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.
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.”
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.
Today we say goodbye to Calabaza and hello to a new seasonal pizza to supercharge the winter doldrums — Spicy Fennel Puttanesca (15) mozzarella, ricotta, oregano. We first introduced a seasonal pie to our menu in August, before Genuine Pizza existed, not to mention opened out of state! Available beginning today at all Genuine Pizza and Harry’s Pizzeria locations, this pie features two cheeses that work together with sweet roasted fennel to balance a punchy tomato sauce for a simple combination that just works. Timing is everything.
“Right now we relish the days above 50 degrees like our teams in Miami do for those below,” Genuine Pizza Atlanta GM Megan Griffin explains. “I think we can all agree this pizza satisfies all kinds of winter cravings. It’s a perfect choice for those days when all you want is a little sunshine and vibrancy to cut through the chill. We like spice!”
Braving the winter has definitely taken on a whole new meaning now that we have our first restaurant where snow falls. In Miami, we wish — er — pray for those intermittent cold front weeks. They don’t come often but when they do, we relish the experience of dry 55°F degree air washing over the palms, making us feel like we’re anywhere but here. It has taken operating in Atlanta to truly understand seasonal change and how welcome, transportive and comforting a little bit of heat can be in the form of hot meal. For both mind and body. Get you some winter warming! We are now open in Downtown Dadeland (Kendall, FL), Coconut Grove (Miami, FL), Miami Design District (Miami, FL), Aventura Mall (Aventura, FL), and Phipps Plaza (Buckhead/Atlanta, GA) Visit genuinepizza.com and harryspizzeria.com to find location near you and to order online.
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!):
“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,” says Piazza. “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 aromatic fennel 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.
#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.
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!
No need to coax the team at Cypress Tavern to show the love, especially on the most romantic night of the year. These intimacy professionals will set the mood for a flawless experience with a few more special somethings for your special someone for Valentine’s Day 2017.
Prix Fixe Dinner – Enjoy 3 courses including a choice of appetizers, entrées and desserts created especially for the romantic evening on Tuesday, February 14 by chef de cuisine Max Makowski. $89 per person plus tax and gratuity includes a half bottle of Champagne for each couple, with available truffle supplement to any dish for $15. The complete a la carte dinner menu will also be available. The restaurant opens a little earlier to accommodate all kinds of love birds beginning at 5:30.
All the Brunch Feelings – Because there’s always more love to go around, each guest dining on Valentine’s Day will feel it with an invitation to return for Weekend Brunch and receive their first bloody or mimosa complimentary on Saturday, February 18 or Sunday, February 19.
To reserve a table, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305.520.5197. Cypress Tavern is located at 3620 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33137. $5 Design District Valet is available, as well as street parking in the city lot in between 37th and 38th street. Menus and more information are available at cypresstavern.com.
Cypress Tavern’s cozy American Grill and Cocktail Bar offers a warm, welcoming and festive experience in a room like no other, perfect for sharing an intimate meal over candle light on a special occasion like Valentine’s Day. James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Schwartz and Chef de Cuisine Max Makowski of Cypress Tavern bring top notch service, as well as a menu built around seasonal ingredients and a wood grill and rotisserie.