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Fireworks NYE.001

It has always been my intention that this website be available free of charge. I never want to put it behind a paywall (in part due to the fear that no one would pay). And thanks to the many sponsors whose banners you see on these pages, I won’t have to.

As you know, I have a very strict advertising policy (and if you don’t know that, you can read it here). And if you think that’s all just talk, Nicole Spooner of Mpact Orlando Marketing – the sole authorized advertising representative for SJO – can tell you how many potential advertisers are turned down each year simply because they don’t qualify (and how many over the years were not asked to renew when their quality flagged). It’s a promise I made to you when I began this project nearly 14 years ago: The ads you see here are only for businesses I recommend.

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 Four Flamingos ext

Twenty-twenty-two will be remembered as the year Michelin came to town, bringing recognition and deserved legitimacy to restaurants in a way the James Beard Foundation Awards never could. Sure, some of the Michelin inspectors’ choice caused some head scratching, but for the most part all who were named were deserving.

Here are some other highlights of the year as noted on these pages.

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MX Guac

MX Taco is the Milk District taqueria from chef Ryan Manning featuring the authentic Mexican cuisine he learned while chef de cuisine at the former Ritz-Carlton Cancun.

Tacos, of course, are the menu’s mainstay, but guacamole plays a big part in many of the presentations. In this edition of Local Flavor, the column I produce in partnership with The Community Paper, Manning shares the recipe he used in Cancun and continues to make at MX (pronounce it “Mex”) Taco.

There’s an art to selecting avocados at peak ripeness, and they tend to grow overripe rather quickly. Most of the avocados you’ll find at the supermarket, the Haas variety, will still be too green to use. Let them sit on the counter or in a fruit bowl until the flesh darkens and the skin gives just a bit when you gently poke it with your finger. If you’re not ready to use them right away, put them in the refrigerator — they will last for days.

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WBG MCO

Hey, if you’re stuck at Orlando International Airport in all the travel snafus from weather related delays and Southwest Airlines taking a timeout, at least you can try some new restaurants, especially if you’re in the newly opened Terminal C.

Sunshine Diner by Chef Art Smith, Cask & Larder and Wine Bar George have recently opened.

Wine Bar George, of course, is the popular Disney Springs restaurant and, um, wine bar owned and operated by George Miliotes, a master sommelier.

Miliotes has said that the airport version will feature food and wine pairings just like those found at the Springs’ location, and he’ll make sure the servers are well versed in the wines, just as they are at the original WBG. One thing likely to be missing at MCO, however, is Miliotes. Omnipresent at the Disney Springs restaurant and always circulating as the gracious host he is, Miliotes said that he won’t be able to be on site at the airport, too.

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champagne glasses

Good news – you got through Christmas, so now you’ve got something to celebrate. New Year’s Eve is the perfect time for it.

Take a look at our list of restaurants that are offering special dinners on Dec. 31. You’ll find upscale repasts such as Knife & Spoon at the Ritz-Carlton, Primo at JW Marriott Grande Lakes and Four Flamingos at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort.

And upscale casual meals are planned for the likes of Highball & Harvest at the Ritz; Sear + Sea, UnReserved Food Bazaar and Illume (great for fireworks watching) all at the Jw Marriott Bonnet Creek; and Citron at Grande Lakes.

Others around town, too. So look through the list and make your selection.