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Blackbean plated

I had been anticipating visiting the new Black Bean Deli location in Winter Park. I wanted to see how the former Winnie’s Oriental Garden had been transformed into a Cuban deli.

But since I’m sticking with takeout cuisine for the time being, I’ll have to wait a while longer to see the inside of the new dining room. But I can tell you the quality of the food is just as good as it was when BBD was just a little pocket place on Orlando Avenue.

And Black Bean Deli is especially appropriate for takeout because that’s how it started out. The original location, at 325 S. Orlando Ave., had no tables. There was a shelf in front of the window and six stools for people who couldn’t wait to tear into their boxed food. But for the most part, you were expected to pick up your order at the counter and take it home.

In fact, for many years Black Bean Deli was a frequent winner of the Sentinel’s Foodie Award for Best Takeout, both the readers’ award and the critic’s (my) choice. That included the 2002 awards, which is the year that the longtime owners of Black Bean, Gladys and George Miavitz, who opened the restaurant in 1982, retired and sold the operation to Andres Corton.

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covidPhoto courtesy Debbie Goetz, Your Community Paper

It has become de rigueur for restaurant owners to post their Covid-19 policies to assure the dining public of all the steps they’re taking to keep their staff and customers safe. Standard bullet points include requiring masks, gloves for staff, distancing between tables, frequent sanitation of touch points, and taking the temperature of all employees prior to their shift.

Steve Gunter, owner of the Tap Room at Dubsdread, is taking another proactive step: He’s testing every staff member once a week – at no cost to the employee – and he’s inviting members of the public to come in for a free test, too.

Tests are conducted in the ballroom at Dubsdread Monday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m. Tests for the public are on a first come, first served basis. Reservations are required and can be made at this link. Gunter said the company administering the tests can handle 300 people.

The medical company, Alliance of Physicians Against Covid-19 (APAC), offers tests for both the presence of Covid-19 with a throat swab (instead of the more invasive nose swab) and for coronavirus antibodies, using a finger prick.

Gunter says Covid-19 test results have been coming back reliably within 72 hours and often as quickly as 48 hours. Antibody results are promised in 24 hours but have been ready in 12 to 15 hours, he said. Samples are tested using area hospitals and labs.

A free test for the virus, results faster than the state is promising, and a cocktail and good food at the Tap Room after. Win, win, win.

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Castle Bao exterior

We’ve had King Bao for about four years. Now we have Bao’s Castle. You’d think they might have some royal connection, but despite the monarchial monikers they are unrelated.

Bao’s Castle reigns over the SoDo Shopping Center. (Who am I kidding? Target is the imperial ruler here.) It occupies a humble storefront next to the complex’s Gator’s Dockside.

The menu is succinct, just eight baos and a few ancillary options.

I made my selections through the restaurant’s online ordering form, which is intuitive and easy to use, with options for pickup, including contactless curbside, or delivery through a third party.

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Tortellini di Stefano still

Welcome to our new feature: Scott’s Kitchen. Here we’ll cook chef recipes, talk about cooking techniques, and maybe whip up some cocktails.

Today, chef Austen Suchanek of Stefano’s Trattoria in Winter Springs shares the recipe for the popular Tortellini di Stefano.

I chatted with Suchanek via Zoom and she walked me through the recipe. She also shared the recipe for the meat sauce that is used to prepare the tortellini.

Suchanek says you can find cheese tortellini in the fresh pasta section at the grocery store. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making the meat sauce, you can find that in the pasta sauce aisle.

Here are the recipes: