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Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Kicks Off Today


The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival kicks off today. No need to hurry — it runs for 53 days this year, ending on November 10. During that time, attendees can immerse themselves in all sorts of culinary and winerary events and activities.

For many people (including me) the main attraction is the collection of food kiosks, officially called Marketplaces, set up around the World Showcase Lagoon. The permanent countries are all represented, of course, but there are a few other countries or cuisines brought in, too. Both Argentina and Chile have had Marketplaces in the past. This year, they're combined into a Patagonia kiosk. Be sure to try the Roasted Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri there. I had a chance to try it at a preview dinner and I liked it very much. The piquant chimichurri sauce is usually served with meat, but it goes well with this strong-flavored fish, too.

Stop by the Greece kiosk and try the vegetarian moussaka, another winner. It's so good that even meat eaters won't be disappointed there's no lamb or beef in it.

Read more: Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Kicks Off Today

Pop Up Wants to Serve You Someone Else's Last Meal

Well, here's a bad idea that should just, um, die.

A London club that calls itself Death Row Dinners wants to offer the actual last meals of condemned prisoners as a pop-up restaurant theme. The idea apparently grew out of the notion that at every dinner party someone would invariably ask, "So, if you were sentenced to be executed, what would you choose for your last meal?"

The idea has been met with overwhelming derision.

"Tasteless. Crass. Wrong. Just stop and shut down," wrote one commenter on the group's Facebook page, which includes actual pictures of convicts with signs indicating their last suppers.

"You need to remove all images of prisoners now!" wrote another. "What is wrong with you people? Who are you? Where do you come from? Death Row is not a lifestyle, not for use as an 'edgy' promotional concept for a pop-up restaurant. It's beyond any comprehension that you think this is a good idea. If you really don't get the banal inhumanity of this then I'd be happy to explain it to you."

On its website, Death Row Dinners issued a statement that read:

"We're shocked and saddened by the response to Death Row Dinners and are genuinely very sorry for the offence caused. The pop up is intended to explore the concept of last meals...In light of the response to the idea we are considering our next steps and will update everyone with our decision."

What's misunderstood in the whole idea is that the last meals of actual death row inmates, at least in the United States -- and let's face it, more last meals are served in the U.S. than any other country -- are not the sort of extravagant feasts that dinner guests expound about. Cheeseburgers, fried chicken and other mundane fare are the norm. Indeed, requests for foie gras or pheasant under glass would not likely be granted. So the 50 pounds sterling ($81.69 USD) that the group wants to charge for steamed mussels, double cheeseburger, ribs and strawberry ice cream is another reason for outrage.

What do you think of the idea? And as long as they're asking, what would your last meal be?

Soco Debuts Wednesday in Soft Opening

Soco banner

The much anticipated Soco Restaurant moves into a soft-opening phase Wednesday at 5 p.m. as it opens its doors to the public for the first time. Soco is the first new project from Thornton Park Restaurant Group (TPRG), which also owns neighboring Cityfish. It occupies the former Hue restaurant space on the corner of Central Boulevard and Summerlin Avenue in Downtown Orlando's Thornton Park district.

What exactly is a soft opening, you ask? It's sort of like the run up to the opening of a big Broadway production. During a show's preview phase, the audience expects to see — and often does — the full performance, just as it will run on opening night. However, they also know that during the evening there might be a missed lighting cue or a piece of scenery that doesn't descend from the rafters. Costumes have been known to malfunction.

Read more: Soco Debuts Wednesday in Soft Opening

RusTeak Changes Its Mind on Former Hangar Space

A lot can happen in a 14 percent gap.

When I told you in June that RusTeak, an Ocoee restaurant, would open a second location in the former Hangar space at the Wellseley condominiums in College Park, I quoted the owner as saying the verbal agreement to lease the space was "86 percent done." Now, as Matt Broffman of Bungalower and Debbie Goetz of College Park Community Paper are reporting, the deal did not go through, and instead the RusTeak owner has purchased the freestanding building up the block that was most recently home to a troubled pizzeria.

The building, at 2625 Edgewater Drive, was where Alfonso's Pizza took up residence when it moved back to College Park after a year or so on South Orange Avenue. However, a dispute with the owners of Ragazzi's Pizza, which was originally the location of Alfonso's, resulted in the latter changing its name to O-Town Pizza. But it closed shortly thereafter.

That address has held many restaurants over the years, including Scruffy Murphy's, Adair's, and a most forgettable cafe called Gio's. 

The Hangar Bar and Grille space has been home to a few restaurants, too, in its relatively shorter life. It was originally Harmoni Market then became a Wildside BBQ Bar that for some reason also featured sushi. No word on who will step up to take over that location. How about it, College Parkers, what type of restaurant would you like to see go in there?


Sunday, 21st September 2014

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