Food + Drink / Insights

Smarter Champagne

A sparkling new era in Champagne has begun.

September 26, 2011

  Moët & Chandon Ice Impérial on
the rocks, served in an Oenology Champagne glass by Baccarat (available locally at Neiman Marcus)

Though it hails from a world of rich, time-honored tradition, Champagne is going through some unexpected changes. Perhaps the most daring innovation comes from Moët & Chandon, which recently released its Ice Impérial, a Champagne designed to reach its fullest flavor potential when poured over ice. Bottled in a white lacquer that could be considered a cocktail’s resortwear, it’s served with mint leaves at The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne’s beachside lounge, and with an orange slice at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach’s sprawling landscape of pools. “It gives the afternoon a South-of-France vibe,” says David Mokha, beverage director for the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. “The ice rounds the flavor out, but it doesn’t dilute the Champagne. It simply mellows it.”

Stemware, too, is changing. When drinking Champagne today, you can exchange those narrow, old-fashioned flutes, (which some say were designed to enhance the nose), for broader, tulip-shaped glasses that widen at the top. The extra space here, says Mokha, gives the drink access to oxygen, which allows the aroma to evolve and reach a fuller expression. “You get a better picture of the Champagne while you’re nosing it,” he says. Even so, bubbly should be kept in its bottle, resting on ice (at around 45 degrees).

Industrial Evolution
No matter where you’re sipping, the Champagne list will likely be longer than it was a few years ago. That’s because in addition to bottles from the big houses, which strive for consistency, today there is a growing array of distinctive, boutique brands from independent wineries. “They’re more artisanal and perhaps reflective of a single spot in France,” says Sarah Almand, the sommelier at Lincoln Road’s Meat Market. “It’s been a huge movement for foodies to understand that Champagne is versatile and also an incredible aperitif.” Executive sommelier Gino Santangelo of The Forge is also fond of independent growers. “People love the smaller boutique bottles. I’m excited about Pommery Brut Royal and Nicolas Feuillatte, because the bubbles are small and delicate, and the taste is soft and creamy, not overpowering.”

The venerable big-house offerings, however, are by no means forgotten. Their flavors have remained consistent, but their looks have evolved. Moët’s rosé arrives in a sleek, artful sleeve in pink, red, blue or yellow, and a limited-edition Dom Pérignon pays tribute to Andy Warhol with a Pop Art-inspired bottle design and packaging.

“They didn’t just ‘get’ with pop culture,” says Mokha. “They’re on top of it. When you open a bottle of Champagne, everyone smiles. It’s a great way to start anything fun.”

by brett graff


Miami Spice Pick: Mister Collins

Stunning ocean views, fresh-baked pretzels and delicious tuna tartare tempt at Mister Collins.

August 23, 2011

Gaze at the ocean from the coveted seats on the breezy patio deck at Mister Collins, one of the many restaurants participating in this month’s Miami Spice. Marrying Miami Beach-style luxury with a sense of down-home TLC in Bal Harbour, menu items range from freshly baked soft pretzels to ahi tuna tartare. One Bal Harbour Resort & Spa, 10295 Collins Ave.;



New Eats: Sustain Restaurant and Bar

Local snapper tartare and house-made cocktail condiments top the menu additions at this eco-eatery.

May 23, 2011

House-made charcuterie plate at Sustain Restaurant and Bar

Sustain Restaurant and Bar, Midtown’s newest eco-conscious eatery, recently added some exciting new dishes and cocktails to its menu. Chef Alejandro Piñero and beverage director Daniel Toral have cooked up an inspired menu of comforting, locally sourced dishes and retro cocktails. Among the new dishes are über in-season watercress, watermelon and bleu cheese salad; hearty barbecue beans with Benton’s bacon; swordfish croquettes; local snapper tartare with tomato confit; and heirloom tomato gazpacho. Wash all of that local goodness down with one of Toral’s new libations, like the Eden made with Tanqueray gin, blood orange liqueur, Cocchi Americano, lemon, crème de violette and amaranth blossom. Also look for Toral’s house-made condiments including both black pepper and rosemary tinctures and fruit bitters. 3252 NE 1st Ave. 

—Michaela Manning
photograph by victor sanabrais


Beer and Beats: Heineken Music Fest

The Heineken TransAtlantic Fest brings a bevy of international bands to Miami.

April 12, 2011

Heineken TransAtlantic Festival headliners Bomba Estéreo

The Heineken TransAtlantic Festival plans to blur the lines between Latin-American music genres for the ninth year in a row (all beer-guzzling connotations aside). Bands from Mexico, Brazil, Brooklyn and Colombia will sample everything from Latin funk and hip-hop to dub step, electronic beats and cumbia. Though the launch party takes place April 14 at Grand Central (697 N. Miami Ave., Miami), the rest of the festival’s events occur throughout the month at various Miami venues.

—Valerie Mattos


New Piano Bar: The Burgundy Room

The Dolce Group puts a new spin on classic concept.

April 01, 2011

The Dolce Group’s Lonnie Moore, Mike Malin and celeb investors Ashton Kutcher and Wilmer Valderrama just debuted a new kind of piano bar. The Burgundy Room—located in Crazy Pianos’ former CocoWalk space—serves tasty bites against a backdrop of live music and nightly DJs. 3015 Grand Ave., Miami


The Perfect Pie

Pucci’s Pizza offers a March-only pizza and beer special.

March 01, 2011

March Madness at Pucci’s Pizza means a large Brooklyn-style pie and a six-pack of beer for just $25 through March 30. And if you’re Pucci’s 500th fan on Facebook, you’ll win a complimentary pizza party for 50. 1535 Washington Ave., Miami Beach


The Villa’s Hot New Chef

Jeff O’Neill inspires a tempting new menu at the lavish Villa dining room.

March 01, 2011

With a résumé that includes training at New York’s Culinary Institute of America and stints at Le Cirque, Charlie Palmer’s Aureole and Daniel Boulud’s Daniel and Le Bernardin, it’s no surprise Jeff O’Neill has been named top chef at The Villa by Barton G. He’s worked with super-innovative owner Barton G. Weiss to develop an inspired menu of refined Continental cuisine (think whole Dover sole, foie gras and maple-glazed barramundi with lobster, papaya and a ginger broth). 1116 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach


Miami Restaurant Finds

We took a quick eatery tour of Miami to find what’s new and noteworthy.

February 03, 2011

Tuna tartare with wasabi cream at Town Kitchen & Bar

Start your culinary tour of Miami this month by taking in bay views from the new Rickenbacker Fish
on Virgina Key. Then move on to the Coral Gables culinary scene, which is definitely growing: Owners of Town Kitchen & Bar in South Miami have recently opened Sake Blue—a new sushi lounge with more than 30 sakes, walls festooned with dragon paintings and a 38-foot bar. Starting mid-month you can also stop by Route 9, a brand-new American bistro with Floridian flair.

South Beach favorite Jimmy’z Kitchen has opened a second location in Wynwood. Cervecería 100 Montaditos, which hails from Spain, has jumped the pond and landed in Miami’s Midtown nabe, offering more than 100 different sandwiches. Sustain and Sra Martinez recently added brunch to their repertoire. And later this month, Cafeina and Gigi will unveil their own Sunday dining options. Cafeina promises a booze-filled, laid-back day complete with a table-side, make-your-own Bloody Mary bar, DJs Ess & Emm spinning tunes, and Launch Arte Market all on hand.

Photograph by Max Zagales Photography


Argentine Fare

Lo de Lea Argentinean Grill takes meat lovers to paradise.

January 18, 2011

Lo de Lea crispy cayenne salmon fresco

Lo de Lea Argentinean Grill—one of the Upper Eastside’s exciting new spots—combines Italian, French and Spanish influences with a great selection of Argentine beef cuts, chicken, pastas, seafood and salads. Share the double-order parrillada Lo de Lea: mollejas (sweetbreads), chinchulines (chitterlings), chorizo bombón (Argentine sausage), morcilla bombón (blood sausage), asado de tira (short ribs), vacío (flank steak) and salchicha parrillera (crispy sausage), all served with rosemary roasted potatoes and mixed greens. 7001 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 305-456-3218


Tuscan Delight

The Design District welcomes Vino & Olio.

January 12, 2011

Tortellini di Cacio e Pepe

With rustic Tuscan cuisine and olive oil straight from his family’s farm, chef Andrea Mennichetti is upping the Italian ante at Vino & Olio in the Design District. 139 NE 39th St., Miami

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