Thirsty Thursday, Naturally

“Change happens naturally, and it’s happening all the time,” says Amanda Fraga. “It’s a style that’s inherent to the wine program at Genuine, just like it is in the kitchen.”

Fraga, sommelier and beverage manager at The Genuine Hospitality Group, explains this way of working grounds the restaurant by shaking things up, especially with wines by the glass.  This serves an important purpose for the guest, facilitating trial. It’s a great way for people to try new things without making a big commitment.  They can comfortably step out of their comfort zone.  This dynamic environment not only keeps things fresh and exciting for our guests, but works in much the same way for our team in the restaurant, who is used to experiencing and then having to quickly learn the gamut and describe in approachable terms to diners.  From new grapes and producers, to places of origin and food pairings, it’s an exercise in training and translation on the fly.  Fraga is inspired by their initiative, out of the restaurant, too.

“When they go out to eat, most of our servers are naturally challenging themselves to try new things, interesting wines… Barolo… Nebbiolo,” she continues.  “The lifespan of most by the glass on our list is about 2-3 months, maybe less. Staff will adapt. They are used to changes and their wine knowledge speaks to that.”

So what brings about the change?  Fraga likes to make sure to include a variety of styles and price points.

“I never want to be out of touch with what our guests want to drink,” she says.
“Sometimes I taste a wine when I’m out and just have to have it so people can experience it.”

Other times, it’s more deliberate, out of necessity by virtue of type of wines she brings in.  Smaller producers who are doing interested things — making things naturally with no additives or artificial processes — tend to have more limited supply and will usually run out quicker than others and need to be replaced.   This has trained Fraga to basically be anticipating what the next move is. All the time.  Then, there are the rare occasions when she’ll get a lead.  A trusted friend in the business recommends a new importer to taste with and they bring something cool.

“This basically never happens, so when it does I’m tasting with them right away,” she explains. “Recently my mentor Daniel Toral told me about this small distributor from New York.  He was like, ‘You have to taste with this guy.'”

Seeing how the Chamlija held up against the spice in our octopus set up.

And taste she did, with Greg from City Beautiful, who had just been in the Canary Islands.  Bermejo, a rosado from Lanzarote, known for its volcanic soil and lunar landscape, really impressed her for its likeness to provencal rosé.  Those beloved calling cards — pale pink to orange color, nice rounded acid and hints of stone fruit, light to medium body — not the typical darker fruited expressions of Italian or Spanish origin.  Could this in turn effortlessly engender affinity amongst fans of the classic French style, where it all began, and offer a peek through new glasses?  Why, of course, the perfect segue at the table.

sommelier Dean Forst!

Listan negro is referred to the mission grape since the Spaniards brought it with them to the New World. You’ll hear it called pais in South America,” she says. “This wine is great because it’s familiar but different, so a natural introduction for rosé fans.  Or, if a couple had wanted to go with a bottle of red for the meal, perhaps they would like to share a glass with the oysters they ordered to start?  It’s a bonus.  Enjoy a few sips to accentuate the shellfish.  That’s the beauty of the glass.”

As for trying new things, tasting is baked into the job description and moments like being presented with a (vetted) Turkish wine are ones that Fraga trains for and relishes.  She tastes and tastes, and tastes again (the second sip is really where you can discern flavor profile, anyway)  The what-do-I-like, what-do-my-guests-like and where-can-we-meet-in-the-middle at various points on the sliding scale being the guiding paradigm at play.  She might like something for her own shelf but it doesn’t always mean it’s the right for the restaurant.  Chamlija made the cut.  The call was a simple one. Just don’t ask her to pronounce it!
“I’m going to put a Turkish wine on the list, it better be a Turkish grape!”
Try the Papaskarasi, chamlija “blanc de noirs” thrace, turkey 2015 (13/glass) and Listan Negro, los bermejos, lanzarote, canary islands, spain 2016 (15/glass) as of yesterday (Wine Wednesday!) at Michael’s Genuine and follow @quepasamanda and #mgfdwine on Instagram.  Open your eyes and palate to change.  It all starts with a second taste!

[RECIPE] We Fancy Cheese Puffs | Playing the Temperature Game for Perfect Choux Pastry in Gougères

Wednesday’s Rancher Appreciation Supper (tickets and menu here) at Harry’s Pizzeria® is about more than meats the eye.  The occasion is a celebration of delicious product from a source we trust and can stand behind, a commitment that Michael is making long term for our neighborhood American pizzeria as it grows.  Beef and pork raised right, tastes right.  But what happens behind the scenes to make it all happen for the dinner on the culinary end orchestrates resources and talent across our group, from menu development to execution.

This morning we visited our commissary kitchen where much of the heavy lifting for prep happens for our restaurants and special events to zero in on the process through the humble cheese puff or gougère.  A flurry of activity since 5:00 a.m. dances around not skipping a beat from one item, one hot minute, to the next, cooks methodically Sharpie-striking the day’s butcher paper prep list taped to glass racks. MJ keeps her cool “off to get [her] ass kicked” on the next thing.  Jean checks on Michael’s Genuine’s pastrami in the cabinet smoker wafting a peppery sweetness over the range where MJ begins her pâte à choux.  The key throughout the process is use of temperature and its control.

“What I love about the choux dough is it is so rustic. You have to really get in there with your hands to make something beautiful and simple,” she explains, bringing the water, milk, salt and sugar to a boil in a saucepan before adding the butter and then the flour, paddling, turning and whipping with a wooden spoon aggressively. “Instead of a raising agent like yeast or baking soda, we use a mechanical leavener — moisture from fat and the steam that escapes when heated.”

You’re looking for the “V” to form and then it’s ready to pipe.

MJ prefers her base with a little more flavor so she cuts the water with equal parts milk, adjusting the butter accordingly.  Keeping an eye on moisture content and knowing what to look for at the various stages of cooking will yield the right result.  She likes to finish cooking it by drying it as much as she can on the range.  Looking for a film to form on the bottom of the sauce pan, MJ then takes it just a tad longer over the heat.

“I’m looking for it to become dry enough to sustain the structure of the dough when I add the eggs later,” she adds.  They’ll be tempered with the help of the whiz of a gigantic paddle in the smaller (30 quart) of her two Hobart mixers and a paint job she learned back in culinary school — spreading the dough on the sides of the mixing bowl to let just the right amount of steam escape before adding the eggs so they incorporate perfectly.

“When you are trained originally in pastry you start with traditional French patisserie to learn the basics,” MJ reflects.  “I always rely on the foundation of the technique, but it’s the instinct for cues in the behavior of the technique that develop over time and serve to make a recipe really work.”

Gougères

Yields about 3 dozen

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 scant cup all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cups gruyère, shredded
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

Pre-heat oven to 375° F.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat bring salt, sugar, milk, 1/2 cup of water and butter to a boil, mixing to combine with a wooden spoon.  When a froth begins to form, turn the heat to medium-low and add the flour.  Mix with wooden spoon continuously for 3-4 minutes or until a light film forms on the bottom. Keep stirring vigorously for another minute or two to dry the dough so it easily pulls away from the pan.  It should have a smooth, paste-like texture. Remove from the heat.  Using the wooden spoon, scoop the dough and spread on the sides of bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  This will allow just enough heat to escape before adding the eggs to ease their tempering.  Add the eggs one by one and beat until the dough is thick and shiny, making sure that each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next.  Don’t worry if the dough looks like spaeztle as the eggs are beaten in, this is normal; the dough will come together again.  Let the dough sit for a minute, then beat in the grated cheese. You’re looking for the dough to form a stiff “V” on the paddle, then you are ready to pipe.  Using a rubber spatula, scoop dough into a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip for better control when piping.

Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper — if you are using parchment, you can pipe a small bit of dough on the corners and in the center of the sheet to use as glue for the paper.  Pipe about 1 tablespoon of dough for each gougère leaving about 2 inches between the mounds. Sprinkle each with a little parmigiano.

Slide the baking sheets into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 325 degrees F.  The initial blast of heat will activate the steam and make them rise, then lowering will dry them out without burning them.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the gougères are golden and puffed.  You an also pull one from the oven to test for moisture inside and continue to bake accordingly.  Serve warm, or transfer the pans to racks to cool.

[RECIPE] Oven Roasted Gold Bar Squash with Arubella Cheese, Prosciutto & Soft Herbs

Gold bars ahead!

“Quality is never an accident,” chef recently scribbled on his office closet door.  When we speak of what quality and its companion, creativity, mean in a kitchen or to dish creation specifically, out of the box thinking, big ideas and originality come to mind.  But would it take some of the magic away if what is really at play is much more grounded?  That instead of some high falutin divination, it’s a process — not unlike recipe-writing itself — that is detailed in every way.  I am starting to see it as an algorithm based on timing: what is seasonal, what is available and what is the context.  This produces the best creativity, and when the chefs nail it, it falls into focus.  A dish becomes instructive and expressive of the approach.  The why is in the how.

Words to stand by, and for, at The Genuine Hospitality Group.

Take Oven Roasted Gold Bar Squash with Arubella Cheese & Prosciutto, little bundles of the perfect, simple bite and part of the first course of next Wednesday’s Rancher Appreciation Supper at Harry’s Pizzeria® in the Design District.  As culinary assistant Megan Hess explains, “This dish is an opportunity to highlight three ingredients that each work to add something to the equation. The squash is something seasonal and fresh. Belgioioso’s Arubella cheese – think Taleggio – shows up all over the menu at Harry’s, from pizza to salad, so we wanted to rethink its potential and uses.  And the prosciutto, while we would be happy eating it out of the package, is something we don’t get to use everyday in the restaurant nor as an ingredient in a dish. It works great here to wrap it all together.”

Enjoy our calculations in your home kitchen, but first get a taste of the gold standard by purchasing tickets here!

Oven Roasted Gold Bar Squash with Arubella Cheese, Prosciutto & Soft Herbs

Serves 4 as an appetizer

10-12 baby squash, preferably Gold Bar
1 cup shredded Arabella cheese
½ pound sliced Niman Ranch prosciutto
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1/4 cup picked parsley
1/4 cup picked cilantro
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Cut each squash lengthwise. Sandwich some cheese in between the zucchini halves, pressing and shaping to secure. Wrap each bundle with a piece of prosciutto. Place each stuffed squash on a sheet tray about an inch apart, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and prosciutto has lightly crisped. Toss parsley, cilantro, lemon and olive oil in a bowl. Present squash family-style on a platter topped with soft herbs and serve immediately.

Michael Joins Chefs Ryan Hardy & Mike Anthony for an Intimate Dinner at New York City Wine & Food Festival

Three favorites, all at once. OMG!

Only bummer is we can’t all fly up for this.  Michael is pumped to reunite with esteemed chefs and friends Michael Anthony and Ryan Hardy for their first dinner all together on Thursday, October 12th from 7-10PM at Chef’s Club in NYC (275 Mulberry Street between Jersey and East Houston Streets).  The occasion is the New York City Wine & Food Festival, the country’s biggest food event of the year, aside from its sister on South Beach, of course!  This year the festivities run from October 12-15 celebrating 10 years, just like Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink. We think this calls for a ridiculously delicious dinner that only these guys can throw down.  Be there when the magic happens to make the menu below. We think you’re seeing it here for the first time!  Grab your tickets here to join these talented, giving guys in the festival’s effort to raise $1 million to fight childhood hunger with charity partners Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry and Food Bank for New York City.

RECEPTION
Lamb Tartare on Rye Toast with fried capers, Calabrian chile & pecorino
Michael Schwartz

Hazelnut Frico & Quince Mostarda
Ryan Hardy

Smoked Trout and Pickled Onions
Michael Anthony

Roasted Tomato and Pickled Pepper Tartelettes
Michael Anthony

DINNER
Royal Red Shrimp Crudo with coconut milk, lime, Thai basil & puffed rice
Michael Schwartz

Open Ravioli of Beef and Carrots
Michael Anthony

Cider Roasted Suckling Pig with heirloom beans & crispy skin
Ryan Hardy

Chocolate Cremoso with toasted sourdough, hazelnut praline, olive oil & sea salt
Michael Schwartz

After Irma Pizza Relief | Harry’s Pizzeria® Pledges Pies for First Responders

We all are feeling a little Irma-frayed right now.  As Chef wrote in an email to staff a few days ago: As we reach for a sense of normalcy, it’s hard not to think about what’s most important in our lives. We are grateful for what we have and who we have to share it with.

Before the storm hit, we put together a great dinner with people we respect and enjoy hanging out with: the folks at Niman Ranch like farmer advocate and founding family farmer Sarah Willis, helping us put ingredients raised with care on our menus at Harry’s Pizzeria®.  THE SHOW WILL GO ON!

Gold bars ahead!

Chef Bradley Herron put the Rancher Appreciation Supper menu in my inbox mere days before the storm hit as we were all distracted in preparation mode.  As things come back into focus, we are excited to share an air conditioned evening with friends and a comforting taste of normalcy next Wednesday, September 27 at Harry’s in the Miami Design District.

Each ticket purchased HERE equals a pizza for our extended family in the community, beginning with Coconut Grove’s City of Miami Station 8 Firehouse. With your support, we’ll deliver the motherlode as lunch (or more!!!) next week — a small way we can say thanks for keeping us safe and expediting the herculean task of literally lifting one of our neighborhoods up out of the muck.

Cheers to first responder teams everywhere making it all ok. Coming together just makes everything a little – in fact a lot – better.  So does saying YES to helping those who are helping us, even if it means dropping what you are doing or dealing with at the time.  It’s what genuine hospitality is all about.

Rancher Appreciation Supper | Menu

Snacks
Warm Gougeres stuffed with taleggio
Rosemary Popcorn
Vegetable Crudite with jade dressing, bagna cauda, romesco sauce

First
Marinated Tuscan Kale with celery, quinoa, apple, pumpkin seeds
Wood Oven Roasted Gold Bar Squash with proscuitto, arubella cheese, soft herbs

Second
Slow Roasted Beef Rib with fingerling potatoes, charred escarole, horseradish
Smoked Pork Neck shaved fennel, calabrian chili, preserved meyer lemon

Dessert
Ginger Pavlova candied turmeric, lemongrass, mango, lime