WineQuest Advance Ticket Discounts End Friday; Buy Now and Save

Written by Scott Joseph on .

WineQuestFriday, May 14, is the last day you can buy tickets to WineQuest at advance-sale prices. Depending on the event, you can save $5 to $15 per person. Not a tremendous amount of money, but, hey, it’s a savings.

WineQuest is June 11-13. It’s a benefit for Quest, an organization that aids people with developmental disabilities. WineQuest has been around for a good number of years now, and it seems to get better each time.

Grand Lakes Resort is the host property for 2010. Things kick off with a Grand Tasting and Auction Friday, June 11. (Actually, things kick off with a golf classic that afternoon, but it has nothing to do with wine, so you’re on your own for that one.

Saturday is the WineQuest Premier Dining Experience, a five-course food and wine pairing prepared by the chef’s of the J.W. Marriott. Things wind up Sunday with brunch at Primo.

There are different pricing packages, as well as those early-buyer discounts, so I’m just going to send you to the WineQuest Web site for details. You can purchase your tickets there, too. But do consider attending. You’ll find lots of wines to like, and it’s all for a worthy cause.

Bananas, an American Diner, To Join the Mills50 District

Written by Scott Joseph on .

UntitledEddie Nickell and Nicholas Oliveri, owners of Funky Monkey Wine Bar on Mills Avenue and Pointe Orlando, have announced plans for a new restaurant in the Mills50 district, two doors up from their current restaurant. Bananas -- it goes with the Monkey identity -- will be  a "modern American diner," says Nickell. The restaurateurs took over the space that has held what seems like dozens of restaurants, mostly Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese, over the years. Most recently it was Viet Thai, a very forgetable experience.

Bananas, says Nickell, will feature classic diner fare "with a twist." This from a press release:

On the menu at Banana’s, a Modern American Diner are classic recipe favorites, from Hamburgers served 18 ways to Fish-N-Chips, re-imagined with bold, unique flavors and a fresh flair.  With its early-morning and late-night hours, Banana’s Diner encourages guests to start the day off right with a hearty breakfast. From traditional favorites like Eggs Benedict served six different ways, to Country Fried Chicken and Waffles; the entire menu will be served all day long. Banana’s will offer free WiFi and take out service for those on the go, including fresh coffee, fruit or anything on the menu.

Bananas will keep late hours during the week, staying open until midnight most nights. On weekends, the diner will be open 24 hours. The two are aiming for an opening this summer.

Nickell and Oliveri have been busy with the Funky Monkeys. The Mills Avenue location has been undergoing redecorating inside and out. The Pointe Orlando restaurant, which the two opened within the past year, is already expanding into a empty space next door. They expect that work to be done by July 1.

2010 James Beard Award Winners, Complete List

Written by Scott Joseph on .

As reported earlier, Michael Schwartz of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in Miami, is returning to Florida with a James Beard Foundation medallion as the Best Chef in the Southeast. Schwartz was awarded the prize in a ceremony Monday, May 3, at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall. Lots of other awards were handed out, too, in the traditionally long and drawn out event. Here's a link to the entire list of winners from the James Beard Award Web site.

Miami Chef Wins James Beard Award

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Michael Schwartz, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Miami, is the winner of the 2010 James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef in the South Region. Schwartz was awarded his medal earlier this evening in a ceremony at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York.

Daniel Boulud, who was in Central Florida serving guests at the Jetport Food and Wine Festival just two weeks ago, took the Outstanding Restaurant Award for his Daniel. Tom Colicchio is the winner of the Outstanding Chef prize. Keith McNally (Balthazar, Lucky Strike, Minetta Tavern, Morandi, Pastis, Pravda, and Schiller’s Liquor Bar, NYC) was name Outstanding Restaurateur.

The black-tie affair, often referred to as the Academy Awards of the culinary world, began at 6 p.m. At this hour, attendees are enjoying the after party in the lobby of the Avery Fisher Hall featuring food prepared by a calvacade of chefs. After that, guest generally fan out across Manhattan for after after parties.

I’ll have the full list of winners tomorrow.