Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ghirardelli Loves Moms

Print out this Ghirardelli coupon for Mother's Day and make your mamma happy!

Lots of Derbage

A few more nuggets of Louisville fun before we return to our usual Miami-based programming:
Above is a mural that graces the gift shop/bourbon museum at the Jim Beam distillery. We watched an informative video that detailed the history of the distillery and featured footage of a senile old Southern guy (not THE Jim Beam, but one of his kin) who relayed the fact that "used to be you could get a pint of bourbon for a quater." We also learned that during the distilling process a super-concentrated spirit is produced called "white-dark" and quickly pronounced that the coolest liquor name ever. We were then treated to generous quaffs of Knob Creek and Baker's after which we all enjoyed each other's company much more and felt that Kentucky was just darned awesome.

Another observation gleaned from our time there: Louisville is Derby town. Like, it is THE exciting thing town. This makes sense when you realize how fantastic Derby-themed parties can be. Just think about the hats - they are amazing. Even at Macy's we were treated to a mini-fashion show, a slice of Derby cake (deelish) and plastic glasses of champagne which we learned to our chagrin were non-alcoholic (that was 3 glasses too late).

We then went to dinner at Proof on Main, housed in the ultra-hip 21c museum-hotel that features its own impressive contemporary art gallery. This place exhibited the kind of easy urban cool that Miami sometimes lacks. Plenty of young professionals chatting away at the busy bar, lots of good energy. The restaurant had a bustling neo-industrial feel and the food was rustic American, hearty and satisfying. The place was filled with grand Southern debs in gorgeous Derby hats as they had all just come from an event at the Louisville Museum across the street. If you're ever in Louisville, this place is worth checking out.
A quick walk through an empty Churchill Downs and our Kentucky adventure drew to a close. The only disconcerting thing about the city - all the "no firearm" signs at the entrances to public places.

Green for Green

Green ideas for your tax rebate including a Citizen folding bike. Right on!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Meet Your Political Peeps

Get your civic-mindedness on: Wednesday night open house for Annette Taddeo at her Campaign Headquarters. Bloggers welcome.

Old Timey Ice Cream Rocks

Today is free cone day at Ben & Jerry's and in honor of the ice cream enthusiasm I want to highlight one of the best scoops I've ever tasted: Graeter's black raspberry chip. I was introduced to the creamy goodness of Grater's on our recent Louisville trip and it was love at first bite. Bursting with fruity notes from Oregon black raspberries with massive flakes of delicate chocolate chips it was quite a revelation. And this generous scoop was $1.95, none of that $4-cone business. Too bad I'll have to venture to the heartland next time I'm fiending a sphere of purple fruity awesomeness.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Season is Still Here....

Tonight downtown Miami is where it's at in terms of the party scene. There's the Sunsets book release at Epic, the MAP magazine shindig at Out of the Blue cafe, the Miami Beach Polo kick-off at Badrutt's Place and the 2008 Graffiti Tour sponsored by Ardbeg whiskey at the White Room.
Hot damn! South Beach who?

Chabad Fire

Just heard about the Miami Beach Chabad fire. Really upsetting stuff. Even if it is ruled an accident (though preliminary investigations point otherwise), there is something very Kristallnacht about seeing a charred synagogue with burned remains of prayer books and Torah scrolls. WTF Miami?
More photos and info here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On the Bourbon Trail

Spent the weekend in Louisville, Kentucky. It is Bourbon country, home of the Kentucky Derby, the REAL DEAL. Mint juleps and sassy Southern gals galore. Can you think of a better way to Passover with the fam? We quite enjoyed ourselves, actually. LV is incredibly mellow, full of nice, people and plenty of parking spaces. Being there I realized how traumatized we are living in Miami, with the overcrowded everything and the Darwinian fight for resources - parking, restaurant tables, grocery store lines. Going to the mall there was actually pleasant; it was practically empty. I imagine that's what visiting diplomats feel when public places are cleared out for them.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fun with Chocolate

Japanese firm Nendo, whose products include the cabbage chair and the karaoke tub has married the world of desserts and design with their chocolate pencils. I'm digging the concept. The pencils come in varying cocoa intensities. From the company: "Pencil filings are usually the unwanted remains of sharpening a pencil but in this case they’re the star!"
[via Dezeen]

The Young Society of Love and Hope @ Rubell Collection

Migrating the Operation

Today my internet was on the fritz so I ventured to neighborhood joint La Rotisserie for some wifi goodness. I heart this place. They play Edith Piaf and Yves Montand like it's 1967, the coffee is fantastic, the servers are super-attentive and although I haven't tasted the food, it looks amazing. This may just be my new home office...
In the meantime, here are specimens of my prodigious output: First Looks of China Grill Ft. Lauderdale, 1 Bleu, Ratatouille, Dune Burger Lounge and Dining on the Boulevard.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Foam City

Here's that Sony foam city commercial shot in downtown Miami last month.

Bistro One LR

Dining alfresco at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach's new Bistro One LR (in the former Americana space) is one of our new multi-sensory pleasures. We can't get enough of the breezy expanded patio and chef Bernardo Espinel's French-influenced menu of dishes like monkfish osso buco with watercress risotto and grapefruit glazed duck with a side of polenta onion rings. For dessert, we love the chocolate pot de crème that's actually more like a cocoa-infused crème brulée.
The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach
1 Lincoln Rd.
South Beach

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Vine Wine Shop Closing Shop

Vine Wine Shop is closing its retail storefront. Hopefully it's only temporary. From an email message:
Certain delays were never originally communicated to a number of retail shops on the boulevard and Vine was no exception. Furthermore, these improvements were to be completed within a shorter timeline than has actually transpired (we are on 18 months). Due to the fact that we have had a higher demand within our Private (off-site) wine tasting events, as well as a significant increase within our online side, we have decided to close the retail portion of our operations effective April 18th.

Please know that this decision was not taken lightly. Being a part of the Upper Eastside neighborhood and being able to provide such wine variety with a beautiful tasting loft ambiance for which we have had many memorable tastings was a personal dream come true when opened in July 2005. I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing the passion and knowledge of wine with you both as customers and ultimately, as friends. Given this experience and the growth that continues in the wine industry, we will continue to operate on several fronts; a) on-line, b) private on-site tasting programs, and a c) partnership with another retailer.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Miami Kwassa Kwassa

Hey Peoples, Vampire Weekend is coming to the Fillmore Miami June 9. Tix went on sale today. Break out the docksiders and V-neck sweaters!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Saturday Night: Wire,Wire,Wire

Local artist Federico Nessi partners with Miami Light Project for an evening of time-based art that will surely stimulate the mind and senses. The event features a live performance by Miami-based punk outfit, Electric Bunnies, a dance piece called "Parucca" by artist Ana Mendez, and Nessi's original Wire Wire Wire, a multimedia installation combining video, live audio and sculpture. Indie music mavens, Sweat Records, host the reception, guaranteeing good music to compliment the intellectual acrobatics. April 12, 8PM-11PM, no cover.
Miami Light Project
3000 Biscayne Blvd. #100

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fun with Films!

Heading out to the opening of the Palm Beach Film Festival tonight. Our film premieres Monday but the festivities start tonight. McSocialiates galore, I hope. The Palm Beach Daily named Foreign Devils one of three to catch at the festival! In the meantime, to get you excited for Foreign Devils, here's an out-take wherein our actor explains the "blind man massage."

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

On the Party Circuit

Tonight was big Miami party night. There was the Ocean Drive Dwayne Wade shindig at Mokai, Florida International mag's soirée at the Acqualina and Miami Fashion Week's kickoff. I went with Florida Intl. mag and it was pretty darn sweet. Despite the fact that there were hurricane-level winds on the outdoor patio, everyone seemed to be having a grand time. Two open bars (Grey Goose thankyouverymuch!) , plenty of risotto rice balls courtesy of Il Mulino and a lobby-load of Miami's fabulosity. I'm thinking of starting a new term here, McSocialite. What do you think? It covers a lot of what I saw tonight, the super-functional high alcohol tolerant fashionable survival-of-the-fittest type personality. They come in multiples down here and are built to move fast, like aerodynamic party torpedoes.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Creek 28, Miami Beach

I had been hearing a lot of good things about Creek 28 and was curious to try it. Luckily, so were Miami newbies Brooke and Dan who gamely joined us for dinner. It's located in the Indian Creek Hotel, a graceful boutique hotel in a restored building from the 1930's with wood beam ceilings and terrazzo floors. The restaurant is quite wee indoors, but boasts one of the best courtyards in the city. Nestled amongst palm trees with ample tikki torches providing romantic lighting, the outdoor patio is a must. A bottle of wine, 6 plates and 2 desserts later we all agreed this is definitely the place to go for a fantastic meal on a breezy night. The food is eclectic; a broad swath of the Mediterranean comes into play, though the tropes, scents and seasonings of the Middle East and North Africa remain squarely in the foreground. Chef Kira Volz collaborates on Dinners in Paradise (she's cooking on the April 27th dinner) and used to helm the kitchen at the Abbey hotel. She has a loyal following of food fiends. It's easy to see why.
Let's start with the complimentary bread: it was damn near perfect. Slices of toasted baguette with exquisitely crispy crust served with olive oil. It's been a while since I asked for a second bread basket but when the waitress asked if we wanted another, we all nodded like excited puppies. We started with the chef's signature grilled romaine. Warm and smoky topped with shredded grana cheese and red onions it was a tasty harbinger of the ensuing feast. Another starter of "three dips" came with a cup of muhammara (a Turkish walnut spread), olive tapanade, and a tzatiki-like yogurt dip. All delicious, all devoured along with the zataar-topped toasted pita. We ordered a bottle of Sawbuck Malbec which at $21 was a great value. The wine list in general is super-reasonable and accessible. As are the prices overall. Apps. were $8-$9 and mains were $15-$25.
I was looking forward to a dish I had seen online - a fig and chestnut ravioli - but alas, it is a seasonal item and they weren't serving it that night. Our mains included a Hungarian goulash, grilled scallops with currants and chorizo, skirt steak with yuca mash and a lentil stew with coconut. Each dish was so uniquely spiced and composed that we all had our own culinary parties going on. The goulash was chock full of lamb and beef with a hearty tomato base. The lentil curry was fiery and topped with crunchy rice which appealed to my Persian side. The scallops came swimming in a pool of saffron tomato broth lent just the right amount of smoke and sweet by the chorizo and currants. And the skirt steak was declared on par with Beast's (lest you think it's a bovine nickname, it is actually our tablemates' favorite Brooklyn restaurant).
We went for two desserts: the plantain bread pudding and the chocolate brownie cake with homemade malt ice cream. The bread pudding was the standout with thick tasty slices of banana-packed goodness. The brownie was kind of underwhelming given the caliber of the rest of the meal (and at $9 a bit too pricey) but the ice cream was redeeming. We intended to order a bottle of Kent Rasmussen Gewurztraminer for dessert but all they had left was half a bottle so they offered us each a shot glass of the wine on the house. We loved that. All in all a lovely meal in a lovely spot, a true Miami gem.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Ft. Lauderdale Organic Food fest

The Ft. Lauderdale Organic Wine fest has partnered with the Olive Oil fest for 2 days of tasting goodness. May 3-4. Tickets are $15 in advance.

Local Artists Get Media Play

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Plunge Bar, Gansevoort South

Took a gander at the rooftop lounge Plunge Bar at the new Gansevoort South. Polished teak floors, white couches, a shimmering lap pool. This will no doubt be the new nightlife hangout considering the views are spectacular, it's plenty spacious with lots of seating (though I don't know if they enforce bottle service for the cabanas) and besides the rooftop of the Townhouse Hotel, there's nothing else like it on the beach. Plus, you know how Miami's nightlife hounds are - they like new shiny things, and as far this rooftop is concerned, it's a scenester's lollipop. The only downside? Wind and heat. So until June-ish this is the place to be. The multi-colored cabanas each have their own flatscreen TV's. In fact, flatscreen TV's seem to be quite a feature at the hotel, as each elevator also boasts its own endlessly looping screen. Average drink price: $13.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Where's Serena When You Need Her?

I attended the Blumarine fashion show at the Sony Ericsson tennis village yesterday. Let's put it this way--that's three hours of my life I want back. Besides the fact that we ended up parking in the $20 lot (what, no valet? how un-fabulous is that?) and then had to take a shuttle from that overpriced lot to the tennis village grounds and then had to walk another half a mile (in 4-inch heels, no less) only to find there were no more bleacher seats (bleacher seats?) and then once we made a beeline for the open bar only to find that the champagne man was shutting down his station but luckily the Bacardi guy was still pouring a pink punch concoction from a pitcher only to politely allow an older woman who I swear was 187 years old to take the cup in front of me only to be told the bartender was out of cups (OUT OF CUPS?!). I almost grabbed the pitcher and doused myself with it al la Paul Giamatti and the spit bucket in Sideways. My friend and I looked longingly at the frosty pitcher of pink alcohol-infused sweetness and contemplated the sobriety we would have to share for the duration of this heretofore much-taxing event. We then assembled by the catwalk amongst the khaki shorts-wearing crowd and watched as the models strutted the Italian clothier's frocks whilst also shilling for the event sponsor as each model had to pretend to talk on a cellphone. And once again, it was another off-the-rack Miami fashion show where you'll see exactly what you can buy in the store right now. Great.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Tofu Torpedoes

I am loving the brio and gumption of Hezbollah Tofu, the project of vegan warrior chefs taking to task Anthony Bourdain's assertion that "Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn." They are meticulously recreating his famous Frenchie recipes from Les Halles in a vegan style. The pics are pretty drool-worthy. And I love any site that refers to live-cobra-heart-eating-Tony as Asshat Bourdain.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

New Restaurants and Such

  • The owners of South Beach francophile spot Cafe Maurice have opened Ratatouille in the former 8½ space at the boutique Clinton Hotel. Chef Gerard Chauvet, a celeb toque from Cote d'Azur, presides over a menu focusing on traditional brasserie fare like steak frites. The Gallic garden interior (courtesy of St. Tropez designer Herve Tapin) is the perfect spot to sup on classics like shredded foie gras and, of course, ratatouille. 821 Washington Ave. South Beach; 786.276.3850
  • Alta Mar launched a late-night menu available Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 pm to 12 am. The new menu offers smaller portions or half plates priced $9-$15. Selections include a black truffle and wild mushroom homemade ravioli with truffled butter sauce ($10) and blackened North Atlantic salmon with red bell pepper vinaigrette ($10).
  • Alta Cocina has a new $20 pre-fix lunch menu that offers a choice of appetizer, soup du jour or house salad, a specialty entrée, panna cotta for dessert and a glass of Sangria.
  • And Moshi Moshi (which appears to be a Japanese place but I have yet to investigate) has opened on Biscayne near the Upper East Side Garden.

Kratworks 4 on April 5 (Updated)

Just got word from proprietor Stephanie that the event has been canceled. On the upside, all Rag Trade merch is 50% off.

Who: Kraftworks 4
What: Local indie arts & crafts festival
Where: 4600 NE 2nd Ave
When: Saturday, April 5, 2008, Noon-7p
Hosted by: Rag*Trade: Happy Clothing Co.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Words to Live By

It busy deadline week here at the one-woman-show known as All Purpose Dark. In addition to trying to get media buzz for Foreign Devils I have been busy tap-tapping away at articles for mass consumption. Above is a piece I wrote for MIAMI Modern Luxury on everyone's favorite street photographer Miami Fever. If you click on the larger image here you can read the story since, unforch, it's not reprinted online. Then there are First Look stories for Joley, Brosia, Abokado, Badrutt's Place, Andu, Bistro One LR, The Smoking Rabbit, and Nikki Coconut Grove.
And lastly, here's a piece in the Herald Home & Design mag about a fantastic house in Coconut Grove designed by Florida legend Alfred Browning Parker. The house is super cool, built in three pod-like structures and does not have a front door. Brilliant.

Spa Week!

Spa Week is back and it is a true bargain. From April 14-20 you can indulge in $50 treatments at relaxation temples like Spa V at the Hotel Victor, ESPA at Aqualina and Uhma Spa.
Normally massages and treatments go for $100+ at these places. But make sure you call ahead and ask about gratuities. When I called ESPA to book an appointment I was told there would be an automatic $27 gratuity added to the bill - it's 18% of the what the massage usually costs. But the Doubletree has no such automatic gratuity so it depends on the place.