First Bites

Preservation in Sunny Isles: Curing, Pickling and Smoking

At Preservation in Sunny Isles jars of Jersey Gina's Gems are for sale just next to a sprawling L-shaped bar.

The pickle recipe comes from chef Ryan Harrison's mother. He says they contain garlic, dill, white vinegar, salt and sugar, but he won't name the ratios. The more than 30-year-old recipe made its way from his godmother to him before he and partner Nicole Richaud moved to South Florida from Philadelphia to open a restaurant that focuses on technique developed during the centuries before refrigeration.

At the moment, the pair is pickling and curing everything they can get their hands on. There's a house-made pastrami sandwich with smoked pickled slaw. Rillettes ($11), served just above room temperature, mix glossy duck fat with chunks of meat and come with blackberry mostarda and toasted points brushed with butter. House smoked salmon is sliced thin and set upon a flatbread drizzled with dill cream and topped with bright pink pickled onions.

As Nicole offers a tour around the kitchen a sourdough loaf bakes in a deck oven, two massive briskets sit wrapped in tinfoil in a smoker and a few links of pepperoni sit in a walk-in refrigerator that's destined to become the curing space.

"We're transitioning to house-made sausage as fast as we can," Richaud says.

At the moment, it also holds a few cases of soft drinks. But it will soon be cleared out, lined with hanging racks, and filled with sausages.

Like so many in South Florida, Richaud and Harrison came partially to escape the cold. They picked Sunny Isles as their home and opened Preservation nearby as they saw a dearth of similar restaurants in the area.

Harrison trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and worked with John Besh in New Orleans before returning to Philadelphia to run The Wishing Well and the lauded Smoke Truck. The two also started a half-acre farm where they grew tomatoes, peppers and herbs that found their way into the kitchens of a few Philly restaurants.

The menu offers a few soups, a few salads, and a handful of small plates offering charcuterie along with dishes like an arancini jambalaya. At Preservation they mix up classic Italian fried risotto balls, filling them with smoked adouille sausage, chicken, shrimp and spicy remoulade for $9.

There will also be sandwiches, a pair of flatbreads and rotating dinner specials like a pan-seared duck breast with gooseberry orange marmalade and pretzel spaetzle. Another choice on opening night offered 12-inch short ribs in a red wine demiglaze, brussel sprouts in brown sugar and lardon, and hickory smoked fingerling potatoes.

The place has potential, and if it becomes the temple of cured meat Harrison says he wants it to be will be worth the shlep to Sunny Isles.

"We like to use it as an art form," he says. "We receive produce and pickle it the same day."

For more follow Zach on Twitter @ZachIsWeird.

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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson