To illustrate how important the olfactory sense is, Marchese earlier asked me to hold my nose and gave me something granular to put on my tongue. At first, it just felt grainy and sweet. Yet once I unplugged my nose, I experienced a rush of cinnamon flavor. As further practice, we sniffed little vials of typical honey aromas, similar to a kit other sensory experts use. I was proud of myself for identifying scents of mint, peach and lily. But others stumped me. Nutmeg? Wrong, hazelnut. Tea? No, hay. Truffle? Sorry, mushroom.
Every gourmet food gift basket is filled with the highest quality, delicious foods you’ve loved year after year. Plus, there’s always new and exciting flavors to try to find the perfect complement to your classic favorites. From summer sausage, to cheese, sweets, and even specialty meats, our unique food gifts will delight everyone on your gift list!
While we talk, Lalousis gives me a thumbnail history of mustard that stretches back to the Romans, with Dijon mustard being created by 14th-century monks in Burgundy. “These were the same monks who designated the grand cru and premier cru vineyards for Burgundy wines that are still used today,” he says. He tells me that in 18th-century France, it was believed one must eat pungent mustard with meat to keep from falling ill. Maille established itself as the royal mustard because it didn’t make courtiers sweat as they ate it. “They all wore makeup and didn’t want it to come off in front of the king,” he says.

After lunch, there is a tour of Murray’s caves, where the cheese ages. Then we’re led through the tasting of eight more cheeses by Tyler Frankenberg, the company’s customer experience manager, also a Certified Cheese Professional. This tasting is about comparing variations in cheesemaking: the differences between cheese near the rind vs. the tip, washed rind vs. ash, unaged vs. aged (“older doesn’t necessarily mean better,” we’re told). At one point we compare two versions of a funky pasteurized sheep’s milk cheese called Hollander with an aroma that people describe as earthy, mineral, “like mom’s basement” and even redolent of ammonia. “With this one, the bark is worse than its bite,” Frankenberg says.
Antonio’s in Maitland is a split-level cafe/shop and restaurant where you’ll go to just buy some bread and cheese, and end up staying for lunch and a glass of wine. Downstairs is a super casual cafe and market where you can eat pasta, pizza, and rotisserie chicken, while also stocking up on things for your own kitchen. For the more formal experience, head upstairs, where you can still eat all of the Italian classics from the first floor, along with a wide range of steaks and seafood.
We will come back to this classroom on Sunday to learn how to properly wrap cheese and how to properly pair cheese with beer and wine. But on Saturday morning the class meets at Murray’s facility in Queens, where we listen to a three-plus-hour lecture from Murray’s assistant cavemaster Krista Jacobsen, who holds a PhD in dairy sciences. As we taste 13 more cheeses, we learn about the chemistry of milk, some basics of animal management, the anatomy of a ruminant’s stomach, peak lactation, the role of microbes, milk fats, pasteurization, acid coagulation vs. enzymatic coagulation, starter cultures, curds and whey, the biochemistry of ripening Camembert. There are more topics, but those are the ones I vaguely understand. “Cheese is the controlled rotting of milk,” Jacobsen says. “We’re still learning what’s going on in there.”
Alright, the title's a little misleading. Technically only the No. 1 pick – Walt Disney World's famed Five-Diamond venue Victoria & Albert's – actually requires male guests to wear jackets. Some diners balk at restaurant dress codes, but when it comes to fine dining, wearing a special-occasion dress or cufflinks seems to level everything up, making an opulent evening out that much more sumptuous. Not that you'd call the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa's signature venue anything but. With up to 14 prix fixe courses available, dining at Victoria & Albert's is nothing less than a culinary experience, which is why reservations are best made well in advance. But lest you think the Disney realm is the only place in Orlando where dining is magical, be sure to investigate this roster’s other gems. Those looking for a classic steakhouse experience will find no fault at Christner's Prime Steak & Lobster where thick cuts are seared to perfection and the side dishes are as decadent as anything off the dessert menu.  Celebrity chef Norman Van Aken's namesake at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes will delight those who enjoy Floribbean fare and if you're looking for something with more of a locals-only feel, check out his newer venture in Mount Dora: 1921. Its charming, walkable location boasts many options for pre-meal cocktails and window shopping to work up your appetite.
This highly-rated restaurant off Sand lake Road bases its menu around fresh, seasonal produce (hence the name), and presents a nice mix of indoor and alfresco seating, with handsome views outback stretching across the adjacent lake. Seasons 52 also have an oak-fire grill and brick oven onsite, helping to bring out the natural flavors, as well as keep things healthy. Recommended dishes to try are the wood-grilled pork tenderloin, oak-grilled rack of lamb, Asian-glazed Chilean Sea Bass and duck wing ‘lollipops’. There’s also a sturdy lineup of local craft ales and international wines.
Marchese tells me that when she detects a metallic taste in the honey, she knows the beekeeper has likely used rusty equipment. When she tastes too much smoky flavor, she knows the honey came from an inexperienced beekeeper who uses too much smoke because he’s afraid of bees. Which is to say Marchese’s palate is so finely tuned that she can literally taste the beekeeper’s fear in a smear of honey.

The Italian Alba truffle is having a great and early start this year, and we have shipments of this fragrant beauty already coming in. This delicacy, so aromatic, so deliciously luxurious, and with so short and elusive a season, is our favorite of the truffle bunch. We expect the season to last until January, but with Mother Nature you never know, so place those truffle orders ASAP!

BBQ lovers should look no further than 4Rivers Steakhouse, located a short drive north from Downtown at Winter Park. There’s nothing flashy about the non-descript restaurant façade, nor the canteen-like seating arrangements inside (you have the choice between high stools lined up in a row or college-style benches if you don’t want to sit next to strangers), but what 4Rivers lacks in style it more than makes up for in flavor. Items ‘from the smoker’ include wings, racks of beef and pork ribs, whole smoked chickens, while the signature Angus brisket and range of pulled pork sandwiches also prove hugely popular. Watch out for the lengthy queues that can stretch outside into the parking lot on weekends.
To illustrate how important the olfactory sense is, Marchese earlier asked me to hold my nose and gave me something granular to put on my tongue. At first, it just felt grainy and sweet. Yet once I unplugged my nose, I experienced a rush of cinnamon flavor. As further practice, we sniffed little vials of typical honey aromas, similar to a kit other sensory experts use. I was proud of myself for identifying scents of mint, peach and lily. But others stumped me. Nutmeg? Wrong, hazelnut. Tea? No, hay. Truffle? Sorry, mushroom.
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