Saturday, July 26, 2008
Taste of the Nation, Miami
Oh Taste of the Nation, how my belly loves thee! This is one of the better food events in Miami. It gives food geeks a chance to meet local culinary talent while simultaneously eating and drinking to gustatory oblivion. Usually the chefs have their A-game on for the fundraiser, with each restaurant eager to impress the crowd and see which booth garners the longest lines and most attention. Celebrity chefs were in the house: a cherubic Allen Susser was a genial host, Cindy Hutson rocked her bandanna and Michael Schwartz held court at his predictably popular table. At these events you also get a lot of duplicate dishes going on and this year the theme of the night was beef. Lots of rare, raw, seared, braised, grilled red meat. Whereas last year's was all about the tuna - seared tuna, tuna tartar, tuna ceviche, tuna sashimi (by the end of the night you were pumped so full of mercury you set off the metal detectors) this year it was all about the Kobe.
The Ritz Key Biscayne's Dune Burger Lounge was proffering lovely kobe sliders topped with gorgonzola, Kobe Club seduced passers-by with beef cheek ravioli and Tuscan Steak had luscious steak tartar presented in porcelain spoons.
Touch chef Sean Brasel was hyping his new Lincoln Road venture Meat Market with marinated kobe skirt steak with aji panca chimmichurri. The spot is set to open in the Fall and if this dish is any indication of what we can expect, it will be a sufficiently creative spin on steakhouse fare. It will also be quite popular as food fiends snapped up the slices of perfectly cooked steak.
The Oceanaire Seafood Room's massive ice sculpture raw bar was a predictable hit. Who would turn down fresh shucked oysters?
Best in show was the Setai's cured salmon with lemongrass foam and chili-flecked eggplant. A nice melding of textures and flavors and a beautiful piece of silky fish.
Also quite nice was Blue Door at the Delano's duck and shiitake mushrooms. It was practically the only duck dish of the night and a welcome red meat respite.