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.
We're in the thick of winter, and soups aren't going anywhere. There's only one thing that goes better with soup than crusty bread, and that's the Instant Pot, which shaves off hours of prep time without sacrificing any of the flavor. No matter your base ingredient—beef, squash, beans, pork, you name it—your favorite reliable appliance will turn out fantastic soups and stews every. single. time.
We made reservations for 1pm on Sunday and we were seated as soon as our entire party arrived. Fried Green tomatoes and bacon wrapped dates stuffed with gorgonzola to start. Both were very good! I ordered the corn & hash from the special brunch menu which comes with an egg on top. It was a perfect mesh of ingredients. Others in my group ordered the pulled pork sandwich with homemade chips, the gnarly biscuits with gravy, bacon, and fried egg, and fried green tomato stack with a fried egg on top. Everyone enjoyed their food and we were all very satisfied. Service was great and we did not feel rushed to leave being it was a Sunday and brunch hours.
Prato’s style of cooking can be defined as classic Italian with an emphasis on local ingredients. This, coupled with the restaurant’s sleek wood-and-brick decor, makes for a modern dining experience with a cool, rustic vibe. A signature special beloved by locals is the Widowmaker pizza, which is topped with caciocavallo cheese, romesco, fennel sausage and an egg in the center. A small yet eclectic selection of pastas and secondi awaits, where dishes change seasonally – and daily, depending what fresh ingredients are available. Chef Brandon McGlamery, who is also responsible for the success of the hugely popular Luma on Park, located a few steps down Park Avenue, reassures that his restaurants ‘stick to seasonally directed and ingredient-driven as our motto’.
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.
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.