Sunday, October 18, 2015

Postcard Inn at Holiday Isle

You're in the mood to get away. Like, fire-pits-and-tiki-bars-in-the-Keys-style get away.
Behold the Postcard Inn at Holiday Isle, a quietly sexy beachside resort in Islamorada, reborn after a massive renovation, ready to host your next barefoot weekend of paddle boarding and daiquiri-drinking.
The vibe here is upscale sleep away-camp with a dash of nautical swagger. Meaning that in addition to the outdoor ping-pong table, paddleboard rentals and Shulas2 burger restaurant (order the Chorizo with charred onions), you’ll also have a 19-slip marina to dock your leisure vessel for the weekend. After you’ve made the two-hour trek south from Miami to the handsome campus, you’ll settle into one of the new Lanai suites with patios that open directly onto the private beach. After a few rounds of Pac-Man and darts in the astroturf-lined lobby, you’ll make your way to the legendary Tiki Bar (untouched since 1969), where a tall Rum Runner will prepare you for a date with doing absolutely nothing.
It’s important to make time for that.
(More pics after the jump.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Favorite Neighborhood Spot: Mina's Mediterraneo

There are so many reasons to love Mina's Mediterraneo, a Middle Eastern-Mediterranean mashup that inhabits a cavernous space (that used to be a Haitian Church) on 79th St. Causeway. There you'll find rustic Mediterranean home cooking in a sophisticated, neo-industrial spot. The steel and concrete dining room is outfitted with wood communal tables, old travel posters from the 1950's of Egypt, Syria and Lebanon and 8 foot-high windows that go to the ceiling. The place has been open for a few years and they just introduced this beauty of an outdoor patio with and an herb garden. 
Owner Yasmine Kotb is Egyptian and her mother Sonia helms the kitchen using her grandmother's recipes. Prices are reasonable with small plates $5-$8, larger plates $10-$17. Their weekend brunch features a great rendition of current "it" dish shakshuka - baked tomatoes with eggs, best washed down with one of their frozen spiked slushies. 
As for the rest of the menu: fresh pita bread accompanies dips of eggplant baba ganoush, tzatziki and "besara" made with fava beans, dill and parsley. Spanikopita shares space with stuffed cabbage, roasted brussel sprouts, and falafel sliders. Pizzas can be topped with exotic things like Moroccan merguez lamb sausage and basterma (Egyptian cured meat). The Baked Kibby is a Mid-East meatloaf made with cracked wheat mixed with ground beef, pine nuts and onions while the lamb tagine is spiced with harissa. Desserts include traditional baklava and Dark Chocolate tart with crushed almond crust.
749 NE 79th St, Miami, FL 33138 (786) 391-0300

Monday, March 16, 2015

SOBEWFF Podcasts: Marcus Samuelsson, Scott Conant, Quality Meats MB

One of the highlights of ‪this year's South Beach Wine and Food Festival for me was hosting the inaugural podcast whereby we taped six (!) back-to-back interviews with accomplished chefs. The roster was impressive: Scott Conant, Marcus Samuelsson and Craig Koketsu of Quality Meats Miami Beach. You can catch them all the link below but I suggest you start with Marcus Samuelsson, simply because I loved his outfit the most and want to steal his cardigan.
Listen here.

Matador Room @ The Miami Beach EDITION

Ever since Matador Room opened at The Miami Beach EDITION it seems everyone has been Instagraming a certain copper pineapple cocktail. This $30 elixir was all the rage when the swanky hotel opened its doors during the Art Basel crush this past December. Made with Absolut Elyx, Palo Cortado Sherry, salted caramel bitters, Bittermens Elemakule tiki bitters, house-made pineapple and rosemary syrup, and a torched sprig of rosemary that when the lid is removed, gives the guest a subtle puff of herby fragrance.
Yes, it's pricey, so while you're there you ought to stay for some avocado pizza, which is reason enough to make it to the gorgeous restaurant inside the restored Art Deco hotel.
Celeb chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten may no longer be at J & G Grill at the St. Regis Bal Harbour, but he has partnered with hotelier Ian Schrager at the Edition to create this spot, his ode to Latin cooking. Chef Jeremy Ford ( formerly of 15 Steps at the Eden Roc) heads up the kitchen.
"We knew we wanted to do something that reflects the area," says Vongerichten regarding the inspiration for the restaurant. "These are the flavors that belong in Miami. It's the Seville hotel and we kept the name Matador Room, so it's also inspired by that. Everything is family style, have some olives, tacos, a big bowl of arroz con pollo."

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Seagrape at Thompson Miami Beach

Photo courtesy Thompson Miami Beach
Miami favorite Michelle Bernstein is back in a hotel setting, this time with Seagrape at Thompson Miami Beach. Chef Steven Rojas, known for earning a Michelin star at Saddle Peak Lodge in California and most recently at The Island Bistro on Brickell Key, is running things in the kitchen. I loved the space - a multi-level 267-seat dining room with retro furniture, a green marble bar and a tiled outdoor patio. The cushy semi-circular banquettes were buzzing with smartly-dressed locals and Thompson guests on two separate occasions when I dined there.
Photo courtesy Thompson Miami Beach
Expect locally sourced goods with regional influences. "Michelle wanted me to cook they way we do in California, by using local farms and purveyors," says Rojas. "It's great because now I can finally cook the way I want to." Prices reflect the immaculate sourcing with starters $10-$21 and mains $21-$39.
Dinner starts with fluffy Parker House rolls served with fish dip, pickled veggies and butter. From there it's on to rich homemade gougeres, or profiteroles stuffed with melted gouda and topped with sherry glaze and lardo. The Maine lobster ravioli are three delicate pasta pillows stuffed with lobster in a red curry emulsion along with fried ginger. The roasted beet salad comes with avocado hummus while delicate squash blossoms are stuffed with shrimp over creamy gits.
 The lamb chops served with chermoula yogurt and fried sweetbreads was a bit of a roller coaster, still trying to figure what I think of that one. Fish dishes include a halibut with grapes and swiss chard and a red snapper accompanied by a paella "cake."
Desserts include berry Angel food cake with frozen yogurt, guava and cheese-stuffed doughnuts and homemade ice creams in flavors like chai tea.
4041 Collins Ave
(786) 605-1043

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Reality Show Pitch

For lovers of sports entertainment competitions I'd like to propose a reality show called 
it will involve the following skills:
- Jedi-style mind tricks
- the acrobatic coordination and wrestling strength of American Ninja Warrior
- the logistical derring-do of Navy SEALs
that is all.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Getting Tiki With It

Because it's never too early to introduce the kids to oversized frozen drinks.
At Postcard Inn at Holiday Isle, Islamorada.

Brunch @ Vintro Kitchen, South Beach

A bit hidden, but that just enhances the charm of this spot on the Collins Canal. The self-serve bowls of nutella on the brunch buffet are GENIUS. Things like fresh made paella, grilled lamb chops and a live flamenco guitarist give the place a sultry Latin vibe.

A Conversation About Art Basel

A recent conversation I had regarding ‪#‎ArtBasel‬, the mega-cluster-F. 
I start. 
"So this year there are come cool events happening--"
"I'm not going to anything where we have to wait in line with a gaggle of people trying to get in while some snooty person with an iPad looks for our name."
"Right. Okay, well there's also---"
"And then we get there and the crowd isn't the right crowd, or not a big enough crowd, or not a smart enough crowd. Or where parking is a headache, or where we get stuck in traffic. Or where the valet line is 100 a-holes long. Or where we have to fight to get a drink/tiny bite/spoon of tuna tartar. Or where I get elbowed by Julian Schnabel and Jeffrey Deitch starts yelling at his door people. Or anything where we stand around WAITING FOR SOMETHING TO HAPPEN."
"Yep. So I guess that covers it. See you in a week?"
"Sounds good."

Siena Tavern, South Beach

Exuberant celeb chef (and former Top Chef contestant) Fabio Viviani has brought his Chicago-based Italian tavern to our beachy shores.
The former China Grill 400-seater is now transformed into an expansive playground of Italian delights. There's an open pizza kitchen, an expansive circular bar and a mix of high and low tables that breaks up the cavernous space, making it somewhat cozy. Yes, there's a signature beer on tap, made by Wynwood Brewing. As for the food.