Amara at Paraiso Opens for Lunch, Monday September 24

Next week there are more bay views to bask in — or breeze by — during the workday, at Miami’s quintessential waterfront restaurant by chef Michael Schwartz.  Amara at Paraiso opens for lunch beginning Monday, September 24 with executive chef Michael Paley’s a la carte menu.  All new items to enjoy include Starters, Sandwiches (served with choice of crispy chimichurri potatoes or farm greens), Salads & Bowls (to which grilled chicken, grilled fish or shrimp and chorizo can be added), and Entrées. Favorites from dinner make an appearance, like Snacks including craveable Yuca Cheese Puffs, the restaurant’s two varieties of housemade Empanadas — Short Rib, as well as Corn & Leek, Raw Bar mainstays like Ceviche, fresh, locally-caught Tuna Tartare in changing preparations, Chilled Shrimp, and Oysters — and a medley Platter to make it special.

Housemade masa crackers for the Avocado Bowl, a starter with buttermilk curds, fresh herbs, and lime.

Amara’s “Three Course”, a prix fixe lunch option for $28 lets you pass the brighter hours as expeditiously or leisurely as your spectrum desires whether for a smart business lunch or dining to get to the next appointment on time.  Begin with choice of Yuca Cheese Puffs, Smoked Fish Dip, or Ceviche, followed by main dish of Grilled Market Fish, Chochoyotes — hearty masa dumplings in broth (vegetarian), or the Concha Especial sandwich, and finish with Dulce Flan or Chocolate Torte.

Click here for the full opening menu.

Work and life hangs so delicately in the balance. Let Amara tip your scales. The new service runs Monday through Saturday from 11:30am-3pm and highlights the bold Latin American flavors, coastal ingredients, and South Florida’s diversity of food culture established at the restaurant’s lively happy hour, dinner and brunch. Miami’s quintessential waterfront restaurant captures the dynamic energy, local ingredients, and natural beauty of Biscayne Bay that defines what living in Miami is all about from environment to cuisine to vibe.  Amara at Paraiso is located at 3101 NE 7th Ave, Miami, FL 33137.  For reservations call 305.702.5528, email reservations@amaraatparaiso.com or visit Open Table (walk-ins welcome). For all hours and menus visit amaraatparaiso.com and follow the restaurant on Instagram and Facebook.

We Couldn’t Fuggetaboutit! Katz’s Pastrami on Rye Pizza Returns to Miami at Schwartz’s Pizzerias In September for Two Weeks Only

Look for the signs.

Homer, a pizza cook at Miami Design District, couldn’t believe his eyes!

Start spreading the news. Miami will have what the Big Apple is having… AGAIN!  Back by popular demand, the Katz’s Pastrami Pizza on Rye Crust that Michael conceived last summer will be available at all four South Florida pizzerias and new Atlanta location beginning Monday, September 17 until Sunday, September 30. Chef and Katz’s Delicatessen owner Jake Dell connected on a recent trip to NYC and hatched a plan to give the people what they want for the second year in a row.  We are positively verklempt — especially our pizza cooks who couldn’t get enough of this specialty inspired the icon’s famous sandwich the first go around.

Katz’s Deli famous pastrami, sauerkraut, rye pizza crust, mustard sauce, gruyère 18

“The original Lower East Side location is an obligatory stop on every visit,” Michael says. “Katz’s pastrami on rye sandwich is legendary — and one my all time favorites. I have to pinch myself that it’s going to be back in our pizza ovens!”

It’s always a pleasure to bring a taste of New York City’s iconic Katz’s
Delicatessen to the 6th Borough.  The Pastrami on Rye pizza will be available all day long during regular business hours, as well as delivery and takeout — until Michael has to call Jake for more meat!  Visit genuinepizza.com.com/locations to plan your visit and share the Jewish Deli love at #pastramionpie.  And remember you’ll never run out of pastrami at home by ordering your own at katzsdelicatessen.com – Katz’s ships nationwide.

 

All Sizzle, No Swindle in this Seashell Game

Harvey Cedars, the fish stew in the Michael’s Genuine Food cookbook, named for summer vacation.

Nothing is better to really enjoy summer – the way it is supposed to taste and smell — than seashells by the seashore.  We always love a good shellfish on the grill, and with Michael’s return from his annual family trip to Long Beach Island, NJ, we figured it was time to check in for his reflections.

Here’s what you need to know now, up and down the seaboard and especially on our favorite coast, bayside at Amara at Paraiso. Visit us on Sundays from 4-10pm for the weekly vacation we call the Sunset Beach Party.  This week we’re breaking out the Lynx Grill for the first time upstairs at the Paraiso Beach Club, serving oysters both au naturel on the half shell with turmeric mignonette and also hot off the grill with vinaigrette and farofa — the toasted cassava flour we love as a breadcrumb alternative.  It’s all about soaking up the juices and that summer feeling, before it’s gone!

SHOPPING

Fresh is king — Ask how long they’ve been in the case. Shellfish should absolutely smell briny and of the ocean, but not a persistent stagnant odor. You’ll know when they’ve turned.
Seasonal vs. Sustainable — You want great tasting ingredients either grown in the best conditions possible or wild caught in season.  Farmed isn’t a bad word where oysters are concerned. Duxbury, MA’s Island Creek Oyster Co. is a great example of an operation doing it right.  Closer to home, a special holiday on our radar this time of year is Florida lobster season.  Look for Chef Michael Paley at Amara at Paraiso to run some specials in the weeks to come to highlight this local specialty, Florida Keys-sourced from our longtime fishmonger and friend George Figueroa of Trigger Seafood.
Fresh or Frozen?  Both can work — all shrimp are flashed at some point in the harvest process, so again is more about the quality of the ingredient, who you are buying it from, and how long it’s taken to get to you since harvest.
Get little more than you need — Inevitably some won’t open nor pass muster.
Clean! — Where there’s shellfish there is sand, among other gritty, grimy things that need to be removed especially if you’re cooking inside a shell. Scrub with coarse steel wool or a stiff brush under cool running water. If the mussels have beards, pull them off. Pat dry.
Sourcing isn’t just about procuring the goods — If you don’t know, ask a good source. I trust Ed Levine for the diligently researched ins and outs of everything, and clams are no exception.  It’s always a smart idea to read up before digging in.

Fresno chile paste on the Lynx Grill – also a preparation at Amara.

GRILLING

Shell on — In most cases this is the best idea, especially if you’re going straight to the grate. Provides protection to the delicate flesh, as well as even cooking.
We like the juice – Try to conserve the natural liquor when shucking oysters. Better yet, pay for the convenience and have the professionals do it for you. Whole Foods does them by the dozen over ice.
Marinate — Shelled shrimp take very well to just olive oil, salt and pepper — or something thicker like the Fresno chile paste we use at Amara.
Crack the large ones — If you’re going big, with Prawns, Langoustine or Lobster, they’re going to grill best cracked in half. Start with cut side down to seal in the juices, then flip to finish. Baste with butter and herbs to develop flavor through caramelization.
Less is more — Always, but especially where cook time is concerned. Remember everything continues to cook for a period of time after you remove it from the heating element, shellfish especially due to their high water content. So pull them off a little earlier than you think.

Bowled Over By Inspiration? For Chef Bradley Herron, It’s Right Under Your Nose.

Tuna Bowl, constructed.

Ever made a “garbage salad”?  The Genuine Hospitality Group’s Culinary Director Bradley Herron has.  Head scratch?  It’s not what you’re thinking.  Or maybe it is?

Perhaps you’ve had this moment, too, standing in front of a refrigerator looking for something good to eat and the landscape is bleak — a few lonely remains, a couple of scallions here and a half a lemon there, the bundle of parsley looking more like a bushel, and mismatched jars with innards haggard like the end of the DMV line.  It’s the look of resignation.  But this is not what everyone sees in what’s left on shelves or hidden in the pantry. If you’re Brad, you just need a stainless mixing bowl and boom! You are the envy of the office with special requests for lunch.

“Cleaning house.  It’s how we like to do things here over the course of a week, and it’s how the tuna bowl happened.” Brad explains to me on the line at Michael’s Genuine last Friday. “I saw this bag of wild rice sitting around waiting to die and thought about what we could make with it.  It starts with what you have, not always what you can order, and goes from there.  We can supplement with a few special things and make something really delicious. Cooking creatively is usually always about cooking smart.”

Vegetarian’s delight — Grain Bowl with sprouts, calabaza, radish, avocado, sambal

Lunch’s Tuna Bowl, and its Grain Bowl counterpart at dinner, snuck up on the menu over the past couple of weeks and have been a big hit at the office and in the dining room.  On Friday, fresh yellowfin came very finely chopped with seasonings including sambal, an Indonesian chile sauce we love for its intensity of flavor (mostly due to fish sauce).  The bowl is then constructed with a foundation of mixed grains including wild rice, red quinoa and farro onto which sliced cucumbers and radishes, nice looking hydroponic arugula, shaved white onions, bean sprouts and alfalfa, butter lettuce and a hulking half scoop of cubed avocado are packed. A favorite Vietnamese dressing, also fish sauce based, nuoc cham, is drizzled liberally.  Last week, the Tuna Bowl popped on Instagram with tail feathers of green and purple on display in baby fire sorrel.

“Yea, and it’ll have different things next week, too,” Brad continues.  “It’s a different way of looking at the recipe development process — maybe even backwards from the perspective of someone who is used to looking up recipes in a book and shopping for ingredients to conceive a menu.  But it makes for an efficient and creative kitchen, and there’s no reason why cross utilization shouldn’t apply to the home cook looking to eliminate waste and maximize flavor. Lots of cost savings, too.”

Teach a man to load the ingredient wall — left to right — from ripe, to ripening. This process brings back of house and front of house together to make the dining room stand for something (beautiful) and function properly for cooks in need of ingredients as the tickets come in.

What initially piqued my interested in Brad’s bowls was the idea of what makes for a good one. There is a formula, and it’s not how your corner “poke” shop does it DIY, a recipe for over doing it. Simplicity and restraint, sure, but really it’s about one thing — balance. At Michael’s Genuine it produces successful menus from the practicality and practice of cross utilization and is the essential notion all of our Genuine kitchens are built on. This is why the bowl canvas is so apt.  For our cooks, this idea informs the roadmap for every single dish.  It’s about the interplay of texture, color, flavor and temperature to create contrast and, if not thoughtfully considered, is what can make or break even a technically perfect one.

Look for more bowl variations to come, as well as what’s new for Miami Spice beginning August 1, posted daily @michaelsgenuine and where we now have a video of the tuna bowl assembly.

Bowls on fire at MGFD. What combo is up next?

An All American Summer at Michael’s Genuine® Begins with Burgers & Brats for Fourth of July Week & Miami Spice

Lychees arrived and mangos are beginning to hit now, but the true sign of summer is when monster calabaza of all shapes, sizes and coats of paint roll in, a jaunty color guard roll for Michael’s Genuine ingredient wall.  Well, they’re here, and so are two opportunities to take advantage of the season at our flagship: Fourth of July Week specials and Miami Spice.

Jaunty alright.

Burgers & Brats for Fourth of July Week — From Monday, July 2 to Sunday, July 8 for lunch and dinner only, Chef de Cuisine Tim Piazza is bringing back his cheeseburger of 2017 National Burger Month fame and adding a dog companion.  The All American Double Cheeseburger includes 2, 4oz patties, American cheese, bacon, shredded lettuce, sliced tomato and pickles on a Martin’s potato roll for $22.  In the dog department we have Bratwurst with sauerkraut and mustard on a Martin’s potato bun for $16 with choice or fries or greens.  At dinner, it’s plated with grilled sourdough.  We fancy.

Miami Spice — From August 1 to September 30, enjoy weekly-changing 3-course prix fixe menus. MGFD will offer lunch for $23 Monday through Thursday and dinner for $39 Sunday through Thursday, including supplements from our regular menu at special prices for those who partake in this annual city-driven restaurant promotion. Highlights include Crispy Okra with pimento cheese, Steak Salad with kimchi, butter lettuce and peanuts, and Marinated Cherry Tartine with roasted shallot, fresh ricotta and thyme. For lunch, it’s really just about the return of the Falafel Wrap. Having gone down the Instagram rabbit hole to no avail, we take solace in beholding her soon once again for all the world to see and enjoy.