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Local restaurateurs Johnny and Jimmy Tung (Sticky Rice, Chela Tequila & Tacos) continue Bento’s wayward expansion with the latest outpost opening inside the revamped Centre of Winter Park. Bento’s gleaming interior comprise the du rigueur components of today’s modern restaurant, and patrons appear to be dazzled by it as much as the menu. A pan-Asian free-for-all of sushi rolls, rice/noodle/poke bowls, soups and, of course, bento boxes is really no different than any other Bento, but the newness of its presence in Winter Park has gastronomes agog.
Considering that the last time I took a hard science class was when I received a C-plus in high school chemistry, believe me when I tell you I had trouble keeping up. Luckily, the exam we will take in a few weeks — to receive our course certificates — will be open-notebook, and we are provided a glossary and all the pages of Jacobsen’s PowerPoint presentation.
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The city’s finest pizza got a little better thanks to a couple of deft moves by chef/owner Bruno Zacchini. First, he opened an outpost of Pizza Bruno – his ridiculously popular Curry Ford West pizzeria – in a corner space inside Orange County Brewers downtown. Craft Brews + Beer = (duh) Win. Then he moved to a naturally leavened dough which, after a 48-hour ferment, yields a superb crust for pizzas like the “Crimson Ghost” draped with Calabrian chilies, soppressata, mozzarella, basil and hot honey and the “Midtown Square” with shaved local squash, mint, garlic, and pecorino. And, yes, those addictive garlic knots can be had here as well.
After that, we move hotter. A yellow one from Scotch bonnet peppers that’s about a six, a delicious Barbados-style pepper sauce made with mustard and having a molasses-like taste, a barbecue-style sauce from San Antonio made with ancho and morita peppers, a spicy peanut butter made from a traditional Haitian recipe, and a floral, fruity habanero sauce from Japan made with Citra hops and a bit of mango. After a half-dozen sauces, my palate becomes pretty fatigued. “If you push yourself past your comfort level, your brain’s not going to care about the taste,” Chaimberg says.
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.”
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.
Why go: Inside the cozy, pop-art-inspired quarters, you’ll find themed sandwiches made to order with local ingredients. Create your very own with an array of toppings and spreads to choose from or opt for one of the iconic sandwiches that Pom Pom’s is known for. We’re partial to the spicy Elvis, filled with banana, bacon, strawberry jelly and cayenne peanut butter.
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.
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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.
“Anyone can pontificate an opinion, and that happens a lot in the world of taste,” he says. “It’s easy to say you’re a cigar expert or a wine expert. People throw around the term ‘sommelier’ all the time.” Armenteros says that back in 1996, he considered using “sommelier” before settling on “tobacconist.” “The word ‘sommelier’ is so sexy and has so much brand value. It used to mean something. Now it’s a marketing gimmick.” Still, Tobacconist University calls its newest certification the Cigar Sommelier Tobacconist. It launched in 2017 and is geared toward people working in the hospitality industry.
These programs prepare you to be a taste authority, a sensory expert, an arbiter and evangelist in the field, but you’re likely not producing anything. Even so, they’re in demand. What is it about this epoch that values such mastery over taste? Were we all truly so clueless and naive about these matters once upon a time? Has life become so fraught and complicated that even decisions over our smallest pleasures now require expert intervention?