If I were forced to pick just one favorite dish in Miami, it would have to be the artichoke heart bruschetta at MC Kitchen ($26).
The antipasti has five components, beginning with lightly charred ciabatta infused with rosemary and olive oil. The bread is then crowned with a fresh artichoke heart that envelopes a poached egg. Sound good? Wait, it gets better. Executive chef and co-owner Dena Marino then dusts the starter with black truffle shavings and drips a Parmigiano-Reggiano cream sauce over it.
Once someone pierces the egg, you can take that first unforgettable bite. I advise you not to talk, but rather to pay careful attention so as to get all of the elements on your fork. It's a rich dish --- taste-wise --- and price wise. But trust me when I say you'll be fighting with your table mates over who gets to soak up the last creamy morsel.
The idea for the artichoke heart bruschetta came to Marino sometime between 1999 and 2010, while she was working in Aspen, Colorado. She can't recall exactly when, only that it was white truffle season and she wanted to create a menu item incorporating fresh artichokes.
Since opening her acclaimed Design District restaurant with Brandy Coletta in 2012, Marino has continued selling lots of the bruschetta. It is often tied with the roasted octopus and fig pizzetta. Marino says they average between 40-45 orders per day of the antipasti, which can easily serve as a main for one.
Like Marino, I adore artichokes, and bread and eggs happen to be two other foods I can't get enough of. However, what makes this bruschetta stand out is how effortlessly the various flavors blend together and the multitude of textures and tastes in each bite.
The bread brings the crunch, while the artichoke's slight tanginess plays nicely with the rich cream sauce and intense aroma of black truffles. Meanwhile, the eggs drippings further enhance the liquid and soak into the ciabatta bread, which by the way becomes resoundingly tastier the gooier it gets.
Here is a dish I count on to wow out of town family and friends, or to cheer up my husband after a rough day at work. It does the trick every time. Clearly I'm a big fan of Marino's gimmick-free modern Italian cuisine. And I'm always amazed by how consistently on point the artichoke heart bruschetta is. Put simply, it's perfect.
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SHOW ME HOW
Oh, and do yourself a favor and don't leave without ordering the tiramisu.