Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Experiment #28: Cobaya Hinckley @ The Hoxton

Sometimes Cobaya happens just by being at the right place at the right time.  Such was the case when I ran into Chef Matt Hinckley at the launch party for Miami's Queen of Desserts, Hedy Goldsmith's, Baking Out Loud cookbook.  I knew Matt from his days working as sous chef at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink.  He told me about a couple of new spots he would be in charge of culinary for.  The first to be opening was The Hoxton, a restaurant in the burgeoning Brickell area with a New England style menu.  That would be followed by BoxPark, a restaurant that would echo Chef Matt's approach to local, sustainable, cuisine with various Florida proteins like alligator, boar, and turtle showcased.  Now we're talkin' Cobaya!

We gathered last Monday in the elevated dining room area at The Hoxton for Cobaya #28.  Here's how it all went down...

The menu tasted as good as it reads

A welcome cocktail, the Bacon Old Fashioned, was a nice start.  The smoke from the bacon was there without being overly hammy and I was glad the maple syrup was tame and allowed the Bulliet rye to shine.  From there, passed apps made their way around the room.  The duck egg quiche was fantastic, fried alligator was crisp and tender, and the rabbit liver toast was a phenomenal bite.  It was go time!

If there's one thing I'm a sucker for, it's fresh baked bread and silky smooth butter.  It's a catch-22 at a coursed dinner because bread is filling but I threw caution to the wind and went at it.  I was glad I did.  The butter was absolutely insane!!  Here we had butter mixed with duck fat, brined green peppercorns, aleppo chili, and chives and I was applying a thick layer to every piece of bread I could get my hands on.  The cornbread was my favorite.  I need to have Chef Matt make me some of that butter for the homestead.  Jerk boiled peanuts hit the table next.  A great snack, spicy and delicious.  Gotta eat the shells people!

Housemade charcuterie was equally delicious.  Duck ham, tasso, and the lardo were my favorites but I really loved them all.  I could go for this plate any day all day.  The duck ham had a nice cured fattiness to it, the tasso was smokey and the lardo just melted on the tongue.  A deliciously spicy homebrew mustard complimented these meats well, as did the equally awesome spread of pickled veggies that included a new favorite of mine discovered on a previous visit to The Hoxton with Frodnesor to discuss Cobaya details - wing beans.  Hinckley pickles these with a fiery spice that I loved. 

A local bitter green salad was next and one of my favorite dishes of the night.  I love a nice, crisp, fresh salad and this one really did it for me.  The bitterness of the endive and dandelion greens played really well with the subtle spice of the pickled chilis.  Perfectly crisp and savory chunks of pork belly added a little sin to this dish but didn't overpower with gluttony.  It was a well-rounded composition.  After the salad, some cider-braised turnips hit the table.  I have to be honest, I don't remember much about this dish besides the crispy bits of pork jowl and that the cider braise gave the turnips a nice texture.  Could be that I was getting full which was troublesome because...

Three Little (?!?!) Pigs
The irony in this dish was that it was dubbed Three "Little" Pigs on the menu.  This was far from a little dish!  Jeezus!  The pork chop was a monster!  Knowing that was going to fill me past the point of full, I went for the crispy pig head first, a delicious pate of pork with unctuous fatty bits, breaded and fried to crispy perfection.  The andouille was another winner.  The pork chop was, as I had suspected, too much for me to take down.  It became the first thing to hit my plate and escape.

Dessert came in the form of ice cream and cookies.  In this case, ice cream made from Oskar Blues' Ten Fidy Imperial Stout and crumbled bits of cookies...made with pig fat.  Yes, pig fat cookies.  Throughout the dish were bitter tangerine segments, budda hand candy, and some citrus zest.  This is where my usual disclaimer of not being a big dessert person would come in but not today as the one exception is ice cream. I didn't get much of the stout flavor of the beer in the ice cream but that could be because I was enjoying the bitterness of the tangerine and all the citrus flavors going on.  It was a refreshing end to the meal.

Being in the right place at the right time to plan Cobaya magic like this had certainly paid positive dividends.  I thought this was a fantastic meal and really got the sense that Chef Hinckley showcased his passion with all of the various homemade meats and accompaniments served in the meal.  Be on the lookout for BoxPark coming soon where a lot of this type of food will definitely be served along with plenty of other surprises I'm sure.  Here's a Cobaya insider's tip for ya too - The Hoxton serves a badass portion of Chef Hinckley's delicious fried chicken along with a couple sides for a mere $10 during happy hour.  Strong buy!

A huge thank you to Chef Matt Hinckley, all the kitchen staff, management, and servers at The Hoxton, my dining tablemates who generously shared some tasty wines, and all of the guinea pigs who keep this Cobaya fire roaring here in Miami. 

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