After watching my newest grandson Liam Jack this week for 8 hours (9 to 5) on Tuesday, my back was killing me so I decided I need to work on my core, because everyone knows the secret to a healthy back is a strong core. There’s just one little problem- I like bread. Eating bread and having a strong core do not walk hand in hand. Now I know why the Pillsbury Dough Boy looks the way he does! Diet Author Mark Hyman, who has written a book about the Pegan Diet (Paleo and Vegan) has pronounced that white flour is even worse for your health than sugar.
This is bad news for me (and Oprah!) as I love bread in any form. Toasted rye is my drug of choice with my eggs in the morning and an English muffin is, of course, a requirement for Eggs Benedict. I like a Cafe Au Lait and a buttery croissant while I watch the French Open and a lovely scone with butter and jam lathered on, as I watch Wimbledon. What would Indian food be without the Na’an to sop up the sauces, or Middle Eastern without pita to spread Hummus and Baba Ganoush on? What are bagels without cream cheese, pulled pork without a Hawaiian Roll Bun or Thanksgiving without those little, buttery heat-n-serve Parker House rolls? And no Bar-B-Que would be complete for me without out a fat, buttery slice of Texas Toast. So, there we have it. My core is toast.
A couple weeks ago I had three birthday lunches in one week! Sacre Bleue!
My daughter A.J. took me to Fiola’s for a postponed Birthday lunch (my birthday is in November). I think Fiola’s is the perfect spot for a birthday lunch. They have indoor and outdoor seating, the decor is beautiful, presentation lovely and the service impeccable. Oh, and they have delicious bread (available on request). The bread comes served to you warm and deposited on your plate with tongs, by your waiter, along with a little plate of olive oil. The only thing missing is a small pinch of salt (which you can ask for) and it is heavenly. I actually liked the whole wheat bread better than the white (I had both); it was crusty on the outside, warm and fluffy on the inside. Yum.
The reason I love Fiola’s for lunch is because they have a Prixe Fix menu for $29, which is a great deal. If you go you should get what I did, because it was molte bene! The Tuna Tartare as a starter (or the ceviche depending what is available), the Grilled Skirt Steak with olive oil mashed potatoes and grilled endive as an entree and the Tiramasu for dessert. If you tell them it’s a Birthday Lunch, they will give you a little card congratulating you and a free dessert (but it won’t be tiramasu).
The tuna tartar comes on a pretty glass plate, atop a bowl of crushed ice, with a green leaf peeking through. The chopped red tuna is topped with pickled red onions, a black garlic puree, fried shallots and microgreens, a perfect conglomeration of flavors and textures that prompted my daughter A.J. to ask:
Can I lick the plate?A.J.
When I went for another birthday lunch, I’d ordered the chicken, but this time I went with the steak. It’s a 4 ounce grilled skirt steak (petite portion), that was perfectly cooked to medium rare and topped with chimichurri sauce; it’s served with silky mashed potatoes and grilled endives, that read like bone marrow when they arrive at the table. It was one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten! A.J. got the Caesar Salad with Shrimp, which she enjoyed, but not as much as my steak, because let’s face it, a Caesar Salad is a Caesar Salad. The Branzino is also good, if you’re not into red meat, but if you are into red meat, get the steak.
I had tried many other desserts at Fiola’s, but never the tiramasu, as I feel it’s overdone at many restaurants. Silly me! It was the BEST tiramasu I’ve ever eaten, hands down. It arrives in a little white terrine, with a pretty chocolate wafer with Fiolas on it in gold. Dig in and it’s a liquid feast of a creamy coffee sauce and zabglione, until you hit the center of chocolate cake which lends some texture. On top of that is a scoop of chocolate gelato, melting into the rest of the tiramasu. Amazing and very rich- I could only eat half.
A.J. and I had a lovely time, but service is leisurely, so plan accordingly. Our lunch took an hour and a half, so she had to call Justin to pick up Wyatt from school. This is a lunch you want to enjoy and not rush.
The very next day I had lunch at Root and Bone in South Miami to celebrate my friend, and old tennis partner, Sherida’s birthday. There is free parking available on the side, which is a nice plus and inside and outside seating. We sat outside. I was first to arrive and asked the waiter what he recommended, something I usually do on the regular. I hate when a server says “Everything” because I think that’s just a lazy answer. To his credit, our waiter didn’t say that. He suggested the Lunch Plate Special of Fried Chicken & Waffles & Watermelon Salad ($16), the Brussel Sprouts and Farro Bowl ($14) or the Autumn Pear Salad ($14).
When Ellen and Sherida arrived we talked so much it took us a while to look at the menu. Sherida wanted the Fried Chicken, which is normally served Family Style with other sides, but that’s all she got.
I know it’s not good for you, but that’s what I want.Sherida
But it was her birthday lunch, so go for it! Ellen is in Weight Watchers and used to be a WW Leader, so is always watching what she eats. I’m a Weight Watcher drop out who now just watches my weight rise. She couldn’t decide between the Brussel Sprout and Farro Bowl and the Autumn Pear Salad, so I suggested we get both and split it between the two of us, which is what we did.
Both were solid choices and Ellen said she would have a hard time picking between the two. The Brussel Sprouts and Farro Bowl, was less a bowl than an artistic arrangement of ingredients, all of which- charred cauliflower, brussel sprout leaves, roasted tomato, goat cheese and farro, were delicious. It came with a charred lemon slice and lemon vinaigrette on the side. I’m not sure if it was Weight Watcher-approved (it tasted a little greasy), but it was delicious.
The Autumn Pear Salad had watercress as its base; I feel watercress is an underutilized green and it’s delicious and healthy. It came with thin shavings of pickled pear, roasted corn kernels and spiced hazelnuts, but the kicker was the crunchy and golden sweet potato croquettes that topped it. They had a creamy, sweet interior and came with an aioli to dip them in; it took the salad from good to yes please! I felt the brown butter vinaigrette was a little too heavy for this salad, but overall, I really enjoyed it.
Our friend Ellen had gotten her second vaccine, so we were celebrating that, and life returning to normal in general (please God!), as well. I have known many people who have already gotten their vaccine. Good for them! If you have and want to celebrate, now you know where to go in Miami to toast to your health and enjoy good food. By the way, although I didn’t have them this time, the Angel Biscuits at Root and Bone are to die for!
Up Next: Easy Bar-B-Que Rub.