Friday, March 30, 2012

Harding Dinner Series with Chef Jeremiah

harding dinner series

It's only going to be around for a week, so I've moved my writeup of the first "Harding Dinner Series" with Chef Jeremiah to the front of the queue. As I mentioned here earlier, the original Chow Down Grill in Surfside is being converted into Josh's Deli & Appetizing during the day, and a pop-up dinner venue for visiting chefs in the evenings. The first guest chef is Jeremiah Bullfrog (of the gastroPod and also a two time Cobaya veteran) and several of us got a preview dinner[1] on Wednesday. It bears repeating once more:
There are some genuinely interesting and exciting things going on in Miami's dining scene right now.
The format of this dinner was a lot tighter, more focused than the sprawling 17-courser Jeremiah did for his last Cobaya: seven courses plus a cocktail to start. But the style and spirit was very much the same - playful, but with a serious focus on maximizing depth of flavor.

(You can see all my pictures in this Harding Dinner Series flickr set).

You want local flavor? How about the "Instagram"? Not a popular new photo app, this was the other kind of gram. But the fine white powder in this baggie, unlike many others commonly seen in Miami, was only baking powder, which reacted with the acid in the drink (Bombay gin and lemon) to make for a fizzy, frothy cocktail. It's the same chemical reaction that powered the volcano you made for fourth grade science fair.

beet composition
beet composition

The first course, a "Beet Composition," was like a terrarium:[2] inside a glass jar were beets in various forms - salt roasted garnet beets, sous-vide candy-cane beets, ribbons of pickled red and golden beets, magenta-stemmed micro beet greens, plus bits of creamy cheese, all nestled in a black sesame "soil." Not merely a presentation ploy, this had great vivid flavors, ranging from the more deep roasty notes to brightly acidic pickled notes.

duck pastrami
duck pastrami

The next course was one of the best things I've eaten this year. Jeremiah' s duck pastrami was cured  in salt, sugar and pink salt for about five days, then thin shavings of the duck were plated on a long communal plank[3] with brussels sprout "kraut" and a spiced pumpernickel streusel. It was just a perfect combination of flavors: the duck, meaty and fatty; the sprouts, bright, vegetal and tart; the streusel providing an earthy, spicy anchor for it all. Great stuff.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Gavage: it's not just for ducks. We will get back to the usual business of writing about actual dining experiences shortly, but in the meantime there is a fantastic, if slightly daunting, list of culinary events in Miami over the next couple weeks that may result in engorged livers:

Monday March 26 - Cobaya Experiment #23 - already sold out, but waitlist requests still being taken.

Tuesday March 27 - Michael Mina wine dinner at Bourbon Steak. Chef Mina himself is in town, the wines are from Fairchild Estate (Paul Hobbs is the consulting winemaker), and a four-course menu, inclusive of wine, tax and tip, is $200/pp. For reservations call 786-279-6600 or email

Thursday March 29 - Support two great organizations at once - Common Threads and LegalArt - by going to Pairings, an event to benefit both organizations, with food from Chow Down Grill, the gastroPod, and Mad Max Jack's and artworks on display from several of LegalArt's resident artists. 7pm-10pm, tickets are $25 in advance, $40 at the door, more details here.

Friday March 30 - Harding Dinner Series with Chef Jeremiah at Chow Down Grill / Josh's Deli Surfside kicks off. I've already mentioned this here before, but it's worth mentioning again. The pop-up is running through April 5, and the best opportunities to get a spot may be during the weekday seatings April 3-5. Seats are $79/pp all inclusive. More info, including the number to call for reservations, here.

But wait, there more!

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Harding Dinner Series Pop-Up at Chow Down Grill Surfside


Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog

A couple weeks ago when I wrote about Eating House, I noted that:
There are some genuinely interesting and exciting things going on in Miami's dining scene right now.
The momentum continues. News recently came out that the original Chow Down Grill location in Surfside - since supplemented with a second location in South Beach - is being converted into a Jewish-style deli during the day, and a pop-up dinner venue in the evenings. The first guest chef to take over the site will be Jeremiah Bullfrog, who, aside from running the gastroPod truck, has also been responsible for a couple of our Cobaya "underground" dinners and contributed behind the scenes to several more.

If you're interested - and you should be - go here for more information here about the Harding Dinner Series, which starts on March 30 and runs, for right now, through April 5, including dates, prices, and the number to call for reservations.

For a glimpse of some of Jeremiah's earlier Cobaya and other dinners, check these posts: CobayaJeremiah (flickr set), Cobaya Experiment #2, 2.5 (flickr set), and Notorious P.I.G. (flickr set). I'm going to miss having Chow Down so close to home for me, but I'm looking forward to what's coming - both the deli and the pop-up.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Vote or Die(t)

We've been sticking to the restaurant write-ups for the most part here at FFT, but every once in a while things come up that seem worth passing along. Fresh on the heels of some local recognition in the form of several 2012 James Beard Award semifinalists[1] - Yardbird for Best New Restaurant, Hedy Goldsmith (Michael's Genuine) for Outstanding Pastry Chef, Jarrod Verbiak (DB Bistro Moderne) for Rising Star Chef of the Year, and Clay Conley (Buccan), Paula DaSilva (1500°), Jeff McInnis (Yardbird), and Jose Mendin (Pubbelly) for Best Chef: South - Food & Wine magazine is opening its annual "Best New Chef" listings up to the riff-raff. A hundred chefs from among ten different "regions"[2] are up for selection by popular vote as "The People's Best New Chef."

As one who labors for recognition of the local talent when it's warranted, I encourage you to make your own opinion known. The South Florida candidates are:
You can vote here: Food & Wine People's Best New Chef : Gulf Coast Chefs

While we're at it, a question for you readers. Lately I've focused my energies here on restaurant write-ups, rather than "news," openings, events and the like.[3] Candidly, I figure most everyone that's reading this particular niche publication is already on the same mailing lists as me, and you're either getting the same e-mail blasts or are reading about them somewhere else shortly afterwards. Even if you're not scouring Eater Miami and Short Order yourself, you can always check the "Blogosphere" columns on the right-hand side of FFT and read the same exact fluff stuff that I'm reading. Or, if you're the kind of person who gets all your political news from The Daily Show - like me - you can get your food news in funny and easily digestible weekly doses over at Miami Restaurant Power Rankings.

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