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.
Chef Shuichi Tanida left his post at Epcot’s Mitsukoshi restaurant to open a downtown ramen shop (appropriately dubbed “The Ramen”) in the former Philly Connection space and the soup cognoscenti have caught on. The broths, be it tonkotsu, shoyu or miso are unquestionably legit and there’s even a vegan ramen offered. The soup-averse can give any of the donburi (rice bowls) or bento boxes (with choice of karaage, panko-fried chicken tender, or potato croquette) a go but, really, it’s all about the ramen at The Ramen.
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.
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.
After lunch, there is a tour of Murray’s caves, where the cheese ages. Then we’re led through the tasting of eight more cheeses by Tyler Frankenberg, the company’s customer experience manager, also a Certified Cheese Professional. This tasting is about comparing variations in cheesemaking: the differences between cheese near the rind vs. the tip, washed rind vs. ash, unaged vs. aged (“older doesn’t necessarily mean better,” we’re told). At one point we compare two versions of a funky pasteurized sheep’s milk cheese called Hollander with an aroma that people describe as earthy, mineral, “like mom’s basement” and even redolent of ammonia. “With this one, the bark is worse than its bite,” Frankenberg says.
The name of this Thornton Park/South Eola restaurant makes vague reference to the unusual collection of dishes it offers, not so much the oddball patronage it sometimes draws. Owners Brian Buttner and Jonathan Canonaco, who operate the well-received Stubborn Mule across the street, took over the old NoLa-inspired Muddy Waters space and transformed it into a trendy, see-and-be-seen sort of joint. Smoked duck wings, caramel-lacquered Asian pork spears and vegan pate don’t exactly scream “eclectic” but, hey, what trendoids want, trendoids get.
Another factor would be religious/cultural beliefs and customs, which have a significant impact on the food that was eaten. For instance, Jewish and Islamic cultures have rules for not only what they can eat, but how to prepare the food and what it can be paired with. To eat specific food items they must be Kosher (for Jews) and Halal (for Muslims). The most obvious example is that neither can eat pork because they consider pigs to be unclean. Another example is that many people of India generally do not consume beef because many devout Hindus believe the cow is a sacred animal. Buddhism encourage vegetarianism so that limits what Buddhist can eat. These practices and beliefs encourage what is not eaten and society but also what can be eaten. For instance, the Buddhists have a history of preparing and eating tofu to get protein. There is also the role of the state when it comes to these issues sometimes dictating how meals should be prepared. An example of this would be that of edicts of Ashoka who declared that many animals shall be given decent treatment and limited the numbers that could be consumed. Although, it should be noted Ashoka was a very devout Buddhist and that affected his policies.
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.
Foie Gras is the specially fatten liver of duck or geese. Prized for its butter and meaty flavor, this French delicacy is may be prepared in whole form, or as a mousse, pate, or terrine and is cooked prior to being served hot or chilled. The meat is finely chopped or minced and mixed with fat and formed into a spread to create a delicate and rich taste experience.
Absolutely amazariffic ! I had shrimp and grits, large, fresh, plump and juicy shrimps, 5, sitting atop homemade from scratch grits. Perfectly seasoned, crumbles bacon bits and mushrooms complemented this wonderful classic. I will be back for sure, other stuff I must try... friend green tomatoes, wish I had two stomachs to accommodate all I wanted to try.
To say the transition from food truck to brick-and-mortar operation was a challenging one for Bem Bom chef/owner Francisco “Chico” Mendonça and business partner A.J. Campofiore would be an understatement of epic proportions. Now that it has opened, the Audubon Park charmer is consistently hopping, and the inviting patio fronting Corrine Drive is one of the toughest seats to snag in the neighborhood. They come for Chico’s Portuguese and Mexican dishes, much like the ones he fashioned inside his food truck and, prior to that, at Winter Park’s Cocina 214. Frango de churrasco (or barbecued chicken) done in the piri piri style is a must, but dense and porky grilled chouriço is hard to overlook, as is the center-cut salted cod topped with caramelized onions and peppers drizzled in Portuguese olive oil and served with punched potatoes.
MEAT. It's what's for dinner (and breakfast, brunch and lunch) at this Mills 50 mecca of all things carnivorous. Grass-fed beef, pastured pork, goat, lamb, eggs, you name it - all of it locally sourced - is what goes into dishes like the Sloppy Jehosephat (loose beef and cheddar on a French roll), the arugula-and-cheddar-laden Crushinator breakfast sammich ("No, Pa! I love him!") and a medium-rare burger that the whole of Orlando's meat-eating community has unanimously raved about. Orlando Meats is open for all three squares; the breakfast menu features some creative spins on traditional offerings, but serious carnivores can order up that signature burger at 8 am if their lovingly clogged hearts so desire. Other delights, including sippable beef or chicken bone broth and house-made doughnuts, are also worth the visit.