Archive For January 23, 2017
The Back Porch — A Unique Dining Experience
As a Florida resident living in Disney’s backyard (well, not literally, but a mere 30 minutes away!), I’m perpetually searching for off-the-beaten-path non-touristy eateries and attractions. Alas… I found a hidden little gem that many Central Florida residents don’t even know exists. The Back Porch restaurant is a one-of-a-kind, unusual dining experience. The concept is one I had previously never seen. I’ve had lunch there about a half-dozen times, and it never disappoints.
So, what makes The Back Porch so uniquely different from most other restaurants? The following Restaurant Review shows why it’s distinct and noteworthy.
The Back Porch — Along Florida’s Antique Trail
The Back Porch is located in The Barn Antiques and shopping complex in Lake Alfred, Florida. It’s in an area of Central Florida known as The Antique Trail whereby serious antique buffs spend 3-4 days making a loop from Lakeland to Winter Haven to Lake Alfred to Plant City and Lake Wales to find that one priceless treasure they hope The Antique Road Show will appraise exponentially higher than what they paid for it. (You know… the trash to treasure kinda thing!)
The Barn Antiques is a family owned business selling high-end antiques since 1969. But what began five decades ago as an antique store on a family ranch has grown into a magnet for shoppers. It’s now a sprawling complex of shops. Right next to the antiques store is The Stable Home Decor which sells moderate to high-end home furnishings and women’s accessories. On the opposite end is The Season’s Gift Shop, overflowing with holiday and seasonal decorations. Across from that is The Back Yard Garden Shop, an outdoor shopping experience under a canopy of native shade trees. All four shops and the restaurant have been managed and run by members of the Wales family for the past 48 years. (Here’s my article and photos of the four retail shops.) The Back Porch was created for a delicious break for hungry shoppers who tend to spend hours browsing the ever-changing jammed-packed shops in this complex.
The Back Porch — A Picnic Lunch
The unique thing about The Back Porch is that it’s a picnic-style lunch that’s mostly self-service. Here’s how it works…
- Upon entering, pick up a paper menu (photo above) and seat yourself
- Fill out your menu with the pencils provided on the table
- Put your name and table number on the little yellow sticky tab
- Take your menu to one of the registers to pay
- Help yourself to a soda, spiced raspberry tea, or coffee (beer & wine available on the deck)
- Your lunch is delivered in a quaint wooden picnic basket
Country Flare Meets Shabby Chic
I really like this place. Even when busy (which is most of the time), it’s relaxing. It has a comfortable atmosphere and the decor is a cross between country flare and shabby chic. The ambience, like the restaurant concept itself, is truly unique. There are large stained glass windows in the main dining room, and the table tops are hand painted with wild flowers by Jan Wales (this whole family is so darn creative and talented!). Off of the main dining room is a smaller private room that can be reserved for special events such as birthdays, showers, or a women’s luncheon. Another seating option is the wrap-around covered deck, called The Shady Deck. This is a great opportunity to enjoy the year-round warm Central Florida weather. The deck overlooks a beautiful nature pond and has its own outside entrance. The Shady Deck serves ice cream and refreshing beverages including beer, wine, frozen sangrias, frozen mimosas, frozen lemonade, and soda (with free refills).
Charming Spot for Inexpensive Casual American Eats
At The Back Porch you won’t find escargot, oysters Rockefeller, pub burgers, trendy flatbreads, creme brûlée or any other gourmet fare. Nope. This is good old fashioned American casual eats! Choices like creamy vegetable soup, potato salad, blue cheese slaw, chicken salad on a croissant, ham bar-b-cue, and Florida strawberry cream cake. And they always offer specials-of-the-day. The best value is to choose one item from each of four categories — soup, salad, sandwich, and dessert for $8.52, a good deal in which owner Drew Wales says there has not been a price increase in 7 years, even though the price of doing business has gone up considerably. If you have little tikes, they can have their own “Teddy Bear Picnic Basket” with at least 3 choices, all under five dollars.
Now typically, a four-course lunch would be a little much for the middle of the day, but not at The Back Porch. Portions are not huge, but I always leave comfortably satisfied. This is not the kind of lunch that will cause you to forfeit dinner, and I’ve never seen anyone asking for a doggie bag. You won’t feel stuffed and lethargic, just pleasantly full and energized for more shopping. Even men with larger appetites seem to enjoy the lunches here. As long as you realize it’s a lovely place for a “light” lunch, you won’t be disappointed. After all, it is a picnic-style lunch, not the likes of an Olive Garden with all-you-can-eat soup, salad and breadsticks. But that’s the beauty of The Back Porch!
Even though the food is simple, many of the items have a unique twist to them, like the Slaw for example, made with their own Blue Cheese Dressing (an excellent choice!). Everything is homemade, with recipes that have been in the Wales family since opening 45+ years ago. I also appreciate the seasonal options they incorporate into the menu. When I was there right before Christmas, I had the red velvet cake with red and green sprinkles for dessert. Quite yummy, and very festive looking! And, in keeping with the picnic theme, everything served in the individual wooden picnic baskets is eaten from disposable containers… just as if you were on a real picnic!
***TIP… It’s not unusual for The Back Porch to serve up to 500 meals a day, therefore, a late lunch between 1:30-2:00 seems to be less busy.
***TIP… The restrooms in The Back Porch also serve the rest of the shopping complex. As a result, there is typically a bit of a wait; plan accordingly. The good news: While you’re waiting feel free to browse the great selection of food items offered for sale. There are jams, sauces, dip mixes, soup mixes, etc. along with cute little sessional gift items.
The Back Porch… A Slice of “Old Florida!”
The Back Porch is a refreshing change of pace for locals looking to get away from the touristy hustle and bustle that is synonymous with Central Florida. I’m always amazed that despite being in the middle of nowhere, business is bustling here. Nevertheless, people are not in a hurry, no one is stepping on my toes, and any wait time is spent chatting with like-minded souls yearning for a slice of “Old Florida.” There are no billboards or other advertising means, simply word-of-mouth. But as they say, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it!”
The Back Porch — Directions and Hours
Like me, you may have driven near The Back Porch a thousand times with no idea it existed. It can be somewhat difficult to find unless someone tells you about it. Years ago, my girlfriend told me about this special little spot — and now, I’m passing my little secret on to you…
From Interstate 4
Take Exit 48, Hwy. 557, 3 miles South
From Hwy. 17/92 in Lake Alfred
At the intersection of Hwy. 17/92 and E. Pomelo follow signs to Interstate 4 on Hwy. 557 – 4 miles
Lunch served from 11 to 3, Tuesday though Saturday (closed Sundays and Mondays)
Have you been to The Back Porch restaurant for a picnic lunch? Please share your experience. Or, perhaps you have a little-known secret dining spot of your own. Our readers would love to hear about it. Simply post a comment in the reply box below!
Central Florida — So Much More than Theme Parks
Typically, when One thinks of Central Florida, antiquing isn’t the first thing that comes to mind… or the second or third, for that matter. But among the many reasons to take a theme park break is the plethora of fine antique shops throughout the Sunshine State. Florida’s Antiques Loop (as we Floridians affectionately call it) includes Lakeland, Winter Haven, Lake Alfred, Plant City, and Lake Wales. But even if you’re not an antique freak, it’s worth a visit to The Barn Antiques in Lake Alfred. As you’ll soon see, this little gem located just 5 minutes from Interstate 4 (exit 48 in Lake Alfred) is a quaint little complex consisting of multiple shops and even a restaurant for hungry shoppers to take a delicious reprieve.
The Barn Antiques — A Family Affair
Ednamay Wales dreamt of opening an antique shop, and in 1969 her dream became a reality. It was located on the family ranch in rural Polk County, in a small, tin-roofed building. She called it The Barn Antiques. But Ednamay wasn’t the only visionary in the family. Today, in its 6th decade, The Barn Antiques has expanded into much larger quarters and involves all of the Wales family. In fact, it’s one of Florida’s most popular destinations for quality antiques. Some of the collector’s items come from extensive local buying, but many of the hand-picked treasures come from their frequent trips abroad.
The collectible heirlooms include dining room and bedroom pieces, armoires, sideboards, chairs, bookcases, desks, stained glass windows, and so much more. You don’t have to be particularly fond of period pieces to enjoy browsing this shop. I’m not an antiques aficionado, and yet, it’s fun just looking at all the classics. As the owners like to say, “Heaven’s a little closer at The Barn!”
The Stable Home Decor
Ten years (or so) after successfully launching The Barn Antiques another expansion project took form. Right alongside the antique shop the Wales Family opened a home decor and gift shop called The Stable Home Decor. Oh my gosh… this place is packed with goodies! From floor to ceiling, I don’t think there’s a foot of spare space. The Wales Family certainly are gifted designers. I have purchased a few of their floral arrangements and wreaths, but they also have framed prints, candles, bath and body items, very unique women’s fashion accessories, and so much more. I like the way everything is displayed in vignettes, so it looks more like a designer home than a retail shop. They also do a great job of balancing traditional home decor with the latest trends. So pretty much whatever your taste, you’ll likely find something you just can’t resist at The Stable!
The Seasons Gift Shop
A short stroll down the sidewalk from The Stable is The Seasons. Another gift shop, but this one features holiday and seasonal (hence the name) decorations for the home. Another jammed-packed shop that requires a few trips around the store in order to see everything. The displays at The Seasons are ever-changing. Depending on the calendar month in which you attend, you may see Valentine’s, St. Patrick’s, Spring, Easter, Summer, 4th of July, Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas decorations and home accents. It’s fun here, because I never see the same things twice. Even when I don’t purchase anything (a rare occasion) at The Seasons, I leave with tons of decorating ideas! On my last visit they were all decked out for Christmas. The entire shop transforms into a winter wonderland filled with holiday decorations in a variety of styles and themes — traditional, trendy, whimsical, and everything in between. I absolutely love this place at Christmastime! Who says you can’t get into the Christmas spirit in Florida?
The Back Yard Garden Shop
Of course no well-dressed home is complete without taking care of the front porch and back yard… kinda like getting all decked out in your fanciest 5th Avenue attire and forgetting your shoes or jewelry. But alas, the Wales Family has you covered with that too. Adjacent to The Seasons Gift Shop is The Back Yard Garden Shop. It’s a really cool outdoor shopping area underneath a canopy of shade trees. In keeping with “the barn” theme, it has rustic wooden rafters for the ceiling, a straw floor, and bales of hay that double as display cases.
Just like the other shops in this complex, every nook and cranny is crammed with merchandise. Here, you’ll find decorative garden accessories including fountains, arbors, birdhouses, flags, colorful pots, garden statuary, wind chimes, outdoor pillows, plaques, and many more unique items. And, if you’re in the market for some Florida-friendly native plants, you’ll find a wide variety that changes often. There are seasonally appropriate selections as well.
Make sure you walk through The Back Yard Garden Shop at least once. Because, well, how many gift shops have a live tree growing right through the center of it?
The Back Porch Restaurant
It’s quite easy spending several hours browsing through all the antiques and home decor awesomeness this complex has to offer. Hubby and I usually allow 2-3 hours every time we visit. I’ve noticed that even men that don’t like to shop do not have a problem coming here. Perhaps it’s because of the strategically placed benches along the walkway where the men seem to gather. Perhaps. But I’m more inclined to believe it’s the promise of a relaxing lunch at The Back Porch Restaurant. Nestled nicely between The Seasons and The Stable, this cozy little luncheon spot has a unique twist compared to most restaurants. It’s actually a picnic lunch. Everything is served in individual wooden picnic baskets and eaten from disposable plates, just as if you were on a picnic.
The Back Porch serves casual American eats in a very comfortable atmosphere. You get to choose between indoor or patio dining. And, did I mention how inexpensive it is? It’s a wonderful change of pace from the typical stereotype restaurant concept. After reading my Back Porch Restaurant Review here, I think you’ll agree!
The Barn Antiques & Shops — Directions and Store Hours
Whether you’re a local who was born and raised in Florida or a visiting tourist, The Barn Antiques and shopping complex is worth a few hours of your time. The inventory is constantly changing; and, quite honestly, you never know what you’ll find! It’s an off-the-beaten-path kind of place which can be difficult to find unless someone tells you about it. It’s a short 25 minute drive from Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park, 50 minutes from Tampa’s Riverwalk (longer if you take the back roads, which I recommend). If you’re using GPS, simply input The Barn Antiques, Lake Alfred as your destination. Here are the directions and store hours…
From Interstate 4
Take Exit 48, Hwy. 557, 3 miles South
From Hwy. 17/92 in Lake Alfred
At the intersection of Hwy. 17/92 and E. Pomelo follow signs to Interstate 4, on Hwy. 557 – 4 miles
- The Stable, The Seasons, The Back Porch, and The Back Yard are open all year. The Barn Antiques is open seasonally, from the first Saturday in October through the last Saturday in May
- Store Hours — 10 to 4, Tuesday through Saturday (the shops are closed on Sundays and Mondays)
- The Back Porch serves lunch from 11 to 3
Have you been to The Barn Antiques and shopping complex? Or maybe you’ve stumbled across a unique and quaint shopping/dining experience of your own. Please share with our readers in the comment box below!
Winter Park Walking Food Tour
Need a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of Central Florida’s touristy attractions? As a long-time Florida resident I’m always searching for non-touristy ways to take a theme park break. So, I was delighted when I came across the Winter Park Walking Food Tour. It combines one of my favorite things (food), in one of my favorite cities (Winter Park)!
This was not my first Food Tour gig. In fact, my very first Florida Food Tour was in sensational St. Augustine. A few years ago, as part of my 25th Wedding Anniversary trip, my hubby and I did the Vittles and Vino VIP Carriage Tour. It remains one of the highest rated Food Tours in North Florida, and with good reason. It’s a 3 hour food and wine tasting extravaganza via horse drawn carriage! On a scale of 1 to 10, it was a 12! Obviously, the Winter Park Food Tour had to be outstanding to measure up to that experience. So, was it? Here’s my review…
A Perfect Introduction to the History, Culture, & Architecture of Winter Park
Our tour began on picturesque Park Avenue. This famous street is well-known for its many unique specialty shops and beloved restaurants, most of which include a perfect-for-people-watching sidewalk cafe. That’s where we met our sweet tour guide, Rachael, and the other pleasant, like-minded people in our group.
***TIP… Since this is a walking Food Tour, you’ll want to wear comfortable shoes. For anyone with mobility challenges it’s important to know the Food Tour encompasses about 1.3 miles. It’s a fair amount of walking, but paced very well. It’s also a “rain or shine” event, so keep an eye on the weather forecast. An umbrella or rain gear may be in order during Florida’s rainy season.
Rachael allowed ample opportunity for each one of us to introduce ourselves. Some of us were locals, while others were out-of-town visitors to the Central Florida area. Rachael explained that interspersed throughout our 6 culinary stops would be interesting historical facts about Winter Park, its cultural heritage, and a glimpse of some amazing architectural building designs. (Awesome and amazing they were!) Even as a local, I didn’t realize Winter Park was so rich in history.
Mr. Loring Chase, who visited Florida in 1881, is accredited as Winter Park’s founder. He was a Chicago businessman who suffered from chronic bronchitis and was urged by his doctor to winter in a warm climate. Certainly, his pain was our gain! You’ll learn that this beautiful little town has gained quite a reputation as an art and literary community. Did you know that Winter Park houses the world’s largest collection of Tiffany glass? If time allows, you can visit the Morse Museum of American Art to see it. (You can read my review here.) On the Food Tour you’ll pass right by the museum. Your tour guide may also mention the beautiful sculptures at the Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. (Here’s a review and photo tour of this incredible place!)
The Parkview — Our 1st Stop
Located at 136 S. Park Avenue, The Parkview is so much more than the advertised label of “Wine Bar.” The food was fantastic. They specialize in tapas-sized light bites, flatbreads, and crostini’s but also have a few entree items on the menu. We had the Buffalo Mozzarella Crostini. So good! It included Buffalo Mozzarella, Heirloom Tomatoes, Local Micro Basil, Balsamic Pearls, and Pesto. A few Micro Greens were also served on the side. It was my favorite food item on the Tour. The Parkview is also known for its boutique wines and craft beer but we were served a Mimosa Cocktail.
***TIP… For non-alcoholic drinkers like myself, all of our stops offered a non-alcoholic alternative beverage. Be sure to tell your tour guide beforehand, and they will arrange for a substitute with the vendors.
The Ancient Olive — An Introduction to Olive Oil Tasting
A short stroll from The Parkview was our second stop, The Ancient Olive. It’s located just off Park Avenue in one of Winter Park’s most picturesque settings called The Hidden Garden. This charming little courtyard is home to some very unique shops and several restaurants. The area has an entirely different feel from the high-energy vibe and distractions of Park Avenue. Genuinely peaceful; I love to linger by the soothing fountain. The atmosphere in this little hide-a-way is ideal for the incurable romanticist.
What a perfect place then for a new kind of tasting bar. No, it’s not wine or beer. This tasting room features more than 55 flavored extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars. The oils are imported from Australia, Tunisia, Greece, Spain, and Italy. It was an epicurean adventure that I hadn’t embarked upon previously. Did you know there’s a proper technique for tasting olive oil? I didn’t. But much like wine tasting, olive oil tasting is a special skill. During our mini-workshop at The Ancient Olive I learned that it’s very much a sensory experience. Here’s my condensed version of it:
- Pour a little bit of olive oil into a small wineglass
- Cup the glass in one hand and cover it with the other to trap the aromas inside
- Hold it for a minute or two in order to warm it
- Swirl it, then stick your nose into the glass and take a good whiff of the aroma
- Take a generous sip of the oil, sucking air through the oil to coax more aromas out of it
- Close your mouth and breathe out through your nose
- Now swallow some, or all of the oil
- Expect it to be fruity, pungent, or bitter
- Repeat. The traditional palate cleanser between olive oils is water (plain or sparkling) and slices of Granny Smith apple
Our olive oil tasting was both fun and educational. Various specialty food samples were also provided — Spanish olives, French mustards, award-winning preserves, and dry-cured sausages. Afterwards, we had ample time to browse additional gourmet items in the shop. Hubby and I did a little Christmas shopping and picked up our bags after the Food Tour ended.
***Here’s a short 2-minute video clip of The Ancient Olive on their website.
Casa Feliz — Old World Elegance
Our next stop was a history break at 656 N. Park Ave. The Robert Bruce Barbour House, more affectionately known as Casa Feliz is a restored Spanish farmhouse designed by architect James Gamble Rogers II. This Historic Home Museum is open to the public during limited hours, but is more often used as a popular wedding ceremony and reception venue. With its old-world romantic charm, this is the perfect place for a true fairytale wedding. Ironically, one of the couple’s in our group had recently been wed there!
The Spice & Tea Exchange
Up next on the Winter Park Food Tour was The Spice & Tea Exchange located at 309 N. Park Ave. If you love exotic tea, spices, herbs, and unique flavors this is the place for you. Perhaps you’ve heard of this one-of-a-kind shopping experience, since the stores are franchised with 50+ nationwide. Florida has 13 locations.
Every now and then I like a little ‘comfort in a cup’ but I’m far from a tea aficionado. Since I rarely venture outside my comfort zone of Earl Grey or Chai, I didn’t approach this stop very enthusiastically. But, once again, it was an educational crash-course in the art of sipping and cooking with fine loose-leaf teas, spices, sea and mineral salts, and naturally flavored sugars. The good news, I learned, is that you don’t have to be a connoisseur of these oftentimes hard-to-find ingredients in order to cook with them. The staff was very friendly and quick to offer help, suggestions, or recipes.
We sampled Matcha Holiday Bark. It was outstanding! It’s a sweet and salty white chocolate bark with a slightly green color because of the Matcha tea. It was topped with Cypress White Sea Salt and Dried Cranberries. (Here’s the recipe.) Oh my, so good! But then came my biggest disappointment of the day… I couldn’t buy it! Nope. They only sell the ingredients, not the finished product. They offered the recipe card, but Christmas was fast approaching and there was no way I had time to make the bark. We also tasted a Pumpkin Spiced Soup which hubby didn’t like at all, and I thought it was just okay.
If you’re in need of a unique gift idea, especially for those who love to experiment in the kitchen, The Spice & Tea Exchange has a plethora of options. I picked up some pretty cool information here, but it was far from my favorite stop.
Braccia Pizzeria & Ristorante
Our culinary journey continued at Braccia Pizzeria & Ristorante. It’s located at 153 E. Morse Blvd., just a few steps off Park Avenue. The cuisine is kind of like a Brazil meets Italy thing. The pizzas at Braccia are authentic Brazilian, which are thin and crispy pies. The restaurant has a full menu, but only the pizza was included in our Food Tour. Our group was served 3 pizzas for the 12 of us. Initially, I thought that was somewhat of a small portion, but it turned out to be sufficient. Most of us were able to have 2 slices, thereby sampling 2 out of the 3 varieties. Since it’s not the traditional American version of pizza which tends to be heavier on the cheese and sauces sitting atop a lot more dough, this ultra-thin-crust style didn’t leave us with a ‘stuffed’ feeling. To me, it was almost like a flatbread with gourmet toppings.
Our pizzas were the Margherita, Arugula with Dried Tomato, and the Chicken with Catupiry (Catupiry is one of the most popular ‘soft cheese’ brands in Brazil). I tried the latter 2 flavors. I thought both were very good. Our group also had a glass of wine; red or white, it was their choice. I liked the atmosphere here. Braccia is a small unassuming little spot off the main drag, but I would definitely return. Since Park Avenue eateries tend to be more crowded, noisy, and expensive, Braccia is well worth a detour. The owners are well aware their location is not obvious to those strolling Park Avenue, so they usually have a representative standing on the corner of Park and Morse giving away pizza samples. The day we were there it was Brie with Apricot Pizza. I know, sounds more like dessert, right? It’s one of the highest priced on the menu — but it was surprisingly awesome! I’d order it in a heartbeat. I like the way they think outside of the box when it comes to pizza toppings. And really, to be a bone fide foodie, new experiences that broaden your culinary horizon are a requirement — not to mention we strongly dislike fussy eaters, (and most of our vacations revolve around food!).
***TIP… If you happen to be in Winter Park and just want dessert, Braccia is perfect. They have 3 sweet pizza choices; Banana with Cinnamon Pizza, Serenata de Amor Pizza (chocolate pizza), and Romeo and Juliet Pizza (white cheese and guava syrup). And, I’ve heard the Homemade Churros with Dulce de Leche dipping sauce are to die for!
Kilwins — Sweet in Every Sense Since 1947!
As with all progressive meals, we expect to have a sweet ending. Kilwins was the first of 2 dessert stops. It’s a franchised old-fashioned confectionery selling chocolates, ice cream, fudge, handmade sweets, and gift baskets. The location is 122 N. Park Avenue, which was precisely where our tour group originally met. From the moment I walked into the store my senses leaped with joy. I watched the handmade fudge being paddled to creamy perfection on a marble table, and the caramel apples and turtles in the dessert case were almost more than I could bear.
Our samples included 1 of their 32 flavors of ice cream and a piece of fudge. The ice cream was delicious, and while the fudge was tasty, it was a tad bit too soft and gooey for me (typically, I’m a fudge fanatic). I could tell by the very long lines that Kilwins is a popular Winter Park sweet spot. And, honestly, it’s almost impossible to walk by without going inside. You’ll catch a whiff of deliciousness a block away! Just follow your nose… it knows where to go! And don’t be shy about those “free samples,” the staff is just waiting for you to find a new favorite. Pricey? Sure, like most things on Park Avenue… but you’re worth it!
Winter Park Sidewalk Art in Central Park
As we journeyed to our final food stop, we took a leisurely stroll through Winter Park’s famous “Central Park.” It’s an 11-acre park with a gorgeous peacock fountain (with a tear-jerking inspirational story behind it) and rose garden — the crown jewel of all the parks in that town. Many seasonal events and festivals are held here throughout the year. Rachael stopped long enough to give us a few more historical tidbits. Afterwards, we got to enjoy the incredible artistic ability and creativity of some Winter Park Middle School students. Their sidewalk art was brilliant!
Our final stop on the Food Tour was at Peterbrooke Chocolatier located at 300 S. Park Avenue. Peterbrooke is a franchise locally owned and operated by a husband and wife team who were friendly and helpful. We received a tasting of gourmet Chocolate Covered Popcorn that was simply out-of-this-world yummy (it’s the #1 best seller). I just love the combination of sweet and salty flavors; so addictive. Did you know that Peterbrooke’s Chocolate Covered Popcorn was discovered by accident? (Here’s a CNBC article about the sweet accident.)
If your New Year’s resolution is to eat more chocolate, then Peterbrooke is the place for you! If not, we all need a gift idea from time to time, and, let’s be honest… chocolate is the one gift that never gets returned! I truly enjoyed browsing their creative chocolate selections. Like, for example, the Chocolate High Heeled Shoe Collection for the fashion diva with a shoe fetish who can’t stuff one more pair in her closet. (They’ll even make custom edible labels to put inside the shoe.) Ingenious. Or maybe you need a special guy-gift. Not a problem. How about Chocolate-covered Bacon?
Peterbrooke also has a large selection of gelato. Feel free to ask for a sample. The 20+ flavors looked so good, but by now my sweet tooth had been satisfied. There’s no question, this was a sweet ending to a delightful afternoon in Winter Park.
The Winter Park Walking Food Tour was a pleasurable, educational, and delicious way to spend an afternoon. Overall it was great, but not quite excellent. When compared to other food tours I have done, it was lacking enough “real” food. By that, I mean I would have liked to see more restaurants participate rather than the olive oil and spice tastings, which were more of a “gift shop” experience. Don’t get me wrong, I had fun sipping and sampling in some locally loved places, but comparably speaking it just wasn’t 5-star.
I paid a highly discounted rate of $67.99 for 2 people. Certainly, the Winter Park Food Tour was worth that amount. At the $100+ full retail price I may have been disappointed. There was an ample amount of food and drink, and most of us were comfortably full at the end of the tour. It’s a great option for couples wanting a daytime date, girlfriend get-a-way kind of thing to re-connect, or friends and family that are visiting. However, authentic foodies may be less-than-impressed. So, pretty much it comes down to your expectations. I recommend this tour if you can pay less than retail. Bon appetite!
Winter Park Food Tour — How to Make a Reservation
Like most things these days, the Winter Park Food Tour can be conveniently booked online. Simply go to OrlandoFoodTours.com and click “Pick a Tour” on the homepage. Then click “Buy Tickets Now” under the Winter Park Walking Food Tour section to view a calendar of available dates in any given month. The Food Tours are generally offered on Saturdays and Sundays at 11:15am. There is a 12 person maximum for each Tour. The reservation system will reveal any “Sold Out” dates as well as how many tickets are still available on each date. The price for Adults is $47.00 plus tax and a small processing fee.
***TIP… Being the financially responsible person that I am (hubby calls me frugal), I rarely purchase anything online without a coupon code. I bought tickets through the website “Living Social” which was having a fantastic Cyber Monday sale. It was almost a 35% discount! The popular “Groupon” website also offers discounts up to 20% off on the Food Tour. (Take advantage of the reduced prices — you’ll want to do some shopping at some of the great gift shops on the Tour.)
If you book online like I did, there’s absolutely nothing to print, and no physical tickets are needed. You’ll receive a digital ticket via email. Upon arrival, simply show the email confirmation from your cell phone, along with photo ID. The email also contains information about parking and gives the location where your group will meet. The entire reservation process could not have been easier!
Have you been on the Winter Park Walking Food Tour? What was your experience? Or, perhaps you can share the name of your favorite food tour. Our faithful foodie followers would love to know! Simply reply in the comment section below.