Norman Van Aken's new world cuisine makes for a fabulous evening. Care to dine on "french toast" with foie gras or yuka-stuffed shrimp? No matter what you try, you're guaranteed a fresh new way of looking at food when you dine at Norman's.
I had the pleasure of eating at a private event at Norman's while I was in Orlando in January, and I was delighted with the combination of old world and new world food. I can still taste the succulantly-sweet chrispy fried green tomatoes with spicey mayo. (My only experience with green tomatoes was when we had an early frost one year when I grew up in Utah -- my mother pickled bushels of green tomatoes, and we lived on them all winter!)
For the main course, it was hard to choose between the pork cheek with sherry reduction and baby squash or the chimicurri rojo ribeye steak with truffle-mushroom ragout. (I went with the pork cheek -- it was tender and flavorful, and tasted more like beef than I expected.)
Luckily, I didn't have to choose any one dessert -- we were served mini-versions of several choices, from fruity to chocolate. I loved the tres leches passion fruit cake, but the chef's version of a banana split was my table's favorite -- warm carmelized bananas, served with ice cream in a chocolate bowl.
I wish there were a Norman's in NY, but I'm going to have to settle for a couple of his cookbooks, and maybe an occasional trip to Florida.
By the way, if you want to know what he's up to, check out Norman's blog at http://normanskeywestkitchen.blogspot.com/.
Here's to pork cheeks and green tomatoes!