Thursday, May 29, 2008

Great Good Food...






With all the foodie chatter constantly focusing on the newest and trendiest crap-hole, I wanted to take us all back for a moment, when we were all so young, and gay, and free; and good, cheap Latin food was always the meal of choice. I stopped by Latin Cafe 2000 on Biscayne and 25th after being so utterly bored with more expensive meals at shinier, critic-sanctioned spots, and got a plate of hefty lamb shanks, that's right, two, for $14.95. That comes with black beans or plantains and rice. The shanks were admirable-cooked long and slow-juicy, in a red wine sauce that was rich and slightly sweet. I would say perfect-and at 15 bucks almost brought tears to my eyes. No risotto (yuppie crack), no mac&cheese (club kids' crack), no farro, no fregola, no couscous of any kind-just perfectly cooked shanks in a deep sauce with some complexity. Latin soul food. And in these uncertain times, there is nothing quite like a satisfying, cheap meal. In fact, my constant companion and I wrapped up one shank to go for the next day's lunch. They were playing a Marc Anthony live concert on the TV, and the night air on the patio was just cool enough. Nice mix of families, elders, and couples. They also have an entire page of the menu devoted to the sandwich. With pictures. Comforting.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm Going to Teach You How to Roast a Perfect Chicken...






...start with the Thomas Keller recipe-don't freak out. Just because he's one of the top chefs in the world, doesn't mean this is going to be hard. Actually, all you really need to roast the bird is some kitchen twine, which you should always have around anyway, right? Tying up the bird, actually bringing the wings and legs in tightly against the breast, increasing the likelihood that the breast will stay moist. As Keller says, "Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it's a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird."

Make sure you wash the bird inside and out, and dry it thoroughly. The idea is to avoid steaming the bird, so there'll be no basting. Now put the bird in an oven pan (you can use a rack in the pan if you like), and sprinkle a tablespoon or two of kosher salt on it. That's it. When the skin gets crispy, the salt will also make it crunchy. Kosher salt is also always good to have on hand. Now stick it in a 450 oven for 55 minutes. We're talking about a 3 pounder. After it's done, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, and pour some of the pan juices on it if you like. I prefer to make a giblet stock and combine the pan juices with some mushrooms I've cooked in red wine. Then the red wine sauce will go with the red wine I'm drinking, and everyone's happy. A cheap and satisfying meal for two, with possible leftovers. Buy a decent wine, and if you can afford it, a decent chicken. If you start with a good bird, it really doesn't need any adornment. Just salt. And wine.
I added this photo because it reminded me that, not unlike in Keller's family, there was often a battle over the chicken butt, or what we called the pupick, which actually means belly-button. And like him, now I always eat it first. Of course there is no battle, though, as my constant companion is repulsed and horrified by this family tradition. It's sweet.

For Keller's full recipe, see http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/MY-FAVORITE-SIMPLE-ROAST-CHICKEN-231348

Monday, May 26, 2008

Everything Makes Everything Taste...

THE best seasoning I've ever seen on a table. The everything bagel is covered with, well, everything. But I never realized how great these everything bits would taste on, well, everything. While my constant companion ordered a big egg, cheese, & bacon sandwich on a toasted everything bagel, I ordered the challah (twisty egg bread) french toast, with a side of two poached eggs. We used the eggs as a kind of gravy, dipping her sandwich and home fries; and my sweet french toast. And sprinkled upon everything, was this shake of sesame, poppy, onion, garlic, etc., that crunched the hell out of everything. Everything!!!!



The plates are from Shoney's...


Poached eggs with everything shake...

It's all in there...

Challah French Toast...

Who is that above her right shoulder?


It's not official until Jackie Gleason says it's official...
Everything Bagel 'Shake' available at Bagels & Guns, AKA Bagels & Co.,
11064 Biscayne Blvd, Miami
Open 365 Days a year, 6AM-4PM

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Little Haiti Park Opens, and People Eat...



Feast with your eyes, until one day you can get yourself out of this thing...



Although I was at this shindig a couple of weeks ago, for those of you who missed it (hello white people!), there was incredible music, a great parade, and tons of food. Here we go...




Pinchos....






Homemade fried corn pancakes...






More pinchos....





The fresh fried chicken was irresistible...





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Music and dancing, and it was hot...








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How to fry a corn pancake....


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

You, Me, and BiBi...

I simply could not get it out of my head-I was going to do a Polynesian Pig Roast Party with authentic Tiki drinks for the Miami launch of Artoconecto http://www.artoconecto.org/ , an arts-nonprofit founded by my constant companion and myself about a decade ago in Washington, DC. I only had two problems-I had never roasted a whole pig, and I had never made a Tiki drink. Both would be simultaneously more complicated and much easier than expected. The worries set in right from the start. Did I even know how to go about procuring a whole pig? Where would I keep a 75-pound pig while I marinated it? Where in the backyard could I cook it? The answer to these questions comes in the form of before and after photos of the pig, whom I call BiBi, with a little help from Chef Ronnichai (formerly of Oishi Thai, La Goulue, and Stop Miami Thai Tuesdays), who saved my ass...









The Bouguet Garni, which got stuffed inside BiBi...



Ronnie works fast on the patio to get the pig trussed and stuffed...

Taking a little time out for some lovin'...



PJ would not leave BiBi's side...



...and almost attacked....


Turning over the pig...



BiBi was half-done. Yes, that's a rebar pig-holder


Covered and smoked for about six hours...




I know it looks black, and it is, but most of the skin was salvaged, and the meat was incredibly smokey and moist...(I was already smoking my victory cigar)





I hacked off pieces for guests, and provided a homemade dipping sauce of mango chutney, fig jam, chocolate, and fresh basil...

The feet were a big item...

...and then people just started hacking away themselves...


...it was that aromatic and tender...

...nothing left but the palm fronds I cooked it on...
Part II, Tiki Drink recipes courtesy 'Beachbum' Berry....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Pineapple Wants You! [See Link Below]

Pineapple Link... http://www.stopmiami.com/images/Flyer_05.17.08_LR_1_.pdf



Important reasons why you need to be at Saturday's Polynesian Pig Roast and Tiki Adventure at Hale Brody (Brody House)

1. Have you ever roasted a whole pig? Neither have I! Watch tensions mount as we try to flip over a 75-pound pig, without dropping it in our newly constructed BBQ pit!

2. Jesse Jackson performing live! All night! Strolling and twanging!

3. Artist Jose Pacheco ( http://www.jpachecosilva.com/ ) will be installing a new work live during the fun. Try not to spill your 'Blue Hawaii' on it!

4. Casca Doce ( http://www.cascadoce.com/ ) a new and exciting design studio on Biscayne Blvd. will be graciously providing some tropical decor

5. Raffle to include 3 $25 Gift Certificates to local artists' hot spot Lost & Found Saloon ( http://www.thelostandfoundsaloon-miami.com/ )

6. Bottles of rare Cognac and Calvados will be raffled! (Frapin Gift Set of Five Cognacs, Boulard 1981 and Founder's Reserve Calvados) courtesy Palm Bay Imports

7. Great cause...connecting communities through art. Artoconecto....plug in. See you there!

Polynesian Pig Roast & Tiki Drinks Adventure To Launch Arts Non-Profit...









Friday, May 09, 2008

Rib Frenzy, Part III...Eat 'em...



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...and when you get them home, sans a few that got eaten on the way, take a deep breath before you finish them off. You'll want more. That's called Rib Frenzy, my friend, and for that, there is no cure....I guarantee, you'll even want to eat the bread...


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Fat Man's Rib Tutorial Part II-This is Where They Come From...

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Smoke...smoke...smoke...and drooling, shrieking, "Oh My God..."

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The Legendary St. Louis Rib, with the professor demonstratin'...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Rib Frenzy, Part I...The Anatomy of a St. Louis Rib...or Fat Man Tutorial Part IV

"It's all about food and friendship-you gotta deal with people that tell you the truth-you can't tell me, oh you like it, just because we're friends." And with that we devour Fat Man's ribs again. They are extra juicy, extra smoky and extra flavorful. He should call them the X ribs. Of course, he does have the big yellow truck parked outside Take One Lounge (333 NE 79th St), a strip club, so maybe Triple-X Ribs is more like it. Here's the rack, and the rib. And some nice pub... http://www.miami.com/culinary-cage-match-ribs-article
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Monday, May 05, 2008

Miami Weekend in Black and White...

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The Postcards at Vagabond last Friday...Top Masters at Little Haiti Park on Saturday...