Showing posts from November, 2009

Burger & Beer Joint - South Beach

When I first heard that a new burger and beer joint in South Beach was being touted as a "concept" - nay, three "concepts": burger joint, sports bar, and lounge - I was a bit dubious. And that it was going to be called "Burger & Beer Joint"? Well, nice to keep it simple and direct anyway. Shows what I know: after hearing multiple reports of hour-long waits for tables, clearly they were on to something, and I put Burger & Beer Joint onto the back burner as a place to go to after the fuss had died down. But this weekend I found myself on South Beach in the middle of the afternoon with nothing better to do and an empty feeling in my belly, and the stars aligned themselves for a visit.

The transformation of this little pocket of turf on the periphery of South Beach is really quite remarkable. For years nothing more than a warren of auto repair and body shops, there are now a number of places worth visiting here, between Joe Allen, Sardinia, its siste…

Talavera Restaurant - Coral Gables (updated)

(Note: this was first posted November 3, it's been updated after a couple additional visits to the restaurant). I paid a visit to the now-really-actually-open Talavera Restaurant, a new restaurant in Coral Gables opened by the folks who run Jaguar in Coconut Grove on its opening day, and have now been back a couple more times since. Jaguar has been one of the few restaurants in Coconut Grove with any staying power, thanks to an interesting selection of ceviches (cleverly offered in spoon-sized samples if you like to try several) and what I'd found to be a surprisingly decent grab-bag of Latin American entrees, with something of a focus on Mexican dishes. That focus is explained by the fact that owner Lalo Durazo, managing partner Martin Moreno, and partner-executive chef Oscar del Rivero all came from Mexico City. And their new restaurant in Coral Gables, Talavera, hews more closely to an exclusively Mexican theme.

It seemed like they had been working on a space on Ponce de Le…

CSA Week 1 - Callaloo and Momofuku

So here's what I started the week with:

Four ears of corn, a bundle of callaloo, a bag of green beans,a head of lettuce, some cherry tomatoes, a Florida avocado, a bunch of dill, a few stalks of lemongrass, a bok choy, and a bundle of roselle (a/k/a Jamaican sorrel a/k/a Jamaican hibiscus).

First things first: the red petals of the roselle were steeped along with a stalk of the lemongrass and some fresh ginger to make a tea:

The dill became a tzatziki, after being chopped and mixed with some Greek yogurt, grated cucumber, garlic and lemon juice:

I know, so far we're not winning any James Beard awards.

From there, I drew much of my inspiration this week from the Momofuku cookbook, after being immensely pleased with my first experiment with the bo ssäm recipe.

Some more lemongrass found its way into these pork sausage ssäms, as did the lettuce for the wraps:

I liked this Vietnamese-flavored spin on the Korean ssäm (basically, a wrap) idea, and it was "easy peasy" as Ja…

Notorious P.I.G. [Pork Is Good]

This past Sunday was the P.I.G. (Pork Is Good) fest by Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog at Harvey's By The Bay, east of Biscayne Boulevard off 64th Street, and a good number of VIPs (Very Important Pigs) turned out for the occasion.

Our group of about 25 took over the bay-windowed back room of Harvey's for the afternoon, when we weren't outside monitoring the progress of the whole boned-out piglet cooking away in Chef Jeremiah's new-fangled high-tech caja china. While the pig roasted, we were given samples of a number of his other pork-centric creations. The underlying theme was to revel in all the glories of the porcine, with dishes created from just about every part of the pig. Belly, butt, skin, and trotter were all well represented (I saw a headcheese, too, though I didn't see where it ended up). Some of the dishes may be previews for the menu of the gastroPOD, a shiny Airstream trailer Jeremiah is retrofitting with a high-tech kitchen to bring mobile cuisine to Miami.

CSA Week 1 - the beginning

Yesterday began the season for the Community Supported Agriculture program run by Bee Heaven Farm. The "subscription agriculture" program offers the opportunity to buy directly from local farmers by paying in advance for a season's worth of their produce, delivered each week to several drop-off points around Miami-Dade County.

One of the challenges of CSA programs is figuring out what to do with your share. This isn't shopping at the supermarket, where you make your shopping list and pick it up. Rather, you get whatever happens to be growing and ready for harvest at local farms at that time. From what I've heard from people that have participated in prior seasons, this often involves a lot of callaloo. Fortunately there are some good resources out there. Bee Heaven has its own blog, there's Redland Rambles, which will be giving a preview of the box contents every Friday, and more: Tinkering With Dinner, Eating Local in the Tropics, and, hopefully, Miami Dish

Straight Outta the Hamptons

The next culinary trend? Forget fried chicken and food trucks. Rap is where it's at.

I'll give credit to the good Mr. Sifton for getting this party started in his first New York Times review, wherein he said of Daniel Boulud:
His food game, as they say in rap precints, is tight.

Now everyone's getting in on the act. None other than Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart are proclaiming their hip-hop allegiance, as picked up by Eat Me Daily this morning.

Though I genuinely feared viewing the video might prompt a reaction similar to the "entertainment" from David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, I was able to safely screen the first few minutes without going catatonic; enough, at least, to experience this exchange quoted at EMD:
Martha: Puffy's having his birthday party next week... and I got an invitation. Did you?
Rachael: No I didn't...
Martha: ....All those rappers are cute. Don't you think?
Rachael: I think they're all pretty darned cute. The ones that…

Sifton Through Some Things

While it was perhaps not nearly so momentous to me as it may have been to some New Yorkers, I followed the changing of the guard for the New York Times' food critic post with some interest. Despite all the sturm and drang of late over the decline of printed media, the NYT remains one of the most powerful reviews in the country, with the perception still holding relatively firm that the doling of stars can have a profound effect on the success - or failure - of a restaurant.

The scouting reports on the new guy, Sam Sifton, seemed promising, and from reading some of his earlier work it was clear he could turn a phrase or two. His first reviews upon taking over the job seemed to engender mostly enthusiastic responses. Hey, he has a working knowledge of 1970's punk rock and can sure make Daniel Boulud's food sound really good (wait, is that so hard?). He'll venture out to Queens for Cantonese food. He looks just like that dude from Shaun of the Dead (do you think Simon Peg…

Hot Dogs in the Air

In more ways than one.

First, at Dogma Grill, for every hot dog sold during the week of November 16-22, they will be donating a turkey hot dog to Camillus House to help feed the poor and homeless at the shelter during Thanksgiving week. So next week, eat a hot dog for a good cause.

And then here's Wendy Maharlika, the ebullient hostess at NAOE restaurant in Sunny Isles, chucking hot dogs on the Jimmy Fallon show (I will just say that the food at NAOE is infinitely more appetizing than "Hot Dogs in a Hole"):

Eat Your Veggies

This will be my first season subscribing to the Community Supported Agriculture ("CSA") program through Bee Heaven Farm and I hope to be reporting on it here in the coming weeks (season starts November 21). If you're not familiar, the idea of CSA programs is to make it easier to get fresh, locally grown produce, while simultaneously supporting your local farmers, by buying in advance a subscription for the season of a share of the farm's harvest. Last year, the shares were filled by contributions from several farms, including Bee Heaven, Paradise Farms, Worden Farm, Three Sisters Farm and Homestead Organic Farms.

I believe Bee Heaven's CSA program is fully booked for this season, but if you're interested there is another option available. Teena's Pride Farm, another Homestead grower, will be doing a CSA program this season, and using Sunset Corners wine and liquor store in South Miami as their pickup location. Teena's Pride is offering subscriptions t…

Turkey For Me, Turkey For You

Don't feel like making your own? There are several restaurants in Miami Beach that are willing to do the Thanksgiving cooking for you:



Herb Roasted Turkey with Homemade Gravy
Cranberry-Balsamic Marmalade

(Choice of Five)

Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
House Made Sweet Italian Sausage & Vidalia Onion Stuffing
Brown Sugar-Bourbon Sweet Potatoes
Broccoli-Cheddar Casserole
Green Beans Almondine, Sherry Brown Butter
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with House Smoked Tasso Ham
Traditional Caesar Salad, Herb Croutons, Parmigiano Reggiano

(Choice of One)

Homemade Pumpkin Pie with Spiced Whipped Cream
Chocolate Pecan Pie with Espresso Cream
Key Lime Pie with Thai Basil Syrup & Fresh Berries

The Thanksgiving menu is available on Thursday, November 26 from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and priced at $75.00 for two with a charge of $38.00 per additional guest; the complete party must order Thanksgiving Dinner. This price includes turkey with trimmings, choic…

Anise Taverna - Miami Upper East Side

[sorry, this restaurant has closed; but Ouzo's in the same spot and with the same owner is quite similar]
Photo via Anise Taverna
I scoffed when Marco Pierre White insisted at a conference last year, in a not even remotely veiled attack on much contemporary cuisine, that the only proper way to serve fish is "on the bone, with lemon juice, olive oil and salt." To me, both traditional and contemporary styles have their place and can be immensely satisfying when done well. But that means that the simpler forms of cooking can't be dismissed either. This is an area where Anise Taverna excels.

The owners of Anise, Gennaro and Liza Meoli, started in Miami with Ouzo's on Normandy Circle in North Beach. After a couple years they decided to make the leap to South Beach, but unfortunately their move coincided with a massive and interminable construction project right outside the new location. After finally running out of patience, they eventually reopened as Anise Taverna in…


The Twitter list tool is a clever thing (even if there is no clever name for it: a "twist"?), and several folks have already gotten into the act of compiling various food talk twitter lists. There's Gastrobuzz from The Food Section, and the New York Times has not one, but four, food-related lists: Dining News, Eating in New York, Food Politics and Policy, and Foodies.

Personally, I like being the moderator of my own Twitter feeds, but if you want to play along, I've made a couple lists too:

Following Miami restaurants.

Following chefs from all over.

Let me know what I may be missing, especially on the Miami restaurants list.

Aburiya Raku - Las Vegas

I did something on my last trip to Las Vegas that I'd never done before. No, I did not split 10s against a dealer's ace at the blackjack table. I didn't pass out and wake up with Mike Tyson's lion in my room. Nor did it involve any of the fine ladies whose cards are handed out on the strip in the evenings. No, this was something really unusual for me: during a four-day trip, I went back to the same restaurant twice.

There were a number of places on my "hit list" for this Vegas trip, but after going to Aburiya Raku late on the night we arrived, some of the list had to be thrown out. A repeat visit violates one of my basic travel rules, but this is really my kind of place.

Though I'd hazard a guess that roughly 99% of the visitors to Las Vegas have never heard of the restaurant, it has hardly escaped notice. It was a semifinalist this year for the James Beard Foundation's Best New Restaurant Award, has been much talked up by variousbloggers, and is a favo…

But Wait There's More ...

Another interesting opening, Olé Tapas in the Four Seasons on Brickell Avenue. With opening hours 7am - 7pm, this will be tough for anyone other than Brickellites to get to, but the menu, with a solid lineup of traditional tapas, all priced under $10, looks good to me.

And let's welcome a new face to the neighborhood: Eater Miami, a branch of the new, megalithic Eater National, edited by local scenester Lesley Abravanel. She's clearly been busy, with about a bazillion posts already up just in the past 24 hours!

Danny Meyer Shaking His Miami Money-Maker

Just got word that Shake Shack, mega-NY restaurateur Danny Meyer's casual burgers 'n' shakes emporium, is going to be opening up its first location outside of New York in none other than Miami Beach, Florida.

Location is going to be in the new 1111 Lincoln Road building going up at the corner of Alton Road, with indoor and outdoor seating. Opening goal? "spring/summer 2010". (Good luck. We know how those things tend to go here in South Florida).

If you want to start planning you order now, you can peruse the menu here. Count me in for a double cheeseburger and a Concrete Jungle.

It's So Good Once It Hits Your Lips

I had the privilege of being invited to a dinner at Michy's yesterday evening featuring pairings of Chef Michelle Bernstein's food with beers from Samuel Adams. I don't usually do these "media dinner" type events - I really don't mind paying for what I eat and drink - but since this one offered a chance to try something I might not otherwise experience - Samuel Adams' "Utopias," a very limited production brew only made every other year, aged in a variety of woods, and reaching 27% alcohol - I found it difficult to resist. (So, full disclosure: No, I did not pay for this meal, and my notes were taken under the influence of free beer).

It might surprise those who think of beer as a blue-collar, working-class beverage (I don't, but it still surprised me) to learn that Jim Koch, the founder of the Boston Beer Company which produces Samuel Adams beers, has three degrees from Harvard University (a BA, JD and MBA). I've known some double-Harvard…