Review of the first pizza crawl

Review of the first pizza crawl

Tonight was the first pizza crawl organized by Frodnesor of Food for Thought blog. He proposed the crawl after some animated discussion on Chowhound about the best pizza in Miami.  Tonight we focused on downtown.  We tried Joey’s, Pizza Volante, and Andiamo.

It was refreshing to see a group of people execute something from idea to reality so quickly and efficiently.  As Peter, the bartender said, “These are experienced eaters.”  There were fifteen people, including Chowhound Miami participants and random bloggers.  The advantage of such a large group is that you get to taste a broad variety; in all, we sampled 12 pizzas.  Cash is ideal for this kind of event.

Trying some pizzas and providing objective criticism

Pizza crawlHad the second favorite at Joey’s, which was the Dolce e Picante pizza.  This one is for folks with a sweet tooth: figs, gorgonzola cheese, honey and hot pepper.  The strongest flavor was the honey, but I loved the strong, fresh taste; it was not cloying.  This would be a good pizza or dessert to share with a group.

I found the crust on their pizzas to be too thin and cracker-like for my taste.  I felt like I couldn’t taste it.  Maybe that’s the point, because the toppings stood out, without being salty or overpowering.  However, they did just change their crust recipe today, so it’s not fair to pass judgment yet.

My favorites at Pizza Volante were the Volante 100 and the Bianca.  I love the idea of the Volante 100–a daily special topped with ingredients from a hundred mile radius.  Dandelion greens, tomatoes, and arugula topped today’s pizza. Those dandelion greens were fresh and fabulous.

PizzaA successful end to a first pizza crawl

I have to say that we ended our first pizza crawl quite successfully. We got to try a bunch of different pizzas from several restaurants, and my overall impression is positive. My friends and I discovered a lot of different pizzas that we were afraid to try before.

This kind of endeavor is great for the wallet as there are a lot of people who eat with you. I ate one piece of every pizza we tried with few exceptions where I had to eat two slices due to superior taste.

Bringing local dishes to the global level

Bringing local dishes to the global level

This past Saturday, Miami Dish participated in a global blogging event, as part of the official launch of Foodbuzz.com. Twenty four bloggers from around the world held dinners on Saturday night and then posted about the events on their blogs. There was a BBQ road trip, a recreation of a Serbian medieval dinner, and a Hawaiian luau.

Longans, passionfruit, mamey.  These exotic fruits just roll off the tongue, but what to do with them?  I’ve always thought of summer in South Florida as the lag time before our growing and harvest season– a sweltering, humid time of mangos and avocados…and that’s about it. I realize that there is more to eat in the summer than I previously thought. However, this produce may take some effort to find.

Local farmers meatFinding meat from local farmers

It was much harder to find local animal products.   I was hard-pressed to find beef from a farm that was closer than 150 miles. It was even more challenging to find a farm that didn’t require me to buy enough beef to fill an entire freezer with meat.  Ultimately, I had to go to the supermarket for the beef and chicken. Margie from Bee Heaven Farm says that she will soon be culling her older hens and selling them for stew chickens. Buyers will have to go to the farm, but it will be a worthwhile trip because she will offer lessons on how to prepare a whole chicken “from scratch.”  I’m hopeful that I’ve just scratched the surface. I look forward to discovering more delicious knowledge with future farm to table dinners.

We wouldn’t achieve anything without help

My favorite parts of the experiment were trying out recipes and meeting farmers. Local farmers were enthusiastic and obliging.  Thanks to Margie Pikarsky of Bee Heaven Farms, Roger Washington of Red Dragon Fruit Company, Holly of Sawmill Farm, and Peter Schnebly of Schnebly Redland’s Winery for their help with the dinner.

Miami dishesConclusion – Food diversity is the key to an excellent dish

Being afraid to try new ingredients will turn you into someone who uses only a set number of ingredients in their kitchen. Or quest to new and exciting ingredients is aimed at people who don’t realize how many beautiful elements lie unused in their vicinity.

We hope that our little search will help people in pushing the boundaries of their cooking toward new unexplored areas. Our experiments with those exotic ingredients will help people to discover ways to use unfamiliar food as well as learn new ways to prepare some typical ingredients.

Chef John – A story of passion toward beekeeping

Chef John – A story of passion toward beekeeping

There are few things more inspiring and life-affirming than seeing someone work deliberately and passionately both for their betterment and for the benefit of the community as a whole. That is what bees do, daily. That is what Chef John Sexton of Turnberry Isle Miami in Aventura does.

Chef John is allergic to bees. He spent years working up the courage to start his apiary until a member of the Turnberry Golf Club gave him The Beekeeper’s Bible. “The heck with it,” he thought, “I’ll just pack an epi-pen.”

My encounter with Chef John

HoneyOnce I arrive at the hives, Chef John gives me gloves, a suit and-and head-gear. “Suit-up,” he says, “or you’re gonna freak out.” There’s elastic at the bottom of each leg.  Gloves go under the elastic-banded sleeve. I don a helmet of sorts, with a veil that goes under the suit at the shoulders and closes with velcro and a zipper. It’s sweltering. “Are you allergic?” he asks.  I realize I have no idea.  It somehow feels safe with Chef John and with my Michelin Man costume. I’m not scared and am soothed into taking my time with the buzzing of busy bees. If nothing I know that Chef John knows how to deal with allergy as he is allergic to bees as well.

“I come out [to see the bees every day or every other day.  I light a cigar, stand back and check on them…I like the stewardship,” Chef John says. Bees “beard,” or cluster/hang outside of hives due to heat caused by overpopulation, or, boiling temperatures.  When that happens,  it might be time to expand their colony, introducing open space for them, so they don’t over-populate and storm off. Two of Chef John’s hives collapsed in the past, three weeks apart. Though there are clues, no one knows why the hives collapsed. The same issue can be seen all over the world, and Chef John is doing everything he can to prevent the death of his hives.

What I learned from this encounter

The golden/orange color you see in the hive is honey which will be harvested within the week. Colonies produce at different rates.  Last year, Turnberry Isle collected ninety pounds of honey for use in the resort’s baking and pastry kitchens, savory kitchens, and bars. Bees have natural GPS. Bees venture out only to find pollen (up to four and a half miles). Once home, they dance a jig, giving direction to other bees who will go out and forage. The little-winged insects observe the law of least resistance and live by the law of conservation of energy. Production of honey

They will never travel farther than necessary to make honey– only as far as they need to survive while contributing to the greater good of the planet by pollinating. Making sure that bees have enough food to survive and to create enough honey for the owner is the responsibility of the beekeeper. This same rule applies to the source of fresh water as well. The beekeeper has to care for their bees and provide them with everything they need and also to make sure that they aren’t disturbing bees too often.