Thanks to my affiliation with Tampa Bay Bloggers, I got the chance to dine at Chick-Fil-A in Oldsmar. Although I did get to feast for free in exchange for a blog post and social media love, this didn’t have an impact on my recap. All opinions are my own!
Let me tell you guys, it was a fabulous night! I have been in a blah mood since losing my dad, and this was the first real outing I had scheduled of the New Year. Mixing food with friends turned out to be just what I needed! Here’s how it all went down…
First, we got schooled in all things Chick-fil-a. For example, did you know the reason the fil-a in the name is a play on the word filet? And, have you ever noticed that the C in the logo is a chicken?!? We also learned that the process to become a franchise owner is an extensive one. I consider this a testament to Chick-fil-a’s quality of service. They care so much about their brand that they are very careful with who they give one to. I actually love this about them!
Then, we ATE!!! I was sooooooooooooooooooooooooo excited to learn that my favoritest salad of like EVER was back on the menu. Check it out:
GAHHH!!! For those of you who don’t know, this sexy beast is the Southwest Chicken Salad. It is my like favorite thing EVER on the menu. I cried when they took it off, and I’m ecstatic it’s back!!!
Of course, there are some fries in the background because I don’t know about yous guys, but I can’t go to Chick-fil-a without ordering their waffle fries. I always get it with the Chick-fil-a sauce because duh! Dipping! It’s so good. If you haven’t tried it, you gotta try it. And, I totally recommend you stop by the Oldsmar location and give them some love if you are in the area.
Finally, if you are in the healthy eater mindset, Chick-fil-a has you covered there too. Check out this super food salad they have on the menu:
Oh yeah, that’s my kind of healthy eating. Want some of their food? The manager was nice enough to give me a calendar, and he gave me one to give away to you guys. I’m sorry I didn’t post this in time to let you score January’s free offer, but there are like 11 other months, if you win I really hope you will forgive me. Okay, get in on the giveaway below. And, if you can’t wait to learn if you won or not, you should check out the FREE APP, that lets you score freebies at Chick-fil-a. Be sure to like Chick-fil-a of Oldsmar on Facebook too. They often have fun events at their location that are worth checking out!
On Monday, January, 23, 2017 I had the pleasure of attending an event called Cooking with Cabot at the stunning Epicurean Hotel in South Tampa. Upon arrival we enjoyed a fabulous Cabot Greek Yogurt bar complete with fruit, nuts, and even chocolate!
Shortly after breakfast we kicked things off with a fun Facebook live video. Check it out here. In the video Chef Jimmy made a veggie dish inspired by Japanese Negimaki. Get the recipe here.
Essentially this veggie appetizer combines thinly sliced squash, zucchini, leeks, red bell pepper and Cabot Sharp Light Cheddar. Next, Chef Jimmy gave us some fabulous tips for maintaining cast iron.
After schooling us in cast iron maintenance, we got to indulge in mac and cheese adult style! Chef made a basil- tomato mac and cheese. NOM NOM NOM!
Then, if we weren’t full enough, it was time for lunch. Of course, before lunch we had a quick work out session with a mini kit from FitKit.com, but then it was chow time! Look at everything we ate:
First bites: Apple & New York Vintage Salad featuring New York Vintage Cabot Cheese, apples, baby greens, walnuts, grapes, and poppy seed dressing
Roasted Tomato Soup
And finally…the main dish. Grilled Chicken Breast featuring caramelized Brussels sprouts, almond, alpine crisp and banyuls gastrique.
After lunch it was back to the cooking theater to compete for prizes. We were split into teams and asked to create the perfect cheese plate. This was my team’s:
Our team was named Moo! But, I promptly renamed us Moo! Bitch Get out the Way. No one else called us that, but I loved every second of it. Our team didn’t win, but the winning team had one less member than the rest of us. So, we added our name tags into a basket and mine was pulled so I was a winner too!!! I got knives and a Slate Plate and all kinds of goodies 😀 Over all the entire day was soooooooooooo much fun!!!
I was already planning on coming to Lakeland on June 11 for the Florida Festival of Flavor & Fire at the Lakeland Center. So, when bd’s reached out and asked if I would be interested in checking out their restaurant I jumped at the chance! I invited my father-in-law and my husband and off we went to Lakeland to stuff our faces with yummy foods.
Around noon on that Saturday we stopped by bd’s and since we had a reservation we were seated right away. Speaking of which… I highly recommend a reservation if you plan on stopping by Friday or Saturday evening for dinner or for lunch on Saturday or Sunday.
After looking over the menu both my husband and I agreed that the best value would be the unlimited create your own bowls which included unlimited bowls of stir-fry and unlimited salad and unlimited soup from their homemade soup bar. This option is served with your choice of white or brown rice, flour tortillas or lettuce wraps.
I almost immediately went for green peppers, onions, white rice, steak, pork and a variety of spices.
After I chose what I wanted I walked over to the largest wok I’ve EVER seen where the fab staff cooked up my goodies and then delivered it:
As they cooked they sang funny parodies and entertained the crowd and delivered my meal to me with a smile. So fun! I took a video of the fun singing, but unfortunately, in true #bloggerfail form accidentally deleted it while I instagrammed the images of my experience…sigh…
Of course, at this point the pictures stopped while I stuffed my face just enough to leave room for a second helping.
The best part? If you’re not 100% sure what to order, there are cards at the front of the salad and meat bars that give you recipes that can help you decide what to put on your plate for the staff to cook up:
Check out the recipes, pick your favorite and order up! Then, once you have tried it, go back for round two.
You can stack your plate as high as you want as long as it won’t fall on the floor. LOL! Then, head back to the wok and have it cooked up again!
My only complaint? The room we sat in had too many tables in chairs. My group repeatedly complained about how little wiggle room there was and whether or not this was a fire code violation. Nonetheless, all of us enjoyed what we ate thoroughly!
Sadly, the weekend we went the beer and wine license had not yet been approved, so we didn’t get to try their adult beverages. Then again, this was probably for the best since it was only stop 1 of 2 for our Lakeland adventures.
Bottom line: Lunch at bd’s Mongolian is a fabulous value, and if you leave hungry you did something wrong. I highly recommend eating here. If I’m ever in Lakeland again, you can bet I’ll be eating at bd’s once more! It was so good!!!
Tonight I had the exciting opportunity to try some of the yummy dishes at Ker’s Winghouse on Hillsborough Ave. with the Tampa Bay Bloggers. Although my meal was comped and I was given a gift card as compensation, this did not influence my review. All opinions below are my own.
Ker’s Winghouse unveiled its new summer menu and I gotta tell you guys, it’s damn tasty! Lots of pulled pork awesomeness and it’s an overall huge win in my book. Here’s what I tried tonight and what I thought of each item:
These yummy Pretzel Bites come with two dipping sauces – honey mustard and Wisconsin Cheese Sauce. I’m a bigger fan of the cheese for sure! Off to a good start? I’d say so. Give me more of the food!!!
Next up was The Pork Nachos. These nachos feature crunchy tortilla chips topped with slow roasted bbq pork, jalapenos, diced tomatoes, shredded cabbage, cilantro lime sauce and Wisconsin Cheese sauce. And yes. They’re every bit as delicious as they sound!!! I really liked these a lot and would highly recommend them.
Then, it was time for the Taco Salad which features lettuce topped with chili, cheese, diced tomato, fried jalapenos, tortilla chips, and a cilantro lime cream sauce. I personally would have done a different dressing for this salad, but it’s still pretty good nonetheless. The fried jalapenos were an interesting touch too. I’ve never seen that done before, but it worked and took away a bit of the spice.
After that we were given some Chicken Pasta Salad to nosh on. This dish features white meat chicken, rotini, cucumbers and Parmesan cheese. This could use a splash of Italian dressing imho, but I thought the chicken on top of it was good. I couldn’t help but laugh as my husband declared, “I’ll never get used to cold pasta noodles. It’s just not right.” That lapse in judgement aside, with a little dressing on top I think this dish could be a great side. Not sure I’d recommend it as a meal though.
I can’t believe I forgot to Instagram these, but we also got to try the summer tacos. You get your choice of shrimp, chicken or pulled pork. Below the photo shows all three, but I of course went for the pulled pork. I was very happy with my choice. So tasty!
Don’t hate me y’all, but this was my favorite bite tonight! The pulled pork sandwich was our final dish and it comes with coleslaw and fried onion strings on top and it is simply heaven in your mouth!!!! I know, what a shocker- I loved this and it was pulled pork. But, seriously, it’s soooo good I didn’t even need the pickle and chips that it comes with. And, it’s huge. You can even ask for extra bbq sauce if you’re so inclined. A MUST if you’re a pulled pork fan.
So, we weren’t technically going to get this to try, but after chatting with the manager, about desserts, he brought my table a slice of the new guava cheesecake. This is one of the few things that Winghouse doesn’t make on site. They order them in from a local bakery. Holy guava Batman!! So yummy! It was really quite tasty and I guess we were a little too obnoxious about how much we liked it because before we could say #datcheesecakedoe everyone was getting a slice to try.
I had an absolute blast trying these dishes and can’t wait to visit again to catch a game or just to stuff my face with good eats. The staff was so friendly and I even got to bring my hubby. Super fun!
Buckle up folks, because this might just be the longest post I’ve ever written on my personal blog, like EVER! LOL! But, it’s not my fault, that’s just how much was packed into my one weekend at the Food Wine Conference. Enjoy the read…
Although the ambassadorship did score me the awesome deal of a discounted ticket, this did not affect this recap of the conference. All opinions below are my own!
Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 2016 Food Wine Conference put on by Sunday Supper Movement hosted by the fearless leader known as Family Foodie aka Isabel Laessig. Not only did I simply attend, I got to attend as a brand ambassador for FeedBlitz which is a kick ASH ad-free email service perfect for Bloggers looking to grow their brand.
The weekend began innocently enough with my arrival at the stunning Rosen Shingle Creek hotel. If you have never stayed there, I highly recommend it for Disney and Universal Studio visits. It’s gorgeous. Ya know, if you can afford it! Luckily, we had a group rate 🙂
After checking in, my roommate and I quickly set up shop. We created an instacooler in one of our sinks and I had brought along a minibar in a bag filled with snacks to avoid any ill-advised overpriced purchases. Here’s the cooler and below is what was in my minibar bag:
Once our room was all set up, it was conference time! First up, registration and mingling with CK Mondavi wines. Here’s me with the biggest wine glass I’ve ever seen in my life:
Once we’d wined a little it was off to the Florida Milk Spa! I rather enjoyed this! They allowed us to make Greek Yogurt masks, gave us a bottle of lavender scented milk bath and there was even a milk bar. I didn’t drink the milk, but everyone said it was really yummy!
At the conclusion of the spa time, I headed back to my room to drop of my swag bag. Although I had it in a cart instead of carrying it on my shoulder this year, my roommate wanted to drop them at the room before heading out to other festivities, so I complied. We hurried to the room and then hurried back to the end of the Strawberry Reception hosted by Florida Strawberry Grower’s Association. Luckily, even though the reception was all but over, they still had some of those delicious milkshakes which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Once I sucked it down, it was off to the Taste of Rosen Shingle Creek to try some miscellaneous food items. As a blogger I’m embarrassed to report I didn’t get any decent images at this event. For my next conference I’m bringing a better camera and/or an external flash! This was the end of “day 1”, but there was still much fun to be had!
Onto day two…
Day two was filled with classes and information. I did get a cool pic with Food Network Star Donatella Arpai
A photo posted by Ashley Grant (@famousashleygrant) on
Oh my goodness! A mac and cheese bar. Why was THIS my highlight of the day? Because mac and cheese PLUS bacon equals heaven. If you can’t understand that, you can’t sit with us! (us being me and my many personalities! hahaha)
Moving on…the end of the day brought the wine to the food wine conference and CK Mondavi did not disappoint! Overall the dinner was a fabulously fun experience and I loved the folks I got to sit with.
The after party was a VIP experience poolside, but I confess I didn’t partake in it very much. So, I’ll wrap with day two by saying this – It was a day of fun, food, wine and truths, and I am grateful for the experiences I had and the lessons that came from them!
Day 3, The Final Day
Day 3 was spent mostly at the Rosen College of Hospitality. There was a fun brunch by the golf course prior to that, but it was a little too sunny for my taste. I was melting! The bacon and waffles were delicious though!
Onto the College of Hospitality – The morning started with a cheese lesson from Cabot cheese. Man oh man! The pairings they created with the cheeses were out of this world! I was so amazed by all the things I never thought to do with cheese, and can’t wait to play with my food now that they have schooled me. They even gave us a copy of their cookbook and I’m looking forward to exploring it.
Anywho- during the tasting my bloggy friend Tracy and I had a crazy urge for a soda take over so we slipped out to the vending machines. Both her and I won steaks during our expedition! Yep, the awesome people from Certified Angus Beef had been hiding these little cows all throughout the conference and if you found one that said “you win steaks” you won! I found a cow, and then Tracy found a cow in one innocent trip to get our carbonation fix! Amazing! Oh, and I scored an extra soda when two popped out of the machine instead of one. I was on a roll!!!
After the cheese it was time to go to class. I enjoyed the Podcast class with Carole Sanek and Josh Elledge, but felt the class was too short. Can’t wait to learn more from them now that the conference is over. Once class was over, this happened:
A photo posted by Ashley Grant (@famousashleygrant) on
I have never pretended to be a chef or even a decent cook, but when you’re asked to be in a #hashed competition not once, but twice, you accept! My team was called Cake or Die and although we didn’t win, it was the most intense competition I think I’ve EVER been in! It was nuts, it was crazy, but above all – IT WAS FUN!!!!!!!!!!
The competition was perhaps the most fun I had all weekend and I sincerely hope that Isabel and the team behind the conference make the #hashed competition a staple of every conference going forward.
The rest of the day consisted of another class, lunch and then an amazing presentation by Denise Vivaldo and Kita Roberts on food styling and photography. Finally, the weekend was over and it was time to go home. I argued with myself all weekend as to whether I not I would attend in 2017, but after digesting everything that happened this year, I sincerely hope that I will be a part of next year’s Food Wine Conference event in some way! I have even inquired about potentially being on the planning committee, so we’ll see what happens next.
All in all, the conference was a rewarding experience. Although there are some things I would have done differently, I’m exceptionally grateful for the lessons I learned and the relationships I made and/or renewed. I’ll post some additional things on the conference later, but for now, I think that wraps up my wild and eventful weekend at the 2016 Food Wine Conference!
Now, I want to hear from you. Did you go to Food Wine Con? If so, leave me a comment with your favorite part of the conference! And, if you were there, follow me on my social channels of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn, and I PROMISE to follow you back 🙂
I received an invitation from the Tampa Bay Bloggers and Hyde Park Village to skip Black Friday this year in favor of shopping small on Small Business Saturday on Saturday, November, 28, 2015. (Although they did offer me free mimosas and breakfast from Piquant, lunch at BarTaco and a gift card incentive for my promotional efforts, all the opinions in this post are my own.) Needless to say, the idea of getting up at the ASH crack of dawn to try and save money on, well, anything, doesn’t really appeal to me anymore- so, I jumped at the chance to come to skip the crowds and early morning doorbusters in favor of something local. Here’s a recap of how my shopping adventure went:
The day began innocently enough with yummy mimosas and bite-sized treats you see above at Piquant. For the record, their pumpkin French toast was amazing as it sounds like it would be. The mimosas were not just orange juice and champagne either. Oh no, Piquant is classier than that ya’ll! They had three options. Now, I’m going to screw it up but I’m pretty sure they were raspberry, mango and passion fruit. Whatever they were, they tasted great! Next, it was off to the stores. I had the pleasure of spending my day with the awesomeness that is Caitlyn Connolly of Live Sweat Sleep and Raffi Darrow of Runningbetty.com. These chicks, pictured below, are so kick ASH and I’m thrilled I got to hang with them for a day.
We went to soooooooooooo many stores, but my favorite stops were Don Me Now, Paper Source and lululemon. Don Me Now had the coolest notecards of ever:
lululemon made me want to up my 2016 fitness goals:
Paper Source had the cutest all the things:
We also listened to some sweet local musack while I sipped on my first ever Buddy Brew coffee. Let me tell ya’ll, I’m not big on coffee, but that there Buddy Brew sure was slurp worthy- soooo yummy.
Finally, after more perusing of shops, Caitlyn and I finished the day at Bar Taco where I stuffed my face with a margarita and three itty bitty tacos and guacamole with the biggest tortilla chips I’ve ever seen. (Sorry you missed this deliciousness Raffi!!!) I had the baja fish, the pork belly and the sesame ribeye tacos. Of the three, my fave was the pork belly. nomnomnom!!! So good!!
Overall, the day was a smashing success. We shopped, we chatted, we listened to great music, we had a blast! Best part? No crazy crowds and we were able to stay very chill the entire day. Screw shopping stress!!! At the end of the day I only had a couple of purchases to my name, but definitely had lots of ideas for gifts that I want to give. It truly is better to shop local. I had so much fun and I think the day definitely proved that Small Biz Saturday > Black Friday!!! Oh, and a few days later – Hyde Park Village gave me the cutest ornament EVER to hang on my tree:
It’s a camera! They know me so well. I’m a writer too and it just so happens they also gave me some nice pens and a 2016 calendar!!! Huge thanks to the village for one of the best shopping experiences I’ve ever had and thanks to Tampa Bay Bloggers for the invite as well. When the opportunity for Small Biz Saturday comes up once more next year, I’ll definitely choose it again over that pesky outdated Black Friday!
Thanks to being a part of the Tampa Bay Bloggers and the awesomeness of the management at the all new Little Greek on Gulf to Bay Blvd. in Clearwater I had the pleasure of stuffing my face with dinner on Wednesday, October 14, 2015! Although they did provide me with loads of free foods to sample and compensated me with a $25 gift card this did not impact my review. All opinions are my own. For my full disclosure policy, please click HERE. Now, onto the review!
First, we were presented with the yummy array of appetizers pictured above including spinach pie, falafel and pita bread with hummus and tzatziki sauce. My absolute favorite app was the spinach pie. I swear I think I could have eaten an entire plate of that deliciousness without even breaking a sweat. It was soooooo good!
Next up, we were offered a small sampling of the homemade chicken-lemon rice soup. A few people at our table loved it and one even ordered it as her meal, but personally since I’m not a fan of lemon I didn’t enjoy it. This is nothing against the restaurant, I just don’t care for lemon in any foods for some reason. Which is weird since I love it in mixed drinks and tea, but I digress. While folks were continuing to sip on the soup I slipped another bite of that yummy spinach pie.
Then, it was time for the main course. Each of us were given the chance to order a full meal from the list of dinners, salads, light meals or Pitas & Wraps. I went with the Steak Skewers dinner pictured above which features three char-grilled skewers over rice with a HUGE Greek Salad and pita bread. This meal was so big that I ate the salad while I was there and a few bites of the rice and steak and then had a full meal of steak and rice with pita on the side for lunch the next day. It all tasted so good and I have to say their Greek dressing is by far the best Greek dressing I’ve ever had.
Have a drink you want me to try or a product/event/service/place you want me to review?
My husband who got to come with me had the ginormous platter you see pictured above. This is the gyro pita with fresh-cut fries. He told me the tzatziki sauce on it was by far the best he’d had on a gyro and that the meat was super moist and tender. After all the appetizers we had he only got a few bites in before he forfeited leaving him with a dang tasty lunch for the next day too. Oh, and by the way- we learned the best way to reheat fries is to throw them in the oven instead of the microwave. Read how you can do it here. By using the oven instead of the microwave they tasted just as delicious the next day as they did when freshly cooked.
We were given some desserts to try too, but not only was I too full to try any of them, I did a complete blogger fail and forgot to snap a picture of them. I’m sure though, considering how awesome all the foods we did consume were, that the desserts were wonderful. I would definitely recommend the Little Greek for lunch or for dinner. They have locations all over the Tampa Bay area too so you have no excuse to not try them out! In fact, I just recently learned that there is a Little Greek just 15 minutes from my door so next time I’m craving a Gyro or some spinach pie, I know where I’ll be going!
Have a drink you want me to try or a product/event/service/place you want me to review?
#FWCon @foodandwineconf Holy cow people! 10 weeks from today is the 2015 Food and Wine Conference!!!!!!!!!! Next week we’ll be in the single digits, then it will be less than a handful of days and then it will be here and if you didn’t get your tickets you won’t get to hang out with all the cool kids that are going!!! What are you waiting for? Buy your tickets now! You can still get $50 off your admission with code FWC15grana!!!! Get your tickets to the conference at foodandwineconference.com.!
Seriously, this is going to be THEE event of the summer and if you are a blogger, a foodie, wineo or just a frikkin fan of cool people that like to get together and chat about any of the above you seriously need to get on down to this event guys and gals.
In honor of this week being 10 weeks til the conference I made the Honey Almond Salmon from the Family Foodie Blog! Get the recipe HERE! This stuff was amazingly yummy!!! We paired it with a Ramen Noodle dish that proved we didn’t know how gourmet Ramen could taste. Check out how to make Ramen Cacio e Pepe HERE!
By the way, for those following this blog I totally missed week 11’s post about the conference, I’m sorry. I’ll do some kind of two-fer post before the conference to make up for it. I promise. In the meantime, go get your tickets for the conference now!
Today marks exactly 10 weeks until the 2015 Food and Wine Conference!!!!
Get $50 off your admission with code FWC15grana foodandwineconference.com.
Alrighty. I’m off for another fun-filled weekend. I’m leaving to go camping tonight and tomorrow and there are definitely some exciting things planned for the camping trip. Then, Sunday I’m going to spend the evening doing summer ready crafts with my mom for Mother’s Day. I’ll post about those awesome camping activities and Sunday crafts later. Are you doing anything fun this weekend? Leave a comment and
tell me about it 🙂 See you cool cats later!
Do you have a recipe you want me to try or a product you want me to review?
Contact me HERE! I’m PR friendly 😉
This post contains links to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.
I’m super excited about this week’s recipe because of how dang tasty it was! This week I’m featuring the Good Morning Smoothies from the Family Foodie Blog. Strawberries for fiber, yogurt for protein, sugar for sweetness- what more could you ask for to have a quick and yummy breakfast on the go! Head HERE for the recipe!
Alrighty, now that I’ve told you about my uber yummy recipe I’ve got to point out something big!!! There are just 12 weeks until the 2015 Food and Wine Conference! People that’s just a dozen weeks. Like, eggs dozen, like doughnuts dozen!!! Like what are you waiting on your tickets for dozen?!? This conference is totally, probably, I’m pretty sure going to sell out and you’re gonna feel really lame if you don’t get a doughnut, er I mean ticket!!! AND I’m still offering you lovely, sexy readers of this blog and my facebook peeps $50 off your admission with code FWC15grana!!!! Get your tickets to the conference at foodandwineconference.com.! Do it now! I’ll wait…
did you get them yet? If yes- awesome and I hope you used the discount code to save some green! Can’t wait to see you at the conference. If no….Ugh! Why not?!? Seriously peeps, go get your tickets right meow or you’ll totally be missing out on all kinds of yummy foods, wines, and who knows- maybe even doughnuts!!!
Today marks exactly 12 weeks until the 2015 Food and Wine Conference!!!!
Welp, I’m off to get ready for my weekend. I’m planning on some serious quality time with my hubby, lunch out at Urban Cantina, hopefully some fun times at the pool and if I get my way a trip to a park for a sunset picnic. Are you doing anything fun this weekend? Leave a comment and tell me about it 🙂 See you cool cats later! Now, I really want a doughnut…
Do you have a recipe you want me to try or a product you want me to review? Contact me HERE! I’m PR friendly 😉
Today marks 13 weeks until the 2015 food and wine conference and my post to celebrate it was inspired by the Chicken Fajita Bowls on the Family Foodie Blog. As usual I took a lot of shortcuts with this dish because I’m a lazy cook. I used yellow rice and just threw in some shredded cooked chicken that was cooked in taco seasonings and added to it peppers, salsa, cheese and sour cream. It was a great quick meal that was ready in thirty minutes. Perfect for my busy week! Check out the original recipe HERE!
#Foodies will LOVE the 2015 Food & Wine Conference! Use code FWC15grana for $50 off admission at foodandwineconference.com.!
Do you have a recipe you want me to try or a product you want me to review?