It's been a long time since we've gotten together and I think we're all suffering from Supper Club deficiency. So here's what I'm prescribing: a Scott Joseph Pop Up Dinner at Pharmacy.
We thought we'd lost Pharmacy just a few months ago, and indeed it closed for a few days. But it's back with original chef Loren Falsone (named to Food & Wine's 2000 Top Ten Chefs list) and head pharmacist, um, beverage director Dominick Tardugno. They're eager to show everyone the new old place.
So let's have a pop up event to celebrate. We'll gather on Saturday, March 17, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. for a Discovery Dinner that Falsone will assemble from the produce and products of local farms. Tardugno will have a pairing for each course, as well as a special cocktail to commemorate St. Patrick's Day.
Tickets are $115 all in (no insurance co-pay) and can be purchased at this link. It's a large table, but seating is limited, so don't delay.
The Lunar New Year celebration begins Friday when the Year of the Dog is ushered in. Dog years are my favorites, even though they seem longer than the others.
Sometimes called Chinese New Year, the event is celebrated by several Asian countries. It's never on the same day but rather it tied to the occurrence of the first new moon between January 1 and February 20. The moon will be newest on Feb. 16 this year.
So you might see some celebrations around town, especially in the area of Mills 50 where there is a high concentration of Asian businesses and restaurants. Look for lanterns, red ribbons and firecrackers. There might be dragons.
It's Taco Tuesday. And also Fat Tuesday. So I was hoping for some Fat Tacos. Taco Gras, if you will.
So I headed over the the area of town that is still not officially designated the Hourglass District to try out a new place called Cilantro's Taqueria. It's in a small group of storefronts that also holds the oddly named businesses Hair Partners and Ambrose the Printer. The latter always makes me think of a medieval scribe.
Cilantro's is charming. I have no idea what was in this space before, even though I've passed by this corner several times a week for more than 25 years. It might have been a wonderful business, but even without knowing, I'd say Cilantro's is an improvement.
The James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for its 2018 awards in Chicago Thursday, and for the first time in many years no Central Florida chefs were included in the Best Chef: South category.
Among the 20 semifinalists, five are from Florida, including Lindsay Autry, The Regional Kitchen & Public House, West Palm Beach; Clay Conley, Buccan, Palm Beach; Brad Kilgore, Alter, Miami; Lauren Macellaro, The Reading Room, St. Petersburg; and Niven Patel, Ghee Indian Kitchen, Miami.
Central Florida has never had a chef advance to the finals, but not having one, or several, on the long list is rare.
If you missed out on the April dates for our trip to France, take heart: New dates have been added for June.
We'll be traveling to Paris and Lyon June 23 through 30. Chef Kevin Fonzo and I will lead the tour, which is being curated by Art in Voyage -- Beyond Travel. We have a lot planned -- even if you're a frequent visitor to France, you'll love some of the "insider" things we have planned, including an exclusive dinner at Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower, a day-trip to Champagne country, and a cooking class using the ingredients gathered from a local market. In Lyon, we'll pay our respects to Paul Bocuse by visiting his famous restaurant.
I'm especially looking forward to showing you some of my favorite restaurants (they're not all Michelin-starred, some are hidden neighborhood gems) and taking you on a tour of one of the area's market streets to gather a picnic feast, like I did last month (photo above).