Carnivore

There’s a street in Florence,Italy that I call cheap street. The reason being there’s a section of it where you can devour “flintstone” like sandwiches with a cheap glass of wine for just a few euros. In the afternoons you see scores of students and younger people lined up in several stands to order and then sit on the curb (or what passes for one) to chomp them down. They are good, no kidding, but if you make this a daily habit you won’t see 40.

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The lines were long this day but in the middle of the feasting madness we saw a sit down place with the same name and no lines..aha! I ordered, but it was too late when I noticed the carnivorous canine feeding taking place around me and for good reason..WE GOT MEAT!

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grrrrr..ruff ruff….

 

 

 

My book of Florence,Italy

matthew pace photographer
Instagram/mattpacephoto
text/786-282-7877
“Real looking food with Visual Flavor”

 

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What Am I Eating?!!!

I have a favorite lunch place in Florence,Italy. For just a few Euros you can get a great sandwich or pasta dish and a beer and enjoy the action of two sisters as they do a dance of serving and cooking for the local crowd. Trippa, a Florentine specialty is on order, and being one with the abitanti I placed my order….( I drank the beer before it came)

cowsandwich

It was well made and tasty with a slight crackle and smooth interior although I had never tasted this before…  After lunch I headed out to photograph some food at the local Mercato, another high spot in Firenze when I saw the prime ingredient….

tripparaw

 

OMG! I now look at cows differently than before and no longer have the stomach for this tasty treat!

But don’t let me stop you, I don’t like tongue either…  and I will be back there for  more of the other wonderful things they make.

 

Follow me this summer on my return to Firenze,Italia to continue my book

Read more here.

Timothy Duque…Chef

From his beginnings at Johnson Wales University,North Miami, he worked his way up as intern at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, where we met. He spent ten years there learning everything he could from fine dining to high volume banquet cooking. This broad experience helped to hone his expertise to create the chef he is today.

 

” My grandmother is Colombian and I grew up making empanadas and arepas from scratch with some very old family recipes ”

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Tim gives this advice to newbies…” Stay focused. Many newcomers are distracted by money and fame. If you aren’t passionate about food, the long hours and stressful days will definitely consume you. The most rewarding part of what we do is serving others and conveying our passion through our preparations.”

for some behind the scenes:

Corey Bousquet…The Brick

“..One day I want to open a farm to table style restaurant..” a boyhood dream, and at 28 years old Corey Bousquet did it. It’s called The Brick, located at 8955 SW. 72 PL Kendall, in one of South Miami’s most up and coming neighborhoods, Downtown Dadeland.

Corey Bousquet

His first exposure to the business came from his neighbor who owned an Italian style pizzeria sit down restaurant where he started as a busboy at 14.

The owner’s mother had a two acre farm on Eastern Long Island where she grew and picked fresh vegetables for the menu.

“..there”s something special about working with smaller local farmers.. being able to name where the produce comes from in the salad that one of my guests is eating..”

Working his way up and gathering  experiences from many different types of restaurants, Corey advanced to a manager, learning the business inside and out.

With a great investor behind him who believed in his vision, he proceeded to do his research that would lead to the best location and with a new design for today’s market.

” I spent a year before opening, doing my homework with demographic researches, target markets, advertising strategies…in order to set myself up for success..”_MG_4642-3BW

The next step was calling out to one of Miami’s longtime well known chefs, Chef Allen Susser’s   consultation for a sound operation.

Corey’s advice to newcomers in the business…” Do your homework…it pays to know your stuff..”  “I have put everything on the line to see it succeed, my employees can see and feel my passion , in turn making them passionate about it. ” _MG_4659-9

” At the end of the day, I wouldn’t change what I do for anything..”

Good Service

A few years ago we were visiting Carcassonne, France. It is a fabulous place, a perfectly preserved medieval walled fortress town where the Knights Templars came from. Cool as it was, the best part was below the fortress in the local town square where the folk live,work and go about their daily lives, now that the Crusades are over!

Waiting Tables,France

Waiting on Tables,France

There in the town square where restaurants share space with their colorful branded tables and matching chairs was “Chez Felix” a family run place as most bars, bistros and restaurants are in France. This is what the American bistro scene is so desperately trying to mimic through the vision of how our corporate homogenizing system is  churning them out in malls across the country.
Where we go wrong and they get right is what this is all about…SERVICE.. intimate, professional, smooth.
We sat at a table outside and away from the main bar among 20 other tables that were all served by one man, the one in this picture. Inside was the bar tended by the owner, the kitchen by his wife and daughter and a few inner tables served by one more waiter an older man. Watching this operation, and we did more than one day or night as well, was like watching a well rehearsed dance troupe onstage. They weren’t running frantic, forgetting orders or parts of, and we didn’t need a red flag waving to catch their attention. They weren’t wearing some silly ass outfit with a colorful hat nor bringing us a balloon with Chez Felix on it, singing happy birthday through their teeth, nor whatever Busker event marketing departments can dream up. He didn’t introduce himself with a big plastered grin , nor did he sit down next to me acting like my old  buddy as he took my order nor did he make us feel like one of the peeps referring to us as ” Hi Guys”. He didn’t engage me in some dopey ass conversation with that marketing approach of  ” sell your personality” to make people feel the ” XYZ Bistro” experience. He didn’t try to entertain us every time he walked by. He wasn’t there to make us like him, he was there to make us like the place we came to by offering us the most efficient, best and professional service and not getting in our way of enjoying each other.
When we got the food, which BTW, over a few days we tried it all, it was ace one as though my mother cooked it just for me, and recently as well, not pre-made by a crew of zombies who on their own can’t cut butter, slapped together by recent high school grads who were just trained in the kitchen one month ago and presto you’re a chef. When we finished, we sat there as long as we wished until we wanted something else, while all the time he had his attention on every table he had as he walked by, ready to serve whatever we wanted, a cognac,a coffee…he didn’t asked every 2 minutes if we were done…which leads me to the real difference in service.
Good service is not coming over every time I put my hand down to rest and ask ” May I take this away?” or every five minutes asking if I want something else…NO!!!  go away and let me swallow my food…  nor throwing down the bill as I drink my coffee or sip a drink..
NEVER MIND WIPING THE TABLE in between…rare here… after all I like to rest my hands on sauce or whatever spilled.I like to take it home like a souvenir.
Price…did someone mention that as a quality comparison?  well the average check there was $20-25 with a glass of local wine and full meal..
Next time you are out in one of our bistros..count the servers…watch their actions..listen to their banter.. and ask yourself, why isn’t there a waiter training course, that teaches sensitivity of patrons, not amusement, attention with a relaxed, not hustle mode. Make servers professional ones, invest in them for a better return and not making a better return by saving a few bucks on that end. If you have a young staff, great but be demanding on them and have one pro-server play watchdog..
The dance between the front of the house and the back of the house is delicate, and for those of us who sit in the middle, we can pass off ” I think I ordered the wrong thing” easier than, ” the service sucks.”
A bistro/cafe shouldn’t be just a burger joint with the fastest service around.  It should be place to go, when you have nothing in mind, just want to lay back, eat and talk to the ones at your table not the ones around it.