Order the flan.
But don’t ask what’s in it.
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If you ask what’s in it, the server at Ariete is going to tell you, and then you’re probably going to turn up your nose one of the best-tasting desserts in the city.
This happens every time a diner wants to know about the secret ingredient that makes chef Mike Beltran’s flan so different from all the other sweet flans you’ve had.
The ingredient is candy cap mushrooms.
“I ate this ice cream sandwich and it was incredible. I was like, ‘I didn’t know why I love this so much, but I love it,’ ” Beltran said.
OK, Beltran finally asked, what’s in this?
His friend came back from the kitchen with a vacuum-sealed clear plastic package and dropped it in front of Beltran. He cut the bag open and there, sitting on the table in front of him, was a bag of dried, auburn-brown mushrooms.
“It blew my mind,” Beltran said.
But get down into the mushrooms, bring a handful to your nose, and its rich, earthy scent is undeniable. It’s both sweet and pungent, a mushroom in a scented disguise.
To prepare the flan he lightly toasts the candy caps, pulverizes them, then adds them to the flan’s custard base (along with a touch of cream cheese for consistency) where their maple haze comes into full bloom. He strains out any pieces, leaving only the slightest flecks as trace evidence.
He serves it with sambuca crema (creme fraiche with sambuca liquor — “it’s boozy,” Beltran says) and a coffee crumble. The one-pound bag of mushrooms can cost as much as $315. So, yes, this flan costs a modest $6 given the amount of technique involved.
3540 Main Hwy, Coconut Grove