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Showing posts from January, 2016

best thing i ate last week - tendon and conch at Alter / Contra dinner

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The list of NYC restaurants I want to try runs deep, but Contra is one place in particular that is pretty high up on that list. The accessibly priced 6-course, $65 tasting menus put out by young chefs Jeremiah Stone and Fabian Von Hauske are, by many people's estimation, not just one of the best deals in town, but one of the best meals in town without qualification.

So I was thrilled to hear that one of my favorite local restaurants, Brad Kilgore's Alter, was bringing the Contra guys to Miami to do a collaborative dinner. It all happened last Tuesday, as the chefs alternated rounds for nine courses. It was a great night with some really outstanding food.

Dish of the night? For me, it was this combination of beef tendon and conch in a pool of creamy, nutty sauce, given funky depth by XO sauce and bitter contrast with sprigs of radicchio tardivo. It was a great, unexpected combination of flavors, but even more so was all about the unusual, exciting textures of the components: t…

best thing i ate last week (jan 11-17) - short rib carpaccio at Kris Wessel gastroPod brunch

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Only a week behind now! It's been mostly home cooking since returning from our winter break Southern expedition, but a Kris Wessel sighting was enough to get me to venture out. Wessel, chef of the much-missed Red Light on Biscayne Boulevard (who then passed through Florida Cookery and Oolite), surfaced to do a brunch with Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog of the gastroPod. Fortunately the rains let up and the winds calmed down enough for them to serve up five courses the Sunday before last.

It was all good and tough to pick a favorite, but the standout for me may have been the short rib "carpaccio" – thinly sliced boneless short rib cooked at low temp to bring it up to medium rare and melt all the connective tissue, brushed with warmed beef fat, and plated with slivers of fresh and dried pears, nutty asiago cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Also in the running: Kris' eggs creole with tropical BBQ goat, and Jeremiah's chilaquiles spiked with gochujang and sprinkled with cr…

best thing i ate last week (jan 4-10): seafood plateau at Le Zoo

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I'm still playing catch-up on "best thing i ate last week" but there's only two weeks to go. After our week-long Southern expedition (here's a report on Memphis; similar travelogues for Nashville and Louisville hopefully coming soon), I figured we'd be eating a lot of home cooking. I was right, but not entirely. Within a week, we were ready for someone else to cook for us.

Miami has recently seen a mini-wave of new French bistro / brasserie type places. I've not tried them all, but I've been to several, and found them mostly underwhelming or worse. Le Zoo, Stephen Starr's new place in Bal Harbour Shops (in the cursed spot across from the thoroughly mediocre but ever-popular Carpaccio that has previously been home to La Goulue and Elia before that), seems to be getting it right.

We didn't sample much, but what we did try was quite good. The standout was this seafood platter; a "petit plateau" came with a half-dozen oysters from east …

travelogue: three days of eating (and other things) in and around Memphis, Tennessee

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Despite getting to do my fair share of traveling, there are still huge swaths of this country I've never seen. With all of the family together over winter break, I aimed to make a small dent in the long list of "Places I Haven't Been" with a week-long, three-city trek that started in Memphis, Tennessee. As always, my pre-trip research resulted in a list of places to visit about five times longer than could possibly be achieved in the time we had. To see the complete list and plot your own adventure, click on this Memphis / Nashville / Louisville google map. Here's where we ate, with a few inedible highlights along the way.



If I knew one thing about Memphis food before this trip, it was dry-rub ribs. And if I knew one place to get them, it was Charles Vergos' Rendezvous, a nearly 70-year old restaurant downtown where you enter through a back alley and head downstairs into the basement. The ribs here are swabbed with a vinegar and spice mop, cooked over hot cha…

best thing i ate last week (dec 28 - jan 3) - oysters at Husk

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"Best Thing I Ate Last Week" is still playing some catch-up from our winter break trek through Memphis, Nashville and Louisville, but we're getting there. New Year's Eve 2015 found us in Nashville, and as I was booking reservations for the trip I was pretty happy to find a spot open at Husk. We'd visited Chef Sean Brock's original incarnation of Husk in Charleston, South Carolina almost exactly three years ago (pictures here), and I was excited to try the Nashville version.

Holidays menus at restaurants are usually a bummer and I typically avoid them; but at Husk they did it up right. The three-course menu offered several choices for each, which were not that far afield from the typical restaurant experience. Out of several really good dishes, my favorite were these roasted Rappahannock oysters, swimming in an herbaceous bone marrow butter, and topped with spoonfuls of Tennessee hackleback caviar. A great way to close out 2015.

(You can see all the pictures …

best thing i ate last week (dec 21-27, 2015) - Thunderbird! Forty Twice! pizza at Hog & Hominy

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It's been a little quiet over here in FFT-land, as I took advantage of the holidays to plan a family trip through the South. We flew into Memphis, where we spent a few days before driving to Nashville, then to Louisville before flying home. These were all towns I've wanted to visit, and with a week free, we were able to get to all of them (and then some). I told the kids before we left: "I hope you like BBQ, fried chicken, bourbon and the blues, because there's going to be a lot of them." And there was. We did some good eating, and had a couple surprising disappointments too.


Anyway, to catch up and fill in some blanks on the "best thing i ate last week," I'm going to backtrack to the second day of our trip, when we visited Hog & Hominy in Memphis, where chefs Michael Hudman and Andrew Ticer do Italian-style cooking with Southern-style ingredients. On Sundays they offer a "Sunday Funday" menu all day which is mostly pizzas and brunch-t…