Not the way I like to think about starting the new year: Marina Polvay, food writer, cookbook author, and PR rep for local restaurants, passed away on December 2. A colorful figure with strong, honest opinions, she claimed a background of Russian royalty and was known for her expertise on Eastern European and Russian culinary culture. She also ceaselessly promoted the Magic City when the gastronomic high jinks that we now take for granted weren't so widespread. Marina was 72.
Kvetch recalled: 'Tis the season not to get fired, so I'm not going to reveal who the server was (and yes, I do remember his name) that charged me $3 for a Diet Coke refill at Barton G. Speaking for the restaurant, Charlie Cinnamon assures me that refills are complimentary and such bill-padding is grounds for immediate release. So feel free to speak up should your check look like it's been stuffed as a Wonderbra.... As for the Barton G catering chef who was stabbed by a colleague during an affair near Lincoln Road, Cinnamon shrugs, "The stabbed chef is doing fine. The stabber, who knows? We never got the story as to what triggered it; apparently it's a famous game that chefs play. We only need to know when they start so we can leave the room and peel potatoes." Well said, but knowing the temperament of chefs -- and having witnessed a knife fight of my own during my tenure in the kitchens -- I can only say, we're going to be eating a lot of French fries.
Get 'em while they're, er, room temperature: The tickets for the Miami Beach International World of Beer Festival, which takes place on Ocean Drive between Seventh and Eighth streets from January 31 through February 2, are now on sale for $25 apiece. With 300 beers to sample, there's really no better belly stuffer -- make that stocking stuffer -- around. Hit up the Website (www.worldofbeerfestival.com) or call 877-877-7677.
And the winner is ... Martini's Bistro-Bar in North Miami Beach (305-931-0262), the first to send me its New Year's Eve info via e-mail, even before the Thanksgiving leftovers were eaten and the Christmas lights put up. To reward the restaurateurs' incentive -- and also because I happen to like the place -- I offer ... free advertising! As in, here's the menu for December 31. Looks ultimately (see below for pun) delish to me. Call for seating times (there are three), prices (there's a variety), party favors (now there's a mystery), and entertainment (honestly, I have no clue).
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Choice of appetizers: brandy-spiked lobster bisque, or hearts of caesar salad, or jumbo shrimp cocktail, or terrine of foie gras de canard, or Turtle Creek goat cheese and warm bliss potato tian.
Martini's ultimate choice -- appetizer or entrée: combination of Beluga caviar, smoked salmon, chilled shrimp, and foie gras, accompanied by sauces, traditional garnishes, and toast.
Choice of entrées: broiled one-and-a-half-pound Maine lobster with linguine fra diavolo and garlic butter; or roasted duckling, hominy cakes, cherry jubilee sauce, and jicama-grapefruit salad; or filet mignon of beef "cafe de paris" with mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus; or black fettuccine and grilled sweet water prawns in a seafood-saffron broth with yellow tomatoes, petite peas, and shiitake mushrooms; or saki-tamari braised Chilean sea bass over steamed Oriental vegetables and soba noodles; or roasted, herb-crusted rack of pork with Madeira wine sauce, mashed potatoes, and spring vegetables.
Choice of dessert: flourless cassis fudge cake and toffee martini; or basket of gingered, double-crème custard with berries and Chantilly.