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I'm please to announce that once again I am partnering with Art in Voyage -- Beyond Travel to co-host a trip with chef Kevin Fonzo. I had the thrill last year of co-leading the trip to Paris and Lyon, and I was especially impressed with the high quality and attention to fine details that went in to putting the trip together.

This year, we're visiting Florence and Tuscany and I'd love to have you along. Here are the details from the folks at Art in Voyage:

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Domu cjhibi ramen room

Domu, the popular East End Market ramenerie, has opened a new concept, Domu Chibi Ramen, in Waterford Lakes. It’s meant to be a quick-serve operation, but they’ve managed to make it quicker serve in at least one aspect.

Instead of giving an order to someone at the counter, customers are prompted to use electronic tablets in front of it to place and pay for an order. Heck, you might even want to leave yourself a tip as you pay, because unlike other quick-serve restaurants, you must go back up to the pick-up counter to fetch your own food. I’m guessing if they could, they’d find away for a non-human to call the names.

Domu cjhibi order

Indeed, the staff behind the counter, just a few feet away from the ordering kiosk, avoid looking at or otherwise acknowledging the arrival of new customers. This seems to be one carryover from the Audubon Park Domu, which, though full service, also has a staff that doesn’t seem to feel the need to be accommodating to its guests.

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Cuisiniers

Today we salute our friends at Cuisiniers Catered Cuisine and Events as they celebrate 21 years as one of Central Florida’s premier catering companies.

In the video below, executive chef Jamie McFadden talks about the journey from a small company with just a few employees to one with a fleet of six trucks transporting food to up to 30 events each week.

I first experienced McFadden’s food in 1992 when he opened his restaurant, Mimi’s Cafe, in Longwood. It was a small place but it was clear that McFadden had a talent for creative cuisine. His crab cakes were especially memorable. In fact, they’re still one of his most popular items at Cuisiniers, which goes through almost 800 pounds of crabmeat every year.

Congratulations to McFadden and all the staff at Cuisiniers. Here’s to many more years of creatively catered events — and more and more crab cakes.

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Cinco 5

  • As reported earlier this week, Cinco Tacos + Tequila closed after little more than seven months. Following that news, one of the owners, Greg Pranzo, told other members of the media that the restaurant would be moving. However, my sources tell me that isn’t likely. Also probably not happening: East Hampton Bait & Tackle, which Pranzo had planned to open, last November, in the former TR Fire Grill space. Don’t confuse this restaurant with the Hampton Social, which is still on track to open this year at Pointe Orlando.
  • Speaking of Pointe Orlando, Hopdoddy Burger Bar will open Monday, Feb. 18, in the former Funky Monkey space.
  • Don’t leave the Pointe yet — Lotus Asia House will open there Thursday, Feb. 21. It goes into the former Ra Sushi spot.

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Carnevale

New Orleans has Mardi Gras but Venice has Carnevale. And so does Maria & Enzo’s.

From February 22 through March 5 (that’s Fat Tuesday), our friends at the beautiful Disney Springs restaurant will be hosting nightly celebrations in the tradition of the Carnival of Venice. There will be costumes, singers, stilt walkers, jugglers, mimes, face painting and folk dancers.

And, of course, the terrific Italian food that the restaurant is known for. In addition to the regular menu, Maria & Enzo’s is offering a special Feast of Carnevale that includes an amuse bouche; ciabatta, grissini (those tasty breadsticks) and focaccia; chef’s selection of pasta, served family style; antipasti; secondi; and dessert. All for $45 per person, which is a great deal for this quality of food (even without the entertainment).

Reservations are recommended. Go to Maria & Enzo’s website or call the restaurant at 407-560-8466.

And here’s something interesting. The origin of the word carnevale, and thus the English word carnival, is from two Latin words that mean “meat” and “remove.” So the Italians celebrate with this annual festival up to the beginning of Lent when they have to remove meat from their diet.

You don’t have to be observant to be a part of the celebration. Grab your mask and put on your favorite harlequin outfit and join in the fun.