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Showing posts from April, 2011

Goes Around ... Comes Around: Italian Edition

In a piece that will be appearing in this Sunday's New York Times magazine (apologies to anyone shut out by the new paywall), former NYT restaurant critic Frank Bruni writes of the latest obsession of the New York trendsetters, Torrisi Italian Specialties. I've heard very good things about Torrisi, and I'm intrigued by the thesis of the piece, which is that Torrisi's unorthodox grab-bag approach to culinary traditions represents a new direction for Italian - or, maybe more precisely, Italian-American - food.

Having said that ... the couple of examples he gives of culinary brainstorming that supposedly reflect Torrisi's "fierce and sometimes mischievous creative itch" sounded mighty familiar.
"What about repackaging scungilli along the lines of escargots?"Hmm - you mean like Michelle Bernstein's escargot-style baby conch that she was serving back in 2007 at Michy's?

"Italian-Jewish would be the term for a Passover-pegged riff on porchet…

Route 9 - Coral Gables

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It seems I've already had a goodbit to say about Route 9 without actually giving my own opinion. After New Times came out with a mostly negative review (subsequently corrected for several factual errors), and the Miami Herald gave it a three star review the same day, some people asked which I thought was "right." To which I initially responded, "I actually can get where both are coming from. I contain multitudes." Upon which I expanded: "if you were to ask me right now, I'd tell you that it's neither as good as the Herald review makes it sound, nor as bad as the New Times review makes it sound."

It's actually somewhat remarkable - and perhaps a bit unfair - the degree of attention that's been directed at Route 9. This was not some highly heralded, loudly trumpeted celebrity chef opening. It's a small-scale place, run by a young, first-time restaurateur couple, that had been open less than two months when both reviews dropped. But t…

More Eating (and Drinking) than Writing

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There has been a lot more eating than writing going on over here lately, for which I feel somewhat guilty. Also, more traveling than local dining. Here - if for no other reason than to assemble something of a to-do list - are some of the places I've been lately, and hope to write about eventually:

Miami

Jeffrey Brana Common Threads Benefit Dinner

Washington, DC

Café Atlantico (Nuevo Latino Dim Sum Brunch)
Central Michel Richard
Etete
Jaleo
Palena
We the Pizza

Chicago

Blackbird
Publican
Purple Pig
Saigon Sisters
Topolobampo

Some general thoughts by way of preview:

(1) Brana is the real deal. I hardly got to his brief-lived Coral Gables restaurant before it closed several years ago, and it's great to have another opportunity to sample his cooking. He's doing a series of private dinners for groups of 8-10, and from my experience at the Common Threads benefit dinner he put on, it may be among the best meals you'll find in Miami, in a restaurant or out.

(2) Overall, Chicago met pretty hig…

Room 4 Dessert 2 Pop-Up w Chef Will Goldfarb

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I suspect when you're around Chef Will Goldfarb, you often feel like you're playing catch-up. He always seems to be about three steps ahead - he thinks fast, he moves fast, he works fast. Last week, he made a quick stop in Miami for a one day pop-up, dubbed "Room 4 Dessert 2." The name, anyway, is a spin-off from his well-regarded if brief-lived New York dessert-and-drinks place from about five years ago, but trying to keep track of everything Chef Goldfarb has done is a bit like trying to nail jelly to a wall - a stage at El Bulli, a tour of Australia including work with Tetsuya Wakuda, back to the U.S. at Morimoto in Philadelphia, Cru in New York, his own sandwich shop, Picknick, a sojourn in Bali to work as pastry chef at Ku De Ta, a business supplying provisions for the contemporary cupboard, WillPowder, and the list continues to go on.

Chef Goldfarb is an unabashed practitioner of what goes by the various misnomers of "molecular gastronomy," "sci…

Route 9 Revisited - What Does It All Mean? - UPDATED

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The short version of the Route 9 / Miami New Times review kerfuffle, now that all the facts anyone is willing to disclose (and some they maybe didn't want to disclose) appear to be out: Miami New Times posts a fairly harsh review of a two-month old restaurant to its website; owners complain and note several factual errors, express concern that critic never actually visited or relied on information provided by a chef from a soon-to-open local restaurant; newspaper briefly pulls review from website; the next day, newspaper reposts review with several factual errors corrected; editor acknowledges that critic dined with another chef, that they "are old friends and once had planned to write a cookbook together," but says that concern over influence on review "doesn't hold water;" categorically denies that the critic didn't dine there. Meanwhile, the same day, the Miami Herald posts a fairly glowing three-star review.

Having had a chance to digest, and at ris…