Remember that scene from Pedro Almodovar's classic '80s film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown where Pepa whips up a cold, refreshing blender full of gazpacho to try and keep her boyfriend around? She dumps in ice cubes, ripe tomatoes, stale bread, green peppers ... oh, and a couple dozen sleeping pills. Been there! While we've never resorted to barbiturate-laced soup, summer weather can make you want to take a long nap. And for sure, it can make you want to avoid turning on the stove. To avoid the temptation to make downer soup, here's a list of frosty but savory foods to nibble around town.
Raw octopus can be powerfully rubbery. These two chilly dishes deal with that fact differently: In the octopus carpaccio at La Merce, the cephalopod is sliced very thinly, shingled on the plate and dressed with olive oil and salt (lamerce.us); in Sushi Lola's tako sunomono (shown above), a cold vinegar-dressed octopus salad, the tentacles are quickly blanched to reduce the chew (sushilolas.com).
Shellfish is the most obvious item on an ice-cold menu – it generally comes served on a platter of it. There are dozens of places to get good bivalves in Orlando, but here's the high-low: Feeling flush? Make a special request for the tri-level, $125 seafood tower at Luke's Kitchen and Bar (eatatlukes.com) – it's not listed on the menu. For a more down-to-earth option, a bucket of oysters at Lee & Rick's is just $26 (leeandricksoysterbar.com).
The basics of this raw fish dish: chunks of the freshest fish, served raw and dressed with citrus juice, spiked with hot peppers and flecked with green herbs, but you might find anything from chopped onion to sweet potato to toasted corn in it. Ceviche is served throughout the Americas, but the greatest number of variations are found in Peru. Here in Orlando, we especially enjoy the three versions served by the Peru Power food truck (perupowerfoodtruck.com).
A tart, cold Andalusian soup of pureed vegetables (sometimes bread is added for extra body), gazpacho may be the most refreshing summer meal you can opt for. Locally you can find it downtown at Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant alongside several ceviches, of course (ceviche.com), or in Winter Park at the beautiful Bulla Gastrobar (bullagastrobar.com).
The Southern favorite is often found at picnics, rapidly warming in the sun, but the tasty little boiled-egg treats are best – and safest – eaten cold. At the Rusty Spoon (therustyspoon.com), chef Kathleen Blake is justly celebrated for her standby starter, Red Devil Stuffed Eggs: local Lake Meadow eggs stuffed with a mixture of egg yolk, Tabasco, cornichon pickles, "tons of herbs" and oven-dried tomatoes.