Monday, December 5, 2016

Cobaya Byblos with Chef Stuart Cameron 11.2.16



Cobaya Miami "Experiment" #66 went down on November 2, 2016 at Byblos, the sharp looking Eastern Mediterranean spot located at the old Shorecrest Hotel on Collins Avenue in South Beach.



As I've confessed before, I'm always excited and nervous the night of a Cobaya dinner. The menu, flavors, execution and happy guinea pigs weigh heavily on my mind. But I was more intrigued than nervous for this one because despite 65 "experiments" we had never traveled down the Mediterranean road before. A cuisine that is hot right now thanks to modern interpretations from award winning chefs like Alon Shaya and Mike Solomonov. We were also fortunate to have a successful and talented chef with an interesting and diverse background cooking for us that night.

In the Cobaya Kitchen was Chef Stuart Cameron. Born, raised and culinarily trained in Lebanon, Israel Australia. Okay, I was a little nervous that night... In addition to cooking Australian and Mediterranean fare, chef Cameron has also successfully specialized in Italian and Spanish cuisine while running popular kitchens in Rome and Barcelona Toronto. Okay, I should have been a little nervous... He is currently the executive chef for the growing Toronto hospitality group, Icon Legacy where he is responsible for the menus and kitchens at several restaurants including Byblos Toronto and Miami as well as Patria, Weslodge and Storys. And he was on his way to Dubai after Cobaya to prepare for the upcoming Byblos Dubai.

Chef Cameron and his team including his chef de cuisine, Nelson Fernandez delivered an excellent meal from start to finish. The menu stayed true to Byblos' form but featured numerous dishes not found on their extensive daily menu along with some twists.  Guinea Pigs at my table visibly enjoyed each course and were excited for more. And people left happy.  Why? Because execution was tight and their flavors were right. Nothing served was heavy handed and the unique ingredients, spices and flavor combinations were a delight.  Highlights for me included cotton candy foie gras, grass fed beef tartare with house-made Barbari bread, outstanding lobster manti and a wonderful Mejadra.

I'm looking forward to going back to Byblos and exploring more of Chef Cameron's menu and I think you should pay a visit too.

Big thanks to Chef Cameron for flying down from Toronto to take part in one of our "underground experiments" and his entire kitchen crew for a fun and tasty night.  To general manager Seko Sener and the front of the house for super service and to Kimberly Nolan for spreading the Cobaya word to Stuart and Byblos and Alexandra Fulton for making sure it went down.  And HUGE thanks to the passionate and growing Guniea Pig Nation for your continued loyalty, interest and support.  See you at 67!!!



Foie Gras - Rose Jam, Cotton Candy, Nuts. 



Crispy Artichokes, herb tahini tarator. 



Salmon Nayeh, jalapeƱo dressing, pickled radish, squid ink chips, green schug.



Grass Fed Steak Tartar, argon oil aioli, mint, red chili, crispy shallot, house-made Barbari bread. 




Manti Dumplings, lobster, yogurt sauce, fennel, paprika butter.



Swordfish, chraime sauce, Persian lime powder & crispy vine leaf.



Cream Spinach Pide, goat cheese, toum, dukkah.



Chef Stuart working hard.


Braised Veal Breast, preserved lemon, Israeli couscous.



Grilled Broccolini, tomato fenugreek sauce, crispy garlic.



Mejadra Rice - lentil, labneh, fried shallots.



Strawberry Cheescake Qatayef, sumac strawberry, honey syrup, pistachio.



Eton Mess - halva parfait, rose meringue, yogurt, sumac & strawberry granita, ajeel crumb.




Byblos Old Fashioned
High West Bourbon, Stolen Rum, Bitters

& House-Blended Sweet Turkish Coffee.








Address: 1545 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139




Phone: (305) 508-5041

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Night Market at Pao by Paul Qui 11.29.16 - 12.3.16




Night Market at Pao by Paul Qui – an illuminated indoor and outdoor night experience popping up in the Faena Hotel during Aet Basel 2016. Inspired by electrifying nights in Southeast Asia, Night Market is open from November 29 through December 3 and features exclusive nightly menus paired with music and inventive cocktail collaborations by Bombay Sapphire’s North American Brand Ambassador Gary Hayward and Faena’s mixologist Marko Tomovic.





Guests can choose from two dining options over the course of 5 nights, including Night Market Chef Collective dinners at Pao, which begin at 8 PM and offer a 4-course menu each evening designed by a different chef in collaboration with James Beard Award-winning Chef Paul Qui. Chef collaborators include Edward Lee of 610 MagnoliaMilkweed & Mind of a Chef (PBS), Chef Christopher Haatuft of Lysverket in Norway, Erik Bruner-Yang Toki of Maketto D.C. and John Fraser of DovetailNarcissi & Nix in NYC.

Night Market Carts on Pao Terrace create a lively marketplace inspired by the side alleys in Southeast Asia and will feature hand-held street market-inspired bites by all Chef Collaborators themed after their specially crafted menus inside. Each Night Market cart will be paired with a specialty Bombay Sapphire Gin craft cocktail and live music all night long.


Night Market Chef Collective Dinners at Pao by Paul Qui
Seats 8pm nightly; Tickets are $175 per person, plus service and tax.

Tuesday, November 29: Chef Paul Qui
Wednesday, November 30: Chef Edward Lee
Thursday, December 1: Christopher Haatuft
Friday, December 2: Erik Bruner-Yang
Saturday, December 3: John Fraser

For tickets please visit https://paofaenamiami.tocktix.com/ or call 786-655-5600.

Night Market Carts at Pao Terrace -

Tuesday, November 29 – Saturday, December 3: 5pm – 12 midnight

3201 COLLINS AVENUE
MIAMI BEACH, FL 33140

Monday, November 21, 2016

Cobaya Bourbon Steak 2: Electric Boogaloo staring Chef Gabe Fenton 10.20.16



Wow, writer's block.

I've attempted to write start this post several times over the past month but couldn't get past Bourbon Steak and Cobaya Miami Experiment #65.  Why? Perhaps after all these years and great meals, I've finally run out of superlatives for Chef Gabe Fenton and Bourbon Steak. Or maybe I knew my barely literate words would not do justice for such a special spot.



Regardless, Bourbon Steak has been one of my favorite restaurants since chef Gabe Fenton took over the kitchen approximately 7 years ago.  It has also easily been one of the best restaurants in town since that time as properly reflected in my Best Restaurants Miami list.

When people hear the name Bourbon Steak they rightfully think of Michael Mina and Rajat Parr. And they have put an impressive stamp on the Mina franchise.  Mina and team run a first class operation from top to bottom.  Food, wine, cocktails and service are all consistently top notch no matter the spot.

But make no mistake, Bourbon Steak Miami excels on its own too.  Gabe and his kitchen crew deliver properly executed and great tasting fare on a nightly basis.  They also routinely offer wonderful specials that allow them to break free from their steakhouse menu and show off their creative side.  Any foie gras special is a must get dish as Gabe is the King of Foie.

Gabe's cooking and food alone makes this one of the best spots in town.  The wine list, beverage program and service seal the deal.

As some may recall, they were the first spot in Miami to embrace and re-introduce classic cocktails to guests and they have continued to pour first class drinks thanks to Peter, Michelle and Jennifer.  The wine program is one of the best in town and their two sommeliers, Craig Teriaca and Kareem Zarwi do a great job with by the glass options and pairing assistance.

Service has been professional, helpful, friendly and respectful form day one.  Current GM Anibal Macias has continued the tradition and it trickles down to the hostess, bartenders, servers and bussers too.

So much for writer's block....

Gabe was one of the first chefs we targeted when we started organizing the underground and experimental Cobaya Dinners. He delivered an excellent meal for Cobaya VI which was amazingly more than six years and 59 dinners ago.

Obviously, I was super excited to get Gabe back into the Cobaya Kitchen for another Cobaya dinner. It's something Gabe and I have discussed several times over the years and I'm glad that Part II came to fruition.

And he nailed it again.  This time treating 30 lucky guinea pig lottery winners to a fantastic meal from start to finish. Gabe stayed fairly true to form while elevating several of my favorite things - oysters, sweetbreads, steak, foie and risotto.  Flavors and execution were solid.

The "King of Foie" decided to refrain from doing a dedicated foie course this go round. Instead, he used an incredible torchon as a topping on an equally great Prime NY Strip and my favorite cut, the Ribeye Cap.  He took that to another level by shaving Burgundy Truffles on top.  Yeah, that didn't stink.

The kitchen did a great job with proper pacing and service was Bourbon Steak good all night.

The wine pairing curated by Craig and Kareem was another highlight of the night.

Patty and her pastry team ended the night on a perfect sugar high with her seasonal riff on an affogatto.

As expected, this was a wonderful all-around night. Big thanks to Chef Gabe and his entire kitchen crew for creating and delivering a delicious tasting menu.  Additional thanks to Anibal and the front of the house for first class service and hospitality from the moment guests arrived.  Steven Mills for his continued support and blessing to move forward with another experiment on the Turnberry Property. And huge thanks to the Guinea Pig Nation for your continued support, interest and loyalty.  This is a hobby for us and we will continue to organize them as long as their is interest and a demand.

On a side note, I'd like to encourage all of my readers on this site as well as the Guinea Pig Nation to send letters and emails to James Beard and the Nominating Committee expressing your support for Chef Gabe. He is way overdue and very deserving of a Best Chef in the South nomination.

Hopefully 2017 is his year.




Venison Chili with Fingerling Potato Chips



Housemade Jerky



Florida Grass-Fed Beef Satay



Pairing on display


Wianno Oysters three ways


First Up - Ponzu and Green Apple 

Peter Jakob-Huhn Sekt Rheingau Germany 2012




Rockefeller




Buffalo Sweetbreads, celery, PT Reyes blue cheese


Knoll Libenberg Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Wachau Austria 2012



Curry Scented Skatewing, Alaskan king crab and leek risotto


Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Chardonnay Bourgogne France 2013




Prime NY Strip and Ribeye Cap with an incredible foie gras torchon OH and shaved burgundy truffles on top

Vallin Syrah Santa Ynez Valley California 2013


Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream Sandwich! Coffee creme anglaise, milk foam, almond cranberry biscotti


Heinz Eifel Sylvanner Eiswein Rheinhessen Germany 2012


Turnberry Isle
19999 West Country Club Drive
Miami, FL 33180
Tel: 786.279.6600

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Charity Wire - easter seals Festival of Chefs 11.9.16 at Nikki Beach



Wednesday, November 9, 2016, Nikki Beach will host the "28th Annual Festival of Chefs" presented by easter seals of South Florida. With over twenty-six South Florida restaurants participating, guests will sample local cuisine prepared by Miami's finest chefs. The event features a silent auction that includes fine art, jewelry, fabulous wines, and getaways.

All proceeds from the Festival of Chefs will benefit Easter Seals South Florida's Culinary Arts High School, a vocational training program for students ages 14 through 22 with autism and other disabilities.


General Admission: $125 per person
Online with PROMO Code: $100
At the door: $150 per person

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Rowan Jacobsen Shucks Things Up at Mignonette 11.22.16



Rowan is the author of A Geography of Oysters, Fruitless Fall, The Living Shore, American Terroir, Shadows on the Gulf, and Apples of Uncommon Character. He has written for the New York Times, Harper’s, Outside, Mother Jones, Orion, Vice, and others, and his work has been anthologized in The Best American Science & Nature Writing and Best Food Writing collections. He has won a couple of James Beard Awards, an IACP award, and some others. His Outside Magazine piece “Heart of Dark Chocolate” received the Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers for best adventure story of the year, and his Harper’s piece “The Homeless Herd” was named the best magazine piece of the year by the Overseas Press Club. He was an Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow, writing about endangered diversity on the borderlands between India, Myanmar, and China, and a McGraw Center for Business Journalism Fellow, writing about the disruptive potential of plant-based proteins. Apples of Uncommon Character was named a Best Book of 2014 by the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, NPR, and others.



Mignonette
210 NE 18th Street
Miami, FL 33132