Wednesday, May 27, 2015

La Ferme in Boca Raton - French Dining at its Finest

I feel South Florida lacks a bit of variety in French and Mediterranean cuisine. The robust flavors found in this part of the world, is just one of the reasons I absolutely love traveling to Europe. (Others include the architecture, landscape and of course - the men). When I find a spot that brings me back to my adventurous travels, I absolutely have to share it. So for those of you looking for a magnifique meal that will put some ooh la la into your palate, you want to take a road trip to Boca Raton and visit La Ferme, located at 9101 Lakeridge Boulevard.


La Ferme

La Ferme (which means "The Farm"), is family owned by Bobby, Laura and their daughter Alexandra Shapiro, who aren't new to the restaurant scene. They also own the very well known Flex Mussels (two locations) in Manhattan and have have been the driving force behind several other restaurants in New York City, Baltimore and Canada. They decided to bring a modern bistro ambiance to their newest venture in Boca, using locally sourced ingredients and a distinct Mediterranean flair. While the decor is elegant yet quirky, (if you can imagine that) the feel is comfortable and familiar, making it the perfect spot for a first date, or a family gathering.




When we walked in to La Ferme on a Saturday night, it was packed. I had the opportunity to look around and take in the vibe. If I was to analyze the guests, I'd say there was an equal number of newcomers and regulars. It was your typical Boca crowd, quite a world away from what you normally see on South Beach. 


Steak Tartare

Ceviche


We ordered a glass of wine as we perused the menu and decided to start our meal with their Steak Tartare and Ceviche. The Steak Tartare was phenomenal, made with hand chopped filet, capers and onions, then topped with a quail egg. The octopus ceviche was refreshing and light and opened our palate for the courses ahead.


Foie Gras
They didn't have their regular Foie Gras Terrine that evening, so instead we tried a different preparation for the Foie Gras that was sweet and tangy and served with caramelized apples. We were both licking our lips in unison after each bite.


Crescent Long Island Duck 2 Ways

There were several entrees on the menu we wanted to try and we finally chose the Crescent Long Island Duck 2 Ways and the Oven Roasted Boneless Branzino.  The Duck was fantastic; its presentation simple yet appealing. It consisted of a flavorful roasted breast and confit leg topped with crispy bacon, then served aside lentils and a creamy carrot puree. The Branzino was very tender, bathed in a fragrant olio verde and lemon vinaigrette, then placed atop a bed of braised greens.


Oven Roasted Boneless Branzino

The desserts we tried were just as impressive as the savory dishes. We indulged in their Chocolate Fudge Cake, which had the texture of a decadent, silky mousse and was surrounded by fresh berries. And of course, being that we were in a French restaurant, we just had to try their Creme Brulee. It was divine. Merci, La Ferme, Merci.


Chocolate Mousse

Creme Brulee

For more information, you can visit La Ferme online here or call them at 561-654-6600.


La Ferme on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 22, 2015

Siena Tavern - A Brunch You're Going To Love

It's the most wonderful meal of the weekend. Or at least a really, really good one. Brunch makes you feel sunny and cheerful and let's face it, Mimosas and Bloody Marys are a big part of it. I scouted out places to take the family out to for brunch and decided on Siena Tavern in Miami Beach, located at the old China Grill spot on 404 Washington Avenue.

Siena Tavern Miami

I happen to have a soft spot for this place because its owner/chef Fabio Viviani (you might know him from Top Chef and from his frequent guest appearances on shows like Good Morning America and The Chew) is quite the charismatic fellow. He's funny, extremely talented, and downright nice (not too hard on the eyes either). You can check out my interview with him prior to the opening of Siena Tavern here and a piece I did on Fabio and Bertolli Olive Oil during the SOBEWFF in 2014 here.


Smoked Salmon Board

Anyway, Siena Tavern has become a popular hotspot in South Beach since it opened and they have recently started serving brunch. The menu is extensive and contains many of the signature favorites the restaurant is known for, along with some traditional brunch staples. We started off with their Smoked Salmon Board, served with tomato, red onions, capers, cucumbers, cream cheese and their signature crispy dough. Now before I go any further, I have to tell you this dough is insane. It just melts in your mouth and makes you want to beg for more. The funny thing is, Viviani stumbled upon it by accident. It's one of those things where he was making pizza dough, stuff happened and poof, we got something that will make us cry out in pure ecstatic pleasure. Yes, it's that good.

Coccoli
We also ordered the Coccoli, which is an Antipasti consisting of, you guessed it, more of that crispy dough, creamy stracchino cheese, flavorful prosciutto di parma, and truffle honey. The sweet and savory combination of textures was amazing and I loved tasting the bold flavor of the prosciutto with the mild and delicate cheese  It's no wonder I have a thing for Italians...

Lobster Hash

Next we ordered the Lobster Hash and the Crispy Mortadella Eggs Benedict. The Lobster Hash was a true explosion of rich flavors that made its presence known. From the caramelized vegetables and house cured pancetta to the perfectly poached egg on top drizzled with truffle hollandaise, it was priceless. I couldn't stop eating it. Of course, I also wanted to bite into the Eggs Benedict, which were prepared with their own creative spin. At first I thought I was living my very own Dr. Seuss fantasy with a dish of Green Eggs and Ham, but then I realized it was more of a Chef Viviani experience with poached eggs topped with pesto hollandaise, sitting over crispy mortadella on a toasted brioche. Oh I like green eggs and ham, I do like them, Foodaholic I am.


Crispy Mortadella Eggs Benedict
Sticky Parmesan Potatoes

We decided to order a side dish to go with our eggs, and the one that stood out most for us was the Sticky Parmesan Potatoes. They were just begging us to bite into them with all that cheesy flavor. And of course, what's brunch without waffles? So we ordered a plate of Caramelized Waffles, served with fresh berries, nutella butter (that's right) and thick maple syrup.


Caramelized Waffles
You know me and my sweet tooth. So the waffles were a great start to satiate it but after looking at a plate of Monkeybread, I knew it was going to be one of those days. When I say Monkeybread, I want you to think sticky, heavenly, pull-apart, completely unadulterated pleasure on a plate, bathed in hazelnut cream, caramel and pieces of  candied hazelnuts. I could say more but I'm drooling a bit and quite honestly, there are people around me.

Monkeybread

There was one more sweet adventure I had to try and that was some of their Bombolini, or warm, Italian doughnuts. Fabio's version is fun and decadent, served at the table with three little bottles containing fillings you can squeeze into your Bombolini: whisky caramel, chocolate hazelnut and raspberry chianti. My favorite was the chocolate hazelnut, but then again, you probably already knew that.

Bomboloni

If you're planning to indulge in a nice brunch this weekend, you should definitely check out Siena Tavern. Go early, because valet parking does get full and it is a holiday weekend and Miami Beach, but the gastronomic experience will be well worth the trip. For more information, visit them online here.


Siena Tavern on Urbanspoon




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Soho Bay Brings Extraordinary Sushi and A Spectacular Sunset to Miami Beach

You know how Instagram food pictures often make you drool? Well I follow a sushi chef that posts pictures of his creations on his account and I am always blown away by what I see. Sometimes you wonder...how can anyone eat that when I just want to frame it and put it on my wall? Then I remember we're talking about sushi, I see how scrumptious it looks, and  I think: enough admiration already. The truth is I want to put this in my mouth and just savor it.

The captivating sunset at Soho Bay

With Chef Jose Gamez

Giddy with anticipation, we recently paid a visit to this sushi chef, Jose Gamez, at the newly opened Soho Bay, located at 520 West Avenue in Miami Beach. Chef Gamez 's resume includes places like Lure Fish Bar, Makoto and Zuma.  Soho Bay brings a refreshing combination of Japanese Inspired cuisine, with Latin American favorites, in true Miami style.

Margaret Margarita

Lemon Grass Mojito

We sat down at a corner table on their outdoor terrace, and got a million dollar view of the sun as it set into the horizon.. Between that breathtaking vision, the refreshing Margaret Margarita I was sipping from inside a colorful green pepper, and the Lemon Grass Mojito my date for the evening was enjoying, our senses were quickly captured.

Lion Fish Rio

No sooner had the sun disappeared into the water, than out came a beautifully plated Lion Fish Rio, prepared with the ever popular lion fish, and topped with pickled cucumber. It was all drizzled with olive oil, and a thai chili pepper cucumber caipirinha granite. Kicking off the evening like this set the bar pretty high....


Foie Buns

....and they kept delivering. Our next course consisted of their original Foie Buns, a playful creation made with foie gras on a bed of cilantro,delicately placed inside a miso brioche that was covered with kewpie mayo. The foie was then topped with tomato jam and black cherry soy. It was a majestic bite that kept us immersed in their culinary spell, while we awaited the next course which was....

Smoked Hamachi Hibachi

... their impressive Smoked Hamachi Hibachi, which came to the table literally smoking. Remember how I started my post talking about how sometimes it was difficult to start eating dishes that resembled art because you really needed to admire them for a while and make the moment last? This was one of those cases. Each piece of hamachi, or yellow tail, was skewered with micro wasabi, pink grapefruit, drizzled with evoo, yuzu jelly and then sprinkled with truffle salt. The skewers were then decorated with colorful, edible flowers and and served on a hibachi.

Wagyu Picanha

Miso Salmon

At this point, the entrees began to arrive. We shared their famous Wagyu Picanha, a perfectly seasoned American Wagyu steak served with wild mushroom chimichurri and heart of palms, and their succulent Miso Salmon, which held a smoky flavor that melted in your mouth. In silence, we enjoyed these remarkable dishes with a side of their signature Brussel Sprouts, made with bits of bacon. They were amazing. To take this experience to a whole new level, we paired it with a Last Wish cocktail... whose name befittingly matches its exquisite taste.

Brussel Sprouts

Last Wish

You must be thinking, when is the sushi coming? I saved the best for last. Let me begin by saying I didn't eat all day prior to coming to Soho Bay because I wanted to be able to indulge in all of its splendors, and like troopers, we both did. My date didn't disappoint and kept up with me bite for bite. Behold the incredible sushi platter Chef Gamez created for us. Words alone cannot describe what we felt as it was brought to our table. On this beautiful platter there was a sampling of everything from fresh salmon belly to sought after Toro tuna. The salmon roe was delicious, and we absolutely loved the Striped Bass. The salmon and hamachi disappeared in our mouths, while the Macarena almost had us standing up and doing the dance. In this heavenly treat, there was also sweet king crab, tender octopus cooked for 1 1/2 hours, succulent scallops and several rolls that exceeded all expectations. It was a sushi lovers' dream and we were living it. Wow.. you are unbelievable Chef Gamez.

Outstanding Sushi Platter

You would think we were excruciatingly full and I won't lie, we were. But that wasn't going to stop us from trying some desserts. So we did what any self respecting foodaholics would do. We unbuttoned that top button and sat back to allow ourselves some room to breathe. While we waited, we sipped on another cocktail. This time it was the Caipiroska with mixed berries. It was a refreshing drink to prepare for the sweet parade ahead.


Caipiroska
Within a few minutes, we were graced with the presence of some pretty impressive desserts. We bit into their Dulce de Leche, Guava Colada and most decadent Souffle (our personal favorite). We may have required a wheel barrow to walk out of Soho Bay after this out-of-this-world adventure, but it was worth every pound.


Guava Colada

Dulce de Leche

Souffle

From start to finish, the meal at Soho Bay was the epitome of perfection. Executive Chef Ricardo Sauri and Head Sushi Chef Jose Gamez make an impressive team dedicated to providing the highest quality of cuisine for their guests.  The food and cocktails were stellar, as were the service and ambiance.  You can expect that this is not your ordinary dinner experience, but so much more. The moment lasted with me way after we left and I honestly cannot wait to return.

For more information on Soho Bay, visit them online or call them at 786-618-2788.


Soho Bay on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Party with Macy's American Icons at Aventura Mall

I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.


Oh say can you eat? I know I can. And there's nothing that gets me more nostalgic for the red, white and blue than a bowl of franks and beans and a slice of warm apple pie. And nothing gets me more teary eyed for Old Glory, than when I hear a patriotic song such as Proud to Be An American, by Lee Greenwood.




You see, even though my parents are Cuban and instilled in me a love for their culture, I was born and raised in the U.S.A. and whenever I hear of an event that celebrates American tradition and honors the men and women who sacrifice everything to keep us safe, I just have to be a part of it.  Macy's is hosting a series of parties throughout the country to salute all the things that make us proud to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave - whether through fashion, designers or you guessed it, food, and you're all invited to join all the in-store excitement.

Head on over to the Macy's store in Aventura Mall on Saturday, May 16th at noon, to take part in a patriotic, family-fun filled cooking demonstration saluting the military, featuring 9-year old pastry chef Taylor Moxey. Taylor is a celebrity in her own right; making thousands of dollars selling cupcakes, while having big dreams of opening her own bakery one day. She has won competitions against trained chefs, and hasn't lost sight of what really counts - giving back. This tiny pastry chef donates part of her proceeds selling sweets to increase dyslexia awareness.

Well on Saturday, Taylor is going to prepare sweets-inspired recipes that will put some stars on your stripes. In addition to that sweet fun, you will enjoy tea compliments of Lemon City Tea and if you spend $35 or more in the Home Department, you will receive a special gift. Like taking selfies? Then you will get your fill on Saturday. Macy's is proud to partner with those who have served our country alongside Got Your 6, a coalition of veteran-focused, non-profit partners who are working to help veterans make America stronger. They will have patriotic photo opportunities to take your #AmericanSelfie with, and share it to do your part.

Every year, approximately 250,000 brave men and women return from service. Got Your 6 works to make sure they have the support and tools they need to become leaders in their communities. Donate $3 to Got Your 6 on Saturday at Macy's, and get an extra 25% savings pass to use all day. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to the Got Your 6 coalition.

So what better way is there to spend a Saturday afternoon than enjoying delicious cupcakes while honoring America and all it stands for, in a fun, iconic environment?  Oh, and if you want to check out some more American Icons events going on, including what will be happening at the Macy's in Dadeland Mall, visit hereSee you there.

To RSVP for this event, go to americaniconsdemo.eventbrite.com.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Dolores But You Can Call Me Lolita - Brunch

With this fantabulous Miami weather, weekends are meant to be spent outside - from enjoying Brunch to sipping Brewskis at night. The ever-popular Brickell spot, Dolores But You Can Call Me Lolita, located at 1000 South Miami Avenue (at the old Firehouse #4). has launched a new Springtime weekend brunch menu, full of fan favorites and refreshing cocktails that are perfectly priced.


We stopped by recently on a Sunday afternoon to check out the new brunch, and were pleased as punch (or sangria) I should say. We started with one of those sweet concoctions, which are priced at either $4 a glass or $18 for the pitcher. Not bad. Of course, we had to pair them with their signature Serrano Ham Croquettes, which as usual, didn't disappoint, After biting into a few of those meaty delights, we also ordered a  light starter of Tomato and Mozzarella Salad, which was fresh and flavorful.

Serrano Ham Croquettes
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
After tantalizing our taste buds and giving our appetites a reason to do a double take, we ordered their Chicken and Waffles, along with a side of Patatas Bravas. The Chicken and Waffles were on the mark, featuring a Belgian waffle topped with crispy chicken tenderloins and applewood smoked bacon. The spicy fries added a kick to the meal that went well with the sweet and salty entree.

Chicken and Waffles
Patatas Bravas

If you're out and about in the Brickell area this weekend and want to savor a good brunch at a reasonable price, stop in at Dolores But You Can Call Me Lolita and give it a try. For more information, visit their menu online.



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Conrad Miami's New Taste of Time Lunch

High above the sky is where I want to be sometimes in the middle of my busy day. The Conrad Miami Hotel, located at 1395 Brickell Avenue, is providing just that opportunity, with their new Taste of Time business lunch menu. Whether you want to go relax and talk about your boss, or just to impress someone with a romantic midday meal, Atrio Restaurant and Wine Room is perfect for that purpose. Situated on the 25th  floor of the hotel and offering panoramic views of the city, they will now serve you an incredible three course lunch in one hour (and they will time it with an hour glass). And the menu is quite spectacular, featuring salads prepared with local Florida produce, fresh meat or fish and a tantalizing dessert.

Atrio at the Conrad's Taste of Time Business Lunch Menu

I recently had a Taste of Time at the Conrad and the only problem was... I didn't want to leave after the hour was up. Sure I had already finished my meal, (and even indulged in a glass of champagne) and had been given spectacular service, but the ambiance was perfect, and the company just right. Let's face it, would you want to go back to the grind?

Avocado and Citrus Salad

Since summer is around the corner, I decided to start with their Avocado and Citrus Salad, drizzled with Ginger Lemongrass dressing. It was light, refreshing and a perfect starter to my meal.  While I could choose between either the Crispy Pork Belly or the Grilled Red Snapper Filet, I was feeling a little nostalgic for the ocean, so I went with the fish. It was delicious, served with a Sweet Plantain Mofongo and bathed with a carrot, cucumber and pear salsa. Now keep in mind, the menu changes periodically, so you can come back more than once, and have a variety of new options to choose from.

Grilled Red Snapper Filet
So far so great. It was time for dessert. And this came in the form of a Mango Panna Cotta Tartlet that was absolutely divine - not only for the taste buds, but for the eyes as well. It was served with the most luscious Coconut Pearls imaginable. I was in heaven - not to mention I would love a new pearl necklace to wear around my neck. But back to food....

Mango Panna Cotta Tartlet

Besides the amazing cuisine, stellar service, elegant ambiance, and perfectly timed meal, there is one more very important perk you get with the Taste of Time lunch menu at the Conrad Miami - one you just don't find in Brickell:  Complimentary Valet Parking. Yes, you read correctly. That means you don't have to worry about circling for hours in search of a parking space, or dishing out even more dough to park your car.  You get a lunch fit for a king (or a queen) for just $23 plus tax and gratuity. 

If you want more information on Atrio Restaurant and Wine Room at the Conrad Miami or their Taste of Time menu, you can visit them online here or call them at 305-503-6500.


Friday, April 24, 2015

The Gang Miami

What do you get when you put together a hip, Romanian husband and wife duet and an Asian fusion restaurant that serves Japanese, Thai and Indian fare? You get The Gang Miami, located at 3500 North Miami Avenue in Wnywood. A sort of new kid on the block, the trendy, urbanesque spot sports a unique decor, personally designed by its co-owner, Niculae Bogdan. Having owned other popular eateries in his native Romania,  Bogdan is steadfast in his belief that a visit to The Gang Miami is all about keeping things real. His motto is simple: We want to make this a neighborhood spot people come to, to gather and relax.



With a minimalist approach, and a keen attention to artsy detail, the restaurant is inviting and relaxed.
You will find a variety of pictures and papers taped to the walls,  along with a bike that seems to float in midair. A series of washing machines frame the bar and kitchen area, while a subliminal sign overhead speaks of how we all need to remain grounded because that's what life is about. .



The Asian fusion menu the couple offer stems from their extensive travels through the area and their passion for that part of the world. They believe in following a simple lifestyle that includes good friends, good food and a healthy lifestyle, and that's what they say they want their patrons to experience time and time again. I went with a good friend of mine to check out The Gang Miami and we sampled several of their dishes. We had a nice time, chilled a bit and enjoyed an eclectic mix of flavors that left us feeling good.


Chilled Green Papaya Salad

Shrimp Dumplings Soup
Arugula Edamame Tuna Salad
We started by sharing their Shrimp Dumplings Soup with Spinach, Scallion and Fried Garlic. After that energy boost, we sampled their Arugula Edamame Tuna Salad with a tangy miso-ginger dressing and the Chilled Green Papaya Salad prepared with cherry tomatoes, green beans, papaya and a peanut sauce.


Mamaliga with Foie Gras

Next up, we had the Mamaliga With Foie Gras. What's that, you ask? Yeah I was asking the same thing. And I will tell you it was awesome! Mamaliga is a porridge made out of yellow maize flour, sort of like the Romanian version of polenta. Delicious! This one came inside a mason jar, and was creatively topped with some foie gras.


Vietnamese Pork Rolls

Chicken Satay
Boo Shrimp Tempura
After licking our lips for a bit to enjoy every last bite of that Mamaliga, we tried the Vietnamese Pork Rolls, filled with lettuce, mint and pork and served with a tangy sauce, followed by their Boo Shrimp Tempura and their Chicken Satay. I loved the sesame crust on the shrimp and just had to keep on dipping into that intense peanut sauce.


Thai Donuts

While I really wanted to try some of The Gang Miami's main dishes, I just didn't have any room. I will definitely have to come back for that because they sound very interesting. But, I did have to satisfy my sweet tooth, so we shared what appeared to be half cocktail, half dessert. It was their version of thai donuts, with a tantalizing blend of strawberries and honey.

For more information on The Gang Miami, you can call them at 305-570-9430 or visit their website at http://www.thegangmiami.com.


The Gang Miami on Urbanspoon