April Curated Experiences, plus Recent Reviews and News

Written By Scott Joseph On April 8, 2021

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News from the Flog  

Grande Lakes’ April Curated Experiences has changes and enhancements

CE dinner venue

Following the success of the inaugural event in February, the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott will host the second Curated Experiences weekend April 23 through 25 at the beautiful Grande Lakes Orlando. Celebrity chef John Tesar of Knife & Spoon will once again be on hand, this time joined by Primo’s Melissa Kelly.

I attended the first Curated Experiences weekend and found there was so much to do that I had to spread the review over two articles. You can read part one here and part two here.

Based on feedback from attendees, the Grande Lakes team is offering multiple ticket options this time. Guests may still opt to attend the full weekend, beginning with the Friday reception featuring food stations from the many Grande Lakes restaurants and chefs, Saturday’s full day of seminars, including lunch, and a multi-course wine-paired dinner, and a sumptuous brunch on Sunday at Knife & Spoon.

Or, you can choose to attend only Saturday’s events, with dinner or not. Or just go out for the dinner.

The pricing structure for April is:

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Recent Reviews

First Watch Winter Park

FW2020 peacock

I finally had a chance to experience the newest First Watch, the current flagship and prototype restaurant for the Florida based daytime cafe, and to taste the dishes added to the spring menu.

As you know, First Watch closed its longtime Maitland location and moved that operation down Orlando Avenue to the former Cinco Tacos + Tequila and Carmel Kitchen building in Winter Park. The new location had been long planned, but the circumstances of the pandemic and the changes it made to the way we dined caused the First Watch team to change the design.

For example, because takeout and delivery became so important to us, First Watch created a separate entry for customers and delivery drivers to pickup orders to go. What’s more, it reengineered the kitchen area to provide a separate cook line for those takeout orders. That allows for an efficiency of output, with to-go meals packaged apart from where dine-in orders are “plated.” But it also allows better spacing for the kitchen staff.

That’s important: 

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Vinzo’s Italian Grill & Pizzeria

Vinzos Vinny

Right about this time a year ago, I had plans to host a reception and plaque presentation ceremony for the winners of the 2019 Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants.

That, of course, never happened. And with closings, openings, readjusting of schedules and everything else that occurred with local restaurants, the plaques sat waiting for an opportunity to be delivered to the recipients.

So I’ve been making the delivery rounds lately. And last week I dropped off the platinum award for Best Pizza to Vinzo’s Italian Grill & Pizzeria in Casselberry. And since I hadn’t been before, I decided to stop in for a quick lunch to see why the readers voted it their favorite.

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Other Stuff

Newsy Nuggets: Good stuff


It’s Good Friday so let’s talk about some good stuff.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida officially opened its new warehouse and kitchen space this week. Called Mercy Kitchen, the facility will support the organization’s efforts to fight food insecurity by putting out more than 115,000 meals a week. For the past year, Second Harvest has been distributing enough food to produce 300,000 meals DAILY. That’s twice as much as it did prior to the pandemic. The new facility is two miles from the main warehouse at 702 Mercy Star Ct., Orlando.

You don’t have to be a big organization to do something good and to fight hunger. Hinckley’s Fancy Meats, the sandwich maker and charcuterie-er at East End Market, has for the past year been offering free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to anyone who wants one, “no questions asked.” In a recent post on its Facebook page, Hinckley’s noted that with the vaccines now widely available, “some of us can begin to see brighter days ahead. Others are still struggling. We’re going to continue serving up free PB&J sandwiches indefinitely. It’s part of who we are now. If you’re hungry please come and order one the same way you’d order any other sandwich.” If you’re not hungry, please consider ordering one of Hinckley’s really delicious meat sandwiches and help support a truly fine initiative.

I happen to think that a PB&J sandwich is one of the most perfect meals ever devised.


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April 7 was Area Code Day, but what about today?

407Day logo

Happy Area Code Day!

Well, it’s Area Code Day for some of us. Those of you stuck with the 321 prefix, sorry, your day was March 21 and it passed with no fanfare. And those of you with the new 689 area code, I’m afraid your day will never come. (Seriously, when did we get a 689 area code? Why wasn’t I informed?)

This is the second annual commemoration of April 7, April being the fourth month and the seventh being, um, the seventh day of the fourth month. So, 4/07. Yes, it should properly be written as 04/07 but work with us here.


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Scott’s Kitchen: The Perfect Negroni

The Perfect Negroni still

A while back the actor Stanley Tucci caused a sensation when he posted a video of himself making his wife a negroni.

I’m a fan of the Tooch, but he got some things wrong about my beloved negroni, so I decided to set things straight with this video.

In it, I tell you which gin and which sweet vermouth is best – Campari is a constant.

Take a look, then get out your cocktail glass – not a shaker – and mix yourself or your loved one the Perfect Negroni.


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