To welcome October and tis' the season to have pumpkin, Haven hosted a collaborative dinner last night with Michael Pirolo of Macchialina. Dubbed Pumpkinpalooza, the five-course dinner featured over seven pumpkin varieties, with cocktails (also with pumpkin) to match each dish by Isaac Grillo and Will Rivas.
"Michael and I are friends inside and outside of the kitchen, so the collaboration for tonight was something that came naturally and a lot of fun," said Todd Erickson as he set the evening off. We couldn't have imagined a better way to kick off October.
Upon arriving at HaVen, it was obviously we were walking into pumpkin territory. I was transported to my childhood as their wraparound LCD walls rocked Snoopie and Charlie Brown all decked out for Halloween.
One large communal table decorated by Todd Erickson was the talk of the evening. Pumpkin candles and pumpkin gummy's hidden amongst the pumpkins set the mood and gave everyone something to nibble on as we waited for the first course.
Absolut citron & mandarin mixed with pineapple, star anise, nutmeg, cassia and mint was completely fall appropriate. But perhaps the best component to the drink was the pumpkin seeds floating a top.
The drink was paired with a pumpkin ricotta squash blossom with pickled kabocha and toasted curry vinaigrette. The dish tasted as bright as it looked.
Will Rivas followed up the cocktail rotation with a drink that had everyone at the table ooh ahh-ing. Sparky's old fashioned with Avion Reposado had maple clove syrup and Jamaican bitters. That's not all though. Sitting pretty floating above the cocktail, bread pudding with five spice-roasted pumpkin was cooked to order. It warmed your soul.
Sometimes these dinners come with small portions. Not last night. From the moment we sat down, we were wondering what the cutting board and a herd of acorn squash beside it. We found out when Michael Pirolo strutted over holding a giant pumpkin filled with risotto. Pumpkin risotto with pancetta, kale, and fontina that is.
At Macchialina, Pirolo makes risotto to order and offers it to patrons a nightly special the moment its ready. This similar occasion included Erickson and Pirolo serving it from one large pumpkin to the acorn squash, which took the place of bowls. As if that weren't enough, they then came around to top your risotto off with an egg yolk and crispy bacon bits. Best. Idea. Ever.
Erickson served up a wahoo that was beautifully crusted in all sorts of seeds -- pumpkin, flax, chia. The steak like fish was served with acorn squash, pumpkin demi-glace and roasted lobster mushrooms, which were also part of the table's decorative centerpiece in their uncooked form.
Adventurous eaters indulged in the moist roasted capretto, which is baby goat. Meat from baby goats (similar to veal) is very juicy and tender. Acorn squash, granny smith apples and brussel sprouts balanced the dish both texturally and flavor-wise.
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A pumpkin spiced old fashioned was spicy indeed. Probably because of the Ancho Reyes. Or the jalapeño. Or both.
For dessert, Erickson gave us pumpkin many ways. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin flan, pumpkin cake and pumkin mousse all shared the plate. "I wanted to make sure you guys had enough pumpkin," joked the chef. And he wasn't kidding. To finish the whole thing off, pumpkin brittle was the sweet and crunchy topping to a pumpkin filled evening. Pumkinpalooza indeed.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha