Passion: Brewed

Pete Seeger, an American folk singer and songwriter who died this week, said that “the key to the future of the world, is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.” If this is true, then one of those key holes is specialty coffee flavored, and is known all over Miami and soon to be the world, if barista Camila Ramos has anything to say about it. Jackie and I were lucky enough to sit down with her on Monday to talk about her win at the Big Eastern US Coffee Championships a week ago, the myriad 3 a.m. coffee tastings that paved her way, and most importantly the farmer whose vision gave spirit to a mountain.

If it happens to be a perfect Miami day, as it was this past Monday, then Panther Coffee in Wynwood is a living, breathing social phenomenon. Serving most often as hipster-central, on a weekday at 3:30 under the breezy shade of its bicycle-wheel blooming tree at the center of their newly perfected outside seating, one can find a mingling of suits from downtown, tourists in the know, shoppers and passersby trickling down from Midtown or the Design District, and the specialty coffee drinking elite. Inside there is a feeling of growth, an energy breathing new life into an already magic city. And then Camila walks in. A whirlwind makes her way through the store front, “I’m so sorry I’m late,” she calls through hugs and kisses, then she’s off and our anticipation peaks as we wonder what we are about to experience.

“This is Wottuna from Ethiopia” she says placing a carafe of batch-brewed black drip coffee and three stemless wine glasses in front of us, and brighter than her perhaps overly caffeinated eyes is the radiance with which she speaks the name of the coffee. A passion within which you can feel the respect and knowledge she carries, all indicating how deep the relationships in the chain goes. Just as we serve fish that has been touched by happy hands passed from the fisherman to our chefs and pigs from farmers that we’ve known for years, so Panther has its history, its coffees flavored with friendships as strong as the brew we taste, which is strikingly more nuanced when instead made V60, or poured over Japanese paper filters. Lovely, fruit forward and somehow cooling to the tongue.

In the competition Camila chose to tell a bit of the story of the farmer Maximo Ramos Gutierrez and the farm he calls Kailash after its Himalayan inspiration. It was a winning move, and I would be remiss to think I could do any better.  So please watch his story, and if you’d like to take a glimpse into the specialty coffee arena being cultivated in this country then watch her competition piece.  Either way, be inspired. Be optimistic, and know that everything you eat or drink today has the potential to be passion driven. Stories like these tell the tale, and you have the capacity to make it so.

Special Schwartz Delivery: Super Bowl Sunday with Your Homeys

Schwartz Beer

What could be cooler than Superbowl Sunday with your homies? A cooler full of homeys to toast with, delivered by chef Michael Schwartz!

No play action fake here folks. In honor of the biggest game day of the year, we are reloading the Harry’s Pizzeria #highfive contest, wherein your best beer Instagram wins a special delivery from chef Michael Schwartz!  The Champagne of Beers is so 2012.  Now that we have our own ale, the best photo of Michael’s Genuine® Home Brew wins a cooler full of cold ones, door to door style by chef Michael Schwartz just in time for kickoff, with some Homey-approved gear to boot.  Yes, ladies and gentleman, the #superhomey game day cooler can be yours. Here’s how:

This week from now until Friday, January 31, fans that follow @mghomebrew on Instagram and Twitter are encouraged to post a picture showing why they deserve a personalized Schwartzdelivery and tag #superhomey. Entries will be taken until 5:00 p.m. Friday, and @chefmschwartz will announce the lucky winner via @chefmschwartz at 12:00 noon Saturday.  Participants should bear in mind that delivery will occur within a 10-mile radius of Miami’s Design District. Consult Google Maps to confirm your distance and eligibility : )

Wait, there’s more.  Thanks to the numba one stunnas at Total Wine & More, we’ll be be making it rain Michael’s Genuine Home Brew at complimentary tastings at the North Miami store (4750 Biscayne Blvd, North Miami, FL 33181; 305.354.3270) Friday, January 31 from 4-7 p.m. and at the Pinecrest store (8851 SW 136th St, Miami, Florida 33176; 305. 971.7615) Saturday, February 1 from  3-6 p.m.  Cheers to American football’s last game of the season!  Be sure to stock up for the big game and celebrate the genuine way.

[RECIPES] We Like Juice & The Little Florida Citrus That Could Upstage a Claw

Image-3

The Kumquat Gimlet in all its hypnotic glory (thank you to Patty Atkinson for the photo)

It was a juicy 10# pile of larges from George’s Stone Crab, but let’s call them the jumbos that they were, that did us in.  Claws that are the stuff of dreams, a chef’s lullaby.  Tuesday’s Toro Pizzeria prep was in full swing, and there was only one choice for lunch as far as Michael was concerned, the host with the most that he is. Chefs Ken and Jamie would be indulging in a late afternoon feast of our iconic South Florida seafood, delivered fresh from Roger Duarte’s boats off the Florida Keys, and TGHG executive chef Bradley Herron had a decoy ready to get the juices flowing again.

photo 2-1The waters around South Florida are running with what I think is the freshest, best seafood we get all year round — Pelagic, or migratory, species like cobia, pumpkin swordfish, and gorgeous speckled golden tile, as well as reef fish like yellowtail snapper, although fisherman George Figueroa says that they’ve been tough to snag lately with the wind from this cold front and when the water gets too chilly these little guys don’t like to bite.  Then of course there’s shrimp, especially Royal Reds from Wild Ocean Seafood in Port Canaveral, which all of our restaurants, especially The Cypress Room, scoop up with fervor, and the regal, not-to-be-upstaged stone crab.  Except for when the little noble kumquat enters the picture apparently.  I tried to hide my guilt as Brad’s salad seduced me, pinch by pinch until I had no other choice but to make room for a little mound next to my radiant claw and Bissed mustard schmear.

I sat at the genuine bar after preshift this morning to take down the “recipe” below.  This salad is dead giveaway Bradley, a perfect example of his approach to cooking.  Intuitive, simple and common sense, letting the ingredients do most of the work.  “The dressing is more like a marinade,” he explained. “Rather than toss the dressing in the salad, leave it naked and crisp.  You build it in layers right on the plate, tomatoes first on the bottom, and season with salt and pepper to release the juice.  The vinaigrette falls to the bottom collecting all the juices along the way. You just scoop it up. That’s the beauty of this place.”

photo 1-13We drank rose with this feast for kings and queens, but pucker up with the recipe for our honored guests’ Kumquat Gimlet, the welcome cocktail concocted just for us since it is Florida Citrus season after all and served on the rocks later that evening.  Small but packing a mighty punch, just like this week.  Too much fun, good times, great friends. Cheers and TGIF everyone!  Make it a great weekend.

Florida Kumquat & Heirloom Tomato Salad 

Serves 4

3 medium heirloom tomatoes cut into wedges
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
2 juicy, ripe navel or blood oranges, segmented
1 cup shaved fennel
1/2 cup shaved radish
1 pint sliced kumquats
1/2 cup lila onion, sliced on the bias
1/2 cut picked parsley leaves
1/2 cup picked basil leaves, opal if you can get it for color
1/2 cup picked mint
Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Layer all the ingredients on a large platter. Mix dressing together in a deli cup first and dress on the platter to taste without over-dressing but should be juicy!

Kumquat Gimlet
from Toro’s beverage director Caitlin Crosbie Doonan

yields one gimlet

1.5oz Gin, Ford’s is Jamie’s choice
.5oz Lime Juice
1oz Kumquat Syrup (recipe below)

Shake and strain over ice in rocks glass. Garnish with skewered kumquat sections.

Kumquat Syrup

Yields approx 1qt but depends on kumuqat size and ripeness. 

.5qt Rich (2:1) simple syrup
.75 qt Kumquats

Blend for about 20 seconds, strain through cheese cloth, squeezing the blended kumquats to extract maximum juice.

Love, Magic & The Art of the Image at The Cypress Room

Fine food is fine art – it has to be. You wouldn’t pay a week’s pay check for a lunch in Paris (and Antonio Bachour wouldn’t have more than eleven thousand followers) if there wasn’t visual beauty accompanying the taste. Aesthetics set the stage, which is why restaurants spend so much time and money on design. The intent is to feel creativity all around you, not just coming out of the kitchen. To capture this in an image is yet another form of fine art. And while we do our best, to share the thoughtful decor of The Cypress Room through its Instagram, it deserves unfiltered, professional attention to behold its essence. Fred-LoveMeet Fred Love, an artist who uses the camera as his utensil and the computer to create. His images are rich with depth; they tell a story that begs your eye to linger, like the taste of roasted bone marrow on your tongue. I sat down with Fred last week on a perfect South Florida winter’s day to chat about photography, please enjoy his images and insight below.

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Are you from Miami?

Yes, born and raised.

How did you get into photography?

I studied art and art history and television production in college, but not photography. Then I did graphic design for a while and had a graphics design company called Elements Design Group, then EDG Miami. I started doing photography more and more for clients and eventually sold the business.

How did you translate that into shooting beautiful women on the beach?

That’s a good question, I don’t even know. It just started out as something to do for fun, it wasn’t intended to be a career.

How do you like working with food?

I enjoy taking pictures, and I appreciate the art of food. Really good food, high end food, well designed and well put together food. I love all forms of art. I see food, and the interior of the restaurant, in the art form that it is and that’s why I enjoy it. To capture the magic.

So you think The Cypress Room is magical?

Yes, after one Old Pal it’s absolutely magical.

What’s your preferred subject to shoot?

I do it as an artist, so there’s no subject; it’s just a feeling of wanting to create.

Does the passion ever fail you when you do it for a paycheck?

I have been lucky enough to have the freedom to say no to jobs. I like looking at it as a challenge, The Cypress Room is small so it was a challenge to capture things like the bathroom or the space without adjusting the light because the lighting is so much of that restaurant you don’t want to change it. It’s exciting and it’s a thrill trying to solve the issues and make it look good.

Do you shoot scenery?

I am working on a Miami Beach coffee table book, so yes, but mostly for myself.

What landscapes inspire you?

All of it.

How long have you been in the business now?

I’ve been a photographer for 8 years.

How has technology changed photography?

Work flow. Image quality. What you can do with images, how you can manipulate them, and the ability to market online, social media is amazing. That’s changed everything.

Has Instagram changed photography?

There have been more pictures taken in the last 3 years than in all the world’s history.

Is that a fact?

That is a fact. Think about it. When you were in your teens and you would go to a concert no one took pictures.

So it’s changed in a positive way?

For sure, it’s added opportunity for people to use programs to make their pictures into art.

So photography should be approached as an artist?

Yes, I don’t even consider myself as a photographer, I just create images. The camera is my vessel but then I add so much more.

A Sweet Escape in the Heart of Miami

We would like to welcome another Genuine family member to The Genuine Kitchen. Kristina has a bachelors degree in Labor Relations from Cornell University, she is a native to Miami, and a Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink Reservationist extraordinaire. This past Monday she took part in The Cypress Room Employee Experience, the early stages of a cross training program Michael conceived in order to ensure that the staff has a deeper understanding of our growing company and its brands, and develop their knowledge first hand. You can see just how much of a food lover and enthusiast that Kristina is below in her description of a dinner at The Cypress Room, and on her blog Tasting It Like It is. Follow at tastingitlikeitis.wordpress.com or on instagram @tastingitlikeitis

When I eat well, my palate and my heart are so joyful that they liberate me from the everyday and allow me to savor the magical moment- the meal in question.  However, great food entails more than taste; it must also be soulful, and earlier this week at The Cypress Room, I was permitted to cherish the pleasures of food well beyond my palate. The experience was more than just gastronomic, it was emotional.

From the moment I entered the room, the warm lighting and the pink wallpaper welcomed me home, yet took me back in time. I would have loved to experience the roaring ’20s and the chandeliers and intimate environment just about offered that opportunity, while my short hair and my red lipstick fit the scene. Simultaneously, the wall mounts and the pecky cypress panels dare to combine a rustic look with the chic décor. This is what Miami is all about, being daring and escaping; which The Cypress Room embodies through portraits commemorating Florida landmarks and people savoring the indulgences that Miami represents. The Cypress Room found a way to achieve that sort of audacity while remaining composed.

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