Rants

Chris Miracolo Interview part 2: Q&A with Himmarshee Bar and Grille's Main Man

Today we present Part Two of our interview with chef Chris Miracolo of Himmarshee Bar and Grille, who's been doing super-popular beer and wine pairings for the past few months. (Shameless plug: New Times is hosting a Tweet-Up at the venue this Friday -- Free drinks for all from 7-9 p.m.!) Yesterday, he talked about his early life, and tomorrow he'll share the recipe for his notorious Gouda mac 'n' cheese.

Do you have what you'd call a signature dish? Everyone always raves about the butternut squash ravioli.

That's actually not mine, it's the restaurant's signature dish. I do herb-roasted diver scallops, they're scallops that live at a level where they're hand-foraged by divers without nets. They're cold-water scallops; nine times out of ten I get that stuff from Maine.

Where does your produce come from in the summer?

I try to use local purveyors, local farmers. Vegetables, a

lot of them come from places like Plant City or Immokalee. I've been

using the same fish purveyors for 10 years now. 


Have any of your seafood distributors been affected by the oil in the Gulf?
No, surprisingly enough we still get all our yellowtail snapper from day-boats down in the Keys. No problems yet.

How has the recession affected the restaurant?
Well,

business definitely decreased, and the amount of food people ordered

also changed. A lot more shared plates, shared appetizers. People have

to be a lot more budget-conscious now. If you put a good value on a

plate for them, they'll come in. But we've had to reduce 'sticker

shock.' You'll notice we don't have tablecloths. We want to give people the impression that we're approachable. And at lunch, I'm serving food that costs

maybe a couple dollars more than the giant Super-Size meal over at

Burger King. And my food is, uh, better quality (laughs). The lunch

business is what we thrive on, and we want to keep it affordable for

the people who work around here and might want to eat here five days a

week! I mean, we see a lot of the same faces, and they're not John D.

Rockefeller. But things have changed -- when I was working in Boca, I'd

have salads that went for $18. I wouldn't dream of doing that in

Lauderdale now. 


You've been pairing up

some very tasty Belgian ales with some of your dishes lately. What are

some nice matches for these hot, humid days we've been having?

Lighter

beers are always the way to go in the summer. I did a (Chimay) Cinq

Cents, a Trappist wheat beer, paired with a watermelon/feta salad with

watercress and an orange-honey vinaigrette. Nothing is better in a

summer salad than fresh fruit. Watermelon never tastes better than

these months right now, so you've got to jump on it when you see it.


And

you're doing some nice wine/food pairings, too. How rigid are you in

terms of having strict boundaries with red wine/red meat and so forth?

Not

rigid at all. It's really the seasonings and the accompaniment that

dictate the wine, or allow the wine choice to be broader, than the meat

itself. Some people assume, bloody meat, a bloody cab, but it all comes

down to seasoning. For instance, a skirt steak marinated in citrus,

that would go perfectly with a sauvignon blanc or an un-oaked chard.

Seafood is the most versatile -- it's easy to cross over and use red or

white. People expect certain foods to be paired with certain wines

every time, but there's no law. And it's nice to give people a new

perspective on things.

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton