Being of Cuban descent and having eaten varieties of Latin American food throughout my entire life, there isn’t much that can surprise me within this genre of cuisine. My understanding of most Latin American food is greasy, usually fried, comfortable, and predictable. When I was asked to visit Bernie’s LA Café, my expectations were not very high. Boy, was I mistaken! Named after proprietor Bernie Matz, also known for Lincoln Road’s café at Books & Books, Bernie’s LA Café has been considered the Best Organic Latin American Cuisine and the owner of the Best Cuban Sandwich by the Miami New Times. Bernie’s is the kind of restaurant that offers something for everyone with its array of vegan, vegetarian, and straight up meat-loving options.
Skrillex will be joined by his stacked lineup of beatmaking bosses including electro-maestro Alvin Risk, Godfather of dubstep 12th Planet, and bass-in-your-face Congorock. We absolutely cannot wait for this talented trio to spin back-to-back with Skrillex on Thursday's Yacht Party! With such an impressive roster of seasoned turntablists, the OWSLA lineup promises attendees a face-melting week of musical mayhem.
Anyone who has been paying close attention to the culinary trends of right now is very much aware that the next “it” cuisine is that of Peru, a cuisine that has been slowly and quietly trying to break into the American palate for at least a decade. A handful of chefs and food writers had heralded the advent of Peruvian cuisine in this country years ago, but it had been premature, and many food enthusiasts were left waiting for a wave of Peruvian restaurants - both haute and humble - that never seemed to arrive. This country wasn’t ready yet. Not only did we lack the food culture that we have today with all its foodie bloggers and gourmet food trucks, it was almost as if gringos had yet to resolve their issues with Latin American cuisine. Although many Latin Americans were already fans of the varied and sophisticated cuisine of Peru, the general American population still thought that Latino cuisines were either confined inside a tortilla or served with a heap of rice, beans, and plantains. Peruvian cuisine did not fit neatly into any of those compartments. With the rise in Latino chefs and the spread of Nuevo Latino cuisine, Americans began to understand that Latin American cuisines could be elegant and sophisticated and complex. We began enjoying spicier, bolder flavors. We started to become huge fans of ceviche to the point that almost every menu now features it. We were also about to be introduced to a chef who was steadily building momentum in Peru and who would introduce the rest of the world to Peruvian cuisine.
Just like the other big cultural festival in Miami, Art Basel, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival consists of a variety of different events simultaneously occurring over a period of several days. The main event every year at SOBEWFF occurs at the Grand Tasting Village right on the sands of Miami Beach with the rolling surf and hot bodies working on their tans only steps away. Hosted this year by Whole Foods Market, the Grand Tasting Village was a sensory overload for any lover of food, wine, and spirits. Besides sampling food from over 35 local restaurants, there were also representatives from vacation destinations, new food and cooking products to try out, cocktails made with some well-known and not-so-well-known liquors, and lot’s of wine. In between getting tipsy and nibbling on tasty morsels, attendees were able to watch cooking demonstrations from some of the most popular TV cooking personalities like Anne Burrell, Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri, Paula Deen, and many others. Occurring over a two day period, here are some highlights from the first day of the Grand Tasting Village on Saturday, February 23rd.
This year’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival kicked off with a bang on February 21st at Moët Hennessy’s The Q, presented by Omaha Steaks and sponsored by Miami Magazine. Previously known as the BUBBLEQ, the shortening of the name has in no way diminished the the grandiosity of this event, the importance of the chefs and cooks participating, nor the quantity of fantastic dishes available to sample. A happy marriage of champagne and barbecue, this year’s The Q was hosted by that queen of indulgent Southern cooking, Paula Deen, along with her sons Jamie and Bobby. The Deen family, however, were not the only celebrities present as foodies were able to meet some of their culinary heroes, like Todd English and Geoffrey Zakarian, as well as sample some of the cuisine that has made them famous. With over 40 of the nation’s top chefs, including many local favorites, it was a delicious challenge trying to sample everything, and while most things were pleasant, there were a few dishes that really stood out.
For just having opened a little more than a month ago, Dolce has been getting quite a lot of attention as one of the tastiest Italian restaurants in Miami Beach (read review here). Of course, it comes as no surprise knowing that the restaurant is the brainchild of LDV Hospitality, the people who brought us Scarpetta. Offering a sexy ambiance within the newly remodeled 1940’s Gale South Beach hotel, Dolce has become one of the best places for classic Italian cocktails and classic Italian fare by Chef Paolo Dorigato. For those who have yet to try it out, Dolce is giving the perfect incentive as it launches its Apertivo Happy Hour and Sunset Prix Fixe dinner menu today.
It appears as if the new hotspot for foodies on Miami Beach is the South of Fifth neighborhood. Once known for being a quieter, more residential area with only a few venerated classics like Smith & Wollensky and Joe’s, it seems as if more and more restaurants, cafés, bakeries, and bars are forgoing the more popular - and populated - Lincoln Road, Washington, Collins, and Ocean for the southernmost tip of South Beach. To add to the increasing roster of drinking and dining destinations in the neighborhood is The Flat, deemed a “before experience”, slated to open mid February.
There are two things that Miami Beach seems to have a lot of these days: constant change and Italian restaurants. Many Miami natives sometimes wonder whatever happened to the quirky SoBe they knew back when Gianni Versace held court there, and it seems as if for the non Miami Beach resident, every subsequent visit to the southern reaches of Collins Avenue reveals more change, more commercialization, and a sense of frustration. As much as we may not like to hear it, there seems to be no going back to the 90s for Miami Beach, and the few remnants of 20th century seem to get polished up and renovated one by one almost every day. Then there are the denizens of Italian restaurants dotting almost every imaginable storefront and hotel lobby, apparently making South Beach a chic, sexy little Italy of the 21st century. There are, obviously, a great deal of bad restaurants, a great many more mediocre ones, but still enough fantastic Italian restaurants to warrant at least an occasional visit for any foodie. A recent dinner at Dolce in the newly renovated Gale South Beach showed that all the change on SoBe can actually be a good thing and that Miami Beach continues to be a destination for some of the best Italian fare.
If you live in a cosmopolitan city and you love to eat, chances are that you’ve sampled Thai cuisine at one point in your life. Anyone who considers themselves a foodie is most likely very familiar with the coconut milk-enriched curries, the flavors of lemongrass and galangal, the fiery nam prik chilis, and the sweet undertones from the addition of creamy palm sugar. Miami isn’t generally known for having a large Thai constituency, but that doesn’t deter from the fact that we have a generous selection of good Thai restaurants, and with good reason: the complex flavors of Thai cuisine tend to fare well in a tropical climate like that of South Florida. Nevertheless, what many of us think we know about Thai cuisine is just the tip of the iceberg...or in the case of Thailand, the tip of the peninsula. Thailand, while a lot smaller than the US, is a large, very old, and quite diverse country, and the majority of the Thai cuisine that is available in Miami and much of the rest of the country is the fiery, aggressively flavored cuisine of the south. While southern Thai cuisine is arguably delicious, discovering the cuisines of northern Thailand is a true epiphany that will turn any newbie into an instant convert leading them to thumb through the pages of Thai menus looking for sticky rice and Chiang Rai sausages. We used to have an authentic northern Thai restaurant in Kendall many years ago, but it appeared as if Miami just wasn’t quite ready to embrace a Thai cuisine that was dissimilar to the coconut milk curries, pad thai, and heaps of jasmine rice most people were familiar with. It wasn’t until the foodie revolution hit Miami hard that the 305 was ready to embrace regional ethnic cuisines, and that’s when John Kunkel decided to open Khong River House on Lincoln Road in the old Miss Yip’s space.
Few restaurant empires have as unique a story as that of Serafina. Two best friends, Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato, were stranded in Hampton Bay one day during a horrific storm and made a pact to each other if they came out of it alive: to open a restaurant serving the best pizza and pasta in the world. Nine restaurants later, including one in São Paulo, the have finally reached the Sunshine State and have continued to make South Beach one of the most delicious concentrations of authentic Italian cuisine. Occupying the space attached to the Dream South Beach Hotel that formerly housed Tudor House, Serafina’s Miami Beach location is in the heart of all the action, making it the perfect stop to savor exquisitely prepared northern Italian cuisine before enjoying an evening of SoBe’s legendary nightlife. A recent dinner at Serafina demonstrated that besides an unwavering dedication to quality, the driving force behind Serafina’s success throughout the world is a love and passion for food that can be felt and tasted everywhere at this restaurant