What’s in the Walk In? Great White Winter Predators.

Golden Tilefish at Trigger Seafood.

Golden Tilefish resting pretty at George Figueroa’s Trigger Seafood.

“Striped bass, trout, and stuff like that. Scallops… That’s the ocean I come from,” Fi’lia chef de cuisine Tim Piazza begins.  “When I was working at (Michael’s) Genuine, I began figuring out what South Florida has to offer as far as local sustainable fish. Golden tilefish is one we really look forward to.”

Coming from New York, Tim had to learn the seasons, the ingredients, all over again, and same goes for the sea as it does for land.  With grouper out until summer, the arrival of swimmers at the top of the food chain is the perfect trigger for the kitchen to revisit fish dishes on the menu.  Changing the set up is always on the table, but so is a switch more subtle yet maybe even more significant. Tim turned up the volume on one of my favorite dishes simply swapping snapper for golden tile.

“You get something a lot cleaner, with a little more firmness and structure to the fish. Which means a higher fat content, so the bite is a little more luxurious,” he explains. “I had to wrap my head around it but it’s just a constant thing and part of the process for our kitchen, menu development. It’s just about getting smarter as a cook down here. You flip the script like 100%.”

Talk to fishmonger George Figueroa of Trigger Seafood, Michael’s good friend and dispatch of what’s running since Genuine’s early days, and he’ll yarn a tail as only his dying breed can, one that makes the fish leap from the plate with context essential to the understanding – and therefore ultimate enjoyment – of the ingredient.

“Right now the season opened on the golden tile and the long liners are out off Florida’s north Atlantic coast, even at Pulley’s Ridge about 140 to 160 miles northwest of Key West in the Gulf,” he explains. “It’s where these guys like to be, deep in the trenches. That’s why they have this angled head, to bury in the sand.”

#whatsinthewalkin

#whatsinthewalkin

NOAA’s commercial season began on as appropriate day as any, January 1. Midnight on New Year’s Day the boats George works with went out from Port Canaveral. We received our first delivery last week. Deep sea fisherman like these are the real deal. They’re allowed a 4-5,000 pound haul per boat trip, each lasting about eight, sometimes 10 days. This is serious fishing, with in some cases five miles of hooks gleaning specimens of 20 to even 60 pounds from downwards of 1,000 feet. In keeping with regulation, the boats must be at least 200 miles from nearest land mass. This is a better fishery than close to shore, and where you can find the queens (snapper,) snowy groupers, wreckfish… basically all the stuff that keeps things interesting and cooks on their toes amidst schools of mutton, yellowtail and mangrove snappers. People will be fishing golden tile hook and line for the rest of the year, after the long liners finish their allotment.

Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink chef de cuisine Saul Ramos will receive 200 pounds this afternoon from Wild Ocean Seafood and, not unlike a whole pig, he’ll work through every inch, using the bones for a fish fume with lemongrass, the cheek on the grill with scallion, ginger and lemon, the fillet into the wood oven or pan seared. The scraps will go into ceviche at the raw bar, and the collar will be served crispy on the outside with fatty flakes of juicy white flesh in the nooks.

“These big fish are more fun. Carrying it, you feel the weight, and from the moment the knife cuts into the flesh,” he says. “One of the things I love about golden tile is that it has a subtle flavor of lobster and crab.  Cooked perfectly, you really get a nice flavor of shellfish.”

Saul explains that when breaking down these big guys, you need to know where to enter and be precise, following the cuts to get the most yield.  He uses three knives — a fillet knife, which is more fragile and has two different blades for a cleaner cut.  Then there’s the chef’s knife to get at the bones. A pairing knife goes around tighter places like the neck.

Chef Saul and Sous Randy showing off their mutton snappers from George a couple days ago.

Sous Randy (left) and Chef Saul (right) showing off their mutton snappers from George a couple days ago. Today we will trade peach for speckled golden.

Because of the challenges of this fishery, especially how long the fish are out of the water compared to shallow dayboat catch, George is careful who he works with despite what would seem to be a task only for the most seasoned, simpatico professionals.

Size and quality are top priority. First, you’ll want to put the fish into a chill brine, which is basically what it sounds like – a slushy mix of salt water and ice which really drops the temperature quick – and then on ice. And you must bring to shore as quickly as possible, not camp out for more yield when it compromises the catch.

“You have to stick to your guns, when some customers want fish that just isn’t available from sources you trust,” he reflects. “That’s how my business started. I can only work on small scale, because you’ll get old fish, and it’s going to hurt. I don’t want to get any bigger. You have to be willing to say it’s not available. Everyone wants the fish, but there’s only so much and we can’t just be like everyone else. When grouper season closed it was like disbelief. It’s like take it off your damn menu already! Take what’s available, the best product. Be flexible.”

[VIDEO] A 2016 Holiday Message of Genuine Merriment

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That’s because we hit pause (and PLAY!) to celebrate our people and thank our extended family for joining us in the memory making that was 2016. Enjoy these familiar faces and relish the genuine merriment that virtual yearbook maker Jessica Anderson has prepared for us with steadfast and thoughtful plentitude.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and yummy holiday from all of us at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink, Harry’s Pizzeria®, Cypress Tavern, ella, Michael Schwartz Events and The Genuine Hospitality Group.

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Adventures in California Wine Blending, Take (Lua Rossa) 4

There was no obvious, primary barrel to use and build around, explains Mr. Eric Larkee after I swiftly negotiated a few minutes on a busy but never too busy for wine morning last week.  “That step of the process was different this year. We never really contemplated making something with a majority of less than 50 percent.”  Chalk it up to an election year trend.  Too soon?

Larkee was alluding to the annual development of Lua Rossa, Michael’s private label with Au Bon Climat winemaker Jim Clendenen, and the same place but different spot in which we found ourselves approaching its fourth blend in May.  Usually first order of business (and pleasure) is to identify what will be the major component, then add whatever is necessary to enhance it, exercising a few graduated cylinders along the way.   A key palate was missing this round, too — Tamara was double booked in Miami!  Forge on we must.

“Going into a new blend, I’m not thinking it should be a departure from the previous,” he notes.  “We’ve been progressively happier and happier with the wine.  And using better wine.  Also, sure, there’s more focus and insight into what the wine should be, having had the experience working with the various iterations over the years in the restaurants.  Things like guest reactions, for instance.  This matters a great deal.  What the wine can be is always a surprise, arriving to the winery and seeing what’s there to work with.”

Speaking of better wine, the Nebbiolo used for no. 4 comes from a much stronger stock than the Nebbiolo used for no. 2.  Better grapes, better vintage.

The breakdown.

The breakdown.

So, how does it drink?  Larkee breaks it down by component parts. The Nebbiolo comes through on the nose as rose and anise.  Dark berries come more from the Teroldego and Rofosco fruit, with its Northeastern Italian breeding.  The versions grown in California are very dark-fruited.  Teroldego also imparts a little more oak and tannin than in past iterations.  The Nebbiolo’s acidity helps to make it food friendly.  Some of it is 2003, so there are actually five wines in play (two Nebbiolo), not four.  The Cabernet Franc offers finesse.  We get some spice off a younger Rofosco.  This wine will soften in the bottle and easily find its place at any number of Schwartz tables around town.  Taste for yourself.  As of December, all The Genuine Hospitality Group restaurants, including Fi’lia at SLS Brickell, have made the transition from no. 3 to 4.

“What this wine is about is being versatile and drinkable on the table and pairing exceptionally well with food,” Larkee reflects.  “And not having to represent a time or a place, but just be joyful.”

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The moment of truth, orchestrated by Beverage Manager Amanda Fraga with a plate of Cypress Tavern Chef Max Makowski’s short rib.

SoBe It! Your 2017 Genuine Tickets at the 16th Annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival

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Party game strong at Chef’s house in February.

From one big shindig to the next.  With another Art Basel in the record books, we’re laser focused on finishing 2016 strong, whether with loads of Genuine Gifts (including and especially gift cards!) and New Year’s Eve specials at Cypress Tavern and Harry’s Pizzeria (stay tuned for that announcement on Monday!).  But for now, we’d like to introduce you to The Genuine Hospitality Group’s events at next year’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival before they sell out.  Check out the parties listed below with their corresponding participating TGHG restaurants.  Cheers… Training your body to get through it all begins now.  Thanks again to Lee Brian Schrager for inviting Team Schwartz to play again!

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23

genuine_0-1MICHAEL’S GENUINE® FOOD & DRINK | 10 Years of Genuine: Dinner hosted by Michael Schwartz, Marc Vetri and Jonathan Waxman presented by Bank of America
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM @ 130 NE 40th Street, Miami, 33137
> Dressy Casual Attire, Indoor, Seated, Wine, 21 years of age or older <
One of South Florida’s most widely recognized culinary innovators makes a rare Festival appearance to celebrate a decade of his much touted Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink. A must-stop for both locals and tourists from around the world, Schwartz took a leap on the burgeoning Design District neighborhood 10 years ago to start his empire. Now settled smack in the middle of one of Miami’s hautest areas, Schwartz’s flagship restaurant anchors the array of culinary attractions offered there. Joined by culinary luminaries Marc Vetri and 2016 SOBEWFF® Tribute Dinner Honoree Jonathan Waxman, Schwartz and friends will present guests with a sampling of the signature tastes with staying power they’re known for.  Guests will be assigned seating prior to this event. We can only guarantee guests who purchased tickets together will be seated together. If you would like to be seated with another guest(s), please send your request via email to tickets@sobefest.com. PURCHASE TICKETS 

HARRY’S PIZZERIA® and FI’LIA |  Barilla’s Italian Bites on the Beach sponsored by HCP Media and the Miami Herald Media Company hosted by Valerie Bertinelli & Alex Guarnaschelli
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM @  the “North Venue”, Beachside at Delano, Entrance at 1 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, 33139
> Outdoor, Smart Casual Attire, Spirits, Walk-Around Tastings, Wine, 21 years of age or older <
What do Hollywood Walk of Fame stars and Michelin stars have in common? Leading ladies Valerie Bertinelli and Alex Guarnaschelli, of course! Bertinelli’s two-time Golden Globe Award-winning personality now charms on Food Network’s Valerie’s Home Cooking, while Guarnaschelli’s Michelin-starred training in France helped mold the tenacious expert we enjoy today on Chopped. They are joining forces to host more than 30 of the nation’s greatest chefs serving up dishes originating from various regions of Italy as guests enjoy a live musical performance by soft-rock hit makers Little River Band, presented by Magic City Casino. Known as one of Australia’s most popular rock bands, the Little River band has 10 top 20 songs on U.S. Billboard charts, including ‘Reminiscing’, ‘Cool Change’, and ‘Lady’. You can peruse Piedmont, trot through Tuscany, savor Sardinia, canvas Campania, saunter through Sicily, and more – while sinking your toes into the sparkling white sands of South Beach. Whether you prefer a traditional spaghetti and meatballs or a cooler antipasto-style pasta salad or a savory perciatelli and chicken, this is a celebration not to be missed. Grab your friends and gather ‘round under our signature white tents in the sand for a feast of the ages, all complemented by pours from curated wine selections. ADA Assistance: The Festival will have a limited number of beach wheelchairs available at the Guest Services locations. Please check in directly with a Guest Services Representative for assistance. PURCHASE TICKETS

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24

CYPRESS TAVERN | Fontainebleau Miami Beach presents Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best sponsored by Bank of America
7:30 PM – 10:30 PM @ Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, 33140
> Dressy Casual Attire, Indoor, Walk-Around Tastings, Wine, 21 years of age or older <
To create the best event during the best weekend of the year, we’ve rounded up 60 of the nation’s top chefs to showcase their most gourmet samplings to pair with over 100 wines rated 90 points or higher on Wine Spectator’s scale. The Fontainebleau Miami Beach sets the perfect stage with its own blend of Golden Era glamour and modern luxury to host this grand walk-around affair. Only proprietors and winemakers from each winery are invited to pour their top varietals so you can hear about how some of the world’s greatest vino makes it from their vineyards to your palate. From aperitif to dessert, we’ll make sure your glass is decadently decanted and your plate is full of first-rate cuisine. PURCHASE TICKETS

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26

0226_brunch-andresschwartzFI’LIA | Brunch hosted by José Andrés and Michael Schwartz
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM @ SLS Brickell’s ALTITUDE Pool at SLS Brickell
1300 S Miami Avenue, Miami, 33130
> Casual, Outdoor, Spirits, Walk-Around Tastings, Wine, 21 years of age or older <
Savor brunch poolside at the brand new SLS Brickell under the spell of two of the most coveted names in culinary, José Andrés and South Florida’s own Michael Schwartz. Andrés, this year’s Tribute Dinner honoree, is recognized worldwide for his energetic passion for telling cultural stories through food. His chic and delectable mark can already be found at the SLS Hotel in South Beach at The Bazaar by José Andrés and Hyde Beach, and now at the buzzing epicenter of downtown Miami at Bazaar Mar. Schwartz, whose flagship Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and widely touted for putting Miami’s Design District on the culinary map, will join Andrés at SLS Brickell with his first-ever Italian concept Fi’lia. Guests will be assigned seating prior to this event. We can only guarantee guests who purchased tickets together will be seated together. If you would like to be seated with another guest(s), please send your request via email to tickets@sobefest.com. PURCHASE TICKETS

Eat Your Art Out with this Shake Shack x Harry’s Pizzeria Menu Collab

Calling all starving artists!  Fuel your art-going hunger next week as creatives across the globe descend on Miami for our cultural enjoyment with a little collaborative work of our own.  Join Shake Shack® and Harry’s Pizzeria® from Monday, November 28th to Sunday, December 4th as we swap some of our most popular menu items for reimagined, limited edition offerings available exclusively in South Florida.

shake-shack-x-harrys-540x540-1024x1024Harry’s Shorty Burger ($6.89), available at Shake Shack’s Coral Gables (1450 S Dixie Hwy) and Miami Beach (1111 Lincoln Rd) locations, will feature all the toppings of Harry’s signature Short Rib Pizza – juicy slow roasted beef short rib, caramelized onions, arugula and gruyère cheese – all stacked on Shake Shack’s 100% all-natural, antibiotic-free Angus beef burger.

The Shack-cago Pizza ($17.00), available at Harry’s Pizzeria’s Coconut Grove (2996 McFarlane Rd) and Design District (3918 N Miami Ave) locations, will feature the classic flavors of Shake Shack’s Shack-cago Dog® with a fire-roasted Vienna beef hot dog, mustard-mornay cheese sauce, sport peppers, pickles, tomatoes and onions all tied together with fontina cheese and Harry’s tender, blistered pizza crust.

“We’ve never collaborated with a restaurant in this way, and we’re so psyched to be doing it with Harry’s Pizzeria,” said Mark Rosati, Shake Shack Culinary Director.

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Speechless Harry’s Coconut Grove Chef Danny Ramirez with Erik Hugley (back right) at the Coral Gables Shack over the summer, testing out a few of Chef and Mark’s ideas for the Harry’s menu item.

What began as a festive chat at Chef’s House Party over February’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival quickly escalated into action.  Mark was game immediately and the ideas percolated over email. He flew down over the summer to experiment — the decision made itself.

Presenting the goods.

Presenting the goods.

“Chef Michael and I both share an appreciation for the artistic and whimsical elements of food,” he continues.   “So it’s only appropriate to debut this menu swap during the biggest week for art – and the busiest of the year – in Miami.”

It’s been a great experience for Michael and the team on a few levels — the obvious being getting to create in the kitchen, the best and most fun part of being a chef!  And as a growing restaurant group, with the expansion of Harry’s in particular, these kinds of opportunities to learn from respected brands like Shake Shack are key for us to become better as we grow.  And you get to reap the delicious rewards.  Join us next week!

Can't miss it.

Can’t miss it.