CULINARY OCCASIONS
Fat Tuesday 2014: Where to Eat in NYC

Don't let the snowy grounds confuse you: Mardi Gras is well on its way, and there is no reason why northerners cannot celebrate N’awlins style. Here are some of the best places to ring in your NYC Fat Tuesday they way it was intended to.

French Roast Uptown will be serving a special Mardi Gras menu with an accompanying cocktail list. The menu will feature chicken and andouille gumbo, as well as blackened catfish with dirty rice. Enjoy down home dishes with classic hurricanes, and try your luck with the king cake. The dessert has a small baby doll baked in, and whoever finds it in their slice gets a $25.00 gift card.

16 Gramercy Park S.

185 Orchard St.

131 Sullivan St.

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Easter Brunch in South Florida

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:

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Slow Food Miami's Snail of Approval Tasting Party

Most serious foodies have most likely heard about the Slow Food Movement...if not already members in good standing. The movement, which started in Italy, came about as a response to the ubiquitous fast food culture of our era and the threat it continues to pose towards good food, good health, and eating well. Slow Food continues to be one of the most prominent organizations in supporting good, natural food that is environmentally and socially responsible with chapters throughout the world, including one in Miami. On Friday, March 15th, South Florida locals can take part in Slow Food Miami’s 2nd Annual Snail of Approval Tasting Party, which will be hosted by Chef Norman Van Aken and Deco Drive’s Louis Aguirre and honors chefs, restaurants, mixologists, and others in the food industry who consistently support local, seasonal, organic, and fair agriculture in the food and drinks that they serve.

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Where to dine in Miami this Valentine's Day

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:

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Best Restaurants for Celebrating Thanksgiving

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.

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Hurricane Sandy Relief Dinner at The Dutch

Who knows how Miami’s cultural landscape would be today if it weren’t for the many New Yorkers who made South Florida home and brought a little piece of the Big Apple to the Magic City, including a love of art, fashion, and fantastic food? Even today, any South Florida foodie is quick to notice how the flow of New Yorkers continues on strongly with so many New York City institutions, chefs, and restaurateurs making their way down to the southern tip of the Sunshine State. It goes without saying that the cultural ties between NYC and MIA are longstanding and strong, and what happens in one city can deeply affect the other, which is exactly what happened when Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeastern United States late last month. South Florida’s many New Yorkers were devastated by the images of destruction, and Miami natives - many of whom still have vivid memories of the havoc that was Hurricane Andrew - definitely felt the pain of Sandy’s victims. In an effort to aid those who lost so much during Hurricane Sandy, New York City Transplant, The Dutch, will be hosting a Hurricane Sandy Relief Dinner on Sunday, November 18th.

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Bourbon, Beer & Q At The Dutch

Even if it were never named "Best New Restaurant" by the Miami New Times this year, there is no doubt in any foodie's mind that there is no hotter restaurant in Miami Beach right now than Andrew Carmellini's outpost of his famed NYC restaurant, The Dutch. To celebrate its success, and maybe even to thank the people of Miami for making his restaurant venture in the 305 so successful, Chef Carmellini and his chef de cuisine, Conor Hanlon will be offering a weekly barbecue series featuring different styles of barbecue each week for only $30 per person. The series kicks off tomorrow with a Texas-style barbecue that includes smoked brisket, spare ribs, Texas hot links, and delectable side dishes like grilled corn on the cob, baked beans, and corn bread. Drink specials will include $3 PBR tall boys, and $22 pitchers of Pimm's Punch and Boozy Arnold Palmers, as well as barman Rob Ferrara's Smokey Bacon Old Fashioned.

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Mother's Day Brunch

She gave birth to you, she raised you, she loved you, and if you're lucky, she probably cooked for you, too. Mothers are, without a doubt, extremely important. While we should be good children and celebrate our mothers every day of the year, it is on Mother's Day that we go all out and really show our appreciation to that woman who did so much for us. While Mother's Day celebrations are only limited by one's imagination, it seems as if the consensus is that a lavish brunch in in order....at least that's the idea that Miami's many restaurants offering Mother's Day brunches are seemingly pushing. Here are few suggestions that stand out:

DAILY BITES
New Spring Menu at The Dutch

James Beard Award winner Chef Andrew Carmellini's latest venture in Miami has proven to be a major success with locals and tourists, alike, since it's inception in November of last year. Located in the W South Beach, The Dutch has become Miami Beach's go-to spot for local, farm-to-table fare showcasing the unique produce and plentiful seafood that we have in South Florida. It's a little hard developing seasonal menus when there really are no seasons in Miami (except, perhaps, for hurricane season and tourist season), and Chef Carmellini admits to having to adjust to the region's unique seasons. “The seasons are basically opposite from what we have going on up in New York right now, it’s wild; I still can’t get over the beautiful heirloom tomatoes we were getting all winter long in Miami, so I’m really excited for spring," states Carmellini.