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NEW ORLEANS CHEF ALEX PATOUT OPENS CHRISTABELLE’S QUARTER IN COCONUT GROVE

Christabelle’s Quarter, the long-awaited three-story New Orleans-style restaurant, is slated to open this fall in Commodore Plaza, Coconut Grove. To recreate the Big Easy style of French Louisiana architecture in South Florida, owner John El-Masry and architect Carlos Perez da Costa have built an stained glass ceiling dome, and two story stained glass windows, ornate wrought iron railings inside and out, and a grand staircase leading to the upper decks.
New Orleans’s Chef Alex Patout of the award winning Alex Patout’s Louisiana Restaurant which closed its doors after 16 years in the French Quarter as a result of Hurricane Katrina, is bringing more than a taste of the Bayous: New Orleans Jazz clarinetist Tim Loughlin will host New Orleans musicians for evening performances of jazz, rhythm & blues, gospel and Cajun music and weekend jazz brunches in the New Orleans tradition. The manager is Michael McCarthy, formerly of Ortanique and Jada. Chef Patout has showcased his family heritage in a cookbook Patout’s Cajun Home Cooking (Random House). He comes from two centuries of multiethnic French, Spanish and African Creole cooking and classic Cajun cuisine dating back to 1828, when his family first arrived from France and settled in Louisiana, including a grandmother, Yvonne Patou, whose Cajun cooking made her famous in 1913, at the Old Frederic Hotel of New Iberia, Louisiana.
Christabelle’s Quarter’s Cajun and Creole menu includes oysters, fresh from New Orleans, and dishes like Fresh wild catfish, Louisiana crawfish and plump Louisiana oysters alongside Cajun classics like Rabbit sauce piquant and Smothered roasted duck. There are Creole favorites such as Crabmeat imperial and shrimp remoulade, Louisiana crab cakes; Soft shelled crabs; Shrimp & crabmeat stuffed eggplant. Aside from a variety of soups and gumbos, one can order from a wide selection of fresh seafood grilled, fried, broiled or sautéed and topped with jumbo lump crabmeat, crabmeat, shrimp & mushrooms or crawfish tails; along with classic Louisiana sauces of fresh dill beurre blanc, béarnaise, and etoufee, crab fat with vanilla bean, creole or cajun cream with tasso.Smoked pork with Southern sauce. The meat menu lists Filet mignon and veal chops among other cuts in different preparations; and the wine list will feature a vast variety of selections and vintages at reasonable prices.
Christabelle’s Quarter’s event catering chef is Alex’s wife Marcia Patout who rules over the too floor with a private elevator and a chic terrace with a view for large or small groups luncheons, dinner parties and meetings.
Christabelle's Quarter is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and dinner, 5:30 p.m. until midnight daily with late night menus available from 11 p.m. until 2:30 a.m., nightly. Jazz Brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Commodore Plaza, Coconut Grove. 786-517-Jazz (5299) or 786-517-Blues (2583).

$20 MILLION KARU&Y; TO OPEN IN ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT DOWNTOWN MIAMI

Cesar Sotomayor thinks big. The 32 year-old president of Arrso Restaurant Company - his family’s restaurants in Madrid and South America, with partner Elliot Monter --has converted 42,000 square feet into a $20 million “sanctuary of art, cuisine and entertainment.” Indeed he spared no luxury at Karu &Y; at 71 NW 14th Street, in downtown Miami, just behind the Miami Performing Arts Center: cascading waterfall and a bridge leading to a reflecting pool at the entrance; inside African wenge wood, colored marble, a Blue Icicle chandelier designed by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly, an exotic bejeweled Venini glass installation (made in Venice, Italy) in the private dining room Mas Allá; fourteen wall to wall temperature-controlled wine coolers with a selection of at least 2500 bottles from rare vintages to boutique wines from all wine producing regions of the globe,” according to sommelier Dwayne Savoie, and a special venue slated to open later this year: Tottem and Tottem Gardens, a Zen parkland intended to host from 800 to 1000 people at concerts, fashion shows, special events and film/television productions.
Y Ultragounge with a drinks and tapas bar offering fig roll ups stuffed with cured ham and smoky Idiazabal cheese, key lime poached lobster and baby pork chops glazed with guava barbeque sauce ($9 available until 5:00 a.m.), is ultra modern with low banquettes, a sleek outdoor patio with private cabanas, and a chic stressed look where guests can relax before or after dinner at the 126-seat Karu, the upscale alta cocina restaurant which is the domain of chef Alberto Cabrera -- formerly of Baleen, Norman’s and the legendary but short-lived La Broche -- and restaurant manager Albert Omahen.
The menu’s roots are Spanish with the exciting cuisine of the Americas, from the amuses bouches which start every meal at Karu to the after-dinner sweet mignardises. While the private dining roon Mas Allá, will offer a nightly 5 to 12 courses tasting menu paired with wines, the a la carte menu starts with appetizers ($16 to $26) such as octopus carpaccio with lemon sorbet, duck crisps, caper salt; Japanese fluke tiradito with sweet potato ice cream sandwiches, aji amarillo powder and cancha corn chips; pan-seared foie gras with pan de Gloria,canistal fruit, chocolate candy and px reduction; and a Spanish clam bake siliqua patula, a rich mix of imported clams, mussels, and langoustines with white corn candy.
Adventurous and complex entrees ($30 to $46) range from tender Wagyu sirloin served with Karu’s fried rice - seared cuttlefish, tomato compote, quail egg, soy infused puffed rice, enoki mushrooms -- to fresh hog snapper served with butter poached langoustines and fava bean agnolotti.
Equally elaborate desserts range from hazelnut biscuit filled with carrot mousse, golden raisin puree and beurre noisette ice cream, to a new style beignet filled with chocolate, roasted wild strawberries and lemon granite.
Karu is open for dinner Sundays and Tuesday through Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to midnight; Fridays and Saturdays until 1:00 a.m. (closed Mondays); Y Ultralounge is open Thursday through Saturday, from 5:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Karu &Y; and Tottem are located at 71 NW 14th Street, Downtown Miami. 305-403-7850

TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT… SPINACH?
Healthy meals that can kill you
Isn’t it about time we revise our consumers’ habits?


We always try to upstage ourselves. Canned spinach worked for Popeye, so we thought we’d be getting more by eating fresh spinach. Iron, potassium, low cal in fashionable salads became a mark of good taste. And for convenience sake what could be better than packaged spinach? We didn’t even have to wash them! We had a healthy meal in a jiffy.
Of course few of us ever bothered to find out how long the bag had been on the shelf, or if the leaves were treated or were organically grown. Those who cared picked the bag with the greenest leaves and the organic stamp on it. We know learn that one of the sources of the recent E. coli outbreak that spread to 19 states, killed one person and sickened nearly 100 is spinach grown next to the Natural Selection Foods plant in San Juan Bautista, California. Its products are sold as Rave Spinach, Natural Selection Foods, Dole, Earthbound Farm, Trader Joe's, Ready Pac and Green Harvest, among other brand names. Other brands may yet be implicated.
As a result, all bagged fresh spinach has been removed from supermarket shelves, and consumers shun the leafy green no matter where it comes from.

Raising questions about food, and consumers’ habits

Diseases such as Foot-and-Mouth and E.coli are cropping up too often these days. So, isn’t it high time to raise the questions of foods designed to have a long-lasting shelf life and globalization in food? We’ve been used to eat peaches and cherries in winter, fresh spinach and asparagus at all times even if these come from far away. Few of us are asking themselves where they come from and what it takes to get them to our table 12 months of the year. We’re told they’re good for us, and we buy them. In addition, and this will not sit well with developers, with real estate invading what used to be agricultural land, there are more people to feed than land to produce enough fruit and vegetable. But since supply never runs dry, this must mean big bucks to play with. The outbreak of E.coli is telling us in a devastating way to think and revise the way we consume and eat, to give a chance to local farmers, wherever they are, to grow what every season and soil dictates. Popeye never imagined that the spinach he gobbled up to beat the Bad Guy would, one day, be that Bad Guy
By Simone Zarmati Diament

CHEF GOVIND ARMSTRONG’S TABLE 8 SOUTH BEACH SLATED TO OPEN IN OCTOBER
With equal parts L.A. glam and South Beach chic, the 255-seat indoor/outdoor Table 8 South Beach is slated to open in October 2006, beachside, at the new Regent South Beach Hotel at 1458 Ocean Drive with entrances from both Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue.
Celebrity chef Govind Armstrong, who launched his career with Wolfgang Puck at L.A.’s legendary Spago, will serve sophisticated yet straightforward, simple food (like salt roasted porterhouse: a carnivore’s delight for two, which Robb Report cited for excellence in their 2004 “The Best of the Best” issue) created with the freshest, natural products and local ingredients. GM Nick Fielding, formerly of Spago in Beverly Hills and Turnberry Resort in Aventura, Florida is in charge of Table 8 and its main dining room (seating 160), private dining room (seating 40) and a 15- seat wine room, in addition to a 40-seat lounge, right under the Regent’s glass-bottom pool. Open since August 2003, Table 8 Los Angeles has remained one of the country’s hottest restaurants by virtue of its acclaimed cuisine and Armstrong’s unabashed charisma. Table 8 South Beach is owned and operated by Meridian Entertainment Group, in partnership with Levy Restaurants.
Table 8 South Beach is located at the Regent Hotel, 1458 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, Florida. (305) 695-4114. www.table8southbeach.com.


CHEF JOHNNY VINCZENCZ’S RETURN TO HOTEL ASTOR WITH JOHNNY V SOUTH BEACH SLATED IN NOVEMBER 2006

Chef Johnny Vinczencz, chef/owner of Johnny V Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale is planning his return to Hotel Astor, South Beach, where he was discovered in the mid-1990s and earned the title of “Caribbean Cowboy.” Johnny V South Beach, currently being refurbished by award-wining designer Ady Artime of Southern Interiors (Sundy House – Delray Beach, El Monte Sagrado, Taos Mexico), is scheduled to open November 2006. “Fort Lauderdale has been very good to me,” says Vinczencz, who will continue to own and operate his restaurant there, “but I miss South Beach. My partners and I had been searching for the right Miami location for some time. When the chance arrived to own the restaurant where I made my name as a chef, I couldn’t pass it up.” At Johnny V South Beach the Nuevo American menu -- regional American fare with South Florida’s Latin and Afro-Caribbean accents -- will feature sections like El Mar, with dishes like seared local black grouper with three citrus dulce de leche; Key West shrimp and plantain mofongo with stone crab salad, and spicy spiny lobster with yellow tomato gazpacho. Tres Maneras will feature threesomes like “beef short rib” vaca frita, empanada and ensalada, and “Tomate” – tomato soup, salad and sorbet. Carnes de Primera, includes cuts of prime stockyard steak infused with Caribbean and Latin twists like chimichurri prime sirloin or Wagyu rib eye with mojo. Dessertsrange from sweet plantain cream pie to grilled papaya “pizza” with aged balsamic. The chef de cuisine will be Kelly Sheehan, recently with Ouest in New York; Pastry chef Malka Espinel will continue to create desserts at both locations and ,Dwayne Adams will oversee day-to-day operations at both Johnny V Las Olas and Johnny V South Beach. Johnny V South Beach, Hotel Astor will serve dinner nightly. 956 Washington Avenue on South Beach.


To submit information and tips for this column, please e-mail to: editor@southfloridagourmet.com

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