How lucky is Miami to have Michael Schwartz?
Not only is he responsible for what is in my mind at least the best restaurant in the city, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink and the best pizzeria, Harry’s Pizzeria, but now he is also leading a series of “pop-ups” at Harry’s showcasing award winning chefs from around the country.
Past pop-ups have included Gabrielle Hamilton, Jonathan Waxman, Marc Vetri, Jonathon Sawyer and Kevin Sbraga.
This past Sunday I had the chance to attend my first pop-up at Harry’s with the chefs from L.A.’s Animal Restaurant, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo.
Since the modus operandi is first come first served, we arrived at 6:30pm to get a table inside, despite the invite saying 7pm. We were told to come back later so we went for a quick spin, only to arrive 15 minutes later to an almost packed Harry’s!. Tables are communal, which can be intimidating at first, but at the end of the night we were all best friends. Our table partners were also big on food and restaurants so there was a lot to talk about.
Now, you may not know this but in parts of Latin America, the word animal is used to describe something that was awesome. Well, this meal by the chefs behind Animal in L.A. was nothing short of an Animal meal.
Chef Michael gave some very nice words at the beginning abut the initiative and about Jon and Vinny. I tell you, these up close and personal experiences with these Chefs are priceless, at least for a food person like myself.
The food started rolling out on time with some pizza slices (of course) and the Welcome Snacks of the night. The first was a Kumamoto Oyster with a cucumber serrano mignonette. I am not sure if by serrano they meant serrano ham, but is wasn’t there. Anyway they were delicious and there was plenty passed around. A great start.
The other Welcome Snack was a delicious Porcini mushroom crostini with a based of “truffle fondue”, or a gooey base of cheese with truffle flavor that was melt in your mouth good.
I was so busy talking to my communal table partners that I missed the pizza. Oh Well, at least I hope it wasn’t too different than the pies I’ve had at Harry’s, all of which are spectacular by the way.
The first starter was a Crudo, of local triggerfish with a colatura vinaigrette and herbs. It was really delicate and sublime, with a bit of crunchiness and the right level of acidity also. Really good.
The second starter was a delicious salad of pickled and raw beets, creme fraiche and breacrumbs. The beets were really well prepared, delicately sliced and pickled. The combination with the other ingredients was a big hit.
The next course was interesting. I had to tell my wife they were chicken nuggets, when in fact they were chicken-fried sweetbreads. The lime aioli helped make them so good my wife devoured them. One of the communal table members spoiled the magic when she said what they really were. My wife was not happy but it was too late!
Next up the balsamic pork ribs. Fall of the bone good, licking your fingers good stuff. Truly good.
Finally we had the home run of the night. I’m a sucker for meat and potatoes, and this is in my memory one of the best meat and potatoes experiences I have had. The pink slices of the Rib Eye were soft, savory and perfect and the crunchy rosemary potatoes teamed up immaculately. I was in heaven. The wood roasted corn with roasted garlic was creamy and also really good.
The dessert was a nice panna Cotta with mango and plum jam, which I scooped completely with the biscotti it came with.
An amazing experience. Thank you Michael, Jon, Vinny, Manny from Harry’s and all the Harry’s staff. God Bless.
For pictures of the event, here are some links which have much better ones than the ones I took with my crappy iPhone.