Located in Winter Park, part of Orlando’s sprawling suburban area, Ethos Vegan Kitchen does exactly what it says on the tin: serves up ethically sourced, vegan food while showcasing the potential of vegan cooking. Working with environmentally conscious local farmers and producers, and using organic ingredients as much as possible, the restaurant has built up a loyal following in the area. No wonder – it offers anything from pastas and pizzas to salads, sandwiches and mains, with a menu that is both tantalizing and rewarding, and which features regularly changing specials. Beer lovers will not be disappointed either, as Ethos Vegan Kitchen has sourced several high-quality organic brews to pair with any meal option.
Just one in a string of joints to offer street eats with a pan-Asian bent, Kai has been luring them in with the sticky crunch of Korean-style chicken wings; crispy fries loaded with kimchi and bulgogi; and tacos stuffed with everything from chicken satay to deep-fried fish (cá). Owners Isra Sunhachawi and Quan Van traveled all over Asia in an effort to perfect their recipes and, after months of experimenting and tweaking, that commitment and drive certainly shows.

Just one in a string of joints to offer street eats with a pan-Asian bent, Kai has been luring them in with the sticky crunch of Korean-style chicken wings; crispy fries loaded with kimchi and bulgogi; and tacos stuffed with everything from chicken satay to deep-fried fish (cá). Owners Isra Sunhachawi and Quan Van traveled all over Asia in an effort to perfect their recipes and, after months of experimenting and tweaking, that commitment and drive certainly shows.
Serving ‘food for the starving artist’, Café Tu Tu Tango is an artsy, colorful little venue with a huge spirit of fun and community. Local artists display their work on the restaurant’s walls and strike up conversation with guests, while local ingredients are turned into delicious, tapas-style concoctions perfect for sharing. Try the Argentinean-style orange chimmichurri steak, the adventurous guava-glazed barbecue pork ribs or the chorizo al fuego – a delicious mix of spicy Spanish chorizo served with brandy-glazed fingerling potatoes. The atmosphere at Café Tu Tu Tango is vibrant and bohemian, so prepare to dive into a world where creativity meets community.
“You can’t study the day before and take this test,” says Jane Bauer, the certification manager for the American Cheese Society. The professionals taking this test need at least 4,000 hours of work experience in the cheese business. “There’s a difference between certification and certificates. A lot of people try to call things certifications, and they’re not.”
Raved about far and wide, Lee and Rick’s Oyster Bar is the ultimate destination for top-notch Florida seafood at rock-bottom prices. When it opened more than half a century ago, the tiny venue only served oysters and quickly became known as the place to go for the freshest oysters in the area. Although it now serves a variety of dishes ranging from golden-fried, butter-filled fantail shrimp to the Cajun-style crawfish basket, the oyster bucket remains a firm favorite among customers. The understated, marine-style decor signals that this isn’t a fancy dining spot, but it does add to the ‘hidden gem’ atmosphere of this fantastic spot for seafood on the cheap.

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.
Promising a refined Italian menu of thin crust pizzas, delectable pastas and an excellent Trattoria-style wine program, the Hilton’s signature La Luce is up there amongst Orlando’s best restaurants. Only open for dinner, the candlelit tables and lulling music makes for a romantic setting, although the generously-sized potions and lively service make this good for the whole family. If you’re not into your wines, the creative Mediterranean-inspired cocktail list is well worth checking out too.
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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.
When I visit Armenteros at the shop in Princeton, he guides me into the humidor, amid shelves of boxes and hundreds of cigars. “The most fulfilling, exciting thing we do,” he says, “is when you take a customer to another level. When you open up their enjoyment. That’s the greatest thing a tobacconist, or any sommelier, can do.” He talks excitedly about the differences among Nicaraguan, Dominican and Cuban tobacco, wrappers grown in Connecticut or Ecuador, the size or “ring gauge,” from skinny lancero to coronas to robustos to thick Churchills. A Padrón cigar, from Nicaragua, “is a steak, a wagyu.” Meanwhile, another cigar from the Dominican Republic “is like fish. It’s an elegant, delicate cigar.” We compare what spirits to pair with cigars, and both of us agree that describing flavors is not easy. “Not just in cigars,” he says, “but in any world of organoleptic delicacies.” He points to some cigars he’s been aging for close to a decade. I ask if cigars can age like wine. “F— yeah,” he says.
Lake Nona’s burgeoning food and beverage scene continues to progress and this pizza joint with showcase brewery by the Tavistock Restaurant Collection (who also operate Lake Nona’s Canvas and Chroma restaurants) is one luring downtowners to the airport-area enclave. With head brewer Marco Reyna tapping 12 sudsy creations, there’s no shortage of pie-pairing quaffs. Jason Bergeron (who also serves as executive chef of Canvas and Chroma) fires up pizzas in two gorgeous wood-burning ovens – pizzas like the infernal “Pepperoni Picante” and the “Awesome Saus!” with sausage and elephant garlic. It’s one worth riding the bus to Lake Nona town for.

When I visit Armenteros at the shop in Princeton, he guides me into the humidor, amid shelves of boxes and hundreds of cigars. “The most fulfilling, exciting thing we do,” he says, “is when you take a customer to another level. When you open up their enjoyment. That’s the greatest thing a tobacconist, or any sommelier, can do.” He talks excitedly about the differences among Nicaraguan, Dominican and Cuban tobacco, wrappers grown in Connecticut or Ecuador, the size or “ring gauge,” from skinny lancero to coronas to robustos to thick Churchills. A Padrón cigar, from Nicaragua, “is a steak, a wagyu.” Meanwhile, another cigar from the Dominican Republic “is like fish. It’s an elegant, delicate cigar.” We compare what spirits to pair with cigars, and both of us agree that describing flavors is not easy. “Not just in cigars,” he says, “but in any world of organoleptic delicacies.” He points to some cigars he’s been aging for close to a decade. I ask if cigars can age like wine. “F— yeah,” he says.
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.
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.”
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.
When I move to the evaluation portion, however, I immediately realize I am in way over my head. Any hubris I had cracks when I pop my first sample, a soft-ripened cheese, into my mouth. I chew. It just tastes like … soft cheese. I am supposed to evaluate this based on 70 characteristics and flaws in four categories (appearance, aroma, texture and flavor). And not just the presence of, say, a nutty or herbal aroma or an animal or grassy flavor, but “much too little,” “too little,” “just about right,” “too much” or “much too much.” At the table in front of me I see another candidate spit into a bucket. Wait a minute! I think. Are we supposed to spit cheese when we taste it, like wine? I spit my soft-ripened cheese into the bucket on my table (which is gross, to be honest). Still, I gamely trudge on for almost three hours. When I get to the evaluation sheet for Emmental-style (i.e., Swiss) cheese, there is a category for “Eye Development,” with characteristics such as blind, underset, irregular and dead/dull eyes. So cheese has eyes? When I approach the cheesemongers for a sample of cheddar, I steal a glance at the clipboard of a bearded guy in a Hawaiian shirt and Birkenstocks standing next to me. He marks “seamy” on one of his score sheets. What does it mean to have a seamy cheese? I am so out of my league, I don’t even know what I don’t know.
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