Lizarran's Pinchos Are Tabletop Toast Art

Who can forget Cher as the flamboyant Mrs. Flax in the '90s classic Mermaids. Her favorite dinner is finger food followed by marshmallow kebabs. She says, "Anything more represents too much of a commitment." Mrs. Flax, it seems, was a bit ahead of her time. From Asian tapas at Little Lotus, meze at Mandolin to small plates at Sugarcane the sample-portion style dining is in full swing in Miami.

At Lizarran in Coral Gables, pinchos -- translated to thorn or spike -- are the featured item.  The Spanish pincho usually refers to a tapa that has been "spiked" with a toothpick and displayed on a piece of Spanish pistola bread. Mrs. Flax would definitely approve.

"There is a lot of freedom in a pincho," says Irlandis Castillo, executive chef at the Coral Gables outpost of this Spanish chain. Castillo spent three months in Spain learning everything there is to know about creating a colorful and tasty menu. Basically, he tells us,anything you have in the kitchen can go into a pincho, and at Lizarran they've combined their ingredients into close to 3,000 varieties.

The key to a good pincho, says Castillo, is to give it a "wow" factor

because it's all about making it appealing to both the eyes and the

stomach. Case in point: the pincho below -- measuring close to 3 inches in height -- is best described as a meat and cheese plate on a stick.

Whatever your tastes are, at Lizarran they're sure to have something that speaks your tongue for anywhere from $5 to $8. Choose from a pincho with a traditional Spanish tortilla or sardine topping, to the more innovative dessert variety that's smothered in cream cheese, walnuts, dates and a drizzle of chocolate.

Flavors change daily depending on what's fresh in the kitchen, so don't hold back if you find one you like because that special tower on toast may not be there the next time you come back.

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