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Showing posts from February, 2016

best thing i ate last week: Andrew Zimmern's vitello tonnato at Cobaya SoBeWFF

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Last week, for the second year in a row, Cobaya Gourmet Guinea Pigs teamed up with the South Beach Wine and Food Festival to put on a dinner together, this time at Chef Alex Chang's Vagabond restaurant in the hotel of the same name. In a repeat performance, Andrew Zimmern joined us again, and once again stole the show among a group that also included Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Animal, Son of a Gun and an ever-expanding roster of other Los Angeles restaurants, and Carlo Mirarchi of Brooklyn's Michelin two-star Blanca, the grown-up sibling of Roberta's Pizza.

(You can see all my pictures from the dinner in this Cobaya SoBeWFF flickr set).

Most folks probably know Zimmern from his James Beard Award winning Travel Channel program, Bizarre Foods. What they may not know is that the guy can also flat out cook. In addition to a silky vichyssoise with a citrus-cured oyster that was served as guests gathered around the Vagabond's poolside bar, he also was responsible for my …

best thing i ate last week (feb. 8-14): chow fun with braised pork and mustard greens at Talde Miami Beach

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I still have little hope of keeping up with the pace of Miami restaurant openings, but lately I've made a small dent in the list. Saturday before last, I braved my way through Miami Boat Show traffic to visit Talde Miami Beach, Chef Dale Talde's new restaurant in the Thompson Hotel (OK, maybe not even so new any more - it opened in November).


(You can see all my pictures in this Talde Miami Beach flickr set).

Where its companion in the Thompson, Michelle Bernstein's Seagrape, harmonizes with the hotel's 1950's, Morris Lapidus vibe, Talde brings a little of Chef Talde's Brooklyn home base to the beach: half the seating is in a re-purposed shipping container, graffiti covers the walls, hip hop blares over the speakers. The menu is similar to the chef's Brooklyn outpost which also bears his name, and features a hodge-podge of unabashedly inauthentic "Asian-American" dishes: kung pao chicken wings, pretzel pork and chive dumplings and the like.

It'…

first thoughts: Ichimi Ramen, Coral Gables

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There are so many new restaurants opening in Miami these days that I have given up on the prospect of keeping current with all of them. In fact, I've somewhat happily resigned myself to the opposite: I'll just wait six months, and a good number of them will have already closed.

Still, amidst this latest wave, there are some good things happening. I was sad to see Little Bread (formerly Bread & Butter) close in Coral Gables as Chef Alberto Cabrera heads off to Las Vegas, but was happy to see a promising-looking replacement coming into the space; Ichimi Ramen. Ichimi is a ramen-ya and izakaya run by Chef Constantine DeLucia, who previously worked at Momi Ramen as well as Lure Fishbar and Estiatorio Milos. I've already been in there twice since it opened a couple weeks ago.


Like Momi, Miami's only dedicated ramen specialist, the noodles are made in-house. The prices are also close but not quite at Momi-esque levels (depending on contents, ramen bowls run $18-22),[1] t…

WeWork Miami & Food Panel Discussion - Monday February 22 6pm

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Pop-up panel alert! Come out on Monday and see me do my best to moderate a discussion about the present and future of Miami's food and cocktail world with some of my favorite people in the business: Brad Kilgore of Alter, Steve Santana of Taquiza, Jessica Sanchez of Loba, and Elad Zvi of Bar Lab and Broken Shaker.

We'll all be at WeWork, located at 350 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, on Monday February 22, starting at 6pm through 8pm. Please RSVP to RSVP@workshopcollective.com if you're coming, thanks.

best thing i ate last week (feb. 1-7): salsify, nori, black trumpets at Aubergine, Carmel-by-the-Sea

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This was not an easy one. The fact is, I had two exceptional meals back-to-back during our most recent brief visit to the west coast. In Carmel-By-The-Sea, we went to Aubergine, where Chef Justin Cogley does some masterful things with both local products like Monterey Bay abalone and exotica like insanely marbled Hokkaido beef, all in an elegantly restrained, almost Japanese style.

The next day, after dropping Mrs. F at the airport (she was off to another conference in San Diego) and visiting Frod Jr. in Berkeley, I still had several hours to kill before a red-eye flight home. So I'd booked an early seating at Michael Tusk's Quince in San Francisco, and proceeded to have one of the most indulgent, pleasurable, flat out smile-inducing dinners I've had in recent memory.

(You can see all the pictures from these two great meals in this Aubergine - Carmel flickr set and this Quince - San Francisco flickr set).


Both experiences are worthy of further thoughts (I've been jotti…

travelogue: three days of dining (and other things) in Louisville, Kentucky

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We finished 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. We started 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Of our three-stop Southern road trip, Louisville was the only city I'd visited before. In fact I'd been there a few times, but only on work-related matters, and never saw much other than the New Albany, Indiana courthouse (just on the other side of the Ohio River) and my hotel.

That hotel, though, was a pretty special one. The 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville is very possibly one of the greatest places I've ever stayed.[1] Its name is not just a marketing ploy: the basement is a gallery dedicated to 21st century art featuring both rotating exhibitions and selections from the hotel's own collection, and the focus on contemporary art permeates the entire space.

In addition to the gallery downstairs, artworks are incorporated throughout the property. Their signature red penguins (originally a commissioned art work for the 2005 Venice Biennale created by Cracking Art Group) lurk everywhere (a…

best thing i ate last week (jan. 25-31) - camarones en aguachile verde at Mariscos Puerto Nuevo, Seaside CA

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I finally got caught up on "best thing i ate last week" and then immediately got sidetracked once again. But rebounding will be quick. We spent the weekend before last on the left coast again, as Mrs. F had a conference in Monterey. While Aubergine in Carmel-by-the-Sea would be the dining highlight of our visit (you can sneak a peek at the pictures here), that wouldn't be until later in the week and there were many meals to be had in the interim.

Lately when traveling, I've been using Google Maps as a form of aerial restaurant reconnaissance, scouring nearby neighborhoods for places that might not turn up on the usual lists. I doubt I would have found Mariscos Puerto Nuevo otherwise. But there was a promising density of Mexican restaurants in Seaside, a town just north of Monterey that felt less hoity-toity than its other neighbors, Carmel and Pacific Grove. And the menu sure looked right: scan past the usual suspects, and true to the name, there's a focus on oc…

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

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My first report from our Southern road trip started with three days in and around Memphis, Tennessee. From there we hit the road to visit another city I'd never seen: Nashville. The contrast is striking: while Memphis feels a bit stuck in time, Nashville is booming. The city is experiencing rapid job and population growth, is filled with shiny new public works projects like the massive Music City Center, and the skyline is dotted with as many construction cranes as Miami in the throes of a building craze.

I was amazed to hear from one of our Uber drivers that the East Nashville neighborhood of our (pretty fabulous) AirBnB was, just five years ago, one of the roughest parts of town. You would never know. Now, it's filled with charmingly restored bungalows, third-wave coffee houses, boutique clothiers, a butcher shop, and several restaurants.[1]

After three somewhat BBQ-intensive days in Memphis, we were ready for something different. Happily, a place within walking distance of …