LIV­ING IS EASY

GROVE BAY HOS­PI­TAL­ITY JOINS FORCES WITH GOLF ICON ERNIE ELS TO BRING SOUTH AFRICAN CUI­SINE AND THE BIG EASY TO BRICK­ELL CITY CEN­TRE.

Ocean Drive - - Contents - BY CARLA TOR­RES

Grove Bay Hos­pi­tal­ity joins forces with golf icon Ernie Els to bring South African cui­sine and The Big Easy to Brick­ell City Cen­tre.

South African pro golfer Ernie Els is easy to love—hence his nick­name “The Big Easy”—due to his im­pos­ing phys­i­cal stature and fluid swing. So when the for­mer world num­ber one turned-wine maker-turned restau­ra­teur launched his first wine bar and grill, The Big Easy was a nat­u­ral moniker choice, es­pe­cially given that it, too, is easy to love.

After all, what is there to dis­like about pork belly pop­si­cles doused in South African mango braai (bar­be­cue) sauce and jalapeño jam “cow­boy candy,” fried green to­ma­toes crowned with tomato chut­ney and fried morsels of more pork belly and ba­con jam, or a four-hour-braised lamb shank served in a bread bowl? “That dish has rich his­tory dat­ing back to the 1960s, when Bunny Chow [a South African street rice bowl com­monly made with beans and chicken] was the stan­dard blue-col­lar lunch for South Africans,” says Ex­ec­u­tive Chef Maryna Fred­erik­sen, re­flect­ing on her own her­itage. “We have el­e­vated the bowl with a lamb shank and bread. A lot of love and work goes into it.”

Prior to land­ing in the kitchen at The Big Easy—which boasts two lo­ca­tions in South Africa, one in Dubai, and the newly opened spot in Mi­ami, with

an­other soon to come in Malaysia— Fred­erik­sen honed her culi­nary skills all across the globe, from Switzer­land to San Fran­cisco to South Africa and even Walt Dis­ney World. But the chef feels most at home when she’s cook­ing the food she grew up eating, giv­ing it her own unique and fla­vor­ful spin. Think an amal­ga­ma­tion of Malaysian, In­dian, and Euro­pean cul­tures with a dash of Nuevo Latino pep­pered in.

This be­ing The Big Easy’s de­but in the West­ern Hemi­sphere, Grove Bay Hos­pi­tal­ity (the group be­hind Glass & Vine and Stiltsville Fish Bar), Ernie Els, and chef Fred­erik­sen wanted to make the menu ap­pro­pri­ate for Mi­ami. What bet­ter than chili-cof­fee-rubbed pork flat­bread topped with sea­sonal ap­ples?

“South Africa is the Texas of Africa. They like to shoot things, bar­be­cue, and drink a lot of wine,” Fred­erik­sen laughs. But it’s not all bar­be­cue and wine— though the grill of­fers plenty of cuts, from prime dry-aged Kansas City strip and bi­son rib eye to the mother of all steaks, a 40-ounce dry-aged tom­a­hawk chop, while an ex­ten­sive wine list fea­tures multi-award-win­ning blends from Els’s own vine­yard. There’s also a bounty of seafood: African spice-crusted corv­ina served over risotto verde; grilled Nige­rian prawns doused in gar­lic but­ter and peri-peri chili sauce; and a Cape Malay seafood pot chock­ful of PEI mus­sels, prawns, and the day’s fresh catch swim­ming in a pi­quant co­conut curry broth. Sides, too, abound and are not to be for­got­ten, like Brussels sprouts with ba­con mar­malade and roasted cau­li­flower with tahini and sumac.

But go easy on the sa­vory fare, as you’ll want to go hard on dessert. And by dessert, we mean all the desserts: Who can re­sist Nutella and salted caramel bread pud­ding, a Cape-dutch ver­sion of a tres leches cake, malva pud­ding with Amarula crème anglaise, or a Kahlua, whiskey, and vanilla ice cream milk­shake? Liv­ing is easy with boozy ice cream milk­shakes. Brick­ell City Cen­tre, 701 S. Mi­ami Ave., Mi­ami, 786-814-5955; bigeasymi­ami.com

“SOUTH AFRICA IS THE TEXAS OF AFRICA. THEY LIKE TO SHOOT THINGS, BAR­BE­CUE, AND DRINK A LOT OF WINE.” —MARYNA FRED­ERIK­SEN

Chef’s se­lec­tion: Peri-peri chicken with duck-fa­troasted fin­ger­ling pota­toes at The Big Easy.

The din­ing room is at once ca­sual and cos­mopoli­tan, re­flect­ing The Big Easy’s worldly menu.

South African-born Ex­ec­u­tive Chef Maryna Fred­erik­sen cooks the food she grew up eating, in­cor­po­rat­ing In­dian, Malaysian, Euro­pean, and Nuevo Latino fla­vors. right: The Big Easy Burger with onion jam, braai “bar­be­cue” sauce, and hand-cut fries.

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