Those of you who read my sister’s blog “Chef in my own mind”, may or may not know about her former life as a Pan Am Flight attendant . In fact, there is a new show this fall based on her life called “Pan Am”. Just kidding--the show isn't really based on Bonnie’s flight attendant career ---I’m sure her career was much, much racier than any of the stories Hollywood will dream up for the show--wink wink, nudge, nudge) Anyway, our entire family has been in aviation, Dad, Mom , big sis Bonnie, and ‘Lil” ole me!
What all of this is leading up to is an introduction to something that either Bonnie, or myself , should have done long ago. Eat and drink at fabulous restaurants, bars and other fun places in wonderful cities while on layovers, and blog about them!
In days gone past, and still now, to some degree, airline crews used to pass along via secret handshake, the word about whatever great bar or restaurant was in the city they were laying over in. The most popular ones usually involve some kind of crew discount--especially on drinks! Oh how an airline crew loves a discount! Restaurants have since smartened up to giving drink discounts to crews however--they lost too much money on THAT deal--They do still discount food though.
For my very first guest blog , which incidentally I’m calling “Flying Foodie”--name courtesy of my friend Kelly--one of the few other female pilots here at my airline. I am going to write about our fabulous culinary experiences in Miami where we managed to ride out Hurricane Irene enjoying sunny skies and soft tropical breezes, while riding around in a large rented vehicle with seats made of rich corinthian leather (courtesy of the Legendary Captain Mike). While all of our friends at our base in Boston and along the east coast, were getting rained on, flooded out and blown away, 5 crewmembers were able to entertain themselves in Miami at this tiny little find called "Lou's Beer Garden" in Miami Beach for their second annual micro beer cook off!
This little hidden Gem of a place--blink and you miss it--is tucked between two funky little apartment dwellings, and looks like someones backyard pool complete with umbrella's and lots of locals and lush greenery!
The contestants had the assignment of cooking delicacies using various beers and ales in the recipe--The dishes could be sweet or savory, and the winning prize was 2 nights at a Key West hotel and some tickets to a beer festival (What else??)
There were 9 or entries (all delectable) --2 no-shows . The judges sampled first, and then the bar patrons got to sample the rest and we all voted on what we liked the best.
The first entry was a delicious sampling of little baby clams and shrimp in a beer sauce by Daniel Costa. I thought the whole experiance was rather like a bloody Mary with Sweaty Betty beer. In fact, I really wanted a real Bloody Mary after tasting this entry! It was delicious, but not my favorite, nor was it especially creative, and I gave points for creativity.
The second entry was truly one of my favorites--Andres Barrientos created an amazing slow cooked pork belly with a shot (truly a shot) of Bastard sauce. This dish was so original-- He put single serving chunks of Pork Belly accompanied with a sauce on top, and served with a eyedropperfull of the Bastard sauce! I loved the originality of the shot of sauce --I shot the dropperfull of Bastard sauce as I chewed the hunk of the pork! Delicious and very fun to eat!!
The third entry was a delicious , if unimaginative shrimp and scallop dish with Witbier and coconut sauce. Very good, but I've seen similar dishes before!
The next entry won first prize, and I must say that for me, it was between this dish and the pork belly dish as a tie for first prize! Brett Borrow--not a professional chef, created a small chocolate donut made with ale and topped with a cappucino chocolate glaze, coconut and ( believe it or not) a tiny bit of BACON. It was unbelievable!! I loved it--and I don't even like bacon all that much! Very original!!
Roly Masferrer created yummy pork sliders! Danny Jacinto made a delicious Rockfish, and crispy pork belly that had a excellent flavor, and was a contender for second place- in my book--tied with the Creme Brulee made with Vanilla Porter and a Rasberry beer cream topping--presented by Chris Vaden.
The last two were Kristina Capo with beer braised beef in a spicy tomato sauce, and the amazing Sam Scheffler with his complicated bread pudding--outstanding!!
All in all--I'd say that waiting out a hurricane could have been a lot worse! I'll happily spend the next hurricane with the good folks at Lou's Beer Garden. Their own menu looks pretty fantastic--if limited!