RED Steakhouse: An Elevated Dining Experience in South Beach.

Pardon The Punctuation…South Beach, land of tiny bikinis and lobster red German tourists. It’s also the land of Red Steak House. Located on an unassuming corner of Washington Blvd in Miami Beach Chef Peter V has put together a stellar and elevated steak house experience in a part of Miami that is known for having some of the most overrated restaurants in the country. Being originally from Miami I’m proud to see such a spectacular dining experience in my former back yard. You can order everything from fresh seafood to some of the most delicious cuts of beef available. They tend to stay away from the traditional steakhouse experience and boy am I glad. You’re not going to find a baked potato on the menu but you will find seared foie gras with apple pie and bourbon apple compote as an appetizer…yeah they’re legit. You’ll also find a top notch cocktail program with some innovative concoctions. Here’s what I had the pleasure of sampling.

Cocktails:

The “Relentless”: Grey Goose Le Citron, fresh pomegranate juice, lime juice, lemon twist, and a sugar rim. If you like a traditional cosmopolitan this is a great interpretation.

The “Red 305”: Bombay Sapphire, fresh agave, strawberries, cucumbers, and a process float. Wow! One of the most refreshing cocktails I’ve had in a while. Even if you’re not a fan of gin you’re going to love this cocktail. Perfect drink for a hot Miami night.

The “ Pineapple Margarita”: Corzo Silver Tequila, crushed pineapple, fresh cilantro, Cointreau, agave nectar, fresh line juice, and fresh orange juice. For not being a fan of tequila in general this is an outstanding cocktail. Prepared with surgical precision and not overpowered by any of the fresh ingredients. Balanced like a ballerina.

The “New Fashioned” : Knob Creek Rye, simple syrup, orange zest, and bitters. Their version of an “old fashioned.” Don Draper would approve.

Wine:

I strongly suggest drinking a bottle of their 2009 “Red The Steakhouse” Diamond Mountain Vineyard Cabernet from Napa Valley. If you’ve never had a wine from Diamond Mountain this is the perfect time to start. Made exclusively for Red and is as elegant as Jackie O.

Appetizers:

Charcuterie Plate: Bresola, wild boar sausage, house made pastrami, cornichons, lamb and duck prosciutto, whole grain mustard, and fresh brioche. If you love cured meats you’re gonna have to give this dish a go. I love charcuterie dishes that feature meats I can just walk into whole food and buy. The highlight was the duck prosciutto. I’ve had it before but this one is by far the best.

Lemon Garlic Shrimp: White gulf shrimp, crushed garlic, sliced lemon, and white wine. Served on a crostini. Not the first thing I would have ordered…but boy am I happy chef recommended it. 3 massive and perfectly cooked shrimp. Buttery with some nice acid from the lemon and white wine.

Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras: with apple pie, and bourbon-apple compote. A huge portion of foie gras served with sweet house made apple pie. The apple compote did a great job of cutting the fatty foie gras. If you’ve never had foie gras this is the perfect wish to try it for the first time. It could almost be served as a dessert too.

Fresh Burrata: wrapped in “Pata Negra” jamon iberico and served on heirloom tomatoes. Topped off with a 50 year balsamic glaze. A perfect dish. Creamy burrata complimented by the oily Jamon iberico. I could eat this for breakfast lunch and dinner.

Dinner:

Prime Dry Aged Ribeye: Steaks are like cars…you get what you pay for. Fatty, marbled, and cooked medium rare. My mouth is watering as I write this from my my airplane seat 35,000 feet over Texas. If you’re not afraid of a fatty cut of beef you’ve gotta order this one.

Miyazaki Japanese Kobe Beef: Certified Grade A5 and a work of steak art. If you’re going to try Miyazaki once in your life, Red Steakhouse is the place to do it. A generous portion cooked to perfection that will melt in your mouth and is worth it’s weight in gold. All I can say is wow!!!!!!!!!

Dessert:

Key Lime Pie: Toasted meringue, blackberry compote, and graham cracker streusel. Not too tart. The blackberry compote adds an interesting component to a traditional dish.

New York Cheesecake: chocolate cookie crust, dark cherry and vanilla compote. Rich and delicious. I’m not a fan of cherries in general but these were outstanding. I could eat it for breakfast.

PB and B S’mores Bar: Graham cracker crust, peanut butter mousse, chocolate ganache, toasted banana marshmallow, caramelia gelato, and salted caramel. Decadent, decadent, and more decadent. A wet dream for any peanut butter fan. The gelato is to die for and this dish could feed a small country.

So if you’re planning a trip to Miami and want to check out a steakhouse that makes Morton’s look like McDonalds make Red Steakhouse your number one option. They are a prime example of you get what you pay for.

Location: A+

Food: A+

Service: A+

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The “ Pineapple Margarita”: Corzo Silver Tequila, crushed pineapple, fresh cilantro, Cointreau, agave nectar, fresh line juice, and fresh orange juice.

In case you’re wondering what the bottle looks like.

Charcuterie Plate: Bresola, wild boar sausage, house made pastrami, cornichons, lamb and duck prosciutto, whole grain mustard, and fresh brioche.

Lemon Garlic Shrimp: White gulf shrimp, crushed garlic, sliced lemon, and white wine. Served on a crostini.

Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras: with apple pie, and bourbon-apple compote.

Fresh Burrata: wrapped in “Pata Negra” jamon iberico and served on heirloom tomatoes. Topped off with a 50 year balsamic glaze.

Prime Dry Aged Ribeye

They do not make a side dish that you don’t want to inhale.

Miyazaki Japanese Kobe Beef: Certified Grade A5 and a work of steak art.

Key Lime Pie: Toasted meringue, blackberry compote, and graham cracker streusel.

New York Cheesecake: chocolate cookie crust, dark cherry and vanilla compote.

PB and B S’mores Bar: Graham cracker crust, peanut butter mousse, chocolate ganache, toasted banana marshmallow, caramelia gelato, and salted caramel.

That handsome man on the left is Executive Chef Peter Vauthy…a master at his craft.

“La Bodega” Killer Tapas in KC.

Pardon The Punctuation…Kansas City, is the jewel of the midwest. This city is so cool that I almost don’t want to write about it and keep it my little secret. KC highlighted my 2014 travels didn’t disappoint on my 2015 trip.

Had the pleasure of checking out “La Bodega” tapas restaurant on this trip. I’m a sucker for tapas and wine so of course I had to check it out. Sampled quite a few of their dishes and here are the ones you must have if you go.

Croquetas de Jamon y Queso: Serrano ham, Mahon cheese and red pepper aioli. Perfectly fried with a crunchy bread shell and a hammy cheesy center. I’m a sucker for these. Served similar ones at my wedding and theses were just as much of a hit.

Champiñones a la Plancha:Roasted mushrooms with garlic and white wine parsley sauce. Not overcooked which is a common occurrence when I order roasted mushrooms. Great flavor and a generous portion.

Solomillo con Cabrales: Grilled beef tenderloin crusted with Spanish bleu cheese. Tender and cooked a gorgeous medium rare. The Spanish blue cheese gives it a distinct bite.

Brotxeta: Grilled shrimp wrapped with pancetta, served with horseradish cream sauce. I know that you could probably wrap a lump of coal in pancetta and it’s going to taste good. These shrimp were out standing…could have eaten 20 of them.

If in KC and craving some Tapas “La Bodega” is the place to go. They also have an innovative cocktail program and I’ll be posting one of their cocktail recipes soon.

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Croquetas De Jamon

Champiñones a la Plancha

Solomillo con Cabrales

Brotxeta

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Whiskey Review: “Rhetoric” from Orphan Barrel Distilleries

Pardon The Punctuation…I don’t know about you but the sound of a 20 year aged bourbon sounds pretty good to me. “Rhetoric” from Orphan Barrel Distillery is just one of those whiskies. Here’s the story of Orphan Barrel right from the horses mouth.

“The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Company was started to share barrels of rare and delicious whiskey, hidden away and nearly forgotten in the back of rickhouses and distilleries.
Stories of these lost whiskeys have become the stuff of legend. Our goal is to bottle these rare, small offerings for the world to try.
Every Orphan Barrel is hand bottled in Tullahoma, Tennessee, to ensure that these rare whiskeys are treated with the care they deserve – because some of them will only be available once. And once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.”

That’s right. Once and they are gone…so when you find one you like, buy it and buy some more. The “Rhetoric” is only available once.

Nose: Oak, oak and more oak. Felt like I was sniffing an oak tree forrest. Yeah there’s a leathery quality but it’s overpowered by the oak.

Palate: Did I mention oak? These also a redeeming taste of vanilla. The vanilla really saved it for me.

Finish: Finishes pretty dry and smooth. Almost finished like a rye.

Conclusion: Not my favorite of the Orphan Barrel releases. Their “Barterhouse” is still my favorite for the money and a few bucks less. It’s a good bourbon but I’m not sure it’s worth the hefty price tag.

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Coffee Review: Crema Coffee “El Pilon”

Pardon The Punctuation…A couple of my friends just got back from Nashville and as a gift for watching their dog brought me a pound of some delicious roast from Crema Coffee. The “El Pilon” roast is sourced from Costa Rica and bursts with bright punch in the nose of spice. Smooth ribbon-like flavors of berries roll off the palate. I’d have this every morning if possible. Proof is in the pudding. Crema Coffee has a new fan in me. Check them out.

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“Quick and Easy” Pork Tenderloin Recipe in the Slow Cooker

Pardon The Punctuation…If there is one that I know it’s that time is money. This is my favorite quick and easy pork recipe that will leave you smiling when you walk in the door after a long day of work. A slow cooker is an essential item for any aspiring foodie. This

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“Noche Buena” Guava and Bacon Stuffed Pork Shoulder Recipe

Pardon The Punctuation…When I think of “Noche Buena” only one thing comes to mind…pork, pork, and more pork. Being the son of Cuban exiles only lead me to stuff my face with the “other white meat” every year on December 24th. A few years ago I tried the most amazing recipe for this slow roasted goodness. It’s a pork shoulder stuffed with guava, ham, prunes, malta and bacon. Oh and did I mention bacon? If your palate digs sweet and savory, this is one for you. Not only is it delicious but the leftovers make killer pressed sandwiches the next day. Sorry Kermit but I think I’m in love with Miss Piggy.

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Wine Review: Castello Di Amorosa 2011 Barbera

Pardon the Punctuation…I know I’ve been off the grid for a while but here is a sign of good things to come. Recently got my hands on a bottle of Castello Di Amorosa 2011 Barbera from their twin creeks vineyard. Here’s the rub.

Tasting Notes: On the cusp of being top acidic for my taste but it made the cut. The aromas do justice to the classic wines from the Piedmont region in Italy. Hints of black pepper, sage, and blackberries. Paired it with some Gnocchi and it worked perfectly. I’d say open it and give at least 30 min before drinking. It softened up a bit after a while. Would definitely drink again.

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Pono Burger In Santa Monica Is The Best Burger I’ve Had All Year.

Pardon The Punctuation…If you live in Los Angeles you start to learn that people love burger joints like they love their favorite sports team. Arguing over which place has the best of everything. Last night I discovered a new team to root for…Pono Burger in Santa Monica. In Hawaiian, “pono” means “to do things the right way and that seems like the only way chef Makani does things at Pono Burger. To quote their website, ‘that translates to fresh, never frozen organic beef from pasture raised, grass-fed cows, organic ingredients from local farmer’s markets and fresh cut organic french fries.” They also grill all their burgers on a wood fire grill that’s gives them a unique smokiness. Their fries are also organic and wonderful. Here’s what I shoved in my mouth.

Salad

Seasonal Farmer’s Market Salad: Organic arugula bed topped with organic farmer’s Beets, local Gioia burrata,
crushed organic Santa Barbara pistachios, housemade champagne vinaigrette. A great way to start the meal. Fresh ingredients equals fresh flavors.

Burgers

THE KUAWA CRUNCH: Organic beef patty, Hook’s 1 yr. cheddar, topped with housemade organic russet potato chips, organic green leaf lettuce, housemade cole slaw, and housemade spicy guava rum sauce. A burger with a kick. The nice thing is that it’s not too hot. Just enough spice and the sweetness from the guava rum sauce adds all the balance it needs.

THE PANIOLO: Organic beef patty, English oak smoked cheddar, Niman ranch bacon, housemade Kona coffee
bourbon BBQ sauce, and housemade buttermilk beer battered onion rings. The sauce, and onion rings can be sold on their own to make a small fortune. This rich and decadent burger hits all of the senses. You could smear that BBQ sauce on pancakes…yeah I said it.

PIKU “FIG” BURGER: Housemade drunken caramelized fig jam, organic beef patty, Fermier brie cheese, Niman ranch
bacon, crushed hazelnuts, organic arugula, topped with housemade balsamic vinaigrette. The best burger I’ve had all year. If “Fine Dining” were a burger this would be it. Elegance on the palate and every bite is more and more complex. I’ve had fig and brie burgers before…but never as good as this. You must order this!

Dessert

SALTED CARAMEL AND BACON MILKSHAKE: Made with Straus Family Creamery vanilla soft serve organic ice cream and Niman Ranch bacon bits. They had me at bacon and salted caramel. Just delicious and gluttonous. It was amazingly good yet I felt ashamed after I downed it. In other words it did it’s job.

If you want to be blown away with an amazing burger give Pono Burger a shot. If you the service to match ask for “Tasha.” She rocks. I know you’ll fall in love with them as much as I have.

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Los Angeles Travel_250x250

Girasol…A little Foraging in Los Angeles

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Pardon the punctuation…residents of the San Fernando Valley you no longer have to drive over the hill for fine dining. “Top Chef Duels” winner Chef C.J. Jacobson has brought Girasol to Studio City for your foodie pleasure. At Girasol you’ll try flavors you can’t find anywhere else in Los Angeles. Things like Forrest Floor Vinaigrette, Cactus Ice, Fennel Pollen, White Fir, and Rosemary Ash Oil. Oh yeah…C.J. isn’t messing around. If you’re wondering where the heck the chef gets the ideas to incorporate these flavors…well he forages in southern California. That’s right. He Forages! In other words the food at Girasol is connected to the land around it. Particularly Angeles National Forrest. Cool shit. It also doesn’t hurt that C.J. worked and learned at arguably the best restaurant in the world. Noma in Denmark. I had the blessed experience of dining at Girasol recently and here’s what went down.

Cocktails

Apple-Walnut Old Fashioned:
Bulleit Rye, Germain Robin Apple Brandy, Kuchan Nocino Walnut Liqueur, and Forbidden Bitters. Great spin on a the traditional cocktail. What’s beautiful is that you never forget you’re drinking an old fashioned. All of the other flavors are subtle enough that they just compliment the drink.

Food

Market Pears and Burrata:
With crispy lentils, shiso basil, and forrest floor vinaigrette. Here’s one of the flavor experiences you can’t have anywhere else. Chef should bottle that vinaigrette and make a killing on it. not too tangy but tangy enough. The pears and burrata are a happy marriage of salt and sweet. The basil galvanized the dish and gave it the perfect finish.

Coastal Farms Cherry Tomatoes:
Marinated local tomatoes with cactus “ice” and market basil. Imagine fresh tomatoes with a cactus snow cone on top. A snow cone of goodness. Here’s something that before having this dish I didn’t know I didn’t know…I love cactus ice.

Long Roasted Pumpkin:
With fuyu persimmon, condensed butter milk, raw walnut, CA juniper, and sherry vin. This dish was perfectly executed and presented like pumpkin art. Flavor wise it just wasn’t to my taste. I loved components like the butter milk and California juniper and wanted to fall in love dish but it reminded me too much of potpourri. Pumpkin lovers are going to dig it.

Shrimp and Weiser Farms Melon:
Chili-crusted grilled shrimp, concord grapes, CA bay leaf, radish, and lime. Talk about a dish that is fresh and pops. The shrimp were cooked with sniper like precision. Not chewy and on point with the seasoning. Who knew that I’d love California bay leaf so much. Now I have to go find the stuff.

Marinated Grilled Pork Satay:
With caramelized onion puree, CA olive oil, grilled lemon, and fennel pollen. Juicy, juicy, juicy. Hit the spot after the lighter dishes I had before. The seasoning was unique and left me wanting more.

Octopus Salad:
With long roasted eggplant, little gem, rosemary ash oil, sweet and sour chili, and toasted lovage. Those of you who follow me know that I love octopus and eat it whenever I see it on the menu. This is now in my top 3 octopus dishes in Los Angeles. It was so good that I forgot everything else on the plate and almost fought my wife for the last piece.

Hamachi:
Sea beans, mouse melon, finger lime, white fir, and wild sorrel broth. Like octopus, hamachi is one of those dishes I always order if it’s on a menu. Flavors were bright. The mouse melon is something I’d never had and added a nice facet to the dish.

Pork Loin Roasted in Hay:
With sweet corn puree, raw squash, and sweet clover reduction. Tender and moist…this pork tasted like it had been slow cooked for hours. The corn and squash enhanced the pork because of the sweetness and texture of the two. A healthy portion size and can be easily shared as a main course.

Smashed Potato:
Sonoma jack cheese, crispy garlic, and chives. Worked well as an accompaniment to the pork. Can’t go wrong with garlic and chives.

Chocolate Brownie Cake:
Salted caramel gelato, sable cookie, and chocolate pudding. If you like chocolate you’ll chop off an arm to have this dish. If you like salted caramel too, you’ll chop off both arms. Rich and sweet yet balanced by the salt. The gelato could be and amazing dessert on it’s own.

If you’re looking for a mind blowing dining experience in the valley Girasol is the top spot in my book. For those of you living in 310 you finally have a place in 818 you’ll be proud to say you drove over the hill for. Sorry for the Los Angeles lingo but out of towners should get their toosh over there too.

When 6’8″ meets 5’7″

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Where to Eat, Drink, and Stay in Downtown Seattle

Pardon The Punctuation…Seattle the “Emerald City” is a rainy foodie paradise. A Valhalla for all things digestible. I just got to spend 5 days in this amazing place and since most blog readers have the attention span of a fruit fly I’ll keep it short.

Stay:
The Kimpton Hotel Vintage. Perfect location. Just a few blocks away from the the Link Light Rail train fro the airport and right in the heart of all the downtown action. Gorgeous remodeled modern rooms and a complimentary wine hour from 5-6pm every night featuring local Washington State wineries. Also they serve complimentary Caffe Vita coffee in the lobby every morning. The staff knows how to treat a guest.

Great room at the Hotel Vintage.

Coffee:
Victrola Coffee serves up freshly roasted java and barista drinks. You’ll want to try everything they make. I wish they had a store from in Los Angeles.

Caffe Vita is a mix of art gallery space and killer coffee shop in the Capitol Hill part of town. Friendly baristas will rock out whatever you want to drink and if you ask you might get a quick tour of the roasting plant behind the shop.

Latte at Caffe Vita

Chow:

Sitka and Spruce in Melrose Market offers up local farm to table delights. Best charcuterie and house made Kombucha I’ve ever had. Get a reservation as they fill up quickly.

Best Charcuterie!

Oddfellows Cafe and Bar serving up yummy breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So good I went back twice. They also have a great $5 happy our “Old Fashioned.” For breakfast get the bacon egg and cheese biscuit…stellar. Had the mussels for dinner and they were solid.

Eggs , Bacon, and Biscuit at Oddfellows

Great $5 Old Fashioned

Great mussels at Oddfellows

Skillet Diner in Capitol Hill serves up some yummy breakfast fare. I had the chilaquiles and they were ok. Nothing to write home about. Their Bacon Jam on the other hand is the kind of stuff that wars are fought over. Perfectly sweet and spicy…order it on the side with one of their freshly baked biscuits. One of my friends ordered the pork belly and corn meal waffle. This was a heavy and delicious dish..definitely sharable.

Biscuit and that bacon jam is my jam

Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bars grow the best oysters I’ve ever had on the planet. They will blow you away… joke…get your ass there now.

Taylor Shellfish Oysters…wow

Bar Sajor another farm to table gem. Fresh, fresh, fresh, and the menu changes daily. I had the leg of lamb. YUM!

Leg of Lamb

Lowell’s restaurant in Pikes Place Market serves up good food in a touristy spot. Never expected food this good in a tourist trap. Great egg sandwich.

Molly Moon’s serves up outstanding homemade ice cream. The salted caramel will blow you mind.

Mamnoon has the best middle eastern food I’ve had this side of the atlantic. This place will blow your mind. Try the kibbeh, arnabeit makli, sambusek, shish taouk, and finish it with the turkish coffee dessert. This place has the “wow” factor.

arnabeit makli AKA Cauliflower

shish taouk ..Chicken, garlic, lemon, and olive oil.

To Do:

The Space Needle is an iconic building in the Seattle skyline. Felt like a complete waste of time to me. The view is fine but really not worth the time.

The Seattle Underground tour was fun and entertaining. Funny guides take you under Pioneer Square and keep it entertaining. It runs about 90 min and tons of fun.

If you’ve never been to Seattle I suggest you plan a trip ASAP. Wonderful people, food, coffee, scenery, and just about everything else. Can’t wait to get back there.

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