Though I am a New York City girl (crazy since I grew up in the Boonies of Nowhere Texas), everybody needs a break from the hustle and bustle once in a while. In my case, I am grateful because my older brother has a house in South Beach Miami, and whenever I need a dose of ocean air, or some “trendy” nightlife, or anything in between, I allow myself the luxury of hopping on the three hour flight and staying with my bro. New York was freezing as usual this past winter so getting off the plane in South Beach was definitely a nice treat.
And…speaking of TREATS, Scott Conant has a new restaurant, “Scarpetta” in the newly renovated Fontainbleu building in Miami. I had been anxious to eat here since it opened and took this trip to FL as an opportunity to satiate my love of his elegant approach to very simple Italian cuisine. We ate there on a Friday night and I was pleased to see how busy it was. It’s nice to know that the current state of our economy hasn’t impacted all the food lovers in the world.
My meal consisted of an organic beet, endive and radicchio salad, and for an entree, my friends and I ordered Scott’s spaghetti with tomatoes and basil. As somebody who has spent their life eating, learning, exploring and tasting different kinds of foods, it’s really the the most simple dishes with the finest and freshest ingredients, cooked to perfection that truly satisfy my palate. This dish is as simple as it gets: spaghetti, tomatoes and basil. But the manner in which it’s prepared; the pasta made fresh and cooked to a perfect al dente, fresh organic tomatoes, and freshly picked basil, all made this dish perfectly simple, elegant and of course, worthy of a spotless plate.
In addition to the food that we ordered, Scott also sent us a complimentary polenta with wild mushrooms–very Italian It’s just cooked cornmeal, but Scott’s polenta is rich, creamy and flavorful. Truly, one of the best polenta dishes I have had! He adds cream, parmesan, preserved truffles, and a mix of wild mushrooms. It’s a simple dish but unsurpassed in richness.
As far as food is concerned, my Miami trip did not end there. My brother’s kitchen is one of my favorite kitchens to cook in. It’s so spacious! A luxury for a New Yorker! It has a huge marble island, top quality cooking equipment, and pretty much anything a happy chef needs to do some damage! This Sunday I decided to cook for a group of 30 of his friends.
My brother is very spontaneous and young at heart and frequently decides to throw last minute dinner parties, jam sessions (he is a great piano player) and everything in between. So, like the great sister I am, I rolled up my sleeves and drove to the Whole Foods on Alton Road and came up with the impromptu menu. Cooking on the “fly” is very much like a jazz musician. Improvising is what makes it exciting. Following a recipe is always fun, like reading music, but coming up with something off the top of your head is one of my favorite things about cooking.
Braised Red Snapper Mediterranean
Grilled Tuscan Steaks
Broccolini Sauteed in Olive Oil, Garlic and Lemon Juice
Roasted Rosemary New Potatoes
Salad of Watercress, Bibb, Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Olives and Feta
*The original blog was called Flavors in Love. All material has been transferred and some has been edited for easier reading, and archiving.