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    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.

    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.

    At Muse Gelato we make our gelato fresh with only all natural ingredients! Our gourmet ice cream is smooth and creamy. Signature flavors include our famous Banana Split Gelato, which is banana gelato layered with mocha, dulce de leche and strawberries. Gelato is Italian ice cream. It is denser than American ice cream. As a result, the flavors are more intense. We make all of our gelato and sorbets with only the finest and freshest ingredients with true traditional Italian recipes. Gelato is Italian ice cream. It is denser than American ice cream. As a result, the flavors are more intense. We make all of our gelato and sorbets with only the finest and freshest ingredients with true traditional Italian recipes. At our café, the flavors change daily. So each time you come youâ??ll have a different experience. We also provide gelato-catering services for parties and events.
    The Bay Hill Shopping Plaza, on the northeast corner of Sand Lake and Turkey Lake roads, is quickly becoming a destination for foodies with global palates. India (Memories of India), Vietnam (Rice Paper), China (1-6-8) and now Syria are represented in all their strip mall glory.

    Taboule Café is part market, part diner. Chrome baker’s racks stacked with an assortment of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foodstuffs, from lemony sumac powder and sesame seeds to fragrant rosewater and Turkish coffee beans, occupy half the space. Refrigerators on the other wall stock frozen goods as well as salty halloumi cheese – delicious grilled with a bit of olive oil, paprika and lemon juice.

    A few tables by the entrance are often filled with diners enjoying pies, kebabs and sandwiches like chicken and lamb shawarma, the succulent meats shaved off mini-rotisseries situated behind the front counter. The falafel ($5.99 for a sandwich), always a true gauge of a Middle Eastern restaurant’s worth, are perfectly crisp, some of the best you’ll find in town. Just as good is the hummus ($1.99) and the kofta plate, kebabs of nicely spiced ground beef ($8.99). Kibbeh, fried balls of bulgur wheat and ground beef ($8.99), weren’t the best I’ve had, and while the cheese pie ($1.99) didn’t compare to its Greek counterpart, it still made for a worthwhile snack.

    Early risers can opt for traditional Syrian breakfast staples like foul mdamas (fava beans with tahini), teskia (a hot bread made with chickpeas, tahini
    and garlic) or scrambled eggs served with nakanek, a seasoned beef sausage. Whatever you choose, a cup of Middle Eastern coffee is sure to supercharge your day.

    (Taboule Café, 7645 Turkey Lake Road, 407-226-3111)


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