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!

#SOBEWFF 10 Years of Genuine Menu & More #MGFD10 Fun to Come

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As we like to say… Menu subject to change :)

#thisismgfd. We began this hashtag in September, welcoming a new chef into the fold to steward Michael’s flagship into its 10th year of genuine hospitality.  Now we begin another as we approach March 13 when the Champagne will be flowing to give thanks for all that came before and forge ahead into a brave new future.  Today, we’re sharing for the first time the menu for our Thursday, February 23 South Beach Wine & Food Festival dinner.  We are so honored to have respected and dear friends chefs Marc Vetri and Jonathan Waxman join Michael to celebrate the meaning of Genuine.  I think it’s safe to say that it’s the genuine culture and community that has made this restaurant what it is, embracing and fostering Michael’s vision to make Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink bigger than itself.  It is this we toast and cherish, the people that make Genuine mean something.  Follow #MGFD10 as it unfolds, because there’s more to come, and click here for tickets before we run out. 

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Michael and Jim at Au Bon Climat, Santa Maria Valley, blending Lua Rossa no. 3 in 2015.

This year we also crafted an online auction package for the festival which we’re pretty excited about (the kind we’d want to buy ourselves, as it should be!)  Gather 4 friends and sidle up to the heirloom tomato wall as Michael and Brad cook for you at the Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink wood oven station. The beating heart and hearth of the MGFD kitchen since we opened in 2007 is your stage for a multi-course meal paired with iconic, library wines significant to Genuine from Michael’s friend and Lua Rossa collaborator Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat.  Get your bid in here now, or regret it later!

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.

Ring in 2017 with New Year’s Eve Dinner at Cypress Tavern

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Celebrate the New Year with a long finish, velvety texture and the finesse of exotic fruits at Cypress Tavern.  Enjoy this taste of luxury in a half bottle per couple of Jeeper Champagne, Grand Assemblage (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) when you choose the restaurant’s 3-course prix fixe New Year’s Eve menu.  Design your experience by choosing an appetizer, entrée and dessert from our a la carte dinner menu for $89 per person plus tax and gratuity, including the bubbly beginning.  A supplemental menu of luxury items will also be available a la carte to enhance the meal, like stone crabs, truffles and caviar with the option of full caviar service. The complete a la carte dinner menu will also be available, including Large Plates for two.  Cheers to starting off 2017 on the right note… maybe with a juicy pork chop!  Book now by emailing reservations@cypresstavern.com or calling 305.520.5197.

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Pound Your Fall Favorite | Stone Crab Week at Michael’s Genuine®

Boo!

Boo!

Don’t be spooked by these treats!  Genuine’s about to up its black and orange game, and it all begins on Halloween Day.  We are living large to celebrate one of this season’s most anticipated local ingredients. From Monday 10/31 – Sunday 11/6, guests who order one pound of large stone crabs, can choose any bottle of wine on our list for the table at half off, available at lunch, afternoon, dinner and brunch.  All bottles are game, all week long! Pop in and join us on a Design District stroll or reserve in advance here.  From sparkling to red and all the rosé in between, beverage manager Amanda Fraga and I will be tasting through a few gems on Facebook Live beginning at 4:30pm Monday.  Join our crab party and see who shows up in costume.  Tune into the Miami Design District’s page to join us!