A Food Lover's Guide to Miami (Part 2)
Miami is always a good idea. Teeming with life, young and energetic, it’s sea, metropolis and adventure all rolled into one.
On this trip to Miami, I did what travelers do best: I ate.
In recent years, Miami has positioned itself as a gastronomical destination. Molecular cuisine, fusion, traditional, you name it – Miami has it all. Even celebrity chefs like José Andrés are packing their bags and opening restaurants in this new destination for food lovers.
Considered one of Miami’s best, the J&G grill at St. Regis Bal Harbour comes from none other than celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, where he's serving his take on global cuisine from a bright, spacious dining room overlooking the ocean.
Taking inspiration from this proximity, seafood is abundant on the menu, with items ranging from simply grilled yellowfin tuna and pumpkin swordfish to steamed black halibut with spiced jade emulsion and celeriac.
Although relatively new (it opened in 2012) The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort has left a lasting impression on Miami Beach. Travelers describe their experiences here as phenomenal, mainly due to an attentive staff and a prime location. Overlooking the Atlantic from its headquarters in Bal Harbour (about 7 miles north of South Beach), this member of the family of St. Regis Hotels offers a bit frantic and very relaxing environment, as well as incredible food.
Here, I enjoyed a five-course meal ranging from the absolute perfection of their foie gras to a completely new take on the classic tuna tartare.
In J&G Grill, the wine pairing is essential. From Oregon, our somellier Nino Milenkovski chose a 2013 Chehalem, a beautiful, aromatic creation with notes of white blossom and candied ginger that pairs with just about anything, particularly those dishes that present a difficulty when finding the perfect wine, one that will complement the flavor without overwhelming it.
With that perfect foie gras I was telling you about, I had a Royal Tokaji Puttonyos 2008, the king of wines and the wine of kings, a complex wine whose sweetness is balanced by crispy acidity.
For the Spicy Ahi Tuna Tartare, creatively created with black olives, cucumber and avocado, the perfect pairing was a Riesling from Germay, the St. Urbans-Hof Estate, crafted with vineyards sixty years of age and older.
The main course was spectacular: juicy beef ribs in wine sauce, paired with a 2011 Tikves Bela Voda from Macedonia, an ‘old soul’ wine, with notes of raspberry and black currant, dark color, and soft tannins.
For our next dinner we traveled to Acqualina, a Resort & Spa on the Beach built on 4.5 beachfront hectares, with stunning views of the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean in the quiet Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. An intimate hotel, Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach offers extensive services and facilities including the first spa brand 'ESPA' in the United States, the acclaimed restaurant Il Mulino New York, three pools facing the sea and innovative program for children.
Old-school Italian meets South Beach chic at new Il Mulino. Starters include the vongole casino clams which are baked on the half-shell with casino butter and smoked bacon, and thinly sliced Tuscan-style beef carpaccio topped with arugula, olive oil and a light Dijon mustard sauce. Pastas are offered in full or half-size portions, with classics like homemade ravioli with black truffles and creamy champagne sauce, and cannelloni stuffed with veal, lamb, and beef.
Mains include jumbo prawns from Sardinia, a Dijon-crusted rack of lamb, and a signature veal ossobuco with porcini mushrooms served over saffron risotto.
It’s a charming restaurant, blending that old world elegance with all the vibe and energy of upscale Miami.
Finally, we found ourselves in NaiYaRa, a trendy Thai restaurant in Sunset Harbour. The atmosphere at NaiYaRa is like that of an Asian night market nipped, tucked, and primped to meet South Beach standards. Chef Bee’s idea is to specialize in the Asian street food that captured his heart growing up along the Mekong river in Thailand. The menu was partly inspired by Bee’s grandmother and features many dishes she once sold at their local village in Northern Thailand like crispy bok choy, chicken dumplings, and creamy ramen noodle soup with prawns, along with a sushi bar spearheaded by Bee.
The culinary offer ranges from perfect, crispy spring rolls to various types of curry and inventive sushi, like the Miami Heat Roll, with hamachi, jalapeño, kimchee, sour cream, black caviar, and yuzu soy sauce.