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Hamilton's Kitchen Adds Chef's Table Experience, Plus Tasting Menu and Sunday Brunch

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Hamiltons chef table

Since he took over Hamilton's Kitchen at the Alfond Inn about five months ago, executive chef Marc Kusche has been making big changes, and all for the better. In case you missed it, here is the re-review I did in July. The restaurant has better focus, and there is an emphasis on local ingredients and market-fresh fare.

One of Kusche's more recent additions is a Chef's Table dining experience, which features five courses, each paired with an appropriate wine, for a very reasonable $125 per person. It's served at the large farm table just outside the big kitchen window, so guests seated there have a great view of what's going on inside the kitchen as well as in the dining room. Kusche and his other staff members serve the guests seated at the table and explain each dish.

KuscheAnd what's on the menu at the Chef's Table? Impossible to say because Kusche never knows what it will be until someone has booked it and he goes off to the market. "We entirely customize the menu," Kusche told me. Often the table is booked for a Saturday evening, so Kusche will visit the Winter Park Farmer's Market just a few blocks away from the Alfond in the morning and start creating the menu with the fresh produce he finds there. He has one steadfast rule for the Chef's Table menu: It never has items from the restaurant's regular menu. That's just another way to keep it special.

The Chef's Table must be booked at least 24 hours in advance in order to give the chefs time to shop and be creative. The table holds a maximum of 10 people but you can book it for as few as two persons.

Another of Kusche's additions to Hamilton's Kitchen is a four-course Tasting Menu, with smaller plates of the restaurant's signature items, such as pork belly with local honey; wild mushroom ravioli; steak frites with broccolini; and brioche bread pudding. The tasting menu is only $45 per person or $55 with two sommelier wine pairings (10 bucks for two glasses of wine is pretty reasonable, don't you think?).

And Sundays now feature an a la carte brunch with nearly two dozen items, most of which are priced mid to lower teens. There's also a build-your-own bloody mary and mimosa bar. Brunch is served from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Hamilton's Kitchen Tasting Menu is available nightly. To book the Chef's Table, call 407-998-8090.

Electronic Tongue Wants To Put Me Out of Business

Red curryNot even restaurant critics are immune from having robots take over their jobs.

According to this article in the New York Times, the Thai government has funded the creation of a machine that can rate the authenticity of Thai dishes. The robot, called e-Delicious, is a boxy contraption that uses 10 sensors in its electronic tongue to evaluate levels of spiciness, taste and smell. It gives a rating based on government standards for the dish.

Sure, it might be able to evaluate the food, but can it deliver its results with snarky prose?

A Chinese Restaurant with an Addicting Secret Recipe, and a Restaurant Strikes Back at Yelp

chuan noodlesI suppose this is one way to improve your Yelp scores.

The owner of a noodle shop in China has admitted to lacing his dishes with opium, according to several news reports, including this one from the BBC. The drug was added to noodles in the form of powdered poppy buds.

The secret ingredient was discovered after one of the restaurant's customers, 26 year old Liu Juyou, was stopped for a traffic violation and tested for drugs. When the results came back positive, Liu, who says he has never used drugs, suspected the restaurant was to blame. Other members of his family ate at the Shaanxi province restaurant and also had drug tests performed. They, too, tested positive for the opiate. When confronted by police, the shop owner, who goes only by the name Zhang, admitted that he had added the poppy powder. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail.

Airline Food Now Available for Home Delivery

airfoodoneI can't imagine there's actually a call for this.

A new service developed by a company called Air Food One in association with German grocery company AllYouNeed.com and LGS Sky Chefs is offering to sell leftover airline food to people on the ground. For now, that ground is limited to Germany, Dusseldorf and Cologne, to be precise.

Unused food is delivered every Wednesday from German carrier Lufthansa, which I refer to as TWWA (The World's Worst Airline) ever since it accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of actually losing my carry-on luggage! The dinners are delivered right to the front door of the people who order the dinners through the online service and who, apparently, have even less pride than tastebuds. The dinner cost between 9 and 10 euros, or about $11.50 to $15.40, considerably less than the more than $1200 I paid for the food the last time I tasted it. This might be fun if the dinners were parachuted from the airliner as it passed over homes in Deutschland, or delivered by drone the way Amazon is plotting.

One of the people involved in the pilot program — get it? pilot? — was quoted in a Techcrunch article as saying it is a good way to use food that might otherwise get thrown out. I have news for you: A lot of the food that gets served in the air is getting thrown out, too.

But hey, who am I to shoot this one down? I say go for it. And if you want the full experience, eat your food on a tiny wobbling tray with your forehead up against the back of one of your living room's chairs. Extra points if the people involved can figure out a way to pressurize the little packets of salad dressing so they explode when you open them.

What about you? Have you ever had an airline meal that you wished you could order for home delivery?

Wednesday, 1st October 2014

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