Miami Is Having a "Middleterranean" Moment: Byblos, Laffa, and Cleo

Categories: Musings

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Billwisserphoto.com
Chef Danny Elmaleh's lebaneh yogurt with feta and za'atar is a must-have at Cleo.
This spring, words like "sumac," "za'atar," and "tahini" will become increasingly common in local food circles. The first two refer to spices, while tahini is a sesame-seed paste most notable for its integral role in making hummus. All three are ubiquitous in "Middleterranean" cuisine, which just so happens to be having a moment in Miami.

In case you're wondering, "Middleterranean" is a relatively new term used to describe the dining trend of combining foods from the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and North Africa. Think familiar Mediterranean staples such as vegetables, olive oil, and fish but with the addition of exotic spices and flavors.

See also: Cleo Offers Classy, Affordable Mediterranean Fare in SoBe

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Kush's Secret Botanica: Beer Reserves and Candied Bacon

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Photos by Carla Torres
Miami has its share of botanicas, but how many are equipped with a kegerator and a full stock of candied bacon? We know of just one.

"I don't know if you've noticed, but we don't have that much space," says Kush owner Matt Kuscher of his not-so-hidden gem. The burger and craft beer joint hasn't even been open for a year and it's already nearly impossible to secure a table (or even a seat at the bar) on weekends without having to wait it out.

Luckily, there's a place where you can do just that with a super solicited brew in hand. "Like at Kush, we've got beers you can't get anywhere else." Including Kush.

So where can you get it? At Kush's secret Botanica.

See also: Kush's $13 Pan Con Bistec Is a Jawdropper

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Tables for Two Are Too Small

Categories: Musings

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Wikimedia Commons/KatongLeoung
No more of these, please.
If you and a spouse/mate/lover/friend head out for dinner, sometimes it ain't easy. As the plates keep landing on your table for two, dinner becomes a game of Jenga. The half-eaten bowl of Brussels sprouts balances at the table's edge. A slight reach for a morsel of meat risks sending a $12 cocktail flying.

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Dear Trick Daddy: Please Open a Restaurant

Categories: Musings

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Where has T double D been? Yes, yes Miami's maestro of trill had a recent run-in with the law over cocaine, gun possession and driving with a suspended license. But more importantly the hometown hero has been putting in work in the kitchen. This explains the recent weight gain. But fool, shut up.

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This Thanksgiving, Shed Your Shame of Canned Cranberry Sauce

Categories: Holidays, Musings

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Photo by Rick Kimpel/WikimediaCommons
Back up off my cranberry sauce.
Sweet-sour cranberry sauce is a Thanksgiving staple. But unlike most dishes that adorn holiday tables, it is highly unpredictable, second only to your aunt's turkey, which for decades has been a coin toss between bone dry and poultry sashimi.

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Miami's Tacos Lead a National Revolution

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Photo by Zachary Fagenson
Huitlacoche taco at Taquiza.
At this very moment, we are in the throes of a taco revolution. It's not a boom, as the New York Times so wrongly declared about chicken wings earlier this month. Neither tacos nor wings have experienced a decline in popularity.

But while the advances in wing cookery have remained mostly limited to sauces and accoutrements, the taco is seeing a renaissance. No longer does it remain at grab-and-go status. It has become something chefs treat with the same seriousness they would pâté en croûte.

See also: Tiny Taqueria Serves Miami's Most Authentic Carnitas

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Miami's Best Pan con Lechon: It's All About the Skin

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Photo by Zachary Fagenson
The pan con lechón from La Esquina del Lechón in Doral.
Pan con lechón has a natural progression. What else is one to do with heaps of juicy, fatty pork leftover from a Sunday roast other than tuck it between two pieces of bread with shards of sticky skin and sweet onions?

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Skydiver Jumps Off Plane With First Batch of Stone Crabs Wearing GoPro (Video)

Categories: Musings, News

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Courtesy of Coconut Grove Seafood Festival
Yesterday marked the beginning of stone crab season and the start of the business year for Joe's Stone Crab, which opened its doors at 5 p.m ., serving the first batch of claws to Miamians eager to get their hands on them (or with reservations we presume).

If you happened to be by Peacock Park yesterday morning, you may have seen something in the sky. It wasn't a bird, or a plane (although there was a plane involved). It was a skydiver with a cooler keeping the first batch of the crustaceans straight from the morning boats fresh and ready for landing. Don't believe us? Watch the video for yourself.

See also: Coconut Grove Seafood Festival Back for Second Year; Skydiver to Drop Stone Crab Tomorrow Morning

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Miami Gastropubs Risk Steering the Trend the Wrong Way

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Photo by billwisserphoto.com
Inside southwestern Miami's Finka Table & Tap.
Miami today is replete with truffle oil fries, Brussels sprouts studded with pork bits, and fried-egg-crowned burgers. From the beach to the suburbs, from north to south, scores of restaurants all serve the same predictably heavy fare under the gastropub banner.

The concept was borne of England's pub culture. Chefs with haute cuisine pedigrees made food as much a priority as drink, and started serving upmarket fare in unpretentious settings. A slow collection of gastropubs began shaping up in America starting in the 1990s and the trend seemed to mushroom when April Bloomfield opened the Spotted Pig in New York City in 2004. It rooted in Miami, one could argue, in 2010 when three guys opened a pork-heavy place called Pubbelly in Miami Beach's then-forgettable Sunset Harbour neighborhood.

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Cavatelli Craze Hits Countless Miami Restaurants

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Photo by Riki Altman
Fancy cavatelli.
Like all food trends, pasta preferences come and go, and right now cavatelli is everywhere. The pasta shape with the visible open seam -- like a long, thin hot-dog bun -- that's almost grub-like is popping up all over Miami in various sauces, cheeses, and colors.

Three years ago, we taught you how to make ricotta cavatelli from Cecconi's Chef Sigala. Back then it was rare and unusual; now it's commonplace and on virtually every menu. Look out, pappardelle, ravioli, tortellini, gnocchi, and that oh-so-innocent angel hair -- there's a new pasta in town.

We don't know if there was a sale on cavatelli-makers, but we do know where you can score some of the best versions of this pasta.

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