Looking for refuge from the heat and rain? Pérez Art Museum Miami has the A/C cranked on high and is inviting art-loving foodies to pair art and food with new menu items at its restaurant, Verde. The new dishes are inspired by the recently opened "Jardim Botânico" exhibit by Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes. This is the first major U.S. survey of work by Milhazes, and it features more than 40 large-scale paintings, collages, and prints that explore the artist's distinct work. The subjects of the paintings are inspired by Brazilian and European modernism, baroque forms, popular culture, and the decorations of Carnival.
Verde's chef Nicolay Adinaguev was given a sneak peek at the collection before it was installed. He was inspired by the colors and shapes used by Milhazes, along with his own memories of traveling to Brazil, to create dishes designed to complement the exhibit. "The process of developing a menu to complement an art exhibit is fun and different," said Adinaguev, who recently put together a menu for PAMM's "Caribbean Crossroads" exhibit. "When I saw Milhazes' work, the circles reminded me of flowers and herbs, and I could practically see people enjoying samba music in her bright colors."
The new menu items include a play on traditional quiejo acarajé, with a smoked mozzarella fritter appetizer. The app is stuffed with black-eyed peas served with molho coulis and topped with pickled cabbage and scallions to reflect the color and texture of Milhazes' work. There's also a red grouper and littleneck clam moqueca -- a Brazilian seafood stew -- and cioppino, made with seafood stock, garlic, pepper, and coconut cashew rice that tastes like the sea. There's also a passionfruit cilantro caipirinha to wash it all down.
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"Being located in a museum creates a unique opportunity for me as a chef to showcase how closely art and food can go hand in hand," Adinaguev says. "It provides me with creative license to explore exciting avenues that I have haven't before."
When he began working at Verde last year during Art Basel, he was sure the restaurant would be a small fish in the large pond that is Miami's dining scene, Adinaguev says. He has been so impressed with how the city has embraced Verde as more than a museum café. "We have regulars who have become patrons of PAMM because of Verde," he says. The exhibit and menu items will run until January 2015. Museum admission costs $8.