Pubbelly – Miami Beach, FL

With a name like Pubbelly, it must come as a surprise to many of our readers that this sanctuary of sumptuous snacks has taken so long to appear on this storied space. Well allow me remedy that. Pubbelly touts itself as “the first Asian inspired gastropub in Miami”. I’m not here to say who came first, I’m here to report on great food, which I found many times over at this little outpost on Miami Beach. The three young guys running this outfit are all chefs and hospitality pros in their own right, and have joined forces to create a truly food-centric eatery. That may sound strange, “aren’t all restaurants food-centric?” you may ask. Well yes and no. They may serve food, but the other half of the equation is the passion. Just like how you can hear the passion in a great song, when you are presented with a beautiful plate of quivering pork belly, with its golden crown and pearly outer garments, you can tell whoever created it is just as excited about cooking it as you are about eating it…well almost.

pubbelly

Luckily for me, the trio of Pubbelly and I have similar leanings when it comes to food. On the menu you’ll find, all manners of cured meats, various pork products (the words belly, bacon and short-rib occur many times throughout), a whole section devoted to dumplings, noodles, a raw bar, and everything in between. The atmosphere is casual and the staff are well versed in the menu, which will stay with you for the duration of the meal as you’ll likely be ordering in waves as certain items catch your eye.

I arrived a tad late to the gathering, just in time to catch a couple bites of the pastrami & sauerkraut dumplings. I’m usually not such a push over, but this dish gained my loyalty immediately. First of all, I would have probably never ordered it on my own as I’m known to hate sauerkraut and caraway. As I’ve stated countless times before though, everything is delicious when it’s done right, and these dumplings were no exception, tangy, salty, the perfect start. The duck and pumpkin option was another winner, with a very autumn sounding sauce of orange, almond, cinnamon and soy brown butter. The only issue I found was having to fight the temptation to order another plate instead of branching out. Happily though, cooler heads prevailed and we continued.

Duck & Pumpkin Dumplings, Orange, Almond, Cinnamon, Soy Brown Butter

A charcuterie plate was summoned, a long mound of Mangelitsa ham lay opposite slices of toast slathered with goat butter and truffles. Delicious, but not to be outdone by its brothers cooked a bit more vigorously. A pair of plates arrived featuring one of our favorites here at Eat a Duck, pork belly! The first was pork belly with kabocha (a type of Asian winter squash), butterscotch miso and corn powder. It was nearly solid fat (not a bad thing in my book) with a slim layer of flesh at the bottom. It came sliced like a loaf of bread and literally disintegrated in your mouth. The second was cochinillo with sour apple purée, roasted brussels sprouts, cinnamon and soy. This was a crisper more solid take, but no less tasty. A nuclear colored apple purée added a sour note and the subtle presence of soy brought your palate back to Asia.

Pork Belly, Kabocha, Butterscotch Miso, Corn Powder Cochinillo, Sour Apple Purée, Brussels, Cinnamon Soy Jus

Back on the raw side of things, was a short rib tartare with apples, quail egg, green mustard, tobanjan (a spicy paste made from fermented broad beans) and pine nuts. This was a truly beautiful dish. I requested more goat butter truffle toast as a vehicle, that was one of my better decisions. But it wasn’t all pork all the time, not that there’s anything wrong with that. We were on Miami Beach, so we ventured into the sea with bay scallops bourguignon in shiso garlic butter and sea salt with a crusty baguette on the side. I imagine the chefs creating this dish to appease a close friend or relative who was squeamish about snails and finding it was not bad on its own. Escargots are one of my favorite dishes, but the sweet, tender flesh of a scallop was a wonderful substitution on the classic recipe.

Shortrib Tartare, Apples, Quail Egg, Green Mustard, Tobanjan, Pinenuts Bay Scallops Bourguignon, Shiso Garlic Butter, Sea Salt, Baguette

Of course dessert followed. After all the dinner party included my dad and sister, two people who have been partners with me at some of my most memorable meals. After consulting our waitress, we arrived upon the chocolate brownie sundae and butterscotch crème brûlée. Both were gone in moments and were as luxurious as they look. For a chocolate fiend like myself, the brownie hit all the right buttons, though the crème brûlée had it beat in refinement and balance of flavor. It was by no means a blow out on either side.

Chocolate Brownie Sundae Butterscotch Creme Brulée

It proved to be another successful meal. The food at Pubbelly is impressive to say the least. As you know, we here at Eat a Duck strive to write only about those establishments doing something truly special, and I believe the trio at Pubbelly are doing just that. So if that’s not enough motivation to visit, just peruse the menu yourself.

Pubbelly on Urbanspoon

The Dutch – Miami Beach, FL

There was something very comforting about the time I was able to spend living up in New Jersey. Being born in New York must have imprinted some sort of regional familiarity on my mind. Moving back down to Florida after almost a year of hanging out in and around Manhattan was not easy. There’s no need to list the innumerable facets that make the atmosphere in the city so unique. Unsurprisingly, one of the things I miss most, is the access to amazing food around every corner (not that much of an exaggeration). Luckily for me, my destination, not far from Miami, also happens to be the nesting ground for many uncompromising Manhattan snowbirds, weary of the frigid winters but unwilling to sacrifice the food, even for a few months out of the year.

Naturally, this migration brings with it the demand for said food. Thankfully, many Manhattan eateries have followed the flock and set up shop in Florida to sate the appetites of the hungry expats. One of these, from chef and restauranteur Andrew Carmellini and his partners Josh Pickard and Luke Ostrom , is The Dutch. The Miami outpost, at 2201 Collins Ave inside the posh W Hotel (along with another New York institution, Mr. Chow) opened just seven months after the original.

The Dutch Miami Beach

My family, all very attached to New York City in some way, made plans to visit The Dutch together on a recent weekend. Despite all my time in the city, even passing The Dutch on the way to work day after day, I never was able to partake. Here though, was my chance to remedy that. It was refreshing to see that they didn’t try to create some false “New York” atmosphere with the decor. It manages to tread the fine line of chic Miami style without straying into Florida kitsch. We took a seat in an outdoor booth on the patio and dove straight into the menu.

the-dutch-miami-beach-interior

The first thing to catch my eye were the offerings from the raw bar. 2013 has been the year of the oyster for me so far, Garde Manger started the trend and The Dutch kept it going with incredibly fresh bivalves by the dozens, we secured ourself a dozen each of P.E.I’s and Kumamotos. The oyster selection changes often based on what’s fresh or in season, so it pays to visit multiple times if you want to sample other varieties. Joining the oyster tower was a crispy lamb, squared and perched on a landing strip of cous cous with tomato, olive and caramel. Classic corvina ceviche with avocado and fresno chile, sides consisted of creamy parmesan polenta with bacon bits and green onion and a cast iron skillet overflowing with roasted mushrooms, garlic crouton and parsley.

The Dutch Miami apps

You could tell that each dish was constructed with care. That same care was taken to make sure that the flavors were balanced. The tomato and olive didn’t overpower the subtle gaminess of the lamb, and the cous cous lent an added texture and creaminess. The ceviche, which could have easily been ruined by a heavy-handed use of chile, was spot on. The fish was fresh and bright paired with the avocado that brought a silky mouth feel. Roasted mushrooms and polenta are always sure to bring that cozy home cooked aspect to any meal, the green onion and bacon bit accoutrements gave a slight nod to the classic baked potato.

For the second course, the group split between choices from land and sea. The mature individuals at the table chose the more sensible dishes, namely a steamed red snapper in a coconut curry broth with mint, and Scottish salmon with beets, horseradish crema and caviar. Us foolish young’uns went for the more audacious choices, a fiery Jamaican jerked chicken with peas, rice and pineapple chutney and ravioli formaggi with mushroom bordelaise, and blanketed by freshly sliced winter truffle. As you’d expect, the truffle dish was mine, after all, I have a reputation to keep.

 The Dutch Miami entreés

The consistently fresh and balanced flavors continued through with the entreés. Both fish dishes were perfectly cooked and broke into smooth flakes at the touch of the fork. The salmon was especially tasty with its beet “relish” and horseradish crema. I’m a notorious loather of cooked fish in most instances, but my motto continues to hold up, when it’s done right, everything can be delicious. The guys and gals behind the scenes at The Dutch are proving that point on a nightly basis.

As usual, the time came where our waiter left us with that difficult question…dessert? Were we full? Yes. Could we leave without trying their banana cream pie and homemade dark rum donuts? Of course not. Both were delicious, the donuts winning out slightly over the pie for me, simply because of the bowl of fresh raspberry jam. I allowed everyone a small dunk after which I hoarded the rest for myself to greedily slather over the remaining donuts. I’m a raspberry whore and I’m not afraid to admit it.

The Dutch desserts

As we left satisfied, I felt that familiar feeling wash over me, like a piece of New York had broken off and planted itself in the south, awaiting my arrival. Not to take anything away from the amazing eateries Miami calls its own, but The Dutch fills a specific culinary void that I felt when I first moved down. Hopefully other New York establishments will see the demand and follow suit, opening up their own branches south of the Mason-Dixon line.

The Dutch on Urbanspoon

Pad Thai

People are always asking me to list my go-to recipes, the dishes I might whip up to appease a hungry multitude without the luxury of a days notice. I usually tell them, “you name it and I’ll give it a shot”. My methods for menu creation are largely driven by the scraps I discover in the bowels of my cupboard or fridge. My grocery-buying habits play a large role as well, since my cravings for various cultural sundries span the globe more thoroughly than even Tiki Gelana could imagine.

So if I were to compose some dishes based on what I had in stock, it might go something like this…

A salad.
Arugula, tomato, red onion, avocado, cucumber and radish with an Italian inspired herbed mustard vinaigrette. Buttered crouton and toasted almonds as an accompaniment. My wife and myself have spent many nights creating dressings to compliment the produce we’ve got on hand. It’s true what they say about salad dressing creation being the key to a happy family life.

A main course you can either:

a. Eat out of a bowl or

b. Eat out of a really big bowl enough to feed four or more

Pad Thai fits that description nicely. Ask me for the ingredients for an authentic version and I could make a semi-educated guess. I think I make really good Pad Thai. Let me rephrase that. Whatever it is that I call Pad Thai is really really good. There’s a sauce that you use in the Pad Thai. I know not of its name. I call it Pad Thai sauce.

Pad Thai

A dessert.
I’ll make a dessert as long as the dishes aren’t already overflowing out of the sink. If they are and I’m too tired, ice cream is always a 5 minute drive down the street. But the two desserts I can easily compose with ingredients which I always have on hand and I bet you do too, is creme brûlée and chocolate ganache cake. Seriously, for the cake you need like 3 ingredients. Chocolate, butter, sugar, flour, eggs, salt and a muffin pan. That’s 3 ingredients right? Oh, and an oven. (Editors note. Pretty much the same things you would need to make a chocolate soufflé, just using a different method. Sometimes you accidentally mix up the two and you make a delicious monstrous concoction.)

As for my version of Pad Thai, here’s the instruction manual to guide you through the vermicelli jungle. Don’t be intimidated, they’re just noodles, it’s not like you’re facing the Khmer Rouge or anything.

Pad Thai

Ingredients: Serves 4-6

Pad Thai Sauce (it’s a little spicy)

  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp pickled chilies
  • 1 tbsp chili paste

Pad Thai Sauce Components

Heat small sauce to medium
Add oil. Add garlic and ginger and stir occasionally for two minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook for five minutes. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until sauce has reduced by half. Set aside. You don’t have to use all of these components if you wish not to search them out. If you don’t want it too hot, omit the pickled chilies…wuss.

For the Pad Thai itself.

Protein marinade:

  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 gloves of garlic roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • Juice of 1 lime.

Combine all together until sugar dissolves, then add 2 lbs of peeled and de-veined large/jumbo shrimp. Toss shrimp in marinade, then cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Chopping vegetables and assorted herbs:

  • 1/2 head of cabbage finely chopped lengthwise
  • 1 red onion halved and chopped lengthwise
  • 2 carrots julienned
  • 1 red pepper julienned

Garnishes:

  • 1 large cucumber julienned
  • 1 small daikon radish julienned
  • 1 container of bean sprouts
  • Bunch of Thai basil
  • Bunch of mint
  • Bunch of culantro or cilantro
  • 2 limes cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts.
  • Fried shallot

Place each individually in its own serving bowl and set aside until serving time.

Assorted Veg.

Take one package of small rice vermicelli noodles and place them in a large bowl of warm water for 10-12 minutes until softened. It might not seem like this amount will serve a good number of people but once the noodles are submerged in the warm water, they will multiply more so than Michael Keaton characters from the mid 90’s.

Heat large sauté pan or wok on med-high heat. Add sesame oil. Place cabbage, onion, carrot and pepper and cook until they begin to soften but are still crunchy. About 3-4 minutes.
Remove from heat. Turn heat to high. Remove shrimp from refrigerator and place in pan about 10 at a time. Don’t put too many in at once since they will give off a little liquid. If you overcrowd the pan they won’t get a good color. Cook for about 1-1 1/2 minutes per side. Once they are all cooked, set aside in a bowl. Lower heat to medium.

Strain noodles from water and place in pan along with the cooked vegetables and half of the Pad Thai sauce. Toss for about two minutes. Place into large serving vessel and add cooked shrimp. Add more sauce if desired. Serve alongside garnishes of raw vegetables, herbs, fried shallots and peanuts.

That’s about four steps to make this great meal. I love this recipe most because of the bold flavors of course, but also because of how wonderful it looks once you have put it all together. It’s a very visually appealing dish because of all the vibrant and contrasting colors. For a split second you might not want to ruin this masterpiece due to it’s shear beauty. Then reality kicks in and you will destroy everything in your path to get just one taste.

I’m not saying you need everything listed here to make this great. Believe me, I’ve made an amazing version of this with just a handful of items. This is however the culmination of what I consider to be the best of what a great Pad Thai may or may not entirely be. Hope you guys have fun creating this as well your own go-to dishes.