Posts

Featured Post

first thoughts: Dashi - Miami River

Image
Last month, I had the good fortune to be invited to an event at the Japanese Consulate in Miami, extolling the virtues of washoku, or the traditional cuisine of Japan. The event was hosted by the gracious consul general, Ken Okaniwa, but the headliner was chef Shuji Hiyakawa, who provided a live-action sushi-making display.

I had a feeling we were in good hands when Chef Hiyakawa started with the preparation of the rice, noting how every component is essential to the finished product: the blend of two vinegars he uses to season the rice, the wooden bowl in which it's prepared, which retains the right amount of heat and absorbs the right amount of excess liquid, the manner in which it's mixed, so that all the grains are seasoned, and neither too starchy nor too loose.

With the rice made, he went on to break down an entire loin of bluefin tuna. Given the depleted state of the species, I really would have preferred to see just about anything else on the cutting board. I suppose …

best thing i ate last week: fried chicken sandwich at La Pollita

Image
There's yet another wave of taquerias opening in Miami these days, so many I've given up even trying to list them, much less sample them all. But last week I did stop in on La Pollita, which is currently operating from a trailer parked in the Midtown Garden Center. The backstory is intriguing: chefs Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer worked at some pretty highfalutin places before this: Eleven Madison Park (just named as "World's Best Restaurant" by the suspect but influential 50 Best list), its sibling the NoMad, Scarpetta in Manhattan, Animal in L.A. Which made me wonder – what are these folks doing running a taco truck?

Making really great food, it turns out. They've got a short list of tacos, served on fresh tortillas pressed from masa supplied by Miami masa maestro Steve Santana (of Taquiza), and the cochinita pibil I tried was very good. But the standout item was the fried chicken cemita. A hot, crispy, juicy tranche of fried chicken. A crunchy, vinegar…

A Very CSA Seder

Image
The overwhelming majority of the time, I’m writing about other people’s cooking here. And for good reason: it’s a lot better and more interesting than my own cooking. Not that we don’t use our home kitchen – contrary to how it might appear sometimes, we don’t dine out every single night, and we do try, with varying degrees of success, to have at least a few home cooked meals each week. Occasionally, the results might even warrant an Instagram post, especially if I’m using something from my Little River Coop CSA, or the backyard garden. Rarely are they worth writing home about. But after cooking a Seder dinner for family and friends earlier this week, I was proud enough of the results to spend a little time memorializing it.

Passover is something of a culinary challenge: the whole prohibition on leavened grains can be pretty limiting, especially when it comes to dessert, and there are certain things that are expected: the matzo ball soup, the gefilte fish, the brisket, the tzimmes. I …

Rules Restaurant | London

Image
Fergus Henderson may have helped convince the world that British food was worthy of attention with his restaurant, St. John (some more thoughts on St. John here). But at Rules, they were never in any doubt.

Rules bills itself as the oldest restaurant in London. Over the past two centuries, it's been owned by only three families: Thomas Rule opened it in 1798; just before World War I, one of his descendants decided to move to France, and arranged a swap with a Brit running a restaurant in Paris named Tom Bell; and then in 1984, Bell's daughter sold the restaurant to its current owner John Mayhew.

The dining room, with its red velvet-wrapped, gold-piped banquettes, polished wood dividers, oil portraits and old cartoons on the walls,[1] the occasional marble bust here and there, looks every bit the part. If not for the bona fides of its history, the stereotypically posh decorations would seem almost laughable. I adore the place.

We first came here on a family trip to London more…

St. John Bread and Wine | London

Image
Until recently, British food has been saddled with a terrible reputation. I'm reminded of the old George Carlin joke about heaven and hell:

"In heaven, the Italians are the lovers, the French cook the food, the Swiss run the hotels, the Germans are the mechanics, and the English are the police. In hell, the Swiss are the lovers, the English cook the food, the French run the hotels, the Italians are the mechanics, and the Germans are the police."

That reputation, I've always thought, has been undeserved. Even thirty years ago, when I spent a summer in Oxford "studying," I ate very well. Ploughman's lunches with good cheese and bread, rich steak and kidney pies, crisp, steamy fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, fiery Indian and Jamaican food – what's not to like?

Over the past couple decades, general sentiment seems to have shifted, and now London is regarded as one of the world's top dining destinations. Partly that's been driven by interna…

Cochon 555 Miami - Sunday March 26

Image
I'm not a regular on the food fest circuit, but there are a few events I always eagerly anticipate. One of my favorites is coming to town this Sunday, March 26 at the Ritz Carlton South Beach: Cochon 555. Started back in 2008, Cochon turns a spotlight on heritage pork producers with a simple formula: five pigs, five chefs, five winemakers – do something great with them. The chef who is crowned Prince or Princess of Porc goes on to the Grand Cochon, which pits the winners from ten cities against each other, with own becoming the Queen or King of Porc.

Cochon first landed in Miami in 2012 (you can see my pictures here), and the event has gotten more elaborate ever since (more pictures from Cochon Miami 2014 and Cochon Miami 2016, if you'd like to see). Now, in addition to featuring five South Florida chefs working with five heritage breed pigs, you'll find craft cocktails – including a rum cart, a margarita bar, a smoked old fashioned bar – charcuterie bars, farmstead chees…

Sushi Deli / Japanese Market - an appreciation

Image
Many, many years ago, when I first started writing this blog, I made a big mistake: I wrote about Sushi Deli.

It's not that my recommendation was off target. The once-tiny sushi counter[1] inside a Japanese market (called, simply enough, "Japanese Market") was the classic hidden gem, a place where, among the packaged ramen noodles and bags of rice and frozen fish and togarashi spice mixes, you could get ridiculously good sushi, some of it flown in from Japan every week, at an incredibly reasonable price. There is surely no place I'd visited more often, or that had been the source of more satisfying meals, despite the peculiar hours (closed Mondays and Tuesdays, and never open later than 6:30 p.m. – a closing time which moved progressively earlier over the years as the place became ever more popular).[2]

Truth is, a good portion of what I know and love about sushi, I learned sitting at that counter: the joy of the many different varieties of hikari mono, or silver-sk…