Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Saturday: Late Nite Party with the Wolfsonian

Oscar Tidbits

This slideshow from Slate's coverage of the Oscars last year points out some interesting things about the awards for best costume design, namely that the Academy is obsessed with frilly dresses.
And the Washington Post has a nice meandering report from the Oscar parties.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Le Bernardin Tribute Dinner and More Bourdain

Saturday night the hot ticket (and the only) event for the Food and Wine fest was the tribute to Le Bernardin at the Loews Miami Beach. The guest of honor was Eric Ripert, accomplished chef of the famed New York eatery since 1994.

As expected the culinary cognoscenti was in full swing at this uber-formal bash. Martha Stewart was there, Daniel Boulud was slaving away in the kitchen, and of course Anthony Bourdain was there in all his 7-foot tall glory. New York magazine food critic Gael Greene was hosting the festivities and as such saw it fit to don a captain's cap along with a flowy jacket with gold coins festooned on its tunrquiose shimmeryness. I give Gael credit, she certainly bucked the all-black conformity thing that was going on that night.
Local visionary Norman Van Aken handled the hors d'oeuvres for the Dom Perignon champagne reception. He is such a sweetheart. So nice and so hard-working.

When I popped "backstage" to have a chat with him he was seriously plating each and every mini-BLT and conch-ceviche with coconut-infused cream (below) himself.

Loews executive chef Marc Ehrler also contributed to the cocktail reception with arctic char salmon topped with shaved cucumber and scallion foam. His spicy Maine lobster with a lychee wine pipette topped with gold-dusted wasabi gelee (below) was a real show stopper. For $500 a ticket, there better be gold dust all over every morsel.

The main dinner of 6 courses, each with its own wine pairings consisted of wild mallard duck ballotine with Buddha hand confit by Mr. Boulud, foie gras and tapioca ravioli with celery and sunchoke broth with black truffles by Tony Esnault of Alain Ducasse in New York and chocolate cashew tart with red wine caramel and malted milk chocolate ice cream by Michael Laiskonis from Le Bernardin.

I had a chance to talk with live-cobra-heart-eating Bourdain before dinner started.
Me: Mr. Bourdain I read about your experience in Lebanon this summer with great interest.
Cobra Tony: Oh! (expression turns from smug to serious) Yes it was really upsetting.
Me: Well, I've always wanted to visit Lebanon, but I can't because--
CT: You should! It used to be just like South Beach and now Hizbullah's taken over again...
Me: Have you ever visited Israel?
CT: Well, no, I'm kind of turned off after this summer
Me: You should go. It's worthwhile for you to see it. I think you'd enjoy it.
CT: Really...yeah...(inching away)
Me: Have you explored Persian food?
CT: Oh Yeah, we're going to Tehran this year!
Me: That's great. Do you know anything about Persian food?
CT: Uh, no.
Me: You'll enjoy it. I've always wanted to go to Iran but I can't because I'm--
CT: Well, good night, nice meeting you.
Maybe I came off as a raving Zionist, but how annoying is it that Bourdain has no plans to visit Israel. At least go explore the other side.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Food and Wine SoBe Style

The Publix Tasting village at 4:45 Saturday was full of rilly, rilly happy people. Or rilly, rilly, runk people. Either way, everyone was wasted away in Margaritaville. I had approx. 15 minutes to get my blood alcohol level up to par with my SoBe Food Fest cohorts and unless I was about to chug a magnum of Pierre Jouet it wasn't happening. Luckily the Club Med food tent was still going strong and I managed to taste some delightful white chocolate French toast with raspberry coulis and sip some French wines. But I refused to wear the wine glass around my neck.

I did get a chance to see some of the Food Network personalities that have made this fest such a destination. Mr. rock star chef Anthony Bourdain was holding court to an overflowing tent for his session of "Blunt Talk." It was basically this blog rant with enough pauses built in for the sloshed crowd to whoop it up. Example:
PAULA DEEN: I’m reluctant to bash what seems to be a nice old lady. Even if her supporting cast is beginning to look like the Hills Have Eyes--and her food a True Buffet of Horrors. A recent Hawaii show was indistinguishable from an early John Waters film. And the food on a par with the last scene of Pink Flamingos. But I’d like to see her mad. Like her look-alike, Divine in the classic, “Female Trouble.“ Paula Deen on a Baltimore Killing Spree would be something to see. Let her get Rachael in a headlock--and it’s all over.
You get the picture. I walked away in time to hear Bourdain answer what he thought of Rocco Dispirito "The man can cook," Bourdain generously asserted. And lo and behold who was in a neighboring tent, but Mr. Dispirito himself, svelte (apparently he's training for an Iron Man triathlon, and when he chops those onions, those biceps are bulging), and incredibly fun to watch.

He handled himself splendidly given that his audience was 99% women in their late 30's who were 100% pickled. As he went about demonstrating quick and easy recipes poor Rocco grinned sheepishly when women in the audience yelped "Rocco do you have a girlfren?" and even fielded a few ass slappings from his enthusiastic volunteers. "I think she's leaving on a jet plane," Rocco chuckled.
Oh, Rocco, what hath the wrath of Jefferey Chodorow wrought? But he's still just as charming and boyishly handsome as ever, and given his obvious talent with food, his career still has plenty of potential.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Icing on the Cake @ Viceroy SoBe

The "No Reservations" screening after-party hosted by Viceroy South Beach was definitely one of the more inspired pairings of food and fabulousness in conjunction with the South Beach Wine and Food fest last night. The sales pavilion for the luxury development was filled with decadent treats including cheesecake lollipops, a strawberry and chocolate dipping bar and plenty of champagne to ease the sugar rush. The real show stopper was the cake from Edda's Cake Designs which put any condo model to shame. The crowd was appropriately glamorous, a nice mixture of young and a bit older, and everyone hung out in the Kelly Wearstler-designed interiors as if it was a friend's condo. The marble-clad bathroom was impressive but I was too busy fawning over the Bosch built-in espresso maker in the kitchen, it's a coffee-addict's dream.

Vueve Clicquot Bubble Bath@ Setai

I have to say I was not impressed. Maybe I expect more for a party with a $175 pricetag (which I thankfully did not pay) or perhaps I desire more spectacle from my Miami mega-parties. Let me break it down for you. The setting was the triple-pool area of the Setai's expansive backyard. In each pool were positioned "Bubble Girls," and their orange swim-trunked male champagne slaves. Basically the guys spent the night going back and forth from each bubble queen pouring them champagne. Ok, that's a spectacle, I guess...I mean, how different is this from a typical Art Basel party? This year we had Dita Von Teese riding a mechanical bull. Now THAT is a paw-tee!

Maybe if the bubble girls actually did something besides sit and preen in those tubs. Well, scratch that, they did do something - get incredibly tipsy on all the Vueve Clicquot. Those poor dears were so wasted that by the time food materialized (after an hour and half) in the form of passed hors d'oeuvres the bubble girls were flailing their arms over the tubs trying to get a veggie spring roll or seven.
The champagne was definitely flowing. If people came intending to drink their ticket price in booze, it was certainly possible. (Given that a bottle of VC goes for $40 you'd have to drink four... which I sorta did.) The bars were well-stocked and there was a plethora of of models dressed in orange mini-bathrobes pouring champagne for anyone with a plastic flute. I have to give credit to the Setai staffers for their incredible patience and professionalism. They really were the only people working the party who were not sipping the bubbly and it showed. They navigated the pool areas with trays of tuna tartare, shrimp shumai and beef skewers like champs. And the crowd was what you'd expect - not local. It's mostly out-of-towners that pay the astronomical prices for these SoBe food fest events. And most locals are not as blown away by girls in bikinis pouring drinks. Let's hope the other food and wine-focused events are better value for the money, otherwise it seems this little food fest that could is getting a bit bloated.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sushi Rolling Class @ Doraku

I love interactive cooking demonstrations. It’s a great way to get in touch with your food. But making sushi can be an intimidating prospect for the average gourmand. It is one of those beguiling foods that is incredibly easy to consume and ridiculously difficult to make. Or so I thought. Turns out the process, while labor intensive, is hardly more complicated than making a sandwich. The difference is the meticulousness with which one must approach the process. Too much crabstick here, too little rice there and you’ve got an uneven sorry excuse for a California roll. So it was with anticipation tinged with a small dose of trepidation that I approached Doraku's Art of Sushi rolling class last week.

The $40 class fee includes a great 4-course Japanese meal featuring the restaurant’s Pan-Asian cuisine. Dinner begins with seared tuna (above) topped with tropical Asian salsa, a tangy and refreshing mix of mango, red onions and black sesame seeds. Next was salmon carpaccio bathed in creamy ginger sauce, and for the third course we opted for seared tofu in a bracing ponzu marinade, the tofu skin expertly flash fried encasing the creamy center. Throughout the courses Doraku executive chef Hiro Terada visited our table and distributed thoughtfully prepared photocopied packets on the history of sushi along with recipes and instruction on how to prepare the sushi at home. After the third course, I and my fellow sushi apprentices gathered around the makeshift sushi demonstration area to glean from chef Terada nuggets of raw fish wisdom.

A patient teacher, the chef went about making a variety of rolls including basic California, spicy tuna and philly rolls (which by the way, do not really exist in Japan, something the chef admitted sheepishly). We all observed the chef in action, exclaiming observations to be remembered when it was our time on the board (“Always dip your hands in water when handling the rice.” “That Japanese knife is awesome!” etc.) Obviously some of us were enjoying our saketinis during the process as well.
Then the chef started getting fancy creating rainbow rolls, a dragon roll (below) using two tempura-fried shrimp and elegantly sliced avocado on top. He elicited gasps from us when he expertly cored and ribboned a cucumber in order to create the “skin” for a seaweed-free roll consisting of crabstick and avocado. He also used an edamame paper for a vegetable roll, something I hadn't seen before, probably because I never order vegetable rolls.

Then it was our turn to make teach proud. Every person gets to make their own roll with chef helping along. The atmosphere is generally jovial and friendly throughout the whole process. The results were mixed of course, but pretty much everyone did a great job and had a good time doing it. After the rolling was done, it was a veritable sushi feast with white platters of all of the chef’s and student’s rolls covering the tables. After dinner Chef presented us with a fantastic party favor - a Doraku tin lunchbox filled with the essentails for creating the sushi party at home - a bamboo rolling mat, a pound of sushi rice, rice vinegar, soy sauce and chopsticks. The class is a great date idea and a good deal because you get to learn a new skill, eat a ton of sushi and possibly bond with new friends over the mysteries of sticky rice.

1104 Lincoln Road

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mosaic Tiles in the 'Hood

Riding my bike on the beach this weekend I happened upon these two apartment buildings on Byron Ave and 82nd street. And I love them! Wish more buildings used tiles on the facades like this. The nice things about these two buildings is that they seem kind of old and bohemian. Like some people got together 15 years ago and decided to have a tile party. The bridge on 41st street also has some wild mosaic tiling on its railings. It brings the shimmering ocean to the concrete jungle.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

IDEAS: Intellectual Nourishment in the Grove

I have been hearing many good things about IDEAS. Last week I had a chance to have dinner there and see for myself. In the case of this new Spanish restaurant in Coconut Grove, the reviews are right on.
In service, décor and culinary wizardry, Ideas is top notch. Chef Alvaro Beade executes Spanish cooking from the Castilla y Leon region with a confidence and elegance that is both accessible and lofty. From the page-long list of Chef’s suggestions (thankfully translated into Spanish on the reverse side of the page) to the standard menu, the selections at the restaurant marry old and new ideas about traditional Spanish cooking. Red wine braised veal cheeks are accompanied by baby lima bean ragout while Mediterranean Sea Bass (below) is dressed with cauliflower parmentier and wrapped around a Castillian “pisto,” a ratatouille-like mixture of zucchinis, onions, and tomatoes.

The owners have done a great job of transforming the space, a nondescript clapboard house on Bird Ave., into a graceful fine dining destination. The dining room is a mélange of beiges and soft creams in the form of warm travertine floors and flowing drapes. The lighting in the restaurant is just dim enough to make anyone look sultry. The air is blessedly music-free so you can have normal dinner conversations without shouting. The dining room also has a space-agey element to it in the form of the glass-enclosed massive display kitchen at one end of the room through which servers run food through noiseless sliding glass doors. I also spied a chef’s table inside the kitchen, where foodies can get front-row views of the gastronomic acrobatics going on in the food theater. The service is miraculous at Ideas. Waiters and bussers manage that delicate balance of attentiveness without being overbearing; plates were promptly cleared after each course, cutlery and water refilled without having to ask.

Appetizers of piquillo peppers with creamy cod and cognac sauce (above) were soulful and hearty, the cod just smoky and salty enough to meld with the sweetness of the peppers. A lovely plate of plump boquerones (anchovies) in vinegar(below) brought me back to my first visit to Madrid, the time I fell in love with anchovies. Except these were much more swoon-worthy, nicely tart and zesty, with a bite that was as refreshing as the ocean from which they sprang.

An palate cleanser of honeydew melon soup was a perfectly simple and eye-catching, delivered in a tall shotglass.

The goat cheese salad with pecans and honey was hearty and satisfying, the cheese moist and fresh, the pecans crisp and warm.

Desserts of crunchy chocolate brownie and blackberry cheesecake were offset with flutes of strawberry juice, a fitting cap to a well-executed meal.

Appetizers $9-$14, Entrees $24 -$36, Desserts $8 -$11.
2833 Bird Ave., Coconut Grove

Pastel Toys: Kibbutz with a Cause

A few summers ago while on a road trip in Northern Israel we embarked on a fruitless journey to find a small Druze restaurant located in the "Park Ha'Slaim," or Park of Rocks in the Druze village of Kisra. The goal of the excursion was to make it to the restaurant before sunset. The restaurant is perched on a cliff overlooking the rock park and the view before sunset is magical and, besides the deliciously mysterious Druze food, the only reason to trek out to the obscure eatery.
Well, we got lost. Really lost. The village is ensconced somewhere in the winding mountainous roads of the Galilee. By the time we actually found Kisra and its rock park it was past sunset on a Sunday night and for reasons we shall never know since the Druze keep their cultural and religious practices secret, the restaurant was closed. I mention this story because while we were driving through those circuitous mountain roads we passed an Israeli kibbutz with a similar name - Kishorit - and got excited because we thought perhaps we had written down the village name incorrectly. But then we realized we were simultaneously correct and incorrect, for Kishorit was not the Druze town and instead a kibbutz that employs mentally disabled adults by making delicate handmade wooden toys for kids. Flash forward to the present and I'm flipping through an old NYTimes magazine and lo and behold a fantastic wooden airplane from Pastel Toys, the Kishorit brand.

The toys are made with milk-based paints which makes them allergy-free because they are made with non-toxic chemicals. The kibbutz also maintains an organic vegetable garden and proceeds from the toys go to help the kibbutz remain self-sustaining. The moral of this rambling post? Next time I am in Israel I will preceed a dinner at Kisra with a wooden toy buying excursion in Kishorit. Or buy them here. And here.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Boat Show Adventure

Stopped by the Yacht section of the Miami Boat Show at Collins and 41st and snapped a few pics of some McMansions for the sea. The camera was on a wonky setting - forgive the strangeness of the photos. I think the one above was about 137 footer or close to it. I remembered reading somewhere that the salary of a yacht captain is roughly equivalent to a thousand dollars per foot. If so, the cap'n of this baby is making a nice chunk of change.

This section of the Boat Show reminded me of the main convention center at Art Basel - lots of wealthy Europeans walking the aisles talking about ridiculously expensive things. Except in this instance it's yachts instead of art. But the difference with this show is preciousness with which the yacht brokers deal with their product. It shows in the way there are signs on every boat saying "no shoes" when touring the boats and how some vessels are only accessible by appointment. Then there are the major dealers like Ferreti and Azimut who have their sections cordoned off with velvet ropes and bouncers, they may be dressed in preppy clothing, sure, but they're still bouncers. At Art Basel there was plenty of property on display worth just as much as those boats and yet the galleries at Basel let anyone get in touch with those million-dollar Warhols and Basquiats, hell they even let people drink champagne and gesture wildly near the pieces. It highlighted how uptight the yacht world is. Not ground breaking news, I know, but sobering nonetheless.

This cute little oak number caught my eye. Flashy yes, but classy too. Imagine docking this in Santorini.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Salone del Gusto - Yak Cheese and Peace

I'm on a Slow Food research kick so bear with me....
Here's an excerpt from the NYTimes about the Slow Food conference called Salone del Gusto by Terra Madre, the international association of Slow Fooders, held yearly in Italy, the country where the movement began.
More than 8,000 people turned the building that held the 2006 Olympic speed skating oval into a kind of culinary United Nations. Chefs and people who like to eat mixed with the people who actually farm, herd, fish or otherwise create the foods that represent what Slow Food is trying to promote.
Basque shepherds mulled over nomadic herding with Mongolian camel tenders. Indian rice growers mingled with Maine potato farmers. Fishermen traded tastes of wild Northwest smoked salmon and Sicilian Favignana bottarga. And everyone partied with the wild Louisiana shrimpers.
Forget the South Beach Wine and Food Fest, I want to go to this! The article also highlights another great thing about the conference - the presence of Israeli and Palestinian chefs working together.
One afternoon, a Jewish chef and a Muslim chef got together to cook for peace. Moshe Basson of the Eucalyptus restaurant in Jerusalem and Nabil Aho of the Restaurant Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center made a menu from traditional Biblical food, including green wheat soup and musakhan chicken with hummus (and let's just say it was the best hummus I ever tasted).
Mr. Aho said the dishes they made in Turin were designed to appeal to rich and poor, Christian, Muslim or Jew. ''We can all gather around this food,'' he said.
The men, part of a small group called Chefs for Peace, believe food is a common language that can help solve the Middle East conflict. ''In most kitchens all over Jerusalem or Tel Aviv there are Palestinian and Israelis cooking together, shoulder to shoulder, with long knives,'' said Mr. Basson. ''They are not killing each other. They are just trying to make a life.''

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More Slow Food in Israel

I've been doing some research on the Slow Food movement in Israel and as it relates to Jewish cooking and I've come across some interesting things. There's definitely a correlation between Jewish and Israeli cooking and the tenets of this food movement.
In addition to Pausa Inn, other Israeli businesses that subscribe officially to the Slow Food movement are:
Ella Valley Traditional Producers - sustainable farming where they produce olive oil, wine and organic dairy products. In the same valley where David fought Goliath.
Galilee Olive Oil Producers - an organization started by a group of Israeli and Palestinian women with the goal of uniting local farmers and selling their wares through fair trade markets.
Mt Eitan Goat Cheesemakers - a goat farm located in the mountain west of Jerusalem where the goats are raised wild. They produce cheeses that age for a few months in natural caves. The farm provides cheese, olive oil and other organic produce to Jerusalem's critically acclaimed French restaurant Arcadia.
Also American Jewish cooking author Joan Nathan is a big proponent of Slow Food. She was recently a keynote speaker at the Martha's Vineyard Slow Food Convivium.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Happy Birthday All Purpose Dark!

Today marks a year that I've been posting regularly on this little blog that could. It's been quite a fantastic ride churning out these posts on a consistent basis. I started this project with the intention of improving my writing work ethic by sharing my wacky musings with an unknown public. After 12 months and 256 posts, I will admit that I am pretty durn proud of this venture. And I want to thank you, dear readers for sticking with me through the roller coaster of content. I also want to give appreciation to my blogging community, both local and international, for the cross-linkage love, support and of course, inspiration.
Let's take a walk down memory lane, shall we?
There have been wild Miami parties, restaurant reports, and travels to Israel, Jamaica, Japan and China. Musings on being a Persian Jewess, riding my trusty Citizen Bike and observations on literature, film, art and food.
Most of all I want to thank my A-bomb, you are the willing wing-man to my mad-cap adventures in the name of this blog.
Here's to many more posts. L'chaim!

Wynwood Arts Walk: Wherefore Art Thou, Hipsters?

Saturday night was Wynwood and Design District's monthly gallery walk happening. It was unusually quiet with fewer galleries open and the amount of hipsters prowling the streets looking for free cheap wine seriously lacking. I stopped by Emmanuel Perrotin's
dazzling MiMo gem of a gallery and perused the shows he had in the sprawling space. Aya Takano's show (below) was a little bit kawaii mixed with darkness (so Japanese). Drinking wine out of real wine glasses combined with the platter of Ruffles potato chips made the experience all the more enjoyable. But the gorgeous Terrazzo floor (above) is the real star at Perrotin.

Afterwards we caravaned down to Karu & Y for drinks at their "White Garden" outdoor space. The cabanas outside are nice but were filled with grumpy Europeans, the indoor bar was more fun but less cozy. The restaurant seemed crowded, I guess they're doing OK down there in Overtown.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Valentines Day, Japanese-Style

There are lots of special Valentines Day dinner deals going around but the one offered by Doraku, the sushi restaurant and lounge located on Lincoln Road seems the most intriguing. Apparently in Japan it is customary for women, not men, to offer presents (usually chocolate) on Valentine’s Day. Doraku will help its diners continue this tradition by providing each female with a beautifully packaged masu cup containing Sumatra Doraku massage oil, a chocolate and a card explaining the custom. Tradition also dictates that men must reciprocate, by giving twice what they received one month later, on White Day (March 14), a holiday which Doraku will also celebrate.
The restaurant is offering a special five-course prix fixe sharing menu, priced at $85 per couple or $120 with a bottle of Champagne. That's a pretty reasonable deal considering many restaurants are charging upwards of $80 per person. Menu items include seared tuna, ribeye steak and of course sushi.

Idan Raichel @ Carnival Center

Idan Raichel's concert at the Carnival Center last week was a revelation. His music blends the deep and far-reaching roots of Judaism and the myriad of cultures and sounds that now populate Israel's streets. Rather than taking center stage as the leader, Raichel positions himself on the periphery of the semi-circle, transforming the performance into a collaborative effort, with each musician getting their due throughout the show. His roster of performers reads like an international line-up of Jewish communities: Persian-Israeli singer Lital Gabai, Ethiopian singer Wadergass Vese and Cabra Casay (she via refugee camps in Sudan), Urguayan percussionist Rony Irwyn (who gave an amazing encore performance playing water - the audience was spellbound and the acoustics at the Knight Concert Hall were incredible for a performance that delicate), Israelis Gilad Shmueli on drums, Golan Zuskovitch on bass and Yaacov Segal who played the tar, oud and guitar.
Raichel begain making music in a small studio in his parent's basement in Kfar Saba. Musician friends would stop by and they would work out an eclectic style that encompasses chanting, sultry vocals and rhythmic arrangements. The three-song encore performance indicated this fluid process when all the musicians gathered around the percussionist and worked out a thumping beat with the Persian and Ethiopian vocalists providing gorgeous accompaniment. And though the concert at the Carnival Center was a refined affair (I sensed the majority Israeli crowd really wanted to get up and dance and clap in the aisles but felt a bit constrained by the setting), if you closed your eyes you could imagine the funky musicians hunkering down in that Israeli basement, mixing beats and melodies from Yemen, Africa and all other corners of the world.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Next Week: Political Erotica (!)

The exhibition "Love & Lust," featuring the works of Blake Boyd, Derek Cracco and Steve Martin, sets the mood for an evening of political erotica as local personalities read fictional steamy scenes written by national politicians. Complimentary cocktail service begins at 6:30 and readings at 7 pm sharp. Readers include Lauren "Lolo" Reskin, Sweat Records owner; writer Juan Carlos Rodriguez; multi-media artist Vivian Marthell; and dancer/choreographer Octavio Campos. The exhibition, on display through March 2, includes a series titled "Romantika" from Blake Boyd; "Heart Lands" by Derek Cracco; and Steve Martin's works that focus on the human form through line art sculpting and painting.
Tuesday February 13
Red Hot State

Steve Martin Studio
66 N.E. 40th Street, Miami Design District

Plus Minus Zero: An Escape from Boring

As seen in my article in InsideOut magazine.
Japanese designer Naoto Fukasawa (who has designed for Boffi and B&B Italia) describes his product design philosophy as “an escape from the idea of boring.” As you peruse Fukusawa’s Plus Minus Zero showroom you’ll soon find that though all the items are everday objects – everything from household appliances to interior furnishings – they are all imbued with an elegance that makes them simultaneously futuristic and lovely. A pair of black and white salt and pepper shakers shaped like space-age maracas ($31) or a gray “torch” flashlight ($63) elevate the mundane to the sublime. Plus Minus Zeoro’s website features an informative online store, though you’ll need to be able to read Japanese to complete the transactions.

Plus Minus Zero
3-12-12 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku,

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Tokyu Hands: Treasure Cats and More

As seen in my article in InsideOut magazine.
The Japanese word for cute is “kawaii” and this concept manifests itself less as a trend and more a creative standard. No store better illustrates “kawaii-ness” than Tokyu Hands. You’ll need at least two hours to get through all seven floors (divided into smaller sub-floors) of mischievous fun at this “creative life store.” From umbrella stands to bicycles, the store is stocked with quirky and highly-specialized items, many of which are too kitschy to pass up. Here you can pick up one of those ubiquitous “treasure cats” with the kinetic waving arms ($21), said to bring prosperity to their owners, sushi clocks ($17), colorful tissue box covers ($11-$45), or tiny figurine versions of iconic mid-century pieces like Eames chairs ($47).

Tokyu Hands
12-18, Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sushi House: Delano Lite

White curtains, marble bar seating, enormous crystal chandeliers, it's all high-style at Sushi House in Aventura. APD was there for the gorge-tastic opening about a year ago and it was time to see how the hip Asian fusion restaurant was faring, now that Williams Island and the rest of Aventura is bursting with snowbirds. The good news, beyond all the overwrought white decor, is that the food is quite good, the sushi appropriately fresh and the service is dependable. There are some strange mayonnaise-heavy sauces making appearances on almost every sushi creation, but that's forgivable; the Japanese love of mayonnaise is well-documented and it figures prominently in many sushi bars in Japan. The eatery gets points for offering obscure Japanese bar-food staples like "kowahagi," fish jerky ($5) pictured above left, an Asian snack that is more chewy than fishy and aged dashi tofu ($6) deep fried and dense.

The Thai selections are less inspired (the usual spring rolls ($8), coconut curries ($13), and pad thai($10), above) but equally serviceable. The sushi creations are playful, disconcertingly named ("Tarantula" ($15) featuring spicy tuna, cucumber, cream cheese, shrimp and topped with crab) and make great use of tempura flakes which I am always in favor of - it's time to put more crunch into sushi. The best perk of eating at Sushi House at an early-bird hour is that they have a great happy-hour menu that offers discounted sake ($5 for a large decanter) and sushi rolls for $4-$5, down from the regular $7 price. It's a good option if you live in North Dade and don't feel like schlepping to South Beach for the Delano effect.
Sushi House
15911 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami Beach

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Art Basel Meets New Wave

The Bruce High Quality Foundation, an arts collective with funky projects, has just released their film L'eau de Vie. Shot on site at Art Basel Miami 2005, the film is an homage to Jean-Luc Goddard and the New Wave style of filmmaking from the 60's.
Shot on location in Miami, Florida during the 2005 Art Basel tradeshow, L’eau De Vie is the story of one woman (Aurora Pellizzi) and an international art fair. A bellicose actor (Karim El-Tanamli), hot on the trail of a painting he has never seen, brings his arm-candy girlfriend Aurora along for a weekend trip to Art Basel Miami. While the actor and a bumbling art consultant (Nelson Figallo) pursue the elusive painting “L’eau De Vie,” Aurora meets a homegrown revolutionary (Tonatiuh Pellizzi) determined to provoke a local uprising against the flood of cultural tourists. Aurora also meets a disenchanted French artist (Jeanne Detallante) showing at the fair in the midst of an existential crisis over her own relationship to the art world.

It's a fun concept, but the trailer seems a bit lame, the acting seems stilted and the camera is really challenged. However, it's nice to get ole Art Bazz on film.
Watch the trailer here.

Gefilte Fish: Protein of the Future? reports that old kosher stalwart Manischewitz is jazzing up their brand to appeal to the growing sector of non-Jewish kosher food consumers. I heart Manischewitz and their retro-styled orange and green packaging and wish they wouldn't change a thing. Evoking Formica and aprons is what makes the brand so charming, but then again who wouldn't be enticed by "peppier "on-the-go" fonts, and beaming cartoon characters, " on a box of maztah?
The marketing wizards at Manischewitz are having trouble with that elusive Jewish fish dish known as "gefilte."
There's still one thing that's stumping the people at Manischewitz: how to get the general public to appreciate gefilte fish. "We've thought about repositioning it as a pâté, as a terrine, or battered, breaded, and fried, similar to a fish stick," Rossi says. "If Spam can be so popular, why can't canned fish take off? Gefilte could end up being the protein of the future — but we're not banking on it."

I prefer the frozen variety of gefilte fish - it's sweeter and has a firmer texture than the jar or can varieties. Plus, there isn't that strange fish gel to deal with in the frozen loaf - it's more sterile and, well, loaf-y.
In any case, I'd like to conduct and informal survey of you, my dear readers:
Which gefilte fish variety do you prefer - jar or frozen?