Heat Tandoor Closes

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Just received word that Heat Tandoor, the upscale Indian tapas restaurant has closed. It opened only months ago in the 55 West complex that has seen so much activity lately. I've not been able to reach the owners for confirmation -- the recording at the restaurant's reservation number says the client hasn't activated the voicemail system. There's a clue. Well, you know what they say -- if you can't stand the heat...

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Carmela's of Brooklyn Closes Kirkman Road Location

Written by Scott Joseph on .

It seems strange to be sitting in Manhattan writing about a Central Florida restaurant called Carmela’s of Brooklyn, but I wanted to let you know that the Kirkman Road location of the Sbarro-owned pizzeria and restaurant has closed. If you purchased an SJO Dining Deal to Carmela’s, you may still redeem it at the original location -- the original Central Florida location, not the one in Brooklyn -- in Longwood.

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Two New Restaurants Open Monday

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Prickly_Pear_wallFunky Monkey Restaurants, Inc. will open its two newest restaurants Monday, July 11, both in the Sanctuary condo building on South Eola Drive in downtown: Prickly Pear, with a southwestern menu, and Nick’s Italian Kitchen, with a self-explanatory one. The Pear, as one hopes it will be nicknamed because other options aren’t as savory, is taking over the space left vacated by the late, lamented Graze; Nick’s goes in to the old Sanctuary Diner spot (nee Fifi’s Patisserie). The two restaurants will employ at total of 100 people, said Eddie Nickell, who, together with partner Nicholas Olivieri, owns FMI.

The two restaurateurs opened the first Funky Monkey just a few years ago on Mills Avenue. They now have a second Funky at Pointe Orlando, Bananas Diner on Mills Avenue near the original Monkey, a wine and gift shop a few doors up called the Vault, and a second Bananas under construction at the Pointe. In a short time they’ve become a burgeoning restaurant group.

Nickell says he’s concerned that when people hear that Prickly Pear will serve southwestern cuisine they’ll confuse that with Tex-Mex. Not the same thing. “Prickly Pear is something totally new to Central Florida,” say Nickell, “think Bobby Flay, not Mexican. With dishes ranging from a mouth-watering Smoked Duck Quesadilla to 22-oz Cowboy Steaks, Tequila Grilled Shrimp on Corn Cakes with Chipotle Butter to Corn and Jalapeno Fritters and our signature Prickly Pear Margaritas. This is true American cuisine from the frontier southwest.”

The Pear’s decor will be southwestern, too, and features a large wall sculpture of the namesake succulent. (You’ll probably find some cacti cocktails on the bar menu, as well.) Tables will be covered with sandy colored cloths, banquette backs have emu skin. There will be two chef’s tables.

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Local Entrepreneur Mines a Sweet Niche with Gourmet Marshmallows

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Sugar_PoofsIn the realm of foodstuff specialization, Michele Hickman may have found an untapped niche. Her startup company is called Sugar Poofs, and its sole product line is gourmet marshmallows. These are not the little cylinders you find in a bag in a grocery aisle, Hickman’s marshmallows -- or poofs -- are handmade and hand cut into little one and a half inch squares.

But what really sets them apart are the flavors. The white Russian is her most popular, says Hickman. Like the drink, her white Russian poofs are made with Bailey’s Irish Cream and Kaluha (and these particular marshmallows are sold only to buyer’s 21 years and older). Other popular flavors include Key lime, orange honey (made with local orange juice and honey), coconut, and banana walnut. Hickman says she has a lot of fun experimenting with new flavors. The only combination that was a total failure was an attempt to create a peanut butter and jelly poof. “Peanut butter does not work with marshmallows,” she says.

Hickman, whose main job is as an interactive marketing strategist for Darden Restaurants, got the idea for a gourmet marshmallow when, at Christmastime, she was drinking a cup of hot chocolate and looked down at the melting marshmallow. “I just had an epiphany,” she says. It isn’t that gourmet marshmallows have never been attempted before, but, says Hickman, no one has done it well. She decided to give it a shot. “I didn’t do it for money or to get anywhere with it,” she says, “I just wanted it to be a hobby.”

But the poofs have received national attention and the orders are flying in from around the country -- and quite a few locally, too, including Walt Disney World, for who she has created poofs with mouse ears. Hickman is working on getting the Poofs into some local eateries, but in the meantime, you can order some from her website, sugarpoof.com.

Marshmallows do not have a lot of complex ingredients -- mainly pure Florida cane sugar, water, light corn syrup and gelatin -- and there’s no baking involved. But it’s how you combine them, says Hickman. That’s where the magic occurs.

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