Pi-Ri-Pi! In Castellano it’s a word that “refers to a sensation of slight intoxication where reality begins to seem like a dream” as Piripi’s website explains. In Miami it’s a restaurant that will make you feel this unique sensation. The name chosen by the chef embodies her entire philosophy and you will begin to understand why as soon as you walk through the Piripi door.
Enter the dimly lit restaurant and feel yourself leave reality as the Chihuly-esque chandelier dangling from the ceiling above dazzles you. Let yourself get lost in it while you dine and admire its many sea animal twists and turns.
Chef Najat Kaanache is an exceptional chef and human. “She was raised amid the natural beauty and pure simplicity of her family’s olive and wheat fields in the Spanish Pyrenees and Moroccan Atlas. Along her inspired journey through the world of gastronomy, Kaanache has worked elbow to elbow with an astounding array of master chefs and artists. Trained in legendary Michelin 3-star restaurants El Bulli, Noma, The French Laundry, Per Se and Alinea, Kaanache developed a firm conviction that food is the most important connection humans have with the Earth. “
You can feel the bond she has with the ingredients through her thoughtful plates and intense dedication to ingredients. She is beyond hands on, she’s whole body in when it comes to the quality of every minute detail of her sanctuary. Each day she personally inspects the daily produce and fish imported from Spain. She also exercised diligent care with artistic plates and cork holders made at a pottery spot in the Keys. She was an integral part of process even bending the bowls and holders herself in the precise fashion she desired.
Sommelier Matthew expertly guided us through the meal with the restaurant’s incredible selection of wines. Piripi specializes in Spanish wines with a collection ranging from rare wines to affordable under $60 bottles.
We started with a Cheese Plate accompanied by slightly toasted Zak the Baker’s bread drizzled with premium olive oil. It included an assortment of Spanish cheeses, orange & fig chutney, as well as mixed toasted nuts. Besides Zak’s bread (after tasting the bread she just had to have it!) everything on this plate came from Spain.
Next came the Seta Salteadas, wild mushrooms imported daily from Spain drenched in a sauce of txakoli wine, idiazabal cheese and a celestial mushroom puree with garlic and Parmesean. These mushrooms are magnificent with a captivating flavor and the perfect amount of garlic. The mushrooms are so tender that you will think you are eating meat.
The Bacalao a Pil Pil was my favorite dish of the night. It was Basque cod wrapped in warm peppers stuffed with garlic and spiced with curry. It felt like a modern take on an old family recipe. Having visited San Sebastian almost 10 years ago, I vaguely remember the salted air and the gray skies. This dish made me reminisce and wonder if she was homesick for her Northern Spanish city.
One of Piripi’s specialties is their diverse Paella options made like the dish is intended to be. The Meloso con Bogavante version comprised of lobster and prawns comes together lusciously with a rich and intense taste. This is like no other paella you have had before, but is as authentic as you can get outside the borders of Spain.
Dessert was enchanting with a multilayered and textured chocolate and hazelnut concoction. The cookie crumbles, ice cream and different versions of chocolate created a rich yet light experience. I felt a hint of innocence and nostalgia as the chef takes you back to her scrumptious childhood.
Piripi exudes this whimsical and magical feeling that takes you out of Miami and into Spain. On this delightful journey you will experience authentic and fresh cuisine from a caring and Three Star Michelin trained extraordinary chef. Live long and Piripi!