By now you’ve read all about Mel’s Chef’s Choice Tour of Midtown. If your mouth hasn’t stopped watering yet, you might want to get an extra napkin because now it’s my turn to tell you all about my deliciously divine tour of Brickell. So as not to be left behind, I set out to get a sneak peek of what Estrella Damm had in store for Miami’s famed business and downtown districts. With stops at Coya, Toro Toro, Tuyo, and 1111 Peruvian Bistro, it was a true tour de force of hops and rice (in case you didn’t know, this year’s Chef’s Choice theme is “rice” meaning each Chef’s Choice entrée is pairs the Mediterranean beer with everyone’s favorite grain).
Coya | Cost: $45pp
Chef: Gareth Rhodes
What We Ate: Arroz Nikkei (Chef’s Choice Entrée)
For those not in the know, Nikkei cuisine is fusion of Peruvian ingredients with Japanese recipes and traditions. The style has become immensely popular in Peru and is slowly, but surely taking hold here in Miami as well. Leading the trend is Coya and the combination of the sweet Chilean seabass, creamy rice, acidity from the lime, and heat from the chili in this decadent dish proved why.
Toro Toro | Cost: $49pp
Chef: Eric Do
What We Ate: Arroz con Mariscos (Chef’s Choice Entrée)
Toro Toro knows what’s up. What could possibly pair better with a classic Spanish beer than a traditional Spanish dish? The Arroz con Mariscos brought Bomba rice, saffron, calamari, clams, scallops, shrimp, and parmesan.Despite the name, as you can see in the below picture, this dish heavily featured the seafood ingredients as the stars of the show with the rice supporting them beautifully. If you decide to try Toro Toro as part of your own Chef’s Choice tour, you definitely won’t be disappointed.
Tuyo | Cost: $39pp
Chef: Victor Santos
What We Ate: Estrella Damm-Cured Breast of Duck (Chef’s Choice Entrée)
I’m almost ashamed to say that I’d never been to Tuyo until this tour. Before even receiving the food, I was blown away by the beautiful decor and amazing views of downtown Miami from the restaurant’s 8th floor perch atop the Miami Culinary Institute at Miami Dade College. Once placed in front of me, the food immediately commanded my attention thanks to a roasted beer-cured duck breast, fried rice, mango sweet and sour sauce, topped with a perfect poached egg. It’s not hard to imagine that the creative Asian Fusion play on this pairing was inspired by the learning happening all around the kitchen.
1111 Peruvian Bistro | Cost: $55pp
Chef: Diego Muñoz
What We Ate: Poached Chicken & King Crab Causa (Appetizer); Parihuela (Chef’s Choice Entrée); Lucuma Cassonade (Dessert)
Finally, Brickell newbie 1111 Peruvian Bistro came to play. Not to be left behind by his more established tour partners, Chef Diego Muñoz pulled out all the stops, serving up all three of his menu offerings. We started with the Poached Chicken & King Crab Causa, combining soft yellow flesh potato, poached chicken with citrus emulsion, and king crab. Up next was a traditional Parihuela-flavored risotto (enhanced with crab, fish, and mussel broth) with little neck clams, scallops, prawns, and zucchini. And, closing out the meal (and the evening) was a dessert of soft lucuma (an Andean subtropical fruit) custard with black and white sesame seeds and chocolate sorbet.
Mitch’s take: I greatly enjoyed the chefs’ different takes on rice. From Nikkei and Spanish styles to Asian Fusion and Traditional Peruvian, not one dish was the same. I guess that’s what Chef’s Choice is all about though. Showing off culinary creativity by highlighting a simple ingredient and pairing it with a crisp, classic beer. What could be better than that? The program runs through May 29th, so you’ve got roughly 2 weeks to get your beer pairing on. Check out the program’s website for a full list of participating restaurants.
Standout dish: This is a hard one. As mentioned, the dishes we sampled were all so different and so delicious. So, if the food is a wash and I had to pick one Chef’s Choice menu to return for, I’d have to go with Tuyo. From the view to the ambiance to the cuisine, Tuyo offers the complete package. And at $39 per person, it’s a steal!
P.S. Don’t forget to head back to the blog on Friday morning for a special announcement that you won’t want to miss! Here’s a hint: it involves Miami, beer, and food pairings.