Miami has become a culinary force to be reckoned with. Not only do we have an ever expanding roster of fantastic chefs, unforgettable restaurants, and unique dives, but now we are starting to take food, as a whole, a lot more seriously. You know when attitudes towards food begin to change towards the better when major food-related organizations like Slow Food International take root in a city, like they did in Miami. This Monday, December 10th, you can see firsthand just how serious the 305 is becoming about food when the new Slow Food Miami Fountain is unveiled at the Miami Culinary Institute Gardens. In addition to the unveiling, Miamians (and our seasonal visitors, too) can enjoy a multicourse meal by James Beard award-winning chef, Susan Spicer, who is one of the authorities on New Orleans cuisine. All of this coincides with Terra Madre Day, an annual celebration of sustainable, good, clean, and fair food that is celebrated by 150 Slow Food Countries throughout the world.
This week is all about Art Basel, and Joonbug Miami is making sure that all you foodie “Baselers” are well fed and well hydrated. Between a long day of day of gazing at modern art and hitting up the countless parties and events that the evening has to offer, be sure to stop by Meat Market on Lincoln Road for some specially crafted Art Basel cocktails made with Dom Ruinart, the official champagne of Art Basel. Only short walk from the main exhibit at the Miami Beach Convention center, the ever-chic and bustling steakhouse is the perfect place to refresh yourself and possibly meet some the art world’s hottest names.
Lest we forget about art of the culinary kind during Art Basel week, Sushi Samba will be manning a popup version of their Lincoln Road hotspot in the heart of some of the most exciting satellite fairs. Occupying the former Sustain space in the shops of Midtown, SUSHISAMBA’s SAMBAPOP will be only steps away from such fairs as Art Asia, Art Miami, and Context, as well as a short distance from many others. From now until Sunday, December 9th, SAMBAPOP will be serving “Baselers” their unique blend of Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian flavors that have made the SUSHISAMBA brand a mainstay on South Beach. With the announcement of its new chef, Brian Nasajon, SAMBAPOP will be the perfect opportunity for both local and visiting art aficionados to sample the new chef’s creative offerings, as well as many favorites.
Art Basel week is officially here, and Miami is once again vibrating with immense creative energy as the the world’s most cutting edge artists gather in the 305 for perhaps the most important cultural event of the season. Officially, the Art Basel art fair is confined to the Miami Beach Convention Center and takes place from December 6th through the 9th. However, since its inception eleven years ago, Art Basel has come to mean not only the official art fair but also an ever increasing roster of satellite shows, parties, and other events that have all of Miami saturated in art during an entire week. While the official Art Basel show in Miami Beach is definitely worth checking out, many would agree that perhaps the most interesting fairs are occurring just over the bridge in Midtown, the Design District, and Wynwood, just to name a few. I know from experience that taking in so much art all at once can definitely work up an appetite...especially if you love to eat. Fortunately, there is no shortage of great restaurants only minutes away from all the best fairs, and some of them, like the newly opened Bloom in Wynwood, are offering a variety of specials and special guest DJs just for all the hungry art aficionados
When I went to Paris for the first time, I was most looking forward to eating, and people warned me that the portions would be a lot smaller than they were in the United States. I wasn’t terribly concerned about that detail, and what I found out after dining in Paris was that despite the smaller portions, the food was so flavorful that I left each restaurant satisfied but not stuffed. French cuisine has a reputation for being rich, but French people have a reputation for being thin...at least thinner than Americans. The reason being, I discovered, is that they eat good food in moderation, and trying to find good food in moderation stateside can prove to be a challenge in a country that loves overabundance and has industrialized food to the point that it has lost much of its original flavor. Meals that have the same effect as those I enjoyed in Paris are usually reserved almost exclusively to haute cuisine, but that seems to be changing as eateries like OTC in Brickell make a very European concept of dining something that can be enjoyed at least once a week, if not every day. While the menu is very American in character, a meal at OTC ended with the same afterglow I experienced while dining in Paris.
Three new restaurants are debuting in South Beach this December, and two of them not only carry pedigrees to get excited over but are also suggesting that perhaps Miami Beach is becoming America’s newest - and most stylish - Little Italy. SoBe has been attracting models, artists, and entrepreneurs from Italy ever since their paesano, Gianni Versace, put the southernmost part of Miami Beach on the map, and the resulting migration is making South Beach a veritable mecca for Italian-from-Italy cuisine representing everywhere from Sicily and Sardinia to Piedmont and Venezia. The other restaurant, while Italian by way of its designer from Bologna, is a departure from the pizzas and pastas of the other two and promises to offer a farm-to-table concept with an international flair. Just in time for Art Basel!
Every year, autumn brings foodies of all manner wonderful things from persimmons and Asian pears to Beaujolais Nouveau and Thanksgiving Day. Not least among them, of course, is the beginning of white truffle season. The rare specialty from the Alba region of Italy is perhaps one of the most coveted ingredients in fine dining this time of the year, and db Bistro Moderne is not only marking the start of the glorious season but also celebrating it in full force. On November 28th, diners can experience the incomparable magic that this fungus evokes with a multicourse white truffle dinner hosted by none other than the celebrated Michelin starred chef, Daniel Boulud.
As a child, the requisite Fourth of July excursion to Bayfront Park any Miami youngster makes was always highlighted by glimpses of the massive tower of the Intercontinental hotel glowing against the lights of the fireworks display. It was the place where important people stayed, important conferences took place, and when I turned fifteen, it became the place where important, adult lunches occurred. The Intercontinental Hotel is still all of that, and it continues to be a landmark part of Miami’s skyline. However, time had brought change to Miami’s lodging landscape in the shape of new luxury hotels bearing the signatures of important designers like Philippe Starck and Kelly Wearstler, and while the monolith building is still impressive on the outside, it was time for the Intercontinental to go through a bit of a makeover to remain relevant the increasingly discerning travelers who come to Miami. The travertine floors and columns, as well as the lobby’s abstract sculpture centerpiece, remain intact, but new high-tech design accents that play on light and color have given the Intercontinental a brand new vitality. As many hotels are now returning to the idea of the hotel restaurant being a formidable dining destination and not just a convenience to hotel guests, the Intercontinental has also replaced its former restaurant with a pan-Latin restaurant concept from Chef Richard Sandoval called Toro Toro, and the new restaurant can be seen as the defining touch of the Intercontinental’s new vibe.
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.
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.