A week in Miami

Makoto Restaurant Bal Harbour

Hello my lovely blogger friends, I have been away for a long long time!  I am so sorry, it has been crazy since I returned from South Africa, navigating a new city, getting engaged, planning an upcoming wedding and then visiting my mother for a week in Miami………it has been nuts!

But, I’m back at home and finally have some time to write and post!  I wanted to write about some new and notable places I went to in Miami.  It was such a whirlwind trip, that I never really ate at home.  Catching up with family and friends in little snippets of time, it’s always bitter sweet, loving my time with them but knowing it is only a few hours or so.

Anyhow, as I mentioned, I did do a lot of eating out.  And there are three places that I thought were worth mentioning if you are ever in Miami and want to try something off the beaten track.

One of the first ones was Makoto Restaurant in Bal Harbour Shops.  Makoto is the brainchild of Makoto Okuwa, who trained from the young age of 15 in Japan, and then set his sights westward.  In Washington D.C. he trained with Chef Morimoto of Iron Chef fame, and then later became the head chef of Morimoto New York. I had never heard of it, but joined my friend Michelle Bernstein, Miami Chef Extraordinaire of Michy’s , Crumb on Parchment; host of PBS’ Check Please! and of Top Chef fame (as a judge).  Located in Miami’s ritziest shopping center, Bal Harbour Shops, it is a small but beautifully appointed space.  Since it was my first time and she knows I love my food, she let me choose.  On first inspection the menu really surprised me, it was really long!  It was divided in super simple sections such as Cold, Hot, Salads, Rice + noodles, Robata, Fish + Meat, and obviously sushi.    I was super tempted by almost the whole thing, ranging from traditional sashimi to such unique dishes, it almost felt to me that it would be things that a love child between Nobu and Ferran Adria would come up with.

I ordered a few things, and there were some dishes that were brought  out from the kitchen courtesy of the chef, since of course I was eating with another acclaimed chef.  And to tell you the truth, those were my favorites.  The Watermelon Ceviche, with Tuna, Whitefish, octopus, Squid, Serrano and Lime Ice was genius!  It was so fresh, with a little bit of dried ice to creat this mad scientist/volcano feel.  The heat from the Serrano combined with the lemon ice was ingenious.  Everything on the plate was fantastic, and the quality of the seafood was superb.  I also enjoyed the Tuna Air Bread with Caesar Foam, Red Onion and Tomato.  This was a spin on one of Ferran Adria’s dishes called Air-Bag, which is a small baguette, that is hollow on the inside.  The tuna swapped well from the original dish’s jabugo ham, and the caesar foam in this one was delicious, giving it an almost tuna fish sandwich taste.

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures, because we were gabbing like crazy the whole night!

Another place that is worth a mention is Oak Tavern,  which just recently opened up its doors in Miami’s über trendy Design District.  The decor is simple, rustic yet elegant.  It has a beautiful courtyard that you cross to get to the main restaurant.  The menu is very similar to Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink, which is a couple of streets away from Oak Tavern.  It is composed of odd pairings of what I like to call “new american omnivore”.  Chock full of your trendy veggie staples such as beets and kale, some ’50’s throwbacks such as Deviled eggs, and foodie staples of pig galore (Bacon, Belly and Ears) this menu is the type of food I enjoy eating.  We ordered quite a few, since it seems like Spain’s tapas has reached western shores and conquered it.  There were some stellar options, and some not-so-stellar bombs.

My favorite had to be the Roast Bone Marrow with Oxtail Marmalade;

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I absolutely adore bone marrow, funny thing is the first time I tried it was at Michelle Bernstein’s Sra. Martinez restaurant, which unfortunately no longer exists.  I was totally taken aback at how amazing this oxtail marmalade was, succulent and sweet, yet savoury all at once.  The celery leaf, fennel and parsley side salad paired nicely with the richness of the dish, giving it a nice burst of acidity and crispness.

Another big surprise for me was Neiman Marcus’s Mariposa restaurant in The Village of Merrick Park.  My mother and I decided to eat there only because she was shopping around for a dress for my wedding.  I had never been there, and frankly, was not expecting much.  The first thing that really pleased me was their menu; clear, concise calorie counts on every dish, and lots of vegetarian, low calorie and organic options.  The feel of the place was obviously laid back elegance, with neutral tones throughout the dining room.  I decided on one of the low cal options, which was quickly made null and void by the giant popover that was placed in front of me!

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Placed beside it was a teeny little plate of strawberry compound butter and an espresso cup of consome,

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It was absolutely divine.  The consome was perfect, since it was quite chilly that day, (for Miami that is) and the strawberry butter and the popover….melt in your mouth goodness.

My main dish was the mahi mahi tacos with avocados and ancho chile dressing, loaded with a cabbage slaw and fresh cilantro.

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At 405 calories, this was pure ecstasy!  The fish was perfectly cooked, super flavorful.  The contrast of the creamy avocado and the crisp salad made this dish a perfectly satisfying lunch.  And, I skipped dinner that night too, it was really filling!

So, all in all, my trip to Miami was wonderful, spending time with the family and friends, discovering new and old places I had never been too.  Who says American’s don’t know how to eat well?

Not little old me, of course!

And now for something completely different.

Karla and Juleisy

A couple of days ago a friend of mine said I should do a post on what NOT to do in the kitchen.  I thought it was a great idea, and said I would start thinking about things that I could put on that list.

Then yesterday, a friend of mine posted a hilarious video on his FB page.   It is so ridiculous, and hilarious, and perfectly describes what you should never do in the kitchen.  Shot by some fellow Miamian’s, taking the piss out of themselves and “cooking shows”.

If you are offended by some NUDITY (Hey!  Shout out to my friend at Sybaritica and his extremely funny post!) then don’t watch.

So here goes, what I think you should never do in the kitchen!

COOKING WITH HIALEAH’S FINEST: JULEISY Y KARLA:

PULLED PORK WONTONS

Cooking with Hialeah’s Finest

 

Shrimp Tacos with Charred Poblano and Pineapple Slaw

Shrimp Tacos

Whenever I’m in Miami, I am amazed at the amount of produce that I can’t get in Barcelona.  Obviously, the population is decidedly more Latin American here than over there, so the markets cater to them.  But I can’t help wanting to buy everything, almost obsessively.

I love Poblano peppers.  I love the deep green hue, almost brown, that is unlike any other pepper.  I love how smooth and, elegant, dare I say they are.  So I designed this dish entirely around the poblanos.

Poblano Peppers

I had never made this before, hoping that my flavor combinations would turn out ok.  This was not just ok, it was Gosh Darn Delicious!  Even my mother, who is a total skeptic when it comes to trying something new, was smacking her lips and licking the last bits of the tacos as she happily ate all three!

Charred Poblano and Pineapple Slaw

Slightly charring the Poblanos brings out their smoky flavor, and the addition of the pineapple to the slaw…..genius!  Every third bite or so you get this amazing sweetness that really complements the shrimp.  Now, for the shrimp I used this seasoning pack that you get all over Florida, I am not sure if you can find it elsewhere.

Sazon GoyaThis is a simple combination of achiote, which is a seed that gives a wonderful color to your foods and is used in Mexican and other Latin American countries.  It also has cilantro and garlic salt, etc.  You can easily substitute all these things if you can’t find any of this in your local market.  Apart from that, some fresh onions, tomatoes, cilantro and lime juice, and you’re good to go!

So, here’s what you’re going to need:

Makes about 10 tacos

For the Slaw:

1/2 cabbage, shredded

3 Poblano peppers, charred, peeled and seeded, and thinly sliced

1 small handful shredded carrots

1/8 cup sugar

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tsp yellow mustard

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp garlic salt

1 tbsp hot sauce, such as Louisiana or Tabasco if you’re in a pinch

1/4 cup chopped pineapple

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients except for the cabbage, carrots, poblanos and pineapple.  Combine all the ingredients to make a dressing.  Then in a large bowl, pour it over the cabbage, carrots, poblanos and pineapple.  Mix well, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

For the shrimp:

3/4 lb peeled and deveined shrimp

2 tomatoes, chopped

1/2 large onion, chopped

1 packet of sazon goya

Dash of ground cumin

Dash of garlic salt

1 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced

1 lime, juiced

10 corn tortillas

In a large sauté pan, add a drizzle of olive oil, onions and the spice packet.  Cook over high heat, about 7 minutes or until the onions start to soften.  Add the tomatoes and lower the heat to medium, cooking another 10 minutes or until a you have a thick sauce.

Turn the heat up again to high, and add the shrimp and cook for 5 minutes, or until pink.  Add the fresh cilantro and lime juice.

ShrimpWarm your tortillas in the microwave, wrapped in paper towels, for about a minute.  To assemble, on the tortilla, spoon a bit of the shrimp, so that every tortilla has about 3-4 shrimp, and top with a dollop of the slaw.  Try not to scarf them down like I did, and enjoy, cause once they’re gone, you’re gonna want more!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

 

Seared Scallops with Cilantro Chutney

Scallops and Cilantro Chutney

The first weekend we were in Florida, we drove up to Sanibel Island to visit my aunt and uncle who live in Ft. Myers.  They have a wonderful friend who rented out her beautiful house to us for 4 incredible days.  It was absolute heaven.  Sanibel is a small island off the coast of Florida, and it’s main draws are shelling on its pristine beaches, biking, swimming……RELAXING.

Shelling beach, Sanibel Island

Check out the amount of shells!

It was wonderful.  We spent most of our days doing Dolce far Niente, which in Italian means the sweet art of doing nothing.  The house was perfect, 4 bedrooms, large living room, but the best part was the large screened in patio, where we ate ALL of our meals.  Everyday we came up with delicious food that we all enjoyed making together, family style.  It was pure heaven I assure you.

One of those days, my mother made a specific request that she wanted lobster tails.  But the ones that we were able to purchase were quite small, so we got the lobster, but I also decided on Scallops, which is something I hardly ever get to make in Spain.  And the best part was being able to prepare it with the wonderful ingredients that are native to South Florida, and some little cheats that my family had brought over, such as this amazing cilantro chutney.

This dish has an overall ease that is hard to beat.  Scallops cook quite quickly and are delicious on their own.  With the addition of the cilantro chutney, well it was just sublime!  I placed it over some julienned zucchini, just because we had that on hand, and over a bed of spinach, so we could get some heart healthy vitamins in!

Made in a flash, and eaten almost faster, it’s a dish you will love, I promise!

Seared Scallops with Cilantro Chutney

Serves 5

1 lb medium scallops

1 lime, juiced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp butter

Salt and Pepper to Taste

1 small container of store-bought cilantro chutney

1 zucchini, julienned

1 garlic clove, minced

1 bunch of fresh spinach leaves, washed and stemmed

On a small plate, place the spinach leaves and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, and decorate the plate with a few drops of the cilantro chutney if you want.  If you don’t, just plop it on top of the spinach and you’re good to go!

In a small frying pan, add a teeny drizzle of olive oil, and heat to high.  Add the julienned zucchini, garlic and sauté until just tender, about 5 minutes.  Keep warm.

In a large frying pan, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and tsp of butter.  Heat on high until smoking.  When you make scallops, the pan has to be extremely hot, if not they won’t sear and they’ll let out this gummy liquid that isn’t pleasant.  When the pan is super hot, add your scallops, and sauté on one side for about 1 minute, then turn to sear on the other side, one more minute.  Add the lime juice, salt and pepper, and sauté another minute or so.

On your plate, place a small bit of the warm zucchini, and top with 4 or 5 of the scallops.  Drizzle a little of the cilantro chutney.

Your taste buds will thank you!

From my (Sanibel) kitchen to yours,

Carla

Shorty’s Bbq…..a Miami legend

Shorty's BBQ

 

Ever since I can remember, when I lived here, my family would reunite with my aunt and uncle and we would go to Shorty’s for some ribs.  And honestly, nothing has really changed.  Every time I visit Miami, it is the one stop that we always, always go to.  Especially since my boyfriend Paolo has become such an assiduous fan!

Shorty’s has changed little since I was a kid.  I think the one thing that’s changed is that it is not constructed all out of wood since the fire in 1972 completely burned it down!

Shorty's bbq fire

One of the things that I love most, is that their menu is almost exactly the same as I remember it,  except for some new additions as of the last year.   It is refreshingly the same, picnic style seating, wood tables, and all sorts of Americana to be found along the walls and tables.

 

Shorty's BBQ

Shorty's BBQ

Shorty's BBQ

Obviously though, the star of the show are the ribs.  Oh man.  Fall off the bone, slow cooked baby back ribs.  And the corn on the cob.  I’m not sure which one I like better.  As I said, the menu hasn’t changed in years, but why mess with perfection?  There is Baby back pork ribs, Beef Spare ribs, Chicken, Pulled pork sandwiches, Brisket, and a few new additions that I hardly paid any attention to.  Their cole slaw is always delicious, chock full of celery salt, giving it a bite amidst the creaminess.  But the ribs and corn.  Oh oh oh.  The corn on the cob is always sweet, perfectly cooked.

Shorty's BBQI have professed my love for corn before.  So you can imagine how happy and excited I get to have this delicious cob, drenched with butter, all to myself.  I have to pace myself to eat it…..I mean, halfway through, I always think….should I order another one?  (Yes, that is my inner Miss Piggy talking.)  But then I think I need to save room for my ribs!

Shorty's BBQ

These ribs are perfection on a plate.  They are so flavorful, completely fall off the bone, and I drench them in Shorty’s home-made spicy barbecue sauce, which is less sweet, more tangy.  Delicious.  The fries are great, but I rather concentrate on that pork goodness.  It’s something that you really can’t get in Spain.  At least, not as amazing as this.  A couple of years ago, I heard that Shorty’s employees have to sign a confidentiality agreement on how the ribs and corn are cooked.  And if it is true, they are right to do so.  They are THAT GOOD.

I also get the bbq baked beans.  I love beans.  In all ways.  And these are a perfect accompaniment, along with the cole slaw I mentioned before!

So, if you live in Miami, or are here for a visit, you need to make your way to Shorty’s!  Open since 1951, I hope they never change!

Carla

http://www.shortys.com