Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cobaya neMesis 6/24/12



NeMesis Urban Bistro

That funky little spot on the periphery of downtown Miami that serves fantastic global cuisine played host to the latest Cobaya experiment.   neMesis Urban Bistro is located in the Legal Arts Building a few blocks west of the American Airlines Arena and close to the Adrienne Arsht Center.  It's one of my favorite spots in town and also one of the best.  It's the brainchild of former Top Chef contestant Micah Edelstein.  Micah has traveled the world and her culinary experiences are clearly on display throughout her menu.  Not surprisingly, her Cobaya menu followed suit.

bravo tv

When we approached Micah about doing a Cobaya she immediately mentioned her desire to do a fun Sunday afternoon Brunch since she had never done one. We were brunch virgins as well and were ready to pop our brunch cherries so it was a perfect match. It should be noted that the brunch sort of turned into "dunch" since Micah and crew allegedly do not function before noon.


Thus, thirty hungry guinea pigs assembled at Micah's funky restaurant at 3pm on Sunday June 24, 2012. For those wondering, yes, there were people still floating out of Club Space from the night before. Who needs bath salts and molly when you have Cobaya?? (insert cured pig's face joke here)

GE Research Division Explores New MRI Brain Scanner Technology



Micah's Brain

The mind of Micah                                                     

Yes, this was the actual menu for the day. Our table had fun trying to follow the creative mind of Micah and decipher each course.

The first course was titled, "Have you met the muffin wo-man?" On the left is a vin santo Mallorcan raisin nutmeg muffin topped with garam masala Parma butter and local all spice jackfruit jam. This was paired with a delicious lamb bacon caramelized shallot muffin topped with piri piri meringue and passion fruit lavender mint jam. As you can see, there were lots of layers of flavors with very bite along with the pleasant textures of the muffins. This was a nice start to the meal.

The next course was zucchini currant bread French Toast a/k/a pain perdu. The bread was filled with a creamy Winter Park Dairy "Blue Sunshine" cheese. It was paired with a Peruvian hierba luisa syrup and topped with spiced pecan crumble and spicy duck sage sausage. I enjoyed this dish primary because of the texture of the bread along with the "Blue Sunshine" filling.

This was paired with our first cocktail of the day. Mixologist Micah served a chicha morada sangria mixed with Italian lambrusco and topped with a small dice of fruit. Micah explained to us that chicha morada is a Peruvian drink that she fell in love with while hiking through the Sacred Valley. It's made from a long slow cooking process of purple corn, fruit skins & spices.

"Bacon Bits" arrived next. On the left is a lamb belly that was spiced rubbed, cured and rosemary smoked. It's resting on a naked potato salad, minted greek yogurt and pomegranate dots. The second bit featured a local goat belly that was spice rubbed, cured and sage smoked. It is sitting on on a duck egg frozen custard and crumpet. I enjoyed both bites on this unique bacon as well as the supporting cast.

Up next was an awesome spin on a classic dish, eggs benedict. Here, Micah marinated whole rabbits sourced from Seriously Organic, in a housemade bulgogi sauce. After they were braised, the meat was shredded and served on a crispy jasmine infused rice cake and paired with an orange 5-spice hollandaise. It was topped with a perfectly poached Lake Meadow Naturals duck egg and crispy chives. Each component of this dish was outstanding on its own but they combined to form a fantastic overall dish.


It was paired with a unique carrot, ginger, orange mimosa. The juices were freshly squeezed and mixed with organic Tiamo prosecco.
photo by CGuz

Micah provided us with another twist on an old school dish. This time she went Jewish Deli on us with a version latkes and lox. Micah opted for one of my favorite cured salmons, gravlax. It was thinly sliced and topped with an nice apple cognac sauce, mascarpone dots, mustard fennel dressing, picked mustard seeds and apple jicama slaw. It was paired with torn fingerling potatoes. I thoroughly enjoyed very bite of this dish.

It was paired with a very refreshing Hefe Shandy. This featured a combination of Hopf Hefeweizen beer from Miesbach, Germany and a house made Hierba Luisa soda. Micah explained that hierba luisa is used as a tea in peru.

The crew hard at work preparing the Rooibos Amarula tea-uccino.

The meal ended with a wonderful tropical fruit shortcake featuring mango, dragon fruit, balsamic macerated peaches, passion fruit, and topped with some mango butter and smoked organic whipped cream.

The last pairing of the day was a Rooibos "Red Bush" tea-uccino. It was made with organic milk and Amarula which is a combination of marula fruit which is fermented in oak for two years and blended with cream. Micah claimed that elephants travel hundreds of miles for this fruit which causes intoxication.

This was a fun way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon. It doesn't get better than sharing great food with a great group of food lovers. Big thanks to all the guinea pigs in attendance and thanks for the continued support. 

And thank you chef Micah and your team for participating in an "experiment" and for taking us on another wonderful journey around the world.

If you haven't been to neMesis yes, I would recommend paying a visit soon before it becomes impossible to get a seat. Sit back, relax and enjoy the journey.

Legalart Building
1035 N Miami Ave

Miami, FL 33136
(305) 415-9911

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pinot & Pork @ Edge Steak & Bar 6/26/12

As I previously advised, I highly recommend attending the monthly themed dinners at Edge Steak & Bar. It looks like chef Brooks and King have another winning dinner up their sleeve. These tastings dinners are fantastic and offer great value.



The time has come for another Specialty Dinner Night at Edge, Steak & Bar at the Four Seasons Miami.

The themed dinner, which takes place on the last Tuesday of every month, will be held June 26 at 7p.m. Executive Chef Aaron Brooks will host the feast with restaurant Chef James King to include Elk Cove Pinot Noir paired with succulent pork dishes. “For this menu, we will pair with acclaimed Oregon winery Elk Cove Vineyards and Palmetto Creek Farms to create the menu using a half hog and five different Pinots,” said Chef Brooks.

                                                             The menu follows:

                              Pork Fried Clams with Hot Source Aoili and James’ Pickles
                                                                  Pinot Blanc

                           Cured Pig Face with Royal Red Shrimp, Organic Vegetables mixed with
                                                 Dragon Fruit Mustard and Fragrant Herbs
                                                                   Pinot Gris

                        Grilled House Sausage mixed with Porcini Puree, Drunken Cherries, foie gras                                                               Vinaigrette and Sprouts

                   Milk Braised Shoulder with French Toast drizzled Smoked Maple Syrup,topped with
                                                     Cabbot Cheddar Fondue and Egg
                                                                   Five Mountain

  Whole Hog Porchetta with Grilled Peach and Corn Salad, Sweet Potato and Pulled Pork Fritters,                Fried Collard with BBQ Rib Meat, Sweet Fennel Marmalade and Black Pepper Gravy


            Return of the 555... Smoked Hock Ice Cream, Piggy Granola, Dulce de Leche Fudge Sauce

Dinner is priced at $99 per person (not including tax and gratuity) and will take pace in the Private Dining Rooms of Edge, Steak and Bar.

Edge, Steak & Bar is located at 1435 Brickell Avenue on the 7th floor of Four Seasons Hotel Miami. Reservations required. Telephone: (305) 381-3015; www.edgerestaurantmiami.com.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Burger Beast-Chowfather Burger Rankings



I've teamed up with fellow burger lover Burger Beast to provide you with the ultimate ranking of THE best burgers in South Florida.  We've sampled devoured numerous burgers (thousands for the Beast) in order to identify the best of the best in the area.

We ranked our favorite burgers from one to twenty and then combined our score to come up with our rankings.   These are the twenty best burgers in South Florida.  *Highest possible score is 40.  **No food trucks were considered.


                The Shack Burger

1. Shake Shack (40, 2 1st place votes)          

2. Bourbon Steak (35)

4. Tudor House  (30)

7. Blue Collar (24)

T-9. db Bistro Moderne (18)

T-9. Bill's Filling Station (18) 

11. The Dutch (17)

12. Red Light (14)

13. Cheeseburger Baby (13)

T-14. Rok:Brgr (12)

T-14. Georgie's Alibi (12)

16. Edge Steak & Bar (11)

T-18. Whisk Gourmet (9)

T-18. Le Tub (9)

20. Char-Hut (7)

The Beast and I highly recommend all burger fans pay a visit to these establishments.  

Bourbon, Beer & Q @ The Dutch Tuesday Nights


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Winner Winner BBQ Dinner!!!! Great idea at a great price. No doubt the food and drink will be great. I highly recommend checking this out. See you there!!

Weekly Summer Series Takes Diners on a World Tour of BBQ

The Dutch is celebrating the iconic summer pastime of BBQ every Tuesday night with a new special from Andrew Carmellini and his chef de cuisine Conor Hanlon.

The weekly series kicks off on Tuesday, June 26th with Bourbon,Beer and Texas-style Q. Priced nice n’ easy at $30 per person (excludes beverages, tax and gratuity), guests will be treated to smoked BBQ brisket, BBQ spare ribs andTexas hot links, accompanied by all the fixin’s – grilled corn on the cob, baked beans with onion straws and The Dutch’s freshly baked cornbread.

Accompany dinner with a variety of cookout-inspired drink specials including $3 PBR Tall Boys; $22 pitchers of Pimm’s Punch or Boozy Arnold Palmers or award-winning barman Rob Ferrara’s Smokey Bacon Old Fashioned.

While the Lone Star state is the first style to be highlighted on June 26th, BBQ enthusiasts can expect the chefs to showcase the technique and flavors of St. Louis, Korea, Memphis and the Carolinas. “BBQ is a classic cooking style deep rooted in tradition, across America and overseas. The techniques and flavors vary so much from region to region, we couldn’t pick just one,” says Carmellini Bourbon, Beer & Q will be offered every Tuesday night during dinner service at The Dutch through July 31, 2012. Reservations are strongly recommended.

The Dutch is located inside W South Beach Hotel & Residences, 2201 Collins Avenue, in Miami Beach, Florida, 33139. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.,Monday – Friday, and from 7:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday and Sunday. Lunch is served daily from noon to
4 p.m. Dinner is served from 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Sunday – Wednesday, and from 7 p.m. to midnight, Thursday – Saturday. The bakery counter is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. For reservations, please call (305) 938-3111 or book online via www.opentable.com/thedutchmiami or www.thedutchmiami.com

Animal Pizzeria 6/17/12


As you probably know by now, Chef Schwartz has been hosting kick ass pop-up dinners with visiting chefs at Harry's Pizzeria.  I've attended and really enjoyed visits from Jonathan Waxman, Marc Vetri and Jonathan Sawyer.  Nevertheless, it was Animal Pizzeria that really made my toes tingle the moment word was leaked.  I immediately blocked off the calendar and eagerly waited for tickets to go on sale.

Vinnie Dotolo and Jon Shook have been killing it out on the west coast since they opened Animal in 2008.  Their daily changing menu is inundated with awesome sounding treats.  Looking at the menu online from time to time is self inflicted torture.  Unfortunately, I've never been out to LA so I've had to admire their work from afar despite their Florida backgrounds.

Vinnie and Jon were both born in Florida and met on their first day of culinary school at the Art Institute in Ft. Lauderdale.  They worked together under Michelle Bernstein at the Strand in Miami Beach before heading west to Vail, Colorado where they worked at Wildfire.  They eventually moved to Los Angeles and worked together again under Ben Ford and Govind Armstrong at Chadwick.  After the restaurant closed they started a catering company which they still operate.  That led to a Food Network show, Two Dudes Catering.

Since opening Animal they have received numerous accolades including Food and Wine Best New Chef in 2009, Rising Star Chef by Star Chef and two James Beard nominations.

In 2011, they added a second restaurant to the family, Son of a Gun.

The pop-ups Chef Schwartz throws are real treats for food lovers like me.  Although I would have loved to have seen the Animal boys really mix it up with some of their more aggressive offerings, they did a fantastic job.  This was another great meal and a really fun night.

Chefs enjoying a post service bourbon toast with Chef Schwartz.

Photo via Frodnesor
Flawless Kumamoto oysters topped with a nicely contrasting cucumber-serrano mignonette gelee.

Next was one of my favorite bites of the night, a crostini topped with porcini mushroom and a terrific truffle fondue.  Not pictured was an awesome pizza with a nice kick.  It featured escarole, garlic chives, chili oil and mozzarella. 

The first course was a local triggerfish crudo paired with a colatura vinaigrette and some fresh herbs. 

Pickled and raw beets, creme fraiche and breadcrumbs comprised one of the best salads I've had all year. I loved each component of the dish plus it came together as a whole perfectly. My picture doesn't do it justice.

The second course started with a dish I've seen on their menu at Animal, Chicken-Fried sweetbreads with a lime aioli.  These are sweetbreads even non sweetbread fans enjoyed.  

Second course part two featured another dish from their menu at Animal, balsamic pork ribs.  These were so freakin good we Jdonn demanded more.

Sommelier Eric Larkee poured some nice wine all night.  Pictured above is a 2010 Grosjean Pinot Noir.

Last out of the wood burning oven were huge bone in rib-eyes topped with pickled charred onions.  I enjoyed several slices plus the meat off one of the bones.  Rosemary fried potatoes were a nice side along with some really tasty wood roasted corn with toasted garlic pictured below.

The evening ended with a nice yogurt like panna cotta topped with mango and hog plum jam.

I enjoyed meeting chef Shook after the dinner and I look forward to heading west in the near future and dominating the Animal menu..

I highly recommend attending a future pop-up dinner at Harry's Pizzeria.  You can find more information regarding future dinners and the visiting chefs here.

Harry's Pizzeria
3918 North Miami Avenue
Miami, FL 33127

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cobaya "Dundee" Edge Steak & Bar 6/14/12

The Edge Steak & Bar is a fairly new restaurant located in the lobby of the Four Seasons hotel in downtown Miami.  Don't be fooled by the name, this is not your typical steak house.  Executive chef Aaron Brooks and team have created a diverse modern menu and are serving some of the best food in town.

Chef Aaron Brooks hails from Australia.  He has spent the past ten years working in Four Seasons' kitchens including Vancouver and Boston before taking his talents to Miami.  His right hand man and Howie Mandel look alike, James King has manned the kitchen at The Breakers Hotel and Four Seasons in Palm Beach.  He also spent time at the Four Seasons in Palo Alto, California before returning to Florida to work at Ameila Island Plantation Resort.

For the past few months they have been hosting excellent themed dinners on the last Tuesday of every month.  I've attended the last three which included a scotch and cigar dinner, a champagne and seafood dinner and a whiskey beer and barbecue dinner.  All three were fantastic and I encourage everyone to attend one.  Rumor has it that next up are two of my favorite things, Pinot and Pork. Shhh!

After eating several meals at the Edge it was obvious that Chef Brooks creative and precise cooking skills coupled with his diverse culinary background and passion for food would be a perfect fit for the Cobaya kitchen.  He did not disappoint.

For Cobaya, Chef Brooks opted to stay close to his home and went with a Southeast Asian theme. He explained to the group that when we told him to cook whatever he wanted he decided to treat Cobaya like he was cooking for friends.  He wanted to cook food that he loved that was close to his heart. Well, it showed.

Chef Brooks wisely paired each course with a diverse and delicious riesling from around the world.

Chef Brooks plating the first course.

Upon arrival, thirty five hungry guinea pigs were escorted by general manager Peter Triolo to a private area in the hotel where a long table over looking Biscayne Bay on one side and a waterfall on the other awaited.

First up was a tribute to my co-conspirator in crime, Blind Tastes a/k/a Mr. Bourbon who hails from the Beantown.  Three fresh and plump clams were perfectly fried in a light batter and topped with a tasty tartar-esque sauce.  These were a nice bite and a great way to start the night.  It was paired with a dry 2007 Grosset Riesling from Australia was probably my favorite wine of the night.

Chef Brooks ventured into Southeast Asian territory with George's Bank scallops.  The scallop dish was the first of many that showcased his ability to create well rounded and complete dishes that were layered with flavors and textures.  This featured sushi soft sliced scallops marinated in lime zest and extra virgin olive oil and topped with a deep fried scrambled egg which provided a great crunchy texture.  The dish also featured some welcome heat via Thai bird eye chilies.  It was paired with a 2008 BrooksWillamette Valley.

A chilled mussel salad was a standout and possibly the best dish of the night.  It was a culinary treat for the senses.  It was visually stunning thanks to the myriad of colors that popped off the plate.  The numerous ingredients consisting of young lotus root, fire roasted peanuts, mint, cured pig's face and chili jam also provided a plethora of flavors and textures along with a nice aroma.  As good as the dish was as a whole, the pigs face stole the show. It was a dynamite piece of tender and flavorful pork.  It was brined 12 hours with soy, salt, palm sugar, anise, ginger, garlic, chili and cooked sous-vide for 12 hours.  Every bite of this dish was a piece of perfection.  Paired with a 2010 Spy Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand.

Next was Chef Brooks riff on the popular hot and sour Thai soup, tom yum goong.  His broth was packed with flavor and nice heat.  He added pleasantly textured faux noodles made of squid.  Chinese sausage, shrimp and a shrimp cake were welcome additions that rounded out a really tasty dish.  Paired with a 2008 Blank Patergarten, Alsace, France.

The next course featured a short rib that was braised in coconut for five hours with ginger, chili, palm sugar and fish sauce.  It was paired with a panang style curry sauce consisting of a coconut based curry with peanuts and a lemon grass paste.  Sweet potatoes, snake bean and basil rounded out the dish.  The short rib was very tender and the curry provided nice subtle flavors.  Paired with a 2007 Poet's Leap, Columbia Valley, Washington.

The last savory course of the night was a knockout duck dish.  It featured a grilled duck breast along with a tasty and crispy duck confit.  It was paired with an unbelievable foie gras curry.  Chef Brooks prepared this curry in the massamam style combined with some Indian influences including cumin, coriander, clove, ginger and chills.  He finished the curry with the foie.  Redland lychees and baby heirloom potatoes accompanied the dish.  As much as I enjoyed the duck confit it was the foie curry that was the highlight.  The flavor was initially subtle but increased with each subsequent taste.  I was saddened to see the duck and potatoes disappear so quickly leaving behind a puddle of the curry.  It's Cobaya and the gloves were off but I still refrained from sticking my tongue out and licking the plate.   A couple swipes of the food less fork would have to suffice.  This was a superb dish.  Paired with a 2008 Joh Joh Prum, Mosel, Germany.


A subtly sweet orange almond cake topped with a refreshing coconut sorbet and paired with black sesame and mango fluid gel was the perfect ending to a perfect meal.

Big thanks to Chef Brooks and the entire team at Edge Steak & Bar for a great meal and enjoyable evening.  Thank you to all the guinea pigs who attended and continue to support Cobaya.  It was nice seeing so many new faces in the crowd.

Chef Brooks has tremendous talent and really knows how to create very flavorful combinations.  Nothing he serves is heavy handed.

Chef Brooks has quickly emerged as one of my favorite chefs in town and Edge Steak & Bar has rapidly become one of my favorite restaurants.  Do yourself a favor and head down to the Four Seasons and let Chef Brooks knock your socks off.

Edge Steak & Bar (Four Seasons Hotel) on Urbanspoon

Edge, Steak & Bar is located at 1435 Brickell Avenue on the 7th floor of Four Seasons Hotel Miami, and serves dinner nightly from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Telephone: (305) 381-3190;   

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Best Pizza South Florida

Leaning Tower of Pizza

It's time to update my list of the best pizza in South Florida.
As many of my readers know, I am a huge pizza fan who grew up in NY.  Thus, I love traditional NY style slices.  I'm also a huge fan of the thin pies coming out of the coal and wood fired ovens all over South Florida.

**When I refer to dough, I am talking about the portion under the cheese and sauce. "crust" to me is the edge of the dough that you fold. I believe that is technically referred to as cornicione. I suppose you can simply call the entire dough the crust and the edge the upper crust. Whatever!! I like calling it pizza dough and crust. No idea if that is proper terminology or not but it's always been mine.**

These are the best of the best in South Florida.


Pizzeria Oceano

Pizzeria Oceano (Lantana) Finally made up to Lantana to try Pizzeria Oceano.  I had heard very good things about their pizza but braced myself for the usual letdown.  Wrong!! They are serving the best pizza in Florida bar none.  This could be some of the best pizza in the country.  I opted for their basic pizza which features housemade mozzarella, olive oil, pecorino romano, tomato sauce and basil. The sauce, cheese and dough were fantastic and the ratio was perfect.  The crust was nicely charred which sealed the deal on pizza perfection.
Worth the drive from Miami for sure.

Pizzeria Oceano on Urbanspoon



Mauro's (Downtown Hollywood)- Huge authentic NY style slices. Perfect dough, sauce and cheese ratio. Their sauce skews slightly to the sweet side.  The best NY style slice in South Florida.

Cafe la Buca

Cafe La Buca (Pompano)- NY style/thin crust hybrid. Fantastic tasting dough with a nice chew. The cheese and sauce is top notch and perfectly proportioned. Pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven imported from their hometown of Naples, Italy.  Five tables, daily changing verbal menu.  Get a small pie so you can try one of their fresh housemade pastas. Hidden gem and a must visit.

Cafe La Buca on Urbanspoon

Kings County Pizza (Aventura) They are serving authentic NY style pies including stellar sicilian and grandma pizza.  Sauce skews on the spice (basil/oregano) side.  On a side note, the wings and baked ziti are even better.


delivery guy from Harry's

Harry's Pizzeria (Miami) As you may recall, I hated my first baseline margherita pie I tried at Harry's.  But I knew that the margherita wasn't the play there plus I'm a Schwartz fan so I went back again and again and again and again....I enjoy Harry's more and more each visit.  The dough has improved and the creative and fresh toppings make for enjoyable pizzas. Great delivery guy to boot.

Harry's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Macalusos Market (South Beach) - I'm a big fan of Macaluso's and was very happy when he opened the market next door. The Market features their legendary meatballs, heroes and pastas.  They also serve fantastic pizzas. Kill two birds with one stone and order the meatball pie. 

Macaluso's on Urbanspoon

Racks (Sunny Isles)- I must admit that I wasn't a huge fan off the bat but it was good enough early on to get me back and they have really won me over.  I don't think I was off early on. I think they have improved. Regardless, their pizza is another NY style/coal-fired hybrid. The dough is on the thin side but the overall flavor is all NY  thanks to the great sauce, gooey cheese and great tasting dough.

Racks Italian Kitchen + Wine Bar on Urbanspoon


Steve's (North Miami)- This is a place I really want to love but always falls just short for me.  It's very good but the sauce is just too sweet for me.  Good not great.

Steve's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Spris- (South Beach) An underrated spot over on Lincoln Road that features some interesting topping combinations. Always leave satisfied.

Anthonys Coal Fired Pizza (Multiple Locations) Anthony's seems to have a real love/hate following.  I'm on the love side of the fence but do find their pizza to be on the overly salty side and their toppings tend to over power the pizza. Regardless, they serve unique and tasty pies.

Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon

Pizza Hut- ha-ha just making sure you're paying attention.

Alternative Pizza I like-

Michaels Genuine- (Design District) Love the breakfast pizza on the brunch menu.


Tuccis Pizza (Boca) Went in with very high expectations and left very disappointed.  I didn't care for their sauce and tit dominated the pie.  Not a bad pizza by any means but not tier worthy.

Tucci's Fire N Coal Pizza on Urbanspoon

Sicilian Oven (Aventura) Huge bust. Pizza was so bad we didn't even finish half of the pie.

Sicilian Oven on Urbanspoon

Tony's Pizza (Miami) Someone on Chowhound claimed this was the bets pizza in Miami.  Pedestrian at best. Under sauced with mediocre dough and cheese.

Tony's Pizza & Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Nicks New Haven (Boca)
Fresco Trattoria (South Beach) Milan import sounds promising.
Scuola Vecchia (Delray)
Forno 52  (Pinecrest)

Kitchenetta (Ft. Lauderdale)
Primo Pizza (Midtown)
Frankie's  (Miami)
Pucci's (South Beach)

Am I missing any standouts?