Dining In The Dark, Lighthouse Central Florida

I’m pretty big on keeping up with food events going on around town, I can’t always make it, but I certainly want to know about it.  It’s pretty amazing what you find when you scratch beyond the surface!  When I stumbled onto the Lighthouse Central Florida Dining in the Dark event I was thrilled.  I had helped execute a Dining in the Dark event a few years ago and was fascinated with it, and envious.

The greatest thing about it and this is what I love, is that all of the proceeds went to charity.   Since 1976, Lighthouse Central Florida has provided education, independent life skills and job training and placement to more than 100,000 people with sight impairment and their families.  Lighthouse Central Florida is the only private, non-profit agency offering a comprehensive range of services for babies, children, adults and seniors in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.

What a great event to be able to participate in!  All of the friends of Lighthouse were so helpful and warm.  Sir Wes could not speak enough about how great Margaret was, who helped him arrange my finicky meal.

Summer Reception

We arrived to a small reception on an oak shaded porch.  A few hors d’oeuvres and a glass of wine eased us into the excitement of the evening.  We mingled with the group of 40 before the Orlando SWAT Team arrived in their full gear.  The host of the evening welcomed us and introduced the swat team and the wonderful chef of the evening, Guy Ferri, from Ocean Prime.  After a quick instructional talk, it was almost time and you could definitely tell the excitement was building!

Self Portrait! We aren't too good at these!

"The Do's and Do Nots"

Orlando SWAT and the Chefs!

The host called us by table numbers and we were led by our Swat Man into the very dark, like cannot see anything dark, dining room.  They guided us around the edge of the table, leaving us to fumble to find our chairs.  I believe Sir Wes and his neighbor tried to share the same seat!  Once we were all sitting comfortably at the table, the swat man told us there were bottles of wine and a pitcher of water on the table, and to help ourselves.  I think it was at that moment that the ice was broken at the table, as we all had to work together to find what we couldn’t see!

We had wonderful time, talking together as a group, laughing and getting to know one another.  I have never been to an event that we were all so quick to open up and go beyond typical small talk.  As the courses were served the room got even louder, you could hear everyone guessing what we were eating!  The first course was Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche with Avocado, Red Onion, Tomato and Spicy Lime Vinaigrette, it was delicious. I think the strangest guess I heard for that course was Gator.  The entrée was a Sage Roasted Farm Chicken with Fingerling Potato and Wild Mushroom Hash.  This was awesome- the airline chicken was moist and came with a handle!  I do believe there were a few guesses of beef or beef stew…maybe it was the pan jus?  Last was a lovely Crème Brule with Marinated Berries and Whipped Cream, a perfect ending and no wrong guesses!!

Great Event, Great Crowd, Great Cause!

Our new friends!

The Crew! Wes couldn't stay away from the "breakdown", catering is in his blood! 🙂

The Dining in the Dark experience was eye opening, to be able to experience what a vision impaired person does, even for just 90 minutes is priceless.  We came to understand, how without one sense, all of the other senses stepped up.  This experience will allow you to be aware of what we take for granted every day, and when we are able to see that, our lives become even more enriched.

The Lighthouse, Chef Guy, Ocean Prime, the Orlando SWAT and all of the other generous sponsors put on a top notch event, enjoyed by all of the guests as well as the volunteers.  It was a fabulous event, a wonderful cause and a pleasure to meet the supporters of the Lighthouse Central Florida!

Thank you Lighthouse!!

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A Morning at the Central Florida Second Harvest Food Bank Farm (@2harvestCFL)

I had a great experience not too long ago, a lot of friends  have asked me about it, so I thought I would share..maybe get a few volunteers motivated for such a great cause.

The Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida (@2harvestCFL) has a farm;  all of the produce goes to the local community at the meal center.  They are able to provide healthy and fresh  offerings in addition to the nonperishable items donated by the community.  At work, we also harvest our leftovers and send it over to the food bank, as well as preparing a monthly dinner service.  It is a great program,  I love getting involved, and I really liked getting dirty 🙂

Punch the clock and get on it boys!

The “Farm Girl”, Kirsten, was great- She was very knowledgeable despite that it has been less than a year of her managing the farm.  That particular morning there was about 7 of us volunteering, a couple of college kids studying Aeronautic Engineering (I really don’t know what they studied, but they interned at Lockheed Martin) and  a mother and her high school son, all of these guys were doing it as part of their school volunteerism.  There was also a gentleman there, who also worked for Lockheed Martin, I told the college guys, how fortunate for them to  show up today the same day as a senior leader.

We were tasked with an important job in all farms, I anticipated it being like in the movies, but actually it turned out to be the same as what Sir Wes tries to makes me do …weeding..

Doesn't look like much, I thought.. my back thought different the next day!

For the first hour, we quietly weeded the rows of squash, exchanging some small talk now and then.  Making our way down the row, someone asked about the squash blossoms, which perked me right up.  I asked a few questions which led Kirsten to ask if I was a foodie, professionally I told her.  The senior engineer was particularly interested in dehydrating, after I told him about a boyfriend that had rode his bike from Seattle to Poinciana, with me sending him boxes of supplies including a week’s worth of dehydrated meals.  Anyways…we had a great time, weeding, chit chatting, I think the best was when one of the college boys asked me (his first language was not english), “Do I say, I picked weeds or weed this weekend?”  I quickly told him, it was weeds, and please don’t tell everyone you were at the Second Harvest Food Bank Farm, picking Weed…LOL.

We did take a break; Kirsten should us around the farm, and told us a lot about agriculture, which led to a Q & A for the last hour or so.  She had a lot to tell us, leaving me wanting more.  Overall it was a great experience; I am looking forward to going back, and arranging some “field trips” at work.  Helping out and giving back  always feels good, but when you walk away having learned something…even better.

Fresh Organic Eggs..

No weeds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sweet Vidalia's