A Taste & A Cause

I have always kept a place in my heart for philanthropy. Evidently food holds a piece of my heart as well, thus when I was informed of a way to combine both passions, I jumped on the opportunity.

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Loews Miami Beach

 

Taste of the Nation is a yearly event, where restaurants and food shops join forces to raise money, to feed hungry children. Chefs Allen Susser and Timon Balloo, led the South Florida portion, hosted at the Loews Miami Beach hotel.  Well-known restaurants in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, showcased items from their menu and guests were able to taste, for a flat rate entry fee, all in support of the cause. General admission was priced at $125; however, I obtained a discounted ticket from Gilt City Miami at $75. Go Gilt!

 

The event was well organized and the venue was ideal. Loews offered a large banquet room where over 50 restaurants were set up in a circular format around the room, with a few islands at the center, primarily with drinks and desserts. There was also a stage at the front of the room, with live music, and space for speakers as well.  J’avais l’embarras du choix!  With so many tasty treats to sample, and a glass of wine in hand, constantly being refilled, I felt as if I needed an assistant or a second pair of hands to help juggle it all. But no complaints, being overwhelmed by fine foods is a good problem to have.

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Onli Soda

 

A memorable drink stand was Madeira, showcasing Sangria and Moscato, served with fruits. I found the Moscato evidently sweet, but not overpowering, and perfect for a girl’s night in.  In addition, I fell in love with the fruit sodas from Onli, particularly the pomegranate & strawberry. The drinks are light and Onli also offers the option of unsweetened flavors. I also enjoyed the Sancol Prosecco from 7 Import & Export. It was easy on the palate, but not too airy, yet affordable enough for casual day drinking.

 

I will begin with some of my favorite dishes.  I must first warn you that with so many flavors, my descriptions may be short, which only reinforces how much I enjoyed the event and supported the cause. Also, my stomach did not allow me to visit all stands, but again, it was a pleasure.

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Northern Thai Sausage
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Pork Shoulder & Buttermilk Biscuit

 

The 50 Eggs Inc. stand, showcased Yardbird and Swine, Southern cuisine, as well as Khong River House with a focus on Northern Thai cuisine. I sampled a spicy Northern Thai sausage topped with housemade crispy pork skin. The sausage was oh so juicy and the pork skin was like a chip with pork flavor. It was not overly fattening and despite the amount I ate that evening, it will forever be remembered.  Meanwhile, Yardbird presented a country fried pork shoulder, over a buttermilk biscuit, with picked red onions served on the side. The shoulder was perfectly toasted and the biscuit, as one of the best in South Florida. Yardbird has successfully presented quality Southern food and portrayed it as fine dining, as it deserves; something unaccomplished in Miami in the past.

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Grilled Cheese

 

In reference to comfort foods, the Daily Melt stand was a pleasant surprise. I tasted a grilled cheese sandwich, with truffle oil, butter, provolone and cheddar, accompanied by a slice of pickle. It was grilled cheese done right! Now I know how to satiate my melted cheese cravings.

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Cavatelli

 

On the truffle note, Dolce Italian dressed a creamy parmesan cavatelli with truffle shavings. The dish was also accompanied by asparagus and the portion was surprisingly large, provided the setting. Again, no complaints. I finished the plate and made a note to visit the restaurant soon. As simple as it may have been, the pasta was fresh, comforting and creamy to the perfect extent.

 

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Poached Shrimp

 

My next stand was Little Palm Island from the Keys. They served a poached shrimp with boniato mash, sweet corn salad and a roasted red onion vinaigrette. I cleared the plate quickly, especially as it was served warm. The potatoes were very smooth and the sweet corn effectively balanced the dish. It definitely encouraged a trip to the Keys.

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Bacon Marmalade Crostini

 

Oak Tavern made me love bacon again! The bacon marmalade crostini, with hints of rogue blue, immediately woke up my taste buds. It was juicy, yet sweet and salty. This is where bar food and fine dining join forces!

 

On a lighter note, sushi lovers rejoice! Zuma served a seared salmon shashimi with caviar, which blew my socks off. The salmon was outrageously smooth and naturally sweet if I dare say.

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Shrimp Ceviche

 

Speaking of sweet, Wynwood Kitchen & Bar offered shrimp ceviche with a pineapple coconut sauce, yielding to a refreshing and sweet kick. It was the perfect transition to dessert.

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Chocolate Cheesecake

 

Susie’s Scrumptious Sweets was one of my favorites stands in general, not particularly in the dessert category. They artistically crafted a key lime cheesecake and a chocolate cheesecake in mini popsicles. The chocolate was decadent, but the key lime was sublime. The surrounding icing complimented it very well and the filling’s acidity was perfectly achieved, as key lime pie often runs the risk of an overly sour taste. I was pleased. Susie’s also showcased a larger red velvet cake popsicle; however, it was not as moist as the cheesecakes.

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Key Lime Cheesecake (White) & Red Velvet Cake (Orange)

 

Although I enjoyed all visited stands, some items were less favorable. The Federal shared crawfish and grits with corn. The grits were very creamy, but unfortunately, the corn overpowered the dish and the presentation took away from the fine dining experience.

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Veal Ravioli

 

Bianca at Delano, offered veal ravioli, artfully plated for the event and sprinkled with breadcrumbs. Despite the presentation, the sauce was highly acidic, which reduced the dish’s enjoyment.

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Meatball & Crostini

 

In addition, The Palate Party served Angus beef meatballs with whipped ricotta, picked garlic and a crostini.  I find that the dish was not fit for transport, thus the meat and crostini’s texture were negatively affected. In short, it was mushy, and the sauce was quite mild.

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Guest Stealing A Treat

 

Nonetheless, I enjoyed the event quite a bit and only left due to the limited capacity of my belly. I was proud to be apart of a soiree, raising money to feed the hungry, while satisfying my palate and curiosity alike. I applaud ALL participants for their efforts and generosity and look forward to next year’s Taste of the Nation South Florida. In the meantime, I will be planning visits to some of the aforementioned restaurants.

 

Kris

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Obsession

Obsession

I constantly look forward to my next meal. As mentioned in my introductory article, my goal is to share the reasons behind my obsession and perhaps turn you over to the dark side, if you will. Michy’s is one of these reasons.

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I had heard quite a few positive reviews on the North Miami restaurant, but I decided to experience it for myself, in order to share a candid opinion. I was blown away! The executive chef, Michelle Bernstein, uses inspirations from South America and France, to craft original and amazingly satisfying dishes. Speaking of originality, the décor deserves the utmost respect. The chairs take you back to the 1950’s, using flowered cushions, adorned in plastic. Further, the soft chandeliers add to the elegance of the locale, signaling a cross with 1920’s design, which encourages guests to dress up for dinner. The ceiling pulls the look together. The textured royal blue reflects on the similarly colored floors, transforming the restaurant into an outer world location. Whereas the intimacy, makes you feel as if you were one of the few to grab a ticket to this escape.

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Our journey began with the fresh oysters. Michy’s offers the choice of Atlantic or Pacific oysters, with the possibility to combine them if you so desire. They are served on the half shell with daily mignonette, cocktail sauce and horseradish. The shellfish were so fresh, that it felt as if it were my first time enjoying oysters. The horseradish immediately woke up my taste buds, and I was ready for more. We followed with the ceviche, livened with lime and avocado, with tortilla chips to add to the fun.  The company at my table was lovely, but the food had grabbed my attention once and for all.

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Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Lamb Meatballs

I ordered the goat cheese gnocchi with lamb meatballs and I am certain it was placed on the menu for my sole enjoyment. I have a soft spot for all three ingredients; however, all three can easily be unsuccessful due to quality and freshness.  The gnocchi was evidently fresh, yet tender and oozing with potato, rather than boiled dough as I have had in the past. Perhaps its cylinder shape attributed to it, but either way I was impressed. Second, the harissa tomato sauce brought just enough spice, acidity and sweetness, to do it justice. Now meatballs are quite difficult to master. I often say that they are more of an “at-home” dish. The lamb reduced the traditional toughness beef brings along, and elevated its flavor. Of course the harissa sauce again complimented them. The dish was also topped with Greek cucumber yogurt, which softened the cheese and balanced the tomatoes.  In short, I was in heaven and had difficulty sharing it with my guests.

Typically I more than taste my guests’ meals, but due to my connection with my dish, I refrained from overindulging in theirs. I must say however, that the steak frites were simple yet well made. The steak melted in my mouth, but again I rushed backed to the gnocchi, paired with my glass of Pinot Noir. Needless to say, I cleared the plate, as you can see below.

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Even if I did not have room for desert, I had to make it, considering that Michy’s had passed the first two courses with flying colors. I opted for the deep fried peach pie. I was a bit skeptical with the peach, but they had me at deep fried! The sealed, fried, fruity piece of goodness, sat in apple cider caramel and topped with vanilla ice cream. As simple and traditional as this desert may sound, it does not compare to any old apple pie. It was incrusted with sugar and fried to the perfect level of crispiness. Again, I had trouble sharing. I did however, dabble into the baked Alaska. It consisted of pistachio cake, topped with dulce de leche ice cream and covered in an Italian meringue. So decadent! The quality of their ice cream very much contributed to the deserts’ success, due to the balance in sweetness and creaminess. All in the all, the meal was exquisite.

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Deep Fried Peach Pie

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Baked Alaska

As I am known for my honest opinion, it may come to a surprise that my review was overwhelmingly positive. I must then admit that I also tasted the nutella cake, which I found a bit dry; however, that did not take away from my pleasant experience. Michy’s is where to take your taste buds out for a ride, your eyes out for a remake in history,  and your friends and family (or date) out to be apart of the experience. As it is an experience, you may need to open up your wallet a little wider, but not too wide. In any case, it is one worth every penny. Michy’s reminded me of the reason behind my love for food, and my inspiration for writing. It reminded me of  the reason behind my obsession.