Posts

Showing posts from June, 2016

best thing i ate last week: shaved cobia at Alter

Image
It had been about six months since I'd been to Alter for a regular dinner, though in the interim, I'd attended a few excellent collaborative dinners there with chefs from Contra, Central and Aubergine. Also in the interim, Alter's chef, Brad Kilgore, was named a "Best New Chef" by Food & Wine magazine, and Kilgore and Alter were selected as semi-finalists in the James Beard Foundation Rising Star and Best New Restaurant categories, respectively (both national, rather than regional, recognitions). Not a bad stretch. And fully deserved, for what is currently my favorite restaurant in Miami.

More good news since my last regular visit: the dinner menu is almost entirely new, with only a few staples remaining (the grouper cheek, the short rib in a somewhat modified form, and of course the soft egg with scallop mousse and the bread and beurre). So Mrs. F and I were able to construct a DIY tasting menu of almost entirely new dishes (it's tough to pass up that e…

Birch - Providence, Rhode Island

Image
I lost count at fifty. So let's just say there are at least fifty sheets of kohlrabi, layered in soft, translucent ribbons, that made up this dish. They're marinated with cherry leaves, interspersed here and there with apple, Vietnamese coriander and lemon balm. The whole fragile assemblage is laid atop a base of tangy creme fraiche. It's beautiful, delicate, brightly flavored, unexpected – and also the best kohlrabi dish I've ever tasted.

Not that there's a robust competition for that honor. But I'm actually a big fan of the unloved and alien-looking vegetable. Apparently so is Ben Sukle, the chef at Birch in Providence, Rhode Island, which he opened with wife Heidi in 2013.

I keep lists of restaurants for dozens of cities I've never visited, as if I might get airlifted one day without warning and need to find a good meal. I didn't have a long list for Providence, but I did have at least this one name.[1] I'd heard of Birch by way of DocSconz, who…

best thing i ate last week: grilled cabbage at Birch (Providence)

Image
This past Sunday I found myself in Providence, Rhode Island for 24 hours; a fortunate opportunity to pay a visit to chef Ben Sukle's restaurant, Birch. Here's an excerpt from a nearly-finished recap of an outstanding meal:

Instead of the usual slab of meat that invokes the end of the savory dishes on the tasting menu, Sukle went with a tranche of grilled cabbage. The edge was black with char, the interior was soft and silky without being cooked to sulfurous mush. Folded within was creamy rutabaga and caramelized sauerkraut. Speckled on top was an assortment of toasted seeds – sunflower, cumin, sesame. A broth of dried apples was poured tableside. This was a fantastic dish.

More to come soon.

Cobaya Muñoz at 1111 Peruvian Bistro

Image
Diego Muñoz is a superstar chef. He spent the first part of his career working at some of the world's top restaurants: the Adriàs' El Bulli and Andoni Luis Aduriz's Mugaritz in Spain, Pascal Barbot's Astrance and Guy Martin's Grand Vefour in France, Massimo Bottura's Osteria Francescana in Italy, then off to Australia at Bilson's in Sydney. After literally cooking his way around the world, he returned home to Peru, where he ran the kitchen at Gaston Acurio's high-end tasting menu flagship, Astrid y Gaston, for four years. During Muñoz's tenure, Astrid y Gaston worked its way from No. 42 to No. 14 on the much-hyped (and much-criticized) S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list. When Ferran Adrià was in town last year for a "Gastronomy Congress" at Miami Dade College, Muñoz was one of the chefs on stage doing a demonstration, along with David Gil and Fran Agudo of brother Albert Adrià's restaurant, Tickets.

Then at the beginni…

best thing i ate last week: philly cheesesteak at Philly Grub

Image
When I was in high school a long, long time ago, I worked one summer at a place called All American Heroes in the Aventura Mall food court. (It happened to be in the same space that was occupied by the gastroPod for a brief time last year). It offered the usual assortment of cold cut subs you'd find at any Subway wanna-be, but the real specialty of the house was the Philly cheesesteak. By the end of that summer, I fancied myself a legitimate cheesesteak-slinger, and had gotten pretty adept at that double-spatula chopping action on the flat-top.

You'd think that after having cooked countless hundreds of them, I'd also be absolutely sick of cheesesteaks. But that moment never came. At the end of my shift I'd still happily make myself one – usually with provolone, sometimes mushrooms (I was fancy even then) – and enjoyed it every single time.

So I was intrigued when I saw signage going up for a place called "Philly Grub" on a, well, pioneering stretch of NW 54t…

best thing i ate last week: korean blood sausage by James Strine at Duck Duck Goose

Image
P.I.G., the annual celebration of porcinity organized and hosted by Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog of the gastroPod, is consistently one of my favorite local food events of the year. It always seems to have good juju: the chefs bring their "A" game, the guests are in a good mood, the music's tight, the weather's right. So when Jeremiah said he was spreading his wings (sorry), and doing something called Duck Duck Goose, a P.I.G. style party but with an avian bent, featuring ducks from Lake Meadow Farm and D'Artagnan, I had high hopes.

I was not let down. It was a little steamy out there Saturday afternoon, but it was an auspicious first run for what I hope will become another regular event. Picking a favorite dish was tough. I could have easily named Aaron Brooks' (Edge Steakarroz con pato, a sort of Peruvian paella infused with multiple layers of Peruvian chiles and cooked over an impressive open fire rig. Or Jeremiah's ma.po'outine, a hybrid of ma po tofu …

first thoughts: Doce Provisions - Miami (Little Havana)

Image
I'd been meaning to ask Burger Beast, who is my expert on such things, what was his favorite Cuban sandwich in Miami. Then I found myself driving through Little Havana on the way back from court yesterday, and may have come up with my own answer to that question.


Doce Provisions is a pocket-sized restaurant on SW 12th Avenue, just a couple blocks north of Calle Ocho. (The spot used to be Alberto Cabrera's Little Bread). There's not much to it: a few tables, a counter along the wall lined with stools, and an open kitchen, though a roomier patio in back provides outdoor seating if weather permits. The menu is pretty tight too: the centerpiece is five varieties of sandwiches, bookended by several appetizer type items "para picar," and five bigger "family meal" options, all available in small or large portions.

(You can see all my pictures in this Doce Provisions flickr set).


The crumbly exterior of Doce's croquetas encases a filling of Miami Smokers[1]…