Thursday, July 19, 2012

Michy's: #grapes luncheon

Don't ask me why or how, but I (well, my blog) was invited to attend a media luncheon at Michy's Restaurant, owned by the incredibly talented and charming, celebrity chef, Michelle Bernstein's. If you're one of the very few people who live under a rock and are asking yourselves who this person is (I forgive you), Michelle Bernstein is a Miami based chef and TV personality. Chef Bernstein has appeared on shows such as Chopped, The Next Food Network Star, and Top Chef. Also, set your DVR's and check her out as the host of our very own Check Please: South Florida.

Hosted by the California Table Grape Commission as they promote California table grapes as "The Original Super Snack," our luncheon consisted of a grape-based menu developed and presented by Michelle Bernstein herself. This event was geared towards foodie bloggers, which was awesome as we were all able to mingle with eachother and chat about the one thing we all love: damn good food. I met fun new people, such as Caroline of Smarty Pants Mama & Lynn of Web City Girls and was able to get to know my Twitter bud and fellow foodie Maria The Foodaholic. And of course, spend time some QT with my sis, The Fit Cook herself.

The Fat Girl Inside & The Foodaholic

Foodie Sisters
Photo by Anthony Jordon, Jr.

Michy's is a intimate, tiny little place amidst the madness that is Biscayne Boulevard. I went to Michy's last year for Miami Spice and loved their food. The "shabby-chic" decor and large open counter/bar area give it a homely feel, almost as if you're at Michelle Bernstein's house for a ladies' lunch.

Photo by Anthony Jordon, Jr. 

I arrived a few minutes late (thank you FHP) so I did not have the opportunity to take a picture with Chef Bernstein. Upon arrival I was handed a fresh and fruity beverage, a mojito of sorts, which was cool and refreshing.

Photo by Anthony Jordon, Jr.
The last of the hors d'oeuvres were being passed around and we were fortunate enough to enjoy them before we sat for our meal.
Watemelon Greek Salad was tangy and refreshing - I normally don't eat fresh fruits but I stuck the whole thing in my mouth without thinking about it twice. I love the combo of the feta, watermelon and whatever herbs were in this mix. It was very light but very flavorful.

Watermelon Greek Salad
Photo by Anthony Jordon, Jr.

The pork tendeloin on toast we delish. The meat itself was juicy and well seasoned, the sauce (a berry sauce?) was sweet and went well with the greens.

Next up - Jamon Serrano Burrata. I love Jamon Serrano, and cheese, and everything else that was on this spoon was meant to be there and it all made beatiful, perfect sense.

Picture stolen from Maria - Adventures of the Foodaholic

After being summoned to our chairs we received a warm welcome from a lady representing California Table Grape Commission. This very informative woman educated us hungry bloggy people on the difference betwen table grapes and wine grapes, which answered my boozy fat girl's confusion as to why there was no wine being served at this event. Informative lady then introduced Chef Bernstein who was so charming and so funny yet incredibly informative when talking about table grapes and their versatility.

Per Chef Bernstein, grapes go with anything. She talked about how to incorporate grapes into meals and snacks, which I will officially start doing come tomorrow's dinner. She also talked about her own experiences cooking with grapes, and even shared a story about her first dish with grapes which was a sea bass in grape sauce she cooked at Tantra. She then went on to explain how she no longer uses sea bass as it is not sustainable. Talented and environmentally responsible, this woman is a gem. Chef Bernstein went on to discuss the menu... here we go!

First Course: White Gazpacho, grapes, cucumbers, jerez and olive oil. This dish was interesting. I can never get used to gazpacho and it's cool temp.

No matter how hard I try to train my brain that gazpacho is cold, my tastebuds always expect warmth and confusion. This gazpacho was very rich. The crunchiness of the cucumber and the bread along with the acidity of the grape cut the richness of this dish. The presentation was lovely - we were handed a bowl of grapes, bread and cucumbers and the cream was poured in. Lovely.

Photo by Anthony Jordon, Jr.

Second Course: Pancetta wrapped snapper braised with red and green grapes, pressed juice, roast fennel puree.

This dish was amazing. The fish was cooked beautifully - it was flaky and flavorful, the pancetta was savory and hearty and really enhanced the grapes, which were warm and cooked so that they were a bit mushy inside. The fennel puree was very earthy and added another layer of  rich flavor to the dish.

Third Course: Peanut Butter panna cotta, dark grape gelee, jus and dried crispies.

In pure inner fat girl fashion,  almost fell out of my chair when I heard peanut butter was included in this package. I love PB! This PB was unlke anything I've ever had - seriously, PB panna cotta? To die. I forgot to mention the PB was ground on site.The dark grape gelee, made by Chef Bernstein, was firm and sweet. And the crispies - oh the crispies! - also made by Chef Bernstein in what she claims is the little kid inside of her - added the perfect crunch to this dish.

As we closed on the meal, the nice lady from the California Table Grape Commission raffled off the beautiful centerpieces. Luckily all the Hispanic women kept their composure and refrained from a Hialeah banquet hall brawl over these beautiful monsters. It is evident this nice lady is not from 'round these parts, Centerpieces and Latinas don't mix. As we exited we were handed a very nice media kit including a very cool cookbook, a flashdrive, and more info on table grapes.

It was a great time to say the least. Beautiful setting, nice crowd and of course, ridiculously good food. I hate to admit that up until that day I had never had a grape - not even on New Year's Eve as part of our extensive NYE rituals. I was a little apprehensive sitting for a grape-based meal due to my fresh fruit aversion, however, I was blown away by the versatility of the grape.

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