on

Saigon Noodle interior

February 19 marks Lunar New Year, often mistakenly, or at least incompletely referred to as Chinese New Year. It's the New year for the Chinese, but other Asian countries observe it, as well.

As you probably know, each year is represented by a revolving stable of animals. This year is the year of the goat. Or the year of the sheep. It's a little unclear, actually. It sort of alternates, which may explain why some restaurants that serve mutton, which most of us know as lamb, is really goat, which most of us know as goat. Either way, happy goat or sheep year.

I know many of you, including non-Asians, will head out to a favorite Chinese restaurant, but as I said, the Lunar New Year is observed by other Asians. The Vietnamese, for example. So if you want to join in the celebration to ring in the new year you have many more options.

Consider Saigon Noodle, a Vietnamese restaurant on the Eastern side of town.

on

Cindys exterior

If you're in the vicinity of Florida Hospital Health Village, the medical complex on North Orange Avenue, you have another dining option besides the Panera Bread outlet inside the medical center or the Wendy's across the street. (And how a "Health Village" would allow a fast food joint to reside nearby is a question worth asking at its next town meeting.)

Cindy's Cafe, which used to reside on Virginia Drive moved into the space that had been a diner called Everybody's Mom. I always liked that name, but ultimately it seemed like Mom just wasn't up to pleasing everyone.

on

My friends at icFlorida.com and I have a new feature called "Where to go & what to eat when..." In each episode we'll take a situation -- an occasion, a dilemma, a circumstance -- and I'll make a recommendation for where to go to dine and what you should eat while you're there -- quick and simple.

Our first episode is "Where to go & what to eat when you're at Walt Disney World and your favorite sports team is playing a big game. Solution: Hit the ESPN Club at Disney's BoardWalk. They've got a stadiumload of tvs, and thier latest menu, under the direction of chef Anthony Gregorek, will surprise you with its creativity. Click the image above to play the video.

Hope you enjoy this first one. And if you have any suggestions for future episodes, leave a comment below.

on

Chilled Spinach

If you're lucky, you've tasted the delicately delicious starter at your favorite sushi place that inspires this recipe. Cooked, chilled, then tossed with a perfectly balanced Asian vinaigrette, this spinach is at once, sweet, savory and salty. With a spicy sesame kick, it's lo-cal bliss in a bowl, savored slowly with a lovely pair of chopsticks.

Serve this as a starter with steamed sea bass, brown rice and hot sake. Make extra marinade for dipping. Open Sesame!

on

bernadin table

NEW YORK — I spent the night drinking stars.

Disney Cruise Lines hosted a small, intimate dinner Thursday in the private salon of famed Le Bernadin. The dinner was a celebration of chef Arnaud Lallement, whose restaurant in Reims, France, L'Assiette Champenoise, recently received the coveted third Michelin star for the second time. Lallement, along with Victoria & Albert's Scott Hunnel, consults on the menu for the Remy restaurants on the Disney Fantasy and Dream ships. Disney Cruise Lines brought Lallement to New York to cook the dinner, which was attended by a dozen food, wine and travel writers.

Remy is the luxurious fine dining restaurant on the two big ships. Only a handful of guests are able to experience the intimate dining room, but no one under 18 years of age is allowed. It's a serious dining occasion.

The dinner highlighted some of the new dishes that will be offered at Remy as well as some of Lallement's favorites from his restaurant in France. Reims, of course, is in Champagne country — the restaurant's name means the Champagne base —and all of the courses at the dinner were paired with Champagne. But not just any Champagne — it was an exclusively Dom Perignon dinner, all vintaged and extraordinary. And everything about it was exquisite.