Welcome to the latest edition of the Eat Beat newsletter. Pumpkin patches are sprouting, the humidity is dropping and king tides are rising, which means autumn has truly arrived in South Florida. Leaves don't fall or change color here, but we get the next best thing: Stone crab claws start dropping onto our plates from the sea.
(Time to get cracking ... and time for a second mortgage?)
Crustacean craziness begins: The seven-month stone crab season started Saturday, and I devoured my first sweet-meat claws on Sunday. I love everything about our regional delicacy ... except the price, which should drop once the first-week demand subsides. At my local seafood market last weekend, mediums were going for $19.99 a pound, large $34.99 and colossal $46.99. Ouch. Pray for a bountiful harvest. “The pulls [from the traps] so far down in the Keys look real good, and it’s looking nice out on the west coast, too,” says Clyde Hensley, a seafood wholesaler from Jensen Beach.
(Knock knock, who's there? Dinner)
UberEATS expands: Move over Delivery Dudes and GrubHub, the UberEATS app-based delivery service expanded in Broward this week and now includes Fort Lauderdale, Oakland Park and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Uber branched into the food game in Miami-Dade and South Broward earlier this year. Among the 70 participating Fort Lauderdale restaurants: Tap 42, The Whole Enchilada and Angelo Elia Pizza. UberEATS adds a $4.99 fee to orders (no tipping required), but you can get $5 off your first five deliveries through Nov. 1 by using promo code LETSEATFLL.
(Oktoberfest and more as high season begins)
Festivals for the rest of us: Oktoberfest celebrations are winding down, but fret not. Other food festivals and events abound. The South Beach Seafood Festival runs Oct. 20 through Oct. 22, with the main event on Saturday, an all-day affair on the beach featuring food and beverage tents and music. Also this Saturday, the Taste of Tamarac will be held at the Tamarac Community Center, 8601 W. Commercial Blvd., with 25 eateries taking part. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids. And mark your calendars for two big November events: The Seed Food and Wine Festival, Nov. 2 through Nov. 5, will be a vegan and vegetarian's delight in Miami Beach and Wynwood, featuring 130 exhibitors and more than 40 chefs who specialize in plant-based cuisine. And for carnivores, former Dolphins linebacker John Offerdahl hosts his annual Gridiron Grill-Off on Nov. 12 at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater. As an appetizer, this Friday (Oct. 21) at 6:30 p.m., Offerdahl and ex-Dolphin Channing Crowder will host a Publix Apron's Cooking Class in Plantation, 1181 S. University Drive. The $110 class fee will include a VIP ticket to the grill-off, which normally goes for $125. Tickets can be purchased from the event website.
The other Decision 2016: Voting continues for the 2016 Best Of, SouthFlorida.com’s annual survey of the area’s best dining and entertainment venues. You have until Oct. 28 to select a favorite at SouthFlorida.com/BestOf. Winners will be announced Nov. 17.
(KYU-dos for all-around excellence)
KYU scores my first four-star rating: It only took me 27 tries, but I finally have a four-star review to call my own. KYU, in the artsy Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, is everything a restaurant should be: fine dining and professional service without the fuss, formality or pretense. The name is pronounced "cue", as in "barbecue," because the restaurant features goodies grilled and smoked with Florida oak, but the Asian-inspired cuisine is refined. Says chef-owner Michael Lewis, "We wanted to have an affordable neighborhood place, and we really wanted to play with that family style of eating. Everything is meant to be shared. We like to see people reaching out, grabbing, dipping and dunking."
Question of the week: Not so much a question but a rebuke from reader Benita Ross, who wondered why in a recent roundup of pizza restaurants I included a regional chain that serves sodas in plastic bottles and allegedly does not recycle. "When you review a restaurant, one of your criteria should be how environmentally conscious they are," she writes. For starters, it was a roundup, not a formal review. Second, I'm all for saving the planet, and I will mention laudable eco-conscious behavior in reviews when warranted, such as KYU's high-tech composter and tree-planting efforts. But, at this point, I think the world has bigger problems than a few more plastic bottles ending up in a landfill (see: kayaking on Las Olas this week). So I'll hold the sanctimony and keep the focus of critiques on food, service, atmosphere and value, not whether a restaurant has switched to LED lighting.
(Mario makes his mark at Obama's last state dinner)
Quote of the week: “[The Obamas] are some of my favorite people on the whole planet, and they’re asking me to cook for the final state dinner of the presidency, and, oh, by the way, it’s the Italians who are coming? It doesn’t get better.” Chef Mario Batali in the New York Times, on preparing the last state dinner of the Obama era Tuesday (in his signature orange Crocs, of course) for Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Got a restaurant tip or dining beef? Reach me at email@example.com or 954-356-4508. Don’t troll me, but feel free to roast or flambeé me on Twitter: @heymikemayo, and follow my food adventures on Instagram: @mikemayoeats.
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Stay hungry, my friends.Copyright © 2016, South Florida