Sunday, August 31, 2014

Football Season and TGI Friday's

So Football season is just about here. And how do I know that? Because now date nights include beer, wings and places with lots of TVs. The good news is that I found a way for this time of  year to work for me and it is by including my favorite Cosmo in the mix at TGI Friday's

Last Monday the Miami Dolphins played a pre-season game against the Dallas Cowboys and that is always an adrenaline inducing rush for me.  Mainly because a couple of my friends are diehard Cowboy fans and I, of course, am a devoted Dolfan. We headed over to TGI Friday's for some Endless Apps (which are still going on by the way) and to watch the Dolphins beat the Cowboys (I had faith in them the whole time.)


The place was packed and rocking, and at $!0 an endless appetizer per person, and $3 drafts, we were rolling in fun times without hitting the bank too hard. If you saw the game, you know the Dolphins had to step up their performance in the fourth quarter but, with seconds to go, we defeated the Cowboys 25-20. My friends called it luck, but I think it was the combination of Boneless Buffalo Wings that kept landing at my table and the Cosmos I consumed as part of a new good luck ceremonial thing I got going for this season.

I know where I'll be on most game nights this season, (unless my dates forego the TV thing and actually take me to the game). I'll be sipping beer and cocktails while having some endless fun at TGI Friday's.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chef Adrianne's Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar

Whenever I hear the words "Maximum Flavor", I can't help but think of Chef Adrianne Calvo, owner and chef at Chef Adrianne's Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar, at 11510 SW 147th Avenue. I know you're probably thinking, "Are you kidding me? That's a drive to the boondocks way out in Kendall." All I have to say is..strap on the seat belt 'cause it's worth it.

Chef Adrianne's Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar

You have probably heard of her popular Dark Dining events held once a month at her restaurant. I've never done it but I hear it's quite the experience - suppressing your sense of sight with a blindfold while heightening your other senses as you bite into the unknown. However, I found that a meal at Chef Adrianne's, with or without the sense of sight, is a spectacular adventure. I recently visited her restaurant for the first time to attend a wine pairing dinner, and I walked out giddy and excited (and it wasn't the wine…not entirely).

Chef Adrianne's Signature Sangrias

I've talked to Chef Adrianne several times at foodie events and she is just as amazing in the kitchen as out of it. Down to earth with a genuine passion for her craft, she truly enjoys what she does and it shows. We started the evening with a glass of each of her signature Sangrias - the white with passion fruit and white wine and the red sangria with pomegranate juice, cognac, red wine and rum. They were both sweet and refreshing and a great way to kick off the meal. As we sipped, the appetizers started to make their way to our table and the presentation and color splash on each dish was impressive.

Oysters Two Ways

Fried Oysters
Raw Oysters
First off we had Oysters prepared two different ways. The first were fried then topped with pureed mango chutney, chives, and chili horseradish. The second were raw and served with a celery and horseradish mignonette. They were exquisite. Next up, we had one of my all-time favorite dishes: Raw Tuna over a salt block, prepared with yellow tomato gazpacho and garlic basil, a balsamic reduction, then finished with truffle oil. Are you making plans to head to Kendall yet? I could've licked the salt block.

Raw Tuna

Raw Corvina
Roasted Cauliflower Bisque
The Raw Corvina Tiradito followed, drizzled with sweet peppers, mint, chili, and  a sweet, orange vinaigrette. Each bite definitely provided a burst of maximum flavor that blew me away. To transition our palates into the hot part of the meal, Chef Adrianne created a Roasted Cauliflower Bisque, with poached maine lobster, fresh garlic bread crumbs and whipped ricotta.

Lamb Chops

Did I already mention that each course was paired with wine? Imagine the smile I had plastered on my face at this point. Excellent food and good vino? Now that's what foodie dreams are made of and as I contemplated this realization...out came the most tender, flavorful Lamb Chops, served with mint cucumber and jalapeno relish. They were pretty, oh so pretty and I wanted to kiss them before I ate them. (Again, that was not the wine talking.) We then sampled the Toasted Gnocchi, served over a pool of parmesan cream, next to a butternut squash puree and just a little bit of honey to activate the taste buds. The gnocchi were crowned with crispy kale and parmesan shavings. How does she come up with these things?

Toasted Gnocchi

She still had one more entree for us to try and that was the Crispy Quail with spicy brown mustard cognac sauce over a whipped palm puree. Juicy and with a slight kick, even I enjoyed it and I'm not a poultry lover.

Crispy Quail

Content, tipsy and happy I'm not too far from Chef Adrianne's, I saved just enough room for dessert. (No wisecracks please). A pyramid of light and refreshing Panna Cotta finished our amazing adventure, with a sweet raspberry reduction. It was perfect, as was the glass of bubbly Chef Adrianne bid us adieu with.

Panna Cotta

If you haven't gone to Chef Adrianne's Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar, you are missing out. For more information, visit their website or call them at 305 408-8386.

Chef Adrianne's Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 22, 2014

Red the Steakhouse - Miami Spice

So Miami Spice is underway and we're all discovering a slew of new places to grub at, visiting our favorites more frequently or taking advantage of the annual promotion to check out some of the more pricier, talk-of-the-town restaurants.

One of the restaurants you definitely want to try is Red, the Steakhouse, located at 119 Washington Avenue in Miami Beach. Culinary genius Chef Peter Vauthy is giving his own spin to the dishes, offering a total of four themed menus which alternate every week during the Miami Spice promotion: Classic, Asian, Spanish and Italian. This gives fans the opportunity to return every week and try something new.  You can tell they really put a lot of thought into designing the menus in a way that gives guests a chance to experience a great deal of what Red offers for the promotional price. There are also a number of upgrades you can do if there's something you'd like to add or change.

With Executive Chef Peter Vauthy

I had the opportunity to sample some of the different course offerings and was very impressed with both the variety of options as well as the portion sizes.While I can't take you all to dinner with me to Red for Miami Spice, I figure I'd share my adventure with you by stimulating your sense of taste with some foodgasmic images of what you can expect to indulge in when you head over there. Ready...set....salivate.

For more information on Red, The Steakhouse, or to make reservations, visit their website or call them at 305-534-3688.

Red, The Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Brasileiro Churrasqueria Launches A New Meat Rodizio at the Four Ambassador

If you feel like you're having a bit of deja vu, don't worry - you're not. You probably remember last year when Brasileiro Steakhouse opened at the Four Ambassador Hotel in Brickell Avenue, right at the same spot where the popular Porcao used to raise cholesterol levels with their delicious meat fest.

It turns out, new owners have revamped the place, now called Brasileiro Churrasqueria, and added a much needed and refreshing salad bar, along with a nice selection of hot and cold appetizers. Feeling carnivorous and not the least bit afraid to satisfy my urge, I headed on over to 801 Brickell Bay Drive to try the new Brazilian meat rodizio for myself.

As always, the ambiance is elegant yet relaxing at Brasileiro, with a killer view of the bay and impeccable service. After sipping a couple of Caipirinhas, we grabbed our plates and headed over to the salad bar to break the ice. A variety of fresh greens, homemade salads, cheese and hot and cold appetizers awaited us. I took a sampling of each without overdoing it. (You know I was saving myself for that picanha).

And then they came… the gauchos, armed with their skewers of drool inducing meats. Green means go, and I never wanted them to stop. Prime cuts of filet mignon wrapped in bacon, chicken, lamb and pork paraded in front of us, too tempting to turn down. The homemade sausage, full of intense flavor, was a favorite for us but it was the picanha that took the prize for the evening. Wow. It was amazing. Prepared a number of ways, each piece was as mouthwatering as the last. I momentarily forgot that there is only so much one can consume before going into a food coma. Reluctantly, I turned my card to red for a few minutes while I closed my eyes and basked in the ecstasy-filled aftermath.

Although it didn't seem possible to place another morsel of food in our mouths after that sinful feast of  the meats, the desserts were too decadent to ignore. Brasileiro offers a variety of Brazilian sweets and creative finales that you must leave some room for when you go. Oh and if you love wine as much as I do, they have now added a pretty amazing wine cellar to the mix. Nothing like pairing a good vino with the juicy carne.

A culinary experience like this, at such an affordable price, makes Brasileiro Churrasqueria a keeper in Brickell. For more information or to make reservations you can call the restaurant at 305-358-7880.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cafe Prima Pasta

I've considered trying a vegan diet for a few minutes of my life, but then the aroma of a juicy steak teases my scent of smell and my salivary glands immediately revolt. However, having said that, I recently tried Cafe Prima Pasta's new summer special, and I wondered if in fact I could take the meatless plunge one day.

Starting last month and available on Tuesdays, the Italian restaurant located at 414 71st Street in Miami Beach launched their Viva Las Veggies special, complete with light and flavorful dishes perfect for Miami's summer heat. Because you need some liquid love to go with your healthy veggies, they also added some fresh new fruit juice and signature cocktail options to their "Green With Envy" Tuesday tasting menu. Offering delicious appetizer and entree choices, you would never know you're squeezing the recommended three to five servings of vegetables and two to four servings of fruit in one foodgasmic sitting.

The feast began for us with a cool, sweet Peach Puree Bellini that made my lips pucker. It was refreshing and delicious, resulting in the most suave of aperitifs. Following this pleasurable awakening, we indulged in our appetizer, a Zucchini Spring Roll stuffed with arugula, radicchio, black olives and capers, then splashed with fresh lemon juice and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. This tasteful delight was hand rolled into thin slices of zucchini and served with a truffle oil and balsamic reduction. Exquisite! Not your regular veggie meal.

Zucchini Spring Roll

Next up, we had the Garden Risotto, prepared with couscous butternut squash risotto, hearty porcini mushrooms and Mascarpone cheese on top. It had perfect texture and creaminess, with a well rounded flavor. We also sampled the Cannelloni, a spherical tube of pasta stuffed with a variety of cheeses (my favorite was the gorgonzola) in a rich, flavorful sauce. It was so delectable, I didn't have time to snap the picture before it disappeared off the plate. I'd show you the "after" picture, but I don't think you'd like to stare at an empty plate. We'll leave you with the suspense instead...

Garden Risotto

Totally delighted at this healthy, yet memorable meal, we were excited to try dessert. Out came a sweet and decadent pastry, created with dulce de leche and chocolate. It was sinful! But even more sinful, was the Chocolate Prima Martini I had to call it a night. Cafe Prima Pasta offers a variety of cocktails and martinis that will be the perfect treat after such a healthy veggie meal. The "Green With Envy" Tuesday tasting menu will rotate weekly and includes a signature cocktail made with fresh squeezed juice or glass of wine and a complimentary peach puree Bellini for the ladies for just $38.95. Viva Chef Carlos Belon for his delicious and nutritious dishes.For more information on Cafe Prima Pasta or to make reservations, you can visit them here online.

Cafe Prima Pasta on Urbanspoon