Friday, November 9, 2012

1500 Degrees - Dinner Adventure

Caution! Before you even begin reading this post, I have to warn you. It is going to leave you breathless. You are going to see an array of delectable dishes, meticulously prepared and carefully paired with the perfect wine. About a month ago, I attended a Dessert for Dinner event at a beautiful restaurant located in a historical hotel in Miami Beach, where I got to sample an assortment of innovative desserts created by Pastry Chef Sole Nizzero as well as specially made cocktails by mixologist Rafa Dulanto. (You can read the post here 1500° at the Eden Roc Renaissance Hotel - Dessert for Dinner)  I was so impressed with this restaurant's ambiance, decor, service and food, that I knew I had to return for a full blown dinner. Today's adventure takes place at 1500°, located in the Eden Roc Renaissance Hotel, at 4525 Collins Avenue.

It's hard not to be blown away by the warm, subtle elegance of 1500°. The last time I was here I fell in love with its decor, and this time I was completely awed with all the fall themed decorations that gave the restaurant an appealing glow. Everyone from the front desk hostess, to the wait staff, to the chefs seem to share a dedication and passion for outstanding customer service. There is always something special about a place where a guest feels welcome and comfortable.

With Chef Paola DaSilva during a previous
Dessert for Dinner tasting

However, I can't continue talking about 1500° without telling you a little bit about its Executive Chef: Paula DaSilva. I met DaSilva during my first visit to 1500° and immediately knew how extraordinary she was. A Brazilian native, she has earned a reputation not only for her incredible culinary skills but for her generosity as well. She selflessly gives of her time and talents to support the local community, and if there is a fundraiser or charity event taking place, chances are DaSilva will be participating. Her humanitarian qualities are not the only characteristics that make DaSilva stand out. She also has an impressive professional resume including a near win on Season 5 of the popular FOX reality cooking show Hell's Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay, an invitation to be a guest chef at the James Beard House in NYC, and numerous awards such as "Best Celebrity Chef" in the Broward/Palm Beach New Times 2009 Best Of issue.

With Sous Chef Adrienne Grenier

Tonight, however, Sous Chef Adrienne Grenier was the culinary genius behind the scenes.  I wanted to have an elaborate and varied taste of the offerings at 1500° so after looking at their impressive menu, I decided to put my taste buds in the hands of the chef and try their Chef's Five Course Tasting Menu with wine pairings. I only knew there would be a sampling of raw items, seafood and steak courses, and dessert, but the choices for the evening were made by the chef. I loved it! This is what exciting adventures are made of.

Passion Pisco Sour

Raw Bar Platter
Ahi Tuna Poke
In the mood for a cocktail before the tasting began, I ordered a Passion Pisco Sour which was outstanding! I do enjoy a good Pisco, and the sweetness of the passion fruit took it to a whole new level. Our knowledgeable and very friendly waiter, Matthew, brought out the first course, and I was smiling. It was a Raw Bar Platter consisting of Shrimp Cocktail, Florida Stone Crab Claws, and Wahoo Ceviche. The shrimp were plump and fresh and the stone crab claws had a delightful, buttery taste .  Happy Beginnings. Then I dipped into the Wahoo Ceviche and time stood still. The refreshing, delicate dish was unbelievable; bursting with an enticing balance of flavors. Each bite pleased the palate with the lime, cilantro, onions and peppers that came together in perfect harmony with the tender fish. As I scooped the last bits of the ceviche, I saw my all time favorite making its way to our table: the Ahi Tuna Poke. I remembered how wonderful and fresh the tuna was the last time I was here so I was looking forward to a repeat performance. I was not disappointed. The tuna is served with pickled cucumber, toasted rice pearls and sriracha aioli, which gives it a nice spicy kick. Wow! The seasoning of the tuna with the soy sauce is spectacular and I could quite literally eat this dish all day long.

White Water Clams
Sauvignon Blanc
Still surprising us with more dishes in this unbelievable first course, Matthew brought us a bowl with White Water Clams. They were bathed with a savory blue moon and orange broth, creme fraiche, parsley and a slice of grilled bread. The combination of flavors of the broth with the rich and tangy creme fraiche made me want to drink the liquid right out of the bowl. Once I was finished with the clams, I dipped the crispy bread into the bowl to soak up all the delicious broth. You didn't think I was forgetting the wine pairing, did you? This fabulous first course was paired with Cloudy Bay, a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. It had zesty ripe citrus flavors coupled with sweet herbs that went very well with the seafood.

Excellent Wine Pairings

House Smoked Duck Breast
Chateau de Sancerre
The second course was just as phenomenal as the first. It began with a House Smoked Duck Breast, sitting atop a farro salad with butternut squash, currants, arugula and buttermilk dressing. From the ingredients, you can just imagine the explosion of sweet and savory that was going on here with this dish. I loved it! The chewy, nutty texture of the farro paired very well with the duck and the fruity tartness of the currant tickled the taste buds. It quickly became another favorite. 1500° prides itself in offering a farm to table approach and this is where you can taste the superior quality of the food. Matthew explained that the duck breast, for example, is seasonal. It may not always be available since their menu changes often, but when it is, you just have to have it.  The dish was followed by Palmetto Creek Farm Pork Belly Tacos. You say "pork belly", and I say "yes please", and this one could set off fireworks. The meat was tender, juicy and flavorful and the homemade kimchi was both spicy and tangy. This course was paired with Chateau de Sancerre Passe Avant Le Meilleur, a very crisp and subtle French wine that stood up well to the bold tastes of the meat.

Pork Belly Tacos

Truffled Black Trumpet
Mushroom Fagottini
La Grande Roche
The palate party continued and the Third Course consisted of Truffled Black Trumpet Mushroom Fagottini, a tasty little pasta purse filled with confit duck leg, pea tendrils and hazelnuts, sitting on top of a shallow pool of kuri squash puree. Beyond sweet and savory, the unique taste of the kuri squash, resembled a marriage between sweet potato and butternut squash. It combined beautifully with the mushroom and duck leg. Next up for this course was a Seared Maine Scallop. The large, sweet tasting scallop had a nice, firm texture. It came with a mix of beluga lentils, benton's smoked bacon, roasted root vegetables and braised greens; giving it an additional smoky and earthy flavor profile. The wine paired with this course was Montagny 1er Cru, "La Grande Roche" from Louis Latour, which had a floral aroma with hints of exotic fruit and almonds, and a lengthy finish.

Seared Maine Scallop

Prime Top Sirloin "Picanha"
BV Reserve Tapestry
Since 1500° is not only known for its farm-to-table eating but also its amazing steaks, the Fourth Course naturally had to reflect that. The chef chose to serve a Prime Top Sirloin "Picanha". Well seasoned and juicy, the picanha came with creamy mushroom grits, baby beets, pea tendrils and was drizzled with a cabernet sauce. A signature Brazilian cut, the picanha has a very distinct and mouth watering taste. Absolutely mind blowing! Such a robust flavor needed to be paired with a fitting wine and it was: Beaulieu Vineyard, Reserve Tapestry Red Wine from the Napa Valley. Weaving together five different varietals, it started with plum and black cherry flavors, and evolved into a cedar, black licorice finish that held its own with the bold meat.

Dessert Trio
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Feeling so satisfied and excited about this wonderful adventure, the Fifth Course arrived, and my happiness continued. In front of me was a Dessert Trio which included a toffee creme brulee,  a key lime trifle and a homemade marshmallow s'more served with graham cracker ice-cream. Now remember I already knew what 1500° could do with dessert so it was no surprise that the finale of my extravagant meal was going to be unbelievable. The toffee creme brulee was smooth and velvety. The key lime trifle was cooling and tart, and the homemade marshmallow s'more was a walk down memory lane to my prior visit. A little bit of heaven on earth.  The desserts were paired with Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Brut, from the oldest champagne house in France. It was a very delicate, well balanced champagne that had tempting fruity flavors and a good intensity. The perfect complement to the sweet ending of the night.

I don't think I have to tell you how much I enjoyed my dinner at 1500°. Although their menu offers a huge amount of delicious dishes to try, I highly recommend the Chef's Five Course Tasting Menu because you really get a feel for the unparalleled cuisine that is created here. For more information on 1500°, or to make reservations, you can contact them at 305 674-5594 or visit them online at

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