Orlando Food Blogger Marilyn Torres Dishes About Orlando’s Best Fall Flavors
Since 2010, Orlando food blogger Marilyn Torres has been sharing her insights and adventures with the city’s foodies on her inviting and insightful blog Forkful. With the harvest season coming up, we caught up with Marilyn to get her thoughts on how to best enjoy fall’s flavors in Orlando.
What flavors do you associate most with the fall season?
This time of year always reminds me of how tasty butternut squash really is. My mother cuts up nice healthy chunks of it and puts it into a dish with red beans and tomato sauce every year at this time. We pair it with rice. It’s wonderful.
What sort of fall-flavored foods do you look forward to having during this season?
Believe it or not, it’s pumpkin pie. Because I’m Puerto Rican, this wasn’t something I grew up with — rather it was something my other half, Adam, introduced me to. Today, I like to make it with an all-butter crust — definitely one of my favorite fall comfort foods.
Also, this being Florida, I always look forward to Florida stone crab season, which starts on Oct. 15. We have friends that put together this huge cookout each year with enormous crab claws and the cheesiest grits imaginable. It’s a total blast.
Which places in town best satisfy your craving for fall’s flavors?
My top place would be The Chef’s Table at the Edgewater Hotel in Winter Garden. Chef Kevin Tartar and his wife do extremely seasonal menus that always focus on the freshest of flavors. He always throws something out around this time of year that wows you, so I always want to see what he’s up to. I remember one fall Adam and I went there and we had this outstanding chayote dish, very Southern-inspired, in which the squash was roasted in butter, Old Bay, and a red Cajun sauce. It was amazing.
Where else can locals go to get the best fall-inspired flavors?
Orlando is such a melting pot of cultures and people, so I think enjoying fall flavors here is different than in other parts of the country. If someone is looking for a quintessential fall-inspired meal in Orlando, then I suggest they go to Spooky’s Black Cat Café, just east of downtown. Its menu is always filled with locally harvested and locally made ingredients — it’s where I go to get the freshest seasonal food around.
On the flip side, there’s the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival. I know it’s busy and filled with tourists, and not everything served there is seasonal, but it’s the one event that literally screams “fall” to me. The weather is temperate, there’s lots of great food and events — it perfectly captures the spirit of the season for Orlando.