South Beach Wine & Food Festival 2012: Pre-sale

Burger Bash Bite

Tickets for the foodie event(s) of the year South Beach Wine & Food Festival are available for pre-sale today for American Express cardholders at www.sobefest.com. If you are like us, AMEX-less, tickets go on sale to the general public on October 24th. We’re already eyeing up the events, and have our Visa ready to hit purchase!

Here are some FOTF event highlights from the 2011 Festival:

Burger Bash

Let Them Eat Cake

If you could go to any event, which would you choose?

New menu items & a revisit: SAIA, B Ocean Hotel – Ft. Lauderdale

Back in March Foodies on the Fly first visited SAIA at the sleek B Ocean Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. Since then, Chef Subin Chankesorn has added several new items to their menu and we were invited back to taste test.

Chef Subin’s unique culinary creations are a natural result of his exposure to Thai street market food in his earlier years and his travels throughout Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. Prior to SAIA, Chef Subin served as Assistant Sushi Chef at Delano on South Beach, Lead Sushi Chef at the Lowes Hotel South Beach, Chef aboard Royal Caribbean International’s fleet and Market Cook in Thailand. Chef Subin strives to achieve balance between authenticity and heritage in his dishes and the modern (American) conception of what Asian dining.

“When developing this concept I was committed to creating a unique dining experience, with fresh interpretations and crafting flavors that would redefine South Florida’s Asian dining scene. We’ve succeeded!” – Chef Subin

Upon meeting the magnetic Chef Subin, FOTF left the menu selection in his more than capable hands. Thus begins our journey…

Green Bean Salad

The Green Bean Salad arrived first, served chilled with a black soy vinaigrette, sesame seeds, and dried garlic on top. The crisp, fresh green beans are a new addition, and we would gladly order them again as an alternative to our typical starter of edamame, which is also available.

Tamari Scallop

The Tamari Scallop was beautifully plated; one large scallop wrapped in paper thin bigeye tuna, topped with minced crabmeat, and masago atop a pool of wasabi spiked aioli. The thin, silky smooth tuna barely encased the meaty scallop and crabmeat, and presented me with a small challenge: How to most delicately devour this large bite? Chopsticks gripped, I chose to bite and conquer (and hope that the whole masterpiece would not end up on my plate, or worse…). My strategy worked, somewhat, only a few bits of green tobiko caviar and crabmeat were sacrificed. I can see why the waitstaff heavily recommends this dish. We do as well.

Hamachi Jalapeno

The thinly sliced Hamachi Jalapeno arrived next, spiced with Thai chili, ponzu uzu, shredded daikon and cilantro arrived next. This light fish was full of flavor from the citrus-y marinade to the kick of the Thai Jalapeno chilies. The Hamachi was one of my favorite dishes of the evening.

Miso Scallops

The Miso Scallops, a customer favorite, are lime and salt encrusted, covered in a sweet honey miso sauce, and presented atop a Japanese yam. Topped with a dash of sesame seeds, and curl of scallion.

This dish also had me fumbling with my chopsticks (Disclaimer: I am no expert, as you may have deduced) as the slick glaze had them slipping through my grasp. Laughing as yet again the scallop eluded me, I admitted defeat and requested silverware. Quartered by my newly acquired knife and securely speared by fork, the perfect bite of sweet, sticky miso scallop made it into my mouth. The lime and salt perfectly balance out the sweetness of the miso glaze, which is so delicious, I could cover everything in it. As I was savoring my first bites of scallop #1, scallops #2 and #3 have disappereaed. Definitely a favorite of my dining companion of the evening, and newest addition to the FOTF team, my BF “M”.

Shirome Spice

I did not have long to lament the loss of a possible shared scallop, as we were quickly presented with my favorite plate of the evening. The Shirome Spice, a crispy, lightly battered whitefish with a sweet and spicy garlic glaze and stir-fried mixture of onions, red, yellow and green bell peppers, and shitake mushrooms. The stir-fried vegetables were slightly al dente and added texture to the flaky fish and meaty shitakes.

Tropical Roll & Fire Dragon Roll

Next we were presented with not one, but two massive sushi rolls, the Tropical Roll and the Fire Dragon Roll. These two inside out creations push sushi lovers to the edge and have gained quite a following due to their unique flavor pairings. The Tropical Roll includes seared scallop, mushroom, shiso, cucumber, and spicy miso topped with salmon and mango. Our favorite, the Fire Dragon Roll starts with lightly fried shrimp tempura, wrapped in avocado, snow crab, and topped with spicy tuna and masago.

Mongolian Barbeque Lamb Lollipops

Another new addition to the SAIA menu are the Mongolian Barbeque Lamb Lollipops. M wanted to test out his review skills and adds: An unusual presence in an Asian restaurant’s menu, this item has been added in response to customers request to increase meat dish variety. But don’t let the oriental atmosphere fool you; this dish’s level of taste, tenderness and presentation is at least similar to what you would expect from any fancy steakhouse. With another signature twist from the Chef, the sweet and tangy sauce on the side is a surprisingly delicious variation over the traditional red wine, rosemary or mint.

Note: These lollipops were sourced from farm raised lamb in New Zealand.

Thai Curry Lobster

On a roll, M reviews the Thai Curry Lobster as well: I’ve been eating Thai red curries for years from many places of the world and thought I had tried it all. Yet Subin Chankesorn managed to create a masterpiece lobster red curry with a garlic rich mixture of pineapple, hearts of palm, green peppers, baby tomatoes and a delicious white sauce. Definitely a must try for curry lovers.

Here I will add that Chef Chankeson joined us for the last of our courses. We spoke about his childhood growing up in the Thailand, the different dialects and how one word could mean something very different in varying regions (floor mat -vs- tiger!) and finally we spoke about curry. Chef explained to us how he starting making curries under the guidance of his mother. He doesn’t follow a set recipe, yet adds and detracts based on taste of his ingredients of the day, striving to incorporate authentic Thai ingredients and spices. He adds, If you use a recipe it will be different every time based on the sweetness or tartness of the ingredients, so follow your sense of taste not direction.

Chef Subin's Dessert Plate

Our final plate was a taste of Chef Subin’s home, literally. He picked the starfruit from his backyard that morning and now it adorns our plate alongside a chocolate mini macaroon, strawberry, and mochi ice cream in a fruity yogurt sauce. Chef explained to us that he is not a fan of overly sweet desserts and this plate demonstrated a light hand as well. A perfectly sweet ending to a remarkable meal.

Foodies on the Fly highly recommends stopping by and, if you’re feeling adventurous, allowing Chef Subin to order for you as well. The staff is very accomodating and will take note of any allergies or preferences as well.

We thank-you for your time if you’ve completed reading to this point. It was an extensive meal (over 3hrs!) and review as well.

B Ocean Ft. Lauderdale- SAIA
999 Fort Lauderdale Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL
954-302-5252

SAIA on Urbanspoon

The Forge Restaurant & Wine Bar – Miami Beach

Back in May I spied a Gilt City promotion for an Enomatic Wine Experience for Two at The Forge Restaurant & Wine Bar in Miami Beach. It included The Forge Enomatic Wine Card to be used at the Gilt City wine station (filled with wines chosen by Lee Schrager). The card is pre-filled to cover two selections of two specially-designed Enomatic flights (white or red) in 4 three ounce pours, paired with Chef Dewey Losasso’s tasting plate. A Lee Schrager curated deal, the man behind both the New York and South Beach Wine & Food Festival, no less this should be good. Immediately I hit purchase.

Finally, with only a week left to use it, I made my reservations for two at The Forge. My fellow foodie and I arrived at the completely renovated historic Forge Restaurant & Wine Bar. A staple in Miami Beach since the 1930’s it underwent a massive renovation in 2009-2010 and the results are stunning. See here for the photo gallery. We were quickly seated at the lavish bar with the most gorgeous Murano glass chandeliers overhead, surrounded by the enomatic systems, encasing 80 different wines available by the glass. The bartender cheerfully greeted us and explained how the card and enomatics worked and we were joined by a sommelier to discuss options, which was very helpful due to the abundance of options. (They even have an app to assist.) We started the wine tasting at the Gilt City station with the Terlato Family Pinot Grigio and A.P. Vin Pinot Noir, both from the Russian River Valley, but once I spied Duckhorn & Caymus at neighboring stations, it was goodbye Gilt City. (Note each wine is priced individually, with choices of 3 different sized pours. My choices were on the, ahem, more expensive side, so I opted for smaller pours and adding additional cash to my “black card”.)

Chef Dewey LoSasso Tasting Plate

Back at  the bar we were presented with the tasting plate, consisting of: Pomegranate BBQ Lamb Spare Ribs, Crispy Corn Ravioli, Smoked Salmon Croquettes, and Lobster, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. Each was a tasting portion for two. We were split on the plate, which wasn’t a bad thing. I preferred the sweet, salty crunch of the corn ravioli topped with parmesan. My counterpart preferred The Forge’s take on the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Not your typical Wonder Bread with creamy pb and grape jelly, this sandwich starts with toasted brioche, filled with chopped fresh peanuts, onion marmalade, and diced chilled lobster. Also tasted : pomegranate bbq lamb spare ribs with red cabbage slaw and smoked salmon croquettes with “hot” guava sauce, and peppered cream. We had a feeling the tasting plate would be just that, a taste, so when we ordered we added on a few more dishes.

Pan Seared Crab Cake

I opted for a Pan Seared Crab Cake, with roasted apple and calabaza salad, topped with whole grain mustard aioli. The apple was really what clinched this decision for me (Anyone else make decisions based on accoutrements? Just me. Ok.), and I was not displeased with my choice. The crab cake was slightly crisp on the outside and full of rich meat, not filler, inside.

Red & Yellow Tomato Gazpacho

Grilled Salmon

Lemon Pannacotta

My dining companion today, a Foodie Flyboy (The girls were all out of town.) ordered from the Miami Spice promotional menu: Red & Yellow Tomato Gazpacho, followed by the Grilled Salmon and ending with the Lemon Pannacotta. The gazpacho, much like the name suggests is half red and half yellow and altogether delicious. The salmon, perfectly grilled (aka: fork flake-able), rested atop a mound of creamy basil mashed potatoes and was topped with hearts of palm and mixed greens and surrounded with a two orange reduction. The crisp hearts of palm offset the otherwise soft textures for a nice contrast.

As a dessert connoisseur, I eagerly anticipated the final plate, which I knew would be quickly surrendered to me upon arrival. The pannacotta, with lemon and fennel, was both light, velvety, and tart. Paired with toasted almond gelato and a biscotti, it was a fitting ending to our meal.

After dinner we were treated to a private tour of The Forge’s extensive 8 wine cellars, including one with a private dining area (where J Lo chose to host her 42nd birthday this July), housing over 300,000 bottles. This collection is considered one of the finest in thee world, and can be seen on request only, providing the private dining area is not occupied.

Book your own Miami Spice experience now through Sept. 30th.

*UPDATE* Gilt City is running another Enomatic Wine Tasting for 2 promotion. Get yours HERE. 

The Forge
432 Forty First Street
Miami Beach, Florida 33140
305-538-8533
@ForgeRestaurant

The Forge Restaurant | Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Tomorrow: 2nd Annual Restaurant Boat Run, hosted by Udonis Haslem at Duffy’s

Click on image for full event flyer

Home Grown talent, Udonis Haslem, is hosting his 2nd Annual Restaurant Run fundraiser at South Florida’s largest waterfront sports bar, Duffy’s Sports Grill in North Miami Beach this Saturday from 12-4PM to benefit The Udonis Haslem Children’s Foundation.

The Udonis Haslem Children’s Foundation helps promote youth development and self-confidence through programs and services designed to enable them to reach their full personal and educational potential. The Udonis Haslem Children’s Foundation is a 501(c) (3) organization and was incorporated on August 11, 2005. The Foundation was established as a non- profit charitable organization that will provide programs and services designed to assist youth in becoming the “best they can be” both in the classroom and as individuals.

After spending time on the water riding Seahunter boats with some of his foundation’s children, Haslem will arrive on Duffy’s Sports Grill’s intracoastal poolside deck at noon where he will be available for photos and interviews. Haslem and friends will spend the afternoon playing water basketball in Duffy’s pool, signing autographs, taking photos and mingling with children and fans of all ages. Guests at the event will have a chance to win a Tendence watch as part of a raffle to raise funds for the foundation. And in case the afternoon couldn’t get any more exciting, South Florida’s favorite DJ, DJ Irie, will be spinning tunes and emceeing the event.

Event Charge: Adults – $10.00 – 100% of proceeds go to the foundation, portion of the food and beverage sales will also be donated to charity. Children under age 12 – FREE

WHEN:
Saturday, September 10, 2011
12PM-4PM

WHERE:
Duffy’s Sports Grill
3969 NE 163rd Street
North Miami Beach, FL 33160
305.760.2124

The Art of Sushi Making (& Sake Tasting) at China Grill, Ft. Lauderdale

SAKE, MAKI & ROLL SUSHI SCHOOL
AT CHINA GRILL HILTON FT. LAUDERDALE MARINA
September 10th | October 8th | November 12th | December 10th

Golden Dragon Roll

After the overwhelming response to their first Sake, Maki & Roll Sushi School, China Grill Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Marina is extending the education culinary program to take place on the second Saturday of every month. Guests are invited to a tasting and teaching session at the popular dining destination that includes sake sampling, instructions on the art of sushi making and a delicious meal of maki, sushi and tempura that the students will assist in preparing. The class begins with a crash course on sake including how it’s made and the history of the Japanese libation, followed by a tasting of five Ty-Ku Sakes and Liqueurs paired with signature selections from the restaurant including Tuna Tartare on Wonton Crisps, Salmon Crudo and Dancing Unagi. While enjoying the pairings, pupils will learn the basics for at-home sushi preparation – from tools and traditions to different types of sushi and, of course, a lesson in one of the most important components, the sushi rice. The class then continues with hands-on sushi rolling instruction from Executive Sushi Chef Songphon Rawangphan. The session concludes with a demo of Ty-Ku sake fusion cocktails that are all under 100 calories each and a bite of dessert. All students will also receive a take home gift for their hard work.

Space is limited and  it will sell out so be sure to make your reservation in advance. To reserve your seat call 954.759.9950. 

WHEN: Second Saturday of every month (9/10/11, 10/8/11, 11/12/11, 12/10/11) From 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM

COST: $59.00 + tax

WHERE: China Grill, Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Marina
1881 SE 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
954.759.9950 | www.chinagrillmgt.com

M Bar Las Olas – Ft. Lauderdale

Jack Mancini‘s newest addition to Las Olas Blvd., M Bar, offers up global tapas, and larger plates as well in the farm-to-table sustainable spirit. What exactly are “global tapas”? Think small plates, meant to be shared that are influenced by a variety of cuisines including Mediterranean, Asian, Italian, and Middle Eastern. Tapas are a great way to try several different dishes without worrying about ordering too much, or convincing everyone at your table (and adjacent) to share, not that we’ve ever done that before…

I arrived (solo this time) to lunch at M Bar last week to sample their newly evolved menu. Mancini’s plan is to regularly switch out menu items as fresh ingredients are available. The lunch and dinner menu differ slightly, but there were still enough options to give me slight pause in ordering. Thankfully, the owner himself stopped by to say hello and was available to assist with selections. I ended up with the modified array below. (As I was dining alone I received smaller portions of more items to taste test, which made it just about the best. lunch. ever. I’m all about the options.)

Red & Yellow Local Beets

Arriving first was the Red & Yellow Local Beets. They came with fresh arugula, chilled raspberry “caviar” (I just learned this term from Chef Rachelle when I was raving about these beets the other day, thanks! Apparently it takes a high level of skill to pull off, so I was dutifully impressed.), and a tasty hazelnut vinaigrette that included small candied hazelnut bits. The crisp cold bite of the raspberry pearls was such an unexpected treat. A bright, beautiful start to my tapas tasting.

Spicy Tuna Tartare

Next, I dove into the Spicy Tuna Tartare. The tuna is seasoned with a sriracha aioli for a mild kick and sits atop thin slivers of cucumbers. The wonton crisps and sesame seeds are not only decoration, but provide a contrasting crunch to the velvety tuna. This item from the small plates section is the perfect size to share, and a customer favorite.

Beef Slider & House Cut Fries

Sometimes you just crave a good old fashioned burger and fries. M Bar’s eclectic menu has you covered, featuring three full size burgers or a Trio of Beef Sliders (one pictured above). All are paired with their always crisp house-cut Kennebec fries, which are made fresh daily. The sliders include tomato, cheddar cheese, grilled onions, and pickles. The grilled mini brioche bun (from a local bakery) was what really elevated this burger. The sliders can be purchased separately if you crave variety as well.

Onion Ring

Looking for another accompaniment to your burger? How about a gigantic Onion Ring? These come oversized (and typically more than one to an order on the small plates section), encrusted in Lay’s potato chips with a slight seasoning. The onions themselves are massive and thickly cut. Slightly sweet onions + slightly salty chips + rich buttermilk aioli dipping sauce, this has the makings to be one addictive dish. My only minor disappointment was that they lacked a bit of spice, if only I had my trusty Lazano sauce in my purse…

Braised Kobe Short Ribs

I’m convinced no restaurant opens in SoFL without the “cut of the moment”, so enter M Bar’s Braised Kobe Short Ribs. These stand out due to their perfect sear, propensity to fall apart when prodded with your fork, and delicious, rich dark chocolate stout reduction. Mmmmm…. If I could bottle that sauce I swear I would cover everything with it. The short ribs, featured as a medium plate, are served with a generous mound of creamy truffled polenta, with a nod to an upscale roast beef and mashed potatoes.

Fried Grouper Taco

The grand finale (or so I thought) was the Fried Grouper Taco. These typically arrive three to an order on the medium plate section. Comprised of perfectly seasoned, lightly fried grouper, tangy chipolte cabbage slaw, salsa verde and a few dollops of lime creme fraiche, these swiftly ousted my existing favorite fish taco. I’d highly recommend you adding these to your order, you can thank me later.

Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream & Berries

My meal ended with a sweet surprise sampling of M Bar’s liquid nitrogen (oh how cool, literally!) Ice Cream and fresh berries.  The assortment included: vanilla pistachio semifreddo, peanut butter ice cream, and vanilla ice cream, with fresh raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. As full as I was, this FOTF girl is physically unable to pass up dessert, especially ice cream. I’m glad I gave them a try (ok, ok…. I finished them) because they were heavenly. The semifreddo was my favorite. It was incredibly creamy and rich. I can’t wait to go back and try their full dessert which incorporates chocolate cake.

Overall: The food was fantastic and service staff very knowledgable (and passionate) both about their menu items and the preparation it takes to make them. I’ll definitely be back, next time with my friends.

To stop by yourself, M Bar is open for lunch, happy hour, dinner and late night drinks seven days a week. Hours: 11:30am – 11pm Sunday through Thursday; 11:30 am – Midnight Friday & Saturday. Parking is available behind the building and on Las Olas and 13th Avenue.

M Bar
1301 East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
954.766.4946
M Bar on Urbanspoon
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Current specials: (Check their Facebook Page for changes)

“M Bar Lunch Trio” – choice of any two Small Plates, a Flatbread or Individual Pizza and a Domestic Beer for $18 – from now through end of Sept.
Ladies Night on Thursdays – From  7-10 pm premium well, house wine and Stella Artois draft are priced at $3 as well as select global tapas
Happy Hour – From 5-7 pm, Mon. thru Thurs. and 4-7 pm on Fri. Select wines, drafts, bottle beer and premium well for half price.