“We want to get beyond ‘yummy’ and ‘delicious,’ ” says instructor Caitlin O’Neill, a Certified Cheese Professional. The first step we take is to plug our noses — the same sensory-analysis exercise we did in my honey-tasting instruction. We place a piece of mozzarella on our tongues, which at first simply feels gooey and salty, and then a rush of smoky, buttery flavor comes on once I unplug my nose. We learn the basics of cheesemaking and the differences between the milks of cows, goats, sheep and water buffalo (which is “almost the texture of white paint”). We taste 15 cheeses, each of which represents a specific category: fresh, bloomy, washed, Alpine, Gouda, uncooked, thistle, cheddar, grana, blue. As O’Neill explains each category, I start to feel ridiculous for ever thinking I could have skipped this foundational step in my cheese education before sitting for an advanced exam.
Chef Xiong ‘Tiger’ Tang impressed as the executive chef of Zen at the Omni Orlando Resort, but at his West Colonial Drive (Orlando’s unofficial Chinatown) restaurant, he downright dazzles with wickedly infernal dishes highlighting the cuisine from Sichuan Province, the capital Chengdu in particular. A more gratifying lobster – hacked, reassembled, then adorned with an alluring mix of chilies, peppercorns, garlic and cilantro – won’t be found in this town, while lamb sautéed in hot pepper sauce wrapped in tinfoil, and a Chongqing-style hotpot with head-on shrimp, tripe, beef and fried fish mixed with crunchy lotus root and cauliflower are electrifying choices for the capsicum-deprived.

Caviar is salt-cured fish eggs from sturgeon traditionally from the Black and Caspian Seas, though due to regulations most Caviar today is farmed. Caviar is strictly from surgeon, whereas other fish eggs may be considered roe. Beluga, Ossetra and Sevruga are the three main varieties of Caviar, and are considered a delicacy throughout the world and due to their rarity, and for their rich creamy flavor and delicate texture. Beluga Caviar may sell up the several thousand of dollar per pound, depending on flavor, size and consistency. Today, some varieties of farm-raised American caviar are considered very high in quality, comparable to Caspian caviar.
The name of this Thornton Park/South Eola restaurant makes vague reference to the unusual collection of dishes it offers, not so much the oddball patronage it sometimes draws. Owners Brian Buttner and Jonathan Canonaco, who operate the well-received Stubborn Mule across the street, took over the old NoLa-inspired Muddy Waters space and transformed it into a trendy, see-and-be-seen sort of joint. Smoked duck wings, caramel-lacquered Asian pork spears and vegan pate don’t exactly scream “eclectic” but, hey, what trendoids want, trendoids get.
I realize just how widely “sommelier” has been thrown around when I visit a hot sauce sommelier at a hot sauce boutique called Heatonist in, perhaps predictably, Brooklyn. I don’t know what a hot sauce sommelier is supposed to look like, but Noah Chaimberg, with fiery red hair and a red beard, seems to fill the bill. I meet him at the tasting bar of Heatonist, where we sample a dozen or so of the more than 100 hot sauces he stocks. Chaimberg says he’s likely tasted 200 hot sauces for every one on his shelves. Apparently lots of people have jumped into the “craft hot sauce movement,” and he receives at least a dozen new products each day. “It’s a lot like craft beer was in the 1980s,” he says. “People start tinkering at home. Then they end up selling at farmers markets, fancy food shows, and hoping to quit their day jobs.”
The popular city in Florida isn't just all about famous attractions, but their restaurants serve the top, best meals and cuisines you've ever indulged in. From seafood to steakhouses, burgers, Italian, and Korean, the city is basically United Nations when it comes to their selections. And there's a restaurant for everyone down in Orlando. So, if you plan on vacationing there anytime soon, check out the best restaurants in Orlando. None of them will disappoint you.
Wine education and the role of the sommelier are so culturally mainstream that it’s perhaps inevitable that other gourmet products would seek a similar patina of sophistication. “A sommelier means someone who holds the knowledge, and I’m definitely the one who holds the knowledge of mustard,” says Harry Lalousis, a mustard sommelier who works for Maille, a French producer of Dijon mustard. “I don’t say that I’m a mustard sommelier for fun. I don’t think there’s anyone who can ask me a question about mustard that I cannot answer.”

You guys… have you tried one pot pasta dishes before?  They. Are. AMAZING!!  No waiting for a big pot of water to boil, no draining, no extra pot to wash… just one pot of pure comfort food.  I have been dreaming up and testing all kinds of one pot pasta dishes for you all, and I think you’ll be excited with all the options over the next month or so!


Kadence is located inside a nondescript black building that looks more like a pop-up modern art museum than an actual restaurant. Inside, however, you’ll find some of the best sushi in the city, rather than installations that’ll make you wonder what is and isn’t “art.” Reservations at this nine-seat sushi counter in Audubon Park are hard to come by, but if you can’t wait three months to eat here, they also serve Japanese breakfast on the weekends and chirashi bowls filled with sashimi, vegetables, and sushi rice to go. Make this your first stop the next time you’re in Orlando.
The meaning of the word Gourmet has evolved throughout the centuries. The word Gourmet is derived from an old French term for a servant that works with wine. The French are known for their love of foods, and word Gourmet often is tied to French cuisine particularly in relation to their cheese and wine. By the 1700s, the terms Gourmet and Gourmand were used to simply describe an individual who enjoyed overeating. Luckily, Gourmet lost its derogatory connotation and has been rehabilitated into a positive term, describing a highly desirable type of food.

Gourmet meals are typically served in small contrasting courses. This allows a broad flavor experience, but at the same time limits the exposure to the often rich flavors that Gourmet Foods offer. Gourmet Foods are prized for their exclusivity often due to scarcity such as the case of the Italian White Truffle or Caviars that cost hundreds of dollars per ounce. Many foods are in season only during certain times of the year, and are grown only in remote regions of the world. Many of these foods are likely to be characterized as Gourmet due to accessibility, cost and origin. It is important to recognize that Gourmet Foods are in the eye of the beholder, as Gourmet Magazine includes recipes for everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to foie gras and truffles. igourmet has made Gourmet Food accessible through our vast offering of thousands of difficult to find Gourmet Food items.


For an alternative taste of Orlando, head to Graffiti Junktion, a wonder world of street art, no-frills burgers and live music. Essentially a neighborhood burger joint, the restaurant-cum-sports bar manages to craft a hip atmosphere without trying very hard at all: from a few basic variations on the venue’s famous melt-in-the-mouth burger to a choice of salads, the menu is defined by its simplicity. And perhaps this is what has earned Graffiti Junktion the unofficial title of Orlando’s best – and certainly the coolest – burger spot. One sign of its success is how much the restaurant has grown over the years. It now has several locations in and around the city. Our firm favorite, however, is the original spot in Thornton Park.


Since I just spent a year writing a book about cider, the first credential I seek out is to become a Certified Cider Professional (or CCP), a brand-new professional title created by the United States Association of Cider Makers. I attended an introductory seminar on the CCP Level 1 exam at CiderCon in Baltimore in the winter of 2018. The following summer, one afternoon on a whim — without any further study — I decide to log in to the cider association website, pay $75 and take the exam. There are 60 questions on apple history, apple classifications and genetics, cidermaking techniques, styles of cider, detecting flaws, and food pairings with cider. I submit my answers, then find out instantaneously that I’ve gotten 89 percent correct — a passing grade. It has taken me 37 minutes 47 seconds to complete the exam, which includes the interruption of a 15-minute work call. I am now proudly a Level 1 Certified Cider Professional — a cider sommelier. I receive a felt CCP patch in the mail — one that I might have proudly ironed onto my acid-washed jean jacket back in the ’80s. Within months, I am teaching cider classes to candidates who also hope to pass the CCP Level 1 test.
Pate is a spread made from meat or vegetables, along with other base ingredients such as herbs, spices or alcohol. Pates are typically baked in a crust or molded in a terrine. The ultimate pate is Pate de Foie Gras, which is a spread made from the fattened livers of duck or geese. Pate may be served hot or cold, is tends to develop its best flavor when chilled. Pate is generally attributed as a French Gourmet Food, but in actuality found its roots thousands of years ago in ancient Greece.
Caviar is salt-cured fish eggs from sturgeon traditionally from the Black and Caspian Seas, though due to regulations most Caviar today is farmed. Caviar is strictly from surgeon, whereas other fish eggs may be considered roe. Beluga, Ossetra and Sevruga are the three main varieties of Caviar, and are considered a delicacy throughout the world and due to their rarity, and for their rich creamy flavor and delicate texture. Beluga Caviar may sell up the several thousand of dollar per pound, depending on flavor, size and consistency. Today, some varieties of farm-raised American caviar are considered very high in quality, comparable to Caspian caviar.
A gourmet kitchen will have professional-grade appliances and fixtures, often conveniently arranged for ease of food preparation. For example, it may have a six-burner gas stovetop and dual ovens plus a warming drawer, with a powerful ventilating hood and a pot-filler faucet over the range. The cabinetry can provide convenient storage for appliances, tools, and pantry items. A gourmet kitchen also has enough counter space for food preparation tasks.
I wasn't too impressed by this place despite the high ratings. I ordered the bbq pork ribs and i thought it was super dry. I also thought their potato chips were a little overlooked and had a slight bitter taste. I also tried the bacon date wraps appetizer and thought it tasted really odd. The sweetness of the dates was way too overpowering, but this is probably my taste preference. I really enjoyed the Brussels sprouts though!
It should immediately be noted, the average main course price is not $59; that's the cost of your entire, impeccable three-course meal. This intimate room inside the Winter Garden's historic Edgewater Hotel is a sorta-kinda best-kept-secret in Orlando. It has made everyone's list, from local publications to Zagat's Top Restaurants in America, but its size and location (out in Winter Garden; about 15 miles west of downtown Orlando) has allowed it to keep some of its clandestine buzz, despite being open several years. Menus shift with fresh ingredients but never disappoint. Chef's Table is a special-occasion delight. Turn your cell phone off; leave the kids at home. Enjoy.
Now, we work our way through what she calls “single-origin” honeys: a straw-colored, delicate acacia honey from Bulgaria; a smooth, surprisingly savory orange blossom honey from Florida; a pleasantly strange, brick-colored honey from Maine blueberry blossoms, with complex aromas of cheese and tomato paste and flavors from dried fruit to umami. “This is not your clover honey from a teddy bear,” Marchese says. “That honey in the teddy bear is just sugar water.”
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.
Being hailed as Orlando’s best restaurant in Orlando Magazine’s 2014 Dining Awards is only one of the accolades bestowed upon The Ravenous Pig since it opened in 2007. Unconditionally dedicated to high-quality local produce, the restaurant is masterful at taking classics of Florida cuisine and rendering them into spectacular flavor combinations. As the menu changes seasonably, it’s difficult to profile singular dishes, but past delicacies have included the Florida black grouper smothered in a lemon pepper rub and served with lollipop kale, coriander carrots and hen of the woods mushrooms, or the pork porterhouse with a peach barbecue glaze, sweet potatoes, radicchio and granola. The Ravenous Pig manages to combine its sophisticated yet local cuisine with a laid-back gastropub vibe, making it the perfect place for an excellent dining experience.
Picking somewhere for a group dinner can sometimes feel like an SAT question. Your cousin is a vegan, grandma just wants somewhere with good wine, and your best friend is taking their new Whole30 diet very seriously. Rather than stress over it, just tell everyone that you’re going to RusTeak in College Park. This restaurant and wine bar is casual enough for a quick lunch or a Happy Hour glass of wine, while still working just fine for a date or birthday dinner. Food-wise, they serve everything from burgers and flatbreads, to General T’s pork belly and plenty of fresh fish. Similarly, they have one of the biggest wine and cocktail menus in the city, so regardless of who is joining you, everyone should be able to find something to eat and drink here.
What opened as Del Frisco's Prime Steak and Lobster back in the 90s via an agreement that permitted them to use the Del Frisco's name for two decades, this Orlando icon is today known as Christner's Prime Steak & Lobster and is still owned and operated by the Christner family. Ask the locals and visitors alike and you'll hear that the quality of the steaks and service remains top-notch. Designed to reflect the Christner family's rich history of exceptional quality and meticulous service, the award-winning menu features only the finest USDA Prime steaks, fresh seafood and a wine portfolio of over 4,500 bottles, in addition to imported and locally-crafted whiskies, spirits and beer. Boasting two unique lounges, nine private dining rooms and an intimate main dining room, guests enjoy an elegant fine dining experience complemented by celebrated live entertainment.
Now, we work our way through what she calls “single-origin” honeys: a straw-colored, delicate acacia honey from Bulgaria; a smooth, surprisingly savory orange blossom honey from Florida; a pleasantly strange, brick-colored honey from Maine blueberry blossoms, with complex aromas of cheese and tomato paste and flavors from dried fruit to umami. “This is not your clover honey from a teddy bear,” Marchese says. “That honey in the teddy bear is just sugar water.”

For a long time, it didn’t seem to matter, but over the past few years, when I published or taught, people curiously began to assume I had some sort of certification and seemed surprised when I revealed I did not. As I finished my third drinks book, I started to feel a twinge of impostor syndrome. I was a sommelier of nothing. Perhaps I needed a few certifications to keep pace with the crowd.
Located just a block from Lake Eola in Thornton Park, Soco is one of the best places in Orlando to spend an afternoon eating and drinking outside. This place serves high-end comfort food, like grilled meatloaf with lobster mash potatoes, Southern fried quail and waffles, and a weekly TV dinner special that yes, gets served on an actual tray covered in foil. Drinks-wise, they have a huge wine list, along with plenty of cocktail and beer options. When you want to pretend like you don’t have responsibilities, come to Soco for a long weekend brunch or to spend the entire day on a patio.
I’ve been confined to my bed for the past few days with the flu. My 14 year old daughter has picked up the dinner duties in my absence. Tonight she made this recipe & it was a hit! She said one of her brothers & my husband got seconds & her other brother who is always the last to finish his food was done first! Thank you for sharing this one pot meal, 5 stars here!

Anything tastes good covered in chocolate, right? This collection of awesome chocolate-dipped confections is enough to satisfy anyone's chocolate craving. These treats easily become great food gifts to bring to neighbors, parties, and teachers. Elevate the great flavors of fruits like strawberries and apricots or simple snacks like pretzel sticks and cookies by simply dipping them in chocolate.
Landlocked Central Florida is not Italy, but when you want to temporarily forget that, go to Prato. This always-packed restaurant in Winter Park serves modern Italian food, like mustard spaghetti cacio e pepe and a variety of wood-fired pizzas, and has retractable doors and a patio, which almost makes it feel like you’re getting a nice breeze from the Mediterranean. There’s always a wait if you don’t make a reservation, but just grab a drink at the bar and start debating with your friends about how many pastas to order in the meantime.

There aren’t many good food options around Sand Lake Road, the tourist-y strip near Universal Studios. However, Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar is trying to change that. There’s nothing mind blowing going on here, but the tacos, Texas-style queso, and specialties like chile rellenos and mole poblano are all better than anything else in the area. They also have a great late-night menu for when you get hungry again after sampling from their wall of tequila, which includes more than 400 varieties.
Indeed, what the rise of specialized taste education, the cult of sensory analysis, and the wine-ification of everything means is that taste is becoming more and more codified all the time. There are good tastes and bad tastes; not only that, there’s a growing caste of gatekeepers in every field who are keeping score on what tastes great, middling and flawed. Maybe this is what morality or philosophy looks like in an increasingly post-religious, post-intellectual, materialistic United States. We are a people in need of an authority, a higher voice, some guidance — even if it comes from behind the cheese counter. Maybe, for many affluent Americans, the sommeliers of everything represent something shaman-like. Listen to me. I am your one true sommelier.
Entertaining or throwing a wine party? Having a selection of cheeses on hand will let you take your party from average to fabulous fast. Choose from pre-boxed collections and taste cheeses from all over the world, or pick timeless favorites like Parmigiano-Reggiano instead. Serve alongside salumi and other charcuterie meats, or serve with appetizers such as antipasti. Our selection of artisan cheeses includes boxes that highlight the best from each state as well as famous international cheeses from Italy, Spain and France, making it easy to discover new cheeses and pick out the perfect gift.
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