Rona Gindin is an Orlando-based multimedia writer, editor and TV personality.

  • Explore the Gulf Coast on a Four-Day Florida Eco-tour

    combo 2Bradenton -- Locally grown foods prepared by farm-to-table chefs are part of the low-carbon-footprint trips offered by the new ((ecko)), a fascinating and fun enterprise on the Gulf coast of Florida. Experts -- we're talking about scientists, PhDs, folks who make things happen -- take time out from their day jobs to lead portions of each tour. That means novices know what they're looking at and knowledgeable travelers get a more in-depth education. Leave your car in Bradenton and every element will be taken care of for you, including, for camping options, having your tent pitched and your bedding laid out. (Some trips involve hotel stays instead.) Bicycling or kayaking, birding or Indian heritage, always with loads of nature, make this trips worthwhile. Here's the website.  
  • Eat for $35 at Emeril's Tchoup Chop

    Emerils Tchoup Chop logoOrlando -- Emeril's Tchoup Chop is offering a three-course dinner for only $35 nightly from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. You'll have the choice of two appetizers, entrees, and desserts including Kahlua chicken eggrolls, hibachi skirt steak, and tropical sorbet. Details.  
  • Where to Eat on Thanksgiving in Orlando

    Orlando -- Who's roasting the turkey for those not cooking themselves? Here's who.
    Four Seasons Orlando--At the upscale resort, visit the expansive buffet at Ravello, which includes ribeye, snapper, and ham among its dozens of items. $105. You can also take out a Thanksgiving dinner to go from Lickety Split. It's $395 and feeds 10.
    Cuisiniers -- This local caterer is selling full Thanksgiving dinners including turkey, chestnut-butternut squash soup, dressing, and pies. Choose your own menu.
    Park Plaza Gardens -- Three-course dinners will be on the menu at this Winter Park restaurant. Choose a starter such as baked oysters with wild mushroom ragout and garlic aioli, a second course like creamy curry butternutsquash soup with avocado crema, and an entree of Cornish game hen or osso bucco. Reservations
    Forever Florida -- The nature, horseback-riding and zip line park will serve Thanksgiving dinner at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. $24.99/$8.99. Menu. 407.957.9794
    Swine & Sons -- The New Southern take-out shop has two options: Roast It Yourself ($7/pound; in advance) and Let Us Smoke It for You $9/pound; day of). Pork is available too. A Feast Package of four sides for four people is $80.
    Boi Brazil -- The Winter Park and Orlando Brazilian churrascarias will serve its unlimited meats and such for $30 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving day. Reservations
    Airport Hyatt Regency -- Duck and salmon join the citrus-roasted turkey on the buffet table at Hemisphere Steak & Seafood Table. $40/$20
    Fogo de Chão -- This Brazilian steakhouse will go semi-American on Thanksgiving, serving turkey, sweet potato casserole, and sage-apple-sausage dressing in addition to its classic churrascaria offerings. Kids eat for free or half price. Reservations
    Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando -- These theme park-tied hotels offer several options, and $1 from each meal will support Feeding Children Everywhere. Islands Dining Room: Buffet, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. $56/$24. The Kitchen: Buffet, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and 5 p.m.-9 p.m. $58/$20. Trattoria del Porto: Buffet, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. $63/$18. Gather Together Thanksgiving Celebration: Buffet, $76/$26.50.
    The Capital Grille -- Orlando's two branches of this high-end steakhouse chain will serve Thanksgiving dinner "all day." On the menu: turkey with brioche stuffing, French green beans with marcona almonds and cranberry-pear chutney, and mashed potatoes. $36/$15
    Whole Foods -- Bring in a whole dinner or just parts. Order in advance at shop.wfm.com and pick it up the day before. Dinner packages start at $69.99 for four people. (Here are details on my blog.)
    Puff 'n Stuff -- The Orlando-based caterer has package and a la carte options to go. Here's the menu. Prices start at $39.95 per guest.
    Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse -- $52 Thanksgiving dinners at this upscale chain outlet features salad or butternut squash soup, turkey breast with sweet onion apple-sausage stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes or Chateau potatoes, green beans, cranberry relish, and pumpkin cheesecake or pecan pie à la mode.  
  • Cask & Larder to Open at Orlando Airport

    Cask and Larder logoOrlando -- Winter Park restaurant Cask & Larder will bring its New Southern cooking to Orlando International Airport in summer 2016. The owners are teaming up with chef Johnny Rivers, who has airport foodservice experience, to create and run the 390-seat restaurant and take-out shop. Housemade beers, and gin and tonics on tap, will also be served.  
  • Winter Park Distilling Co. Is Expanding

    WDPC Collection smallOrlando -- Winter Park Distilling Company has been producing spirits for awhile, but  could only sell them retail. Now the homegrown business will become a "brewstillery." The building, in the old State Auto body building on 17-92, will include the distillery itself, tours, and a brewery and taproom to be called Bear & Peacock. Expect an early 2016 debut.  
  • Lafayette's Brings Tastes of Memphis to Orlando

    Lafayettes logoOrlando -- Memphis-based Lafeyette's has opened at Pointe Orlando. The restaurant serves Southern fare and features live music frequently. Po' boy sandwiches, and shrimp 'n' grits, are classic menu items.  
  • Guest Chefs to Visit Four Seasons Orlando

    Four Seasons logoOrlando -- Guest chefs are scheduled to host wine dinners at the Four Seasons Resort OrlandoJonathon Sawyer of The Greenhouse Tavern (November 5, $125), the James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour (December 5, $235), and Philllip Foss of EL Ideas (January 16, $195). Reservations: 407.313.6161  
  • Disney Employees Receive 20% Off at Plancha

    Disney Plancha FlyerOrlando -- Cuban-American specialties like chorizo burgers, Cuban sandwiches, and mojitos are on the menu at Plancha, the restaurant at the Orlando Four Seasons' Tranquilo Golf Club. Now Disney World's 65,000 or so "cast members" will receive a 20 percent discount off food and beverage purchases. Details.  
  • Special Request: Burgers from Dexter Cows

    Safari Wildernesss logoLakeland -- Guests at Safari Wilderness can soon snack on Dexter burgers. Indeed, the beef will be from grass-fed "little Irish heritage cattle," according to co-owner Lex Salisbury, who also runs the Giraffe Ranch. The burgers will be sold from a "farm-to-food truck" housed on the Safari Ranch premises. Safari Ranch gives African-like savannah tours of fields filled with African and Asian animals that roam freely.  
  • Nature & Culture Right Near Orlando

    Orlando -- Seminole County, just north of Orlando, has nature reserves, airboat rides, art galleries, and way more. Rona took a media tour and shares her finds in a series of blogs. Highlights include the Geneva Wilderness Area, Danville B&B, and Gallery on FirstRead the blog posts.  
  • Here's Rona's Take on the Publix Cooking School

    ApronsCookingSchoolOrlando -- Rona got to try out Aprons, the new cooking school at a Publix in Orlando's Dr. Phillips neighborhood. Read the blog.  
  • Adriatico Wins a Coveted Seal of Authenticity

    Adriatico logoOrlando -- The quiet Adriatico Trattoria Italiano in College Park is an exceptionally quality-oriented restaurant. Now Ospitalita Italiana, the Italian Chamber of Commerce, has given the eatery its Seal of Quality. Adriatico is the only Central Florida restaurant to have this distinction right now.  
  • Take an Orlando Food Tour

    Orlando Food Tours logo smallOrlando -- Spend a weekend afternoon checking out Winter Park food sources with Orlando Food Tours. Seven people at a time are brought to places like a spice shop, and olive oil store, and a candy counter. We haven't tried it yet, so report back if you beat us to it. $47  
  • Sample Moroccan Tapas at Spice Road Table

    Spice Road smallOrlando -- Small plates of Mediterranean fare invite lingering at Spice Road Table, a civilized indoors-and-out escape at Epcot's Morocco pavilion.  Sip a just-sweet Lillet, a light chilled wine flavored with honey, orange, lime, and mint. Nibble on crazy-flavorful lamb sliders on a brioche with mint-tzatziki sauce, plus rice-stuffed grape leaves, beef skewers with garlic and fresh hrbs, and spicy garlic shrimp. The fried calamari is tender with a terrific flavor. It's served with two sauces: harissa, and caper aioli.  
  • Straight-up Burgers at the Crooked Spoon

    Crooked Spoon logoOrlando -- West of Orlando in the Clermont, The Crooked Spoon is a rather large gastropub. The menu is varied, but zoom in on a hamburger. The Bleu Burger, for instance, is a remarkable patty of Florida Angus beef topped with bleu cheese, roasted garlic aioli, tomato, and mixed greens, served with exceptional homemade potato chips or, for a small upcharge, terrific french fries.  
  • Go Cowboy-Chic at Creek Ranch

    Creek RanchHaines City, Florida -- Not even an hour from Disney World, Creek Ranch is an immersive cowboy-chic experience. You lodge in the actual family bunkhouse of a working ranch -- it is quite upscale, with pampering service -- and dine, fish, ride horses, take airboat trips, and way more, all at one set all-inclusive price. Rona spent an afternoon touring and chatting with the owner and produced this feature article. Read and enjoy.  
  • This Chick Has No Need for Speed

    Exotic Driving 8 Lambo 570Rona drove a Lamborghini around the Daytona International Speedway. Only she forgot one thing: speed. Read her blog.  
  • Orlando's Hot Restaurant Tables

    Orlando -- With nationally recognized chefs and a burgeoning food scene, Orlando is becoming a culinary destination. Read about it.  
  • Orlando, Zagat-Style

    Zagat Orlando 90Orlando -- Learn what fellow locals and visitors think about 360 restaurants 75 nightspots, 152 shops, and 57 attractions in the Zagat Orlando City Guide.  
  • Ready to Wham Your Picky Eaters Upside the Head? Join the Club

    Read Rona's blog, "Picky, Picky".  
  • French Classics Made Easy

    French Classics Made EasyFrench Classics Made Easy is a cookbook that gets you to satisfying Gallic fare without a ton of sacrifice. Author Richard Grausman simplified a load of recipes and takes away the intimidation factor, shrugging that unbleached all-purpose flour is best "but if you have bleached flour, use it" and casually explaining that using a food processor cuts pasta-making time to mere seconds.  I have bookmarked several recipes to try ASAP and I'm sure you will too.