David Valencia has been in restaurant kitchens for the past 14 years – a relatively short time by executive chef standards – but the 33-year native of Colombia has experience far beyond those years. Valencia, executive chef at Costa Palm Beach, has cut his teeth at such fabled restaurants as The Modern in New York City and trained under Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse.
He later joined renowned hospitality group EMM Group to open Catch with Top Chef Winner Hung Huynh in New York and Miami and was Chef de Cuisine at Meat Market Palm Beach before opening Costa (with owner and veteran Palm Beach restaurateur Sascha Bennemann) earlier this year.
All of Valencia’s high-powered training and learning is paying off at Costa, located on the second floor of The Esplanade on Palm Beach’s trendy Worth Avenue.
“Modern Mediterranean’’ is how Valencia describes Costa’s menus, which feature several of what might be considered Valencia’s “signature’’ dishes. Among them is the amazing Salt Baked Branzino, a three-pound Crispy Pork Shank (for two) and for lunch, an off-the-chain Lamb Burger.
“I wanted to bring something different with a lot of different flavor profiles – big bold flavors,’’ Valencia said.
Those bold flavors certainly come out in dishes such as the Salt Baked Branzino served with arugula emulsion, grilled lemon, olive caper tomato relish. It’s a terrific explosion of flavors that has many guests telling friends, “Get the Branzino,’’ when they go to Costa.
“I’ve been doing something similar (in terms of preparing the Branzino) for the past seven or eight years,’’ Valencia said. “For whatever reason, this is the dish people come back for. I didn’t expect it to be like that.’’
And don’t fret. The full fish is for presentation purposes only.
The Crispy Pork Shank goes back to Valencia’s childhood days in Colombia.
“Pig was my thing,’’ Valencia said with a smile. “We had a big farm and we had a pig for every big holiday.’’
Valencia’s Crispy Pork Shank is cured in salt, garlic and spices for 24 hours and cooked for three to four days to allow the meat to tenderize. When customers order it, Valencia flash fries the pork shank to get the skin extra crispy. It’s then presented to the guests table side and returned to the kitchen where in the inside meat is prepared for serving.
“You’ll never have a better piece of pork,’’ Valencia said.
I’m certainly not going to disagree. If you’re into pork, the Crispy Pork Shank is a “must have’’ on the Costa menu. Same with the Branzino if you’re into fish.
Some of my other favorites? The Hamachi (served with finger lime, avocado, sumac and cilantro) as an appetizer. The Moroccan Lamb Stew is outstanding. And you can’t leave without having the House Hummus served with house made Naan Bread.
A good way to get to know the Costa menu is to take advantage of its Summer Menu (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.), which features items such as the Hamachi and House Hummus, as well as Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail and Chicken Escalope (grilled chicken breast, zucchini, eggplant, herb puree, arugula, lemon), each for 50 percent off the regular menu prices.
“I don’t change the quality or the sizings,’’ Valencia said. “That menu is a real treat for somebody to try something that’s not as expensive and to try something maybe they haven’t had before.’’
One taste of Valencia’s big, bold flavors, however, and they’ll be back.
Steve Pike (www.myspiketravel.com) is an award-winning food and travel writer. He lives in Delray Beach, Fla.
I’m very excited to share with you my excursion down to South Beach a few weeks ago to attend my very first Slow Food Miami event, where over 300 ravenous foodies joined an elite group of South Florida’s top chefs for the recent 6th Annual Slow Food Miami “Snail of Approval” Tasting Party.
What is Slow Food Miami you ask? Slow Food Miami supports our local community from the ground up – from the Edible School & Community Gardens that are planted to encourage the enjoyment of foods that are local, seasonal and sustainably grown; to the local growers and artisan food makers they support for their use of sustainable methods. Planting a fresher future for our children.
All proceeds from events such as The Slow Food Miami “Snail of Approval” along with donor contributions support local school and community gardens and points South Floridians and visitors to food that is good, clean and fair by identifying and honoring producers, purveyors and artisans who contribute to food and beverage quality, authenticity and sustainability. In its inaugural year (2010), nominations were solicited among Miami-Dade county farmers. Now nominations come from the general public and all nominations are vetted by the Slow Food Miami Snail of Approval Committee and donor contributions support local school and community gardens.
They are a non-profit, 100% volunteer organization. Their local members are passionate about good food, supporting local growers and celebrating Miami’s diversity. By acting locally, we are helping to build a world where the food we eat is good for us, good for farmers and workers, and good for the planet. Slow Food Miami is the local chapter of Slow Food USA and the International Slow Food Association.
Celebrity Chef/Owner of Malibu Farm and author of Malibu Farm Cookbook: Recipes from the California Coast, Helene Henderson hosted this year’s Slow Food Miami’s“Snail of Approval” Tasting Party. Regarded as Miami’s “Freshest Night Out”, the 6th Annual celebration was held Friday, March 24, 2017, at the Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort. This year, the unforgettable evening under the stars was made possible thanks to a partnership with Eden Roc, The Miami Scout Guide, Just Ask Boo, Vero Water, JetSet Sounds, FOH, J Wakefield Brewery, Menu Men, Inc., and wines sponsored by Twenty-One Wine & Spirits. The tasting party united dozens of the city’s top chefs, and local growers and producers for a night of tasting and honoring Miami’s food scene.
The soirée took place at the spectacular newly renovated Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort with ambient tunes by Michael Casola from JetSet Sounds. The first 100 tickets sold were priced at $75. After that, general admission tickets went to $85 per person with sales ending at noon on March 23. Tickets at the door were $100 per person. All event proceeds benefitted the Slow Food Miami’s Edible Garden Program. VIP Garden Sponsor tickets were available for $750 and included a garden box for a school, free entry to Freshest Night Out with early bird admission at 6:30PM and a signed copy of Helene Henderson’s Malibu Farm Cookbook: Recipes from the California Coast.
The Eden Roc’s fusion of fun and luxury was the perfect setting for this festive and sophisticated event where the “who’s who” in the South Florida culinary scene mingled about the lovely ocean front property. Guests indulged in tastes from Miami’s best farm-to-table, including a mix of current 2016-2017 “Snail of Approval” honorees and past “Snail of Approval” winners. This year’s chefs and food artisans included:
Helene Henderson (Malibu Farm)
Adrienne Grenier (3030 Ocean)
Paula DaSilva (Artisan Beach House)
Sean Brasel (Meat Market)
Jessica Weiss Levinson (Serendipity Creamery)
Frederic Joulin (Semilla)
Zak Stern (Zak the Baker)
Blair Wilson (Social Club @ The Surfcomber Hotel) * “2017 People’s Choice” AwardWinner
Brian Nasajon (Beaker & Gray)
Corey Bousquet and Evan Boomer (The Brick) – *2017 “Judges Choice” Winner
Andres Barrientos and James Bowers (Miami Smokers)
Allen Susser (Books & Books, Coral Gables)
Ray and Shannon Allen (Grown)
Carolina Quijano (exquisito chocolates)
Buster Brown (Counter Culture Kombucha)
Giorgio Rapicavoli (Glass and Vine)
Maria Laura Aleman (Artichoke Foods)
Della Heiman (della test kitchen)
Rene Reyes and John Gallo (Pinch Kitchen)
Isabel and Susana Garcia (Cacao Art Chocolates)
Matthew Kenney (Plant Food & Wine)
Julie Frans (Essensia Restaurant & Lounge)
Muriel Olivares and Tiffany Noe (Little River Cooperative)
Freddy and Danielle Kaufman (Proper Sausage)
Gabe Bernal (Seasons Farm Fresh)
Aaron Dreilinger (Chef David’s Catering)
Chuck Lyons (Verde Community Gardens)
Paul Massard and Chris Nolte (Per’La Specialty Roasters)
Chris French (French Farms)
Carlos Cararas (MIA Beer Company)
Kevin Rusk- Titanic Brewery
Johnathan Wakefield (J Wakefield Brewing)
Ben Conniff (Lukes Lobster)
Cristina Ivory (Angry Booch)
Nick Paton (Kelvin Slushies)
The coveted “People’s Choice” Award, judged and selected by popular vote was awarded to Chef Blair Wilson from Social Club at The Surfcomber Hotel for his amazing sweet and savory pecan-smoked St. Louis ribs with sesame-sorghum barbecue sauce, toasted sesame seeds, and pickled local veggies, while the “Chef’s Choice” Award for the “Best Bite of the Night”, judged by Slow Food Miami’s Chef Host Committee, went to Restaurateur Corey Bousquet and Chef Chris Huff of The Brick for the ultimate comfort food of shrimp ‘n’ grits made with Key West pink shrimp and War Eager Mill grits.. This year the event also featured a live auction including a weekend at Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort and including dinner for two at Malibu Farm, among other surprises. Guests had the opportunity to purchase school garden grants at the event.
Find the “Snail of Approval” list on the Slow Food Miami website, as well as on the upcoming mobile app. The Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort is located at 4525 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140. Discounted valet tickets were available for $20.
Follow #SnailMIA and #SFMFreshestNightOut on Twitter and Facebook for additional 2016-2017 participating honorees and the latest updates.
About Slow Food Miami
Slow Food Miami is a local 100% volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to “planting a fresher future for our children.” It’s the local chapter of Slow Food USA, a national non-profit dedicated to supporting good, clean and fair food for all that supports our local communities from the ground up – from the Edible School & Community Gardens that encourage the enjoyment of local, seasonal and sustainably grown food, to the local growers and artisan food makers who use sustainable methods. Slow Food Miami supports its Edible School & Community Garden Program through culinary educational events and fundraising, and aims to raise awareness for good, clean and fair food as a cornerstone of pleasure, culture and community. For more information, visitwww.slowfoodmiami.org.
About Malibu Farm
“Fresh, organic, local” is the motto at Malibu Farm, the soon to open Miami Beach outpost located at the Eden Roc of the hugely popular California farm to table restaurant and magnet for A-listers. Owner, cookbook author and farmer Helene Henderson will bring her signature style of local, sustainable, fresh-off-the-farm fare along with an extensive wine and cocktail menu. With spectacular ocean views, Malibu Farm is set to premier Spring 2017.
About Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort
With an oceanfront location in the heart of Miami’s Mid-Beach and just minutes from Lincoln Road, Ocean Drive and the Wynwood arts district, Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort offers travelers a beachfront retreat synonymous with contemporary Miami luxury. Following a multi-million-dollar renovation that revitalized and re-launched the Eden Roc, this property boasts 418 spacious guest rooms and suites, three stunning pools, 22,000 square feet of spa and fitness facility, the world’s largest Nobu Restaurant & Bar, and will soon be home to the farm-to-fork restaurant, Malibu Farm in Spring 2017. Inspired by the beauty and splendor of the ocean below, Eden Roc rooms and suites offer savvy travelers unique in-room dining offerings and spectacular ocean views, while light and airy furnishings set the perfect seaside scene. For more information and reservations, please call (305) 531-0000 or visit www.edenrocmiami.com.
It’s been a busy week for this Foodie Girl. Kicking the week off with Temper Grille followed by a wonderful tasting at Harvest Seasonal Grill set up for me by the company’s PR firm. I was super excited to finally make it in there after passing by it a gazillion times on my way from Boca to Delray to conduct my tours and then after meeting Reba, Harvest’s Marketing & Events Manager at the Flavors event last month.
Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar, a seasonally changing, farm to table concept serving wood fired steak, poultry, seafood, vegetarian and gluten free dishes offering guests locally-grown options typically under 500 calories.
The upscale-casual restaurant, whose mantra “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” is apparent in every detail, has vowed to change its offerings with the seasons (every three months), with menu items reflective of the time of year and produce available. The day of my visit was the first day the Spring Menu was being rolled out. Since opening in the Fall, Harvest has had a slight menu change for winter, but nothing like the overhaul of this new Spring menu I was told, where a good majority of the items have changed. That’s good for most and harder to accept by some who are sorry to see their favorites no longer on the current menu. I have a feeling though that those who are busy mourning the loss of their faves, will soon find new ones to enjoy and before long, their old faves will be back in season. I personally love the idea of keeping menus rotating, keeping them fresh with whatever bounty the current season has to offer, so kudos to Harvest Seasonal Grill for introducing this fresh new concept. Their awesome menu features mostly 500-calorie or fewer dishes, seasonally changing options that are made using the freshest ingredients around, and sourced from the 75 local farmers the eatery works with. Amongst them is Swank Farm and those who follow me know I love Swank Farm and their series of Farm-to-Table SWANK Table events.
Harvest Seasonal Grill accommodates a vast range of dietary needs with allergy-friendly and gluten-free concessions, vegan items and dairy-free offerings. Additionally, they offer an extensive menu of organic wines by the glass, along with craft-brewed draft beers, and a cocktail menu boasting seasonally rotating libations made with fresh fruits and herbs. Reba had suggested we try a flight of their Sangrias. Always open for suggestions, I said sure and before long these two beauties were placed in front of us. I started with the White one and it was not your typical white wine Sangria. Very pleasant. I liked it. Then I made my way over to the Rose one. I have to admit, I never had a Rose Sangria before. White ones and Red ones, but never any Rose…until now. Folks, I can’t express in words how DELICIOUS this one was. You’re just gonna have to trust me on this and go in and try it out for yourself. Period, end of story, lol!
I fell in love with the calamari. Don’t let the word “spicy” in the title deter you from trying this dish if you are sensitive to heat. Just ask them to go light on the spice. That way they can adjust it so that it is very subtle. The white wine and lemon juice broth it comes with is soooooo good!!! The calamari were cooked perfectly and I love the healthier presentation to frying. The tuna poke was good, but not my favorite; I think it was the texture of the sweet & sour cucumber dressing that threw me. I had to dig a little to find the avocado in the Avocado & Artichoke Dip. But the flavors were nice and once I found the avocado, I was happy. I thought the herbed Naan chips were really unique and a nice flavorful accompaniment. The Pesto Caprese Flatbread was so light and packed with fresh herbs. I loved the crispiness of the flatbread and the flavor combination. This one was a winner for sure!
So I ordered the Cedar Plank Salmon and it was delicious. I really enjoyed the Paddi Pan (green squash) too. My dining companion ordered the BBQ Braised Short Rib and when I asked him what he thought, he said that it tasted like meatloaf. Meatloaf?!? So I reached over with my fork to give it a try. Well I’ll be darned, the bbq sauce did resemble the old school sauce that topped many a meatloaf back in the day. Sauce aside, the short rib was slow cooked and very tasty all on its own.
With so many wonderful selections, I chose the Chocolate Salted Caramel Mousse. This did not disappoint!
This popular farm-to-table eatery and wine bar may be new to Florida (we got lucky that they chose Delray Beach the place to open their first one in FL), but they have been wildly successful in other parts of the country with six other locations including four in PA (where the company is based) and one in NJ. For exact locations, click here.
Seasonally-changing menus are conceptualized by Corporate Executive Chef Joshua N. Short, who offers over ten years of culinary experience to the Harvest team, holding prior positions as a Sous Chef with Hershey Entertainment & Resorts and Executive Chef with The JDK Group. Every dish served at Harvest’s Delray Beach location is executed to perfection by their culinary team, headed by Co-Executive Chefs Bill Ring (formerly of 32 East) and Chef Jeremy Hanson (previously at The Seagate), who work alongside local farmers to highlight the best and brightest flavors each season has to offer.
Harvest Seasonal Grill’s use of sustainable, organic and healthy ingredients doesn’t end with the menu. A truly green concept, the eatery not only features recycled glass bar tops and a beautiful exterior living wall, but also uses all organic cleaning products, recycled paper products and eco-friendly ink on their menus.
Harvest Seasonal Grill is located in the Delray Place shopping plaza at1841 S. Federal Highway, #402, Delray Beach, FL 33483. For more information or to make a reservation, call (561) 266-3239 or visit www.harvestseasonalgrill.com.
I am here to dispel the myth that hotel restaurants are sub par to stand alone restaurants or really just somewhere tourists go to out of sheer convenience. Many of these restaurants fly under the local foodie radar, and I will be the first to admit, that that was the case with me. But thanks to a recent invite to sample the new menu at Bistro Ten Zero One, under the direction of Executive Chef Christian Quiñones, I have a new respect for hotel restaurants…especially this one. Before our tasting journey began, we had the opportunity to walk the grounds with the Director of Food & Beverage, Jimmy Alexiou. The outdoor space was very zen-like and they were in the process of expanding their garden. The herbs grown there are used to accent their cocktails and dishes.
Our first course was a tasting of the Bistro’s most popular appetizers served with a glass of La Marca Prosecco:
PULLED PORK TACOS / pineapple-papaya compote, spicy mayo
In addition, here’s some more information on what’s happening at Bistro:
Oktoberfest at Bistro Ten Zero One
Bistro will host an Oktoberfest party in its back outside area on Wednesday, Oct. 19 from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Guests will enjoy a Bavarian-themed menu, along with Oktoberfest-themed beers from six local breweries. Cost is $35 per person, if purchased in advance, or $40 per person, if purchased at the door. Tax and gratuity are additional. Visit bistro1001.com to see the full menu and to RSVP.
Live Music Fridays
Bistro Ten Zero One will now offer live music in the bar and lounge area every Friday evening from 5-7 p.m.Raid the CellarDine at Bistro Ten Zero One on Friday evenings from 5-10 p.m. and enjoy 50% off select bottles of wine.
Daily Happy Hour
Get happy every day of the week at Bistro Ten Zero One with the restaurant’s new happy hour. Available seven days a week from 4-7 p.m., guests will enjoy $7 appetizer specials and drink specials ranging from $3 to $6.
Bistro 10.0.1 Xpress Lunch
Refuel midday with Bistro 10.0.1’s Xpress Lunch and get in and out in less than an hour. Guests will select an item from Bistro’s special lunch menu – all of which are priced at $12 and include a choice of soup, salad or house fries. This Xpress Lunch menu is available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Highlights include the Bistro Burger made with Manchego cheese, caramelized onion and truffle aioli; a Garden Fresh Panini with grilled vegetables, goat cheese and sun-dried pesto; a Fish BLT (fresh off the hook) with avocado, bacon, lettuce and tomato on sourdough bread; and more. See the menu.
Fresh, local ingredients creatively prepared and presented. I will definitely be back and I hope you have become inspired to check them out as well.
Until we eat again…
I send you delicious wishes, xo
For those of you who have been following me for some time, then you know I get around… to food and wine events, of course! I’m all about unique experiences, whether I am creating them, working them or attending them as a guest. For the past couple seasons I had been a part of an awesome crew of foodies who work their butts off to pull off a fantastic dining experience on a farm with local celebrity chefs, mixologists, sommeliers, craft beer companies and other local artisans all under one roof with rockin’ live entertainment. But this time, I had the great pleasure to attend the event as a guest and experience it first hand from the other side. The Swanks (Darrin & Jodi) are the gracious hosts who welcome guests onto their farm each season to share in their “bucolic farm life” while breaking bread together under a spacious pole barn, enjoying dishes prepared by seasoned local chefs featuring local ingredients which of course include vibrant, seasonal Swank produce. Swank Table events run each Sunday from the beginning of December through April with each event benefiting a specific charity. The night I attended was dedicated to The Caridad Center. These events would not be possible without a whole slew of sponsors, so please take the time to check them out and appreciate all that they have done to help keep these incredible events going.
A great time was had by all. If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience one of these events, I highly recommend you do so. For more info and a schedule of the remaining events this season, visit Swank Specialty Produce. Swank Farm is available for private events and weddings as well.