Since August 4, 2009 a group of adventurous diners — led by formidable and candid local food bloggers David Rosendorf (Frodnesor), Chowfather (or "Chowpapi"), and Steve Berry (Blind Tastes) — without a need to know what they were getting into for the evening food-wise, began an underground dinner club concept.
Today you might have heard of Cobaya dinners and maybe even joined in on one to support their mission statement: to give great chefs a platform to venture outside the confines of their regular menu and take open-minded eaters on a blindfolded ride at roller-coaster speeds. What that means: there is no menu. No choices. No control over how your meat is cooked or even thinking about asking for any type of modification. What the chef cooks is what you eat, no questions asked. In other words, Cobaya gives chefs a chance to do what all chefs should be doing every night. As Ferran Adria said during his visit to Miami and intimate talk at the SLS, "If a consumer orders a steak well done, who is the chef?"
New Times was invited to partake in experiment (that's what Cobaya calls their dinners) number 55 with chef Aaron Brooks of Edge Steak & Bar. Since moving to Miami from the land down under, Brooks has very much invested himself with the locals. So much so that Edge, apart from being a hotel restaurant inside the Four Seasons, is heavily frequented by Miami denizens.
Though the supper was tied in with Cobaya, the "undercover" dinner was a preview to an upcoming one the Four Seasons will host independently on August 23. Besides the date, price, and time, nothing more will be known until the moment of arrival.
As far as the festivities, here's what Brooks had up his sleeve for this group of daring diners:
First and foremost, the secret location of the dinner was a condo on the 65th floor of the Four Seasons private residence tower. And the elevator ride up came with a lesson, as we learned that this is the tallest building south of Atlanta.
Fans of Edge Steak & Bar and chef Brooks well know that one of his many strong suits is charcuterie. And last night, he went ham, literally and figuratively. We started off with a cold board. On it: a divine chicken, eel, and peanut terrine en croute; duck heart and Sicilian pistachio terrine; foie gras, chicken liver, and truffle pate; smoked hock and head cheese; truffle stuffed trotter; and soy-cured pig face.
Sure, everyone does cold charcuterie. But Brooks kept the cured meats party going with a hot board that included warm tasso ham, cheesy kielbasa, Aussie lamb ham, and chorizo verde flautas with Taquiza tortillas.
The Aussie chef paid tribute to his motherland with a kangaroo tartare borrowed brine from olives, acidity from preserved lemon, and a kick from za'atar.
Roasted rabbit with Thai sausage and green curry was vibrant both in presentation and flavor.
Drunken watermelon with cilantro, serrano, and Tajin chose tequila as its poison.
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Myth says that carpetbag steak was an Australian invention, and while we're not totally sure of its origins, this particular grass-fed and pasture-raised end cut of the steak came from Cape Grim in the Northwestern point of Tasmania, Australia. Brooks served it with East Coast oysters and celery root cooked with Australian truffles.
Black sesame pavlova with Thai basil and local fruits was a conundrum of flavors and textures.