Onion Relish

Relish a relish with nary a cranberry. Crunchy pickled red onions bathed in a kicky Latin marinade of orange juice, smoky chipotles and a swig of tequila adds a bit of sass to even the most traditional holiday menus. And you won't believe how easy these complexly flavored beauties are to create.

Without the hassle and mess of canning, the marinade performs its magic in the fridge, working to draw some of the liquid from the onion, leaving it as crisp as a fresh apple. And you can pickle to your heart's content up to two months before you plan to serve the sweet/hot scarlet nibbles (or fill an extra jar or 10 as the perfect gift for the foodies on your holiday shopping list).

Serve alongside, oh, just about everything--a swanky buffet, the humble casserole, a platter of cheeses, or straight from the jar for a low-calorie late night indiscretion.

Whenever I see an article like this one from Lifehacker with the title "Tips from a Former Server: How to Get Better Service at a Restaurant" I greet it with a raised eyebrow. This article tells the readers how they should comport themselves when dining out to ensure their waiters treat them properly.

The problem with the concept is that everyone should be getting proper service to begin with. The article's tone suggests that the onus is on the guest to treat the server right if one is to expect good service. It's certainly true that being a guest in a restaurant does not excuse someone from the tenets of the Golden Rule. But my position is that into every server's life a jerk will eventually appear. And even that jerk should get the best service available. 

But what do you think? Does the article tell you anything you didn't know? I'd especially like to hear from some of you servers out there. Leave a comment below.

txokos tortilla

Brunch is suddenly big again. Or maybe I'm just, shall we say, waking up to it. But it seems that it's almost a requirement that a restaurant now offer one. A restaurant that recently opened in downtown Orlando had barely finished serving its first guests before they started asking when the new business would add brunch. Sort of like new parents being asked if they'd selected the newborn's college yet.

If you're among those who don't quite get the allure of Sunday brunch — and in most cases we're talking about Sundays, though Saturday brunches are beginning to be more available — you might enjoy an article from the New York Times on the subject by freelance writer David Shaftel. Its title, "Brunch is for Jerks," will give you an idea about how Shaftel feels about them.

But if you read that title and thought, "Hmmm, jerked chicken omelet sounds good," then let's start exploring some of the brunch places available.

McDonalds-menu-board USA

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce Tuesday new rules that will require chain restaurants and other food outlets to list the caloric content of the dishes on their menus. Movie theaters and pizza chains would also be included in the ruling. Details about the announcement are in this article from the New York Times. The reasoning behind the ruling is the belief that if customers know the number of calories in the food they eat, they will make more healthful choices and perhaps help turn around the country's obesity epidemic.

My question is: Why limit the ruling to chain restaurants?

There are plenty of fat people walking around who wouldn't be caught having a heart attack in a Burger King or Applebee's. One is just as able to eat too much in an independently owned eatery. No one is more aware of that than I. I know that among the chefs who prepare the wonderful food we have in this town there most likely isn't even one with a nutritionist background. It isn't their job to provide a nutritiously balance meal. It's their job to impress the diners with ample amounts of delicious food, often made tastier with the addition of flavorful fats.

mamak interior

Comparisons between Hawkers, which opened a few years ago, and the new Mamak are inevitable. Both have similar concepts of serving small plates, and even the sub names are almost the same, Asian Street Fare for Hawkers and Asian Street Food for Mamak. And they're both in the Mills 50 district.

And they're both quite good.

Mamak takes over the space that most recently was Ha Long Bistro, a Vietnamese restaurant. The interior has been beautifully renovated and sports bright yellow walls and decorative accents of nautical ropes that hang from the ceiling in swooping patterns and hang from the walls. There are individual tables and banquets as well as a couple of hightop communal tables with yellow metal stools. Despite the way that sounds, it actually has a classy appeal.