I wrote and rewrote this paragraph four times (Can you see the groove the delete key has made?), and each time I failed to capture just exactly what I want to say. So, at the risk of sounding like an infatuated, love-struck married woman, I’m just gonna put it out there:

Chef Kurtis Jantz: honey, you’re a tease.

On a Mexican beach last year, I met Chef K of the Trump International Beach Resort in Miami. But before you start imagining things, it was a business-ish trip to the Club Med Food and Wine Festival; my husband knew I was there; and if I really was bad, WOULD I TELL YOU ABOUT IT???



Cannellini Bean Spread Recipe

I’m used to classifying chefs by the food they specialize in: Italian, German, Sushi, etc. With Chef K, I stuck a mental sticky label on him as an upscale, frou frou chef. I mean, Trump International Beach Resort? Like I could ever afford that.

We sat down for dinner and he brought out a basket of fresh bread and a ramekin of the most fabulous garlicky, creamy spread. Rare, expensive foie gras from a beer-fed, hand-massaged goose? Freshly uncovered truffle shavings? Smoked roe from some fancy fish found only in the rainforests of Pakistan? Come on, Chef, gimme the secret!

“Beans. Cannellini. You can use canned if you want.”

OK, so I misread the guy. But then every dish that came after the “Beans. Cannellini.” was like, wow, how did you do that? A crab cake that looked like a crab cake, but puff! It was really made out of foam! A flexible, translucent, thin gel was made out of white chocolate. Chef K’s chicken noodles were out of this world. The noodles were made out of concentrated chicken broth and gelatin, squeezed out of a syringe. Cool.

He’s part mad scientist (In his recipes, he refers to water as “H2O,” and his kitchen has more medical and scientific equipment than a doctor’s office) and part just ordinary. He’s a down-to-earth guy who just knows good food. You can read about their kitchen adventures at Sous Chef Chad’s popular blog, Chadzilla.

If you happen to be in the Miami area, I totally recommend eating at Neomi’s restaurant inside the Trump Resort in Sunny Isles. Contrary to what I thought, the meal is a steal. On Fridays, when they have their special Paradigm Test Kitchen menu, it’s $85 for a 10-course meal. And they only allow 10 people to participate in that special dinner (the rest of the restaurant is open for regular dinners, but if you’re going to Trump, why be regular?) You’ll experience Chef K’s team of mad scientists’ creations.

When I brought my husband and friends to Neomi’s a couple of months ago, we gave Chef K, Chef Chad and pastry Chef Fabian a standing ovation at the end of the meal.

Truly magnificent.

And yeah, I know that one of my “Good Intentions” for 2009 was to eat out less and here I am telling you drive to Miami to dine. My response? The same as all of my other excuses to break New Year’s resolutions: “But this is different!” or “Just this once.”

Or I could be a really good girl and just give you Chef K’s recipe for his “Beans. Cannellini.” spread.

Kurtis boils dried cannellini beans for the recipe, but I’ve found that the canned stuff is 1) just as good; 2) doesn’t require hours of soaking; and 3) is easy to store in my pantry for last-minute prep. Make sure you drain the beans first, rinse them in cool water to refresh, and drain again. This spread is great on slices of baguette or pita triangles. Add more olive oil, puree to a thinner consistency and it becomes my kids’ favorite dip for carrots and celery.

Cannellini Bean Spread Recipe

Recipe from Chef Kurtis Jantz of Trump International Beach Resort in Miami

4 ounces olive oil, good quality
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 roma tomatoes, small, diced
15.5-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 ounce parsley leaves, rough chopped
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper, fresh-ground, to taste

In a medium, tall-sided sauce pot, add olive oil and heat on high until just below the smoking point. Remove from the heat and carefully add minced garlic. As soon as you smell the aromatics of the garlic (you do not want the garlic to get overly brown), add the tomatoes and stir well. Return pot to the stove over medium heat and add cannellini beans. Simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from stove, and let cool slightly. Fold in parsley. Using blender or food processor, pulse blend just until the beans are broken up but not pureed, leaving some texture. You can add more olive oil to the mixture if you like it thinner. Cool to room temperature and serve.