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Monthly Archives: May 2009

Miami Best Pizza Showdown Round I

Which restaurant offers the best pizza in Miami? Curious and hungry mind wants to know. After a friendly discussion on Chowhound, the hounds decide to go out as a pack to hunt down the fabled holy dough. It was decided that the hunt will be done in three rounds, with the Design District as round one’s hunting ground.

First stop, we met up at Joey’s. While the neighborhood is not upscale, this Italian cafe has a chic charm to it. Besides a dozen choices of pizza, it offers several anitpasti, salads and pasta dishes; main entrees include interesting dishes such as cod with eggplant and cherry tomatoes remoulade, lamb chops with juniper berry balsamic and polenta.

We picked:

Joey's Joey pizza

Joey's Joey pizza

 Joey: tuna, spicy salame, gorgonzola cheese, capers and spinach

Joey's Carbonara Pizza

Joey's Carbonara Pizza

Carbonara: bacon, eggs, mozzarella and asparagus
Dolce e Piccante: figs, gorgonzola cheese, honey and hot pepper
Margherita: tomato, mozzarella

When the Joey pizza arrived and I found out that it has tuna on top, I thought: yuck. But the pizza turned out surprisingly good. Totally not the fishy and bland type I usually encounter. The Carbonara is an interesting idea, but as the toppings (bacon, egg and asparagus) are separated on their own, it failed to create the symphony as in a carbonara pasta dish. Dolce e Piccante is an interesting combination of sweetness and spiciness, and successfully won many votes for this place.  Overall, I find the pizza quite good but not spectacular.

Next up was Pizzavolante.

Pizzavolante

Pizzavolante

Rather than a pizza place, it’s more a mozzarella parlor, for the pulled curd is the prima donna here.  There is a mozzarella bar, with choice of mozzarella from locally made Mozzarita brand (nodini, ovoline etc.) to organic Vermont buffalo mozz to Italian Burrata, (all sitting tantalizingly in stainless steel bowls of ice) served with a variety of accompaniments (tomatoes, zucchini fritti, greens, pesto, wood roasted veggies, etc.).   They also have daily specials such as short ribs, lasagna with sheep ricotta and even buffalo yogurt which I will definitely come back to try.  For drinks, you can opt for a Bud for $1 each, or pick from their reasonably priced wine list.

With only five pizza options, the choice was relatively simple and we ordered:

Margherita “DOP”: Italian tomato, sun dried Roma, bufala mozzarella DOP basil and Sicilian sea salt

Volante 100

Volante 100

Volante 100: thus named because all ingredients, except the flour, comes from a 100-mile radius.  On this day this included local mozz, dandelion greens, red and yellow cherry tomatoes and arugula
Bianca: fontina, local cow’s and bufala mozz, goat cheese, arugula and thyme

Cacciatorini - sorry pic is awful...

Cacciatorini - sorry pic is awful...

Cacciatorini: I was told the name means “little hunter”. Italian tomato, local mozzarella, grana, California pepperoni and guanciale (unsmoked Italian bacon made from pig’s cheek)

The crust here is rather thin, almost flatbread like.  While a turn off for some, I do like it, light and crispy.  Especially when I need to leave room for more pizza!  (I don’t necessarily prefer thin crust.  I like Pizza Uno’s deep dish too.  As long as it has that crispiness and not doughy or soggy.)

Munching on the cacciatorini, I definitely like it better than the carbonara at Joey’s.  The guanciale, slightly crispy, is simply delicious and better than the bacon in carbonara.  There is no dispute the mozz is superior, as are most other ingredients, such as the fragrant greens on the Volante 100.   Bianca is also very delicious and a surprising favorite among many who initially voted against it.  My only complain of this place is the limited pizza options (or rather, the overall menu).  Mozzarita has smoked mozz, and the best ricotta, that could make interesting toppings too. Hopefully in the future this new restaurant will introduce more options.

The pack continued to travel north, to sniff out Andiamo.   Being a popular pizza place, it definitely gets highest mark for the variety of pizza and there are some interesting combinations.  After considerable debate, we settled on:

Genovese: rosemary potatoes, pancetta, caramelized onions, mozzarella & gorgonzola
Putanesca: kalamata olives, capers, anchovies, red chile flakes, tomato sauce & mozzarella
Popeye: spinach, roma tomatoes, tomatoessauce, ricotta, mozzarella & basil
Soprano: hot & sweet italian sausage, brocoli rabe, tomato sauce, parmesan & mozzarella

Popeye and Soprano at Andiamo

Popeye and Soprano at Andiamo

First off, I have to profess that Andiamo has been my favorite pizza spot, along with Pinecrest’s Big Tomato.  Even while in Joey’s, I mentally compared the pie to Andiamo’s in my memory and thought, I don’t think Andiamo fares badly in comparison. 

Unfortunately, as I munched on, my neighbor declared, I don’t like Andiamo as much anymore, and I have to sadly agree.  By comparison, the pizza was too greasy, too heavy, too salty, simply overwhelming.  After the delicate, subtle flavor of Joey’s and Pizzavolante, Andiamo seems too pedestrian.  The Putanesca was almost too salty to finish, though the Genovese was popular enough among garlic lovers.  We didn’t order the Prosciutto, which had been my favorite for the generous topping of aragula, and even that pale in comparison to the just wilted, tender, not-too-spicy taste at Volante.  The ingredients definitely are a totally different calibre, very industrial, though already a step up from many other pizza places.  Maybe, if I come back another day, I will like Andiamo enough on its own, and I wish very much so, but today, it’s like emerging from a retreat in a Zen monastery up in the mountains into a rock concert.

Well, it’s pretty obvious from my comment that, after chowing down 12 pizza slices, my vote for round 1 goes to Pizzavolante.  It’s really love at first bite for me.  The group’s vote is a toss up though.  I guess it depends to a degree on personal preference: how you like the crust, and whether you give more points to creative, unusual combinations, or to great ingredients simply prepared.  Either way, look forward to round 2 (North Miami).

See what the other chowhounds think:
Mango and Lime
Frodnesor’s Food for Thought
Miami Dish

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Posted by on May 29, 2009 in Food, photos

 

Chocolate Granola

I bought this Feed Whole Grain Granola from Whole Foods while I was on sale. It’s the Bittersweet-ness flavor.

Saw this description on the back:

Conscious Chocolate

Conscious Chocolate

“We consciously combined dark chocolate chunks, loaded with antioxidants, to complement the rich vanilla aroma of the toasted granola”

I showed this to my hubby, who found it preposterous, as if there could be a chance that someone was munching a chocolate bar at the production line and some crumbs fell into the cereal by accident.

For me, it’s all the proof I need that chocolate is something that should be consciously added into, mind you, not slyly sneaked into, but grandiosely, rightfully, consciously taking its place on the ingredient list, for the concern of your well-being, your health and your happiness.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2009 in Food, photos

 

Koala Rescued in Bush Fires

Just have to save this heart warming photo.

Koala Rescued in Bush Fires

Koala Rescued in Bush Fires

A volunteer firefighter David Tree found Sam, an injured koala, at Mirboo North Forest, 90 miles southeast of Melbourne. The grateful koala downed three bottles of water offered by Tree, while resting her burnt paw in his cool hand for some pain relief. While koalas look cuddly, in the wild it is rare for such close contact.

Even happier ending: when wildlife caregivers took Sam to the safety of the Mountain Ash Wildlife Center, she bonded instantaneously with Bob, a four-year-old Koala that had been rescued two days before Sam. Just love seeing how caringly, protectively Bob puts his hands around Sam the poor girl. What a gent!

koala sam and bob

Photos and video here:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1141662/Australians-comfort-badly-burned-koalas-best-friends-surviving-bushfires.html
http://network.bestfriends.org/foaaustralia/news/32198.html

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2009 in Animals, photos

 

Wall-E Munches on Corn on Cob

Unlike many pets I know, Wall-E doesn’t really care too much about human food. So far he has only munched on a grape I gave him, most of the time he just ran away as if I were trying to poison him.

So it was a surprise when I was eating a corn-on-cob (they are in season now and on sale at any supermarket, in case you don’t know) and Wall-E flew over and tried a nibble when I offered him the corn. I would expect him to run away, as usually my birds do when presented with a very, very huge piece of food.

He totally loved the corn. I was able to snap a whole bunch of photos, though it gave me cramps to have him sit on my right hand, in which I also held the corn, while snapping pictures with my left (and cameras aren’t designed for lefties). I tried letting him stand on the table but he won’t, and I tried having him stand on my left hand so at least I could shoot with my right. But I suppose some religious rule forbids him from eating from the left hand.

Anyway, here’re the pics!

And this one is so darn cute, like he has a mole on his nose!

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2009 in Animals, photos

 

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Harry Potter and Half Blood Prince

In less than two months!  Woo hoo!

http://harrypotter.warnerbros.com/harrypotterandthehalf-bloodprince/

Excellent trailer!  It’s been a while since I read the book but the trailer really brings back memory.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2009 in Books & Movies