Located just a block from Lake Eola in Thornton Park, Soco is one of the best places in Orlando to spend an afternoon eating and drinking outside. This place serves high-end comfort food, like grilled meatloaf with lobster mash potatoes, Southern fried quail and waffles, and a weekly TV dinner special that yes, gets served on an actual tray covered in foil. Drinks-wise, they have a huge wine list, along with plenty of cocktail and beer options. When you want to pretend like you don’t have responsibilities, come to Soco for a long weekend brunch or to spend the entire day on a patio.
Plush and luxurious, The Boheme really lives up to its name. The restaurant is located within Orlando’s Grand Bohemian Hotel, a cultural spot that even features an art gallery displaying works by local artists. As you enter the dining room, you’re welcomed by sleek tones of red and elaborate art decorating the walls, while the menu pleases with its choice of succulent meats, fish and seafood, from the red pepper ahi tuna to the pan-seared kurobuta pork chop. Make sure you don’t miss the weekly jazz brunch. Here, delectable treats from the chef’s station and a la carte menu can be sampled to the gentle sounds of live jazz, played at the venue’s Imperial Grand Bösendorfer Piano.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
Orlando’s finest steakhouse just happens to be located within one of the city’s grandest hotels, the Waldorf Astoria. Overlooking the hotel’s namesake golf club - right on the border of the sprawling Walt Disney World – views out of the floor-to-ceiling windows are superb, as is the meticulous service and refined décor that keeps things smart and sophisticated without ever feeling too stuffy. Being a steakhouse, the pièce de résistance here has got to be the 32-Day Dry-Aged Tomahawk Rib Eye, big enough for two people to share (and at $145 you would hope so). The menu here goes way beyond the bovine offerings too, with Bull and Bear’s signature ‘Fried Chicken’ ($42), the Pan Roasted Colorado Lamb ($48) and the ultra-extravagant Main Lobster, which comes served on a spit for two people ($68 per head). Read More...

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.

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