Chef Kris Wessel’s year-old gluten-free Oolite restaurant at 1661 Pennsylvania Ave., South Beach, has closed. The culprit: $61,000 monthly rent which went unpaid for the better part of the year; do the math! 

The bar remains open. 

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Chef Julie Franz is no longer at Essensia at The Palms Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach.IMG 3306

She is replaced by chef Venoy Rogers who is a disciple of the natural, fresh produce and farm-to-table philosophy Chef Franz put in place at Essensia. The restaurant with the charming wrap around terrasse at the beautiful Palms Hotel and Spa Hotel retains the tropical charm and character of luxury constructions of the beginning of the 20th century.  

The Miami Spice menu ($39) which will be offered as of August 1 begins with creative cocktails ($10)  hand-crafted from fresh fruit blended with high-end spirits such as the Black Mamba made with blackberries, lemon, agave nectar and American Prairie Whiskey; the spicy passion fruit margarita with Milagro tequila, Ancho Reyes liqueur, lime, agave nectar, passion fruit and jalapeños; or the Hemingway mojito with Caña Brava Rum, lime, cane syrup, plenty of fresh mint and prosecco.

The Miami Spice menu sizzles with flavors and fresh flavors. At a preview dinner we sampled a choice of three starters beginning a Yelo tomato gazpacho with avocado, basil and cucumber. "That's actually the name of the tomato," said chef Rogers who is very particular about the provenance of his products. "It is a special type of yellow tomato grown in Canada that tastes like a real tomato should taste."   Then come two salads: a spinach and grilled watermelon salad with cucumber, mint and local goat cheese drizzled with lemon tarragon vinaigrette; and a "megene" salad, slices of sweet potato layered with an edge of sharp Maytag blue cheese softened with slivered tomato, sweet red grapes and livened by a Champagne poppy seed vinaigrette.

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For mains there's a vegan splurge: a grilled cauliflower "steak" over sweet potato fettucine, yellow bell pepper purée, with a kick of garlicky chimichurri. The Florida citrus brined natural chicken is juicy, plump and flavored with citrus and fennel and accompanied with grilled onions, roasted pee wee potatoes and wilted arugula. Then comes a hearty Florida-raised Angus beef short ribs richly braised in red wine and set over soft yellow corn polenta hemmed with sweet confit baby carrots; or a choice of saffron-poached flaky black grouper with seared Brussels sprout leaves, a zesty Spanish chorizo studded farro and squid  aioli.

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There's a choice of three desserts, quite different from the sweets fare one expects from hotel restaurants. Dolce de Abacate: a coconut sponge cake with sweet avocado cream and candied green mango; chocolate "bar" with rich dark chocolate covered with a raspberry glaze and toffee popcorn; passion fruit cheesecake with mango, passion fruit gel and cinnamon Graham crumb. 

Essensia, 3900 Collins Avenue inside the Palms Hotel & Spa Hotel. 305-908-5458www.essensiarestaurant.com

 

L’Echon has closed.  

 

A year ago, in an article entitled " L’echon Brasserie opens at The Hilton Cabana Miami Beach Hotel", I was writing: --  What’s a L’Echon? Is it French? Is it Spanish?  Un lechón is a suckling pig, l’echon is the Frenchy-sounding counterpart  invented by the trio behind Pubbelly Restaurant GroupAndreas Schreiner, Sergio Navarro and Jose Mendin for a 150-seat, 2,500-square-foot indoor, outdoor  Pubbelly-style,  seaside bistro with French Miami flair in the newly renovated Hilton Cabana Miami Beach hotel at 6261 Collins Avenue. 

AngelinaAngelina Bastidas, the girl with the Mona Lisa smile, (25),  has been appointed executive chef at Piripi Restaurant at Merrick Park by owners Gus Abalo and Teo Arranz .  Born in The Bronx, New York, Bastidas moved to Miami as a child. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, she started her culinary career while still in cooking school in the kitchen of Wish (since closed) on Miami Beach. Bastidas honed her skills in a number of Miami’s restaurants including Area 31, Bazaar, Palme D’Or and Taperia Raca and most recently was chef de cuisine at Tongue & Cheek on Miami Beach, where she was selected as one of Zagat Miami’s 30 Under 30 Miami Rock Stars Redefining the Industry.

Chef Angelina will be implementing a number of changes to the restaurant’s authentic Spanish menu, except the restaurant’s paellas, which are the province of imported-from-Spain paella maestro, Chef Ernesto Lorenzo Veloz. 

Piripi is open for lunch, dinner and brunch  as well as a Happy Hour bar : Sunday 11:30AM – 9PM, Monday-Wednesday 11:30AM – 10PM, Thursday 11:30AM to 11:00PMand Friday and Saturday 11:30AM – midnight..  Piripi, the Village of Merrick Park, 320 San Lorenzo Avenue in Coral Gables.  305-448-2423 www.piripimiami.com

 

Epicure Gourmet Market & Café in Coral Gables has closed. The 24,000 square feet retail market with a 240-seat outdoor café, juice bar, bakery,  full-service deli;  butcher shop and gourmet market offering all-natural and prepared foods had opened in December 2013 on the corner of Le Jeune and Ponce de Leon Ave., on the street level of Gables Ponce, the luxury apartment community in Coral Gables.  http://www.southfloridagourmet.com/index.php/whats-cooking/whats-new/1884-epicure-gourmet-market-opens-at-gables-ponce-coral-gables-.html. The reason: dwindling customer base. 

The original Epicure which opened in 1945 at 1656 Alton Rd.,  Miami Beach, and a second location at 17190 Collins Ave.,  Sunny Isles Beach  are thriving and open.

Food & Wine Talk Radio

 GELATO WORLD TOUR, RIMINI 2014, ITALY
 
Achile Sassoli, Director of Gelato World Tour
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Stefano Versace, Miami, Florida
 
 
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