Showing posts from February, 2010

CSA Canistel Microwave Cake

Some CSA canistels had been hanging around in my freezer for several weeks now, but I had a plan for them: microwave cakes. This was actually one of the things I hoped to accomplish when I started blogging my CSA shares: to combine fresh-from-the-farm produce with some personal experimentation in contemporary cookery, a small, humble attempt to show that the two are not as antithetical as many people (i.e., those who insist on tags like "science fiction cooking" or use "molecular gastronomy" as an epithet) make them out to be. Well, best laid plans and all ... I've generally been lucky just to get the stuff cooked in the most primitive of fashions, though I've done some good eating along the way.

Anyway, like so many contemporary techniques, the microwave cake's genesis appears to trace back to none other than Ferran Adrià. It uses an iSi whipped cream canister charged with nitrous oxide to aerate the batter (the same tool chefs sometimes use to make t…

There Will Be Boulud

Rumors have swirled for some time, now it's official. Uber-chef Daniel Boulud will be expanding his restaurant empire to Miami.

Boulud, whose flagship Daniel picked up three Michelin stars in the 2010 edition, will be opening a DB Bistro Moderne in the JW Marriott Marquis supposedly due to open in mid-2010. Boulud already has a toehold in Florida with Café Boulud in the Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Beach. The DB destined for Miami is being described as a "sister restaurant" to the New York version and presumably will have a similar contemporary bistro format.

Good timing for the formal announcement: Boulud is the honoree at a tribute dinner during South Beach Wine & Food Festival Saturday night.

Oishinbo Style Miso Ramen

Several months ago, through a tweet by Chef Chris Cosentino, I learned of the Oishinbo books. Oishinbo is a Japanese manga series which ran to over 100 volumes in Japan, and which has been republished in several volumes here in the U.S. The comics are loosely structured around the premise that a newspaper has set out to create the "Ultimate Menu" - the best of all Japanese food. The protagonist, Yamaoka Shiro, is a lazy newspaper employee with an exceptionally refined palate who is tasked with the creation of the Ultimate Menu. Yamaoka has major issues with his father, Kaibara Yuzan, a reknowned artist, the founder of the "Gourmet Club," and the architect of the "Supreme Menu" that a rival newspaper has commissioned.

But I digress. Aside from the father-son rivalry plotline and others of equal literary depth, the books contain fascinating, well-researched, and often extremely detailed insights into all sorts of aspects of Japanese cuisine, and each of the…

The Best Cuban Sandwiches in Miami

There is only one true "Sandwich Cubano" - that classic combination of roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles, pressed on la plancha until the exterior is toasty and the interior is warm and melted.[1] But there are actually many varieties of Cuban sandwiches that can be found in Miami.

I was recently asked to recommend five Cuban sandwiches and give short descriptions for a publication (which may or may not actually appear, I don't know). Needless to say, I struggled to limit myself to five, to say nothing of the abbreviated word count. Here's an expanded, unedited version of some of my personal favorites.


For the classic "Cubano," there's still no better place to go than that most classic Cuban restaurant, the hall of mirrors that is the unofficial capitol of Cuban Miami: Versailles. Is it the best Cubano in Miami? Honestly? Maybe, maybe not. But eating one there, followed by a cafecito to wash it down - either in the mirrored, c…

A Festivus for the Rest of Us

If you're skipping out on the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, or just looking for something to do in your downtime when not elbowing your way in to grab a burger or waiting to see what royalty Mario Batali offends this year, Mango & Lime has put together a great list of other good foodstuffs going on this week. I can't do any better than this list, so here it is:

Not going to SoBe Wine & Food Fest? Try these events

A couple comments:

The Seven Courses of Offal menu from Talula, for $78, available Friday-Sunday, is bound to be a winner. I just had a preview of the tripe cassoulet last night (brought some home after our visit over the weekend) and loved it. So did Frod Jr. (and, unlike the "lamb fries incident," this time he knew exactly what he was eating before he tried it).

The Q Miamiopening party for Chef Jonathan Eismann's new restaurant on Thursday also ought to be a lot of fun. Barbecue, beer, blues - what's not to like?

Goes Around ... Comes Around: Small World Edition - UPDATED

[Updated - see below]

I initially scoffed when South Miami restaurant Town Kitchen & Bar, which has been in business for a few years now, complained about their new neighbor, 72nd Bar + Grill. Town even went as far as issuing a notice that "someone in the neighborhood has copied us" and that Town was the "original neighborhood joint." Indeed, I suggested that after claiming to have invented the neighborhood joint, next Town would be claiming to have invented the question mark.

After looking at each of their online menus, I'm beginning to understand why Town is so sore. Here, have a gander yourself:

Town Kitchen & Bar:

72nd Bar + Grill:

Almost identical color scheme and font style, right down to the use of the "+" between descriptors in the menu. Pretty much the same menu groupings: salads; "starters"; pizzas; burgers; "certified angus beef steaks" vs. "from the grill"; "Old Town Favorites" vs. "72 Fav…

Where Are South Florida's Best New Chefs? - Part 2

Not so long ago, the local press was bemoaning the absence of new young chefs in South Florida. When Food & Wine announced its "Best New Chefs" in the Spring of 2009 and there were no South Florida candidates, New Times instead offered its own alternative list of local "Best Old Chefs 2009." (Of course, they could have noted that two of the chefs honored by F&W, Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook of Los Angeles' Animal, actually do have Miami roots, having cut their teeth with Michelle Bernstein at The Strand). A few months later in August, Lee Klein of New Times posited that the Miami food scene was stalled, and pondered whether or not there was a "farm system" of younger talent that had trained under the chefs like Michael Schwartz, Michelle Bernstein, Norman Van Aken, Dewey LoSasso, Jonathan Eismann, Allen Susser, Kris Wessel, and so on, who were ready to "pick up the torch and start opening personal, passion-fueled places that showcase their …

CSA Week 11 and its uses

Clearly I have fallen out of the habit of doing weekly CSA updates, seeing that Saturday, Week 12 is upon us and I've not even posted on Week 11. Here it is above, working clockwise from the left: new potatoes, spinach, celery, lettuce, grape tomatoes, green pepper, green beans. These particular weekly "what's in the box?" updates seem a bit superfluous, given that the Bee Heaven newsletters are available online and that Redland Rambles provides such nice pictures every week too, a day in advance of the delivery even.

Those potatoes were exciting, if for no other reason than that we hadn't gotten any potatoes yet, and I was torn between doing a Pommes Anna and a Tortilla Española. The tortilla, a Spanish classic which can be found in just about every tapas bar in the country, won out. This recipe is taken from Anya von Bremzen's wonderful cookbook, The New Spanish Table.

The recipe calls for 3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled, sliced thinly (a food processor'…

Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill - Midtown Miami

Unlike professional restaurant critics, I'm allowed to admit certain biases. One of these, which I'll readily confess, is that I tend to prefer chef-driven restaurants to concept-driven restaurants. A chef-driven restaurant is one that starts with the chef: the menu, often even the environment, follow from the chef's personal vision, which is more often than not centered on the food. Michy's is a chef-driven restaurant; Naoe is an even more extreme example. Concept-driven restaurants start with an idea: a marketing ploy around which everything else is assembled. The chef, typically, is simply a cog that fits into the wheel of the restaurant's concept, the menu just a piece along with the decoration, the music, the drinks, the scene. China Grill is the prototypical concept-driven restaurant.

No doubt my bias toward chef-driven restaurants is naive and overly romanticized. After all, chefs (and their backers) want to make money just like everyone else. But as someone…

Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler avec les Cobayes - Cobaya Gras Underground Dinner

Lest anyone think we are latecomers to the New Orleans bandwagon, know this: the "Cobaya Gras" dinner had been months in the conception, even if the final execution of it came about incredibly quickly.

In fact, the origin of the Cobaya underground dinners can be traced back to Chefs Kurtis Jantz and Chad Galiano, when over the summer they reached out to several local food enthusiasts with a unique proposition: "Help us design a new menu." We all spent a good bit of time and effort on it, and sampled a lot of good food; unfortunately, their hotel's management had its own ideas on that front which had little to do with any of our opinions. But one of the best things to come out of that little project was a conversation a few of us had while waiting for the valet to bring around our cars: Why couldn't Miami have an underground dining scene? And if nobody else was doing it, well, why not us?

And so it came to be. The Cobaya - Gourmet Guinea Pigs group now has o…

Su Shin Izakaya - Coral Gables

"HELLO HOW ARE YOU?!?!" Invariably, this is the greeting you will receive when you walk through the doors of Su Shin Izakaya - usually at a decibel level that will make you jump, even when you're fully expecting it. It's the owner's Americanized variation on the Japanese tradition of welcoming customers with a shout of "Irashaimase!"

Su Shin's menu is something of a mix of Americanized and traditional, too. Yes, you'll find your California rolls and salmon and cream cheese "JB rolls"[1] here. But if you're looking for something more authentic, don't let this dissuade you. The real draw here is not these inexplicably ubiquitous standards, but rather the extensive selection of "izakaya" dishes.

An izakaya is, as I understand it, sort of the Japanese equivalent of a pub: a place to drink beer or sake, often in copious amounts, and which serves food, often in smaller tapas-size portions, to accompany those libations. Hiro…

CSA Week 10 and its uses

What's in the box this week? From bottom left: thyme (one of my favorite herbs), arugula, green onions, komatsuna, radishes, cilantro (very boisterously scented), Ponkan tangerines, carambolas, and a canistel.

Some of the green onions went into an omelette this morning, along with last week's avocado (ehhhh...). Little Miss F is making quick work of the Ponkans. We tasted one of the carambolas tonight: beautifully fragrant and juicy, but still just a touch over-sour. And then this afternoon, the thyme, green onions and arugula got me thinking: Zuni roast chicken.

While my last experience at Zuni Cafe was less than ideal, the cookbook remains one of my all time favorites. And one of the best recipes in there is the famous roast chicken. You can find the recipe online and there's plenty of walk-throughs on various blogs as well, so I won't belabor it too much here. Plus I was scampering to get the bird done before the Super Bowl started, and my photos - and my presentat…

CSA Week 9 - Grilled Spring Onions with Romesco Sauce, Olive Oil Fried Egg

When we were last in Spain, we were fortunate enough to be there during calçot season. Calçots are a Catalan specialty, where they take a typical full-grown white onion and replant it, keep it mostly covered with soil while it sprouts, and then harvest it in late winter, when it's grown long shoots like a small leek. Traditionally, they're grilled over an open fire till blackened on the outside and tender within, then served with a romesco sauce for dipping. To eat, you peel off the blackened outer layer, then dip and dangle the onion over your mouth like a sword-swallower. In parts of Spain they have festivals - calçotades - dedicated to their consumption.

The four spring onions that came in last week's CSA box were hardly enough for a festival, but I find their mild sweet flavor pretty similar to calçots, and thought I'd duplicate the preparation on a small scale.

There are many variations on romesco recipes, but the standard components are dried peppers, hazelnuts, …

Sakaya Kitchen - Midtown Miami

It is not often that I am at a loss for what to have for dinner. Yet I found myself driving home from work this evening, knowing there was not much in the fridge to cook (yes, there are some pig trotters, but that's more of a project than a quick Tuesday night meal), pondering: "What's for dinner tonight?" Fortunately an idea occurred to me before I made it home to the near-empty fridge: Sakaya Kitchen, one of several new places that have recently opened in the Midtown Shops. (While the Five Guys next door has been open for some time, the Cheese Course and Sugarcane Raw Bar have finally come online after extended waits, and Mercadito is supposedly close).

photo via Sakaya Kitchen
Sakaya's setup looks like a fast food place, with a mostly open kitchen fronted by a long counter that has room for multiple cash registers (a sign either of unbridled optimism, or of a space that was originally built out for another tenant). But there aren't many fast food places whe…