By Danny Brody
A great man once said, "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig." So I took up that challenge and took it one step further. If you put lipstick on a piece of pig meat, I wondered, would it still be bacon? Two places that have stepped up to the plate when it comes to bacon-and-eggs are Neomi’s Grill in the Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles and Enriqueta’s in Wynwood. When the grimy Enriqueta’s, a falling-down shack with peeling paint and a dozen cop cars in the parking lot, decided to remodel, I thought to myself, are they just putting lipstick on the lechon? Will they be able to retain their downhome Cuban country cookin’ in a spiffed-up atmosphere of fresh paint and clean bathrooms? The answer is yes, and even though the price of one of the best everything-breakfasts in town has risen dramatically to $4.69, the snappy service and the mix-it-yourself cafe con leche still rouse more City of Miami employees than Katherine Fernandez Rundle. This a Cuban diner, and people start ordering daily specials like vaca frita (fried shredded beef) at 11 a.m. That’s when the bacon and eggs go up to $6. Still, if you’re just waking up, it’s worth the extra $1.31 for the fresh eggs any style, crispy bacon and all the trimmings.
At Neomi’s, where the goals are a little loftier than jut feeding your face, chefs Chad Galiano and Kurtis Jantz have come up with a once-a-month "molecular gastronomy" tasting called Paradigm, which also has a special price of $89 for ten courses. So the "eggs-and-bacon" dish they serve would still work out to a reasonable $8.90 or so. Here, the look and texture — the scientificity, if you will — of each dish, is presented to each diner in an entertaining and informative format. With the very likable and enthusiastic Chad and Kurtis throwing out a greatest hits of acclaimed chefs Ferran Adria and Michel Richard items, it can get a bit confusing. However, that kind of seems to be the point. Well, at least we’re all in on the joke (aren’t we?). In fact, the eggs and bacon are a riff on both Adria and Richard, with the egg being cooked for three hours at exactly 61 degrees celsius (Adria). You probably can’t do this at home. The egg has a different texture than your average soft-boiled egg, more custardy perhaps, but not much different in flavor. There’s Iberico ham, dried and crisped, and a tiny potato disc that is created by rolling up cooked potatoes into a tube, chilling the tube, then cutting off super-thin slices on an electric meat slicer before crisping (Richard). It’s a chip, more or less.
Can this replace your breakfast bacon-and-eggs? Can one’s stomach survive on mere whimsy? Perhaps there’s room for both nourishment and wonder. In the meantime, may I borrow your lipstick?
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