Last week I had the opportunity to attend Orlando’s Taste of the Nation for the first time. Have you ever wanted to try food from over 40 area restaurants in one night? How about try beer and wine from more than 10 top breweries and wineries? Well Taste of the Nation gives you that opportunity, along with the chance to help out the community.
Orlando’s Taste of the Nation® for No Kid Hungry brings together the area’s top chefs who donate their time, talent and passion to end childhood hunger in Central Florida. Every dollar raised fights hunger and homelessness in the Central Florida. Local beneficiaries included Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
Orlando’s Taste of the Nation takes place at the beautiful World Center Marriott and I was lucky enough to bring my mom along for the ride. Our media credentials meant that we were able to get in a little bit early to have a chance to walk around, talk to the chefs, and take some pictures while there was still a bit of breathing room. With over 2,000 tickets sold we knew it was going to be a busy event!
Restaurants from all over Orlando brought their A game to this event. Amazing bites of appetizers and entrees along with inventive desserts kept everyone happy and full for the whole evening. Add in the wine, cocktails, and beer and it was definitely the place to be on a Saturday night. Some restaurants even went above and beyond with themed displays to go along with their offerings. Universal Orlando had a King Kong themed area while Marriott had a full diner set-up complete with a vintage Mustang. I will let you in on a little secret… when it was finally time to start trying some of the amazing food being offered my mom and I chose to sit down in the diner and enjoy some fresh bakes pies. Yep, we started with dessert! How can you pass up homemade cherry and lemon meringue pie?
In addition to all the food and drink available there were plenty of ways to have a good time and help raise some additional money for Coalition for the Homeless and Second Harvest Food Bank. Guests could play ring toss and win a bottle of wine, pick an envelope off the Giving Tree to win a gift card, get a key for a chance at winning a fully stocked wine cellar, or bid on one of the fabulous items in their silent auction. I also loved that you could participate in these activities for as little as $15.
So I know what you are probably thinking. What was the best thing you had to eat there Meghan? Well that one is SUPER easy. Mom and I both agree that the Lobster Mac and Cheese from A Land Remembered at the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel. It was so creamy, had huge chunks of lobster, and the combination of cheeses they used was on point. I am not a meat eater myself, but my mom tried a lot of steak and said to me “Every time I try some steak it is better than the last bite!” That says a lot since the first bite she had was so good that she was at a loss for words.
And even though we were big fans of the pies from Marriott, our favorite dessert had to be the White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake from Empress Sissi Cake & Specialty Pastries. Even when my mom was super full and said she couldn’t eat another bite she was threaten to go over and take the whole cheesecake home with her.
I would definitely suggest checking out Orlando’s Taste of the Nation next year if you have the chance. The tickets are a little pricey but they have discount codes leading up to the event, have their Golden Ticket promotion where you could win tickets, and it is WELL worth it. Plus you are helping to raise money for two very important local charities. As you know I am all about the local love and this event has it in spades. Not only is it to raise money for TWO local charities, you get to try out food and drink from tons of local restaurants. And who knows, you may find a new favorite that you didn’t know about.
*As a social media ambassador for Taste of the Nation I was provided two complimentary tickets for the event. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.