Variety, in both cuisine and atmosphere, characterizes Orlando dining. Fun, casual meals and reliable chain restaurants fill the bill for many hungry tourists. Kids especially relish character breakfasts at Disney's Contemporary Resort and dinners at Universal's three resorts, where folks dine in good company – alongside Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Scooby Doo, and Curious George. The International Drive and Sand Lake Road areas feature a number of chain favorites that make good stand-bys, and themed eateries abound as well, including the jungle-like Rainforest Café and the Nascar Café. For upscale dining, restaurants like Atlantis at SeaWorld's Renaissance Resort and Victoria and Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort serve fresh seafood and impeccable American Continental cuisine. Plus, Disney's Lake Buena Vista area, EPCOT, Downtown Disney, and Universal Studios CityWalk promise eateries for all appetites and price ranges. Even celebrity chefs get in on the action: Emeril's features Continental cuisine with a Cajun kick. And if you're in downtown Orlando, take advantage of dining gems like Manuel's on the Twenty-Eighth, located atop the Nations Bank building. Suave, monied Winter Park also features superb restaurants, including the fashionable Park Plaza Gardens.
Despite my lack of the requisite hours, Bauer agrees to let me sit for the three-hour exam, held in a hotel ballroom in Pittsburgh during the society’s annual conference. I arrive along with 50 other candidates and am shown to my table, which has a clipboard of evaluation sheets for a dozen categories of cheese — from soft-ripened to cheddars to blue mold to goat cheese to washed rind — as well as cups of aroma samples, unidentified liquids marked A to J that I will have to sniff and identify blind. The proctor tells us there are to be no photos, and no posting or sharing on social media. “Though there’s not much in your phone that can help you now,” he says. Along the back wall of the ballroom are a team of cheesemongers cutting samples, where we will go to get our cheeses to evaluate.
Pack your picnic basket with an assortment of our globally sourced meats and fine cheeses, paired with a crusty baguette and one of our irresistible jams, jellies or spreads. Or add a satisfying side to any lunch bag with sandwich-complementing snacks like pretzels, chips, nuts, trail mix and popcorn. Our fine foods also make fine gifts - choose one of our gourmet gift sets or mix and match to create your own.
The Ritz-Carlton’s signature restaurant is a predictably elegant affair, and has been billed as one of the very best hotel restaurants in the world by various acclaimed publications and food critics. Chef Norman Van Aken's fuses Latin, Caribbean and Asian flavors together to create a vibrant and healthy menu that is described as ‘New World Cuisine’. Still sounds vague? Examples for the mains section – which changes seasonally – includes a pan fried fillet of Yellowtail Snapper, Mongolian marinated BBQ-style veal with Thai friend rice and Japanese eggplant, and pork ‘Havana’, served with black bean sweet corn salsa. Most of Norman’s appetizers are in the $10-20 range, and mains $30-60, which doesn’t make this the most expensive fine diner in the city, but certainly not the cheapest. Read More...

One of Orlando’s upscale steak venues, Christner’s breathes sophistication and old-fashioned charm with its dark wood decor and traditional yet intimate atmosphere. Specializing in prime meats and lobster, the menu offers an array of meats: the USDA prime rib-eye is a real treat for carnivores, while the sesame-seared tuna caressed with a soy ginger glaze and wasabi cream adds a touch of excitement to the otherwise simple menu. To ensure the highest quality possible, the steaks are all prime-aged and corn-fed, and the signature lobster tails are imported fresh from Australia and New Zealand. An affordable option for high-end dining, Christner’s is a popular spot among locals.
These thick cauliflower steaks are cooked through yet firm enough for a meaty bite, making them the perfect keto or meat-free meal. Topped with flavorful sauce, they’re pretty much effortless.    Get the Recipe: Cauliflower Piccata How to Make Ethiopian Crispy Cauliflower with Herbed Yogurt Dipping Sauce How to Make Roasted Onion and Cauliflower Dip
The short drive out of town to this gem of a restaurant is well worth it; in fact, it’s not only a restaurant, but more of a café in the day and bar at night with live music – although the menu of comfort food classics like club sandwiches, pulled pork burgers, tacos and wraps is served throughout the day. The quaint house near Lake Toho promises different areas too, meaning you can slide up to the lively bar for a crafty craft ale, find an intimate corner spot if you’re on a date or find a seat in the charming courtyard to soak up the summery vibes.
Fine dining and Disney haven’t always gone hand-in-hand; the first restaurant you might associate with Mickey Mouse and co probably has a giant yellow ‘M’ towering above it or a certain Colonel Sanders plastered on a billboard outside. Victoria & Albert’s, however, flips this now out-of-date stereotype on its head, offering the polar opposite of the old-school Disney fast food joint. This is the sort of place where reservations need to be made weeks in advance, you won’t get in without a dinner jacket, and six or more courses from their modern American/French-inspired menu (with wine pairing) will probably set you back the price of a couple of tickets into the park for the day. Orlando is not yet on the Michelin team’s radar, but Victoria & Albert’s has long been recognized as one of Florida’s best restaurants, having been awarded the prestigious AAA Five Diamond award every year since 2000. Read More...
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.
Then I learn about the American Cheese Society’s T.A.S.T.E. Test, which launched in the summer of 2018. Passing this exam will confer the title of Certified Cheese Sensory Evaluator (cheese sommeliers don’t call themselves sommeliers). Cheese feels like something I can handle. I’d recently spent time on assignment for The Washington Post in Bra, Italy, reporting from the Slow Food cheese event, tasting from among 300 cheesemakers from 50 countries. The founder of Slow Food declared the event to be “the beating heart of cheese” and those of us attending the “cheese intelligentsia.” Well, as a member of the cheese intelligentsia, surely I can pass the T.A.S.T.E. Test.
“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.”

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.
After dinner – and occasionally, when you just want to escape and indulge, too – it’s time for dessertsand sweets. We’ve anticipated your need for delightfully rich and indulgent treats and put together a collection of desserts to help you serve up something lovely each and every day. From birthday cakes fit for a queen – or king – to boxed chocolates that make excellent stocking stuffers, we have everything you need to inspire and impress foodie friends and loved ones.

This fetching Milk District market and deli is like the city’s very own Eataly, albeit one on a far smaller scale. Sure, shelves are stocked with the requisite imported edibles, and the display cases illuminate cheeses, antipasti and cooked items of the comforting sort (think porchetta, Portobello mushroom risotto, cacciatore), but it’s the sandwiches that place Stasio’s on the regular rotation of many a lunch-goer. Bread sliced and stuffed with ribeye steak, mozzarella, onions and a fiery cherry pepper mix is noontime sustenance of the highest order. So is the one with meatballs and spicy Italian sausage. And the one with the Italian brisket. And the one with prosciutto, capicola and soppreseta.
Its air-conditioned confines may be miles away from the sultry Southeast Asian climes in which one would enjoy the layered flavors of the Malaysian food stalls for which it is named, but Mamak Asian Street Food's plates – small and large – are an exotic journey without the plane fare. From the familiar (spring rolls, street tacos) to items the less adventurous might deem out-there (fish balls, curry gravies) its menu culls from various Asian nations creating a mix of flavors that beg to be sampled. A central location in Mills 50 makes exploration of the neighborhood a pleasant to-do, pre-dinner or post-lunch.

Wine professionals, unsurprisingly, bristle at the way in which the word “sommelier” has been co-opted by other industries. “ ‘Sommelier’ is now a widely abused term,” said WSET’s Wrigley. Still, Wrigley allowed, diplomatically, that in the wider connoisseurship of food and drink “all education is good as long as it comes from a good source and is of good quality.”


Calling Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa a barbecue place is kind of like calling The Lion King a movie about cats. It’s not wrong, but it doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Located in Mills 50, Pig Floyd’s smokes brisket, ribs, and pulled pork, but their barbecue is served in everything from tacos to bento boxes to banh mi sandwiches. You can stay traditional and get a meat plate with a few sides, or go for something that you won’t find anywhere else in town, like butter chicken tacos or a Mongolian brisket bento box.
Lalousis had been managing Maille’s retail boutique in London when he was tapped for his expertise. “My boss told me, ‘I think you’ve got a calling. You’ve got a love for mustard.’ ” He was sent to the factory in Dijon for six months of training and learned “everything there was to know about mustard.” As far as Lalousis is aware, he’s the only mustard sommelier in the world. That’s not to say, however, that he is the first mustard sommelier in history. “We had a mustard sommelier in 1747 when we opened a store in Paris,” he says. At that time in Paris, Dijon mustard was not well known. “Our founder wanted people to know how to use Dijon mustard. He wanted to show people that it was an ingredient and not just a condiment.” And if Lalousis has his way, he will not be the last. He’s developing an educational program that will certify future mustard sommeliers about types of mustard seed, harvest techniques, chemical compounds in mustard, regional differences, levels and qualities of pungency, various pairings and uses, and what Lalousis calls “the culture of mustard.”
Then I learn about the American Cheese Society’s T.A.S.T.E. Test, which launched in the summer of 2018. Passing this exam will confer the title of Certified Cheese Sensory Evaluator (cheese sommeliers don’t call themselves sommeliers). Cheese feels like something I can handle. I’d recently spent time on assignment for The Washington Post in Bra, Italy, reporting from the Slow Food cheese event, tasting from among 300 cheesemakers from 50 countries. The founder of Slow Food declared the event to be “the beating heart of cheese” and those of us attending the “cheese intelligentsia.” Well, as a member of the cheese intelligentsia, surely I can pass the T.A.S.T.E. Test.
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.
There is no exam in Ecole Chocolat’s Mastering Chocolate Flavor program, and that disappoints me. Basically, you read whatever of the information you want, you work at your own pace, participate in the forums, and if you complete at least five of the seven exercises, you get a certificate. Where are the bragging rights in that? I found this self-directed approach to be a little too lightweight; it didn’t really motivate or challenge me. So allow me to confess: I am a chocolate-school dropout.

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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