Photo by Jason Greene
Food and Drink - Staff Picks
Published: July 13, 2011
Best Flashback to ’90s Downtown Orlando
2 S. Charles Richard Beall Blvd., DeBary; 386-320-0217; genuinebistro.com
Pining to relive the glory days of downtown Orlando, when such memorable haunts as Yab Yum (later Harold & Maude’s Espresso Bar), Go Lounge, the Globe and the Kit Kat Club (ahh, the impromptu nakedness!) held sway just off Orange Avenue? Then consider a drive up memory lane to DeBary’s Genuine Bistro. If the joint seems philosophically and gastronomically at odds with the town, it’s because the woman behind it, Barrie Freeman, was also responsible for shaping downtown Orlando’s anti-establishment dining and nightlife scene in the early ’90s. You’ll find no shortage of well-executed dishes, tat sleeves and aging revelers reminiscing with Freeman about the heady days of yore.
Best ebb and flow
The rise and fall of Cajun-themed restaurants
The first of our favorite local Cajun grub houses to shut its doors was the late, great Jockamo’s, which went out of business in 2008 (RIP roast beef and gravy po’boy). Last year we also lost another favorite when 15-year-old downtown mainstay Crooked Bayou called it quits just two days before Christmas. But it hasn’t been all bad news for fans of Cajun fare: Mojo Cajun Bar & Grill has been a welcome addition to Church Street, and Winter Park is now home to Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen (which was opened by the folks behind local Tex-Mex chain Tijuana Flats). Here’s hoping these two stick around for a while.
Best fried rice
8255 International Drive, 407-363-7200; hanamizuki.us
Fried rice isn’t something you think about. It’s usually just the accompaniment to your greasy Chinese lunch or a way to use up leftovers at home. This is why Hanamizuki needs a new name for their fried rice; “grains of heaven,” perhaps? Local restaurant blogger Ricky Ly has compared it to crack: strong words, but justified. The chef’s use of fresh (instead of day-old) rice and threads of pickled ginger are where he diverges from the norm; the gently scrambled egg and piquant green onion are familiar enough to accentuate the differences.
Best sugary fluff
Turkish cotton candy
Abumaher International Grocery; 6148 Hanging Moss Road, 407-677-8000
Spun from butter-toasted flour and sugar (sometimes with the addition of pistachio or cocoa powder), pismaniye is a revelation. Unlike the state-fair variety, there’s no lingering taste of chemicals or gritty granules after it melts on the tongue. It looks different, too: like undyed wool yarn. What it lacks in visual excitement, though, it more than makes up for in smooth, rich, rounded sweetness. Find pismaniye in the candy section at Abumaher International Grocery, an excellent source of halal meat and all culinary things Turkish, Egyptian and Iraqi.
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