A Lunch Hideway

I had some friends in town from New York last Monday.  Having enjoyed a cruise, they were only here for the day and spent the afternoon with me before heading back home. They were seeking an elegant and intimate lunch, and cocktails were in order, of course, to sail them back to the Polar Vortex in good spirits. I suggested The Cypress Room.  My last dinner experience was nothing short of breathtaking. Let’s compare with lunch!

Our party of three arrived at 1 pm.  Jazz vocals recalling a distant past flowed through the room, an escape from the commotion of the city.  The atmosphere inside was quiet, yet warm. It was the perfect meeting place.  We all chose the Prix Fixe Menu. $33 for three courses and the option to add a midcourse. It was by far the best lunch I have had in a very long time. Allow me to tell you why.

hanging-with-harris-ryan-goodspeed-cocktails-cypress-room
Count Basie, courtesy of Hanging with Harris.

I started with a specialty cocktail, the Count Basie with: Redemption Rye, Cocchi Americano, R&W apricot, grapefruit, lemon, egg white and pistachio. I felt so regal just drinking it, in a tall glass, with the foam from the egg white brushing against my lips. A complex mixture of spirits, sure, but the Count Basie was a smooth operator, multi-dimensional and opened my palate for what was to come.

I chose the Triggerfish Crudo for my first course, with cherry peppers and blood orange. Or maybe the Crudo chose me? The tender fish was so fresh it practically leapt from the plate with just enough heat and a perfect balance of acidity.  It awoke every nerve within me.

MarrowI opted for a midcourse, the marrow bones with preserved lemon, celery, garlic toast and topped with parsley. This dish is a classic on the menu since opening and offered both at lunch and dinner.  The buttery marrow is best enjoyed spread on garlic toasts and kissed with a squeeze of lemon.  I’ll stop at that, but I will not refrain from tasting my friends’ food. I reached over for a bite of gnocchi, prepared with calabaza, wild mushroom and herbs. Bold, yet light enough for lunch thanks to a short ingredient list coming together in harmony on the place.

My second course was the most mesmerizing: the short rib with mushroom conserva and lila onions. I added the thrice cooked fries as a side. The contrast of the rich beef, bathing in flavorful broth, shined with just a touch of the potato. With a glass of Oregon Pinot Noir, I enjoyed the decadence of dinner time without feeling overwhelmed.  You’ll just have to trust me on that! Now onto dessert…

I chose another favorite, the brown butter semifreddo with compressed apple and medjool date leather. Its flavors morph as the dish melts from a tableside pour of spiced cider, each bite surpassing the last.  With French macarons begging not to be forgone, we bid The Cypress Room adieu, bellies full and hearts light.  It’s good to know there’s a reasonably priced lunch prix fixe menu ready to satisfy both the simple- or supplemental-minded at heart.

A Sweet Escape in the Heart of Miami

tcr1 tcr2

When I eat well, my pallet and my heart are so joyful that they liberate me from the everyday and allow me to savor the magical moment- the meal in question.  However, great food entails more than taste; it must also be soulful, and earlier this week at The Cypress Room, I was permitted to cherish the pleasures of food well beyond my pallet. The experience was more than just gastronomic, it was emotional.

From the moment I entered the room, the warm lighting and the pink wallpaper welcomed me home, yet took me back in time. I would have loved to experience the roaring ’20s and the chandeliers and intimate environment just about offered that opportunity, while my short hair and my red lipstick fit the scene. Simultaneously, the wall mounts and the pecky cypress panels dare to combine a rustic look with the chic décor. This is what Miami is all about, being daring and escaping; which The Cypress Room embodies through portraits commemorating Florida landmarks and people savoring the indulgences that Miami represents. The Cypress Room found a way to achieve that sort of audacity while remaining composed.

tcr3

The evening started off on a romantic note with an aperitif at the bar. I went with the “Go Lightly”, a mix of : cocchi americano, st. germain, sparkling wine and topped with a lemon peel. The beverage was as simple as it was complex. It emitted just the right balance of sweetness with a touch of bitterness, as the flavors developed further and further. Needless to say that I was saddened at the last sip, but my pallet was well prepared for what was to come.

We were welcomed by an amuse-bouche, a creamy celery and potato soup, which both refreshed and set the stage. As the meal had officially begun, I seized the chance to be adventurous by trying the marrow bones as an appetizer. They were topped with parsley, with flavors of preserved lemon and served with garlic toast. I squeezed on some additional lemon and was pleasantly surprised by the dish’s decadence. The filling was rich, yet perfectly acidic, while the garlic toast melted in my mouth. Oooh the parsley…it made me feel as if its true power had been kept secret from me, until that very moment. I shared a topped toast with a friend, but I must admit that I did so reluctantly. I enjoyed the bones with some Jarancon Sec, and knew that this would be no ordinary meal.

   tcr4

I followed with the duck, served two ways. The succulent breast is presented in chunks, which were so tender; however the roulade took my breath away. Formed using the leg meat, it was shaped as a small cup, with every bite dissolving on my tongue more quickly than I would wish.  At the suggestion of our Maître D’hôtel, I paired it with a glass of Nebbiolo, which perfectly complimented the dark meat. The French techniques were evident, while keeping true to the freshness and authenticity of the ingredients. The sides merely consisted of brussels sprouts and a beet-date purée, but saying merely is blasphemy. I am not ashamed to say that I cleared every ounce of the purée using the duck breast as my weapon, although it may have been a bit rude, now that I remember my table manners. Meanwhile, each layer of the sprouts was peeled which retained its crispiness, offering balance to the dish’s many textures and flavors.

tcr5

Although I attempted to focus only on my orders, I could not help myself at the sight of the côte de boeuf. Once prepared, it is presented at the table whole, then taken to the kitchen for carving before serving. I enjoyed the show, but had to taste it for myself. I thus stole a slice, with a touch of béarnaise sauce and was speechless. With just the right amount of fat on the meat and the ideal level of creaminess and acidity, it was perhaps one of most heavenly pieces of beef I have ever enjoyed. That was when I lost touch with reality.

I took part in the conversation of course, but was swept away to another world.  To continue, I chose the maple semifreddo for dessert, with hot bourbon cider and medjool leather. The bourbon cider was poured over the semifreddo, at the table, adding to the anticipation. The beauty in this dish, is its evolution as it melts. The taste develops and the dates at the bottom emerge more and more, crowning the meal overall as the adventure that it was.  However, my gourmand character did not stop there. I ventured into the bay leaf ice cream. Who would have thunk it? It was so delicate, yet creamy and sweet and maybe savory. Each of these characteristics shines through every spoonful, which evidently leaves you to keep digging.

tcr6

Just when I thought that my vacation was coming to an end, we were treated with mini espresso macaroons, which were as pleasing to the sight as they were to my lips. I thus skipped out of The Cypress Room, but retained my high spirits, like a girl in love, which I was. With the food. And the drinks. I had gained an incomparable sentiment, one that food alone was not responsible for. The Cypress Room had given me more than a meal, but an escape, in the heart of Miami.

-Kris

Kristina is an employee of The Genuine Hospitality Group and a food blogger at Tasting It Like It is. Follow her on instagram @tastingitlikeitis

Please follow the blog by clicking on the Follow button at the top right, and you will be the first to know when a  new article is posted.

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.

Image
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.

Image
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.

Image
Northern Thai Sausage
Image
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.

Image
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.

Image
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.

 

Image
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.

Image
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.

Image
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.

Image
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.

Image
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.

Image
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.

Image
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.

Image
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

– Also, please follow the blog. You will be the first to know when a new article pops up!

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image
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.

Image

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.

Image
Deep Fried Peach Pie

Image
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.

Garden Party

Image

Girls love brunch! Or so they say. My girlfriends and I certainly do, but last Sunday, we decided to take a detour from our usual spot to celebrate a birthday. The Eater Miami recently put together a list of top brunch places in Miami, with The Morgan Restaurant in Wynwood at the top of the list, due to their French toast @eatermiami.  Thus we decided to give it a whirl and took a drive down the artistic district.

To our surprise, we realized that we had already visited the restaurant separately, without taking note of the name, but it was a pleasant surprise. The setting, although small, was delightful. The majority of their seats are located outdoors, on a terrace, as well as in a garden below the main deck. Indoor seating is also available, but we found the exterior to be the most charming. We requested the garden and were fortunate to sit in a covered area as it was a sunny Miami day out. The location was dressed in tropical trees and plants from the parking lot to the garden, and the clientele outfitted in shorts and sunglasses, which reinforced the comfortable Miami vibe and called for brunch cocktails of course.

bellini
Bellini

Naturally, we ordered a pitcher of bellini. Morgan’s offers a different take on the classic drink, by using peach syrup, rather than peach juice, which makes all the difference. The syrup emits the peach flavors clearly, without overwhelming the champagne or prosecco. In consequence, this change encourages a higher quality of bubbles , which avoids headaches after a couple pitchers (mysteriously) make their way to our table. Thus do girls love brunch, or do they love brunch cocktails?

Since we came for a meal, we began with the beet tacos, to start brunch off on a whimsical note, or perhaps we already had. The beets were dressed with goat cheese, cabbage, mayonnaise, cilantro and barbecue sauce, served on double layered, whole grain, soft shell tacos. It reminded me of a take on the Russian/Olivier salad, with an emphasis on the beets. The cheese was virtually nonexistent, and the tacos’ texture did not compliment the beets off very well, maybe due to the thickness of the shell. The drinks had left us famished thus we finished our appetizers, although without a smile.

regular french toast
Traditional French Toast at Morgan’s

While the French toasts made their way from the kitchen to our table, we nearly salivated due to the excitement, and our hunger. We ordered the mascarpone and raspberry stuffed French toasts.  Morgan’s uses brioche, which heightens the quality and thickness of the dish. The stuffed toasts were folded in half, to capture the filling appropriately. Although syrup was offered once asked, the stuffed French toasts came off a bit dry. Perhaps it required more filling and certainly more mascarpone. The traditional French toasts were served with a scoop of cinnamon butter, which we saw on other tables, but a scoop of mascarpone on the stuffed toasts would have softened the dish quite a bit. Using brioche leads to the possibility of dry or overly moist French toasts and sadly, the battle was not won at Morgan’s.

cookies
Freshly Baked Cookies

Our dishes were not what we had hoped for; however, the cocktails, the setting and the (spectacular) service were responsible for our pleasant experience. Our server also provided complimentary, freshly baked cookies, and I dug into the chocolate chocolate chip quickly. The freshness was evident and I appreciated the moist consistency, provided our earlier incident. Additional cookies are available by the dozen and are baked to order. I have to admit, it was a nice touch. The prices were also very reasonable at $14 for the stuffed French toasts, but the bellini was priceless. Morgan’s serves lunch and dinner as well, and perhaps we need another visit before casting our ballot.

To revisit my comment on girls’ preferences, I believe I noticed nearly as many guys as I did ladies at brunch. Therefore, the saying may need to be corrected…

Best,

Kris

Again, please feel free to leave your comments below. Also, going forward, I will share more photographs to make your experience more palpable.