Carrabba’s Italian Grill ~ FoodBuzz Tastemaker Event
I have been to Carrabba’s Italian Grill several times over the past few years and have never been disappointed. In fact, it is my favorite Italian Restaurant these days. As a Featured Published for FoodBuzz.com, I received an invitation to attend a Tastemaker event at the Carrabba’s restaurant located at 5701 Vineland Road in Orlando, Florida from 12pm to 2pm this past Saturday, August 14th.
This was SUPER EXCITING for me as it was my 1st official “blogger” event! =)
Angela Gutierrez, a managing partner/chef of Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Norris Wagner who coordinated the event Foodbuzz hosted the private party for us fellow local FoodBuzz Featured Publishers and Food Bloggers in which we were treated to a full presentation on how they prepare several of their signature dishes as well as giving us an amazing dinning experience.
We were taken care of by two wonderful staff members named, Marissa and Joel, who were very welcoming and treated us like stars. I have never had such an amazing dinning experience and am truly grateful to the entire Carrabba’s team as well as the Foodbuzz for inviting me to such an amazing event.
The event began with a warm welcoming and quick seating in front of their dinning room that featured a full view of their kitchen as you can see below.
Angela Guiterrez than gave us a quick overview of Carrabba’s, which was founded in 1996 by Johnny Carrabba and his uncle, Damian Mandola. Currently, Carrabba’s has over 200 restaurants in 33 states.
Carrabba’s prides themselves in using the freshest ingredients in all their dishes. They also have a huge selection of wines, Italian and American beers, sparkling water, soft drinks and iced tea.
First, I ordered an unsweetened iced tea as I was extremely thirsty after my 9 Mile Run earlier that morning, however after I saw several others, including my best friend, Amy, who attended the event with me order a Raspberry Sangria I quickly followed suit.
While the above two were being delivered to our table, Angela and her amazing chefs served up an amazing “Antipasti” dish…..Calamari that was served with marinara sauce and a lemon wedge. Now, I have to admit, I have NEVER tried Calamari as it just did not appeal to me, but after trying theirs I can honestly say that I like it and highly recommend it.
Before I even finished nibbling on my Calamari the next dish was being presented to us. This time a “Signature Pasta” dish named Tag Pic Pac which was Tagliarini in their Picchi Pacchiu sauce with crushed tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and basil.
I loved this dish! Very light and sweet. Perfect vegetarian dish and great if you want some pasta but don’t want to fill too full after eating it.
While, I was chowing down on the Tag Pic Pac…….the Carrabba’s chefs prepared Linguine Pescatore that contained shrimp, sea scallops, mussels and was prepared with tossed linguine in a spicy marinara sauce.
Another, first for me as I had never had scallops. I enjoyed them. Also, I am not a big fan of mussels but they paired very well with the spicy marinara sauce and of course I loved the shrimp. Everything went very well with the cheese on top as well, though I have heard fish & cheese is not supposed to go together I liked it.
Our last ”Signature Pasta” dish was Penne Franco in which Angela graciously provided us with an addition of grilled chicken that is of good quality and always shipped fresh, never frozen.
Mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and black olives with ricotta salata completed this dish.
The chicken was not only flavorful it was very fresh tasting, not rubbery like many pasta chicken dishes I have experienced in the past. I loved the mushrooms but was not a big fan of the artichokes, which I like stemmed but not this way.
To complete our amazing trio of dishes we were served three mini-desserts that were presented in the perfect size serving dish, square shot glasses.
We had the pleasure of sampling Deconstructed Cannoli, Chocolate Pecan Mousse and Dessert Rosa. The Dessert Rosa was my favorite! As it was light and sweet, plus it contained fruit. The other two were good but a bit to sweet and dense for my liking.
Our server, Joel, posed with my favorite! =)
I also snuck a quite shot of our other server, Marissa, while she was clearing off our table. She was trying to hide from the cameras but I didn’t want to miss mentioning her as she was an excellent server.
Of course I do not want to forget about mentioning all the fellow FoodBuzz Featured Publishers and food bloggers that shared this amazing event with us…………..
If you are interested in viewing any of the fellow FoodBuzz bloggers who attended the Carrabba’s Italian Grill and FoodBuzz Tastemaker event please check out their blogs below:
- Miranda @ http://ForTheLoveOfKidsAndFood.blogspot.com
- Raya @ www.RayaRuns.com
- April @ www.MamaLovesFood.com
- Elaine @www.SaturdayNightSuppers.com
- Julie @www.PBFingers.com
- Katie @ http://KatiesCucina.blogspot.com
And, let’s not forget the two amazing couples that my best friend and I shared a table with at the event………
We had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know both Peter & Christey and Kathy & her husband during the event. You can visit their amazing blogs at:
Kathy has had her own food blog for over 4 years and coined the phrase “The Cheap Gourmet”. I look forward to reading several of her past posts as well as enjoying the new ones to come.
Peter & Christey are such a cute couple. Peter is a French Chef and Christey is a Professional Photographer as you can see on their amazingly beautiful blog. They have 4 kids of varying ages and try to keep food fun & healthy for all, I just love that. =)
And, I thought it was super cool how they had their own business cards for their blogs.
The event was SO FUN that I did not want to leave but all good things must come to an end eventually so we eventually made our way to the exit and to our surprise we found a huge bag full of things for us……….
Carrabba’s provided us each with a take-home bag that contained a full entrée of Penne with Fennel Sausage Pomodoro, Carrabba’s private label olive oil, and containers of fresh herbs and grated cheese.
This is a Carrabba’s secret sausage recipe that is mixed with caramelized onions and fennel, topped with fresh ricotta cheese.
And, don’t forget the bread…….LOVE!
And, Carrabba’s olive oil and seasonings to go with it.
PLUS, they gave us a Carrabba’s wooden bread serving board and olive oil dish! Took me a little bit but I found the perfect place for both in my kitchen.
And, last but certainly NOT least let’s not forget my best friend, Amy, who attended the event with me! We were fortunate enough to have the hostess take a few pictures of us before leaving……….
Amy, has been my best friend since highschool! We met in the 10th grade when we both were 16 years old and have been friends ever since. Both of us love to talk and are huge foodies so I knew she would love this event. I am saddened that she will be moving north in the near future, however I know she is heading for a new adventure and I wish her all the best. At least I can take solce in the fact that our relationship is mainly via phone & internet as it is due to our crazy schedules so that will not change, plus she will be down visiting her family & other friends often so I know I will see her……..probably as much as I do now in fact! =) BUT, I WILL STILL MISS HER! =(