science of wine at orlando science center copy

Next week is dedicated to education.

That didn't get you excited, did it? How about this:

Next week is dedicated to wine. Do I have your attention? Good. Because next week there are two events, both at Orlando Science Center, and both dedicated to wine (and education).

First, on Wed., April 25, is the annual Reading Between the Wines, which I told you about in this article. That's the annual event benefitting the Adult Literacy League, with guest authors discussing their latest works while you nibble on food. And drink wine. Don't forget the wine.

Then on Sat., April 28, it's the eighth annual Science of Wine, where you can learn about the geography, agriculture and even chemistry disciplines that go into getting a simple grape to turn into something wonderful. You thought it was magic, didn't you?

Of course, you don't have to actually learn anything. You can sit in the back and sip wine, just like you did your entire senior year. Don't think we didn't notice.

You can also sample some of the fine foods that will be offered by the likes of Taverna Opa and Tapa Toro, Norman's at the Ritz, Reel Fish, Something Fishy (not related) and Black Rooster Taqueria, among others.

It's mostly a walkabout event so get that picture of sitting at a desk out of your head. (There are some actual seminars and demonstrations available for the truly studious.) Tickets are $125 per person or $100 for Science Center members. Proceeds go to benefit the Science Center.

The Science of Wine is from 7 to 10 p.m. You'll want to get your tickets in advance. Click here to do that and to see a full list of restaurants that will be there.

You'll be delighted to learn that there is no required reading before either event. But you're going to love the homework.

cocina 214 patio

Cocina 214 is the winner of the Best Outdoor Dining Foodster Award for Independent Restaurants. Second place goes to the Tap Room at Dubsdread and Yellow Dog Eats takes third.

Cocina 214, the Tex-Mex restaurant on E. Welbourne Avenue in Winter Park, is a first time Foodster nominee and winner. "I love Cocina's outdoor dining - great way to enjoy Park Avenue while also eating the best food!" wrote Catriona Harris after placing her vote.

Ali Baba ext

I'm pretty sure the first puppet show I ever saw, and most likely the first theatrical production of any type, was "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," performed by a professional traveling troupe that had set up in the gymnasium of Garfield Elementary School in Moline, Ill. I was probably 8 or 9. I think we were told it was the Bil Baird Marionettes, but I doubt that was true.

I don't remember much about it except the Open Sesame line and the horribly gruesome deaths of the thieves who had boiling oil poured over them as they hid in large pottery jars. I still have nightmares. And I'm fairly certain that some of the other grisly plot lines were omitted, such as Ali's brother being quartered and the chunks left outside the thieves' den as a warning. And Ali Baba still gets top billing even though it was the slave girl Morgiana who saved the day; it was she who poured the boiling oil into the jars. (Hey, Disney: next animated princess alert!)

None of this has anything to do with Ali Baba's Deli, but you try coming up with an opening for a review after you've written more than four thousand of them.

Pulapaka rise

Central Florida's chefs aren't worthy of James Beard Awards -- or, this year, even nominations -- but apparently they're good enough to cook for the ones who are.

Hari Pulapaka, chef and co-owner of Cress restaurant in DeLand, has been invited to cook at the reception following the James Beard Awards presentation in Chicago on May 7.

This year's theme for the gala is Rise, which I assumed had something to do with baking bread. But no. According to a release from the organization, Rise "celebrates the community of chefs who rise to the occasion—whether to feed those in need, to stand up for what they believe in, to support their local communities, or to express their personal stories through their cooking."

Pulapaka certainly qualifies. He and his wife and co-owner, Jenneffer, hosted the Solidarity Sunday dinner that was held on the street in front of the restaurant and featured foods from nations that had earlier been designated shithole countries.

He will be cooking alongside other chefs from around the country who have participated in the Beard Foundation sponsored Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change. Pulapaka's theme is I Rise for Humanity. His dish is Lionfish Bhel Puri, inspired by his hometown of Mumbai.

Central Florida had no nominees for this year's Beard Awards, although Pulapaka has been nominated four times in the past.

Others cooking at the gala include: