[Video] Gone Fishing for Florida Stone Crab Season

It all began with a hunt for a frog leg source in 2006 when Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink was a set of plans and dreams. Some 12 years later, fisherman George Figueroa of Trigger Seafood is Michael’s source for everything under the South Florida sun including these Everglades treats, from local spiny lobster to his company’s namesake triggerfish when we’re lucky.  Like most long lasting relationships, things grow and evolve.  You see each other when you can — sometimes more often than others, but it’s always like yesterday and there’s always an opportunity for a spontaneous adventure.  When George happened to be by the office last week to pick up a check, he asked if I wanted to join on the boat Sunday for the 2018 Florida Stone Crab season harvest.  Frog gigging?  Sure, Michael has donned the headlamp under full moonlight.  Wild boar hunting? He and culinary director Bradley Herron joined George on the swamp buggy.  But after all this time, it would be our first time pulling traps — and certainly not the last!

Unlike recreational opportunities, our fisherman has a commercially-regulated (for sustainability) license where he may legally harvest both claws — if they are legal in size and the crab continues to feed (as many frisky ones we encountered today without claws were doing in the traps.) The crabs’ natural predators in the bay including triggerfish, dolphin, turtles, and octopus actively prey on both clawed and clawless specimens. The reality is we encountered pilfered and stolen traps all day long, which is bad for everyone, especially the health of our fishery.

Stone Crab season is one of those give-ins. Not taken for granted but to a certain degree expected.  Nothing should ever be that way, and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to realize it through this past weekend’s experience.  George’s office is like that.  It appears to be a constant — the crystalline water of Biscayne Bay, the blue sky embracing its National Park, the delicious seafood.

Scratch the shimmer though, and the squalls, the tropical changes, the pirate’s-life-for-me blood coursing thick and hungry in all of us down in these wild parts rise to the surface.  That’s the thing about buried treasure.  It makes us all go a little crazy. Go rogue in the rush of discovery and payday in glorious sweet meat.  But what will you pull up?  Has someone gotten there, to your licensed traps, first? The unpredictability of it all runs deep, and that’s the object lesson we took away with our 65-pound claw haul. Protection and regulation can only do so much for our natural resources.  It takes a little more work than that.  It takes respect, and education even when it’s not always easy on the eyes is a fine place to start.

Thank you @jorge_trigger_seafood for showing us the #stonecrab ropes, sharing insight into the challenges of managing this fishery, and always telling it like it is. Keep it real and come along for the ride with us on the video above. When you enjoy some claws at MGFD or Amara at Paraiso there will be new meaning and respect to contemplate — how they got to the table and in some cases why they’re absent from it.

 

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.

Amara’s Sunset Beach Party Sets Sunday Ablaze with Special Skewers, Champagne & More

Easy Sunday evenings begin on the bay. Following brunch on July 29, the Amara Beach grill gets fired up with special anticuchos skewers and beverage specials including $15 Champagne Veuve Clicquot “Yellow Label” by the glass.  DJ Savy Fontana will send us off into the sunset.  Reservations and walk-ins are welcome.

Enjoy the supplemental menu below available a la carte inside and out from 4-10PM — including bar, terrace, our beach lounge area and deck chairs.

At 6PM our regular dinner menu will join the party.  Call (305) 702-5528, email reservations@amaraatparaiso.com  or visit  Open Table to book.  Amara at Paraiso is located at 3101 NE 7th Ave (Paraiso District) Miami, FL 33137.

 

 

It Takes Two to Tango the Amara Beverage Book — Part II: Wine

“Because at the end of the night, she says ‘Champagne?'”

It’s happy hour at Michael’s Genuine® a few weeks back, and Amara’s Sommelier Amanda Fraga has placed one of her favorite sparkling wines, Roederer Estate, in front of colleague Maria Pottage.

Flute-free Zone: Fraga holding court if only for a Happy Hour at her old stomping grounds, Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink.

“People say Champagne all day, but let’s be honest, it’s going to get expensive when you’re the one paying for it!,” she jokes.  “It’s tough to have a favorite, because it’s like talking about kids, but this is one of my favorite sparkling wines. Roederer does an amazing job, and I can afford to have multiple bottles.  It may not be French, but it’s Champagne method, not bubble injections.”

We’re continuing our deep dive into the Amara Beverage Book, having transitioned from cocktails to something even more festive with Fraga as our guide.  She sees every glass of wine like traveling and visiting a new place.   When your new place is a new restaurant with a new menu, the journeys are endless in building a wine list.  The process of discovery is winding, sometimes hidden from view.

“Because of Amara’s cuisine, I felt slightly out of my comfort zone,” Fraga explains. “The culinary team was going to Buenos Aires for their research trip, and I’m thinking, this is one if the countries I drank the least of!”

Sommelier Amanda Fraga with her rosé, which happens to be ON-TAP (!)

It was at this point that she remembered who she worked for.  The Genuine Hospitality Group wasn’t an ordinary restaurant group with a literal approach. There was room for interpretation.  Sure there would be Malbec…  There had to be and should be, but not 30, with some Cabs to round it out.

“I feel like everyone thinks Latin American wines are only from Chile and Argentina,” she continues. “The idea was to have the coolest wines from Latin America at large and to not forget our roots of fresh and genuine. There is so much diversity in what’s growing and being produced from South to Central America. You have more familiar grapes like Pinot Noir, Albarino and Tempranillo, juxtaposed with Tennat, Listan Negro (the mission grape) and el Pais. It’s the perfect storm.”

Fraga’s passion for education comes from a visceral place, stemming from a drive to expand her own wine knowledge through experience, travel being one of the most salient — a potent source for inspiration that sticks.  As she sees, relating those experiences to her staff is one of her most important jobs in training — the story behind the bottle that leaves an impression.  Her innovative approach to training is predicated on a consistent curriculum and engaging the staff through “Wine Wednesday” trainings on various topics including the importance of backstory and context in wine not just the taste profiles.  They’re catalogued, little nuggets of wine knowledge framed by a narrative on who made the wine and where it came from, on the restaurant’s Instagram at #amarabeveragebook.  It’s something she developed as sommelier of Michael’s Genuine & Beverage Manager for The Genuine Hospitality Group, a useful tool grounding her training process.

Traditional, funky Prosecco, the first Wine Wednesday post at Amara. She explains, “Delicate. nice acid. good fruit. It’s not the Prosecco you know but if you’re a lover of Italy and have an open mind and heart you’re going to love it.”

Balanced with her knowledge of what our guests enjoy drinking guiding balanced by a compass pointing south, the list netted out 35% Latin America, which although not a majority is a focus on which to build, and more than Fraga has ever worked with before.  In 2015 she participated in a competition among Miami sommeliers to build the best wine bar, counter tops and all, hosted by Wines of Chile.  Although Amara was a faint glimmer in her glass and Director of Licensing Operations Eric Larkee’s team poured victorious, she reflects now on this intensive, apt primer that opened her eyes to what was out there.

“I realized the incredible variation even Chile has in itself,” she continues. “Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Malbec , Pinot Noir… There’s so much and the great thing now even three years later is that there is much more being imported in the US.”

It’s at this point I realize something, too.  I’m actually enjoying the Verdejo she’s chosen for me, and this is exactly the point.  The only way you truly know something and understand it is through exposure.  Repeated exposure to new things, even when you think they’re the old thing.  The old thing can surprise you.

“I never had it before [Michael’s Genuine® sommelier] Dean put it on the list,” she recounts.  “I kind of wanted to give you something fun and different, and I feel like you appreciate these things. It’s fun to smell a wine and not automatically be able to guess it but know that it sure does remind you of something.  You try to point to where you had it before.  So we are playing this game now… I know you wanted something white and now we have something that piqued your interest, and curiosity, too.”

For herself, Amanda is settling into the Jean Claude Boisset
, a sparkling rosé from Burgundy Dean has had by the glass for about a month now that she’s wanted to try.  She wanted something light and refreshing and had given Maria the Roederer already.

“I’m pretty sure it’s Chardonnay-Pinot Noir…” she thinks out loud.  Familiar yet at the same time foreign.  Herein lies the balance that creates the magnetism of intrigue, stirring curiosity just enough.  The game continues.

Preshift on Biscayne Bay, the place where it all comes together.

Hungry for Art Basel Week? Get a First Taste of Amara at Paraiso at Our Pop Up Restaurant

  

As Miami Art Week arrives in Miami, so does your ticket to chef-restaurateur Michael Schwartz’s quintessential Miami restaurant.

Join Michael and the restaurant team as we temporarily pop up Amara at Paraiso for four nights of dinner service before it opens in January!  Seatings are available on the half hour from 7-9:30 p.m. from Wednesday, December 6 to Saturday, December 9 on-site at Paraiso Bay (3101 NE 7th Ave, Miami, FL 33137). Guests will enjoy an Amara experience served family style including snacks and cocktails for their table followed by 4 courses, as well as a selection of wine, beer and other beverages for $189 all in.  Grab your table now by purchasing tickets here — we are now booking parties of 1 on up and the price at checkout includes everything (3% Resy booking fee off the base, as well as tax, gratuity, and valet parking). BATUKE, a Brazilian band that mixes rhythms such as Funk from the 70’s with Afro Samba, Brazilian Big Band, Batucada, Soul, and R&B, will be performing live at the pop up each night. Seating is not communal; you will be seated with your party. For parties of 7 or above, email reservations@amaraatparaiso.com to secure your tickets.

Inspired by its idyllic bayside setting, Amara at Paraiso brings together bold Latin American flavors, coastal ingredients and South Florida’s diversity of food culture to create the quintessential Miami dining experience from environment to cuisine to vibe.  Revel in the dynamic energy, local ingredients, and natural beauty of Biscayne Bay that defines what living in Miami is all about, and at the best time to enjoy it!