Thursday, January 29, 2009

Superbowl Party @ The Catalina

Balans, Mary Brickell Village

Late-night-brunch and crowd-pleasing-fusion spot Balans has opened an outpost for downtown office refugees in Mary Brickell Village. The menu's got a smattering of Asian, American and Greek classic (like the feta salad, below).
There's a happy hour everyday (except during holidays) from 3pm-7pm, with 2 for 1 cocktails, half price beer and wine by the glass and $2 off entrees. It's open until 4am on weekends—but the real draws are the glass bathroom stalls that go magically opaque when locked. Who isn't impressed by foggy windows?
901 S. Miami Ave (between SW. 9th and 10th).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mouton-Rothschild Dinner @ The Wolfsonian

Bummed that you didn't score tickets to the Mouton-Rothschild dinner at the Sobe Food Fest? Fret not, for there is another dinner scheduled for Sunday night February 22. From the press release:
Baroness Philippine de Rothschild will host a gala dinner prepared by world renowned chef Daniel Boulud on Sunday, February 22 to benefit The Wolfsonian–Florida International University. The dinner will be paired with a selection of the finest wines from Château Mouton Rothschild. Following the dinner, a wine auction by Jamie Ritchie, Senior Vice President of Wine, Sotheby's, will feature large format bottles of Mouton from a variety of vintages. The dinner and wine auction will celebrate the opening of The Wolfsonian's exhibition Mouton Rothschild: Paintings for the Labels and the launch of Château Mouton Rothschild 2006. All proceeds from will benefit The Wolfsonian–FIU. A second dinner, as part of the 2009 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, has already sold out. A limited number of $600 tickets for the 7PM dinner at The Wolfsonian–FIU, 1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, are available at 305-535-2631.

Win Sobe Food Fest Tix!

Oh, this looks good. is giving away 2 tickets to the Grand Tasting Village at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. At $212/ticket that is a high-value win, my friends. Enter here.

Valentine's Day @ Atrio

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Grana Padano Lunch @ Casa Tua

It's not often I get to take a break from my glamorous laptop-pounding and scurry off to Casa Tua for a leisurely lunch. So when the good folks from Grana Padano cheese extended me an invite to come taste their wares I happily obliged. The setting was the lovely chef's table at Casa Tua flanked by the restaurant's marble-embellished open kitchen. The master of the menu was Casa Tua's executive chef, Sergio Sigala.

On hand were three varieties of the nutty, Parmesan-like cheese: the 12-16 months, one aged for 18 months, and a mature 26 month-old variety. As lunch progressed we learned that Italy produces over 4 million wheels of this cow's milk cheese a year. It's also great for those that are lactose-intolerant and easily digestible due to its long ripening time. The cheese is certainly versatile, working well in cooked, hearty dishes or served simply with honey and fruit preserves.

First course was a soft polenta with black truffle sauce and 14-month Grana Padano flakes, the young cheese adding texture and salt to the thin and truffly polenta. Next was a potato gnocchi stuffed with the 26-month cheese, dressed in a pear sauce and accompanied by caramelized pears and crispy prosciutto. These were some of the best gnocchi I've ever tasted - light, delicate and nicely complimented by the sweet pears and the floral, nutty aged cheese.

I was already quite full by the time the 4th course rolled around so I wasn't really feeling the grilled calamari stuffed with 18-month cheese and breadcrumbs. The side of candied red onions and cannelli beans added a nice hearty element to the dish.

A palate cleanser of sorts, the next dish was simply and beautifully presented. Each cheese was matched with a fruity preserve. The cheeses are pictured with the youngest on left served with chianti jelly, the 18-month cheese went with a fig preserve and the oldest cheese had a mustard jelly. I liked the fig and cheese combo the best, but the mustard jelly added a nice spicy kick to the mature cheese.

Dessert was a pear and hazelnut crostatina with ice cream flavored with the 14-month cheese. All of the flavors came together fabulously in this dish, as the nuts and the fuit worked well with the ice cream which only mildly tasted of the cheese and was more sweet and creamy, rather than savory.

All in all, a lovely way to get to know a cheese I was as-yet unacquainted with. I walked away with a hefty hunk of it which I have been assiduously shredding over every salad and pasta dish produced at Che AllPurposeD.
Hopefully I'll be motivated enough this weekend to try using it with some of the recipes they also included. The grana padano-flecked carrot rissotto is calling my name....

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dinner at Red Light

Had dinner at Red Light last night with a bunch of friends. We sat outside despite near-blizzard temps. Luckily there was a heat lamp, though it stopped working midway-through, then they managed to crank it back up again so we were were nice and toasty. I'm posting a few of the menu items since I haven't written much about the place since it opened. Much of the menu can be ordered in small or large portions which is great for tasting a variety of plates. It's still really affordable and the service was very good last night. They were really nice and waived the corkage fees for our party (though it wasn't quite clear what the corkage fee is), and we also ordered a nice bottle of pinot for $27.

One of the nicest surprises of the night was when the waiter came out with this huge terrine of New Orleans-style bbq shrimp, compliments of the house, as a reward for our sitting out in the cold last night. Deelish, those little shrimipies were, and the sauce was perfect for sopping up with the toasted baguettes.

-fish chowder, $7 (made with snapper, fresh corn and a delicious milky broth seasoned with peppercorns)
-grilled eggplant salad with feta and organic greens, $8
-organic tomato and mozzarella salad, $10
-pot of mussels, $8
-quail, $9 (with an amazing gravy)
-organic beef burger, $9 (didn't taste this but it looked huge, also came with potatoes)
-tangy spareribs, $10 for 5
-sides of mac and cheese $4
-apple cobbler $5, crusty and delicious
-homemade lemon kumquat sorbet, $4
-chocolate pot de creme, $5

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Party Tonight @ Fontainebleau

The Fontainebleau will offer a STIMULUS package at Bleau Bar with 2-for-1 drinks, such as the evening’s signature cocktails the “Presidential Sidecar,” “The Democrat” and the “Red, White & Bleau,” developed exclusively by the resort’s Master Mixologist Michael MacDonnell. Valet parking is just $5.00 with proof of purchase.
Tuesday, January 20
6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Bleau Bar at Fontainebleau Miami Beach
4441 Collins Ave

Monday, January 19, 2009

Watch the Inauguration from the Oval Office

The Oval Office at the JW Marriott Hotel Miami that is.
The presidential suite at the JW Marriott Hotel Miami, nationally renowned as a replication of the Oval Office, will open its doors from 11am – 2pm on Tuesday, January 20th, on a first-come, first-served basis to view this historic event.
Space is limited, so call 305.329.3502 or email

Free Tix! is giving away tickets to Cheech and Chong at the Fillmore. It's a contest any pot smoker could love.

Inauguration Party @ The Catalina

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Living La Vida Local

Well, looky here. CNN interviewed me for the local's perspective on living in Miami as part of their My City My Life profile of Iggy Pop. I'm always happy to share the spotlight with good 'ole Iggs, though he's dreadfully pale for a Miami resident.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Gotham Steak @ The Fontainebleau

My First Look on Gotham Steak is up and The New Times just gave the spot a glowing review. I still think Scarpetta is a much more interesting dining experience at the hotel, but I'll leave that to you dear readers to decide. (Maybe I'm just a spaghetti fiend. Maybe I'm just fatigued by steakhouses. Oh yes, that must be it.)
Here's a look inside what's in store should you decide to go for the cow at the New York import.

First off, the interior is grand. We sat downstairs which gives you a nice view into the shiny new kitchen where a dozen or so line chefs are assiduously churning out big-city fare. Plus, the raw bar is very enticing.
Dinner starts with a sea-salt encrusted brioche. Lovely, buttery, salty. It's a shame to share this one with the table.

Next, a starter of wild mushroom pasta with pine nuts and pecorino. A petite portion as it is just a teaser and not a main, but filling and flavorful. At $19 a bit pricey. In fact, as you've probably assumed, the restaurant is not so easy on the wallet, but it's a Vegas-style steakhouse geared to a similar sort of crowd.

Ah yes, the beef. Here it is in all its wagyu glory, all 8 oz. of a NY strip. Moist, velvety, rich. Nice presentation, too. Even though sides are al a carte, it's nice to see something on the plate besides a hunk of beef.

And just when you though I might have wimped out on you and not ordered dessert - egads! - I chime in with this doozy. A peanut butter parfait madness made with layers of peanut butter ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. It took me back to my high school days at Friendly's. Ahh, thems were good times.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bourbon and Blues @ Bourbon Steak

Last night Bourbon Steak launched their weekly "Bourbon and Blues" night whereby their vast selection of bourbons were 25% and a new bar menu featured such gluttonously-good upscale comfort foods like fried chicken and waffles (below), mac and cheese, crab beignets, oxtail stew, fried grouper with chips and of course those naughty, naughty trio of duck fat fries. Oh, and live music, which made the rosemary focaccia bread taste so much more bluesy.
T'was a great way to spend Wednesday night.

Segafredo South Pointe Grand Opening

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dining Deals

In some ways, it's a great moment to be a restaurant junkie in Miami. Winter Spice started this week and with it has come a slew of "recession dining" deals around town. If you plan your nights accordingly you can make out with a meal and drink for less than the price of cocktail at most Miami clubs.

Café Prima Pasta (414 71st Street, Miami Beach) - offers 50% off the entire menu (appetizers, entrees, desserts and drinks) daily from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Making a pasta dish like the Gnocchi 4 Formaggi, Lasagna Bolognese or the Penne Ciao as little as $8.50.

SUSHISAMBA dromo (600 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach) – has recently launched a kids menu making dining family style more cost effective. For $12 your SAMBAkid can choose from Sushi Bites, Samba Sliders, Anticuchos or a Baby Bento and finish with a choice of dessert. No babies in tow? Cocktail specials for your “girl or guys night out” includes a 12-glass, custom-designed, cocktail tree for only $60. Where in Miami are you cocktailing for less than $6 a drink?

RARE Steakhouse (468 41st Street, Miami Beach) – the business lunch package for $18.99. Receive a sandwich, any side and glass of wine as well as access to the restaurants private 30 seat upstairs facility with complimentary WIFI. The private room will soon be outfitted with two 42’ plasma screens that are presentation ready.

Kitchen 305 (16701 Collins Avenue, Sunny Isles Beach) – offers a $24.99 daily three-course menu.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Asia de Cuba, Miami

It probably goes without saying that Asia de Cuba will be one of the hotter restaurants in Miami this season, regardless of the food. Friday nights the Mondrian is packed, and plenty of scenesters will want to preen from the white-on-white dining tables much the way they did when Social at the Sagamore first opened and everyone went nuts for the Kobe sliders. But thankfully, for those who care more about what's on the plate than who's sashaying through the lobby, there's plenty of good eats at ADC. It'll cost you (what did you expect? Marcel Wanders doesn't come cheap), but you probably already assumed that.

So here's a rundown of some notable fusion-y dishes. The menu is very similar to the ADC in New York which you can peruse here. The restaurant presents itself as a marriage of Latin and Asian flavors which sometimes come together in one dish quite nicely like the Tunapica with olives, black currants and almonds and a soy-lime dressing.

The "noodle box" appetizer seemed to go full-on Asia and forgot about Cuba but that was fine since it was tasty though a bit hard to share. It was composed of wok-fried vegetables encased in rice noodles wrappers and doused in a spicy hoisin sauce. I was impressed that the folks at ADC were not afraid of spice and infused the Asian side of things with adequate fiery flavors.

The grilled strip steak was a nice portion accompanied by logs of gingered chick pea fries (good but heavy) and a palate-refreshing melon slaw dressed with citrus and ginger. Also in the background the plantain fried rice (pleasantly smokey), topped with an avocado salad.

The miso-cured black cod was definitely big enough to share (and at $38 one of the lower-end entrees) and came with an edamame and black bean salad that played off nicely with the flaky fish.

Oh, and dessert? Let's just say you get value for your money. All the desserts are about $14 but you get a slice of cake that could easily satisfy 4 sugar fiends and then a few diabetics lingering around the table jonesing for a spoon of rich coconut frosting goodness.

Last Chance for Sobe Food Fest Tix

The South Beach Food Fest is still within your grasp. On Monday, January 12, 2009 a second block of tickets for all festival events – including sold out favorites such as the Amstel Light Burger Bash hosted by Rachael Ray – will go on sale to the general public.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Druze Village Picnic

We spent a weekend in Northern Israel visiting with good friends and their new adorable baby. We needed to put some distance between us and Jerusalem and this new war which is all anyone talks about, thinks about, stresses about.
Somehow, up north, all that stuff seemed very far away (even though in Israel, you're never that far away. Gaza was maybe a 2-hour ride from us.) We stopped at a local Druze village to gather supplies for a picnic and happened upon this community market with random offerings like olives, gummy candies and faux leather boots. Naturally, we leaned towards the olives which were fantastically cured. We also indulged in some fresh made Druze pita bread which is really more like a thin crepe-like wrap and amazingly tart labneh cheese made from goats milk. Topped it off with a jar of fresh zaatar and we were ready for our hike.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Donut Action

Hanukkah is now over but we were lucky enough to be in Jerusalem for both that holiday and Christmas (which is hugely fascinating if you're Jewish and only exposed to American-style Christmas celebrations. Ain't nothing like being at midnight mass in the Old City in Jerusalem to give you a new perspective on Jesus.) One of the nicest things about being in Israel during a holiday is the food that comes along with it and for Hanukkah it's all about the donuts. But these are not your mama's Dunkin Donuts variety. I'm talking sufganiyot, deep-fried jelly donuts. Some bakeries get all fancy with Arak-flavored and caramel-filled fried buns of goodness. Needless to say, it's hard to resist the ubiquitous treats when every bakery tempts you with specimens like these.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Israel Break

Happy New Year, friends. Apologies for the lack of posting. We've been on an Israel break for the holidays. Visiting with old friends, hugging new babies, dancing at weddings, drinking tea with fresh mint and feasting on chicken wings on the Mediterranean. More updates to come, most of them involving food of course, so stay tuned.