[VIDEO] Sharing the Royal Wow Behind the Brew

It’s hard to believe but final preparations are being made for the Michael’s Genuine® Pub to set sail from the New York City area in November. You’ve been on the ride with us, from the announcement there in March, to our happy hour to celebrate where it all first began, the Michael’s Genuine®  Food & Drink bar in Miami’s Design District.  Once it is open, we will continue to be closely involved to ensure all is running smoothly, visiting the ships on a regular basis to keep staff motivated and operations well-oiled with our partners at Royal Caribbean International, as we have done since 2011 with 150 Central Park’s Farm-to-Ship program.  This time is special though, of course, as our brand sets sail for the first time on the brand new Quantum Class of ships.  We will be onboard for training, traveling to Bremerhaven, Germany prior to the inaugural transatlantic crossing to further infuse genuine culture onboard.  Through and through the process has been akin to opening one of our restaurants on land — from branding, restaurant design, art by Carl Myers, uniforms, and merchandise, to the menu, its design and paper spec, recipe development, and smallwares procurement.  And of course, ramping up production for some craft beer close to our hearts to be onboard — Michael’s Genuine® Home Brew Classic American Ale and Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale from Back Forty Beer Company in Gadsden, Alabama.

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Est. 1846!

Thanks to our partners at Royal Caribbean and Michael’s role as Quantum Experience Advisor for Culinary, today we take you behind the scenes with Chef and Ryan for Episode 2: Craft Brews at Sea, a voyage to discover how Michael’s Genuine Home Brew is made at its home away from home with BFBC Director of Operations Tripp Collins.  You can also view Episode 1: Genuine Food and Drink Aboard Quantum Class here, featuring Michael and Royal Caribbean International Culinary Director Neal Gallagher as they preview what’s to come at the Michael’s Genuine Pub, including cameos by MGFD HQ chef de cuisine Niven Patel and sous chef Danny Ramirez!

Still thirsty for more Michael’s Genuine Home Brew?  Tune into the shenanigans from Michael’s casual neighborhood joint Harry ‘s Pizzeria® as we prepare for our August 26 dinner with Terrapin Brewing Co. on this week’s Brew in Miami with Miami Herald Food Editor Evan Benn. Catch the new episode later this week on Miami.com and read about it in Saturday’s Tropical Life section of the Herald. Cheers!

At Home on the Wheel with Gary the Potter


It seemed night had fallen a little earlier than usual for a summer evening as I pulled into the driveway tucked off a residential street on Miami Beach.  The house sat quiet in a nest of palms, casting light from the pores of its winding single story footprint, a midcentury South Florida home in the truest sense.  One pane in particular fluttered, beckoning as I approached to peer inside.  There was Gary Rosenberg, bustling inside his 12′ x 12’ converted garage ceramics studio, not unlike my first apartment in New York City. I think we called it a shoebox.

I knocked on the door and stepped back in time to 10th grade studio art class.  It felt great, and the usual suspects were all there. First the damp, intoxicating smell of clay.  And clay was everywhere.  The floor, the wheel, Gary’s overalls… and me, already, even without sitting down to take a test drive and see if I remembered a thing or two.  One thing was for certain.  Whatever I didn’t recall, Gary was going to show me.

“I first really got into it in 1973.  I apprenticed under Eddie Weyhe,”  Gary begins.  “He was a painter and potter in Coconut Grove I met when I was 17.  He was very artistic and had a great sense of design.  The way he threw was amazing.  He had this Florida Room in his house with one all-white wall, and he would take some charcoal and sketch his next piece, including the decoration.  He worked in three sections.  The final product would be 6-8 feet tall!

Gary's beginnings behind the wheel.

Gary’s beginnings behind the wheel.

The thing about his work was that it felt like a piece of art. That’s the difference that makes great pottery. I have some of his ‘mistakes’. They’re my most treasured pieces. He’d toss them into the back of his yard, and I’d go and collect them.  They have a beginning middle and end, like a great meal.”

Gary is a commercial real estate broker, running his business as a family operation with his son Andy.  And he is an artisan in the truest sense.  He is also a blacksmith, certified hypnotist and comedian.  Pottery is not quite an art and not quite a hobby for this Beach High grad.  He approaches it as a craftsman.  The work is functional, and he produces a lot of it out of this tiny studio he built 11 years ago.  And that was the reason for my visit. Production.

Michael met Gary at a poker match 10 years ago, and they have been part of the same group ever since, not to mention neighbors and friends. Not surprisingly, Chef is a great fan of his work.  If you look closely, you’ll notice some pieces at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink that have been there pretty much since the beginning.  There’s the business card bowl at the host stand and the perforated bowl in the center of our ingredient wall on the food bar.  This evening it would be an order for new radish bowls for our bar keeping Gary on his toes. I would learn – through participation thanks to a great teacher – how they were made, from centering, opening and pulling, to trimming in their mid-dry leather stage with his set of custom made Tungsten Carbide tools.  Gary explained that after the first or Bisque firing in the kiln just under 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the piece will shrink 15%, making his measuring stick even that more important when an order as specific as Michael’s comes in.

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I began two pieces that night — a small vase and a plate with a shallow lip, and gained a Gary trick that he learned from his mentor for centering the clay by pushing it forwards on the wheel and letting it come back.   As I closelined each piece from its bat, the removable attachment to the base of the wheel on which you “throw” the clay, and placed them on the shelf to dry it became clear that Gary is like any great sushi master. A Shokunin. He both makes individual pieces each imbued with character, thanks to signature lines and textures applied that harness the glaze, but he has standardized a look that he can reproduce with profound prolific effect.

“I threw 70 pots in three days. Four or so of them will be the right size for Michael, and the others are for gift bags for the weddings,” he continues (both his son and his daughter each will be married before the end of the year.) “I’m making each of them Kiddish cups for their ceremonies, too.”

A family guy through and through, and one we are proud to call part of the extended Genuine family as well.  Michael takes another turn at the wheel soon when it’s glazing time.  Can’t wait to see how he makes his mark.

Summertime at the Genuine Bar

Summer is not complete without cocktails. We thus met with The Genuine Hospitality Group’s Beverage Director, Ryan Goodspeed, to review four newly added cocktails to the menu at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink. I call him our chemist. Ryan has been involved in the beverage industry for 20 years and we could not ask for a more passionate and sincere mixologist. His combinations are carefully crafted and his love for the process can quasi be tasted in every sip. Ryan’s overview describes the complexities of each of these drinks, which were born out of classics. Despite their history, he emphasizes that where you finish is never where you started, which makes each cocktail so very original and genuine.

Let us begin! The Far East Cocktail is ideal for island time, in Ryan’s words. It entails a mixture of Tanqueray Malacca Gin, mango infused Ancho Chile Liqueur, muddled mango and lime. Note that this style of Gin is sweeter with hints of citrus, unlike a traditional dry gin, which makes it the perfect summer companion. The Ancho Chile Liqueur is truly the magic touch as the mango infusion was Ryan’s will. This detail yields a cocktail with sweet and bold flavors with some spice as well. Here is the scoop to impress your friends at home:

Recipe:

  • 1 ½ oz Tanqueray Malacca Gin
  • 1 oz Ancho Reyes infused with Mango
  • ½ oz lime juice
  • ½ cup chopped mango

Glass: Coupe

Ice: Regular

Garnish: Mango peel rolled & skewered

Method: Combine ingredients in shaker. Muddle. Add ice. Shake and double strain. Garnish.

Our next cocktail, The Fiddler, is iced to the rim, to stay cooler, longer. Moreover this drink pays homage to our genuine motto: fresh, simple, pure. How? It combines Rittenhouse Rye 100 proof, Ferrand Dry Curacao, fresh grapefruit and basil, both sourced from South Florida. It is inspired by the Mint Julep cocktail, made popular at the Kentucky Derby, but this version clearly emits Miami flavors. Ryan recommends enjoying The Fiddler on your back porch, as this gem is both refreshing and easily constructed.

Recipe:

  • 1 ½ oz Rittenhouse Rye 100 proof
  • ½ oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
  • 1 ½ oz grapefruit juice
  • 3 large basil leaves

Glass: Generic Berliner Tulep

Ice: Crushed

Garnish: Basil sprig

Method: Combine ingredients in shaker. Add ice. Shake and double strain into glass full of crushed ice. Garnish.

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Rye once again steals the show in our next offering, The Barrel Aged Waldorf. Ryan’s twist from the traditional Waldorf, is to substitute Pernod for a Absinthe, which offer anis notes, and age the drink in a barrel. The beverage matures for 2.5 months in medium charred American Oak, which creates complexity. As this cocktail is free of juices, the focus is on the spirits, but more so on how elegantly the flavors interact. Ryan recommends Carpano as the vermouth of choice for this cocktail, due to the apricot and honey essences. Ryan’s version is aged, but you can create your own with the same recipe, without the aging process. Below are the details on how to get down to business:

Recipe:

  •  1/4 ounce Pernod
  • 2 ounces Bourbon or Rye
  • 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Glass: Coupe

Ice: Regular

Garnish: Lemon Twist

Method: Add ingredients to mixing glass full of ice. Stir for 10 seconds. Strain into coupe. Garnish.

Tradewinds Punsch

Tradewinds Punsch

Lastly, the Tradewinds Punsch brings the whimsical side of summer to life. It features Kronan Punsch (yes, the spelling is correct), a Swedish liqueur made of sugar cane and spice, and is well complimented by citrus and ice (sorry for the rhyme). A classic punch would make use of gin and brandy, but Ryan opts for Puncsch and Bols Genever, a form of “malt wine”. Therefore, when passion fruit and lemon are added, the result is a refreshing,  balanced yet tangy tropical awakening. Directions to pure pleasure follow:

Recipe:

  • 1 ½ oz Bols Genever
  • ½ oz Velvet Falernum
  • ½ oz Kronan Punsch
  • ½ oz lemon
  • 2 oz Passion fruit (jiggered with seeds & pulp)

Glass: Coupe

Ice: Regular

Garnish: Lime Twist skewered

Method: Combine ingredients in shaker. Add ice. Shake and double strain. Garnish.

Ryan believes that every cocktail emerges from a classic, but we are always welcome to experiment with modern approaches. Enjoy making these at home, or better yet, enjoy them from genuine hands at Michael’s.

Triggering a Conversation in the Great Fish Debate

Welcome back Kristina! Ms. Francillon, no stranger to The Genuine Kitchen and @MGFD_MIA where she is responsible for the weekly Sunday Brunch bell, joins us this summer as Brand Coordinator. Whilst juggling her role at HQ as a Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink reservationist, she’ll be supporting marketing efforts across all The Genuine Hospitality Group restaurants. You can follow Kristina on her blog at tastingitlikeitis.wordpress.com or on Instagram @tastingitlikeitis.

At The Genuine Hospitality Group, using local and seasonably-sourced ingredients is as much a part of company culture as it is our kitchens. So it really hit home when we caught wind of the recent publication (June 26, 2014) of “American Catch: The Fight for our Local Seafood” by James Beard Award-winning author Paul Greenberg, especially the wave of mainstream headlines that followed. Greenberg noted in a recent interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air that, according to Oceana, seafood may be mislabeled at all points of the supply chain including restaurants as often as 25 to 70 percent of the time for fish like red snapper, wild salmon, and Atlantic cod, disguising species that are less desirable, cheaper or more readily available. Shocking indeed to know our very own industry is one of the biggest offenders in this delicate ocean-to-table dynamic. In his novel, Greenberg also discusses how over 90% of the seafood consumed in America, is imported from Asia and is farmed, particularly shrimp, salmon, and tilapia.

In light of this national discussion that has bubbled up, we thought it was a great opportunity to hear what our trusted expert on fishing local waters had to say about it all. George Figueroa of our purveyor Trigger Seafood is never one to hold back on making his opinions known nor shy from jumping behind the line to whip up Florida lobster ceviche as he did for Vice Munchies (see minute 9:18) — only part of why we love him! Through his lens, we focus today on the disadvantages of non-local seafood and ways we can continue to support the fishing industry off our own shores.

Trigger Seafood is a fishing specialist in South Atlantic waters, which encompasses the Keys and South of US 1. George has supplied TGHG restaurants with local, wild caught seafood, since our inception and primarily offers us triggerfish, wreckfish, yellow jack, cobia, snappers, and more since Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink first opened in 2007.

Kristina: George, thank you for taking a few minutes to speak with us. How long have you been a fisherman and what attracted you to the field?

George: I have been involved in the local industry all of my life, due to my family. As far of making it a business, we have been here since 2004.

Kristina: Paul Greenberg’s recent publication: “American Catch” has caused a buzz about the perils of importing seafood, rather than consuming local fish; what are some disadvantages in your opinion of imported and non-local seafood in general?

George: As long as it is domestic, I usually feel pretty strongly about the fish. There is more quality control with an American product. Of course, the closer you are to the fish, the quality will be better. For example, Pompano Beach is within an hour drive and you have control of what is being fished; whereas, if you are buying a fish from Seattle, you may not be familiar with the fish or the fishery. The closer you are to your fish source, the greater the quality of that product. If you are buying a fish from another country, you are not sure of who packs it, how, or in what period of time; that is my greatest concern. Salmon is the most common fish consumed in the US and over 85 % of it is farmed. Some farms use non-natural food, a form of keratin in the fish’s feed, which gives it the false color. The orange that you see on a salmon is not natural, typically.

In the walk-in, Raul holding up a mutton snapper

In the walk-in, Raul holding up a mutton snapper in the Michael’s Genuine walk-in cooler.

Kristina: Wine producers are able to indicate a level of quality with the “AOC” label, for example. Does the fishing industry offer a similar method to control what we consume?

George: NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) monitors everything that is caught in the United States. They monitor quota, sustainability, seasons and what is being caught. You have certain quality controls with NOAA. The key is to consume something domestic; once you leave the country, those rules can no longer be applied.

Kristina: How can consumers educate themselves on the matter?

George: In stores, it is difficult [to mislead the consumer] because stores have to label by FDA standards. But in the restaurant business it is a lot more private and they can get away with anything. They can mention local and it may not be. Unless the consumer does some research on the restaurant and finds out who the purveyors are, then they can be more sure. I offer restaurants the opportunity to put my name as a purveyor of local fish and label where it comes from, which helps the consumer.

You can also visit websites for NOAA and FWC (The Florida Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Commission). With that information, you will know the expected size of a fish and you can check the season to know when a fish is available. In that way, you ensure that you get the variety that you asked for and that it is in fact, local.

Kristina: What are some other benefits of consuming local seafood?

George: Obviously, it helps our local industry and our sustainability, by buying the correct fish at the right season. You could choose not to elect an out of season fish, to avoid imported and commercialized [options].

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Tigger Seafood’s Yellowjack on the prep table at Harry’s Pizzeria, at the hands chef de cuisine Steven Martin. This particular fish may ultimately be served as a filet, but it’s always coming into the restaurant whole.

Kristina: Cobia, grouper, mahi, and snapper are well known local fish in the Genuineland, but what are some other varieties that have a strong Florida presence?

George: Wahoo is another option, wreckfish found in the Cape Canaveral area, American barrel fish, and pompano. If they go to the FWC and NOAA websites, consumers can review our local species to determine what is sustainable and available.

Kristina: Our team is proud to feature your fresh fish at our restaurants and we thank you for your input on this debate. Do you have any additional points you would like to share?

George: If they know whom they are buying from, they can be more educated on what they are getting. Obviously buying the local product, you will get a fresher fish.

You want to keep your sources close.

To learn more about local sourcing, visit our “sourcing” section on the blog and of course, stay tuned for further coverage. You may also visit the NOAA and FWC websites, which George mentioned, listed below for your convenience.

http://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/

http://myfwc.com/fishing/

From Barrel Aged Summer Spritzes to Special Midcourse Dishes, The Cypress Room Raises the Miami Spice Bar

Ryan and The Cypress Room bartender Christian Carnevale working out the restaurant's new Barrel Aged Spritz recipes earlier this week.

Ryan and The Cypress Room bartender Christian Carnevale working out the restaurant’s new Barrel Aged Spritz recipes earlier this week.

For Michael, Miami Spice is what you make of it and The Cypress Room is taking this to heart beginning August 1 when it participates in the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau’s annual summer promotion for the second consecutive year, offering a Lunch (23) prix fixe Monday through Friday, and Dinner (39) Monday through Thursday, with the addition of supplemental midcourses and cocktails at special prices.

“For me, Spice is about doing it right or not doing it at all. We spend lots of time figuring out which restaurant should take on the challenge and how to tackle it – from the content to how it is formatted on paper,” he says. “I’ve been very proud of the work chef de cuisine Roel Alcudia and his team have been doing day-in and day-out with The Cypress Room’s tasting menus, so Spice presents the perfect opportunity to continue to offer fresh, inventive prix fixe menus there, with the stakes raised. We look really closely at what makes the most sense for us at the greatest benefit to the customer.”

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Hedy Goldsmith’s “Coconut” dessert on the Miami Spice Dinner menu, featuring local fruits of the summer season – fresh mango and passionfruit.

For Lunch, Roel offers a first course choice of Tartine of Vegetable Escabeche with avocado mousse and radishes, Beet and Stone Fruit Salad with fontina, or Smoked Local Fish with mixed grains and bitter greens; midcourse supplements at a special price of Royal Red Shrimp with coconut, lime and puffed rice (10), Beef Tartare with truffle vinaigrette, potato chip, and pickled mushroom (9), and Tortellini with rabbit, spinach and parmigiano (8); second course options of The Cypress Burger with onion marmalade and Jasper Hill Landaff, Salt Cod with black bomba rice and saffron aioli, or Poussin with long bean almondine and glazed pearl onions; and the predicament of selecting amongst executive pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith’s finely-spun desserts including Floating Island with passion fruit and pistachio or Chocolate with Panther Coffee espresso and tart cherry pâté de fruit.

Dinner brings a first course choice of Vichysoisse with arugula pesto and American caviar, Stone Fruit with charred bread, farmer cheese, pine nuts and herbs, or Oxtail Terrine with pickles; midcourse supplements at a special price of Lamb Tartare with quail egg and toast (15), Marrow Bone with preserved lemon, celery, and garlic toast (12), and Risotto with seasonal vegetables (11); second course options of The Cypress Burger with onion marmalade, Jasper Hill Landaff, and thrice cooked fries, Local Fish with kale purée, shaved zucchini, and anchovy butter, Rabbit Minestrone with chili oil and sourdough, or Porchetta alla Romana with salsa verde and green salad; and Goldsmith’s sweet finish of Coconut Cake with white chocolate crémeaux, mango, passion fruit, and lime meringue or Chocolate and Caramel Torte with candied peanuts.

Spritz

Ryan delivers fancy new Spritz glassware to the delight of  lunchtime bartender Noelle Service yesterday.

For the first time, the restaurant’s Miami Spice menus will include a printed special section of Barrel Aged Spritzes for $9 each, beverage director Ryan Goodspeed’s light twist on his cask program. Each of the four drinks – Old Pal, Pomme Charmé, Bonnie & Clyde, and Viuex Carré – are made to order, served up in an etched cocktail glass with a couple of Kold Draft ice cubes.

“It’s summer and we’re all thinking about drinks with a slightly lower alcohol content, something a little refreshing and that won’t put you away after one or two,” Ryan explains. “We wanted to offer something special just for Spice and Michael thought why not do spritzes? The Cypress Room bartender Christian Carnevale and I fooled around with the barrel aged cocktails as a base, each livened in a different way, and I think they came out pretty great!”

The Cypress Room Miami Spice begins Friday, August 1, and runs Monday through Friday for Lunch at $23 and through Thursday for Dinner at $39. Menus are updated daily and subject to change online at thecypressroom.com, and customers should expect items to change often. Follow the restaurant on Instagram and Twitter @thecypressroom and hashtag #ilovemiamispice for regular posts of what’s new. The restaurant is located at 3620 Northeast Second Avenue in Miami’s Design District. Reservations recommended by calling 305.520.5197 or emailing reservations@thecypressroom.com.