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MagDin20

Citing a “notable positive impact benefitting local restaurants,” Visit Orlando announced Wednesday that it is extending its Magical Dining promotion through the end of October.

The program had been scheduled to end on Oct. 4. With the extension, Magical Dining will have the longest run of its 15 year history. When it began, the promotion ran only during September, and in fact was originally called Magical Dining Month. The event was devised by Visit Orlando as a way to boost restaurant business during a traditional lull.

But restaurants have been experiencing an extended lull because of the pandemic. Many customers are still anxious about going out to eat, and restaurants are restricted to allowing only 50 percent of inside dining capacity.

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Chicken Curry from Tabla

Have you ever thought you’d like to try cooking an Indian dish but the thought of sourcing all the ingredients stopped you? The recipe may call for spices that you don’t normally keep in your cupboard – turmeric, cumin seeds, coriander – and if you don’t cook Indian dishes a lot, those spices may get old and you end up throwing them out, wasting the spices and the money you paid for them.

That’s why I’m excited about this edition of Scott’s Kitchen. Tabla, the fine Indian restaurant in Orlando and Winter Park, is offering a meal kit with most of the ingredients you need to make its chicken curry, including the chicken, as well as basmati rice pulao to go with it. It’s all portioned out (you’ll still need to measure as you cook) so there’s no waste.

Each meal kit serves three to four people and costs just $40.

Even better, proceeds go to Cooking for Cause, a charity founded by Shivi and Sahil Jain, whose parents own Tabla. The Jains have chosen Ekal Vidyalaya, an organization that brings education to rural India, to receive the proceeds from the sale of the meal kits.

And Tabla’s chef Sajan Prem will guide you through the process of cooking both dishes in the video below.

Meal kits must be ordered in advance through Tabla’s Resy page.

The recipes are below. Look them over, watch the video, then order your meal kit from Tabla and cook yourself something delicious knowing you’re also Cooking for Cause.

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Chengdubp ext

Taste of Chengdu, the Sichuan restaurant that opened in west Orlando two years ago and quickly established itself as arguably serving the best Chinese food in town, has opened a second location in Baldwin Park.

It is technically in a soft-opening phase and the menu is currently limited – call it a taste of Taste of Chengdu – but the quality is every bit as good as the original.

True to its namesake province, Taste of Chengdu features dishes that use Sichuan peppercornss, the boa constrictor of seasonings. Take a bite of something with the pepper, perhaps dan dan noodles with a chili oil sauce, and you at first feel a warm embrace of your tongue, then a tingling effect, just before the real heat comes in for the kill.

But it’s a pleasant demise. And even people who find western chilies overwhelming might be pleasantly surprised at how tolerable the spiciness is. It isn’t heat for heat’s sake, it is a logical component of the dish as a whole.

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Sip savor Stay

It won’t surprise you to learn that the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort’s annual Food & Wine Classic will be different this year. It might be a surprise that it’s happening at all.

But it is. Sort of. And no, it isn’t going to be a virtual event.

In fact, just the opposite: This year’s events will require participants to show up in person and to be booked at the resort. That’s why they’re being called Sip, Savor and Stay Saturdays.

The lineup kicked off last Saturday with Bubble Lounge, a sparkling wine tasting that was a component of last year’s full festival.

This Saturday, the 26th, will be Beer Garden, serving all manner of brews paired with pub food classics.

The remaining Saturday events are:

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Virtual Wine Quest

  • Wine Quest, the annual tasting event that supports the work of Quest in assisting people with developmental disabilities, is going to be virtual this year. It will feature a live show from 6:30 to 8:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, with a raffle, a live auction and a silent auction, the latter, I suppose, for those who don’t know how to unmute themselves. There will be a wine tasting, too, of course, led by Tim Varan of Tim’s Wine Market. But if you want to taste, you’ll have to buy the wines ahead of time. For information on how to do that and to reserve your free ticket, visit the Virtual Wine Quest site.
  • Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster is hosting a virtual Maker’s Mark tasting on Sept. 21 or 24 hosted by the bourbon maker’s distillery diplomat, DeNiro Fisher. The Zoom session begins at 7 p.m. on both dates, but you have drop by the Lee Road steakhouse beforehand to buy a bottle (or two) of Christner’s Private Select ($70 for one or $130 for two). I guess if you buy two bottles you can Zoom in on both evenings. Details here.
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