Friday, October 13, 2017

Diversion to South Florida

One of the most asked questions at my 600th Triple D dinner was "What will be 601 ?"  I didn't know the answer to that and I had no Triple D trips planned with two vacations planned, neither had any Triple D places planned but then Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico.  My brother Tom, had planned a cruise for us after his Bar Association meeting in San Juan.  The plan was to fly from DC to San Juan a day prior to the cruise and then cruise the next day.  After the devastating storm hit everything changed.  Tom's meeting was moved from San Juan to Atlanta and the hotel contacted me and told me to cancel as they would not be open.  The cruise was still planning to go so I had to hastily change my travel plans.  I called the airline and had my plans changed to leave the Thursday prior to cruise and fly from DC to Fort Lauderdale and then on Saturday morning fly to San Juan,  This gave me an opportunity to get to the last 3 Miami area Triple D places I had yet to try.  The week before my trip I was watching the latest episode ad they did a new Miami area place, VERY COOL!, I could get to a fourth!

I arrived into Fort Lauderdale around 1p and after getting my bags and a car I headed off to my first stop at a place that was open separate hours for lunch and dinner.  "Blue Collar" is a small eatery on Biacayne Boulevard.  I was greeted at the door by the manager and given a table in the middle of the dining room, they also have several tables outside, but as it was upper 80s and humid, I stuck with inside.  Everything on the menu looked really good but the any veggie choices really interested me and I chose the veggie plate.  I chose 4 veggies, there were about 15 veggie choices on the menu.

Blue Collar in Miami

Blue Collar's open kitchen and seating area

I chose Sautéed Brussel Sprouts,  Beets topped with Goat Cheese, Spaghetti Squash, and Cheese Grits as my meal.  The plate came and the portions were larger than I thought.  I had never had beets cooked like this and they weren't as sweet as I have had in the past and that was good as these were delicious and the goat cheese really gave the beets a great taste.  The Sprouts were pretty good.  The Spaghetti Squash was really good, I have not had this dish in years and I have really missed out.  The Cheese Grits were awesome!  Creamy and thick, some of the best I have ever eaten.

My Blue Collar Veggie Meal

I told my server why I was there and asked if I could get my book signed and he took it back t the kitchen to get the Chef to sign it.  The server also told me that the chef had just been interviewed t be a part of Guy's other show, "Guy's Grocery Games".  After paying the bill, I was about to take off, when the server said to me, "What's the rush, the Chef want's you to try the Key Lime Pie".  As some of you may know, Key Lime is my favorite, so I think of myself as an amateur Key Lime expert.  This pie was the best I have ever had!  Tart, with really good Lime flavor and a not too sweet whipped cream topping that cut some of the tartness.  The graham cracker crust was excellent, too!  

Key Lime Pie compliments of the chef at Blue Collar

That was a pretty big meal and as I headed out I decided to head to the hotel to check in and try and get to the other places later.  I knew hat I'd be battling Miami's terrible traffic but I also wanted to enjoy all of the other places that Guy went to.

After a couple of hours rest I headed back into Miami to get to the last few places.  I left at the tail end of the evening rush hour so the traffic heading south into Miami was not as bad as the traffic heading north.  The next two places were really close to each other so I was able to park once and get to both of them.  The area has a lot of stores and restaurants with a huge parking garage, so parking wasn't the challenge, finding the places was!  After walking around the block a few times I finally found  "Sakaya Kitchen" an Asian storefront place with the huge menu written on the chalkboard walls as you enter the restaurant and it was pretty overwhelming, but the staff at the order desk were very helpful. They have both large, sharable plates and small plates so I decided to try one of their Bao Buns.

Sakaya Kitchen in Miami

Inside Sakaya Kitchen, the order area

I had ordered the Soft Shell Crab bun topped with a thin cucumber slice along with a spicy mayonnaise aioli.  The plate came with two slider size buns and it was unreal!  I could have eaten about 6 of these!  The bus were steamed and soft and the spicy aioli was not to spicy.  

My Sakaya Soft Shell Crab Bao Buns

After finishing and getting my book signed the server pointed to my next place which was across a grassy knoll and is actually the sister restaurant to Sakaya.  "Black Brick Chinese" was featured on Triple D just 6 days before my visit.  Black Brick is a sit down place, unlike Sakaya which is more counter service, but like Sakaya hey have both large and small plates.  I decided to try one item from their huge list of Dim Sum menu and one from their Dumpling menu.

Black Brick in Miami, Triple D's newest place

Black Bick's open kitchen

I chose the Shrimp and Scallop Dim Sum pockets and the Lamb Dumplings.  I was attended by numerous servers, they really work great together and even before I received my food they came by several times to make sure I was doing well.  The pockets came first and the three were served in a small steam pot.  They came with soy sauce and a spicy oil.  Shortly after the 4 dumplings arrived served in a say sauce and topped with sesame seeds.  

Shrimp and Scallop Dim Sum

Lamb Dumplings

The Dim Sum was really good, the shrimp scallop were mixed and were really tasty, the soy sauce and spicy oil were both really good and added to the flavor.  The dumplings were really good, a lamb meatball inside the dumpling ad the flavor was great, no extra sauce was needed!  The lamb was really spicy, I was surprised about that!  Before heading out toe of my servers and the chef  who I had seen on Triple D just a few days prior signed my book.  He really didn't understand what I was doing but smiled when he saw Guy's picture on the book!

I headed north out of Miami through Miami Beach  to North Miami to my last stop. "Ivan's Cookhouse" is in a strip mall with a large grocery store and numerous restaurants, you could almost miss it and that would be a shame.  I walked in and was warmly greeted by my server and given a small table.  The place is a bit dark and I needed my flashlight to read the menu, it sucks getting old!  Ivan's has a huge menu that focuses on Latin and Caribbean cuisine. 

Ivan's Cookhouse in North Miami

Ivan's Dining Room and Bar area

While looking over the menu I was presented with a small plate of freshly made plantain chips with a small hummus based dip, which was really good.  The chips were slightly salted and are preferable to potato chips, in my opinion.  I chose from the small plates side of the menu and decided on the Fish Fritters and the small beef kabobs.

Plantain Chips and hummus dip complimentary appetizer

Ivan's Fish Fritters

Ivan's Beef Kabobs

I made some good choices, the 3 fritters were large with some good fish flavor, crunchy deep fried shell and sift breading on the inside.  The three beef kabobs were delicious, marinated perfectly.  Both came with a small mixed green salad and a side of Siracha based sauce, which was a bit too spicy for my taste.  The sauce was really unneeded as both were perfectly spiced.   After finishing I was able to get the Chef to sign my book and he told me that he was getting ready to head out to Santa Rosa in the near future to be a contestant on "Guy's Grocery Games" and he was a winner on another Food Network show, "Chopped".  They have several pictures of Chef and Guy together as well as his Chopped appearance.  I left after a day of great food and meeting great people and as I headed for San Juan and the cruise my Triple D count was at 604!

1 comment:

  1. You really write well Bill - I love the way you describe everything and of course I love the pics. I'm wondering if you should do a book about ratings so that you can remember your top pics from all of these places. For instance, in this one you said it's the best you've ever had (I think it was the key lime but could have been the grits). Anyway, you're doing awesome!