Stuzzikini – Marbella

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 If you’re looking for real Italian, this is it. You cannot get any better than the homemade cuisine served at this cozy eatery located in the heart of Marbella’s old town. Stuzzikini offers a  unique menu comprising of mainly Sardinian dishes with some interesting Piedmontese favorites like the raviolini del plin – a beef ragout ravioli served in  a delicate beef reduction  made with butter, sage and aged Parmesan. stuzz2

The bucatini carbonara here is the real deal, no cream, just fresh eggs and a generous touch of pork cheek bits that give it a slight saltiness and crunch – divine!   Appetizers like the Fregula Sarda – clams and mussels with minute pasta balls in a saffron garlic and white wine reduction or  another Piedmontese favorite -vitello tonnato – thin veal slices smothered in a tuna and mayo sauce were absolute pleasers.stuzz3

Aside from a great wine list, the desert options were varied and light.  Just like everything else on the menu, the final touches to our meal were all homemade:  from the rich yet  light tiramisu, the creamy ginger  panna cotta with citrus coulis to the tiny cream filled profiteroles  covered in melted chocolate. If you want to be in for a true Italian treat, Stuzzikini is it!stuzz6

Stuzzikini

C/ Alderete 5

Casco Antiguo

Marbella

Tel. 952 775 994

http://www.stuzzikini.com

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Azul – Mandarin Oriental – Miami, Florida

vichisoisseAfter an extensive renovation in 2013, Azul has re-emerged as a sophisticated and undeniably interesting restaurant that serves an innovative fusion of French and Asian cuisine. With Executive chef William R. Crandall at the helm, eating at Azul has become a truly exciting experience, leaving any of the old hype about pretentious hotel restaurants behind.

When I first visited Azul back in 2004, the only memory I took with me was that of a great cocktail and an astronomical bill. I honestly cannot remember what I ate, and I can assure you, I only had one drink. The meal just wasn’t anything to write home about.

This time the experience was rather different. Not just because I opted for the Miami Spice menu for $39, offered every year in August and September to promote local restaurants, but because what I ate was truly delicious and different. And I honestly wouldn’t mind paying more!

I often stay away from special menus because I don’t like to be told what to eat….got enough of that while growing up. But, I was pleasantly surprised by the great options on this particular one with beginners such as vichyssoise, steak tartare and tomato salad. A great variety of entrees like salmon, risotto or pork belly were very tempting and so were desserts like the passion fruit crème brûlée, the Meyer lemon sable and the chocolate pecan financier.

On this balmy September night, the vichyssoise was in order. This one, was made with beetroot dotted with bits of lobster meat, a creative touch that added a salty contrast to the sweet creamy chilled soup garnished with thin tangy green apple sticks.azulrisotto

For the main course, I opted for the celeriac and pink shrimp risotto made with tiny bits of diced celeriac that gave it a nice bite. Velvety and light, a perfect alternative to the sometimes heavy arborio rice! azuldessert

This time, I must say that dessert was welcome. I don’t usually order any but who could turn down a passion fruit creme brûlée garnished with white chocolate sorbet and fresh chunks of pineapple? An ever so light custard combined with just the right amount of creamy sorbet to take you to heaven for a moment. Maybe, that’s why it’s called Azul – blue – like the sky, because you could say that the food has been elevated to new heights. What can I say? I really enjoyed this meal and can’t wait to go back!

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Mandarin Oriental Hotel

500 Brickell Key Drive 33131

Tel: (305) 913-8358