Cigar Aficionado: A Look Back Essay

NEW WORLD CHEF For Florida “fusion cuisine” pioneer Norman Van Aken, co-owner of NORMAN’S in Coral Gables, the kitchen is his classroom. By Mervyn Rothstein               January/February 2000 ~~~~~~ On West Flagler Street in Miami, not far from Calle Ocho, the long street that’s the…

Short Order Cook, A New Life

We were working in the town of Libertyville. We had been hired to repair the roof on the high school. It was August, the hottest month of the year. We were early into the ten-day job when one afternoon the sky turned black. From up there you could really see….

“We Taste Like Pork”

KEY WEST, 1973 “Then the static hum of the radio stretched into a languid Latin Rhythm, a distant faraway throb of rhumbas and saltwater breakers striking sandy shores. The music from Cuba filled the back room of the grocería with the swish of swaying palm trees. Bang! Justo’s grandfather’s cane…

Linda Ronstadt; A Memory

The first words I spoke to Linda Ronstadt were these; “Why did you open for Jackson Browne? You are the bigger star”. The first words Linda Ronstadt spoke to me were, “Oh. Jackson would not have a girl be the bigger act”. She had just sat down next to me…

BROTHS

The world of cookery has its roots. So many times we look up above the place where a bush or a tree stands seen and obviously morphing. But without the nurturing world below… that provides succor to that organism we enjoy… this would not occur. I save the bones from…

LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL

When I was 19 I discovered a few very old hardcover books in my grandmother, “Nana’s” collection. They were in excellent condition unlike her battered paperback detective novels she had taken a fancy to late in life. She had always been more than happy to share any part of her…

Meeting Julia Child, (The First Time)

I didn’t grow up watching Julia Child on television the way many people of my generation did.  My television hours were not inclined toward any aspects of cooking, though we did cook in our home.  My mother was a both a restaurant worker and also (for a time) a Girl…

My Kitchen Meditations: “On Knives”

My Kitchen Meditations ‘On Knives’ I went to bed after a long day of cutting. I thought back on the previous 24 hours as I hulled and then evenly sliced Florida strawberries in the ascending morning light using a Japanese knife its creator might have envisioned for other tasks. My knives…

Tomatoes Upon Waking

Three scents wake me.  Not wake me initially.  An alarm did that.  These are the wakings of an appetite as they are touched by the brewing coffee, the emanations of ripening mangoes…but the third scent is more subtle than the first two.  It comes from the tomato my knife and…

Ca L’ Isidre

The guidebook said that “this is usually everybody’s favorite restaurant”. I knew that was almost always a give a way for a place I’d dislike. It also said, “when the King of Spain had one place to dine amongst the commoners, he chose this establishment”. Strike two. We entered Ca…

CAL PEP: Memories of Spain

We were told this place was tiny and would be packed. It took no reservations and seated 20. So we hustled over to be at the door when they turned the key. But to our surprise and dismay they had inexplicably opened up about five minutes before we got there…

Kitchen Cousins: Chefs Nurture Growing Careers

In 1987 a person who’d become so much more than a ‘young cook in my kitchen’ but who’d become my spiritual and culinary ‘brother’ opened up his own restaurant. It was named “Charlie Trotter’s”. He made history there over the next twenty years. This article is about the opening night…

Our Lunch at Michel Bras, Laguiole, France

“MICHEL BRAS” It was not originally on the itinerary at all, but as the months drew closer to our going Charlie came to one of his famously resolute decisions and told Steve Greystone, “We’re going to add in Michel Bras. Norman can’t go to France without dining there!”  With that…

A Table for Friends

I am recalling another visit to our restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando. I am not recalling it from distant memory but actually from a very immediate place. I love to sit in the quiet early-morning of the grand lobby of this amazing hotel and savor a cappuccino … and…

Happy Birthday Grandgirl!

“But Mona Lisa musta had the Highway Blues, You could tell by the way she smiles”. — B. Dylan. We passed “Sam’s Hideaway Tavern” right before we hit the part of the highway heading to Key West known as “The Stretch”. It was not quite 10 a.m. and after a…

Cut Up: A Key West Gem

A gathering of Conchs surrounded me. No. I was not skin-diving in The Bahamas. I was having dinner in Key West at a beautiful home. And I was happily encircled by some of the smartest, funniest people I have come to call friends. As many of our South Florida listeners…

 
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