Showing posts from January, 2012

CSA Week 9 and its Uses

"Gargouillou" apparently was originally a humble French peasant dish of potatoes and ham. But it was made famous by Chef Michel Bras, who reinvented it as a composition of dozens (really - often 50 to 60 separate components) of various fresh seasonal vegetables, herbs, and flowers, painstakingly assembled onto a riotously colorful plate. It has been much talked about and much imitated; chefs the world over have used Bras' gargouillou as the inspiration or springboard for countless dishes, like David Kinch's "Into the Vegetable Garden." You can read about it in this New York Times piece, see a slideshow in this Wall Street Journal, catch it in video form here, or, just do a Google image search for "gargouillou." The pictures are so beautiful you can't help but smile.

So when I picked up my most recent share from Little River Market Garden and saw flowering hon tsai tai, perky Caraflex cabbage, "purple haze" carrots, and wispy fresh d…

Harry's Pizzeria - Miami Design District

When it comes to pizza, there are many styles. There's your basic Neapolitan. There's your hardcore Verace Pizza Napoletana. There's New York-style pizza. There's your more esoteric thin-crusted Lazio style pizza, Sicilian, grandma pizza, New Haven style apizza, Chicago deep dish ... pizza maven Adam Kuban came up with a list of 21 different regional styles, and surely there were many more that were overlooked.

The pizzas at Harry's Pizzeria, the new pizza joint from local hero Michael Schwartz, are precisely none of those. But they are quintessentially in the style of Chef Schwartz and his namesake Michael's Genuine Food & Drink: great flavors, with a focus on local ingredients and in-house preparations.

Almost five years ago (!) Schwartz opened MGF&D in Miami's Design District. It was an instant hit, and for good reason: the menu was accessible but exciting, it focused on local products without being sanctimonious or dogmatic about it, and both t…

CSA Weeks 7-8 and its Uses

The lack of posts on this season's CSA crop should not be seen in any way as a reflection on the degree of my happiness with its supplier, Little River Market Garden. Quite to the contrary, we've been getting a wonderful variety of stuff and have been doing our best to use all of it effectively. Sometimes it's really easy. This week brought a gorgeous assortment of tomatoes, fresh arugula, cutting celery, eggplants, turnips, dinosaur kale, bananas, and a papaya.

Now, I'm not one to "fix myself a salad," but when the vegetables are this fresh, and this tasty, even I yield.

No bacon, no eggs, no croutons - just arugula, tomatoes, cutting celery, slivers of last week's radishes, a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, coarse salt and freshly cracked pepper, and a dollop of creme fraiche to pull everything together. I recognize this is not terribly interesting as a recipe or a dining experience. But it's a testament to the joy of great produce, grown…

City Snapshots - Las Vegas Dining

Our experience at é by Jose Andres was the most exceptional of our recent Las Vegas visit, but it certainly wasn't our only good meal. Some like to deride Vegas, including its culinary options, as phony and Disney-esque. And that's understandable: while many big-name chefs have established outposts in the desert - Thomas Keller, Joel Robuchon, Guy Savoy, Pierre Gagnaire, José Andrés, Masa Takayama, among others - they are satellite operations, with perhaps varying degrees of attention and inspiration.

And yet we've always eaten well in Las Vegas, and not necessarily always on a  high rollers' budget. Indeed, sometimes you have to get off the Strip and back into the real world to find it, but even in the belly of the beast, there is much good eating to be had. Here, then, some briefer snapshots rather than full posts on some other fine meals we had in Las Vegas: Sage, Aburiya Raku, China Poblano, and Lotus of Siam.

On our first night in town we were looking for somethi…

é by José Andrés - Las Vegas

If Ferran Adrià is thought of by many as the great inventor of contemporary Spanish cuisine, than José Andrés is surely its great ambassador. Where Adrià, chef of the now-closed el Bulli, has dedicated his culinary career to the relentless pursuit of creativity and creation, Andrés (who trained with Adrià at el Bulli) has been equally dedicated to the promotion of both traditional and contemporary Spanish cooking in the U.S., and has perhaps achieved more recognition and success in doing so than any other chef of the past twenty years.

Andrés opened Jaleo, a tapas bar and restaurant offering a wide range of traditional Spanish regional dishes, in Washington DC in 1993. Before the decade had closed, he was recognized as a James Beard Rising Star Chef, followed in 2003 with an award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. That same year, he opened minibar, which showcased some of the products of the culinary revolution that was overtaking Spain, spearheaded by Adrià and others.

The format of mini…

Yardbird Southern Table and Bar - Miami Beach

Geography notwithstanding, Miami really isn't part of "The South." Though Florida as a whole is undoubtedly a Southern state, those who live here know that the South really ends somewhere near Palm Beach County's northern border, and Latin America actually begins in Miami, with Broward and Palm Beach constituting something of a demilitarized zone of transplants from the Northeast.

So when word came out that Chef Jeff McInnis, recently departed from the Momofuku-esque Gigi, was going to be cooking regional Southern fare at a new place on South Beach, it was at least something different from the waves upon waves of burger joints and steakhouses. It seemed a far cry from Gigi's Asian-inspired small plates, but McInnis' work before Gigi at the Ritz Carlton South Beach, more Mediterranean than anything else, wouldn't have exactly suggested pork buns either.

Yardbird Southern Table and Bar opened in October 2011 and clearly was on to something; the place was im…

Goes Around ... Comes Around - Gray Lady Edition

It seems somehow a bit petulant to start a new year off on a sour note. And yet ...

While doing a little archive-diving for an in-the-works review, I stumbled across a New York Times review of Gigi, the Midtown den of pork buns and noodles that opened in the summer of 2010. The NYT review begins:

Many restaurants are born when a chef has a concept. Gigi in Miami’s Wynwood district started with a concept in need of a chef. Last year, the restaurant’s owner, Amir Ben-Zion, placed an ad on Craigslist seeking a chef who could turn out "cutting edge, high performance, Asian-inspired and freshly prepared cuisine" that is "affordable, innovative comfort food for the modern, educated, discerning palate."
Which actually sounded kind of familiar. Then I remembered why. Because nearly a half year earlier, I'd written this:

Sakaya (Richard Hales), Chow Down (Joshua Marcus) and American Noodle (Michael Bloise) each started with a chef's own vision, and were very much pe…