If You Do One Last Thing Before 2012… NOMINATE.

A savory recognition. A sweet one hangs in the balance!

Surprise, surprise.  NPR reported this morning that of the 56% of us who will be at the office from Christmas to New Years, levels of productivity are expected to be low, providing little value to our employers according to a 2011 holiday productivity survey.  Equally as low, incidentally, was the 56.8% of the voting population that turned out at the polls in 2008! So, my fellow unproductive workers, please fulfill your duty and take a handful of your thumb-twiddling, Internet-surfing, and Facebook status-updating minutes on this last Friday of 2011 and turn them into productive ones by  NOMINATING DESERVING TALENT FOR THE 2012 JAMES BEARD AWARDS. The organization opens voting to the general public before judges get their hands on the nods and that period will expire in less than 48 hours.  Godspeed!

Baby, It’s Nebbiolo Outside

Chilly? Nestle into this old school, old world red, here sitting pretty on our Design District back office balcony.

It’s wintertime. Dean’s suited up, probably a crisp Jack Taylor in shades of grey, crowing this tune. What is he drinking?  According to wine director Eric Larkee, it should be nebbiolo.  Silvio Giamello, Vicenziana, Barbaresco 2006 to be exact (BTB/74.)

“It’s a wine I want to curl up with a nice roast,” he says.  “Something from our wood burning oven.

With today’s 15 degree slide into what we hope will be a long, brisk South Florida winter, you may opt for our patio and reach for this DOCG Piedmontese red, coddled by the Alps of northwest Italy, an opening act to whole wood roasted Poulet Rouge with rosemary-plumped raisins and toasted pine nuts and a side of sweet, creamy squash from that same hearth, splashed with Meyer lemon salsa verde.

Of this bottle, the New York Times’ Eric Asimov last year proclaimed it number one.  “Clearly an old-school wine,” he wrote. “Its pale red color, rimmed with orange at the edge, was a giveaway, as was the delicate, nuanced fragrance of flowers, tar and minerals. On the palate, its structure was evident, yet so was its delicacy. That combination is the soul of great nebbiolo. … The Giamello was also our best value.”

The last time I borrowed bottles to shoot, they turned up in a cookbook.  The fate of Vicenziana? Oh, trusting Eric…

Teatime with Steven Smith Teamaker

Hedy's tea tasting with the staff on Saturday.

Beginning today we are carrying a new line of small batch teas by Steven Smith Teamaker of Portland, Oregon.

“I was searching for a tea that was in keeping with our philosophy,” Hedy explained on the phone to me this morning.  “I found them two summers ago when I was in Portland at the Pinot Noir Festival. I fell in love with Steven and how everything is so design oriented, from the tea bags and the colors he’s chosen.  Everything aside from the tea is a amazing.  And then the tea is amazing! If Michael Schwartz made tea, it would be Smith.”

Smith teas come immaculately packaged down to the tea bag itself (Steven also founded a small company you may have heard of called Tazo,) and paramount in the experience is bringing the customer into as close proximity to the origin of the ingredients as possible.

“I brought his teas back to Miami and couldn’t find them here,” Hedy continued. “Then one day I went into Black Trumpet deli when I was in Cayman.  With the large British population of tea lovers down there, they carried it!  I went to the website and contacted them and spoke to Steven himself… Of course he answers the phone… We had a great conversation, and he put me in touch with Amy their salesperson and the rest is history. I think we’re the only restaurant carrying them in Miami.”

Meadow is Hedy’s favorite, a decaffeinated herbal with Egyptian chamomile, South African rooibos, fragrant hyssop, linden flowers, lemon myrtle, rose petals, safflower, cyani flowers and natural flavors.  “You may need a sun hat” advises the website.

MGFD in Miami will start by carrying two blacks, two greens and two herbals.  Hedy is looking forward to working the tea into her pastry program in the spring, perhaps with the Lord Bergamot steeped in custard for french toast. Drool.

Read more about Steven in this past Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, The All-Star Alchemist of Top-Shelf Tea.

Cook the Column: Roasted Vegetables with Goat Cheese & Greens

My take on roasted winter vegetables with parsley sauce. Arugula served as the bitter greens, and Cypress Grove "Midnight Moon" for the aged goat cheese.

Michael’s third of four Slow Food Fast columns will run in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal featuring a recipe for roasted winter veggies with his universally delicious condiment/marinade/soulmate of pretty much anything it touches: parsley sauce.

Wow your holiday guests like I did by recreating it for a recent dinner party (round of applause, please) and send us photos of how you made out to thegenuinekitchen@michaelsgenuine.com for a chance to win a signed copy of MICHAEL’S GENUINE FOOD: Down-to-Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat (a great holiday gift!)  We’re giving one away to each of the four best recreations.

From the looks of it above, I won! Prove me wrong?

A Pizza & Beer Flight with Your Cookbook

If you’ve still got a couple more gifts to purchase on your list and a grumbling tummy, check out our DailyCandy Deal for Harry’s Pizzeria. Launched this morning and available for purchase for two weeks (for redemption for 3 months,) Take Flight at Harry’s includes any pizza of your choice and 4 ounce tastes of each of our four Florida beers on tap for the price of Michael’s cookbook – of which you also go home with a signed copy. Cheers to that! Happy Holidays from all of us at The Genuine Hospitality Group! Don’t forget we have gift certificates available for all our restaurants, for purchase in-house and also online at our websites harryspizzeria.com and michaelsgenuine.com