Saturday, February 4, 2017

The South Beach Wine & Food Festival Is Back And It's Better Than Ever


- The NEW David Grutman Experience Featuring Sounds by INGROSSO Debuts on Sunday, February 26 -

It's that time again... Widely recognized as one of America’s favorite epicurean celebrations, the 16th annual Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF®)  returns to EAT. DRINK. EDUCATE. February 22 – 26, 2017.  Its signature event that started it all in 2002, the Goya Foods’ Grand Tasting Village featuring Mastercard Grand Tasting Tents & KitchenAid Culinary Demonstrations, is back with all of the fan-favorite, gourmet flair that it is known for on Saturday, February 25 and Sunday, February 26.  Benefiting the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University, the Festival has raised more than $24 million to date to support the future leaders of the food, beverage and hospitality industry.

Once again, the Festival is making it easier than ever to enjoy its signature Miami Beach event with a free park-n-ride option.  Exclusive for Goya Foods' Grand Tasting Village ticketholders, the Festival is providing FREE shuttle transportation to the event from dedicated Festival parking lots located at N.E. 8th Street between N.E. 1st Avenue and N.E. 2nd Avenue in Downtown Miami.  Shuttles, which are ADA compliant, will run continuously from 11 AM to 7 PM (EST) on Saturday, February 25 and Sunday, February 26.  Shuttles will drop-off and pick-up on the beachside at 13thStreet & Collins Avenue. For guests using Metromover, the closest station is Freedom Tower Station.

In addition to the Festival’s featured line-up of Culinary Captains, who together have rounded up more than 55 restaurants each day to satiate attendees’ taste buds as they sip on samplings from 100 wine and spirits suppliers from the Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits portfolio, an array of new and returning favorite Food Network and Cooking Channel talent and more culinary personalities will take to the KitchenAid Culinary Demonstration stages each day, including:

Saturday, February 25
Valerie Bertinelli
Ayesha Curry
Giada De Laurentiis
Bobby Flay
Snoop Dogg & Guy Fieri
Amanda Freitag & Scott Conant
Emeril Lagasse
Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos
Masaharu Morimoto
Marc Murphy
Michael Symon
Ming Tsai
Geoffrey Zakarian

Sunday, February 26
José Andrés
Anne Burrell
Giada De Laurentiis
Duff Goldman
Alex Guarnaschelli
Carla Hall
Robert Irvine
Eddie Jackson
Roger Mooking
Tia Mowry
Marcus Samuelsson
Aarón Sánchez
Ndamukong Suh
Andrew Zimmern

The just announced KitchenAid Culinary Demonstration with Tanqueray brand ambassador Snoop Dogg and Guy Fieri onSaturday, February 25 is just the beginning, as Snoop Dogg will also take to the tables immediately following the demonstration for a short spin on the ones and twos as guests sip on fresh pressed Gin & Juice cocktails from the custom Tanqueray Gin & Juice Bar.  You won’t want to miss this one-of-a-kind jam session to close-out your day at our signature event. 

New this year, SOBEWFF® is also pleased to partner with hospitality and nightlife visionary David Grutman to present a one-of-a-kind experience at the Goya Foods’ Grand Tasting Village on Sunday, February 26.  Grutman will transform the courtyard into a custom experience ideated by the energetic impresario himself, featuring live beats by the dynamic, internationally-renowned DJ INGROSSO

The Festival’s special reduced price ticket – 3-5 on Ocean Drive – is on sale now, providing access to the Goya Foods’ Grand Tasting Village, including the David Grutman Experience, on Sunday, February 26 from 3 – 5 PM (EST) for $100 per person.  Tickets for all events at the 2017 Festival are available online at or by calling 877.762.3933 (Phone sales are open Monday – Friday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM EST). 

Between SOBEWFF® and its sister NYCWFF, which takes place each October in New York City, more than $33 million has been raised to benefit the respective charities for each Festival.  Beyond the funds raised, both Festivals draw attention to the vibrant dining culture in their respective cities, provide economic stimulus in their communities, and serve as an invaluable platform to drive awareness, engaging and inspiring people to get involved in philanthropic activities.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Say Goodbye to 2016 at Five Star New Year's Eve

Are you looking for an unforgettable place to say goodbye to 2016? Concept  ID’s Five  Star  New  Year’s  Eve marks  its  fourth  year  with its  biggest  event  yet:  a  week-long  lineup  of  events  in  Miami  Beach and  the  launch  of  its
signature  celebration  in  Orlando,  FL.

Set  at  palatial  pop-up venues  on  Watson  Island  in  Miami and  Orlando’s I-Drive  360,  the  once  a  year  fête  has  been  hosted  and  attended  by  actor Ryan Phillippe, DJ Robin Schulz, Brazilian singer Michel Telo, soccer star Ronaldo The Phenomenon Nazario  de  Lima and  renowned  Brazilian  actress Isabeli  Fontana,  to  name  a  few.   

Ensuring guests can party  till  dawn,  world  class DJs will  be  on  deck  rotating through the  night  as  visual entertainment of fireworks and fire shows entertain. All admission packages in Miami will include access to the Five Star Package Experience, a week-long suite of programming starting December 25, 2016 through January 1,2017, and The House of  Five  Star,  a  private  oasis  guests  can  utilize  from  December  24,  2016  through  December  31, 2016. In anticipation of New Year’s Eve, the Five Star Package Experience will allow attendees to revel  in  events  such  as  the Sunset  Party, Luxury  Yacht  Cruise, Surreal  Party, Day  Time  Beach Party, Miami  Beach  VIP  Club  Experience, Five  Star  New  Year’s  Eve and Post  New  Year’s  Eve Brunch.  Guests  attending  The  House  of  Five  Star  will  enjoy  exclusive  access  to full-service  bar and food, a boutique and styling suite, a private cigar room, sounds by a live on-site DJ, stunning views  from  the  sun  deck,  recreational  activities  and service  from  on-site  concierge.    Similarly, those  who  attend  the  Orlando  celebration  on  December  31  will  enjoy  exclusive  access  and amenities available at The House of Five Stars in Miami.
Admission packages to the events will start with General Admission ranging between $290 and $390, which features a full-service open bar with beverages, beer, vodka, whisky and Prosecco. The Table  Top package  is  priced  at  $4,000  granting  guests  a  reserved  bar  space  for  six  guests and  access  to  the  full-service  open  bar through  the  night. The VIP  Table experience  priced  at $9,900  offers  an  exclusive VIP entrance,  full-service  open  bar  with beverages,  beer,  vodka, whisky  and champagne, as  well  as  dinner  and  breakfast  for  10  people.  The Gold  Lounge package,  which  accommodates  16  people,  is  priced  at  $20,000  and  features  a VIP  separate entrance,  full-service  open  bar  with beverages,  beer,  vodka,  whisky  and  champagne,  exclusive dinner and breakfast, a dedicated butler service, and private transportation for the entire party.

To purchase tickets, visit or call 786.768.2447.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Saborea Tu Cultura Con Vaca Frita and Sedano's Supermarket

This post is part of a sponsored collaboration with Sedano's and DiMe Media. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Cuban people have a tendency to be original and creative... and I'm not just saying that because I'm Cuban. Even in our cooking, we tend to take recipes we have perfected and stir things up to make something completely different. Such is the case with the infamous dish of Vaca Frita.

Now if you're bilingual, you're probably wondering how we can name a dish Fried Cow. But once you learn the history behind the dish and its ingredients, you can figure out the rest. To begin, Vaca Frita is a spin-off of another popular Cuban dish called Ropa Vieja. Yes, my friends, you read correctly - the dish is called Old Clothes. We Cubans take our meal times seriously and since we are known for adding flavor to just about anything, we couldn't help but do the same when it came time to naming these dishes. Ropa Vieja and Vaca Frita go way back in the Cuban culture and many conversations, marriages, business proposals and tender moments have occurred over the sharing of these plates.

Ropa Vieja is a signature shredded beef dish seasoned with traditional Cuban mojo sauce, and prepared in a tomato-based sofrito. It is juicy, delicious and quite popular in our culture. As a matter of fact, growing up, we had Ropa Vieja about once a week. I still remember how excited we used to get when my mom made her classic Ropa Vieja, which was always accompanied by a hearty bowl of soup she made from the substance of the meat. Of course, being as unique and malcriados as we were, some of us preferred the tender, saucy Ropa Vieja, while others of us wanted a crispier version of the same. Therefore, my poor mom had to split the meat and make one batch of Ropa Vieja and another of Vaca Frita. The first required one step, the second required two. Now the family was happy. 

Vaca Frita is the offspring of Ropa Vieja. The process of cooking the meat in the ingredients is cut short and once the marinade is absorbed, the meat is then shredded further and fried with a good helping of onions. Instead of a stew-like meat dish, you end up with a texture-filled meat delight, which fills your senses with its crispy outside, and  juicy inside. The lime and unique, traditional spices give the dish a special kick, that always takes me back to those family dinners at home. It doesn't matter where we are, or who we're with, whenever I make a Vaca Frita dinner, I always remember to have a serving of Ropa Vieja on the side for my own malcriados and that hearty soup we used to start our dinner with and compliment my mom for making. You see, I'm not really sure if it's about the flavor of the food or the importance of the memories it incites. I think the pleasure my family and I derive from eating dishes like Vaca Frita is the emphasis they place on tradition, values, family and culture.

So to buy my ingredients, I always go to a grocery store I know encompasses those themes that are so important in my heart and in my kitchen. Sedano's Supermarket has always been the place to shop for those Hispanic ingredients we all know and love. Sometimes with the passage of time, and the distance of our Latin countries, we forget the correct names of the ingredients and aren't sure how to ask for them. But that's OK at Sedano's. Here, I feel like I'm going to a family member's house, or a neighbor's, and I just have to tell them what I'm making or what it tastes like, and they already know what I need. It's that simple. Through their products and their service, Sedano's has a way of helping me uphold my culture's traditions and family values, and make food a way to connect with my cultural heritage. It's almost like they tell me #SaboreaTuCultura and everything will be alright.

I'd like to share our family's Vaca Frita recipe with you so you can have a taste of what made me who I am and how important my cultural traditions are to me.

Vaca Frita

Servings: 6
Total Cooking Time: 4 hours

2 pounds flank steak

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium yellow onions, sliced

2 small limes, cut into wedges

two tablespoons lime juice

Mojo Criollo

Seasoning Ingredients:

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoon salt


Marinade the steak in Mojo Criollo for about two hours. Place the steak in a pot, and just enough water until the meat is covered. Cover the pot and simmer until the meat is tender, about 1 ½ hours. Remove pot from heat, and allow the contents to cool down.

When the steak is still warm but not especially hot, remove it from the pot. On a plate, shred the beef using two forks, or pull the beef apart using your fingers. Add the seasoning ingredients and lime juice, and mix them into the beef using your hands. Set aside.


Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sautee until the onions are tender (about 5-8 minutes). Turn the heat up to medium-high, then add the shredded beef. Cook the beef for 5-15 minutes, until it is crispy.

Remove from heat and serve with lime wedges. It can be served by itself, with white rice on the side, or with Moros. Don't forget to also treat your family to a side of fried plantains to add a sweet element to your meal. Enjoy...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Join the Milk Life - Why Croquetas Are Nutritious For You!

I am working with The National Hispanic Milk Life Campaign and this is part of a sponsored Milk Life Somos Fuertes Hispanic Heritage campaign. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

If you're Cuban and/or live in Miami, there is a particular dish that has worked its way into becoming one of your basic food groups, and that is Croquetas. Croquetas or croquettes are small log-shaped, fried rolls filled with different stuffings. There is something magical and comforting about the little fried morsels of love that transcends countries, politics and diets. While there are many different preparations for croquettes, and the stuffing may vary, there is one basic constant to preparing the perfect crispy bite - and that is Béchamel Sauce.

Béchamel Sauce

Let me tell you, in my family's kitchen, Béchamel Sauce (a creamy milk-based sauce considered one of the "Mother Sauces" in many countries) was a staple. My grandmother would spend hours in the kitchen making croquetas for the week, and we would fight to see who would be the one to lick the béchamel sauce off the spoons once she was done. It became such a favorite, that we eventually began eating the "Salsa Béchamel" from a bowl. The delicious, creamy taste of milk in the sauce, with the hints of onion and butter, became synonymous with comfort and good memories. Of course, my abuelita was happy. She knew we were getting our fair share of nutrients from the sauce because it was made with milk. So thinking back now, I really believe she left those extra spoonfuls laying around because it would help her nietos get the high-quality protein we needed from the milk, which would ensure we were growing up strong and healthy. Plus, since regular milk has no added sugar, but only the one from naturally occurring lactose, we were getting all the good stuff without the added ones that could have negative effects.

My grandmother

But back to our croquetas. I still remember getting in trouble at school and knowing I'd be coming home to a "talk" with my parents (you know what I mean). The only thing that made the tension drop as I was walking through the door, was the smell of those croquetas sitting on the dining room table. Even then, my abuelita was supporting me. I'd munch and chew right through my parents' lectures and she'd wink from the kitchen. She was a smart lady.


 Today, croquetas are still a part of our everyday lives. While we can stop at a ventanita or a cafeteria and pick up a few... there is nothing like making them at home, and saving a bowl of Béchamel Sauce for later. My daughter is addicted to them and she loves to hear the stories of her great grandmother and how she got the recipe from her own mom, who was from Spain. She enjoys hearing how croquetas have always been on the table during many of our lives' pivotal moments, and still remain a family tradition today. Tell you what.... when my family and I found out my daughter was accepted into the university of her choice, we celebrated with homemade croquetas and café con leches.

For me, croquetas are a comfort food, a trigger for childhood memories, and a delicious way to start the day or bring it to a close. Most importantly, it's also a great way to add nutrition and protein to our diet, because milk is one of its ingredients. And we  all know an 8 oz. glass of milk contains 9 essential nutrients, including B vitamins for energy, protein for lean muscle, vitamin A for a healthy immune system and bone-building nutrients, including calcium and Vitamin D.

Nutritious Milk

So go ahead... eat your croquetas and save a bowl of Béchamel Sauce for later. You will be creating your own tasty memories for your family and giving them a nutritious moment to remember.  In the meantime, let me share my grandmother's croquetas recipe so you could try it at home.

My Abuelita's Croquetas Recipe
1 lb of ham, ground
5 tablespoons  butter
1 cup onion, minced fine
1/3 cup flour
1 cup bread crumbs
1 and 1/2 cups of whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil (for frying)
1) In a large pan, melt the butter, add the onions and saute until translucent.

2) Stir in the flour until it becomes thick. Add more butter if necessary to smoothen it.  Gradually, whisk in the milk to form a smooth sauce. Continue cooking at medium heat until the sauce thickens. Once it's thick, add the parsley. Stir for a couple of minutes and then fold in the ground ham and the bread crumbs.

3) Let simmer for about 5-10 minutes on low heat. Spoon the mixture into a baking pan and refrigerate until it is well chilled (at least one hour). In order to form the mixture into rolls, it needs to be very firm.

4) Shape the mixture into logs about three inches long.

5) Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat until frothy.  Combine the salt and the bread crumbs in a second bowl.

6) Dip the logs into the eggs and roll the logs in the seasoned bread crumbs.  Dip a second time into the eggs and re-roll in the bread crumbs.

7) Cover the logs with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about three hours. (If you are going to freeze the croquettes to eat them later, you can do it now).

8) Heat the oil to 350F.  Fry the croquetas in the oil, a few at a time, for three to four minutes. Turn them occasionally until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Serve and enjoy.

For more information on the benefits of drinking milk and including it in your recipes, visit

Friday, September 23, 2016

Miami Spice - Canvas at The Sagamore Hotel in Miami Beach

Attention foodies... Miami Spice is about to come to a close this year and I have another place you might want to check out. Have you been to Canvas at The Sagamore Hotel in Miami Beach? This Art Deco hotel located at 1671 Collins Avenue, is a cultural centerpiece which epitomizes the artistic soul of Miami Beach. Canvas, its restaurant is no different. Flowing from the interior gallery to the outdoor patio overlooking the pool, the ambiance at Canvas is both sophisticated yet comfortable - bringing to the table a carefully prepared selection of dishes showcasing contemporary cuisine.

Shrimp Avocado Sliders
Thai Fish Tacos

I recently visited to try their Miami Spice menu and both the service and the food were fantastic. Their menu offers a four course dinner with a good variety of selections.  For starters, we had their Shrimp Avocado Sliders and their Thai Fish Tacos. Both gave our palettes a little awakening with a spicy kick that caught our attention. The shrimp sliders were prepared with grilled pineapples and jalapeno, providing a sweet and salty oasis of flavors; while the fish tacos were glazed with sriracha and mango salsa- a true tropical combination.

Tuna Crudo
Wild Mushroom Pizza

For our second course, we decided on the Tuna Crudo and the Wild Mushroom Pizza. You know if there's tuna on the menu, I am going to have it so that decision took no time at all to make. The preparation of the tuna crudo was unique and different from what I was expecting.  It was comprised of chopped pieces of ahi tuna mixed with avocado, pineapple, and basil lemon vinaigrette. It was very flavorful and refreshing and served with thinly sliced bread.  The mushroom pizza was absolutely delicious, topped with fontina cheese and truffle oil. The truffle taste was very distinct and the ingredients combined very well together.

8 oz. Wagyu Steak Frites
Seared Salmon
The feast continued with our third course.  We decided we would share some land and sea so we ordered the 8 oz.Wagyu Steak Frites and the Seared Salmon. The steak was very tender and was served with a nice Chimichurri Compound Butter. The salmon was seared with a very flavorful seasoning and served with a grilled sundried tomato pesto arepa.

Brownie Sundae
Homemade Tiramisu

Last but certainly not least, it was time for dessert. Being the chocolate lover I am, my eyes stopped immediately on the Brownie Sundae. It turned out to be a sweet concoction of marshmallows, chocolate fudge and amoretti cherries.  My dinner date opted for the Homemade Tiramisu, of which I enjoyed several spoonfuls. This was my favorite... It was creamy, light and had a unique texture.
If you haven't checked out Canvas at The Sagamore, take a drive out to Miami Beach and pay them a visit before Miami Spice says its final goodbye. For more information, visit their website here.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Bahama Breeze Rumtoberfest - Party Like the Locals


Summer’s Over, But This Caribbean Party Will Soon Turn Up the Heat


In the Caribbean, the party never ends. The offseason just means it’s time for islanders to let loose and have some real fun. This fall, party like the locals during Bahama Breeze’s Rumtoberfest, a celebration of all things rum that kicks off Sept. 19 and runs through Nov. 6.  

“Rumtoberfest at Bahama Breeze allows guests to enjoy a true Caribbean experience,” said John Wilkerson, Senior Vice President of Bahama Breeze. “And this year, we’re excited to introduce new promotions to make the celebration even more memorable.”

 Coconut Express
If you ask us, Rumtoberfest is best celebrated with friends. Trying to find the perfect way to invite yours? Bahama Breeze is making it easy – and fun – to share the hype. Surprise your friends with a special delivery – courtesy of Bahama Breeze. Visit to ship them a coconut, complete with personalized message. Visit the website for more details – but hurry, this offer is only available while supplies last. Purchaser only pays $5.45 shipping to anywhere in the continental U.S.

 Uber Escape
Bahama Breeze is partnering with Uber for the first Rumbash Friday of the season on Sept. 23 to give guests a safe, fun and interactive experience when they head to the restaurants. Between 4 and 9 p.m., Miami-area guests visiting the Kendall location can arrive in style – in one of three limited-edition Bahama Breeze vehicles. Simply open your Uber app and select “UberEscapeMIA” for a chance to experience the ultimate Bahamas party to-go, complete with tropical “mocktails,” Caribbean jams, prizes and a free ride. Upon arrival, guests will be treated to an exclusive Rumtoberfest Tasting. 

 Guests nationwide can also get in on the fun. Between 4 and 9 p.m., use Uber to visit any of Bahama Breeze’s 36 locations nationwide to receive a free appetizer. Offer redeemable with Uber email receipt; one per table; Island Hopper Combo excluded from free appetizer promo.

 Rumbash Fridays
We’re keeping the fun going throughout Rumtoberfest, with games, prizes, specials, live music, fortune tellers and other activities at all 36 Bahama Breeze locations every Friday until Nov. 4.

 Limited Edition Menu
The Rumtoberfest menu features new cocktails crafted in the spirit of those served at islanders’ favorite neighborhood bars. This year’s selections include:

  • Pirate’s Paradise – This cocktail gets its name from Port Royal, Jamaica’s infamous pirate city. Served in an exclusive take-home glass, this drink features lime, passion fruit, ginger, vanilla and bitters, with an upside-down 50-ml bottle of Captain Morgan.

  • Rum Thyme – This drink was created in the spirit of Prohibition-era rum runners who brought ships of whiskey and rum into the U.S. from the Caribbean. It features Zaya Rum, Old Overholt Rye, orange juice, lime juice and thyme syrup.

  • High Tide Swizzle – The swizzle pre-dates the cocktail and is one of the Caribbean’s original rum drinks. The word “swizzle” comes from the stick (literally a stick from a tree) that was once used to mix the cocktail and add bittering flavors.     
  • Rum Cocktail Flights – Can’t decide which rum cocktail to try? Choose between three options that highlight the most popular Bahama Breeze selections, including:
    • Mama’s Hooch and Holler, featuring Bahamian Sunset, Bahama Mama and the Goombay Smash.
    • Shark Attack Shack, featuring Yaka Hula Hickey Dula, Zombie and Painkiller cocktails.
    • Float My Boat Bar, which includes the Curly Tail, Painkiller and Zombie cocktails.

  • Pick Your Own Rum Flight served with a side of Coke, or treat yourself to three world-renowned Caribbean rums, like Barbancourt 15 Year Estate Reserve, Flor de Cana 18, and Don Q Gran Anejo.

 Guests might get hungry with all those drinks, so Bahama Breeze is also offering Rum & Coke Ribs, which features tender baby back ribs tossed in the restaurant’s signature rum and coke glaze.

 Visit for more information, as well as rum tips, recipes, videos, interactive games and to be eligible for our sweepstakes.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Bulla Gastrobar Takes Doral By Storm

If you know anything about the dining scene in Miami, I don't have to tell you too much about Bulla Gastrobar because you are probably very familiar with the trendy Spanish place in the Gables, serving amazing sangrias and tasty tapas in a hip ambiance. But did you know they have opened another location in Doral? They've taken their Embutidos and Cheese Platters further west and given the area some Huevos Bulla they can't resist.

Huevos Bulla
One of the main things I've noticed about Bulla, is the consistency in the quality of their food. There hasn't been a single time I've visited the gastrobar that haven't walked out happy.  Whether I've met some friends for happy hour after work, or taken family for a complete dinner of tapas and main dishes, the experience at Bulla is always similar to an outing in Spain. Having been to the Madre Patria many times, I can certainly taste the authenticity of the dishes, and I can experience the care taken into creating an atmosphere reminiscent of the "bulla" you hear when you go "tapeando" en Espana.

Now there's a second place in Miami to enjoy this culinary sensation. Located at 5335 NW 87th Avenue, in the heart of Doral, the newest location features the same great food in a welcoming yet lively setting. From the tapas and raciones, to Platos Fuertes such as the Paella and their Rice Caldoso, if you haven't paid them a visit to delight your palate, you must. And pronto.... 

Desserts won't be overlooked at Bulla so whether you go for their signature Torrejas, or try a dabble of more creative options such as their Cremoso de Chocolate or Flan de Coco, you'll have a sweet ending to a fantastic meal. For more information on Bulla Gastrobar and their newest location in Doral, visit their website or call them at 305-260-6543.