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Grenada Embassy to Celebrate Grenada’s 46th Independence Day at Historic Hall of the Americas

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While the Embassy of Grenada celebrates in Washington, Grenadians flood the Grenada National Stadium every year for Grenada’s Independence Parade. Photo: Grenada National Stadium Authority.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (FNN NEWS) – The Embassy of Grenada will ring in Grenada’s 46th Independence Day at the historic Hall of the Americas in partnership with the Organization of American States (OAS) February 7, 2020 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Special guests include Grenada Ambassador to the U.S., Her Excellency Yolande Smith, who will deliver the night’s keynote, the Diplomatic Corps, and Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr. the Right Honorable Keith Mitchell, who will deliver a video address to the Grenadian Diaspora. This year’s theme: Preparing for the Future Through Empowerment, Growth, and Long-Term Sustainable Development.

Source: Embassy of Grenada.

Source: Embassy of Grenada.

Ambassador Smith told Florida National News in a recent phone interview that this reception helps the National and Friends of Grenada, the Embassy’s network for the Grenadian Diaspora and supporters, living in the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area join the island nation in celebrating its independence. Some 150-200 guests are expected to attend.

The reception will feature live local entertainment and update attendees on what’s happening in Grenada and on investment opportunities both there and in U.S. “It’s going to be a packed two hours,” Ambassador Smith remarked with a laugh.

This is just the first of three Grenada Independence Day events happening in the DMV area. Grenadian United in Virginia will host its Independence Gala Saturday, February 8 from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. in Virginia Beach, and the Grenada Cultural and Social Association will hosts its annual Independence Dinner Dance in Greenbelt, Maryland. And that’s just here in the U.S. According to Ambassador Smith, celebrations began in Grenada from the second week of January.

Grenada boasts the Made in Grenada Expo, in which national manufacturers showcase their latest wares, followed by the resplendent Grenada Independence Parade, held at the Grenada National Stadium, bursting with vibrant colors–from the national flag to the uniforms of the royal branches of the Grenada Police Force. The parade streams live on the Government Information Service (GIS) for Grenadians, and viewers around the world, to witness the celebration. “It’s the highlight of Independence Day,” said Ambassador Smith. “I live for that. No matter where I am, I tune in.”

Ambassador Smith encourages anyone in the Grenadian Diaspora to join the National and Friends of Grenada network here. Anyone in the National and Friends of Grenada network interested in attending the Embassy’s Independence Day Reception must RSVP to diaspora@grenadaembassyusa.org no later than Monday, February 3, 2020.

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Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

FNN Good News & Reviews

FNN Good News & Reviews: Mandola’s Italian Kitchen Opens Third Florida Location in Oldsmar

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Mandola's Italian Kitchen opened its third Florida location in Oldsmar. Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News,
Mandola's Italian Kitchen opened its third location in Oldsmar, in the Tampa Bay area. Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News

Modeled after an Italian marketplace, Mandola’s Italian Kitchen brings its quick service concept to Oldsmar. Named after famed restaurateur Damian Mandola, who founded Carrabba’s with his nephew Johnny Carrabba, the restaurant’s third Florida location is also co-owned by Paul Avery, the former Chief Operating Officer of Outback Steakhouse.

“While in New York or in the North End of Boston or Providence, Rhode Island, I would go to the Italian areas,” Mandola said. “You have the bakery or you have the gelateria or the cafe, or the deli with all the food products and the cheeses and olive oil and things like that.”

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.
Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

Mandola, who admits his passion lies in the cooking process and fresh ingredients, while Avery is the business mastermind, felt the need to put all of those Italian staples under one roof, so he and his wife opened their first Mandola’s in Austin, TX in 2006. The concept grew rapidly and quickly moved into Florida with its first location in Riverview in 2001 and Carrollwood shortly thereafter.

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.
Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

Guests enter Mandola’s and walk right up to the counter to order where they are greeted by friendly staff who are ready to take them on a culinary journey their taste buds won’t forget. Food is cooked fresh in an open kitchen using the best ingredients and pasta al dente just like Mama Mandola would have prepared it.

The vibrant dining room adorned with red and green chairs, flags from the ceiling, and walls adorned with family photos is a welcome calling. Moments after we were seated, fresh focaccia bread with olive oil and spices for dipping arrived at the table.

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.
Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

Our table ordered the fried mozzarella for the antipasti course. Golden brown triangles with oodles of gooey mozzarella and the best tomato sauce I’ve ever had.

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.
Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

For dinner, we feasted on traditional favorites: eggplant parmigiana with spaghetti and marinara sauce and chicken parmesan served with fettuccine Alfredo. Equally delicious and the portion size left us with barely any room for dessert!

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.
Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

“A lot of these are Mama Mandola’s recipes,” he said. “Chicken parmesan is our favorite and our biggest seller. For me, my favorite is my mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. It reminds me of Sundays at my mom’s and we had all the family together.”

No matter what you are in the mood for, the menu features a plethora of salads (with homemade dressing) antipasti, pizza, pasta, and chicken dishes like chicken marsala with a wine reduction from the Lombardi Family in Sicily, as well as daily specials like linguine with clam sauce, and brasato, beef short rib, slow-braised with red wine, aromatic vegetables, and fresh herbs.

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

Thirsty? No worries. In addition to traditional Italian sodas, sparkling waters, and soft drinks, Mandola’s also offers beer, wine on tap, and specialty drinks such as sangria, bellinis, frose, mimosas, and spritz from the bar.

If we could offer one very valuable piece of advice, it is to save room for dessert! The bakery is a can’t-miss at Mandola’s, with fresh pastries made daily including Italian cookies like lemon ricotta, famous cannolis, specialty cakes, tiramisu, and who could forget sorbetto and gelato?

My guest and I couldn’t decide on one flavor each, so we went with a combo of lemon and raspberry, and almond with cookies and cream. Let’s just say we both agreed it was as good as the ones we enjoyed in Italy.

Mandola’s Italian Kitchen is located at 3138 Tampa Rd, Oldsmar, FL, and is open for lunch and dinner and plans to open future locations in nearby Odessa, Orlando, and Jacksonville as well.

The restaurant is perfect for a family dinner, or date night, or if you want to stop in and grab a coffee and dessert that’s an excellent idea as well!

 

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FNN Good News & Reviews

FNN Good News & Reviews: Brother Jimmy’s BBQ Brings the South to Your Mouth at ICON Park

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Brother Jimmy's BBQ opened its new location at ICON Park on International Drive in early August. Photo: J. Willie David III / Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – “Put some south in yo’ mouth.”– Brother Jimmy’s BBQ certainly delivers on its motto at ICON Park on International Drive.

The barbecue chain, launched in North Carolina in 1989, opened its new location at ICON Park in early August and opened its doors to the media Wednesday, providing a sample of rich ribs (both sauced and dry rub), pulled pork, mac and cheese, baked beans, cornbread, and tea (sweet and unsweetened).

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

 

Brother Jimmy’s BBQ cuisine is made fresh in-house, with the butcher chopping, seasoning, smoking and slicing fresh meat before your very eyes. Utensils await diners in tall receptacles on each table, next to a small container showcasing three barbecue sauces: Original, North Carolina, and Chipotle; and in true southern charm, diners can enjoy their drinks in mason jars.

 

 

The 7,200-plus square foot restaurant offers an open, inviting dining experience that lulls you to stay a while. The furniture there was taken directly from the restaurant’s New York location and shows some “personality” in the slight wear of the wood and unique giant metal pig figurines peppering several tables. The restaurant offers its own photo both (and a board close to the main entrance to post the pics for others to see), tons of TV screens to watch whichever game you wish to see, and the whole back half of the establishment is a mini-arcade with pinball, mini basketball, and yes, beer pong. Also, kids eat free at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ with the purchase of one entree.

Looking for some good barbecue in a great atmosphere? Learn more and check out the menu on the Brother Jimmy’s BBQ website.

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Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

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Entertainment

Universal Orlando Resort Celebrates Biggest Fans with Passholder Appreciation Days

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Photo: NBCUniversal.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Beginning August 15 and continuing through September 30, Universal Orlando Resort is giving back to Universal Orlando Passholders with exclusive benefits to celebrate the UOAP family during Passholder Appreciation Days. UOAPs will have the opportunity to experience Universal Orlando in incredible ways with perks that include exclusive passholder merchandise, a collectible UOAP themed magnet, unique food and beverage offering, special nightly rates at select Universal Orlando Resort hotels and more.

Here are some of the offerings that Universal Orlando Passholders can enjoy during this time:

  • Collectible UOAP Magnet, a passholder favorite, is featured during this year’s Appreciation Days.
  • Exclusive Merchandise including an all-new spirit jersey, stemless cup, and so much more.
  • Food and beverage featuring more than fifteen limited-time menu offerings throughout the destination:
    • Universal’s Islands of Adventure: Dan Dan Noodles at Confisco Grille, Brisket Grilled Cheese at Comic Strip Café, Willy Wallo Lasso at Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-pendous, and Hummus Kawarma at Mythos Restaurant
    • Universal Studios Florida: Crab Okonomiyaki at Lombard’s Landing and Maloney Stack at Finnegan’s
    • Universal’s Volcano Bay: Island Chicken Pancit Bowl at Wakawawai
    • CityWalk: Mango Ginger Kiss at Voodoo Doughnut, Nutella Croissant Bread Pudding at Bigfire, Quesadilla Ahogada at Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food, a Mt. Fuji Roll at Cowfish and more.

To keep updated on these and other limited-time offerings, visit the Discover Universal Orlando Blog.

Universal Orlando’s amazing collection of hotels offers a variety of accommodation options for every travel style and budget, giving guests easy access to the excitement of the theme parks and Universal CityWalk. Universal Orlando Hotels are also celebrating UOAPs with exclusive offers on delicious menu items that passholders can enjoy throughout the resorts. Passholders can take advantage of incredible savings at Universal Orlando Resort hotels by booking exclusive hotel rates starting at $109* per night, plus tax at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal’s Aventura Hotel, available to book through September 28, 2022. For more information and for booking, visit Universal Orlando Resort Reservations.

Passholders enjoy a thrilling combination of experiences at Universal Orlando’s award-winning theme parks all year round. Here is the only place where UOPAs can race alongside Velociraptors at Jurassic World VelociCoaster – Florida’s fastest and tallest launch coaster; take flight aboard magical motorbikes for a journey deep into the Forbidden Forrest on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade – and so much more. For more information on all the benefits Passholders will be able to enjoy during Passholder Appreciation Days at Universal Orlando, visit www.Universalorlando.com/Appreciation-days. Select blackout dates apply to select passes. Additional Passholder Appreciation Days benefits will be announced soon.

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