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Showing posts from December, 2010

Ten Best Bites of 2010

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As the year winds its way to a close, we all partake in various traditions: it may be latkes and sufganiyot for Channukah, a Christmas ham or a feast of seven fishes (or the Jewish custom of going out for Chinese on Christmas), perhaps the New Years' traditions of cotechino and lentils or Hoppin' John. Here in the blogosphere, the traditional way to recognize the end of the year is to make lists. Since I resolved last year to actually do my "year in review" list before the calendar turned over, here are my "Ten Best Bites" of 2010, in no particular order, with some thoughts and pictures from the past year:

1. Gambas de Palamós at Asador Etxebarri (writeup here). Simply the best prawns I've ever eaten:

There is so little going on here - prawns, salt, smoke, heat - and yet absolutely nothing else could make this any better. The tail was perfectly cooked, simultaneously tender, meaty, salty and sweet. And the juices from sucking the heads, enhanced by a smo…

Humbug - Miami Christmas and New Years' Dining Options

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Another year is nearly gone, but before it's over, there are Christmas and New Years Eve to celebrate. And for many of us, that means a night - and a dinner - out on the town. I confess that I usually try to avoid holiday fixed menu "deals," on the belief that more often than not, prices go up while quality and choices go down, plus customers often tend to behave like asshats. (Though I should also note that last year, we snuck into Michael's Genuine early and had a perfectly wonderful time). We tend to keep things simple, ideally at Chez Frod - you know, a tin of caviar, a couple spoons, a bottle of grower champagne. But not everyone is as curmudgeonly and Scrooge-like as myself. For those with more festive holiday spirits, here are a number of dining options for the upcoming holidays (unless indicated, all prices are exclusive of tax and tip, and generally speaking, advance reservations required):

1500º
Eden Roc Hotel
4525 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL
305.674.5594

6…

Special Guest Post - Michael's Genuine Food and Drink (Little Miss F)

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I am honored (and relieved, given my less than prodigious output lately) to bring you a guest post today - and also fairly bursting with pride. You see, as we were going over my 10-year old daughter's school projects for the past quarter, I came across an assignment her class did on the five senses. The project was to write descriptive passages, in various styles (poem, newspaper article, essay, story) that involved the five senses. So what did the little bugger do? She wrote a restaurant review! She's been gracious enough to let me republish it (entirely unedited), and so here is Little Miss F's review of Michael's Genuine Food and Drink. It may be time for me to retire.


I am a food critic and today I am going to Michael's Genuine Food and Drink. I walked into the restaurant to be greeted by their friendly host who asked me, "Excuse me, do you have a reservation?"

I answered him, "Yes, of course!" After that, they seated me at a little table in …

Vino e Olio e Cobaya - Experiment #8

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One of the guiding principles of the Cobaya - Gourmet Guinea Pigs group is that it's intended as an opportunity for chefs to do things that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to do in their regular settings. We organize events both in restaurants and out, but one of the rules is that it has to be an off-the-menu experience, a chance for the chefs to show something different from their usual routine.

When I read about the opening of Vino e Olio in the Design District, it seemed like a good fit. The chef, Andrea Menichetti, was virtually born in the kitchen: his parents, Maurizio Menichetti and Valeria Piccini, run the Michelin two-starred Da Caino in Montemerano, Italy, where Chef Andrea cooked before making his way to Miami. And the menu at Vino e Olio suggested more imagination and creativity than most garden-variety South Florida Italian restaurants. So we tried the restaurant, spoke to the chef, and then gave him free reign to craft a menu. The result, as one of our din…

CSA Week 2 and its Uses - Yuca Latkes with Spherified Hibiscus Caviar

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So it turns out that a two-part series on homemade kimchi is not nearly as popular as writing about where to eat during Art Basel week. This does not come as a surprise to me. And yet here I am, persisting in writing about my humble efforts to dispose of my weekly CSA share yet again. (If the truth must be known, I'm also still only on Round 1 of my visits to several of the new places to open recently in Miami - including DB Bistro Moderne, Vino e Olio, Wynwood Kitchen & Bar - and am filibustering some here).

Week 2 brought an unusual assortment of goodies: yuca, roselle (a/k/a hibiscus or Jamaican sorrel), lemongrass, callaloo, green onions, eggplant, avocado. Once again, I set out to come up with a dish that would use up at least a few of the components at once. What I wound up with was a very unorthodox latke:


What exactly is that? Well, it will require some explanation.

The roselle and lemongrass were the starting point, as I steeped them along with some fresh ginger to ma…

CSA Week 1 and its Uses - Part II

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OK, so I've got some home-made kimchi that's been getting funky in the fridge for a few days. And I've decided that its mission in life is to ultimately become kimchi ramen. So far so good - except we need a lot more fixings for that ramen. Since I started with the Momofuku kimchi recipe, I decided to plow on ahead and make a version of the Momofuku ramen, and add some kimchi for extra punch. There would be some compromises along the way - no, I'm not making my own noodles,  and I can't easily source my own pork belly - but I was pretty happy with the end result.

First, a broth. The Momofuku ramen broth recipe is sort of a case study in building rich, meaty flavor: kombu, dried shiitakes, pork bones, bacon all get into the mix. It's also a long-term time commitment, needing about 8+ hours of simmering. It's worth it.

You start like a basic dashi, by putting a rinsed piece of kombu in a pot with water (3 qts.),[*] bringing it to a simmer and then steeping it …

CSA Week 1 and Its Uses - Part I

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Here in South Florida, as winter descends on the rest of the country, we enter our prime growing season, and the CSA I've joined (through Bee Heaven Farm) started up the week before last. My first experience with a CSA was last year, and I started the season with the ambitious goal of documenting my use of everything in each CSA box (you can see how that ended up). I've learned my lesson: often it's just not that interesting, and sometimes everything doesn't get used up. Which is embarrassing and lame. So this season I won't try to make this a regular topic, but instead maybe just an occasional feature.


Over at Redland Rambles, every Friday they give a preview of what is coming in the box the next day. Week 1 brought daikon radish, pak choy, green beans, "Japanese spinach" (a/k/a Savoy spinach?), dandelion greens, cherry tomatoes, garlic chives, parsley, and flowering thyme. I've been wanting to try to make a home-made kimchi for a while now, and deci…