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    There are people who stare at a showroom floor of cars, yearning for the latest model, or drool over displays of fine watches. Then there are the folks who can't walk past a dessert case without being mesmerized by the mile-high cakes under the spotlights. For you, we have Annie Pie's (anniepiesbakery.com).

    Annie's delights can be ordered from the Neiman-Marcus catalog or at Moonfish restaurants, and they've been featured on Food Network's "Best Of" show But now you can purchase those humongous, coma-inducing cakes for your own gluttonous glee by phone or web from Annie's.

    Annie's delights can be ordered from the Neiman-Marcus catalog or at Moonfish restaurants, and they've been featured on Food Network's "Best Of" show But now you can purchase those humongous, coma-inducing cakes for your own gluttonous glee by phone or web from Annie's.

    These are not only gourmet indulgences, but marvels of construction: The "peanut butter explosion" cake, layers of chewy fudge brownie, peanut butter mousse, chocolate cake, fudge and peanut-butter chips, weighs in at over three pounds!

    Health-food market that includes a bakery and cafe with a hot lunch bar that is vegetarian heaven. Also try their fresh juices, smoothies and sandwiches.

    Health-food market that includes a bakery and cafe with a hot lunch bar that is vegetarian heaven. Also try their fresh juices, smoothies and sandwiches.

    For the people who know me, it is no secret that I love chocolate, but they don't realize the extent of my affliction. I was spawned by ravenous chocoholics. My father has been known to get up in the middle of the night and drive himself several miles to get his favorite Cadbury bar. When my mother says the word "chocolate," her voice gets kind of breathy like a young girl talking about her first love. And at my grandmother's house, no dinner is complete without three courses of dessert: First fruit, then whatever baked goods a guest was kind enough to bring, which we nibble while waiting for the real dessert, an imported bar of dark chocolate with hazelnuts that is passed around the table and voraciously dispatched.

    I'm also a chocolate snob. Hand me a Hershey's bar and you'll likely hear a polemic on the disgraces of poor chocolate manufacturing (wax!) versus handcrafting (bliss!) So when my good friend told me about frozen chocolate drinks at Godiva Boutique, my heart skipped a beat, but I was still skeptical, even as we headed to the store at the Mall at Millenia. Eventually I tried all three flavors of Godiva's Chocolixir ($4.50): milk chocolate latte, dark chocolate decadence and white chocolate raspberry. All are good, but the dark chocolate is what really excited me. My first sip was rapturous. As I pulled the cold, dark slush up through the straw, past the top layer of Grade-A heavy whipping cream, a particularly well-poised mixture of flavors hit my palate.

    Godiva cleverly utilizes two byproducts of the cocoa bean to make their Chocolixir: cocoa powder and real chocolate chips. Oh, and let me not forget about the rich chocolate syrup they delicately drizzle onto the whipped cream. But I've said too much. I need one – now.

    It's the season for giving, and edible gifts are always welcome. Where to go for the goods? One new place is Hot Olives Market, a classy depot attached to the eponymous restaurant in Winter Park. In August the owners of Hot Olives brought in colleagues from their catering past to run the attached market (which offers catering). Steven Poyner and Chris Kenyon purchase all the merchandise and are on hand to answer questions and take requests. The market features a private label of sauces, preserves and condiments, and they stock artisanal and gourmet specialties. Plus, they throw together tasty takeout meals – the barbecue brisket and Hot Olive salad are delicious.

    The room is bright and stylish with Tuscan pottery, olive wood beams and stainless steel shelves. I sampled a few choice items after wandering around the small space. My favorite was the handmade sopressata ($28 per pound) that I snatched out of the refrigerator case. When I cut into the cured meat at home, the aroma of tenderly aged pork and a bouquet of spices, particularly paprika, extended across the room.

    From the prepared sauces, I tried walnut artichoke pomodoro sauce ($7). For a pre-made sauce, it was of exceptional quality. Mellow undertones of the nuts married with a pleasing bitter thistle-y flavor, which complemented the acidic tang of plum tomatoes. The signature sauces come packaged in clever gift bundles: Italian pastas are piled into a stainless-steel colander with the sauces and tied with ribbon. Holidays or not, this is a spot to indulge in something out of the ordinary – for others and for yourself.

    Cooking Indian food at home can be a leisurely, luxurious experience. Hours spent grinding spices, chopping vegetables and slowly simmering curries and kormas are ideal for getting to know a cooking partner, affording as they do plenty of time for wine-sipping and conversational digression. There's none of the flash and sizzle or the split-second timing required by some other ethnic cuisines.

    But sometimes you just want a quickie. Whichever you prefer, House of Spices – in the Laxmi Plaza across from Woodlands – is there to help.

    But sometimes you just want a quickie. Whichever you prefer, House of Spices – in the Laxmi Plaza across from Woodlands – is there to help.

    This Indian/Pakistani grocery can provide the raw ingredients for those unhurried cooking journeys. There's a whole aisle of spices, from the mundane (black peppercorns) to the exotic (whole turmeric, four different forms of cardamom), and every sort of dried bean and legume your Indian recipe book might call for. There's also a truly impressive selection of pickles and chutneys: I felt lucky to find a jar of lime pickle, but was delighted to be able to choose between seven different kinds of lime pickle.

    This Indian/Pakistani grocery can provide the raw ingredients for those unhurried cooking journeys. There's a whole aisle of spices, from the mundane (black peppercorns) to the exotic (whole turmeric, four different forms of cardamom), and every sort of dried bean and legume your Indian recipe book might call for. There's also a truly impressive selection of pickles and chutneys: I felt lucky to find a jar of lime pickle, but was delighted to be able to choose between seven different kinds of lime pickle.

    Also helpful for the home cook, House of Spices has a small produce section stuffed with hard-to-find veggies like bitter melon, fresh okra and curry leaves, along with some of the freshest, juiciest ginger root I've ever seen.

    Also helpful for the home cook, House of Spices has a small produce section stuffed with hard-to-find veggies like bitter melon, fresh okra and curry leaves, along with some of the freshest, juiciest ginger root I've ever seen.

    And for those quickie moments, an entire section of the store is devoted to MREs – no, not Army rations, but precooked shelf-stable curries and soups – and the freezer is well-stocked with naan, paratha and frozen desserts. Fling one in the microwave, toss a thawed naan on the griddle and you'll be devouring a tasty meal in less than five minutes.

    Bonus: Like most Indian groceries, House of Spices carries a selection of British foods. Sweet-toothed customers will find the full range of British candy bars (from Flake bars to Yorkies) and all those yummy cookies (HobNobs, Jaffa Cakes), as well as basic necessities like Horlicks cocoa and heavenly Heinz vegetarian baked beans.

    As we sauntered into our friends' kitchen, in anticipation of a delicious home-cooked meal, we were handed glasses of a refreshing sparkling wine that we downed while watching the making of the feast. These friends are the most adventurous and skillful at this very task. I couldn't help but comment on the smell of spices that filled the kitchen, and when handed the cookbook from which our meal was inspired, I found there were no less than 25 ingredients required, most of them exotic spices and hard to find ingredients.

    "Where can you get annatto?" I asked. "And tamarind pulp?"

    Our host winked: A cook's secret was about to be revealed.

    "India Spice House," she whispered.

    India is so rich with spice that almost all other cultures have incorporated Indian varieties into their cuisine. Just about any seasoning called for in a recipe can be purchased on the shelves of an Indian market – usually at a great price.

    India Spice House is located in a south Orlando K-mart shopping center. The messy storefront is plastered with product printouts and hand-written specials; inside it is neat and perfumed with exotic ingredients. With only three aisles, this store is packed with wondrous surprises. All of the ingredients for a Moroccan dish I wanted to make were available in abundance: Turkish pistachios, orange flower water, cumin, coriander and mint. There were also exciting new things to try: A delightful jar of lime relish and mace, which totally captivated me with its spicy-sweet smell and turned out to be the outer hull of the nutmeg fruit. And safetida, an alluring powder that was both musky and fruity, is a crucial ingredient in Indian vegetarian cooking and comes from a hybrid of the fennel plant. I picked up some prepared Indian food as well as some frozen paneer cheese that mixed nicely with a ready-made curry for a quick weeknight meal. There's something for everyone.

    Tucked behind Maria Bonita is a treasure palace of tropical delights for the culinary senses and an exotic departure from everyday grocery shopping: the Plaza Gigante Supermarket (10659 E. Colonial Drive; 407-277-7688).

    Wander the aisles and check out the cans of tomatillos and menudo, frozen bags of guava and cases of shrimp empanadas, jars of pescado seasoning for fish and gooey slices of nopalitos (cactus). Bottles of pineapple juice sit alongside bags of masarica corn meal for tortillas. The produce aisle (all labeled in Spanish) offers fresh green or yellow plantains and knobby, squashlike chayote, and the meat section has miles of smoked chorizo and blocks of queso blanco.

    Wander the aisles and check out the cans of tomatillos and menudo, frozen bags of guava and cases of shrimp empanadas, jars of pescado seasoning for fish and gooey slices of nopalitos (cactus). Bottles of pineapple juice sit alongside bags of masarica corn meal for tortillas. The produce aisle (all labeled in Spanish) offers fresh green or yellow plantains and knobby, squashlike chayote, and the meat section has miles of smoked chorizo and blocks of queso blanco.

    The labels on some products are quite artistic, such as the enticing reclined woman on a bottle of neon-red Sirop de Granadina. It's an eye-opening visit.

    Sooner or later there comes a point when the old standby meals you make at home get boring. Always the same -- the chicken, the spaghetti, the macaroni and cheese. What you need is an adventure, and it's as close as the shelves of Saigon Market

    Walking through the aisles is like a trip to another culinary planet. Here you'll find red perilla, a licorice-flavored leaf eaten with sashimi, and Chinese rehmannia root (used by herbalists to treat fatigue). Bins of sapota fruit and artful strings of sataw (called stinky beans, and for a reason) share space with winter melon that gets cut open, filled with shrimp and baked. There's a whole aisle of fish sauces, and hard-to-find black rice vinegar that's sweet enough to use alone on a salad.

    Walking through the aisles is like a trip to another culinary planet. Here you'll find red perilla, a licorice-flavored leaf eaten with sashimi, and Chinese rehmannia root (used by herbalists to treat fatigue). Bins of sapota fruit and artful strings of sataw (called stinky beans, and for a reason) share space with winter melon that gets cut open, filled with shrimp and baked. There's a whole aisle of fish sauces, and hard-to-find black rice vinegar that's sweet enough to use alone on a salad.

    And grab a can of my favorite sweet, gelatinous, mutant coconut balls -- just to say you have 'em.

    We didn't review this location but you can check out the review of the Schakolad Chocolate Factory at Winter Park Village.

    Leave it to the Schakolad Chocolate Factory to improve on the Easter tradition of chocolate bunnies. This year, they're trotting out biker bunnies on milk-chocolate motorcycles ($3) at the flagship store, relocated in the Winter Park Village.

    You'll still find the same glass-case displays of melt-in-your-mouth designs. Watch for chocolate birds' nests and bunny-shaped jewel boxes. But artisans behind the counter can create almost any shape you want, from martini glasses to sugar lips. Splurge on a jar of chocolate body paint -- in milk, white and dark chocolate -- that doubles nicely as fondue ($9 for 10 ounces). Visit the website for virtual browsing.

    The Disney community of Celebration, steeped in 1950's atmosphere and designer architecture, isn't a place one would associate with English high tea or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Yet this is the place that two Londoners have decided to open a tearoom filled with Sherlock Holmes memorabilia and the aroma of Earl Grey.

    Tony David worked right next to the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London for many years and came to Florida with the aim of bringing a unique experience to Celebration. He and his wife June opened Sherlock's not on tourist-attractive Market

    Tony David worked right next to the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London for many years and came to Florida with the aim of bringing a unique experience to Celebration. He and his wife June opened Sherlock's not on tourist-attractive Market

    Street, but on Bloom Street. It's a small, intimate shop packed to the ceiling with deerstalker-capped bears, boxes of loose tea, a diverse selection of wines and miniatures of Sherlock, Watson and Moriarty. The room holds only a few tables, but the outdoor courtyard affords a delightful place for a hot cuppa and a serene lake view.

    Street, but on Bloom Street. It's a small, intimate shop packed to the ceiling with deerstalker-capped bears, boxes of loose tea, a diverse selection of wines and miniatures of Sherlock, Watson and Moriarty. The room holds only a few tables, but the outdoor courtyard affords a delightful place for a hot cuppa and a serene lake view.

    Most Yankees know little about what goes into a proper English tea ("tea" is the entire meal, not just the drink), something David is emphatic about. "Serving loose tea is an art form," he says. "You must heat the pot first, and steep the leaves for only five minutes." And if you're in the company of Brits, never put the milk in first (milky tea is the lifeblood of the English.) The teas at Sherlock's come in four formal varieties, the largest being "Sherlock Holmes' Tea" ($13.50). The three-tiered tray had other customers peering in envy at the buttercream-rich pastries and moist, rich scones (it's "skon," not "skown"), and these are the best in Orlando. An authentic "tea" would have had little finger sandwiches instead of spinach pies and egg rolls, but I guess it's a compromise for Americans. The other offerings are smaller versions, the "Mrs. Hudson's" being the best value of a fresh pot of tea (your choice of variety) with homemade scones, real Devon cream and strawberry jam ($6.95).

    Most Yankees know little about what goes into a proper English tea ("tea" is the entire meal, not just the drink), something David is emphatic about. "Serving loose tea is an art form," he says. "You must heat the pot first, and steep the leaves for only five minutes." And if you're in the company of Brits, never put the milk in first (milky tea is the lifeblood of the English.) The teas at Sherlock's come in four formal varieties, the largest being "Sherlock Holmes' Tea" ($13.50). The three-tiered tray had other customers peering in envy at the buttercream-rich pastries and moist, rich scones (it's "skon," not "skown"), and these are the best in Orlando. An authentic "tea" would have had little finger sandwiches instead of spinach pies and egg rolls, but I guess it's a compromise for Americans. The other offerings are smaller versions, the "Mrs. Hudson's" being the best value of a fresh pot of tea (your choice of variety) with homemade scones, real Devon cream and strawberry jam ($6.95).

    The hot items are still in the shakeout stage. "Vegetable egg roll delight" ($7.95), three crisp rolls filled with julienned veggies, were tasty, but nothing I'd travel out of my way to eat. Meanwhile the microwave does nothing to enhance the puff-pastry shell of the tiny "brie en croute" ($6.95).

    The hot items are still in the shakeout stage. "Vegetable egg roll delight" ($7.95), three crisp rolls filled with julienned veggies, were tasty, but nothing I'd travel out of my way to eat. Meanwhile the microwave does nothing to enhance the puff-pastry shell of the tiny "brie en croute" ($6.95).

    There are more than enough other venues for egg rolls; Sherlock's should be your destination for a real tea in the grand English manner.

    The new Whole Foods Market is a great stop for a quick bite, and not just because of the free samples -- from chocolates to cheeses, fresh-baked sunflower loaves to black-bean hummus. It's a different food-gathering experience altogether.

    With background swing music, Utne Readers at the check-out and booth-seating at the front, it's the kind of market that we didn't know we were missing. The deli has an impressive display of takeout delicacies: saffron-yellow paella primavera ($4.59/lb.); grilled portobello mushrooms ($10.99/lb.); oriental sea bass with ginger, honey and pineapple ($14.99/lb.), and more. Plus, the smoothie counter offers an array of liquid energizers, including espresso shots (95 cents). Try "OrangeMango Madness ($3.50)," filled with chunky, organic mangoes.

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