najat head shotThe Coral Gables dining scene is going to get a lot more interesting come October/November 2014 with the opening of Piripi, at 320 San Lorenzo Avenue at the Village of Merrick Park.  Piripi, Spanish slang for “happy”, “tipsy” or “feeling a little bit buzzed” according to restaurant owner Gus Abalo, will bring Spanish-Basque chef  Najat Kaanache to Miami.

Of Moroccan descent, Chef Najat was born and raised in San Sebastian and enjoyed a career as a Spanish television actress and activist, before deciding to attend culinary school and follow her passion to the world of gastronomy.  She honed her skills at Michelin 3 stars Noma, French Laundry, Per Se and Alinea alongside Rene Redzepi, Thomas Keller, Grant Achatz, Heston Blumenthal and Martin Berasetegui, spending the final two years at El Bulli working directly with Ferran Adria until the restaurant closed.

At Piripi, Chef Najat will prepare homespun, authentic Spanish cuisine in a spectacular setting that will seat 200 inside and out, with a marriage of rustic accents and sleek contemporary design from Candela & Partners.  The menu will include Chef Najat’s take on the standards – with heavy emphasis on seafood, as well as a selection of “lively” tapas and paellas.

The prominent central bar will feature fabulous Spanish wines by the glass as well as a great selection of “gin tonics.” Standout design elements include a beautiful wine wall and a spectacular 20 foot blown glass chandelier hanging in the bar/lounge area that is currently being produced in Seattle by master glass blower Ryan Blythe, a disciple of internationally renowned artist Dale Chihuly. Piripi will also feature an intimate semi-private Chef’s dining room, delivering “fanciful” and “immersive” dining experiences for 10-12 special guests.

To help her make culinary magic in Miami, Chef Najat is calling upon her vast network of colleagues from the world’s finest restaurants, with a wine list created by Spanish sommelier Ferran Centelles, who spent thirteen years at El Bullí.  Says Chef Najat, “You are only as talented as those with whom you surround yourself.  In hospitality it is all about the team.”

Cantina La Veinte by Mexico City-based Cinbersol Group –hospitality firm for high-end dining – opened its first U.S. outpost in Miami.  Located in downtown Miami’s Icon Brickell, the new waterfront restaurant and bar was designed by Mexican architectural firm Niz + Chauvet. The 450-seat indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar with gorgeous views of Brickell Key and Biscayne Bay, pays homage to the Mexican Art Deco style, while maintaining the distinct décor of a traditional Mexican Cantina  in which the bar plays a pivotal role.

At the helm of Cantina’s kitchen is Executive Chef Santiago Gomez, a native of Mexico who has a passion for authentic Mexican cuisine with a playful, eclectic twist. He worked at NOBU, both in Miami and Mexico City where Alberto Cinta – CEO & Co-Founder of Cinbersol Group – discovered his talent and hired him to work as sous chef for the hospitality firm’s Thai/Japanese concept, Erawan. Since then, Gomez has worked with Cinbersol in multiple concepts and capacities including being named executive chef of Piso 51 – a fine dining restaurant in Mexico City – and eventually becoming Corporate Chef of Cantina La Numero 20’s multiple locations in Polanco, El Angel and Santa Fe, MX. Looking to further sharpen his cooking skills, he went to New York City in 2012 and did a stint at the critically-acclaimed restaurant, DANIEL by renowned chef Daniel Boulud. Now, at Cantina La Veinte in Miami, Cinbersol’s first U.S. restaurant, Gomez delivers a deliciously diverse menu of authentic Mexican food incorporating whimsical touches.

At Cantina Veinte,  Gomez serves up authentic dishes from south of the border. Diners can choose from Seafood Appetizers, Ceviches and Aguachiles or Earthy Appetizers, starters from the land. Dishes include Almejas Chocolata Rasuradas (MP) – raw clams served with Maggi-lime caviar and chopped red onion; Chicharrón De Rib Eye ($23) – fried rib eye chunks served with guacamole; and Dobladitas De Jaiba Suave ($21) – crunchy soft shell crab, served in flour tortillas with jalapeño sauce.

In true Mexican fashion, Stuffed Chiles include Güero ($12) – chile Güero stuffed with smoked fish ceviche, served over passion fruit coulis; Pasilla ($12) – Pasilla chile filled with duck confit in a tamarind-mezcal sauce; and Escamoles (MP) – Chile Poblano filled with escamoles and sautéed with butter, garlic, white wine, olive oil and epazote leaves. Main Dishes feature Callo De Hacha Sellados Con Arroz Poblano ($35) – seared scallops atop creamy poblano rice with sautéed mushrooms and truffle oil; and Langostinos Al Mojo De Ajo (MP) – giant prawns sautéed with garlic-lime butter. Also on offer is fresh daily Fish, done-your-way with a choice of A La Talla – dried chili-mayo mix; Cilantro – cilantro sauce with serrano chile, jalapeno and lime juice; or Adobo – chile guajillo sauce. Carnivores can delight in Dry Age Rib Eye Angus (MP) – with sugar cane-chile crust and a 3-chile sauce; or Filete Arriero ($32) – grilled beef fillet with sautéed onions and serrano in a Maggi-lime sauce. Rounding out the menu are Desserts such as Ate Con Queso De La No. 20 ($9) – baked wonton with quince paste and blue cheese ice cream and Trufas de Chocolate ($10) with mezcal and hibiscus powder. An essential part of Cantina’s gastronomic experience is the restaurant’s bar and cocktail program, which features a massive selection of over 260 tequilas and mezcals, considered one of the largest in the U.S.

Cantina La Veinte has its own upscale Mercado adjacent to the outdoor dining area, offering prepared foods, imported Mexican ingredients, charcuterie, fresh baked bread, caviar, wines, and horchatas – a traditional rice-based Mexican beverage.

Cantina La Veinte is located at 495 Brickell Avenue at the Icon Brickell.  Open for lunch and dinner Monday – Wednesday, noon until midnight; Thursday – Saturday, noon – 1 a.m.  Sunday Brunch is served from noon – 5 p.m. and the restaurant is closed for dinner on Sundays. Mercado hours: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.  Discounted valet parking available. Telephone: (786) 623-6135.


Freddo, a premium helado (ice cream-gelato hybrid) maker in Argentina since 1969, is slated to open its flagship store in Miami at 610 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach in September/October 2014. Thirty flavors will debut at the South Beach store when it opens next month, including dulce de leche, chocolate, cream, sorbet and light flavors.

Freddo’s helados are made with fresh hormone-free milk, pure cane sugar, fruits and natural and raw ingredients, they are completely free of trans fats, and devoid of artificial flavorings, colorants, preservatives or added vegetable fats.

Freddo is currently available in six South American countries and in more than 150 stores in the UK . Its first US location in Charleston, South Carolina has opened in August.

For more information log on to;


Carrabba’s Italian Grill® is putting the finishing touches on its newest restaurant at 9231 W. Flagler Street in the Fontainebleau Shopping Plaza. The new 5500-square-foot Carrabba’s   features an open kitchen, a relaxed and casual dining room and bar with family tables, a modern Italian bar and patio dining.

The menu includes dishes baked in a wood-burning grill inspired by the many tastes of Italy, as well as the signature dishes.

To help serve the community, Carrabba’s Italian Grill® has hired 120 area residents to join the Carrabba’s team.

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An interview with  Chef Tim Andriola, Basil Park and Timo in Sunny Isles, FL - The magic of good food for health and cheer enjoyment


More and more restaurants are focusing on health these days.  It may sound stern and a tad bleak but at Basil Park, the newest endeavor from restaurateurs Tim Andriola and Rodrigo Martinez, next door to the immensely popular Timo in Sunny Isles, every item of the healthy, nutrient rich “intact cuisine”, is a treat: from drinks to desserts, you won’t find flour, sugar, milk or any adulterated ingredients.

Chef Andriola makes good-for-you food come alive with flavor influences from the Mediterranean, Asia and Latin America and with  clever touches like cashew-based "cream."

Every aspect of health and well being were thought of, from the design of the kitchen to the local organic produce, micro greens and other farm ingredients which Farmer/partner Tamer Harpke of Harpke’s Family Farm in Hollywood  provides daily. The menu which features rotisserie pasture raised natural chicken, grass-fed meats a la plancha, sustainable seafood and a vast array of vegetarian dishes, also features  raw organic cold pressed juices from the juice bar, organic almond milk, cashew cream and cheese , organic wines, organic beer and sake.

Basil Park is located at 17608 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles and is open daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

Food & Wine Talk Radio

Achile Sassoli, Director of Gelato World Tour
and Gelato Artisans:
James Coleridge, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Abdelrahman Al Teneji, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Matthew Lee, Austin, Texas
Ahmed Abdullatif, Kingdom of Bahrain
Stefano Versace, Miami, Florida
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Chef Scott Conant: Scarpetta


Mark Schatzker, author of The Dorito Effect, The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor


Elizabeth Minchilli, author of  Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City.  


James Beard Award-winning wine journalist Lyn Farmer on: Garnacha from Carinena; the next great wine


Cindy Hutson,chef/owner, Ortanique and Zest, author of From the Tip of My Tongue


Lidia Batianich, celebrity chef, TV host, author and restaurateur 






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