March 21, 2009

Brasserie Brickell Key!

Just across the bridge to Brickell Key (605 Brickell Key Drive) is Brasserie Brickell Key, an Italian restaurant perfect for our recent birthday luncheon for Melanie. It is within walking distance from our office and serves very good Italian food.

The bread is fresh and warm, and is just the thing to nibble on while carefully perusing the menu.

The appetizers offered are the requisite calamari, carpaccio and mussels- they looked good as we saw them served to other tables, but we had an hour and wanted to get right down to business.

Pollo Piccata ($17.50)- Breast of chicken sauteed in a lemon butter sauce, topped with capers and a touch of white wine. The chicken was cooked and seasoned well. This dish, along with the others we had, was simple but well executed enough so that it wasn't boring.

Tortellini Portofino ($12.95)- Cheese tortellini with a delicate cream sauce, diced prosciutto, green peas, onions and parmesan. This dish was rich and the cream sauce was far from delicate, but it was satisfying nonetheless.

Cappellini Pomodoro ($12.50)- Angel hair pasta bended with fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic. Very simple, very good.

Gnocci Pink Bolognese ($13.25)- Potato dumplings in a light cream bolognese sauce and basil. Good flavor but the gnocci weren't light, airy pockets.

Linguini Carbonara ($12.95)- Italian pancetta, sauteed with sweet onions, garlic, parmesan cheese in a cream sauce. The texture and flavors were right, this dish was oh, so good.

Melanie's birthday tiramisu. Very airy, light, just sweet enough. We all enjoyed it very much.

On an earlier visit, I had tried the Scallopini Di Vitello Al Limone ($19.95), which is veal scallopini sauteed with lemon sauce, a touch of white wine, garlic and wild mushrooms. It was superb but I admit after eating at Brasserie Brickell Key, it is difficult to return to the office without longing for an afternoon siesta. The food is on the heavy side, but at the same time, is delicious. It is not easy to find good Italian food in Miami, and this is good enough for the time being, but I won't stop searching...and the eggs.

Brasserie Brickell Key on Urbanspoon

March 12, 2009

La Camaronera!!

I won a bet on an Eagles game! When they beat the Giants on January 11th, I won two lunches from co-workers- one from Aldo the Jets fan and one from Ed the Cowboys fan. Aldo has lived in Miami for most of his life and knows all of the best lunch spots in the city. I feel almost guilty telling you about La Camaronera, a hole-in-the-wall in Little Havana owned by Garcia Brothers Seafood. People have lived here for their entire lives without ever knowing it was there, and it has been there since 1966. A well-kept secret? It's all seafood- the menu is short and sweet. The food is nothing short of perfection. There are no seats- walk in and order at the wrap around counter and find a spot to stand. It will be worth your while!

Camarones Fritos - Fried Shrimp. A big plate for $6.50. Couldn't be better and it's half the price of the same dish at their other restaurant on the river, Garcia's.

Arroz Con Pescado- Yellow Rice with Fish Bits. I didn't think it sounded good but tried it anyway- and it's simple, flavorful and fantastic. We shared it among the three of us and the whole plate cost $3.75!!

Pan Con Minuta- Fish Sandwich. $3.25. Just look at it- too big for the bun and it's a whole fish! Here is a shot of the sandwich and the ones on deck.

For those with big appetites, they serve combination platters- this one is fried shrimp, yellow seafood rice and tostones, which are smashed, fried green plantains. The platter is $11.00.

Additional menu items include black-eyed pea fritters, fried fish roe, grouper soup, oyster cocktail, grouper, salmon, fried lobster, and a fresh fish market!

The place is a gem. If you are ever in Miami, a stop at La Camaronera (1952 West Flagler Street) should be on your list. It has become a once a week must for me, it's not far from work and if I time it right (get there at about 1:15), the lunch rush is ebbing. Language shouldn't be a problem- there is always someone working there who speaks English well enough to answer any questions you have. Enjoy a meal at La Camaronera- just don't tell too many people...and the eggs.

La Camaronera Fish Market on Urbanspoon

March 10, 2009

Happy Purim.

Me as a hamentachen and my sister as Mordechai, circa 1970, Miami, Florida.

Be nice to a hamentachen today...and the eggs.

March 7, 2009

Easy Ciabatta Out of Your Own Oven!

While TLMM's cousin Bruce and his wife Christina were visiting, I learned how to make this amazing bread! When you see how easy it is, you will make it weekly.

4 1/2 cups flour (we used King Arthur's Bread Flour)
2 teaspoons salt

Mix together.

2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons yeast

Mix together.

Pour over dry mixture in mixer. Let it mix until it's just incorporated, less than a minute.

Let it sit for 10 minutes. Turn on mixer for a couple of minutes. Scrape off paddle and sides and put on for another few seconds. Dough is very sticky and wet.

Put a few tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl. Empty dough into bowl and flour your hands. Flip over once with your hands so that the oil coats the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and do not disturb for 1 hour.

After an hour, the dough has risen!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On middle rack, preheat baking stone or upside down cookie sheets to use to slide dough and parchment paper on. Also preheat a heat-resistant or cast iron skillet on the bottom rack. You will see why in a second.

Put a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and fold it up in the middle to keep the two loaves separated. Sprinkle a little bit of fine corn meal on the paper like so.

The dough has really risen!

The dough is very sticky so liberally flour surface and scrape dough out of bowl. Liberally flour your hands, too. Without working the dough too much with your hands, push into a rectangular shape and cut in half with a floured knife.

Flip one of the halves so that it gets floured on all sides and put onto one side of the parchment paper, again don't work it too much with your hands- the less touching the better.

Do the same with the second half.

Slide parchment paper onto pre-heated cookie sheets or baking stone.

Throw a handful of ice cubes into the cast iron or heat resistant pan underneath. This helps the crust develop to be crusty and the bread softer in the center.

Close the oven door and say abracadabra!!

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are just starting to turn golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped. Slide parchment paper back on cookie sheet and remove loaves from oven.

Slide parchment paper onto cooling racks. Let cool for a few minutes, and slice and spread with softened butter or dip in olive oil.

Heaven...and the eggs.