Pig Floyd patio

There's a lot to like about Pig Floyd's, the self described Urban Barbakoa, beginning with the whimsical name. I also like what they've done to the place. The tiny freestanding building at 1326 N. Mills Ave. has never looked better. It was essentially gutted and bears little resemblence to the restaurant that used to be home to Atilla's Steak & Salad (simply Steak & Salad before that), Friends Restaurant, and Kim Long.

Pig Floyd interior

The decor befits the urban designation, with whitewashed brick walls, bare floor, metal chairs and whirligig light fixtures. An open kitchen and a bar to sit and eat at were nice touches, too. And although some of the previous tenants had tables outside, they didn't have the built-out patio that Floyd's owners installed, adding a wall to shield some of the unattractive traffic from Mills Avenue.


MingosEast interior

I'm confused. And I don't think I'm the only one.

We have Mingos, which took over the space in the Sanctuary condominium building that was Lotus and, before that, Prickly Pear. (Before that it was Graze, and before that it was a vacant lot.) Mingos has been in existence less than a year. When I reviewed it, in January, I found that it had made some improvements over Lotus, but then the only way to go was up. It was better, but it had a long way to go before I could declare it something I'd like to see have multiple locations.

But multiple locations it now has, with others planned. But are they really multiple locations, or are they just using the same name? I'm not sure even the people involved know.

Notice I said the same name and not the same brand. Those are not synonyms. Branding is a complicated matter and it involves many aspects beyond just the name. Though, surely, the name is a part of it.

So let's discuss that name.


epcot2014 party

I was invited to attend Party for the Senses on Saturday, the first of this year's Saturday evening events that are a highlight of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival each year. The event fills the massive World Showplace with food and wine stations, plus a stage big enough to handle to acrobatic talents of members of Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba. I've been fortunate to attend many of these parties, and I think Saturday's may have been one of the better ones.

It seems that in the past few years I had only one, maybe two, favorite food items. This year there were at least four solid contenders for Best of PftS, and I had great fun trying to narrow it down to a single winner.

epcot2014 porkbelly

Early in the evening I came across Capa Restaurant, which is set to open later this month at the Four seasons Hotel and Spa at Walt Disney World. Chef Tim Dacey and his crew were serving a beer-brined pork belly with apples and Marcona almond. Frankly, I didn't notice the apples or the almonds, but that pork belly with its crisped exterior and wonderfully fatty meatiness was stellar. I had two; I stopped counting how many my companion had after four.


Divas Garlic ShrimpPhoto: The Walt Disney Company

Fall is in the air, when the divas venture out of air-conditioning in search of Florida's fabulous food festivals. Our perennial top pick is the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Disney World, open daily through Nov. 10, where we happily sip and nosh our way around World Showcase at more than 25 international Marketplaces along the waterside. (And burn those calories with a mile-long walk around the park's lagoon.)

We adore the small bites, just enough for a taste or two. From escargot in France to crispy pork belly with black beans, tomato and cilantro in Brazil, and kimchi hotdogs in South Korea, we get our happy on as we sip a cocktail or wine with each little dish.

A favorite that's back this year is the Garlic Shrimp at the Australia Marketplace. Pair with a cool chardonnay or a pale ale, then traipse off in search of the next discovery – it's a delectable trip around the world without a passport.


DahlmannEXCLUSIVE -- I thought there was something different about Jens Dahlmann when I saw him walk into the World Showplace Saturday evening at the first Party for the Senses of this year's Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Dahlmann, as Epcot's executive chef, has been in charge of the festival for the past several years. He's been very much a hands-on overseer, frequently seen in his crisp chef whites bouncing around the World Showcase from kiosk to kiosk to things are going smoothly.

That's what was different about him Saturday night: He wasn't wearing his chef's jacket. He arrived at the event in a blue blazer and open-collared white shirt. He might have been mistaken for just another Party for the Sensors if not for the ever-present oval nametag that identified him as a cast member.

The reason for the costume change, it emerged, is that Dahlmann is no longer Epcot's executive chef. Effective immediately, he is now general manager for Epcot Food and Beverage operations. His longtime assistant, Gregg Hannon, takes over as executive chef for the park.

It's interesting that the changes would be made mid festival, but Dahlmann and the other team members have turned the multi-week event into a smooth running machine. The transition should be seamless.

Besides the sartorial shift, Dahlmann had another different look: one of relative calm. And he looked ready to party. I'll have notes about Saturday's edition of Party for the Senses on Monday.