Luck Be a Dessert Lady; Amway Center Opening Means Increased Demand

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Patti Schmidt, the Dessert Lady
Like other businesses on Church Street, the Dessert Lady toughed it out the past couple of years with the double whammy of an economic downturn (which included, for some, the bankruptcy of their landlord) and disruptive construction. Some businesses didn’t survive; others relocated. But those who made it through are optimistic that Friday’s opening of Amway Center events venue will signal a resurgence for the area.

But the Dessert Lady, a.k.a. Patti Schmidt, has reason to be doubly glad to see the new arena open. There is, of course, the possibility of increased traffic on the street as people go to and from the arena. But for Schmidt, the Amway Center is also a new outlet for her award-winning cakes and pies.

Latin Food & Wine Festival Kicks Off Friday with Savor the Night; Grand Tasting Saturday

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Singer/songwriter Alicastro
This is a big weekend for food and wine aficionados. Besides the kickoff of Disney’s six week-long Epcot International Food and Wine Festival the annual Latin Food & Wine Festival will take place in a festive two-day affair.

LF&W is the area’s premier wine and culinary event with a Latin flair, attended by as many as 5000 people. On Friday, Oct. 1, the opening event, Savor the Night, will get the weekend rolling. It will take place at Stirling Global Gallery at the Plaza, on the 16th floor of the downtown high rise. This night is a bit more intimate, about 300 people, and will feature food and wine and spirits, too. There will be entertainment, including Colombian singer/songwriter Alicastro, and a silent auction with some terrific items. One of the prizes to be auctioned is dinner for two at the soon-to-open Napa restaurant at the Peabody Orlando with me. We’ll dine on appetizers, entrees and desserts with wine pairings, and I’ll use your comments when I write the review. I’m honored to be the emcee of Friday’s Savor the Night event, so I’ll be pushing that item.

Saturday is the Grand Tasting at the Dellagio Town Center. No, there is no Dellagio, Florida. That’s the name of the new development in the Restaurant Row section of Sand Lake Road, just West of Dr. Phillips Boulevard. This is where you’ll find Fleming’s, Big Fin, Cantina Laredo, Dragonfly and others. There’s also a beautiful plaza with a big fountain. It’s going to be a great setting for the tasting. I’ll have some more information soon about specific restaurants and wine vendors. And of course there will be lots more entertainment. This will surely be a grand event.

The Friday event is $60, and tickets can be purchased by calling 407-428-5870. Saturday’s Grand Tasting is free to attend; food and wine can be purchased with LF&W “pesos” to be sold at the event. The Latin Food & Wine Festival is sponsored by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando. Here’s a link to the festival’s Web site.

The Plaza is at 121 S. Orange Ave., Orlando. Dellagio Town Center is at 7940 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando.

Baby Grands' Opening Now Set for Oct. 8

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Maybe Baby just didn't like the idea of having to share the spotlight, but the opening date for Baby Grands Dueling Piano Bar has been pushed back a week. The date had been set for Friday, Oct. 1. That, of course, is the opening date of the Amway Center arena. It's more likely that the date change means they just weren't ready to open up this week. Either way, lots of people, apparently, are anticipating the return of dueling pianos to Church Street (Howl at the Moon relocated to International Drive when its building was demolished ahead of the construction for 55 West). Baby Grands will be across the street, at 54 W. Church St. Here's a link to Baby Grands' Web site for further updates.

Barnie's Coffee & Tea Company

Written by Scott Joseph on .

barnies_logoWednesday is National Coffee Day, and, no, I’m not getting you anything. But Barnie’s Coffee & Tea Company has a gift: free coffee all day.

The Orlando-based company will commemorate the day with a celebration at city hall at which Mayor Buddy Dyer will make a special proclamation. The civic klatch will kick off at 10 a.m. (by 10 a.m. I’m usually on my second pot). Free coffee will flow there, but besides city hall, which doesn’t usually have a Barnie’s coffee shop, free joe will also be available at the following Barnie’s: Park Avenue, Waterford Lakes, Baldwin Park, Altamonte Mall, Avalon Park, Phillips Crossing and Clermont Landings locations, as well as the Lakeshore Mall in Sebring and Park Lane Apartments in Gainesville.

In the meantime, here are some fun coffee facts from the Barnie’s bunch: