World traveler Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods America, got a taste of Miami’s multicultural city by mingling with local insiders in an episode airing 9 p.m. on The Travel Channel.
Since Zimmern is used to eating worms and snails, SoFla staple El Palacio De Los Jugos must have been paradiso. His dining partner in crime: Michelle Bernstein. The two chefs sampled authentic Cuban dishes at the bustling Flagler restaurant — and last time we checked we didn’t see anything crawling on the menu.
More familiar faces you may spot on the show: The Miami Herald’s “Scene in the Tropics” writer Lesley Abravanel, who was lucky enough to appear in one of the segments at Red, the Steakhouse, where they tried a signature delicacy.
“I’ve seen my fair share of impressive celebrities down here, but Andrew Zimmern is, just like the monolithic crab we ate, of a rare breed,’’ said Abravanel. “There’s no BS with him. Bull testicles, maybe, but no BS. I was honored to have had the chance to watch him in action and opine on the oft-indulgent South Beach dining scene, one which even seemed to impress him.”
Zimmern did hit SoBe for a night of partying — with impresario Nicola Siervo, from W South Beach and Quattro. The guys started out at Andrew Carmellini’s The Dutch, where Zimmern and Siervo munched on roots-inspired dishes like the watermelon jalapeño hamachi.
The native New Yorker tried out other fancy spots like Joe’s Stone Crab and Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, cooking with owner Michael Schwartz.
If the Z-man had to pick one, his favorite place would have to be the relatively unknown Nicaraguan restaurant Fritanga Montelimar, in South Miami. “Their Nacatamales [steamed corncakes] were the best I’ve ever tried,” he raved.
The worst experience wasn’t food related: “It was leaving WALL nightclub after getting a few shots of the insanely appealing Miami nightlife world. It was 1:30 a.m., a hundred of the prettiest girls in the world were pawing me, and my crew had to pull me out of there,’’ he explained. “I kind of felt like Galahad the Pure in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. ‘I don’t need rescuing!’ But I did, for sure.”
In terms of bizarre, what did our fine city have to offer? The “stunningly delicious” monstera fruit at Azul at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Miami did the trick.
“It’s one of my top five favorite fruits,” said the palate expert. “But if it’s even six hours on the wrong side of ripe, it contains little shards of sand that feels like glass chips. It’s crazy and I loved it.”