Showing posts from May, 2016

best thing i ate last week: abalone at Aubergine + Alter dinner

A few months ago during a west coast jaunt, I had a really outstanding meal at Aubergine, Justin Cogley's restaurant in L'Auberge Carmel. One of the most interesting things was that in moments it could be hyper-local, while in others its makes (very good) use of product from literally clear across the globe. On the one hand, there's abalone farmed in Monterey Bay waters about five miles from the restaurant. On the other, there's densely marbled A5 wagyu beef from Hokkaido, Japan, about 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean.

Cogley brought both items with him when he came to do a collaboration dinner with Bradley Kilgore at his Wynwood restaurant, Alter. The good news is, they travel well. My favorite was the abalone: cooked so its flesh is springy but not tough, with a pure taste of the sea. Garnished with Carmel seaweeds and wispy lettuces, it swims in a sort of warm tea steeped with dried mushrooms, offering the depth and clarity of flavor of a well-made dashi. The d…

best thing i ate last week: parrillada at Los Fuegos

Months ago, I made my first visit to the new Faena Hotel, to try out Chef Paul Qui's restaurant, Pao (some first thoughts on Pao here). I was equally intrigued by its sibling at the Faena, Francis Mallmann's Los Fuegos, but hadn't made my way back. Mallmann, if you're unfamiliar, is a larger-than-life character who runs several restaurants in Argentina, and literally wrote the book which has inspired a new wave of interest in open-fire cooking. (For a good introduction, this episode of Chef's Table featuring him is highly recommended).

I pass up 99% of the freebie meal offers I get via FFT, but an invite to a Sunday asado at Los Fuegos was too good to pass up. So full disclosure and all, but hopefully I've built up enough credibility that you'll believe me when I tell you this was great stuff. Our afternoon junket took us through most of the Sunday menu, which is typically a $75 affair with several choices among three-plus courses. On special occasions (Fa…

Aubergine @ Alter - May 24, 2016

I have not yet written about my dinner at Chef Justin Cogley's Aubergine in Carmel, California a few months ago, but it has stood out as one of the best meals I've had all year (see all the pics here). I've also only sparinglymentioned the series of collaboration dinners that local Chef Bradley Kilgore has been doing at his restaurant Alter in Wynwood. They've hosted two, and both times they've ended up in the "best thing i ate last week" report, and have been among the best meals I've had in Miami this year.

So you can probably guess that I was pretty excited to learn that the next Alter collaborative dinner will put chefs Cogley and Kilgore together at Alter. It's next Tuesday, May 24, and will feature an 8-course dinner created by the chefs in collaboration for $180 per person. I have it on good authority that Chef Cogley will be bringing with him a couple of the best things I ate at his restaurant a few months ago: some Monterey Bay abalone, …

best thing i ate last week: magurozuke nigiri at Myumi

Last summer, I wrote some "first thoughts" about Myumi – a food truck doing an omakase-only sushi service out of a lot in Wynwood. I came away impressed: fish, rice, knife-work, garnishes were all quite good, and indeed if I had any complaint, it was only that they could be a tad heavy-handed with the embellishments, hiding the quality of the base components. By Miami sushi standards, I rated it quite highly; for sushi coming from a food truck, it was downright exceptional.

Since I last wrote about Myumi, the truck moved a few blocks to Wynwood Yard, where it now shares space with a funky outdoor bar, Mortar & Pistil, a vegetable garden, as well as a few other food trucks. The sushi is still every bit as good as my initial experience, and now you can  stroll a few steps and grab a cocktail or a beer (I highly recommend the locally made M.I.A. Megamix pale ale) to accompany your meal, and finish it with some frilly shaved ice cream from Mr. Bing.

The ten rounds that made…

first thoughts: Dragonfly Izakaya - Doral

Nearly a year ago, I posted some thoughts prompted by an Eater "Future Week" feature on the future of Miami dining. One of the things I predicted was that we would start seeing more independent restaurants in less trendy neighborhoods: places like Doral and Kendall, with lower rents, lots of potential customers, and not much competition other than chains. I'll confess that as a Miami Beach resident, I don't get out that way very often (honestly, I'd usually rather chew off one of my own limbs than drive on SR-836 West). But I braved the westward traffic last week to pay a visit to Dragonfly Izakaya, which opened last month.[1] The menu, which promised seafood from Tsukiji Market and robata-grilled "neck to tail" yakitori, had lots of the right words on it.

(You can see all my pictures in this Dragonfly Izakaya and Fish Market flickr set.)

It's a big venue, with a long and busy indoor/outdoor bar, seating for probably about 100, and an open kitchen …

travelogue: a weekend of eating in Cartagena

Let me just betray my own ignorance immediately: when a good friend said he was getting married in Cartagena, I had absolutely no expectations of the city whatsoever. I was going for the wedding, and didn't really give much thought to what else the destination might hold. I booked a flight (direct out of Fort Lauderdale on JetBlue, and quite cheap, I should note) and started looking for a hotel near the church where the ceremony would be. And as I was searching on Google Maps, those little pictures of the spots you're clicking started popping up – and like a dummy, I realized, "Oh. This place actually looks really nice!"

The heart of Cartagena, the Old Town, is a walled city overlooking the Caribbean coast which has long been attractive to empire builders, tomb raiders, slave traders and pirates. Its winding streets are lined with Spanish colonial buildings and dotted with plazas and churches that date back to the 16th century. About half of those buildings are beau…

Duck Duck Goose! June 4 in Wynwood

Duck Duck Goose from jeremiah bullfrog on Vimeo.
I've repeatedly said here that P.I.G., the annual porcine production hosted by Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog, is one of my favorite Miami food events of the year. (Most recently last November for P.I.G. #6.) Well, now the P.I.G. is spreading its wings.

On June 4, Chef Jeremiah's gastroPod will play the host of "Duck Duck Goose." Whereas P.I.G. is a celebration of all things pig-related, this one is for the birds: a great lineup of guest chefs cooking locally pastured poultry, including ducks from Lake Meadows Farm. Expect a flock of ducks, hopefully some geese, and lots of live fire cooking over embers. So what's with all the birds? Says Jeremiah: "After seven years of cooking pig, we thought it might be sustainable to switch up farm animals."

The chefs include some P.I.G. regulars and some new additions: Brad Kilgore of Alter, Will Crandall of Izzy's Fish and Oyster, James Strine of Café Boulud, Patrick Reb…