Chagrined, I become obsessed with acquiring another certification, in another realm of taste. I pay $120 to Ecole Chocolat, an online chocolate school, to enroll in its Mastering Chocolate Flavor certificate program. I enjoy good chocolate, and I was fascinated by the complexity and craftsmanship of chocolatiers on a trip to Brussels a few years earlier. I understand that chocolate can be “single origin” and demonstrate the concept of “terroir” just like wine and coffee — and honey. So I pay my money, unlock the study material, and am immediately overwhelmed with a dump of information: the origins of chocolate, cacao and cacao trees; how flavor works, both physiologically and in chocolate; the elements of chocolate flavor. We are encouraged to buy a textbook, co-written by Ecole Chocolat’s founder, titled “Raising the Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate.” The course is to be self-directed, with weekly tasting assignments — the first being a general exercise on sweet, sour, salty, bitter, fatty and umami, and the others comparing two or more chocolate bars. Students post to a group forum, with feedback from our Flavor Coach. “My primary question is how to classify ‘what is good,’ ” posts one of my classmates. To which our Flavor Coach replies: “Many folk in the industry have their own opinions about what ‘good’ chocolate is. Here’s mine (for the moment): ‘Good’ is a chocolate with no overpowering faults that is pleasant and sparks your interest. That leaves things pretty wide open, doesn’t it?”
While Orlando is in the south, it’s not really a Southern city. If you’re looking for some proper Southern food though, you can find it at The Coop in Winter Park. This place specializes in fried chicken, which you should definitely get, but they also serve po’boys, shrimp and grits, and plenty of traditional sides, if a bucket of chicken isn’t what you’re after. They also serve breakfast seven days a week, which includes classics like chicken and waffles and biscuits with gravy. Just make sure to schedule a nap for afterwards if you stop by.
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?

This was on my must do​ list for a while. Down in the area and did not want to fight traffic. Halloween night and they were closing early. Not crowded at all as we arrived around 5 pm​. The first​ impression was good as I am a bit knicked up and using a knee walker. One of the staff grabbed the door and they suggested a table out of the heavy traffic. A/C was cranking so bring a light coat. Steve was our waiter and he was knowledgeable​. Ordered up the bacon wrapped gorgonzola​ wrapped dates and they came out very quickly. The bacon was a little too charred to be flavorful and the cheese was not as warm I would have thought based on how charred the bacon​ was. I would love to taste it with well-cooked​ bacon and melty cheese. Also,​ order some shrimp and grits......big order enough for a ​meal and the highlight of the night. Ordered up fried chicken open faced club and a chicken caesar​ salad.​ The sandwich was a sight to behold and the batter was crunchy​ but really did not have any flavor that wowed me. The salad was a good portion but the caesar dressing lacked​ a little on garlic. It is the small things that make the experience and having the manager realize the bathroom door was not cooperating as I tried to navigate and helping me was very much appreciated. Overall​ I think this is a do-over​ maybe on a weekend night and a little later so they are on step when we order......I can see the potential for what others have written but I did not see it that night. Gets a one star bump for a great staff but they can't make up for the star of the show, the food, falling a little short. @Kodiak_kuisine


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.
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.
Owners Marshall Phanthachit and Kevin Phanhvilay aren’t shy about displaying the full spectrum of flavors of Laotian cuisine at their popular Mills 50 eatery. The sweet, the spicy, the fishy and the fermented are presented in street snack form and, best of all, the whole menu can be had for around $65. Scooping wee balls of sticky rice in one hand then dipping it into jaew mak len (a charred tomato paste) or jaew bong (sweet chili paste with pork skin) is digital dining at its finest. Lemongrass pork sausage, sesame beef jerky and pork tapioca dumplings shouldn’t be overlooked. The fearless can test their fortitude with the funky, fermented, fishy quintessence of thum maak thang, a spicy cucumber salad.

If your tastes tend more toward savory foods, get cooking with soups and grains from around the world, from nourishing vegetable and noodle soups to pasta, rice and couscous. Bring fabulous flavor to the table with our easy-to-make meals, from cozy breakfasts to internationally inspired dinners. Living gluten-free? Our selection of gluten-free foods, from snacks and sweets to suppers and sauces, gives you all the flavor you want without the gluten you don't.


You can make this one pot chicken parmesan pasta in any large skillet or pot, but I always make it in my enameled dutch oven.  When I’m stirring the pasta as it cooks, I don’t want to be worried about the liquid slopping up and over the sides.  I’m a messy cook, but no one likes to clean up burn on sauces from their stovetop!  If you don’t have a dutch oven, you can use a deep sided skillet, or a stock pot… but I highly recommend picking up a dutch oven, they have so many uses!!
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.
×