Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Thursday Dining Roundup for December 20, 2007

Enrique Fernandez takes over the critic duties this week from Victoria Pesce Elliot. I hope it's for good. He reviews Rosa Mexicano and gives us some background on the origins of this Mexican chain. It looks like Rosa is doing for Brickell what it did for NYC over 20 years ago as yuppies cram the bar for tequila and margaritas. Figures we're always behind the times here.

Lee Klein unsuccessfully tries to review the upscale La Piagga and downscale S&S Diner in the same article. Lee, you're a food critic, not Studs Terkel.

Bill Citara finds Copas y Tapas in the Gables cheap. I find it overpriced and inferior to Xixon.

The Sunpost's Mark Goldberg rips Food Gang which is unfortunate given the potential.

And finally, the "I don't know why I still have a job. Oh yeah, it's because the Sun Sentinel's standards are so low" writer Deborah Hartz-Seeley describes her night out at Michael Mina's newly opened Bourbon Steak in Aventura. She describes how if you sit on the love seats which take the place of banquettes your feet won't touch the floor, and also wonders why dishes come in variations of three (she doesn't seem to realize nor research that one of Chef Mina's trademarks is trios of things), and lastly, she ponders how one cannot improve on foie gras as she describes the foie gras sliders, but apparently she'd rather just have raw foie gras. Somebody tell this woman she's in the wrong business.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A little bit of censorship on the Beach

The Miami Beach City Commission voted to prohibit plastic-wrapped food displays at restaurants along Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road not because of a health hazard, but because "City Hall had heard from many businesses and residents who wanted the food displays gone because they created a tacky image" according to City Manager Jorge Gonzalez. I can understand outlawing something because it is dangerous or if it causes a public nuisance, but because it's tacky? I'm all for good taste, but this is a little much, almost totalitarian in its quashing of culinary expression. I hope the tacky restaurants along Lincoln and Ocean fight this. And bring along plastic-covered samples to the trial.

Miami Herald article


Don't know if I ever quite liked Stuck on the Palmetto. The majority of the time the site was a cauldron that instigated negativity constantly. But it did serve a purpose and was a nerve center for bloggers in S. Fla. I have a feeling Rick and Alex will resurface somewhere. Stranded on the Turnpike? Backed up on the Dolphin?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Thursday Dining Roundup

Thursday is foodie day in the major and not so major publications in South Florida. I'll try to recap what's being reviewed, what's new, and what sucks.

Miami Herald
Victoria Pesce-Elliott gives a Dolores...Lolita a great review, which figures because she always seems to give good reviews to places that seem mediocre.

Linda Bladholm finds a French cafe/ice cream parlor run by a transplanted New Yorker and Dominican.

Miami New Times
Lee Klein makes us want to avoid South Miami's Alta Cocina. Too bad, I had high hopes for it.

Pamela Robin Brandt ventures to Lemon Fizz, a place I've passed many times but never thought to stop. Now my interest is peaked.

Miami Sunpost
Mark Goldberg is the last of the reviewers to try Ishq. I think he's like it more than most.

They're Ba-ack

Because leaves here don't change color and the air doesn't become crisp, Miamians need other things to remind them that the seasons are changing. Sure the humidity drops down to manageable levels and you find yourself opening your sunroof without baking your poor scalp, but very few things herald the coming of fall and winter. One of the few events that does is the annual opening of Knaus Berry Farm in Redlands.

For those of you from West Coast, Knaus is not to be confused with the one-time farm/current second-class amusement park Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park. Knaus Berry Farm is, indeed, a farm which operates from mid-November to around April or May. The farm is run by the Knaus family, devout Dunkers (a type of German Baptist) who summer in Pennsylvania and winter in Florida.

When you arrive at the farm you'll be greeted by a packed parking lot. After finding a spot and making your way to the freshly painted main building you'll be greeted with a line. Actually, multiple lines. In ascending order of wait time the lines are (1) to buy fresh produce, including strawberries, tomatoes, beets, greens, etc. all grown on-site or nearby as well as any homemade jams and jellies, (2) to buy fresh fruit milkshakes from the trailer installed next to the main building and lastly (3) to buy baked goods. Now the baked goods range from pies to cakes (both upside down and rightside up) to breads and rolls. Most people ignore those. It's as if they don't exist. I ignore them for the most part, but always end up with a dozen herb rolls. What the crowd is there for, what that long line is for, what you drove out to the middle of nowhere for, are the cinnamon rolls.

And justifiably so. I'm not sure how many cinnamon rolls Knaus sells on a typical Saturday. It has to hover in the mid-thousands at least. Almost every customer in line orders at least a six pack. The reason they are so popular is because they are the most melt-in-your-mouth sticky cinnamon rolls in South Florida. When you order a fresh dozen rolls they come in a box used for packing tomatoes which has been lined with parchment paper. They're then covered with another layer of parchment. You're also given a plastic bag and twist tie in case you want to store them away for the ride home. Don't do it. It'll steam the buns and take away the small, crunchy bits that make these buns so good. First off, eat one as soon as possible. You have to eat them as soon as possible. When you grab one you may flinch because the cinnamon-sugar on the buns is like a type of napalm which sticks to your fingers and burns. But the pain is quick and soon you're raising that roll to your mouth. You get the same quick little burn on your tongue on the first bite but by the second, the mass of bun dough has started to melt in your mouth, the sugar and cinnamon begin to swirl and then everything comes together simply and beautifully. Be mindful of your groans and expressions, you're in a public place.

So while the our neighbors to the North get beautiful fall foliage and our friends to the West get Santa Ana winds, our reminder of the changing seasons are purely edible. And the fact that we're reminded while still wearing shorts and a t-shirt is an added bonus.

Knaus Berry Farm is part of the Redland Riot Tour.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I've been wrangling to start this puppy for a while. No more excuses. Here we go. Get ready for some honest opinions about drinking and dining (and other things) in Miami and South Florida. For you residents, thanks for stopping by. For you visitors, hope this helps make your stay an enjoyable one.

P.S. For those of you oggling the picture in the titlebar, it's a plate of black beans and rice. It's like my mom's, soupy and oily, which is not how I like it, but I eat it anyway.