Showing posts from March, 2009

Teena's Pride CSA

For those who are late to the boat for CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), it's not too late. Teena's Pride Farms, with a big assist from Sunset Corners wine & liquor store, did a successful four-week CSA "test program" and is now signing up additional participants for another four-week round. The idea of a CSA is to create a direct relationship between farmer and consumer - the buyer commits to buy a season's worth of produce (shortened here), and the farmer delivers what's fresh and plentiful each week to a central pick-up location. Teena's Pride is supplying the veggies, and Sunset Corners (in South Miami at 8701 Sunset Drive) has volunteered to use its store and its walk-in as the distribution site.

According to Teena's, a typical full share would include:

A box of arugula
3-4 bags of fresh herbs (i.e: chives, cilantro, lemon grass, oregano, thyme, and on and on)
½ lb salad spring mix
4-6 hydroponic bell peppers
4 hot peppers
2 lbs vine ripe heirl…

Pork Pirates? - Please.

Miami New Times gets all up in arms this week over pig farmers in Miami-Dade County slaughtering and butchering their own pigs. Almost all of the article's sturm and drang is over the fact that these farmers (illegally) kill their own pigs for customers, replete with graphic and dramatic descriptions of the process ("the animals are killed like Mafia capos"; "The air is acrid with the twin aromas of blood and shit"). The only thing missing is to name one of the pigs "Wilbur."

Ironically, the description of the slaughtering and butchering process is almost exactly like what is described as happening in the slaughterhouses down the street - the animal is shot between the eyes with a heavy-caliber pistol (the slaughterhouses instead use an electric stun gun), then immediately the throat is slit, the pig is bled, scalded, shaved, and hung, and organs and hooves are removed. According to the article, the whole process takes 20 minutes. At the slaughterhouse…

Alta Taberna Paco Meralgo - Barcelona

Paco Meralgo had a few things going for it before we'd even stepped through the door: (1) it was close to our hotel in the Eixample neighborhood; (2) it was open on Monday, when many restaurants in Spain are closed; and (3) its name appealed to my fondness for wordplay ("comer algo," hidden within "Paco Meralgo", means "to eat something").

The restaurant has a clever layout, basically mirror-imaged food bars on either side of a workspace for the staff, with one side being a smoking section and the other non-smoking. Each side has additional counter seating around the edges of the walls, with several small tables scattered throughout. The decor is simple and minimalist, with painted brick walls and blocky blond wood tables and stools. Indeed, the primary "decoration" is at the food bar itself, which houses a magnificent selection of seafood, including fantastically colorful bright red gambas on ice in a big bowl and lots of other little delica…

Good Weekend

Just a sampling of a couple interesting goings-on this weekend:

Taste of MiMo along Biscayne Boulevard. Saturday March 28 from noon to 5pm, several restaurants will be offering various bites for $2 - $5. Participants include (from north to south, roughly) Anise Taverna, Red Light, Ver Daddy, Moshi Moshi, Le Cafe, Che Soprano, Moonchine, Casa Toscana, Wine 69, Uva 69, and Kingdom.

Fairchild Food and Garden Festival at Fairchild Tropical Gardens, Sat. March 28 and Sun. March 29 from 9:30am to 4:30pm, promising culinary demonstrations using local products, a farmer's market with actual local growers, a fruit and vegetable contest for the "ugliest, largest or prettiest" fruit or vegetable, and programs for the kids ("Composting with Worms!").

And if that's not the kind of good weekend you're looking for, there's always this one.

Dos Palillos - Barcelona

After three great days in San Sebastian, we swung over to Barcelona for the final leg of our trip. Our first restaurant visit was to Dos Palillos. Dos Palillos is the creation of Albert Raurich, who from 1999 through 2007 was the chef de cuisine at El Bulli. Those expecting another temple of modern gastronomy or showcase of cutting edge cooking technology, however, might well be disappointed. At Dos Palillos, Raurich, along with head chef Takeshi Somekawa, instead explores - using mostly traditional cooking methods - the curious parallels and intersections between Spanish and Asian cuisines.

Dos Palillos is located down the incredibly narrow Carrer Elisabets in the funky El Raval neighborhood, on the ground floor of the Casa Camper hotel (a product of the Camper brand which sells moderately hip sneakers for what seem like incredibly high prices). The name - which means "two toothpicks" - is itself a play on those aforementioned commonalities, analogizing between the toothpick…

Reading Material - Part III - James Beard Books


Reading Material - Part II

More links to the James Beard Award nominees for the journalism awards. Part I is here.

Made (Better) In Japan - Alan Richman, GQ
BBQ 08 (The Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas) - Patricia Sharpe and staff of Texas Monthly Magazine
My Cherry Amour - Monique Truong, Gourmet

Jonathan Gold, LA Weekly - "A Proper Brasserie," "A Fine Palate," "Pho Town"
Adam Platt, New York Magazine - "Faux French," "The Mario of Midtown," "Corton on Hudson"
Tom Sietsema, Washington Post - "Great Expectations," "Robo Restaurant," "An Earned Exclamation"

Greens of Wrath - Barry Estabrook, Gourmet
What Good is Breakfast? - New York Magazine
How to Feed Your Mind - Rachael Moeller Gorman, EatingWell

BA Foodist - Andrew Knowlton,
Hunter Angler Gardener Cook - Han…

Reading Material - Part I

In my last post I mentioned the local chefs still in contention for one of the James Beard awards. In addition to the chef and restaurant awards, there's a whole panoply of various media and journalism award nominations. I started rooting around to see how many of the nominated pieces are available online and thought I'd share the links for this extended reading list. I doubt I'll ever plow through all of them, but some that I'd already come across - like the piece on Schwa chef Michael Carlson - are excellent.

Some I can not turn up at all, some may be limited access, and I'll be doing this in at least two installments. Again, the whole list of nominees is here.

Obsessives: School Lunch Revolutionary -
The Art of Blending -
Savoring the Best of World Flavors, Volume III: Vietnam and the Island of Sicily -

Big Night. Big Mystery: Why Did Michael Carlson Vanish the…

Beards Shaved

I posted earlier with the local slant on the James Beard Award semifinalists. The actual nominations were announced today. South Florida products still in contention (all for Best Chef South):

- Zach Bell of Cafe Boulud in Palm Beach;
- Douglas Rodriguez of Ola in South Beach; and
- Michael Schwartz of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in Miami's Design District.

Also on the Best Chef South list - John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, MS and John Harris of Lilette in New Orleans.

Out of the running? Sra. Martinez for Best New Restaurant (and let it be noted, in my original post I nailed all five of the finalists for this category!); Palme d'Or for Best Service and Best Wine Service; Dean James Max of 3030 Ocean and Edgar Leal of Cacao in the Best Chef South category.

I'm thinking a Beard is in store for Michael - though as you can see, he's already got one (and a chicken too).*

The whole list is here.

*Picture via, though I don't think it…

Akelaŕe - San Sebastian

One of the perversities of South Florida dining is that, despite our location right on the ocean, there are actually few restaurants that offer waterfront dining with a view, and even fewer that provide a quality dining experience. The same is not true of San Sebastian, if Akelaŕe is any indication.

We visited Akelaŕe for lunch to take advantage of those views, which was a good call. The 15 minute drive from downtown San Sebastian takes you up into the hills which overlook the coast of the Bay of Biscay. The restaurant, a cooly modern dark grey structure, sits high in those hills looking out through a wide expanse of glass on an even wider expanse of water and sky.
The staff were happy to serve us in either Spanish or English, and were easygoing and accomodating in every way. There are two tasting menus offered as well as a la carte dishes, and they had no problem at all doing a tasting menu for me while Mrs. F ordered a la carte. I opted for the "Menu Aranori," while Mrs. …