This week I had a taste of Kris Wessel’s new place, Florida Cookery, I attended a cooking demo and lunch with Daniel Boulud at db Bistro Moderne and I had a fantastic “carte blanche” lunch at Harry’s Pizzeria.
So Florida Cookery. (Full Flickr Set Here). Any fans of Red Light, like myself, have been excited for months since the news broke out that Kris was expanding to the beach and into a swanky SoBe hotel. A great add to SoBe! But the expectations grew higher as we also found out more recently that instead of keeping both places, Red Light was shutting down for good. So FC stands to be the single Miami Kris Wessel experience, and what a great one it is. The James hotel is gorgeous, so the “move from the motel to the hotel” is a plus for Kris’s clientele. I assume he must be happy with the larger kitchen and the A/C. The lobby , entrance, and walk to the restaurant are a design feast to the eyes, and the dining room is worthwhile of the swankiest SoBe crowds. The outside terrace is a plus, specially for al fresco dining (weather allowing it), and I can already see weekend brunches with the sea at hand.
It seems indeed like a well deserved upgrade, and the food pays back in spades. Even though every single time I went to Red Light I had the BBQ Shrimp, seeing them on the menu at FC made me order them immediately, and I am glad they are there. The name plays homage to their old home, which is great. If you live in Miami and you haven’t had this dish, you haven’t lived, so despite Red Light’s closing, we should all be thankful that dish survived. We definitely need to come back for more, since our addiction to this dish did not allow us to try much else on the first visit. A tangerine/goat cheese salad was very nice, the greens dressed with a buttery like dressing similar to those experienced in Paris. I also tried a dusted Grouper dish with green beans that was delicious. There is a Lee Schrager burger on the menu that I need to try soon.
I have recently sent some friends that are in town for Basel to FC and they are all very happy. What a great addition to Miami and to the Beach.
Daniel Boulud. Full Flickr Set Here. I don’t think there is a chef I love the most that loves me back the least. Or knows least of my existence, same thing. Every time there is an event in town with him, I am one of the first to get tickets, sometimes even without reading the details? So this is how I ended up this week as probably the only guy in the db Bistro Lounge, during a cooking session with Chef Boulud and the rest of his db Bistro Moderne team.
The lunch that followed was, as with every single meal there, delicately sublime and delicious. This is still my number one “import” in Miami, and unless Keller or Chang come to town, will probably continue to be. The first course was a crab salad which had mango and cilantro and reminded me how well those two go together. The following course was a flaky halibut steak that had a thick red wine butter sauce at the bottom and some caramelized salsify. Who said red wine and fish do not go well together? Some mustard greens on top complemented the dish nicely. Finally, a dish that reminded me of the recent trip to Paris. Seasonal ingredients! that’s what it’s all about, and the Hen dish that came next included squash (in puree and in “spaghetti” form), Chestnuts, and “trompettes de la mort”, my favorites from the mushroom family. Unbelievable how they all worked well together, and the juiciness of the chicken was one I had never had before.
Dessert was a beautiful apple tart with caramelized nuts and walnut ice cream. Madeleines rounded up things of course and I can safely say those madeleines are the best you can get in all Florida and perhaps some of the best in the country. We also got some macaroons as parting gift which I had the next day and they were are great, specially the strawberry one.
Daniel came to each table after lunch and he was very amused with my picture of Stephan Jego, the Chef from Chez L’Ami Jean in Paris, where there is a picture of Chef Boulud on the wall. They are close friends and Daniel asked me if Stephan was shouting to the sous-chef that he was going to cut his head off. He was. Anyway, Daniel didn’t know who I was and probably never will.
Finally, how great is it to have chef friends? Full Flickr Set Here. I love going to a place and not looking at the menu and Harry’s Pizzeria is one of the few places in town where I can do that comfortably. So this week I stumbled into Harry’s, which I had been dying to do for months since I only had been there for the pop-up series. I’m so glad I did. “Carte Blanche”!!! Manny took great care of me and hit me with two amazing salads, one with watercress, pear, pecorino and walnuts and the other a panzanella with a red wine vinegar dressing. The pizza had spinach, corn, caramelized onions and gruyere. I had forgotten how great the pizzas are here! It reminded me when Harry’s opened, about a year ago, and I went like four days in a row to try them all. Best pizza in town by far.
That’s it for this week, next week it will be all about the Basel pop-ups for sure.