Showing posts from March, 2010

Reading Material (Pt II) - James Beard Foundation 2010 Journalism Award Finalists

In my last post, I listed the books that have been selected as finalists for the 2010 James Beard Foundation awards, with links to them on Amazon. Here I've listed the finalists for the journalism awards. I find these lists make for some great reading material, and there's certainly no reason to limit your review to only those that are ultimately selected for the award. I'm not sure why it's so hard to find a convenient source with links to all the nominated articles, so I've given all the links I've been able to find:

Category: Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Reviews

Jonathan Gold (LA Weekly)
"Sauced", "Hot Birria, Cold Cerveza", "Hare Today"

Patric Kuh (Los Angeles)
"Border Crossing", "Peru Calling" (this can't possibly be the entire review worthy of a nomination), "The Classic"

Jason Sheehan (Westord)
"White on White" (this is a guess, I see nothing with this title), "Wond…

Reading Material - James Beard 2010 Finalists

For your edification and cooking inspiration, here are links to all the finalists for the 2010 James Beard Foundation awards in the book and journalism categories. The entire list of finalists can be found here.

Category: American Cooking

Category: Baking and Dessert

Category: Beverage

Category: Cooking from a Professional Point of View

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stirring dull roots with spring rain - updated

Maybe April isn't the cruelest month after all. Here are several things going on next month that you may want to put on your calendar.

April 4:Michy's will be doing an Easter brunch from 11am - 3pm, with a buffet of tapas and salads followed by your choice from among a dozen entrees. $48 ($24 for kids 12 and under), which includes a Mimosa or Bellini. 6927 Biscayne Blvd. Miami, 305.759.2001

Area 31 will also be celebrating Easter with a brunch running from 12-3pm and offering unlimited food, Mimosas, Bellinis, Bloody Marys, Prosecco and juices. Buffet service includes classics like eggs benedict, waffles, pancakes, steak frites, plus some more typical Area 31 stuff like grilled corvina with salsa verde. $65 ($22 for kids 6-12, free for kids under 6). 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way (Epic Hotel), Miami, 16th Floor, 305.424.5234

[updated with a few more Easter eggs!]

The Cape Cod Room in the Bath Club on Miami Beach is doing what they call their monthy "hybrid" brunch buffet o…

Cobaya Experiment #4 - Altamare with Chef Simon Stojanovic

The latest of our "underground dining" experiments brought us to the newly opened Altamare restaurant in South Beach. Well, sort of new, anyway. Actually, its predecessor, Altamar, quietly tucked away on the west end of Lincoln Road, was a long-standing locals' favorite for fresh seafood with an Italian bent. Altamar owner Claudio Giordano decided to move a few doors down to a bigger space, buy a vowel, and bring in Chef Simon Stojanovic (a Michael's Genuine Food & Drink alumnus) to take over the kitchen and update the menu. We gave Chef Simon free rein to craft a menu, and Claudio gave the 20 of us a cozy little semi-private corner in the back of the room behind the bar, plus a run of wine pairings to go with the dishes.

Unfortunately, I missed nearly half the meal, for reasons that are somewhat embarassing (it was Little Miss F's birthday - the date of which I had overlooked when planning the dinner - and so I joined in late, after B-Day dinner with the fam…

Red Light Revisited - Miami Upper East Side

I tend not to retread old ground when writing about restaurants here. When there are so many new places opening up, old places I still haven't gotten around to mentioning, holes in the wall I haven't even discovered yet, it seems a bit goofy to talk about someplace that's already been written up - particularly a place like Red Light, where my initial comments here were already based upon a pretty extensive body of data.

But a restaurant is in many ways a sort of organic thing: it can change, it can grow, it can mature, it can get old. Sometimes it's for the better; other times for the worse. I'm immensely gratified that with Red Light, which is approaching its second anniversary, it seems that the changes are all to the good.

I didn't realize until I started writing this that my first visit to Red Light was almost exactly two years ago; and that my initial write-up here was almost exactly one year ago. Since then, Red Light has not lacked for attention, especia…

CSA Carrots - Check!

I know I swore off posting pictures of my CSA share, but - check out this carrot!

There were about a dozen more of these knobby little guys in the share this week; too bad I don't have a wood-fired oven like at Michael's Genuine to roast them in.

Sakaya Kitchen Dim Ssam Brunch - Midtown Miami

I wrote about my initial visit to Sakaya Kitchen about a month ago. Chef Richard Hales' focus on Korean flavors, organic ingredients, and reasonable prices all showed real promise. That promise is fulfilled, and then some, with Sakaya's "Dim Ssam" brunch, which was unveiled this weekend.

While the restaurant is set up for counter service, Chef Hales has switched over to table service for the brunch, and has crafted a longer menu of smaller-portioned dishes that play on his contemporary Korean theme (thus, "Dim Ssam"). I was just about the first person knocking on the door a little after 11am this past Sunday to give it a try.

Choosing was not easy. Fortunately, the prices are so reasonable that you can try a sampling of several items without breaking the bank. Everything I tried was excellent.

"Banchan" are a customary feature of Korean dining, a selection of little side dishes to accompany a meal. Different types of kimchi are typical, but usuall…

CSA Collard Greens - Gomen Kitfo

I can no longer keep track of which week is which from my CSA shares. Since collard greens make a frequent appearance, this is a recipe that can hopefully come in handy. Gomen Kitfo (or Yegomen Kitfo) is an Ethiopian dish which, frankly, one of our good friends makes much better than I do, but that didn't stop me from trying it anyway. What I find so intriguing about Ethiopian food is that it is generally highly spiced, but without being "spicy" (i.e. hot), using a palette of spices that we don't encounter often in Western cuisines, at least not in savory dishes. This dish is a good example: it features cooked collard greens mixed with cottage cheese flavored with cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, clove, garlic and onion.

As usual, I looked at a few different recipes and then sort of mushed them together. Here's a rough ingredient list:

12 oz. cottage cheese2 lbs. collard greens ( I suspect my pile was shy of 2 lbs)4 tbsp. butter3 cloves garlic2 tbsp chopped onion1 tbsp…

Ready to Do a 180?

Well, Chef Norman Van Aken is almost there. His new Miami venture, Norman's 180 in Coral Gables (in the Colonnade Hotel) has been under construction for some time. Though there's clearly been some slippage from the original goal to open before year-end (2009), it looks like he's getting closer. Hiring for an April opening would seem to be a good sign:

For more previews of what to expect when it opens, check here and here.

El Rincon Asturiano - Miami

"Vale." It's a word we heard throughout our travels in Spain, with no precise definition we could discern, potentially meaning "OK," or "So...," or "See?", or "Voila," depending on the context. Apparently more European (and possibly Castilian, more specifically) than Latin American, it's a word I almost never hear in Miami, despite the abundant Spanish-speaking populations. We heard it almost immediately, and regularly, upon sitting down at El Rincon Asturiano this past weekend. I took that to be a good sign, and I was right.

Rincon Asturiano is a small restaurant in Little Havana near the corner of Flagler Street and SW 17th Avenue, not particularly noticeable from the street. There are several outdoor tables under a covered patio, as well as a small tapas bar and several more tables packed inside, including a narrow bar-height two-top that we squeezed into on a Saturday night (the place was filled). Asturias is an autonomous …

Good Food Good Cause

What are you doing this Thursday? Why not this?

Organized by chefs Alex Feher of the Intercontinental Miami and Jan Jorgenson of Two Chefs, and benefitting International Firefighters Assistance in Haiti, this event features fifteen chefs (including folks like Andrea-Curto Randazzo of Talula, Cindy Hutson of Ortanique, Clay Conley of Azul, Johnny Vinczencz of Johnny V, Jonathan Eismann of Pacific Time, Jonathan Wright of the Setai, and Tim Andriola of Timo), for fifty bucks; and it's all for charity.

Eat well and do good at the same time. If you're interested, RSVP to or 305.864.3434 x311.

Restaurant at the Setai - South Beach

I have long been intrigued by the menu at the Restaurant at the Setai - a curious amalgam of several Far Eastern cuisines - but there was always something keeping me away.

Honestly, it was the prices. Intrigue will only get me so far through the door to try "small plates" that are mostly priced in the mid $20s and main courses that are generally double that or even more. The Restaurant would participate in Miami Spice and occasionally offer other more reasonably priced programs, but I could never get my timing right. So even though the eclectic mix of Asian dishes was alluring, and Executive Chef Jonathan Wright had some solid credentials (Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons in England, Bradley Ogden's Lark Creek Inn in California), I never made my way in.

Intrigue finally got the best of me when I saw that the Setai was offering a "Menu Gourmand," featuring twelve courses from their menu for $120. Somehow, twelve courses for $120 seemed much more re…