The Local crafts a serious twist on fish and chips

June 27, 2011

I had driven down to Coral Gables to meet some friends after work last week and got there a bit earlier than anticipated. I decided to park, walk around and kill some time. While doing so, I stumbled upon a chalkboard on the sidewalk that read, "Happy Hour 1/2 off all drinks." Being that I had just survived a horrible day at work, this peaked my attention heavily and I decided to go in. The restaurant was relatively small and only had a few patrons inside, I decided to sit at the bar and grab a drink. The place has the look and feel of a modern and inviting pub, not what we're really used to here in good ol' Miami.

They had an impressive beer selection and I decided to go with the Dogfish Head 90 Min IPA (India Pale Ale). The bartender was very friendly and suggested I try their Avery Breweries Maharaja Imperial Double IPA; he even gave me a sample of a couple different beers to try before settling on my beer. I ended up going with his original suggestion and having a glass of Maharaja Imperial. The bartender was really helpful and definitely knew his beer. The Maharaja Imperial is definitely not your typical Corona Light, it has a very strong pine and citrus aroma and taste with a dark amber color. Definitely what I needed after my long day. 

Even though I was meeting some friends, I decided to take a gander at their food menu. They had an interesting selection of snacks and entrees. Since I was killing time I decided to get a small snack and decided to go with the Salt Cod Chicharrones. I genuinely didn't know what to expect, but I felt adventurous and decided to take a chance. When the chicharrones finally came out, what I got looked like a bowl of funky chips. I took a bite out of one of the chips and sure enough... I got a burst of salt cod flavor in my mouth. How they had transformed salt cod (or as my Cuban counterparts know it, bacalao) to what had the feel, look and texture of a chip was beyond me. The salt cod also came with fresh malanga chips and a parsley aioli that cut the saltiness of the cod wonderfully. I inhaled my chips and debated on a second beer. When the bartender came and asked how it was all I could say was, "Great!" The staff was very knowledgeable about how the food is made and how they try to buy from local farms. They were even nice enough to answer my questions about how in the world they made the chips and without giving me too many secrets, he stated the chicharrones are a 3 day process that is all done in-house.

While I was there, I was also lucky enough to overhear chef Cabrera mention that he is looking to start offering Brunch in the near future and is on the hunt for a pastry chef. If their brunch is as creative as their dinner time offerings, I plan to definitely check it out. Next time it won’t be a mistaken find.

Restaurant Details:
The Local-Craft Food & Drink
150 Giralda Avenue
Coral Gables, FL 33134

The Local - Craft Food & Drink on Urbanspoon

Shake Shack can do no wrong.

June 24, 2011

Shake Shack was introduced to Miami one year ago; with it's low key appearance yet perfectly situated location in Lincoln Road Mall, this place is a force to be reckoned with. Originally from New York City, the growing Shake Shack franchise has made its way down the east coast to meet the eager fatasses of Miami (myself included). I go to Shake Shack fairly regularly since it first opened up and from the first bite I've been hooked, so naturally I had to blog about it.

Historically, I've always gotten the single shack burger which consists of one Black Angus beef patty, American cheese, shack sauce, lettuce, and tomato. On this last visit, I decided to up the ante and go for a double shack burger, which of course means double the meat (oh yea baby!). Their burgers are always cooked medium, unless otherwise specified. I ordered mine with no lettuce or tomato, just the good stuff. I stepped up to the challenge and made that burger my bitch; It was absolutely delicious. The meat is juicy and tender, the bun isn't sliced completely in two, so it doesn't fall apart on you or make a mess (which is ingenious if you ask me). The shack sauce on this little piece of heaven is just as important as the meat itself. The sauce is their take on Thousand Island dressing which consists of mayo, some ketchup, mustard, a few spices, and pickles (not relish) blended in.

Along with my amazing burger, I went ahead and ordered a side of cheese fries. The fries themselves are nothing impressive, they're Yukon Gold potatoes in a simple crinkle cut. What makes the fries stand out however, is Shake Shack's cheese sauce. This isn't your momma's can of cheez whiz, their sauce is made in-house and will have you licking the cardboard when you're done. It has a thick and creamy consistency that really sky rockets what would've been mediocre french fries.

You'd think by now I'd be ready for a hospital admission with a severe case of food coma, but no I haven't had dessert yet! I usually don't go for dessert because it truly is a lot of food, but since this time I went prepared to up the ante, I had to pony up and deal. I decided to build my own Concrete (think Dairy Queen Blizzard) and I went with vanilla frozen custard, chocolate truffle cookie dough and hot fudge. All I could say bite after bite was, "Wow!" The fudge was thick, rich and warm; the custard was thick and the chunks of cookie dough were chewy and distributed evenly throughout the whole concrete.

The restaurant itself has a loungy yet fast food appeal. You walk up to the register, order your food and are then handed a buzzer (similar to Elevation burger, BRG Burger Joint or DGB burger). Once your food is ready you simply just pick it up at the counter. This is definitely not a sit down restaurant with waiter service but it works well with the Lincoln Road crowd and feel. This place is not only kid friendly but dog friendly with their very own doggy menu items. If you haven't checked this restaurant out, you're missing out. If you haven't checked it out yet, stop by the next time you're shopping and people watching on Lincoln Road!

Restaurant Details:
Shake Shack
1111 Lincoln Rd.
Miami Beach, Fl.
(305) 434-7787

Shake Shack on Urbanspoon

Sushi Joe In Doral

June 23, 2011

I had been craving some good sushi for the better part of a month when one of my best friends recently recommended Sushi Joe. My girlfriends and I decided to all head over to Doral and try the place out. Sushi Joe is a small family run restaurant located in a shopping plaza off of Doral Blvd, the place itself is unassuming and quaint. Inside, amidst dim lighting and Asian decor is a welcoming staff. As me and my glutton girlfriends usually do, we decide to load up on a cornucopia of appetizers before our entrees.

First off, we dig into their Tuna Tataki which was beautifully done, lightly seared and practically melted in our mouths. We had nearly destroyed that plate before I had realized I hadn't snapped a picture of it, but was able to take a picture before it disappeared. It was served over a ginger soy sauce and sprinkled with very thinly sliced scallions that gave it a nice depth of flavor. Definitely a dish to try out.

Then we decided to inhale their Pork Gyoza. Gyoza as a whole, is a dish that is hard to do wrong; the dumplings themselves were alright and overall unimpressive. Unfortunately, the ponzu dipping sauce that accompanied them tasted just like regular soy sauce. This dish left us with a little to be desired, but we kept our gluttonous rampage going.

Onto our next dish, Sushi Joe's Age Tofu. This dish boiled down to two large blocks of deep fried Tofu over a ginger/soy sauce. It was very tasty, but almost impossible to eat with chopsticks. The tofu was placed inside a small soup bowl and it was difficult to manage with my poor chopstick skills. When I was able to score a piece into my mouth, it was great. The Tofu wasn't hard (think the consistency of a cheese such as mozzarella) and had a tiny panko crunch around the edges that soaked up the ginger/soy sauce. The flavor of the dish was great and the fact that it was difficult to eat just made us want to eat it more.

Once we waved our white flag on the Age Tofu, we moved along towards Sushi Joe's guava creamcheese tempura roll. My friends and I were all expecting a sweet cuban pastry in a roll, perhaps a dessert sushi roll and that's definitely not what we got. To our surprise, the roll was actually a savory and filling dish. The rice and the fact that the roll was fried actually took away from any over-powering guava sweetness we were expecting. This dish is a good and different vegetarian sushi option.

To be perfectly honest, by the time we were done eating all of these appetizers we were all completely stuffed. Did that stop any of us from ordering entrees? Absolutely NOT! We're fatasses from Miami, we don't know how to say 'No' to food. I'll go into detail about my entree only, since I didn't try the other girls' dishes. I went with their 'Blue Monster' roll which consists of salmon, crab, avocado, cream cheese rolled with eel and masago on top. The salmon and avocado were so fresh in this roll that they basically just melted in my mouth. This was also my first time trying eel in a roll (or anywhere else for that matter) and it was also really tasty and flavorful.

Although my body and stomach were completely full, I couldn't stop myself from eating the entire roll. It was delicious and I definitely plan to go back and try their Dorazuela roll (tempura sweet plantain and cream cheese) and their Cuban Roll (tempura shrimp, turkey ham, cream cheese with guava jelly). I love the fact that this restaurant is taking a stab at trying Cuban dishes and reinventing them into sushi. I think it's so creative and neat for them to try something like this in a community that isn't usually open to that kind of change with their food staples. Now if only this wonderful little hole in the wall could figure out a more eater-friendly way to serve the Age Tofu.

Restaurant Details:
Sushi Joe Japanese Restaurant
9557 NW 41 Street Doral FL 33178

Sushi Joe on Urbanspoon

The best coffee shop in Coral Gables

June 13, 2011

With the rise and shine of of every Monday morning, I always require a big pick me up to get me going. Adderall would be nice, but I usually settle for a cup of coffee. For years, I've made my way to the Starbucks drive through where the baristas all know me by name. Today was different and I was left wanting so much more than my generic over commercialized mocha latte. 

Over the weekend, I was exploring Coral Gables and Miracle Mile and I stumbled upon Pasión Del Cielo. I had been there once before and had somehow forgotten how wonderful their coffee is. This is the best coffee shop in Coral Gables. For every coffee drink offered in their establishment you can pick your own coffee beans from 11 different countries (all varying in flavor, body and aroma). I opted to try something cold, since the weather was so hot and humid, and picked a caramel frappe. Seriously, the best coffee in Coral Gables. The staff was friendly and the price for my frappe was actually cheaper than the comparable Starbucks caramel frappaccino. 

The flavor in this caramel frappe was out of this world and that's not a compliment I hand out easily or often. It's no surprise that Pasión Del Cielo was Miami New Times' Best Coffeehouse for 2010. The flavor in their frappe was robust and completely, refreshingly different to any frappaccino I have ever had in Starbucks. Even their whipped cream was thick, creamy and tasted home made. I drank every last sip of that frappe and was left wondering why in God's name this place hasn't expanded and opened up other locations. 

They also offer a handful of pastries and empanadas. I had their banana, rum and nutella empanada and I apologize for not having a picture to offer you. I devoured that bad boy too fast to realize I hadnt snapped a picture of it. The empanada was different from the savory empanadas we're all used to in south Florida and it had a wonderful flavor. In all honesty, you can NEVER go wrong when you mix bananas and nutella, throw in some rum and you've got heaven in an empanada. 

The coffee shop has a great and inviting feel. It's cozy atmosphere and helpful baristas made my experience that much better. The baristas were all very knowledgeable in the different coffee beans offered and were able to help me decide based on what I was looking for. If you're ever in the Gables, you have to be sure to stop by and check out their coffee or empanadas. So you can see for yourself what you've been missing out on by squandering your money at Starbucks every morning. 

Restaurant Details:

Pasión del Cielo

(305) 448-0007
100 Giralda Ave
Coral GablesFL 33134 

Pasion Del Cielo on Urbanspoon

A tweet a tweet a sound so sweet!

June 11, 2011

First Blog Entry 1.0

June 6, 2011

So after much contemplating and urging from my friends, I've decided to start up a food blog detailing my food adventures around Miami. I'm a chubby hispanic girl who likes food and the greasier, yummier and funkier, the better it is! Within the last 7 months I've become a food truck junkie, with several of the trucks knowing me by name and knowing my 'usual' order. Which is 1 part comforting and 2 parts embarrassing.

So with this blog, I'll discuss my outings as they occur, with the occasional photo and critique/review. See you at the dinner table!