Friday, November 6, 2015

Out of the Kitchen: Miami

{ Crab dip from The Federal }
After a bit of back and forth, I have finally booked a ticket to head back home for Christmas and I am so incredibly excited for it. I'm really looking forward to seeing my family (pets included) and getting closure for the past couple of challenging months. This trip is strategically planned so that I can still get a bit of cold, Parisian holiday cheer before presents (ahem, gift cards) under tall palm trees. I know it's still November but I'm already playing Ellington's Tchaikovsky all day in preparation for my favorite holiday. 

I'm ecstatic to see some friends and in a not-so-surprising turn of events, dying to get some of my mom's cuban food. Naturally, I've already started brainstorming on everything I need to bring back and all the places I need to visit again- by places I mean restaurants, and the New World Symphony for their holiday concert. 

I've been particularly thinking about my friend Ellen, who is one of my soul sisters, my very own feminist icon, and my foody partner in crime. When we met back in 2012, we became friends instantly and were later roommates in Paris. A lot of our memories have been constructed around tables, bars, and french bakeries; I still remember the escargot pistache we shared for breakfast on rue Montorgueil years ago. There are not many people with whom you can share a plate of bone marrow on toast, and when you find someone you just have to hold on to them. Going back to one of our favorite places, The Federal, is right on top of my list, which got me thinking about other places I really enjoy in Miami.

For the memories

The Federal

This is hands down my favorite place in Miami. The Federal is a tapas-style restaurant that serves amazing quality American food: crunchy pork, biscuits, deviled eggs, but in a way you didn't even think these could be made. 

Show up to a packed dining space, go over to the bar and have the amazing girl behind it give you an impromptu beer tasting of nutty, dark brown beers, get a couple of Abita Turbodogs and start your conversation with "Ok so I met this guy, like total loser, let me tell you..." move over to a table outside, get the charred octopus and the pig wings. You're welcome. 

Michael's Genuine

In the very, very chic Design District, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink could have the shared-tapas experience. They're famous for their oyster bar, decor, and their Chocolate Peanut candy bar dessert was featured in The Best Thing I Ever Ate. We had it, it was decadent and incredible. The roasted pork pizza is a must (with a martini). 

The Broken Shaker

The Broken Shaker is a little hidden spot on Indian Creek, inside the Freehand Hostel. It attracts a very Miami crowd of cool kids around the pool, but it is one of the most gorgeous venues I've been to in Miami. The first time I went to the Broken Shaker, I had an old fashioned with rosemary to dream about for days. They put parmesan cheese on their fries and have a burger so incredible, it's featured on the banner of this blog. 

For the late night drinks

         Lagniappe                   &                      Gramps               

Lagniappe is a bit of wine bar which also has the most holy of elements: live jazz music from cool local musicians. You can buy a glass of wine or select from their many bottles, ask for advice (because let's face it: you know nothing about wine). They have a charming patio where you can order planches of cheese or meat, or both. 

Gramps is to me a Wynwood staple and another place where I usually take friends who are visiting. Get a pint of Brooklyn Brew and pray for the Mscheezious truck (Grilled Blue & Bacon is my choice) to appear.

For the Cuban homemade food away from home

El Palacio de los Jugos

El Palacio de los Jugos is as much of a Cuban staple in Miami as La Carreta or any of those restaurants where you go for lunch with your aunts and cousins after a family member's communion. Except that it's fast and you have all the food ready before your eyes. Get whatever you want, anything at all, it'll be delicious. My guilty pleasure is getting a little bag of tostones and some fresh juice on the way home. Road-rage optional. 

For the sweets

Le Boudoir

Apparently, Le Boudoir in Coral Gables has closed. I never went for the food but taking a stroll around Miracle Mile was my go-to remedy for any down day. A couple of years ago, if you went around Miami asking for macarons, people pointed to coconut macaroons and didn't understand your disappointment. Le boudoir was the only bakery that had real macarons and I loved popping by to get a couple. Together with my friend Paola, we tested out several recipes, burned several batches, and blanched almonds like it was nobody's business, eventually leading us to the perfect recipe. Months later, dozens of macaron shops openned in Miami. I still think mine are the best, but if you never get a chance to taste them (I never give out my real recipe), it will be easy to find your favorite macaron spot. 

{All images belong to the restaurant's webpage. With the exception of: 1, 2, 3, 4}