The queens of milanesa in Miami: two sisters from Santa Fe stand out with homemade Argentine delicacies in an exclusive district

The queens of milanesa in Miami: two sisters from Santa Fe stand out with homemade Argentine delicacies in an exclusive district

Miami is a dish that tempts with all the flavors. With the arrogance of someone who has what, the location is presented as a mix of designs by the daring Alexander McQueen: chameleonic, electrifying, surprising. Its limits have no horizon. Embedded in this voracity, finding the sophisticated hiding place that cradles that turbulence for a while and allows you to bet on the mindfulness of enjoyment in the here and now can lead to frustration.

But, for those who do know, it arises Bay Harbor Islandsa kind of secret for few, a dead calm right in the middle of the fervent coming and going from South Beach to the northern beaches. Usual passage to go elsewhere, the shrewd one who makes a stop, finds himself with a concise archipelago of two small islands linked to each other. Are Broadview and Bay Harbor. The first island to the west, is the residential redoubt with a community with the spirit of the Tigre Delta, with other amounts in the bank: houses with a garage on one front and a boat on the other, supine calm, the breeze that can be read in the water with the waves hitting low, made by butterfly wings. Bahía Harbor, to the east, is the commercial district, that of the apartments and the site crossed by a two-way avenue that alternately becomes a bridge and a street.

Josefina and Paula already have a new location for another opening and are looking for a third place
Josefina and Paula already have a new location for another opening and are looking for a third place

That’s the corner they came to Josephine and Paula. Her parents had emigrated in 2001. They went on vacation there every year. Paula and her husband worked in a bank in Rosario. They were parents and in 2015, the hinge was her 8-month-old baby: she was all set to bet on another destination. His job continuity opportunity gave them the accolade. “Knowing that we were coming with the residency was a big step -says Paula-. We really liked living in Miami, but we had always experienced it on vacation and living is something totally different. We came to start from scratch, it was a change of life”. They began staying at their parents’ house until they understood the new dynamic. The beginnings were very cautious. Paula remembers to spend the bare minimum.

While her husband settled down, she began to concoct what is now Coffee Break Enjoya cool, modern place that opens from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and has become the Florida classic if you want to eat Argentine food. From potato cake to milanesascornstarch alfajores to flan with dulce de leche. “Argentines especially come to eat, wherever they stop in the city, on their way to Orlando or arriving from Aventura or South Beach,” says Paula.

Josefina and Paula had a picnic 7 years ago one afternoon in a place near Doral. It was an Argentine site and they liked the concept. “Right there we began to dream of this idea,” recalls Paula. They had no gastronomic experience of porte. “My dad had a restaurant at some point in Argentina as a hobby -she continues-. While I was in high school I worked there as a waitress. Always, from girls to my sister and I, they instilled in us the passion for work, that everything is achieved with effort. So, we were used to socializing and providing service.”

The idea did not remain in the chat over coffee. They started throwing ideas… a little cafe, a bakery… They were still not very sure how to start a gastronomic project in Miami, so they decided to track down a business that was working and that they could acquire. “We investigated local portals and found a French bakery on Bay Harbor Island. It was close to the beach and where we lived”, he recalls. The latter was a key piece of information “here the distances are great and we considered ourselves very lucky to find a place close to our homes”. They decided to visit the place. The owner was French and only spoke his native language. Negotiations began with the Google translator involved. He had it for sale. They liked him. They gathered all the savings from what they had sold in Argentina before leaving and bet on their dream.

“We started with few changes in the premises -explains Paula- we painted it a little, we changed some decorative details so that it had a slightly warmer style as we liked”. His start was half blind. “We were learning from the clients -she continues- she about what they were asking us. We went looking for suppliers. When you are very new, they don’t give you credit or open your accounts, so at that time, with my second daughter who was barely 2 and a half months old, I got up at 5:30 in the morning, I went to do the shopping, I arrived with everything and put on my apron”. It was a stage of efforts and learning.

The queens of the milanesa, and other Argentine delicacies, in Miami
The queens of the milanesa, and other Argentine delicacies, in Miami

By then the place was attended by Paula and her sister-in-law. They had only one person hired in the kitchen. “It was very step-by-step,” she recalls, “from understanding how the locals drank coffee and what they called it, to the right balance to smartly adding sandwiches to the menu.” With the cook they made a menu. Every step was submitted to the appreciation of the clients who, according to Paula, were a bible of knowledge that allowed them to make each advance without falling into error. “Essentially we put desire and passion, and always with the essential background of providing service.” They opened Coffee just 15 days after buying it.

The queens of the milanesa, and other Argentine delicacies, in Miami
The queens of the milanesa, and other Argentine delicacies, in Miami

“Since then the evolution has been wonderful -provides Josefina, as well as being a sister, a partner-. It was hard and a lot of learning. Between us as sisters to have our own project, but without a doubt we had the effort, the desire, the passion, the love and the need for this to work. All those things together made the essentials prioritize and it ended up being a success”

After gaining the appreciation of the locals, inhabitants and passers-by from the nearby offices, they decided to attract tourists. “Although we always look at Argentines with a special desire, we bet that the visitor would feel at home -says Paula-, not only the residents here from Bay Harbor and the visitors, but also our staff and us”. After the beginning doing everything, there are now 16 people working in the enterprise. This is a point that makes them particularly proud: opening job opportunities to others who are starting the path they did in the past.

One of the beauties of Coffee is its imprint on the set. Although it seduces with that turquoise Tiffanys brushed everywhere, which invites you to sit under the colorful umbrellas on the sidewalk, or to dig in the windows and lean on a table enjoying the air conditioning if the heat explodes, the surprising thing is that in the design there is more ingenuity than money. “We thought a lot about what we would like to see in Miami that wasn’t there,” says Paula. We wanted the place to be fresh and light enough to give it avant-garde, but strong in its welcoming warmth, in such a way that it made you want to come and eat an alfajorcito in passing, even a homemade dish in the background to recharge energy”.

They bet on a careful site, which emits very good energy. As they grew they gave it their touch between romantic and huggy, with a shabby chic well conceptualized. Posters with inspired messages, small details that you can discover the tenth time you go and wonder if that was indeed there before. “We have fun fixing it little by little, changing some things, but always keeping the warmth”, completes Josefina. At the time of defining the letter they faced the ignorance of the local tastes.

The queens of the milanesa, and other Argentine delicacies, in Miami
The queens of the milanesa, and other Argentine delicacies, in Miami

Although Miami is synonymous with diversity, they had decided to put an Argentine stamp on it. “Above all with homemade food and fresh things -continues Paula-. Two traditions that are typical in the houses of our childhood. That dish that comes from grandmothers, that everyone waits to try and that is spooned into the pot”. At the beginning they thought of the first steps with dishes that are key in Miami: Greek salad and Caesar, but they brought many Argentine things such as empanadas, milanese, typical cakes, cornstarch alfajor, potato tortilla, cakes. They did not stop listening to the needs of their public and added gluten-free products, vegan options, vegetable juices.

In addition to being coquettish and that unmissable “none’s kitchen” flavor, they wanted it to be a place capable of receiving everyone economically: “If you want to have lunch for three dollars, with us you can –Paula says. From something small, to a good plate of food, healthy things, and also the option of eating a good portion of cake, but as long as in each of our products you see that homemade and fresh imprint that makes you feel eating at home. ”. Today the site is from within, more cosmopolitan: the chef is Venezuelan and they also work with an Argentine and a Cuban cook. “We like that because each one brings the richest and most typical things from their place and we all learn from each other,” completes Josefina. Even the girls’ mom cooks up some daily specials. “You can find potato cake or cannelloni – Paula continues -. We try to ensure that the Argentine who is here, whether a tourist or an inhabitant, has the possibility of coming and remembering his mother’s food”.

The proposal is wide and tasty, and those who want can have lunch for three dollars
The proposal is wide and tasty, and those who want can have lunch for three dollars

Romina, the third sister, has her own patisserie business, and is the one who provides Coffee with sweets. “You can come and eat an authentic chocotorta, a ricotta cheesecake, a cornstarch alfajor, a rogel just like in Almagro,” says Josefina. They have also adapted typical local proposals, such as carrot cake (carrot cake) and banana pudding. “Argentines look for Argentine places when we travel -explains Paula-. And we have a large Argentine public, people who live here and many who come for a walk or who travel often for work. We have become a classic for them”. When the croissants run out, you know that more Argentines have arrived. Paula and Josefina are in charge of establishing ties, sitting at the tables and talking.

The mother of the girls is the soul on weekends, “there is no Monday when I go back to work and someone doesn’t ask me if the blonde lady who walked by the tables was my mother,” says Paula. She tells her stories to clients, and they share theirs.”

Crispy Milanese like Grandma María Antonia's
Crispy Milanese like Grandma María Antonia’s

what’s coming is a new bet, this time in Brickell, the downtown site that is becoming fashionable. Meanwhile, they are looking for a third location, but for now undefined. At the same time, they opened the catering service. The star is, without a doubt, the beloved Milaneseto which customers come to demand from all over the city. You sink your teeth into it and it creaks like Grandma Maria Antonia’s. Just like home, just the way the girls like it to be.