restaurants

Catalan Shrimp & Mussels Stew

Catalan Shrimp & Mussels Stew


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Chances
 are that if you love seafood and have traveled in Spain, especially in the provinces of Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona, you have at one point or another had an encounter with the dish featured here. It represents the philosophy of both old and new cooking styles one finds all over this area and in fact, in most parts of the Mediterranean coastline – a few first-class ingredients cooked without fuss and pronto- Life is Good !
A wonderful meal, ideally shared with great company and a glass (or two) of the local wine, and, if on top of that you are lucky enough to sit in a cozy little restaurant by the sea, life is as good as it gets.
Somebody gifted me with a small bag of mussels on Sunday, which by itself would have made a great appetizer. But because I always have shrimp in the freezer (today I had two different types,  small/ peeled,/ tail-off and large/ tail-on), and because I wanted to have something a bit more substantial for dinner, I thought this seafood stew would do the trick. And indeed, it did 🙂
Great taste, easy on the eyes and a snap to prepare, both Bella and I were completely happy with the way this turned out 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
Since I don’t drink/use alcohol, I have started to use apple cider as a substitute where wine is called for.
Works out great for most dishes, both in the food and with the food 🙂 Cheers !
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Catalan Shrimp & Mussels Stew

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Catalan Shrimp & Mussels Stew

Catalan Shrimp & Mussels Stew

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Catalan Shrimp & Mussels Stew

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Catalan Shrimp & Mussels Stew

Catalan Shrimp & Mussels Stew

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Preparation :
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Pork Sinigang (Sinigang na Baboy)

Yesterday  I had a long-standing wish fulfilled 🙂
(Mind you, there are “BIG WISHES” in life and then there are “small wishes” This was a small wish, but nevertheless, I am happy that it finally came through)
For years, I wished there’d be a good Filipino restaurant in my neighborhood, but there is only one that I know of within a few miles around, and frankly, that one sucks!
I don’t want to go into details, but believe me, if it would be halfway decent I would still go there. I have tried it three times, but all three times it was VERY disappointing, so I stopped going there and gave up hope. Whenever I needed a Pinoy food-fix, I had to prepare it myself.
So yesterday I went to do some errands in a close-by shopping center to which I have been going for more than 15 years. Much to my surprise, I saw a “new” restaurant named Manila Grill&BBQ  tucked away in a corner. (I asked an employee how long they’ve been open and he said more than two years)
I had never noticed it before, maybe because what sticks out on the sign is  Grill & BBQ,  so one does not quickly associate this with Pinoy food………..
The place is very clean, simply but nicely appointed and the employees are very friendly, attentive and professional.
The food, THE FOOD 🙂 – it was absolutely delightful, very authentic, nicely presented and wonderfully tasty. The prices are moderate and overall, it was one of the best lunch experiences I had in any restaurant in Miami in years.
You can read more about it here: Manila Grill & BBQ, Pembroke Pines, Florida
So now, back to the dish at hand,  Sinigang Na Baboy
Sinigang is a sour soup native to the Philippines. Beef, pork, shrimp, fish, and even chicken (sinampalukang manok) can be used. The one featured here today uses pork as the main ingredient. One can use boneless pork, though bony parts of the pig known as “buto-buto” are usually preferred. Neck bones, spare ribs, baby back ribs, and pork belly all can be used.
The most common vegetables used are egglant, okra, onion, green beans, tomato and taro root.
The most common souring agent is tamarind juice, (sampalog), but if not available, you can use calamansi, lime, lemon,  guava, bilimbi (kamias), green mango, pineapple, and wild mangosteen (santol) To go an even easier route, you can buy instant “Sinigang Mix” ready to add to the stock while cooking. (For my personal taste this is too salty and not sour enough)
Today I went to look-up the sinigang I posted before on ChefsOpinion, but much to my surprise I could not find a single post, although I cook sinigang quite often. I then checked my folder of unpublished posts and low and behold, there was a bunch of pics of a sinigang I cooked about 6 years ago but never published. Looking at the quality of the pics I understand why I hesitated, but what the heck, here it is:
Sinigang na baboy from the distant past 🙂
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Masaya Ang Buhay !   Kainan Na !
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Sinigang Na Baboy  (Pork Sinigang)

Sinigang Na Baboy (Pork Sinigang)

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Sinigang Na Baboy  (Pork Sinigang)

Sinigang Na Baboy (Pork Sinigang)

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Sinigang Na Baboy  (Pork Sinigang)

Sinigang Na Baboy (Pork Sinigang)

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Pasta & Love / Love & Pasta

Pasta & Love / Love & Pasta

Pasta & Love / Love & Pasta

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So this is what happened last night –
I was working on this post for ChefsOpinion.
While processing the pics from the day’s dinner, I came across this sign of love (I did NOT arrange this before I took the pics).
Not only does it look like a heart, it also resembles two stylized swans heads and necks, an image we use often in food decoration.
What are the odds ?????
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Bon Appétit !   Love is Good !
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P.S.
It would have been even more awesome if it would have happened on the 14th (Valentines Day),
but then certainly nobody would have believed that it happened by happy chance 🙂 
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Spaghetti With Cabbage, Peppers And Gorgonzola

Spaghetti With Cabbage, Peppers, And Gorgonzola

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Pasta & Love / Love & Pasta

Pasta & Love / Love & Pasta

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Preparation :
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Piri Piri Chicken With Portuguese Fried Rice

 

Piri Piri Chicken

Piri Piri Chicken

Here  we have two beloved Portuguese dishes which are not typically recognized as Portuguese staples (rice) and chicken (piri piri chicken).
Piri piri chicken is a favorite way of preparing chicken/poultry in most parts of Portugal, especially in Lisbon. I remember eating grilled chicken brushed with a spicy sauce in Lisbon way back in the seventies and then twenty five years later again, when I lived on Madeira with Maria, although I did not recall the “piri piri” part until I came across this video on my Portuguese friend’s Peter a few weeks ago (see link below) .
As for “Portuguese fried rice”, any cuisine in which rice features as a staple also has at least a few fried rice recipes, since everybody is used to reheat the leftover rice in a pan and adding “stuff” to it, usually in the form of other leftovers and/or veggies, seasoning, eggs, protein etc.
Grilling over an open fire is, of course, one of the best ways to cook chicken (or most other protein, no matter the country, style of cuisine or occasion. Brushing the meat when it almost ready to be served with a savory, spicy sauce and a squirt of fresh lemon or lime is all one needs to lift said protein (or vegetables) one more step up to reach culinary heaven 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more info about  Piri Piri Sauce
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Click here for a short video about  Piri Piri Chicken
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Click here for more info about  Food , Dining & Drinks In Portugal
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Pls note :
Piri piri sauce is prepared in a myriad of different ways, depending on the country, region, family preference, etc. The one essential common ingredient is the use of piri piri peppers. Also, the amount of piri piri you brush onto your food depends on your own preference. As you can see in the picture, I love to be generous with my thicker than usual  piri piri 🙂
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Hans’ Piri Piri Sauce Recipe :
4 tablespoons lemon juice, 5 tablespoons olive oil1cup vinegar, 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce (optional), 1 tablespoon garlic, minced, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon piri piri peppers ;
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

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Piri Piri Chicken And Portuguese Fried Rice

Piri Piri Chicken And Portuguese Fried Rice

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Portuguese Fried Rice

Portuguese Fried Rice

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Piri Piri Chicken And Portuguese Fried Rice

Piri Piri Chicken And Portuguese Fried Rice

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Being a Chef.......
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Poor Man’s Crab Meat Risotto – Kani Kama Risotto

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Residing  close to Hialeah means one can buy a lot of goodies by the roadside from “flying vendors”, who sell anything from the trunk of their cars, – electronics, Christmas decorations, clothes, steaks, flowers, fruit, churros, plants, mani, limes, and of course, “fresh seafood”.
I suspect that most of this stuff comes from a “fell off the truck supplier”, but who knows 🙂
My neighbor, Maribel, showed me some of the bargains she bought yesterday from a roadside seafood dealer and asked me if I can replicate one of her favorite dishes, crab meat risotto. Of course, I was happy to do this for her and her husband, as I do cook at least twice a month for them. I asked her to bring me the crab meat; I had the rest of the ingredients in my larder and fridge, so no problem. Well, to no surprise to me, the $10.00 pack of “crab meat” turned out to be Surimi (Kani Kama). To the seller’s credit, at least it was in good shape and smelled and felt very fresh when defrosted, so I explained to Maribel that I can make a seafood risotto for her and that it would be a great dish, although with a basic seafood taste instead of crabmeat taste. And so I did, using the surimi and clam juice for flavor, and the resulting risotto looked great, tasted great and, most important, it made my neighbors happy. (I assume the “crabmeat risotto” which they usually eat at their favorite restaurant in Hialeah is not exactly loaded with “real crabmeat” either 🙂
So there you have it – a wonderfully tasty and pretty dish for the price of a basic “fish and rice” meal. Mission accomplished! 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click her for more  Risotto  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click her for more  Seafood  on  ChefsOpinion
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Poor Man's Crab Meat Risotto

Poor Man’s Crab Meat Risotto

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Poor Man's Crab Meat Risotto

Poor Man’s Crab Meat Risotto

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Preparation :
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Curried Pumpkin, Potato And Coconut Soup

Curried Pumpkin, Potato And Coconut Soup

Curried Pumpkin, Potato And Coconut Soup

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The  style of this curry soup has it’s origins in Europe. As I mentioned in previous posts, many decades ago, when I was an apprentice in Europe, “curries” were prepared the European way, nothing at all like “real curries” as they exist in far-away land’s 🙂
Madras curry powder, ground cumin, cream or milk, onion and banana and chicken stock were the main ingredients in our “curries”. They usually contained chicken or shrimp and were thickened with flour, or in the case of soups, with rice or potatoes. Although not in any way “authentic”, they were nevertheless (and still are!) very delicious in their own way.
During the years Maria and I gave regular dinner parties,  we served this soup often and it was always a hit as part of a multi-course meal.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Curried Pumpkin, Potato And Coconut Soup

Curried Pumpkin, Potato And Coconut Soup

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Curried Pumpkin, Potato And Coconut Soup

Curried Pumpkin, Potato And Coconut Soup

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Preparation :
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Balls Galore

Balls Galore........

Balls Galore……..


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“Chicken Soup With Matzo Balls And Chicken Dumplings” 

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If  you love balls (pun intended?), this soup will make you happy. In my own opinion, these chicken balls (ok then, dumplings ! 🙂 ) and these Matzo Ba… Dumplings 🙂  are some of the best dumplings  you can find .
I have previously published quite a few dishes with matzo balls, but this is the first time I combine them with chicken dumplings.
One would think that chicken dumplings are nothing special, but these certainly are an exception to the sea of mediocre or even outright nasty stuff usually being served as chicken dumplings these days.
Very light and full of flavor, they are a far cry from the stuff which many “cooks” will serve you. How do I know that? Because I have been served so much crap labeled as chicken dumplings that I usually don’t order them in restaurants anymore. Mostly they contain less than fresh meat, lots of fillers and they look and taste as if somebody want’s to punish you by making you eat them.
Not these here baby’s !
Prepared from fresh chicken meat with no fillers, tasty and pretty to look at, accompanied by another gift to comfort food in the form of fluffy matzo balls and served in a strong, delicious chicken broth, this is comfort food as wonderful as it can get 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Matzo Balls  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for  Chicken Soup Recipe  on  ChefsOpinion
Pls note that this chicken soup recipe is just one version of many 🙂
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Balls Galore

Balls Galore

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Balls Galore

Balls Galore

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Balls Galore

notice how juicy the chicken dumplings are………..

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Preparation :
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Jägerschnitzel Vom Huhn Mit Pasta Und Schmelze – Chicken Cutlet Hunter Style

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I just  have come across some debates about what constitutes a “true” Jägerschnitzel, so I’d like to put that to rest, right now, right here, with some authority on the subject (easy now !) 🙂
After all, I grew up  in Swabia in Southern Germany, where, during my youth, schnitzel were one of the most commonly served animal proteins, served a few times a month at home and more often than not during special occasions, such as restaurant visits, birthdays, weddings or funerals or any other gathering where “decent” food was served for a reasonable price.
Traditionally, a Jägerschnitzel is a thin-pounded veal or pork cutlet, dusted with flour and sauteed, then  covered with mushroom sauce, to which sometimes cream and parsley or chives are added, and accompanied by pasta (mostly, but not exclusively Spaetzle), roast potatoes (Bratkartoffeln) or dumplings (Knödel).
A “TRUE”  Jägerschnitzel is “NEVER” breaded (never cover anything breaded with sauce, one of the basics in classic cooking – after all, you bread it to be crisp, so why soften it by covering it with moisture ?!!) And yes, I know, like always in cooking, there are a few exceptions, but they do NOT pertain to schnitzel.
Then there are Jägerschnitzel made of chicken or turkey. While less traditional, they have become popular lately because of changing eating-habits and because the meat is more affordable than pork and veal, (especially milk-veal), which has been priced out of reach for most folks.
So there you have it – the end of the Jägerschnitzel Debate.
You are welcome 🙂
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Guten Appetit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Spätzle  on  ChefsOpinion
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Jägerschnitzel Vom Huhn Mit Pasta Und Schmelze - Chicken Cutlet Hunter Style

Jägerschnitzel Vom Huhn Mit Pasta Und Schmelze – Chicken Cutlet Hunter Style

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Jägerschnitzel Vom Huhn Mit Pasta Und Schmelze - Chicken Cutlet Hunter Style

Jägerschnitzel Vom Huhn Mit Pasta Und Schmelze – Chicken Cutlet Hunter Style

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Preparation :
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The Ultimate (Faux) Tandoori Chicken

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Tandoori Chicken cooking in a Tandoor


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Excerpt from Wiki:
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” Tandoori
chicken is a dish originating in the Indian subcontinent. It is widely popular in South Asia particularly India and Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Western world. It consists of roasted chicken prepared with yogurt and spices. The name comes from the type of cylindrical clay oven, a tandoor, in which the dish is traditionally prepared.
The chicken is marinated in yogurt and seasoned with the spice mixture tandoori masala. Cayenne pepper, red chili powder or Kashmiri red chili powder is used to give it a fiery red hue. A higher amount of turmeric produces an orange color. In milder versions, both red and yellow food coloring are sometimes used to achieve bright colors, but turmeric powder is both mild and brightly colored, as is paprika, a sweet red pepper powder.[5] It is traditionally cooked at high temperatures in a tandoor (clay oven).

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Excerpt from a previous post  on  ChefsOpinion:
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” Some  of my favorite food-memories are from my time living in Karachi, Pakistan, were my wife Maria and I had many wonderful dinners at the rooftop restaurant of our hotel, the ” Avari Towers, Karachi“.
Sadly, I understand that this restaurant has been converted into a steak restaurant by now ( after all, its been nearly 20 years since Maria and I lived there).
At the time, the roof top was a very exclusive, local-fare only, restaurant, with a tandoori oven right there on the rooftop.
Benazir Bhutto, who a few years later became prime minister of Pakistan, resided in a house just next to our hotel and came to eat at the roof top a few times while we were there, which got Maria excited each time and she actually asked Mrs.Bhutto for an autograph (which she got, despite the incredible security), which made Maria happy and embarrassed me🙂 .
Anyway, as far as the food was concerned, all the restaurants at the  Avari Towers  were in my opinion by far the best and safest places to enjoy a meal in all of  Karachi  and the tandoori dishes at the rooftop topped it all !
I had many a good tandoori dish while traveling in Pakistan and of course in India, but never did I find a good one in Florida in all the years I have resided here. While they might exist, so far they have eluded me.
So, whenever I lust for tasty, well prepared tandoori-style food that rekindles my memories of times past, I usually have to take matters in my own hands. ”
Although I don’t have access to a tandoor, this is as close as you can get to the real thing. “Faux”, maybe – but super delicious, definitely 🙂
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مزےکری  !   maze karein   !   زندگی اچھی ہے  !   

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P.S.
Usually tandoori chicken is cut into cubes and threaded on skewers before cooking. However, sometimes whole or split chicken are cooked, hanging on hooks and wires in the center of the tandoor.
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The Ultimate (Faux) Tandoori Chicken

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The Ultimate (Faux) Tandoori Chicken

The Ultimate (Faux) Tandoori Chicken

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let chicken rest in a warm place at least 15 minutes before cutting into serving sized pieces; serves 4 - 6

let chicken rest in a warm place at least 15 minutes before cutting into serving sized pieces; serves 4 – 6

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures

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Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ’d Corn

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Am  I the only one who wishes dishes like this would widely be available in restaurants??
I am getting so very tired of seeing the same, mostly mediocre food on most restaurant menus. Of course there are a few exceptions, but these are mostly very high-end and not within reach of most of us on a regular basis. Then there are the ethnic restaurants, but most of them serve the same, “Westernized or Americanized fare. Same steaks, same salads, same sandwiches, same pasta dishes, same stews, etc, etc, etc.
I long for “the good old times” of food service, when restaurants had personality and the menu was a mirror of the chef’s ideas, passion, culinary abilities and standards, as well as the seasons and regions offerings and the owners personal and professional pride.
Going to a new restaurant used to be about discovering new dishes, new ingredients, new pairings, new preparations, new presentations. Most of all, it was about food – how it looked, smelled, tasted. People used to eat not one monster-sized dish, but a menu consisting of dishes of different textures, colors, fragrance, taste and presentation, harmoniously presented in logical order and appreciated for the effort that went into it to be as perfect a meal as possible. Most of all, one was able to identify the food that was presented, by its looks, aroma and taste. Customers appreciated any food that was prepared to a high standard, no matter how expensive and rare or how simple and ordinary the raw ingredients were. What counted was the mastery with which raw ingredients were transformed into food that could be enjoyed for its own sake.
My point, you ask?
A few days ago I was invited to one of the most famous, most expensive, most “in” restaurants in Miami, situated in one of the very  fancy and famous hotels down by the beach.
The surroundings were breathtakingly beautiful, the service excellent, the menu sounded exciting and alluring.
There were eight of us, mostly hospitality professionals and the host of our party who has traveled the world and is a food-fanatic. We ordered twelve appetizers,three different soups, twelve main courses, a variety of desserts and cheeses, all to be tasted and shared between us. Most folks had wine, a couple had beers and I had water. We had apéritif’s (OJ for me) and coffee.
The bill was $2330.00, plus tip.
While this seems reasonable for the location, the amount of food and the good wine, the quality of the food would have warranted a total bill of maybe $800.00 😦
While some of the dishes were complete misses, most of what we ate was decent and some of it was actually good, NONE of it was very good, let alone outstanding. Halfway through the meal we started talking longingly about really good food  we had in other restaurants, cities and countries (none of it in Miami).
I have read numerous reviews about this place, some good, some bad, some so so. But my own experience at this place has once more convinced me that the main reason we have so many mediocre restaurants around here is because most of the clientele at such “modern, popular dining establishments” are not handicapped by good taste, experience or common sense but rather solely interested to see and to be seen by like-minded folks for which the quality of the food is secondary. Therefore so many “Chefs” who are less than qualified to be at the helm of a great restaurant are heading a bunch of restaurants who exist only because of huge sums of money spend on PR instead of being spend on talent in the service and the kitchen.
Well folks, I had to vent a bit here……….
So, back down to earth and to the dish at hand, which I and most of my fellow diners in our group would have gladly exchanged for the offerings we received at said restaurant 🙂
And there you have it.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
Please note that I am aware that there are many excellent restaurants to be found in this country (very few in Miami)
However, it usually takes a good amount of luck, insider knowledge and/or money to find and enjoy them.
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Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ'd Corn

Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ’d Corn

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Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ'd Corn

Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ’d Corn

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Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ'd Corn

Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ’d Corn

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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