Friday, April 25, 2008

One Visit, One Month...

I guess with all the bloggers out there, the rush to review has become paramount in the prints, and the lack of return visits may be constrained by shrinking budgets. No one is being forced to try a restaurant during its first week or month, of course. Unlike a performance, it's probably going to be around for more than a limited run (of course there's always 'Cats'). But I'm not going to engage in that argument. Just like anyone who has the skills to read a book thinks they can now become a book 'reviewer'; and anyone who has the skills to walk through and around a building thinks they are now an 'architecture critic', well, you get the idea. The bar is low, my friends, and I'm just part of the crowd rushing to limbo under it.

Enrique Fernandez, in the Miami Herald, reviews a Cuban restaurant. Enrique, you'd better be careful-soon you're going to be typecast. As the, you know, Cuban guy.
Some highlights:
"Picadillo is rich enough in flavor to make one forget it is basically ground beef." And imagine that it is...Hamburger Helper?

"...a salad of watercress, avocado, cucumber and scallions is quite refreshing." Did you eat this or splash it on your face?

"All over the country, nay, all over the world..." Nay, ye doth spake?

"But this is a Cuban town." Havana is a Cuban town. Miami, especially the area of North Beach where the restaurant is located (often called 'Little Buenos Aires'), is filled with many immigrants, especially Argentinians, with about a dozen Argentinian, Uruguayan, Venezuelan, etc. eating establishments. Some of them might perhaps be offended at your description. Personally, I find it charming, like Lee Klein's warm embrace of sexism.

Lee Klein in the New Times lets loose on another Italian restaurant, Vita. Man, he really gives it to them for their ridiculous practice of handing the men menu's with prices, and the ladies menu's without prices. Oh no, wait, he swoons over it, like an older, somewhat senile uncle trying to figure out why they don't make the carbeurator cover for his '47 Packard. He also, rather oddly, really lays into women, noting the infrequency, nay, rarity, of those bitches ever picking up a check. Dude, when it comes to women, this poor guy is, as John Stewart would sing in a high voice, "Bit-ter".

"While most people would agree it would be wrong to return to this ritual (dual menus), we thought it kind of neat as a novelty." Like slavery? Neat? I'll bet Mrs. Klein had a headache after that meal. Probably lasted a week. Can't you just say that it's a stupid fucking practice that some sexist Med smoothies think they can get away with as 'charming', and then go on to review the food? Or must every Italian restaurant get nine fucking stars?

Of course the branzino is "flown from the Mediterranean"; that's right-they catch it at an undisclosed location at sea, and then it is flown directly to the US. As opposed to what? Sending it by trawler? Mailing it?

"You can tell how good the food is going to taste just by looking at it." I'm not sure why, but that sentence irks me. You fill in the sarcastic rejoinder.

But his wine paragraph kills me. "...with the now-standard three-time markup..." Three-time markup is NOT STANDARD. It is a rip-off. And Mr. Klein has become a major part of the reason for the shitty, overpriced wine lists at many restaurants here who think they can get away with ridiculously high markups, because high-profile critics like Klein will just slough it off as 'standard'. Well, fuck the consumer, Kleinie's too busy finding 'NO' fault with another perfect Italian joint (amazing that we have so many...).

By the way, where was all the discussion of organic and local ingredients that Lee-seph was demanding from restaurants in the not-too-distant past, sir? Gone like Earth Day, I guess. Especially when your faithful critic wants to smack his lips around another Italian restaurant's hind-gut.

Oh, and a tip-o'-the-hat to Jan Karetnick in 'Florida Travel & Life' magazine. "For a special night out, visit the popular Michael's Kitchen...Chef-owner Michael Blum, who says his place is the "cure for boring food", has a flair for showmanship that entertains children and parents simultaneously. (A candy apple martini and sesame and black bean glazed ribs keep us locals coming back.)" Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure no one, especially "us locals", ever went back...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hola OLA, Goodbye Dignity...

Sorry I've been away lately, but I've been busy gazing lovingly at 'red light' and Kris Wessel. Seriously, has every fucking blogger/foodie douche been to this place like ten times already and he hasn't even started serving a full menu? Jesus, who knew the food-writing scene could become even more pedestrian? And then you have the blogger photo of the 'Bacon and Eggs', but without the bacon (it's half the dish, for godsakes), because someone at the table doesn't eat bacon-then write about something else! Or the blogger who complains that everything there tastes like onions, but then admits he doesn't like onions? Maybe you shouldn't be writing publicly about food, zippy, if you don't like onions. Just write all about it in your letters to your mother. I'm sure she'd love to hear from you, anyway.

And that brings me to this week's installment of 'Lee Klein Sucks Celebrity Chef Ass', featuring Doug Rodriguez and OLA. I was wondering why Lee would choose to re-review this place, but then it seems that Rodriguez has been nominated for a James Beard Award. As Lee is already as far up Michele Bernstein's ass as he can get (she is also nominated), I guess he figures he'll take no chances and goes into overdrive Star-fucker mode, which includes gushing like a schoolgirl, of course. “So salmon suffused with yuzu and clementine juices, basil, chives, Thai chilies, and wasabi caviar could easily be mistaken for a plate of fucking diamonds god I love Doug Rodriguez!” (Actual line, “plate of salmon sashimi”.) And then, “Same goes for meaty slices of hamachi in a divine pool of pomelo-and-yellow tomato sauce, the whole thing refreshed with zesty lemon juice, jalapeño, and a small dazzling mirror on which to do the lines of Peruvian flake that are chopped up table side by the Chef himself!” (Cilantro.) Have some dignity, Lee-seph!
(More on the bathrooms (my favorite spot) at the Sanctuary, the hotel in which OLA is located, coming up soon on DailyCocaine).

Oh, and it's nice to see the New Times exhuming two-year-old reviews from Kleinie. Here's how they explain... “If you feel funny about plunking down big bucks for oxtail and plantains gussied up in the guise of Nuevo Latino, here are a couple of viejo Latino spots to consider.” I love this feature because you can see how badly Lee's writing has deteriorated over the years; and also because it reminds me of 'Culinary Cage Match' over at, where expensive dishes go head-to-head with similar but cheaper ones, comparing quality and price, with the winner usually the less expensive item. But I guess it's just another homage....

Over in the Herald, Enrique Fernandez reviews a Spanish restaurant. Oh, Enrique, is there nothing you can't do? At least he mentions one wine, which is exactly one more than Klein (which rhymes with No Wine) does. But Enrique, my darling abuelo, if the kitchen is out of the 'fried rabbit from Navarra' that you wanted to taste, may I suggest that perhaps you return, and eat it on another occasion? You know, like a professional restaurant reviewer? I know it's tough, but that rabbit won't review itself. So put back on the cardigan, and make the trek. Probably want to visit the place more than once for a real professional review anyway, right? Right?

And I never thought I'd be writing about Linda Blandholm, but I just want to set the record straight: In her review of Kafa Cafe, she states that, “They took over the Midtown space that Uva had vacated for the Upper East Side...” Well I happen to be intimately familiar with that building, and there were two businesses in it before Kafa. One was Cane e Sucre, on the left, and the other was Stop Miami Wine & Tapas Bar, on the right. As the owner of Stop, I can tell you that the three years we were there have not been forgotten by any of our customers, so I will assume simple ignorance on her part. Cane e Sucre was gone for months before we left, incidentally (it was never called Uva, either). Also, there is no such neighborhood as 'Midtown'. There is a condo development called Midtown Miami, and there is a strip mall called the Shops at Midtown. There is Wynwood, Edgewater, Downtown, and even Overtown. But no Midtown. That is just some long-ago-absconded real estate jerk-off's wet dream. Not that I'm bitter....

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

In the Wrong, In the Way, and Out of Touch...Plus Clink!

From the Miami New Times Letters:

“...I'm not completely surprised that Lee Klein would have been misinformed about a few typical Peruvian dishes he wrote about in his March 20 review of Adriana Restaurant, "Peruvian Chill." First of all, any Peruvian would laugh uncontrollably at his ingredient list for Huancaína sauce. There are variations from one cook to the next, but the sauce never contains mustard, olives, eggs, or flour. Second, lomo saltado does not contain green peppers, unless this was the restaurant's particular version (and it would have been wise for Mr. Klein to have mentioned that). Last, I know very few people of any ethnicity who would say chicha morada is an acquired taste, unless one considers something similar to fruit punch an acquired taste.
Carlos C. Olaechea

See it ain't just me....

Enrique Fernandez of the Miami Herald is a restaurant killer. Anyone who can work the word 'humoresque' into a restaurant review is dangerous. I have $100 that says Two Chefs Too is gone before next Easter. His review is just too good. And by the way, “they have a fairly extensive beer and wine list.” Fairly extensive. Does that mean more extensive than extensive? Or just “I don't know dick about wine”? Of course I could be wrong. And what is with restaurant reviewers mentioning that they don't eat stuff? “The sweet tooth of youth has left me altogether, so I seldom eat dessert unless required. I will report that the brandied peach soufflé is wonderful, and dribbling it with crème anglaise and caramel, as the waitress suggested, is the right thing to do.” As opposed to dribbling it all over your bib? We get it Enrique, you're old. At least Victoria Pesce Elliott still has most of her original teeth. And to then say that “Classically trained, [Chef] Jorgensen has never gone in for froufrou”? I can't think of anything more froufrou than a brandied peach souffle, dad. But maybe you're right Enrique. Perhaps Ferrán Adriá is just a passing fad, not the most accomplished and imitated chef in the world. Wait, you also shoehorned Adriá into a review of TCT? Did I say gone by Easter? Make that Christmas. Which brings me to youth, sweet youth.

I love the Herald's Clink! columnist, Jaweed Kaleem. The best thing about this kid is that you've already traveled around the world twice just by reading his name. Second, you gotta love the guy cause he's a dazzling young urbanite. It's so important in every field to weed out (no pun intended) the tired old farts, and pump up the new brands for the hip doofuses. I consider myself...older, wiser, more...douchey-er, of course; although as a professional writer, I'm still in my infancy. I'm crawling. And youth, as they say, must be served, and the Clink! column is where the kids go for their latest booze instruction. Two weeks ago it was the Vinotini (any drink ending in 'tini is sexy, baby, especially if you're underage), a drink made with like ten ingredients. What is this? Chemistry class? I want to party, not delicately measure orange flower water into beakers. “Where's my drink?” she coo's. “One moment, I'm pasteurizing the egg whites!” he drools.

But how wonderfully fortuitous that last week's drink was the Sapphire Ace, which is made with Bombay Sapphire, a main sponsor of this week's Sony Ericcson Open tennis tournament. Now I like Bombay, I really do. I love all of Bacardi's products, in fact. And I want to get in on some of this cross-sponsorship stuff, because that's where the moona be. So here's my Spring drink, which I call the...
1)Ice Cold Grey Goose Vodka (Biggest Bottle You Can Find)
2)Chilled Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth (Same)
3)Drink a little from each bottle, until you feel like a Scotch.
4)Grab some Dewar's 12 year-old ( a great Bacardi product)
5)Top the night off with a digestif of some Disaronno Amaretto or Drambuie (both Bacardi's finest) on the rocks.

If you wake up with a hangover, sip a few cold Bacardi Rum Island Ice Tea's. That'll get you right back into the mood to make another cocktail with 10 freakin ingredients and a whip-cream dispenser...(So you know I'm not kidding, here's the drink. If anyone can actually make this at home, I will buy you the whip-its, personally. Wow that brought back a lot of memories. And sour mix? C'mon, that's for lightweights, JD. Ten ingredients and a bottled mix? From Tony Abu-Ganim, the Modern Mixologist-“Mixing 2 parts fresh squeezed lemon juice with one part simple syrup will easily make fresh lemon sour.” Ta-da.)

Next week, the Maroone Milkshake ©

The Vinotini
Mix 2 1/2 ounces pasteurized egg whites, 3 ounces sour mix, 3 ounces pomegranate juice, 2 1/2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice, 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth and 1 1/2 ounces Cointreau in a whipped-cream dispenser (see note below).
Combine 1 1/2 ounce grape vodka (e.g., Roth), 1/2 ounce sour mix, 1/2 ounce Cointreau, 1 1/2 ounces whitedessert wine (e.g., Bonny Doon Muscat) and 2 cups ice in a cocktail shaker.
Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.
Top with a 1/2-inch layer of froth.
Garnish with 3 frozen white grapes on a long pick.
The Sonoma Fog is $11.95 at Fleming's, 2525 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables; 305-569-7995.
The Whip-It! brand whipped cream dispenser is $40-$50 at and other online retailers