[UPDATED] [RECIPE] A Big Bad Menu Announcement from “Johnny Snack”: City Grocery Pizzeria!

Update: Eric Larkee has the wines set for tomorrow night!!! Check them out here and get your tickets before they are gone.  It’s going to be an amazing evening. Hope you can join us to send out pop no. 20 and the last of the year with a BANG!

The two week countdown has begun for James Beard Award-winning chef John Currence’s takeover of Harry’s Pizzeria on Tuesday, November 12, 7:00 p.m., and we have a sneak peek of John’s pretty-much-rarin’-to-go City Grocery Pizzeria menu for you here.  And there’s a bonus, too: the juicy details of NOLA Oyster Stew straight from the pages of his cookbook – your take home gift for the evening – Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes from My Three Favorite Food Groups. Whet your whistle with a piping bowl, some American whiskey, and settle into the story of a cook hungry for life and finding his roots in southern cooking.  This culinary adventure is a personal one, shaped by mom’s home kitchen in New Orleans, trips through western Europe as a youngster when the family moved to Scotland, and then Louisiana again, this time in the tiny intensity of Gautreau’s and an unexpected trip to Oxford, Mississippi to visit his best childhood friend from which City Grocery was born.

Although I didn’t realize it, my formative experiences in those years were building a foundation got what my food would ultimately become.  The lightning bolt of understanding stuck in the summer of 1998 on an extended work-play trip to the south of France.  At the end of my second week there, I began craving everything I knew was exploding out of the ground in our garden back home.  I wanted lemon-sauteed squash, sliced heirloom tomatoes, skillet-fried corn, and fresh green beans more than I had ever craved anything in my life.  I wanted those Sunday suppers from my grandmother’s garden and table.

On my last day there, we made our daily trip to the outdoor market in Cannes, and the chef I was working with approached me with a pod of okra and accosted me with questions about this curiosity he had never experienced  We returned to the house with exactly all of the okra from the market, and I launched into an afternoon tutorial. We prepared boiled okra with black pepper, pickled okra (page 61 of the book), stewed okra with fresh tomatoes (page 55), fried okra, and summered seafood gumbo chock-full of okra.  We were both blown away– him with the possibilities for this ingredient and me with the immediate understanding that his response to this food that I would never have considered bringing to the table at City Grocery had just become the centerpiece of my food philosophy and what would propel City Grocery into the brewing conversation about Southern food.

Now John brings City Grocery to us, and aren’t we lucky.  Among what you’ll enjoy at City Grocery Pizzeria passed are Smoked Scallop Crudo, Pig Ear Frites with Comeback Sauce, Okra and Green Onion Hushpuppies with Herb Tartar Sauce, and White Pizza with Chicken Liver Pate and Roasted Pickled Shiitakes.  Smoked Beets with Buttermilk Crema will start you off with a punch, before you settle into a southern groove with said NOLA Oyster Stew, and maybe some Bourbon Braised Pork Cheeks next? How ’bout some Creole Cream Cheese Grits and Wilted Greens, too? We should mention the sweet ending of Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, with a Shot of Ice Cold Milk.  John’s still working on the welcome cocktail, struggling between two from the book at present, but one thing’s for sure: expect the unexpected and a whole lot of fun when John and Michael get together!  Click here for tickets and here to print the recipe PDF!

A QUICK REMINDER: We’d be remiss not to mention another spirited event of the American kind, as a prelude to the above shenanigans: the Craft Spirits & Beer Festival’s American Whiskey Pairings Dinner with renowned author and expert Chuck Cowdery, to be held down the street at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink on Friday, November 8 at 7:00 p.m. Click here for tickets and read all about it previously on the blog, including our interview with Chuck.

Cheers to sending out our 2013 with a big bad bang, good people, good times, and a whole lot of whisky : )

Grand Pre: Catch The Cypress Room’s New Prix Fixe Menu Before a Show, Beginning Monday, November 4 at 5:30 p.m.

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Look for us in the November issue of the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Playbill.

As the clocks turn back for Daylight Savings, we are pleased to announce that The Cypress Room will open one half hour earlier at 5:30 p.m. beginning Monday, November 4, with a new pre-theater prix fixe dinner menu. Available Monday through Saturday for seatings from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., this sophisticated, timely option for diners attending evening performances includes a choice of three courses composed of fall’s freshest ingredients for $49, paired with wine for $69.

Chef de cuisine Roel Alcudia is looking forward to The Cypress Room’s first fall, especially for the restaurant’s tasting menus, which change often and reflect new product coming in with the change of season.

“For pre- theater, the challenge is to make the best of three courses and keep things nimble to reflect what’s coming in from the farms,” Roel explains.  “We’ll have hand-picked local baby vegetables like carrots, radishes and heirloom beans coming in now, so I’m thinking Crudites with anchovy dip and delicate Swank Specialty Produce greens in a few places. Definitely heartier flavors that taste like
fall are appealing like wild game terrines and Braised Duck with fall fruit and mushrooms. Hedy will be doing petit fours to go.”

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Fall is in the air! Here, Roel’s Braised Duck with fall fruit and mushrooms.

Michael’s elegant American dining room, his third restaurant in Miami’s Design District, opened this spring, soon after receiving 3.5 stars from the Miami Herald for its “superb” nod to the spirit of classic 1920s fine dining
in polished food, service, bar, and decor. The restaurant is now open for lunch Monday through Friday from noon until 2:30 p.m. and dinner Monday through Thursday from 6:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday until Midnight, opening at 5:30 p.m. beginning November 4.  In addition to its a la carte menu, Lunch Prix Fixe offers a choice of three courses for $31, paired with wine for $51, and dinner’s Tasting Menu includes five set courses for $95, paired with wine for $155.

The Cypress Room’s menu centers around a wood-burning grill and rotisserie, offering Appetizers, Selection of Cheeses, Entrees, Sides, and House Specialties cleanly composed by chef de cuisine Roel Alcudia using only the freshest, highest quality ingredients, hand-picked from America’s best small farmers, foragers, and fishermen. The Beverage Book, honed to perfection by The Genuine Hospitality Group Beverage Director Ryan Goodspeed and Wine Director Eric Larkee, contains a focused collection of cocktails including aperitif, classic, cask-aged and house specialties; wines by the glass and bottle with attention to regional, old world varietals; fine spirits, aperitifs, and digestifs; as well as dessert wines to pair with Executive Pastry Chef Hedy Goldsmith’s finely-spun desserts.

The Cypress Room is located at 3620 Northeast Second Avenue in Miami’s Design District. Reservations recommended by calling 305.520.5197 or emailing reservations@thecypressroom.com. For more information, please visit its website at thecypressroom.com.

The Apple of Our Eye: Falling in Love with New Desserts at The Cypress Room

IMG_0978_2Take a fairy tale, inject it with electric current and edit like a designer and you have our dessert program at The Cypress Room. You’ll be hearing a lot about our new home for elegant American dining in the Design District over the next few weeks, as we cozy up to autumn, and what better way to start than with dessert. Just as executive pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith would like it. Here we find her playground for sweets with a technical edge, where imaginations run just the right amount of wild. Beginning today, we find out what that means for fall, as two of three new desserts hit the menu and all the right notes for the season.

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“This is what I am, this is my background… [Michael’s] Genuine was a departure for me even though it’s what I’m known for. Trying to be on the same page as [chef de cuisine] Roel’s aesthetic has kept me on my toes. His food is sort of delicate and dramatic and beautiful all at the same time,” Hedy shares. “A Cypress Room dessert balances textures and flavors, and seasonality always plays an important role. I think the plates need to be visually bold and really spot on with the flavor profiles. I’m not afraid of in-your-face flavors like the tarragon in the LEMON dessert. It adds a savory element.”

LEMON highlights decadent olive oil cake “croutons” with preserved lemon, tarragon honey, and cranberries. Olive oil, lemon zest, tarragon and creme Fraiche are the main flavors of this moist cake. The lemon creme is lighter than air, made in the style of lemon curd, but that’s where the connection ends. Whole butter is added in a blender at high speed to yield a fluffy, vibrantly-flavored creme. Preserved lemons are cooked for hours in a syrup to produce a candy-like texture. Candied tarragon and edible flowers make this as beautiful as it is delicious. Honey tarragon gelees add a burst of flavor and texture throughout. What tastes more like fall than cranberry, and Hedy finishes the plate with a sorbet made from the fresh ingredient which gives this dessert not only a pop of color, but great tart flavor. “I’m smitten with the chamomile grappa,” says Hedy for, as Wine Director Eric Larkee would say, the last ingredient of the dish from The Beverage Book. The booster rockets just fired on our Italian state of mind!

IMG_1073_2APPLE features Maple Brown Butter Semifreddo, Apple Confit, Hot Bourbon Cider poured tableside from the restaurant’s bone china teapots, Medjool Leather, and Hazelnut Praline. Think ice cream meets frozen soufflé. Hedy and pastry assistant Kelly Russell start with high quality Vermont maple syrup, dark amber in color. It’s reduced by half, intensifying the maple flavor and its affinity with the nuttiness of brown butter. The different textures and temperatures make this dessert unique. Honey Crisp apples are cooked with Apple Cider, Cinnamon sticks, Star Anise, Vanilla beans, Mace and local Allspice berries, which is then puréed and added to hot cider caramel. Think apple confit – it is jammed packed with apple flavor. Dehydrated apple chips add a great crunch. The Medjool dates are flattened out into paper thin “leather” sheets, like a carpaccio only with dates. Restaurant manager Marty McCartt and Hedy agree that the Hétszolo 2001, Aszú 5 Puttunyos, Tokaj pairs perfectly.

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“The apple dessert I love because it has that hot apple cider mixed with spiced [Bulliet] bourbon meeting the cold format of the semi[freddo,] ” Hedy says. “You have the frozen yet creamy custard that just starts to slowly melt, developing a third kind of flavor. I love how pristine it looks.”

Did we mention CHOCOLATE goes on next week? We must leave a little fairy dust to surprise, no? Happy Autumn from all of us at The Genuine Hospitality Group and the apple of Michael’s eye, The Cypress Room (menus are updated daily online.)

Les Dames d’Escoffier Miami Honors Michael with First Achievement Award

EscoffierHe may not be trending on Twitter nor a topic buzzing about the grand tasting tent, but Auguste Escoffier is one of the most important names in history of food as we know it today.  Born on October 28, 1846, this French chef, restaurateur and culinary scribe began his long and distinguished professional culinary career at the age of 13 and retired 61 years later. During his lifetime, he made French cuisine world famous. Escoffier revolutionized and modernized menus, the art and practice of cooking, and the organization of the professional kitchen as well. [1]

To honor its namesake, the international organization of women in the culinary profession, Les Dames d’Escoffier, works to advance education and philanthropy in food, beverage and hospitality for the good of the global community.  You may not know about it either, particularly the Miami Chapter which was founded in 2000 under the leadership of Elizabeth Gardner Adams and 13 other charter members.

Now empowered by more than 50 accomplished South Florida women in food, wine, hospitality and farming, Les Dames d’Escoffier Miami has chosen to honor our very own Michael Schwartz with the chapter’s first Achievement Award and Dinner, the proceeds of which will go to fulfilling its mission of improving education, nutrition and quality of life in our community.  Monies raised from the event will benefit its scholarship program and local college-bound Culinary/Ag female students.  LDE Miami also sponsors agricultural programs in the South Florida classroom and schoolyard and provides kitchen equipment and counseling services to area women and children in need.  Seems like our missions are aligned!

Please join us at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove on November 16 to honor Michael and support the cause by clicking here for tickets.

Let’s Talk CRAFT (Whisky) with Chuck Cowdery

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11.8.13 American Craft Whisky Pairing Dinner (1)A new homegrown festival celebrating some of our favorite things — craft spirits and beer — will sprout in Miami and we hope, grow roots, thanks to support from the right folks.  Charles K. Cowdery is one of those folks, an internationally renowned whiskey writer, specializing in American whiskey.  Not only is he a Kentucky Colonel (Patton, 206) and a member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame (2009,) he is the author of many books including BOURBON, STRAIGHT: The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey (2004) and is editor and publisher of The Bourbon Country Reader, the only publication dedicated exclusively to American whiskey.  So it should be no surprise that CRAFT Spirits & Beer founder Jennifer Massolo tapped Cowdery to participate in her inaugural festival, and likewise that he accepted.

We are thrilled to welcome Cowdery into our flagship restaurant in the Design District for a private pairings dinner kicking off what looks to be a weekend full of fun and learning, the genuine way.  Paired with the menu above, Cowdery has selected a thoughtful, well-rounded tour of American whisky from east to west coast, as well as its tender middle where it all began.  A High West Silver Western Oat Margarita with half salt rim will start things off, followed by Palm Ridge (Florida,) Koval 100% Rye (Chicago,) Balcones Single Malt (Texas,) and finally Dry Fly Bourbon 101 (Washington.)  As a primer to CRAFT and our menu, we hooked up with Cowdery to get his take on Miami as a whisky town and much more.  We can’t wait to meet and taste with him in person.  Click here for your ticket. Continue reading