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.
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.
With cocoa undertones and tangy cream cheese frosting, red velvet cakes and cupcakes are typically the highlight of any dessert table. We've rounded up our favorite red velvet recipes that include some incredible cakes as well as some surprising additions, such as cobblers, fudge, and cookies. Enjoy the best desserts that red velvet has to offer by indulging in any one of these decadent and delicious treats. 
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. 

Make a big impression and give one of our gourmet gift baskets to the lucky host, newlyweds, or relatives. Packed with delicious gourmet food, our gift baskets are sure to please. Peruse our selection and pick out the one that fits the occasion best. So the next time you’re in a pinch, or just want to try something new and delicious, shop QVC for gourmet food, drinks, and more.


When you’re losing steam after a long day out with your family and need a snack and a drink to hold you over until dinner, head to Cocina 214 in Winter Park for Happy Hour. This Tex-Mex spot serves 12 types of margaritas and lots of things that are perfect for a small pre-meal, like tacos, queso fundido, and fried avocado bites. And if you don’t feel like relocating to another spot after a few drinks, the burritos and tamales should help hold you over until breakfast.

We will come back to this classroom on Sunday to learn how to properly wrap cheese and how to properly pair cheese with beer and wine. But on Saturday morning the class meets at Murray’s facility in Queens, where we listen to a three-plus-hour lecture from Murray’s assistant cavemaster Krista Jacobsen, who holds a PhD in dairy sciences. As we taste 13 more cheeses, we learn about the chemistry of milk, some basics of animal management, the anatomy of a ruminant’s stomach, peak lactation, the role of microbes, milk fats, pasteurization, acid coagulation vs. enzymatic coagulation, starter cultures, curds and whey, the biochemistry of ripening Camembert. There are more topics, but those are the ones I vaguely understand. “Cheese is the controlled rotting of milk,” Jacobsen says. “We’re still learning what’s going on in there.”


Perhaps you are someone who thinks honey is just honey. Or tea is just tea. Or olive oil is just olive oil. Or water is just water. Or a cigar is just a cigar. Or mustard is just mustard. If so, you’re likely skeptical of a honey sommelier, a tea sommelier, an olive oil sommelier, a water sommelier, a cigar sommelier or a mustard sommelier. But over the past several years, there’s been a creeping wine-ification in every realm of gourmet endeavor. Now, in our era of hyper-credentialism, there’s almost no sphere of connoisseurship without a knowledgeable, certified taste expert, someone who’s completed serious coursework and passed an exam. A two-day tea sommelier certification course (followed by eight weeks of home study) from the International Tea Masters Association costs $1,475. A six-day olive oil sommelier certification program at the International Culinary Center in New York costs $2,800. A nine-day water sommelier certification program at the Doemens Academy in Germany costs $2,600 (travel not included).
Gourmet meals are typically served in small contrasting courses. This allows a broad flavor experience, but at the same time limits the exposure to the often rich flavors that Gourmet Foods offer. Gourmet Foods are prized for their exclusivity often due to scarcity such as the case of the Italian White Truffle or Caviars that cost hundreds of dollars per ounce. Many foods are in season only during certain times of the year, and are grown only in remote regions of the world. Many of these foods are likely to be characterized as Gourmet due to accessibility, cost and origin. It is important to recognize that Gourmet Foods are in the eye of the beholder, as Gourmet Magazine includes recipes for everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to foie gras and truffles. igourmet has made Gourmet Food accessible through our vast offering of thousands of difficult to find Gourmet Food items.
Whether you're looking for something perfect but not too personal to gift your favorite coworkers, an option to suit your resident gourmet's picky palate, or just want to give the gift of not having to cook dinner (or breakfast, or lunch) this year, we've tracked down all of the most delicious edible presents, baskets, and subscriptions to make every gifting occasion more delicious.

You guys… have you tried one pot pasta dishes before?  They. Are. AMAZING!!  No waiting for a big pot of water to boil, no draining, no extra pot to wash… just one pot of pure comfort food.  I have been dreaming up and testing all kinds of one pot pasta dishes for you all, and I think you’ll be excited with all the options over the next month or so!


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.
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!!

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.


It’s hard to find one restaurant that you can take your family, friends, or the stranger you met at the bar next door to. However, that’s exactly what Santiago’s Bodega is for. This Mills 50 tapas restaurant serves everything from beef carpaccio to patatas bravas, with plenty of wine and cocktails to help get your friends ready for a night out or speed up the “getting to know you” phase of your impromptu date. They also have a great weekend brunch buffet and patio, which makes it a good place to spend a Sunday afternoon.
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Perhaps you are someone who thinks honey is just honey. Or tea is just tea. Or olive oil is just olive oil. Or water is just water. Or a cigar is just a cigar. Or mustard is just mustard. If so, you’re likely skeptical of a honey sommelier, a tea sommelier, an olive oil sommelier, a water sommelier, a cigar sommelier or a mustard sommelier. But over the past several years, there’s been a creeping wine-ification in every realm of gourmet endeavor. Now, in our era of hyper-credentialism, there’s almost no sphere of connoisseurship without a knowledgeable, certified taste expert, someone who’s completed serious coursework and passed an exam. A two-day tea sommelier certification course (followed by eight weeks of home study) from the International Tea Masters Association costs $1,475. A six-day olive oil sommelier certification program at the International Culinary Center in New York costs $2,800. A nine-day water sommelier certification program at the Doemens Academy in Germany costs $2,600 (travel not included).
The city’s first permanent food truck park, modeled after the ones in Portland, Oregon, not only brings five mobile food vendors hawking poke, empanadas, Brazilian-style skewered meats, Vietnamese-Korean fare and a smorgasbord of Scandinavian delights, but the 10,400-square-foot outdoor venue in the Milk District sports an indoor bar with 15 taps featuring a rotating lineup of beers, ciders, wines, and cold-brew coffee. Some notable pairings: Playalinda Brewing’s Robonaut Red Ale paired with Vinny & Kory’s bibimbap to start, while Adao Gourmet’s dulce de leche empanadas chased with Destihl Brewery’s Russian Imperial Stout makes an indulgent capper.
“We want to get beyond ‘yummy’ and ‘delicious,’ ” says instructor Caitlin O’Neill, a Certified Cheese Professional. The first step we take is to plug our noses — the same sensory-analysis exercise we did in my honey-tasting instruction. We place a piece of mozzarella on our tongues, which at first simply feels gooey and salty, and then a rush of smoky, buttery flavor comes on once I unplug my nose. We learn the basics of cheesemaking and the differences between the milks of cows, goats, sheep and water buffalo (which is “almost the texture of white paint”). We taste 15 cheeses, each of which represents a specific category: fresh, bloomy, washed, Alpine, Gouda, uncooked, thistle, cheddar, grana, blue. As O’Neill explains each category, I start to feel ridiculous for ever thinking I could have skipped this foundational step in my cheese education before sitting for an advanced exam.
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.
My training as a honey sommelier at the American Honey Tasting Society culminates with eight wineglasses filled with various honeys, lined up from light to dark. My instructor, Carla Marina Marchese, tells me that when we taste honey, we don’t do the ceremonial swirl — the wine expert’s ritual — before we sniff. Honey sommeliers smear. “Smear it on the sides of the glass like this,” she says, using a tiny plastic spoon. Once the honey is smeared, I can stick my nose in the glass to properly evaluate the aroma, then spoon a dollop onto my tongue.
But customers’ favorite choice when eating here would be the Burgushi. It’s the perfect combination of sushi with a burger. Options for the Burgushi are Doug's Filet Roll, "The Prime Time" Filet & Lobster Roll, and many more. You can also build your very own sushi roll. Not many restaurants give you that option, that's why The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar is one of the best restaurants in Orlando and one of the best burger joints in America.
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.
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“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.”
Hi Evi 🙂 As an entree, it serves about 6 people, so you’ll have to make some adjustments to the recipe to get it to serve that many people. There’s no way it’ll all fit in one pot, so you’ll more than likely have to have it going in various pots. I’ve never made the recipe for that many people, so I can’t say for certain how it’ll hold up by increasing it that much.
This is a terrific reimagining of the classic dish.  I struggled with the pasta cooking and may cook the pasta at least 3/4 of the way through separately, but otherwise it’s a winner.  I used two chicken breast halves which I flattened a bit, cooked flat, then cut up and cooked the rest of the way.  I love breading on the chicken, but it’s very nice like this without – what a time saver and calorie saver.  

After a long day at work, on the golf course, or riding Flight of the Hippogriff 12 times, you just want to go somewhere for dinner that you know will be good and that everyone you’re with will like. For us, that’s The Ravenous Pig. This neighborhood restaurant and bar in Winter Park has a dining room for larger groups, a bar for when you pop in solo, and a tap room if you just want to grab a snack and try a few of their beers brewed on-site. The seasonal menu includes everything from oysters and shrimp and grits, to braised pork belly and a short rib brisket burger that you’ll be thinking about the next day.

Why go: Domu serves authentic Japanese style ramen right alongside their very own spins on the classics. Attached to the East End Market—Orlando’s European-style artisan hall of makers—the restaurant feels super hip. In terms of specific orders, we suggest always asking for the kimchi butter chicken wings, an appetizer so good, it will make your head spin.
Just one in a string of joints to offer street eats with a pan-Asian bent, Kai has been luring them in with the sticky crunch of Korean-style chicken wings; crispy fries loaded with kimchi and bulgogi; and tacos stuffed with everything from chicken satay to deep-fried fish (cá). Owners Isra Sunhachawi and Quan Van traveled all over Asia in an effort to perfect their recipes and, after months of experimenting and tweaking, that commitment and drive certainly shows.
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.
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?”

I wasn't too impressed by this place despite the high ratings. I ordered the bbq pork ribs and i thought it was super dry. I also thought their potato chips were a little overlooked and had a slight bitter taste. I also tried the bacon date wraps appetizer and thought it tasted really odd. The sweetness of the dates was way too overpowering, but this is probably my taste preference. I really enjoyed the Brussels sprouts though!


Gourmet meals are typically served in small contrasting courses. This allows a broad flavor experience, but at the same time limits the exposure to the often rich flavors that Gourmet Foods offer. Gourmet Foods are prized for their exclusivity often due to scarcity such as the case of the Italian White Truffle or Caviars that cost hundreds of dollars per ounce. Many foods are in season only during certain times of the year, and are grown only in remote regions of the world. Many of these foods are likely to be characterized as Gourmet due to accessibility, cost and origin. It is important to recognize that Gourmet Foods are in the eye of the beholder, as Gourmet Magazine includes recipes for everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to foie gras and truffles. igourmet has made Gourmet Food accessible through our vast offering of thousands of difficult to find Gourmet Food items.

Take a cue from the pros and try your hand at sous vide preparations for incredibly tender steaks, cooked to your exact temperature specifications every time. This kit comes with an Anova immersion circulator and sous vide bag, plus two wagyu New York strip steaks, two wagyu ribeye filets, black pepper infused salt, and a prep guide to walk you through making the most delicious steak you've ever had. 
It should immediately be noted, the average main course price is not $59; that's the cost of your entire, impeccable three-course meal. This intimate room inside the Winter Garden's historic Edgewater Hotel is a sorta-kinda best-kept-secret in Orlando. It has made everyone's list, from local publications to Zagat's Top Restaurants in America, but its size and location (out in Winter Garden; about 15 miles west of downtown Orlando) has allowed it to keep some of its clandestine buzz, despite being open several years. Menus shift with fresh ingredients but never disappoint. Chef's Table is a special-occasion delight. Turn your cell phone off; leave the kids at home. Enjoy.
A sleek and intimate interior belies a strip-mall exterior on busy Colonial Drive near the Fashion Square Mall. It's a relatively new Orlando favorite for sushi and Asian fusion, with artful and generous presentation and a soothing, cosmopolitan vibe. Creative rolls – many of them tempura, watch the calories! – are a big draw but before you go completely roll-overboard (who doesn't?!) consider Kabooki's delicate, nigiri and sashimi selections, as well. Plump, fresh cuts of melt-in-your-mouth fish are served like culinary fine art that is, in fact, too lovely to gaze upon too long. Take a picture before you scarf. I mean, savor.

“I took that exam while I was on the toilet,” says the other. Both eagerly await the USACM’s next-level exam, a more sophisticated test of their knowledge, to become a “Certified Pommelier” — a higher designation, even though I’ve already been calling myself a “pommelier.” The first sitting of this new exam will happen in February at CiderCon in Chicago. There are also plans for a Level 3 and 4.
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?
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