Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bourbon, Beer & Cue Finale @ The Dutch 7.30.14

“Battle of La Caja Chinas”— Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Dutch at W South Beach Hotel & Residences will wrap up the summer BBQ series, Bourbon, Beer and ‘Cue, with a special celebration.  Chef/Co-owner Andrew Carmellini will join the grand finale “Battle of La Caja Chinas” featuring whole animal roasts from The Dutch’s Chef de Cuisine Conor Hanlon, Aaron Brooks of EDGE Steak & Bar and Jeremiah Bullfrog of gastropod.  

The festivities will take place on Wednesday, July 30th beginning at 7:00 p.m. in W South Beach’s backyard, Grove. Menu follows:

Conor Hanlon

Whole Moroccan Lamb with Harissa BBQ Rub
Chilled Couscous Salad with Turkish Apricots
Cucumber-Mint Raita Jeremiah Bullfrog a/k/a Piggie Smalls

Jeremiah Bullfrog

Whole Roasted Pig Parts
Porkfat Biscuits
Sweet Potatoes
Slow-Cooked Cabbage

Aaron Brooks

Hip of Creekstone Farms Beef, Smoked & Slow Roasted
with Carolina Style BBQ Sauce, Bread & Butter Pickled Green Mango
Creamy Kale Slaw
Fried Okra

Additional offerings include desserts by pastry chef Josh Gripper.  

Specials from the bar include $2 PBR Tall Boys; $3 Tecates fully dressed with BBQ rub and citrus; $9 Specialty Bourbon Cocktails; and $40 Summer Punch Bowls.

Tickets to the feast are $55 per person (includes taxes and gratuity, beverages charged separately upon consumption) and on sale now at The Dutch’s page:  Space is limited, advanced purchase is recommended. Walk-in guests are welcome.

The Dutch is located inside W South Beach Hotel & Residences, 2201 Collins Avenue, in Miami Beach, Florida, 33139. Please call (305) 938-3111 or visit  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cobayapalooza 7.16.14 @ Shikany


Seven chefs + one kitchen + fifty tweezers = Cobayapalooza.

Fifty gourmet guinea pigs gathered at the recently opened and super sharp spot Shikany for Cobaya experiment 43. This was a departure from our normal dinners because we had 7 chefs from 6 different restaurants in the kitchen. It was an impressive lineup and a wonderful night.

Chef Michael Shikany welcomed his fellow chefs with open arms and allowed them to go wild in his brand new kitchen. He also conceptualized the menu and made sure that the nine courses resulted in a balanced tasting menu. Prior to the dinner, he assigned each chef with a different custom spice from La Boite to incorporate into their dish.

This wasn't a competition so I will refrain from making any dish of the night comments here. But I will tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed the meal from start to finish and was very happy to see each chef bring their A game.  I would highly recommend paying each chef a visit at their respective restaurants. 

The setting was ideal for Cobayapalooza as diners had a direct view of the open kitchen and chefs all night. It was definitely a cool sight. It was impressive to see each chef hustling all night making sure every dish was plated just right for each other.

Collaboration, camaraderie and some kick ass cuisine.

All seven chefs along with the entire staff at Shikany made this a very special night for food fans. There was a noticeable buzz in the room all night as guests excitedly awaited each course to be served.

Huge thanks to Michael Shikany and his entire crew including his pastry chef Jill Montinola. And to Timon Balloo, Danny Grant, Diego Oka, Mathia Gervais and David Sears for serving some fantastic food.

Additional thanks to Alexis Knapp of Rockaway pr for making sure this went down. Jaylan Ochoa too.

And thank you to all of the guinea pigs out there for your continued support and enthusiasm.

The calm before the guinea pig storm. Three long communal tables with views of the open kitchen were the perfect setting.

David Sears, Timon Balloo, Diego Oka and Danny Grant taking a quick break during service.

Chef Shikany kicked off the night with a couple killer canapés. First out was a Bourbon infused quail egg, truffle caviar, fat cap powder, chorizo, fleur de sel.

Out next from Michael was a Nori macaron, pickled mung bean, avocado mouse, smoke pastrami hamachi, white soy foam, leek ash.

Course 1 (Galil N.13)

Fresh Diver Scallop Crudo watermelon rind, sour gooseberry, creme fraiche sorbet, white truffle oil. Michael Shikany, Shikany

Before opening Shikany Michael was running a catering and consulting company. Prior to that he spent several years working under Cindy Hutson at Ortanique on the Mile and Jean Paul Desmaison at La Cofradia. His resume also includes stagés at  L’Ecole, Le Bernardin, Babbo, Tao and Gramercy Tavern.

Course 2 (Coquelicot N.24)

Oysters & Salmon white sturgeon caviar, sweet heirloom tomatoes, pickled pearl onion. David Sears, Sushi Samba Coral Gables.

Prior to joining SushiSamba, David was chef de cuisine at Temple Orange at the Ritz Carlton in Palm Beach. Prior to that he was executive chef at The Bull & Bear in the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando. While there they received AAA Four Diamond Awards in 2011 and 2012. Prior to that he was in the kitchen at Cafe MoZu at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington D.C.

David has degree in Aerospace Engineering and Business Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. I smell a future Cobaya in space....

Course 3 (Luberon N.4) 

Wild Quohog & Madai Sashimi crispy sprout petals, soft tofu, Tosaka seaweed, Okinawa sweet potato, coke syrup. Michael Shikany, Shikany.

Course 4 (Vadouvan N.25)

Yellowtail Snapper, Peruvian potato stew with chocolate, vadouvan, aji panca, black Andean mint.  Diego OkaLa Mar by Gaston Acurio

Diego was born and raised in Lima, Peru and has a Japanese and Peruvian background. While attending culinary school he interred at Gaston Acurio's Astrid & Gaston which has been ranked one of  The World's 50 Best.   

Diego remained with Gaston and has served as executive chef at other La Mar locations, starting with the original Lima restaurant in 2005 and followed by Bogota, Colombia and San Francisco, CA.

Course 5 (Cancale N.11)

Foie Gras Terrine & Apple Cured Duck Breast sage/parmesan gremolata, candied asparagus, blackberry, pernod. Michael Shikany, Shikany.

Course 6 (Ararat N.35)
Organic Slow Poached Farm Eggs, Jabugo Iberico broth, Harlequin bell peppers, marjoram, Ararat chocolate spice.  Mathias GervaisThe Setai

Before becoming the executive chef at both restaurants located at The Setai hotel, Mathias worked at five Michelin star rated restaurants in France, Italy and Monaco. He has worked with chefs Annie Feolde, Joël Robuchon, Christophe Cussac and Takeo Yamazaki.

Course 7 (Apollonia N.29)

Veal Breast, sweet breads & tongue, burnt peaches, summer beans.  Timon BallooSugarcane Raw Bar Grill and Bocce Bar.

Timon delivered a fantastic dinner a couple of months ago for Cobaya 41.  You can read more about that meal and him here.

Course 8 (Tangier N.23)

Roasted Lamb Loin Crepinette, pig skin, chanterelles, ras al hanout, foie.  Danny Grant1826 Restaurant & Lounge  

Danny earned two Michelin stars in 2011 and 2012 at his Chicago restaurant RIA.  He also earned a four star review from the Chicago Tribune.  In 2012 he was Food & Wine Magazine's Best New Chef.

Course 9 (Lula N.41) 

Tupelo Honey Cremeux, fennel, apple crisp, lula seaweed snow, raspberry, cilantro sponge, green apple sorbet.  Jill Montinola, Shikany.  

Prior to joining Shikany, Jill spent several years working for SushiSamba in New York, Las Vegas and Miami including Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill. She also worked under Frédéric Robert at Okada and Wing Lei Restaurants at the Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas.

The CobayaRazzi takes one last shot.

Friday, July 11, 2014

4 Stars - Shikany, Oolite, NIU Kitchen & L'echon

  File:Pitstop ii-c64.png

I've been cruising around with my windows down and have made four solid pit stops along the way. All four stops were excellent and all four should be on your food radar.


A diamond in the rough. All style AND substance. A chef with chutzpah. Shikany.

Shikany is owned and operated by Chef Michael Shikany and is located in a 4,000 square foot renovated big pimpin warehouse in Wynwood. Let's keep this simple. It if don't fit you must acquit Shikany isn't messing around. He's merging luxurious ingredients, modern techniques and the art of plating with a first class setting. It's aggressive and impressive. Oh and the food actually tastes great.

Unfortunately I didn't take any shots of the stunning dining room and open kitchen area. So you will have to take my word that it is a great space.

Michael just started offering a ten course tasting menu on Friday nights which is easily a great way to play. 

A great amuse - Nori macaron, avocado mouse, yellowtail tartare, white soy foam. 

Yellowfin Tuna Tataki - kaffir ginger leaf confit, pear pate de fruit, pickled blueberry, rose gel, brown butter powder.

A5 BMS 12 Miyazaki Strip Loin Sashimi - white asparagus mousse, imperial osetra, pickled gooseberry, shimeji, blueberry, chambord, ramp oil. 

This was an absolute homerun dish - scallops & sweetbreads perfectly cooked with purple cauliflower, licor 43 lemongrass beurre blanc, vanilla cotton candy.

Food fans of Miami go and enjoy the skillful and creative creations of chef Shikany.

Shikany on Urbanspoon

251 NW 25th St, Miami, FL 33127
(305) 573-0690


Oolite, the new Red Light recently opened on Pennsylvania Avenue just off of Lincoln Road on South Beach. All you need to know is that the menu and kitchen is under the purview of Chef Kris Wessel. I've been a fan of Chef Wessel for a LONG time now. I will spare you on the details but you can read more about that here. He is easily one of the best chefs in town. His dishes are always executed perfectly and packed with a ton of awesome flavor. Bottom line, any restaurant that has Kris Wessel in the kitchen instantly becomes one of the best in town.

Chef Wessel's BBQ Shrimp are legendary, a real treat and a dish you do not want to skip.

I know it's hard to get excited about a bowl of soup BUT this is a dynamite dish packed with great flavors and tender conch.  Conch-Coconut, salsify & corn chowder. 

This is another flavorful winner from Chef Wessel. Florida White Water Clams, lentil roti, safflower aioli.

Not pictured but highly recommended is his creole roasted oxtail.

Oolite is open daily for lunch and dinner. The bar is also open from noon to midnight and has a great bar menu featuring Kris' legendary bbq shrimp and ribs.

It's an ideal location for anyone shopping on Lincoln Road, attending a convention or a show at The Fillmore. There is ample and convenient parking located in the lot across the street.

There are a lot of great dishes on the menu so go hungry and often.

Oolite Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

251 NW 25th St, Miami, FL 33127

The next stop is a real hidden gem. Niu Kitchen is a brand new Catalan inspired restaurant located in downtown Miami. It's tiny and great. A combination that prompted this tweet exactly one month ago "I'd go enjoy Niu Kitchen while you can still get a table." And it may be too late already as word has spread and the feedback I've received has been great.

The kitchen is run by chef Deme Lomas who is from Barcelona.

I haven't made it back but you shouldn't make the same mistake. The food is legit, prices are reasonable and it's a cool little space. 

Ous - poached eggs, truffled potato foam, Jamon Iberico, black truffle.

Gaaltes de Porc - pork cheek, potato foam.

Niu Kitchen is open Tuesday-Friday for lunch and Dinner and Saturday for dinner only.  

Niu Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Niu Kitchen
134 N.E. 2nd Avenue, Miami, Florida


L'echon L'echon where do I start with L'echon. Well, it's another winner from the Pubbelly Boys. Here, Chef Jose Mendin along with chef de cuisine Joshua Elliot are guilty of "pubbellying" French food and of course it works. I'm a huge fan of Chef Mendin because everything he serves me always tastes freakin great. And I'm confident that the dishes rolling out of L'echon will excel as well.

Cocktail fans will be happy as well because the talented Ashley Danella is behind the stick. She's curated a nice list with a French twist. 

Coquilles St. Jacques - atlantic scallop, japanese citrus, verjus blanc, black truffle, turnip, red grapes. 

Escargot de Bourgogne - garlic butter, potato-leek espuma, brioche croutons.
Pate de Campagne - moutarde verte, house pickles, country toast.

Chef Mendin and crew have another hit on their hands.  Not surprising.   Go enjoy some great French fare with a pubbelly twist.  

They are open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

L'echon Brasserie on Urbanspoon  

6261 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach,
Florida 33140

All four spots are worth your time and money.