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BOO 2011

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Photo by Jason Greene

Food and Drink - Staff Picks

All new crazes are subject to the Vicious Trend Cycle. Whether you’re jeggings, planking or Bon Iver, immutable laws of the universe state that just after the first rosy flush of popularity reaches its full glow, the backbiting will begin. The food truck scene in Orlando struck lightning-fast; in the space of what seemed like just a few months, there was a full complement of gourmet trucks plying their trade. (Taco, barbecue and ceviche trucks, of course, have been easy to find in East and South Orlando all along.) So it was inevitable that in a discussion about the Plaza Theatre’s Food Truck Heaven event on Yelp, statements like “Are any of the food trucks not expensive for what you get?” and “I don’t care whether you love their truck or hate them, as far as I’m concerned, they have no business operating anything other than a TV remote” were thrown around. The real drama, though swirled around The Daily City’s use of noncompete contracts. Though no one could question his support of and commitment to the scene, thedailycity.com Food Truck Bazaar organizer Mark Baratelli was called “crass,” “cheeky” and “no better than Wal-Mart” for a provocative scheduling move: Allegedly, after getting signed contracts with one-month noncompete buffer from the best-known trucks, Baratelli then set the date for his next event to be two days before the Plaza’s event. The result: Six trucks had to pull out of the Plaza event at the last minute. Hurt feelings, all-caps name-calling and un-Taco-Boxed bellies were forgotten within the week, though, and Orlando’s meals-on-wheels movement rolls on smoothly.

 

Best Molecular Gastronomy

SushiPop
310 W. Mitchell Hammock Road, Oviedo; 407-542-5975; sushipoprestaurant.com

Celebrity chefs Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal may have taken kitchen chemistry to fanciful heights, but chef Chau Mann at Oviedo’s SushiPop offers a more accessible, and often whimsical, take on the phenomenon known as molecular gastronomy. Who can make a sunny-side-up egg from sweet coconut milk and mango puree? Chau Mann can! Jalapeno noodles to go with your salmon? Not a problem. The big finish comes with the PB&J sorbet: a tableside blast of liquid nitrogen into grape juice finished with “peanut butter” pulverized and powdered by maltodextrin. Who says getting freaky with your food can’t be fun?

 

Best (or Worst) Restaurant for Indecisive Diners

Pine 22
22 E. Pine St., 407-625-6045; pine22.com

When a restaurant extends 322,200 possible burger permutations and combinations, patrons are sure to: a) delight in the overwhelming number of cheeses, sauces and toppings, and b) take forever deciding what to put on their burger. Processing the myriad options and then envisioning the ideal burger can be a taxing mind-body exercise, particularly on your lunch hour, when the pressure to order quickly can result in a turkey burger with blue cheese, peanut sauce, dried cranberries and guacamole on an English muffin. So take your time. And if you’re not the sort who knows exactly what you want, our advice: Just breathe.

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