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Showing posts from October, 2015

calendar highlights: Taco & Tequila Showdown 11.8.15; P.I.G 11.15.15

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You may already know that in addition to the infrequent restaurant reviews, Food For Thought also features "The Calendar" – a list of upcoming dining events that may be of interest to food-minded people. Here are a couple highlights coming up soon on the calendar:


Taco & Tequila Showdown at the Vagabond on Monday November 8 (6pm-9pm). Presented by MIAbites and The Liquid Projects, the event will pair 12 chefs creating signature tacos with 12 bartenders creating signature tequila cocktails. If you don't get into the Cobaya dinner that night, this might be a good Plan B: about half the chef participants are Cobaya alumni. Tickets ($65) available at Eventbrite.


P.I.G. 6 in Wynwood on Sunday, November 15 (3pm-7pm). This shindig in celebration of the pig, orchestrated by Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog of the gastroPod, is always one of my favorites every year. Participants this year include Kyle Foster of Denver's Colt & Gray (and before that, my beloved Talula), Craig Deih…

best thing i ate last week: chirashi style squid ink noodles at gastroPod

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Some of the most interesting meals I've had in Miami have come out of a truck or shipping container – the various reincarnations of Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog's gastroPod. Its latest iteration – a shipping container stationed on a lot in Wynwood – took a temporary hiatus for a few months on account of permitting issues, but returned this past week. A friend orchestrated a little "welcome back" dinner, and Chef Jeremiah orchestrated the menu, which included ember-cooked, tempura-fried, porcini-dusted sweet potatoes, fancy musubi with "center cut" spam, crispy nori and fish roe, and a salad featuring absinthe-cured salmon belly, among other things.

But my favorite was a pasta course of jet-black squid ink noodles tossed with braised octopus and the octopus' braising liquid, served chirashi style with ama ebi, uni, and ikura cured with sake and soy. The Italian-Japanese hybrid was the best thing I ate last week.

(You can see all my pictures from the dinner in…

best thing i ate last week: soft scrambled eggs at Vagabond

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It doesn't sound like much the way it's listed on the menu: "soft scrambled eggs, fines herbes, pecorino, evoo." It looks like even less: a shallow plate of runny eggs that might have been scooped up from some budget hotel's breakfast buffet.

Don't be fooled. This, from the brunch menu at Alex Chang's Vagabond, is luxurious stuff. The eggs are warmed through but still virtually liquid, barely forming any curds. The texture is like silk, the flavor rich and pure. A few more grace notes: a tangle of fresh herbs, a dusting of salty pecorino cheese, a drizzle of good olive oil to sort of round everything out.

I just loved this. It was the best thing I ate all week. And it's only $7. (Pro tip: Vagabond's home made English muffins make a good vehicle for scooping).

Cobaya Seagrape with Chefs Jason Schaan and Tony Velazquez

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It's hard for me to believe that it was more than four years ago that one of my favorite chefs, Michelle Bernstein, agreed to do a Cobaya dinner with us. Not that the folks who had done the eleven dinners before her were slouches, but here was one of Miami's most celebrated chefs: a James Beard award winner running one of the top restaurants in town. This, for us, was the big leagues.

Even now, with more than forty more "experiments" under our collective belts (which may be set to a wider notch these days), that dinner in the atrium of the Melin Building still stands out as one of the most memorable – not just for the food (which was excellent) but for Michelle's eagerness to do it and the grace with which it was executed.

But for Experiment #56, though we were in Seagrape, the restaurant in the Thompson Hotel that Bernstein opened last year, it would not be her dinner. Rather, the spotlight was on Jason Schaan, the hotel executive sous chef, and Tony Velazquez,…

best thing i ate last week: pasta "vongole" at Cobaya Seagrape

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A bit behind schedule here, as it's already Friday, but better late than never. Last Tuesday we held our 56th Cobaya dinner, this time with chefs Jason Schaan and Tony Velazquez at Michelle Bernstein's Seagrape in the Thompson Hotel on Miami Beach. A full update will be coming shortly, but here let me just talk about my favorite dish of the night: their pasta vongole. This was no garden variety linguine and clam sauce. Here was hand rolled garganelli nestled among a couple different kinds of clams (manila clams and venus clams), batons of salsify and roasted mushrooms, a tangle of sea beans, with a generous knob of silky, oceanic uni butter mounted on top as it was served. It was a great mix of surf and earth, and the best thing I ate last week.


gastroDobo - 10.10.15 with Chefs Roel Alcudia and Jeremiah Bullfrog

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In lieu of the "Best Thing I Ate Last Week" – because I didn't really eat anything all that great last week – let me take a moment to pitch something I look forward to eating. Chef Roel Alcudia, until very recently chef de cuisine at The Cypress Room, is teaming up with Jeremiah Bullfrog of the gastroPod, to do a pop-up dinner in Wynwood on Saturday October 10. Roel will be getting back to his roots with some Filipino style dishes – a preview menu hits on lots of classics: balut, lumpia, kinilaw, chicken adobo and more (hey guys, where's the sisig?).

Service will be a la carte style and you can ensure your spot by booking here (your $25 deposit will go towards your tab).

best thing i ate last week: grilled carrots with aged gouda and buckwheat at Eating House

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Somehow, I had let a year go by since my last visit to Eating House, Giorgio Rapicavoli's pop-up gone permanent on the northern edge of Coral Gables. That was dumb of me. This past weekend I grabbed a solo spot at the bar after both wife and daughter had abandoned me for the evening, and sampled as much as I could of the current menu. Some staples remain: the tomatoes with coconut ice and Vietnamese flavors, the chicken and "foi-ffles," the over-the-top pasta carbonara. But everything else around the edges is new – and very good.

Vegetable-focused dishes in particular are a strong suit, and of these, my favorite was a plate of grilled carrots, blanketed in soft curls of a powerfully rich five-year aged gouda cheese (it gets crystals like a good aged parmigiano-reggiano), dappled with crunchy buckwheat kernels, all resting atop a pillow of a creamy carrot-top pesto. I especially liked that the carrots were not annihilated, but maintained a not-quite-raw but still firm co…