In the outdoor mall, tables and stages stand in a ring under the open sky or beneath white tents. People drift around the circle, clutching cocktails in plastic cups and eye-catching Vietnamese sandwiches on their paper plates as they spy more must-grab food-and-drink samples from the area's best hotels. Though it started 26 years ago, Bacchus Bash hasn't drifted from its original aim to let the populace revel in the offerings of local hospitality establishments while funding high-school and university students studying in the industry. Since its inception, the festival has grown from 20 vendor booths with one entertainment stage to encompass 100 booths helmed by upscale local restaurants and bars alongside six entertainment stages.
Among the must-experience flavors of the fest is the tongue-wilting bananas foster by Chef Jean Louis of the Royal Plaza Hotel, which has won Best Dessert at the fest for the past 10 years. Other restaurants' teams showcase flavors such as American and Vietnamese barbecue, which are up for fest awards such as Best Original Drink and Most Interactive Booth. Live music from talents that include local barefoot folk singer Alan Byrd and country-western rock quintet Think Big streams from the entertainment stages, as well as the dueling ivories of two pianists from Howl at the Moon. The organizing party, Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Foundation, further immerses guests in its services with a travel, tourism, and dining silent auction, offering up more than 200 prizes to further raise funds for its students.
Touting more than 80 flavors of low-calorie, flavor-packed frozen yogurt, Tutti Frutti earned a feature on CNBC and has continued to expand since opening its first shop in 2007. Inside each store, self-service yogurt machines unleash velvety-soft yogurt into accommodating cups or empty purses. Their constantly rotating flavors include royal red velvet, pomegranate, or choco-peanut-butter. Most flavors fall within the range of 20–25 calories per ounce, with dairy-free options and no-sugar-added concoctions also available. A toppings bar allows eaters to further customize yogurt creations with a spoonful of fresh fruits or a sprinkling of nuts. Their flavors contain ample amounts of probiotics, known for potential health benefits that may include strengthening immune systems and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Organic probiotic yogurt for dogs is available in four flavors. In addition, Tutti Frutti offers a selection of soy-based yogurts as a non-dairy choice for vegans and partners with Nutrition & Education International to donate 10% of soy-product proceeds to help fight hunger in Afghanistan.
Gwen Willhite founded Cookies by Design in 1983, when an unsatisfying brainstorming session about gift ideas led her to ponder one question: why should flowers and sweets remain separate? Her solution was to design the cookie bouquet, where custom, hand-decorated cookies are displayed on sticks and arranged like flowers in gift baskets. Her invention quickly became a popular gift among locals, particularly those allergic to real blooms or too bashful to look at naked cookies.
Twenty-five years later, there are more than 200 Cookies by Design locations across the country. Each shop's team of bakers creates cookie baskets with a degree of care that matches Willhite's original vision, decorating and arranging sweet shapes for birthdays, holidays, and any other special occasion.
An ever-changing assortment of 18 frozen-yogurt flavors fills the dispensers that line Delish Frozen Yogurt’s bright-fuchsia walls, allowing guests to customize their own fruity, creamy, or tart treats from a full menu of options. Yogurts come in sugar-free, fat-free, and sorbet options, helping even those with dietary restrictions enjoy frozen treats other than sticking one’s head in the freezer during a heat wave. The topping bar holds more than 50 options, including at least seven fresh-fruit choices, a variety of sauces, and favorite candies.
One of the largest locally owned gourmet coffee and tea shops in the U.S., Barnie's offers more than 50 different gourmet coffees with 15 delectable flavors. Barnie's typically brews four different fresh coffees each day, and a ballroom of smoothies and lattes waltzes alongside mochas, espressos, and cappuccinos. Sit and sip a freshly brewed cup ($1.59+) or begin hoarding bags of pre-ground or whole-bean specialties such as Santa's White Christmas ($9.49/12 oz.)—a combination of Barnie's blended coffee with hints of coconut, sweet caramel, and vanilla guaranteed to keep you alert during the season when homes are most vulnerable to invasion by diabolically generous bearded elves. Recently unfrozen British cavemen can warm up with signature teas such as organic raspberry truffle and white-ginger peach, while all others can hose down tongue gardens with summer specials such as the Barnie Palmer ($2.29–$2.59), a blend of strawberry iced tea and mango lemonade.