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  • The next is a series of sorta monthly events celebrating local foods is Saturday, Aug. 13, from noon to 7 p.m. at Ivanhoe Park Brewing Company. The 407 Food Fair will feature more than 20 independently owned local food purveyors selling their wares, including Pass Kitchen, Royal T Tapas and the eagerly anticipated Red Panda Noodles from the former Orlando Meats guys. The 407 Food Fair is usually the second Saturday of each month but there are two events scheduled for November.
  • The owners of Big Fin Seafood (formerly known as Big Fin Seafood Kitchen) will soon open a restaurant in the Villages called Little Fin. It will be similar to Big Fin in concept but, you know, smaller.

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Big Fin Seafood’s executive chef, Eric Enrique, has been making some changes to the popular restaurant’s menu, and I stopped in recently to give them a try.

The most impressive addition, at least in a visual sense, is a shellfish tower, with chilled Maine lobster, Alaskan king crab, cocktail shrimp and raw oysters served on crushed ice and accompanied by mignonette, cocktail and stone sauces. All delicious, and even more stunning than the chilled seafood platter I had at Le Ronde in Paris in June.

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Norman’s update: Construction is continuing on the relocation space and the exterior now sports a Norman’s sign over the front door. It has a fresh coat of paint but still looks very much like a construction site, which it is and will be for a while yet. Thomas D. Wood, Jr., an owner, said in an email that he’s hoping for late fall but, “I can’t predict anymore the way construction goes.” He said that the interior walls would be going in over the next two weeks and, “then the pretty stuff starts.” The patio should be complete by the end of September, he said.

Norman’s, from the eponymous Norman Van Aken, closed its original Central Florida location in September of 2019, vacating the space at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando that is now home to Knife & Spoon. Even as it closed it announced that it would relocate to Dellagio Plaza on Restaurant Row and move into the former Bravo! Italian restaurant space.

Then 2020 came along and, well, you know.

It’s taken longer than anyone expected for the new Norman’s – Knife & Spoon opened within a year – but at least we know it’s still happening. Said Wood: “We are not going to rush anything just to open as it is too important .”

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Sugar MillPhoto: Old Spanish Sugar Mill

Old Spanish Sugar Mill, a wildly popular breakfast destination that has operated in DeLeon Springs State Park for 61 years, will close next month. The current operators made the announcement in a Facebook post Monday, saying that the state had decided not to renew the lease.

The site will be taken over by Guest Services, Inc., a Fairfax, Va., hospitality company that operates concessions in national and state parks. A call to the company regarding their plans for the restaurant space was not immediately returned.

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4Flame whiskey dinner

Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen is hosting a whiskey pairing dinner on Thursday, Aug. 18, at 6 p.m. featuring Redwood Empire Whiskey. Chef Sheby Farrell has put together a four course menu with blends, bourbons and ryes. Cost is $150 per person plus tax and gratuity or $500 for a group of four. Tickets here.

 

Farrell’s menu:

 

1st course

Lost Monarch Whiskey Blend & Mushroom Toast: Orange Scented House made Labneh, Mushroom conserva, Honey

2nd course

Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey & Buttermilk Oysters, Roasted Bone Marrow, Pecan Gremolata, Crostini, buttermilk pearls

3rd course

Emerald Giant Rye Whiskey & Cast iron seared 20 day dry aged NY Strip, coconut parsnip spinach, triple peppercorn au poivre pour over

Dessert:
Coconut Panna Cotta: Cocoa nib crumble, Candied Kumquat

Dulce Royale: Toasted coconut-infused Lost Monarch blended whiskey

 

As you may know, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic is Nov. 11 and 12 and there’s a special VIP Champagne and Dessert Party planned for that Saturday evening at the new Swan Reserve. The resort’s certified sommeliers are matching sparklers to the executive pastry chef’s creations from 8:30 to 10 p.m. and the evening will end with an after party in the 15th floor ballroom with views of Disney fireworks. Tickets are $150 per person and can be purchased here.