Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival Review 2018

Friday, March 23, 2018
Food, Wine, Concerts, exciting rides and animals can only mean one thing. Busch Garden's Food and Wine Festival is back! On the weekends through April 29,you can take advantage to see some of the biggest acts in musical entertainment while enjoying delicious food, craft brews, a large selection of wine and cocktails!
The best part about it, your admission covers concerts and this is a valid event with any annual pass, fun card or daily admission. A few weeks ago, Gabe and I had the opportunity to check out this years Food and Wine Festival. Busch Garden's festival gets better year after year. I was very impressed with this years selection of food and drink. They had quite a few options for dietary restrictions which was great to see. We had a fantastic time and hope to get back again this year.
I strongly suggest getting one of the food samplers if you go. You can use these to select any food or drink at the festival. It's much easier than pulling out a credit card or cash at each food cabin and you have a choice between a variety of levels. If there is a concert you want to sea, one of the VIP Concert Seating options is the way to go!
5 item sampler: $29.99
10 item sampler: $39.99
12 item sampler: $59.99
VIP Concert Seating level 1 + 5 item sampler: $44.99
VIP Concert Seating level 2 + 5 item sampler: $34.99

Duck Fat Truffle Fries
Pupusas with Curdito & Grilled Shrimp
Smoked Trout, Watermelon Radish Charred Herbs Vinaigrette (GF)
Duck Fat Truffle Fries with Parmesan Truffle Aioli (GF)
Wine: Fleur De Mer, Rose
Beer: Founders Brewing Co., All Day IPA 4.7% ABV, IBU 42

Orange Fanta Whoopie Pie
Orange Fanta Whoopie Pie (VEG)
Pulled Pork Slider with Cherry Coke BBQ Sauce
Baked Brie with Strawberry Fanta Coulis (VEG)
Wine: William Hill Estate Winery, Pinot Noir
Beer: Pair O' Dice Brewing Co., Lucky Lucy Strawberry Blonde 5.5% ABV, IBU 15


Minute Maid Apple Glazed Pork Belly
Boiled Peanut Hummus with Coke® Drizzle (V)
Minute Maid Apple Glazed Pork Belly with Kimchee Slaw
Coke® Infused Chocolate Cupcake Topped with Pop Rocks (VEG)
Wine: Michael David Winery, Freakshow Red Blend
Beer: Tampa Bay Brewing Co., Reef Donkey APA 5.5% ABV, IBU 36

Grilled Lamb Chops
Char Sui Duck Steam Bun
Habanero-Infused Baklava with Fresh Pomegranate (V)
Grilled Lamb Chops with Tabouleh & Tzatziki (GF)
Wine: Josh Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon Craftsman 14
Beer: Motorworks Brewing, Intellectual Property Ale IPA 6.9% ABV, IBU 85
Frozen Cocktails: Mojito, Red Sangria

Beef Brisket on Spiced Corn Waffle
Mango Shrimp Ceviche with Sweet and Spicy Marinade (GF)
Beef Brisket on a Spiced Corn Waffle with Amberbock BBQ Sauce
Griddled Cheese Cake Sandwich with Raspberry Drizzle (VEG)
Wine: Trapiche, Oak Cask Malbec
Beer: New Belgium, Fat Tire Belgium White Ale 5.2% ABV IBU

Fried Frog Legs - Photo Rights: Busch Gardens
Guava Empanada (VEG)
Shrimp Po Boy
Fried Frog Legs with Bacon Corn Fritters & Cajun Remoulade
Wine: Pacific Rim, Riesling "J"
Beer: Motorworks Brewing, Pulp Friction Grapefruit IPA 6.3% ABV, IBU 85

Gochujang Ribs - Photo Rights: Busch Gardens
Short Rib & Brie Grilled Cheese on House-Made Brioche
Salmon Cake with Lemon Aioli
Gochujang Ribs in Korean BBQ Sauce
Wine: Lobetia, Rose
Beer Funky Buddha Brewery, Pineapple Beach Blonde 5% ABV, 20 IBU

Cauliflower Cake
Cauliflower Cake with Sriracha Aioli (V)
Pan-Seared Steak with Chimichurri & Roasted Poblano Hash (GF)
Flourless Chocolate Torte with Raspberry Sauce (VEG) Wine: SAVED, Red Blend
Beer: Swamp Head Brewery, Wild Night Honey Cream Ale 5% ABV, IBU 21
Frozen Cocktails: Blue Lemonade, Watermelon Frosé

Bananas Foster Panna Cotta - Photo Rights: Busch Gardens
Venison Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes, Fresh English Peas, and Blackberry Demi-Glace
Bison Slider on a Poppy Seed Roll with Bacon and Sriracha Ketchup
Bananas Foster Panna Cotta with Caramel Popcorn
Wine: Alexander Valley, Merlot
Beer: Founders Brewing Co., Solid Gold Lager 4.4% ABV, IBU 20
Frozen Cocktails: Blue Lemonade, Watermelon Frosé

Tostones Rellenos - Photo Rights: Busch Gardens
Tostones Rellenos de Pollo Fried Plantain Cups filled with Stewed Chicken
Cabernet Wine-Filled Chocolate Truffles (GF, V, VEG)
Bacon Mac & Cheese
Wine: Terrazas de los Andes, Malbec
Beer: 3 Daughters Brewing, Beach Blonde Ale 5% ABV, IBU 24

Antipasti - Photo Rights: Busch Gardens
Antipasti of Roasted Tomatoes, Artesian Meats, Cheeses & Olives (GF)
Mushroom Vol-Au-Vent Medley of Mushrooms in a Flakey Pastry (VEG)
Lobster Tart with Leeks & Swiss Cheese
Wine: Rutherford Ranch, Sauvignon Blanc
Beer: Rekorderlig, Strawberry-Lime Cider 4.5% ABV

Short Rib Taco - Photo Rights: Busch Gardens
Duck Taco with Sweet Chili Sauce, Slow Roasted, Asian Sweet Chili Sauce on a Corn Tortilla
Short Rib Taco Tender Beef with a BBQ Demi Glaze & Onion Straws on a Corn Tortilla (GF)
Portobello Mushroom Taco Balsamic Vinegar Roasted Portobello Mushrooms Paired with Corn on a Corn Tortilla (GF, V, VEG)
Wine: J. Lohr, Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon
Beer: Goose Island Beer Co., Goose Island IPA 5.9% ABV, 55 IBU
Frozen Cocktails: Mojito, Red Sangria

Tuna Poke - Photo Rights: Busch Gardens
Truffle Seafood Mac & Cheese, Shrimp, Scallops, & Cod in a Creamy Swiss Cheese Sauce Scented with White Truffle
Tuna Poke, Hawaiian Seasoned Tuna
Wine: Murphy Goode, Sauvignon Blanc
Beer: Brew Bus Brewing, You're My Boy Blueberry Wheat 6% ABV, IBU 12


Here is the lineup of concerts at the Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival. You can purchase a VIP seating upgrade (as mentioned above), which will get you prime seats and 5 treats from the festival. There is literally something for everyone at this years festival! There are quite a few concerts from this years festival I would love to see.
March 3rd: Sister Hazel and Edwin McCain 5:30pm
March 4th: Group Niche 6pm
March 10th: The Fray 7pm
March 11th: Southern Uprising - Travis Tritt, The Charlie Daniels Band, The Marshall Tucker Band 3pm
March 17th: Olga Tanon 7pm
March 18th: Goo Goo Dolls 6pm
March 24th: Better than Ezra & Tonic 5:30pm
March 25th: Michael Bolton 6pm
March 31st: Boyz II Men 7pm
April 1st: Natalie Grant 6pm
April 7th: Hank Williams Jr 7pm
April 8th: TLC 6pm
April 14th: Bret Michaels 7pm
April 15th: Kool & The Gang and The Commodores 5:30pm
April 21st: The All-American Rejects 7pm
April 22nd: Cole Swindell 6pm
April 28th: Flo Rida 7pm
April 29th: Kaleo & Bleachers 5:30pm

Special thanks to Busch Gardens for hosting us at the VIP media preview. I was not required to write a post, as always all opinions are my own. 

My First DNS - why I didn't run First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon

I had a dream weekend planned in Sarasota. My husband Gabe and I were going to run our fourth First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon Relay and we decided to make a lux weekend out of it by splurging my Marriott Rewards on a stay at the Ritz Carlton Sarasota. Things did not go as I imagined......

Let's take you back to Friday night. My husband Gabe and I decided to do a date night at one of our favorite restaurants near our house. It's an Italian restaurant that has a live piano player, wood fired pizzas and wine on tap. Pizza and wine was exactly what I needed after my week, and it was delicious. When we got home later that night, I didn't feel 100% myself. I went to bed and woke up around 2am with pain I had never experienced before. I felt like a fire was lit inside of me. Apparently, I was experiencing my first ever acid reflux attack.

After a horrible night of sleep, we woke up and got a later than planned start to Sarasota. I felt really odd - I had no appetite and didn't want to do anything but lay around. We had to get to Fit2Run for packet pickup by 3pm and I wanted to get over to our hotel so we could enjoy the amenities.
While at Fit2Run I could feel my patience slipping away for no reason. Imagine PMS x 100. Everything was annoying me and I needed to get out of there. When we got to the Ritz, we were welcomed with champagne and learned we had been upgraded to a waterfront suite. That made my crankiness go away instantly! I took one sip of the champagne but it hurt to drink.

After going up to our room and picking our jaws off the ground, we decided to head down to the pool, which was pretty crowded at 3:30. Once again, everything was annoying me. From people taking fake instagram posed shots to kids splashing us, there was nothing I could do but put my headphones on and read a book, escaping from paradise. If I was in a better mood, I would have gone fishing off their pier! The amenities and activities at Ritz Carlton were pretty amazing.

We had plans that night to go to dinner at a restaurant called Indigenous that we were really looking forward to. Although I really had nothing to eat all day, I was not hungry. I also didn't want to drink, which is very odd for me! After taking literally 3 bites of my dinner, I asked for a to go box. I did not feel good. I felt full which was impossible and I had really bad pains in my abdomen. So we decided to walk over to Walgreens and get me some medicine. The only thing I wanted to do was go back to the hotel and take a bath.
After getting back to the Ritz, I tried my hardest not to be sad. Here we were in this gorgeous hotel, in walking distance to many places. We bought a bottle of Cakebread Chardonnay to drink on the balcony and I had no interest in that (it sat in an ice bucket in the bathroom instead). Rather than enjoying my night, I was laying in bed, trying not to cry or vomit. Well, both those things happened shortly after. Around midnight, I was woken up once again, with that same incredible burning sensation. I felt like a fire breathing dragon. I was able to go back to sleep only to be woken up again, about every 20-30 minutes. Around 2am, I vomited not once, but twice. Sitting on the floor of my hotel, I lost it. I knew right then and there that I would likely not be running in a few hours.
I've pushed through so many things with running. I ran the NYC Marathon with a sprained ankle (I sprained it at mile 4 and completed 22.2 miles injured). I completed the Dopey Challenge with a severe cellulitis infection (unknown to me at the time). I've ran hurt, I've ran sick. However, I mentally couldn't accept that I had to run half of a half marathon relay. I only had to complete 6.2 miles! Those 6.2 miles seemed like an Ultra Marathon and it was time (for once) to listen to my body.
My outfit that wasn't worn:
Shirt: Buy Me Brunch, Tequila & Tan lines

I got the 5:45am wake-up call and told Gabe I wasn't going to run. I was drenched head to toe in sweat, fairly certain I had a fever. My throat hurt and the room was spinning. We slept until 10am. The first thing I did when I woke up was to check on my friends who ran the race (Tracy, Haley & Denise). Bummed I didn't get to see them at the race, let alone cheer them on, or cross the finish line with my husband really put a damper on my weekend.

I went to the Dr. on Tuesday and I was put on medication immediately. Whatever is going on is not normal and here begins the testing until we figure it out. First step is food allergy testing. If nothing shows up there, I have to go get a camera shoved down my throat. No fun.
photo from Eat Drink and Be Tracy
Although I didn't get to run the First Watch Half Marathon (relay) this year, I know I made the right decision. There will always be other races and I will be back next year in Sarasota with a vengeance. Be sure to check out Tracy's recap of her First Watch Half Marathon experience. She has ran 7 half marathons in the past 5 months and is training for her first full!!

Fueling Tips and a First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon Giveaway

Tuesday, March 13, 2018
My friends at First Watch have provided me with amazingly delicious fueling tips for running and training to share with my readers! I suddenly have the urge for Avocado Toast and a Mimosa fresh squeezed fruit juice. My favorite breakfast restaurant happens to be the sponsor for this weekends First Watch Half Marathon in Sarasota. Along with the fueling tips below, they are also giving away an entry to First Watch Half Marathon, winners choice of a 10K or Half Marathon! Click here to enter the giveaway through Instagram. You can also still register for the First Watch Half Marathon, click here to run one of our favorite races in Florida.

You’ve heard the saying before – Food is Fuel. For everyone, fueling your body daily with nutritious and delicious meals is important. For a runner, it’s even more vital to fuel up for your training runs and leading up to a big race with foods that will give you the energy and nutrients you need to achieve your goals, keep a clear mind and take care of your hardworking body!

We wanted to share a few tips to help you prepare for this year’s First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon.

Eat more! – As you’re powering through those longer runs and getting closer to race day, this one is important. While you’re training for a longer race, your body is likely burning many more calories than it was before. You need to replace these calories with nutrients that will help you run your best race. So what should you eat?
Eat carbs – Your body breaks these down to make glucose, which is burned to provide jet fuel for your muscles. Try our whole grain artisan toast – topped with some almond butter and Maldon Sea Salt!
Eat fats – Body fat is an important energy source for endurance exercise like running, and dietary fat helps your body absorb vitamins. The best source of healthy fats? Dark meat, coconut oil, seeds, avocado and fish. Try our Avocado Toast for some tasty polyunsaturated fats. Yum!
Eat protein – Protein is a muscle builder, and for runners, it’s vital to re-build, re-shape and re-condition your muscles as you train. At First Watch, try our Farm Stand Breakfast Tacos, full of great proteins like eggs, chicken and chorizo and served with a size of black beans.

Eat fruits and veggies – It’s great when we can get our vitamins in a natural way, and fruits and veggies are the best way to do that! They also have anti-inflammatory benefits, which is an added bonus. Try our Sunrise Granola Bowl, or our Superfood Kale Salad!

And most importantly, don’t forget to reward yourself for all the hard work and training hours you’ve put in! We’ll be waiting for you at the finish line with cold water, high fives, fresh fruit, Sunrise Cocktails with our housemade granola, and (drumroll please…) multigrain pancakes fresh off the griddle!

We wish you the best of luck during your last few weeks of training, and we can’t wait to serve you on race day. Happy running!

-Your friends at First Watch

2018 runDisney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Last Sunday, my best friend and I participated in the 2018 Disney Princess Half Marathon. This was a special weekend for both of us, as we celebrated milestones together. In 2012, Keri ran her first Half Marathon and I ran my first 5K during Princess Half Marathon Weekend. I spectated Keri's first half and at that moment, I decided to start my blog and journal my running. Needless to say, if it weren't for that magical weekend in 2012, this blog would not exist.
We made this a girls race weekend and spent time at the parks on Friday and Saturday. While I always tell people to be cautious and not overdo time at a park prior to a run, I didn't take my own advice. We ended up walking over 10 miles on Friday and 8 miles on Saturday. Oops. We had fun though!

I had such a hard time sleeping the night of the race, more than the normal "did I set the alarm clock" anxiety. When the alarm clock went off at 3:15am, I had already been awake for 30 minutes. Something I haven't talked at all about on this blog is that I went vegetarian the month of February. Well, the night before the race, I ate Bolognese Pappardelle. To say I wasn't 100% prior to the race is an understatement. I vomited more than once prior to starting the race and felt so sick - dizzy, heart racing, etc. I honestly thought there was no way I would make it to the start, let alone finish 13.1 miles.
We got to Epcot and started making our mile long walk to the start line. The crowd was so dense and multiple people around me were saying the same thing. We hadn't even made it to the split of the corals when the gun went off for the wheel chairs. I knew right then and there we wouldn't make it to Corral D in time for our start. We were pushed to the very back of Coral E. This was 100% our fault for not being in the Corals at 5:00am like race instructions state, but there were quite a few volunteers let us walk up to D, only to be turned around. It was a cluster.
We finally crossed the start line, decided to do the Galloway 1 minute run, 1 minute walk and not stop for any photos prior to getting inside of Magic Kingdom (with the exception of the entrance of the TTC). I will say, knowing now what the rest of the race would be like, I 110% regret not waiting in the very long line for the Evil Queen and her Cauldron.
Our pace time was much slower than we should have been at, even with maintaining a steady 1:1. We ended up falling in with a 30:30 Galloway group around mile 4. Due to how packed the race was, staying with them made it a lot easier to get through the crowd.
The course has changed a little since we last ran Princess. Being the 2017 WDW Half was cancelled, I realized it had been over 2 years since we last ran this course. We had to make a quick stop to take a photo with Bay Lake sunrise behind us. We quickly caught back up with our new pace group and ran through the entrance of Magic Kingdom. I truly loved this change to the course!
After running through Main Street, we stopped for a few castle photos and at that time got separated from the pace group, which was fine as we planned on taking some photos inside of Magic Kingdom.
I spotted a long line near Gaston's Tavern. I noticed Gaston right away (I mean, how could you not), then I saw Belle. I told Keri we had to stop. We were told the line was about 15-20 minutes but knowing how rare this photo opp was, I really wanted to take advantage of it.
Do I regret waiting in line 20 minutes for that photo? Yes and no.... I will get into that later. We got to the back of Cinderella's Castle to see the Evil Stepmother and Stepsisters. The line wasn't too long so we stopped.
Then we ran through Cinderella's Castle and waited in line another 5 minutes for the Castle Photo. This is the epic runDisney race photo of all race photos.
We stopped for one last photo inside of Magic Kingdom which was for Cowboy Goofy. This was around mile 7 and I already knew we were looking at a 3+ hour Half Marathon. We decided not to take any additional photos until we got inside Epcot. What we weren't expecting is to be forced to walk for nearly 2 miles.
That 2 mile walk is the only reason I regret waiting in line for the photos at Magic Kingdom. For those familiar with the course, miles 6-8 were far narrower than I ever remember and there was zero chance at running during the majority of this time. Once the course widened, we had already been walking for those 2 miles and it was difficult getting back into it. We decided to do the 30:30 the rest of the course but almost everyone was walking and at times, doing such a short interval was impossible.
Did I mention how hot it was? I am talking nearly 90 degrees with near 100% humidity. It's February!! By the time we got into Epcot, I was beyond overheated and didn't realize how red my face was until my Mom responded to this photo.
I love Epcot - it is my happiest place on earth. However, I cannot remember the last time I was so happy to see the Epcot Ball.
I was mentally and physically over the day and wanted to take a nap, drink a glass of champagne, take a shower and drink a margarita....in that order.
We finally got through and saw mile 13. I was so happy to see that finish line.

A few thoughts after the race.....


#1 The Crowds: Why was it so crowded? I have ran MANY runDisnsey races and never experienced anything like this before. There weren't additional runners.... so odd.

#2 SO HOT: I am not looking forward to this summer in FL.

#3 Long Distance Running: At this point, I think I am done running anything longer than a 15K. This may change....I've said this before.

#4 Judgmental Friends: I am not going to call anyone out, and can write an entire post (or two) on this.....but when did running turn into a judgmental sport and when did friends become our judges? It doesn't matter how long it takes someone to finish a race. They are out there for their own reasons and if that reason is to take it easy and enjoy the experience at Disney, you should still support them. Running is personal and it is not a platform to make fun of others because they are slower than you.

First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon - New distance, Updated Course and a Giveaway

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
One of our favorite races in Florida is taking place in less than four weeks - the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon and Relay. We ran this race for the first time in 2013 and this year will mark our 4th time running this beautiful and fun race.

There is a new distance to the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon - a 10K! 
There is a new, dedicated 10K course route to this year’s race. The 10K runners will start with the rest of the field and follow the course up and over the John Ringling Bridge, around St. Armand’s Circle and then back to the start/finish line. Registration for the 10K, with special pricing to the first registrants is now open at www.sarasotahalfmarathon.com.
Special 10K Pricing
$50 – first 150 registrants
$60 – 151-250
$65 – 251-350
$70 – 351-1500
We love the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon for many reasons. It is super runner friendly and the course is amazing. You start off running over the John Ringling Causeway then through St Armands Circle and loop back over the Ringling Causeway. During this time, the sun rises and you find yourself with the most amazing scenery Florida has to offer.
The First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon medals are the largest half marathon medals in the state of Florida. They are GIANT.
Check out the size of last years medal if you don't believe me!
The course support is one of the best I have seen, with aid stations every mile/mile and a half with water, Gatorade Endurance and restrooms. Runners get FREE photos, which is amazing - thanks to Athlinks (which also has an amazing real time gps runner tracker app).

There is on course entertainment throughout the 13.1 miles including live music, dj’s and more. Let's talk about the after party, which is sponsored by First Watch. This is the best post race breakfasts and finisher parties I have been to. Bacon, pancakes, fruit....and beer. Only thing that would make it better is mimosas (hint hint).


I am giving away an entry to either the Half Marathon or a two person relay. Click here to enter on Instagram. I hope to see you there!

Register for the First Watch Half Marathon and Relay here
Follow the First Watch Half Marathon and Relay for updates!
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