Restaurant Happenings South Florida April 30, 2008




Raphael Restaurant, 530 Lincoln Road, 305.673.1139
Summer is upon us, so before it gets too hot, enjoy your last supper on Lincoln Road.  During the month of May, Raphael Restaurant invites guests to enjoy a meal for two, for the price of one!  This one-month-only, buy-one-get-one free promotion offers diners a chance to sample two pasta dishes for the restaurants extensive menu.  During lunch or dinner enjoy a selection of pastas including ravioli, gnocchi and linguini with dishes like the Truffle Ravioli, black truffle and ricotta cheese in a light creamy sauce.

On Monday, June 2nd, Downtown Coral Gables launches its first ever Coral Gables Restaurant Week presented by the Business Improvement District (BID) of Coral Gables, where participating chefs will offer three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner menus from June 2nd through 9th. This week serves to celebrate the great international chefs and venues which make Downtown Coral Gables one of the finest culinary destinations in the heart of Miami, with 23 Zagat-rated restaurants. 

Ariston Restaurant, 940 71st Street, (305) 864-9848.
Thanasis Barlos and Michelle Shimon announce that Ariston Restaurant is now open for lunch seven days a week.  Ariston, the Greek word signifying excellence, serves Classical Greek Cuisine with contemporary European accents.  Lunch is now available Monday through Friday from 12:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 12:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.

The Food Gang, 9472 Harding Avenue, 786 228 9292

Enjoy Mother’s Day Brunch at the Food Gang this May 11. Buffet feature the Cornucopia of Fresh Bread, Bagels, Sweet Rolls, Seafood Pasta with Shrimp, Salmon and Tuna in a Creamy Vermouth Dill Sauce and a Smoked Fish Display with White Fish, Trout, Salmon and Peppered Mackerel. $35 PER PERSON (kids under 12: $15, under 3: free)


1 Bleu at The Regent Bal Harbour, 10295 Collins Avenue, 305-455-5400.
1 Bleu, the stunning new dining destination at South Florida’s luxurious new resort hotel, The Regent Bal Harbour, will offer a special brunch in honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 11 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Mothers get treated to unprecedented ocean views from the stunning dining room, while enjoying executive chef Gerdy Rodriguez’s acclaimed modern Mediterranean cuisine.  A Spanish guitar trio will set the mood, while unlimited Bloody Marys and Mimosas enhance the experience.  Priced at $95.00 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity, the sumptuous multi-course menu can be supplemented with selections from 1 Bleu’s impressive raw bar.  1 Bleu will also offer a children’s menu with burgers, chicken fingers, mac & cheese, pasta with butter and parmesan or pasta with marinara, as well as the dessert buffet, priced at $25.00, exclusive of tax and gratuity for children ages 3-12.

Perricone’s Marketplace & Cafe, 15 SE 10th Street, (305) 374-9449.
The brunch includes omelet, carving (fresh roasted turkey breast and honey cured ham) and pasta stations, eggs benedict, herb roasted potatoes, breakfast sausage, bacon, fresh Norwegian smoked salmon platters and mozzarella caprese platters.  Also available will be assorted combinations of prepared pasta salads, tomato and greens, bagels, muffins, baguettes and bagel chips.   Included in the Mother’s Day Brunch will be desert (assorted cakes, cookies and homemade flan), American coffee, iced tea, orange juice or mimosa (each additional mimosa will be $5.95). The brunch, $25.95 for adults and $11.95 for children 5-12, (children under 5, free) will be served from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.  No ala carte menu will be served that day. The last seating is at 3 p.m., with dinner beginning at 4 p.m.


Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, 2525 Ponce de Leon Blvd, (305) 569-7996

Open since February 2005, this nationally acclaimed, 6,700 square foot restaurant located in the heart of Coral Gables, combines traditional steakhouse dining with a warm, contemporary environment.  The perfect destination for food and wine lovers, the restaurant’s tantalizing a la carte menu features USDA Prime corn-fed beef, aged to perfection then hand-cut daily and broiled at 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit to seal in all the juices and flavors. On May 11 Fleming’s will offer brunch for $30.95 per person (does not include tax and gratuity). You have a choice of one starter, entre and dessert. Menu includes Neptune Chopped Salad, Beef Broth Celestine, Filet Mignon Benedict, and Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake.


Blu Pizza e Cucina, 900 South Miami Avenue, (305) 381-8335. 
Blu Pizza e Cucina takes mom out of the kitchen and places her into the seat of honor on Sunday, May 11, 2008.  Chef Riccardo Tognozzi’s three-course menu is priced at $25 per person; beverages, tax and gratuity are additional.  The Blu Pizza e Cucina Mother’s Day Menu includes: Bresaola, Lasagna di Mare, and Bignet Con Gelato.

Restaurant Happenings – Mother’s Day Specials



Andú Restaurant and Lounge, 141 SW 7th street in Miami, (786) 871-7005
Mother’s Day Brunch at Andu starts with a complimentary mimosa and a beautiful rose. For $23 per person (excluding tax and gratuity), dine on starters served buffet style such as tropical fruit salad, homemade granola, and shrimp cocktail. Other items on the menu include Create Your Own Omelet, Coffeed Challah French Toast and Design Own Pancake.

BOURBON Steak, 19999 West Country Club Drive in Aventura, 786-279-6600.
Have a decadent brunch for $75 per person, excluding tax and gratuity, at Bourbon Steak on May 11. Choose from items such as crab cakes, Wood-Grilled Organic Chicken Breast, Foraged Mushrooms, Truffled Mac & Cheese and Chocolate Molten Cake.


Hi-Life Café, 3000 N. Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale, 954-563-1395.
Still enjoying a wave of notoriety from his star-turn on Bravo’s wildly-popular show, Top Chef, Carlos Fernandez of the celebrated restaurant Hi-Life Café in Fort Lauderdale, a neighborhood favorite for more than a decade, will honor Mother’s Day, with his contemporary American with Latin influenced cooking style. Specialties include: Portobello mushroom timbale appetizer, jumbo sea scallops entree and caribbean shrimp in a lobster creole entrée. A Prix-fixe menu will be available all night long as well as a full a la carte menu.

Azul, 500 Brickell Key Drive, (305) 913-8358.
Celebrate Mother’s Day with the ultimate Sunday Brunch served with all the fixings at Azul at Mandarin Oriental as it provides its award-winning cuisine and flawless service. Diners will find lavish menu offerings featuring selections perfect for a Mother’s Day affair. Guests will enjoy specialties such as “Eggs Cocotte” made with creamy scrambled eggs, Maine lobster and caviar and Braised Veal Shank Ravioli with caramelized onion, parmesan and black truffle butter. Traditional favorites include omelets, waffles and pancakes plus an assortment of cheese and fresh exotic fruit. A fresh seafood presentation including caviar, jumbo shrimp and stone crab claws as well as a delectable sushi station complete the incredible menu. A selection of tempting house-made breads, pastries, ice cream and Easter desserts will also be presented. Brunch will be served from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Cost is $65 for adults and $35 for children (exclusive of taxes and gratuities).


Level 25 at the Conrad Miami,  1395 Brickell Avenue, 305-503-6529.
Stone Crabs, Poached Gulf Shrimp, Oysters, Sushi & Sashimi Display, and a Full Breakfast Buffet including Eggs Benedict are just some of the selections available for Mother’s Day Brunch at The Level 25 Restaurant. Also sample The Atrio Petite Plates like Herb Crusted Australian Rack of Spring Lamb and Poached Egg with a Butter Poached Florida Lobster Tail on Toasted Brioche.
Dessert includes Tahitian Vanilla Panna Cotta, Dulce De Leche, and Fruit Cakes.
Adults, $65 per person; $35 for children under 12.

Pillsbury Bake-Off Grand Prize Winner 2008

The 43rd Pillsbury Bake-Off was held in Dallas, TX, Monday, April 14, 2008.  A panel of 9 judges reviewed 100 recipes for taste, appearance, creativity and sonsumber appeal. 


Carolyn Gurtz from Gaithersburg, MD.


Double-Delight Peanut Butter Cookies


1/4 cup Fisher Dry Roasted Peanuts, finey chopped

1/2 cup Domino or C&H Confectioners Powdered Sugar

1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury Create ‘n Bake refrigerated peanut butter cookies, well chilled

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix chopped peauts, granulated suar and cinnamon; set aside.

 In antoher small bowl, stir peanut butter and powdered sugar until completely blended.  Shape mixture into 24 (1-inch) balls.

Cut roll of cookie dough into 12 slices.  Cut each slice in half corsswise to make 24 pieces; flatten slaightly.  Shape 1 cookie dough piece around 1 peanut butter ball, covering completely.  Repeat with remaining dough and balls.

Roll each covered ball in peanut mixture; gently pat mixture completely onto balls.  On ungreased large cookie sheets, place balls 2 inches apart.  Spray bottom of drinking glass with CRISCO Original No-Stick Cooking Spray; press into remaining peanut mixture.  Flatten each ball to 1/4-inch thickness with bottom of glass.  Sprinkle any remaining peanut mixture evenly on tops of cookies; gently prss into dough.

Bake 7 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Cook 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack.  Store tightly covered.

Food News and Views Radio Program April 17, 2008

Food and Dining Radio Show – 4.17.08


Linda Gassenheimer (LG)

Joseph Cooper (JC)

Fred Tasker (FT)

Michele Oka Doner (MOD)

Mitchell Wolfson (MW)


LG: Think late nights, clubs, food and celebrity outings…

South Beach may come to mind. But long before these images, Miami Beach was one of

’s most glamorous cities. Our guest today grew up during that time. Their book is Miami Beach: Blueprint of an Eden. Welcome Michele Oka Doner and Mitchell Wolfson.


MW: I’m thrilled to be here.


MOD: Thank you.


LG: It’s lovely to see you. And in his usual seat is Fred Tasker. He writes the wine suggestions for my dinner in minutes column. So Fred, what are we drinking today?


FT: I’m going to talk with Mickey about great Italian wines. We have some stories to share from our travels in

Italy when we were young.


MW: I was innocent of everything. Fred was the ring leader!


LG: Let me start with Michelle Michele Oka Doner. Your father was the Mayor of Miami Beach in the 1940s?


MOD: No, my father was in the 50s, from around 1957-1964. Mickey’s father was Mayor in the ’40s.


LG: What was it like on the Beach then?


MOD: It was wonderful. Tarzan was on at that time. Since there were so many empty lots we just swung around.


LG: [laughing] Did you know each other then? You must have…


MO: No, he was another generation. He’s so much older than I am. [laughing] 7 years is a long time when you’re kids and of different genders.


LG: Let’s talk about the food. You told me food played an important part.


MOD: Both

North Beach Elementary School and the places we went on the weekend had fabulous food.

North Beach had a Chef called Miss Ruth. The parents were head of the cafeteria and the PTA. So Miss Ruth was part of the County. So it was run by the parents and, to give you an idea of how lavish it was, the day before thanksgiving vacation they did an entire thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes Miss Ruth baked her apple pie. The principal would have Miss Ruth come out and we would all clap.


LG: I can’t believe you remember all of these names.


MOD: It was fun. We really looked forward to school. The banana bread recipe is in the book. I couldn’t the apple pie recipe. The hotels had ice cream sodas and ice creams sundaes.


MW: Yes, the Junior Gigantic. Junior’s was a fantastic restaurant near the

Seville and the Junior Gigantic was about 2 feet high and it was an ice cream soda. If you really wanted to show your girlfriend you ordered one. It was legendary. The three great restaurants were

Park Avenue, just behind the ballet now. Some people I remember in the ’40s and 50s dressed for dinner. The White House Hotel, which is destroyed now, was legendary. The Fontainebleau Hotel was the greatest gourmet restaurant. There was one great Chinese Restaurant, Fu Man



MOD: If you went often enough they painted your name on the back of the chair. The Goldmans owned it and I remember seeing him every time we went.


LG: Is this the same Goldman Family that owns restaurants today?


MOD: No. This was a long time ago.


JC: What about Joe’s Stone Crab?


MW: I use to go with my father who would be let right in. They would say, “come right in.” When he passed away I went with my brother, and they said to him, “come right in. your table is ready.” And when he passed, I came they said “come right in.” After about twenty times the owner of the restaurant said, “I should tell you that Joe’s takes care of the locals, and the locals take care of the staff. Everyone is fascinated by the fact that, when you shake hands, you have nothing in it.”  The next time I went I said, “all of the staff are members of the Wolfsonian and you can come whenever you want.” [laughing]


LG: [laughing]. Was your table ready?


M: Yes. [laughing]


LG: I was looking back to when I was writing my book Keys Cuisine I saw some things from when you invited me to eat with you in the Keys. Tell me about the inside of the Wolfson kitchen.


MW: My mother was a superb cook. That’s from that time. The house was famous for its Southern cuisine.


LG: There was a lime chiffon pie and it brought me back. You know my mother-in-law taught me that when I got married. It really brought back memories.


MW: These women were tricky because they always left a little something out that only they knew. It was a great house for food. My parents loved good food. My father ate grunts and avocado paired.


LG: There are celebrities in your book and wonderful photographs.


MOD: There is one of Anita Ekberg that is fabulous. She’s holding a champagne glass that doesn’t look anything like our champagne glasses today.  It’s a great shot.


FT: They would’ve needed a whole different glass for her.


MOD: Yes, they would’ve needed a whole bottle.


LG: On that note we’re going to take a break. We’re talking about the book Blueprint of an Eden by Michele Oka Doner and Mickey Wolfson. We’ll take a short break and be right back.




LG: We’re back. We’ve been talking with Michele Oka Doner and Mickey Wolfson about their book. The photographs are fabulous. How did you get them?


MOD: We both had albums because our parents lived such public lives. One of the photographs that encouraged me to see them published was the one of my mother with Chiang Kai Shek. My mother explained that George Storer was a big supporter of her husband and she came here to raise money for the Chinese Army.


LG: Who is that?


MW: The Cox television station was the major broadcaster. His television station was at

79th Street



LG: It’s so wonderful to have this record. Well, it’s dinner in minutes time. Mickey, I know your family lived in the Keys.


MW: My family did. My parents met in 1924 when my mother was 17. Her family was from



LG: My dinner in minutes is a snapper dish. Fish has been an important part of the Wolfson kitchen. Today I have a chili cumin crusted snapper. If you want the recipe, please visit my website Fred, tell us your great wine stories!


FT: Mickey and I are friends from a long time back at the

Johns Hopkins School in

. My fond memory of that time is carrying the big glass jug into the wine shop and they’d fill it up for 40 cents. It was that wonderful Italian wine Lambrusco. It’s a modest wine but in those days we were more interested in quantity than quality.


MW: It was a very good wine, the dry Lambrusco. But in this country it’s rather sweet.


JC: Like Chianti?


FT: No, it’s quite modest and it’s sweet here. I ran across it in

Miami after Hurricane Andrew. The National Guard was here to help everyone and I went down to see what kind of wine they were drinking. They were living in huge air-conditioned tents and their refrigerator was full of Lambrusco. Mickey, I remember you got around

when we were there. What did you like at that time?


MW: The Sangiovese, the Lambrusco of course, and not far from

Florence we had exposure to all sorts of Chianti. Montepulciano was unknown in that day. That has come on the market since we were there. The Montalcino was not current at all. What else did we drink? I drank Inferno because I loved the name. I still drink it!


FT: A real splurge would be a bottle of Suave. One of the great things about that school is that we would always find time to go up into the hill villages around

Bologna and have these six hour lunches and sit outside drinking good, modest wine.


LG: Was it expensive?


FT: No. I remember we had a maid and it cost us 48 cents an hour split three ways. The Euro, well there was no Euro, but the exchange rate was much better.


LG: Anything else?


JC: Careful Fred.


FT: That’s all I can say on the radio.


MW: I did want to say that our book is modeled off of a kind of pre-novel that was written by Jane Barker in 1722. In those days novels had a different form. But before novels had a structure they did what we did. Novels had a recipe and poetry with fragmented items in them. We wanted an epistolary memoir. The book is in the form of letters. I write a letter to Michelle and she responds with images.


LG: Michelle is a wonderful artist. Where can we see your work?



Dade County at the

Miami International Airport and in

New York
in the MTA.


MW: It’s a dialogue. We try to reconnect. We wondered what we had left so it’s a book of rediscovery. It’s about two people who went off on different adventures to find what life was all about and then we came back and discovered and shared our experiences with our readers. It was a fascinating voyage of rediscovery.


LG: Are you back here now Mickey?


MW: Well, this is my home. This is where the Wolfsonian is.


LG: Tell us about the Wolfsonian.


MW: The Wolfsonian is a museum about ideas. It has historical context. It reflects time and geography. It’s located on the beach and it’s open the public. It’s good for people interested in design.


LG: Another fascinating and tasty week has gone by. Thank you to you both. Their book is Miami Beach: Blueprint of an Eden. It’s a pictorial history of

Miami Beach. Join us next week.

Restaurant Happenings South Florida April 16, 2008


China Grill Fort Lauderdale, 1881 SE 17th Street, 954-759-9950

China Grill introduces sunset happy hour along the intercostals waterway.  Offering $9.00 specialty cocktails every evening from 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. on China Grill’s outside terrace, guests can kick back and relax while watching the Ft. Lauderdale sunset.

The Ritz-Carlton, 455 Grand Bay Drive, Key Biscayne, 305-365-4186.

Each month, The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne offers the most romantic spot in Miami with stunning moonrise dinners at the resort’s signature Cioppino restaurant. Held once a month, Chef de Cuisine Ramon Guerrero and Sommelier Jorge Mendoza create a special wine-paired menu inspired by a different gastronomic region of Italy (upcoming months include: April: Sardinia, May: Liguria, June: Bologna, July: Venice, August: Florence). Diners will enjoy this fine wine and cuisine from Cioppino’s outdoor terrace, offering first-rate views of the ocean illuminated by a sea of stars and a full moon seemingly only an arm’s reach away.

Gaetano Ascione has left Fontana Restaurant at The Biltmore Hotel, Andrew Rothschild has left Bourbon Steak the Michael Mina Restaurant at Turnberry Isle. , and Jeffrey Brana has left from The Raleigh Hotel in South Beach.

Caramelo, 264 Giralda Ave., Coral Gables, 305-445-8783.
Every Wednesday night. at 8:00 pm, Caramelo Restaurant offers an “Evening of Sweet Sounds” with a complimentary glass of wine, a specialized tapas menu prepared by Chef Willie Hernandez and music.

Food News and Views April 10, 2008

Food and Dining Radio Show – 4.10.08

Linda Gassenheimer (LG)
Joseph Cooper (JC)
Fred Tasker (FT)
Lynnee Rossetto Kasper (LK)

LG: Today we have a special guest who is also a good friend. Her name is Lynne Rossetto Kasper she has a new book out, How to Eat Supper. Lynne is also the host of The Splendid Table. Lynne welcome, it’s a delight to have you with us.

LK: Thank you.

LG: Also in his usual seat is Fred Tasker. We all know he is the Wine Columnist for the Miami Herald and he writes the wine suggestions for my dinner in minutes. Lynne, many congratulations on your new book. You gave me the best advice once. You said “follow your passion and create something you love.” You certainly are doing that.

LK: It has been a progression. That first book came out in 1992 and it led to the show. It’s interesting the way these things begin. In ’93 the book got some wonderful awards.

LG: Major awards.

LK: I was pretty stunned. The James Beard awards came after it had won at the IACP awards. When they announced it I was frozen in my seat. I couldn’t believe it. My husband was sitting next to me and he whispered, “get up there!”

LG: The ICP is the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

LK: What happened after that was that I did an interview on NPR and got a phone call from someone who said, “my name is Sally Swift, I work in public radio and I think you would do a great show on radio.” At that point a lot of people on television were approaching me for a TV show. And I thought they were going to just talk recipes. So Sally I got together and I was anticipating a show just about cooking. But it turned out we had the same vision. But I had gotten cynical so I said, “you make it happen and I’ll show up”…and she did!

LG: That is so interesting.

LK: Because it was Sally, Minnesota Public Radio gave us a shot. But the point of all of this is that rarely, in commercial media, rarely shows get a chance to find their sea legs. I was a real newbie but they had faith and supported us. That is so representative of what the pledged money goes with public radio: to creating new concepts.

LG: That is wonderful.

LK: It takes them some time to get rolling and find their voices. And as you know we look at food from every imaginable angle.

LG: Do you tape some of your shows?

LK: Originally we went out live and we would come in every Saturday with bagels and go out live. One day it occurred to us that other shows were taping and we could tape ahead and actually have a weekend! So now the show is put together on Thursday and then it goes out on Friday morning to all the stations around the country and they play it at different times and days.

JC: So you can cut out certain callers.

LK: You can call us 24 hours a day and there’s an answering machine. Because every station plays it at different times we couldn’t do it live. So someone listens to all of those calls and they’ll call back maybe 10 people and say, “if you want to talk to Lynne call at this time and we’ll take your call.” And then people might call or might not. So when the show is put together our technical director and Sally piece it together.

LG: That’s so fascinating. Many people wonder about that.

LK: I would love to be sitting at the phone 24 hours a day but I can’t [laughing].

LG: Let’s get back to the book How To Eat Supper. That’s an intriguing title. What does it mean?

LK: When we declare how to eat supper we’re saying two things. It’s a book of recipes and techniques. We hope it’ll make life easier for people. It’s also about the world that surrounds food. We’re essentially tracking what we’ve seen evolve over the last 12 years. We are approaching food so differently today than 12 years ago. We find it more pleasurable, we’re more engaged in the politics of food, and we’re interested in where it comes from…in the US today, food is a part of a lexicon about you.

LG: Lynne is the host of The Splendid Table and her new book is How To Eat Supper. We’ll take a short break and be right back.


LG: And we’re back. I’m Linda Gassenheimer and we’re talking with Lynne Rossetto Kasper about her new book How To Eat Supper. She’s co-authored it with her producer Sally Swift. Lynne, every week we have a dinner in minutes segment on our program. In honor of you we’re eating Italian. It’s chicken parmesan with basil linguine. If you want the recipe you can find it on my website. You want to use very good Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on top.

JC: This is really good.

LK: What wine would you serve with this?

LG: We’re going to hear that in a minute. But first let me tell you about the side dish. The linguine is made with really good olive oil. Lynne, what’s your favorite olive oil?

LK: You’re going to be surprised, but my favorite is from New Zealand.

LG: You’re giving up your Italian roots?!

LK: No, no…but this time of year isn’t the best to buy olive oil from Italy. And I’m talking about splurge oil now. But since the seasons are backwards down there I buy from there this time of year. It’s lush and green and fruity.

LG: When you’re just going to have some fresh pasta and you’re going to put some oil on it you want to use the splurge oil. You can have this on the table in less than 20 minutes. Now Fred, what are we drinking?

FT: I have a very good wine in honor of Lynne’s Emilia Romagna roots. In the center of that region is the city of Bologna. I lived abroad there during college and gained at least 20 pounds. The most important wine is good old Lambrusco. When I was a poverty-stricken student my friends and I would take our jug and they’d charge us 100 Lire, which is 40 cents, to fill it up. It’s a heppy red semi-sparkling wine. If you taste it here you haven’t tasted it because they make it sweeter for Americans. In Bologna it’s dry. It’s wonderful with different pastas. When Hurricane Andrew hit Miami they put their soldiers in air-conditioned tents and I went down to do a story. I asked a soldier and he showed me a refrigerator full of Lambrusco. [laughing]

LK: The thing about it is that’s delicious over there and it’s really great with all of those cured pork products. It cuts the richness.

FT: We ate in the working class restaurants there.

LK: It would be great with barbeque pork.

JC: I’m in.

FT: I never thought about that. I’ll have to try that.

LG: Fred talked about how it’s better to drink the wine there. A lot of people want to go to Italy and not be tourists. What suggestions have you got?

LK: There’s a wonderful book called Italy for the Gourmet Traveler. It talks about the culinary culture as well as the restaurants. It tells you about farmers’ markets, farms that take guests and make meals… The other thing is, get a car and get lost. After you visit the big cities, if you really want to immerse yourself in Italian life, get in a car. You want to go to Parma and Bologna. That’s what I’d do. Allow yourself to get lost and time to explore. Don’t book every minute.

LG: The dollar isn’t great these days. Any tips for affording it?

LK: Go to the markets and ask the people there, “where do you suggest I go for lunch?” I really want to eat where you eat. And if you go to the morning market people will come up with simple, inexpensive places to eat.

LG: Whenever I travel I always go to the market. You get a great feel for the town and what people are eating.

FT: When you study up it makes the trip a lot more fun.

LK: Exactly. I’m coming to Miami in April. If I have a couple of hours free, where should I not miss?

JC: In Coral Gables?

LG: Well let’s let everyone know that you’ll be at Books and Books that weekend. I’m sure a lot of people would want to say hello.

FT: I would recommend Versailles. It’s a fabulous Cuban restaurant.

JC: You couldn’t go wrong with Joe’s Stone Crab.

LG: Versailles is where politics happen in Miami.

LG: Islas Canarias is another one in that area.

LG: Lynne, can we go back to Italy? I’ve always loved how regional cooking exists in Italy. Has this food scene changed in Italy?

LK: Yeah, in fact we celebrated our tenth anniversary there to see what had happened. Like everything else globalization has happened. Previously, from one region to another, the food would change, the people would change…but it’s changed to the point where balsamic vinegar is being made in Newark New Jersey and there’s many fewer people making homemade pasta in Emilia Romagna. But people are still fiercely proud of their local traditions.

LG: Unfortunately we’re out of time. Thank you so much for joining us. Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s new book out is How to Eat Supper. I’m Linda Gassenheimer. Join us next week.

Restaurant Happenings South Florida April 9, 2008



Azul at Mandarin Oriental, 500 Brickell Key Drive, (305) 913-8254.

Celebrate Mother’s Day with the ultimate Sunday Brunch served with all the fixings at Azul, as it provides an enchanting Mother’s Day theme along with its award-winning cuisine and flawless service.  Azul diners will find lavish menu offerings featuring “Eggs Cocotte” made with creamy scrambled eggs, Maine lobster and caviar and Braised Veal Shank Ravioli with caramelized onion, parmesan and black truffle butter. Traditional favorites include omelets, waffles and pancakes plus an assortment of cheese and fresh exotic fruit. A fresh seafood presentation including caviar, jumbo shrimp and stone crab claws as well as a delectable sushi station complete the incredible menu. A selection of tempting house-made breads, pastries, ice cream and Easter desserts will also be presented. Cost is $65 for adults and $35 for children.  For restaurant reservations, please contact the restaurant directly at (305) 913-8254.

BaleenMiami, Grove Isle Hotel & Spa, Coconut Grove, 305.857.5007.

The new chef at BaleenMiami, at the Grove Isle Hotel and Spa is Chef Jesse Souza. Originally from New England chef Souza was recently executive chef at City Cellars in Coral Gables. After six years as executive sous chef at the Claremont Resort & Spa in Berkeley, CA, chef Souza came to Miami where he opened Chispa with chef Robbin Haas. At BaleenMiami chef Souza has created an eclectic menu focused on seafood, an appropriate choice for a waterside restaurant.
Hotel Clinton, Washington Ave., South Beach, 786-276-3580.

Fear not, Ratatouille is not the Disney mouse turned genius chef. It is the second venture of the owners of Café Maurice in South Beach, David Meunier and Dominique Tordion. The chef, Gerard Chauvet – a real person and a graduate of the Ecole Hoteliere in Lyon, France – is offering classical French bistro cuisine and some Provençal dishes like ratatouille.
Caramelo, 264 Giralda Ave., Coral Gables, 305-445-8783.

Every Wednesday night. at 8:00 pm, Caramelo Restaurant offers an “Evening of Sweet Sounds” with a complimentary glass of wine, a specialized tapas menu prepared by Chef Willie Hernandez and music.

Food News and Views April 3, 2008

Food and Dining Radio Show – 4.3.08

Linda Gassenheimer (LG)
Joseph Cooper (JC)
Fred Tasker (FT)
Victoria Pesce Elliot (VE)

LG: Joe, have you noticed the explosion of new restaurants in South Florida? It seems like each week there are new restaurants opening. Unfortunately there are lots of restaurants that are closing too. I’ve asked Victoria Pesce Elliot to come in and talk about the restaurant scene. She is the Restaurant Critic for the Miami Herald. Fred Tasker is here in his usual seat. He’s the wine columnist for the Miami Herald. Victoria, Joe just mentioned that the economy is slowing down so you’d think the restaurant scene would slow down. But it seems like just the opposite.

VE: A lot of these places have taken years to open so that may explain why they’re opening at this time. But a lot of other places, even moderately priced places, are closing. Not just high-priced places. Even Johnny Rockets in Coconut Grove closed.

LG: Johnny Rockets in Coconut Grove?!

VE: Yes. Nexxt also closed. City Cellars closed. I’m not sure what’s happening.

LG: We’ll have a list of the restaurants we discuss today on my website. In case you can’t jot it all down, it’ll be there. Let’s talk more – I’m looking at the restaurants that are opening. They seem to be chain restaurants. For example, Novecento, which has 9 restaurants and they’ve just opened in Coral Gables. Why is that?

VE: Banks are less willing to lend single mom and pop restaurants money. Novecento in this economy is great and that looks good to lenders also. They have a long track record; it works. Bone Fish Grill just opened in Coral Gables. Some of the smaller chains can get the funding.

LG: One of the private owned restaurants was telling me they have a hard time with staffing because of benefits.

VE: Especially in South Florida where hotels lure away the best service people because they have better benefits.

LG: Some of the restaurants have closed because of poor service.

VE: Yes, maybe it will shake out some of the lesser players. But then some mediocre places survive because they have big portions or better prices.

FT: Service is so important. I was at City Cellars before it closed. They gave my 86 year old mother in law soup that was laced with peppers. They didn’t say anything about that. She sent it back and then we waited for an hour.

LG: Another listener told me they waited an hour to get served a first course at a restaurant. It’s hard to be good every day but they have to be.

VE: That’s part of my job. I go back a second and third time when I review a restaurant.

LG: We’ve got a caller.

Caller 1: I just wanted to mention that in Delray Beach I frequent a restaurant called 32 East. They change their menu all the time. They do great things with seafood. I wanted to drop that name.

LG: Victoria is shaking her head up and down.

VE: Chef Nick Morfogen is fantastic. He’s from Colorado but has quickly adapted to the climate here and I’m a big fan of his too.

LG: Can we talk more about Broward. What’s going on up there?

VE: It’s booming there also. Stir Crazy opened in the Pembroke Gardens Shopping Mall. I’ve heard great things, but I haven’t been there myself. Also Brio Tuscan Grill in that same area. I’ve heard good things about Riley McDermott’s on Las Olas. Also Christine’s on Oakland Park Boulevard.

LG: Steak is the big deal still.

VE: Yes, steak is the big winner these days.

JC: Pay Way is very good. It’s in Miami Lakes off Ludlam Road.

LG: We were just talking about new places in shopping centers. Merry Brickell Village is now the hopping place.

VE: It’s like a food court.

Everyone: [laughing]

LG: How did that happen?

VE: That’s been years in the works. They’ve been talking about it for a while. We’ll see if it holds up.

FT: Condo construction is going crazy there. Maybe that will support it.

VE: But they’re empty!

LG: On a Tuesday night streets are packed with people.

VE: Yes, the after office happy hour crowed is keeping that place busy.

Caller 2: Being that you’re talking about restaurants, I found a place that has two locations. It’s called Chef Creole and they serve wonderful seafood.

JC: On 17th Avenue?

Caller 2: I think it’s 54th and NW 2nd Avenue. The other one is on 141st.

VE: I’m a big fan of their fried pork skin and the conch skin is really fantastic.

Caller 2: I’ve been to hip hop events and they’re doing the catering at these events also.

VE: He’s a very good guy and a community activist. I’m also a big fan.

LG:  We also want to mention all of the Celebrity Chefs coming to town.

VE: I guess the first big Celebrity Chef to come here was Emeril in 2003 when he opened at the Lowes. He’s doing well and a lot of people are following him.

JC: Danny Devito.

VE: Yes, not just Celebrity Chefs but celebrities too like Robert De Niro. As far as Celebrity Chefs there’s Govind Armstrong who came from LA to open Table 8, La Goulue in Bal Harbor, Michael Mina in Bourbon Steak. But there’s a problem with absentee chefs. They’re not here much.

FT: Emeril’s is making it work though. He has a good staff.

VE: Yes, some do. It takes a strong network to really make it work.

LG: I’m Linda Gassenheimer. I’m talking with Victoria Pesce Elliot about restaurants. We’ll take a quick break and be back with more.


LG: And we’re back. I’m Linda Gassenheimer. I’m talking with Victoria Pesce Elliot about restaurants. She is the Miami Herald Restaurant Critic. It’s dinner in minutes time for those evenings you’re not going out to dinner. Fred, I thought of you with this recipe. It’s Whisky Pork with Rosemary Lentils. See the recipe on my website

JC: What kind of whisky?

LG: Whatever you want. For the side dish you can find steamed lentils in a vacuum-packed package. It’s real quick and easy. Fred, what are we drinking?

FT: What kind of wine goes with whisky? [Laughing] I thought I’d talk about ordering wine in restaurants. One thing we’re famous for down here is wine markups on restaurant wine lists. I tried to come up with some tips for coping with this. One thing is people tend to want to get the cheapest wine on the list. But you should know they markup the cheapest wines the most. But there is a way to protect yourself. If you’re choosing the cheapest white wine I try to choose a Pinot Grigio, never a Sauvignon Blanc. Pinot Grigio is more forgiving. For red wine, avoid the Pinot Noir. That’s called the heart break grape. Instead I would order the Syrah. For some reason that grape is more forgiving and you can pretty much do anything to it and it’s still pretty pleasant. So at least you can get through the evening. I’m not meaning to imply that WRLN listeners are cheap. I’m just trying to keep you in shape for our next fundraising drive.

LG: Great advice.

Caller 3: I was just calling about this one restaurant in Broward. I’m not an expert but I do eat out a lot. But there’s one place called Le Tub. It’s gotten a lot of press for hamburgers. I’ve been there 2 times and there have been roaches on my table. It was pretty bad but when I asked the waitress she said, “you’re outside, what do you expect?” I don’t understand why it’s so popular?

LG: Let me get Victoria to respond to that.

VE: I would say that’s the power of the media. I know Allen Richmond, who wrote about them in GQ, and there’s something about the ambience there that people really enjoy. People think it’s like discovering something new because it’s kind of seedy and also it’s by the water.

LG: Victoria did you have more information about Celebrity Chefs?

VE: All the chefs in NY are talking about coming down. I’ve heard Wolfgang Puck is coming to South Beach. The acclaimed Chef from Gotham Bar and Grill chef is coming. Gordon Ramsay is already in Boca Raton. BLT in the Betsy Ross is looking to come to South Beach and I’ve heard Morimoto is looking in the Design District.

LG: How do they expect to make it?

VE: We shall see.

LG: This week went by way too fast. We’ll have to have you back Victoria.

VE: Thank you. It’s always a pleasure. And I got free lunch!

LG: Fred and Joseph Cooper, thank you. Next week we’ll be talking with Lynn Rosetta Casper from The Splendid Table. Join me then. 


32 East, 32 East Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach, 561-276-7868

Bone Fish Grill, 2121 Ponce de Leon Blvd, Coral Gables, 305-460-1888

Brio Tuscan Grill, 14576 SW 5th Street, Pembroke Pines, 954-431-1341

Chef Creole, 200 NW 54th St, Miami, 305-754-2223

Christine’s, 2671 E Park Oakland Blvd, Ft. Lauderdale, 954-566-1919

Devito’s, 150 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, 305-531-0911

Emeril’s, 1601 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, 305-695-4550

La Goulue Christian Delouvrier, 9700 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour, 305-865-2181

Le Tub, 1100 N. Ocean Drive (Buchanan Street), Hollywood, 954-921-9425

Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak, 19999 West Country Club Drive, Aventura, 786-279-6600

Novecento, 121 Alhambra Plaza, Coral Gables, 305-557-0900

Riley McDermott’s, 401 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

Stir Crazy, The Shops of Pembroke Gardens, 14571 SW 5th St., 954-919-4900

Table 8, 1458 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, 305-695-4114

Other Openings

276 Alhambra Circle, 305-443-3739

Di Bono’s, 15979 Biscayne Blvd, 305-948-3330

Ariston, 940 71st St., Miami Beach (305)-864-9848

Por Fin, 2500 Ponce de Leon Boulevard, Coral Gables (305)-441-0107

1 Bleu, The Regent Bal Harbour, 10295 Collins Avenue, (305)-455-5400.

Il Gabbiano, 335 South Biscayne Blvd, 305-373-0063.

141 SW 7th street (786) 871-7005.

The Ritz Carlton, Key Biscayne, 305-365-4500

Texas de Brazil at the Miami Beach Marina, 300 Alton Road, (305) 695-7702;

Joley, Hotel Astor, 956 Washington Avenue, 305-534-3343

Kobe Club Miami, 404 Washington Avenue, 305-673-5370.
Mary Brickell Village
Blu Pizza e Cucina, Mary Brickell Village, 900 S. Miami Ave. suite 130., 305-381-8335.

Badrutt’s Place, 1250 South Miami Avenue (305)-415-0070,

900 S. Miami Ave.., 305-347-3700

Strip House Key West at The Reach Resort, 1435 Simonton Street, Key West. 305-295-9669.

Food News and Views March 27, 2008

Food and Dining Radio Show – 3.27.08


Linda Gassenheimer (LG)

Joseph Cooper (JC)

Fred Tasker (FT)

Vickie Smith (VS)


JC: I suppose we’ll be getting steamed up this afternoon?


LG: How long did you spend thinking about that [laughing]? Cooking under pressure is what we’re talking about here.


JC: I remember them from my youth.


LG: Yes. The old-style cookers made a lot of noise.


JC: There was an element of danger.


LG: There’s a new generation of pressure cookers. Vickie Smith is our guest and her new book is Miss Vickie’s Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes. Hello Vickie Smith. Our topic today is how to get the most out of your pressure cooker. Fred is here in his usual seat. He’s the wine critic for the Miami Herald. So Fred, what are we drinking today?


FT: I’m going to talk about making wine under pressure.


LG: I’m afraid to ask anymore.


FT: I’ll keep it steamy.


LG: Vickie Smith is joining us from

California. I was surprised to learn that there was one used in 1680…


VS: Yes, the original one was invented to process food for Napoleon’s Army. It was a great break through.


FT: Cook up those tough chickens.


VS: Whatever they could find. It was originally for canning. Out of those great retorts went smaller and smaller until they got down to the size that we have them in our kitchen.


LG: They were popular in the first half of the twentieth century. Some really did blow their tops. [laughing]


VS: That problem occurred after WWII. Airplane parts manufacturers turned toward this industry. But they didn’t do very well and there was a problem with them that all stemmed from a short span of time.


LG: Now there’s a whole new generation of pressure cookers. How are they different?


VS: Today’s pressure cookers are as well made as the best pieces of cookware you find on the market. Plus the engineering is better. We no longer have that shaky valve. Now it’s all spring valves which are silent and there are no escaping clouds of steam. There are no rattling spitting liquids on your stove. Everything is done with turning a dial.


JC: What happens if you go too long?

VS: That’s a user error like any other type of cooking. But there are built-in safety systems.


Caller 1: My wife has started using one recently and we’ve gone to a plug-in version and no matter what it gets charred at the bottom.


VS: Unfortunately there’s not much of a work-around with it. I’ve heard this complaint a lot with these types. I do have a technique in my book called PIP which is an alternative technique that could help. With that system an oven proof pan will work but stainless steel works best.


LG: Vickie, why would I want to use a pressure cooker instead of my microwave?


VS: Time. If you can go home and put a meal on the table in 30 minutes that’s certainly better than take-out.


FT: What’s the time comparison?


VS: If I have a chuck roast and put that in my pressure cooker it’ll be done in 30 minutes. If you braise it it’ll take 2-3 hours. For a carving chicken it’ll take 20 minutes.


FT: Why does pressure cook things faster?


VS: Temperature is the difference. Not to be confusing, but pounds per square inch is a better indication of how things are cooking. So the combination of high heat plus pressure that forces everything deep inside, we’re cooking the outside and the inside at the same time.


LG: Somebody said to me they felt it was the best way to cook black beans. Why?


VS: Any kind of beans. I recommend soaking beans for a good texture and I don’t want them split. If I have a pot of beans I’m going to have beans on the table in 12 minutes.


LG: What about the flavor?


VS: Whatever is in the cooking broth will come up into the beans.


JC: What’s the price range for a good one?


VS: Slightly below $100 to $300.


LG: What would you look for?


VS: As I describe in the book, I look for stainless steel, a three-ply base, no non-stick finishes, three different options for release, a lid-lock for safety and that should do it. That’s all part of the new generation of cookware.


LG: I’m Linda Gassenheimer and we’re talking with Vickie Smith about cooking under pressure. We’ll take a break and be back with more.




LG: I’m Linda Gassenheimer and we’re talking with Vickie Smith about cooking under pressure. That’s pressure cooker cooking. Vickie has a new big book out and she’s giving us great tips. Now it’s dinner in minutes time. It’s Italian Gorgonzola Chicken with Sweet Pimento Linguine. If you want the recipe go to my website This is a really simple recipe and it doesn’t break the calorie or fat bank, even with the cheese. Fred, drinking under pressure?


FT:  I’m going to talk about the pressure winemakers are under to produce great wines. Writing a newspaper column I know 90% of the readers would prefer to have a great bottle of wine around $10. So what do winemakers have to do to justify charging $30 or $40? There’s a place in

California called Sea Smoke Cellars and they makes a Pinot Noir for $70. It’s a really fabulous wine. Their workers go through the vineyard at least seven times a season to make sure the vines are in perfect condition. That’s an amazing amount of trouble. They routinely cut off half the crop so that the vines produce better grapes. They age the wine in French oak barrels and some use custom-made barrels from 12 different coopers.


LG: Does it really taste like a $70 bottle of wine?


FT: Well, that’s up to the individual. If you think it does then it does, and if you don’t then it doesn’t. It does add complexity. When you have different kinds of wood on it you’ll pick up on that. Rodney Strong Vineyard in

Sonoma County makes a $35 Chardonnay. To get grapes to ferment you have to add yeast and there they’ve experimented for 30 years and have a recipe that uses 5 different kinds of yeast including a Champagne Yeast and a 796 that adds a peach flavor. Another one is called French Funk.


LG: French funk?


FT: They do all these things to make these wines special. I’m amazed at the amount of trouble they go to.


LG: Very interesting. Let’s go back to Vickie Smith who is joining us from

California. Let’s say we have something we make all the time. How do we adapt it to the pressure cooker?


VS: It’s usually pretty easy. In the book I have charts with cooking time tables. You can use that. Another easy way is, if you have a chicken stew you like, look for a similar recipe and see what they’ve done with timing and use that as a guide to re-write the recipe.


LG: What cooks best?


VS: Almost everything. Anything from tender crisp vegetables, desserts, stews and soups, beans…anything.


LG: You mention dessert. You have an upside down chocolate fudge cake in the book.


FT: In a pressure cooker?!

VS: There are a lot of long-distance boaters who use pressure cookers on the ship. It makes a moist delicious rich chocolaty cake. It works, honestly.


LG: I’ve always had trouble cleaning them. One I had said I had to oil it and I gave up.


VS: The pot can go in the dish washer.


LG: Not the lid.


VS: No, that you wash in the sink. But any good degreasing dish soap will take care of residue that accumulates. And the spring valve just pops out and you wash it in the sink.


LG: You need to take it apart every time?


VS: No, unless you make something that foams up a lot.


LG: Tell us about your website.


VS: It’s


LG: It’s been an interesting week. Thank you so much for joining us. Her book is Miss Vickie’s Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes. Fred, great advice as always and Joe you had a nice lunch today. Next week we’re talking with Miami Herald Restaurant Critic

Victoria Pesce Elliot. Join me then.


Food News and Views March 20, 2008

Food and Dining Radio Show – 3.20.08

Linda Gassenheimer (LG)
Joseph Cooper (JC)
Fred Tasker (FT)
Carlos Fernandez (CF)

JC: This Sunday is Easter and many will join friends and family to celebrate. But there are more options than the ubiquitous ham. Of course the Lunch Goddess is here.

LG: Not only Easter weekend but spring is also starting this weekend. What foods come to mind this time of year? How about spring lamb? Eggs? And of course, chocolate. Can’t leave that out! Here to talk about Easter celebrations is Chef Carlos Fernandez from Hi-Life Café.

CF: Thanks. I’m so happy to be here.

LG: Also here is Fred Tasker who writes the wine column in the Miami Herald. Fred, what are we drinking today?

FT: I’m talking about the kind of wine that goes with ham and lamb, thank you ma’am.

LG: [laughing] Well Chef, you really have a loyal following at the Hi-Life Cafe.

CF: Yes, we have been there 12 years, four stars from the Miami Herald and Sun Sentinel and a great loyal base.

LG: That’s really amazing.

CF: We treat everyone like our family. It’s like home for me and we’ve created the quintessential American bistro.

LG: It’s that warm feeling; people feel they’re really welcome.

CF: Yes, and it’s small. Only 65 seats.

LG: Yes, and it’s nice to know the Chef is actually there.

CF: Yes, I have the burns to prove it!

LG: What do you suggest for Easter?

CF: Spring lamb and ham comes to mind. Also green peas, asparagus, strawberries and mangoes.

LG: Sounds delicious. You’re open for Easter dinner, not lunch. What are some dinner things?

CF: I brought rack of lamb with me today. I’ve taken some Japanese bread crumbs, Dijon mustard and rosemary. I top it off with parmesan cheese to get a nice brown crust.

LG: How did you get it to look so nice and neat?

CF: I sear them first with salt and pepper and then I place the rest of the topping.

LG: Sear them?

CF: Yes, on the stove top.

LG: So you take the lamb and season it, then place it in a sauté pan, sear them on both sides…

CF: Yes, and then you take your mixture and spread it on top of the lamb. Then the lamb goes in the oven for 25 minutes at 375 for rare. Parmesan is what makes the wonderful crust on top.

LG: I can never get it to stick on. That’s why I ask.

CF: Don’t add the crumbs too early to the Dijon mustard. I’m not a big fan of mint jelly. I prefer mustard and rosemary.

LG: What’s the sauce on the asparagus?

CF: I love to grill it plain with salt and pepper.

LG: On an outdoor grill?

CF: Or indoor…

LG: I like to roast my vegetables. You can put it in the same oven on a lower shelf.

CF: You could even get white asparagus.

LG: What about brunch?

CF: My favorite item is the spiral ham. If you’re trying to entertain a large group you’re not at the carving station all day long.

LG: How do you pick a good spiral ham?

CF: I think they’re all pretty much the same. But I like an extra glaze on the side with Dijon mustard, honey and cloves. That keeps it pretty and moist.

JC: Do you grind the cloves?

CF: Yes.

LG: You put it in the oven?

CF: I would suggest 35 minutes to get the center bone hot.

JC: And good pea soup.

CF: When I make pea soup I reserve a few to garnish the plate. I also like to thicken it with potato instead of cream to be more healthful.

LG: You add the potato to the soup while you’re cooking it?

CF: As soon as it’s fork tender go ahead and puree it.

LG: So we’ve got vegetables and ham. That doesn’t sound like brunch to me though.

CF: Oh brunch is anything really. Another favorite thing I like to make is a frittata. That can be made beforehand and then I heat it up when guests get there.

LG: Tell me something. We’re going to go and put things out on the table and have lots of people in…there are safety problems here. Even though a house is air conditioned, I don’t think it’s cool enough for the food.

JC: What a kill joy. [laughing]

CF: Well number one is the heat. Try to do all the baking in the morning so your house won’t be hot and you don’t have to raise the air conditioning.

LG: Okay, well we’ll return to that in a moment. We’re talking with Chef Carlos Fernandez of the Hi-Life Café in Fort Lauderdale. I’m Linda Gassenheimer. We’ll take a short break and be back with more.


LG: And we’re back. We’re talking with Chef Carlos Fernandez of the Hi-Life Café in Fort Lauderdale about Easter Brunch and Lunch. Just before the break we were talking about food safety.

CF: It’s very important. Keep cold food cold and hot food hot. If you’re not going to serve hot food right away get yourself a chafing dish.

LG: Chef, aside from that, you were a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef. How did you become a contestant?

CF: At that point I had been in business for 10 year and I had been self-taught. So I thought this would be a way to get my Bravo Degree. I sent in a tape but, being the go-getter that I am, I showed up to one of the casting calls in person in Chicago. It was the middle of winter and only 37 degrees!

LG: You flew out to Chicago?!

CF: Yes, after the interview they put me on film right there and then.

LG: What was it like behind the scenes?

CF: It was chaotic. They adhere to all of the rules. When they say you have 30 minutes to do something, they actually enforce that on the show. What I learned the most from was getting 14 other different view points. It was nice to see how everyone else interpreted the challenges.

LG: Even though you didn’t win it seems to have helped your career.

CF: I left halfway through so I felt a little demoralized. But then they invited me back to do 14 web episodes. So I felt good about that.

LG: Fred, what are we drinking?

FT: Well you know during Easter you are going to eat ham or lamb. The rules are quite easy. So with white meat you have white wine, red meat you have red wine, and pink meat you have pink wine. So a nice Rosé, especially something like SanGiovese from Swanson Vineyards.

CF: Swanson has a beautiful tasting room as well if you ever get out that way.

FT: The perfect wine with lamb is Rioja. I was in Spain a few years ago and they served roast land with old bottles of Rioja. It was fabulous. Even a nice new Rioja is perfect. Merlot also goes nicely. Of course these days a lot people have brunches. You could go to Azul and spend $95 on brunch. Guess what my recommendation is with that? You might as well go for some real champagne, and if you’re eating ham at the brunch you can have pink champagne.

LG: What about those of us who don’t want to spend a lot of money on Easter?

FT: Go to a cheaper brunch and have some nice Spanish Cava.

LG: Chef, you agree?

CF: I’m going to follow his lead. Rioja is a wonderful idea. Rosés are a lot of fun and can bridge the gap. But you don’t want a too sweet Rosé or something too dry, so try to find something in the middle.

LG: For people who might be outside having lunch and it’s going to be warm, what can they drink?

FT: If you’re outside get something sparkling water with ice and maybe a little fruit juice.

LG: No alcohol?!

CF: You must hydrate!

FT: As far as I’m concerned, if it’s hot just go for something cool.

LG: I get a lot of questions about making things in advance and re-warming it.

CF: Let’s start with the cold. If you have a great salad, don’t dress it beforehand. Wait until right before you serve it.

LG: Food doesn’t taste good right out of the refrigerator. Take it out about 30 minutes before?

CF: Absolutely, as a Chef it’s hard to prepare great food ahead of time.

LG: Are most kitchen not air conditioned?

CF: Right, most are not. Most people see it as a waste. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!

FT: How hot does it get?

CF: You can shed about 3 pounds per service!

LG: What about meat beforehand?

CF: I like to do a quick warm up in the oven right before in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes max.

FT: So hotter keeps it from drying out?

CF: Yes, and then you let it rest for a minute after you take it out of the oven.

LG: That’s interesting; I always say 300 degrees for 30 minutes. That’s great advice. So now let’s talk about dessert.

JC: We passed over the crab cake, you know.

LG: Oh no. Go ahead and explain what it is.

CF: It’s jumbo lump crab meat with a little garlic and I make a sweet garlic and rice wine vinegar sauce.

FT: The ratio of crab to filling is amazing.

LG: Where do you get your crab?

CF: I have several sources. It comes in a can fully pasteurized. I put the bread crumbs in a food processor first so I don’t have to use as many.

LG: Okay, we’ll get to the desserts after the break. We’re talking with Chef Carlos Fernandez of the Hi-Life Café in Fort Lauderdale. I’m Linda Gassenheimer. We’ll take a short break and be back with more.


LG: And we’re back. We’re talking with Chef Carlos Fernandez about Easter. As I mentioned earlier we have lots of people calling saying they really like your restaurant, The Hi-Life Café. Okay, let’s talk about dessert.

CF: I have two, both homemade at the Hi-life Café. Nothing is brought in. The first is an orange coconut pie, it’s an orange custard with wisps of coconut. It came in number three in the Miami Herald restaurant ratings but numbers one and two aren’t around anymore so I consider it the best dessert in South Florida [laughing]. There’s also a pecan pie there made with chocolate chips and pecans with a bourbon cream.

JC: This is so great. And I want to give my thanks to the many people who pledged and made this fund drive a success.

LG: Thank you all for supporting us. It’s been a great drive and now we can relax and enjoy ourselves and eat!

JC: It’s a rough job [laughing].

LG: We talked about you being on Top Chef. I understand you’re on Telemundo now?

CF: Yes, I do a six minute segment call Cada Dia.

JC: You’re going to be on Food Network soon.

CF: From your lips to God’s ear [laughing].

LG: Tell us about your wine dinners at Hi-Life Cafe?

CF: It’s a seven course dinner with a different wine during each course. The dinners are all different. Some are a trip around the world and others are specific to one wine region.

FT: Do you have winery personnel who come to the tastings?

CF: Yes, last year I was able to have winemakers there. They were telling us all about how the wine is made.

FT: That’s really the best way to learn about wine.

CF: I also suggest getting yourself a flavor wheel.

FT: You’re giving away our secrets! People think we make that stuff up.

LG: What do you mean by a flavor wheel?

CF: That will actually divide up the components. For example, Sauvignon Blanc will be grassy, grapefruit…cabernet you’ll be talking about leather and tobacco. Those are just flavor profiles that make sense memory come alive.

LG: Also you’re doing some other work?

CF: There’s a national beverage company that has a cooking company and I’m the judge! It’s come full circle for me. Anyone can enter it.

LG: Earlier on we were talking about food safety. Here are some safety tips that the American Egg Board sent to me. You can store your eggs in the refrigerator for 3-5 weeks. But it should be in the original carton. Also, if you’re going to be filling up your refrigerator with a lot of food make sure to turn it down. Hard cooked eggs can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator. If you want to have your eggs outside, don’t leave them for more than 2 hours. Don’t let your kids eat those. So maybe stick with the chocolate eggs.

FT: Those plastic ones are also an option and you can keep reusing them. But make sure there’s no lead-based paint on them.

CF: Try not to boil your eggs for more than 10 minutes to avoid getting that green hue around the yolk.

LG: I put them in cold water, bring it up to a simmer, and then let it sit for 10 minutes.

FT: There are different ways here.

LG: I’m sure the Chef has to do everything quickly. Well, I’m Linda Gassenheimer. We’re talking with Chef Carlos Fernandez of the Hi-Life Café in Fort Lauderdale. We’ll take a short break and be back with more.


LG: We’re back. We’re talking with Chef Carlos Fernandez of the Hi-Life Café in Fort Lauderdale. Now it’s dinner in minutes time.

FT: Hooray.

LG: Well we’ve been eating a lot today. The Chef brought lots of food including this wonderful lamb. You also had crab cakes. My dinner in minutes is Florentine Lamb with Tomato Linguine. I use leg of lamb. It’s a steak about ¾ of an inch thick. You should ask the butcher and they’ll cut it for you. You cook it like a steak under the broiler. If you want the recipe it’s in today’s Miami Herald or see my website and link to my recipe. Fred, are we pod-casting?

FT: You can find us at

LG: Fred, you’ve given us some wine suggestions for Easter. And you shocked us all when you said to drink water if it’s really hot outside.

CF: Sangria is also nice if it’s hot outside. White Sangria is made with white wine, brandy, some sugar water and fruit.

LG: Fred, this is your best friend! [laughing] So there’s wine news, right Fred?

FT: There’s some news in the wine world. Joe, how much do you think your nose is worth?

JC: My nose?! [laughing]

FT: Ilja Gort, the owner of Chateau de La Garde in Bordeaux, has just insured his nose for 5 million dollars. It covers the loss of his nose and loss of smell. It was insured by Lloyds of London. They said that the nose of a winemaker is as important as the fingers of a Chef. There’s a picture of this man on my blog. They gave him lots of tests and determined that he has an above-average sense of smell.

JC: Well there’s got to be a benchmark.

FT: He had to agree not to ride a motorcycle, take part in boxing matches, participate in a knife-throwers contests…

LG: So this goes along with insuring your legs.

FT: Yes, like Jennifer Lopez insured her boody! Lloyds of London will pretty much insure anything. Should we talk about the Chef’s Wine Spectator Award Winning List?

CF: Every year the Wine Spectator sends out a form to restaurants and you send in your wine list. And we’ve received that award for the last seven years at the Hi-Life Cafe.

LG: What is the secret to a good wine list?

FT: It goes along with the food your serving.

CF: They want to see fairness and value, different regions from around the world, and a copy of the menu to see how well it goes.

LG: I like that they include a fair price for the wine.

FT: Chef Carlos was telling me about his markup.

CF: You can markup less expensive wine three times, the more expensive twice. It makes the entire experience more affordable and people want to come back.

LG: Chef Carlos, thank you so much for coming.

CF: I love the show; it was a pleasure.

LG: Jospeh Cooper and Fred Tasker, you both ate well today.

JC: Yes we did.

LG:  I’m Linda Gassenheimer. Join me next week to talk about pressure cooking.

Restaurant Happenings South Florida April 2, 2008


Red Light, 7700 Biscayne Boulevard, 305-757-7773.

Chef Kris Wessel’s (Mark’s Place, Paninoteca) new restaurant is Red Light. Located in the up-and-coming MIMO District’s Motel Blu, Jeff Vaughn designed the 1970s, Danish-style lamps, mahogany tables, and creamy yellow booths overlooking Little River.  New Orleans-raised Wessel developed a menu of low-temp, ecoprepared, regional dishes: Junior League conch chowder, a Florida fish plate, sour orange-garlic Glades frog legs, oyster tart, carrot-braised rabbit (cooked five hours). On the side: flax biscuits, cheese grits, collards, callaloo, and the curiously named “smelly gooey macaroni and cheese.”
Di Bono’s, 15979 Biscayne Blvd, 305-948-3330

Lou & Debbie Di Bono of Louie’s Brick Oven Return to their Italian-American roots with a true ristorante. Fresh grown herbs (from Debbie’s very own herb garden behind the restaurant) and the best of olive oils create the unmistakable aroma that wafts from the wood burning brick oven as homemade focaccia bakes. Designer Sharron Lewis still dominates at Di Bono’s with her old-world comfort and lovely interiors. Now the atmosphere at Di Bono’s is further enhanced by the subtle placement of televisions throughout the room showing, what else, Italian movies. Di Bono’s dinner menu is a litany of delicious “family style” appetizers, Italian salads, pastas, main courses, specialties and homemade desserts–all reasonably priced.

North One 10 Restaurant and Bar, 11052 Biscayne Boulevard, 305.893.4211

Dine on papaya, apple and almond haroset, spinach and goat cheese ‘crisp,’ chilled tomato gazpacho, and pulled organic chicken and basil soup. Have a truly memorable seder dinner at North One 10, which was recently rated one of the top ten Passover menus by USA Today. $48.00 per person, $24 for children under 12 (non inclusive of tax and gratuity).


Alta Cocina, the new restaurant on Sunset Drive, has added a new feature to their delightful lunch. Chef-spouses Juan Mario Maza and Vani Maharaj have introduced a luxurious pre-fix menu that offers a choice of appetizer, soup du jour or house salad, a specialty entrée, Panna Cotta for dessert and even a glass of Sangria. The entire pre-fix lunch is priced at $20. Choices of entrée are Grilled Skirt Steak with crispy French Fries and the chefs’ special No Mayo Coleslaw, Thai Mahi Mahi in Coconut Curry Broth with Fried Bok Choy or Alta Cocina’s Chicken Caesar Wrap.

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