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Top Chef notwithstanding, I don’t watch much reality TV—I have no idea who that guy with the bandana is on American Idol or which D-list stars are still hanging out in Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. So I’m beyond excited about the series of articles my hero, Frank Bruni, is doing in the New York Times Dining Out section that’s functioning as a kind of Survivor for the country’s best new restaurants. He started with 10 places (well, 15, but five were immediately knocked off the list), and each week, he’s counting down to his favorite spot. I love a lot of restaurants on that list, but if I had to choose one (for the office pool I’m planning to start), I’d pick Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami. I fell in love with the place over the course of the action-packed South Beach Wine & Food Festival (almost every crazy minute of which was documented by Eater NY and Eater SF, Grub Street, Restaurant Girl and Miami’s Zagat). I just have to decide if my highlight was the crazy-good chocolate–peanut butter brownie with caramelized bananas and homemade peanut brittle at lunch, or the star-studded dining scene at dinner, where I got to sit at the table next to Alice Waters and Jamie Oliver (who, I understand, spent most of the evening gossiping—love that). The next night, Oliver was cooking at DeVito South Beach restaurant with Mario Batali, and for anyone who’s wondering just how tall Danny DeVito is, he doesn't quite hit Rachael Ray’s shoulder.
But back to reality television, by way of the NYT. Bruni’s next installment is tomorrow, and he’s not giving out any hints. If Michael’s flames out at number seven or eight, I’ll switch allegiances, like any good reality-show fan. Meanwhile, I did catch a glimpse of Jamie Oliver on Sunday night on the brand new Oprah’s Big Give. I have no idea what he was doing there, but seeing him was enough to get me hooked.