This week we introduce to you Stef and Shari, better known as the great Miami Food Blogging duo assaultnpepper!
Gj: How long have you been blogging about food?
Stefanie: Since our second year of law school. We were sitting in class reading Just Add Cheese (a Boston-based food blog) and Smitten Kitchen. When people started asking us for restaurant recs and to show them how to cook a meal for Valentine’s Day dinner, we decided to start our own.
Shari: Almost 2 years. Stef and I were constantly researching food, sending each other articles on how to pickle our own vegetables, create the perfect French macaron, or make ricotta at home (all of which we’ve done). We also began writing up menus for our faux restaurants. Once our friends began asking us for restaurant recommendations or help with recipes to impress their significant other, we decided to just start a blog
Gj: Where does your passion for food come from?
Stefanie: Hands down, my Dad. We grew up watching the Food Network together. Emeril Lagasse was pretty much a 6th family member in my house. My Dad has a love for butter and delicious food, and I guess because of that, it’s in my blood too.
Shari: Food has always been important to me. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t follow my mom around the kitchen while she was cooking. Over the years, I’ve read every book, website, and article about food and cooking I could get my hands on. I love the intense atmosphere and spirit of the kitchen and the idea of transforming raw ingredients into something creative. It’s hard to mess up a dish because it’s usually salvageable with some extra spices or, when in doubt, huge shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano. Food is very forgiving.
Gj: What is the best meal you’ve ever had?
Stefanie: I can’t really pick a singular meal. Meals tend to be spectacular to me because of feelings that they invoke, not necessarily just based upon the technical aspects of the dish, or the prestige of the chef preparing them. For me, the best meals tend to be comfort food that is done well – it creates that feeling of warmth: homestyle italian on Arthur Avenue (Little Italy, in the Bronx), for example. Bowls of grated parmesan, crusty bread, no-nonsense attitude, family run – those are the meals that I truly enjoy.
Shari: I’ve had some technically impressive, multi-course meals that stand out, but I’d choose cooking a fantastic dinner with lots of wine for friends any night. Minus the dishes.
Gj: What is your favorite restaurant in the whole world?
Stefanie: Sweet Sue’s, a breakfast place in the catskills
Shari: Terrazza Brunella in Capri, Italy. Clean, simple food on the top of a cliff with breathtaking views overlooking the bay of Marina Piccola.
Gj: If you could live in another food city, which would it be?
Stefanie: New York City. I just love the energy there & the options are unbelievable. I’m counting down the days until I can go home and start checking restaurants off my list. Hoping to get to Chicago this summer as well.
Shari: New York or San Francisco
Gj: What can’t you go on a week without eating?
Stefanie: Avocados. I eat an avocado, or half of an avocado, a day. So versatile. I enjoy it plain with a little salt and pepper, or with tomato, feta, and some lemon juice.
Shari: Ice cream, Chickpeas.
Gj: Name one ingredient we will always find in your fridge.
Stefanie: Dijon Mustard
Shari: Lemons. They make everything taste fresher.
Gj: If you could add one restaurant to Miami, what would it be and why?
Stefanie: I think Miami has a good dining scene for dinner and brunch, but at lunch I’m usually disappointed. Truthfully, my request for an addition to the Miami dining scene is a simple one. I wish that my hometown favorite deli, Cameron’s 24/7, were here in Miami. Consistently good sandwiches, cold chicken cutlet, messy bacon egg and cheeses, without ANY frills. And, I guess a good wing place wouldn’t hurt either – I lived in Buffalo for four years and very few places compare to Duff’s or Elmo’s.
Shari: Miami Beach/Brickell is in dire need of a great, healthy lunch place. I’ll start a petition to bring Miami Juice from Aventura to Miami. Also, not necessarily a restaurant, but Eataly. It’s overpriced, massive, and gluttonous, but so much fun and has everything you could ever need to cook a great meal.
Gj: What Pop Up would you like to bring to Miami?
Stefanie: I know this is not technically a Pop Up (because it’s a food truck) but I would love for Wafels & Dinges to come to town for a little bit. Belgium wafels with hefenweizen ice cream? Count me in. Also, Mud Truck (for coffee). It would be nice to have a great option for coffee roaming around the city, and their chai latte is amazing.
Shari: A mini Momofuku would be a welcome addition. Some people are anti-pop-up, but I think it’s a great opportunity for restaurateurs to test the waters before jumping into an expensive and potentially fatal venture.
Gj: Who’s your favorite local Chef?
Stefanie: Chef Serfer. I love how active he is in the front of the house at Blue Collar. He’s a genuinely nice person. And I’m addicted to the warm, bacon potato salad and big ragout pasta, so that doesn’t hurt either. And those portuguese rolls.
Shari: I just really love how Giorgio Rapicavoli has changed the way Miami eats. He mixes familiar dishes with powerful flavors and puts out food with swag. The fact that he changes his menu daily and presents and explains each item to customers demonstrates his passion and creativity. The locals (and not-so-locals) have recognized his talent and have been flocking to Eating House since it opened.
Gj: Do you cook and if so where did you learn?
Stefanie: Again, I watched my Dad (and my Mom) cook growing up. I learned a lot from both of them, because (except when baking) they rarely followed recipes. My Dad would get really creative, and I’ve kind of taken that style from him – I will try and improvise a lot on my own, and then consult a recipe for a technical aspect of the dish.
Shari: Yes, I cook almost everyday. I learned the basics from my mom, who is a great cook. We really enjoy being in the kitchen together. My chef friends have taken my love for cooking to another level, forcing me to taste unexpected ingredients and teaching me new skills, like how to make the perfect omelet (much harder than you’d expect). I also taught myself how to make French macarons and homemade bucatini, which I hung todry on plastic hangars. The pasta resembled play-dough, but tasted amazing in an amatriciana sauce from scratch.
Gj: What’s your favorite cookbook:
Shari: Right now, VOLT ink by the Voltaggio Brothers and the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. I love the insane photography in Thomas Keller’s Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide. Ad Hoc at Home and How to Cook Everything are also staples.
Gj: What’s your favorite food related book?
Stefanie: Blood, bones and butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
Shari: Heat by Bill Buford and White Truffles in Winter by N.M. Kelby
Gj: Food trend you want to see disappear
Stefanie: CUPCAKES. For the love of G-D. Apparently marshmallows are the new cupcake.
Shari: Asian fusion and cheesecake lollipops
Gj: Favorite Alcoholic Drink / Non-Alcoholic
Stefanie: Ginger Brickell at Edge Miami / Iced Coffee
Shari: Cilantro jalapeño margarita / Iced coffee