Friday, November 27, 2015

GK Bistronomie

You know I have a weakness for Peruvian food and it just keeps growing. So, I have got to tell you about a new chic spot that opened in the heart of the Wynwood area, serving a fusion of Peruvian cuisine that will knock your socks off.  It is called GK Bistronomie, and not only does the food taste fantastic but the presentation is out of this world. Located at 218 NW 25 Street, this is a must-do spot for anyone that appreciates both the Inca culture, and creativity at its finest.

Executive Chef Rafael Perez is an artist by my foodie design, and we were floored by the plating of the dishes, the Pisco cocktails, and the outstanding service from the moment we sat down until our very last bite.  For example, I started the evening with a Passionfruit Sour, a sultry concoction made with Pisco, passionfruit and eggwhites. It was outstanding; sweet but with that signature Umph piscos are known for. Then as we were sipping away, I looked at the menu and suddenly realized it would be tough to choose. There are so many choices that sound appetizing, I just didn't know where to begin. My dining companion suggested we try their Parmesan Tiradito consisting of thinly sliced pieces of raw grouper, parmigiano reggiano,  lime and chives in a rocoto cream. I wasn't sure whether to go in that direction since I was trying to imagine what raw grouper would taste like with cheese. We went for it and I just have three words for you: Off-the-charts. It was delicious. Each bite was better than the last, and we were fighting for the final piece.

Passionfruit Sour

Parmesan Triadic

Next we ordered the Cherrywood Smoked Shrimp from the Ceviches portion of the menu. It was a creative version of a ceviche, prepared with Key West pink shrimp, heirloom tomatoes, orange, lime cilantro, green plantains and popcorn. You can imagine the combination of flavors and textures in that smoky dish. Colorful and mesmerizing, it was a definite winning choice for us. I have to say the same for the Crab and Avocado Appetizer. With Art Basel around the corner, this looked more like a piece of art than a dish - but make no mistake about it - the taste was completely on point. A stack of jumbo lump crab meat was layered between pieces of avocado, then drizzled with aji panca, and served with cylinders of yellow peruvian potatoes and paddlefish caviar.  Our friendly servers suggested we also try one of their most popular dishes, and who are we to say no? So we went and ahead and ordered their Foie Gras Empanadas, crispy pockets of Hudson Valley foie gras, topped with anise seeds and served with campari onion marmalade.

Cherrywood Smoked Shrimp

Crab and Avocado Appetizer

Foie Gras Empanadas

An on to the entrees…. We selected the Snapper and the Duck. The Snapper was exquisite, an eye-catching combination of vegetable escabeche, spanish chorizo, vidalia onions and fresh fish over a thick parsley broth. The pan seared duck breast was tender and flavorful, served crowned with onions, and cilantro, over aji amarillo and arborio rice. There was a magnificent surprise for the taste buds in every scrumptious mouthful.

Yellowtail Snapper


We were feeling quite satisfied after the stupendous meal but as usual, left some space for dessert. Once I saw it on the menu, I knew I had to have the Nutella Mousse. Creamy, inventive and just a tad bit naughty, the decadent finale was divine with its rich chocolate, and addicting merengue. I would've taken a dozen of these home for later if I could.

Nutella Mousse

If you haven't been to GK Bistronomie yet, then you must go at once.  With Art Basel almost here, it is the perfect opportunity to please the eyes and the palate all at once. For more information, visit their website or call them at 786-477-5151.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


The South of Fifth Neighborhood in Miami Beach is quickly becoming a great dining destination. One of its most recent additions is Tiramesu, the iconic restaurant you're probably familiar with from its days on Lincoln Road. After a year long hiatus, you can now find the familiar Italian spot at its new location at 101 Washington Avenue. The space is cozy yet trendy, with a welcoming vibe.

I recently stopped in to check out their new menu, along with a few of their signature favorites. In addition to the new inventive dishes, they have added an expanded bar menu featuring traditional cocktails with an "Italian twist". Pretty impressive, I might add. For example, their Caribbean Lust, featuring Pyrat Rum, passion fruit and jalapeƱo is insane, as is their Passion Beets, with pineapple infused effen vodka and beets.

Refreshing cocktails with an Italian Twist

We decided to start the tasting with their Tartare di Capriolo, a flavorful venison tartar with raspberries and mango. The appetizer sounded so interesting, and I hadn't had venison in quite some time. It was outstanding. The sweet and salty ingredients complemented one another and each bite concluded in an explosion of flavors. We also ordered the fresh Burrata, which sat atop a mountain of pappa al pomodoro that was the perfect ode to Italian culture. The original preparation of the dish made it one to be remembered for a long time.

Tartare di Capriolo


For entrees, we tried the Mediterranean Sea Bass and the Rigatoni. The sea bass was divine, perfectly cooked with a mild yet enticing taste and a buttery finish. It practically melted in our mouths. It was definitely one of the evening's favorites. We also enjoyed the Rigatoni, prepared with eggplant, pine nuts and dry ricotta cheese. The pasta had a pleasant texture that complemented our fish.

Mediterranean Sea Bass


To end our delightful meal, we ordered a Cheese Course and a classic Tiramisu (would we have really been there if we didn't indulge in their namesake dessert?) They have several cheeses to select from on their menu, and we went for a combination recommended by our server. It was a pleasing mix of semi soft and hard formaggi that provided a nice transition into the decadent, sweet finale. The Tiramisu was excellent and we didn't stop until we did some magic, and made the espresso and mascarpone soaked ladyfingers disappear.

Cheese Course


For more information on Tiramesu, visit their website at or call them at 305-532-4538.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Second Annual "Flying with the Stars" Event Benefitting the Miami Children's Health Foundation Hosted Celebrated Chefs From Milan, Italy

The second annual "Flying with the Stars" Event benefitting the Miami Children's Health Foundation, was held on November 11th and 12th, and hosted celebrated chefs from Milan, Italy. Orchestrated by Salumeria 104, Midtown Oyster Bar and MB America, the lavish events were held at the former Al Capone mansion on Palm Island in Miami Beach. The tickets for the events were priced at $250 per person.

Sponsored by American Airlines, each night's wine-paired six-course menu was curated by Milan-based and "Michelin star-caliber" Italian chefs Luigi Taglienti, Alberto Burrito and Claudio Francesco Ceriotti, in collaboration with Chef Angelo Masarin of Salumeria 104 and Midtown Oyster Bar. Guests were welcomed at the private beach of the historic waterfront Al Capone villa, recently restored by MB America, with oysters and champagnes one evening, and inventive amuse-bouches the following night. In addition to the once-in-a-lifetime dinner, a silent auction was held each evening, and guests had the opportunity to bid on items such as a Jeroboam bottle of Champagne Lanson, magnum bottles of wine, hotel stays, and specially curated H&H jewelry pieces to match the sea and land themes of each night. All proceeds from the silent auctions benefitted the Miami Children's Health Foundation,  an organization established to support the creation of a world-class pediatric hospital so no child needs to leave South Florida for superior medical care.

"At MB America, we are committed to making a difference to the communities in which we operate," said Marco Bruzzi, co-founder and CEO of MB America. "We were delighted to co-organize and contribute to this noble initiative with one of our properties: the Al Capone mansion, and with the participation of Michelin-starred Chef Taglienti, who recently joined our team. In doing so, we will hopefully raise awareness and money for the Miami Children's Health Foundation and its worthwhile cause."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fornaro Miami

We all have a story about how politics hit home for us. Mine happened a few weeks ago when I was heading out to check out a relatively new Italian place in Coconut Grove called Fornaro, located at 2750 SW 26 Avenue.

We were running a bit late (don't judge me, it was 5:00 traffic) and just as we got to US1, everything stopped. I noticed a police car blocking the entrance to the street and decided to just drive up to the next entrance. Another police car welcomed us, and now my stomach was beginning to complain. Was there  an accident or was there something important going on that was impeding me from making it to my carb-filled reservations? After waiting around for a few minutes, then getting off my car to talk to the cop, I got my answer. Vice President Joe Biden was in town and was going to be driving down US1 in an unknown number of minutes, and everything was closed. What? Hold off the Secret Service and the motorcade, I'm hungry, and there is pasta calling out to me just across the street. Needless to say, the cop didn't move, we had to wait it out, and eventually, I got to snap a picture of a waving hand inside a black sedan, who I assumed was Biden. Thanks….

At any rate, we made it to Fornaro just in time to relax and sip on a glass of red wine while we perused the menu. Fornaro is a laid-back, casual restaurant, offering brick oven pizzas and authentic Italian dishes with a modern twist. The menu has a nice variety of Italian favorites including salads, sausage bread (their house specialty) and Polpettone (which I just had to have).

Burrata Salad

We began our adventure with their Burrata Salad, consisting of fresh burrata and tomatoes over a tangy, homemade sauce.  It was refreshing and light.  The entrees, we chose were the Risotto Funghi With Rack of Lamb and their signature Polpettone.  The mushroom risotto was delicious, served with truffle oil and a flavorful pistachio-crusted rack of lamb. We enjoyed every bite. 

Funghi Risotto with Rack of Lamb

The Polpettone definitely lived up to its hoopla. Simply presented, the Italian meatloaf was prepared using their special recipe of ground filet mignon, mozzarella cheese, fresh tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. It was a total taste sensation definitely worth ordering again.


We ended the experience with one of my favorite desserts: the Tiramisu. I was completely enamored with the Espresso and Frangelico soaked lady fingers and the decadent whipped mascarpone cream. Most definitely a very nice ending to a relaxing evening that began with a little bit of politics.


If you're looking for an unpretentious spot for a quiet dinner, away from the hustling and bustling dining scene, check out Fornaro. For more information, visit their website here or call them at 305-668-8888.

Fornaro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Boathouse at Disney Springs Takes Dining To A New Level

Every once in a while, I come across a place that totally blows my mind. You know what I'm talking about. The kind of place you are so impressed by that you just want to keep going back to over and over again. Sort of like that new guy you meet that you just can't stop thinking about. This is what happened to me when I recently visited The Boathouse, located at the newly named Disney Springs, in Orlando, Florida (formerly known as Downtown Disney).

The Boathouse is owned by genius restaurateur Steven Schussler, CEO of Schussler Creative and the master mind and creator of the popular Rainforest Cafe, T-Rex and Yak & Yeti. Schussler is a charismatic King Midas of sorts, who has a definite vision and a knack for making things happen. We had the opportunity of having dinner with Schussler on our recent trip to Orlando, and after an evening of amazing food, unique entertainment and enlightening conversation, we walked out of there impressed and very excited about reading his National #1 Bestseller book It's A Jungle In There.

With the amazing Steven Schussler

A look from the water

A visit to The Boathouse will be nothing like you've ever experienced. For starters, three fourths of the restaurant is built on the water. It has spectacular views of the sunset from just about every angle, and the nautical-theme brings a relaxing, don't-bother-me-I'm chilling kind of ambiance to the place. You know everything in Disney has a story, and The Boathouse is no exception. With six distinct rooms telling a different tale, there is a dining spot for just about every mood, and they have taken great care and detail to replicate each setting with impressive authenticity. For example, starting from the entrance and to the left, you walk into the place the "harbor guy" would've brought the boats in through, similar to a garage. Its look brings you back to that time and place, complete with tracks and a high ceiling.

Then there's the area to the right where the boats would've been fixed, the place you'd find all the knick-knacks. The dining room there is casual and more relaxed in its decor. From there, you walk into what some would characterize to be reminiscent of Martha's Vineyard, and a more fine dining experience with furniture to match. Move a bit to the back, and you enter the section that would have been the private dining room of the family that lived in the harbor house. The designers and construction team went to such great detail to make it look genuine, that you can visualize just how the family would have lived merely from the location of the hallways and the coziness of the chimney. 

After you come down from the visual high of the decor, you hear about the vintage dream boats on the property and of the rare Amphicars. What are Amphicars many would ask? Well, I found out in the best way possible they are amphibious automobiles that were in existence during the 1960's, and are still prized today as novelty, collectible automobiles. Mr. Schussler happens to own eight of them and a trip to The Boathouse can include a fun, romantic ride on the lake in one of these babies. We had an incredible time on our ride, and it felt a bit like time-travel to actually be sitting in a car while in the water.

Aye aye captain

Hold on to your duckies, we're going in...

Yes we're in the water and yes, we're in a car

View from the Amphicar Ride

Now that we talked about the fun, I want to get to the best part: the cuisine.  You're probably wondering, the place looks great, the amphicars are cool, but how is the food? It is unbelievable. Sometimes themed places that offer this level of entertainment lack a bit in the dining department, but Schussler cuts no corners, and his precise attention to detail ensures both the food and the service are exemplary. We kicked off our dinner by sampling their Raw Seafood Platter. Imagine a generous serving of lobster, succulent shrimp and oysters to awaken the palate. Everything was fresh and of outstanding quality. We followed that starter by trying their Yellowfin Tuna Poke. You know me and my relationship with the chicken-of-the-sea so I was in temporary ecstasy while I indulged in this perfectly crafted appetizer. We immediately noticed it wasn't just the taste of the dishes that were amazing, but the careful presentation that made you want to admire each plate before indulging. The final "Launch" we had was their very famous Blue Star Angus Carpaccio. Served with arugula, olive oil, shaved grano padano cheese, and capers, this was the creme-de-la-creme of carpaccios. I didn't know how much more food I could consume, but I couldn't stop. It was that good.

Raw Bar Platter with  Oysters, Lobster and Shrimp

Yellowfin Tuna Poke

Blue Star Angus Carpaccio

Next came the entrees, and we sampled a few. For example, The Boat House serves certified Gibsons USDA Blue Star Heritage Angus and one bite into this delicacy will make you fall in love. The Steak was juicy and tender, simple in its preparation, but impressive in its quality and taste. It practically melted in my mouth.  The Cedar Planked Salmon, one of my favorite preparations for the fish, was outstanding as well; its smoky taste enhanced by the frisee roasted wild mushrooms, petite green beans and grape tomatoes by its side. 

Gibsons USDA Blue Star Heritage Angus 

Cedar Planked Salmon

We also tried their New England Lobster Roll, because let's face it. We're in The Boathouse. How could we not? The roll was generously filled with fresh whole maine lobster, teasingly falling out from the toasted split bun, in a sweet dream of deliciousness. And last but not least, we loved their Shrimp & Andouille Mac N Cheese, a memorable party of cheesy pasta mixed with flavorful andouille sausage and tender shrimp. Yes, I was very full at this point but that's what walking around Disney Springs after a spectacular meal is for.

New England Lobster Roll

Shrimp & Andouille Mac N Cheese

Before I go on to dessert, I want to mention a side dish we sampled that rocked our world. I could tell the chef took as much time and dedication in preparing it, as she did for the other courses of the meal. It was the Roasted Sweet Corn and it was unbelievably creamy and scrumptious. I can't think of another time I've had corn that tastes as good.

Cut From The Cob Roasted Sweet Corn

And now for the grand finale.  I felt like Belle in Beauty and the Beast as the parade of desserts were laid in front of us. But unlike her, who sang throughout her meal, I dipped my spoon into each one and put their "service to the test". Wow…talk about impressive.  From gigantic, family-sized desserts, to regular portioned ones, there is an endless variety to choose from. We had the Key Lime Pie in a Mason Jar and the Whiskey Caramel Cornbread Cake. They also brought out their S'mores Baked Alaska (which makes you want to dive right in face-first) and their Florida Sunshine Cake, a decadent yellow cake with orange flavored cream cheese icing and toasted almonds. Both of these are prepared for four people (or one hungry foodaholic) You definitely have to leave room for dessert on a visit to The Boathouse because the surprises just keep on coming.

Whiskey Caramel Cornbread Cake

Florida Sunshine Cake

Whiskey Caramel Cornbread Cake

Gibsons S'mores Baked Alaska

If you're planning a trip to Orlando any time soon or if you live in the area. a meal (or several) at The Boathouse is a must. You'll walk out happy, impressed and planning your return visit. It's an amazing experience only Steven Schussler and his dedicated team can provide.  For more information on The Boathouse, visit their website here.

Boathouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato