Showing posts from February, 2012

Eating House - Coral Gables

A month ago I had no idea who Giorgio Rapicavoli was. It had been a couple years, and a couple chefs, since I'd been to the Angler's Resort where he was last working. I can't stand watching "Chopped," the Food Network cooking competition show where chefs with varying degrees of skill are asked to prepare dishes from mystery baskets of ridiculously incongruous and often unappetizing ingredients; so the fact that he had won an episode did nothing to put him on my radar.

But then I caught word that he was opening a pop-up restaurant to be called Eating House in a hole-in-the-wall café on the outskirts of Coral Gables. And then I took a look at his preview menu. It read like no other menu I've seen in Miami, all sorts of unexpected combinations and flavors.

I went to Eating House a week after they opened at the beginning of the month. I've already been back twice in as many weeks. I know who Giorgio Rapicavoli is now. And at risk of hyperbole, I will say thi…

"The List" - Where to Eat in Miami

I'm often asked "What are the best places to eat in Miami?" It's a fair question, given that it's kind of the primary subject matter of this blog. And yet I rarely have an immediate answer. Instead, I'll typically pose a number of follow-up questions in response: What kind of food do you like? What neighborhood? What price range? Are you a  local, or a visitor looking for "local flavor"?

I've always struggled to name "favorites" because my own answers depend on many of the same questions, my mood, my appetites any given day. But I do, of course, find myself going back to the same places, and recommending the same places, fairly frequently. So why not make a list?

This list is driven by other considerations as well. The blog format generally is a good thing - easy to use as a writer, easy to access as a reader - but it puts an undue emphasis on recency. Except for a few posts which seem to have some SEO traction (the "Best Cuban Sa…

CSA Week 12 and its Uses

Last week brought more of these gorgeous, slender, colorful baby eggplants in our CSA shares from Little River Market Garden. Every time we get these I've been meaning to try to duplicate the wood-oven roasted eggplant dish that's often on the menu at Michael's Genuine, and finally got around to it.

Lacking a wood-burning oven, instead I salted the eggplants, rubbed them with olive oil, and then grilled them on a cast-iron grill pan. Meanwhile, I warmed some more olive oil in another pan and toasted some pine nuts in the oil, then warmed and plumped some black raisins. I found fresh garbanzo beans at Whole Foods and those (plucked from their pods and blanched for a few minutes in boiling water) also went into the pan. I dolloped the plate with thick Greek yogurt, laid over the pine nuts, raisins and garbanzos along with the grilled eggplant, and then sprinkled everything with smoked salt and ras al hanout.

It may be one of the best things I've ever made from our veget…

neMesis Urban Bistro - Downtown Miami

I was sure I was going to hate neMesis Urban Bistro. The menu was precious, cutesy, and scattered - "heavenly guava cardamom dipping sauce," "Tuscan sushi," "cowardly (no nuts) pesto"? The chef, while professing a sense of humor, seemed awfully thin-skinned when the attempts at humor were directed the other way, banishing the Miami New Times' dining critic for poking fun of the restaurant's name.[1] I was, in a word, dubious.

I was also wrong. Everything about neMesis is quirky - the capitalization of the name, the decoration, the dishes, the chef - but most of it is also quite delicious.

(You can see all my pictures in this neMesis Urban Bistro flickr set).

The chef is Micah Edelstein,[2] and neMesis very clearly bears her imprint in just about every respect, right down to the front door, with an inscription that is more warning than welcome:
"Those lacking imagination and a sense of humor are not welcome at neMesis. Please return from whenc…

School of Cobaya - Chef Michael Bloise

We had been looking to set up a Cobaya dinner with Chef Michael Bloise since his days at the now-closed American Noodle Bar. He was clearly someone with talent and skills - he took over the kitchen at Wish[1] after Chef E. Michael Reidt left for California, and in 2008 was recognized as a StarChefs Rising Star - but only had limited outlets for his creativity with A.N.B.'s noodle-centric menu, even though it showed in his daily specials like pork belly with melons or tuna ribs. Bloise left A.N.B. and it closed not much later; he resurfaced at Sushi Samba Dromo shortly thereafter, where we were finally able to put something together.

There's no rule when we do our Cobaya dinners that the chef must come up with a "theme." The only rules are that the chef can make whatever s/he wants to cook, and the guinea pigs must show up ready to try it. Sometimes there is a theme - Chef Daniel Ramos did seven continents in seven courses, Chef Jeremiah's last dinner was loosely…

CSA Week 11 and its Uses

Just great vegetables. That's what we've been getting from the Little River Market Garden. So I really don't want to do all that much to them. Why not "gargouillou" again?

This week brought yukina savoy, cutting celery, more heirloom tomatoes, and nasturtium flowers; some things from prior weeks were still holding up in the produce drawer of the fridge - multi-color carrots, baby turnips, savoy cabbage, dill. The sturdier stuff (carrots, turnips, savoy stems and leaves, cabbage leaves) got blanched and shocked, others went in raw. A shmear of salsa verde. A pile of finely chopped marcona almonds. A foam of the blanching liquid (emulsified with soy lecithin and frothed with an immersion blender). A sprinkle of Hawaiian red sea salt.

That's all.

Barceloneta - South Beach

I was sure I was going to love Barceloneta. I have a long-abiding passion for Spanish food, so when the team behind Pubbelly set out to create a restaurant inspired by the markets and bistros of Barcelona, it seemed aimed for my sweet spot. Indeed, even at Pubbelly, which styles itself as an "Asian-inspired gastropub," it was the Spanish influences I was most drawn to, and I found myself wishing they would just open a straight-ahead Spanish tapas bar.

Wish granted. Playing off the success of Pubbelly, its owners have taken over most of the rest of the short block around the corner from Purdy Avenue, heading in a more Asian direction with Pubbelly Sushi on one end, and in a distinctly Spanish direction with Barceloneta on the other, where Chef Juliana Gonzalez runs the kitchen.

So is it everything I hoped for? Almost, but not quite.

In my head, I imagined a Barcelona tapas bar like Chef Carles Abellan's Tapaç 24, a place with lots of small dishes served at a big bar. Barc…