SQN Krankl"Something that Cannot be done Without", is what Sine Qua Non has come to mean to its collectors and enthusiasts. It literally translates in Latin to "without which not." Recently, a group of collectors got together for a Sine Qua Non Retrospective. It took place in the cellar, downstairs at Luma on Park. The vintages spanned over a decade with 42 different bottlings. To call these wines rare is an understatement; they are so hard to find they are the mystical unicorn wines that no one can get their hands on. The production of the wines is extremely limited, their wines routinely receiving 98-100 point scores. The label art is different each year, designed by the winemaker/owner, Manfred Krankl. Krankl is considered a mad scientist of sorts, and the limited availability of his wines, along with the original art on the labels, have made it so the bottles themselves are just as valuable as the wine inside. In May, a bottle of the 1995 Queen of Hearts Rosé, sold on WineBid for $37,200. It is highly doubtful that the wine inside is any good anymore, even if the wine has been stored perfectly. Since only 25 cases of this wine were made, we may never know. By the way, if you sign up on the waiting list today, estimates are that you have a 20 year wait coming.


Trotter project ice

The final numbers have come in for A Tribute to Chef Charlie Trotter, the event that was held in December by the late chef's friend Norman Van Aken. Van Aken's elegant restaurant, Norman's at the Ritz-Carlton, was transformed into a multi-stationed food emporium for the evening. The tables and chairs were removed and some of the area's best chefs came in to cook, serve incredible wines and raise funds and awareness for the Trotter Project.

More than 165 guests raised $8,300 for the organization, which was formed by Trotter's family and former staffers to promote culinary education.


The voting has closed in our annual Most Romantic Restaurant poll and the results are in. More than four thousand votes were cast for over 50 restaurants. As I said before: Romantic is as romantic does; what may be someone else's idea of a lovey-dovey dinner might seem oddly straightforward to you. But I think you might agree with some of the top vote getters.


Venetian Room dininig roomThe Venetian Room is just as romantic on February 13 and is extending its Valentine's Day special. Get a room!

What's the most romantic restaurant in Central Florida? According to our poll, the current frontrunners are K restaurant in College Park, followed by Vito's Chophouse on International Drive and Cafe de France on Park Avenue. Other top vote getters include Bistro on Park, RusTeak in College Park and the new Boca, also on Park Avenue. I guess those Winter Parkers are a passionate bunch.

There's still time for you to vote for your favorite — I'm holding the voting open until Friday. Click here to place your vote for Most Romantic Restaurant in Orlando. The winner will be announced Friday afternoon.

It's a fairly disparate collection, which only goes to prove that romantic is as romantic does. And of course all of this is just to remind you that Valentine's Day is next week and if you haven't made a reservation at your favorite romantic restaurant yet, you may find yourself trying to whisper sweet nothings to your Valentine across a table at Chuck E. Cheese. And they probably have a wait list.


Umi logoI wonder if there's a clause in the lease for the space at 525 Park Avenue South in Winter Park that it must be occupied by a sushi restaurant. It's been one for as long as I can remember -- and it's been three in just the past few years.

Most recently it was Avenue Thai and Sushi, which replaced the short-lived Thai Thai V. Despite its name, TTV was largely a sushi restaurant. Avenue Thai closed in December, and since Monday, Umi Japanese restaurant has been operating there. 

Avenue Thai's owners have opened U Roll Sushi at 7685 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando. Haven't been yet, but it appears from the website to be another assemblage concept where you tell the person behind the counter (no doubt a skilled sushi master <cough>) what ingredients to put in your sushi roll.

I haven't been to Umi yet, either, but if the person who answered the phone so warmly is any indication, it shows promise. No details on the scope of the menu -- the website is still under development. More to come. 

For you historians, it was Shiki Sushi that was the longtime occupant of this storefront at the southernmost end of Park Avenue.