Whip up a little something special on slow weekend mornings with our selection of breakfast items.Croissants and pastries make the perfect complement to tea and coffee. Flaky, buttery crusts melt in your mouth, exploding into tender flakes of flavor. Drizzle each one with one of our homestyle jams, jellies or preserves and dust with icing sugar for a sweet morning treat, or serve alongside fresh pancakes made with our pre-mixed breakfast mixes instead. It’s a Sunday morning smorgasbord crafted with care from a single collection.
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.
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.
Truffles are a rare form of fungus similar to mushrooms. Their rich and pungent flavor is unlike any other food in the world as Truffles are considered the diamond of the kitchen. Available in White and Black varieties, Truffles are a high demand Gourmet Food, due to their relative scarcity, labor intensive harvest process, resistance to cultivation and short growing season.
Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary, birthday, or finally cleaning out your garage, it’s good to have a go-to restaurant where you can eat and drink really well and get a little dressed up. For us, that’s Luma on Park. This place serves a mix of Italian food and things you might not expect, like soft shell crab and steak tartare, and between their basement wine cellar and cocktail bar, there are a lot of drink options. This Winter Park staple also has a $35, three-course prix fixe menu that includes things like kampachi crudo and homemade bolognese for when you don’t want to make a ton of decisions.
Why go: Although originally set up in Key West, Santiago’s now boasts two additional locations in Orlando, each with a particular personality. This communal spot embodies the sharing mentality behind Spanish-style small plates. Come here with a large group to sample the breadth of the menu but make sure not to leave before really delving into the space’s look. The reclaimed wood bar top, stained glass windows, Gaudi-esque furniture and one-of-a-kind artwork all over the restaurant make it that much more special.
Antonio’s in Maitland is a split-level cafe/shop and restaurant where you’ll go to just buy some bread and cheese, and end up staying for lunch and a glass of wine. Downstairs is a super casual cafe and market where you can eat pasta, pizza, and rotisserie chicken, while also stocking up on things for your own kitchen. For the more formal experience, head upstairs, where you can still eat all of the Italian classics from the first floor, along with a wide range of steaks and seafood.
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.
If there’s one place you should make a point to have brunch at in Orlando, it’s Se7en Bites Bake Shop in the Milk District. Sure, there will be a line out the door whenever you go, but it moves quickly and will give you plenty of time to decide between things like the Se7en Benedict, which is topped with fried green tomatoes and peppercorn hollandaise, and the bacon cornbread waffles. They also have a full lunch menu, plenty of cakes and pastries, and beer and wine, which means you can basically spend an entire afternoon here if you want.
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.
I’m embarrassed to admit it to Marchese, but I’m exactly the type of consumer who keeps a plastic teddy bear in the pantry. As we taste a strange, dark buckwheat honey, with flavors like malty beer and pumpernickel and intensely funky, barnyard aromas — “horse blanket,” she says — the world of honey suddenly seems vast and overwhelming. Yesterday, I didn’t give honey a second thought. Today, I need to know everything.
In 2000, Marchese left a career as an illustrator and product designer in New York, moved to Connecticut and took up beekeeping. “This whole world opened up to me,” she says. “I started to see honey as a parallel to wine.” She worked for a time at a wine distributor and began going to honey festivals, particularly in Italy, where honey is a much bigger deal. She also began taking honey courses and eventually moved to the Italian beekeeping institute in Bologna for advanced certification. Four years ago, she became a member of the Italian National Register of Experts in the Sensory Analysis of Honey — the first American to be accepted.
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.”
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.
Hotel dining has certainly changed over the years. Gone are the dimly lit hotel lounges off the lobby with a bar menu of club sandwiches and BLTs. Today's hotels, especially in Orlando, put as much emphasis on the dining as the overnight stay. Orlando guests will find trendy restaurants with innovative menus and award-winning chefs, surprisingly located within Orlando's hotels and resorts. Here are some highlights, whether you're booking a stay or looking for a great meal.
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.