Wearing a black leather jacket into the brisk midnight hour, French superchef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, with some help from a dozen hometown chefs, played "Pygmalion" with Miami's favorite finger food, transforming croquetas from comfort food to classy by stuffing the deep-fried discs with pulled pork, salt cod, Buffalo chicken and bourbon cheddar cheese, among other exotic fillings. Don't tell abuela, but they even shaved black truffles on top.
Vongerichten with chefs from his One & Only Club resort restaurants in the Bahamas and Mexico.
Our Grade: B (Would go back next year, with improvements)
What worked: Plentiful croquetas paired well with free-flowing Henriot champagne. (Who knew?) Latin rock by Suenalo livened up the fashionable Palm Court setting.
What didn't work: How many croquetas can you eat without feeling like you've just been dipped into a fat fryer?
Best thing we ate: Stone crab croquetas with corn cream filling and chipotle aioli from Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Matador Room.
Matador sous chef Harry Capacetti with Matador chef de cuisine (and Top Chef contestant) Jeremy Ford.
Quote of the night: "This is the best thing you'll put in your mouth all night. No? OK, the second-best thing." -- Tucker Duke's owner-chef Brian Cartenuto as he offered a spectacular croqueta ball filled with hot bourbon cheddar cheese in a penny-side puddle of pepper jelly vinaigrette with micro radishes and black salt.
Magic City Pizza's "Abuela's Homemade Flan" attracting midnight snackers.
Craziest thing we saw: Our favorite Miami lunch-counter window replaced by Fendi, Cartier and Piaget as the backdrop for a croqueta snack.
BY JODI MAILANDER FARRELL | firstname.lastname@example.org