Brazil Comes to Tuyo for this week’s Miami Spice

Yesterday I forgot to take something out of the freezer to prepare for dinner last night. What to do?

How about Tuyo, a fusion restaurant on the top floor of the Miami Dade College’s Miami Culinary Institute just a few steps from our downtown condo? I have wanted to treat my daughter to dinner here ever since my first visit last month.

Sasha cheerfully took our last minute reservations, and we arrived in time to meet Chef John Roberts on the front steps. After being escorted to the eighth floor dining room, we looked over the current menu which changes seasonally. As much as possible, Tuyo uses organically grown and/or locally sourced ingredients in all of its dishes. We could not resist the Miami Spice menu, though. I also decided to include the optional wine pairing. In the interests of full disclosure, I am not a wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination, which is exactly why I like the wine pairing feature at Tuyo.

After ordering our selections, we were served warm crusty rolls and the amuse-bouche – a delicate lobster croquette topped with a key lime sauce. Next, we both had the African adobo rubbed tuna and avocado salsita served over thinly sliced cucumbers. At first, I was disappointed that the tuna seemed a bit bland… then the after-bite kicked in. The spice rub was not at all over-powering but it had just enough kick to make it a good complement to the avocado salsita. The appetizer was served with an Italian wine – “Firriato, Grillo Altavilla Della Corte, 2009.” Not only was the selection a nice accompaniment for the dish, it was a perfect wine for me, a light white wine that was slightly fruity without being too sweet.

For the main course, my daughter ordered the “Coconut Milk Stew ‘Vatapá’ with Shrimp, Grouper, Cashews, Citrus and Cilantro” which was served over rice. Not being very talkative, she did not give me much of a description other than “yum.” She was clearly too busy eating every last bite.

I ordered the Churrasco de São Paulo a la Parilla with Chimichurri Rojo and oh my goodness was it ever delicious! It was cooked to perfection and for a cut of beef that is often on the tough side, it practically melted in my mouth. The flavor was fabulous, too. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I asked our waiter and he confirmed that I was enjoying organic grass-fed beef. Without a doubt, healthier tastes better!

The wine accompanying this course was “Owen Roe, Sinister Hand, Grenache, Washington State, 2009.” As I warned earlier, I wouldn’t know a Merlot from a Cabernet, but I can tell you that the Grenache was delish. We also had a good giggle over the label, which naturally includes a drawing of a creepy-looking hand. (I know what wine I will be serving at my October party.)

One of my daughter’s favorite sweets in flan; mine is anything with dark chocolate. Needless to say the desserts were perfection: a simple flan on a caramel sauce garnished with a bit of crisp coconut, served with two Brazilian coconut “Kisses” on a side plate.

Tuyo is not an inexpensive restaurant. Even with the reduced prices for the Miami Spice menu, it was a bit over $120 for the two of us. But given the impeccable service, the lovely atmosphere and the quality organic ingredients, I think it was well worth it. In fact, I may even “forget” to defrost something for dinner again next week so we can see what Executive Chef Norman Van Aken has cooked up for the last two weeks of Miami Spice!

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