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.
For a city that prides itself on being so Latino, it can sometimes come as a shock to learn of Latin restaurant concepts from other parts of the country making their way to the 305. However, restaurants like Sushi Samba, Mercadito, and Asia de Cuba - all originally hailing from places like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles - have become local favorites in Miami and have brought us new perspectives on Latino cuisine. Nevertheless, all of those aforementioned cities have significant Latin American populations, so it really should come as no surprise to us that they would bring Miami interpretations of Latino cuisines that are at the same time innovative and authentically flavored. But what happens when Miami sees a Latino restaurant coming from a not-so-Latino place like Ohio? South Florida is about to see just how much sabor can come out of the Midwest when Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar, founded in Cleveland, opens in Gulfstream Park this month.
Part of what makes a city gastronomically unique are not only the independent eateries and local food customs, but also some of the homegrown chains that are seldom - if ever - found anywhere else, even though they can be so omnipresent where we live that we assume them as a given. I learned at a young age that Pollo Tropical cannot be found in North Carolina, and more recently that ribs at Flanigan’s can be something for which a homesick South Floridian can really yearn. We might laugh it off now, but after being away from the 305 for a while, many of us start thinking about the little things that we left behind. Being that Miami is a young city, many of our culinary traditions (including chain restaurants) are fairly new and many are developing right as I am finishing writing this sentence. Salsa Fiesta, which first began close to Midtown Miami and before opening a second location in Pembroke Pines, may soon become yet another one of our local food traditions as it opens its third location in Aventura next month with complimentary margaritas to celebrate.
A recent stroll down the streets of Miami’s Design District - especially when one hasn’t strolled down those streets in quite a few months - can reveal some surprising changes. While design still rules in this area of Miami, the kind of design that is on display is changing. It is still a mecca for interior designers and industrial design aficionados, and favorites like Luminaire, Fendi Casa, and Ligne Roset are still present. However, the district is now becoming home to far more many creative venues than just furniture, kitchens, and baths. Christian Louboutin, Hermès, Chloé, and Cartier are among a few of the names making one of Miami’s most fashionable areas even more fashionable, and along with the the designer sofas, shoes, handbags, and baubles, is a treasure chest of fabulous eats from local favorite, Michael’s Genuine, to upscale Greek eatery, Egg & Dart. Among the most exciting eateries to make an appearance in the Design District is Oak Tavern, which plans to open its doors to Miami’s eager foodies this November.
It’s that time of year again when the weather cools down enough in South Florida to have a pleasurable picnic...an outdoors picnic where you don’t have to bring a change of clothes after you’ve sweated through your first outfit. It’s also the time of year when Slow Food Miami hosts its annual Thighs & Pies Pie Contest & Picnic at The Barnacle Historic State Park. On Saturday, November 3rd, the historic house in Coconut Grove - which is interesting enough to warrant a visit any other time of the year - will be celebrating that All-American dessert, the pie, with a competition featuring up to thirty different pies submitted by South Florida locals. Along with the competition, there will be a delicious picnic featuring natural, antibiotic-free fried chicken from FreeBird, as well as tasty sides and sweet treats donated by Whole Foods Market in Coral Gables. This family friendly event will also include live music by Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band to get things into a festive spirit.
This Saturday evening, enjoy cocktails and other adult refreshments at many of Brickell’s best bars and eateries with some of Miami’s finest at the United Way of Miami-Dade’s Young Leaders Society’s Boo’s and Spirits Pub Crawl. The organization consists of young professionals from Miami-Dade who enjoy networking, personal and professional growth, and giving back to the community through the United Way’s constant efforts at improving education, health and financial stability, and proceeds from this weekend’s pub crawl go towards continuing those efforts. The evening starts off at Brickell Irish Pub and finishes at LA Sweets, where participants will be able to indulge in the bake shop’s noteworthy cupcakes.
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 have any doubts regarding Miami’s importance as a food city, pay a visit during the month of February to understand just how huge the 305 is to the culinary world. For the past eleven years, Miami has played host to Food Network’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which is one of the country’s most important gastronomic events of the year. Next year, from February 21st through the 24th, locals and visitors will be able to attend tastings, lectures, demonstrations, special dinners, and unforgettable parties featuring such personalities as Duff Goldman, Ming Tsai, Emeril Lagasse, Todd English, Anthony Bourdain, John Besh, and many others.
There are few places as exciting to be right now than Miami, which seems to finally be coming of age as a respectable city with a vibrant cultural scene and an identity that, while still not fully developed, is without a doubt one of a kind. Miami seems to be an almost blank canvas of creative possibilities, and the enthusiasm of its native sons and daughters can be witnessed in its art galleries, bars, clubs, boutiques, and eateries. Nearly every week there seems to be new construction or a repurposing of an old site, and this ever-changing Miami that we live in now can sometimes make one yearn for a sense of tradition and history, which can sometimes be hard to find amidst all that is so gleamingly new. Nevertheless, there has always been that tower of opulence in Coral Gables that has always represented a much more elegant time in our city’s history better known as The Biltmore.