Please Judge: Somm Slam Dinner at Uvaggio Pits #LarkeeVsPorter

Wine is fun, especially when it’s like Wrestlemania!  Thursday, May 21 at 7:00 p.m., Uvaggio will be hosting its first Somm Slam, the ultimate competition to determine the superior sommelier.  Head Wine-O Heath Porter of Uvaggio, a cozy wine bar and restaurant in the heart of historic Coral Gables, will go head to head against The Genuine Hospitality Group’s own International Man of Mystery, Wine Director Eric Larkee.  Guests will be served a three course dinner, the first and third being prepared by Uvaggio’s chef, Bret Pelaggi, and the second being prepared by The Cypress Room’s chef de cuisine Roel Alcudia.  The last ingredients of each dish, however, will be two wines, one pairing per sommelier.  At the end it will be the diners not professionals that crown the champion. Bragging rights and a date for one with brown liquor will ensue.

“It’s going to be a killer gig, great eats, crisp juice and lots of giggles,” says Porter. “I guess the only thing we don’t know is how ‘skinny’ Larkee’s jeans will be and how many flavors of Boone’s Farm he’ll be pouring.”

Larkee’s competition has been in the business for 20+ years and has worked his way up from truck stop dishwasher to advanced level sommelier in 5 Star and 5 Diamond Resorts.  The more stars and diamonds the merrier, of course!  And what of home court advantage for Porter?

It's the #Larkmeme! Download this photo to your phone and the Memegenerator app to have fun with Larkee like never before. We are!

It’s the #Larkmeme! Download this photo to your phone and the Meme generator app to have fun with @EricLarkee on Instagram like never before. We are!

“If we travel well like my beloved Packers’ fans do, then I’m not worried about anything,” Larkee explains. “I’m going to try to wear him down by working the body, I feel like he’ll probably drop his hands a bit in the last round and I’ll be able to get an uppercut in there with a bottle of something Italian.”

Leave it to Larkee, former champion wrestler (no joke!) to find his adversary’s weakness, and in Porter’s case that’s roasted meats. In addition Alcudia’s dish, our ringleader plans to have the chef strategically stash tasty bits from The Cypress Room’s wood rotisserie around Uvaggio to distract him. Our contender is fan, more reason to accepted Porter’s challenge with relish.

“I’ve been a couple of times. Great small plates, pretty much have always gotten some charcuterie and cheese,” Larkee adds.  “I like to go with at least three other people so we can get a bunch of bottles — always something a little geeky but also real good solid classics too.”

If you’re curious to see who will drink victorious, come judge them for yourselves. Cost is $75 per person including the reception, three courses, six wines, dessert, and tax (not gratuity!)  For reservations click here, or call (305)-448-2400. Follow @heathporter @uvaggiowine and @ericlarkee @thecypressroom @roel_alcudia on Instagram and Twitter to watch the action unfold.  Menu will be announced as the event approaches, but grab your seats while they last.  There’s only 25!

A Cypress Spring in Full Bloom

Spring is in full swing, and The Cypress Room’s chef de cuisine Roel Alcudia has added new dishes to the menu featuring some stand out ingredients of the season; artichoke, sorrel, English peas and spring onion. Roel’s use of each ingredient is deliberate and thoughtful, as if they were naturally arranged together from the start and cooking never took place. Like removing the artist’s hand from the painting, he allows the food to be the focal point of his cuisine by executing perfect technique.

Artichoke – Stracciatella, peas, prosciutto, barigoule vinaigrette

Artichoke – Stracciatella, peas, prosciutto, barigoule vinaigrette

Chef is able to yield many different textures and levels of flavor from the artichokes in the dish. First, the artichokes are braised – mirepoix is sweated, water is added and the globes are dropped in. They use a cartouche, or a round piece of parchment, to cover the surface.  This reduces evaporation and keeps the artichoke completely submerged for even cooking. The braising liquid is then reserved for the bariguole vinaigrette. Barigoule is a traditional Provencal dish made with braised artichokes, white wine, water, bay leaf, mirepoix and garlic, and here emulsified with lemon and olive oil. The artichokes are set off with La Querica prosciutto from Norwalk, Iowa and stracciatella from mozzarita in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Frog legs – Watercress, fava bean, zucchini

Frog legs – Watercress, fava bean, zucchini

Sorrel and frog legs are a natural complement, Roel explained, as it if was something I was supposed to know. The perfectly pan seared frogs are nestled in a sorrel and watercress velouté, one of the five traditional French ‘Mother’ sauces. To start, the frogs are broken down and legs set aside, the rest of the bones are roasted in the oven and serve as the stock base.  Mirepoix is added, then garlic, potatoes, and white wine.  This liquid is reduced. And strained. And reduced. The sorrel and watercress are blended to retain their bright color and flavor. The fava beans and zucchini are blanched and set into the velouté.

Duck – bacon, peas, rhubarb, au poivre

Duck – bacon, peas, rhubarb, au poivre

Before and after service, Roel is usually in the back corner of the kitchen, head down, butchering the evening’s proteins. The walk-in speed rack is lined with clean, perfect duck breasts. The ingredients in this dish are continuously overlapping. Beginning with the petite pois a la Françoise, young green peas are reduced with carrots, bacon, cipollini onions, lettuce, butter and chicken stock. The Cypress Room pickles the rhubarb in hibiscus flowers, strawberry vinaigrette and honey and cooks it down into a gastrique using duck jus, brandy and green pepper corns.

Pork Chop – farro, succotash, spring onion soubise

Pork Chop – farro, succotash, spring onion soubise

In the Pork Chop entrée, the succotash combines spring onions, bell peppers and zucchini. Here, the onions also act as an aromatic, bringing out the sweetness of the other ingredients. After the ingredients have stewed down, the grilled corn is added. Lastly, farro and lemon is incorporated. What makes the soubise unique are the scallions and slow roasted onions that the chefs blend into their béchamel sauce. The pork is tied with butcher twine to ensure even cooking over one of the most important and defining pieces of equipment in the kitchen — its wood grill. The plate is finished with a grilled lila onion and tempura fried onions roots.

Find The Cypress Room menus on its website, at, and enjoy a taste of spring before it’s gone!

Buck’s Brewery Alert: May is for MIA!


BucksFlyer03After our closing April event with Funky Buddha Brewery last night, we are excited to announce that May welcomes Doral’s MIA Brewing to the Buck’s Beer Garden & Bonfire dance floor! With its TV-lined bar, tropical outdoor beer garden and tasting room, the MIA operation is dialed in and getting its product out there into the community.  You may have tried its Miami Weiss at Harry’s Pizzeria, and now The Raleigh will add it to the White Bar’s tap next month, along with MIA IPA.

“We always enjoy participating in beer gardens,” Eric Rodriguez, Territory Sales Manager for Most Wanted Beverages, MIA’s distributor in which owner Eddie Leon is  limited partner. “Talking to locals and introducing them to our beer is always fun. It’s a great way to interact with the consumer and leave them with a memory of our beers. They seem to appreciate the brand more once we get to interact with them. The craft beer community welcomed us with open arms. A lot of the guys at MIA have known other brewers and reps from working in the industry so we’re all friends. The locals have shown us a lot of love as well.”

Taking place among a lush tropical setting behind the hotel’s legendary pool, Buck’s Beer Garden & Bonfire invites locals to re-acquaint themselves with our favorite hotel on South Beach. Guests have flexibility with an a la carte, “pay-as-you-go” format purchasing carnival-style tickets at a booth for food, beer, including Michael’s Genuine Home Brew, and wine (one ticket equals $1.) Enjoy our special valet rate with Buck’s cashier validation of $5 per car, subject to availability. Tickets are reusable at future events.  As for Rodriguez, he prefers grilled or BBQ’d beer garden fare in one hand, like a Buck’s bratwurst with kraut and spicy mustard, and the MIA IPA in the other.  MIA will also tap its Pilsner, Tropical Lager and two 2 TBD styles.  We love surprises!  See you on May 7 at 6PM.

Smokin’ Hot Local Brews: Harry’s BBQ Night Pops Again!

HP_BBQ Pop Sign_5 by 7

It’s about time to roll out the ole smoker again, as Harry’s Pizzeria welcomes Wynwood Brewing Co. for a night of beer and BBQ in Miami’s Design District on Tuesday, May 19th beginning at 6:30pm! After popping up its first BBQ night back in August with Athens, GA’s Terrapin Beer Co., Michael Schwartz’s casual neighborhood joint is pairing up with Miami’s own Wynwood Brewing Co., as well as chef Leonardo Maurelli, an Alabama-based chef who has known Michael since the beginning of Michael’s Genuine Home Brew’s story.  Tickets are now live HERE for BBQ Night in Pizzaland!

“We don’t know what the menu is yet which is always part of the fun, but we will be playing off of the classic flavors of smoky, tangy BBQ,” explains Wynwood’s assistant brewer David Rodriquez, who you may recognize as the beard behind the jockey box from March’s Buck’s Beer Garden events. “Pop’s Porter is a dark, medium bodied beer with coffee and chocolate notes that pair well with the deep, rich smoke you get from a rub. Wynwood IPA and Magic City American Pale Ale both have a nice bitterness that also plays well off spice.”


Bucking the Trend: Dave doing his bearded brewer thing at Buck’s Beer Garden’s inaugural event at The Raleigh South Beach on March 5. Our last April event is this Thursday with Funky Buddha Brewery.

When it opened its doors in 2011, Wynwood Brewing Co. was the first craft production facility in Miami, soon receiving recognition on the national stage.  In 2014, Pop’s Porter took home a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival, akin to the James Beard Foundation Awards for the craft beer industry — huge for Miami and its emerging craft brewing community which no doubt got a jolt from this coup.  Wynwood’s mission has a familiar ring to us at The Genuine Hospitality Group, to bring “fresh, delicious, and creative beers” to South Floridians.  May and June bring a big milestone, David shares.  Wynwood will take their beer beyond growlers at the Tap Room and begin bottling La Rubia and Pop’s Porter in a limited addition 22-ounce format. Harry’s always seems to have at least one Wynwood style on its 4-tap system, and its bottling gives us more flexibility in terms of what we can offer from its portfolio in the future.

“For me, pale ales are the way to go when it comes to BBQ,” David continues.  “They have the perfect balance of caramel maltiness and bitterness.”

So what of the BBQ… We are excited to welcome chef Leonardo Maurelli of Central in Montgomery, Alabama who was there when Michael was introduced to Back Forty Beer Company at a 2011 Auburn University event for tornado relief.  A native of the Republic of Panama, Leonardo shares his unique multicultural take on traditional southern dishes and cuisine. We know he will bring the BBQ mojo on a collaborative menu with Harry’s own chef de cuisine Daniel Ramirez!
Tickets are $68 and include it all — an indoor and outdoor stationed menu of BBQ, sides and dessert, all you care to drink Wynwood beer (special treatments, too!) from our counter, tax and gratuity. We love mixing it up at Harry’s Pizzeria and can’t wait to start the summer off with some BBQ!



Designing Restaurant Paradise With Meyer Davis Studio

The opening of Paraiso Bay’s Beach Club and waterfront restaurant is not quite on the horizon yet, but the collaboration between Michael and Meyer Davis Studio is in full swing.  At their New York-based design firm, Principals and Partners Will Meyer and Gray Davis specialize in residential, hospitality, retail and workplace environments. While still working drawings on paper at this stage, the space and kitchen is laid out with a distinct direction thanks to a solid working relationship.

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Carlos Rosso, President of the Related Group’s condominium development division meets with Michael and Will Meyer of Meyer Davis Studio last month at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in the Design District.

“I love their work and am super excited about our partnership” Michael explains. “Mostly because they are extremely talented designers but also because they understand restaurants and how they work.  They design with functionality and flow in mind.  One of the most important elements to me is how it all works together as a whole.”

The team has been meeting regularly to review plans in stages and communication is key.

“Michael is great to work with. He’s responded positively to our approach and has been very hands on with kitchen design and functionality.” says Will Meyer.  “We work with celebrity chefs on a regular basis, and it’s always fantastic to work with people who know what they’re doing and are passionate.”

If the two agree on anything, it’s that functionality always comes first, especially in restaurant design. The space needs to flow for guests and employees.  “We really stem our aesthetic choices from functionality,” explains Will.  “These need to function well to also be impressive design decisions. We also always want guests to feel comfortable and for design to be luxurious at the same time. That balance is the key to a great design.”

When starting this project, Michael came in with a clear vision of what he wanted.  The restaurant’s open kitchen and wood grill — something that’s been a centerpiece of private events at the property’s sales center off Biscayne Bay — will be a focal point, as is the importance of bringing the amazing location on the waterfront into the restaurant.

“We’ve conceptualized a space that is seamless in its transition from the outside in,” Will continues. “There will be trees and plantings within the restaurant, as well as a nanowall system on the first and second floor that can be opened to allow the interior to pour outside. We like to keep our interior and exterior materials similar as well, so that the dining overflows outdoors and people feel the same environment throughout the space.”

MG_Paraiso_HH_Final_logoThis restaurant is meant to be a space that residents should feel comfortable making their regular spot.  The Studio thinks a lot about how guests will engage with its projects, from families enjoying a meal out together, to more romantic evenings, and even special events.

Will notes, “Hopefully the restaurant can be an inviting home away from home, while also serving as a destination for those who are not residents.”

Related is currently preparing to launch the final 55-story residential tower within the Paraiso enclave. The GranParaiso Tower by Piero Lissoni will begin sales early May.

“Working with the extraordinary talents of Michael Schwartz and the design stars of Meyer Davis Studio is an unprecedented blend of vision and style,” said Carlos Rosso, President of The Related Group Condominium Division. “Together, we’re creating Paraiso Beach Club to transform the lifestyle on Biscayne Bay.”

He continued, “This is the destination Miami has been waiting for, especially in downtown, where the best dining and culture are taking shape before our eyes. Paraiso’s Beach Club will become the spot for contemporary and relaxed gatherings on the waterfront, for drinks and amazing meals with friends and family. I can already imagine our dock lined with boats and water taxis.”

Come toast the vision for Edgewater, the new neighborhood in our future on Biscayne Bay.  Join Michael for complimentary snacks & drinks inspired by his future Paraiso Beach Club restaurant tonight Wednesday, April 8 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (130 NE 40th Street.) For more information about Paraiso Bayviews  please contact