Monday, June 23, 2008

Whole Fried Red Snapper & A 'Lost' Cuban Beer...



Latin Cafe is one of my favorite cheap local haunts. Cold Hatuey beers for $3, and a great 'Whole Fried Red Snapper' which comes with salad and tostones (make sure you get the garlic mojo) for $14.95-enough for two. This is the kind of place you tell your friends about. The fish is fried crisp, and the flesh is moist and hot inside. And don't forget about the flan de coco (coconut). My constant companion and I fought over the last bit like two wild dogs going after a chicken bone (see photo below and you'll understand). I let her win...
By the way, when you get a whole fish, you get the two best parts that you don't get when you order a fillet-the head and the tail. And if you haven't tried it, you will be surprised at the juiciness and richness of the flesh of both. And it's okay to eat with your fingers. In fact, it's mandatory...
Latin Cafe 2000
2501 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33137
305-576-3838
http://www.latincafe2000.com/
NB-Hatuey was brewed in Maryland for years (by Bacardi) but is now brewed in that other hotbed of Cubanismo, Wisconsin.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Got My Tires Slashed, and I Almost Crashed...

...but that's what happens when you park your car in Little Havana. With an Obama bumper sticker (my car was targeted even though it is completely nondescript and the other ten cars on the block were untouched-only distinguishing characteristic? Obama on the bumper.). I really like this cute French store in the Alliance Française (618 SW 8th St), and the Fete de Musique was a lot of fun, but I'm warning you-beware of douchebag racists who roam the area slashing tires of cars with Obama stickers. The police will not show up (I waited an hour-then the tow truck came). My advice is to not patronize businesses in this area until the police do something about these hate crimes that strike at the heart of our democracy. It's just not pretty. Try to stay off the side streets if you go. The cop I spoke to snickered, and of course he was 'off-duty' (although in uniform with a cruiser parked nearby). And he was black. It's going to be a long, hot, summer, my friends. Better get yours. I've got mine...





It's just not French without Ysee...


Love the applesauce in a pouch...


Packed house-thanks to arts dude and promoter of the event, Damien B.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I Have A Crush On A Girl Named Berkel...








The last time I saw one of these was at Bar Jamón, the teeny spot around the corner from Casa Mono, in NYC, both owned by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich (James Beard Restaurateurs of the Year). Actually, it was not a new one, which costs upwards of $5K, but an antique. I can't remember whether it was Batali or Bastianich who was the collector of antique, hand-cranked meat slicers, but I do remember that one or two had set back the owners $20K+. This beautiful, lovely, mother of a machine, never heats up, so it has less of a chance of 'bruising' the meats, thus altering their delicate flavor balance (but of course you already knew that). Will comment on the actual food at Fratelli Lyon after I stop salivating about this machine. It is, of course, silent, and all you have to do to cut paper-thin slices is place the meat on the plate and crank. Here's some of the results-speck, mortadella, prosciutto....






That's luscious, isn't it? And from what has been called, "The Ferrari of slicers." Only I'd rather have an antique Berkel hand-cranked slicer in my kitchen than a Ferrari in my driveway. Seriously. And...it's certified green-no voltage necessary....If they ever put chairs in front of the counter where this dreamboat lounges, I will sip cheap rosé and stare at her all night long. Did I mention she's a quiet young thing? I shall call her Berky.
Fratelli Lyon
4141 NE 2nd Avenue
Miami FL 33134
305.572.2901

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Smoked Pork Tongue Tacos...








Eat This Before It Eats You Back.....Smoked Duck Tacos have already been covered here (see below)...but how about Smoked Pork Tongue Tacos? Same concept, more tongue. Tastes like tongue, but lighter than cow tongue. (Is that good? I'm not sure....) Add some cilantro, scallions, raw corn kernels, etc., and don't forget to cook the duck skin down to crunchy cracklings to put on top.. The smoked duck is a good way to ease uncomfortable friends into the pork tongue section of the evening-they make a good combo-like corned beef and pastrami. I like to warm up some Bulldog Sauce to thin it out, then pour it on top. All available at your local Asian grocery. Have a tasty weekend...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Best Dinner (and breakfast) in Town...

Tobacco Road's Lobster Dinner. Every Tuesday-$10.99. http://www.miami.com/culinary-cage-match-lobster-article Here are your photos. Prepare to drool...















I also parlayed the leftovers (don't ask) into an amazing breakfast-lobster and corn omelet with warm tortilla and avocado. Of course the lobster meat is already cooked, so just gently warm it in some butter and cream. Do not overcook. In fact, if you can let the lobster meat come to room temperature first (covered, of course), that's even better. Then gently place the meat into already warmed butter and cream, and swirl it around while you're starting the omelet. Fold it in after a minute or so, along with some raw corn kernels, when the eggs start to bubble around the edges. Try to get lucky when you fold over the omelet. I didn't, but it really had no effect on the taste. Leave the lobster pieces big enough so you can feel the texture, and the crunch of the corn is also nice. Top with a quick grating of good cheese and a squirt of truffle oil if you have it. I like Bud with my lobster, although for the egg preparation I prefer Champagne. (This also works with crab; but use good crab meat, like backfin lump, if possible.)















Tobacco Road
626 S. Miami Ave.
Miami, FL 33130
305-374-1198
http://www.tobacco-road.com/





Sunday, June 08, 2008

Friday, June 06, 2008

Spam & Corn Dogs Mini's...






I like my Spam and I like corn dogs, so this event I attended last week at the Science Museum was successful on so many layers. The Spam was DJ Le Spam and the Spam All-Stars, but the corn dogs, at least, were of the edible kind. This kind of event, which seems to have been pioneered here by the Miami Art Museum with Jam at MAM on the third Thursday of every month (where the great Suenalo seems to be the house band), is also going to be finding a home at MOCA this summer with a battle of the bands event (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery). But back to the Science Museum-the Spam All-Stars were swinging, and it was a great crowd with lots of booze. And some corn dog mini's. Adorable all the way around. And this being the Science Museum, everyone, of course, had to try the science experiments-like how fast can you twirl after several rum&cokes and not get queasy. Apparently pretty damn fast...









Event Organizer TonyLima





Wasn't sure what these were, until...



...Exactly...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Bistro 'B', Let's Call It...





It's another mom and pop operation near the Design District, in Buena Vista East, if you will, that replaces the old restaurant 'A', a solid neighborhood spot that, along with 190, and, ahem, Stop Miami, 'W' Wine Bistro, and of course Charcuterie, pioneered the NE 2nd Avenue corridor, or what I like to call, the new restaurant row, formerly known as 'desolation row'. Buena Vista Bistro is not glamorous or filling breathless entries in multiple food blogs, but it has an organic neighborhood feel, and if you know people who live here, or live here yourself, you will probably run into all of them during the course of a visit. The chef cooks simply, and the food is bright and unpretentious.
The pork rillette ($6) is similar to a rough pâté, lots of long-cooked shredded pork mixed with fat, and served in a small crock with cornichons and zingy mayo. Some crusty bread is all you need, and some wine, of course. The place is BYOB for now (and possibly forever), so bring in a decent bottle or two for your pleasure-no corkage, of course. The pace is leisurely, so enjoy it. The crab cakes ($8) were served along with a delicious small salad, and while not the best crab cakes I've ever had, were satisfying and tasty. The skin-on french fries were crispy, tasted like a good fry should, and were $2 (!). I sat outside, smoked a cigar, and watched the world, and the jitneys, go by. A true neighborhood joint.
Okay, maybe a little too much of my neighbors....
Buena Vista Bistro
4582 NE 2nd Ave,
Miami
305-456-5909
Open 11am-midnight

Monday, June 02, 2008

You Wanted Cupcakes....






Yeah, another overly-cute version of yuppie crack (macaroni & cheese being another one) that seems to appeal to the ladies more than anything, other than that other thing. I have never actually heard a gentleman go ga-ga over these, at least anyone over the age of 12, unless of course they were stoned out of their minds in which case it doesn't really count. (Speaking of stoners, didn't the 2nd Harold & Kumar movie really blow? Except for Neil Patrick Harris on the unicorn, of course.)


But I'd like to change all that by saying cupcakes are pretty macho when they're done right. Not too much frosting, an airy and light batter, made by hand, by someone who knows what they're doing. Francis is a fourth-generation baker from France, and he sells his chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with several different frostings at The Upper Eastside Market every Saturday. They are also the right size, just four or five bites, and $1.50 to boot.


The guy used to stay up with his dad in France, trying to stay awake through the baking process (usually from 10PM to 5AM), but he told me he never made it through the night. Baking is a tough job, no doubt about it, but his guava cheesecake was one of the best dessert items I've had this year, worth the tough labor, if you ask me. I brought it to a dinner party, and it was mauled before I could take a photo or even get a cake knife. Covered in fruits, the sweet/tart cheesecake was not dense like Italian (or NY-style) cheesecake, but more light and smooth, like the French style (naturally). It was also beautiful to look at, and a lot more fun than just bringing another bottle of wine to a friend's house for dinner. (In fact, I am no longer bringing wine to dinner parties-it's desserts, or flowers, or something else-but that's another rant, for another post.) He also sells colorful little meringue cookies, coconut macaroons, biscotti, lemon cake, chocolate cake, and some other kinds of cookies and cakes, including regular cheesecake(both cheesecakes were also available by the slice).


And if cupcakes are just for girls, then you can call me a girly-man. I'm hooked.
Upper Eastside Market, Saturdays from 9AM-3PM at 65th and Biscayne Blvd.