Christmas came early for the lucky few who were able to pick up a Westvleteren XII gift box from Total Wine on 12-12-12 for a mere $85. The prized brew, dubbed "the world's best beer" by the beer geek nation, is fashioned by Trappist monks in the Belgian Abbey of St. Sixtus. Not sure if any are still available (inventory was limited), but as a consolation, you may be able to pick up a bottle of 2005 Amarone della Valpolicella from the Publix bargain rack for $21, like I did.
More libation news: Hannibal Square is getting a new bar just in time for New Year's. Brought to you by the folks at Mi Tomatina, Bar|celona will feature $3 pintxos (Spanish bar appetizers) along with spirits, wine and craft beers in a 1,500-square-foot hidden garden space situated directly behind the Spanish restaurant. The official opening date is Friday, Dec. 28.
Over in Lake Mary, the dining scene took a couple of steps backward after Nicos Globos closed its doors in October and was replaced by Lonnie's Fusion Cuisine, run by the former executive chef of Delano's just a few doors down in the square that houses Lake Mary City Hall. Delano's was about as mediocre as mediocre can get, so Lonnie's, with its promise of everything from deli faves to sushi to Thai to Italian, doesn't hold much promise. Next door, the 4th Street Bar and Grill is another establishment pushing the boundaries of mediocrity, from service to food. On the plus side, at least the Lake Mary Food Truck Crave takes place there every month (the next one's Dec. 30).
Frank Ishraki, the proprietor of Habibi Lebanese Cuisine, has been busy the past couple of years, capitalizing on the hilarious end-credits scene in The Avengers. Ishraki has opened Habibi USA shawarma shops near the airport and Haines City, and in mid-2013, he's opening another shawarma joint in Lakeland. Earlier this year, he opened a Lebanese fine dining establishment off Palm Parkway in Lake Buena Vista that's worth a look.
A sweetFrog Frozen Yogurt ("founded on the principles of Christianity … F.R.O.G. stands for Fully Rely On God!") has opened on State Road 434 near Wekiva Springs, and a Pinkberry (arguably the originator of the tart fro-yo craze) has opened in the Florida Mall … Downtown brews: Look for Eternal Tap, now open in the Bumby Arcade, and a World of Beer opening in the former Lee's Lakeside space sometime this spring … The Sweet Shop at 4 Rivers has launched a few holiday-inspired desserts: Put bourbon-maple-bacon cupcakes on your wish list.
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