Monday, December 28, 2009

Iceberg Ice Cream, Tel Aviv

There's a tangy yogurt rennaissance going on in Tel Aviv these days.
Places like Yogo and other Pinkberry copycats are satisfying the hordes on Rothschild and Allenby. So it takes a creative ice cream place to have a line out the door on a warm December afternoon and Iceberg was it. We were impressed with the interesting flavor combinations - wild berries with taragon, mandarin orange with basil and a silky chocolate. The fruity flavors had a sorbet-like texture while the chocolate was straight up gelato-like. Next time I'm going for the espresso cardamom.
At 31 Rothschild Blvd, 03-566-1588.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas in Tel Aviv

Christmas in Israel has its own spooky, ancient charm. You really feel the Jesus. Way more than you ever could standing in the front of the tree at Rockerfeller Center. Last year we were in Jerusalem around this time and while the Christian vibe is a lot stronger in the holiest city, Tel Aviv was still sporting some Christmas cheer all its own.
We spent the day walking around Old Jaffa, watched pilgrims make their way to the Anglican Church and bought a gorgeous cutting board made from repurposed wood from a young artist whose shop was ridiculously charming (will post on that soon). At around two in the afternoon we got hungry and opted for the Business Lunch at Nana Bar, a meticulously scuffed romantic spot in Neve Tzedek. The food was lovely and typical - an appetizer of eggplant "baladi" whereby a small eggplant is roasted, it's insides cooked to a smoky, creamy consistency, then topped with home made techina and tangy tomatoes. A main course of lightly fried chicken shnitzel. A half pint of beer. All for about $12. This is why I am obsessed with business lunch deals in Israel. More to come...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mandolin Aegean Bistro

I lived in Istanbul for a short stint a few years ago and Mandolin reminds me of the restaurant where we found ourselves on New Year's eve that year. It was on the first floor of an old house off Istiklal, a busy pedestrian thoroughfare. The chef was friendly but spoke no English. Her eight year-old son was the lone server. (I think he wore a bow-tie or something like that. He was adorable and did a great job.) It didn't seem legal and it probably wasn't but we didn't care, it was New Year's and all the usual restaurants were pushing pricey set menus and mandatory champagne toasts. We were looking for something quiet and low key. And man, it didn't get any more bare bones than this. She had a couple pots of food to choose from (we went to the kitchen and pointed at what we wanted) and then the usual parade of salads and dips. It was straightforward home cooking and it was the most delicious food we'd ever tasted.
Mandolin is a lot more polished of an operation (there are no eight year-old servers running around) but it still possesses a similar charm. The place has barely been open a week and already they've endeared themselves to the neighborhood. Set in a restored 1940's house on the northern edge of the Design District it's the kind of place you always hope to find when traveling to a new city: an off-the-beaten path restaurant with good, simple, affordable food. We feasted on Greek/Turkish mezzes in the lantern-lit courtyard reliving the warm, deep flavors of the Mediterranean.
Highlights include:
- addictive home made pide bread (like pita but fluffier and studded with sesame seeds)
- Greek salad with a slab of creamy feta, plump kalamata olives and ripe tomatoes
- lightly battered fried calamari served with an almond aioli
- lamb kefte meatballs spiced with mint and parsely
- tender grilled octopus marinated in red wine vinegar and olive oil
- smoky eggplant dip
and my favorite dish of the night - the "kopoglu" salad which is Turkish for son of a dog, made with fried eggplant and zucchini topped with garlic yogurt and tomato sauce.

The menu is here. 4312 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33137. 305-576-6066

Carbonell Chefs Fest

As part of some sort of Spanish olive oil marketing bonanza ten restaurants in the city are collaborating on prix-fixe menus showcasing the liquid gold. If you’re in the Gables hit Por Fin with dishes like white gazpacho and shrimp confit while over on the beach Meat Market’s representing with beef cheeks slow-cooked in olive oil and bittersweet chocolate and olive oil caviar for dessert.
The 4 or 5 course menus are $35-$45, now until December 19, various locations throughout the city.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Half-Off Sushi @ China Grill

Finally, a happy hour late enough to coincide with dinner time, perfect for working your way through the restaurant’s sushi list, which is half-off along with cocktails, wine and beer. Meaning you can chase that $4.50 Kirin Ichiban with a $6.50 Havana roll (yellowtail, rum, coconut and avocado) for less than the regular price of a saketini at the bar.
6pm-9pm daily,China Grill, 404 Washington Ave, 305-534-2211.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Scarpetta One Year Prix-Fixe (Unlimited Wine!)

Ever since Scarpetta opened a year ago it’s been my go-to for elegant carb-loading (yes, certain occasions call for elegant carb-loading). So when I got this notice about their special 1-year anniversary menu - 4 course for $50, plus complimentary wine - I was super excited. We said goodbye to Basel Sunday night with this amazing deal.

The menu is here. As you can see it's got all of Chef Scott Conant’s big hitters - the legendary homemade spaghetti pomodoro, the ridiculously smooth creamy polenta and mushrooms and the Amedei chocolate cake. First things first: be prepared for lots of food. Four courses is a lot, and they're not skimping on the portions here. With the exception of the spaghetti, which was a half bowl-size, everything else was full on - the polenta with it's separate little pot of mushroom fricasse brimming with oyster, portobello and morrel 'shrooms in a beefy gravy and the fish, which on Sunday was the branzino in a lobster sauce with potato gnochhi. Even the short rib appetizer was a hefty size with a side of farro risotto. Beasts that we are, we finished every last drop, pulling a scarpetta at Scarpetta, meaning, sopping up the sauces with the heel of the delicious ciabatta bread. All the while we kept saying through full mouths, "this is the best deal ever!" And it truly is. Better than Miami Spice, which the restaurant also represented quite admirably.

Oh, and the wines were free-flowing.

They give one option in red or white. That night it was the 2007 Planeta La Segreta Rosso and a Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio both of which went well with the strong tomato, mushroom and seafood flavors on the menu. The free wine is nice, but took a backseat to the amazing food. And after that first spoon of polenta I was already drunk on life.

Prix-fixe available December 6-10, 4441 Collins Ave, 305-674-4660.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Breakfast at the Rubell Family Collection this morning - a wall of donuts. Some coffee, too. Over at the Rosa de la Cruz collection you could get fresh-brewed cappuccinos and butter cookies. The art was better there too. Rosa's a generous hostess.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Chuao Chocolatier Closing

Art Tent City

The tents are up in Midtown with Red Dot and Art Miami facing off across from each other on NE 1st Ave and Design Miami's ziggurat is in full effect.

The Design District is now home to a new Christian Louboutin store, complete with a fancy orchid installation out front. Wonder why the French designer chose to go to the DD instead of Bal Harbour Shops. The nabe doesn't seem to be working as a high-end fashion destination (we're looking at you Marni and Y3 and your tragic lack of customers). Ah well. What do I know? Perhaps people hanging in the DD are interested in buying $600 stilettos.

Danger Mouse and David Lynch @ O.H.W.O.W.

In one of the more intriguing art world collaborations occurring at this year’s fest, musical wizard Danger Mouse and cult filmmaker David Lynch team up for a mixed-media exhibit dubbed Dark Night of the Soul. Expect photographs by Lynch and a soundtrack featuring the Flaming Lips, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes and Iggy Pop, who you’ll probably bump into at this opening.
7pm, December 2, 3100 NW 7 Ave, 305-633-9345.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pecha Kucha @ Art Salon

Basel Shwag

Well, it's not really shwag so much as the opportunity to buy cool stuff. In honor of Art Basel Interview mag is commandeering the high-tech vending machine at the Mondrian and stuffing it with collectibles like Dolce & Gabanna's "We Love Madonna" tank, canvas kicks from Vena Cava, and Scott Campbell knuckle tattoo sets. Oh, and a lifetime supply of Ben & Jerry’s in case you get hungry.
starts December 1, 1100 West Ave, 305-514-1500.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Borsht Film Fest, Saturday Night

Catch the next Brett Ratner (pre-Rush Hour franchise) at this indie fest with screenings of short films that each take place in a specific Miami neighborhood including Downtown Surfside, Liberty City, Key Biscayne, and the Design District. Admission is pay what you wish and there will be complimentary cocktails.
7pm, November 28, 174 E Flagler St, 305-372-0925.

Basel Tidbits

File under Basel 2009 miscellany:
  • This year's Art Loves Music free concert on the beach Wednesday night features the aural stylings of the lovely Ebony Bones.
  • There will be no Art Positions aka "the container show" on the beach this year. Instead the galleries involved in Art Positions will be featured inside the convention hall and the space on the beach will called Oceanfront Cafe. The container show was always more of a hassle when it got crowded but on the plus side, it was nice to see free art. Now you have to buy a ticket to the main fair if you want to check out those edgy galleries.
  • Local artistic duo and makers of happy art Friends With You will be opening their first boutique in the Design District Tuesday night. I am particuarly jazzed about this as my little one loves his plush Rainbow TTT purchased by a friend at the MAM store. Their stuff is wildly fun.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Surface Lounge

For those of you who prefer liquid lunches to actually getting through the day sober (during Basel week, that is highly discouraged) will want to mosey on over to Plunge at the Gansevoort where Surface mag will be pouring free drinks from 11am-1pm from December 3-5. RSVP here.

Basel Buzz

It's that time of year again, folks. Let the wild rumpus start.

Some of the things we've been hearing about here at APD headquarters:

The W South Beach will be the epicenter of art-world scalawags, carpetbaggers and legit celebs. Vito Schnabel (son of superstar Julian) will be hosting something called the Happy Endings art installation opening party there Wednesday night. That same night Art Nexus is throwing their megabash in the backyard while dealer Larry Gagosian hosts his annual dinner at Mr. Chow.
Friday night developers David Edelstein and Aby Rosen host a shindig featuring performance by Glen Matlock of THE SEX PISTOLS, Jesse Yusef Murphy of the Brazilian Girls and HykCast at WET at while artist Francesco Clemente gets jiggy at an after party at WALL.
So basically, if you want to hobnob with the sexy crowd you'll want to park yourself at the W's lobby bar and see if you can charm your way into one of these invite-only events. Or just pretend you're friends with Vito.
(photo of Mr. Chow via Greg Clark)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Happy Hour @ Caviar Kaspia

The pricey French caviar restaurant at the Webster just introduced a wallet-friendly post-work ritual: $8 cocktails including lychee martnis and mojitos along with Russian-inspired bites for $10 like mini smoked salmon blinis and a baked potato “Vladivostok” topped with salmon caviar. Yes, it's still a bit steep for "happy hour" but it's a nice way to snack on what the restaurant does well - the baked potato and the fluffy, spongy blinis.
These delicate toast rounds topped with a not-too-salty tarama are presented as gratis cocktail snacks which is a nice touch. They're also indicative of the overall vibe of the place - precise, fastidious, even a bit precious. The Webster house cocktail, made with champagne and lavender pearls is a fragrant way to take the edge off.

4pm-7pm, Tuesdays-Saturdays, 1220 Collins Ave, 305- 674-7899.

Key Lime My, Oh My

What business does The Oceanaire Seafood Room have serving such a damn good key lime pie? As if having dozens of fresh fish, roughly a bajillion types of oysters and every kind of crustacean known to man wasn't enough, they go and churn out a kick ass slab of pie. Damn you, retro supper club, damn you. Now I'll never fit into my skinny jeans.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Free Concert Courtesy of Diesel, Tuesday Night

All Diesel fans will have a chance to witness this private event with a limited amount of invitations to be given away starting at 4pm on Saturday, November 14th through Tuesday, November 17th, at Diesel stores as well as Bloomingdale’s located at the Aventura Mall.

Diesel Lincoln Road – 933 Lincoln Road
Diesel Avenutra – 19501 Biscayne Boulevard
Diesel Miami Beach – 801 Washington Avenue
Bloomingdale’s Aventura (men’s and women’s Diesel Departments)-19555 Biscayne Boulevard

In addition, Diesel’s Lincoln Road will kick-off the festivities with a nightly Happy Hour including cocktails, DJ’s and shopping. Happy Hour commences on Saturday the 14th and continues for an additional three nights.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cookie Monkey Cookies Are Effing Delicious

The Keebler Elves got nothing on Miami resident Marisa Scime. Armed with grandmother's cookie recipe and a willingness to explore uncharted baking waters, the cookie goddess will bake any kind of cookie you desire, incorporating the candy, liquor or food craving of choice. So far she's been commissioned to make bacon cookies but she's open to anything. She dropped off a few of her chocolate chip classics for me to try and they are great - chewy, moist and flecked with both milk chocolate and semi-sweet chips along with macadamia nuts. More info on how to order and how the cookie maven got started here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Anthony Bourdain: Saucy Outtakes

Rabble rouser and epicurean adventurer Anthony Bourdain will be in town hosting a Celebrity Chef event at the Arsht Center Friday night with Eric Ripert and Jacques Pepin. I learned quite a few things from our short conversation, namely fatherhood has tamed the churlish chef, that pig should be a condiment and that he really dislikes Mr. Chow.

Here's a bit of Q & A for you to digest.

Has becoming a father affected the badass side of your personality?
I think any notions of being a badass evaporated immediately upon seeing my gorgous daughter appear on this planet. It’s all a hollow joke, the idea of being cool, immediately upon having a child.

What’s your favorite drink?
I’m a big fan of the negroni. If I’m sitting in Italy, late afternoon, a negroni on the rocks with a hunk of orange in it is a nice way to usher in the evening.

Any locations for your show that are off-limits for safety or security reasons?
We’re trying to shoot in the Democratic Republic of Congo because I’m fascinated by Conrad and the history of colonialism. I’d love to shoot in Iran, where I understand the people are very friendly but the government doesn’t make it very conducive to an American shooting something there.

What is the one place everyone should see before they die?
Tokyo. Or Shanghai or Beijing. At least to see the future to know what the world will look like when they’re gone. If you want to see who our futre master will be and what the world will look like in twenty years Beijing is a good start.

Because China is going to rule the world.
At least we’ll be eating better.

What’s the best music to cook to?
During the prep period Curtis Mayfield’s soundtrack to Superfly works for me.

If you could only pick three condiments/spices to have for the rest of your life what would they be?
Salt, pepper and a pig.

Pig as a condiment?
It would be in my world.

So…Mr. Chow. I take it you’re not a fan?
Mr. Chow is like the Cipriani of Chinese food. It’s for alleged douchebags who are allegedly not paying enough for their alleged food. It’s for people with small penises. It’s the worst place on earth. When you find yourself at Mr. Chow you need to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask, what has my life come to? Because you have to be in desperate fucking straits to find yourself paying that much money for food you can get better six blocks away.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

About Last Night @ Pacific Time

Complimentary cocktails and bar bites (sweet and sour shrimp, crab wontons) from 8-9pm, and the party goes until midnight.
35 NE 40th St. 305-722-7369.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Free Entree @ Ishq

I've only eaten at Ishq once and it was alright. Been meaning to go back and give it another try but the thought of braving Ocean Drive and their way-too-high for Indian prices ($19.95 for saag paneer?) always turned me off. Plus, a great new Indian place just opened on Key Biscayne (more on that later). But they've reopened after a summer hiatus and are offering a free second entree for dinner so maybe it's time to pay them a visit. Download the coupon here.
530 Ocean Drive, 305-532-4747.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Bargain Burgers @ Steak 954

We had a great meal at Stephen Starr’s bastion of beef at the W Ft. Lauderdale when it opened a few months ago. We've been meaning to get back there, and now that the restaurant just slashed the price on their signature burger and fries to a namesake-worthy $9.54 it's a pretty attractive lunch option. Now that the weather's cooling down, dining out on the patio overlooking A1A sounds downright decadent.
11am-2:30pm, weekdays, 401 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, 954-414-8333.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

2 For 1 Lobsters @ Andu

I grew up in Massachusetts, where lobsters are cheap and you can buy them at Cape Cod gas stations and eat them on salty dockside tables so this deal at Andu sounds about right. On Tuesdays the Mediterranean bistro on Brickell is giving away two 1.5-pound lobsters for the usual price of one ($28.95).
141 SW 7th St, 786-871-7005.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Wino Mondays @ Bourbon Steak

Miami Spice may be over, but the bargain-priced gluttony continues at this cushy Aventura steakhouse. All 850 bottles of wine on their epic list are fifty per cent off on Mondays. Meaning a bottle of Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc can be had for $18 or you could spring for the ’96 Opus One at $210. It’s cheaper than flying to Napa. Check out the wine list here.

Bourbon Steak, 19999 West Country Club Dr, 786-279-6600.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Michelle Bernstein @ The Omphoy Palm Beach

We recently took a trip "up north" to Palm Beach for a quick and local getaway. It feels different up there (less treffic, less people, lots of classy old folks with sweaters tied around their shoulders) and it's a nice escape from the craziness of Miami. We stayed at the recently-opened Omphoy Hotel which is a dark, zen-like place that represents a new direction for Palm Beach - less staid, more hip. All the in-house dining is run by Miami favorite Michelle Bernstein so we were excited to see how the sassy Latin chef had adapted herself to the new WASPY digs.

The dining room faces the ocean which at night is pointless since that's like overlooking a vast sea of blackness but it's probably a nice spot for a daytime wedding reception. The main restaurant is only open for dinner (during the day you dine downstairs at MB Terrace. More on that later). The decor is in keeping with the rest of the hotel - dark woods, royal blues, plush chairs. It's not as cozy as Michy's or as warm as Sra. Martinez but it definitely feels more formal. The first things we noticed when we went up for dinner was that the restaurant was packed. Granted, it was a Saturday night and it's a hot new restaurant, but it seems that Michelle has won over the Palm Beach set. We sat next to a couple that seemed SO Palm Beach (i.e. the guy had a really obvious toupee). Turns out it was the mayor of Palm Beach and he commented to a neighboring table that it was his third time there since they opened.

In terms of the menu - apparently she's still tweaking things in the kitchen but it seems like she's got the greatest hits of Michelle Bernstein on there with a few new creative additions. The crispy sweetbreads, white gazpacho, croquettas (spinach and feta), roasted bone marrow, fried chicken with all the fixings and braised short ribs.

We started with the tuna carpaccio topped with foie gras "snow" and diced apples. This was one of the best dishes of the night. It was a delicate portion but it had big flavors. The tuna was lightly dressed with soy and sesame oil that cut the richness of the foie gras shavings. The apples added a refreshing finish.

Next was the buratta with fried green tomatoes and luscious heirloom tomatoes. Nicely composed and pitch perfect. The black cod in dashi broth was another great dish with very subtle flavors that came together well - the buttery fish with a crisp pan sear, flavorful mushroom broth and hefty side of bok choy.

We also tried the Malaysian curried snapper and found it less compelling - the sauce lacked something, spice, complexity...something. It just didn't pop.
Desserts were fun - a trio of hot chocolate-filled homemade donuts with a cafe con leche pot de creme and the "dreamsicle," a chocolate mousse cake served with orange creamsicle ice cream.

We had two lunches while there (we missed breakfast as I slogged my way through a 9am Core Fusion class, a class I think should be renamed Core Refusin') and they were more of a mixed bag. Daytime eats are served on the second floor lobby and oceanfront terrace. The terrace is a lovely al fresco patio and the indoor dining room serves as seating for the O Bar and reminded me a bit of Kelly Wearstler's style at the Viceroy though not as rich and textured.

The highlights off the lunch menu were the Greek salad and roasted half chicken over Israeli couscous, both were flavorful and satisfying. The falafel wrap was disappointing with dry, dense falafel. Admittedly, I am a falafel snob having grown up on the stuff and gorged on it on frequent trips to Israel but we found ourselves dousing it in the tzatziki sauce just to give it some flavor and moisture. The fish and chips were also a bit bland but the hand cut fries made up fir it.
It's too early to judge as the restaurants have been open just over a month and Michelle is running quite an empire these days but so far it looks like Palm Beach is getting a taste of what we Miamians have known all along, MB is quite good at what she does.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Endless Meatballs @ Talula Wednesdays

Talula is a standard go-to for intimate dates with foodies and now it can serve as a go-to for carb-loading. For $29 you get a bottomless bowl of rigatoni dressed with chef Andrea’s tangy Sunday Sauce topped with ricotta and alongside unlimited sides of homemade meatballs, salad and garlic rolls. They’re also throwing in a dessert course of espresso panna cotta which ought to wake you from that food coma.
Wednesdays, 6:30-10:30pm, 210 23rd St, 305-672-0778.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Empanadas @ Go Go Fresh Food Cafe

They're tasty, cheap and charming. You got to love a place that takes the time to label each half moon pie with its own descriptive flag. Tucked away in an unassuming strip mall on Alton Road, the mod café is great for a quick lunch with healthy salads (the Greek was good) and dozens of varieties of the Argentinean snack.
Go Go Fresh Food Cafe, 926 Alton Road,(305) 673-3137.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Recap: Todd English Wine Dinner

Todd English's Ft. Lauderdale resto da Campo Osteria was packed to the gills (which isn't hard to do - the place has about 65 seats) last Wednesday for a wine dinner hosted by the celeb chef and Ruffino Wines CEO, Adolfo Folonari. I managed to get English (who is by the way, one tall drink of water) to divulge that though he is opening another restaurant in Boca he does have his sights set on Miami, possibly something in the Brickell area, but it's very far off. It shows that downtown is now on radar of these big chef empires, whereas it used to always be South Beach.

Here's the menu and highlights afterwards.

Diverte Bocca
Seared Scallop, Cauliflower, Tomato Water

Swank Farms Greens, Vin Cotto, Falconero Olive Oil,
Wild Flower Honey, Dijon, Parmesan
Ruffino Libaio Chardonnay, Toscana

House Made Burrata “Caprese”

Suckling Pig Raviolo
Parsnip, Thyme, Toma Piemontese, Crisps, Broth
White Truffle
Tenuta Santedame Chianti Classico, Toscana

Braised Short Rib
Horseradish, Potatoes Puree,
Baby Chard, Pine Nut Gremolata,
Black Truffle
Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Riserva, Toscana

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate
Cake, Whipped Ganache, Gelato, Streusel, Strawberry
Ruffino Modus “Super Tuscan”, Toscana

The home made burrata was great, and reminds me that I need to get over to that restaurant more often to polish off that fresh-pulled mozzarella they do so well. We also really enjoyed the scallop starter with its thimble of tomatoe water, a refreshing palate cleanser. As the evening went on English really took to his emcee job, joking that he wanted to be reincarnated as the Ruffino wine maker (totally understandable, the man makes wine and lives in a villa on the Italian countryside, hello it's every foodie's dream). It also occured to us that the suckling pig ravioli with white truffles was sort of a play on the fact that they use pigs to find the truffles and now here they were, sharing the same plate. Culinary poetic justice or just very decadent plating?
By the time the braised short rib rolled around we were as stuffed as suckling pigs but didn't stop us from sipping what was probably the best wine pairing of the evening - the Chianti Classico Riserva with the hearty beef and pine nut combo - perfection.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pamela Anderson Hosts PETA Dinner

Also tonight: you can pay $180 to eat vegetarian food with Pamela Anderson and Richie Rich at Solea at the W South Beach.

Tonight: Todd English And Wine

Celeb chef Todd English has been making headlines in Miami gossip blogs for personal drama but tonight he'll doing what he does best - cooking amazing food. He'll be hosting a dinner along with Ruffino Wines CEO, Adolfo Folonari at his Fort Lauderdale eatery, da Campo Osteria. Menu items for the five-course dinner include house made Burrata Caprese and short ribs with horseradish mashed potatoes with black truffles. Cost is $150 per person.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009, 7:00-10:00 PM
da Campo Osteria at il Lugano Suite Hotel, 3333 N.E. 32nd Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308.Call (954) 226-5002 for reservations.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lou's Beer Garden @ The New Hotel

A little while ago I covered a deco hotel in North Beach that's eco-friendly and laid-back. They've a great little bar in their pool area and dubbed it a beer garden. I've been spending a lot of time there because: the beer selection is small but good, the food menu has a few quirky yet delicious items and the atmosphere is refreshingly low key for Miami. Plus, it's in my neighborhood and I like the fact that I can walk home instead of driving after a few Longboard lagers on a Sunday night.
Lou is the chef and he's got some respectable gigs in his background. He worked at the Setai and alongside Kris Wessel at Elia at Bal Harbour. The menu's got some standard tiki bar stuff - quesadillas,nachos, fried calamari - but you know that is there to please the hotel guests. If you're lookingin for something different and delicious go for the crispy sardines. They come with a light pepper-flecked breading and a squeeze of lemon (no Tabasco necessary). Sort of like something you might get off a boat in Greece.

The pizzas are good, too, with a thin crispy crust and nicely balanced toppings. The vegetables are impressively fresh. The fries are hand cut Belgian with a generous douse of pepper. The chorizo-stuffed squid is spicy. And Lou is really keen on adding tripe to the menu. So no, this definitely isn't your typical hotel pool bar.

Beers on tap include Shock Top, LandShark and Longhammer I.P.A. There's also wine and sake cocktails. Prices are low, with most beers under $6 and pizzas around $12.
The New Hotel, 7337 Harding Ave, 305-704-7879.

Monday, October 12, 2009

BluePrint Cleanse Day 3

I've been cleansing this weekend. After Yom Kippur and all that spiritual cleansing I figured it was time I did the same for my digestive tract. Now I'm on the last day of a 3-day juice cleanse/detox journey. It's my first one. I'd always been curious about these juice fasts so when the good folks at BluePrint Cleanse offered to let me try it (along with a slew of other media folk in Miami - don't be alarmed if you see editors around town chugging these plastic bottles) I agreed. And, like Buster's character in Arrested Development, I am a glutton for free juice.

This is how it works: 6 juices a day for three days = 18 bottles of fresh squeezed goodness. Their motto is "You drink, we think" so they make the whole experience easy for you. You choose your cleanse online (I went with the intermediate level because level 1 seemed too wimpy and I was a bit scared of level 3, also known as the "excavation" cleanse. Yikes.) and it arrives packed in ice packs the day you begin.

It's actually not that bad. Sure, you give up solid food for three long days but the juices are mighty tasty. My favorite juices so far are the second juice of the day - pineapple, apple and mint - and the fourth juice - lemon, agave nectar and cayenne pepper which strikes me as a great mixer for vodka or Bloody Marys. These are things I think about when forced to drink juice and only juice for three days. And I look forward to the last drink of the day - cashew nut milk with vanilla and cinnamon as a treat for being so good all day long (it's kind of like a vegan milkshake). I'm not super-starved but I also don't feel full. I definitely feel hydrated. And it's changed my perspective on food a bit, meaning I realize how much sodium is in so much of what I eat everyday. Will it be the life-changing experience so many have claimed it to be? Hmm, we'll see. Will it get rid of the residue collecting in my intestines from so many night spent drinking wine and ingesting rich food? Let's just say, it works as advertised...

Update: Also, this month only the peeps at BPC are offering free shipping on orders to Florida which is a $60 savings.
So from now until November 5, Florida residents will enjoy free BPC delivery to anywhere in the state. There's no discount code, it's automatically deducted from your order.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

$2 Cocktails @ The Tides

The alfresco patio at the Tides could be my new go-to spot for kicking off the weekend, now that they've introduced drink specials that correspond to the hours from 2-8pm. So drinks at 2pm are $2, $3pm, $3 and so on. Meaning you'll be there until the clock strikes adequately buzzed.
2-8pm daily, The Tides South Beach, 1220 Ocean Dr, 305-604-5070

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Wine Classes @ Fratelli Lyon

I have a conflicted relationship with wine tastings. On the one hand I love them, absolutely love 'em. They're fun, tasty and educational. On the other hand, I usually end up having too much fun, meaning my notes get sloppy and I forget which wine was which, what the differences were and which ones I liked best. But last Wednesday as I settled into my seat for class #4 of Fratelli's six-course Passport to Italy wine series I was determined to come away with a few nuggets of wine-stained info. Two hours, six wines (including a bubbly aperitif), and six mini-meals later I emerged more than a bit tipsy but confident in the knowledge that I rilly, rilly like Babera d'Alba. Or was it Barbera d'Asti?

The classes are taught by Julie Mushett (above), the lovely oenophile behind WineLifeStyle Miami and Aniece Meinhold, Fratelli Lyon's manager and resident wine expert. Both ladies did a great job of imparting their extensive knowldege of Italian wines and kept things running smoothly by keeping the pours coming and instructing which dishes should be paired with the different wines.

The restaurant pitched in with 6 different food pairings that complimented the two whites and four reds we were tasting. The focus was the Piedmont region - Italy's northwest located at the foothills of the Alps. I remember this only because the instructors put together these very thoughtful packets on the wines and the region with nifty little maps that I studied in between munching on Fratelli's addictive breadsticks and marinated olives.
Boozy highlights include:
-an amazingly stinky blue cheese that went well with the Barbera d'Alba (Pelissero 2005)
- a full-bodied Barolo (Icardi 1998) paired with tender slices of steak
- Best in show foodwise: my first time tasting a bagna cauda, a Piedmontese sauce made of pureed anchovies, walnuts, garlic and cream. I was seriously in love with this sauce, I could have downed a mug of it. Needless to say, I licked the little bowl clean with an ample supply of bread sticks and gulps of the floral Cortese (Icardi 2007).
The wine classes ($45 each) are held Wednesdays from 7:30-9:30pm, at Fratelli Lyon's glass-enclosed side dining room. 4141 NE 2nd Ave, 305-572-2901. Tonight's class features the wines of Northern Italy.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Free Vodka Cocktails @ Segafredo Brickell Tonight

Party like a Russian tycoon tonight when Segafredo Brickell turns their outdoor courtyard into a vodka-soaked hideaway replete with leggy Eastern Bloc women in fur coats dispensing complimentary cocktails for the first two hours. This is obviously as close as you’ll get to snowy weather all season long.
8pm, October 1, 1421 S Miami Ave, 305-577-9809, RSVP to

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Obba Sushi, Brickell

There's not much in the way of affordable sushi on Brickell, so this tiny new spot on the ground floor of the Brickell Harbour condo building ought to come in handy the next time you're craving spicy tuna rolls and shrimp tempura. Lunch specials are $10-$12 and come with the requisite miso soup or salad with a tasty carrot ginger dressing. The menu's not too exotic but the fish is fresh and the rolls are generous. They're also dishing well-priced sakes and Japanese beers, or you can stay home and let their Smart Car delivery service do all the work.
200 SE 15th Rd, 786-953-8710