Good Food

Best burger in Miami…so far!

August 24, 2013
Umami Burger:  The best burgers and drinks in Miami Beach!

I love a really great burger from time to time, and the greater Miami area has some great gourmet burger joints. Some favorites are Charm City Burger, Burger Fi, Shake Shack, and Quickie’s. I also like Elevation Burger because it’s got organic beef and it’s right by my house for a quick fix. But the best burger I’ve had in Miami so far has been from the new branch of the LA chain Umami burger. I’ve only been there once so far, but the Original Umami burger blew me away and I’ll be going back soon to try some other burgers. Good drinks selection, great service and really awesome truffle fries added to the experience…but the outstanding burger is what sealed the deal.

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Delicatus: cool plates and wine in hipster Seattle deli

August 22, 2013
Delicatus:  great food and wine in hipster Seattle deli

Seattle was perfect the summer week I was there. The kind of summer weather you dream of, friendly people and very good food and wine. For food and wine, it was maybe a little less exciting than I thought it would be, some exciting ventures seem to have a hard time taking root. But there are some happy exceptions…one of them is Delicatus. Delicatus calls itself a deli, but it feels like a hip wine bar where you can also buy gourmet products. The website has some lovely words about the concept, products and special events. They even make their own wine! More on that after the break.

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Madrid’s Best Restaurants: Street XO

August 8, 2013
StreetXO:  one of Madrid's best restaurants

You have to eat standing up and you are on the top floor of a department store, but despite that StreetXO is one of the most exciting places to eat in Madrid at the moment. This is the casual street food outpost of the most sought after reservations in Madrid, Diverxo. Chef David Muñoz is now presenting his Asian fusion cuisine at this open kitchen joint where the music is loud, the atmosphere slightly chaotic, and young dynamic chefs prepare each dish fresh to order. Really unique flavor combinations and beautiful presentations made for exciting, adventurous eating. I loved all the dishes I tried and wished I could fit more! The location is actually great…in the awesome Gourmet Experience Gran Via on the top floor of the El Corte Ingles Callao. Stay for a drink afterwards and watch the sun set over the rooftops of Madrid!

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Best Tapas with a View in Madrid

August 6, 2013
StreetXO:  one of Madrid's best restaurants

El Corte Ingles, the famous Spanish department store, launched the Gourmet Experience several years ago and it’s a great concept. It’s a luxury food court concept, with eat-in and take-away gourmet food and drink stands, eating areas, bars, and gourmet market….all rolled into one. Each new inauguration has stepped up the concept and the latest one is by far the best: the Gran Via Gourmet Experience on the top floor of the Corte Ingles Callao. Located right at the heart of Madrid and convenient for both tourist and locals alike, the space offers spectacular views of the Madrid skyline. It’s also initiated extended hours and is open until midnight seven days a week! There is a wonderful terrace, great tapas bars and restaurants…it’s the perfect place for a full meal, or just drinks and dessert. Lots more detail after the break…

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Madrid’s Best Bars: The Dry

July 25, 2013
Best bar in Madrid:  The Dry

Besides friends, wine, and food, one of my greatest pleasures of going back to Madrid is the gin culture. Spain remains obsessed with gin and despite persistent rumors, the gin and tonic wave is still going strong. The Spanish really know how to do justice to a gin tonic, with a huge selection of premium gins and tonics, carefully selected garnishes and proper preparation. Though we have great gin cocktails in many parts here in the US in what I am happy to see is a growing trend, I’ve been generally disappointed with the gin tonics. There are many places to get a great gin tonic in Madrid, some pretentious and overpriced, others cozy neighborhood bars, but the place to go for great cocktails, perfect service, and to feel really special is the Dry Bar in the Hotel Melia Fenix.

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Simple Spanish Food: The Perfect Salad

June 16, 2013
Simple Spanish Food:  The Perfect Salad

When I get back from Spain I’m a bit overwhelmed by all the wonderful food and wine experiences. It’s hard for me to get down to writing about it, so I’m going to start today with some simple and perfect Spanish food: the composed salad. It’s anything lovely arranged on a plate and dressed most simply with top notch olive oil, vinegar and sea salt. These plates were mainstays on my Spanish family’s table…a favorite was tomato, cebolleta (baby onions), perfect oil-packed tuna or bonito. I used to have to avoid my American tendency to over-complicate and heap on ingredients…now I fully embrace the minimalism. My only concession to a US palate today is the use of fresh ground pepper and maybe a fancy salt. Look at this beauty I made the other day….just avocado, Kumato tomatoes and Vidalia onion dressed with Marques de Griñon olive oil, spectacular Romate aged sherry vinegar, and Soso chili sea salt. Perfect with a glass of rosado cava!

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Spain Represents: Xixón Cafe in Miami

May 12, 2013
Xixón Cafe Miami:  great Spanish wine and food

When I’m missing Spain, Xixón Cafe is one of those places that can that the edge off. It offers a comforting combination of good Spanish wine and food and a bustling, relaxed, mostly Spanish-speaking atmosphere that makes you feel right at home. Did I say good wine? I meant a spectacular selection of Spanish wines, not only by the bottle, but by the glass. They have self-serve Enomatic machines and cards, so you can even help yourself to tasting-size pours if you want. The menu is extensive and includes many traditional Spanish mainstays as well as some more adventurous interpretations. There is even a market section where you can buy some excellent gourmet Spanish products. Exciting first visit….lots more to try!

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The best of San Sebastián tapas and pintxos

March 25, 2013
The best tapas and pintxos in San Sebastian Spain

San Sebastián, blessed with unbelievable natural beauty, great architecture and fabulous food. Add to the this the lively Basque street culture and you are really going to want to go here! Not enough tourists to Spain head north or west to Basque country and they are missing out! There is so much to see and do but today I’m focusing on San Sebastián tapas, or pintxos as they are called here. This is the ultimate expression of tapas culture: hundreds of tapas bars concentrated in a small area, people spilling into the streets with their bites and drinks….a delight to behold! It can be overwhelming for the uninitiated however, so read on for how to best enjoy yourself….

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Fancy and fun Spanish tapas: La Moraga

March 20, 2013
La Moraga:  Contemporary Spanish Cuisine

One of Spain’s big food trends in the last five years has been down-scaling as top chefs open simple eateries, restaurants that are more accessible in vibe, cuisine and price point. Some have criticized the trend as an effort to underwrite the money pits that their gastronomy temples usually are, but I love it, because it has meant some super interesting, reasonably-priced food. Dani Garcia was a pioneer here with La Moraga, and unique, starting in the south, in Malaga and Marbella. An exciting and changing menu with slightly fancy but also fun and familiar tapas and plates to share. Really delicious food, very few misses and an inexpensive, short but very good wine list!

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Spain Represents: Dani Garcia’s Manzanilla in NYC

March 18, 2013
Dani Garcia opens Manzanilla in NYC for Spanish food with Andaluz influences

Very excited to here about Dani Garcia opening Manzanilla in NYC. I’ve really enjoyed his high-end tasting menu at Calima and his fun yet fancy tapas many times at La Moraga in Spain. Judging from the menu, Manazanilla seems more along La Moraga lines, with great casual Andalusian-inspired dishes. Love this great picture from Manzanilla’s Facebook page of the cool front entrance wall with inspiring foods and places from southern Spain….coquinas, espeto, chopitos….my favorite southern things! Can’t wait to try it!

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