[RECIPE] Michael’s Triple Threat Avocado Toast

Michael's avocado toast at ella pop cafe.

Michael’s avocado toast at ella pop cafe.

You may have heard that the struggle has been real for avocados this summer, especially when you are a challenger brand (Florida!) dealing with a pesky little beetle infestation.  But we’ve seen our local avocado cropping up more and more in the supermarket lately, so it’s time to share one of Michael’s simplest and most satisfying recipes.

When Chef first laid out his avocado toast treatise in the office one day before we opened ella, it rang of blasphemy.   I had most recently traveled to Ireland and fallen in love with a neighborhood cafe called The Fumbally where I had enjoyed one of the most amazing renditions yet, topped with farm eggs in a medium scramble, juicy ripe tomatoes, gorgeous green olive oil drizzled all over, and Maldon salt and oodles of black pepper to finish.  Why would you need butter I thought?  Michael is a purist.  He was adamant that avocado toast be just that.  Toast and avocado.  I think we ended up agreeing that it was a matter of semantics and both dishes may be good, but only one could be called the dish in question.

At ella, avocado toast runs all day from open at 9AM to close at 7PM and usually with Hass.  Known for its consistency (both in quality and creaminess), for me it has a way of accentuating what makes this recipe special — the three fat formula.

Enjoy for breakfast or any time of day and let us know your take.  Judging by the hashtag #avocadotoast or a Google image search, the jury is still out as to what it really is.  One thing is for sure, this one is killer, and you’ll never see avocado toast the same way again!

Avocado Toast

Serves 1

1 slice True Loaf wheat bread, lightly toasted
½ tablespoon unsalted butter
1 whole hass avocado, scooped into rough tablespoons
½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Maldon salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Spread the butter on the slice of bread. Layer the avocado, then drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and peeper.

California Love in a Bottle | Clendenen & Schwartz Host a Lua Rossa 3 Evening at The Cypress Room

Celebrate the arrival of Lua Rossa no. 3 to Miami, the third release of chef Michael Schwartz’s red blend with longtime compadre and winemaker, Jim Clendenen, and their FIRST time hosting a dinner together at one of Michael’s restaurants.  Prepare to be transported to wine country for an explosion of California road trip love on Tuesday, September 22 at 7:00 p.m.

TCR Clendenen Slider border_new date_ CLICK HERETickets are now available HERE for $175 plus tax & gratuity and include:
– Welcome rosé and canapés
– 5-course dinner paired with Santa Barbara’s unexpected varietals, from its most curious producer
– A special bottle to take home from the debut shipment of Lua Rossa no. 3, signed by both Chef and Winemaker
– The company of these fine gentlemen

For someone who named his winery “a well exposed vineyard”, Au Bon Climat’s Jim Clendenen – the man, the myth, the legend himself – is severely underexposed in Miami. While we’ll leave a glimpse of his wild, sandy mane blowing in the heady South Beach breezes to tickle your imagination for now, you don’t have to look far to come across his wines at Michael Schwartz’s restaurants.  The Chef’s love for Jim’s expression of what Santa Barbara does best is no accident.

Wine Director Eric Larkee explains, “Au Bon Climat is a great California wine maker, well known for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but what Michael may be drawn to most is the passion for Italian and French old world varietals. You never know what you’re going to get with Jim, yet you always know it will be interesting and good.”

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In a 5-course dinner with wine pairings, we explore the lesser-known varietals that Jim’s coffers have to offer and a first taste of how the next chapter of our California adventures nets out.  This most recent blending trip happened in mid-March, so we are curious, too!

Guests are greeted by passed Clendenen Family 2014 Mondeuse Rosé and assorted passed hors d’oeuvres. The seated plated dinner for 47 will unfold in Cypress’s intimate dining room with 2013 Clendenen Family Gewürztraminer Le Bon Climat, 2012 Clendenen Family Viognier “Second Coming” Le Bon Climat, 2009 Clendenen Family Nebbiolo “Bricco Buon Natale”, Lua Rossa 3, 1995 Caro Lorenzo Aleatico. Everyone leaves with a special bottle of Lua Rossa 3 signed by chef and winemaker.  Let’s try to make that happen again (please!)

Alexander Knox at The Cypress Room.

Alexander Knox at The Cypress Room.

If one were to climb a mountain seeking an oracle of wine knowledge there would be no shock to find Clendenen sitting on the top. Besides already knowing you were coming, he also would hold all the answers, at least his answers to your questions. After college graduation a month in Burgundy and Champagne convinced Clendenen that he would be better at making wine rather than law. In 1978 he started as an assistant winemaker at Zaca Mesa, and in 1982 he branched out on his own starting Au Bon Climat.  While never a favorite of the magazine critcs, Jim’s wines have found appreciation with Chefs and restaurant guests who seek wines to compliment and not overpower their foods. Michael first met Jim almost twenty years ago and have maintained a close and convivial relationship since. Back then Chef had a haircut much closer to Jim’s wild mane. Like a musician with his regular band as well as side projects, Jim has the the Ici/La-Bas and Clendenen Family Vineyards brands under which he also produces.

The Cypress Room is Michael’s elegant American dining room in Miami’s Design District, a nod to the spirit of classic 1920s fine dining in polished food, service and décor. The menu centers around the kitchen’s wood-burning grill and rotisserie, offering elegant American cuisine with French touches using the freshest, highest quality ingredients, hand-picked from America’s best small farmers, foragers, and fishermen. Tasting menus allow chef de cuisine Roel Alcudia to get creative and experiment with some of the restaurant’s best ingredients, while The Beverage Book features classic cocktails and 124 wines that are a bit old school – not just old world, with a story and a place in the wine world history.

The Daily Scramble: Back to School for the ellas

Today the kids are headed back to school!  For the grown up ones like Michael’s eldest daughter Ella, today is the start of a new adventure. COLLEGE.  Freshman year is so exciting.  So much to absorb, new routines to learn, new people to meet.  Daddy Schwartz called upon Dr. Seuss for the words to say goodbye and good luck as his eldest chickie flew the coop for Tulane University this weekend: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

And since you are smart like Ms. Schwartz, you know you can’t start the day, especially the first day back to school, without a good breakfast.  ella has your back thanks to some additions to the breakfast line up that happened over the weekend!  This morning began in hypermode as Miami artist Alejandro Contreras (our friend from Design Miami’s past) put the finishing touches on our new blackboard to complete last night’s vinyl installation. Kitchen manager Vanessa Nunez put out the cafe’s first Daily Scramble, two eggs, today with caramelized onions and herbs, with True Loaf wheat toast.  Alejandro should have an extra kick in his step today, especially after that $350 macchiato (I fixed the decimal point.  Where’s my refund!?)  

AlejandroThose looking for gluten-free options have many things to choose from on the current menu, but we are also pleased to now offer the sandwiches and other dishes with gluten-free bread upon request!  Zak the Baker’s gluten-free chocolate almond cookies also came in to satisfy those sweet teeth out there.  Enjoy getting scrambled, take a seat under the shade in Palm Court and ease into the school year.  Fall’s almost here!  Please find the updated menu at ellapop.me!

Here’s What’s for Dinner at ella after 2!


Ella_after 2_menu_finalOne week from this Thursday, Michael heads behind the counter for ella after dinner service again.  He just finished the menu, and wine director Mr. Eric Larkee the wines. We definitely aren’t in Hanoi anymore!  There are a few spots left at 9:15 and 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 27.  Click here to snag a ticket before they’re gone!

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Stumbling upon MGFD pastry chef Amy Kalinowski’s first round of hempseed baklava testing!

[RECIPE] Check Mate! Chocolate Chess Pie

It was seriously too good not to share. Last night we OMG’d at O Cinema for the last time this summer thanks to an incredible performance by Harry’s Pizzeria chef de cuisine Daniel Ramirez. The menu was a piece of Michigan food history like hand-held pasty pies  — akin to empanadas closer to home — made into pot pie for family style service.   When Danny mentioned this to Devin, a pastry cook at MGFD, duck fat crust was born.

I was on dessert duty again, this time parchment liner-free (thanks Chef!) and had the self control-rattling task of portioning out MGFD pastry chef Amy Kalinowski’s decadent chocolate chess pie. I knew things would get messy based on past experience with two sheet trays of Banoffee, so this time crema was going to be dolloped to plate.  A triumph!  Chess pie is actually chest pie. Like pies you can stack in a chest for safe keeping.  It’s a southern thing, a piece of food culture that lost the t over time.

Luckily for us here, a guest returned from the theater with a request.  Seconds?  No, a slice of altruism!  She inquired about the recipe, a sweet ending to the meal she will produce this weekend for some very lucky home-bound summer campers.  So here you have it: Danny’s adaptation of Amy’s dessert (with her approval of course!) currently on the menu at MGFD, for your home kitchen.  After a summer at the mess hall, this might actually be dangerous.  Proceed at your own risk!

OMG’d Chocolate Chess Pie

Yields 2, 12-inch pies

2 1/2 cups butter, melted
3 cups semi-sweet dark chocolate, melted
25 ounces evaporated milk
10 whole eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla paste (or 1 vanilla bean)
2 tablespoons coffee extract
5.5 cups of sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
2 packs Oreo cookies
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 pound melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla, and coffee extract for 2-3 minutes on medium speed until incorporated.  In a separate bowl sift the dry ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk to incorporate. Set aside in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap while you make the crust. Pulverize the oreos in a food processor, like bread crumb size and in a large bowl mix with flour and melted butter by hand until the consistency of wet sand.  Spray pie tins with lots of pam coating. Press the oreo crust into the pans. Make sure it’s nice and tight, and even thickness, about 1/2 inch throughout.  Pour in the batter to fill. It doesn’t rise so do be scared to fill your pans to the level you want. Bake for 30-45 minutes. It should be firm with slight wiggle to it.  Let cool on a rack for about a hour.  Enjoy topped with whipped cream and berries, vanilla ice cream or simply powdered sugar for chocolate heaven. Any way you slice it, you can’t go wrong!