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Jay Boyar on aBBey road • Scott JoSeph on a new hue


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Escape is closer than you think. In fact, it’s right in Orlando, where The Ritz-Carlton offers you so many enticing ways to leave the world behind. Relax in a poolside cabana while pampering yourself with personal concierge service. Explore our 40,000-square-foot spa with rejuvenating citrus-inspired treatments, private lap pool, wellness center and tantalizing café. Challenge yourself to our 18-hole Greg Norman signature golf course. Uncover the unexpected with our private guided eco-tour on Shingle Creek. Indulge in delectable dining—everything from casual poolside, ENJOY RATES

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28 FEATURES: AUgUST 2011 Robotic surgery, in which surgeons manipulate robotic arms and hands to perform the most delicate of operations, is one of medicine’s most promising frontiers. Thanks to surgeons like Jessica Vaught and Vipul Patel, Orlando has become one of its major outposts. by Michael McLeod • photographs by Greg Johnston

34 lET’S go lEgo

The soon-to-open Legoland Florida has created a whole new job category: “Lego Master Model Builder.” We talk with a member of this elite group of overgrown kids, and offer a preview of the new theme park at the old Cypress Gardens site. by Harry Wessel • photographs by Greg Johnston

ON THE COVER: Dr. Jessica Vaught with a daVinci surgical robot. photograph by Greg Johnston 2




28 Robo docS


JAY BOYAR’S AGENDA A new performance space opens in downtown Orlando; Disney’s Star Tours attraction gets a revamp; Hot Tuna swims into town with retro rock; Orlando Museum of Art features the geometric masterpieces of Tony Robbin; Mad Cow Theatre tackles a comedy by award-winning playwright Theresa Rebeck; Hard Rock Live hosts Hasidic reggae rocker Matisyahu.


Author Man Martin sets his new comic novel, Paradise Dogs, in pre-Disney Central Florida, while Martha Hall Foose gives readers a lot more than a cookbook in A Southerly Course: Recipes and Stories from Close to Home. by Nancy Pate


Charm bracelets aren’t just your everyday bling. These mix nostalgia with the dazzle. by Marianne Ilunga



There’s a world of color and elegance to be found in sculptural glass. by Marianne Ilunga

22 DAY’S DRIVE Fort Lauderdale, once famous as a raucous spring-break destination, has morphed into a sophisticated destination that has earned the nickname “America’s Venice.” by Michael McLeod


Reviews of Hue and The Palm, plus a listing of 60 great restaurants.




A bank vault sitting in the middle of nowhere is all that’s left of a once-thriving Seminole County town. by Randy Noles


Check out a host of helpful beauty tips, from the obvious to the not-so-obvious to the downright obscure. by Baileigh Johnson, Rebekah Kubik and Hannah Mobarekeh







The Education of an English Major Turned Business Owner


n college, I majored In englIsh. a year

ago, I became a private business owner for the first time in my life. I don’t think I need to tell you much more than that. There are only two reasons my business – a tanning, waxing and nail salon in Winter Park – has a chance to succeed. One: My wife is running it. Two: She pretty much ignores every suggestion I make, which is to say our relationship is the same as ever. The genius of this working arrangement is that my ignorance of day-to-day business matters frees me up to focus on The Big Picture. I am in a position to make sweeping generalities with the kind of conviction that only comes to those who are unhindered by objective data and firsthand information. In other words, it’s exactly like being a sports fan. Having said that, here’s what I’ve learned during my long and storied business career. I had been told that owning a business would change my politics from Democrat to Republican. That is not true. It has changed my politics from Democrat to anarchist. Or maybe libertarian. I don’t care. I’ll vote for anybody who will stand up and say that if we can’t reduce the tax burden on businesses, we can at least simplify it. That’s been the single biggest shock to my naïve English-major brain: The number of ways that federal, state, city and county agencies have discovered to extract money from business owners. It comes out quarterly. It comes out annually. It comes out, in some cases, before you even earn it. It’s extracted based on your income, on your property, on the nature of your business, on the number of employees you have. I don’t know how the system got like this, but I am sure of one thing: It’s not getting better. It’s getting worse. But here is the good part. Given the over-



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all toughness of the economy and the number of hoops that business owners have to jump through, those who survive are tough, resourceful, hardworking individuals. There is a wartime camaraderie among them. Now and then I commiserate with the man who owns the business next to ours. He came to this country as a dishwasher and now owns a successful chain of restaurants. I listen to every word of advice he has to offer. No highly paid business consultant can hold a candle to someone who started with nothing and used it to manufacture success. Especially these days.

What you CAN WIN A daylong, in-home home décor consultation from All In One Decorating Solutions, valued at $1,400. What’s ON DECK Our annual preview of the upcoming fall fashion scene and visual and performing arts season, spotlighting events you can’t afford to miss. What’s ON FACEBOOK LIKE us on Facebook and get fun updates, sneak previews and cool stuff. Corrections

Michael McLeod Editor in Chief

The “Top Women Lawyers” listing in our June issue incorrectly listed Heather Higbee as an attorney. Higbee is now a judge. In the July Design and Style section, the shoes on page 24 are $1,460, by Nicholas Kirkwood.


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AgendA • The Abbey is a cozy new downtown venue where a variety of performing arts groups will find a home.

On South Eola, an Abbey Road

Plan On It 6


Anime Festival Orlando 12

August 5-7 Wyndham Orlando Resort For the 12th year, anime aficionados gather to say “hai” to Japanese cartoon culture with a three-day festival.

They’ve broken ground – finally – on The down-

town performing arts center. Just keep in mind that there are still about three years until Phase One is finished. Phase One! But at least, in the meantime, we have The Abbey, a new performance space at the corner of Pine Street and South Eola Drive in downtown Orlando. It holds about 250 people in comfortable theater seats, somewhat fewer than that when it’s

Michelle Branch

August 6 Plaza Theatre The Grammy-award winning acoustic guitarist, singersongwriter and actress is touring in support of her first solo album since 2003.

Back to School Fashion Show

August 6 Mall at Millenia The Maile Image, Modeling & Acting School showcases back-toschool styles in the Grand Court at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.


photos: (left) courtesy the abbey; (right) courtesy disney

by JAy boyAr

arranged, cabaret-style, with tables and chairs. No, you won’t be seeing a full-scale production of Les Mis in this 7,500-square-foot room. But it’s nicely scaled for more modest theater pieces, as well as for various music, dance, film and comedy productions. Co-owned by the Florida Theatrical Association, which brings us those big Broadway touring shows, and True Marketing, an imaginative local public-relations outfit, The Abbey offers live music Wednesday through Saturday nights, plus a range of special events. Next month it will offer a musical called Broadway on the Rocks, from New York’s Big League Productions, about actors who meet at their favorite after-hours watering hole to talk shop and life. The action will increase in coming months, with multiple performances by the Orlando Philharmonic, Orlando Ballet and Central Florida Jazz Society, among others. Eventually, The Abbey’s owners hope that it will also become a sort of ongoing Fringe Festival, featuring some of the 50 or so local arts organizations that don’t have permanent homes. “This year, we were approached by many of the Fringe people to do their shows afterwards,” says Ron Legler, president and CEO of the Florida Theatrical Association. That didn’t quite work out because The Abbey had just opened and the technical systems were still being tweaked. But things are changing fast. One of the first questions people ask about The Abbey is why it’s called that. Although the venue has no religious affiliation, its name plays off the spiritual implications of The Sanctuary, the building in which the small theater is housed. And in case you were wondering, that name, The Sanctuary, is a nod to its location, which was once the site of the city’s first synagogue. Who knew? continued on page 8

Cristian Castro

August 12 House of Blues Also known as El Gallito Feliz – The Happy Rooster – this buoyant Mexican pop-music star has been a top-selling artist for nearly two decades.


FireFest 2011

August 13 Orange County Regional History Center A salute to Orlando’s firefighters with displays, demonstrations, food and fun.

For Revamped Star Tours, a Far, Far Better Journey

Back in 1989, when Star tourS opened at

Walt Disney World, it seemed plausibly futuristic. But more than two decades later, the Star Wars-themed attraction had begun to feel like it had been designed in a galaxy far, far less sophisticated than our own. Clearly, something drastic needed to be done. Recently, it was. While the basic framework hasn’t changed, the redesigned ride now seems, well, if not exactly futuristic, then at least vaguely contemporary. Star Tours is still a flight-simulator ride; that hasn’t changed. But now, instead of featuring characters from only the first three Star Wars films, it includes creatures from the entire series of six. Another big change is that the visuals are in 3-D. And I’m here to tell you that if you haven’t seen Darth Vader and Jar Jar Binks in 3-D, you really haven’t seen them. The ride now has about 50 different scenarios, and you never know which one you’re going to get. I recently sampled three of them, which, respectively, transported me through an undersea kingdom, the Wookiee world and Hoth, the ice planet. (In all three, the Empire was searching for a rebel spy disguised as a tourist.) I suspect there are some fans who have, by now, sat through all 50 of these scenarios at least twice. The Force has always been with some of us more intensely than with others. For more information, visit parks.




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The building also contains The Mezz, The Abbey’s sister “urban event space� that plays host to weddings and such. The owners of these spaces have part9:25:30 AM nered with several existing and soonto-open restaurants to re-brand the former South Eola District as the catchier sounding Eola Square. As I entered The Abbey’s long, rectangular space on a recent visit, the first thing I saw was an attractive bar, adorned by nine cylindrical mini-chandeliers. Moving toward the raised stage, I passed a sort of lounge area, with couches and a faux fireplace, and then the main seating area. The room is primarily basic black, although, in keeping with the quasispiritual theme, there’s a stained-glassstyle ceiling above the lounge area with bright, constantly shifting colors. This new venue is paving the way for the long-overdue Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts by providing a place where shows and performers of all sorts can get a foothold downtown. “We really want to be known as an incubator,� Legler told me. Can’t wait to see what hatches. Visit for more information.

9:46:43 AM


photo: courtesy the abbey



Hot Tuna Rolls Into Town If you lIved through the hazy 1960s, you may – or,



photo: courtesy the Agency group

ahem, may not – remember a band that typified the psychedelic rock scene: Jefferson Airplane. Remembering Hot Tuna may be a tougher test. But the two groups are closely related. Hot Tuna was formed by Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady, who set off on their own in 1969 when the Airplane’s lead singer, Grace Slick, was on hiatus because of throat surgery. Jefferson Airplane became Jefferson Starship. Hot Tuna is still Hot Tuna. The blues-rock band will appear at the suitably retro Plaza Theatre on Aug. 4 at 8 p.m. The core of Hot Tuna has always been Kaukonen and Casady, with a variety of musicians – some of whom were friends from the Airplane days – appearing and disappearing as members of the group over the years. Hot Tuna released its first studio album in 20 years, Steady As She Goes, earlier this year. It is available either on CD, or – for all those hard-core hippies who still own turntables – on vinyl. Visit for more information. – Rebekah Kubik


Robbin’s Work Combines Complex Geometry and Lyric Color

painting: courtesy orlando museum of art

Tony Robbin is a fRequenT lecTuReR aT colleges

and universities across the country. Sometimes his lectures are at the art department. Just as frequently, however, he’s across campus, speaking to physicists, architects, mathematicians and engineers. Robbin is a painter and sculptor who has been depicting fourdimensional objects and complex spatial configurations in layers of geometric forms and unexpected color patterns for 35 years. A selection of his works, Tony Robbin: A Retrospective, is on display at the Orlando Museum of Art through Oct. 30. The exhibit includes works on paper, 25 paintings, video animations of four-dimensional forms and a sculpture.


Since his debut at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1974, Robbin has had more than 25 solo exhibitions of his paintings and sculptures, and he has been included in more than 100 group exhibitions in 12 countries. He was a founding member of the Pattern and Decoration movement, which focuses on inventive usage of lyric color and rich patterns. The movement draws on unexpected sources – or, as Robbin has declared: “Art based on geometry is expected to be dry with only primary colors; who wrote those rules?” Visit for more information. – Michael McLeod




Playwright theresa rebeck calls her latest

effort a “love letter to the industry.” Well, make that love and hate. “It’s certainly about my own love-hate relationship with the theater,” Rebeck says. “A lot of people who work in the theater, it drives us crazy. But we still find great joy there.” The play, The Understudy, will be presented at Mad Cow Theatre Aug. 5-28. It chronicles the backstage dramas, both personal and professional, of three actors working together to produce a newly discovered Franz Kafka play. Rebeck, a Brooklyn playwright, has been recognized with a Peabody Award and a William Inge award for new playwrights. Though she has been categorized as a feminist playwright, she says she’s less interested in “political statements about feminism” and more concerned about giving equal weight to all her characters, be they male or female.

The Understudy is a case in point. There’s Roxanne, the stage manager, a cranky theater veteran whose onstage career has stalled. There’s Jake, a Hollywood action-film star whose acting skills are suspect. And there’s Harry, a genuine talent who seems destined to labor in obscurity. Rebeck, who began her career by writing humorous plays, calls The Understudy “a return to my lighter days.” Critics have been enthusiastic. The Boston Globe raved: “Rebeck takes this basic setup and runs with it, creating 90 minutes of show-biz satire, acerbic banter between the sexes and fleeting glimpses of larger meaning that all add up to a very satisfying entertainment indeed.” Visit for more information. – Baileigh Johnson

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7/7/11AUGUST 4:08:51 PM 2011

poster: courtesy mad cow theatre

Mad Cow Delivers a Hilarious Love-Hate Letter to Broadway

photo: jared polin

The Winding Road for Matisyahu: From Orthodox Judaism to Reggae GettinG a second look is easy Since his breakout hit in 2005, “King enough for Hasidic reggae musician MatWithout a Crown,” Matisyahu has been thew Miller. It’s a bit of a jolt, even in our producing his own brand of reggae, demulticultural age, to see those two adjecveloping a sound that encompasses eletives emblazoned on the same marquee. ments of pop, hip-hop and traditional But the soft-spoken Miller, better Jewish themes. known by his Hebrew name, Matisyahu, In a telephone interview from an airsays he is interested mainly in how peoport in Frankfurt, Germany, just before ple react to the end result of those dispaboarding a plane back to New York City, rate influences: his music. Matisyahu cited Bob Marley, Neil Young “From Day One I’ve never really paid and Tracy Chapman as key inspirations. attention too much to what people have He also mentioned, in the same breath, been saying,” Matisyahu, 32, says. “Anythe Torah. body who has ever listened to my music Raised as a Reconstructionist Jew wouldn’t pay attention to my image.” in White Plains, N.Y., he converted to He’ll be performing at Orlando Hard Orthodox Judaism after a two-month 259-062 1 5/11/11 of 9:23 AM Rock Live Aug. 24.PM - OrlHome&LeisureJune.pdf exploration his spiritual heritage in

Israel. Then again, as a young man he also spent some time taking hallucinogens and becoming a “Phish-head,” following the rock band on tour. And yes, Matisyahu cites those years as an influence, too, though he’s adopted a much tamer lifestyle these days, judging by his pre-show ritual: “I drink a ginger tea and jam out with the band.” Visit for more information. – Hannah Mobarekeh

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Okra Picks, Nostalgia and Summer’s Bookish Bounty

hot dogs. But what of his clingy young fiancée, Lily? bounty: blueberries, melons, Seasonal Complications ensue as Adam peaches, corn, tomatoes – selections tries to return to the Floridian and okra. Not just to eat but feature Eden of yesteryear. Martin’s alto read. Let me explain. Southern legorically named characters get Every season, the Southeast food and up to all sorts of mischief, and Independent Booksellers AlliOld Orlando. the resulting comedy of errors ance announces its dozen “Okra borders on high farce and tomPicks: Good Southern Books foolery. Martin – who grew up Fresh Off the Vine.’’ Two recent in Florida and now lives in Georgia – has a deft selections, both with a local flavor, drew me in. hand with local color and shows true affection Man Martin’s Paradise Dogs (St. Martin’s for his goofy hero. A major plot point, which Press) shouts “retro’’ with its cover, a neon title includes mysterious land purchases, will come riding in the sky above an aqua car, a roadside as no surprise to Central Floridians familiar diner and a pink(!) alligator. We’re boarding the with a certain omnipresent mouse. Wayback Machine to Central Florida in the Paradise Dogs may not be what old-timers 1960s, B.D. (Before Disney). call an “E-ticket,’’ yet it’s still an agreeable ride “Interstate 4 had come through,’’ Martin back to an orange-blossom-scented past not yet writes early in the book, “but the region still paved with theme parks. fairly trembled in anticipation of the next big thing, the thing that would lift it from being a largely rural cracker town into something like modern glory as had happened in Palm Springs and Miami.’’ The cover of A Southerly Course: Recipes and His protagonist, Adam Newman, is a homely Stories from Close to Home by Martha Hall real estate agent/dreamer with lots of charm, Foose (Crown) offers a mouth-watering picture great expectations and a talent for reinventing of peaches tumbled together in an apron. Ah, himself at any given moment. As he gases up my favorite food. But I still would have read his car at the “Sinclair on Eola,” he ponders this beautiful book because Mississippi chef his plan to win back his ex-wife, Evelyn, with Foose wrote Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes whom he once ran a restaurant that served only and Tales from a Southern Cook, a James Beard

by Nancy Pate




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am loving summer’s

Award-winning take on traditional Southern fare. Sweet Tea Pie, anyone? My family tends to forget that just because I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t cook much anymore doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mean I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know how. But even if I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t spend time in the kitchen, I spend lots of time reading about food, especially Southern food. Recipes remind me of family tales told around the table, and the kitchen is where so many stories start. Foose knows that, too, and how the mythology of the South â&#x20AC;&#x201C; â&#x20AC;&#x153;its patent qualities of deep involvement with family, observance of ritual, and celebration of eccentricityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x201C; plays out around its food. And so she pairs her recipes with entertaining anecdotes, essays and explanations. Such good â&#x20AC;&#x153;table talk.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;&#x2122; She recalls how her grandmother, an avid mystery reader, fancied herself an armchair


detective and â&#x20AC;&#x153;was thrilled when a neighbor was murdered. Wait â&#x20AC;&#x201C; that might lend the wrong impression. She was saddened by the loss of life, certainly, but elated at the chance to do some sleuthing and speculating.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Now she sits in her grandmotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s favorite wingback and reads Sherlock Holmes, sustained by â&#x20AC;&#x153;Elsieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Welsh Rarebit.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The instructions for making the cheese, egg and bread dish follows. Recipes calling for venison, rabbit and duck accompany stories on hunting, but Foose also visits Eudora Weltyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s kitchen in Jackson and thumbs through the Southern writerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own little black book of handwritten family recipes and offers â&#x20AC;&#x153;Custard Pie.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;&#x2122; While likening different congealed salads to beauty-pageant contestants, Foose reminds us that dumping fruit cocktail in gelatin does not a congealed salad make.


Ingredients must be folded in for the salad to set properly. Never use fresh pineapple unless you want gelatinous soup. Again, Foose surprises with recipes humble (Homemade Soda Crackers) and more highfalutinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; (Burgundy Duck). Fig Pecan Fondue sounds delicious, as does Peanut Chicken. You might be surprised to find Korean Grilled Onions in a Southern cookbook, but the recipe was inspired by the wife of a cousin. After all, food equals family in these parts. l Nancy Pate is an author of southernthemed mysteries and a long-time book reviewer, including nearly two decades for the Orlando Sentinel. Her column appears courtesy of her books blog, â&#x20AC;&#x153;On a Clear Day I Can Read Forever,â&#x20AC;? located online at CBC1257528

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Pandora 14-carat gold bracelet (right) with hand-finished charms, adorned with diamonds, rhodolites and pink sapphires, elaborated with hand-blown Murano glass, $9,035; at Pandora, florida Mall.



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Pandora 14-carat gold bracelet (below) with 14-carat gold cabochon spacers in onyx; orange moonstone, rhodolite and 14-carat gold and diamond charms, varying in price from $235 to $770; safety chain, $365. total price of bracelet as shown: $8,500 at Pandora, florida Mall.

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Pink Moo Jade Charm

Elephant Charm Buddha Charm

Triple-strand, gold-filled necklace, $272; charms on necklace (from left): Buddha charm with white and gold pearl accent, $50; Ocean Blue quartz charm, $149; elephant charm with pearl accent, $40; Pink Moo Jade charm with amethyst accents, $66; all from An Dao Jewelry, (close-ups of elephant, Buddha and Pink Moo Jade charms shown above).





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Sculptural glass has a luminous allure all its own. by Marianne Ilunga,

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AUgUSt 2011

photos: courtesy rich fizer; duncan mcclellan gallery and tresor gallery

“spring” (above), original hand-blown glass piece with clear seaweed detail stand, $625, is by fort meyers artist rich fizer,

“Autumn Wave” (top right), original hand-blown glass piece with clear seaweed detail stand, by Rich Fizer, $425,

“Jelly” (left), by Karg Art Glass, comes in three sizes, price ranging from $281 to $500, available at the Tresor Gallery in Winter Park, .

“Flag” (bottom right), by Karg Art Glass, comes in four sizes, price ranging from $249 to $799, available at the Tresor Gallery in Winter Park,




D AY ’ S D R I V E

Fort Lauderdale is still best seen from the water.


t’s been a long time since Fort lauderdale’s

best-known tourists arrived here in search of cheap motel rooms, wet T-shirt contests and the world’s largest inflatable Budweiser beer bottle. The spring-break crowd that was once synonymous with this South Florida city has moved on to other destinations, much to the relief of tourism officials and the local populace. If there’s a single location that epitomizes the tourism sea change, it’s 1 North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, previously the address of a beachfront bar called the Candy Store. Where that spring-break, cheap-beer epicenter once stood, guests of a luxurious Ritz Carlton Resort Hotel now indulge in pear martinis and seaweed body scrubs. Fort Lauderdale has worked hard over the past three decades to change its brand as a destination from freewheeling to sophisticated. The mantra these days is “Lauderdale Luxe,” a reference to a new array of high-end destinations such as The Westin Beach Resort and Spa, W Fort Lauderdale, the Atlantic Hotel and the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach. But whether you’re talking high end, low end or somewhere in

by Michael McLeod



PHOTOS: (TOP and lOwer lefT) cOurTeSy THe weSTin beacH reSOrT and SPa; (lOwer rigHT) greg JOHnSTOn

A Renaissance in America’s Venice


They call it “Lauderdale Luxe.” The Westin Beach Resort and spa (top) boasts a gorgeous oceanfront location, posh accommodations and dining at Shula’s (bottom left), an upscale steakhouse named for iconic coach of the Miami Dolphins. The view from a Water Taxi (bottom right) includes homes of the rich and sometimes famous.


DeerfielD Beach. Well sheltered, with peaceful coves that make it an ideal family playground. hillsBoro Beach anD Dania Beach. Secluded enough to attract nature lovers and contemplative souls. PomPano Beach. Features the area’s clearest, calmest waters. lauDerDale-By-The-sea. A tiny seaside hamlet with a fishing pier, shops, cafés and an old-Florida feel. hollywooD Beach. The dog-friendly choice, featuring a 2½-mile boardwalk. hallanDale Beach. A boating and fishing center, but still great for swimming. forT lauDerDale Beach. For those who like a beach with an urban feel and a continuous passing parade.


las olas BoulevarD ( An array of sophisticated boutiques and a charming Gourmet Farmers Market every Sunday. Galleria mall ( Retailers include Neiman Marcus, Coach, Apple and Macy’s. sawGrass mills ( The biggest mall in Fort Lauderdale, with more than 300 stores.




between, one thing about Fort Lauderdale hasn’t changed: The best way to see it is from the water. The city is named after a frontier fort that once stood here, but another nickname suits it better: “America’s Venice.” The city, which celebrated its centennial this year, was built on land basically dredged from mangrove swamps a century ago. It’s crisscrossed by 165 miles worth of Intracoastal Waterway, bisected by the New River and bordered on the

east by seven miles of Atlantic beaches. You can travel from place to place or just see the sights from a Water Taxi (, a fleet of which cruises the Intracoastal. Fort Lauderdale’s skyline, tropical landscapes of red poinciana and blue jacaranda, well-appointed yachts and luxury homes glide by as pilots deliver folksy “what is that?” and “who lives where?” narratives. A daylong pass on the 21/2-hour circuit is $20; after dark there’s a $10 “moonlight madness pass.” The

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was declared a historic landmark by the City of Fort Lauderdale in 2002. Built in 1919 by Chicago artist Frederic Clay Bartlett and his wife Helen, the estate is today a venue for art exhibits, concerts and special events.




PHOTO: cOurTesy THe bOnneT HOuse

D AY ’ S D R I V E

D AY ’ S D R I V E

WHERE TO GO, WHAT TO DO Luxury Accommodations

RiveRside Hotel ( A comfortable, classy, historic hotel on East Las Olas Boulevard. tHe Westin BeacH ResoRt and spa ( One of the city’s new breed of uber-posh destinations. tHe Ritz-caRlton ( Fort Lauderdale’s newest luxury hotel.


tHe MuseuM of aRt, foRt laudeRdale ( Features works by Picasso, Dali, Warhol and Mapplethorpe. tHe inteRnational sWiMMing Hall of faMe ( A museum and showplace for swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming. Bonnet House MuseuM and gaRdens ( An oldFlorida estate on environmentally sensitive land that now houses a museum, exhibits and concerts. ButteRfly WoRld (butterflyworld. com). A 3-acre park featuring live butterflies and hummingbirds from five continents.


The Jungle Queen riverboat (top) offers dinner cruises along the New River while the Rock Bar (center) is a beach institution. If you’re an angler, you can charter a boat and go deep-sea fishing (bottom). 26



boats are covered and, depending on the type of vessel, hold around 25 people. Fort Lauderdale’s beach is just one of 13 Water Taxi destinations. Another is Las Olas Boulevard, the city’s answer to Rodeo Drive. Lined with shops, cafés, bars, restaurants and even a world-class museum, it runs from the heart of the business district and stretches all the way to the Atlantic shore. If it’s just sightseeing and a hearty barbecue dinner you’re after, a New River dinner cruise to a private island aboard the venerable Jungle Queen riverboat ( is a good option. The four-hour, $40 per-person cost covers the dinner and the cruise across a unique tidal saltwater river. If not, there’s the Carrie B, an old-fashioned paddle-wheeler. It’s docked near the city’s oldest residence, the Stranahan House, which was the home of Fort Lauderdale’s first schoolteacher and a trading post where settlers did business with Seminole Indians. The $19.95 junket ( takes visitors past homes once owned by Sonny and Cher, Johnny Weissmuller, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez, Gloria Vanderbilt, Dan Quayle and Wayne Huizenga, among other luminaries. Not to dwell on a sore subject here, but the Carrie B also glides by the home of Connie Francis, one of the stars of Where the Boys Are. The then-scandalous but now-quaint 1960 film, which was shot on location in Fort Lauderdale, is about four misbehaving Midwestern college coeds. They drove around in jalopies! They jumped into swimming pools with their clothes on! They did this on spring break, in Fort Lauderdale! The movie inspired thousands of reallife college students to do the same. And we all know how that story played out. l

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The daVinci robot provides surgeons with enhanced vision and mobility.



Robo Docs


by Michael McLeod • photographs by Greg Johnston


ina Harman, a 27-year-old administrative

assistant at a Central Florida resort, had suffered for years with a nagging ache at the back of her jaw. Pain pills didn’t help, nor did having wisdom teeth removed. That wasn’t the problem. Harman was finally diagnosed with a malignant tumor by Dr. Jeffrey Lehman, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute. He knew the standard remedy was a radical one: Cut straight through the lower lip and the chin, then saw through the middle of the jawbone to create a pathway for a surgeon to reach the cancer. But Lehman never even mentioned that grueling procedure to his young patient. He didn’t have to. Last June, using a new surgical approach he’d learned just weeks before, he was able to access and remove the tumor through her mouth, leaving the jaw intact. The surgery was so precise that he was also able to spare her the additional ordeal of follow-up radiation and chemotherapy. Patients often have difficulty swallowing for weeks after such treatments. “All I had was a sore throat,” says Harman. What saved her from a much harsher recuperation was Lehman’s use of a daVinci robot, a revolutionary, minimally invasive surgical system that allows doctors to operate not only in small, restricted areas of the body, but to do so with heightened visual and manipulative powers. It takes just a few moments in an operating room to get a sense of the surgical sea change the robot represents. A few weeks ago, at 10:30 on a Tuesday morning, Ellen Flint, a 53-year-old account manager at an Orlando marketing firm, WWW.OHLMAG.COM

underwent a hysterectomy at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. Even people who consider themselves queasy about such things might have been comfortable enough in an O.R. devoid of bright lights, large incisions and the scent of cauterized flesh. As for blood, yes, there was some: Flint lost roughly a tablespoon or two during the procedure. The operation was done by Dr. Jessica Vaught, a 36-year-old gynecologic surgeon who heads the hospital’s minimally invasive surgical program. Flint lay on her back, draped and anesthetized, beneath an array of five robotic arms that looked a bit like what you’d see on an automotive assembly line. At the working end of the arms were slender medical instruments called trocars. Each trocar was inserted into Flint’s abdomen through a crisscross incision small enough to be covered by a nickel. Between them, the trocars would deliver the miniature instruments, the power, the light and the 3-D camera that would enable Vaught to perform the operation via remote control from a nearby console. Although surgeons have been using the daVinci system to perform hysterectomies and other gynecologic surgeries since 2006, Vaught still fields questions from patients who are having trouble getting used to the idea. “Sometimes it bothers them that I perform the surgery from across the room,” she said. “They like the comfort of a surgeon standing at their side. I’ve had other patients who think the robot does all the work, and all I do is set it up and go out for a coffee break.” ORLANDO HOME & LEISURE


Dr. Vipul Patel, medical director of the Florida Hospital Global Robotics Institute, has performed thousands of robot-assisted surgical procedures. He trains surgeons at his institute and reaches many more as editor of the Journal of Robotics Surgery.

Life is not quite that simple for the doctors who performed nearly 300,000 daVinci-assisted procedures in the United States last year. But they did have an advantage over the generations of surgeons who have grown stooped and bleary-eyed from leaning over their patients, probing through narrow incisions. Vaught, by contrast, sits at a control console and leans into a cowled viewing screen. Her view inside a patient’s abdomen is as detailed and clear as if she cupped her hands in front of her face to read her own palms. There is a trade-off for this. Surgeons in a robotic-assisted procedure do not have the benefit of touch in order to seek out abnormalities and navigate their way through the viscera. But Vaught, like many other robotic surgeons, said the visual acuity she gets – which includes a zoom lens, if she needs it – compensates for that. “When I’m making a knot in a stitch, I can feel it when it tightens,” she said. “No. That’s not exactly right. I perceive it when it tightens.” 30


Winnie Palmer has two daVinci robots. Staffers have nicknamed one “Mona” and the other “Lisa” in a wry nod to the iconic 15th-century portrait painted by the robot’s namesake, Leonardo daVinci. DaVinci was a natural choice to represent such a pioneering surgical system: Apart from being fascinated by human anatomy, he is generally credited as the first person to envision building robots. Vaught settled in at Mona’s controls to begin the hysterectomy. As her hands manipulated a set of toggles beneath the viewing screen, she looked like someone engaged in either a video game or some casual, high-tech pantomime. But on an overhead monitor, you could watch Vaught’s robotic collaborator duplicating and downsizing every movement. The robot also automatically filtered out any tremors in her hands as she used them to cut and cauterize blood vessels and tissue via remote control. At times, a light haze of smoke clouded the 3-D view of the abdomen as Vaught worked her way through the procedure, AUgUSt 2011

circumnavigating the uterus and gradually detaching it from the abdominal wall. She did the same with the ovaries, which showed on her screen as striking, snow-white orbs against the crowded backdrop of pink tissue, yellow fat and spidery, red blood vessels. In less than an hour the procedure was over, and Vaught was in a conference room across from the O.R., sipping from a bottle of water and sharing a high school memory about a favorite teacher who seemed perfectly fine one day, but disappeared the next. Word filtered down to the students that she was having a hysterectomy, that it would take her a while to recuperate. The teacher didn’t come back for six weeks. Not so for Vaught’s patient. Flint, whose bill for the procedure was $3,000 after her insurance covered 80 percent of the cost, had told Vaught prior to the operation that she hoped to go home that afternoon. At 4:30, she got her wish. There is no doubting the “wow” factor of the daVinci surgical system. It is spectacular technology. It clearly makes life easier WWW.OHLMAG.COM

for both doctors and patients. But it has its doubters. Numerous studies have shown that patients recover faster with daVinci surgery, as they do with every other kind of minimally invasive surgery. But the results of the operations – their ultimate success or failure, regardless of recovery time – are generally no better than other, less-expensive and more traditional techniques. A daVinci robot costs upward of $2.5 million. Some critics fear that hospitals, under pressure to recover their investment, are overstating the virtues of the system – a claim supported by a study of 400 hospital websites by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. For patients considering a daVinci procedure, the best advice is what you’d hear about any operation: Be sure you know what your alternatives are, how much experience the surgeon has had, and what that surgeon’s outcomes have been. There is no device that makes a bad surgeon a good one. In general, the more robotic-assisted surgeries a dedicated practitioner has performed, the better. ORLANDO HOME & LEISURE


Hospital O.R., observing as Which would mean that Vipul gynecologic surgeon Dr. RobPatel is a very good robotic surert Holloway used a daVinci geon, indeed. robot to perform a hysterecPatel is medical director of tomy on a woman with endoFlorida Hospital’s Global Rometrial cancer. botics Institute in Celebration. At one point, watching the He is internationally recognized operation on an overhead as one of robot-assisted surgery’s monitor, Macusi’s eyes widbusiest practitioners, teachers ened above the surgical mask and researchers. he was wearing. Holloway’s Patel tutors surgeons who visalacrity in moving through it his institute to train in robotthe procedure had impressed ics, using consoles akin to flight him. “He’s good,” he said. simulators to navigate through “He’s really, really good.” virtual operations. He is also A moment later, Holloway editor in chief of the Journal of flicked a switch. Suddenly the Robotics Surgery. And sometime overhead monitors, which in October, he expects to perhad been tracking his progress form his 5,000th robot-assisted through the usual landscape prostatectomy. of tissue, nerves and blood Men come from all over the vessels, turned black. Isolatworld to have the surgery, often ed, green-glowing patches apvacationing for a bit before they peared against the darkness. do so. Patel – who says that no A dye that reacts to the matter how many operations he presence of cancer had been does, he always finds something injected into the patient. The that surprises him – does roughglowing patches represented ly 25 of the procedures per week. the progress of the disease, His results: After a year, roughly which had spread from the 90 percent of his patients enjoy uterus to the lymph nodes. what he likes to call the “trifecta”: Dr. Jessica Vaught still fields questions from But the most telling mosexual function, bladder control patients who think robotic surgery means “I just ment of the operation came and no recurrence of cancer. near its end. Holloway had The institute is also a hub for set it up and go take a coffee break.” taken the uterus out through research. It has been awarded the patient’s vagina and had sent it to the pathologist for evalua $4.2 million grant from the Department of Defense for ation. The size of the tumor would dictate how many lymph studies in “telesurgery,” in which doctors could use robotics nodes would have to be removed. to operate on patients, perhaps soldiers in a war zone, from The phone rang – an old-fashioned ring from a wall phone a great distance. that seemed anachronistic in the midst of all the medical high Among other possibilities as the robotic-surgery field expands: tech. It was the pathologist. Holloway spoke briefly into the “nano robots.” The microscopic devices could be introduced phone, was dissatisfied with the answers he was getting and into the bloodstream for diagnosing and providing treatments asked to see the organ he’d just removed. for various illnesses, perhaps tapping into the body’s own supply When an assistant brought it back to the O.R, Holloway of glucose and oxygen as fuel for their journeys. slipped on a pair of gloves, took the organ in one hand and John Paul Macusi, a gynecologist from San Paulo, Brazil, was pried at it, distractedly, with his thumb and forefinger. The daamong the 20,000 doctors a year who are expected to visit the Vinci, with all its technological prowess, was forgotten for the newly expanded Global Robotics Institute to train. moment as he stood there, absorbed in a task no robot has been Recently, Macusi, who has just begun learning roboticable to master: The doctor had to make a judgment call. l surgery techniques, stood in awe in the middle of a Florida 32


AUgUSt 2011

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A superhero Lego mAn joins A mini-empire And heLps creAte its new centrAL FLoridA outpost. by Harry Wessel • photographs by Greg Johnston


a s o n M i lle r , a n

inspiration to college dropouts everywhere, has a dream job. His title says it all: Lego Master Model Builder. That’s right. He gets paid to design, build and maintain fanciful structures made from the world’s most popular plastic toy. Over the next few weeks, Miller, 27, will put the finishing touches on creations for display at Legoland Florida, the latest and largest of the world’s five Legoland theme parks. It’s slated for an October 15 opening at the old Cypress Gardens site in Winter Haven. “I’m very happy and blessed to find a job at Legoland. It’s the greatest place I’ve been, which is saying a lot,” says Miller, an unabashed theme-park fan with years of work experience at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando. A natural entertainer, he waxes nostalgic about his days as a parade performer and a Jungle Cruise skipper. But it was his last job at Downtown 34


Disney – at the Lego Imagination Center, the world’s biggest Lego store – where he honed his skills working with Lego bricks, and realized how rewarding that work could be. He would build an elaborate Lego model in the store – such as a 10-foot replica of the Washington Monument, which he assembled in one day – “and kids would come up and ask, ‘How did you do that? Can I do that?’ It was amazing. It’s one of the few jobs where you’re a superhero to kids.” Miller’s road to superhero status was anything but straight. He loved Legos as a kid growing up in Roswell, Ga., but he sold his collection when he left home to attend the University of South Florida. He dropped out after one semester and spent the next eight years working mostly part-time jobs at Disney and Universal. He credits his wife – then girlfriend – for rekindling his interest in Legos four years ago. After learning about his childhood hobby, she bought him a Lego set, and continued buying him sets every few

Master Model Builder Jason Miller works on his latest project – a Legoland Florida sign made of Lego bricks – in his model shop. Miller is one of just 300 Lego Master Model Builders worldwide. AUGUST 2011

Lego miLestones 1932





Ole Kirk Kristiansen starts making wooden toys in his Billund, Denmark, workshop.

Ole Kirk names his toys and company “Lego,” a contraction of the Danish words “leg godt,” meaning “play well.”

The Lego Group buys its first plastics injectionmolding machine.

Lego introduces “Automatic Binding Bricks,” the forerunner to the Lego brick.

Ole Kirk hands over leadership of his company to his son, Godtfred.




More than 3 million Lego bricks and pieces are kept in row after row of sorting boxes at Legoland Florida’s model shop (above). Most of the larger Lego models on display at the attraction are built in Europe or California but repaired and refurbished locally. Miller’s own creations include a model of a rolling wave and a surfing minifigure (below).

months. He was hooked. (His wife, Tara, a pharmacy manager, occasionally builds Lego models, Miller reports. “She likes it, but not like I do.”) Last year, not long after the announcement that Florida was getting its own Legoland, Miller paid a visit to Legoland California, which also serves as a hiring hub for Lego model builders. While there, he applied for a job. He had no special connections, just an iPhone video of a Lego model he had designed: a Star Wars mountain cave, featuring a tiny Yoda endlessly chasing a slightly less-tiny Darth Vader on a motorized belt. The model wasn’t particularly elaborate, Miller says, but a Legoland staffer he showed it to was impressed. “It was the idea and ingenuity behind it. He knew I was creative.” Miller was one of just 10 model builders hired out of more than 5,000 applicants. After five weeks of intensive training, he earned his Master Model Builder title – a designation held by just 300 people worldwide. All Lego toys, stores and parks share a single-minded focus: creative play for children, specifically 2- to -12-year-olds. “It’s all about kids,” Miller says, echoing The Lego Group’s overarching philosophy. The focus is so strong that Legoland Florida’s usual closing time will be 5 p.m. – hours earlier than other family-friendly theme parks. As a Legoland Florida official recently put it, “We’re going to be reasonable and not keep the park open all hours of the night so the kids get tired and grumpy.”






Godtfred receives a patent for the Lego building system. All Lego bricks and elements – made from 1958 until today – are compatible with each other.

Lego begins making blocks from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, the same tough plastic it uses today.

Lego introduces larger “Duplo” bricks for preschool children.

Legoland Billund opens in Denmark, with all buildings, landscapes and vehicles built using standard Lego bricks.

Lego introduces its first minifigure, or “minifig,” the first of approximately 4 billion that since have been produced.




Lego facts and figures • Lego pieces are made in factories in Denmark, Hungary, Mexico and the Czech Republic. Combined, the four factories produce more than 31 billion pieces per year. Close to 500 billion have been made since 1958. • Lego pieces come in 3,900 different shapes, in 58 different colors. • There are two basic types of Lego pieces: Bricks and Elements. “Bricks” include bricks, plates, studs and tiles. “Elements” include everything else, including windows, ladders, gates, minifigures and tires. (The Lego Group produces 300 million toy tires a year, leading to its self-proclaimed stature as “the world’s largest tire manufacturer.”) • Lego molds are accurate within a tolerance of 0.01 millimeter (4 hundredths of an inch). All Lego bricks and elements made since 1958 are compatible with each other. • There are nearly a billion (915,103,765) different ways to put together a halfdozen standard, eight-stud Lego bricks. • According to The Lego Group, more than 400 million children and adults worldwide will play with Lego bricks this year.






Godtfred hands over leadership of the company to his son, Kjeld Kirk.

Legoland Windsor opens in the United Kingdom.

Legoland California opens in Carlsbad (north of San Diego).

Though Lego’s target audience is kids, adult fans in Central Florida form the Greater Florida Lego Users Group (

Legoland Deutschland opens in Günzburg, Germany.







photos: (far left top and bottom and map) courtesy legoland florida; (right) greg johnston

LegoLand FLorida at a gLance

A map of Legoland Florida (above) highlights the variety of activities geared to children and preteens the park will offer. Among the attractions will be four “junior” roller coasters (far left, bottom) and eight “Minilands.” The Florida Miniland (far left, top) will feature a model of the space shuttle while a model of the White House will anchor the Washington, D.C. Miniland (left). Yes, that’s the Obama family, including First Dog Bo, on the North Portico. WWW.OHLMAG.COM

But Legos aren’t just for kids. “AFOLs” – Adult Fans of Lego – are a major constituency. There are more than 50 adult “Lego Users Groups” worldwide, including the Greater Florida Lego Users Group (, which has been active for more than a decade. Club member Michael Huffman, a 41-year-old Windermere computer programmer, says the Lego allure is strong. “The power of creativity and imagination is contained in the brick itself. It’s the enjoyment of creating something out of a different type of medium,” Huffman says. “It’s something very cool on a geek level.” In a recent example of geek coolness, staffers at Legoland California “bor-

The $150 million, 150-acre park is slated to open Saturday, October 15, 2011 at the former site of Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven. Aimed at children age 2 to 12 and their families, the park’s usual, non-holiday hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week, with the park closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Daily admission, not including tax: $75 for adults; $65 for children (3-12) and seniors (60 and over); free for children under 3. Prices are discounted by $10 until Oct. 15. There will be dozens of rides geared to young children and pre-teens, including four “junior” roller coasters. Some Cypress Gardens attractions will remain, most notably the botanical gardens, the “Island in the Sky” rotating platform and water stunt shows on Lake Eloise, although the skiers will now be performing in Lego pirate costumes. As a further nod to Cypress Gardens, there will be two “Southern Belles” made entirely of Legos. The bodies were made in Denmark, but the heads are being custommade at Legoland Florida. Among the park’s other main draws: • A factory tour that shows how Lego bricks are made. • Venues for building and testing Lego cars and Lego robots. • Several Lego retail outlets, including “The Big Shop.” • A 20-foot-tall replica of Albert Einstein’s head, containing more than 2 million Lego pieces. • Elaborate models of iconic U.S. landmarks: the White House, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building and the Kennedy Space Center, to name a few. While there’ll be plenty of Lego models from tourist destinations, including a whole “Miniland” devoted to Las Vegas, there’ll be nothing – not even the Lake Eola fountain – representing the city of Orlando.



Merlin the Wizard, standing 5 feet tall and containing a quartermillion Lego bricks, will greet visitors to one of Legoland Florida’s themed areas: Castle Hill, land of knights, princesses and dragons.

rowed” the car keys of one of the park’s top executives and moved the vehicle from its assigned space. Using a forklift, they replaced it with a full-sized, 11/2-ton Lego duplicate. No such pranks have been reported at Legoland Florida – at least not yet – although Miller has the talent and raw materials to pull it off. His workshop at the park contains more than 3 million Lego bricks and pieces, in row after row of sorting bins. You’d think spending all day designing, building and working with Legos would satisfy his habit. But Miller works on models at home, too, with pieces he buys on his own. He has accumulated, he estimates, about $5,000 worth of Legos. Miller’s personal Lego creations are on display at his Lake Buena Vista home. It features a large-scale Batmobile (“the one from Batman Returns”) and a 5,195-piece Millennium Falcon spaceship from Star Wars. His professional creations include “The Legofriend Tourist,” a 3-foot tall, smiling Lego figure sporting a diver’s mask and a kiddy float that will be displayed in Legoland Florida’s partner “Bed & Brick” hotels. Working with computer-generated 3-D images, Miller and another model builder made a dozen Tourists in all, each requiring four full workdays to finish. “I can’t draw; I can’t sculpt with clay,” Miller says. “But give me Legos and I can make anything.” l





Operation of current and future Legoland parks is turned over to the Merlin Entertainments Group.

Merlin Entertainments announces that Legoland Florida will open in late 2011, later narrowed to Saturday, Oct. 15.

The Lego Group reports that there are 55,000 registered adult members in Lego User Groups worldwide.

The company plans to open a sixth Legoland – and the first in Asia – in Iskandar, Malaysia.






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MEMBERSHIP DIRECTORY The Master Custom Builder Council is a Central Florida organization consisting of the region’s best builders of luxury and custom homes. The organization is an elite and exclusive one, representing just 26 professionals who have pledged to uphold the highest standards in the building industry and who meet other criteria for membership, including adherence to a rigid Code of Ethics.

An MCBC member must: • Be a state-registered or state-certified contractor, licensed by the state of Florida; • Have been a resident of and a custom-home builder in Seminole, Orange, Lake or Osceola counties for a minimum of three years; • Attend MCBC-designated continuing education courses; • Submit the names of five previous clients as references; • Have been sponsored by two MCBC members who have personal knowledge of the applicant’s business integrity; • Abide by the MCBC Code of Ethics; • Have demonstrated and maintained credit-worthiness within the community and the homebuilding industry.

So, if you’re considering building a custom home, use this directory as your guide. Or contact MCBC directly by calling (407) 875-2121. The organization’s Web site is and its email address is mcbc@custombuiltcom. WWW.OHLMAG.COM



Akers Custom Homes, Inc.

166 Terra Mango Loop, Ste. 200, Orlando, FL 32835 Phone: 407-352-6700 • Fax: 407-352-8707 • $2,000,000 to $12,000,000

James D. Akers

Building in Winter Park, Isleworth, Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, Lake Butler Sound, Windermere and Southwest Orlando

Brierhill Homes, Inc.

P.O. Box 616745, Orlando, FL 32861 Phone: 407-363-6913 • Fax: 407-295-5111 • $700,000 to $3,000,000

Building in Bay Hill, Windermere and Dr. Phillips area David C. Rauh


131 Park Lake St., Orlando, FL 32803 Phone: 407-422-0733 • Fax: 866-753-6234 • $2,500,000 to $8,000,000

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Castleworks, Inc.

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Derrick Builders, Inc.

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Hardwick General Contracting, Inc. P.O. Box 941689, Maitland, FL 32794-1689 Phone: 407-702-6531 • Fax: 407-393-5566 • $250,000 to $2,000,000

Building in Winter Park, Maitland and throughout Central Florida Greg Hardwick

DeLorenzo Homes, Inc.

P.O. Box 620637, Oviedo, FL 32762-0637 Phone: 407-366-0360 • Fax: 407-359-9861 • $500,000 to $1,500,000

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McNally Homes, Inc.

P.O. Box 818, Windermere, FL 34786 Phone: 407-352-8200 • Fax: 407-352-0157 • New Homes: $600,000 to $5,000,000 Remodels: $100,000 to $3,000,000-plus

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Sunscape Homes, Inc.

P.O. Box 928, Windermere, FL 34786 Phone: 407-876-1811 • Fax: 407-876-3313 • Starting at $1,000,000

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Goehring & Morgan Construction, Inc. 116 E. Concord St., Orlando, FL 32801 Phone: 407-650-2022 • Fax: 407-650-0398 • $850,000 to $6,000,000

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Farina & Sons, Inc.

3432 Edgewater Dr., Orlando, FL 32804 Phone: 407-849-1731 • Fax: 407-849-1733 • $300,000 to $1,500,000

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Hannigan Homes, Inc.

229 Pasadena Place, Orlando, FL 32803 Phone: 407-843-5858 • Fax: 407-843-5852 • $700,000 to $4,000,000-plus

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Jones-Clayton Construction, Inc.

833 N. Magnolia Ave., Orlando, FL 32803 Phone: 407-650-2015 • Fax: 407-650-2019 • $1,000,000 plus

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J. Richard Watson Construction Company, Inc. 885 Sedalia St., Ste. 202, Ocoee, FL 34761 Phone: 407-253-2800 • Fax: 407-253-2801 • $1,000,000 to $8,000,000-plus

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Mark Clayton Custom Homes, Inc.

4326 Piermont Court, Orlando, FL 32817 Phone: 407-672-0150 • Fax: 407-599-1139 • $850,000 to $6,000,000

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201 W. Canton Ave., Ste. 275, Winter Park, FL 32789 Phone: 407-599-3922 • Fax: 407-599-3923 • $1,000,000-plus

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River Oaks Development Corporation 733 W. Smith St., Orlando, FL 32804 Phone: 407-481-8733 • Fax: 407-481-8634 • $850,000 to $5,000,000

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Woodruff Construction and Development, Inc.

P.O. Box 2117, Goldenrod, FL 32733 Phone: 321-282-8021 • $950,000 to $3,000,000

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Regal Classic Homes

5036 Dr. Phillips Blvd., Ste. 286, Orlando, FL 32819 Phone: 407-291-6740 • Fax : 407-299-0551 • $300,000 to $2,000,000

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Stonebridge Homes, Inc.

P.O. Box 2623, Windermere, FL 34786 Phone: 407-876-8198 • Fax: 407-876-8195 • $700,000 to $3,000,000

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Speer Homes

P.O. Box 568588, Orlando, FL 32856 Phone: 407-770-0035 • Fax: 407-770-0036 • $500,000 to $2,000,000

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1006 Native Court, Chuluota, FL 32766 Phone: 407-366-2827 • Fax: 407-365-0683 • $250,000 to $2,000,000

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The tasty grilled hanger steak is topped with a coarsely chopped churrasco vinaigrette and served atop mashed potatoes infused with tomatoes and herbs.



August 2011

Change for the Better


After a decade, a new Hue for a colorful icon.

ue RestauRant, the populaR

dining and drinking establishment on the corner of Central Boulevard and Summerlin Avenue, is now in its 10th year. Hard to believe, isn’t it? When Hue first opened in early 2002 it was one of the most anticipated restaurants of the year and became an instant hit among hip urbanites. Still, it had some issues that kept it from being as good as it should have been, given the hype. The name itself was a bit confusing. Some people pronounced it hyoo and some pronounced it hway. The latter was a good guess given the menu, which seemed to focus on Asian-style dishes. However, the unofficial mix of styles and themes, none of which blended, fused or projected very well, prevented the restaurant from establishing a solid culinary identity. So change was inevitable. The most positive change thus far? Hue now has an executive chef. Eduardo Remusat, a native of Brazil, brings something the restaurant has lacked since Day One: a personality with whom the guests can interact and identify. Blame it on our Food Network culture, but almost all of the top restaurants in Central Florida have a recognizable chef attached. Of course the chef has to be more than a

figurehead, and Remusat is showing that he has a talent for creative cuisine firmly rooted in the basics. I sampled three of the appetizers, or small plates, as they’re listed on Hue’s new menu. The tuna tartare was balanced atop a firmtender slice of avocado and spiced with just a drop of Sriricha sauce (not all the Asian touches have been removed). “Crispy oyster” was a big fat one with a light jacket, beautifully fried and topped with jicama slaw. Octopus ceviche, perhaps an influence of Remusat’s homeland, featured lightly grilled and tender pieces of octopus with a pleasant bit of chewiness decorated with thin slices of watermelon radish. Remusat gives as much attention to the appearance of the food as to the taste. It always seemed as though the standard garnish of the old Hue kitchen was to squirt some brown balsamic vinegar onto the plate. I also sampled a high-stacked salad of arugula and spinach with tangy bits of feta cheese buried within. The leaves were dressed in a light vinaigrette, and the plate was decorated with balsamic vinegar. (Well, I suppose they had some left over and had to use it somewhere.) I liked the grilled hanger steak entrée,

by Scott Joseph • photos by Greg Johnston





The duck breast with cranberry reduction is served with butternut squash and amaretto. The duck is delightful, but the risotto alone could make a meal.

topped with a coarsely chopped churrasco vinaigrette. It was served atop mashed potatoes infused with tomatoes and herbs, and accompanied by sautéed mushrooms and spinach. I also had the duck breast with cranberry reduction, served with a risotto flavored with butternut squash and amaretto. The duck was quite good, but I could have made a meal of the risotto alone. Remusat’s training is as a pastry chef, so he is attuned to the dessert list. Best of the desserts I sampled was the red vel56


vet cheesecake, which is made in-house. It was sufficiently velvety in texture and rich in flavor. By the way, fans of a good bread basket will be delighted to know that Hue has done away with the wontons and added an honest-to-God breadbasket with ciabatta, focaccia and wafer bread. And real butter, too! The space has undergone a renovation, as well. The bar is still the focal point, taking up the large center space with two dining “wings” to either side. The walls have been brightened and the artwork hanging on them is more colorful. Even on the outside, the fabric that surrounds the corner-wrapping patio has switched from black to a lighter, um, hue. It’s all still very hip and urban, but also modernized to reflect the changes in the

downtown area. When Hue first opened, it was pretty much the only place of its kind for young downtowners. Now, with no fewer than three new restaurants set to open within one block in the next few months, the area will have many more opportunities. Hue’s redo will give the veteran restaurant more than a chance to compete with the young ‘uns.

Hue WHere: 629 E. Central Blvd., Orlando WHen: lunch and dinner daily, brunch on Sunday HoW mucH: $$$ WHere to call: 407-8491800 AUgUSt 2011

New menu. Familiar faces.

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level by encouraging diners to speak more quietly. It’s been 10 years sInce the Palm restaurant And although it wasn’t officially announced, a renewed opened in Orlando at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal. It push to be a restaurant that locals will want to frequent seems was the 22nd location for the New York-based Palm Restauto be part of the initiative. In fact, I had a better meal at The rant Group. Palm this time than the half-dozen or so times before. The The storied past of the venerable Manhattan steakhouse food, service and ambience were sufficiently improved so that made its Orlando outpost worthy of attention at first – but from now on I’ll likely recommend it. the food and service didn’t sustain my interest. When people The funny thing is, the restaurant that opened on Second would ask for my recommendation for a good steak, The Avenue in New York in 1926 wasn’t intended to be a steakPalm didn’t cross my mind. When someone would ask me house. Nor was it meant to be called The Palm. directly what I thought of the place, I would mutter: “I forgot The first Palm was opened by two friends, Pio Bozzi and we had one here.” John Ganzi. As the story goes, the But now the company is instiNorthern Italy emigrants intended tuting a “brand refresh” in celebrato call their Italian restaurant Parma, The Palm tion of the original eatery’s 85th after their hometown. But when they Where: Hard Rock Hotel, 5800 Universal anniversary. Most of the changes applied for a business license, the clerk Blvd., Orlando are subtle – new tableware, leathcouldn’t understand their accents and When: dinner daily er menus and a uniform tweak thought they were saying Palm. hoW much: $$$$ for the servers. Lighting is lower, Still, the early menus featured which tends to soften the sound Where To call: 407-503-7256.

PHOTO: cOURTesy THe Palm

The Palm, and its Characters, Make an Orlando Comeback

Back By Popular Demand!

Our Prix Fixe 4-course Dinner

CHEF’S TA S T I N G MENU Appetizer, Pasta, Entree, Dessert


W inter Park 400 South Orlando Avenue s 407-644-7770 Reservations online at 58




AUgUSt 2011


11:16:08 AM

At a restaurant with the pedigree of The Palm, you’d expect first-rate steak. The New York strip, to name just one, is an entrée worthy of such an iconic eatery.

mainly Italian dishes. And the restaurant became as wellknown known for its colorful patrons and their contributions to the décor as for its food. Bozzi and Ganzi couldn’t afford to decorate, so at first the walls inside The Palm were mostly bare. But because it was located close to King Features Syndicate, many diners were poorly paid cartoonists who offered to draw sketches on the walls as payment for their meals. Soon those walls were filled with comic strips and drawings of celebrities and politicos. With the drawings so much a part of the legend – and apparently the appeal – all the subsequent Palms have replicas of the original cartoons as well as newer drawings of local celebrities. My guest and I started our recent dinner by sampling the array of breads in an overflowing basket, slathering each with lots of sweet butter. Our appetizer was the shrimp Bruno, one that I recalled having on my first visit in early 2001. But I

don’t recall enjoying it as much as I did this time around. The dish featured beautifully plump shrimp, butterflied and curled, sautéed in a tangy Dijon mustard sauce. My friend had the osso buco, an ample serving of a veal shank braised into tender submission, served atop risotto with the meat’s rich sauces. The veal was terrific, and it was nice of the server to offer a small fork to extract the rich marrow (better on the bread than even the butter). I went for the New York strip steak and was not disappointed. It was a gorgeous piece of meat, charred perfectly on the


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The shrimp Bruno, sautéed in a tangy Dijon mustard sauce, is a

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outside, red and juicy on the inside. To go with it, I ordered the three-cheese potatoes side. I don’t recall ever having potatoes quite so au gratin’d. So gooey and thick were the cheeses that I can’t swear that there actually were potatoes underneath – and I’m not complaining. The Key lime pie dessert was the only disappointment. Why, I wonder, would anyone want to drown out the lime by topping the pie with blueberries? Our server was professional, knowledgeable and nonintrusive. I’m not a big fan of waiters handing out their business cards, but it was done here in a subtle manner, tucked under the rim of my takeout container. (There was no way I was leaving without a huge portion of the remaining steak and the cheese that may or may not have contained potatoes.) You’ll want to know that valet parking is complimentary for diners at The Palm. And there’s an entrance to the restaurant from the porte-cochère, so walking through the lobby of the hotel is not necessary. AUgUSt 2011

PHOTO: cOurTesy THe Palm

wonderful appetizer.

F L AV O R L I S T I N G S COMpILED by SCOtt JOSEpH this Monkey is less funky — at least from the outside — but still has all the good food and wine inside that has made it a local favorite. Although you wouldn’t get it from the name, sushi is a forte. But you’ll also find more substantial fare, such as bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin — ah, nothing like pork products garnished with more pork products. You may also find entertainment here with the occasional show of drag.



Houston’s $$ 215 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-740-4005 Houston’s is one of the better examples of how a chain restaurant should operate. It does what it does well, and the food is consistent. But one of the draws of this particular location is its lakefront view – every table has a perfect vantage point. One negative: the chain’s no-reservations policy – waits can be long, especially on weekends.

WHAT: An upscale, independently owned Restaurant Row newcomer that serves creative food and live music. WHERE: 7533 W. Sand Lake Road, Orlando WHEN: Dinner daily WHy: With the sultry days of August heat, what could be better than some cool jazz? Vines features jazz quartets most evenings. CONTACT: 407-351-1227

Nile Ethiopian Cuisine $$ 7040 International Drive, Orlando, 407-354-0026 Wash your hands — you’ll be eating with them — and order an array of wat to sample. What? No, wat. It’s a sort of stew. Wats are the most common dishes in an Ethiopian restaurant. These might include variations of beef or chicken but pork is never served. Ethiopian restaurants are wonderful places for vegetarians to dine, as meatless meals are a big part of the country’s cultural heritage. If you feel lost, ask one of your gracious hosts to guide you. Sanaa $$$ Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Lake Buena Vista, 407-939-3463 The menu is African with Indian influences, but not to the point of excluding beef or pork. Look for those touches in the spicing. The food may be a bit more exotic than most people are willing to try, but it’s almost all done expertly. And you can’t beat the atmosphere, with a ground-level view of the grazing area where you’re likely to see giraffes galloping by.


The Boheme $$$ Grand Bohemian, 325 S. Orange Ave., Orlando, 407-581-4700 The Boheme has grown into a more consistent finedining experience but now is trying to position itself as more accessible. Try the Kessler calamari, a silly name for a delicious appetizer, and follow with the lamb duet or the Chilean sea bass. The kitchen also has a way with scallops. Circa $$$ 358 Park Ave. N., Winter Park, 321-972-3926 Chef Anukul Hampton calls on his Thai heritage to influence what is largely a menu of American fare. His tuna tower appetizer and tamarind braised beef short ribs are two of his signature dishes. 62


Chatham’s Place $$$$ 7575 Dr. Phillips Blvd., Orlando, 407-345-2992 Chatham’s Place has gone through some changes but retains a continuity, even though there are no longer members of the Chatham family involved. Many of the dishes that became signatures back in Louis Chatham’s days remain on the menu, including the Florida black grouper, which has been one of my favorite Central Florida entrées for many years. It features a fresh fillet, thick and white, lightly sautéed and topped with pecan butter and scallions dusted with just a soupcon of cayenne pepper. The pecan butter places the dish firmly in the south, and the pepper points it towards New Orleans. But with the use of Florida black grouper, I think we can just claim this one as one of our native dishes, don’t you? Emeril’s Tchoup Chop $$$ 6300 Hollywood Way, Royal Pacific Resort, Orlando, 407-503-2467 Chef Gregory Richie has turned Emeril Lagasse’s troubled restaurant around. The menu now has more focus — and the food is consistently good. Try the grilled oysters or the salmon Napoleon appetizer. The scallops entrée is good, but the shrimp risotto that comes with it is better. The grilled filet of beef is a study in tenderness. Manager and wine expert Jeff Kundinger keeps the dining room running smoothly. Funky Monkey Pointe Orlando $$ 9101 International Drive, Orlando, 407-418-9463 A second location for the popular Mills-50 original,

EdiTOR-AT-LARgE SCOTT JOSEPH HAS been reviewing Central Florida restaurants for more than 20 years. He is a past winner of the James Beard Award for food writing and also presides over a dining-oriented website,

K Restaurant $$$ 1710 Edgewater Drive, Orlando 407-872-2332 Kevin Fonzo, who turned this College Park eatery into a nationally known destination restaurant, recently combined K and his second restaurant, Nonna Trattoria, into one. The towering presentation of three fried green tomatoes layered with crab and corn salad is wonderful. The filet mignon is still a good choice, but so many other things on the ever-changing menu are too. You can scarcely go wrong. LUMA on Park $$$ 290 Park Ave. S., Winter Park, 407-599-4111 Under the direction of Chef Brandon McGlamery, this stylishly chic restaurant on trendy Park Avenue has become a real jewel in Central Florida’s culinary corona. The dining room can be a bit noisy. The decor is still modish, even after four years. And the automated restrooms with their sliding glass doors and confusing washbasins still annoy me. A fun thing to do here is make a feast of small plates, but if you want to have a full entrée try the flank steak or the black grouper. Norman’s $$$$ Ritz-Carlton, 4000 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando, 407-393-4333 Owner Norman Van Aken is one of the founders of Floribbean or New World Cuisine and arguably one of Florida’s most celebrated chefs. Van Aken and the Ritz-Carlton have teamed up to present the sort of fine-dining experience seldom seen in Orlando. The menu changes regularly, but if it’s your first visit, ask your waiter for some of Van Aken’s signature dishes. A dinner at Norman’s is pricey — it’s the Ritz for crying out loud! — but it’s worth an occasional splurge. The Ravenous Pig $$$ 1234 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-2333 The Ravenous Pig calls itself “an American gastropub,” gastropub being a British term for a pub that serves more than a basic bar menu. This wonderful restaurant goes way beyond that. Chef/owners James and Julie Petrakis met while attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, and they obviously learned a lot while there. The menu changes regularly, but everything is worth trying. Have the pork belly if it’s available. AUgUSt 2011



HUE Restaurant $$$ 629 E. Central Blvd., Orlando, 407-849-1800 A centerpiece of Orlando’s vibrant Thornton Park neighborhood, Hue has been an important part of downtown Orlando for more than seven years. Although the name is pronounced hyoo and not the Asian hway, the menu adds confusion with its Asian touches. The fried oysters served in ladleshaped spoons are a good starter. There are more elaborate entrées, but I think the burger is one of the best in town.

Seasons 52 $$ 7700 Sand Lake Road, Orlando, 407-354-5212 The original conceit of the restaurant was that something somewhere was coming into season every week of the year. The kitchen has gotten away from following that concept too closely but continues to offer entrées with lots of flavor and fewer calories. You won’t notice a difference when you taste the grilled pork with polenta or the filet mignon. If you start feeling too goody-goody, go crazy and order all the mini desserts. There is a second location at 463 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs (in front of Altamonte Mall), 407-767-1252. Shula’s 347 Grill $$ Westin Lake Mary, 2947 International Parkway, Lake Mary, 407-531-3567 This is a new concept from the folks at Shula’s Steak House, the high-end eatery that bears the name of the legendary Miami Dolphins coach. He’s legendary for the number of wins to which he led his team: 347. There are a few steaks on the menu, but there are other items, too, including crab cakes, seared Ahi tuna sandwiches and other fare. The atmosphere is that of an upscale sports bar with requisite televisions and casual seating arrangements. Toojay’s $-$$ Various locations, including: Colonial Market Plaza, 2400 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, 407-894-1718 Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I head right for Toojay’s for some chicken soup. The rich golden broth, with or without noodles, may not cure the cold, but it doesn’t hurt. Others go here for the big overstuffed sandwiches, potato pancakes and blintzes. The Tap Room at Dubsdread $$ 549 W. Par St., Orlando, 407-650-0100 Finally, a good restaurant at Dubsdread. It’s Sam Snead’s-like (the owners here were involved in developing the Sam Snead’s Tavern concept) with an emphasis on simple foods. The pot roast and filet mignon are standouts, and if you get the Buffalo shrimp ask the kitchen to make them spicy. The rustic dining room is fronted by a wraparound porch that overlooks the Dubsdread Golf Course. It’s a lovely spot to enjoy Sunday brunch, and as luck would have it, the Tap Room serves an excellent one. The Venetian Room $$$$ Caribe Royale Hotel, 8101 World Center Drive, Orlando, 407-238-8060 This fine-dining holdout is pricey, but Chef Khalid Benghallem’s French/American food is very good. I enjoyed the appetizer of foie gras, which had two seared lobes layered in an alternating stack with cakes made with smoked polenta. My favorite among the entrées was the tenderloin of beef – two thick slabs of seared meat served with marrow, barley, rhubarb, chard, fennel strudel and red-wine reduction sauce, tinged with black truffles. For dessert, share the soufflé. Victoria & Albert’s $$$$ Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Lake Buena Vista, 407-939-3862 This not only is one of the best restaurants in Central Florida, it’s one of the best in the Southeastern United States and could easily hold its own with some of the top-rated restaurants in the world. The cuisine, under the direction of Chef Scott Hunnel, is creatively American with classical roots. V&A now offers two dining experiences: the main dining room, with its quiet elegance and six-course menu; or the chef’s table, with its own menu offering at least twice as many courses. The chef’s table, previously available only in the kitchen, now is offered in the newly christened Queen Victoria Room. WWW.OHLMAG.COM

Vineyard Grill $$$ Ritz-Carlton, 4012 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando, 407-206-2400 A hidden gem among the jewels, the Vineyard Grill does a better than expected job with its American cuisine of steaks and seafoods. Its Sunday brunch is developing a loyal local following.


4 Rivers Smokehouse $ 2103 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-474-8377 Open a good barbeque joint and the world will beat a path to your door. And in the case of Four Rivers Smokehouse, they will then line up outside that door and wait more than 20 minutes to be served, with a minimum of complaining. Brisket is the specialty here, but spice rub tends to be a bit salty. The pulled pork is moist and comes in generous proportions.


Nelore $$$ 115 Lyman Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-1112 A Brazilian churrascaria where the buffet comes to your table! Go hungry, pace yourself, just nibble until you find something you love and keep calling the gaucho (that’s what the servers are called) back until you’re full. Here’s how it works: Diners are given a little disk to put next to their plates. One side is green and the other side is red. Green go; red stop. As long as the green side is facing up the servers will offer you meats. When you’ve had enough or just need a breather turn the red side up. Don’t miss the caipirinha and mojito.


Ming’s Bistro $$ 1212 Woodward St., Orlando, 407-898-9672 Ming’s Bistro not only serves good Chinese food but also does a full complement of dim sum, including traditional cart service on weekends. Be adventurous and point to something you’ve never had before. I had some very nice entrées from the main menu, none better than the ginger scallion fish fillets.


Padrino’s Cuban Bistro $$ 13586 S. John Young Parkway, Orlando, 407-251-5107 I’m prepared to call this the best Cuban restaurant in Central Florida. It’s really that good. A family operation out of South Florida, Padrino’s features both traditional Cuban dishes and some more stylized bistro items, and they’re served in a pleasant bright dining room. The owners are usually at the restaurant tending to the customers and making sure that everything is first-rate. And it usually is.


Café de France $$ 526 Park Ave. S., Winter Park, 407-647-1869 Café de France is a Park Avenue mainstay, surviving the iconic thoroughfare’s slump in the ‘90s and prospering during its recent revival as one of the area’s premier dining destinations. Locals love the


$ Cheap eats, most entrées under $10 $$ Moderate, dinner entrées $15-20 $$$ Pricey, most entrées over $30 $$$$ Many entrées over $30 Full review at

quaintness of its small dining room and the charm of its hostess and owner, Dominique Gutierrez. Though not everything on the menu is strictly French, the ingredients are always fresh and specials change daily. Chez Vincent $$$ 533 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, 407-599-2929 Chez Vincent continues to serve classic French dishes in pleasant, if slightly worn, surroundings. Chef/ owner Vincent Gagliano is a master with soup, and the coquille St. Jacques is one of the better seafood entrées. Steak au poivre is a good choice for a meat dish. The waiters here allow the guests to dictate the pace of the meal. If Chez Vincent has survived over the years, it’s because there is an appreciation among Central Florida diners for a quiet place to enjoy a good classically prepared meal. Le Coq Au Vin $$ 4800 S. Orange Ave., Orlando, 407-851-6980 New owners Sandy and Reimund Pitz are continuing to serve some of the area’s best food regardless of cuisine type. The namesake dish is one of the best, but the menu changes with the seasons. In winter the cassoulet is a treat. I really like that Coq Au Vin offers half portions of most of its entrées. It’s a smart thing both nutritionally and, in the current financial climate, economically. And the half-portions here are ample enough to satisfy. Paris-Bistro $$ 3586 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-671-4424 My initial reaction when I visited the new location of Paris Bistro: Wow! The decor is the very epitome of a typical bistro in the City of Lights, right down to the red velvet banquettes and gilt-framed mirrors. My beef Burgundy was delightful, a sizable dish of bitesized meat braised in red wine. My companion chose the quiche Lorraine, a classic egg pie with bacon and Swiss cheese. It was deliciously light. Crème brulee is the dessert of choice.


Chef Henry’s $$ 1831 W. State Road 434, Longwood, 407-331-4836 It’s technically a reincarnation of the former Chef Henry’s Café. Henry is in the kitchen and his wife, Estera, is still making the sort of strudel you’d commit a felony to taste. But this time it’s their daughter, Simone, who is the owner. Most everything rises to the level of the strudel, so it doesn’t matter what you have as long as that’s how you finish. Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café $$ 205 E. 1st St., Sanford, 407-321-2204 Voted the second best German restaurant in the U.S. by readers of for 2009. (Bavarian Grill of Plano, Texas was number one; go figure.) I’m not in a position to say it merits the national rank, but I’m prepared to call it the best German restaurant in Central Florida. Although the surroundings leave something to be desired, there’s good German food to be had here. Have a schnitzel or the sausage platter, but beware: it’s a lot of food. The place is especially festive Thursdays through Sundays when there is entertainment. Oom-pah-pah! Polonia $ 750 S. Highway 17-92, Longwood, 407-331-1933 You don’t have to be Polish to admire Polish food. You need only an appreciation for hearty fare whose origins come from the necessity to make do with what the earth and the seasons give you. ORLANDO HOME & LEISURE


F L AV O R L I S T I N G S This is farmland food, Eastern European style, where root vegetables like beets and carrots and cured meats like kielbasa are used in abundance. And simple ingredients like flour, water and potatoes can be turned into something as splendid as pierogi. This is the sort of establishment where something with a reputation as unflattering as a stuffed cabbage can be made into a delicacy that will change your mind about it forever. The small dining room is rather plain with white walls decorated with a couple of colorful Polish costumes and undistinguished paintings. No, this is not a fancy dining experience. But for those who enjoy Polish food it’s as fine as it gets. Steak & Salad $$ 1326 N. Mills Ave., Orlando, 407-898-0999 Eateries don’t get a lot more eclectic than this. As the names suggests, steaks and salads are a focus of the menu. But so is an array of authentic Turkish dishes that represent the owners’ native cuisine. And it’s those items that should get your attention when you visit.


Greek Corner $$ 1600 N. Orange Ave., Orlando, 407-228-0303 It’s Greek, and it’s on the corner; you can’t get more succinct than that. But no corners are cut on the quality. All your Greek favorites are here served in a small unassuming space. I supped on the melitzanosalata, a dip made with roasted eggplant, and followed with a bowl of tangy argolemono, the chicken soup thickened with a lemony egg sauce. For my main course I had the moussaka, a big brick of seasoned beef, eggplant and potatoes topped with a fluffy béchamel. Substantial and delicious.

If it’s a warm day — it’s Florida; the odds are in your favor — sit on the patio across the street from Lake Ivanhoe. Mykonos $$ 2401 W. State Road 434, Longwood, 407-788-9095 Mykonos was part of a small Greek revival in 2000 when Central Florida, previously Greek deficient, finally started to get good Greek restaurants. Mykonos is one of the best, and was a recipient of multiple Critic’s Foodie Awards on my watch. Have the patatokeftedes or chargrilled squid appetizer, avgolemono soup and entrées of chicken Mykonos or the combination platter of moussaka, pastitsio and stuffed grape leaves. Even if you can’t pronounce it, order the galaktoboureko for dessert.


Memories of India $$ Bay Hill Plaza, 7625 Turkey Lake Road, Orlando, 407-370-3277 Memories of India is a delightful place with wonderful food served in a pleasant atmosphere. One of my favorites among the many entrées was the chicken saagwala, which featured tender chunks of chicken breast meat plus potatoes in a creamy curry made of spinach and spices. I also liked the lamb vindaloo, cubes of lamb marinated in a vinegary gravy and cooked with potatoes and pearl onions in freshly ground spices. Be careful: hot means hot. Order accordingly. And be further warned: food comes out of the kitchen at a snail’s pace. Slow means slow.


Antonio’s La Flamma $$$ 611 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland; 407-645-1035

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When Greg Gentile opened this massive two-story restaurant in a renovated family steakhouse, everyone thought he was crazy and that the place would close in one year. That was about two decades ago. Why did it succeed? Simple: good food, good service and an atmosphere for everyone; fine dining upstairs and a casual deli down. The upstairs has recently been expanded to include patio dining. Antonio’s Ristorante $$$ 7559 West Sand Lake Road, Orlando; 407-3639191. Think of it as Antonio’s La Fiamma without the deli downstairs. The Restaurant Row outpost offers an elegant Italian dining option. BiCE $$$$ Portofino Bay, 5601 Universal Blvd., Orlando 407-503-1415 Dinner at BiCE is not an inexpensive night out. But when you consider cost vs. quality, you’ll find that BiCE is not overpriced. Just consider the restaurant’s signature dish, ravioli stuffed with beef short ribs and spinach. The pasta was delicately thin and tender, and the braised meat inside had a rich, fatty mouthfeel that blossomed with the sauce of mushrooms and Marsala wine. Absolute heaven. Desserts are worth lingering over. Café d’Antonio $$$ 691 Front St., Celebration; 407-566-2233 A smaller version of Greg Gentile’s flagship restaurant Antonio’s La Fiamma, Café d’Antonio is a consistently good choice for residents and visitors in Celebration. Enzo’s on the Lake $$$ 1130 S. Highway 17-92, Longwood, 407-834-9872 Enzo is gone, but his restaurant continues on. Let your server put together an antipasti selection from the table in the dining room. One of my favorites was bucatini alla Enzo; costoletta di vitello was as good a veal chop as you’re likely to find anywhere in town. Go before sunset and enjoy the gardens before going inside. Primo $$$-$$$$ JW Marriott, 4040 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando 407-393-4444 A second restaurant for celebrity chef and James Beard Award winner Melissa Kelly. The food is only ostensibly Italian, with more creative touches menuwide. Kelly was one of the first to promote the use of local ingredients. Most of the herbs used in the restaurant are grown outside the kitchen door. The lamb is good, and so was the pork saltimbocca. Have the banana Napoleon for dessert. The décor is upscale, and although jackets are not requested, you wouldn’t feel out of place wearing one. Rocco’s Italian Grille $$$ 400 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-644-7770 This old space, which has held Italian restaurants for decades, has been re-imagined into a beautiful restaurant. The menu is classic, and some things are done very well. The veal Milanese was brilliant. Fritto misto alla Ligure was a terrific appetizer of lightly floured calamari and shrimp and spears of zucchini. The breading was crisp to a precision point and the sun-dried aioli — from Sardinia in the other direction from Liguria — was a nice complement.


Hanamizuki $$ 8255 International Drive, Orlando, 407-363-7200 Hanamizuki’s menu features Kyoto-style cooking, which tends to be more elegant and formal than many of the dishes served in most American Japanese restaurants. It also focuses more on fresh vegetables 64




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and seafood other than sushi, although that’s also available. Don’t be surprised to find a predominantly Japanese clientele here. No small wonder when the restaurant’s website is written in Japanese (you can opt into a translation). Wa $$$ 5911 Turkey Lake Road, Orlando 407-226-0234 Ostensibly a Japanese restaurant, Wa could pass for a French Bistro. Some of its daily specials include such things as truffle fries and bacon-stuffed quail. A very stylish space, but one that is difficult to locate.


Cantina Laredo $$ 8000 Via Dellagio Way (one block west of Dr. Phillips Blvd.), Orlando, 407-345-0186 The menu isn’t exactly authentic Mexican – the nachos, fajitas and crepes wouldn’t be found on many menus south of our border, unless it was a restaurant specializing in Ameri-Mex cuisine. But the food done here is very good, especially the guacamole, prepared tableside. The chile relleno is a menu standout, but the chicken enchilada is pretty good, too.


Bosphorous $$ 108 Park Ave. S., Winter Park, 407-644-8609 Bosphorus is a delightful restaurant with stylized Turkish classics. My favorite from the list of entrées was the hunkar begendi or sultan’s delight, a classic Ottoman dish. It featured hunks of seasoned beef sautéed with onions and tomatoes in the center of the plate surrounded by a moat of creamy-textured puree of smoked eggplant. The etli guvec, a meat casserole with cubes of lamb mixed with green beans, was good, too. The desserts are worth sampling. Cedars $$ 7732 Sand Lake Road, Orlando, 407-351-6000 Cedar’s represents itself as a fine dining restaurant, and indeed the atmosphere is a bit more upscale than you’d find in the average Middle Eastern restaurant. The cuisine is above average, too, with a menu that goes well beyond the basic hummus spreads and falafel sandwiches. You can put together a lovely meal with the mouhamara dip, a bowl of lentil soup and the fish tajine entrée. Other entrées may seem repetitive, but they are good, especially the lamb.


Cityfish $$ 617 E. Central Blvd., Orlando, 407-849-9779 The people at Urban Life Management Restaurant Group have always appeared to have a goal of bringing a bit of big city life to downtown Orlando. After all, Urban Life is part of the company’s name. They’ve hit it just right with Cityfish. Why? Instead of trying to emulate a city like New York or Miami, they’ve created an urban environment for Orlando. Seems fitting, doesn’t it? Cityfish offers a variety of seafood options in a pleasant atmosphere. Try the shrimp and bacon poppers or some freshly shucked oysters to start. Fresh fish options are good, and the lobster roll is authentically prepared. The Oceanaire Seafood Room $$$ Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive, Orlando, 407-363-4801 The promise of a good seafood restaurant has sailed into Central Florida aboard The Oceanaire. The Oceanaire Seafood Room is meant to take you back in time with an interior that suggests a 1930’s ocean liner. Sample some of the fresh fish selections after WWW.OHLMAG.COM

you enjoy the crab cake appetizer. It’s a bit pricey, but quality is worth paying for. Winter Park Fish Company $$ 761 Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-6112 Chef George Vogelbacher has teamed up with area restaurateur Craig Tremblay for this casual, orderat-the-counter fish market that has Winter Parkers packing it in. Bouillabaisse is about the most ambitious item, but everything is undoubtedly fresh and delicious.


Bull & Bear $$$$ Waldorf Astoria, 14200 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane, Orlando, 407-597-5500 The first Waldorf Astoria to be built outside of Manhattan also features a steakhouse called Bull & Bear, just like New York. Well, not exactly like New York. The decor here is less dark and clubby; it’s actually quite an attractive room with windows overlooking the resort’s pool area (and Disney fireworks in the distance). The menu features steak, of course, but also does some fine fish, including a lovely Dover sole filleted tableside. Also performed tableside is a traditional Caesar salad. Curiously, there is no Waldorf salad. And the veal Oscar (another invention of the New York hotel’s) is a stylized version. Capital Grille $$$$ The Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive, Orlando, 407-370-4392 One of Darden Restaurants’ most recent acquisitions and easily their most upscale. The steaks here are very good, and the service is attentive if not downright solicitous. I had the Delmonico that had a flavorful, well-seasoned crust and beautiful red center. Atmosphere is clubby and posh. Del Frisco’s Prime Steak & Lobster $$$$ 729 Lee Road, Orlando, 407-645-4443 The steaks here are always high quality. The atmosphere isn’t quite as posh as some of the other topdrawer steakhouses, but it at least rises to meet the price point, which is high. Since you’ll probably be having meat for your main entrée — and if you’re not, why are you here? — have the fried oysters for your appetizer. What, you’re worried about the cholesterol? Again I have to ask: Why are you here?


Izziban $$ 1700 W. Sand Lake Road, Orlando, 407-850-5088 Really good sushi, if somewhat unorthodox. For something really special, try the restaurant’s namesake Izziban roll. It has tempura shrimp and asparagus with cream cheese rolled in rice. The cream cheese alone would be enough to give sushi purists the shudders. But then the chef topped the sliced sushi coins with a sauce of sorts comprised of mayonnaise, fish eggs, crab and cheese baked so the cheese was melted and the sauce hot. Unusual and amazingly delicious. If you’re a purist, you’ll find the traditional items just as satisfying.


$ Cheap eats, most entrées under $10 $$ Moderate, dinner entrées $15-20 $$$ Pricey, most entrées over $30 $$$$ Many entrées over $30 Full review at

Seito Sushi $$ 510 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-644-5050 4898 New Broad St., Orlando, 407-898-8801 8031 Turkey Lake Road, Orlando, 407-248-8888 671 Front St., Celebration, 407-566-1889 It’s becoming its own little local chain, but it keeps its quality high, both in terms of the sushi and the elegant surroundings.


Chai Thai $ 2447 S. Orange Ave., Orlando, 407-898-1181 This new location is in a small, nondescript strip mall across from SoDo. The inside has a fresh newness about it, from its slate-like flooring to the highly polished dark wood tabletops. There is a sincere friendliness from the staff, and the food is always top notch. Orchid Thai $$ 305 Park Ave. N., Winter Park, 407-331-1400 A splashy and elegant restaurant with a hip vibe that befits its Park Avenue milieu. Short rib massamam featured a large beef short rib braised and then sautéed with potatoes and small pieces of sweet bell peppers with a chili sauce and a bit of roasted peanuts. Part of the enjoyment of this entrée, and indeed most every dish served here, was the elegant presentation, which almost invariably included luminous purple orchid blooms as plate garnish. (Yes, orchid petals are edible, but, frankly, I enjoy looking at them much more than ingesting them.)


Café 118º $$ 153 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 407-389-2233 If veganism can be defined as extreme vegetarianism, the raw food movement could be classified as extreme veganism. The 118 in the restaurant’s name refers to the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit to which some of the foods here are heated. I stew myself in temperatures higher than that in the steam room at the Y. Going above that temperature, aficionados of raw cuisine profess, saps foods of their vitamins, enzymes and minerals. Raw foods, they assert, aid in digestibility and cell reconstruction, among other things, according to information on Café 118’s menu. I can’t attest to any of that. But I can tell you that the food I had at Café 118 was all quite delicious, and presented in a stylish and gourmet fashion.


Lac Viet Bistro $$ 2021 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, 407-228-4000 Lac Viet Bistro isn’t exactly fine dining but, relatively speaking, it’s finer than you’ll find at most other area Vietnamese restaurants. The menu features dishes from all over Vietnam, but its Northern specialties might be less familiar to even those who frequent area Vietnamese restaurants. Try one of the banh cuon or the vermicelli soups. And start with one of the crispy shrimp cakes. Pho Vinh $ 657 N. Primrose Drive, Orlando, 407-228-0043 Like most of the other Vietnamese restaurants in the area, Pho Vinh’s menu is larger than you would think it needed to be. With over 180 items, the menu is a lot to take in and, well, digest. I selected the bun mang vit, or what is more commonly referred to as ol’ number 72. It was a beef-based soup with slender rice vermicelli noodles, the meat of a duck leg (sans bones) and miniature planks of bamboo shoots. A good filling soup — especially nice on cold days. The decor is pleasant, bright and tidy. Service was friendly and welcoming. ORLANDO HOME & LEISURE


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almonds may even prevent gray hair. Applied topically, almond oil keeps lashes soft and flexible, so they appear thicker. Put a dot on your index finger and run it from root to tip.

3. hyDraTion JuncTion Henry David Thoreau once said, “Water is the only drink for a wise man.” Drinking water flushes out harmful toxins, helps maintain body temperature, minimizes digestive irritation and reduces cyclical bloating. Drinking water improves skin texture by keeping it hydrated, giving it a supple, glowing appearance. It can even help fight

Doing good not only gets you extra karma points, it can also make you feel more connected to the world around you. Along with various charitable organizations, the beauty-products industry also has caught on to the concept of giving back. Here are a few worth mentioning: • The Body Shop Soft Hands, Kind Heart Hand Cream, $10 (thebodyshop. com): $6 from every sale goes to ECPAT USA to fight sex trafficking of children. • Lisa Hoffman Fragrance Oils in Madagascar Orchid, $150 ( Perfect for dabbing on before a night out on the town. A portion of the proceeds goes to The Rainforest Foundation. • Ojon Pre-Cleansing Hair Treatment, $45 ( Enjoy lush, silky locks while helping a poverty-stricken country. A percentage of every purchase is used to help the indigenous people of Honduras. ORLANDO HOME & LEISURE


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• Surf-Vival SPF 30+ Sunblock, $15 ( Waterproof sunscreen protects you from the skindamaging effects of the sun, and it’s reef-friendly! Should the all-natural ingredients wash off in the water, they’re harmless to fish and coral.

7. An Apple peel Any way you slice it, an apple is good for you, and you don’t even have to eat it to enjoy the benefits. The malic acid found in apple juice helps to naturally slough off dead skin cells. For an all-natural facial, pour apple juice into an ice-cube tray, freeze, then gently rub a cube over your entire face. Include the eye area as well and you’ll not only exfoliate, but the coolness of the ice cube will help reduce swelling around the eyes.

5. A HeAd Trip Treat your hair to a tropical vacation: Massage your scalp with coconut oil once a week. Leave the oil on for three hours before washing normally with shampoo. Apply conditioner only to hair ends.

6. A Milky WAy One tactic for softening and soothing your feet is to use the lactic acid in milk. It can help to soften and soothe the thick, tough skin covering those tired



8. A Berry nice SMile tootsies. Heat several cups of milk in a small saucepan, transfer to a soaking bin, then relax. For a more therapeutic effect, add a few drops of lavender oil to the hot milk before soaking.

They might stain your white blouse, but fresh strawberries have the opposite effect on your teeth. They contain alpha hydroxy, a mild acid that will gently remove stains. Cut a strawberry in half,

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ing Morton’s Steakhouse in Orlando, have introduced a line of low-calorie cocktails, including the Skinny Blood Orange Cosmo, which consists of vodka, sugar-free Triple Sec, lime juice and cranberry juice.

9. Spice Up YoUr LipS A teaspoon of cinnamon gently massaged on your lips over a little lip balm will encourage blood circulation, making lips more red and full, as well as softening chapped and dry skin.

12. don A TUTU If you want to look anything like Natalie Portman did in Black Swan – and who wouldn’t? – consider a tutu. Ballet is a great workout that will elongate muscles while toning, a great exercise for a feminine physique. Orlando Ballet School hosts adult ballet classes at all levels. For more information, visit

10. AffordAbLe LUxUrY More and more designers have been teaming up with retailers to bring the masses cheap chic. This November, Versace will be producing a collection for H&M, boasting an affordable bevy of prints, leather and color – all in highquality materials and H&M’s signature low price point. Pick up a Versace print dress or cardigan before the fashion

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They Owed Their Souls to the Company Store

n le ss you’r e hau li ng a truckload of

debris to the Seminole County Landfill, you probably have no particular reason to be driving along desolate Osceola Road, which originates just northeast of Geneva and rambles through the oak hammocks, hardwood swamps and floodplain marshes where Lake Harney flows into the St. Johns River. So, when you happen upon a lonely brick and masonry ruin guarding the grassy right of way along the forest’s edge, you’re puzzled. You might even pull over and walk around the squat, bunker-like structure, looking for clues. You’re unlikely to conclude that you’d found the remains of a bank vault. After all, there’s no evidence of a bank. Or of any other buildings, for that matter. In Central Florida, this is as close as it gets to the middle of nowhere. But a bank vault it is. The bank itself is gone, as is the bustling sawmill town whose residents it served. Osceola, named for the legendary Seminole Indian chief, was once home to more than 700 people. Most of them worked for the Osceola Cypress Company, a Cedar Key-based logging partnership that built a huge mill and a tightknit community to support it in 1916. The town, which covered some 350 acres, boasted rows of tidy cypress homes fronted by white picket fences and lush St. Augustine lawns. The homes had electricity and indoor plumbing, neither of which was a given in most rural communities at the time. There was a red schoolhouse, a boarding house, a commissary, a barbershop, a doctor’s office and a post office. The police force consisted of a single night watchman. The mill, a sprawling hodgepodge of buildings, machinery and conveyers, dominated the town physically as well as psychologically. Trains hauled cypress logs into Osceola, where workers produced an astonishing 60,000 feet of lumber per day. “Our lives were ruled by the sawmill,” says Mary Riley Henderson, who was born in Osceola in 1921. Her father, John, was a mill su-

pervisor and therefore among the community’s elite. “A whistle blew when it was time to get up, when it was time to go to work, when it was time to go to lunch and when it was time to go home.” And when it was time for bed, there was another none-toosubtle signal. At 9 p.m., the mill generator shut down, cutting off the town’s electricity and plunging the homes into darkness. Rigid, yes. But Osceola, like many company towns, was progressive for its era and quasi-socialist in some respects. The mill owned and maintained the homes, for example, and most basic needs – from laundry service to medical care – were provided free of charge. It was, however, hardly a bastion of equality. Managers lived on the main drag in larger homes, some of them two stories. Laborers lived in modest bungalows, and there was, of course, a “colored quarter” with its own school, church and even a “juke joint.” Mrs. Henderson remembers her father enlisting a black gospel quartet called the Osceola Four to entertain visiting dignitaries from mill headquarters. And she remembers the chilling ghost stories told by older black residents. Osceola was indeed a lively place. There were birthday parties, community picnics, holiday celebrations, baseball games, fishing along the St. Johns, hunting arrowheads at an ancient shell mound near the railroad bridge and playing hide-and-seek among the stacks of drying lumber. What more could a child want? But it didn’t last. It couldn’t – not after the timber was exhausted and the economy collapsed. John Riley retired in 1938 and the family left Osceola for Miami. Two years later, the Osceola Cypress Company moved its operation to Port Everglades. Osceola was then dismantled and the boards were sold or scrapped. During World War II, the U.S. government built an airfield on the site for training Navy fighter pilots. Today, mountains of debris stretch as far as the eye can see, creating a surreal landscape that’s indicative of a society in which just about everything, including our history, is disposable. l

by Randy Noles



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Orlando Home & Leisure magazine August 2011  

Orlando Home & Leisure