ASIA DE CUBA
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:
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.
Today we pay homage to the melon of all melons...watermelon! Restaurants and bars around the city are whipping up dishes and libations made specially from your favorite fruit.
Two very special dishes will be added to Anthony Ricco's menu at Spice Market in celebration of this special day. Try out their Thai-inspired Watermelon Gazpacho ($8.50) with watermelon, Thai chilies, tomatoes, cucumber, and red wine vinegar. They are also serving delectable Chocolate Covered Watermelon Slices ($8) dusted with crushed, spiced almonds.
Asian and Cuban are two cuisines that one rarely sees within the same sentence. However, Cuban cuisine's hearty simplicity utilizing Caribbean ingredients with Spanish and West African techniques is the perfect foil for the bold and varied flavors of Asia, and with Miami's significant Cuban population and its tropical heat, it seems only natural that both cuisines should meet here and form a seemless fusion of flavors and textures that is a perfect match for South Florida's culture and climate. Asia de Cuba, with locations in London and Los Angeles, has proven to Miami, as well as the world, that the flavors of Asia and those of "the pearl of the Antilles" can come together with some interesting and delicious results.
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:
The Rusty Pelican has always been one of my favorite locations for Sunday brunches, regardless of the time of year, because of its extensive spread and its unparalleled views. With its recent renovation, this Key Biscayne landmark has not only received a design facelift, but a culinary one, as well. Their traditional buffet stations will be present, but the restaurant will also be presenting “brunchers” with some more innovative dishes, such as ancho chile rubbed prime rib or fresh scallop and passion fruit tiradito. $75 per adult, $32 per child. The brunch is by reservation only and will be offered from 10:30 AM to 3:30 PM. 3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne. (305) 361-3818 ext 207. www.therustypelican.com/rustypelicanmiami
Quattro Gastronomia Italiana
Lincoln Road’s pinnacle of traditional and inventive Piedmontese dining will be offering several traditional, and not-so-traditional, Easter and Easter-inspired dishes as part of their à la carte menu to help diners usher in a “buona Pasqua”. Specials will include a very traditional torta pasqualina con fonduta al aschera, a traditional savory Easter tart with baby spinach, buffalo ricotta and herbs ($16), as well as an oven-roasted leg of lamb with rosemary-scented fingerling potatoes and baby rainbow carrot ($34). For a pasta, try artichoke ravioli with a saffron parmesan sauce ($19). Don’t miss out on dessert with colombe pasquale alle mandorle con gelato al miele, a traditional Easter cake with almonds served with a scoop of honey gelato ($12). 1014 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach 33139. (305) 531-4833. www.quattromiami.com
Too busy sleeping in to make it out in time for brunch? No worries! One of Miami Beach’s hottest new residents, The Dutch, specializing in farm-to-table cuisine, will be serving up à la carte Easter dinner specials alongside their raved-about rustic American menu items. Sample such spring-inspired dishes as asparagus with a sunny side up Lake Meadows farm egg and mustard glazed pork belly ($18) or a plate of crispy soft shell crab with pickled spring ramps and crushed potatoes ($27). Desserts promise to offer chef Andrew Carmellini’s signature blend of the familiar and the novel with items like a rosemary nectarine pie with candied peanuts and honey ice cream ($12) or warm sour cherries with crunchy meringue and lemon-lime sorbet ($12). Dinner served from 6:00 PM to 11:30 PM. The Dutch is located inside W South Beach at 2201 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach 33139. (305) 938-3111. www.thedutchmiami.com
A trip to the Fontainebleau any time of the year is guaranteed to provide anyone with an unforgettable meal at one of its many restaurants. My personal favorite, Scarpetta, will be offering an Italian-inspired Easter brunch buffet with endless bloody marys, bellinis, and mimosas. The pasta station will feature Scarpetta’s famous spaghetti with tomato and basil, as well as duck and foie gras ravioli, marsala reduction cavatelli, and short rib ragù. Also, do not miss the creamy polenta with fricassee of truffled mushrooms. At $75 per person ($37.50 per child) this is an excellent opportunity to sample unlimited quantities of Scarpetta’s unforgettable Italian cuisine - perhaps the best in South Florida. Vida will also be offering an expansive Easter Day brunch for $59 per person ($37.50 per child) which will include many traditional Easter brunch dishes with a few contemporary twists, including the very unique sushi from its next door neighbor, Blade Sushi and Raw Bar. Be sure not to miss such specialties as lobster mac and cheese, five spiced duck breast, lavender honey mustard salmon, cheeses, charcuterie, and four (yes, four; as in 1,2,3,4) separate dessert stations, including one with homemade candies, chocolates, and even lollipops! 4441 Collins Avenue Miami Beach, 33140. (305) 538-2000. www.fontainebleau.com
Asia de Cuba
For a typically Miamian East meets West Easter Sunday experience, head on over to Asia de Cuba, located inside the whimsically-appointed Mondrian South Beach. For $68 per person, indulge in bottomless mimosas, as well as a whole suckling pig cooked Cuban style inside the caja china, a method for roasting pork that was invented in Miami. Also enjoy Asia de Cuba’s selection of ceviches, sushis, Asian-inspired noodle dishes, and traditional brunch buffet offerings. 1100 West Avenue, Miami Beach 33139. (305) 514-4955. www.mondrian-miami.com
DB Bistro Moderne
Chef Daniel Boulud is one of my favorite chefs, and I’m so glad to have one of his restaurants in Miami. On Easter Sunday, expect a buffet of French-inspired takes on traditional brunch fare demonstrating Chef Boulud’s impeccable culinary training and unique perspective. In addition to the buffet, each table will be offered a db Burger to share - one of the most inventive and luxurious hamburgers you will ever ingest, consisting of a ground sirloin exterior with a stuffing of red wine braised shortribs, foie gras, a mirepoix of root vegetables and preserved black truffle. $68 per person. 225 Biscayne Boulevard Way. (305) 432-8800. www.danielnyc.com
Miami Shores Country Club
If you’re longing for a touch of class and a glimpse into the elite, top-drawer lifestyle of a bygone era in South Florida, Miami Shores Country club has the Easter brunch for you! Expect all the usual suspects at this classic Miami institution, such as eggs benedict, prime rib, and baked salmon, along with white-gloved maitre d’s and stiff-haired, old money matrons with their jaw-clenching preppy children. The food is very good, surprisingly affordable, there is no country club membership required, and the experience is different and quite entertaining. 10000 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami Shores 33138. (305) 795-2360. www.miamishoresgolf.com
94th Aero Squadron
Ever since I was a kid, I always wondered about the barnyard-looking building jutting right up next to Miami International Airport’s runway. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to feed my curiosity at one of their famous sunday brunches. The 94th Aero Squadron (or El Escuadron, as it’s known by some Miami natives), is another one of those South Florida institutions. Along with typical Sunday brunch fare, expect to find Cuban-style roast pork, sweet plantains, arroz congrí, and paella this Easter while having an unmatched view of airplanes taking off and landing. There are even complimentary headphones to listen in on the control tower commands...perfect for the younger members of your party (or the young at heart)! 1395 North Red Road, Miami 33126. (305) 261-4220. www.94thmiami.com
B Ocean Fort Lauderdale
Housing one of Broward County’s finest Asian restaurants, SAIA, the B Ocean has become a beacon of style, elegance, and excellent food and drinks on Fort Lauderdale Beach. On Easter Sunday, enjoy a brunch at the hotel’s Penthouse Ballroom with spectacular views of Fort Lauderdale and the Atlantic ocean. Cheeses, charcuterie, carving stations, and omelets are expected, as well as SAIA’s incomparable sushi and seafood creations. $47 per person (children $20). Served from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. 999 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale 33304. (954) 302-5208. www.BOceanFortLauderdale.com
Asia de Cuba, a well-known South Beach restaurant located in the Mondrian hotel overlooking the Downtown Miami skyline, hosted an exclusive preview of this location’s latest addition: the new Ceviche and Raw Bar! Upon entering, we were greeted with our choice of cocktails. I opted for the Triple Berry Mojito. This drink included white rum, muddled mint and lime, fresh raspberry, blackberry, and strawberry, with cane syrup and a splash of soda. This refreshing beverage perfectly balanced the sweetness of the berries with the tang of the lime. My palate was satisfied. They also offered a choice between a mango mojito, chili passion capirinha, and a raspberry cloud caipirinha. I was given the opportunity to taste all of them, and each offered unique flavors to satisfy all palates.
Living in Miami, many people have resigned to the expectation that any American holiday that involves some sort of cookout will probably involve some sort of roast pork, accompanied by black beans and rice, yucca, plantains, and the other viandas that accompany a traditional Cuban repast. Labor Day weekend is definitely no exception when it comes to representing Cuban-American traditions in Miami. I’m sure that many readers already have plans with abuela, mami, papi, and the rest of the familia, but as for the rest of us who are Cuban family-deprived, there is a great opportunity to partake in gourmet Caribbean-inspired barbecue while in the midst of designer Marcel Wanders’ gorgeously whimsical South Beach masterpiece, The Mondrian.
Chef Jeffery Chodorow of The Mondrian’s signature restaurant, Asia De Cuba, has gained renown throughout South Florida for his marriage of East and West cusines, all while elevating the status of traditional Cuban cuisine with whimsical dishes like tuna tartare with picadillo seasonings. Throughout Labor Day weekend, The Mondrian will be offering a Cuban-inspired barbecue by their fabulous pool with limited edition creations by Chef Chodorow just for Labor Day weekend. Menu selections include Cuban marinated skirt steak, Caribbean spiced chicken, and tamarind glazed pork short ribs, although the real attraction will be the Lechon Asadora, a traditional roast suckling pig cooked in the invented-in-Miami Caja China. All menu items are under $25 and come served with grilled corn, black beans, and calabaza jicama slaw.
Labor Day Weekend Poolside Barbecue
Saturday, September 3rd through Monday, September 5th From 12 PM - 8 PM Asia de Cuba Mondrian South Beach
1100 West Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139
We all love Miami Spice for making our city's most expensive restaurants a little more accessible. But, it doesn't matter how cheap the food is if you can't eat it because the majority of the entrees include meat. Skip the steakhouses and check out the best multi-course vegetarian meals Miami has to offer.
Click on restaurant name for complete Miami Spice menu & info.
The Dining Room
[Appetizer] Beet and Beet’s golden and red beets, watercress, marcona almonds, goat cheese, black pepper, marshmallows
[Entree] Sweet Potatoes Gnocchi mushrooms, brown butter, sage, lemon zest, aged gouda
[Dessert] Coffee Tres Leches vanilla orange segments, mandarin foam, chocolate sauce
Get out your favorite eye-catching beach cover up or take this as a reason to splurge on some chic surf attire for MOCA BASH Surf’s Up. North Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art is hosting their annual cocktail and dance party, MOCA BASH Surf’s Up, on February 19th. The theme of this year’s fundraiser celebrates the thrill of surfing and will encompass all aspects of the surfing lifestyle. From 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. guests will dance the night away among beach bunnies and bonfires under colorful surfboards and fabrics evoking ocean waves.
Cocktails will be provided from GREY GOOSE Vodka, with Samuel Adams Beer and wines from Touch Catering. Guests will indulge in delicious items from Miami’s top restaurants, including China Grill, Asia de Cuba, Blue Door Delano, Adriana Restaurant, Meat Market, Sushi Samba and Shiraz Events Catering.