Top 10 Tastes - 2008
I've always liked this thread, so I wanted to start one for Miami.
In no particular order:
1. Pork Belly and Watermelon Salad -- Michael's Genuine
2. White Gazpacho Soup -- Michy's
3. Sea Urchin Sandwich -- Sra. Martinez
4. Bocata Iberico -- Sabor de Espana
5. Ravioli Coq au Vin -- Cafe Boulud
6. Chilean (baked) Empanada de Carne -- Moises Bakery
7. Pork Adobada Quesadilla -- Mi Rinconcito Mexicano
8. Grilled Octopus Salad, cucumber, black olives, red wine vinaigrette, caper butter sauce -- Azul
9. Pan de Bono -- Ola
10. Chocolate Bread Pudding -- Michy's
Other: Cacao drink from Yambo or Horchata drink from El Atlakat
Frod and others -- I'm waiting for your detailed descriptions...
Great idea. Here's mine, with original notes where I could find them. Note the lame and uninspired repetitive use of "standout" and "knockout" (though I'm still proud of the reference to "Lonnie's Special Quail"). Likewise in no particular order (and with some "ties" so as to cheat and list more than 10) ->
1. Iberico de bellota paleta @ Delicias de Espana
"A couple months ago I bought a 1/2 lb of the paleta iberico bellota (the foreleg rather than the more prized hind leg) @ $100 / lb and it was so good I wanted to weep. Richer, more complex and more pleasing than any prosciutto I've ever had. I would have liked to have done a side-by-side comparison of the bellota to the "regular" jamon iberico but was still recovering from the sticker shock of the bellota and didn't think of it. Worth the price? I dunno, it really was the best ham I have ever had and one of the single greatest stand-alone ingredients I've tasted. Perhaps difficult to justify relatively speaking when comparing to the price of prosciutto, but in absolute terms, I'd say $25 for a generous 1/4 lb plate was well worth the pleasure it brought."
fudge farms pork shoulder @ MGF&D
"Just one small note from a visit last night (what better way to get ready for a fast?) - Fudge Farms pork shoulder (pork before Yom Kippur? I'll atone for it today). Wow. This is a different pork than the one used for the large dish w/ the parsley sauce and pickled onions, this one is a "medium" which is braised till it's just about to fall apart, served on top of a crouton with some of the braising liquid (a bit of a bbq sauce note to it) and topped with a fennel slaw. Unbelievably tender and rich. Our waitress described it as the "prime beef of pork" and that's pretty much on target. Some good reading on the producer, who is based in Alabama, here ->
la tur cheese w/ paradise farms honeycomb @ MGF&D
"La Tur cheese w/ Paradise Farms honeycomb. Didn't make the menu but our server told us about this one, which you could choose to do as an app or dessert (or, I suppose, anywhere in between). I finished with it and absolutely loved it. La Tur is an Italian triple-cream cheese which is mild but still has some depth and complexity of flavor, super-creamy and absolutely luscious. Mrs. F is not a fan of the runny cheeses but was a big fan of this one and "helped" me with at least half of the generous serving. I think honey is the perfect accompaniment to these type of cheeses and the square of oozy honeycomb from local Paradise Farms was a simple elegant pairing."
roasted marrow bones @ Michy’s
"The marrow bones were in a presentation I've never seen before - instead of cut crosswise across the shank, these were longer pieces split lengthwise down the middle, exposing a long seam of oozy marrow, topped with a gremolata-like mix of garlic, caper, parsley and orange rind, served with a couple pieces of challah toast for shmearing. Hands down the best marrow bone dish I've ever had."
bacon wrapped rabbit loin w/ dandelion greens, carrots & panisse @ Michy’s
"The rabbit loin was also excellent, loin wrapped in bacon and served over dandelion greens, carrots and squares of a crispy-outside tender-inside root vegetable which I'm now blanking on (parsnip?) (i.e., all the things rabbits love to eat)."
[Note: not parsnip, "panisse" a/k/a chickpea fries. Variations on both this and the bone marrow dish are now on the menu at Sra. M].
sweet caprese @ Paradigm
""SWEET CAPRESE" (tomato marmalade, goat cheese ice cream, baby basil, chocolate balsamic sauce) – this was a “pre-dessert” variation on a cheese course done by the pastry chef, Fabian di Paolo. I was somewhat dubious about this one, as I'm not a caprese fan. I'm a fan of Chef Fabian's caprese. This was off-the-charts good. I don’t know all the detail on the prep of this dish. I recall someone saying there's no sugar or anything else added to the tomato, which I find just mind-boggling, as it tasted like a deliciously sweet tomato jam; done with a cheese flan, basil-infused goat cheese ice cream, chocolate/balsamic syrup, and sprigs of micro-basil (which again were just delicious). All the typical elements of a caprese salad, but re-purposed as a sweet cheese course, and it worked perfectly. This was a knockout dish."
banana pho @ Paradigm
"banana pho – a knockout dish. The presentation starts with a little squeeze bottle holding some liquid set before each diner, labeled “noodles.” Then a bowl holding a dark green gel disk, together with a strip of beef tendon, on top of which are a few bean sprouts and fresh cilantro. Tableside, the servers pour into the bowl a clear broth simultaneously redolent of Vietnamese pho aromas (star anise, ginger, fish sauce) and … banana? Yup. And it works. Beautifully. As the broth warms the dish, the green disk (a gel of Vietnamese basil) melts into the broth, adding its flavor and aroma. The broth is clarified using gelatin, somehow rendering a clear consommé out of a soup made with bananas. Oh, and the little squeeze bottle? You squirt it into the broth, and voila, it makes nuoc mam –flavored noodles. A tribute / take-off on a technique that Wylie Dufresne has done at wd~50 in NY, which works perfectly in the context of this dish. I liked everything about this dish. The flavors were outstanding, the presentation was both fun and functional. Loved it. Only thing that could have made it better would be a couple more pieces of beef tendon, maybe some tripe …"
bbq shrimp @ Red Light
"The BBQ shrimp are the real New Orleans deal. One day someone will explain to me how they came to be called barbecue shrimp, as they're neither grilled on a BBQ nor are they sauced with a typical BBQ sauce. Rather, the shrimp are typically sauteed and served in a pan sauce made by sauteeing the shrimp heads w/ butter, lemon, worcestershire and tabasco, and served w/ bread for dipping in the sauce. Done spot on here, great dish. The kids, particularly little Miss F, liked these much."
quail w/ roasted cherries @ Red Light
"The standout dish of the night - the "Holy shit that's good" dish - was the quail. A full order brought two birds, deboned except for wings and legs, perfectly roasted, stuffed w/ cubed brioche and sauced w/ mushrooms and roasted cherries w/ a sweet reduction. Wow - this was a knockout dish. Good thing I got the full order, as the kids ate most of one bird themselves after I made the mistake of giving them a taste. For those who have seen the movie "Flirting with Disaster," think "Lonnie's Special Quail" - mind-blowingly good."
white bean stew w/ duck & foie sausage @ Sra. Martinez
"One of the real standout items for me. Gigantic white beans (not sure if these were fabes or the mammoth judion beans that we saw in Segovia) stewed with big chunks of duck/foie gras sausage (more duck-y than foie-y) and laced with a port reduction that gives the whole dish a hint of sweetness. Absolutely loved it, great dish for a cold night."
sea urchin sandwich @ Sra. Martinez
"This one really won me over. Uni is one of my favorite ingredients, though usually I prefer it as is rather than messed with or cooked. Here, it’s smooshed into a sandwich that’s pressed and grilled with some soy-ginger butter, and boy does it ever work for me. It didn’t lose any of that urchin-y goodness, and the soy-ginger just highlighted and enhanced the intriguing salty spicy sweet flavors of the uni."
7. buffalo sweetbreads @ Pacific Time
"The standout for me were the sweetbeads, done "buffalo" style. Not many points for originality, as neighbor Michael across the street has already been doing "buffalo frog legs" with homemade hot sauce and a little blue cheese dip, but the flavor and texture were fantastic. Two lobes of sweetbread are panko crusted and then crisped, so they have this fantastic crispy texture on the outside and then are light as air inside. They looked for all the world like a couple of Mrs. Paul's fish filets, but the execution was really just fantastic. Served on top of a pool of orange hot sauce, with a little dipping bowl of blue cheese dressing and a few celery sticks. Somehow it all worked. A great dish."
8. seared scallop @ Talula
"two plump, perfectly seared sea scallops, served on top of a pair of savory pancakes, with a corn and bacon sauce, spicy cashews, and a root beer (yes root beer) gastrique, with a sprinkle of micro-greens and saffron threads over the top. This is a dish that's been through various iterations on the menu, and it was uncanny how everything - especially the root beer gastrique - came together."
9. watercress vichyssoise @ Café Boulud
"The vichyssoise was one of the best renditions I've had - bright green and brightly flavored from the watercress, but still substantial from the potato base, rich but not heavy, perfectly seasoned, and an elegant presentation with a waffle potato chip balanced on top. Good stuff."
sayori, uni, ankimo, aji, and any number of other things @ Sushi Deli
motsuni @ Hiro’s Yakko-San
callos @ Copas y Tapas