'Tis the Season. . .
To revel in tastings in October and November—from German fare (and Dachshund races!) to a shindig in the heart of Winter Park.
You may think the holidays are still far off, but in eating circles (and eating in circles) this is the season for FOOD EVENTS!
* Chef's Night at Second Harvest Food Bank is on October 18th, with Prime Time Kitchen host Jim Colbert, Chef Tello Luna of Harry's Poolside Bar & Grill, Bryan Thoman of Canvas and Millenia 106’s Bruno Fonseca.
* The three day Oktoberfest celebration at Crooked Can Brewing Company, spotlighting German food and an extensive beer garden, winds up on Sunday, October 22nd with, you guessed it, the Dachshund Dog Races!
* As an alternative to Epcot Food & Wine (which is still on through November 30), Swan and Dolphin’s 8th Annual Food & Wine Classic runs October 27 and 28, with samples from nine resort restaurants including Todd English’s bluezoo and Il Mulino and a beer garden.
* Saturday, November 11, is the seventh Cows 'n Cabs, ensconced in the Central Park West Meadow in Winter Park. The annual event benefits two youth charities, After-School All-Stars Orlando and Elevate Orlando, and will feature more than 30 restaurants including Soco, Hunger Street Tacos, Morimoto Asia, Tapa Toro and the kitchens of event organizer John Rivers.
Last Sunday was the “Friends of the Pig” dinner, celebrating ten years of The Ravenous Pig and featuring guest appearances by some of Orlando’s finest chefs, crafting superb dishes taken from the Pig’s first two months of menus, including a terrifically savory mushroom tart courtesy of DoveCote’s Clayton Miller and crepe-wrapped snapper from Luma on Park’s Brandon McGlamery.
What impressed me, aside from the food (goodness me, Kathleen Blake’s deceptively simple dish of hand-pulled pasta, Meyer lemon and massive chunks of king crab was wonderful), were the family connections evident in the event kitchen. Chef/co-owner James Petrakis pointed to the people lined up in the kitchen pass-through and said, “This is our original crew from 10 years ago, and they’re still here.”
That crew—Rhys and Alexia Gawlak, Nick Sierputowski (his wife, Ashley, is office manager), and brewmaster Larry Foor (brother of chef Julie Petrakis)—have continued as integral parts of the Swine family over the past decade. Blake gave Julie Petrakis her first post-culinary school job at Primo; McGlamery was James’ first boss. Clay Miller said that he wouldn’t have his successful restaurant if not for James and Julie. Wines were presented exquisitely by Master Sommelier George Miliotes (one of young James’s first champions at California Grill), who credited the dads in attendance, Chris Miliotes and John Petrakis, with forming their sons’ approach to work and food. Along with pleasing a packed house of appreciative diners, more than $5,000 was raised for the American Red Cross for hurricane relief.
The “Orlando Signature Dish” competition has begun. Local chefs were given the task of making a honey-centric dessert, and now is the time to taste and vote. The Osprey Tavern is making a tart with orange-cardamom crust and honey custard; the Midnight Sun truck offers ricotta ice cream swirled with orange blossom honeycomb in shortbread cookies; Bruno Zacchini has whipped up an orange honey cannoli at Pizza Bruno; and Amanda McFall at Urbain 40 has a luscious honey-laced baklava cheesecake. There are 29 entries in all—better start sampling today! For a complete list of offerings and to vote, click here. (Click "Vote Now'' to look at the offerings you can venture out to try, but don't click "Submit'' until after you've made your decision!)