Miami Spice Newcomers to Try Post Hurricane Irma

Photo Courtesy Of Elena Vivas

Photo Courtesy Of Elena Vivas

In the wake of Irma, where ruble dresses the streets and electricity serves as currency, Miami is gallantly finding its way back to normalcy; and we have never been hungrier.

As hurricane snacks dwindle and stale, locals are in search of a stiff drink, good meal and strong AC. Thankfully, Miami Spice offers just that.

Miami Spice is the coveted sampler platter of South Florida’s restaurant year. Every August and September, hundreds of top-ranked eateries slash their prices and foodies flock to their tables like it’s Black Friday. Prix-fixe menus crafted by world-recognized chefs— in other words, a tableau of signature dishes that will cure your Irma blues.

Being the new kid on the block is never easy, and for these Miami Spice newcomers Irma has definitely served as the proverbial bully, cutting their premiere short. Not to fret, Miami Spice has been extended till the end of October, plenty of time to welcome these newbies to your Miami Spice round-up.

Please note that some menu offerings may have changed subject to the storm.

Tacology

This place offers much more than just tacos. Chef Santiago Gomez offers a mercado or “station” dining style, which employs preciseness and expertise for every dish. To start choose the octopus ceviche, topped with pico de gallo or the mini guacamole for the less adventurous. For your entree, I highly recommend the lobster tacos, butter poached and topped with black beans and rich chipotle sauce. The special rib eye tacos are also notable. They are crested with spicy chorizo, crispy chicharron and salsa. The fattiness of the chorizo and crunch of the chicharron are a delightful union for the senses. Wrap-up your evening with the creamy, cinnamon-rich arroz con leche, this rice pudding is the perfect remedy to soothe all that self-inflicted pain from Tacology’s many hot sauces.

Photo Courtesy Of Elena Vivas

Photo Courtesy Of Elena Vivas

Photo Courtesy Of Elena Vivas

Photo Courtesy Of Elena Vivas

Phuc Yea

This place offers a unique marriage of Vietnamese and Cajun spices; gristle-rich flavors juxtaposed to Vietnamese crispness. Although Phuc Yea is a newcomer to Miami Spice, owners Cesar Zapata and Aniece Meinhold are veteran Spice purveyors with their former eatery The Federal. Phuc Yea’s premiere offering includes a thorough collection of appetizers like country-fried oysters, jelly fish crudo and crispy imperial roll. The menu continues to impress with Cola confit duck, lemongrass chicken, peppercorn churrasco and vegetable curry. The fun continues with your choice of fried rice, chilled spicy beef noodles or mangoes and cukes. Phuc Yea’s hearty selections will leave you, well… saying Phuc Yea!

Photo Courtesy Of Elena Vivas

Photo Courtesy Of Elena Vivas

Pinch Kitchen

El Portal’s hidden gem. The off-beat kitchen that houses a clean menu of locally sourced produce and sustainable proteins kicks off the season with an underground, off-spice menu. Pinch’s prix-fixe menu includes their “K-town Guac”, a creamy guacamole blended with kimchi and topped with bulgogi. Options for entrees include their signature Fideua, an aromatic pasta permeated with cockles and fish, a hearty and rustic dish perfect for sharing. Although the scallops are not included in their prix-fixe offering they are worth sharing; tender morsels blanketed with fragrant beef sauce beneath cauliflower puree. Chefs John Gallo and Rene Reyes’ food truly displays the farm-rich, free-spirit that Pinch embodies, and best of all, their natural wines won’t give you a hangover. Cheers to that!

PHOTO COURTESY OF ELENA VIVAS

PHOTO COURTESY OF ELENA VIVAS

PHOTO COURTESY OF ELENA VIVAS

PHOTO COURTESY OF ELENA VIVAS

Gili’s Beach Club

Lastly, this restaurant is for the hands-on diner who doesn’t mind doing some of the work. The restaurant offers a lava stone experience where entrees are delivered on hot stones allowing patrons to cook their dishes to their likeness. Offerings include skirt steak, organic chicken and jumbo shrimp, accompanied by paella style rice, steak fries or chorizo potato salad, along with an assortment of sauces. Conclude your unique evening with house-made key lime pie or a sinful snickers cake. This beachside eatery is the perfect escape post Irma.

Thank you to all the local restaurants offering post-Irma deals and refuge for Miamians. We will rebuild one bite at a time!

Dade Night Dining: The Most Romantic Restaurants to Visit in Miami

Dade Night Dining: The Most Romantic Restaurants to Visit in Miami

Summer date nights shouldn’t conform to the four corners of a $39 prix fixe menu; especially when Miami has a plethora of restaurants that serve affordable food– with a complementary side of romance. 

Isn’t there nothing more disappointing than taking your date to a “froufrou” steakhouse only to discover you’ll have to choose between chicken or fish. Save the embarrassment and your Amex by trying one of these eateries that are sure to set the mood. 

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Miamians Line Up for Artisanal Desserts at The Salty Donut in Wynwood

The Salty Donut began as a mission to bring handcrafted, artisanal doughnuts to Miami. Owners Andy Rodriguez and Amanda Pizarro traveled across the country for these desserts and wondered why Miami didn’t have them.

“We realized that Miami is usually at the tail end of a lot of gastronomic trends and we just really wanted to do something that was for our city. Bring a little bit of culture that we didn’t have from other places around the country to our city...because I feel like Wynwood is part of the town, part of Miami that’s most accepting to kind of different things,” Rodriguez said.

Prior to having their storefront, “Salty,” as it is affectionately known, was trying to keep up with their customers' insatiable demands from a pop-up truck. Even now that they have been able to move into their storefront, The Salty Donut regularly has lines stretching down the street and often sells out of doughnuts before the business day is done — not surprising, due to its widely varied consumer base.

“I think we’ve got kids [who] are super trendy and kinda fashion-forward. I think we’ve got, you know, grandmas and grandpas that are 80 years old that come in and get our doughnuts,” Rodriguez added.

With quirky items like the pancetta, cheddar, and cornbread cake doughnuts and classics like the traditional glazed buttermilk, Salty offers a treat for every flavor profile. The menu is thanks in part to veteran pastry chef and The Salty Donut Executive Pastry Chef Max Santiago. With his 20 years of experience, Chef Santiago can change his menu regularly.

“Whenever anyone asks me, ‘You do just doughnuts?’ I don’t do just doughnuts, I do desserts,” he said.

And those desserts are just as pleasing to the eye as they are to the stomach. As customers walk in to satisfy their doughnut craving, many can’t help but stop to snap a shot for Instagram or Facebook.

Watch this episode of REACH Miami to see what all the fuss is about at The Salty Donut.

Christmas Menu Ideas From a Few of Our Favorite Chefs

In this “On Foodable Side Dish,” we visit three popular Miami restaurants to learn about what chefs are cooking up this holiday season down in sunny South Florida.

Pastel De Choclo at La Mar by Gastón Acurio

Executive Chef Diego Oka brings us the Pastel De Choclo, or corn and beef pie, from Peru, his native country. This dish is one of Oka’s personal holiday favorites. What makes this dish so special is its main ingredient — Choclo, or Peruvian corn. Grown in the Andean Mountains, this type of corn comes with extra large kernels, a creamy chewy texture, and a starchy flavor that sets them apart from the North American sweet corn kernels that we are used to eating in the United States.

To prepare this dish, yellow chili peppers paste, white onion, olive oil, salt, butter, white sugar, choclo, yellow corn, whole milk, eggs, and beef stew ingredients are needed.

Oka suggests to begin preparing the filling of the pie first and to really concentrate on making the dressing the best it can be since it will impact the overall taste of the dish.

First, blend the choclo and the yellow corns together with milk and reserve. Then cook the chopped onions with olive oil and salt for 30 minutes. Later, add aji amarillo (yellow chili peppers), sugar, and butter to the cooked onions until mixture is homogeneous. Afterward, put the corn pure on a bowl and add the cooked mix. Finally, add eight eggs one at a time and mix well.

For the beef stew, sauté the tenderloin and add chopped red onions to the same pot. Let it cook slowly. Then add panca paste (Peruvian red pepper paste) to the pot and cook. To complete the stew, add salt to taste, raisins, peanuts, olives, and finish with cilantro.

To create the pie, place the beef stew on the bottom of cooking tray or bowls to later top it off with the choclo mixture. Put the cooking container in the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. After it’s taken out of the oven, the corn and beef pie needs to be chilled so the flavors can be better extracted. To serve, heat the dish again and serve with a Peruvian-inspired salad.

“In the kitchen, nothing is risky. You have to do what you like and put your heart in the preparation and the flavors...,” says Oka.

“On The Rocks” (Rhode Island Scallops Crudo) at Izzy’s Fish & Oyster

Germany native and Executive Chef William Crandall tends to go for the lighter dishes when the holidays roll around. His advice when it comes to planning a Christmas menu like the one at Izzy’s Fish & Oyster, The Feast of Seven Fishes, is “No. 1, make it fun for yourself to do, and, no. 2, make sure there is a nice variety...”

Crandall’s “On The Rocks” is a refreshing dish that uses Rhode Island scallops, Florida vegetables, and citrus topped off with international spices.

To begin, scallops must be thinly sliced. Texture is added to the plate by rolling the scallops over and stacking them next to each other to add height to the dish. Then add sauce to the dish — in this case, Crandall uses a sauce made in-house at Izzy’s called Florida Orange Ponzu sauce. Its ingredients are yuzu, shiro shoyu or white soy sauce, and kosho, or Japanese pepper corn.

For flavor and color, evenly distribute thinly sliced radish in between the scallops and add edible Florida plants. To add more texture to the dish, include dollops of whipped Florida avocado blended with oils, salt and lime juice. The final touch includes a dash of togarashi seasoning, a Japanese finishing spice made with chilis, sesame seeds, and nori, or edible seaweed.

To keep the fish dish fresh and cool, this plate is served over crushed ice, hence its name.

Noche Buena Cuban Lasagna at Finka Table & Tap

You cannot experience everything Miami’s cuisine has to offer for the holidays, or year-round for that matter, without checking out Finka Table and Tap’s menus, which feature a Cuban-Asian fusion cuisine.

For Noche Buena or Christmas Eve, Finka Chef and Owner Eileen Andrade acquired her inspiration from her Latin roots and demonstrated a dish that compiles the best flavors of a Cuban Christmas dinner.

For this dish, fried sweet plantains, Cuban-style pulled pork, yuca or cassava, mojo sauce, Swiss cheese, garlic and onion mojo, and parsley are needed.

To begin, set the first layer of the lasagna, which is the chopped fried sweet plantains over a buttered pan. Next, lay the pulled pork, which has been marinated for 24 hours, complete with seasoning, bay leaves, cumin, and lots of garlic. Then lay on the yuca mash, which will give your dish the Latin touch. The final step before putting the pan in the oven in 350 degrees for 20 minutes is to place the Swiss cheese evenly on top of the yuca layer.

To serve, top it off with onions bathed in mojo sauce and chopped fresh parsley to give the Noche Buena Cuban Lasagna some color.

This lasagna is a dish that Andrade likes to make at home with her close ones.
“I think it’s always fun to incorporate your family when making a dish…,” she says.