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Fiesta Gastronomique

February 17, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Some blog titles come in easy and naturally. Some require the painstaking effort to come up. Right after I had an idea for this post, I knew that the word “Gastronomique” will be a part of the title. The first word took some time – but based on the meaning of the word “Fiesta“, I think it fits here perfectly – please read on and tell me if you agree.

This post essentially continues the previous one about Miami Restaurants – but this time I want to talk about only one, called Sra. Martinez, which is one of the restaurants of the famed chef Michelle Bernstein. Why do I think this restaurant deserves a special post? It doesn’t provide food – it provides experience, something which will stay in one’s memory for a long time, and will be relived again and again.

To deliver “experience” in such a place as a restaurant, you need all the elements to be just right, almost perfect (yes, can be the other way around – but that doesn’t belong to this post). Service, ambiance, atmosphere, food, wine – all should play together. Even price – but the price is a subjective category when you pay for the experience, probably QPR (using popular wine terminology) is a better term. Sra. Martinez got it all – the service, the food, the wine, the ambiance (and even QPR).

Our waiter, Oscar, or OD as he called himself, was amazing – always there when you need him, always with the right explanations, always with the right advice. Sorry, I understand, I sound now a bit “overly excited” – but service of this level is a truly rare experience – unfortunately.

Next, of course, is wine. The wine list is very reasonable in size, with a great selection of Spanish wines – I didn’t mention yet that Sra. Martinez is a tapas restaurant – therefore having a good selection of Spanish wines is quite appropriate. We’ve chosen Rioja Cincel Gran Reserva 1995 (doesn’t seem to be even available in the US through wine-searcher). The wine was food-friendly, smooth, with good acidity and tamed fruit expression – and I don’t think it was even ready, probably needs another 10-15 years to shine. It did work quite well with many dishes we had.

For the food – and this is where Fiesta comes to mind – we failed to choose what tapas do we want. Therefore, we had no choice but to subject ourselves to the hands of the chef, in the form of the tasting menu. Boy, was that the right choice! It was a true fiesta of flavors, textures, and tastes, a true food experience. From this point on, I really need to let pictures tell the story – I only regret I was unable to capture all the dishes we had. It is also very interesting to note that if you look in the menu, you will see sea salt listed as one of the ingredients in the number of dishes – and it is truly a distinguishing ingredient that makes dishes unique. This was probably the best use of the salt I was ever able to experience. And now, almost in the order of appearance, here is what we had in our tasting menu:

Arugula Salad with thinly sliced pear, parmesan cheese, and sea salt (wow!) – no picture, but this was one of the best combinations of simplicity and amazing taste.

Bacon-wrapped dates and croquettes with fig marmalade:

Eggplant chips with molasses and sea salt:

Crispy artichokes (wow!):

Catch of the day with israeli couscous:

Squid ink risotto ( incredible richness):

sautéed Kale with garlic:

Short Ribs ( incredible – thinly sliced and stacked, with sweet and salty sauce):

Lamb chops ( one of the best I ever had):

Garbanzo stew:

Brussels sprouts with bacon and fried egg:

Sweet corn with smoked paprika, smoked chile, and lime – incredible again, you just can’t stop eating it:

And finally… dessert! Never had chocolate flan before – wow!

The End (a.k.a. Bottom Line) – if you are in Miami, do it for yourself – visit Sra. Martinez. And if you will not think this is a fiesta, please tell me what Fiesta is…

Sra. Martinez on Urbanspoon

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  1. February 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm

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