Friday, July 22, 2016

Miami Spice is Rocking At Bourbon Steak and Corsair at the Turnberry Isle Resort

You know what time it is? It's that annual food fest in Miami where for two months straight, we scout our favorite restaurants (and those we have been dying to try) to take advantage of their Miami Spice deals. Yep my foodie friends, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) is celebrating its 15th anniversary of the highly-anticipated Miami Spice Restaurant Program from August 1 - September 30 and this year there are a whopping 244 restaurants participating in the program.

BOURBON Steak serves complimentary fries instead of bread
 to its customers and they are world renowned.

We got a preview of the menus for two of the participating restaurants and let me tell you, everyone seems to be stepping up their game. CORSAIR Kitchen & Bar and BOURBON Steak Miami, both at the Turnberry Isle Resort and Club in Aventura, are offering an impressive selection of courses during this promotion. For example, you can start your dinner at CORSAIR with their creamy Gazpacho, a refreshing blend of heirloom tomato, yellow peach and petite cilantro, or sink your teeth into their Arugula & Duck Confit, one of my personal favorites. Just imagine this tasty bite, prepared with marcona almonds and homboldt fog, then topped with a quail egg. Absolutely amazing. The appetizer menu also includes a Scallop Ceviche that sounds mouthwatering.
                                            
Gazpacho and Arugula Duck Confit from CORSAIR
                                          
For entrees, CORSAIR offers the most incredible Blackened Salmon served over a pool of black beans, then topped with sweet corn, tomato and an avocado puree. The combination of flavors in this dish was outstanding. If you're in the mood for something from the land, you can choose Smoked Pork Ravioli or Prime Hanger Steak.


Blackened Salmon from CORSAIR

Back to Bourbon Steak, their menu selection rocks too. We absolutely loved the Charred Octopus Ceviche, with its aji panka and sweet potato puree and the Summer Corn Chowder was the perfect blend of creamy comfort and tantalizing taste, made with rock shrimp, iberico ham, fingerling potato and dill. 

                    
Charred Octopus Ceviche and Summer Corn Chowder
                                                    

Bourbon Steak's entree selections include the Organic Chicken Breast, Certified Angus Rib Cap and the Blackened Mahi Mahi We tasted the Angus New York Strip, which proved to be a very tender yet flavorful cut of meat, served with vacouvan carrot puree, potato confit and cumin yogurt.


Angus New York Strip
                                         

What can I say about the desserts? We tried a parade of them ranging from Mini Sorbet Pops (including a spectacular Daiquiri one that will have you laughing in no time) and lip-smacking sweet delights such as the Salted Caramel Pudding (man that was good), Key Lime Tart, topped with mixed berries and a fruit sauce, Pastelito y Cafe, a cultural treat made with cream cheese mousse, guava and coffee granita which reminded me of mornings at my grandmother's house, and a Spiced Chocolate Cremeux.


Mini Sorbet Pops


Salted Caramel Pudding


Key Lime Tart
                                          

Pastelito y Cafe
                                           

Spiced Chocolate Cremeux
                                                       

If you're already planning your Miami Spice outings for this year (which you should be) be sure to include a couple of trips to the Turnberry Isle Resort to check out CORSAIR Kitchen & Bar and BOURBON Steak's menus. You'll be ecstatic you did. Remember the lunch price for the Miami Spice menu is $23 and the dinner price is $39. Don't forget to check what days of the week the promotion is being offered and whether they are participating for both lunch and dinner or just one of the two. For more information, visit their website here.



Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Day In L.A. Tour



Miley Cyrus couldn't have said it better when she sang:
 
"I hopped off the plane at L.A.X. with a dream and my cardigan
Welcome to the land of fame, excess, whoa! am I gonna fit in?
Jumped in the cab, here I am for the first time
Look to my right, and I see the Hollywood sign
This is all so crazy, everybody seems so famous
My tummy's turnin' and I'm feelin' kinda homesick
Too much pressure and I'm nervous
That's when the taxi man turned on the radio
And the Jay-Z song was on...."
 
Going to the City of Angels is definitely a Party In The U.S.A. and as we found out on a recent trip to L.A., the best way to do it, is by booking a tour with A Day In L.A. Tours.  We planned our California trips for months and we decided we were going to pack in as much of the cities we were visiting as was humanly possible, and from all the tours we did, this one definitely gave us the most bang for our buck.
 
 
 
 
A Day in L.A. Tours offers a standard tour and private tours, but after reading through all the stops included in their City Tour 1, we decided to book it and enjoy the coolest Rastabus in town.
One great plus the tour company offers is pick up from your hotel. While they have a limited range, we found that they provided this service to many more hotels than other tour companies did. Once the colorful bus picked us up, we boarded and started our Los Angeles adventure.
 
 
 
 
 
The tour began in front of the Santa Monica Visitors Center, where they met us with some sweets, coffee and fruit to start the day. From there, we headed off to Venice Beach, where the tour guide narrated some interesting facts and we got to see muscle beach and the surfing capital of the world.

  
Other highlights of the trip included a drive down the Sunset Strip where our very entertaining tour guide gave us the low down on celebrities and the famous spots we always hear about. We got to see the historic Viper Room and Roxy music clubs as well as other iconic places in the area.  
 
 
 

For lunch, we made a stop at the popular Farmer's Market at the Grove, where we got the opportunity to eat from a variety of delicious food vendors and spot a celebrity or two. (It's a hotspot you know). The stop gave us plenty of time to go exploring and we really enjoyed the fresh options we had to choose from.

 
 
 
Can you spot the celebrity on the trolley?
  
 
No L.A. tour would be complete without a walk down the Hollywood Hall of Fame where you can stand in your favorite stars' footprints and take a picture with their stars. We had a blast doing this and of course, admiring the Chinese Mann Theater, and the Dolby Theater where the Oscars are held.  Think I'll ever be invited?
 


 
 
 
Our L.A. adventure continued to Griffith Park Observatory where we got a breathtaking view of the Downtown L.A. skyline and had a nice amount of time to walk around. The best part? Watching the Hollywood sign and hearing the cool story behind its origin.
 

 
 
 
 
Our last stops included Rodeo Drive and the chance to do some window shopping where the stars spend their hard earned cash. I got the chance to pretend I was Vivian in Pretty Woman for a minute, looking for my rich Prince Charming in front of the Beverly Wilshire. The keyword here is pretend...
 
 
 






All I can say is, if you're going down to Los Angeles and are looking for an excellent tour that will take you to just about every iconic place in the city for a price you won't believe, book A Day In L.A. Tours and get ready to Party in the U.S.A. Check out their website, and let me know what you think.






Thursday, June 2, 2016

IPic Theaters Take Going To The Movies To A Whole New Level

Times have certainly changed when it comes to watching movies at the theater. Gone are the days of settling for popcorn and an overpriced hot dog, while sitting in a hard chair. Now, you can pamper yourself and make the whole experience a VIP one. At least, that's what the new luxury iPic Theater at the Intracoastal Mall in North Miami Beach, has in store for moviegoers. 

                                   

Just picture this: you and your date wrapped in a comfy blanket, horizontally reclined with a pillow behind your neck, sipping creative cocktails while you feed each other some pretty amazing gourmet food. Oh yes... and while you are doing this, there is a new release playing on the screen. This is the experience you will have at iPic Theater. From the welcoming staff, to the larger-than-life lounge area, it's an unbelievable adventure from start to finish. 
   

      


Moviegoers can choose between Premium and Premium Plus seating, with the difference lying mainly in the fact Premium Plus seats include food and beverage service straight to your seat throughout the movie as well as free popcorn, Premium seats, located further in the front of the auditorium do not include chair service, however, Premium ticket holders can still enjoy the gourmet dishes and hand-crafted cocktails. They will just have to go purchase it directly from the purveyor and bring it to their seats.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article1965793.html#storylink=cpy
                                                   

The North Miami Beach theater currently offers six auditoriums, and tickets go fast, so you want to plan ahead.  Chef  Sherry Yard is the chef at the helm of the cuisine, and she has ensured that every dish is exceptional: from the Warm Biscuits, to the Angus Sliders, to the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bar, it is hard to choose what to enjoy with your movie.






Personally, I've already been to iPic Theater a few times and the experience has been outstanding each one. The only problem I see is that once you try iPic, it is very difficult to go back to the hot dog and hard seats. 




You can find another iPic location in Boca Raton, and the company plans to open a few others in Miami. Stay tuned for that news coming soon. In the meantime, lay back, grab a cocktail and let's go to the movies. For more information, visit their website here.





THE RITZ-CARLTON KEY BISCAYNE, MIAMI LAUNCHES NEW BABY GENDER REVEAL PARTY PACKAGE WITH THE NEW EXECUTIVE PASTRY CHEF LEVI RICHARD AT THE HELM

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami launches a new Baby Gender Reveal Party Package with the new Executive Pastry Chef, Levi Richard as the creative mind behind it all.


Pastry Chef Levi Richard 

Many love to celebrate each and every occasion, with one of the most important being the celebration of a new baby. While for decades, baby showers have been one of the most popular ways to celebrate the birth of a child, a new trend has emerged: Baby Gender Reveal Parties. Long are the days of finding out the sex of a baby in a doctor’s office, as many couples are opting to celebrate finding out the gender of the baby with close friends and family on a separate occasion. The couple requests that the doctor’s office releases the gender of the baby to a close relative or confident. From there, the suspense begins. With friends and family picking the gender they think the baby will be, the festive celebration reveals the sex of the baby, most commonly by revealing the color of a dessert. At the resort’s Key Pantry: Eat.Drink.Shop. marketplace cafĂ©, couples may purchase one of Executive Pastry Chef Levi Richard’s one-of-a- kind gender reveal cakes or leave the party planning to our specialists.



Baby Gender Reveal Party Package
Packages starting from $390 USD


· 10 or more guests

· 10 pink balloons / 10 blue balloons

· Small pink and blue baby themed party favors

· Option of passed hors d’ oeuvres or culinary display with hors d’ oeuvres

· Gender reveal cake and/or unique creation by Executive Pastry Chef, Levi Richard



To begin planning, please contact the resort’s Private Event Coordinator Anna Karagina at (305) 365-4186 or via email at anna.karagina@ritzcarlton.com.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Get a Taste of Marathon in the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys is home to five districts, each with their own personalities and attractions that make visitors feel like they are a world away.



Stretching only ten miles, the islands of Marathon are right in the middle of the chain of the Keys islands.  Traditionally a home to fishing and marine activities and beachside restaurants, the city loves its stone crab, lobster, and other fresh seafood that come straight from its waters. Local chef John Mirabella has become one with the local seafood and community, immersing himself completely, so I asked him to take us on an edible tour of Marathon.




Growing up aboard a sailboat in Titusville, Florida, he is quite familiar with the sea. He spent his childhood sailboat racing and traveling, all the while catching dinner in the fresh waters below. While he has cooked his whole life, becoming chef, John spent more time on the sea by working for the US Navy.  Today, the locals know this Marathon chef and his wife Arlene by name and enjoy eating at his island restaurant, Castaway.




The waterside restaurant is known for its impeccable seafood, including fresh daily sushi rolls, but ask the restaurateur what his favorite hobby is and it's actually one step before cooking, spearfishing, 200 feet below the surface. Not only is John's activity adventurous, but it brings some amazingly fresh seafood straight into his restaurant.  One of his favorite catches to serve is the invasive lion fish, which is perfect for ceviche.  Chef John admits that the connection between the fishing and culinary communities is strong, something that can be seen on his menu as he tries to take the invasive species out of the sea to prevent them from further harming the environment.



If you're headed to Marathon for the first time, we suggest you get a taste for the sea for yourself.  Follow in Chef John's lead and do some fishing for a hands-on experience in the local waters. Because of its special location, Marathon offers backwater fishing, flats fishing, bottom fishing on the reef, and offshore trolling as well as deep dropping from 600 to 1200 feet.  John charters a boat right out of his own restaurant so you can grab a guide and go. He also has great connections to favorite guides and other charters for the best Marathon fishing experience possible. Once you nab a great catch, it's time to cook.




John says, "When you catch fish locally, you can also have it prepared in restaurants like mine which is a pretty big deal around here.  We have many many people come through our door every day carrying bags of fresh fish they caught and we prepare them in many different ways."




Of course John and the locals recommended his very own Castaway as a spot to eat,  which is also the oldest restaurant on the island and he is proud to say the eatery has been open since 1951.  Today, the menu covers a wide range of Floridian seafood as well as craft beers and wines to match the dishes.  Another one of John's favorite spots is Brutus Seafood, a market and restaurant owned by a family of fishermen who serve up one of his favorite lunches in Marathon.  If you're looking for a fancier,  but still relaxed, beachy atmosphere, John recommends Barracuda Grill. The local restaurant offers a variety of fresh seafood and steak dishes that are sure to impress.



Besides eating and fishing, plan a visit to the Dolphin Research Center where you can see how dolphins in the surrounding waters are helped and even take a swim with the impressive mammals.  For another educational adventure, take a trip to Marathon's Turtle Hospital and see how the endangered sea turtle is rehabilitated.  To round out your aquatic vacation, stop by the new Aquarium Encounters.  Not only does the aquarium offer an unclose look at interesting underwater creatures, but also a chance to get right in the tank.



When we travel, we always seek out and try a common dish to the area.  According to John, Marathon's specialty dish is often something made with Florida's favorite Hogfish or the locally loved lion shish.  Chef John's restaurant was the first in the state of Florida to serve the lionfish and received recognition for cooking the endangered species.  Thankfully, the invasive fish is buttery and tender, and delicious for cooking.  In order to spear the fish, one must dive very deep. The lionfish live about 1,000 feet down and come up between 200 and 400 feet.  To make matters even more challenging, the spines of lionfish contain venom and can cause extreme pain if one is pricked.  John still calls this kind of difficult fishing a sport, but admits that one must be careful.



If that sounds a bit too wild for your vacation, no worries. Chef John has shared one of his favorite lionfish recipes to try at home the next time you are feeling adventurous.


Castaway's Wreck Diver-Style Lionfish

Courtesy of Castaway Waterfront Restaurant


Ingredients:

42 ounces lionfish fillets, patted dry
flour (for coating)
5 cloves garlic, diced
2 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
5 tsp. capers
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. chopped fesh basil
parsley or kale for garnish

Preparations:

Dredge fillets in flour to lightly dust. Place in saute pan with small amount of hot butter over medium heat.  Cook first side, careful not to burn. Turn over fish when golden, and reduce heat while adding garlic, tomatoes, capers, white wine,  and lemon juice.  Cover to hold steam in and cook until fish is fork-tender.  Add basil and serve immediately. Garnish with sprig of parsley or kale and lemon wedge.







Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Buoniconti Fund To Cure Paralysis' Destination Fashion 2016

On Saturday, March 5th, I had the privilege to attend The Buoniconti Fund To Cure Paralysis' Destination Fashion 2016, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in star-studded style. Presented by Swanee and Paul DiMare, the lavish affair treated over 2500 guests to an unforgettable evening at the Bal Harbour Shops. This is the only time in Bal Harbour Shops' history when its doors close to host this high profile, celebrity-styled affair.



The evening began with an impressive red carpet entrance showcasing world famous celebrities, philanthropists, business leaders and other notables. Dinner immediately followed, along with the presentation of the 2016 Women of Substance and Style awards and the Brunello Cucinelli's Spring 2016 Collection.  Co-Anchor of NBC News' Today Show Savannah Guthrie emceed the event, while Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Britanny and Christian Slater served as Honorary Co-Chairs. 

Guests got to travel back in time through a progressive party that highlighted the fashion trends, movies, edible treats and entertainment that left a mark during the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. A silent auction also gave partygoers the opportunity to bid on jewelry, trips and other items donated by many of the Bal Harbour Shops' stores and other supporters.


















The evening ended with a concert headlined by Mr. Worldwide himself, Pitbull, as the magic lasted well into the night.  Proceeds from Destination Fashion 2016 will benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, the fundraising arm of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. The Miami Project, a designated Center of Excellence at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, if the world's most comprehensive spinal cord injury research center.