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Showing posts from April, 2010

Marcel Vigneron: Molecular Gastronomist and Time Traveler?

In an interview with LA Weekly, Marcel "Wolverine" Vigneron, contestant on Top Chef Season 2 and now, apparently, chef at an L.A. restaurant called Bar210, claims to have taught himself spherification sometime in or before 2001:

MV: ... I taught myself spherification in a garage in New York while I was getting my associates degree. I called elBulli before I'd even been there and got on the line and asked them for a sample packet of chemicals. And they mailed me the chemicals.

SI: You can do that? You can get those through the mail?

MV: Yeah, no problem. This was totally pre-9/11. They sent me little gram bags of each one, all labeled. So I was doing research online and found Ferran's recipe for apple caviar and bought a little digital gram scale and was trying to make it. I remember me and my friends we made coffee caviar, and we were like blown away. We were like, Oh this is the coolest thing.Which is pretty remarkable, considering that spherification wasn't intro…

"Cobaya in the Night Kitchen" at Sakaya Kitchen

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"Did you ever hear of Micky, how he heard a racket in the night and shouted and fell through the dark..."
Forty guinea pigs were making a racket in the night at Sakaya Kitchen this past Saturday for our latest Cobaya dinner. There were a few reasons we decided to do a midnight dinner. First, we just wanted to do something different. Second, Sakaya's chef, Richard Hales, is working pretty much non-stop during regular hours, with Sakaya being open 11am - 10pm 7 days a week. Third, Sakaya may eventually be rolling out a late night service, so this was something of a dry run. Those who notice the posting schedule here know I'm usually up then anway, but I'm apparently not the only night owl: I was thrilled - and once again, grateful and humbled - that when a post went up on the Cobaya board which basically said nothing more than: "Midnight. Saturday April 24. $55," 60+ people said "Yes!"

We weren't able to accomodate all who wanted to come, bu…

D. Rodriguez - South Beach

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It was with some dismay that I realized recently that it was more than twenty years ago that I first experienced Chef Douglas Rodriguez's cooking, when he was at a little place called Wet Paint Café that was one of the first signs of life on Lincoln Road in the late 1980's.[1]

Since then, Chef Rodriguez has gone through a number of other projects. First was Yuca,[2] where he was one of the pioneers of bringing contemporary, upscale flare to classic Latin American flavors, along with other kitchen luminaries such as Norman Van Aken and Cindy Hutson. After about five years, he packed his bags and headed for the bright lights of New York City, where he opened Patria, followed by a couple other restaurants, and further expansion to Philadelphia (Alma de Cuba).

But Chef Rodriguez eventually made his way back home to Miami. Around 2003 he opened Ola in a refurbished standalone 2-story building on Biscayne Boulevard in what is now called the "Upper East Side."[3] I loved th…

Sam Sifton Reviews the "Double Down"

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With all the fuss made over New York Times critic Sam Sifton sampling the latest fast food monstrosity, KFC's "Double Down" (he previewed his intentions last Friday, leading Eater to set up spies at every Manhattan KFC to catch him in the act), I was sorely disappointed that the result was a mere Diner's Journal entry, rather than a full-fledged review in true Sifton-speak. So I wrote my own.

The men in the navy blazers, with their silk rep ties and their Jansport knapsacks, don't come here often. In fact, they never come here at all, and have to look up the address on their Blackberries. The food-obsessed will debate the finer points of the various other fried chicken offerings of Gotham, from Blue Ribbon or Locanda Verde, the two different styles of oil-bathed hen at Momofuku Noodle Bar, or the Korean fried chicken at Bon Chon that I think Jonathan Gold would really like if he came here. Not KFC.

But know this: a new dish is being served at KFC, and it's the…

The Forge - Miami Beach

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Our last steakhouse experience was a disappointment, though I sort of anticipated that going in. I had higher hopes for our visit to the newly reopened The Forge. For decades, The Forge had been one of the bastions of a particularly Miami style of high dining: luxurious, decadent, and over the top, where the food could be quite good, but was not necessarily the prime focus. Indeed, in its later days, The Forge was probably equally popular for its Wednesday night "disco dinners" as for the steaks. Nonetheless, I'd always had good meals there, and the restaurant, with its rococo decorations and encyclopedia-sized wine list, had its unique charms.

The place has quite a history: supposedly, it was originally an actual blacksmiths' shop, and in the 1930's was turned into a restaurant and casino. It was purchased in the late 1960's by the Malnick family, who were responsible for an opulent renovation that made the place a landmark for the next several decades. The …

III Forks - Hallandale

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Many people think that food bloggers are nothing more than frustrated, wannabe restaurant reviewers - that we all secretly (or perhaps not so secretly) pine to be the big-shot newspaper critic doling out stars every week. Speaking for myself, anyway, nothing could be further from the truth. First and foremost, I don't think I could support Family Frod in the manner to which they've become accustomed on a professional journalist's pay grade. But more importantly, this is recreation for me, an outlet. I eat where I want, I write what I want, and I do all of it when I want (and don't do it if I don't want to). The prospect of being obligated to go to particular restaurants and writing about them, on deadline, seems absolutely dreadful.

As a result, you don't see a ton of negative reviews here. I tend to have a pretty good sense of when I'm not going to like a restaurant, and can usually avoid those where I'm likely to be disappointed. Likewise, if a place …

Ferran Adria to Open Burger Joint in South Beach

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Chef Ferran Adria shook the foundations of the culinary world when he announced in January that his acclaimed restaurant, El Bulli, would be closing for two years after the 2012 season, followed shortly thereafter by the announcement that it would be closing permanently. El Bulli is widely regarded as among the top restaurants in the world, and is legendary for its cutting edge experimentation, regularly pushing the boundaries of the food universe.

The announcements regarding El Bulli were followed by much confusion and speculation as to Adria's future. Chef Adria subsequently explained that El Bulli was not so much closing permanently as it was reinventing itself as something more akin to a culinary foundation, though the nature and mission of that new incarnation remained unclear.

Inside sources have now clarified what to expect next: Chef Adria will be opening the first elBulliBurger in South Beach in the Spring of 2014. It would not be Chef Adria's first foray into fast fo…

Grossest Restaurants in South Florida

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Not really the grossest restaurants, rather the highest grossing in terms of revenue. The annual report by Restaurants & Institutions of the top 100 revenue-producing independent restaurants in the United States in 2009 is out, and there are a few South Florida names on the list. You can see the full list here.

Joe's Stone Crab is in the same #3 spot as it was in last year, and it would seem the recession really hasn't touched it: 2009 sales of $26,272,000 compare pretty favorably to last year's $28,827,328, and the number of meals served (roughly 320,000) and average check size ($65-68) have both held steady.

Also holding firm is Myles Chefetz's cash cow, Prime 112. P112 is on the list at #14 for 2009, with $18,889,430 in revenue and average ticket of $115, again almost exactly even with last year's figures.

Meanwhile, DeVito South Beach is still on the list, but barely. DeVito, which made its first appearance on the list last year at #19, with $17,800,000 in r…