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Carrabba's Italian Grill in Orlando, Florida FoodBuzz Tastemaker Event

Carrabba's Italian Grill has been at the top of restaurants I have wanted to visit for quite some time. As a Featured Published for FoodBuzz.com, I received an invitation to attend a special Tastemaker event at the Carrabba's restaurant at 5701 Vineland Road in Orlando, Florida.

Carrabba's Italian Grill hosted a private party for FoodBuzz Featured Publishers on Saturday, August 14th and we were treated to a food cooking demo and dining experience of a lifetime. The managing partner, Angela Gutierrez, along with Norris Wagner who is the event coordinator for special events, and staff members, Marissa and Joel, were incredibly welcoming and treated us like royalty. My sincere gratitude goes out to the Carrabba's team and the Community Team at FoodBuzz.com.

The Carrabba's / FoodBuzz Tastemaker event began with an overview of Carrabba's, which was founded in 1996 by Johnny Carrabba and his uncle, Damian Mandola. At present, Carrabba's has over 200 restaurants in 33 states. Obviously, they excel in the food service industry to have acquired this many restaurants in less than 15 years.

Everything at Carrabba's is made with the freshest ingredients. Angela Gutierrez and the chefs performed an outstanding cooking demo to show how each dish was prepared from start to finish. The following photos provide insider-insight to the kitchen facilities, food preparation, and the final dishes. You might want to grab a napkin to wipe the dribble from the corners of your mouth, as these entrées were not only pleasing to the eye, but delightful to the palette. Bon Appétit!

Carrabba's Italian Grill has a large selection of wines, Italian and American beers, sparkling water, soft drinks and iced tea. I opted for a glass of Blackberry Sangria to accommodate my authentic Italian meal.

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We were then treated to Carrabba's breaded Calamari served with a side of spicy Italian pepper and lemon butter sauce and a lemon wedge. I've never been a big fan of calamari, but Carrabba's has changed that! Their calamari was perfectly prepared and so tender it melted in your mouth.

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Next, Angela Gutierrez prepared Tag Pic Pag; a vegetarian signature pasta dish consisting of long, paper-thin noodles known as Tagliarini pasta. The delicate pasta is served with Carrabba's Picchi Pacchiu sauce consisting of olive oil, garlic, fresh basil, and crushed tomatoes. It is a light dish with a distinctly sweet flavor. 

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Next, Carrabba's chefs prepared Linguine Pescatore consisting of shrimp, sea scallops, mussels and freshly prepared linguine tossed with spicy marinara sauce. I had only eaten scallops twice and both times they were rubbery and somewhat gritty. Carrabba's knows how to properly prepare scallops and I am eager to try my hand at cooking these delightful treasures from the sea.

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Angela Gutierrez at Orlando's Carrabba's Italian Grill prepares fresh mussels for Linguine Pescatore served to FoodBuzz food bloggers attending Tastemaster Event on Saturday, August 14, 2010.

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Our next delightful Italian dish was Penne Franco. Angela provided us with a special treat by adding grilled chicken to our dish. She explained about the quality of the chicken and how it is shipped fresh, never frozen. Carrabba's also uses special secret spices which make the flavor of this chicken explode in your mouth. It was by far, the most tender and tasty piece of chicken I have ever eaten. 

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In addition to the yummy grilled chicken, Penne Franco is combined with fresh mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and black olives, and served with ricotta salata; a dense sheep milk cheese which can be grated and melts into a slightly salty, milky-flavored delicacy.

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The grand finale of the Carrabba's Italian Grill / FoodBuzz Tastemaker Event consisted of three beautiful mini-desserts presented in square shot glasses. We were treated to Chocolate Pecan Mousse, Deconstructed Cannoli, and Dessert Rosa.

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Our server, Joel, explained the ingredients in each. Below he is discussing Dessert Rosa which consists of a bottom layer of butter cake topped with a layer of strawberries and bananas, a layer of vanilla pudding, and topped with fresh whipped cream and decorated with a strawberry slice. Delightful!

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As you can see in the photo below, the FoodBuzz Featured Publisher food bloggers had a great time and huge smiles on our faces from the exquisite Italian food and impeccable service!

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But, wait! That's not all! Carrabba's Italian Grill also provided each guest with a take-home bag consisting of an entrée of Penne with Fennel Sausage Pomodoro, a wooden bread serving board, bread dipping oil dish, Carrabba's private label olive oil, and containers of fresh herbs and grated cheese.

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Penne with Fennel Sausage Pomodoro with Carrabba's secret sausage recipe, caramelized onions and fennel, topped with fresh ricotta cheese.

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Wooden bread serving board, fresh dipping oil and Carrabba's freshly baked bread.

In closing, if you are a food blogger and would like to participate in Featured Publisher Tastemaker events or take advantage of the numerous opportunities to earn recognition, visit www.FoodBuzz.com to become a member.

If you aren't a food blogger, but love good food and are always on the lookout for unique and interesting recipes, FoodBuzz is the answer to all your food dilemmas. With over 4,000 food bloggers you are practically guaranteed to find something to satisfy your taste buds, sharpen your cooking skills, and impress your friends and family!

Would you like to meet the FoodBuzz bloggers who attended the Carrabba's Italian Grill and FoodBuzz Tastemaker event? Click on the links below to learn more about what each has to offer.

Peter and Christey Krause at http://FotoCuisine.com
Laura at Finding a Healthy Balance - http://FindingAHealthyBalance.wordpress.com
Miranda at My Food and Life Encounters - http://ForTheLoveOfKidsAndFood.blogspot.com
April at Mama Loves Food - www.MamaLovesFood.com
Elaine at Saturday Night Suppers - www.SaturdayNightSuppers.com
Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers – http://PBFingers.com
Katie at Katie's Cucina - http://KatiesCucina.blogspot.com

Disclosure Notice: Foodbuzz, nor Carrabba's Italian Grill required me to write a review. This was a marketing event hosted by Carrabba's for Foodbuzz Featured Publishers. While we did receive free food, drinks, a take-home meal, bread serving board and dipping oil dish, I did not receive monetary compensation or a request to review the restaurant.

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