Friday, August 29, 2014

University of Miami Project: New Born Wine Tasting & Gala 10.25.14

The Chowtwins were born seven weeks early and spent three and four weeks at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the Holtz Children's Hospital at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center Complex.  So I know how special the facility is and witnessed the incredible work that the doctors and nurses do there on a daily basis.  Impressive is an understatement. 

A wine tasting and gourmet gala for a great cause is a perfect combination.  You can purchase tickets HERE.

 Thank You On Behalf Of Those Too Small To Speak For Themselves.

ticket%20categories Events

Monday, August 25, 2014

Cobaya Danny Grant @ 1826 Restaurant & Lounge 8.20.14

News Flash - Chef Danny Grant is a junkie. A truffle junkie. And he needed his fix. Frank Brunacci of The Truffle & Wine Co. had his cure. Danny loves to eat truffles, loves to cook with truffles and loves to serve truffles. He was eager to get into the Cobaya Kitchen again after participating in the outstanding collaborative Cobayapalooza  dinner last month. He wanted to incorporate Frank's excellent Australian Perigord Black Truffles and prepare an "epic" truffle dinner for the guinea pigs at his fairly new restaurant 1826 .

When I heard the news that chef Danny Grant was opening a new restaurant on South Beach I was very excited. I recalled seeing him named Best New Chef for 2012 by Food and Wine Magazine. A publication that does a great job identifying rising stars.  Further investigation revealed that he was the youngest US Chef  to earn Two Michelin Stars in 2011 and 2012 while running the kitchen at Ria in Chicago. He also earned four-star reviews from the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine. The fact that he's a fellow Long Islander and a Yankee fan gave him even more respectability.

So, I had very high expectations for Cobaya 45. A super talented chef, black truffles and the free rein nature of Cobaya was a recipe for an epic night. And Danny did not disappoint. His menu showcased his ability to cook food with fantastic flavor and finesse.

I knew after my first visit to 1826 that Danny's accolades were deserved. Now, I can confidently say that he is one of the best chefs in town.

Unfortunately, I did not take any notes regarding the wine pairing. However, Sommelier Zach Gossard did a great job with the pairing and poured some very nice wines. Service was outstanding too.

Thanks to Danny and his team for an awesome night and to Frank for supplying some very impressive Australian truffles. And thanks to all the guinea pigs for your continued interest and support.

The calm before the shaving storm.

Kusshi oysters got the taste buds jumping.  Not pictured were tasty tuna tartare cornets with citrus and black truffle and potato and black truffle croquettes.

Amuse of Champions - Danny started the tasting off with a wonderful duo of black truffle and foie gras dumplings paired with an aromatic ice wine consommé. I enjoyed each component of this dish and the overall flavors and texture of the dumpling set a tasty tone for the night.

Course One - Maine Sea Scallop, Black Truffle, Hakurei Turnip and Fumet Blanc.

Scallops and black truffles are a great pairing and Danny's rendition was one of my favorite dishes of the night. Danny slowly milk poached the scallops and paired them with black truffles, hakurei turnip and fumet blanc. The scallop was cooked perfectly and the dish had enjoyable flavors and textures.

Course Two - Potato and Black Truffle Salad with Cured Chicken, Foie Gras and Crispy Chicken Skin.

Black Truffles. Foie Gras. Crispy Chicken Skin. What more can I say? This was an epic potato salad.

Here, Danny blanched and marinated the potatoes in aromatic oil and dressed it with a black truffle and potato emulsion along with cured chicken, crispy chicken skin and topped with foie gras and black truffle snow.

Obviously, there were a lot of great things going on with this dish. I thoroughly enjoyed the flavors and textures along with the contrasting hot and cold elements that were noticeable with each bite.


Course Three - Wild Black Bass with Black Truffle, Lettuce and Lobster Emulsion.

This was a dynamite dish and my favorite one of the night. Finesse, flavor, balance and excellent execution. Danny's Michelin Star skills were on full display here.

The wonderful wild black bass was slowly steamed with black truffle shingles and concentrated tomatoes and paired with a romaine tagliolini which was dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon. Danny garnished the dish with two terrific sauces, a shellfish truffle cream and a lobster emulsion.

Course Four - Wagyu Strip with Black Truffle, Chanterelles and Bone Marrow.

Meat and potatoes on steroids.

The tender Wagyu was brushed and rested in beef butter and paired with truffled pomme puree, black truffle Madeira jus, bone marrow and chanterelles that were roasted with butter and lime. The dish was topped with generous amounts of black truffles that were shaved table side. This was a decadent treat and another winner. A definite crowd-pleaser.

Course Five - Brillat-Savarin cheese with Fig, Black Truffle, Honey.

Brillat-Savarin cheese was studded with truffles and garnished with honey fig compote, sea salt and topped with a crispy brick pastry and mache salad. This was a great combination and a perfect transition from savory to sweet.

Course Six - Chocolate Ganache with Almond, Sable Breton and Black Truffle Milkshake.

I enjoyed the chocolate ganache and the crushed Sable Breton and the almond candied cocoa nibs BUT the malted black truffle shake stole the show. It was an incredible end to an epic meal.

Danny had epic aspirations for this meal and he delivered a truly exceptional Cobaya Dinner.

Danny is clearly one of the most talented chefs in town. Go pay him a visit at 1826 Collins.

1826 Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

1826 Collins Ave Miami Beach, FL  
(305) 763-8860   

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Basil Park (Sunny Isles) *Updated 

Basil Park is a new spot in Sunny Isles from chef Tim Andiola and Rodrigo Martinez of Timo. Timo's healthy neighbor is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have partnered with Harpke's Family Farm in Hollywood who will be providing all of their organic produce and micro greens.

The menu features a cold pressed juice bar, smoothies, raw items, pasture raised rotisserie chicken, grass fed meats and sustainable seafood cooked on a plancha grill plus salads and other healthy fare. The dishes I've had were fresh, clean, allegedly healthy and enjoyable.

Eat to live is the slogan and one I'm willing to embrace. A welcome addition to the Miami food scene.

*I've been back to Basil Park several times since my original post and I've enjoyed every meal. Thus, it was time to update the original post and provide them with a well deserved dedicated post.  

I've popped in during various times of the day and the menu is littered with great dishes from breakfast to dinner.  It's the kind of place that you will want to frequent often.  It has rapidly become one of my favorite spots in town.  They are going to be  packed during season so I would recommend going now and during off peak times while you can still get  a seat.  I'll probably be at the counter... See you there.

The Filipina - coconut water, banana, pineapple, young coconut, coconut butter, lime.

A real knockout dish from the breakfast and brunch menu is their Poached Eggs in Avocado - sautéed spinach & garlic, "creamy" sun dried tomatoes. I paired this with the very tasty Siam Queen comprised of fresh coconut, mango, coconut butter, lime, cilantro, banana.

Also pictured is a glass of water not to be confused with Miami's finest tap. Basil Park is using Kangen Water which is an alkaline drinking water that is rich in minerals and purged of impurities. 

Close up of Scottish House Cured Salmon, crisp potato cake, "creme fraiche."

Zucchini, Summer Squash & Portobello Lasagna pine nut "ricotta" sundried tomatoes, aged balsamic, micro basil.

I've enjoyed a lot of dishes at Basil Park but these win best dish thus far. Lettuce Cups, grass fed beef, mushroom confit, homemade sriracha.
Duck and Shiitake Lettuce Cups, warm duck confit, Vietnamese style slaw and sriracha.

Soba Noodle Hot Pot, chicken, shellfish, snow peas, enoki shrooms & poached brown egg. 

Spicy Salmon Nori Wraps, red quinoa, avocado, pea tendrils, cucumber, daikon, carrot, Fresno chiles. 

Vegetable Spaghetti "Alfredo" black truffle cream, squash blossom, cashew cheese. 

Royal Red Shrimp a la plancha.

Ahi Tuna Tiradito - Aji amarillo, sweet potato & choclo.

Mahi Taquitos- brown rice tortilla, avocado, pico de gallo, cilantro. 

Mushrooms and Snow Peas.

Basil Park on Urbanspoon

17608 Collins Ave
Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160
(305) 705-0004

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Nose to Tail @ Tongue & Cheek + Ravenous Pig 8.25.14

The menu will start with a creative culinary collection of several junk food classics (think Mortadella Hot Pockets and Foie Gras Reese's Cups), three limited edition Cask & Larder beers and a pack of local pigs Chef James Petrakis raised and fed on discarded Cask & Larder brewery grains.
In addition to the opening reception junk food tray, the nose-to-tail dinner will feature the aforementioned succulent swine in a variety of ways across five courses.

RSVP can be made by calling 305.702.2900 or at

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Frita Showdown II 8.13.14

Frita Showdown 2K14 Poster

Tickets are $35.00 and includes all food and drinks.  Burger Beast knows how to throw a party so don't miss it.

Frita Showdown Tickets

Verde @ PAMM & Cigar City Brewing Dinner 8.28.14

                     Verde at Pérez Art Museum Miami Beer Dinner - Presenting...


On August 28, 2014, Chef Nicolay Adinaguev of Verde at PAMM and Brewmaster Wayne Wambles of  Cigar City Brewing Pair Bites with Brews.

$50 per person (not including tax and gratuity),

Amuse – bite of Verde's Hamachi Sashimi with Cigar City’s Cucumber Saison

Course 1 – Mahi Mahi Ceviche with Cigar City’s Florida Cracker Belgian Wit

Course 2 – Tempura Corn Fritters with Cigar City’s Invasion Pale Ale

Course 3 – Fish and Grits with Cigar City’s Jai Lai IPA

Course 4 – Verde Donuts with Cigar City’s Maduro Brown Ale

…and a special surprise extra something from Cigar City that the beer faithful will not want to miss!!!

Verde at PAMM
1103 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL 33132 

$1 Filet Mignon @ Morton's 8.13.14

In honor of National Filet Mignon Day, Morton’s The Steakhouse will be offering $1 Petite Filet Mignon Sandwiches from open to close on Wednesday, August 13th in the bar area while supplies last.

For more information, contact Morton’s The Steakhouse in Coral Gables (2333 Ponce De Leon Boulevard) at 305.442.1662, Morton’s on Brickell Avenue (1200 Brickell) at 305.400.9990 or Morton’s in North Miami (17399 Biscayne Boulevard) at 305.945.3131 or visit

Monday, August 4, 2014

Best Pizza South Florida - Top Ten

Leaning Tower of Pizza

I'm a "Pizza Bagel" from New York who grew up eating a lot of great pizza and bagels on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I've only found one or two legit bagel places in South Florida so I've refrained from doing a dedicated bagel post. If you want a great bagel go to Sage Bagel in Hallandale Beach.

Enough with the bagels, this post is all about the great pizza you can find from Palm Beach to Miami. I've sampled a tremendous amount of great, good and awful pizza in the South Florida area over the years.

I Love Pizza and think you will enjoy these spots too.

Here are the Ten Best Spots for Pizza in South Florida.


Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza (Multiple Locations) They started the coal fired craze in South Florida and still excel at it. They offer several great topping combinations and their wings are the best in town. 

Tip - several locations offer two for one craft beers on Mondays and Tuesdays.


Stanzione 87 (Miami) a fairly new spot in the downtown Miami area serving legit Neapolitan style pies.   

"Best pie in Miami" Chef Conor Hanlon, The Dutch Miami.


Spadini's  (Boca Raton) They serve a very legit NY Style pie/slice.  Dough, cheese and sauce all done right with an equally proper ratio.  My sauces on the street claim they serve an awesome upside down sicilian pie too.  Stay tuned.


Nick's Pizzeria & Bar (Boca Raton) Nick's specializes in New Haven style "a pizza." Pictured above is a classic white clam pie with garlic and bacon. It's a fantastic combination. All of their pies have a great char to them and are all excellent too. They recently opened a new location in Coral Springs.  


Scuola Vecchia Pizzeria (Delray Beach) The pizza chef trained at the critically acclaimed Keste Pizza e Vino on Bleeker Street in NYC. Pictured above is the classic Neapolitan pizza, the Regina Margherita. It features imported bufala mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil and basil.


Cafe La Buca (Pompano Beach) NY style/wood oven 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. 

I highly recommend paying them a visit for their non pizza offerings as well.  It's a small five table spot with a daily changing verbal menu. So  get a small pie so you have room for some fresh housemade pastas. 

Hidden gem and a must visit.


Mauro's (Downtown Hollywood) Huge authentic NY style slices. Perfect dough, sauce and cheese ratio. Their sauce skews slightly on the sweet side. One of the best NY style slice in South Florida. Slices are always fresh.  

Tip - Grab a slice and head next door for some great beer at PRL


Kings County Pizza (Aventura) My long time followers already know how good the pizza is at Kings County.  Now you do too.  They serve a proper NY Style pie plus a fantastic sicilian and old world pie too. Their baked ziti, chicken parm and meatball heroes are all must gets.

Pro Tip - They do not get a lot of foot traffic because of the location so order a full pie in lieu of a slice that has most likely been sitting for a while.

Pizzeria Oceano (Lantana) Easily one of the best pizzas in South Florida and one of the best in the country too.  Pictured above is their basic pizza which features housemade mozzarella, olive oil, pecorino romano, tomato sauce and basil. The sauce, cheese and dough are all fantastic and the ratio is perfect. The crust has a nice char and tastes great. This is a perfect pizza and worth the drive from Miami for sure. Their non pizza offerings are excellent too. 

This is a special place. I wish I lived closer.


Lucali (South Beach) If you have been reading my blog posts and/or following me on Twitter, you already know that I have a huge pizza crush on Lucali. As someone who loves traditional NY style pizza as well as thin crusted wood oven pies, this is a knockout combination. You can read my original Five Star review here. In a nutshell, everything about this pizza is perfect from the addictive sauce to the fresh cheese to the tasty and chewy dough. Plus, the overall ratio is spot on.

I love Lucali.

Bonus Prize, the calzone at Lucali is even better than the pizza and one of the best overall dishes in Miami.

"The best calzone in the entire world" Chef Jose Mendin, Pubbelly.