Lee & Maries Luring You Into Autism Awareness With Fresh Food.

August 27, 2012

I first heard about Lee & Marie’s Cakery Company from Chef Aaron Brooks a couple of months ago and ever since then I’ve been diligently Facebook stalking them. Why my sudden interest in a bakery that doesn’t even exist yet, you wonder? Bueno, one visit to their Facebook page and you’ll see a cover photo that boasts that they are, “Proudly employing & supporting adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” That’s not something you see a company announce every day, so naturally, I was intrigued. They’ve been in the planning process since 2011 and all of their hard work will soon come to fruition when their storefront in South Beach opens its doors to the public on August 31, 2012.


Dining Room and Counter

Kids Corner

I was lucky enough to grab a sneak peek at all the great things they’ve got going on in their production kitchen in Wynwood as well as a view to their storefront in South Beach. Pero, first I have to introduce you to the brains and talent behind this operation. The founder is Andy Travaglia. The Executive Chef is Yannis Janssens from the Fountainebleau. Chiat – Mei Yow is assistant pastry chef and comes to Lee & Marie’s from the Setai. Keelin Martin and Shawne Brian are both pastry sous chefs. Enrique Valdes is a savory sous chefs from Yardhouse. Luis Piñol is their Communications Manager and branding guru. Last and most definitely not least, we have Johanna Oltavaro who is the retail manager for Lee & Marie’s.
BLT sandwiches with Pork Belly

Up Close with the BLT


Couscous Salad

So now that we’ve got the introductions out of the way you might be asking yourself, who the hell is Lee and Marie and how do they tie into Autism?! Bueno, according to Andy Travaglia, Lee (short for Lenore) was her grandmother and Marie was her ex-husband’s mother. Both were phenomenal bakers that Andy has decided to honor. Andy also explained that she is personally motivated to empower people with Autism. Andy has reached out to local government and is currently working closely with the Univeristy of Miami’s Center for Autism and Related Diseases (CARD). Andy has made it her lifelong purpose to advocate for Autism awareness and autonomy for those with the disorder. According to Andy, with the help of U.M.’s CARD they are expected to have 15-20 adults with Autism working both front and back of the house at Lee & Marie’s by the new year.

     
Homemade potato chips

Biscuits and Gravy
Now let’s talk about what I know best, FOOD! Chef Janssens stated that they are trying to stick to American classics. All of their food is made fresh daily with a focus on local ingredients. They will be offering 5 cakes on a daily basis that include, Lee’s German Chocolate cake, Hummingbird cake, Red Velvet, Carrot cake and Devil’s Food cake.  Also on board is Marie’s New York style cheesecake. Now, I know I said “American classics,” but Chef Janssens and his team are bringing new life to old school favorites. How does a Caramel Heath Éclair or Bourbon Bundt Cake sound (both were ridiculously delicious)? Coconut mint rice crispies treats or homemade oreo cookies? Maybe some Banana Passion Bread or Bacon Corn Muffins are more up your alley? If none of these things appeal to you,I feel so sorry for your taste buds then you have to at least try Chef Chiat – Mei Yow’s Panther Coffee pudding.  I was lucky enough to get a chance to try all of these things and although I’ll be  jogging all over Hialeah for the next month trying to burn it all off, I can pinky swear that every calorie was well worth it. 

Coconut cake

In addition to pastries and cakes, they will be offering some delicious sandwiches, salads and they’re working with La Parisienne Bakery to offer some French style breads. I can personally vouch for their BLT sandwich that comes with pork belly, kimchee aioli, lettuce, tomato and avocado. If you know me, anything porkbelly gets a thumbs-up and this sandwich didn’t disappoint. The creaminess from the avocado and the slight kick from the aioli all worked perfectly. Also be sure to check out their salchichon hoagie with drunken goat cheese, salchichon (duh), lettuce, tomato and aioli. Their couscous salad and homemade potato chips are also a must try. As hot as it is in South Beach, their couscous is completely refreshing with a hint of lemon, almonds and golden raisins.  And if you hadn’t already figured it out, they’ll also be serving up Panther Coffee. Definitely great lunch items that should be checked out asap.
Lee's German Chocolate Cake

In addition to pastries and cakes, they will be offering some delicious sandwiches, salads and they’re working with La Parisienne Bakery to offer some French style breads. I can personally vouch for their BLT sandwich that comes with pork belly, kimchee aioli, lettuce, tomato and avocado. If you know me, anything porkbelly gets a thumbs-up and this sandwich didn’t disappoint. The creaminess from the avocado and the slight kick from the aioli all worked perfectly. Also be sure to check out their salchichon hoagie with drunken goat cheese, salchichon duh, lettuce, tomato and aioli. Their couscous salad and homemade potato chips are also a must try. As hot as it is in South Beach, their couscous is completely refreshing with a hint of lemon, almonds and golden raisins. And if you hadn’t already figured it out, they’ll also be serving up Panther Coffee. Definitely great lunch items that should be checked out asap.
Banana Passion Fruit Bread

Freshly baked cookies


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Restaurant Details:
Lee & Marie's Cakery Company
108 South Pointe Drive
Miami Beach, FL
305 672 5167

Lee & Marie's Cakery Company on Urbanspoon

Winner! Winner!! Miami Spice Dinner!!

August 22, 2012


As I've tweeted and mentioned in my SFFstyle post, Johnson & Wales has a weekly dining contest going on during Miami Spice. Check out the article for all the details on that awesome contest.

Pero in the meantime, I've teamed up with Johnson & Wales University to bring you guys a little contest! We are simply GIVING AWAY a $25 gift certificate to one of the following restaurants:

- Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
- Pubbelly
- Michy's
- Meat Market
- Barceloneta Spanish Bistro & Market
- Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar
- Peacock Garden Cafe
- Talavera Cocina Mexicana
- Panorama Restaurant & Sky Lounge

How do you win? Bueno, here's how:

  1. Jump over to twitter.com and follow @FatgirlHedonist AND @JWUNorthMiami

  2. Send a tweet that states the following:
I want to win! http://tinyurl.com/iseejwu  #ISEEJWU @FatgirlHedonist @JWUNorthMiami

  1. Then sit back and wait.

A winner will be chosen at random on Friday August 24, 2012 at 2pm (just in time for happy hour!)

Now get to it and tweet!

Meet your new South Florida Ford Culinary Correspondent!!

August 17, 2012

So I've decided to branch out a little and take on a new responsibility as South Florida Ford's Culinary Correspondent. As such, I'll be contributing to their blog on a weekly basis. My goal is to bring to that site something different than what I'm already doing here. What does that mean, you ask? Bueno, I'm not sure what it means yet. Pero in the mean time, I've put together a list of upcoming events in the Miami food scene for my first post. The post includes info on a kick ass sweepstakes being offered by Johnson and Wales University for people that take part in Miami Spice. I tried to keep the list short, but with a little something for everyone and every budget.


To check out the post and the upcoming events, go HERE.

Don Toston y Doña Arepa - CLOSED

August 13, 2012

These days, my job takes me all over the 305, this allots me the opportunity to check out more restaurants for lunch. I'm always looking for little hole-in-the-wall places and preferably on the 3B's side (bueno, bonito y barato). I recently stumbled upon Don Toston y Doña Arepa, it's located on the west end of a strip mall on Flagler street, but for some reason the name caught my attention. I peeked inside and there were a couple of people eating, so I decided to sit down and just give it a shot.

The waitress was nice and took the time to explain the menu with her thick Venezuelan accent. For my first visit I decided to start off with chicharrones and arepas. I'm half Colombian and as my mom puts it, tremenda pesada when it comes to arepas. So when my arepas were served I was perplexed, for one, the arepas had been fried, which isn't typical, but oh well. I then split one open and noticed small specks of something brown, I took a bite and it tasted good. It tasted as if it had been fried in pork fat. I kept inspecting these brown specks in my arepa only to realize that they were actually small bits of chicharrones. Although the arepas were very different to what I'm accustomed to, I loved the flavor and the bits of chicharron is ingenious. Which brings me to the chicharrones the arepas are served with, when you tell me “chicharrones,” I expect chunks of fried pork belly. NOT pork rinds that came out of a bag, no me jodas. That was a total disappointment. In the future, I'll get the arepas by themselves and not bother with their "chicharrones."


Up next, I went with a Patacon con Carne Mechada. This sandwich of sorts comes between two giant fried tostones, shredded beef (ropa vieja), fried sweet plantain (mas platano), cheese, lettuce, tomato and a cilantro/garlic sauce. Esta mierda was the messiest sandwich I've ever had, by the time I was done I looked like Rudy Eugene's twin sister. Now don't get me wrong, I say “esta mierda” in the best way possible. This sandwich was delicious, the meat was seasoned perfectly and the cilantro/garlic sauce was a perfect compliment, but it was impossible to eat with your bare hands and not end up looking like a hot mess.



On my next visit I started off with their Frituritas de Fufu. These little fried nuggets of heaven are served with your choice of mango sauce or their cilantro garlic sauce. Their fufu is homemade and then rolled into bite size balls then deep fried til crisp. I liked them best with the cilantro garlic sauce, but by all means give the mango sauce a shot. My only critique is that I would've liked to have seen a more generous portion, but that's only because I really liked them.

The last thing I've had at Don Toston y Doña Arepa is their Cachapa with Queso De Mano. Their Cachapa (or as Colombians know them, arepa de choclo) is rich and homemade with real yellow corn. This thing was massive, that's what she said. Their queso de mano is freshly made in-house according to the waitress and tasted great. This definitely ain't like one of those arepas you get at the Youth Fair (yes, I still call it the Youth Fair), this was the real deal. The best part is that for only $6.00 it was filling and delicious.


I definitely plan on hitting up this place on a consistent basis, they offer home made pizza, and some Venezuelan treats that I plan on exploring. The only thing I will avoid is their cheap excuse for chicharrones. If you're in the Flagler/Miami area, give this place a try. The service is quick, the food is authentic and good.


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Restaurant Details:
Don Toston y Doña Arepa
(305) 266-9696
8349 W Flagler St
Miami, FL 33144
http://www.microk2.com/DonToston&DonaArepa/main.html


Don Toston & Doña Arepa on Urbanspoon

New York Style Peaksa in the 305

August 4, 2012

Who has the best pizza in the 305 is one of those touchy subjects in Miami, like who has the best Cuban food, which part of town has the shittiest drivers or what’s the most over-hyped restaurant in town? As a lover of fine peaksa (the true Hialeah pronunciation of the word pizza), I’ve become very fond of Kings County Pizza in North Miami Beach. For many years, my go-to pizza stop in North Miami was Steve’s Pizza and don’t get me wrong, Steve’s is still great at 3am when you’re drunk off your ass and need to sober up (or so I’ve been told).  I heard a lot of positive buzz in the twitterverse about Kings County so I decided to give it a shot or 3. 

The place itself is in a small shopping plaza on West Dixie Highway. The dining room is actually on the opposite end of the mini strip mall, so logistically it’s a little on the awkward side. Our waitress was the poster-child for child labor laws very sweet and accommodating. On our first visit we kept it simple and got half dozen garlic knots, some mozzarella sticks and an Old World pizza. The garlic knots were piping hot, freshly baked pieces of bread that were smothered in olive oil, dusted with black pepper, parsley and fresh garlic. They were delicious and by the time I was done savoring my first one, my boyfriend had inhaled the other five FML. The mozzarella sticks were great in my opinion; for once mozzarella sticks were actually packed with cheese and none of those tasteless breadcrumbs. They come paired with their homemade tomato sauce which is also great to dip the garlic knots in. Finally, our pizza came along; the Old World pizza is actually a traditional margherita with a thin and ridiculously crispy crust topped with fresh mozzarella, crushed tomatoes, basil, and olive oil. This pizza smelled as good as it tasted, but the best part by far was that crust. The crust is dusted with cornmeal on the bottom so every bite has some major crunch. I couldn't help it and the spanglish escaped me like it usually does and I said, "This peaksa esta super buena!” The combination of basil, tomatoes and cheese is a classic, but throw that over this amazing crust and drizzle some olive oil and you’ve got heaven in NMB.








Naturally, I had to come back for a second visit, since the first was such a good one. I had to make sure it wasn't like a fluke or nothing, y'know? This time we simplified things and just got a dozen garlic knots and their Neapolitan pizza. I won’t go over the garlic knots because they were just as good as the first time. The Neapolitan is their real-deal New York style classic. It’s that same delicious and crunchy/crispy crust as their Old World peaksa with their homemade sauce and real mozzarella. The sauce and the crust are what really make this pizza great. Their sauce uses fresh ingredients that completely heighten the flavor of the whole pie. This one and the Old World were my two personal favorites.


On our last visit I decided to branch out a little. I decided to try their meatball sub while my boyfriend had their Grandma squared pizza.  The meatball sub is pretty big and comes in regular hoagie bread. Four big ol’ meatballs are stuffed into the bread and then it’s all topped off with cheese. There’s just enough sauce to keep everything nice and moist (hey now!) but not swimming in a mess. The cheese over the top is melted just right and luckily this sandwich does not fall apart on you while eating it. The meatballs were delicious, soft and melted in your mouth like buttah. I’d definitely get this bad boy again in a heartbeat. Although I only tried a small bite of the Grandma squared pizza, I can say the crust on this one is much softer, doughier, slightly thicker and unfortunately no big crunch. It’s got a spicier Sicilianesque sauce and it’s topped with mozzarella. Although flavor-wise this pizza is great, especially that nice kick of red pepper heat from the sauce, and I wasn’t crazy about the crust. The crunchy crust is really what draws me back to this place, so there’s no sense in getting a pizza that lacks what I’m looking for.




Lastly, I’ll talk about the only dessert item I’ve had at Kings County, their homemade tiramisu. This is the only disappointment I’ve experienced here. Their tiramisu is served in a small round plastic container that’s about an inch or two deep. Half of that container is filled with what seemed like cool whip topped with chocolate shavings and the other half is a very thin layer of rum soaked lady fingers and a thin layer of mascarpone cheese. The lady fingers were so heavy on the rum that I couldn't really taste anything else. I guess they can’t do everything right. It’s a shame because I was hoping they’d have a great dessert to go with their great peaksas.


So to sum things up, head over to NMB and check out Kings County Pizza. Be sure to get the garlic knots, pizzas, mozzarella sticks, meatball subs and don’t bother with dessert. I should mention this place doesn’t do fountain drinks, so each refill (a can of soda) will cost you. Don’t mind the awkward dining room at the end of the strip mall that’s completely separate from the restaurant. If you have leftovers, don’t worry and just take it home because cold Kings County pizza for breakfast is almost as good as fresh Kings County pizza. If you live in the area they deliver!

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Restaurant Details:
Kings County Pizza
18228 West Dixie Highway
North Miami Beach, Fl
305 792 9455
www.kingscountypizza.com

Kings County Pizza on Urbanspoon