Chef Scott Linquist is best known in Miami for his creations at Coyo Taco. But long before he became one of the Magic City's reigning taco kings, he amassed a long resumé with some culinary heavy-hitters.
A Los Angeles native, Linquist was executive chef at Border Grill, co-owned by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. He also served as national executive chef of Dos Caminos Mexican Kitchen and penned a tome on modern Mexican cuisine, Mod Mex: Cooking Vibrant Flavors at Home. Miami will soon get a chance to see Linquist spread his culinary wings with the imminent opening of Olla in the former AltaMare space in South Beach (1233 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach).
The fare will focus on "cuisine de olla," which is based on traditional dishes cooked and stored in ollas, a type of Mexican earthenware. The dishes will be rustic yet thoughtful. Linquist teased and tested some dishes from Olla at a wine-pairing dinner at Abaco Premium Wines in the Design District (140 NE 39th St., Miami).
Though many people don't associate wines with Mexican food — opting for tequila or beer — Linquist hopes to open his diners' palates. "At Olla, we will have a really well-selected wine list that will suit the flavor profiles of spicier, bolder-flavored dishes." The dishes presented were indeed bold, with Abaco's sommelier Rachel Barowsky pairing each with everything from a Sicilian nerello mascalese to a classic Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cobia tiradito with cucumber, radish, and serrano agua chile has a "cool" heat to it and makes a bright starter to the meal.
Seared octopus was served with fingerling potatoes and a Oaxacan pumpkin seed mole. Linquist, who studied moles extensively, explains they are not supposed to be solely rich and chocolaty. The sauce can be anything from dark and thick to the sunshine-meets-autumn hue of the mole served here.
The richness of Linquist's pulled duck paired well with a fruity, nutty mole.
A humble, comforting pozole was elevated when paired with Muscat d'Alexandria from Sicily.
Steak asada with epazote, served over blue masa was, the standout dish — spicy, soulful, yet sophisticated.
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Linquist, who will remain executive chef at Coyo Taco, stresses that although these dishes will be on Olla's menu, he might add a twist or two when the menu is final. Final prices are not yet available. Olla is expected to open this fall.