Saturday, January 11, 2014

Miami Culinary Tours - Eat Your Way Through Wynwood

Wynwood is one of those neighborhoods that has quickly become a hot spot in the city. In the last couple of years, it has gone through an unbelievable transformation, evolving from a place you wouldn't want to wander into at night to a colorful artistic haven full of galleries, night life, street art and great restaurants.

Grace Della, owner of Miami Culinary Tours kicking off the tour

Federico Uribe Gallery
Miami Culinary Tours recently launched a new tour in the Wynwood Area and I was looking forward to checking it out. Having already been on their South Beach and Little Havana tours, I was curious as to how this one would compare. By the end of the afternoon, I was looking forward to the monthly Wynwood Art Walk to return to some of the galleries we were introduced to by Grace Della, the tour company's owner. Even though I'm a local, and have walked these Wynwood Streets more than once, I wasn't familiar with some of the interesting galleries that were there. For example, Grace took us to the Federico Uribe Gallery, featuring original moving installations, and we were blown away.

Wynwood Walls

Inside Wynwood Kitchen & Bar
Ropa Vieja Empanadas and
Queso Fresco Maduros
Let me start by telling you, there is a lot of food involved. We started off at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, a visually stimulating spot founded by the late Tony Goldman. This place combines beautiful art with Latin-infused cuisine prepared by Venezuelan Chef Miguel Aguilar. Throughout both its indoor and outdoor areas, WKB is the home to the artwork of famed graffiti artist and Godfather of street art Shepard Fairey, German artist Christian Awe, and sculptor David Benjamin Sherry. It is also where you'll find the iconic Wynwood Walls; an art park created by Goldman that allows local street artists to showcase their talents. While here, we sampled a Ropa Vieja Empanada and Queso Fresco Maduros. The sherry vinegar on the empanadas gave them a distinct flavor and the queso fresco added a nice salty profile to the sweet, tender maduros. We enjoyed the bites with a La Rubia beer from a local Wynwood brewery.

Take some meat home
The Butcher Shop
Next we went to another trendy spot in Wynwood; a relatively new restaurant called The Butcher Shop Beer Garden & Grill. Serving up grass fed, organic cuts of meat and an impressive selection of brewskys, there was quite a lot of excitement among the group to taste whatever awaited us here.


Polish Kielbasa
Belgian Ale
Turns out we started with a cold Belgian Ale and some potato and cheese Pierogis (Polish dumplings), topped with sour cream sauce. While we munched on those, they brought out a plate of Smoked Polish Kielbasa served with a German Pretzel. The sausage was flavorful and quite addicting, and I loved alternating between taking a bite of meat and then a bite of salty pretzel bread.

For our next stop, we headed to a different part of the world, sort of speak, and visited popular Puerto Rican eatery Jimmy'z Kitchen, for one of their world famous Chicken Mofongos. If you haven't tried Mofongo, the signature fried plantain dish originally from la Isla del Encanto, this is the place to have it. The portion was generous, and as always, totally tasty with its bits of chicharrones (pork cracklings), and shredded chicken in a creole sauce.  Jimmy'z Kitchen welcomed us with a nice sign as we walked into the private area reserved for the group.

Chicken Mofongo

Bar at Pride and Joy
At this point, I'd say we were only about halfway through the tour which meant more good eating on the agenda. Grace brought us back to the U.S.A. with a taste of the south. We stopped at Pride and Joy for a down-home mouthful of Deviled Egg with Pulled Pork. From the moment we walked in to the artfully decorated hotspot, we could smell the smoky aroma of BBQ that instinctively made my mouth water.

Deviled Egg with Pulled Pork

True to Miami's diverse cultures, our next stop featured two of my favorite types of cuisines. We walked over to SuViche; a Japanese-Peruvian restaurant (thus the name), that serves a culinary fusion of both of these countries. Here we tried their Tuna Causas, pillars of mashed potatoes infused with lime and aji amarillo, then topped with tuna and their decadent sauce. I was in heaven. Causas happen to be one of my vices and these were amazing. It was my first time at SuViche and I'm looking forward to returning to see what else they got that can make me swoon.

Fireman Derek's Key Lime Pie

Quite stuffed but extremely happy, Grace took us to a small, inconspicuous place where our sweet finale awaited. It was the location where Fireman Derek bakes his renowned pies. That's right. I said Fireman Derek. He is a real City of Miami firefighter who bakes the best damn desserts on his spare time and has grown quite a following. I had tried his Crack Pie over at Brother Jimmy's BBQ a while back, and fallen in love immediately, but on this sunny afternoon, we were treated to his Key Lime Pie. It was a combination of tart, sweet and creamy all at once.

I highly recommend booking a Miami Culinary Tour to Wynwood and getting to know the neighborhood that is causing so much buzz in Miami. You'll be glad you did. The experience is fun, delicious and a must-do for tourists and Miami foodies alike.  For more information, visit their website at Miami Culinary Tours.

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