Creation produced with passion just looks better, and tastes better. Last night marked the first event in a nationwide, four-city, underground dinner series called "MAKIN IT." It pairs an artist, a chef, a ton of vino from Rhone Valley (and a sommelier to help explain them!), live music and attendees with name tags that stated their passion. Trust us, you get to see people with a sparkle in their eye when they explain this over the standard, "What do you do?" question.
For this kickoff event held at The Gallery in Miami, we had chef Micah Edelstein from neighboring NeMesis Urban Bistro, local painter Peter Hosfeld, sommelier Christopher Birnie-Visscher from db Bistro Moderne and a Grammy award-winning percussionist and his band.
The evening began in the gallery with passed appetizers from Edelstein, including a caprese salad fit into half of a cherry tomato. Her style and playful approach was echoed on the wall with Hosfeld's art that was later described as "Kandinsky with hints of Ren & Stimpy." Hosfeld's day job is in video games and he paints his passion after hours. New York-based Underground Eats, who produced the event, described both the artist and the chef's creations as "vibrant, unexpected and cacophony of styles and influences."
As the event moved upstairs for the sit down dinner portion and four courses of food, the band played on as the long communal tables began discussing their passion and many were checking the Heat scores. All ten Rhone wines were needed both before and after we sealed our latest playoff victory.
The dinner began with two beloved dishes from NeMesis, the duck and fig postickers and later the kangaroo carpaccio topped with rooibos tea, smoked tomato oil, and croutons. We have such an appreciation for Edelstein's thoughtful and delicious handling of exotic meats. If you ever see alligator ribs on her menu -- order them.
Each course brought the choice of two Rhone Valley wines, where you got to pick either the chef's pick or the somm's choice. For the kangaroo, the sommelier's choice of Barton & Guestier, Côtes du Rhône, B2G Passeport 2012 was one of our favorite pairings of the evening.
The nine-hour short rib with a cauliflower froth and pickled root vegetables was a highlight of the meal and something we never had on the regular menu. The meat may have been tender enough to melt in your mouth, but the wine was there to help wash it down.
The blackberry chai malva pudding was a sweet end to the three-hour dinner. We have had a similar version of the cake at the restaurant with an amarula sauce, a South African spirit that supposedly gets elephants drunk. That happy ending topped our list of best boozy desserts. Although, this time we were contently filled with wine so instead got to enjoy the gorgonzola and sea salt hemp seed gelato on top that offered a pop-in-the-mouth sensation.
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It was an evening where all your senses were covered with visually stimulating art, live music, artfully composed cuisine, and a whole lotta wine.
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst.