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Miami’s Balloo is a deeply personal tribute to the chef’s Chinese, Indian, and Trinidadian roots

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The Ingraham Building has seen
things. Back in the summer of 1926, a few months before Schutlz and Weaver—architects
of the social climbing hothouses like The Biltmore in Asheville, N.C. and The Breakers
in Palm Beach, Fla.—completed the downtown Miami tower, a ferocious storm swept
in from the Caribbean. This was before the hurricanes had names, which is how
this one came to be known simply, menacingly as the Big Blow. Rising 13 stories
above the floodwaters, the Ingraham Building survived, but the storm shredded
Miami like a piñata. It also fast-tracked the collapse of the rapacious
real estate boom
that created South Florida as we know it.

Over the following century, the Ingraham
Building would observe downtown’s shifting fortunes, from after-dark ghost town
to speculator darling and back
again
as South Florida reprised its role as the canary in the condominium
coal mine. A decade-plus removed from the recession, downtown is up again.
“Everything is happening away from the beach,” a Miami friend tells me as we’re
served a peachy skin-contact Slovenian number at Balloo, a tiny
Caribbean restaurant glowing like some Burtonian netherworld at the end of a
desolate white hallway in Ingraham Building’s ground floor.

Chef Timon Balloo
Michael Pissari Photography

Loops and splinters of turquoise
neon spell out “Balloo” at the corridor’s terminus, beckoning diners forth.
This is the name of the improbable, 21-seat restaurant as well at the name of
its chef and owner, Timon Balloo, whom locals know from Sugarcane, the
mojito-slinging Midtown Miami mint with offshoots in Las Vegas and Brooklyn.
He’s still a partner there, but you can feel him putting distance when the chef
says, “The corporate Sugarcane thing is what I’m supposed to do, the adult
thing to do, and what I’m referencing like my nine-to-five. Then Balloo is my
Sunday barbecue, and you’re coming to my house.”

Piled atop perfect pigeon peas
and rice, the oxtails represent the Sundays of Balloo’s childhood growing up in
San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale with his mother, who is of Chinese and Trinidadian
descent. The dish is marinated in a classic Trini green sauce (cilantro,
celery, Scotch Bonnets, onion, and ginger); seared in a scorched pool of
caramel; then cooked under pressure until luscious, lacquered, and gelatinous
in all the right places. A salad accompanies: pickled red onions, a hemisphere
of creamy Caribbean avocado, and halved cherry tomatoes so sweet they should be
sold in the candy aisle, tied together with tamarind dressing that makes your
lips pucker and balances the richness of the beef.

This dish feels like home
cooking, and the 800-square-foot dining room looks the part, with
black-and-white family photos hanging in mismatched frames on the chartreuse and
viridian walls. Plastic floral-print covers cloak the tabletops, and a homey
red hutch functions as the service station. The only giveaway you haven’t
stumbled into a family party at somebody’s island cabin is the ceiling. Between
the woven basket lamps and ferns hanging upside-down like primordial green
bats, crackled plaster and concrete beams bear the weight of the Ingraham’s upper
floors.

Trini spiced oxtail with pigeon peas and rice, and a tomato avocado salad.
Giovanny Gutierrez

While downtown is being touted as Miami’s next great neighborhood, rents are still reasonable. A mutual friend of Balloo and his partner—cocktail wizzes Gabe Orta and Elad Zvi (of Miami Beach cocktail bar Broken Shaker, now with outposts in Los Angeles and Manhattan)—found the quirky, out-of-the-way space with baked-in Caribbean energy. At various times, the Ingraham has been home to the Consulates of Jamaica, Antigua, and the Bahamas. Meanwhile, the low financial risk let Balloo create a deeply personal restaurant, as well as begin to make peace with his estranged father.

Balloo’s parents divorced when he
was a baby. His relationship with his father was always off and on, mostly off.
“I grew up most of my life pushing away my dad’s Trinidadian and Indian culture.
I identified more with my mom’s side because it was a way for me to personally
not acknowledge him,” he says. “That’s why it’s taken me over 25 years. I had to not only find my
culinary voice, but I had to heal and learn and grow as a human to get to this
place.”

Balloo’s father died at the end of 2018. The restaurant opened a
year later. Father and son never reconciled, but putting his name on the
proverbial door was a way for the 42-year-old chef to embrace his identity. “It
wasn’t there to pay tribute or glorify him. It was more for me to just say, ‘This
is who I am.’”

The dining room of Balloo, housed inside The Ingraham Building in downtown Miami.
Giovanny Gutierrez

On the plate, who Balloo is comes
across in dishes like spicy jerk beets as red-violet as fresh big-eye, arranged
over creamy Madras curry aioli and speckled with fried garlic chips. If you’re
wondering, Do I really need to eat another beet salad? Yes, you do, but
only this one. Balloo turns something so tired into a fresh, exciting
expression.

The Sichuan-inspired cucumber
salad, meanwhile, is exactly the dish you’ve had many times before—and not a
particularly memorable version. Crunchy shredded cabbage is like packing filler
for the chunky cross-cut cukes, and the fermented chili oil is strangely modest
on the umami and heat. Cabbage finds a more suitable home later in the
meal—charred, peeled apart, and layered into a singed, smoky beehive like some
great, cruciferous Baked Alaska. There’s pork belly, too, but instead of
Lego-sized lardons, big Duplo blocks, and lots of refreshing cilantro, crushed
peanuts, and spicy, citrusy namprik dressing. It’s a brawler. The Southeast
Asian vibes nod to Balloo’s wife, Marissa, who is Thai and Colombian.

“We’re mixed, our kids are mixed,
our pantry is mixed,” Balloo says. “Any given day of the week, we go from
sancocho to dim sum. That’s how we eat.”

The Caribbean is a place of mixed
cultures—indigenous Taínos, European colonizers, African slaves, indentured
laborers from Asia—and that plays out in the islands’ cuisines and in the
cooking at Balloo. Like the beet dish, the charred calabaza references the migration
of sugar plantation workers from India with a wide crescent of common Caribbean
pumpkin fried in garam masala oil, then braised with lime juice and curry
leaves. Soft enough to eat with a spoon, the calabaza is plated up with a
scroll of buttery, chewy roti and Persian shout-outs of bitter, sour grated
black lime and thick, tangy labneh. “Mash it all up together and eat with the
roti,” my chipper server advises. Balloo compares it to hummus and pita.

Roasted curry calabaza with labneh, black lime, and fried curry leaves.
Giovanny Gutierrez

Another roti comes with the Jamaican-style curry goat (not complaining), which was not as tender as the oxtails (complaining). “At first I wanted to do it real soigné with proper cuts, but then [decided on] the true curried goat you’d get at the house,” which is stew meat mix. I think his original chef instincts were right here; going with a single cut, like the leg or shoulder, would create a more consistently tender texture. Whatever the case, the star of the dish is not the animal, but it is the aloo chana, a broth stew of soft potatoes and chickpeas brightened with cilantro and lime.

I feel similarly about the
Florida snapper, whose floured-and-fried fillets go from crisp to gummy once
sunk into steaming coconut curry jacuzzi. What a curry, though! A pounded paste
of lemongrass, galangal, garlic, and chiles suffuses fish stock (made from the
snapper skeleton) creamed out with coconut milk. Fish sauce adds a touch of
marine funk. Cilantro and Thai basil check the fat. Meanwhile the bowl bursts
with strapping bok choi, carrots, pumpkin, and fluffy, aromatic jasmine rice—snapper
who?

There’s only one dessert: a vanilla-and-peanut butter pudding that sounds neither exciting nor in tune with the rest of the menu. But then you get into it and find hidden chunks of banana that rattle you with their surprise acidity (they’re marinated in lime juice) and crushed peanut butter cookies full of salt. Smooth and balanced, the pudding is perfect wave to ride out on, down the eerie Ingraham hallway, backlit by the blue neon, into the breezy Miami night, where a storm was already brewing.

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Reeling World Economy Slammed by Dangerous Disinflationary Shock

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(Bloomberg) — The sinking global economy is suffering through a colossal disinflationary shock that could briefly push it into dangerous deflation territory for the first time in decades.With many national economies all but shutting down in an effort to contain the coronavirus, prices on everything from oil and copper to hotel rooms and restaurant take-out are tumbling.“A powerful disinflationary tide is now rising,” said Joseph Lupton, global economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co.That’s worrying because it could lengthen what may be the deepest recession since the Great Depression. Ebbing pricing power makes it harder for companies that piled on debt in the good times to meet their obligations. This could prompt them to make additional cuts in payrolls and investment or even default on their debts and go bankrupt.While weak or falling prices may seem like an unalloyed good for consumers, a widespread deflationary price decline can be deleterious for the whole economy. Households hold off buying in anticipation of ever lower prices, and companies postpone investments because they see limited profit opportunities.Even after the coronavirus crisis eases, the scars from the shutdown — elevated unemployment, shattered consumer and company confidence, and staggered returns to work — may keep price pressures in check, prompting central banks to hold interest rates at rock-bottom levels for a protracted period.“They’re at zero for at least the next two years,” Ethan Harris, head of global economic research for Bank of America Corp., said of the Federal Reserve.Monetary LargessFurther down the road, though, there’s a chance that all the monetary largess — coupled with a massive outpouring of government debt to pay for measures to fight the virus — could spawn a build-up in price pressures.“It’s possible that the response to this over the longer term could have an inflationary consequence,” former New York Federal Reserve Bank of New York President Bill Dudley told an April 2 webinar organized by Princeton University. “But in the near term, it’s very definitely on the disinflationary/deflationary side.”Lupton and his fellow JPMorgan economists forecast that their global consumer-price index will temporarily fall below its year-ago level sometime around the middle of 2020, the first time that’s happened in many decades.Much of that is due to plunging oil prices. Even with their rebound last week on reports of potential production cutbacks, they’re still down about 55% since Jan. 1.But other prices are also slipping, including for services. They have long been resistant to the downward tug that prices for internationally traded goods have been subject to, but now service-sector businesses are being slammed by the shutdowns. Lupton sees worldwide core inflation — excluding food and energy costs — falling below 1% and says there’s a risk it could stay there.Disinflationary Force“The overwhelming disinflationary force is quite large,” Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton in Chicago, told Bloomberg Radio on April 3.While industrial countries — with the exception of Japan — avoided falling into deflation in the wake of the 2008-09 financial crisis, they’re entering this one with inflation already at depressed levels.Perhaps the world’s biggest source of deflation right now is China, where producer prices registered a 0.4% decline in February compared with a year ago after rising 0.1% in January. That’s a drag on the price of goods being shipped overseas from the world’s biggest trading nation.But China isn’t the only country in pain.Chain restaurants across Japan have rolled out discount plans for takeout menus, including Yoshinoya Co., which serves bowls of beef on rice and is running a 15%-off campaign.Read more: Deflation a Real Risk for Japan, Former BOJ Economy Chief SaysThe British Retail Consortium reported on April 1 that shop prices fell 0.8% in March, the biggest decline since May 2018, following a 0.6% February drop.And in the U.S., domestic air fares plunged by an average of 14% between March 4 and March 7, according to booking site Hopper.com. Average revenue per hotel room plummeted 80% during the March 22-28 week from year-ago levels, hospitality-data firm STR reported.“In terms of our business, COVID-19 is like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” Marriott International Inc. Chief Executive Officer Arne Sorenson said in March 19 video. “For a company that’s 92 years old, that’s borne witness to the Great Depression, World War II and many other economic and global crises, that’s saying something.”Investors seem to be looking for a long period of very low inflation, according to trading in inflation-protected securities, although some analysts caution the readings may be distorted by a dash for cash.Even before the crisis, monetary-policy makers were worried inflation was too low for the good of their economies. Now they have even more reason for concern.“Deflation cannot be ruled out, but I refuse to make an estimate,” European Central Bank Governing Council member Robert Holzman said. “If deflation is due to a slump in the real economy, it will be difficult to solve this through monetary-policy instruments alone.”Some economists think it’s inflation, not deflation, that’s the problem.“What will then happen as the lock down gets lifted and recovery ensues, following a period of massive fiscal and monetary expansion?” London School of Economics Emeritus Professor Charles Goodhart and Talking Heads Macroeconomics founder Manoj Pradhan wrote for VOX on March 27. “The answer, as in the aftermath of wars, will be a surge in inflation, quite likely more than 5% and even in the order of 10% in 2021.Former chief White House economist Jason Furman said faster inflation should be welcomed, not worried about.“I don’t think we should be afraid of getting inflation,” Furman, who is now a professor at Harvard University, told Bloomberg Radio on April 2. “If we get inflation that would be good. That would be a good sign that we have adequate demand.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.



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The first American small-batch whiskey made specifically for French consumers

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When Ashley Donahey began thinking about a future producing her own bourbon whiskey, she was still gainfully employed at the State Department as an adviser to the U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues. Two Worlds Whiskey, the brand she launched this month, was still years away, but in some respects its creation was an inevitability. The former diplomat’s passion for bourbon stemmed from her Kentucky upbringing in a family whose heritage is at once intimately tied to the American Revolution and to the early days of whiskey distilling.

In 1777, the Marquis de Lafayette set sail for America to assist the American rebels in their fight for liberty. Donahey’s fifth great grandfather, William Downard, was among the rebels in Pennsylvania who went on to become victorious, thanks in part to France and the commitment of Lafayette. After moving to Kentucky after the war, Downard began distilling whiskey just as two French brothers, Jean and Louis Tarascon, had begun making a novel style of whiskey, one aged in charred oak barrels following the centuries-old tradition of aging cognac. A swift sensation among the French cognac aficionados living farther down the Ohio River in New Orleans, the new style earned the name bourbon whiskey as a nod to the French House of Bourbon—or so the legend holds.

Ashley Donahey, founder of Two Worlds Whiskey
Jesse Morgan

While it might be considered the ultimate homegrown American spirit,
bourbon’s origins are inextricably connected to France. Similarly, so were
Donahey’s family ties. During World War II, her grandfather fought along the
Normandy coast all the way to Cherbourg, where he remained until liberation. As
traumatic as wartime was, he looked back on his time living in France with
great fondness.

Growing up with such family memories was significant in leading Donahey down an academic and professional path—first studying French linguistics, then working in global diplomacy and business—that would permanently anchor her to France.

As for her hometown spirit, that affection stayed with Donahey throughout her career in Washington and became the foundation of a germinating idea. With even greater urgency following the radical shift in the U.S. administration in 2017, the idea became the catalyst for a total career change.

Two Worlds Whiskey is touted as the first “luxury” American whiskey crafted exclusively for France.
Jesse Morgan

That’s when she left behind a steady six-figure salary, moved to France (the No. 1 consumer of whiskey per capita), and enrolled in INSEEC business school to acquire the skills to launch a brand of her own. By 2018, Donahey was working as a brand ambassador for La Maison du Whiskey in Paris, traveling across France running tastings for bartenders, shop owners, and whiskey lovers. That’s when the startling realization hit: The French are well versed in whiskeys from Japan, Scotland, and Ireland, but they are virtually unaware of their country’s historic contributions to the creation and popularization of American whiskey.

“If they had any experience with bourbon, it was with entry-level mass market brands,” Donahey explains. “But they certainly didn’t know about the French ties nor did they have access to the best bottles.”

Donahey knew then that her brand would seek to reinforce the historic alliance between the U.S. and its first ally, France, and offer flavor profiles tailored to the sophisticated French palate.

Named for Lafayette, the “hero of two worlds,” Two Worlds Whiskey will produce several ranges, crafted with the help of The Spirits Group, a woman-run distilling consultancy in Louisville. La Victoire, the kickoff range launched with a preorder crowdfunding campaign, is a small-batch bourbon made from barrels of straight bourbon whiskey distilled and aged in the United States and bottled in Cognac. L’Alliance, the second range, also named for one of the three ships Lafayette sailed to reach America, will be distilled and aged in the U.S. but finished in France through secondary maturation in French wine or spirits casks.

From left: Donahey with chief barrel officer Monica Wolf and master blender Ashley Barnes.
Jesse Morgan

But it’s the third range, L’Hermione, that Donahey says makes her project completely novel. “It involves importing American whiskey distillate and doing the primary maturation in France, in French oak barrels, made by French coopers, in the South of France where the climate is similar to that of Kentucky,” she explains. “When it happens, it will be the very first French-American whiskey.”

That last range, the most ambitious arm of the project, will require
building an aging cellar in Provence and, as a result, bringing on outside
investors (thus far, the operation has been self-financed). For now, Donahey,
who is based in Paris, is working on selling the first 2,107 bottles of the
first batch—in a pandemic.

“Within 72 hours, I went from hosting a sold-out launch party at a prestigious venue in Paris, with guests flying in as far as Kentucky and Kenya, to hosting an impromptu Facebook Live in my living room,” Donahey says. “But I am grateful that I was still able to launch digitally and allow my supporters to reserve their bottles from the safety of their homes. I think everyone needs something to look forward to right now.”

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—Diary of a lockdown: What it feels like in 17 cities during the coronavirus
—How my job as a yoga studio owner has changed during the pandemic
—Will the coronavirus finally get Americans to embrace the bidet?
—Listen to Leadership Next, a Fortune podcast examining the evolving role of CEOs
Italian winemakers grapple with the coronavirus lockdown
—WATCH: Can San Francisco Be Saved?

Follow Fortune on Flipboard to stay up-to-date on the latest news and analysis.



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Food companies have 7 days to remove cargo from ports

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CARGO owners, which include major food companies, now have seven days to withdraw reefers from Manila’s congested ports before these are forfeited in favor of the government. 

Joint Administrative Order No. 20-01 dated April 2 expedites the release of refrigerated containers and dry vans that have piled up in Manila ports amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). 

The order, published in a newspaper on Sunday, included a list of  companies whose cargoes remain at the Manila ports. 

Under the order, cargo not withdrawn within the given timeframe will be considered abandoned or forfeited, and disposed of by the Bureau of Customs.

The order said that a list of reefer containers pending at ports, including the name of the consignee, will be published in government websites, social media, and leading newspapers to inform the public of the immediate need to withdraw the reefers.

“The public shall be informed that non-withdrawal within seven (7) days shall result to abandonment.”

Fastfood companies Jollibee Foods Corp. and Golden Arches Development Corp. (McDonalds Philippines) are included in the list.

Food and beverage companies San Miguel Foods, Inc.; Procter & Gamble Philippines, Inc.; The Purefoods Hormel Co., Inc.; Century Pacific Food, Inc.; Monde Nissin Corp.; Prime Pacific Foods Corp.; and Universal Robina Corp. also have cargo pending at Manila ports.

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) can impose penalties for refrigerated and chilled cargo that are not removed from the ports.

Within 24 hours after a decree of abandonment and forfeiture has been issued on these containers, the Bureau of Customs (BoC) will decide how these items will be disposed off. Goods that are fit for consumption will be donated to the Office of Civil Defense, once approved by the Finance secretary.

The PPA had earlier warned that cargo congestion at Manila ports may cause the terminals to shut down, and may lead to a shortage in food and other supplies.

The order was released in order to “ensure the availability of essential goods, in particular food and medicine, by adopting measures as may reasonably be necessary to facilitate and/or minimize disruption to the supply chain.”

The list also includes dozens of containers for fishery companies, including the Royale Fishing Corp., Silver Sea Star Fishing, and Maria Fe Fishing Corp.

Rustan Coffee Corp. (Starbucks Coffee Philippines), Foodsphere, Inc.; Fonterra Brands Philippines, Inc.; Happy Hunting Ground Farms Corp., and Consolidated Dairy and Frozen Food are also in the list, among many others.

Non-food companies like Glaxosmithkline Philippines, Inc.; Universal Power Solutions, Inc.; Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. also have cargo pending at the ports.

The order was signed by the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Finance, the Bureau of Customs, and the Philippine Ports Authority. — Jenina P. Ibanez



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