New restaurant review, an exciting offer with a contest!
Hello Chickens! I'm back from a brief holiday southerly and I am inspired to do something I have not done in a while....review a restaurant.
I'll start with full disclosure, I was predisposed to like Michy's. Chef Michelle Bernstein has intrigued me ever since I first saw her judging onTop Chef. She never seems to be there for the publicity but really for the food, Tony Bourdain loves her (and we know how I feel about Tony) and she isn't shy about her opinions, demanding the best from the cheftestants. (Hmmm...strong, intelligent, curly-haired Jewish girl who happens to be a chef, wonder why I felt kinship?) And when I watched her kick the almost unbeatable Bobby Flay's butt on Iron Chef? Team Michelle all the way.
I recently had a girlfriend ask me which five women cooks/chefs I would want to have over for a potluck girls night. Julia, 'natch, because she was unapologetic about eating with gusto for pleasure, and always wanted her guests happy. Nigella, because she could call her toothpaste "unctuous" and I would probably want to eat it. MFK Fisher, who made me first want to write about food and who still inspires me to eat thoughtfully. Stephanie Izard, who I've met a couple of times and is sweet and sassy and hilarious, not to mention badass and fearless in the kitchen, and who I would desperately hope would bring her smoked goat pizza. And Michelle, because she and I share a cooking philosophy of taking the ultimate comfort food and elevating it without making it pretentious or fussy. I realized I had only ever actually eaten anything cooked directly by one of these ladies, but I also realized that if you spend enough time cooking and eating and reading, you can tell by the cut of someone's recipes how good they are in the kitchen.
Plus I think the six of us would have a hell of a good time, bolstered by some excellent quaffs rom Charming Suitor's cellar, despite two of us being all, you know, dead.
So when my Mom and Dad returned from a recent trip to Miami with a copy of Michelle's cookbook Cuisine A Latina, inscribed to me and Charming Suitor in honor of our engagement, nothing could have been more exciting.
Until they described the meal.
My parents have had the great good fortune of eating in incredible restaurants all over the world. We live in CHICAGO, for the love of deliciousness. So when they can't stop talking about a meal, they mean bizness.
You'd have thought her White Gazpacho bought my dad a car, that is how much he loved it. My mom couldn't even find adjectives to describe how much they enjoyed the meal. But she could find an adjective to describe the chef, whom they had the pleasure to meet.
"Darling. Just darling."
So when my sister and I knew we were headed to Miami to visit my grandmother for a few days, we knew we wanted to go there for a special night out. My grandmother, based on the descriptions from my parents, couldn't wait, so before we got there, she took my aunt and uncle there for dinner and they too had a very extraordinary meal.
Michy's is on a very nondescript stretch of Biscayne Boulevard, the last place you'd expect to find a restaurant of this caliber. The room is warm and welcoming, small but not close, and evokes both funky Floridian and a contemporary Latino flair. When we arrived, Michelle was there, and was just as my parents had described, genuine, generous, wide honest smile, and a lively spirit. It is always so gratifying for me when someone I have liked and respected from afar (and secretly thought I could be pals with) turns out to exceed who you would want them to be. In fact, it has only really happened three times before... Carol Burnett, Arthur Miller, and Nigella. And has often been the opposite. (not dishing on those, but sad and disappointing to lose admiration for an idol or icon) My grandmother took the opportunity to tell the chef that she would rather cook for herself six nights a week just so she could go to Michy's on the seventh night. Michelle was very gracious, heading out the door to check in on her other restaurant, but hugged my grandmother like family. And frankly, I'm bound and determined to figure out that we are fourth cousins or something.
Personal gushing aside, you know that at the end of the day I can love you as a person and still not want to eat what you serve me, and you also know that I take the recommendations I make here very seriously, since I know I have to steer you right to keep you reading.
Everything on the menu can be ordered in half or full portions, so that you can sample and share and create a tasting menu if you want. We ordered the White Gazpacho that had so entranced my dad, the beet salad, the fettucine carbonara, seared halibut, whole yellowtail snapper, and short ribs. The gazpacho is quite simply one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. EVER. Full stop. Creamy, clean, fresh, tart, with the buttery crunch of Marcona almonds, I am going to make it tonight for Charming Suitor, who very well may propose to me all over again, that is how good it is! (The only thing lacking about the meal was not having him with me to share the experience,and I don't care if that makes me all schmoopy, I really missed him.)
The beet salad was perfectly balanced, the carbonara with crispy proscuitto was rich without being cloying or mouth-coating. The halibut was extraordinary, great crunchy sear giving way to moist delicate flaky fish, on top of a salsify (way underutilzed veg, and one of my faves) and wild mushroom ragout with a bright parsley sauce. Hints of curry warmed the snapper, and the short ribs were like a hug, gorgeous meat candy topped with caramelized root veggies, sitting on top of a parsnip potato puree that frankly I wanted to stick my face in and blow bubbles. You'd not be shocked to know that we managed to find room for the Deep Fried Apple Pie, sanded with sugar, swimming in caramel sauce, and topped with toffee chip ice cream.
My grandmother made a reservation for next week as we were leaving.
If you are going to be in Miami, don't miss it, you can snag reservations on Open Table And while you are there, check out Michelle's other place, Sra. Martinez, which is the first place I'm going next time I'm in Miami. Or maybe second, after I hit Michy's again.
This particular experience reminded me that as much as I love cooking and developing new recipes for you, sometimes we don't want to cook, and often we find ourselves visiting new cities and wanting to know where to have the best time. So I thought I would ask you all to share your fave places to eat out, either in your hometown or on vaca, and to encourage you with a contest!
and the heat lamp for your buffet table that actually keeps your food hot without drying it out?
Well guess what? I've got one of each to give away to you!
That's right, Chickens, the Bon Home folks agreed to help me tempt you, so post your best mini restaurant review in the comments by 11:59 PM on Sunday Feb. 13, and I will let the random number generator pick two of you to win these fab prizes, and tell you on Monday, a little Valentine from me and Bon Home!
Even better, for the rest of you, Bon Home is currently running a special where you can get a free Electric Wine opener (a $40 value) if you order either the dishrack or the heatlamp before Feb. 20. Click Here to check it out.
Share with the class, where will we find the meals that we won't be able to stop talking about?