One of the interesting things about the holidays is that the traditions surrounding them can be so enjoyable, and oftentimes so delicious, that even the most staunch atheist can feel hesitant to completely abandon them. Even those who still identify with a particular religion can often forgo the rituals, services, and prayers associated with certain holidays but will definitely embrace the gift exchanges, parties, and most definitely the food. I’m certain that not everyone has been making sacrifices for Lent. Many Catholics have probably forgotten that Palm Sunday was this past weekend, many more will be observing Holy Week as just another week, and there are probably quite a few who don’t plan on going to church this coming Sunday. Nevertheless, many self-identifying Christians will probably be making plans to enjoy an Easter meal this weekend. Along with the warmer weather our northern compatriots hope to experience, our recent “spring forward” to which many of us are still adjusting also marks an unofficial start to “the brunch season.” Sure, we enjoy leisurely al fresco brunches all the time in South Florida, but brunch never seems as mandatory as it does during one of the Spring’s most brunch-friendly holidays, Easter. In case you have yet to make plans for this weekend, here are a few of Joonbug’s suggestions for restaurants serving up Easter brunch in South Florida:
February is filled with so much to do in South Florida for a foodie. As if our minds aren’t already constantly occupied with the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, we have Valentine’s Day to think about next week. If you’re lucky enough to have someone with whom to celebrate it, you probably know that a romantic dinner can truly take this day of love from simply romantic to truly memorable. While attempting to make a gourmet, multi course meal at home is an honorable feat, sometimes it’s best to let some our best chefs work at the food while you enjoy each other’s company. In case you haven't already made plans, here are some of Joonbug’s picks in Miami for Valentine’s Day dinner:
For some reason, it seems as if time really flew between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, which means that most of us have been scrambling to get our greeting cards and presents in order, as well as trying to keep track of the various holiday functions we feel obliged to attend. When your main preoccupation is trying to find just one good gift for your mom and realizing that you haven’t sent anything to your in-laws while they sent you a box of presents, the last thing on your mind is planning a Christmas (or Noche Buena) feast. Sure, you can do what I do and round up a selection of charcuterie and cheeses from Graziano’s and Epicure to nibble at throughout the holiday - or visit a Blue Sky for your lechón - but with so many fabulous restaurants offering such wonderful Christmas and Christmas Eve dinners, it’s hard not to take the easy way out and leave the preparations to the gourmet chefs. If you’re finding yourself in Miami without dinner plans this Christmas, let Joonbug outline a few suggestions for you:
It might not be the same for everyone, but in my experience, Thanksgiving is that very special holiday when some of the worst cooks consider themselves to be award-winning chefs. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been a victim of such atrocities as a coleslaw-ambrosia salad combination, an unnaturally colored cool whip and graham cracker crumb dessert, or a casserole so replete with cream, butter, cheese, and bacon that it constitutes one’s allowable fat intake for the entire year. Trying to dissuade these mad scientists turned amateur cooks from contributing to your Thanksgiving feast can quickly become an ugly scene with all the crying, fighting, and emotion of a 90’s talk show. Trying to trick yourself into making your relative’s multicolored congealed salad into a suitable side dish for your chestnut and morel stuffed bird has proven futile...and quite ridiculous. The only solution to make everyone happy is to leave the cooking to the professionals this Thanksgiving and going to a restaurant. If your ideal Turkey Day is one in which there are no dishes to wash and you’re not stuck with a week’s worth of leftovers, then you should definitely check out Joonbug’s recommendations for restaurants offering some of the best Thanksgiving dinners in South Florida this year.
Upon thinking about the many holidays we celebrate throughout the year, most of them revolve around food...at least to a foodie. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and even Chanukah and Passover center around some sort of banquet. Even patriotic holidays like Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Independence Day involve some sort of special meal comprising delicacies that are reserved for little else than those specific holidays. Halloween, while definitely a swell time to partake in ghastly amounts of candy, is not what one would consider an “eating holiday”. Nevertheless, a true gourmand would never pass up the opportunity to enjoy terrific food, regardless of the occasion, and Miami’s top eateries promise to offer us foodies some delicious Halloween treats.
If you live in Miami and love to eat, you're probably well aware that Miami Spice is in our midst right now and will be so until the end of September. The two month restaurant promotion that began on August 1st has been a yearly tradition in Miami for over a decade now and is perhaps one of the most anticipated dining events in South Florida after the South Beach Wine & Food Festival...at least to the bargain hunting gourmand. Nevertheless, perusing each and every menu of the well over one hundred restaurants that are participating this year is a daunting task. There are restaurants that choose the cheapest things from their regular menu to offer on their Miami Spice menus, making the prix fixe dinner barely a bargain, and there are those normally spectacular restaurants that create a special Miami Spice menu featuring dirt-cheap and boring options like Caesar salad and grilled chicken breast with steamed asparagus. Furthermore, this year there are two categories of dining instead of just one, and the prices for lunch and dinner are reflective of which category a restaurant thinks it's part of - luxury dining ($39 dinner, $23 lunch) or fine dining ($33 dinner, $19 lunch). As one can imagine, some of Miami's restaurants are suffering from delusions of grandeur, and while they might be offering a good Miami Spice menu, it is hardly worth the luxury dining price tag.
Miami Beach’s prestigious AAA Five Star awarded Italian restaurant, Quattro Gastronomia Italiana, has headed south of the border. Quattro will be bringing northern Italian flavors to Mexico City with the opening of the brand new J. W. Marriott hotel in the Santa Fe district starting this month. Quattro, and the group behind its success in Maimi Beach, KNR Group, are committed to brining Mexico City “a magnificent ambiance that honors the essence of Italian gastronomy.”
And finally, a scrumptious four-course prix fixe menu awaits you at Quattro Gastronomia Italiana just a short walk away. After an amuse-bouche of mini arancini with ham and porcini served with marinara, fresh wild mushrooms and truffle Robiola cheese crostini, sample antipasti like carpaccio di manzo with mustard dressing, lemon dressed mache, cherry tomatoes and Parmesan flakes. Do not fear, little monsters, for Quattro would never forget dessert! Guests can enjoy an assortment of seasonal inspired treats like pumpkin and pecan pies or their famous homemade classic tiramisu to satisfy their sweet tooth.
When one thinks of Italy, one thinks of the finer things in life: the arts, the opera, literature, and of course good food. Definitely the good food! It seems like Italians, more so than other ethnicities at times, put so much time and love into their recipes. A chef once told me that of all the types of cuisines he cooked and of all the different restaurants he cooked in, he admired Italian cuisine the most; since it was in those restaurants that he was taught to put the most passion into his food. I’d have to agree with that since, I mean, clearly you can taste it in the sauces (or gravy, whichever you prefer to call it). With that said, it’s often times hard to find a truly authentic Italian restaurant. One, that not only has that finesse of Italian elegance, but that also still puts time into their dishes like any Italian grandmother would put into hers. Enter: Quattro, Gastronomia Italiana. Opened in the summer of 2006, Quattro has definitely become a gem on Lincoln Road. To this day, it is hailed as the best expensive Italian Restaurant in Miami.