Showing posts from January, 2013

Hey Man Nice Shot - Part 3

So all of a sudden restaurant photography - or the prohibition thereof - is a hot topic. At least the New York Times would have us believe that, according to a piece published last week: "Restaurants Turn Camera Shy." The article describes a "growing backlash" against in-restaurant food photography, citing bans imposed at places such as Momofuku Ko and Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare.

If this doesn't quite sound like breaking news to you - that's because it isn't. In fact, David Chang's ban on pictures at Ko already made the news cycle at least once before - nearly five years ago. Brooklyn Fare's no-photo policy (and no notes, and no cell-phones!) likewise has been around for at least a couple years.

People taking pictures in restaurants isn't anything new. Chefs and other diners being annoyed by people taking pictures in restaurants also isn't anything new. And while I can empathize with the sentiment, there are any number of other re…

Momi Ramen - Miami

This idea of doing one thing, and doing it extremely well, is not often seen in Miami, at least not in the restaurant world. Miami is the land of the "Pan-Asian" eatery, full of places serving up Korean-Thai-Japanese-Vietnamese amalgams aimed to please all palates. It's the home of the Thai/Sushi joint, a merger inexplicable from a culinary basis, but mind-bogglingly ubiquitous around these parts. So many Miami restaurants try to be everything to everyone, and wind up doing precisely nothing very well.

You can't get sushi at Momi Ramen. Nor will you find tempura or teriyaki, pork buns or pad thai. Chef and owner Jeffrey Chen just wants to make ramen. And that's pretty much all that's on the menu at his restaurant, with about 25 seats and a glassed-in kitchen all tucked into an old house in the Brickell area off Miami Avenue.[1]

Though the ramen "trend" could be close to celebrating its tenth birthday in New York, it had been slow to make its way so…

Publican Pizzeria Pop-Up

If you were following Paul Kahan's career trajectory from a distance, you might think it was in a downward spiral: fifteen years ago he opened Blackbird, one of the top high-end restaurants in Chicago. Since then, he's opened a more casual small-plates tapas place, then a beer hall, then a taqueria, and most recently, a butcher shop. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. While his projects have been increasingly casual, they are all incredibly successful, and you will eat very well at any of them. As Michael Schwartz, the host for Chef Kahan's pop-up dinner at Harry's Pizzeria Tuesday night, said, if you went to Chicago and only ate at Kahan's restaurants, you would get an excellent cross-section of Chicago's culinary universe.

For the past year, Schwartz has been bringing some of the country's best chefs to Miami's doorstep to cook for an evening at Harry's. On our last visit to Chicago, Kahan's Blackbird and The Publican were tw…

Hey Man Nice Shot - Part 2

Nearly four years ago when I started this blog, I thought about - and wrote about - my ambivalent feelings towards food photography. At that point, I was decidedly outside the camp of the "douchebags taking pictures of their food." Not that I had any problem with other people doing it, if done discreetly - indeed, I've always thoroughly enjoyed viewing the work product of talented photographers like A Life Worth Eating and Ulterior Epicure and Chuck Eats and Doc Sconz. I just knew I wasn't in that group and wasn't sure, even if I had such skills, that I wanted to be.

Four years later, I still feel like a complete hack of a photographer, but I'm a less reluctant one. I still don't particularly love taking pictures during a meal, but I'm grateful for having done so after the fact, to have something tangible by which to memorialize and in some ways relive the experience. There is truth to the saying that "We eat first with our eyes."

But for e…

The Tyranny of Choice

Poor Corby Kummer. As the food writer for a national magazine, he is stuck with the dreadful fate of being forced to endure meals (presumably on the publisher's dime) that most people will never have the chance to experience, meals which even many who can afford them can not obtain access to. Sometimes they go on for so long! And they serve so many courses! And the waiters - sometimes they don't perfectly cater to his every whim, or they're distant, or kind of awkward! But the worst thing of all is that these chefs - the ones who most people recognize to be at the very pinnacle of their craft - they just don't listen! They don't care if he wants his steak medium-well, or if he wants his sauce on the side, or if he'd rather have the tuna instead of the halibut in that next course. Those ... those tyrants!

That is the underlying theme of his latest piece in Vanity Fair: "Tyranny - It's What's for Dinner."

Is it the #firstworldproblems nature of …

Best Dishes of 2012 (Part 3)

We're coming in for a landing here: Part 1 and Part 2 of my Best Dishes of 2012 were posted earlier this week. This post wraps up the rest of the year, including a trek to Charleston that just squeezed in under the wire, and made for some of the best meals I've had all year.

These retrospectives are always something of a learning experience for me, an opportunity to reflect on what I really enjoyed and why. But I'll save my deeper thoughts on a year in food for another post, and stick with the food porn here. Again, these are listed chronologically, with links to the restaurants and my posts on each of them, as well as excerpts from my comments on the dish.

(You can see all the pictures at once in this Best Dishes of 2012 flickr set)

Bagel with Lox and Whitefish Salad - Josh's Deli (Surfside) (my thoughts on Josh's Deli)

His cured salmon, sliced to order, is beautifully silky, achieving that uneasy feat of tasting like fish without being fishy. We brought home some o…

Best Dishes of 2012 (Part 2)

Yesterday I kicked off a rundown of my Best Dishes of 2012 (Part 1), a list of 45 of my favorite things to have eaten this past year. We'll pick up where we left off, with dishes listed chronologically, along with a link to the restaurant and my posts on each of them, as well as excerpts from my earlier comments on the dish.

(You can see all the pictures at once in this Best Dishes of 2012 flickr set)

Rabbit Bulgogi - neMesis Urban Bistro (Downtown Miami) (my thoughts on neMesis Cobaya "Dunch")

If there was a standout dish of the meal, it was this: a crispy jasmine rice cake, topped with shredded rabbit "bulgogi," a poached Lake Meadows Naturals Farm duck egg, and frizzled crispy chives, sauced with an orange and five-spice hollandaise. It was an inspired - and delicious - take on the classic eggs benedict, triggered in large part by the surprise availability of rabbits from a farm in upstate Florida. Everything about this worked, and I heard from multiple guests…

Best Dishes of 2012 (Part 1)

I had a couple of my best meals of 2011 during the last week of the year. Unfortunately, I'd posted my "Best Dishes of 2011" recap a week earlier, so none of them made the list. This year I also saved some of the best for last - but I've learned my lesson, and waited for the calendar to roll over before closing the bidding for 2012. And since they got left out last year, the last week of 2011 will be included this time instead.

My "Best Bites of 2010" list included fourteen dishes (even though I called it a Top 10 list). By the next year, the list had expanded to twenty. When I looked back on 2012, I came up with nearly fifty dishes that could be on the list. With a travel itinerary for the past year that included San Francisco, Hawaii, Las Vegas and Charleston,[1] plus many Miami chefs and restaurants stepping up their games, I'm not surprised the list was so long.

Since I've got no editor here, my own use of the red pencil has been minimal: I'…