Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sustain me, baby!

Restaurant Name: Sustain
Location: Miami, Florida

So, last week I traveled from New York to Miami to visit a dear friend. Her husband is the owner of one of Miami's new, hot restaurants, Sustain. Naturally, we went to eat there.

Here's the skinny:

Living for 3 years in one of the world's premiere food cities has made me pretty hard to please, but Sustain got the job done. As the restaurant is owned by a friend, I was nervous that I might not like it. How awkward would that have been? Very. Fortunately, I loved pretty much everything about the place.

The name of the restaurant is also the restaurant's philosophy - sustainable and local, all the way from the decor (hip, open, and inviting) to the food (un-apologetically rich and sourced almost exclusively from southern Florida). Since I was eating with the owner, I can't really comment fairly on the service, except to say that it was great.

I sampled quite a bit of menu - from a charcuterie platter (amazing house-made pate and duck rillettes, plus pickled mushrooms) to chicharrones (a little chewy, but delightfully bacon-y), to salads, fried chicken, and more.

My favorites were the salad and fried chicken. The salad was a red butter leaf lettuce charmer (lettuce from local Swank Farms) with Benton's smoked bacon lardons, super-flavorful, crunchy croutons, tomatoes, and a plate-lickingly good buttermilk dressing. This was up there with my favorite salads ever.

The fried chicken was everything you want fried chicken to be: crispy, tender, and just the right amount of salty. After tasting it, I was unsurprised to learn that they brined and poached the meat before battering and flash-frying to finish. It was served with honey (a genius, classic combo) and beans flavored with (of course) bacon. The most awesomely awesome part of this dish, though, was the creamed Kale. I will dream of the creamed Kale for years to come; it was that good. Hearty, healthy Kale smothered in the silkiest enriched cream sauce. Oh, a vat of that to go, please!

In fact, I loved the Kale so much that I've attempted to create my own version at home...

Sustain-Inspired Creamed Kale
serves 2-4 (depending on how greedy you get)

1 bunch fresh Kale (I used a lovely purple leaf variety), torn into large pieces
1 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
1 pint whipping cream (do NOT wimp out and use milk), or perhaps a bit more
1/2-1 cup freshly grated aged cheddar cheese
salt & pepper to taste


In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat and add the flour to create a roux. Cook the roux, whisking, until slightly browned and fragrant. Add the cream 1/2 cup at a time, whisking continuously until the mixture is slightly thickened and smooth. Add more cream if necessary to thin the mixture - it should be easily pourable. Whisk in the cheese (starting with just 1/2 cup and increasing from there, if desired), and salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, bring salted water to a rolling boil and add the Kale. Blanch the Kale until tender, then drain. Add the Kale to the cream sauce and simmer a few moments to combine well.

Voila...and thank you, Sustain. The highest compliment I can give a restaurant is that it's food inspires me to try and cook it at home.

Sustain Restaurant + Bar on Urbanspoon

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