Saturday, June 27, 2020

Cobaya Jose Ramirez-Ruiz

Cobaya Experiment 78 went down at the cool outdoor space located at  Lot 6 in the Little River area of Miami.  In the Cobaya Kitchen was the very well regarding chef from Brooklyn who had recently relocated to Miami.  As an avid online reader of all things food related,  I was very familiar with Chef Jose Ramirez-Ruiz's outstanding reputation in New York as well as his accolades.   I had also attended one of the pop-up dinners he did in Miami and thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.  So, I was very happy to connect with Jose and get him in the Cobaya Kitchen.  

Prior to taking his talents to Miami, Jose was Chef/Owner of Semilla, a small counter only and vegetable focused tasting menu spot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Prior to opening Semilla, Jose worked at some of the best restaurants in New York; Per Se, Chefs Table at Brooklyn Fare and Isa.  At Semilla, Jose earned a prestigious Michelin Star along with an impressive two star review from Pete Wells in the NY Times.  Semilla was also named one of the Best New Restaurants in America by Bill Addison of Eater.  

Lot 6 is an outdoor venue without a full kitchen.  Thus, a majority of the meal was cooked in a wood fired oven.  And it was outstanding.  The menu was interesting and diverse and most importantly delicious.  The dinner not only showcased Jose's kitchen skills but gave the guinea pigs in attendance a glimpse of great things to come...

Jose moved to Miami with the intention of opening a new restaurant named Isabela.  Lucky Miami!  There is no doubt that Isabela will quickly become one of Miami's best restaurants and a tough reservation to get.  Jose is currently researching and learning all about Miami's sub tropical produce while honing his culinary skills.  Hopefully, we will see him in the kitchen real soon. Stay Tuned!

The setting for the evening was dynamite thanks to plant/floral designer Hillary Bailey from Studio Madre Selva.

Shrimp Stuffed Olives

Wigwam Country Ham

Roasted Cheese with Lemon Vinaigrette

Mussels en Conserva

Sourdough Bread and Moringa Butter

Plantain Soup, Comte, Crunchies

Snapper Crusted with Crab

Roasted Pork Chops Stuffed with Plantains

Carrots with Yogurt, Spices and Herbs

Yuca with Avocado and Red Onion

Rice Pudding, Black, Sesame, and Mango

Jose's killer crew for the night!

Big thanks to Jose and his team along with all of the guinea pig nation.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Cobaya Carlos Garcia at Obra Kitchen Table

Cobaya  Experiment #77 was a seven course feast from the talented Chef Carlos Garcia at his Miami spot Obra Kitchen Table.  I've enjoyed several great meals at Obra and his Cobaya dinner did not disappoint.  True to form, it featured fantastic Venezuelan-esque flavors that popped with each bite along with flawless execution.  

Chef Garcia is from Venezuela but trained at the prestigious Spanish spots El Bulli, El Celler de Can Roca and Mugaritz before returning home.  In 2007 he opened Alto in Caracas, which was ranked as one of the best in Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants.  

At Alto, he was cooking high end modern dishes that showcased his creativity and finesse.  Fast forward to Obra and he has reversed course.  At Obra, he is cooking traditional Venezuelan dishes with familiar flavors but with an elevated and creative twist.  It's his take on comfort food and it's delicious.

The horseshoe shaped kitchen table invites diners into his kitchen and it's fun to watch him and his team hard at work plus you get to interact with them as well. The setting combined with the flavorful food is an enjoyable way to dine.  

If you haven't been to Obra yet I highly recommend paying Chef Garcia a visit.  You can read about some of the dishes I enjoyed on his regular menu here or check out my Instagram feed.  

First up for Cobaya was a trio of tasty snacks. I've been craving Chef Garcia's arepa with sea urchin ever since.


Fried Pork Puff Skin + Caviar + Cauliflower

Arepa + Sea Urchin + Guasacaca

Cava Hola Barcelona 2017

Eggplant + Goat cheese + Red wine

The first course was a beautiful bite.  Another winner and a great start.

Tuna Toast/ton + Spicy Guava Sauce

Pinot Gris Spatlese 2017

That was followed up with a wonderful combination of oysters, coconut rice and a phenomenal piri piri sauce.  

Coconut Sticky Rice + Grilled Oysters

As good as that piri piri sauce was, Chef Garcia managed to top it with a green sauce paired with a perfectly cooked red snapper. 

Roasted Red Snapper + Grilled Shishito Butter + Green Sauce

Ribeiro Finca San Cibrao Carlos Moro 2017

The last savory course was a crowd pleaser.  Chef Garcia introduced the guinea pigs to his ossobuco before plating it,  

Ossobuco + Arracacha Puree + Winter Truffles

Alpasion Vintage Blend Owners Selection, Argentina

The night ended on a sugar high thanks to pastry chef Maria Laura Aguirre's riff on a club sandwich.  Chocolate ganache was surrounded by caramelized tuiles and paired with a passion fruit mousse.  

Sweet Club Sandwich

Oppenheimer Herrenberg Riesling Auslese 2015

Thank you to Chef Garcia for participating in one of our experiments.  And to his Kitchen team, 
Estefania Andrade and Mauricio Morales, pastry chef Maria Laura Aguirre, GM Maria Alejandra Felizola and the sommelier who did a great job with the pairing.  

And of course, thanks to the guinea pigs for your continued support and interest over the past ten years.  

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Cobaya Kamayan Dinner with Paul Qui at Pao Faena

Cobaya Miami underground experiment #76 was a fun Kamayan Feast prepared by Chef Paul Qui and his team at Pao located at the Faena Hotel in Miami Beach.

I'm a big fan of Paul's creative and flavorful food. Thus, this was our second Cobaya dinner with Paul and one of many dinners I've enjoyed from him.  His first Cobaya dinner was a real home run.  For that dinner, as encouraged, Paul deviated from the restaurants regular menu and decided to cook a Filipino inspired feast (see link below for recap).

For his second voyage into the Cobaya Kitchen, he once again opted to tap into his Filipino background.  This time he went full Filipino on us and treated the guinea pigs to a traditional Kamayan Feast.  What is a Kamayan feast? In a nutshell, it's an intimate no holds barred communal dining experience a/k/a a "boodle fight." Long table, banana leaves, mounds of white rice and loads and loads of delicious treats.

Traditionally, there are no plates or utensils and diners dig in with their hopefully clean hands. Perfectly acceptable for the Cobaya crowd.  But this was at the swanky Faena Hotel so plates and utensils were placed around the table for those inclined to be "proper."

The guinea pigs stuffed their faces with  

Chicken Inasal
Grilled Shrimp
Loup de Mer

Grilled Green Onions
Bell Peppers
Bok Choy


Nam Jim
Garlic and Black Pepper Vinegar

If you missed my recaps of Paul's killer Cobaya dinner followed by his omakase dinner two days later or his fantastic kaiseki dinner with Yoshi Okai  they are linked below.

Cobaya Qui

Omakase Chowdown

Kaiseki Dinner with Yochi Okai

Pao by Paul Qui
Faena Hotel
3201 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140

Hours of Operation
Dinner Only
6:00pm – 11:00pm (Sunday – Thursday)
6:00pm – 12:00am (Friday & Saturday)

For Information
Phone +1 786 655 5600 / + 1 844 798 9712

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Chowdown Going Down 6/21/19

Don't miss this sneak preview dinner going down in a secret spot in the South Beach vicinity.  Terrain will be opening this fall in Brickell.  Email for link to purchase tickets and location reveal.  $135 all in. byob too.  

About Terrain:

Opening in the fall of 2019, Terrain is growing roots on the banks of the Miami River in the heart of the urban enclave Brickell. Set in a lush rustic garden, Terrain is all about #firetotable cooking - in a wood burning clay oven and over fire in an asado custom cranked grill. We are meticulous and discriminating about sourcing ingredients, working closely and harmoniously with local farms, purveyors and butchers. If its not grown in our garden, we celebrate vibrant and energetic vegetables and fruits as the focal point of many dishes. Seafood is mostly local, wild and extremely fresh from our nearby waters. We also proudly support and partner with two sustainable and responsible aquaculture farms that are committed to supporting healthy oceans. Our signature 90-day dry aged rib eye steaks hail from our “local” neighborhood butcher in Brooklyn, NY. At its core, Terrain is a modern American bistro using traditional methods of cooking and nourishing ingredients to proudly serve our community at large.

Brooklyn born , Italian Roots Chef Santo Agnello cooks with a passion for flavor passed down from generations of Sunday dinners. While the rest of the boys played stickball, Santo was chopping garlic and stirring sauce with his mother and Nonna in their Brooklyn basement kitchen. A foodie at heart, Chef Santo takes the highest quality simple ingredients from Italian, Mediterranean, and Modern American cuisine to conjure unforgettable taste and presentation with each plate.

Chef Christianne

Christianne is a passionate believer in a holistic lifestyle approach to balanced eating and [overall] wellness. Always a sense of being in her element in the kitchen, creating healthy nourishing meals made 100% from love, Christianne shifted her lifelong professional career as a fitness and wellness creative director to what she believes is at the heart of healthy bodies and souls: FOOD! In addition to an undergraduate degree in psychology and a masters in journalism, Christianne graduated from the chef's training program at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City. Now based in Miami, Chef Christianne, draws from all of her wellness-minded expertise, her love of serving and building community and her signature health forward approach to curate exclusive meals and experiences for private clients and events.