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.
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 went to Whisk today after working out and thought I'd treat myself with Toasted Cornbread ($6) and a Adobo Grilled Chicken Sandwich ($17), as well as a Diet Coke ($2.50, for a can). The Toasted Cornbread had three large pieces, but unfortunately the first piece I touched was cold. Mistakes inevitably happen, so it was no big deal and so I told my waiter. He apologized, took the plate and asked me if I'd like another order, which I did because of the workout lol. The second batch of cornbread however still missed the mark. The problem with heating up cold stored corn bread is that it can dry up unless you heat it the correct way. The corn bread was unfortunately dry and crumbled at the touch, lacking the texture you'd hope. The flavors were there however for classic corn bread.
Gourmet may describe a class of restaurant, cuisine, meal or ingredient of high quality, of special presentation, or high sophistication. In the United States, a 1980s gourmet food movement evolved from a long-term division between elitist (or "gourmet") tastes and a populist aversion to fancy foods. Gourmet is an industry classification for high-quality premium foods in the United States. In the 2000s, there has been an accelerating increase in the American gourmet market, due in part to rising income, globalization of taste, and health and nutrition concerns. Individual food and beverage categories, such as coffee, are often divided between a standard and a "gourmet" sub-market.
Ceviche is a downtown tapas spot that’s a great place to start a night out. There’s a long bar, which is ideal if you’re on a date or out with a friend, and if you’re with a group, the large restaurant includes tables of just about every size imaginable. The menu includes a variety of tapas, along with things like paella, ceviche, and pitchers of sangria. They also host live music and flamenco shows regularly, so if you want to simplify your night by going straight from dinner to dancing on a stage without leaving the building, you can do that at Ceviche, just hope no one has their phone out.
We made reservations for 1pm on Sunday and we were seated as soon as our entire party arrived. Fried Green tomatoes and bacon wrapped dates stuffed with gorgonzola to start. Both were very good! I ordered the corn & hash from the special brunch menu which comes with an egg on top. It was a perfect mesh of ingredients. Others in my group ordered the pulled pork sandwich with homemade chips, the gnarly biscuits with gravy, bacon, and fried egg, and fried green tomato stack with a fried egg on top. Everyone enjoyed their food and we were all very satisfied. Service was great and we did not feel rushed to leave being it was a Sunday and brunch hours.
This bohemian-inspired cafe serves delectable foods such as Mediterranean, sliders, tacos, seafood, and many more diverse cuisines. But the best part about this cafe? Local artists paint throughout the restaurant and display their work all while individuals dine and watch the artists at work. Opera singers, tango dancers, interpretive dancers, puppeteers, and even magicians constantly make their way into the cafe on the regular.
The Ravenous Pig was pretty much the first to bring the term "gastropub" into the Orlando foodie lexicon. Since it opened its doors, the city's dining scene has swelled to epic buzzworthy proportions (and the restaurant has swelled past its original location and moved into bigger digs on Fairbanks). Local is king here; a rotating food and craft cocktail menu features ingredients grown, raised and made by Florida purveyors. A few dishes are mainstays, but the rest change up with regularity, leaving diners to wonder what delights they may find when they venture in. Oxtail stroganoff over tagliatelle? Pot-au-feu? Could be. If not, another fresh-made creation is sure to please. Come thirsty, as well. Rotating taps feature phenomenal craft beers including those of its own in-house brewing operation, Cask + Larder.
Thought chuck steak was just a meh budget cut of beef? It’s inexpensive for sure, but it’s a far cry from the stew meat you think it is. In fact, chuck steak—unbeknownst to many—boasts rich, meaty flavor akin to a ribeye, and can be just as tender. This easy recipe uses a technique known as a “reverse sear” to deliver perfectly cooked, tender chuck steak every time. The reverse sear is a great, approachable cooking method for those who want a deliciously salt-crusted, medium-rare steak, but don’t have a ton of experience preparing beef. Rather than searing the steak in a screaming-hot skillet on the stovetop and basting until you think it’s done and ready to rest, this hands-off trick entails cooking the steak in the oven until it reaches your desired degree of doneness (a meat thermometer is really helpful here) and then finishing it off with a quick sear just to get a nice, brown crust on the surface. This gentle cooking method not only removes guesswork for a less-experienced home cook, but also involves less intimidating popping and hissing skillet action. Served with a flavor packed chimichurri, this easy chuck steak is just begging to be layered onto charred corn tortillas for steak tacos.
Bring your friend's dreams of living in a villa in the Italian hills one step closer with this gift, which supports olive producers in Italy's Puglia region. The kit comes with a 3 liter tin of fresh, organic, single-harvest olive oil as well as a ceramic carafe and funnel, plus another 3 liter shipment every three months for a year to encourage ample EVOO usage.
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Humbled by my failure of the American Cheese Society’s T.A.S.T.E. exam three months earlier, I decide to set my sights lower and start my cheese education at the beginning. I pay $850 to attend a three-day, in-depth Cheese Boot Camp at Murray’s Cheese in New York’s Greenwich Village. The course begins on a Friday evening, with unlimited wine being poured. About two dozen students from all across the country crowd into an upstairs classroom. A number of people work in the cheese business, in sales or production, and some are opening their own cheese shops. There is one Master of Wine, a few chefs and one couple who tell all of us that they just love cheese so much that they’re spending their wedding anniversary at Cheese Boot Camp.
With taste education so intertwined with commerce, some public skepticism over such certifications is understandable. This past fall, a cheating scandal rocked the Court of Master Sommeliers, which had to invalidate the tasting portion of its hallowed master sommelier diploma exam. One of the proctors had leaked the exam’s most sacred secrets: the identity of the wines that the master’s candidates were supposed to taste blind.
Why go: Although Orlando is not brimming with the largest cluster of Greek eateries, there is some pretty flaming saganaki to be eaten in Central Florida—courtesy of The Greek Corner. The authentic experience involves overflowing flower pots, white-washed walls and a breezy patio overlooking the water. Make sure to order some grape leaves with a frappe—not on the menu, sure, but still available to those in the know.
The world of cigars is easily as complex as whiskey or cheese or chocolate, but it faces an obvious challenge. “Our industry suffers from a stigma,” Armenteros says. “We don’t have any of the prestige of wine or Scotch, yet drinking those are just as dangerous.” Because of this, the cigar consumer is quite different from those of other gourmet products. “The cigar smoker is a very independent-minded person,” he says. “It takes a certain individualism. You need to have, let’s say, some balls to smoke a cigar. This type of person has strong opinions. We work with a lot of strong characters in this business.” Armenteros believes an educated, certified expert helps add a level of sophistication.
“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.”
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.
I am not ready to admit how effortlessly I attained this certification until, one evening, I find myself at Anxo Cidery, the epicenter of Washington’s cider scene, in Northwest D.C. Anxo required all of its front-of-house staff to become CCPs, and I am chatting with two bartenders about how I’ve passed the exam. They both also recently passed. “That exam was so easy,” one bartender tells me. “I took it when I was drunk.”
That is certainly true — and that’s why “education” becomes a slippery term in the world of taste. The sommelier’s job is to monetize the educated palate. In wine, that might mean persuading someone to upgrade from a bottle that’s $30 on a list to one that’s $50. The cheese sommelier might try to sell a customer on a more expensive artisan, aged Gouda rather than the basic Gouda in red wax. For the honey sommelier, it may be about persuading someone to upgrade their $4 honey in a 12-ounce plastic bear to a buckwheat honey that’s $12 for four ounces. For the mustard sommelier, it’s about explaining why you’d want to pay for real Dijon mustard and not the cheap imitations you find in the supermarket.