Monday, March 30, 2009

A Dish at Wish

Sometimes you're in the mood for something a little rich, a little innovative and elegantly simple. On those occasions I recommend you head down to Wish at The Hotel and order the lobster ravioli which comes bathed in cardamon-yuzu foam offset by slivers of picked radish and snappy green peas. It's satisfying and surprising, which is what you should expect and what ye shall receive at one of the best restaurants in the city.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sunday Brunch @ The Four Seasons Miami

If you're looking for a champagne-soaked megabrunch, this is it. And maybe you weren't necessarily in the mood for whole-roasted pig, dim sum, sushi, a plethora of salads, roast beef, sea bass, smoked salmon, ceviche station, and a raw bar with crabs claws and oysters, but you go for it anyway because it's Sunday morning and you're at the Four Seasons and everything looks fresh and tasty and is constantly being replenished by the kind waitstaff and a server keeps offering to bring you a mimosa or a mojito from the unlimited bar and you're thinking, yes, maybe I am in the mood for a champagne-soaked megabrunch. So you work your way through the hot stations that include that buttery miso sea bass with sides of polenta and asparagus and then hit up the omelet man for a fluffy mushroom-and-onion flecked creation after which you peruse the salads and settle on a refreshing grapefruit and hearts of palm variety which cleanses your palette for yet another round of sushi and dim sum and Oh! What's this? They've whipped up some fresh pad thai, how great! And now there are the duck pancakes with carrots and hoisin to sample and what about the soup, well, nah, better save room for dessert.
So you take a deep breath and heave yourself from the sun-filled dining room that offers views of Brickell and the sparkling bay and make your way over to the dessert annex - yes, it needs it own room - and follow the suggestions of the young pastry chef who is patiently manning the multi-tiered display of sugary confections that you almost, almost, feel guilty destroying with your gluttonous fork but you do so anyway because this is the Four Seasons and it's Sunday morning and you probably won't eat for the rest of the day, hell, the rest of the week because it's all. Just. So. Good.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bar Burgers @ Bourbon Steak

You may have heard that Bourbon Steak introduced a new burgers menu for their bar and lounge area. Had a chance to check out the goods last night and walked away with a belly full of burgers and milkshakes (just like in high school, only this time the milkshakes were spiked with Jim Beam). There are five proteins to choose from - all-beef (mixed with Kobe), turkey, lamb, salmon steak and falafel. Then you get to choose 6 toppings from a long list that includes gourmet items like Maytag blue cheese, feta, oven-dried tomatoes, watercress, arugula, and butter lettuce and globally-inspired sauces like yogurt raita and harissa aioli.
We tried the all-beef (above) with roasted peppers, arugula, special sauce and balsamic onions. The beef was flavorful and cooked perfectly; the toppings were fresh and added nice texture without overpowering the burger and turning it into a sloppy mess. We also tried the lamb burger undressed, or "no carb" (you skip the bun and get the 6 toppings as a side salad) and were blown away by its wonderful flavor. I later got the kitchen to divulge that they add a pinch of garam masala to the lamb mixture which gives it a fragrant kick.

And we also tried the falafel burger (above) touted as Michael Mina's mother's recipe on the menu.
It was actually really good, falling into the "green" school of falafel, meaning the batter employs generous amounts of green herbs like parsley - my favorite kind. It's also a great option for vegetarians and came topped with a nutty tahini dressing and tomato.
Oh, and the milkshakes? Make sure to try the Bourbon Malted mixed with Jim Beam and caramel. You'd think the shake would drown out the alcohol but it doesn't, the bourbon is there and packs quite a buzz. Side include those famous trio of duck fat fries (I can never get enough of those) and red onion rings - both $5. If you go during happy hour - 6p-8p everyday - you could walk away with a beer and burger for under $20 at one of the toniest dining rooms in the city, a pretty sweet deal.
The menu and prices are here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cooking Class With Cacao's Edgar Leal

BLT Steak Grand Opening @ The Betsy Hotel

Oh, crowded opening parties, how we've missed thee!
Tonight Miami welcomed beef-emporium BLT Steak to the fray of Ocean Drive and our steak-happy city. From the looks of the handsome dining room in the revamped Betsy Hotel, BLT Steak is going to be quite popular. Yes, it's another steakhouse, but that doesn't mean we can't get excited. It's Laurent friggin Tourondel. The man is quite celebrated in New York and all his eponymous restaurants seem to impress both the critics and food lovers. Just the fact that he decided to open a place down here speaks volumes to the faith he places in our city and our dining public.

The wine and champagne were flowing and the buffet was generous. It seemed like the entire menu was up for tasting with four different salads including a great burrata, moist roasted chicken, salt-crusted red snapper, roasted lamb and NY strip. Plus all the gluttonous sides like creamed spinach, potatoes gratin, wasabi mash, asparagus and sauteed mushrooms.

The cheese table was a curd-lovers dream with Humboldt Fog goat cheese, cows milk brie and plenty of stinky and sharp varieties to satisfy the nibble-happy party goers.

The desserts were mini-versions of the good stuff including ille-flottante (floating island - made of delicate meringue), peanut butter chocolate mousse (amazing), crepe Suzette (great passion fruit syrup) and carrot cake (best in show).
The crowd seemed to be digging the food because the buffet line never shrank, and the food and drink kept coming. The staff seemed effortlessly on their game, clearing plates, offering more wine, courteously slicing all that beef.
All in all a good sign of things to come at the new resto.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Miami Wine Deals

Every Monday night, all the wines under $200 are 50 percent off at DeVito's South Beach. Which is a good thing because it takes a lot of Chianti to wash down the fist-sized meatballs.

The in-house resto Bistro One LR at the Ritz Carlton South Beach now has your humpday covered with Wine Down Wednesdays. A selection of 75 wines are 60 percent off—meaning you can start with a bottle for $15… and move on to a second bottle for $15.

Maria Sharapova @ Cole Haan

Attention Maria Sharapova fans:
The international tennis champion and triple Grand Slam winner will make a personal appearance at Cole Haan in Village of Merrick Park on Wednesday, March 25th to greet her fans and sign autographs.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Cole Haan @ Village of Merrick Park
First Floor, near Nordstrom
320 San Lorenzo Avenue, Coral Gables

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I Corsini, South Beach

Best new date spot on the beach: I Corsini. Seriously, the place is practically made for marriage proposals. Or at least a little post-feasting snogging. There's plenty of secluded tables set amidst tasteful outdoor lighting and lush foliage. Oh, and the chef's a hottie, so make sure to catch a glimpse of him at work in the open kitchen. He'll probably come around to your table at some point in the night anyway, it's just that kind of place.
What should you order?
Well, the tripe for starters. Yes, it's quite offal (tee-hee), stewed to chewy perfection and seasoned with rosemary and pine nuts. There's also Sardinia-esque pastas (the chef honed his skills at the Purdy Ave restaurant), like a tagliolini with shaved bottarga. The Tuscan bread soup, listed as a starter, is hearty enough for a main and the tortellone stuffed with pumpkin are delicate and delicious. We also polished off a board of mixed grill with lamb, steak and roasted baby chicken.

Right now the restaurant is running a three-course $33 menu that includes a glass of wine.
560 Washington Ave, South Beach.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

1 Bleu, Part Deux

1 Bleu at the Regent Bal Harbour gets a lukewarm review from the New Times this week but I think it deserves a bit more credit. The place has already been through a few chefs in its barely year-old existence and now that Mark Militello is in the house there's finally a feeling of stability to the posh digs. On a recent visit I found the menu refreshing in its simplicity and admirable in its efforts to actually present entrees in the $20 range (this from a hotel with rates that start at $500 a night). The service at the restaurant is ridiculously accommodating (it helps that the place is well-staffed, and well...not that busy) which is nice if you're looking to be attended to in a non-obsequious way.
We started with the mozzarella platter that comes with luscious yellow and orange organic heirloom tomatoes and a generous drizzling of fruity olive oil and a selection of salts that add crunch and texture.

The seared tuna is paired with an earthy wild mushroom sauce which at first seemed odd as we're so used to the Asian-inflected soy marinades but it worked quite well, standing up to the sushi-grade fish. The crab-crusted grouper is a holdover from the mythic Mark's menus and it still works, especially with a kicky horseradish sauce to temper the shellfish-and-meaty-fish combo.

We ended with a sort of revamped banana cream pie dessert composed of banana custard, whipped cream and banana ice cream. All of it well-balanced with sweet, creamy and fuity notes and not as maniacally banana-overloaded as it sounds.

So yes, I think 1 Bleau is off to a good start with Militello in the house.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Growing Up Comix @ ArtCenter South Florida

Opening Reception Saturday March 21st 7 - 9 pm
Special Artist Talk and Book-Signing starting at 7:30 pm

An exhibition by comic book illustrator, JT Waldman, Growing up Comix includes 50 works of art from 1985 to 2008. This retrospective features a range of work including super-heroes and historical figures. The exhibition also includes excerpts from his critically acclaimed graphic novel, Megillat Esther, as well as a piece about the Four Children of Passover which was commissioned by Nextbook.

ArtCenter/ South Florida Gallery 800 Lincoln Road at Meridian Avenue; 305.674.8278

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cooking With Tom Azar @ The Biltmore

This past weekend chef Tom Azar of the soon-to-open Ahnvee Restaurant in South Beach gave Biltmore Cellar Club members and curious foodies (that would be me) a sneak peek of what to expect when his New Orleans-influenced restaurant opens. Granted, the cooking was actually being done by participants, not Azar, but the genial chef made sure to give good instructions from his demo post and to come around to each table to introduce himself and see how things were going. And of course, all the recipes were his.
On the menu:
Black and Blue Beef Filet with a spritely salad of julienned carrots and radishes seasoned with creole seasoning and rice vinegar. The aioli topping for the beef was a tart dressing perked up with limes, Tabasco, Worcestershire and more creole seasoning.

Next was a Louisiana crawfish etouffee over white rice. Our tablemates whipped this one up with admirable finesse mixing together the crawfish tails, white wine, seafood stock, bell pepppers, onions, celery, a bit of flour and creole seasoning. The stew had the perfect peppery-briny kick and got me excited for the massive crawfish boils Azar has in mind for the restaurant's grand opening.

And though dessert was pre-made it was no less easy to polish off seeing as how it was composed of hazenut financier (basically a hockey puck of cake) topped with Rocky Road gelato and caramelized hazelnuts.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Krelwear Spring 2009 @ The Raleigh

Local designer Karelle Levy partnered with jewelry designers Citrine By the Stones to present Spring/Summer 2009 collection with a tasteful tea party this past weekend at the Raleigh. Plenty of Miami taste makers nibbled on tasty scones and finger sandwiches and got teaed up on Earl Grey in the hotel's lush backyard as they waited for the models to sashay through the garden.

And sashay they did, presenting a subdued collection of resort-worthy pieces in a pleasing palette of mint, lavender, mud and cream. There wasn't much playing around with shapes, except for the high-waisted shorts and shoulder shrugs paired with cowl-neck dresses. The fabrics were light and ethereal though, no small feat when you consider that Krelwear is essentially a knit line for a really hot city. Citrine's "wonder woman" cold cuffs were a big hit as were the multi-bangles. And the tie-dye tunics were fun and groovy.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wellness Community Gala @ The Fontainebleau

Tickets are still available for the Wellness Community's Gala tomorrow night. Should be a fabulous event and it's for a great cause. Ticket info here. Here's info from the release:
The Wellness Community - Greater Miami and the Fontainebleau Miami Beach will celebrate the 8th Annual Heart & Star Gala with a Rat Pack-themed dinner party, musical performance by The Alex Donner Band, extravagant live auction emceed by CBS-TV’s chief weathercaster Lonnie Quinn and an after-party at the fêted Miami Beach nightclub LIV.
The evening will begin with a lavish cocktail reception on the Glimmer Balcony, overlooking the ocean and featuring hors d’oeuvre stations created by the Fontainebleau Miami Beach’s executive chef Sebastian Nohse. A silent auction of over 50 premier items will be donated by top hospitality, entertainment, fashion and luxury brands, including The Miami Heat, Sharp, Sony Ericsson, Romero Britto, Holland America Lines, Tiffany & Co., Costa Cruises, The Ritz-Carlton South Beach and The Forge, to name a few.
Following the cocktail reception, guests will be escorted into the Glimmer Ballroom, where executive chef Nohse will honor attendees with an indulgent three-course meal. The dinner gala will include tunes by New York’s own The Alex Donner Band, a special performance by Estonian model, actress and singer Eha Urbsalu and an action-packed live auction hosted by Lonnie Quinn, chief weathercaster on CBS’ weekday and weekend editions of “The Early Show” and Emmy award-winner for his work on “South Florida Today.” Miami’s top VIPs and philanthropists will be bidding on a series of luxurious items, including an exquisite transatlantic cruise on Cunard Line and a 2.5 carat diamond necklace from H & H Jewels.

Private Party Menu @ China Grill

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Guide to Recognizing Your Sakes

When it comes to wine lists, I'm fairly certain I know what I like, what’s a good deal and what to avoid (ahem, white zinfandel). But sake menus are a bit of a wild card – all those syllables and not enough clues as to what actually goes well with tuna tataki and miso cod. Luckily Midori Roth, the sake sommelier at Sushi Samba, is well-versed on the finer points of navigating a sake list. I sat down with her recently and gleaned a few nuggets of info on how to order sake like a pro.

Rule #1: First things first, drink up, sake doesn’t cause hangovers.

Rule #2: Sake is not like wine, meaning the younger the better. In fact, most sakes should be consumed within a year of bottling.

Rule #3: Hot vs. cold. The less complex (meaning cheaper) sakes are suitable for heating but when ordering a refined variety you’ll want to drink it chilled, in order to preserve its subtleties and aromas.

Rule #4: There are three main types of sake going from the least complex (and inexpensive) to the most elegant and pricey.
Junmai – budget-friendly
Ginjo – if you have a little more to spend
Daiginjo – if you want to impress

Rule #5: A junmai is sturdy enough to stand up to heavy sauces, oily fish and steak. If you’re ordering spicy foods like curry go for a gingo which tends to be sweeter. Daiginjo is best with pricier dishes like pristine cuts of sashimi and raw seafood.

Rule #6: Daiginjo is like the Dom Perignon of sakes; smooth, crisp and, depending on the brand, bursting with aromas of pear, dried grass and ripened fruit.

Rule #7: If there is one type of sake you remember for all eternity it is the Wakatake Daiginjo. Loosely translated as “the demon slayer” this beverage is like the Ferarri of sakes. If you see it on the menu, order it.

Midori will be offering her Sake 101 tasting class Wednesday March 11, at 7pm. Cost is $75 which includes dinner.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Moriano Restaurant, Midtown

Moriano's is a sweet Argentinian place on a congested stretch of NE 2nd Ave close to the new Midtown Miami buildings. It's great for a casual lunch or a glass of wine on gallery night. The tuna panini is not so much a panini as it is a toasted baguette with a generous helping of lightly-dressed tuna salad. The pizzas are chewy and well-balanced and the emapanadas are light and flaky. Best in show are the desserts like this white chocolate cake topped with luscious strawberries. It's only $5 and worth every penny.
3221 NE 2nd Ave (between 32nd and 33rd), 786-953-8003.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Viceroy Miami Grand Opening

Last night's mega-bash at the Viceroy Miami was a welcome throwback to the glitzy condo parties of yore. Sure it was a hotel opening, but the star of the show was the combined magnificence of the ICON Brickell in all its three-tower glory. We got there a little before 9pm and the celebs were already comfortably ensconced in the 15th floor restaurant munching on beef empanadas, mini-burgers and sushi. Spotted designer Kelly Wearstler (tiny!) and wearing a very short Grecian dress but pulling it off with a slamming pair of legs. Not only is she a design guru, she's friggin hot. Speaking of hot, Don Draper was in the house but sporting hair that was on the greased-back longish side. Whatevs, I'll take D-squared any time, any day. He and his g-fly must have really enjoyed the outdoor Yerba Buena concert by the pool because they parked their keisters on the massive couch and didn't get up once during the performance.
And who could resist the band's lead singer, all caliente charisma with an amazing voice. She started out the show by saying,
"This is a time of crisis but we are going to survive this. And tonight all of you will go home and make love!"
Amen to that.
Sharon Stone, looking a bit on the alien-side of human, did retreat back into the restaurant during the concert and proceeded to have a late dinner while party goers shyly tried to talk to her. I walked straight at her table not realizing who she was and she gave me a very thorough once-over and then a smile, or as close to a smile as a half-woman, half-cyborg can give. Selma Blair hung out outside wearing her date's suit jacket (it was mad windy out there) and then disappeared up to Club 50. Brett Ratner was also shuffling around with some chick. Local socialites included Iran Issa Khan taking snapshots of attractive young people, Ingrid Hoffman being the sprite that she is and Emilio Estefan on stage for an impromptu bongo session. Dude can't resist being a ham, can he?
All in all a really magical night where celebs and glamorous locals mixed in the cool Miami breeze, perched at the mouth of the Miami river, observing the flickering lights of a city built on visions of the future, a future that hopefully can sustain all the grandiose hopes of its visionaries. (Poor Jorge Perez, by the way. A Latin Gatsby indeed.)

Dita Von Teese @ LIV, Saturday

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Alvin Valley Trunk Show @ Da Vittorio

Christopher Plummer @ Books and Books

I don't know about you, but growing up I had a huge crush on Captain Von Trapp. Maybe it was because I watched the Sound of Music an average of six times a week (don't judge; this was before computers. Okay, there were computers, but they weren't fun.) or maybe it was Christopher Plummer's dashing military dad-with-a-heart-of-gold act but to this day every time someone mentions Austria I break into a soft rendition of "Edelweiss."
So I'm pretty jazzed that the man himself will be signing books at Bal Harbour's Books and Books this Monday.
That's all.
Just wanted you to know.

Viceroy Miami's Celeb-Filled Opening

Thursday the Viceroy Miami is inaugurating their swanky new digs with an invite-only star-studded opening. See the info from the tip sheet below. Let's just say they had me at Benicio. Although I do have a major crush on Don Draper...
Red carpet arrival with special guests: Related Group’s Jorge Perez; Designer Kelly Wearstler; Brad Korzen of Kor Hotel Group; Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro; Mad Men’s Jon Hamm and girlfriend (and of Grey’s Anatomy) Jennifer Westfeldt; International lifestyle and event consultant Colin Cowie; Gloria and Emilio Estefan; Black Watch Polo Player and Ralph Lauren model Nacho Figueras and actor Erik Elias.

Comedy Night @ The Florida Room

Rice Asian House, Sunny Isles

Rice Asian House opened back in October and has been quietly serving a respectable menu of Pan Asian staples. Brave the Russian expats in Sunny Isles and head to the Japanese-Thai outlet that admirably attempts to class up its strippy locale with spare décor, fiery coconut curries and inventive rolls like the G.K. made with tuna, Tabasco, lettuce and masago. We tried the green curry which was chock full of crisp vegetables and thick, fragrant sauce. The sushi is serviceable, nothing mind-blowing but good for a quick salmon-and-avocado fix when you're in the mood.
17100 Collins Ave. 305.944.1185

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Event Report: Bobby Flay Oscar Party

Just a quick note on the Moet& Chandon Bobby Flay Oscar Party. (Last Sobe Food Fest post, I promise! Cut me some slack here, I'm just now emerging from my food coma).
Lots of great food - Bobby's menu of southwestern eats certainly satisfied with the standouts being the corn with chilis and creme fraiche, the smoked chicken and sauteed papaya and piquillos. The champagne was flowing thanks to Moet & Chandon and the Paris Theater was nicely outfitted in high-top tables with easy access to the bar and food buffet. Once the show got going they set up a table of Godiva goodness including the best snack ever created - chocolate-covered pretzels - a happy union of salty and sweet.

B-Flay was there, of course, but what's a SBWFF party without the ubiquitous Guy Fieri? Seriously, that is one over-exposed food celebrity.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Food Gang Has Closed

The windows are papered up and the message on the answering machine says they're closed permanently.
The restaurant was barely open two years. The past few months they seemed to be really struggling with empty tables and trying out pre-fixe menus and wine tasting nights to get people in. It's too bad, I liked the gourmet market-adjoined to a gourmet restaurant concept. I think they would have done better with it if they had held on to Howie Kleinberg post-Top Chef and not charged $4 for baguettes in the market.