Peach and Burrata. Everything has to be right for it to work.
We look forward to the smells of summer — the way the air gets thick and sparkly after a tropical sun shower, and sunscreen’s dreamy imprint on our memory banks beached in laughter and salty ocean breezes. This is a season that lets you know it’s here — and in a hurry.
In Florida, our fruit trees are heavy now with mango, lychee and even peaches. And when it comes to the fragrance of the season, a good peach can’t be beat in its intensity and truth. Putting nose to fruit is a pro tip you’ll notice chefs doing as second nature, because it’s a pretty great clue to ripeness.
The sniff test on guava at Miami Design District’s market last year.
“We shop for ingredients just like everyone else does, and we do a lot of smelling in the process,” explains chef Bradley Herron. “Finding a good peach is essential for this salad to work.”
To know what’s inside without breaking the skin, you have to trust nose more than your eyes or even fingers. If it’s good and ready, you’ll get the same zesty sweetness found in the flesh just by smelling it.
Handled with care.
Peach pizza gets its close up during the photo shoot for Michael’s forthcoming cookbook, Genuine Pizza.
As we roll out summer specials at the pizzerias, the start of the season is always an interesting one as things get going. Early product coming in has been smelling strong so far – a good sign. Enjoy the Peach & Burrata Salad and Peach & GorgonzolaPizza with our new Sangria, because lighter alcohol “cocktails” and summer go hand in hand when you want something refreshing and festive with which to cool off! Refreshing in its simplicity, ours combines your choice of three wines with San Pellegrino’s sparkling blood orange soda.
Looking and smelling good.
Creamy Burrata from Belgioiso melts as the perfect contrast to bright peaches.
Ravi Kapur has strong feelings about poke. As he should.
“In Hawaii it’s kind of… Well, it’s really a treat,” Ravi explains. “It’s not this mass-consumed, everyday thing necessarily, because really poke should be pretty expensive if you’re using high quality fish. For me growing up, it’s a celebratory thing.”
At now 3 year-old Liholiho Yacht Club in San Francisco, this Oahu-born chef not only takes inspiration from his Hawaiian-Chinese-Indian roots, he takes them quite seriously. Right off the bat this was pretty clear, even as we stole just few minutes in between phone tag on Wednesday. There’s a sense of responsibility that informs his approach. I have neither been to Hawaii nor eaten in his restaurant, but I have read Kapur is a chef-owner known for his cool, collected demeanor in the kitchen. Schwartz had a great meal there. I get the feeling this attitude is an expression of the strength of his intention, to cook with principle and represent his culture correctly and with confidence.
Fresh fish, the best fish. From @liholihoyachtclub’s Instagram.
This means something to Kapur, that he stand for something and that his expression is one true to his identity as a Hawaiian. We can relate to this — MS also stands for something, and akin to that. It’s about quality and doing it right, or not at all. This is in part why I began our conversation with poke. To poke a nerve. With the relentless stream of DIY, paint-by-numbers, flavor-of-the-moment poke shops UberEatsing on my Miami doorstep, it’s also hard to ignore.
“The most important element for me is that the fish is extremely fresh and you let that flavor shine without covering it up with too many seasonings,” he continues. “The traditional version would not have soy sauce. It would be Hawaiian salt, and sweet onion, and inamona or ground kukui nut.“
From there he explains it can be embellished, which is fine, with a measured hand, as with most things. Seaweed, sure. Still no seasoning though. You take this highly perishable product and then need to mask it when it’s inferior. Often, when it’s about preserving meat or fish, something common all over the world to extend a product’s lifespan — typically out of necessity — it can be quite good. But it’s transformed. It’s no longer the thing it was. For true poke, if you are using good quality there’s just no way it even can be mass produced — which is basically the benchmark for what my exposure has been to date, fast casual-style. It becomes more about what you are putting on it, than what it is.
“I popped in one day to one of these places, because I’m interested in how they operate, how it flows,” Ravi explains. “I understand the model, how this came to exist, but I’ll never do it because it’s in direct conflict to what I believe poke is. I can’t wrap my head around culturally appropriating things for profit. You won’t find sesame oil in traditional poke. I use some, but for me it’s always going to be all about the fish.”
The fish is Ahi traditionally, but now you can find all types, like Striped Marlin and large bill fish. It’s more sustainable too. Ravi admits he just got back from Maui, and even there, there is a range of quality. Previously frozen… unknown origins at the supermarket. The place he goes to now, Kaohu store, will run you about $17, 18, 19 a pound.
“To me I taste the difference,” he adds. “And you can see the fish. It’s undressed.”
I don’t know about you, but I need my own #alohafloorselfie moment.
Ravi won’t know what species will greet him when he walks into Michael’s Genuine® on Thursday February 22, but he knows it will be fresh and that will produce the best first course on the plate whether it’s Cobia, Golden Tile or Little Tuny. And there’s pork too, another ingredient that connects our food cultures.
“Absolutely. It’s pretty much pork all the time,” Ravi says. “In the late 1800s, ranching formed a big part of the economy but beef is more expensive. Pork is for everyone and it can be great and flavorful – it just depends on the pig and who’s raising it. I’m doing something off the shoulder. I like roasting those cuts and still having a little bite to it, so you can taste the meat. Some accents, of course, like chili honey rub for a little sweetness and spice. I don’t think I told anybody, but I’m also bringing something else with me.”
We’re not giving that one away. You, co-guest chef Derek Damman and hosts Michael and Tim will just have to squirm. Now isn’t that cause for celebration? And some poke! Find out for yourself. For tickets and menu, visit sobefest.org/michaels.
Aloha! Bonjour! Bienvenidos. On Thursday, February 22, the tasty punchline is on us! Hawaiian-born Ravi Kapur of San Francisco’s Liholiho Yacht Club and Derek Dammann of Montreal’s Maison Publique join Michael Schwartz of Miami by way of Philly to cook dinner as part of the annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival. What brings people together is an interesting thing. Is it happenstance or intention or a combination of both? Our South Beach Wine & Food Festival dinner at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink celebrates this idea — what becomes of different flavors, influences and personalities when they come together from across the continent to make a meal and create an experience. The creativity happens and the fun begins when disparate pieces form the whole you didn’t anticipate. It’s the excitement that happens when something feels so right for the very reasons it shouldn’t. We are excited our neighborhood bistro can be the glue to bring such incredible talent together for a collaborative dinner. Ravi will bring big, colorful flavors from the west coast and Pacific and Derek, the cozy northern appeal of a polished but casual neighborhood pub. Michael and executive Chef Tim Piazza will balance it all out. Enjoy the four course menu below with reception, paired with Champagne Henriot, one of the few remaining family-owned houses with over two hundred years of independence.
Live music, bold Latin American flavors and Miami’s quintessential chef. Amara at Paraiso is your can’t-miss ticket to Miami Art Week!
Get a first taste of Chef Michael Schwartz’s soon-to-open waterfront restaurant NEXT WEEK with a pop up dinner experience. Guests will enjoy an Amara experience including snacks and cocktails for their table followed by 4 courses served family-style for $189 including tax, gratuity and valet parking. 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 that defines what living in Miami is all about, and at the best time to enjoy it.
Click HERE to book your table through Resy before it’s too late. You may also do so by calling 305.702.5528. Seatings are available on the half hour from 7-9:30 p.m. from Wednesday, December 6 to Saturday, December 9 on-site at the restaurant in Paraiso Bay ( 3101 NE 7th Ave, Miami, FL 33137).
Compliments to the chef. And of the Miami Design District! As we head into a new season here in South Florida, our menu at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink experiences a little more than daily changes. Chef de Cuisine Tim Piazza is working in everything from Butternut and Delicata squash, to Honeycrisp apples and Brussels Sprouts and building new dishes around them. With weekly complimentary concerts in Palm Court, now is the time to get a taste of autumn and make a night of it in the neighborhood.
The Miami Design District kicks off its Performance Series Presented by Knight Foundation this Friday, October 13 with Latin Grammy Nominated and Billboard Latin Music Award Winners, Il Volo. MGFD gets in the spirit with Coco Loco ($10) coconut water, rum, pineapple, housemade grenadine, lime and Luxardo, served out of its freshly tapped, green coconut. Just look for the coconut-strewn bar in front of Ella, where you can also find a selection of wine, beer, water and yes, fresh coconut water, too. See the schedule posted here, and look forward to a new act each week (Fridays, 6PM, Palm Court 140 NE 39th Street), with the Miami Symphony Orchestra back monthly. Street, Palm Court Garage and Valet Parking available. Here are how the leaves fall on the menu (new cocktails at the MGFD bar with Beverage Manager Amanda Fraga and desserts by pastry chef MJ Garcia will be covered in separate posts over the next week!):
Braised Rabbit Leg with roasted cipollini onion, bacon, mustard, whole wheat crepe
“The funny thing is, of course, we live in Miami so it still feels like summer outside but we want to feel the change despite that,” saysPiazza. “The goal is to create dishes that are full of all those ingredients and flavors we love this time of year, but that aren’t too rich or heavy handed. This what we do best in a nutshell — balance.”
In that case, he’s struck it. Wood Oven Roasted Sweet Potato becomes a salad with the addition of sprouted lentils, pretty tokyo turnips, peppery upland cress, and the nutty acid of tahini sauce. A dusting of Aleppo chile gives it that zesty pop. We all look forward to apples turning up, and the pick of the grove for the chefs is the Honeycrisp for its perfect harmony of sweet and tart. Piazza highlights its crunchy texture tossing it shaved with aromaticfennel in Apple & Fennel Salad, red onion, sunflower seeds, radish, quinoa, greens, goat cheese and mustard vinaigrette. Luscious Skirt Steak hits refresh with celery, almonds, dates, horseradish crema and sherry. Click here for a reservation or call 305.573.5550.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts with apple butter, smoked peanuts
Wood Oven Roasted Sweet Potato with sprouted lentils, Tokyo turnips, upland cress, tahini sauce, Aleppo
House Tagliolini with butternut squash, brown butter, sage, parmigiano