Archive for the ‘Miami’ Category

Top Chef. Season 3. Miami. Chopping Block 5.

July 21, 2007

Top Chef Ladies on Balcony

Guest Judge: Maria Frumkin, DUO Restaurant, Miami, FL
Quickfire Winner: Joey Paulino, Cafe des Artistes, New York, NY
Challenge Winner: Howie Kleinberg, The Food Gang, Surfside, FL
Eliminated: Lia Bardeen, Jean-Georges, New York, NY

In the 5th episode of Bravo‘s Top Chef, Guest Judge Maria Frumkin, of the acclaimed DUO Restaurant in Miami, FL, graces us with her presence. The native of Argentina has been decorated with honors as a pastry chef, a skill proven vacant in most Top Chef contestants over the past 3 seasons.

Maria Frumkin, DUO Restaurant, Miami, FL

Evidently, Padma and I think alike on many levels (some unmentionable) in her reference to last week’s “dessert debacle” by Team Dale. So, this week Padma challenged all of the chefs to create anything they wished using a frozen pie crust.

Dale really had aspirations of redeeming himself in the Quickfire, but it was Joey who snatched the immunity with his humble pastry pairing. With roots similar to Tom himself, Joey has begun to understand the competition for what it is. His complaining has never solved anything, and instead has bonded with Howie and has found his groove.

Joey Quickfire 5 Winner

Still, I believe Joey is somewhat immature under all that exterior and the pressure will most likely get to him before it’s all said and done. On the other hand, Hung‘s as immature as can be. He is still challenging the judges and honestly believes the things that come out of his mouth. I’m embarassed for him at this point.

Hung Quickfire 5 Loss

But more importantly, Casey Thompson is beginning to slip in the ranks. Since the show actually has credibility, I’m not sure how long being attractive can keep you in a competition like this. And the whole Lynyrd Skynyrd look just isn’t working either.

Casey Thompson

The problem is if we lose her, then we lose the audience. So Casey better bring her A game next week or we might have to start watching men cook.

Casey Thompson

So, the Elimination Challenge asked the chefs to cater a “Latin Lunch” for stars of the Telemundo novella “Dame Chocolate.” Originally, the chefs were allotted 3 hours to prepare their dishes. After concepts and dishes had already been initiated, Tom entered the kitchen declaring the lunch had been moved forward 1.5 hours. The chefs handled the news in a variety of ways.

Howie’s Braised Pork Shoulder with Yuca Sour Orange Mojo

Howie decided to braise his pork to maintain the juices that are lost often times in a catered lunch. Much to Tom’s dismay, the braised pork dish went over very well with the judges, and Howie triumphed.

Howie Wins Elimination 5

Upon receiving a bottle of Argentinian wine from Frumkin as a token of accomplishment, Howie then awarded the prize to his new best bud Joey. Throughout the lunch, Howie was feasting on Joey’s Bean Stew w/ Lobster, Shrimp, Chicken & Chorizo, an homage to his “Spanish” boys from back home.

Elimination 5

For the elimination proceedings, Hung, Casey, and Sara N. were all at risk, but Lia was chopped as predicted. The judges were lost to the concept of her Smoked Rainbow Trout with Polenta Cake. It just didn’t translate to the task at hand and she was asked to pack her knives.

Lia Eliminated

We are really starting to get an idea of what these chefs are able to bring to the table every week. Some only cook fish and some only pork, but they will be fine as long as the weaker chefs are still around. When we get down to 5, then we will need to see Howie cook some fish, and Malarkey and Hung (if around) cook some meat. Regardless, Harold would demolish any of them in any challenge with only a butter knife.

Harold Dieterle, Perilla, New York, NY
Harold Dieterle, Perilla, New York, NY


Top Chef. Season 3. Miami. Chopping Block 4.

July 12, 2007

Quickfire Guest Judge: Jamie Walker, Global Master Mixologist for Bombay Sapphire Gin
Challenge Guest Judge: Barton G. Weiss, Barton G., Miami Beach, FL
Quickfire Winner: Casey Thompson, Shinsei, Dallas, TX
Challenge Winner: Lia Bardeen, Jean-Georges, Brooklyn, NY
Eliminated:  Camille Becerra, Paloma, Brooklyn, NY

In the long-awaited 4th episode, Top Chef finally featured the female contestants. Last week, I offered opinions on the several ladies competing with about 50% accuracy. We’ll explore in a moment.

Casey’s Quickfire concoction

But first, the Quickfire challenge was judged by the esteemed Jamie Walker, Master Mixologist for Bombay Sapphire Gin. The test was to marry randomly selected cocktails with appropriate complementary dishes. Few flourished.

Jamie Walker, Bombay Sapphire

After receiving strong criticism, Hung naturally assumed Walker was “confused” about the effort. But then, we recall Hung suggesting that Alfred Portale “didn’t understand his dish concept” in Episode 1. I see a pattern forming.

This kid is so pig-headed that he even “called out” Walker after his assessment. Since the show is based on food though and not maturity level, I would like Hung to show evidence that he can prepare more than just seafood.

Hung claimed “sweetness always goes good with creaminess,” before adjoining his raspberry & mint martini to salmon with a sour cream & meyer lemon balsamic sauce. This being enough to hate the bastard, Walker disagreed, choosing Hung and Joey as the worst two in the Quickfire.

Hung Quickfire meltdown

Walker described Joey’s loser dish as “too robust, too heavy, a little bit clumsy…but, with the cocktail itself, it just didn’t balance.” But he could have been describing Joey or his dish.

Joey Paulino

Alas though, the Quickfire standout was Casey, who has somehow yet to be featured. She paired a French toast baguette, pecan-crusted foie gras & raspberry sauce with a strawberry balsamic rickey. With a vast liquor tolerance, Walker was so giddy over Casey’s concoction that he demanded body shots. Apparently, she had interest:

Casey Quickfire Concoction

After things got sloppy, Walker reiterated his satisfaction with Casey’s product.

The richness [of the experience] really worked. I like it. It works. It works very well.

With an afterglow from the win, Casey blissfully ventured into a threesome with Howie and Joey for the Elimination Challenge. When reality set in, Casey couragiously admitted to Howie that a threesome sounded appealing before she realized who would be participating.

Casey Levels with Howie

The power of this awkward triangle thrusted morale to the gutter, and Team Flubber faced elimination. But, Casey had the immunity, so ratings were safe while Howie and Joey were not. Luckily, Team Dale (w/ Sara & Camille) visibly pissed off the Elimination Guest Judge Barton G. Weiss of Miami Beach with their dessert debacle.

Constipated Colicchio

Again, the judges were not impressed. Tom even considers what Camille’s rubbery pineapple upside-down cake will be like on the way out. Then they chop her for having no idea how its actually made.

Camille is Chopped

It’s sad to see Camille go, but she offered no personality and didn’t have top chef skills. She didn’t seem to have very competitive blood either which is a liability among a group of selfish people.

Lia ended up winning the Elimination Challenge, showing skills I didn’t think she had. At the same time, Top Chef is set up to judge the contestants individually from challenge to challenge. Therefore, as we saw with Casey, winning a challenge could simply be the top of the roller coaster. Lia should still be watching her back.

Lia Wins Elimination Challenge

South Beach Strippers

July 10, 2007

The Flamingo, oceanside

We missed Top Chef last week due to the holiday, but I wanted to share some of the views I have when I get to visit Miami Beach.

The FlamingoMy Maryland roommate grew up in North Miami Beach and currently resides at The Flamingo in South Beach, so he knows the area very well. This is one of his pools, and those empty chairs are filled daily with South Beach’s most ridiculous strippers.

Last Labor Day was my most recent excursion to South Beach, where The Flamingo did not disappoint. He had just moved in and hadn’t even paid his security deposit yet, so I joined him for a 20 minute meeting with the landlord at around 10 am. After swindling them out of a few months rent, we had breakfast, met his former roommate, and went to the pool.

The Flamingo, North Pool

Now when I say this scene was breathtaking, I don’t mean the immediate view of the ocean 10 feet from the pool, or the clear blue skies overhead. I am talking about the cheeks that all seemed to live in this one complex.


Not only that, but I didn’t look like some dirty scumbag because my brilliant friend had equipped me with a girl for the whole week. For security purposes, we will refer to her as “Next.” 

Shower Girl

It was like never-ending softcore porn. I kid you not. I was seeing spots similar to when you look directly at the sun for too long, except these spots were asscheeks. Even Next was impressed and she is from Los Angeles by way of Miami. These strippers weren’t just on the chairs either. They were playing in the foot shower, on the beach, getting drunk and enjoying the calm before the storm.

This calm before the storm is the Thursday before the Friday of Labor Day weekend. It’s the day where the strippers get to finish up their last details before the weekend’s debauchery begins. For most, that means cleaning up tan lines, relaxing, and finally spending a day dodging dick instead of not.

Elastic Girls

But Next would initiate conversations with these ladies and it always turned back to the U. I was surprised how intelligent the strippers were when their guard was down…oh, and they seemed to be  perennially forming  pony-tails, dipping themselves in and out of the pool for hours on end in what they called a “bikini.” Such solid marketing tactics.

Girls Poolside

Many of them were educated and actually went to the U. How they found time between demonstrating crotch thrust techniques on stage and then sleeping it off is beyond me. But, I couldn’t believe where my pimp friend, let’s call him “P,” was living. No wonder he gets laid so often. It’s a pimper’s paradise.

The U

It didn’t stop there though. At night, it was no different. One of his best friends, we’ll call him “Bare Bones,” was in from New York and was “drunk off his tits” in one story after another. This guy is a modern day miracle and together, these Miami pimps revealed their empire to me.

Crobar, Miami Beach, FL

We went wherever we wanted and got whatever we wanted. The bouncer would greet us personally as he declined $500 tables to the local meatheads and tourists. And this was no small group either. P always rolls with his blazing Russian-American friend, “Red,” and several other friends, with which I had specific interests in common.

Most nights lasted ’til the wee hours of the morning, and some broke dawn like the night before never happened. For the first time, I saw more people partying and dancing at 8 am than at 6 am, each equipped with his or her own designer sunglasses for the obvious reasons.

The Delano, Miami Beach, FL

When it was finally time to leave the beach, the restaurants, the clubs, the hotels, or whathaveyou, I never had any interest. Thank you as always pimps, for I will see you again this year for a repeat performance.

South Beach Nightlife

South Beach is such a spectacle and possesses an amazing aura that DC could only wish to replicate. That being said, my comparative research on the subject will begin this week.