This week we introduce another great Miami food blogger, Miami Dish.
How long have you been blogging about food?
I’ve been blogging about food at Miami Dish since 2007.
Where does your passion for food come from?
It probably comes from my family. My mom always makes the best meals, my aunt cooks delicious foods, and my grandmother was a great cook, too. My mom used to have a bustling Venezuelan pan de jamon and torta negra business she’d run every holiday season. My dad makes the best tomato sauce ever every winter. For holidays and birthdays, we’d have long, elaborate meals. My cousin Jose Felix and I joke about how the adult conversation would always veer to family chisme and some kind of horrendous news like a multi-car accident on the Palmetto that ended in candela. However, the meals really were enjoyable and special and lots of the stories were good, too.
In college, we used to have Sunday dinners and everyone would bring something and we’d sit around and talk about the week and watch The Simpsons. I think that’s when I first truly discovered cooking for myself and the pleasure of sitting and eating with friends. We were really into The Moosewood Cookbook back then and I learned about foods I’d never tasted in Miami—things like tofu and Brussels sprouts. And of course, the stories there were hilarious. Life is so busy, but food and friends allow us to slow down. So that’s why I say my two passions are good food and good stories. Food feeds my life and my work.
What is the best meal you’ve ever had?
Really? I can’t narrow it down to just one. But one of the best meals I’ve had lately was at The Table in Orlando.
What is your favorite restaurant in the whole world?
I like so many for so many different reasons.
If you could live in another food city which would it be?
Anyone who knows me knows that it would be Chicago, my second home, at least in my heart. I like to travel there as often as I can. The food scene there is vibrant and fun, with something for everyone. I love Chicago in general because it’s a city, it’s urban, but the people are low-key and down-to-earth. I’ve been meaning to write a post about my favorite Chicago restaurants because people always ask me, but the last few times I was there I really enjoyed The Purple Pig, Barrelhouse Flat, Rainbow Cone and, of course, Hot Doug’s.
What can’t you go on a week without eating?
I can’t go a day without drinking coffee. I can’t go a week without eating cheese. I eat too much of it, I’m sure, but I seriously love cheese.
Name one ingredient we will always find in your fridge.
If you could add a restaurant to Miami which one would it be and why?
It would be cool to have a northern outpost of Astrid & Gaston, based on all that I’ve heard about the famed chef, Gaston Acurio (including in your blog). I would also love to have a branch of Crisp here, from Chicago; I crave their Korean fried chicken and rice bowls. I also would love to have a branch of the Indian restaurant, Masala Wala from NYC, with all of their chais. Chai is comfort in a mug for me.
Which pop-up would you like to see come to town?
It would be fun to have more cocktail pop-ups, a la Broken Shaker.
Who’s your favorite local chef?
Michelle Bernstein, Michael Schwartz and Hedy Goldsmith are our local powerhouses, bringing the MIA to the rest of the country and just being dynamic and creative in all they do. They’ve helped raise the profile of food here, at least in the second wave after the “Mango Gang.” I also admire the meticulousness, precision and savvy of pastry chef Franck Monnier of L’Atelier Gourmet. You can’t go wrong there. Kris Wessel (Red Light), Micah Edelstein (Nemesis), Jose Mendin (Pubbelly), Cesar Zapata (The Federal) and Timon Balloo (Sugarcane) are other chefs who always have interesting dishes up their sleeve, using ingredients in creative ways. Their menus always pique my interest.
Do you cook and if so where did you learn?
Yes, I cook. I learned from my family and friends and from my extensive collection of cookbooks. Mark Bittman has taught me a lot.
What’s your favorite cookbook?
My constant reference is How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. I have the app now, too. Cuisine a Latina by Michelle Bernstein and Andrew Friedman is my favorite cookbook for Sunday dinners.
What’s your favorite food related book?
I love Counter Intelligence by Jonathan Gold. WWJGD: “What would Jonathan Gold do?” I ask myself when I’m in doubt. Even though I’ve never been to Los Angeles, I still enjoy reading the reviews because the writing is so vivid and entertaining. He’s the only food writer to win a Pulitzer Prize. Molly O’Neill is my other food writing idol. She put together an anthology of food writing throughout the decades called American Food Writing. She also took on an ambitious multi-year project, traveling the country and collecting people’s recipes and food stories for called One Big Table. It’s an amazing collection of photos, history and recipes.
One food trend you would like to see disappear?
Eating contests. I think they’re obscene and totally disconnected from eating food as a pleasure or as a bodily need. People stuff food down their gullets (because some of them don’t even chew) to the point of illness and discomfort for sport and competition while others are starving; this just makes me feel like the end of our civilization is nigh (see: Roman vomitorium and other excesses). I’m being a little hyperbolic, but in general, I’m allergic to the whole competitive aspect that has become connected with food as entertainment: I can eat the most x, I ate the weirdest x, I’m going to argue with others for hours on Chowhound or Twitter and cast aspersions on their character because I know what the best meatball is. It can be fun sometimes, but it’s gone too far. Now you know how I feel about that. Not my scene.
Favorite drink Alcoholic and non alcoholic?
My favorite non-alcoholic drinks are fresh squeezed o.j., coffee, chai, horchata, and jamaica. Favorite alcoholic beverages right now: Stay tuned to Tasting Table Miami’s Best Cocktails 2012 in October to find out! I wrote about some of my favorite cocktails at Miami’s newer bars and restaurants.