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.
Andrea discovered her talent for baking when she was still a young child. While she was serving up cakes for family gatherings, she dreamed of one day owning her own bakery. Andrea’s father had the idea to start a cheesecake business, and seeing her natural talent, encouraged her to join him. After experimenting with more than 40 mixtures, she found just the right combination and founded Andrea Quality Cheesecake.
For nearly 30 years since then, chef Andrea has enticed sweet-toothed citizens into her pink-trimmed bakery with more than 20 varieties of freshly baked cheesecake. The confectionary savant selects all-natural, preservative-free fillings for residency in graham-cracker crusts, and blends in sugary morsels such as Oreos, fresh fruit and splashes of Kahlua. In addition to classic cakes, Andrea showcases the versatility of cheese beyond its use in luring astronauts to the moon with cheesecake milk shakes, fried cheesecake à la mode, and multitiered wedding cheesecakes.
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.
From behind a frozen granite slab, the staff of Cold Stone Creamery uses twin spatulas to blend custom servings of ice cream and creative mix-ins to fit customers’ exact specifications. Founded by Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone began under the hot Arizona sun, eventually spreading its frosty fingers to encompass more than 1,400 locations worldwide. Despite the size of the company, each location’s staff keeps up the handcrafted quality, making ice cream onsite every day and using those signature spatulas to create delicious pointillist art against the freezer wall.