Jeremiah Bullfrog has been hard at work lately. The chef and owner of GastroPod recently announced he would open up shop in Aventura Mall while almost simultaneously reaching his fundraising goal on Kickstarter to keep his converted shipping container in Wynwood going.
The mastermind never stops creating or thinking about what's next. Case in point: a series of upcoming brunches and dinners with some serious culinary players and the introduction of the GastroPod medianoche.
You know the medianoche -- the aptly named midnight snack earned street cred in the nightclubs of Havana when heavy imbibers needed something greasy to line their stomachs when the usual cubano sandwiches wouldn't suffice. So they swapped the bread for a sweeter alternative, leaving the same innards and branding it something different. The nocturnal sandwich caught on, and today it's one of the most beloved Cuban sandwiches and a Magic City favorite.
But at GastroPod, Bullfrog and his team change things up (much like with everything else on the menu). "We always have a Cuban sandwich on the menu, and I'd been wanting to do a medianoche for a while," he says. "We just happened to have some nice pork belly from a farm on hand."
The piggy in this case is a Duroc product from Creekstone Farms that's been slow-roasted to succulent perfection. Though the traditional medianoche contains nutty Swiss and briny ham, GastroPod's version has neither. Instead, housemade pancetta replaces ham, and pungent, creamy goat cheese coupled with ricotta salata makes you forget any other cheese out there. Asked how he came up with the diverse flavor combination, Bullfrog exudes his typical cool. "There was no crazy thought process behind it. It's just what he have on hand." A few other eternally on-hand items, like housemade pickles and "Gpod" mustard also made their way into the medianoche. And because Bullfrog didn't have medianoche bread lying around, he used a potato roll that he had handy.
The result is a cornucopia of sweet and savory that's unlike any other medianoche while still staying true to the Cuban classic. Priced at $9, it makes a helluva lunch, dinner, or midnight snack. As for whether it will become a permanent menu item, Bullfrog assures that "nothing is permanent here."
And speaking of nonpermanent, some guest chefs will swing by his urban oasis to cook a feast for two days only. On February 28 and March 1, Philly's finest and Top Chef winner Kevin Sbraga will take his talents to Wynwood for a barbecue dinner and special brunch. And on March 15 and 16, Ideas in Food author H. Alexander Talbot will bring his culinary genius to play with Bullfrog's for a brunch and dinner. "We've got some more chefs in the works," Bullfrog says. The guest chef series is run through Tock, a ticket reservation system developed by Nick Kokonas for Next Restaurant in Chicago, for which GastroPod has been selected as a test market.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha
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