Sunday, September 5, 2010

Graziano's Miami

With a trip planned to Miami we found ourselves looking for where to eat, and Josh and Lisa had a plan. "Miami Spice" they said. Miami Spice is apparently an attempt to lure people out to eat in various participating restaurants during the slowest time of the year. The offer supposedly included a $22 prix fixe lunch. So after some wine felled debate we settled on Argentine for lunch followed by a visit to Costco before heading home. I was the only member of our party who has never actually been to Argentina though their taste for meat, slow grilled and largely not spiced is legendary. Graziano's didn't offer the prix fixe lunch on Sundays so we ended up eating rather more extravagantly. I had the $35 prix fixe dinner menu and the others ordered a plate of meat and a side each. The wine list was fabulous with nothing less than $40 a bottle which seemed rather a lot for lunch so we ordered quarter liter carafes which was a nice touch- at $18 apiece they made for doable individual glasses of wine.
My wife's steak was accompanied by a superb risotto but there was so much meat on her plate we ate it for dinner the next night. Josh needed no to go box, finishing his and helping Lisa finish hers. Argentines really do seem to eat a lot of meat at a sitting. My steak came with a side of mashed potatoes and a beaker of salt which I dutifully sprinkled on as instructed, while the meat was sizzling to melt the salt into the meat. I do not usually add salt to my food but when in Argentina one does as the Argentines do and it was excellent. Argentina from everything I have read is a robust country with powerful weather and wide open spaces filled with cowboys and cows and strong winds. I did once harbor the desire to one day sail up the Rio Plata (Silver River) to Buenos Aires (Good Breezes) but having read about the equally robust sailing conditions I rather think I will end up visiting some other way. We ordered two puddings and got three through some clerical error. Another error led us to pass the plates around and taste the delicious cakes and flans until they were empty, whereupon I remembered to take a picture. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Argentine lunches weren't as slow and languid as ours was in Miami, longer than two hours and long enough to set back our scheduled return to 9pm. Cheyenne was home alone, guarding the homestead by herself on her longest solo flight ever. I was anxious but she was fine when we did get home, if overly happy to see us. Josh was happy, full of meat and wine.
Lisa? Sure, this place was her choice after all so she deserved to take the credit.The bill was $126 plus tip which caused some blanching around the table but considering how extravagant we were it wasn't that bad at all. Argentines take their food seriously.
We lurched out past the display of slow grilled meats in the foyer.
Argentina went through an economic crisis in 2001 similar to what we seem to face now and the country is still struggling to get back on it's feet after bursting it's economic bubble. Yet here in Miami the place was full and it was no wonder that on Sunday they didn't need to employ the Miami Spice menu to entice people in.Coral Gables is an upscale community in the middle of Dade county, inland from metro Miami and developed as a a vision of southern Spanish elegance in the wilderness. The street names are marked on elegant tableaux and reflect the Spanish theme, Asturias, Granada, Seville etc...
It was quite the lunch break in a slow paced shopping day for the small town folk up from Key West.
Josh loves Miami, the bright lights the exotic Latin flavors and the wild displays of ostentatious flair.
I want to like Miami but I wish it were more like San Francisco, a city I managed to get know a bit and always liked for the occasional weekend visit. Miami lacks cohesion in my view and though art deco hotels on South Beach are touted as something woth seeing I found the neighborhoods of San Francisco much more appealing. I thought this picture of Coral Gables city hall looked rather...Argentine? My wife says we need to give Miami another chance and plan tours of places to see this winter. What choice do we have in the depressed era of cheap vacations? Looked at that way an expensive lunch was a cheap trip to Buenos Aires!