Brussels sprouts divas

For those of us who suffered the childhood agony of boiled Brussels sprouts, it's time to rethink those itsy orbs.

Oh-so-thinly sliced, pan-seared and caramelized, Brussels sprouts are reborn. Tossed with pecorino Romano, plump golden raisins and a drizzle of sweet agave nectar, they're ready to wow even the most discerning foodie.

Delish with ham, roasted pork or a juicy leg of lamb, and, even better, this side is on the table in just 10 minutes.


fiori charger

Notes from New York, Part 1, included reviews of Chef's Club by Food & Wine, Gato, Boulton & Watt, and SixtyFive Lounge at the Rainbow Room.

The big "blowout" meal was at Ai Fiori at Langham Place hotel. Part of the Altamarea Group, Ai Fiori is chef/owner Michael White's to Italian and French Riviera cuisine. (The name means among the flowers in Italian.)

The restaurant is on the hotel's second level, overlooking Fifth Avenue, and has a modernly upscale decor — not an exposed brick in sight. It's quiet, subdued, and very comfortable.

The menu is decidedly Italian, but while there might be recognizable names, don't expect familiar presentations. The item under the Pasta e Risotto heading called Spaghetti, for example, features blue crab, lemon, bottarga (a fish roe) and chilies. Not your typical plate of pasta.


Louie meatballs

It's been a little over two years since the strip mall across from the UCF campus on the corner of University Boulevard and Alafaya Trail was demolished to make way for a student-centric apartment building. The demolition forced the relocation of such eateries as Lazy Moon Pizza and Miss Saigon and the outright closing of others, including Mama Millie's Caribbean and Anmol Indian restaurant. Things turned out just fine for Lazy Moon and Miss Saigon — they're both in better spaces, at least in terms of decor and functionality if not proximity to the student body.

The structure that now stands on that corner looks just fine, though those of us who watched it during its construction know that the solid looking facade is basically just, well, a facade — it hides the ticky-tacky that would go a long way in explaining if any of the new residents happen to hear a neighbor sneeze — two apartments away. (For all I know, the flats are perfectly solid and soundproofed; I suppose it's possible.)

But the new development also brought new retail and restaurant space. As far as I know, none of the businesses that were displaced from the old strip mall hung around to wait for the new construction, but businesses are starting to move in.

I visited one of the first ones, Bar Louie, a while back. You may be familiar with the Bar Louie that opened six years ago at the Rialto on Sand Lake Road.


capa dining roomFour Seasons Resort Orlando

If you required any more proof that the age of fine dining, at least as defined by posh surroundings, fine linens and what it generally referred to as white-glove service, is a thing of the past, you need look no further than the Four Seasons Resort Orlando.

You know the Four Seasons, for surely its reputation precedes it. Its hotels set the standard for luxury properties. Four Seasons hotels are where wealthy people choose to stay just to ensure they won't have to put up with common riffraff.

As if to emphasize that point, the Orlando property, which opened last year, is set inside the gates of Golden Oaks, a residential community where the minimum price for one of the mini mansions is said to be above $2 million. So you might expect the signature restaurant to be ultra elegant, refined and to not only set a standard for excellence in its own service and cuisine but to also expect a certain quality of style from its guests.

Well, you'd be wrong. Oh, the food at Capa, the Spanish steakhouse on the hotel's 17th floor rooftop, is excellent. And service is trained and professional if not white-glove refined. But the decor is decidedly casual, albeit with some killer design elements, which I'll tell you about it moment. And the "resort casual" dress suggestion means that the restaurant will pretty much accept any manner of attire. So get ready for the table next to yours to be full of people in shorts and flip-flops. The wealthy, it would seem, have become their own riffraff.