed towards a delicious looking create your own parfait bar, Olde Hearth Bread Company muffins, Lineage Coffee Roasting coffee, Divine Chocolate,  Florida Milk, and all the Cabot cheese I could eat. Yes please!

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We ate breakfast, got to know each other, and just had a nice relaxing few minutes to hang out before we were introduced to some of the Cabot team.

One of my favorite things we discussed was the department of gratitude. Did you know that Cabot uses reward programs to thank those that do goof. You can log your volunteer time for different events . It’s pretty cool!

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We then got to meet our awesome demo chef for the day, Jimmy. I particularly liked him because he grew up in Mississippi. We all huddled into the kitchen and watched him make some delicious food! First up was cornbread. Now we are speaking my language! This southern girl was fascinated by the fact he put sweet potatoes in the cornbread! Of course we all got to taste before moving on to the next thing.

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Anyone who knows me well knows that mac and cheese is one of my favorite things ever. This one definitely did not disappoint. You can check out the recipe here.

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Jimmy also showed us how to make taco shells out of cheese. I will for sure be trying this out. They were so easy to do and delicious. I may have eaten a shell by itself. Don’t judge me.

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After all the cooking (well, Jimmy cooking!) we did a little self care with Candace. She talked to us about stretching, and taking time for ourselves. She knows we are on the computer a lot as bloggers, and we need to MOVE! So we did just that with these fun drumsticks. Candace is so passionate about healthy living, it was fun to hear a like minded fitness lover talk to us!

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Soon it was time for lunch, which was such a treat. As if we hadn’t eaten enough already, we were brought outside to enjoy the courtyard and beautifully decorated tables.

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I may have found a new favorite thing: Lemonade with lavender. It was so light and refreshing, I may have had two glasses.

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The rest of the food did not disappoint either, and hit the spot! We had grilled cheese sandwiches by La Femme du Fromage made with Cabot cheese of course, Houndstooth Sauce Company’s tomato basil soup, salad with apple slices, and the Skyebird lavender lemonade.

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We even were “treated” to an adorable and rich dessert from Gideon’s Bakehouse: Pistachio Toffee Dark Chocolate cookies. So amazing. Then we headed back inside for our competition.

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My friends know I am one of the most competitive people alive, and so of course this was no exception. We were divided into teams (my team was called “seriously sharp”,) and given a basket full of goodies and told to create a cheeseboard. The best board would win a prize, so we went straight to work. (We only had 30 minutes!) We decided on a Valentine’s Day theme and just kind of went with it. I may or may not have used my fingernails to cut out hearts from cheese. It was totally worth it, because…we won! Isn’t our board beautiful?!?

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The winning team with Candace.

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We all said our goodbyes and were given a great goody bag (as well as one to pass on to someone else). It was overall a great day, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to learn more about Cabot, meet amazing bloggers, and just generally connect with more people in my new state. A huge thank you to Cabot, Isabel and Sunday Supper, and everyone else who helped with the event!

Cabot, being so generous, offered to host a giveaway on my blog! One lucky reader will receive this box as seen below. This is their legacy gift box, and it’s amazing! To enter, please follow the instructions below. Winner will be selected Monday March 20th and announced on the blog next Tuesday. Good luck!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Top 5 Overlooked Disney World Restaurants

Disney dining is a hot topic among vacationers. Sought after reservations are planned months in advance, menus are scoured, and pictures are researched. In a lot of searches, you will see the same restaurants mentioned over and over. Not only are (some) of these Disney World restaurants over rated, but a lot are near impossible to get into, especially for a last minute trip.

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In my experience, resort dining is often overlooked, but is some of the best food on Disney property. Also, these places have been known to take last minute reservations and walk ups. Check out my list below of five of my favorite hidden gem restaurants at Walt Disney World:

Name: Trails End Buffet

Location: Fort Wilderness Campground

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This buffet truly is “hidden” in the woods on Disney property. You cannot park directly at the restaurant, and instead must either park at check in and take an internal bus, or take a boat. The best way to describe this place is “comfort food”. As a born and raised southerner, I consider myself an expert on sweet tea. So far, Trail’s End has hands down, the best sweet tea, on Disney property. Also, since it’s not a character buffet, the price is very reasonable for an all you can eat. It’s usually pretty quiet, and we love sitting on the porch in the rocking chairs before or after our meal just soaking in vacation. If you want to relax, this is a great place to go!

Name: Kona Cafe

Location: Polynesian Village Resort

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Kona Café is right next door to the ever popular Ohana. On several occasions, I have been able to walk up without a reservation to Kona, even at prime dinner time. On the second floor of the lobby, Kona has a fun colorful open atmosphere, with a great menu. Since it’s on the monorail loop, you could even leave the Magic Kingdom, go eat, then go back to the part without wasting a lot of time.

Name: Grand Floridian Café

Location: Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

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This is another place I consider quiet and relaxing. We love getting a table by the window for breakfast or lunch, and enjoy the bright light that comes in through the tall windows of the restaurant. Off by itself in the back of the lobby, it’s away from the hustle and bustle of check in, and 1900 Park Fare. You can easily hop on the monorail or a boat to the Magic Kingdom, so it’s prime location is a huge draw in my opinion.

Name: Splitsville

Location: Disney Springs

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There are several reasons I love Splitsville, one being the birthday cake martini. Another great plus to this place is that it has a HUGE menu, so I’m certain you will find something for everyone here. Also, you can eat WHILE you bowl, which is pretty awesome and unique. My favorite is to ask to eat outside on the upstairs balcony. It has great views of Disney Springs, especially at sunset. Not to mention, since there is no admission to get into Disney Springs, you don’t have to have a park ticket to eat here. I have also walked up and been seated immediately many times.

Name: The Wave

Location: Contemporary Resort

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Another restaurant I picked in part to it’s great location. Just one stop after leaving the Magic Kingdom, this cool place off the lobby of the Contemporary has a very chill vibe. The drink menu is fun, and the options are plentiful. After you eat, simply walk the path back to the Magic Kingdom, or hop on the monorail to the TTC and go to EPCOT or back to the Magic Kingdom. So many options!

QOTD: What is your favorite often overlooked Disney restaurant?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 4

We left off part 3 with the family heading to the Contemporary to eat brunch at Chef Mickeys. Since we had a little bit of a typical two year old behavioral issue at Crystal Palace, I was really hoping Chef Mickeys would be better, and not as new or overwhelming as her first character meal.

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Donald was the first to come around and she was pretty shy. She didn’t want to sit in a high chair or regular chair, so she was in our laps for most of the meal. She let Donald take a picture with her, but she wouldn’t hug him or stand by him.

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She did however get to watch the characters get closer and closer so I think that helped her to “warm up” a little bit. She LOVED Minnie mouse and got down on the floor to hug her. Minnie did a great job getting down to Emma Kate’s level which was appreciated.

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She really loved Pluto and his nose and “big tongue” the best though. She got antsy towards the end of the meal and wanted to run around, but overall she did way better than the Crystal Palace meal.

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After the meal, we walked around the back of the Contemporary out by the pool. I love that there is a little selfie station so everyone could get in the picture.

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When we got back to the resort, Emma Kate wanted to go to the pool (shocker), so my dad and I took her while my mom went shopping, since my mom had her the whole day before while I was house hunting with my dad. We may or may not have brought wine to the pool in Styrofoam cups. Hey, it’s 5:00 somewhere, right?

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I couldn’t believe the amazing weather we were having. It wasn’t hot at all for October in central Florida.

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We eventually moved over to the big pool.

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I honestly can’t remember what we did for dinner that night it’s been so long now, but I know we didn’t go anywhere. Brunch was so late we were probably too full! It was early to bed again, because we were going to Epcot the next day to finally meet Ana and Elsa, the one thing Emma Kate had been talking about for weeks. Stay tuned to see how that went!

QOTD: Have you ever been to Chef Mickey’s? Do you usually do character meals in Disney?