A Taste of Winter Park

A Taste of Winter Park

with the Jeff Scott Duo

Winter Park, Florida • April 14, 2003

Well, it was a perfect Chamber of Commerce day in Florida for this perfect Chamber of Commerce event. The well-dressed business set, resplendent in power ties and plastic name badges and microscopic cell phones trotted over to the old Farmers Market on New York Street to chow down from a few dozen of the area’s best restaurants and caterers. Backing the fine weather was a little light jazz from the Jeff Scott duo.

Normally, I don’t write about food, I just sort of grab something on my way somewhere else, but this event is about eating, and the material presented is noteworthy. Taste of Winter Park charges a single admission, and then the various groups inside convince you to try their fare. I started with a beer form the Hops booth, and the girl on the side convinced me to take a small sample of their steak, which was about a third of the normal entrée’s size. Despite the lack of a plastic knife (and I long since stopped caring a pocket knife, lest it be stolen and used to create havoc in the air) it was pretty dang good. So was the barbeque from O’Boys, but I knew I better check out the music, my notional assignment today.

As I headed over to the band riser, a guy in a white chef’s cap grabbed my arm and insisted I try his barbeque. He ran a caterer called Orlando Commissary, and there is one constant about barbeque — it’s never the same from two different sources. That held true, as his was sweeter and less smoky that the other. Which is best? Hard to say — let me try some more…

Eventually I made it thought gauntlet of dolmades, wine, shrimp the size of small pets, and Gran Marnier-injected strawberries to hear the band. Jeff Scott is a pleasant man with a guitar whose deft touch produces that low-keyed background sound so suitable for eating and networking and showing off the new botox job. Backed with a standup keyboardist, Mr. Scott ran though a seamless repertoire of classic such as “Let It Be,” “Georgia On My Mind,” and “Brown Eyed Girl.” He may well have knocked off “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” as well, but I was involved in wrestling a bowl of crayfish etouffee down to the ground while the yellow pages lady tried to hand me some free telephone directories, so I might be mistaken.

Immediately adjacent to the festivities is the Winter Park Historical museum, a small but focused collection of Winter Park artifacts, maps, and a fairly extensive temporary display of medical relics. This is one of those little collections that fills in the niches of American memory beneath the Smithsonian and above Antiques Road show. I dropped in looking for the facilities to eradicate some of the barbeque sauce that was threatening my day planner (we always get deep native camouflage on these dangerous Ink 19 assignments). The young lady running the museum and I had a nice discussion on people we each thought the other might have known, the true meaning of speed bumps, and the trend of real-estate prices in central Florida. After that, it was back out side for a few Bacardi Silvers, a merlot, and some more of those Strawberries. If you hang out at one of these events long enough, the coat and tie and pager scene might not seem all that bad.

Winter Park Chamber of Commerce: http://www.winterparkcc.org/

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