A Genuine Italian Adventure: Bernalda Bella


As if anyone needs a reason to go to Italy, here are a couple…

Cooking lessons by Michael Schwartz in Bernalda, the town where Francis Ford Coppola’s grandfather was born, at a Palazzo that Francis transformed into a hotel. The surrounding countryside, which was settled by the Greeks before the Roman era, is part of the Hellenic Magna Graecia—the coastal areas of Southern Italy—where the thriving local agriculture produces sumptuous fruits and vegetables, as well as the Aglianico grapes used to make wines of the same name.

Contact Paul Athanas pathanas@me.com to book one of the three suites left available.

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Our Main Squeeze: Florida Citrus Season!

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To learn Florida’s certain faults, tune in to a Weekend Update or Jon Stewart episode; to learn Florida’s certain merits, visit one of our restaurants right now. Florida citrus season is upon us, and like Seth Meyers, is irresistible. Here’s how it’s finding its way into each of our restaurants.

Pixie tangerines are sliced on everything from crudo to radish salad at MGFD, “What do pixie tangerines taste like?” I asked chef Bradley Herron. I assure you explanation points aren’t lightly spent by Brad.

Delicious! Lots of acid, balanced though, and juicy. I’m salivating just talking about it. And we’re getting minneolas. Cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine. [Googles it] Named after Minneola, Florida apparently, also called Honey Bell.

The thought of mornings with freshly squeezed honey bell sends me to the bar, where bartender Jason Denisiewicz was mixing up the Blood Orange Market Special of the day with Solerno liqueur, Double Cross vodka, blood orange juice, ginger lemon grass soda and purple thai basil. Tasty and pretty. Bravo Jay.

At Harry’s, kitchen manager Steve Martin has citrus sunshine shining on an agrodolce salad special with grapefruit, lemon, and orange segments, shaved fennel, red onion, goat cheese, local honey and citrus vinaigrette. The other sides of those segments ended up in a pot turning into grapefruit, lemon and orange marmalade “How do you make marmalade?” I asked.

I took the grapefruit, orange and lemon peels, triple blanched them to get out the bitterness, and then candied them with sugar, vinegar and salt. Finally, into the Robot Coupe (restaurant grade food processor) and turned it into marmalade. Hold on…He returned with the grapefruit and orange marmalades on demitasse spoons. Oh yeah, chili flakes.

Talk about well balanced. Sweet, tart, and spicy. Not my grandma’s orange marmalade. Nor Hedy Goldsmith’s. Hedy and her team are rolling Grapefruit Hungarian Short Bread out of the MGFD pastry station, along with recent ice creams and sorbets: orange creamsicle, screwdriver and lemon ice.

The Cypress Room couldn’t have come at a better time for its Florida Citrus Chess Pie. With orange, grapefruit and Meyer lemon juice, buttermilk, roasted white chocolate, huckleberry, tarragon  and dried zest of cuties to garnish (cross between a sweet orange and Chinese mandarin) Hedy, didn’t miss a thing on this one.

Enjoy the slideshow and let us know what citrus you see popping up around the design district @MGFD_MIA.

The Cypress Room, Our New Elegant American Dining Room, Opens Monday, March 25!

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Well the time has come.  After months of planning and anticipation, the latest addition to the genuine family debuts to the public tomorrow, Monday, and we couldn’t be more proud of Michael and excited to welcome The Cypress Room to the world.

Located at 3620 Northeast Second Avenue in Miami’s Design District, this elegant American dining room is a nod to the spirit of classic 1920s fine dining, welcoming with a freshly polished finish in food, service, bar, and decor.  The dinner menu centers around the restaurant’s wood-burning grill and rotisserie, offering Appetizers, Selection of Cheeses, Entrees, Sides, and House Specialties cleanly composed by chef de cuisine Roel Alcudia.  As with everything Michael touches, only the freshest, highest quality ingredients, hand-picked from America’s best small farmers, foragers, and fishermen build layers of flavor into the Cypress Room’s dishes. The Genuine Hospitality Group Wine Director Eric Larkee’s vision of the The Beverage Book has been realized beautifully by Ilysa Corns, containing a focused collection of wines by the glass and bottle with attention to regional, old world varietals; new cocktails carefully crafted by Beverage Director Ryan Goodspeed including Aperitif, Classic, Barrel-Aged and House Specialties, fine spirits and aperitifs, as well as dessert wines to pair with executive pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith’s finely-spun dessert menu.  Simeon Humphreys, of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink and Harry’s Pizzeria, leads the team as General Manager.

IMG_8283Under the cobalt glow of its neon sign, The Cypress Room façade crawls with ivy and opens to the sidewalk with folding glass French doors. Upon entering the room, framed black and white photos of old Florida line a wainscoted reclaimed pecky cypress paneled wall to the left. From the center of the intimate dining room hang two crystal chandeliers. Rose-colored wallpaper in flora and fauna extends the length ofthe back wall, framing an open kitchen with a wood-burning grill and rotisserie lined in ivory and beige tile. Tufted, sky blue banquets line the north wall to the right from which paneled pecky cypress extends above, illuminated by goose-neck lamps and with wild Florida deer and boar overlooking the room below and across to a mill worked, wooden cask-lined bar and oil-rubbed bronze tap tower.

The Cypress Room would simply not be without the blood, sweat and tears of the whole front and back of house team, including manager Nicole Ciani (new to the genuine team but is she really?!,) sous chef Michael Beltran (ditto!), pastry plater Keith Freiman, Chef’s assistant and brand manager Ellie Groden with her insane photo wall, hand-selected B&B plates and overall ordering skills, executive chef of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink Bradley Herron, fearless leader Charles Bell, director of operations, everyone in the greater TGHG family who has lent a hand (or 10!) throughout the development process, and last but certainly not least Tamara Schwartz and the support and inspiration of the entire Schwartz family.  Now let’s rock this.

Beginning Monday, March 25, the restaurant is open for dinner six days a week, Monday through Thursday 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 6:00 p.m. to 12 Midnight, and Closed Sunday.  Please visit The Cypress Room website to explore this very special place to us and book a reservation.  We hope it becomes as special to you, as well.

Stagiaire Supper Four is Hot & Hot: Tickets Now Live for Our Next Genuine Family Meal

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Brad’s kitchen putting out our second dinner late last year featuring line cook Milton Vega.

It’s that time again! Executive chef Bradley Herron is opening his home to all of us for a genuine family meal.

As you may know, after hosting Marcus Samuelsson at MGFD for his Miami memoir release party in July 2012, Bradley came up with a great idea inspired by a dinner Samuelsson writes about, hosted at his own home to raise money to send one of his line cooks away to stage for a few days with a great chef from his past, from whom he, as a young cook, learned a great deal. Thanks to Michael’s amazing relationships, we are able to do the same, and Bradley cooked up an offer to make it happen. Get 30 people to each spend $50 on a family style dinner in his own home, cooked by a Stagiaire hopeful with lots of help and donations from the genuine family to put it on.

After a successful first three dinners, and cooks sent to Greenhouse Tavern (Steve Martin,) SBRAGA (Milton Vega,) and Barbuto (Ray Melendi,) it is line cook Juan Mayo’s turn! And he’s going to stage with one of our all time favorite people: Chris Hastings of Hot & Hot Fish Club! Juan is Birmingham-bound in June 19-23. Help us make it possible.

Stagiaire Supper_logoWhen: Sunday, April 28, 5:30-8:00 p.m.
Where: Hosted by Executive Chef Bradley Herron at his home
411 Northeast 52nd Terrace (Morningside) Miami, FL
What: Please join us for meal cooked by one of our own so they can travel to stage at a great chef’s restaurant.
$50 includes:
Welcome Cocktail + Snacks
3 courses including dessert, served family-style
RSVP: Please say yes to Bradley with cash if you see him or conveniently use your credit card through Brown Paper Tickets here
Why: Your contribution will go to send Juan Mayo for a stage with Hot & Hot Fish Club chef/owner in Birmingham, Alabama!

Genuine Teamwork: Announcing Our Swank Table Luncheon Menu on Sunday, April 7

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Swank Specialty Produce owners and growers Jodi and Darren Swank address guests this past weekend.

On Sunday, Ellie and I attended our first Swank Table event in Loxahatchee Groves, FL where we enjoyed a farm tour, drinks, and delicious food served family style from some of Palm Beach County’s best chefs, like one of our former Miami buddies, Clay Conley.  Part reconnaissance mission for our upcoming “Genuine Swank” luncheon, part relaxing way to close the weekend, we were not only blown away by the incredible bounty, beauty, and variety of produce growing at Swank Specialty Produce, but at the skill of the event producers under the leadership of resident chef Lindsay Autry to craft a line-up Goldilocks would approve of.  Not to big, not to small. Just right.  Sunday’s theme was green for more than the obvious reasons.  It also happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, so naturally mead made from local honey by a local brewer down D Street from the farm was involved.  We loved it cutting with beer, a mixture called a braggot.

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Welcome cocktail magic care of Eric Larkee and Hedy Goldsmith: the carrot-lemon verbena farmer fizz!

As you probably know by now, our chefs at The Genuine Hospitality Group source Swank’s amazing baby veggies and greens for Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink and Harry’s Pizzeria in Miami, as well as 150 Central Park’s farm-to-ship menus aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas (and soon to be its sister ship Allure,) now overseen by executive chef of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink Bradley Herron.  We are thrilled to have chef de cuisine Niven Patel now onboard at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami, a Homestead resident this past year turned Caymanian, working with Dean Max at one of Grand Cayman’s pioneering farm-to-table restaurants, the Brasserie. Niven couldn’t get enough fresh seafood off their boats and loved every bit of the experience. With family still in South Miami, it was time to return and serendipitous that we struck up a relationship with him over the past year on-island making his entree into our family that much more organic.

Niven will join  Michael and Hedy for his first event as part of the genuine team at Genuinely Swank. It’s a great addition to the event for guests as his style is shining through in Whole Snappers and more on the menu, and Niven will have an opportunity to visit one of our most important farms to our kitchen at home base.  Can’t wait to hear all the wonderful things Jodi and Darren will have to say about this news!  Niven is active on Instagram, even better news for you and for us!

Tickets to our Swank Table luncheon are available at this link, but going fast!  The event is Sunday, April 7 from 12 – 4:00 p.m. at Swank Farms Specialty Produce in Loxahatchee, a short hour drive from Miami.  Proceeds from ticket sales benefit the James Beard Scholarship Foundation. Check out the menu as it stands, subject to change, below. Can’t wait for Lindsay’s additions.  Slainte!

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