All Purpose Dark

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Passover Vibes


I don't know about you, but I am getting major Passover vibes at my Publix. Makes me want to run home and scrub down my kitchen. But you got to admire those matzoh box pyramids. Very crafty.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Meat Market Coming Soon

How's your iron count doing? In the mood for some red meat?
At Dinner in Paradise at Paradise Farms in Homestead last Sunday had a chance to chat with Touch chef Sean Brasel. Turns out he's opening a steakhouse (!) across from Touch on Lincoln Road. It's called Meat Market and the menu is going to be seasonal and locally sourced as much as possible. Opening sometime in July. Incidentally, Brasel's crispy snapper at the dinner was a big hit.

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A Late Snack at Red Light

Stopped by Red Light, Chef Kris Wessel's new spot, last night. Something about parking in the Motel Blu felt so L.A. Maybe because I had film making on the brain (this was after our screening, which went well-a big thank you to everyone who came out), but it was like a scene out of Lolita. The restaurant itself is narrow and cozy with a wrap around bar and booth seating up against big picture windows that offer views of Biscayne where we sadly watched an older black couple run their car over the Biscayne median and pop two tires. But hey, that's Biscayne for you. The outdoor area by the river is really beautiful and I can imagine many lazy enjoyable nights spent drinking beers on the patio. The restaurant was offering a short menu of "opening eats" with five options including bbq shrimp and dip bread ($8), white corn, baby conch fritters with Trinidad pepper mash ($9) and a fish of the day - snappper - with chef's veg of the day ($18). Considering we stopped in at about 11 and weren't terribly hungry we went for the organic egg, morbier cheese and tomato toast ($8).

The dish usually comes with apple bacon but my dining companion is allergic to pig products (no joke - you've never seen "pork lip" like this) so we got it sans the piggy and it was pretty delish. The chef is trying to use as much organic produce as possible and the tomatoes had that undeniable tang and flavor which was perfect combined with the richness of the egg and cheese and the crisp toast doused in a rosemary-tinged olive oil. Loved the presentation of the little pan - reminded me of how Israeli restaurants serve shakshuka, a similar poached egg dish. We washed it down with a Landshark beer, keeping it nice and local. Excited to go back and experience the restaurant once the full menu is in gear.
Located at 7700 Biscayne Blvd.
(305) 757-7773

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Por Fin Menu

Menupages has the menu for Por Fin and it looks pretty durn good. I'm getting hungee just imagining those patatas bravas, bacalau fritters and the goat cheese escalibada (oven roasted red peppers, eggplant and onion, marinated in extra virgin olive oil, topped with toasted goat cheese). Loving the half-portion option for the rice and pasta dishes. Hello pear fiocchi (sweet pear pasta served with a light honey truffle cabrales sauce topped with crumbled walnuts), where have you been all my life?

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Vegan Treats


Note to self: do not read about food before you've had your morning brekkie (that's breakfast speak, New Zealand-style). First there's a luscious pic and description of vegan cupcakes on Daily Candy and then a spot on banana-sesame-agave cakes at NYC's Birdbath. I am seriously jonesing for some animal-product-free baked goods.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Foreign Devils Screening

There's a plethora of stuff happening this weekend. In addition to Winter Music Conference and Funkshion Fashion extravaganzas there's the usual yin and yang of Miami event madness. If you happen to be free Friday night and are interesting in supporting local indie film making then I invite you to a screening we're having of our China film Foreign Devils. 7PM, at the LuminaireX screening room. Invite is below.

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WMC-free List of Events

Tonight: The Coral Gables Wine and Food Fest. The ticket price snags you unlimited tastes of goods from more than 30 Gables restaurants like Cacao, Morton's The Steakhouse and La Cofradia. Plus, there'll be an open bar, wine and a Miccosukee Casino Lounge. March 27, 7PM-9PM, $50. 100 block of Giralda Ave., Coral Gables, 954.524.4657.

Also tonight: Glean valuable contemporary art trivia when The Bass Museum's "Art Crowd" hosts an interactive gallery walk titled Rock Stars of the Art World: Rosenquist, Rauschenberg, Stella and Johns. Delve into Stella's work at Gary Nader Fine Art then head to the Center for Visual Communication to bone up on the work of print masters. The evening finales with a wine tasting at bin No. 18. March 27, 6PM-9PM, $15. Call 305.673.7530 x 1015 or email at RSVP@bassmuseum.org.

And on Saturday, March 29, 8:30 p.m.
Oscar ® Shorts! 2008: ANIMATION Short Films
Miami Beach Cinematheque, 512 Espanola Way
305.673.4567
$10 General, $6 Members/Students
A viewing of The Academy Award winning nominated and winning Animation short films for 2008, including Miami Premieres! I Met The Walrus (Canada, Oscar Nominee: Josh Raskin), Madame Tutli-Putli (Canada, Oscar Nominees: Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski) and more. See website for complete listing.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

LuminaireX, Design District


The LuminaireX pop-up store in the Design District is the intersection of design, fashion and literature. The temporary gallery/retail experience/WiFi-equipped coffee lounge will be open through April so make sure to check it out next time you're in the hood. It's on the ground floor of the Moore building so you can't miss it. Local stores like BASE and Books and Books have partnered with Luminaire to offer an eclectic variety of items from their usual stock and some rare finds. The space will also be hosting events throughout the entire period including gallery night on second Saturdays. Event listings here.

Luminaire is selling items you can't find in their regular store like small housewares and hostess gifts and limited-edition furniture like this Ron Arad prototype. Only $600 and my birthday is right around the corner (hint, hint). They've also got a limited-edition Nan Goldin book called The Devil's Playground and it is tugging at my design-junkie heartstrings.

One could easily spend an afternoon poring over the design and art books laid out by the folks at Books and Books.

And a super-bonus for us caffeine-addicted types: Lavazza has set up a complimentary coffee bar in the back of the showroom where they'll graciously indulge your espresso and cappuccino desires all day long.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Rag Trade on PlumTV

Rag Trade indie boutique owner/green activist/future Israeli organic farmer Stephanie Spiegel talks shop on PlumTV. If you have not yet been to her store, get thee to the Design District!

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Bike to Work Week


March 24-28 is Miami Beach Bike to Work Week. Put the car keys to rest and hop on two wheels instead of four. The city will be hosting an event on Lincoln Road Wednesday March 26 from 11am-2pm in celebration of the joys of biking. Citizen Bike will be there. If you come out, you may even win a folding bike, like the one in the smokin' hot pic above, in a raffle. Miami Beach 411 has got a nice round-up of bike discussions on their forums.
[photo courtesy of Miami Fever]

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Positive Party @ The Pelican

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Frozen Treats at WMC

In the wtf? department: a food tie-in to Winter Music Conference. From the press release:

Wheeler's Frozen Desserts and Miami's Aquabooty are teaming up to create the world's "coolest" party! The event begins on March 27th and ends March 29th, occurring at Shine @ The Shelbourne, Gem, and The Opium Garden.
Each night Wheeler's Frozen Desserts will provide a selection of its custom world famous alcohol infused sorbets. The menu will consist of Platinum Patrón, Moët & Chandon champagne, Mojito, and Cuba Libre.
We will also be serving up Wheeler's infamous aphrodisiac "Never Comes Soft Serve" ice creams including G&G (Ginger and Ginseng) as well as Black Sexy Russian: Black vodka + Ginseg + Kahlua = Plenty of satisfied customers!

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

New Miami Bloggers

A couple of new Miami blogs have crossed my Internets radar and I'd like to share them with you, loyal readers.

NYC transplant Daniel Murphy relocates to South Beach with his puppy (named Puppy) and girlfriend Brooke. His blog [redacted] has quite a following in New York and it's easy to see why. It's great observational humor. And I'm glad to have him down here observing life from a New Yorker's perspective. Here he tells of his first encounter with Cuban coffee:
Flash forward to 3:00. Brooke and I come to after a nap by the pool. I sit up and groggily rub my eyes, not quite sure where I am. There are two overturned Styrofoam coffee cups between my and Brooke. I stumble into the hotel room, and what I see is the remnants of a war. I can’t quite remember what happened over the past few hours, but if this scene is any indication, then at least three of the following incidents occurred: a pillow fight, a fashion show, gymnastics, a game of kickball, some sort of brawl, and a large chicken feast.
Nice. I've totally been there.
Lizza at the (covert) overt has got helpful reviews of restaurants, stores and other good stuff. And The Chowfather focuses mainly on food, wine and dining.
Looking forward to keeping up with all these quality new blogs. Thanks for giving me more reasons to procrastinate doing work, people!

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Macau Musings

I was looking through some photo folders and realized I never posted much about our trip to Macau/Hong Kong back in October. To rectify, here are some vibes from the Asian continent.


This is a shot of Macau early in the morning. The casinos are in full swing 24 hours a day, of course, but outside the streets are quiet. Portuguese colonial architecture and Chinese paper lanters share the landscape. For all its global relevance, Macau feels like a provincial island. We walked around at 7am for about an hour and barely saw anyone.


Bar snacks at the Wynn Casino's Cinnabar. Fancy potato chips, herbed breadsticks and spiced cashews. We polished off three rounds of the snacks.


The interior of the gargantuan Venetian Casino. I can not possibly convey the vastness of this casino. When you are in the main game room, you can not see to the end of the room. It's like a repeating montage of chandeliers, gamblers and tables. Chandeliers. Gamblers. Tables. No end in site. It is the highest grossing casino for the Venetian group. I only have this pic because security guards made me stop taking pictures. Probably has something to do with people cheating and that kind of thing.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Jewno!

Today is Purim, my fave Jewish holiday as its story stars a courageous Persian woman. It's also a really goofy holiday, with costumes and parodies encouraged. In that spirit, I give you Jewno, a Jew-riffic take on Juno. They even managed to get J.K. Simmons, the original dad from the movie to reprise his role. Love it!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Indomania, Miami Beach

Listen up Miami food people. I've seen the gastronomic light, and it's in the shape of a charming restaurant called Indomania on 26th street in Miami Beach. If I were prone to dramatic statements I would tell you to drop what you are doing and make a reservation at the restaurant right now because it will be one of the most enjoyable dining experiences you'll have in this city. From the batik-covered tables to the cozy atmosphere to the gentle hum of conversation generated by the packed tables on a Sunday night it was clear that we had discovered something special. It reminded me of dining in New York, at a small spot with close-set tables. It also felt like a true neighborhood restaurant. That everyone there was in the know; they were all in on this culinary secret. The restaurant is owned by a retired Dutch couple, Pieter and Ineke Both. She's the chef, he's the host and they're both really good at what they do.

We dined on the “rijstaffel Sumatra,” a repast filled with a succession of small plates (about a dozen) varieties of Dutch-Indonesian traditional eats. Aromas of cumin in coconut sauce, of meat simmered in a mixture of ground tamarind mixed with cinnamon, lime leaves and lemongrass, of green beans sauteed in chilis and crushed macadamia nuts, of eggplants cooked with cloves. Of stews made with galanka root, shallots, garlic and ginger. Everything tasted different, with its own bouquet of herbs, fire and spice. Influences from Indian, Chinese and North African cooking were apparent but it was only as a reference point from which to build more complex tastes. Each dish maintained its own identity it all worked together. There was home made sambal olek for adding extra fire. There was a toasted shredded coconut for added texture. There was ginger-flecked rice to clear the palate. It was fragrant, refreshing and filling. It was a massive amount of food and at $26 per person, reasonably priced.

With the golden late-day sun pouring through the window and a chilled bottle of Estancia Divina Albarino ($28) to wash it all down the experience was downright romantic.

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Oh, oh, oh

I am really digging Dig for Fire's superb video production prowess and I am particularly digging this segment they put together on Vampire Weekend. Considering the venue where they filmed, NYC's Other Music's store, is about 200 square feet, this piece is amazing. Much better than anything MTV shot with the band. And no, I can't promise this will be the last mention of VW. I...just...can't.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Five Fabulous Female Chefs, March 29

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The Yin and Yang of Twee Pop

Local scribe John Hood hates on Vampire Weekend.
I disagree. Obviously.
Give in to the infectious melodies, John. Embrace the brainy lyrics.
It's OK. We'll still think you're cool.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Small Plates Phenom


Have small plates usurped "regular" size main dishes? There's a lot of theorizing about it on the internets. This got me thinking.

Is the need for small plates indicative of an overall bite-size trend overtaking our culture? We want news in soundbites, short pithy articles that give you snappy prose in less space (when was the last time you actually read an article that 800+ words?). And of course, brief, ephemeral videos that entertain for nanoseconds before they get old.

Does it also speak to our non-committal approach to life? That we'd rather pick and choose from various sources/ethnicities/influences rather than stick to one overarching aesthetic philosophy?
Perhaps we are so all-embracing and the age of exclusivity has ceased. We have access to everything and everyone has access to us.

I'm all for succinct approaches to life. The less the better, and as a society we've certainly gorged ourselves into oblivion, but there's something labor intensive about all this shortness.
It takes more time to create small plates and they are consumed faster than large dishes. Does it add up to more waste? Possibly. A pile of small dishes as opposed to one T-Rex size platter. It's also easier to get lost in the relentless maw of consumption. This applies to information as well as food overload.

I took the picture above in Tel Aviv last year. This restaurant specializes in tapas-like canapes that sell for 6 shekels ($1.50) each. They are basically toast points with toppings like Camembert cheese, sardines, eggplant and feta, pesto and feta, etc. I was super-intrigued by the concept. But the truth is, the restaurant only works if you're only slightly hungry. In the mood for a quick bite, that sort of thing. But the appeal is undeniable. Perfect for hyper-selective, non-committal types. I don't know about you, but I'm getting hungry thinking about that feta and pesto....

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Upper East Side Garden Year 1 Party

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Standard Vibes

I spent a lot of time at the Standard yesterday. It's one of those beautiful and mysterious places that manages to be both of the moment and steeped in nostalgia. Andre Balazs is the uber-hip hotel guru behind it. He dated Uma Thurman so maybe he's got a handle on the duality of hipness vs. authenticity.

A couple details about the place:

It features an indoor hamam (like a Turkish bath) except this is one co-ed and you must wear a bathing suit. This means you're bathing while still clothed. Contradiction? Perhaps.

Another curious feature - the building is an oldie from the 50's and the designer has left all these remnants of the building's former life (old bathroom tiles, metal-encased swinging doors, old-timey signs, etc.) while incorporating super-stylish furniture from the like of Roche Bobois and Hamptons-esque white painted benches. So you're sitting in the neo-hippie lobby on a Indian-style square cushion staring at restored Terazzo flooring. It all might be too precious to handle.



The pool is filled with salt water. It borders Biscayne Bay which is filled with salt water. It is a salt-water body of water within another. This begs the question, why bother going in the pool? Is the pool enhanced by its proximity to the orginal salt-water source? It's a beautiful pool nonetheless.



Locals have embraced the place such that it's more like a yogi-filled clubhouse rather than a high-end hotel.

An image from yesterday that I can't seem to erase from my mind: A guy with an expensive mullet-type haircut sits on a lounge chair by the crowded pool. On his lap is an open magazine with a two-page spread on actress Ellen Page. Meanwhile he taps at his iPhone. Is he a DJ? A global citizen of the world? How can he afford the $500 + room rate at the Standard and an iPhone? Does it even matter?

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Friday, March 14, 2008

1 Bleu First Taste


Lunching at the Regent Bal Harbour's dapper 1 Bleu after a ceremonious ribbon cutting ceremony. Overall impressions: the space is gorgeous with views of the water available to almost every seat in the dining room, a classy backdrop for classy food. Love the contrast of the ocean views with the dark wood floors. Lunch was light starting with petite serrano croquetas, a delicate salmon salad and an architectural dessert of coffee flan. Well-executed it was, and a nice indication of what to expect from chef Gerdy Rodriguez at this regal new spot.

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Easter Brunch @ Atrio

The Easter Sunday brunch at Atrio is getting jazzed up with jazzy names and a live jazz trio. Menu is below (aplogies for the gratuitous CAPS, I've pasted this from the press release). The mango-stuffed French Toast sounds divine.

Sunday, March 23, 11:30AM-2:30PM. $55 INCLUDING unlimited CHAMPAGNE, MIMOSA OR BLOODY MARY.
THE “BLUE NOTE” BUFFET: Poached Gulf Shrimp, Sushi & Sashimi Display, Crab Claws, Ceviche, Selection Of Salads With All The Trimmings, Fresh Tropical Fruit Display,
Freshly Baked Bread, Mini Pastries, Muffins, Danish, Bagels, Pound Cakes
“ELLA’S” EGGS EXTRAVAGANZA: Omelets Any Way You Want It!
“COLE’S” CARVING CREATIONS: Roast Beef Tenderloin, Roast Turkey Breast
“PARKER’S” PASTA PRESENTATIONS: Selection of Pasta’s and Sauces
THE ATRIO PIANO PETITE PLATES: BROILED MISO MARINATED BLACK COD, Shrimp Dumplings, Shiitake Mushrooms and a Shiso Broth, HERB CRUSTED AUSTRALIAN RACK OF SPRING LAMB
Julienne Vegetables, Whipped Potato and a Minted Chili Reduction
LOBSTER EGGS BENEDICT “THERMIDOR” ON BRIOCHE TOAST, MANGO AND PEACH STUFFED FRENCH TOAST
Atrio at Level 25 at the Conrad Miami located at 1395 Brickell Avenue. Valet parking is available. For reservations, please call 305-503-6529.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spamalot Still in Town, Sort of

I'm a huge Monty Python fan and I was planning on catching Spamalot at the Arsht Center this weekend but was too busy for the thee-ah-tah. Well, I see now that the show is still in town, albeit up in Palm Beach. Performances are at the Kravis Center and tickets are here. The musical is based on Monty Python veteran Eric Idle’s book and lyrics. The show won three TONY awards for its run in New York. Chock full of references to the Python canon, the show oozes irreverent British wit and mad-cap antics and also appeals to Broadway regulars with its spot-on satire of popular shows.

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China Grill, Ft. Lauderdale Opens Today

Jeffrey Chodorow is at it again. The latest addition from the New York restaurant empire, the genuine flagship itself, China Grill opens this Thursday in Fort Lauderdale. As if you needed further proof that South Florida's dining scene is beyond hot.
With the recent opening of Kobe Club Miami (adding to Tuscan Steak, Social and Blue Door), the restaurant guru is on a mission to feed the hip and hungry in the sunshine state. Everything is sized for sharing, and no one goes hungry though chopstick fights have been known to break out over the spicy beef and scallion dumplings and the crackling calamari salad with lime miso dressing. Fusion classics like the sake marinated “drunken” chicken in ponzu sauce, lobster pancakes and tempura sashimi keep the menu firmly grounded in upscale Asian territory.
The interior mirrors glorious Florida sunsets with reds, oranges and yellow tones while a central expo kitchen and illuminated resin tables and bars give the space a futuristic Jetsons-esque vibe. A waterfront terrace keeps takes advantage of the salty city's fab boat watching. If the Ft. Lauderdale eatery proves to be anything like the China Grills in NYC and Miami, expect to jockey for tables with Armani-clad expense accounters, celebs and the occasional hotel heiress.

China Grill
at the Ft. Lauderdale Grande Hotel and Yacht Club
1881 SE 17th st.
Fort Lauderdale
954.759.9950

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

PlumTV Appearance

I was recently a guest on PlumTV's Day Break morning show where I talked about - what else? - restaurants. It was actually quite fun being on a talk show and the location of the Standard was a fab way to start the morning. Great banana bread too!

Here's some info about the restaurants discussed.
Abokado
Kobe Club
Bourbon Steak
Red Light, 7700 Biscayne Blvd, Upper East Side. (305) 757-7773

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Cantina 27, Miami Beach


Affordable, honest Italian cooking. That's what Cantina 27 is all about. And, for the most part, that's what you get. The prices are certainly reasonable; $8-$15 for pasta dishes and $13-$20 for heftier mains like veal scaloppine and a filet. Our party of four started with a bruchetta appetizer which was 4 generous slices of baguette topped with a fine diced-tomato topping. We ordered the farfalle pasta with salmon cream sauce (above), gnocchi with Taleggio cheese and walnut sauce, homemade spinach ravioli and the grilled prawns. The salmon pasta was the table winner with a smoky, not overly-heavy pink sauce. The ravioli was alright, stuffed with a nice amount of fresh spinach but the pasta was too al dente and a bit hard. The gnocchi were dressed with a fantastic sauce but could have been lighter.
The prawn dish (3 pieces) won raves for the perfectly grilled execution. Our table ordered a bottle of Terre di Morro chardonnay for $28. The connolli dessert produced flaky, delicious pastries but at $7 for two it was the only thing we all agreed was not priced well. Service was great, if a little harried since they were busy on a Saturday night (which is great for them and nice to see). And yes, the bathroom is to be avoided but the sidewalk seating is great on a cool night. The owner even comped us glasses of wine while we waited for a table to free up. With such low prices it's worth repeat visits to try the rest of the menu and settle on some favorites. A nice perk is not having to deal with the parking hassles of South Beach or Lincoln Road, as there's ample parking across the street. An added bonus: Taking a walk on the Miami Beach boardwalk after the meal.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wine Tasting @ Vine Wine Shop

Friday, March 14 -- 8 pm ($30)
The BEST of Vine 2008!
Vine Wine Shop has showcased some of the world's most eclectic, exciting, and limited-production wines around-the-world. This event will uncork Vine's "Top Wines" including Shafer (California), Mas Doix (Priorat-Spain), Domaine Zind Humbrecht (France). There will also be specially-prepared gourmet delicacies, and space is limited – don’t miss it!
7657 Biscayne Boulevard • 305-759-8463

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Right Now I'm Loving

The following three things make me smile:

I drink it up!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Shop Event @ Rag Trade

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Newman's Own Wine Dinner @ Fleming's

Paul Newman is getting into the wine business. If Coppola can do it, so can Cool Hand Luke. The film icon is adding two types of wine – a California chardonnay and a cabernet to his Newman's Own food empire and a percentage of the sales will go to charity. The wines are not yet available in stores but if you're interested in tasting the wines Fleming's Steakhouse in the Gables is hosting a five-course wine pairing dinner Monday March 10 in their private dining room. Cost is $95 and includes big ticket items like filet mignon and duck. We attended a similar dinner a few weeks ago for the launch of the wines so if you're interested in going, here's a sneak peek of what to expect.
First off, since there are only two types of Newman's wines, the other three courses are paired with Coppola's wines, which works well because they're produced in roughly the same regions of California as Newman's. Also, the staff at Fleming's is super accommodating and generous so you basically get unlimited pours of the wines during each course. Considering what a feast like this usually costs at the steakhouse, you definitely get your money's worth in terms of wine and food.
First course: Sicilian Bruschetta and Spicy Tuna Tartare on Focaccia Crackers.
SOFIA, Blanc de Blancs California, 2004
I had tried the SOFIA sparkling wine at parties before (it comes in trendy pink cans) but never with food, yet it worked really well with the spicy tuna and the olive oil in the bruschetta. A really refreshing start to the dinner.
Second course: Seared Arctic Char, fennel and citrus salad.
NEWMAN’S OWN Chardonnay California, 2006

The chardonnay is blended slightly with Riesling and muscat so there's a subtle sweetness to it which cut nicely into the richness of the fish. The citrus and fennel in the salad echoed the citrus flavors in the wine.
Third course: Glazed Duck Breast marinated in Newman’s Own teriyaki, crispy polenta cake with roasted grapes.
NEWMAN’S OWN Cabernet Sauvignon California, 2006

The teriyaki marinade worked well with the cherry and berry flavors in the wine. The sweetness in the roasted grapes and polenta brought out the chocolate and cedar notes in the medium-bodied wine.
Fourth course: Filet “Corleone” with porcini mushrooms, served on a bed of sweet onion risotto, roasted vegetables
FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA DIAMOND COLLECTION, Claret California Black Label, 2005

This is Coppola's most popular wine and it's easy to see why – it's ridiculously robust with notes of black currant, plum, allspice and pepper. There's a lot going on in the wine so pairing it with a hefty filet was a classic combo. The meat stood up the flavors in the wine while the porcini mushrooms added earthy undertones to the whole dish. The risotto was super-rich.
Fifth course: Hazelnut Marjolaine (served at the 2007 Academy Awards dinner)—layers of Hazelnut Meringue, Dark Chocolate Ganache and Hazelnut Buttercream.
DELAFORCE, Tawny Port Colheita, 1986

This dessert was so delicate and flavorful that it puts to shame most chocolate lava cakes that pass for desserts these days. The chocolate ganache topping highlighted the orange and fig flavors in the port while the nutty layers offset the sweetness. I polished off the slice despite the massive feast that preceded it.
I had never been to Fleming's before and I was won over by the classy steakhouse décor and uber-professional service. During each course the sommelier and the chef give a little introduction about the wine and the food and how they work together which was helpful. Another bonus is that the staff creates a convivial spirit throughout the dinner with trivia questions focusing on Paul Newman's career. Prizes included bottles of wine and DVD's of Newman films so you could walk out of there with a party favor if you study up on Newman trivia beforehand.
Flemings Steakhouse
2525 Ponce de Leon
Coral Gables
305.569.7995

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Budget Wine Bars, NYC

Next time I'm in New York, I am checking out these wine bars, all with bottles under $20. Brilliant.

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LuminareX

LuminareX, the pop-up store in the Design District has its own blog. I have not been yet, but hope to check out the space Saturday night on a gallery walk.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Miami Film Gossip

Came across these bits of info from the Miami-Dade film office.
  • Fox 2000’s feature film Marley & Me starring Jennifer Anniston and Owen Wilson and directed by Miamian David Frankel will be shooting throughout Miami-Dade County for the next few months. The story is based on the memoir of John Grogan and is about a family that learns important life lessons from their adorable, but naughty and neurotic dog.
  • Universal Pictures’ feature film Chilled In Miami starring Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. recently wrapped filming at the Miami airport and on Miami Beach. Zellweger plays a high-powered consultant in love with her upscale Miami lifestyle, sent to a middle of nowhere town in Minnesota. When she's ordered to close down the town factory and put the entire community out of work, she's forced to reconsider her goals and priorities, and finds a way to save the town.
  • Downtown Miami is being converted into Foam City for a $1.4 million dollar Sony Commercial this weekend.

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Persian Cooking


Persian food is waiting for its close-up. It's complicated, delicate and super delicious. I should know, I grew up eating the various citrus-inflected stews, hearty rice platters and grilled meats. In practice Persian food is similar to Indian and Turkish dining styles but that's where the similarities end. The spices used are different: saffron, sumac and turmeric are used and the cooking style is less heavy. The stews are light and herby rather than creamy and spicy. This NYTimes article and photo capture a lot of what I think of when I remember my grandmother's cooking.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

StarChefs Rising Stars Gala, Palm Beach


Monday night found me in Palm Beach, at a sprawling Trump resort with its own faux lake and foliage. The occasion? The StarChefs Rising Stars gala honoring the men and women who toil in hot, frenetic kitchens in order to produce beautiful food and beverages. The "rising stars" included chefs but also beverage specialists like top sommeliers and mixologists working in the food industry. Honorees included Michael Bloise of Wish, Azul's Clay Conley, Johnny V's pastry goddess Malka Espinel, sommelier Roberto Colombi of Cielo (in Boca Raton), and Cafe Boulud mixologist Ame Brewster. Each chef and sommelier was given a station where they cooked and served eclectic dishes that highlighted their culinary prowess. From foie gras to coconut tapioca, it was quite a tasting odyssey.

This being Palm Beach, everything was served on actual plates, like the fine china below. No plastic mini-spoons here. Quite a departure from the disposable bacchanalia at the Sobe food fest. Below is Mar-A-Lago's Jeff O'Neil's magnificent banana brulee (lately banana desserts have been wooing the reluctant banana lover in me) and next to it a slice of frozen black plum tomato with yuzu emulsion, micro coriander and chili oil powder. In general there were lots of foams, gelees, emulsions and powders employed by most of the chefs. Despite the back-to-the-basics trend we've been seeing in locavore dining circles, there's still a desire to go molecular. Or at least, those who go molecular seem to get recognition for doing so. (And I'm all for experimentation, after all, have you ever thought about what it takes to make jello, or cheese doodles?) But I digress.

Jeffrey Brana was serving up cheesy goodness in the form of a Wisconsin Pleasant Ridge reserve cheese with pear, arugula and truffle.

Malka Espinel presented a three berry pot pie and a Spanish parfait with layers of cinnamon cake, rhubarb compote and flan mousse topped with churro. Thank goodness for this woman and her way with sugar.

Kurtis Jantz from Neomi at Trump Sonesta presented a salmon with seared onigiri, fermented soy, enoki mushrooms, and pea tendrils. Japanese Dashi broth was then poured on each plate cooking the salmon, dissolving the soy powder and creating something delicate and delicious.

In terms of savory dishes best in show was courtesy of Alberto Cabrera (formerly of Karu and Y). He presented what amounted to a gastronomic tsunami with a dish of boquerones with heirloom tomato tartar and black olive sorbet. Black. Olive. Sorbet. Loved it. The dish was just one huge taste after another. But you had to be ready for it. And Nobu's pastry chef Joel Lahon blew my mind with his desserts. One was a carpaccio of mango, topped with chocolate caviar with yuzu cheesecake. The other was a coconut tapioca accompanied by red thai tea foam, kaffir lime emulsion and lemongrass ice cream. Couldn't get enough of the lemongrass ice cream, so citrusy and creamy. Brilliant. He's got to work on the presentation of the coconut tapioca, though. It sort of looked like rice pudding. One well-coiffed Nan Kempner-type woman walked up to the table, stuck her nose in my plate and asked, "What's that? Cottage cheese?" Yes, my dear, cottage cheese. You paid $150 a ticket and this chef is serving you cottage friggin cheese.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Opening@ Bakehouse Art Complex Saturday

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Eclectic Events

The Wolfsonian continues to reign in terms of all things awesome. Case in point, the following event. It takes cerebral cojones to host something like this on South Beach:
Thursday, March 20, 7pm
WORKSHOP: FRENCH SALON GAMES—What were the Parisians doing in their lovely modern interiors in the 1920s? Playing Surrealist games, of course! Join us for an evening of collaborative creation with Paula Harper, associate professor of Art History, University of Miami. RSVP required: 305.535.2644 or julia@thewolf.fiu.edu. $10 for members; $20 all others.

My inner design nerd is super excited about this one:
PUBLIC TALK
Thursday, March 27, 7pm
"LE CORBUSIER, THE NEW WOMAN, AND DOMESTIC REFORM"—Mary McLeod, professor of architecture at Columbia University, explores the relationship between Le Corbusier's architecture and the emergence of the New Woman in France in the 1920s. Free to members and students; $10 all others.

And I f'ing LOVE this film:
Thursday, April 3, 7 pm
LES TRIPLETTES DE BELLEVILLE (2003, France/Belgium/Canada/UK, Sylvain Chomet, 80 min, color, French/Portuguese with English subtitles, DVD)—This experimental animated film is set in a whimsical world inhabited by former vaudeville stars and others. Co-presented with Consulat général de France à Miami. Free.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

1 Bleu, Regent Bal Harbour

The well-heeled enclave of Bal Harbour welcomes the Regent hotel's 1 Bleu. Perched at the edge of the Atlantic ocean the dapper dining room is the perfect spot to watch fishing skiffs amble by and indulge in Cousteau-like fantasies of life 'neath the sea.
The focus is on the freshest fruits de mare, from local and international waters. In the mood for baby calamari, razor clams, turbot, and Mediterranean striped bass–all flown in daily from la Costa Brava, Cataluña, Spain? Not a prob. Chef Gerdy Rodriguez is no stranger to upscale eats. Apprenticing with Norman van Aken, helming Sambal at the Mandarin and working molecular gastronomy at La Broche, the Havana-born toque learned to dish with the magic city's best. Think monkfish with fava bean ragout, morcilla sausage and mint jus, rabbit with foie gras emulsion and Hawaiian yellowfin tuna carpaccio with cêpes confit.
Dark imported woods from Brazil and Africa, leather and marble walls and a glass block encased wine tower keep this spot's glam quotient firmly in check. Park yourself at the one of the raised, oversized banquettes near floor-to-ceiling windows or outdoors next to the 30-foot Guy Dill sculpture on the terrace and dive in to the ocean-loving menu.
1 Bleu at the Regent Bal Harbour
10295 Collins avenue
305.455.5400

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Q & A with Andrea Robinson, Delta Sommelier

Andrea Robinson is an award-winning sommelier, wine educator and food and wine writer. This woman knows her wines, and she's got the credentials to prove it: she's one of only 14 women in the world who have been appointed Master Sommelier by the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers and she was the first woman ever chosen Best Sommelier in the United States by the Sommelier Society of America. She's also a gracious interviewee as I learned when I sat down for a quick chat with her and her husband, John (aren't they the cutest?) on Sunday afternoon at the Food and Wine festival. We sat in the lounge Delta had constructed at the Tasting Village complete with business elite chairs (so comfortable, each equiped with their own TV monitors, of course). Andrea has partnered with Delta to enhance their wine program and was conducting wine and popcorn pairings at the Delta lounge using some the wines now available on business elite flights.
I see a camera crew with you guys. What are you currently working on?
My husband and I are collaborating on an in-flight “foodie travel” show for Delta where we get into the soul of the local food scene. We talk to local chefs and find out the places they like to eat, where they recommend. We've had Thomas Keller on the show and we'll have Michelle Bernstein on for the Miami episode.
That sounds like a foodie's dream job – food and travel.
It's great! We also enjoy the people part of it, the passion of it. We meet so many creative, fantastic people through this work.
Have you had a chance to check out some Miami restaurants?
Last night we had dinner at the Grill at the Setai and it was fantastic. It had a sexy vibe and the quality and diversity of the wine and food was excellent. We really enjoyed it.
Where else do you plan to visit?
We're still compiling our list for the show but so far we'll be visiting Michy's, Versailles, Michael's Genuine, Joes Stone Crabs, Front Porch Cafe and Brosia.
What are some of the challenges of putting together an in-flight wine selection?
Well first of all, quality stemware is out of the question on a plane, there's no space for it and it's not realistic. So you're limited there. Also, your senses are dulled at such high altitudes so we needed to find wines with big character, with flavor intensity.
What can business travelers expect from the new selections?
What we've put together is a nice range of classics for the collector who is used to an elite drinking experience but also plenty of “discovery” wines for novices who are interested in sampling and finding something they like.
What are we tasting today?
We've got a Rodney Strong Symmetry 2004 Meritage which is like a typical Bordeaux and we're pairing that with parmesan popcorn. A Wente Riva Ranch 2006 chardonnay with salty caramel popcorn to really bring out the sweetness. We've also got a Mionetto Proseco which is a perfect drink to have before take-off, really refreshing.
Best wine for a wine-newbie?
The Wente Riva chardonnay. It's about $17 a bottle but you get a lot more than you pay for. It's a “wow” kind of wine with a rich barrel-fermented buttery flavor.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Brosia Opens for Brunch

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Cooking Demo at La Cuisine Gourmet

La Cuisine Gourmet, the kitchen appliance shop located in Coral Gables, will feature executive chef/owner Carlos Fernandez, of Hi-Life Café in Ft. Lauderdale and former Top Chef star, for a cooking demo and tasting on Monday, March 3rd at 7:00 p.m.
As part of La Cuisine Gourmet’s winter 2008 Celebrity Chef Demo Series, Fernandez will prepare specialties showcasing his contemporary American with Latin influenced cooking style. Attendees will have the opportunity to sample the chef’s creations and ask questions. Seats are limited and cost $38.00 per person.
La Cuisine Gourmet is located at 50 Aragon in Coral Gables. For tickets, call
(305) 422-9006.

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