Say Cheese: Ella Pops Savory then Sweet for National Grilled Cheese Month

You know it well, and it’s oozing daily from our light and airy café’s cheese wheel house.  Grilled cheese!  Inspired by our menu staple as a base, ella lays down a special savory and sweet variation to close out National Grilled Cheese Month.  We’re ready to double down on the melty, magical combination of parmigiano, gruyère and fontina.  Beginning today, until Sunday, April 23, we roll out the savory side with BBQ Short Rib Grilled Cheese with pickled onions (13).  On Monday, April 24,  we swap for salty-sweet with Apricot Jam-Brie Grilled Cheese with bacon (12).  Ella will continue to offer its familiar favorite while running the alternating specials, Parmigiano-Crusted Grilled Cheese with caramelized onions and tomato jam (11).  Follow @ellapopmiami for all the gooey details.  Best enjoyed on a bench in the breezy shade of the Miami Design District’s Palm Court.

140 NE 39th Street
unit 136
Miami, FL 33137
ellapop.me  786.534.8177

[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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For This Pastry Team, Working Smart Means Cross Training with Donuts

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The 9 a.m. donut handoff! Ella GM Sandra Pepin receives the goodies from MGFD’s pastry chef MJ Garcia.

Every morning Pastry Chef MJ Garcia gets into Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink around 5:45 a.m. and takes survey of her stock.  Then it’s time to cross train.

“If I ran a special that had pastry cream the day before, I’ll use it for a donut at Ella,” she explains.  “The other day we did butterscotch pudding here, so that became the filling for a chocolate glazed there.”

Restaurants like Michael’s flagship with its vast menu and myriad meal periods require a lot of rotation of product. MJ’s cross training routine makes for a fit operation, one with limited waste not at the expense of creativity. It’s a canvas that offers an outlet for new ideas to develop with discipline and structure because they are built on making something special from what’s around. “If you think about it from the culinary side, donuts are like the soup,” she points out.

Since our light and airy café first opened in late spring last year, the “Ella Daily Donut” (#elladailydonut on Instagram) has become a fixture in the display case, coveted for its surprising array of flavors and formats.  It was around the time MJ rejoined The Genuine Hospitality Group after a four year hiatus from Miami in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with husband (and now Cypress Tavern Chef de Cuisine) Max Makowski.  Her first placement was at ella, where she learned a tremendous deal about desserts in a retail environment, not to mention the benefit of direct customer feedback at the counter.

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Rainbow of Flavors: Here, lemon and coconut ensconced on their perch in the morning light.

“I noticed things… saw the pastries and how they were behaving.  Fresh fruit like strawberries will look fantastic in the morning but they wilt and go pale by the evening,” she recalls observing.  “You have to think how many hours a particular donut is going to stand up.  At 7 p.m. closing it has to look as good at as it did at opening. So you have boundaries.”

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Sometimes the donuts would be too big or too little.  MJ made note of all these things at ella, and translated them to improvements on that offering, not to mention best practices for her department at large at Michael’s Genuine.

“You have to keep a lot of factors in mind while you do these seemingly simple things,” she continues. “Yeasted donuts are more irregular in the way the dough behaves and there is more room for error.  It can overproof which creates big air pockets which can explode in the frier!  You also have to be careful not to overwork the dough which will develop gluten and produce a tough, dense result.”

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Lemon Meringue donut in all her oozy glory; the perfect ratio of filling to fried dough dusted in sugar and laden with sticky, caramelized meringue topping.

The preparation of the yeasted dough is a one day process with bulk cold fermentation in large tubs to develop flavor, refrigerating overnight. Then she rolls it out and punches it, and waits an hour before frying. But as important as the foundation may be, the ultimate test is in the merchandising… read: decoration.

“Decoration is everything,” MJ agrees.  “We eat with our eyes, so when building the donut we play with color, texture and form, from punched or filled, to toppings like chocolate crunch balls and Oreo cookie crumbles.  If I made lemon lavender syrup and I have lemon juice, I’ll make a Lemon glaze and add coconut flakes. People love cookies and cream, and chocolate always makes sense on weekends!”

MJ says her team, helmed by pastry assistants Alexandra Sarria (lead) and Chelsea Hillier, “harass the Instagram” for feedback from customers, as well as those who post their own photos of the donuts. This feedback mechanism is invaluable, since they aren’t at the café to interact when people are eating them.

“Cypress sometimes gets leftovers, so my husband will let me know how they are and what his team thinks. It’s hard sometimes, so we take what we can.  Of course there’s the morning crew at Genuine. Those guys are a great source of feedback, especially when you catch them sneaking the scraps!”

Bella Italia! Michael’s New ella after 3 Menu on Thursday 10.8

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Bravissimo!  With two dinner services under their belts at our Design District pop up cafe, Michael Schwartz and wine director Eric Larkee are at it again. Have they learned everything or nothing at all?   On Thursday, October 8 they throw caution to the wind with a new menu, shared here for the first time.  Looks like we will get a taste of La Dolce Vita alla Schwartz!

Click the banner above for tickets. There are a few seats left at new time slots available in the 8PM hour!  Price is $75 plus tax and gratuity for an amuse and 4 courses paired with wines, and the company of a James Beard Award-winning chef as your very own short order cook.  It’s a steal!  Follow #ellaafter on Instagram for a feed of our last two evenings in Palm Court!  See you there two weeks from today.

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After Glow: Announcing ella after 3 Thursday, October 8

mgfd_miaIt's. About. To. Go. Down. @chefmschwartz on the roasted and raw turnips with bottarga and white miso #ellaafter #ellaafter2 dinner service #secondpop #soldout begins at 7pm @ellapopmiami. Next dinner is 10/8. Tickets live 9/8 through the link on its profile. #bottarga #turnip #whitemiso @ericlarkee @chefbradleyj 🌟🌟🌟

Michael’s view from the pass of his first course at ella after 2, roasted and raw turnips with bottarga and white miso

On October 8, ella will turn its clocks back a little earlier for Michael’s ella after 3 dinner service to open up new time slots: 6:30, 6:45, 7, 8:30, 8:45, and 9 p.m.  CLICK HERE for tickets to select your seating.  Early bird gets the worm!

Here’s a refresher on the ella after drill: Chef’s new light and airy cafe in the Design District has a second pop. One Thursday a month the café stays open late for a prix fixe dinner cooked and served by chef/owner Michael Schwartz including 4 courses with wine pairings for $75, plus tax and gratuity. The inside is set with communal seating and offers advance tickets in 2-hour time slots beginning at 6:30 p.m.  Menu will be released prior to event and is subject to change. No substitutions. All sales are final. Please be on-time – after 15 minutes seats will be forfeited.

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Please join us when Chef does it again with a new menu.  He’s still thinking… But you already knew that! Thanks for playing and see you soon in Palm Court.  Our latest daytime menu adds Wynwood Brewing’s La Rubia bottles, gluten-free bread, JoJo Tea including single origin, a daily breakfast scramble and (not printed) afternoon TAPAS!  There’s just so much ella to love.