Taste of the Nation is one of Orlando's premier culinary events, but it's more than just a party. Taste of the Nation helps feed hungry kids and helps homeless people in the Central Florida area. It's still a great party and we have plenty of photos to share with you.
Orlando Taste of the Nation 2016 at the Orlando World Center Marriot
Lee and I had an incredible night at the Orlando Taste of the Nation. Imagine a ballroom filled with great food, wine, whiskey, craft beer and desserts – all yours for the taking. The restaurants, chefs and many of the staff donate their time and expertise, sharing their food and their knowledge with you.
All of this in exchange for your ticket of $150. Every dollar raised fights hunger and homelessness in the Central Florida. Local beneficiaries include Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Florida Impact.
Taste of the Nation is a treat for your senses. This year, it kicked off what we consider to be the Dining Season in Central Florida. If you'd like to know more about this and other events, check out Episode 9 of The Orlando Local Show – Orlando Restaurants Kick off Dining Season in Style with Four Events.
Check out the list of participating restaurants and beverage providers.
2016 PARTICIPATING RESTAURANTS
- Artist's Point at Disney's Wilderness Lodge
- B Resort & Spa | American Kitchen
- Black Fire Brazilian Steakhouse
- Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine
- Café Tu Tu Tango
- Canvas Lake Nona
- Capa at Four Seasons Resort Orlando
- The Capital Grille
- CFHLA Food & Beverage Council
- Cress Restaurant
- Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar at Pointe Orlando
- Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi
- Eddie V's
- Empress Sissi Cake & Specialty Pastries
- Florida Nitro
- FreshPoint Central Florida
- Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center | Old Hickory Steakhouse
- Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center | MOOR
- Hemisphere Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport
- Highball and Harvest at Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
- JW Marriott Grande Lakes Orlando, featuring Whisper Creek Farms: The Kitchen
- K Restaurant and Wine Bar
- Marlow's Tavern
- Nestle Professional
- Nova Scratch Kitchen
- Orlando World Center Marriott
- The Osprey Tavern
- RA Sushi
- Red Wing Restaurant
- Restaurant ASH
- Rosen Shingle Creek │A Land Remembered
- Rosen Shingle Creek │Cala Bella Restaurant
- The Rusty Spoon
- Seasons 52 Fresh Grill
- SeaWorld Orlando
- Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
- Tapa Toro Tapas Bar and Paella Pit
- Taverna Opa Orlando
- The Whiskey
- Universal Orlando
- Yak & Yeti Restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom
2016 PARTICIPATING BEVERAGE SUPPLIERS
- Boricua Beer
- Brew Bus USA
- Cigar City Brewing
- Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurant
- Crooked Can Brewing Company
- Florida Farm Distillers, Home of Palm Ridge Whiskies
- JM Smucker Co Beverage/Folger's Coffee
- Lakeridge Winery
- Onli Beverage Co.
- Orange Blossom Brewing Co.
- Orlando Brewing Company
- Pernod Ricard
- Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour
- S. Pellegrino
- Small Town Brewery
- Tito's Handmade Vodka
- Tsingtao Beer
- Uinta Brewing Company
- Vermont Hard Cider Co.
- Woodchuck Cider
Some of Our Favorites
We tried to cover as much as we could. All of the food was great, but we have a few favorites to mention.
Gaylord Palms lured us in with their smooth, buttery Bourbon Beehive beverage. Dangerously delicious and way too easy to forget that there is alcohol in there. There were also grilled peaches with lemon zest and olive oil, garnished with fresh herbs. An unusual sounding combination, but it worked so well together and we could see this being a great appetizer choice. It certainly caused the palate to want for more.
Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine
Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine had bite sized portions of Chocolate Hazelnut Baklava. While I'm not usually a fan of Baklava, this was pleasantly surprising. It is very sweet and the portions were appropriately sized to give just enough of the sweet, nutty flavor in the sticky but light and crispy pastry.
Empress Sissi Cake and Pastry Specialists
Well, now! There was so much from which to choose and we tried a plate with a few samples and ended up going back for more. This is good cake! The Bourbon Pecan Pie was out of this world and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie was one of the treats that sent us back for a second round. The cakes were oven fresh, moist and filled with flavor. This is certainly on our must-do list for a visit.
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar at Pointe Orlando
Cuba Libre served ceviche in gorgeous little glass jars. The ceviche was wonderful with perfectly balanced flavors and textures. It was the first table where we stopped for a sample and it was very tempting to stay for another bite, were it not for the fact that we had so much more to do that evening. We mentioned that it was such a shame to throw the pretty little glass jars away and they brought us a lid so that we could take it home with us. We did. Thank you, Cuba Libre. We are looking forward to another meal with you.
Highball & Harvest Restaurant
Highball & Harvest Restaurant tickled our tastebuds with delicious, tender braised pork belly served with corn, fennel and mustard. Little glasses of watermelon foam with peppered honey and mint made for a very refreshing taste with subtle flavors. We not only enjoyed the wonderful food, but the warm hospitality made us wish we had time to linger there for a while.
We tried the most incredibly tender braised short rib served on a bed of sweet corn grits with japaleno and dressed with candied applewood smoked bacon and balsamic reduction with crispy shallot. Marlows' Tavern treated us to an utter delight. Neither of us are fans of grits, but this must have been good, because we thoroughly enjoyed every bite. Whatever the chef did to prepare that plate of food must have had some magic in the mix. The combination of flavors, tastes and textures was just perfect.
Taste of the Nation Photo Gallery
Here are a few photos to give you an idea about the food, beverages and the event.
A Great Way to Give
Taste of the Nation is more than a great party. It's a great way to give to people who are in need. The 2016 Taste of the Nation event raised $279,487 to help feed hungry kids right here in Central Florida.
Some of that came from tickets, but there were other opportunities to help with an auction, raffles, a ring toss for wine (amusingly popular to watch) and a giving tree that exchanged discount coupons for donations.
This was our first year at Taste of the Nation, but we hope to return again next year. We also met some of the great people behind our local restaurants, which gives us plenty of opportunities to expand our dining choices in Orlando.