Bountiful Season

You can fatten up for winter with this guide to a variety of festivals and other dining events.

Like bears preparing for hibernation (actually a state called torpor, but I digress), local gourmands find that the best way to deal with the heat of August is to eat. Copiously. And whenever possible, outdoors.

But I digest. The big daddy of Orlando food fests is, of course, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, this year running an astonishing 75 days, from Aug. 31 to Nov 13. Epicures engulf Epcot for tastes of global cuisine at 35 marketplaces, from Berbere-style tenderloin tips at Africa to shrimp and scallop cakes with cold noodles from Thailand. Hawaii says aloha with a Kalua pork slider (left); the Brazil market presents escondidinho de carne, a meat and yucca pie; and the “Flavors From Fire” stand has roasted pork wings with Korean barbecue sauce. One might suggest a Lying Down Pavilion between samples, or a Digestivo Marketplace.

Because you should always have more to eat, this year’s edition of Magical Dining Month is serving Aug. 25-Oct. 1 at some of the most sought-after restaurants in the area. Splendid eateries such as DoveCote Brasserie, Christini’s Ristorante Italiano, Paddlefish at Disney Springs and Hamilton’s Kitchen at The Alfond Inn offer three-course dinners for $35. I’ll report during the month on some of the standout menus, but it’s hard to go wrong with this promotion.

The third annual Main Streets Restaurant Week returns Aug. 4-12, encouraging restaurants to offer prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner. This year’s participants include a $10 lunch special at Black Rooster Taqueria; two cookies and a large coffee for $5 at Blue Bird Bake Shop; a $30 three-course dinner at Maxine’s on Shine; and a $40 dinner for two deal, including sake and dessert, at Hawkers Asian Street Fare.

Other events of note this month:

* Aug 5: The 48th annual Wausau Possum Festival, where upward of 10,000 people descend on the Panhandle town of Wausau to celebrate the joys of marsupial goodness, including the Possum King and Queen contest, the Possum Parade and possum stew. The organizers state “no possums are abused or injured,” although … there is possum stew.

* Aug 12: Key West Lobsterfest proclaims the opening of lobster season in the Keys.

* Aug 17: Two of the area’s best chefs, Camilo Velasco of 1921 by Norman Van Aken and The Osprey Tavern’s Austin Boyd inhabit the 1921 kitchen in Mount Dora; tickets at 352-385-1921.

* Aug 19: 7th annual Great St. Pete Cupcake Contest. The winner gets a trophy; the audience gets to eat tons of cupcakes.

* Aug. 22: Sanford collaborates as Chef Josh Oakley of The Smiling Bison  joins The Tennessee Truffle’s Nat Russell at the Bison in Sanford for a 5-course dinner. 407-915-6086 for info.

* Aug 26-27: Mount Dora Seafood Festival. The third annual affair offers live music, a pirate party, and seafood from local restaurants including Pisces Rising and Lake Dora Sushi.

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Categories: Savor Orlando