Harryspizzeria.com’s New Caché!

All grown up! We are really excited today at The Genuine Hospitality Group to share our new website at harryspizzeria.com. It’s mobile optimized, first and foremost, so smart phones will love and so will you.  Everything is easier and more accessible.  For the first time we have a gallery of our Daily Entrées (thanks to Tess for the money shots!) on the homepage.  Harry’s Instagram feed is too — thank you EVERYDAY Team Harry’s for keeping it fresh!  Our Locations page features all pertinent info for Harry’s Pizzeria in the Design District and Coconut Grove, including contact info and who to reach for private events, future job inquiries for the second restaurant, and more.  Do not fear, our simple PDF Menu is still one click away and updates like before instantaneously (thank you Dropbox!) and for those of you sentimentalists out there (me!) our Tumblr archives and fun page are still alive and kicking at harryspizzeria.tumblr.com.  So… you may not want to clear your cache just yet.

I asked our web designer Aryel Rivero what he thinks is important in restaurant web design today approaching this project.   “Communicating relevant information to the visitor in a beautiful and simple fashion,” he shares.  “When people visit a restaurant’s page, it’s mainly to get information (ie, menu, address, etc.) so you have to make the navigation process simple and design for both desktop and mobile users.  Sometimes you see websites that get so caught up in being “pretty” that they become hard to navigate and the visitor loses interest.  The integrated instagram feed on harryspizzeria.com is very cool.  We set it up to display specific hashtags for each restaurant location and any events that are going on. It’s a great way to keep the site fresh and instantly communicate what’s going on and keep the spirit of the Tumblr site alive.”

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Daily Specials on Mobile.

For those of you who may not know, Aryel and his wife Vanessa – who are both graphic artists – have an amazing website that makes gift wrap with your face on it that received some fame this past holiday season.  It’s hysterical and awesome.  As reported by ABC News, Aryel once made this gift wrap with his face on it and gave them out as gag gifts, and a business idea was born (he just wanted people to stop asking him to do it for them!)  I wondered what he’d make if he could gift wrap our pizza?

“It would have to be the Short Rib pizza with polenta fries floating around it,” he says.  “I’d wrap an empty box though. The pizza is too good to go giving it away so easily!!!”

We hope you enjoy. It was fun creating this!  Take her for a test drive today and let us know what you think.  Bear with us as this softly launches, and please send feedback to me at jackie@thegenuinehospitalitygroup.com.  Or even better, just leave a comment here. We love our guests’ ideas and are here to hear them!  The good and the bad make for a smarter site. Enjoy it, and we’ll let you know what the (RED) menu button is all about tomorrow :)

Florida’s Dark Side is Berry Delicious 

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Everyone knows and loves mangoes and lychees and waits with anticipation for the season to begin each summer… But just before the tropical fruit deluge, berries reign, and we aren’t talking those rosy red beauties that made Knaus Berry strawberry shakes so famous. Blueberries may just be Florida’s secret star crop.

Well, not that secret. I spoke with Trish Strawn, a rep from Florida Fresh, who grew up on her family’s grass fed cattle farm and is chiefly familiar with Florida farming.  Her advice was as obvious as it was eye opening.  “Just Google ‘Florida Bluerberries…'” Lo and behold, there is a Florida Blueberry Growers Association and an Annual Florida Blueberry Festival complete with a cartoon blueberry commercial…  How did I miss this?!

Blueberries have a very short season in Florida. It runs from about the first week in April to the first week of June. The thing is, blueberries thrive in citrus fields.  Almost every citrus company grows blueberries. Whatever the citrus trees are taking from the soil, the blueberries don’t need, so you will often see them planted side by side. We get our local blueberries from Crown Jewel Farms or Uncle Matt’s – at this point in the season, all our blueberries are coming from Uncle Matt’s in Clermont, FL. Uncle Matt’s is a certified organic farm and they are best known for their juices. They grow four different varieties of blueberries and the chefs get a fresh mix upon delivery. They farm using the permaculture method, as Trish explains, their approach is to go “with mother nature.” Uncle Matt’s grow blueberries in oak barrels, and underneath each barrel they plant a vinegar patch which naturally filters the soil.

Pan roasted duck breast with Porcini and Blueberries

Pan roasted duck breast with Porcini and Blueberries

At The Cypress Room, Chef Roel Alcudia pairs blueberries with duck and Porcini mushrooms on our tasting menu. The blueberries complement the duck’s gaminess and the porcini’s earthiness.When you taste all the components together, it strikes a harmony between the three main ingredients. Chef explains, “Blueberries have an assertive, concentrated flavor, they are both sweet and sour. In this dish, we utilize both of those flavor profiles as a counterpoint to the duck and porcini.” Blueberries are extremely versatile; you’ll find them gracing The Cypress Room’s lunch prix fixe, dinner tasting, desserts, petit fours like macarons, gelees and housemade sodas.

Margie Pikarsky runs a tight ship in Homestead, FL where she has been growing all sorts of berries since the beginning of Bee Heaven Farm. Margie has a wealth of knowledge about South Florida crops and farming. Margie actually doesn’t grow blueberries. She explained that although the blueberries can handle the heat, the soil this far South is too basic (as opposed to acidic) for them. Further North, in Central Florida and beyond, the soil is more acidic and mucky – much more their comfort zone!

Bee Heaven Farm grows a variety of dark berries including three types of mulberries, mysore raspberry, muntingia (Jamaican cherry), dark surinam cherry, antidesma and Barbados cherry. Our chefs love the pencil mulberry (we do too!) – they are native to Pakistan and are deliciously sweet. They grow to be about three inches long and they produce one harvest a year, around February and March. If you visited any of our restaurants in that time, you probably tried some of Margie’s mulberries! Margie’s first mulberry tree “was a gift from a passing bird” in the late 1970s. When she purchased Bee Heaven Farms, it was one of the first things she planted. Margie learned more about them by visiting the Redland Fruit & Spice Park, “one of my favorite resources for learning about fruit that do well here.” And if that is where Margie, a South Florida farming encyclopedia and all around wonder woman goes to expand her wealth of knowledge, I can only imagine what one could find there!

Mysore raspberries are native to India, but do much better in this climate than the red or black raspberries you find at the grocery store. Mysore typically produces from January to May. The interesting thing about mysore raspberries, Margie explains, is that they have zero shelf life, so you have to pick them bright and early and get them into a cooler ASAP. Because of intricacies like this, you won’t find them in commercial markets – but Margie brings them to the farmer’s markets and they sell out quick!

When Margie purchased the farm, there was already a muntingia tree planted there. She explains, “Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma almost put an end to it, but I found and encouraged a couple of root suckers near the original plant, and they have rewarded us with plenty of fruit over the years.” Muntingia is native to the Caribbean, and the only member of its genus so it is extremely unique. “It bears mulitple crops a year, and is especially responsive to rains. It’s known as cotton candy fruit, because that’s exactly what it tastes like!”

Up until last week, I had never heard of a Surinam cherry. Then, thanks to Forager, a great guide book to Miami’s edible plants, I took to the streets and picked about 4 pounds of Surinam cherries from public parking lots and medians. Surinam cherries were an extremely popular hedge plant in the 1950s and 1960s, which is why if you look, you will see them everywhere! The cherries you find driving around are typically red and orange, the don’t taste great until they are perfectly ripe – bright red and fall off the tree at the slightest touch. Margie grows black surinam cherries, which are sweeter than the ones I picked. Margie says, “between the birds and rapid ripening, our Surinam cherries don’t usually make it to market.” So take a walk and see if you can find some on your block!

Margie grows Barbados cherry for personal ‘grazing’ since the crop is sporadic at best and a favorite of hungry fruit flies.  Antidesma, a tropical berry that is sometimes known as bignay, grows in dense clusters, “like a cylinder of tightly packed grapes.” This tree was also on the property when Margie took over, she likes to use it to make butter (like apple butter) and says that is makes ‘the most amazing red wine.’ “It has borne well only a few times in the past 20 years, around September. But, oh! When it does bear! Delicious!” Margie gushes.

Thank you to Margie, Trish and Chef Roel for talking blueberries with me and teaching me so much!

See how blueberries are hitting the plate and the glass across Genuineland by following our restaurants’ social feeds #genuineblueberries. We are very excited to keep you posted!

Amy’s Cinco de Sundae with Tequila Caramel Sauce

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Those of you familiar with the Home Brew Sundae know we don’t shy from booze in our desserts at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink and are always looking for reasons to celebrate creativity in the kitchen.  Tomorrow we have a little fun with Tequila in our caramel sauce for Cinco de Mayo courtesy of Amy Kalinowski.  You may remember this sweet face peeking out from behind the pastry window.  Amy is back in the house and taking on the role of pastry chef now overseeing desserts at Michael’s flagship restaurant. Amy brings almost 10 years of culinary experience to her new post, including three of them spent in the Miami pastry department under the tutelage of the legendary Hedy Goldsmith.

“We are incredibly excited to have Amy back,” says Michael.  “She lights up the kitchen with her smile and brings her infectious enthusiasm, passion and creativity to our pastry program. I know she will shine in this lead role!”

Amy holds a degree from Johnson & Wales University in South Florida. After a few years working at various restaurants as a night plater and cake decorator, Amy found herself at Michael’s Genuine in 2008, where she honed her technical and practical skills as Pastry Assistant. During this formative time at the restaurant, she found herself working with Hedy to develop the Sweets section for Schwartz’s iconic Brunch service introduced in 2009. Putting out countless, weekly-changing plates during those marathon Sunday shifts on the pastry line stretched her stamina and creativity as she began developing recipes of her own.

“I am looking forward to this next chapter in my career with The Genuine Hospitality Group,” Amy reflects. “Seeing the delight on our guests faces after enjoying our creations is a treat in itself.”

Cinco de Sundae

Cinco de Sundae

For Cinco de Mayo, Amy wanted to use traditional Mexican ingredients in an unusual way, as is her style. Behold… Amy’s Cinco de Sundae with housemade coconut ice cream, tequila caramel, grilled pineapple, and toasted coconut and macadamia nuts. She starts with a whole skinned pineapple on the grill, which just gets a sheen of vegetable oil to help deliver juicy grill marks.  She carefully handles the fruit with a kitchen towel, as pineapple’s high water content means it holds heat!  You want that char on all sides, and Amy insists grilling intact makes for a better final product. Once done, she cuts the pineapple into discs, then into quarters. In the restaurant, Amy grates real coconuts and spreads the macadamia nuts in one layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, toasting them at 300° for about 10 minutes. To assemble the sundae, Amy starts with a deep chilled bowl and layers the ice cream on the bottom, followed by a generous drizzle of tequila caramel and topped with a sprinkle of as many macadamia nuts, coconut and pieces of pineapple you desire.

Since most of us don’t have restaurant grade ice cream machines at home, choose your favorite brand of coconut and make the toppings — they’re what make this dessert distinctly May 5 and unmistakably Amy’s!  Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Tequila Caramel Sauce

Makes 2 1/2 cups

1 cup sugar
¾ cup cream
3 tablespoons tequila
¼ cup butter
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon lime juice

Place a sauce pot with ¼ cup of water on the stove, add the sugar and cook over high heat. Do not move the pot until you see the sugar turn a caramel color, then begin to stir the mixture until it becomes a light amber color. When the mixture reaches light amber, turn off the heat and very carefully and slowly whisk in the cream. Once the cream is incorporated, add the tequila, butter, salt and lime juice. Allow to cool to just above room temperature. The caramel sauce will hold up to one month in the refrigerator in a sealed, airtight container.

A Cypress Spring in Full Bloom

Spring is in full swing, and The Cypress Room’s chef de cuisine Roel Alcudia has added new dishes to the menu featuring some stand out ingredients of the season; artichoke, sorrel, English peas and spring onion. Roel’s use of each ingredient is deliberate and thoughtful, as if they were naturally arranged together from the start and cooking never took place. Like removing the artist’s hand from the painting, he allows the food to be the focal point of his cuisine by executing perfect technique.

Artichoke – Stracciatella, peas, prosciutto, barigoule vinaigrette

Artichoke – Stracciatella, peas, prosciutto, barigoule vinaigrette

Chef is able to yield many different textures and levels of flavor from the artichokes in the dish. First, the artichokes are braised – mirepoix is sweated, water is added and the globes are dropped in. They use a cartouche, or a round piece of parchment, to cover the surface.  This reduces evaporation and keeps the artichoke completely submerged for even cooking. The braising liquid is then reserved for the bariguole vinaigrette. Barigoule is a traditional Provencal dish made with braised artichokes, white wine, water, bay leaf, mirepoix and garlic, and here emulsified with lemon and olive oil. The artichokes are set off with La Querica prosciutto from Norwalk, Iowa and stracciatella from mozzarita in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Frog legs – Watercress, fava bean, zucchini

Frog legs – Watercress, fava bean, zucchini

Sorrel and frog legs are a natural complement, Roel explained, as it if was something I was supposed to know. The perfectly pan seared frogs are nestled in a sorrel and watercress velouté, one of the five traditional French ‘Mother’ sauces. To start, the frogs are broken down and legs set aside, the rest of the bones are roasted in the oven and serve as the stock base.  Mirepoix is added, then garlic, potatoes, and white wine.  This liquid is reduced. And strained. And reduced. The sorrel and watercress are blended to retain their bright color and flavor. The fava beans and zucchini are blanched and set into the velouté.

Duck – bacon, peas, rhubarb, au poivre

Duck – bacon, peas, rhubarb, au poivre

Before and after service, Roel is usually in the back corner of the kitchen, head down, butchering the evening’s proteins. The walk-in speed rack is lined with clean, perfect duck breasts. The ingredients in this dish are continuously overlapping. Beginning with the petite pois a la Françoise, young green peas are reduced with carrots, bacon, cipollini onions, lettuce, butter and chicken stock. The Cypress Room pickles the rhubarb in hibiscus flowers, strawberry vinaigrette and honey and cooks it down into a gastrique using duck jus, brandy and green pepper corns.

Pork Chop – farro, succotash, spring onion soubise

Pork Chop – farro, succotash, spring onion soubise

In the Pork Chop entrée, the succotash combines spring onions, bell peppers and zucchini. Here, the onions also act as an aromatic, bringing out the sweetness of the other ingredients. After the ingredients have stewed down, the grilled corn is added. Lastly, farro and lemon is incorporated. What makes the soubise unique are the scallions and slow roasted onions that the chefs blend into their béchamel sauce. The pork is tied with butcher twine to ensure even cooking over one of the most important and defining pieces of equipment in the kitchen — its wood grill. The plate is finished with a grilled lila onion and tempura fried onions roots.

Find The Cypress Room menus on its website, at thecypressroom.com, and enjoy a taste of spring before it’s gone!

Designing Restaurant Paradise With Meyer Davis Studio

The opening of Paraiso Bay’s Beach Club and waterfront restaurant is not quite on the horizon yet, but the collaboration between Michael and Meyer Davis Studio is in full swing.  At their New York-based design firm, Principals and Partners Will Meyer and Gray Davis specialize in residential, hospitality, retail and workplace environments. While still working drawings on paper at this stage, the space and kitchen is laid out with a distinct direction thanks to a solid working relationship.

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Carlos Rosso, President of the Related Group’s condominium development division meets with Michael and Will Meyer of Meyer Davis Studio last month at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in the Design District.

“I love their work and am super excited about our partnership” Michael explains. “Mostly because they are extremely talented designers but also because they understand restaurants and how they work.  They design with functionality and flow in mind.  One of the most important elements to me is how it all works together as a whole.”

The team has been meeting regularly to review plans in stages and communication is key.

“Michael is great to work with. He’s responded positively to our approach and has been very hands on with kitchen design and functionality.” says Will Meyer.  “We work with celebrity chefs on a regular basis, and it’s always fantastic to work with people who know what they’re doing and are passionate.”

If the two agree on anything, it’s that functionality always comes first, especially in restaurant design. The space needs to flow for guests and employees.  “We really stem our aesthetic choices from functionality,” explains Will.  “These need to function well to also be impressive design decisions. We also always want guests to feel comfortable and for design to be luxurious at the same time. That balance is the key to a great design.”

When starting this project, Michael came in with a clear vision of what he wanted.  The restaurant’s open kitchen and wood grill — something that’s been a centerpiece of private events at the property’s sales center off Biscayne Bay — will be a focal point, as is the importance of bringing the amazing location on the waterfront into the restaurant.

“We’ve conceptualized a space that is seamless in its transition from the outside in,” Will continues. “There will be trees and plantings within the restaurant, as well as a nanowall system on the first and second floor that can be opened to allow the interior to pour outside. We like to keep our interior and exterior materials similar as well, so that the dining overflows outdoors and people feel the same environment throughout the space.”

MG_Paraiso_HH_Final_logoThis restaurant is meant to be a space that residents should feel comfortable making their regular spot.  The Studio thinks a lot about how guests will engage with its projects, from families enjoying a meal out together, to more romantic evenings, and even special events.

Will notes, “Hopefully the restaurant can be an inviting home away from home, while also serving as a destination for those who are not residents.”

Related is currently preparing to launch the final 55-story residential tower within the Paraiso enclave. The GranParaiso Tower by Piero Lissoni will begin sales early May.

“Working with the extraordinary talents of Michael Schwartz and the design stars of Meyer Davis Studio is an unprecedented blend of vision and style,” said Carlos Rosso, President of The Related Group Condominium Division. “Together, we’re creating Paraiso Beach Club to transform the lifestyle on Biscayne Bay.”

He continued, “This is the destination Miami has been waiting for, especially in downtown, where the best dining and culture are taking shape before our eyes. Paraiso’s Beach Club will become the spot for contemporary and relaxed gatherings on the waterfront, for drinks and amazing meals with friends and family. I can already imagine our dock lined with boats and water taxis.”

Come toast the vision for Edgewater, the new neighborhood in our future on Biscayne Bay.  Join Michael for complimentary snacks & drinks inspired by his future Paraiso Beach Club restaurant tonight Wednesday, April 8 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (130 NE 40th Street.) For more information about Paraiso Bayviews  please contact info@paraisobayviews.com.