Around Osceola

It’s Mac and Cheese night, and Trader Joe’s is now open in Winter Park

Posted on Friday, June 27, 2014 at 9:04 am

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By Peter Covino
A&E Editor
Who makes the best macaroni and cheese in Osceola County?
You can judge for yourself as well as help pick out the winner at the third annual  Macaroni and Cheese Challenge tonight at 6 p.m. at the City Centre in downtown Kissimmee.
It’s too late to submit an entry (the deadline has passed) but everyone is welcome to the tasting and be a judge.
Tasting rules:
$15 White Score Card: 1 glass of house wine and small bowl of mac and cheese at the end of voting.
$25 Yellow Score Card: 1 glass of premium wine, 1 bowl of mac and cheese at the end of voting, and double the white score.
$50 Orange VIP Card: 1 glass of super premium wine, 1 bowl of mac and cheese at the end of voting, a commemorative wine glass, T-shirt and five times the white score.
For more information contact Vintage Vino at 917-627-8432.
Trapper Joe’s
If you are eagerly awaiting the opening of the area’s first Trader Joe’s Market, the wait is over. The popular grocery chain (there are stores in Sarasota and Gainesville) opened its first Central Florida store Friday.
It probably isn’t that big a deal missing the grand opening day. Driving to Winter Park on a Friday can never be a good thing, and roads were probably more congested on North Orlando Avenue (the store is at 131 N. Orlando Ave., almost across the street from the Winter Park Village shopping center) because of the anticipated store opening.
The weekend should make for a calmer shopping experience, but it is the area’s first Trader Joe’s, so a large crowd can still be anticipated.
Trader Joe’s is a fun shopping experience, if you have never been.
The company specializes in finding  private-label items, usually items you won’t find at Publix or Winn-Dixie. The store also stocks items that do not contain preservatives or artificial food colorings.
What to buy at Trader Joe’s
The food website, www.foodbeast.com, calls the store “a tiki-themed wonderland. It’s a place you enter thinking you only need to pick up milk but leave with a cart full of things you never new existed.”
Among the site’s favorite Trader Joe items:
Triple Ginger Snaps — Crunchy, with hot tangy crystalized bits of ginger.
Speculoos Cookie Butter — With a texture like peanut butter, and with a nutty like flavor. It is good on everything from bread to apples.
Joe –Joe’s Cookies — The site says these are “better-for-you Oreos.”
Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole — The label says it has 50 percent less fat and 40 percent less calories than regular guacamole. That’s because it is with with Greek yogurt. It features chunks of tomato and jalapeno in addition to avocado.
Charles Shaw Wine —This is the “Two Buck Chuck” wine the market is famous for, but alas, with inflation, it now costs about $2.50 a bottle. The best varieties, according to the website, the cabernet sauvignon and merlot are the best options. They didn’t like the sauvignon blanc.
Joe’s Diner Mac ‘n Cheese — Comes frozen and available in four different varieties. “This is as good as microwave grub gets,” according to the website.
Trader Joe’s Almond Butter — Use like peanut butter, but it is messier.
Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Chicken Burgers — “A refreshing option if you are looking for a break from beef,” according to the website. Four to a box.
Pound Plus Chocolate Bar — Available in milk or dark, it’s Belgium chocolate, “smooth, milky and indulgent.”
Mandarin Orange Chicken — In the frozen section, it was described as having a nice orange tangy flavor and the chicken was crispy on the outside and tender and flaky on the inside.
Spinach and Kale Greek Yogurt Dip — Another Reduced Guilt item, but it had a lot of zest and was refreshing. Again, Greek yogurt replaced sour cream.
Chocolate Orange Sticks — Dark chocolate over orange peel, but soft and juicy.
Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels — Just caramels and chocolate, but very addictive, according to the website.
Corn Chile — It’s a salsa, but good on lots of things including hamburger.
Trader Joe’s is open  8 a.m. to 9 p.m. today.
You can make a whole day of it in Winter Park if you go on a Saturday as well.
The city of Winter Park Farmer’s Market has just expanded its vendor categories to include certified organic and locally-grown items. The market now offers plants, produce and flowers which are certified by the United States Department of Agriculture as organic products. The market also now provides locally-grown products including eggs, beef, chicken, hydroponic tomatoes, luffas and more. These products are grown within 30 miles of the market.
“There has been a growing demand for us to offer certified organic products, and we are thrilled to be able to add them to our market. This helps make it an even more diverse market for our shoppers,” said Ronald Moore, assistant director of parks & recreation, in a release from the city.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Winter Park Farmers’ Market located at 200 W. New England Ave. The market began when former City Commissioner Jerry Donnelly suggested that the city initiate a Saturday morning market at the train depot. On May 19, 1979, the Farmers’ Market opened with approximately eight vendors. Thirty-five years later, the market hosts 80 vendors with approximately 5,000 visitors shopping for produce, plants, baked goods, holiday items, and diverse kitchen and garden items, from bay leaves and bratwurst to bagels and butterflies.
For more information regarding the Winter Park Farmers’ Market, call 407-599-3397.
It is too late to enter the Kissimmee Mac n cheese competition, but you can enter the  inaugural O-Town MacDown, presented by SeaWorld and held at the Orange County Convention Center, Aug. 23 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The new event will determine the Mac and Cheese kings and queens of Central Florida.
The competition is open to professionals and home cooks alike, who want to show off their best cheesy concoction to earn bragging rights and great prizes.
The winners of the professional and restaurant competitions at O-Town MacDown will have the opportunity to face off on stage in front of their colleagues at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, to be held two weeks later in Orlando, Florida. Both winners will compete at the Show’s Food Trends Experience Culinary Demonstration Theater for the title of Best Mac ‘n Cheese in Orange County. The winner of the home cook category will receive a trip for two to Washington, D.C. which includes a food tour from D.C. Metro Food Tours, hotel and airfare.
The event will include cooking demonstrations, live entertainment and  more. Tickets are available at $10 for adults and $5 for children. Prices are higher at the door. Visit www.OTownMacDown.org for tickets and  information.

Krispy Kreme is celebrating its birthday and has two new varieties:Krispy Kreme’s New Brownie Batter Doughnuts and Birthday Cake Batter Doughnuts,  available through July 13.
The doughnut descriptions from the press release:
Birthday Cake Batter Doughnut: A blend of Kreme and birthday cake batter filling in a yeast shell, topped with yellow icing and bright confetti sprinkles.
Brownie Batter Doughnut: Chocolate yeast shell with a rich brownie batter filling, topped with chocolate icing and mini chocolate chips.
Krispy Kreme’s 77th birthday celebration is July 11.
The special edition doughnuts are available at:
Kissimmee
5310 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway (192 / Mile Marker 11.5).
Open 24 hours.
Winter Park
1031 S. Orlando Avenue (17-92), Winter Park.
Open 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Sunday – Thursday) and 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Friday and Saturday).
Drive thru open 24 hours.
Millenia
4080 Millenia Blvd., Orlando.
Open 24 hours.

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