Second Annual Cocoa Beach Uncorked

Give your Sunday brunch a twist at the Second Annual Cocoa Beach Uncorked Food and Wine Festival!

The festival is taking place at Alan Shepard Park in Cocoa Beach, a popular spot for viewing space launches and surfing icons. A celebration of Central Florida’s most renowned chefs, restaurants, and breweries, Cocoa Beach Uncorked is a culinary showcase served with stellar Atlantic Ocean views. The event is the east coast sister of Clearwater Beach Uncorked, now in its seventh year and well-known as one of the best food, wine and craft beer festivals on Florida’s west coast.

Halston and I made our way to the festival on Saturday, stomachs and tastebuds ready, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Upon arrival, we quickly received our VIP badges, and a swag bag with a nifty little tray to hold our beer and food, along with a wine glass holder lanyard, which I may never take off.

Some of our favorite vendors included Two Henrys Brewing Company (I had two of their vanilla blueberry wheat!), Playalinda Brewing Company, San Sebastian Winery, Tequila Azul (I couldn’t enjoy their guac because I’m allergic to avocado, but their ceviche was so good!), Lord Hobo Brewing, Ohana J’s Steak & Seafood (their tuna poke was to die for!), Rising Tide Tap & Table (give me ALL the scallops), Florida Beer Company, and more!

Oh, and Halston was a huge fan of the inflatable furniture in the VIP Lounge.

If you’re interested in checking out the festival tomorrow, tickets are $55 per person, per day for general admission and $75 per person, per day for VIP access. All guests will receive a limited-edition wine glass, custom tote bag and enjoy the Grand Tasting Village with unlimited tastings from 1 to 4 p.m. Guests who purchase a VIP ticket will enjoy one-hour early admission to the Grand Tasting Village, where they will experience the Moet Chandon bubbly bar and find extra seating for relaxation and mingling. In addition to the Grand Tasting Village, the two-day event will feature a variety of VIP and interactive experiences, tastings, cooking demonstrations, and competitions between some of the area’s most notable and award-winning chefs and restaurants.

Make sure to share your experience on social media by tagging Cocoa Beach Uncorked on Twitter: @CocoaBchUncork, and Instagram: @CocoaBeachUncorked, and don’t forget to hashtag #COBU18.

Will I see you there tomorrow? Go! Make a beach day out of it! 

xx

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Road Trippin’: Palm Desert

Have you ever had one of those weeks in which…

  • you realize you’re doing the work of three for the price of one,
  • so you question your entire being and existence,
  • begin to feel terrible about yourself
  • and then your father calls you to tell you a family member is on their deathbed,
  • so then you start crying in your cubicle, trying to figure out when the next flight out of Orlando is (said family member is now in stable condition, thanks for your concern)?


Wait… and you’re telling me that it’s only Tuesday?


Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all. *rolls eyes and takes a swig from bottle*

As I continue to battle my self-diagnosed seasonal depression and continue grasping at straws, I invite you to join me in happier times–my summer road trip. And yes, I’m totally aware that I’m way behind on these blogs so bear with me!


After taking in the majestic views of The Grand Canyon, we set our sights on the land of Coachella–Palm Desert.

Where we laid our heads to rest:

My husband’s coworker and her husband were gracious enough to host us during our stay in their lovely home.

Fun stuff:

Salvation Mountain: My husband and I finally got around to watching “Into The Wild” last year. It is a 2007 American biographical drama adapted from Jon Krakauer’s 1996 non-fiction book of the same name. In the film, Christopher McCandless travels across North America and one of his stops was Salvation Mountain, Slab City.

Located about an hour from Palm Desert, Salvation Mountain is a hill made from adobe, straw and paint, encompassing messages of love, peace and Bible verses. It was created by local resident Leonard Knight (he appeared in the movie as himself!) and is considered “a folk art site worthy of preservation and protection” by the Folk Art Society of America. It really is a unique sight–a towering, colorful hill, displaying the message that “God Is Love,” in the middle of an empty landscape.

East Jesus: Also found in Slab City is East Jesus, an art installation that invites guests to imagine a world without waste. Empty bottles, discarded television sets and dolls missing their limbs are given a second life as mixed-media art at East Jesus. Since the Slab City residents are always adding to the installations, I plan on returning in May while I’m in town for the PRSA conference.

Mud Pot: Do any of you have the TripAdvisor app on your phone with the location settings turned on? While driving back to Palm Desert, a notification popped up on our friend’s phone, letting us know that we were only minutes away from the Salton Sea Mud Pots.

Past reviewers on TripAdvisor marveled at the uniqueness of this “off the beaten path adventure” and we thought, “we are already here, might as well, right?”

After driving down a dirt path for a few miles, we stopped by a massive field with a power plant and got out of the car. The smell of sulfur hit me the second I opened the car door and I began to gag, laugh and choke on my own spit. Why were we here?

We held our breath, walked over to some mud mountains and heard them gurgling… Mud slowly trickled down one of the mud volcanoes and we all looked at each other. It was time to leave.

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The only picture of the mud pots that any of us took.

Nomz:

Reservoir: We did brunch at Reservoir, the casual, outdoor restaurant at Arrive Hotel. My favorite part of the restaurant was that it faced the hotel pool and every California stereotype came alive before my eyes (California girls, they’re unforgettable!). If I had a dollar for every female trying to find the best angle for their Instagram picture, I would have been able to afford one California-priced cocktail.
Hart Family Winery: Founded in 1980, the winery is the oldest continually owned and operated winery in Temecula Valley, producing boutique wines that include Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo. Halston and I were fans of their Roussane’s smooth and fruity flavor during our wine tasting and ended up buying a bottle to enjoy on the winery’s porch. The wine tasting at $12 for 6 wine tastings.

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Palumbo Family Vineyards and Winery: At Palumbo, we enjoyed the $15 tasting which includes 5 wines and took in the gorgeous vineyard from the winery’s patio.

 

There are over three dozen wineries found in Temecula so it was a little bit hard to choose which one to go to, but we were happy with the choices we made. Next stop, Napa (I wish)!

Have you visited Palm Desert/Palm Springs before? What did you do? 

xx

Fri(yay) Lovin’ #9

Me, rn.

I honestly thought Friday was never going to get here. After living what could possibly have been the longest week of my life, saying goodbye to my two favorite coworkers as they move on to better opportunities (RIP Swizzle Spot), crying, and meeting my new boss, I deserve a Sleeping Beauty-type nap to recharge and prepare myself for whatever BS 2017 is going to throw my way.

From Pulse to the election results to Instagram stealing the Snapchat interface, it goes without saying that 2016 will not be remembered fondly by many.

But listen, I’m not here to drag you down and I don’t want you to think that this blog post is a cry for help. A few things in life still excite me (I’m looking at you, Chipotle burrito bowls), so without further ado, here are the things I’m loving this week.

Bibliotheca:

Back in the summer of 2014, my friends and I came across a Kickstarter campaign trying to raise money for Bibliotheca, an entire biblical library separated into volumes and designed purely for reading.

According to the founder, the text is reverently treated in classic typographic style, free of all added conventions such as chapter numbers, verse numbers, section headers, cross references and notes. Basically, it reads like a book, which is perfect for someone like me who enjoys reading but goes into a catatonic state when opening the Bible. Something about how busy those pages look make me feel like I’m back in my college humanities course…

The design was simple and the collection of books cost $75 so like good little Christian hipsters, we went ahead and ordered them.

For two years we waited and I eventually forgot about the order until a Christmas miracle occurred this week and they showed up on our doorstep!


They look and feel exactly as they were advertised, so I’m thinking that my resolution for 2017 should be to read the collection of books (I don’t really care for resolutions though). It will be interesting to read the Bible in the form of a novel and I’m also a little “eh…” about someone having taken apart the Bible and rewritten it. I mean, I don’t know if he edited things out or took creative liberties with the text, so we’ll see! For now, I’m just really excited Bibliotheca finally arrived and that I’ll be able to read it.


El Churry:

El Churry food truck became one of the first food trucks to cater to the late night crowd back in 1998 in San Juan, Puerto Rico (hey, that’s where I’m from!). They were also the first restaurant in Puerto Rico to offer churrasco sandwiches.

Their fan base kept growing throug the years and they continued opening new locations to keep up with demand–which brings me to this exciting announcement: EL CHURRY IS OPENING A FOOD TRUCK IN ORLANDO!

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They made the exciting announcement on their Facebook page a few days ago, making every Puerto Rican living in Orlando cry tears of joy (and all the Puerto Rican’s living in Miami green with envy).

On their menu you’ll find burgers, wraps and sandwiches. My favorite thing on the menu is the Mixto sandwich which consists of churrasco, chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, potato sticks and mayo-ketchup (the only time I’ll ever willingly consume mayonnaise). All that is stuffed in Puerto Rican sweet bread known as “pan sobao.” The delicious sandwich was actually featured on the Travel Channel’s Man v. Food and Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.

The food truck is set to open in January but I won’t have to wait that long to eat at El Churry because…

I AM GOING TO PUERTO RICO FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

For the first time in the 12 years I’ve been living in Florida, I’ll be able to spend the holidays back home. If you know me, you know that during the timeframe of Dec. 24-25 I spend hours scrolling through Facebook pictures of family parties I am not at or receiving Snapchat images and videos from my nieces. Well my friends, this year I’ll be doing the Snapchatting.

I am excited to spend time with my dad and my stepmom, to see my nieces and nephews, my friends and family, to eat all of the food and explore parts of the island I’ve never been to before (so thankfully, that means I won’t be trekking through the rainforest for a third time).

I’m counting down the minutes until I board that plane, fam!

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“I am ready for Christmas food.” Instagram: @PepitaSandwich

What are you doing for Christmas? Are you going anywhere exciting or is there a gift you’re hoping to get? 

Happy Christmas, loves. 

xx

CycleBar & Fitlife Foods

In my never-ending quest to find a work out regime that I can actually stick to (and not hurt myself in), I visited CycleBar, Winter Park’s newest indoor cycling studio.

The cycling studio just opened its doors on South Orlando Avenue and offered 60 free classes to the public — that is over 2,700 rides! I attended a 50 minute class co-hosted by Yelp Orlando with two friends, completely unsure of what to expect.

We signed waivers, checked in on iPads and were given our cycling shoes. You are required to wear these because the clips on the bottom attach to the pedals on the bike. Shoes, water bottles, wipes, hair ties, ear plugs and lockers are always included with the price.

image courtesy of Yelp Orlando

image courtesy of Yelp Orlando
You are able to choose your bike when you sign up for class online and your results are automatically sent to your email inbox once you’ve completed the workout. We positioned ourselves in the back of the room (classic) and awaited an instructor to adjust our seats. The studio was dark, with a spotlight on Jessica, the instructor. She explained that the two screens in the front would show our progress and compare it to everyone else’s in class — I now had the added pressure of knowing how much slower I was compared to Becky With The Good Hair next to me.

It was dark inside but the lights changed as our workouts became more rigorous i.e. red for “climbing,” blue for going “downhill” and pitch black to “hide my shame.” My fat, lazy body could barely get off the bike once Jessica began yelling at us to go from first to second position and then to third and I eagerly awaited for the moment in which we could slow down and work out our arms with the weighted bar on our bikes.

I survived. Sweaty, smiling and shaking from head to toe, but I survived.

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Not super impressive, but hey… I tried.
Looking like three hot messes in search for food, my friends and I stumbled upon Fitlife Foods, a Tampa based shop that offers healthy, prepared meals for people on the go. The business has healthy prepared snacks, breakfast, lunch and dinner options that come in three sizes — small, medium and large. Store pickup and home delivery are available.


I decided on Korean Beef (small) and Shrimp & ‘Grits’ (small) — quinoa in place of grits, which is delightful as I hate grits!


Both meals were quite delicious! I did add a bit of soy sauce to the Korean beef meal in order to add a little bit of flavoring to it but both were satisfying and I wasn’t as hungry as I imagined I would be after eating them. I did, however, feel extremely guilty at the thought of spending money on something I could easily make myself. And I say this as I gently move aside a copy of Edible Orlando which I mistakenly thought would inspire me to whip up something tasty in the kitchen, so let’s be real. I can’t cook and I’ll probably be back, Fitlife Foods.

Did anyone get the chance to check out CycleBar? There is a free 30 minute lesson for first time riders. I suggest you check it out!

xx

World Food Championships, More Food and More Wine!

“My theater degree pays off as I pretend to cook,” @SparklyNicole joked as she looked over a few pictures I snapped of her at the World Food ChampionshipsFood Fight Write Blogger Summit.

Nicole

I met up with bloggers ShareOrlando, Orlando Fun & Food, Kim Button, SparklyNicole and about 25 others for lunch following their culinary throw down at the World Food ChampionshipsKenmore Kitchen Arena in Celebration, Florida. Competing for $500, the bloggers went head-to-head preparing their own recipes using Kansas City Steaks, Saucy Mama sauce and produce from My Yard Farm.

This event is only a small, bite-size portion of the ultimate food fight going on just a few minutes from my office.

“The World Food Championships is the largest competition in food sport, where champions of previous events convene in Kissimmee, Florida, for a chance at winning the ultimate food crown and a share of $300,000. The World Food Championships platform ranges from live-event integration and acivations to a robust multimedia platform that serves culinary stars, home cooks, brands and destinations. In three short years, WFC has awarded more than $1 million in prizes and money, spawned a TV series, garnered more than 5 billion media impressions and launched numerous professional careers for successful contestants.” Make sure to check out the consumer events here and may the odds be ever in your favor, contestants!

Spending the day with a ton of bloggers was fun but all day I looked forward to unwinding at Reunion Resort in Kissimmee for their Holidays At Reunion cocktail part, showcasing some of the items that will be featured on their menus in the next few months.

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My coworker Nori, myself and blogger/Periscope fiend @MoVernie

Peeps, let me tell you that nothing makes a glutton happier than heavy hors d’oeuvres. It is always my Fat American Dream to sample every plate without committing to a full meal.

With the holidays in tow, it might be an overwhelming time to go into stores and see all the Christmas decorations already out (especially when your lazy ass hasn’t thrown away the crooked pumpkin, haphazardly carved at the very last minute…), but I fully embraced the festive menu. I also thought it would be the last meal I would be able to taste because I am fighting a cold so I had to go all in.

The Butternut Squash soup with creme fraiche and fresh chives was the jam since I was feeling under the weather.

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The Tuscan Grilled New York Strip featuring herb roasted potatoes, grilled jumbo asparagus and port wine demi glace was a crowd favorite. So much flavor!

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The Pan Seared Salmon with wild mushroom risotto, charred asparagus, cranberry chutney port wine reduction was super tasty and not super overwhelming (I hate fishy fish).

Salmon

I’m currently looking at all the pictures of the food I tasted last night, remembering the great times and crying. I am living out one of my actual nightmares (no, I didn’t press “reply all” on a company email thread again). I’ve lost my sense of taste, thanks to this nasty cold that attacked me on Monday, which is very unfortunate since I’m going to the Winter Garden Wine Walk tonight. Please pray for me because I want to get drunk (I’m kidding mom, relax).

xx

This post originally appeared on HypeOrlando.