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.
The word gourmet is from the French term for a wine broker or taste-vin employed by a wine dealer. Friand was formerly the reputable name for a connoisseur of delicious things that were not eaten primarily for nourishment: "A good gourmet", wrote the conservative eighteenth-century Dictionnaire de Trévoux, employing this original sense, "must have le goût friand", or a refined palate. The pleasure is also visual: "J'aime un ragoût, et je suis friand", Giacomo Casanova declared, "mais s'il n'a pas bonne mine, il me semble mauvais". In the eighteenth century, gourmet and gourmand carried disreputable connotations of gluttony, which only gourmand has retained. Gourmet was rendered respectable by Monsieur Grimod de la Reynière, whose Almanach des Gourmands, essentially the first restaurant guide, appeared in Paris from 1803 to 1812.
For an alternative taste of Orlando, head to Graffiti Junktion, a wonder world of street art, no-frills burgers and live music. Essentially a neighborhood burger joint, the restaurant-cum-sports bar manages to craft a hip atmosphere without trying very hard at all: from a few basic variations on the venue’s famous melt-in-the-mouth burger to a choice of salads, the menu is defined by its simplicity. And perhaps this is what has earned Graffiti Junktion the unofficial title of Orlando’s best – and certainly the coolest – burger spot. One sign of its success is how much the restaurant has grown over the years. It now has several locations in and around the city. Our firm favorite, however, is the original spot in Thornton Park.
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?”
Lalousis had been managing Maille’s retail boutique in London when he was tapped for his expertise. “My boss told me, ‘I think you’ve got a calling. You’ve got a love for mustard.’ ” He was sent to the factory in Dijon for six months of training and learned “everything there was to know about mustard.” As far as Lalousis is aware, he’s the only mustard sommelier in the world. That’s not to say, however, that he is the first mustard sommelier in history. “We had a mustard sommelier in 1747 when we opened a store in Paris,” he says. At that time in Paris, Dijon mustard was not well known. “Our founder wanted people to know how to use Dijon mustard. He wanted to show people that it was an ingredient and not just a condiment.” And if Lalousis has his way, he will not be the last. He’s developing an educational program that will certify future mustard sommeliers about types of mustard seed, harvest techniques, chemical compounds in mustard, regional differences, levels and qualities of pungency, various pairings and uses, and what Lalousis calls “the culture of mustard.”
Serving ‘food for the starving artist’, Café Tu Tu Tango is an artsy, colorful little venue with a huge spirit of fun and community. Local artists display their work on the restaurant’s walls and strike up conversation with guests, while local ingredients are turned into delicious, tapas-style concoctions perfect for sharing. Try the Argentinean-style orange chimmichurri steak, the adventurous guava-glazed barbecue pork ribs or the chorizo al fuego – a delicious mix of spicy Spanish chorizo served with brandy-glazed fingerling potatoes. The atmosphere at Café Tu Tu Tango is vibrant and bohemian, so prepare to dive into a world where creativity meets community.
Charly Robinson, who runs F&D Kitchen & Bar and F&D Cantina in Lake Mary, moved into the building that previously housed Peppino’s Organic Italian Kitchen in the newly minted Hourglass District – one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city. Robinson subsequently spruced the place up making it even more inviting and welcoming than before without compromising the restaurant’s convivial mien. A bevy of Neapolitan-style pies are offered from a bianca with fennel sausage and rapini to three-milk blue cheese with caramelized onions and rosemary, as are a trio of vegan pies. But a cacio e pepe from their pasta offerings is what’s causing a stir amongst the city’s noodle hounds.
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!
Entertaining or throwing a wine party? Having a selection of cheeses on hand will let you take your party from average to fabulous fast. Choose from pre-boxed collections and taste cheeses from all over the world, or pick timeless favorites like Parmigiano-Reggiano instead. Serve alongside salumi and other charcuterie meats, or serve with appetizers such as antipasti. Our selection of artisan cheeses includes boxes that highlight the best from each state as well as famous international cheeses from Italy, Spain and France, making it easy to discover new cheeses and pick out the perfect gift.
Tobacconist University is run in a cigar shop called A Little Taste of Cuba in downtown Princeton, N.J., in the shadow of a slightly more famous Ivy League university. Jorge Luis Armenteros founded Tobacconist University in 1996, at the height of the 1990s cigar craze, originally as training for his shop staff. Soon, others in the industry wanted the same knowledge. Now, most of the coursework is online at a cost of $100 to $1,000, depending on experience. Tobacconist University has 450 Certified Retail Tobacconists, with another 1,000 apprentices studying for the certification. At the top end of the program is Certified Master Tobacconist, which includes 100 hours of work in tobacco fields or cigar factories and an “academic contribution,” such as a paper or article. There are only 13 Certified Master Tobacconists.
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.
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.”
Variety, in both cuisine and atmosphere, characterizes Orlando dining. Fun, casual meals and reliable chain restaurants fill the bill for many hungry tourists. Kids especially relish character breakfasts at Disney's Contemporary Resort and dinners at Universal's three resorts, where folks dine in good company – alongside Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Scooby Doo, and Curious George. The International Drive and Sand Lake Road areas feature a number of chain favorites that make good stand-bys, and themed eateries abound as well, including the jungle-like Rainforest Café and the Nascar Café. For upscale dining, restaurants like Atlantis at SeaWorld's Renaissance Resort and Victoria and Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort serve fresh seafood and impeccable American Continental cuisine. Plus, Disney's Lake Buena Vista area, EPCOT, Downtown Disney, and Universal Studios CityWalk promise eateries for all appetites and price ranges. Even celebrity chefs get in on the action: Emeril's features Continental cuisine with a Cajun kick. And if you're in downtown Orlando, take advantage of dining gems like Manuel's on the Twenty-Eighth, located atop the Nations Bank building. Suave, monied Winter Park also features superb restaurants, including the fashionable Park Plaza Gardens.
Norman Van Aken is a culinary legend and a proud adopted Floridian, which plays nicely into delicious and often Latin-, Caribbean- and even Key West-infused fare. Sit outside and enjoy spectacular views of lakes, gardens and the Ritz-Carlton's expansive, green golf course or dine in climate-controlled majesty – vaulted ceilings and Italianate windows help bring that outside essence in. Tapas like Key West shrimp ceviche or delicate caviar may prime your palate for creamy cracked conch chowder or rhum and pepper painted Florida black grouper. Norman's is, of course, not a one-dollar-sign venue, but for vacationers and those looking for a sumptuous meal out, few venues are as resplendent as the Ritz-Carlton, and few restaurants could match it as well as Norman's.
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.
Anything tastes good covered in chocolate, right? This collection of awesome chocolate-dipped confections is enough to satisfy anyone's chocolate craving. These treats easily become great food gifts to bring to neighbors, parties, and teachers. Elevate the great flavors of fruits like strawberries and apricots or simple snacks like pretzel sticks and cookies by simply dipping them in chocolate.
Everybody understands the stuggle of getting dinner on the table after a long day. If you're looking for a simple recipe to simplify your weeknight, you've come to the right place--easy dinners are our specialty. For an easy supper that you can depend on, we picked out some of our tried-and-true favorites that have gotten us through even the busiest of days. Whether you're cooking for yourself or for a family, these easy dinners are sure to leave everyone satisfied and stress-free.
Fine dining and Disney haven’t always gone hand-in-hand; the first restaurant you might associate with Mickey Mouse and co probably has a giant yellow ‘M’ towering above it or a certain Colonel Sanders plastered on a billboard outside. Victoria & Albert’s, however, flips this now out-of-date stereotype on its head, offering the polar opposite of the old-school Disney fast food joint. This is the sort of place where reservations need to be made weeks in advance, you won’t get in without a dinner jacket, and six or more courses from their modern American/French-inspired menu (with wine pairing) will probably set you back the price of a couple of tickets into the park for the day. Orlando is not yet on the Michelin team’s radar, but Victoria & Albert’s has long been recognized as one of Florida’s best restaurants, having been awarded the prestigious AAA Five Diamond award every year since 2000. Read More...
Eater editors get asked one question more than any other: “Where should I eat right now?” Orlando dining obsessives want to know what’s new, what’s hot, and what favorite chef just launched a new spot. So here they are – the fresh faces on our ever-evolving restaurant scene; the newish spots setting tongues awagging from the theme parks to downtown Orlando to the city’s suburban enclaves and all the neighborhoods in between.
To illustrate how important the olfactory sense is, Marchese earlier asked me to hold my nose and gave me something granular to put on my tongue. At first, it just felt grainy and sweet. Yet once I unplugged my nose, I experienced a rush of cinnamon flavor. As further practice, we sniffed little vials of typical honey aromas, similar to a kit other sensory experts use. I was proud of myself for identifying scents of mint, peach and lily. But others stumped me. Nutmeg? Wrong, hazelnut. Tea? No, hay. Truffle? Sorry, mushroom.
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.
Indeed, what the rise of specialized taste education, the cult of sensory analysis, and the wine-ification of everything means is that taste is becoming more and more codified all the time. There are good tastes and bad tastes; not only that, there’s a growing caste of gatekeepers in every field who are keeping score on what tastes great, middling and flawed. Maybe this is what morality or philosophy looks like in an increasingly post-religious, post-intellectual, materialistic United States. We are a people in need of an authority, a higher voice, some guidance — even if it comes from behind the cheese counter. Maybe, for many affluent Americans, the sommeliers of everything represent something shaman-like. Listen to me. I am your one true sommelier.