Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Local Love: Bazaar @ SLS Hotel, Miami Beach

photo: Food for Thought
It was a Sunday afternoon and I was enjoying brunch at my usual Sunday haunt, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. My fellow Cobaya co-conspirator, The Chowfather, had joined me and we were about three Sonny Rollins deep when we hatched a brilliant plan to hit up The Bazaar, Jose Andres' latest restaurant that had recently launched at the brand new SLS Hotel on Miami Beach.

Bazaar had opened surrounded by a ton of hype. The SLS was Miami's "shiny new object" and Andres the biggest culinary name to open shop here in some time. The menu listed tons of small plates to choose from and the prices what you would expect of this sort of restaurant - a bit higher than your average restaurant. As usual, the twitter and yelp crowd donned their armor, strapped on their helmets, and grabbed their swords ready to bash it down if their lofty expectations were not met on opening night. Many slammed the service and pricing of the meal on social media, which provoked a reaction by avid social media chef Jose Andres himself that perhaps McDonalds would be a better venue for them.

I had chose to wait, like I usually do, about a month or so for the restaurant to get into a rhythm before giving it a try. My experience was phenomenal and even included a chat with Chef Andres himself who happened to be in town when Chowfather and I made our visit that Sunday evening. I'm not going to go into detail about the meal I had that night or on the four nights in eight days that I dined there. Why? Simply because our other Cobaya co-conspirator, the venerable Mr. Frodnesor, has already typed up an insane recap of Bazaar and the meals he joined us on.

Instead , I'm here to tell you this: you can have an incredible meal at The Bazaar for $50 or less per person excluding tax/tip and alcohol. How can this be done without needing to hit the aforementioned McDs after to get full? With the help of Chowfather and Frodnesor, we've come up with some great options for ya. Keep in mind most of these scenarios are for parties of two. Take notes, kiddos...

My suggestions:

1.) "The Spaniard" - $48 total

Mediterranean mussels - $10
Escalivada w/ blue cheese - $10
Croquetas de pollo - $12
Black Rossejat - $16

This one starts light, adds body, and ends heavy with one of the best dishes (if not the best) on the menu. At $48 total for two, you could easily add a cocktail or wine and get out for under $50pp including tax/tip. Huge value here.

Kueh Pai Ti & Croquetas
2.) "Asia with a Friend" - $94 total

Traditional Siu Mai - $14
Kueh Pai Ti - $16
Japanese Taco - $10
Bao con Lechon - $18
Creamy Coconut Rice - $18
Baby Japanese Peaches - 18

This one gives bursts of flavor. Starting out with some dim sum is a good way to begin. The bao and rice are loaded with flavor and are filling and the Japanese peaches with Burrata make for a smooth landing with a light dessert quality.

Now a suggestion from Frodnesor:

3.) "The World Traveler" - $100 total

Kueh Pai Ti (Singapore) - $16
Pollo al Ajillo Cubano (Cuba) - $14
Conch Fritters (Bahamas) - $12
Papas a la Huancaina (Peru) - $24
Secreto de Iberico (Spain) - $22
Key Lime Pie (America) - $12

Frod takes us around the world, starting with some shareable bites before moving on to a knockout dish (Papas a la Huancaina) and another one of the biggest values on the menu (Secreto de Iberico which comes w/ iberico potato puree and pan con tomate). The deconstructed key lime pie is also a dish even local South Floridians can be impressed by.

And a couple of lineups from Chowfather:

4.) "Monday night football sandwiches" (pregame) - $47 total

Bao con lechon - $18
Frozen Blue Cheese Sandwich - $13
Corte de foie gras - $16

We're gettin' heavy with the sandwiches to pregame for MNF on this suggestion.  Just a simple gorge-fest courtesy of Chowfather to get you started before kickoff.  See Hillary at Bar Centro outside for an Old Fashioned, Manhattan, or Jose's Gin & Tonic to wash it all down properly.

Bagels & lox cone
5.) "Diverse Menu" - $50 total

Bagels and Lox - $7
Watermelon & Tomato Skewers - $9
Baby Japanese Peaches -$18
Black Rossejat - $16

Chowfather starts this suggestion with one of my favorite bites, the bagels & lox cone.  The lox in this case coming in the form of salmon roe.  This one stays light and packed with flavor before closing with the aforementioned rossejat.  I'm tellin ya, every time I type "rossejat" my mouth waters a little bit.

Finally, there's this suggestion...

6.) "The Chowfather" - $50 total

Jose's Taco - $50 (BOOM!)

Let's face it, with a menu that consists of about 60 items excluding the cured meats & cheeses section, dining at Bazaar can be a tad intimidating. These are just a few ways you can get in and out of Bazaar for under $50 a head. If you add the Rossejat or Secreto de Iberico to any lineup, you can score easily at Bazaar. In fact, a solo diner could opt for either of those dishes along with a beer or two and leave belly full and happy.

But seriously, why limit yourself?  I've found the best way to experience The Bazaar is as a party of three.  You can try lots more items that way and the bill divides three ways to soften the blow.  Some dishes that come as two pieces may require the "Hey look, it's David Bowie!" move where you snag a bite while the others foolishly look away from the table but, hey, when are you going to be able to use that move otherwise.

You've got the blueprints now, so if you'll excuse me, I've got a date with some rossejat!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Best Bourbon Ever

When it comes to bourbon, I always follow the philosophy that everyone has an opinion on what is best and that all those opinions are correct opinions.  After all, taste is entirely subjective. 

Well, tomorrow I will be drinking the best bourbon ever.

I want to thank Rick over at South Florida Daily Blog for posting the video I'm sharing above.  In February, my father was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma.  Just like the guy in the video, this meant that cancer was in his lymph nodes.  Just like the guy in the video, he lost a thick head of hair.  Most importantly, on the 20th of May, just like the guy in the video, he found out that the months of chemotherapy worked and the cancer was gonzo.  Tomorrow night when I get home to Boston it will be the first time I've seen him since chemo ended and we will share a bourbon together, his first since February. 

And that, folks, will be the best bourbon ever. 

I can hardly wait to taste it.