Flavors of Laos, Korea and Peru stand out among new and soon-to-open eateries.
It’s fascinating to see a new wave of pan-culturalism hitting our fair city. After a plethora of Mex, pseudo-Mex and non-Mex taco places, and the unabated spread of sushi, lesser exploited areas of the world are starting to be represented, and I couldn’t be happier.
* Reports of Sticky Rice, a Laotian restaurant opening shortly on Colonial Drive, took over the foodosphere this week. And alt-rock fans enthusiastically moshed (do people still mosh?) at news of the planned vegetarian Jewish deli in the works via former Blink-182 road chef Mary Mattern and guitarist for Ocala-based A Day to Remember, Neil Westfall.
* The multi-national chain Bonchon Korean Fried Chicken brought its super-crispy KFC and Korean intricacies to Lee Vista this year, and the 24-hour Café 34 now serves up Turkish delights like shakshuka, kofte and manti on International Drive. And while it may come in food court wrapping, Dumpling and Noodle Bar at The Florida Mall enthusiastically offers some fairly authentic Hong Kong wontons, Taiwanese beef noodle soup and Korean Cha Jung black bean noodles.
* Gaviota, a Peruvian restaurant near Lake Eola, pairs several dishes with addictively spicy salsa huancaína cheese sauce, and offers a trio of inventive ceviche, a grilled meat platter, and a fascinating wheat risotto called trigotto.
I’ll be visiting all these places shortly and will report back.
* All those pining for the days of Olde Dixie Fried Chicken, the 50-some-year-old chicken shack in Pine Castle that closed in 2016, can rejoice: Its new incarnation as a food truck launches in November. Check their Facebook page for locations.
* On the dessert front, Wonderland Cookie Dough Co., which opened two months ago in Celebration, skips that whole pesky baking step and sells “edible cookie dough,” which seems as redundant as saying “drinkable vodka.”
* The Disney-generated headline reads: "Epcot International Festival of the Arts Celebrates 39 Days of Creativity January 12 to February 19." Yes, it’s another fest at Epcot that fills the gap between Food & Wine (which ends in mid-November) and Flower & Garden (theoretically beginning March 1) and will include food! The theme of FotA has an artistic bent, so expect “food studios” at this second edition, aimed at enhancing presentation at booths surrounding the World Showcase lagoon. The 2017 fest featured cake constructed in a Mondrian color block pattern, miniature paintings made entirely of chocolate, and a deconstructed “Cobb” salad made with smoked duck. Items are expected to run between $4 and $11. Considering that Epcot was occupied with events for more than six months of 2017, I’ve wondered when “Festival World” will open a yearlong eating extravaganza.
Stumbled upon a new fave restaurant? Comments? Questions? Disagreements? Stay in touch with Joseph at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can access a comprehensive list of his print and online reviews here!