Friday, September 26, 2008

Grass Restaurant and Lounge, Design District

I always forget how much I like Grass. In fact, sometimes I forget entirely that the place exists. I guess because it's hidden behind a wall on a quiet stretch of 40th St. in the Design District. But whenever I go, I really enjoy the experience, from the al fresco seating to the to the well-executed food. In fact, I think the decor at Grass is one the most innovative in Miami. There's no real "interior" as the whole restaurant is outdoors, the only shelter coming from a tikki hut covering the bar and some tables. The rest is exposed to the breezy Miami night (or, if it's not so breezy, lots of giant industrial fans),candlelit tables and surrounded with lush foliage. They even take the whole 'grass' theme a bit too far in the bathroom. (Trust me, you wonder how many chia pets gave thier lives to line the stalls.) But we can forgive those decor faux pas when it comes to a pristine goat cheese salad made with phyllo-crusted cheese crumbles, tart cherry tomatoes and soy-balsamic-dressed arugula.

Or another fine starter consisting of a tuna and salmon ceviche spiced with grapefruit and mint, incredibly refreshing. The plantain crisps, though a bit too thick, were perfect for scooping up the fish and provided nice crunchy contrast.

The grass-fed rib eye was a lovely specimen of perfectly-cooked carnivorous bounty while the ginger-lime marinated mahi mahi with couscous and mango-curry sauce gave the meaty fish just enough spice to keep things exciting. The atmosphere is low-key until about 10:30 Friday and Saturday nights when the space transforms more into a lounge/club with bottle service and dancing. But up until then, it's the ideal spot to sip a cool white wine and chat with your date. The restaurant is participating in Miami Spice, so you can grab a relaxing meal there this weekend, before the season officially kicks in and while we still have the city to ourselves.

28 NE 40th St, Design District,(305) 573-3355.

Skin Beauty Clinique Opens

Celebrate the grand opening of the highly anticipated wellness and treatment spa, Skin Beauty Clinique tonight. The event will include complimentary mini massages and skin consultations given by the spa’s highly trained therapists.
And, just in case you were worried, there will be champagne and hors d’oeuvres!
Friday, September 26
7:00pm to 10:00pm
Skin Beauty Clinique
3875 SW 8th Street

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blue Sea @ The Delano

Was privy to a new menu preview at Blue Sea at the Delano last night. The sushi restaurant has one of the more quirky interiors in the city. The "dining room" is essentially one long marble communal high-top table that juts out into the swanky lobby. This makes for fantastic people watching as you ogle the parade of tourists and party goers who glide into the hotel on a nightly basis.

We tried a ceviche sampler composed of tuna, salmon and octopus (the citrusy salmon was a standout), a seaweed salad with baby octopus (nice and snappy), a shrimp tempura roll with mango and avocado (below), tuna "lollipops" made with kimchee, spicy mayonaise and topped with gold flakes, a spicy lobster salad with wasabi peas and fiery wasabi sauce and a sashimi platter of tuna, wahu and escolar. While you can still get conventional maki rolls at this white sushi den, these new additions give the Asian menu a more sophisticated dimension.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sonicare White Party

Last week I found myself on the Gansevoort rooftop talking oral hygiene. Seriously discussing tooth brushing techniques, flossing habits and the pros and cons of cosmetic dentistry. Miami is glamorous like that. It was all prompted by a sunset soiree thrown by the good folks at Phillips Sonicare, people who care deeply about your smile and want to make the world a more pearly white place, one electric tooth brush at a time. As we lounged on the tangerine-colored cabanas and sipped Veev cocktails we resolved to try this new-fangled brush and see if indeed its claims of whitening your teeth two shades in two weeks holds true. I've never been one for tooth-bleaching so this seems like a somewhat organic option. Didn't help that every time the kind Sonicare lady said "oral" we all stifled giggles. Sunsets and cocktails will do that you.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thinkism at the Mall

The Wolfsonian, aka the "Museum of Thinkism" continues to grow in awesome-ness. They've got a temporary installation up at the Aventura Mall that coincides with their democracy-soaked programming this season. It's worth checking out next time you're rushing off to the Ferrari Store.

Camp Standard, For Thrify Neo-Hippies

When you consider that breakfast for 2 at the Standard would probably run you $30 and use of the "hydrotherapy playground" (meaning the pool and hamam) is $40/day, this is a pretty good deal.

Tonight: KRELwear Show at Plunge

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Consider the Tourist

Oh David Foster Wallace, how little we knew thee.

On paying tribute to this amazing writer I indulged in a 10-page essay he wrote for Gourmet back in 2004 titled "Consider the Lobster," about visiting the Maine Lobster Festival. It's worth a read if only because it distills his style down to a manageable magazine-article size, complete with copious footnotes and wry sense of humor.

I found this little gem in footnote #6 and thought it really relevant to our life here in Miami, being somewhat of a tourist town, my own personal adventuresome travel and the conflicting thoughts that being an American tourist always conjures. He writes:
As I see it, it probably really is good for the soul to be a tourist, even if it’s only once in a while. Not good for the soul in a refreshing or enlivening way, though, but rather in a grim, steely-eyed, let’s-look-honestly-at-the-facts-and-find-some-way-to-deal-with-them way. My personal experience has not been that traveling around the country is broadening or relaxing, or that radical changes in place and context have a salutary effect, but rather that intranational tourism is radically constricting, and humbling in the hardest way—hostile to my fantasy of being a real individual, of living somehow outside and above it all. (Coming up is the part that my companions find especially unhappy and repellent, a sure way to spoil the fun of vacation travel:) To be a mass tourist, for me, is to become a pure late-date American: alien, ignorant, greedy for something you cannot ever have, disappointed in a way you can never admit. It is to spoil, by way of sheer ontology, the very unspoiledness you are there to experience. It is to impose yourself on places that in all noneconomic ways would be better, realer, without you. It is, in lines and gridlock and transaction after transaction, to confront a dimension of yourself that is as inescapable as it is painful: As a tourist, you become economically significant but existentially loathsome, an insect on a dead thing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cocktail Party @ The Casa

The party also includes a 45-minute tour of the famed mansion.

Fever on TV

Miami Fever on Deco Drive. Congrats, Carlos!

KRELwear Show and Sale

Our fave Miami designer Karelle Levy has got some great eventage going on. Save these dates!

September 18, 2008
Level Magazine's Fall Out Fashion Show
The Plunge in The Gansevoort South
2377 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
Doors open @ 10pm, Show starts @ 11pm

September 20-21, 2008
12 noon - 7pm
KRELwear Warehouse
Up to 75% off
September 19, 2008 Sale Pre-party 6-8pm
180 NW 25th Street
Miami, FL 33127
(305) 576-7465

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bengal Opening Party

New Indian restaurant on the block Bengal opened today. They had their grand opening party last night to the delight of curry-deprived downtowners. It was crowded, the buffet line was fierce and people were scarfing samosas and butter chicken like it was Ghandi's last supper. But despite the crowds, the food was good. We sampled aloo gobi, fluffy raisin-flecked rice and spicy tandoori lamb. The Bollywood movies were superfun as well.

Sad News from Sweat Records

Miami's well-loved indie record store was vandalized and robbed last night. Sadly, the cost of doing business in an area that's still kind of sketchy. From their website:
The unknown assailants stole everything worth stealing and needlessly trashed this place that we've put so much into. Our store computer, credit card terminal, video projector, entire DJ/sound setup, cash drawer and more are gone.
If you want to chip in towards the recovery they have a paypal account at But Lolo and her gang are resilient, which just shows that you can take the amp out of the store, but you can't steal their spirit.
TUESDAY night's show will go on!! We're borrowing a mic and an amp and our brand-new comedy night - CASA DE HA-HA - will debut as planned. Daniel's got a great variety of local and working comedians lined up so come out for the start of this new monthly happening. The thieves left the espresso machine and the microwave so we'll have drinks, popcorn and treats. Starts at 9pm!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Inside the Google Cafeteria

Noah over at Tasting Menu brings us a covert video of the Google caff. A couple of surprises - the sushi is bad, long lines, the Indian food pretty good, but, as he says, "It's a cafeteria, buddy." There's no jazzing that up.
Another alarming thing - the projection of search engine terms that are constantly scrolling on the wall - talk about full immersion.

Google Cafeteria, Mountain View, California from tastingmenu on Vimeo

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Food Events and Stuff

  • Lobster mania has invaded DiBono’s Italian CafĂ©. DiBono’s is offering 1.25 lb lobsters for $17.99. Served with Italian brocolini and asparagus, your lobster can be grilled, steamed or prepared in the brick oven.
  • Paradise Farms has posted their chefs line-up for Dinners in Paradise. They're even doing one during the Sobe Wine and Food Festival.
  • 944 Magazine hosts Sunset Fridays at China Grill at the Fort Lauderdale Grande Hotel, beginning Friday, September 19th at 6:00 p.m. Serving complimentary Ketel One Cosmopolitans for ladies from 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Event @ Aerobar

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Art Happenings

Up and coming artist Federico Nessi gets a nice write-up in anticipation of his upcoming show at Spinello Gallery Saturday night.
The show will be a visual, auditory and experiential event addressing existential and metaphysical realities: Who are we, really? Are we predestined by our nature and genetics to be and behave in a certain way or can our natures be changed or mitigated by our environment? Do our parents, schools, and circumstances contribute to our personalities or are they set in stone by forces we can’t control? It’s the eternal question of nature vs. nurture. Can one supersede the other?
Questions worth asking, a show worth seeing.

TOFF Shopping Event

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Monday, September 08, 2008

Best Restaurant Views

World's Best Restaurant Views. None in Miami, alas. I've been to one - Felix in Hong Kong. The views of the Hong Kong Harbor are fab, but since it's designed by Philippe Starck, I felt like I was in a combo of the Delano and Hudson hotels. Still a cool spot, though.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Dinner @ Paradigm

If you've been receiving your UrbanDaddy emails you know that we covered the opening of Paradigm this week. I was fortunate enough to attend their first dinner Thursday night and it was sensational. Fellow food fiends were also in attendance and famous Chowhound poster Frodnesor offers his thorough report here. Frod did such a great job of summing up each dish there's not much for me to do except offer my dimly-lit pictures and a few observations. For better pics check out chef Chad Galiano's blog, where he gets to take the photos inside the kitchen, where the lights are actually on.
Course #2 was "breakfast" - creamy egg sous vide, Iberico ham, potato crisps and coffee espuma. Loved the espresso which had a creamy mousse-like texture. The potatoes were luxury potato chips - packed with flavor and feather light.

Next up, watermelon sashimi. In both taste and texture chef Kurtis Jantz managed to mess with our heads in the best possible way. At first glance, the dish really looked like tuna, but then the fermented black beans looked like watermelon seeds. Oh, it was wacky. The melon was enlivened by the fermented garlic sauce and the pea tendrils were dotted lovely fragrant coriander seeds that added another dimension to the whole dish.

My favorite dish of the night, the scallop.

Amazingly flavorful crust of powdered cocoa butter, accompanied by vanilla milk froth offset with a bit of agave to cut the richness, this was a spectacular combination. The green tea lemon gel and the cucumber rolled to resemble a magic carpet gave this dish a quirky elegance.
A highlight of the evening was the food entertainment aspect of the dinner. Periodically the chefs would do some of the prep in the dining room using their impressive gadgetry. Here chef Galiano creates sea foam from a tower of dashi broth using some sort of tube and gas contraption. Very Mr. Science.

The sea foam was for the lobster dish, composed of compressed lobster meat cut into bricks, mustard sand and sea bean. Visually this was a charming dish (though my pic does it no justice), really highlighting the playfulness of the chefs. They said at the beginning that this was a way to show how they play around in the kitchen and it really came through with this one. I was smitten with the sea bean, it looked like a mini-sea plant and had a really chewy texture, very unique. The mustard sand was packed with flavor, but the lobster seemed a bit too chewy.

The hamachi sous vide. I couldn't get into it. Some people at the table really dug the supersoft texture but I just wasn't loving it. I'm a fiend for crunch though, and the black olive streusel delivered on that front. Full of concentrated olive flavor with a rough texture. The artichoke butter and feta dust were other lovely notes that enhanced the fish.


The pb&j was a crowd pleaser. A peanut cookie bar topped with salt, a scoop of frozen peanut cream and accompanied by peanut cream made by cooking peanut butter for 12 hours and straining it until chef Fabian extracted its true peanut-y essence. The jelly came in the form of raspberry caviar and raspberry gel. An amazing dessert in both conception and execution.
The cereal 'loofah' didn't impress as much. The spongy cereal cake was light but lacked flavor. Its plate-mates of honey, lavender gum and cassis jelly were a nice melding of contrasting flavors, but I wish the anchor of the dish was more compelling.

And a yuzu marshmallow to end things on a citrusy note.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hanging with the Republicans

My friend Avi has a fantastic piece in Salon on working "undercover" as a security guard at the RNC. It's well-written and devilishly funny. Here's a teaser, but do yourself a favor and read the whole piece, it's great.
2:50 a.m.
At the RNC, the truth-telling starts somewhere around 3 a.m. Delegates who were on-message when they left for their parties at 10 p.m., return too hammered to walk a straight party line.

"How you doing, dude?" one of the drunk delegates says to me as he pulls out a cigarette, almost emptying an entire pocket in the process.

"To tell you the truth," I reply, "my pants are way too tight on the waist. They're killing me."

He gives my pants a glance.

"There's a lot of hot chicks here," he tells me in a failed attempt at a whisper. He reeks of chardonnay. "You cannot spring a woody here, dude. Your pants got no give, know what I mean? It'd be totally obvious. Gov. Palin is staying here -- you gotta be careful. You get what I'm saying? You can't get wood on the job."

"Thanks. I got it," I say.

One of his pals chimes in.

"Gov. Palin is hot, dude," he says, collapsing onto a bench in front of the hotel entrance.

Even in their lusty, alcohol-fueled swoons, these young politicos still call Palin "governor." In a way, this reverential horniness is sort of endearing. But mostly it's just creepy. Sitting on the bench, the young man leans his head back and squeezes his eyes shut, trying, and failing, to stave off vertigo. "Total MILF."

Friday, September 05, 2008

Getting Primed and Sliced

Had a super fantastic meal last night at the Trump in Sunny Isles which you'll be hearing more about shortly. For now, you should probably learn more about Ocean Prime. And, in case you've been missing out on all the fun stuff we've been covering at UrbanDaddy, here's a slice of the action.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Friday Night @ Circa 28

The Book of Lies Trailer

Local author Brad Meltzer's trailer for his latest book, The Book of Lies. Joss Whedon, Christopher Hitchens and Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof pontificate.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

On the Ground vs. In the Clouds

Breaking news, people: Pacific Time has reopened in the Design District! And there's also this new-fangled restaurant called Fratelli Lyon!
In other examples of national media reporting things WAY after the locals - this list of "most anticipated openings." Three out of the five have been open since January. May as well tack the Delano onto that list. Because, you know, it opened in 1994.

Save the Date: DesignMiami

Havana Nights @ Rumbar

For those of us who have never been to Havana, going to Key Biscayne will have to suffice. Rumbar at Ritz Key Biscayne recently launched a Thursday night cocktail party called Noches de Nostalgia. Rum cocktails, light bites, a live band and hand-rolled cigars ought to do it. Guest blogger Sam Baum recently attended one such Noches and brings us this report:
Before the communist revolution, Havana was the choice destination for stylish gentlemen on vacation, and leisure there was taken very seriously. Linen shirts coupled with big cigars, aged rum, and strumming guitars were the only way to pass the time in good taste.
Located in the spot synonymous with opulence, the Ritz Carlton on the Key is home to Rumbar, a wood paneled den of lavish masculinity. The inviting leather sofas and side turning fans welcome you after the valet takes your vehicle free of charge, and the friendly staff guides you through 50 rums from over 18 countries. Try a glass, a bottle, or one of the “tastings”, which gives you the chance to sample a selection of rums grouped by country or taste.
A live band performs classic Latin standards as the second or third sampling of exotic rum allows you and your date to recall great nights past. And don’t worry about being over dressed; even your best guayabera will be outdone by the band's white jackets and bowties.
End the night on the fountain patio by enjoying a custom hand-rolled cigar or one of the premium selections from the bar’s humidor. After finishing your last complimentary conch fritter and taking your final puff of high quality tobacco, the sweet rum coating your innards and the memories of lost Havana nights on your mind, you may not want to leave the tiny island at all. Amazing that a few glasses of good rum can make real life seem a thousand miles away.
Rumbar, 455 Grand Bay Dr, 305-365-4500.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Fall Fashion Week

Ocean Drive has posted their line-up for Fall Fashion Week (Sept. 22-27). Not sure if all the events will include runway shows but so far it's the same-old from the OD fam - big corporate designers, plenty of drink sponsors and (no doubt) packed-to-capacity crowds.

Fun With College Kids!

Vampire Weekend's video for 'Oxford Comma.' It's one continuous shot with lots of Wes Anderson influences and some Beatles-esque moments. Oh, and a little Harold and Maude thrown in. Overall, really charming. And, as always, one rule holds true: You can never go wrong with a white suit.