Kudos to Quantum Leap Winery on its 10th anniversary.
Owners Jill Ramsier and David Forrester managed to do what no other Florida based winery had done before or since: produce wines worth drinking. They key to QL’s success is that it doesn’t use Florida-grown grapes to make its wines but rather imports grape juice, shipped in large vats, from small producers around the world. Once its at the Mills 50 facility, it’s blended, stored in tanks and barrels, aged and bottled or transferred to kegs, pouches or boxes. (Quantum Leap was one of the first to pioneer wines-on-tap in the Orlando area.)
Why doesn’t it use Florida grapes? Due to something called Pierce’s Disease, most of the grapes that can be grown here disease-free tend to be overly sweet varietals. Sweet grapes, sweet wine.
When I first wrote about Quantum Leap Winery I expressed some skepticism. But it’s clear that Ramsier and Forrester were serious in their commitment to producing good quality, sustainable wines. And in the past decade, the winery has become a popular event space. In fact, in its first year it was the site of one of our first popup dinners. Which makes me think…time for another?
Another anniversary to report – The Neighbors, the cocktail lounge, retail outlet and popup restaurant space on the second level of East End Market, celebrated the completion of its first year. The concept is a collaboration of East End’s founder, John Rife, and the owners of Freehand Goods and Domu restaurant. Camille, an eight-seat omakase-style experience, has been the popup restaurant in residence, if that makes sense, while awaiting its permanent space to be completed nearby.
- A Spoon Full of Hope, the food product project that is a subsidiary of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, has added cookie dough to its line of goods, just in time for cookie season, which technically runs from approximately Nov. 1 through Oct. 15. The cookie doughs include Chip Wreck’d (brown butter chocolate chip); Oat of this World (oatmeal and raisin); and Peanut Butter Quake (guess).
ASFH also sells pre-made cookies, honeys and soups, and 100 percent of proceeds are used to support students in the organization’s culinary training program. Give someone a cookie and they’ll snack for two minutes; teach someone to bake cookies and you’ll help someone learn a skill that can get them permanent employment and earn a living. See the product line here.
- Ryan Manning, owner of MX Taco, is headed to James Beard’s Chef Boot Camp in Avery Island, La., this week. The program is limited to just 15 chefs from around the country who will feature “hands-on activities that engage chefs with local natural resources, such as harvesting and visits to local farms, slaughterhouses, fisheries, and other producers.” Given the location of this particular boot camp, a visit to the Tabasco facility is likely on the agenda.
Manning will also be participating in Mad Academy, which actually has nothing to do with satire comic books. Mad Academy (mad is food in Danish) “is a Copenhagen-based educational institution that equips students from the global hospitality community with the knowledge, tools, and inspiration to effect positive change in their professional lives and in the world.” Only 30 chefs are invited to participate in Mad Academy, which will take place in Copenhagen. Mad was founded by René Redzepi of Noma after it was named best restaurant in the world. Manning received a scholarship to attend the business and leadership program.