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What to Drink at The Flat

The new SoFi cocktail lounge recalls a New York speakeasy, only swankier.

March 28, 2013

South of Fifth has a posh new resident in The Flat. Despite its storefront locale, the intimate cocktail lounge gives the feel of a New York speakeasy. Its dimly lit interior flaunts plush black couches and pillowy banquettes, ideal for a long cocktail and conversation session. Mirrored subway tiles surround the expansive bar display, a neon Ray Charles portrait illuminates the house piano, and sexy black-and-white photographs adorn the walls. Behind the bar, Egor Polonskiy whips up more than 40 different cocktails. His creations are soothing and herb-inspired, perfect for pre- or post-nightclub imbibing. To nosh, order a handheld verrine, a type of French appetizer served in a glass. With layered flavors, options include a tuna and beef tartare and beet salad verrine, and a fresh strawberry and mascarpone trifle.  



Stars Show Their 'Natural Beauty'

Emma Watson and others pose for a new photo book benefiting Global Green USA.

March 27, 2013

A glittered face creates the illusion of the night sky. A dancer’s pose mimics a tree. Mother and child powerfully stare through their black and white portrait. These and other images can be found inside James Houston's masterful new photography book, Natural Beauty ($50, Damiani). The subjects? Emma Watson, Adrian Grenier, and cover girl Christy Turlington, among many others. With 120 striking photos, the book evokes the relationship between the natural world and the human form and aims to raise awareness for environmental conservation and sustainable lifestyles. Hence the book’s World Earth Week release and Houston’s pledge to donate proceeds to Global Green USA. Natural Beauty is currently available for presale on Amazon, and will hit select bookstores, on April 30.   



First Taste: Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grill

Tuck into smoked amberjack tartare and raw bar delights at Ft. Lauderdale's Riverside Hotel.

March 27, 2013

Downtown Ft. Lauderdale's historic Riverside Hotel (est. 1936) has the filled the airy, two-room dining space that once housed The Grill Room with a sustainable new eatery, Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille. Led by executive chef Toby Joseph, who has collaborated with chefs like Daniel Boulud and Norman Van Aken, the restaurant’s team also includes a former pastry chef for Trump International Beach Resort and a sommelier.

Diners at Wild Sea will first notice an elegant raw bar boasting an international array of fresh oysters, including the rarely seen Canadian Pickle Point and British Columbian Fanny Bay varieties. The oft- (sometimes daily) changing menu sources only the freshest available ingredients, further solidifying the restaurant’s commitment to seasonal, sustainable food. For instance, the Sunburst Trout comes from a family-owned supplier in North Carolina that uses natural, anti-oxidant rich feed to ensure its trout stay healthy and perfectly pink and delicious. To serve, the trout is paired with crispy oysters, cipollini onions, baby carrots, and coriander. Other standout dishes include a Back 40 Honey-Brown Ale-braised beef cheek, smoked amberjack tartare, and “poke of the moment,” a fresh catch tossed tableside into a refreshing raw salad. For dessert, try the salty-sweet dark chocolate crunch with sea salt, caramel ganache, and popcorn.

Meanwhile, at the bar, Wild Sea's handcrafted cocktails play with herbs and citrus flavors to complement the menu's ingredients. The dining room itself maintains the Riverside Hotel's classic Florida charm but uses maritime blues and clean whites to create a chic, day-to-night environment. Both dining rooms are open to the busy streets of Las Olas, while the more formal seating area features an impressive wrap-around wine cellar. 620 E. Las Olas Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, 954-467-2555



The Perfect Day in Palm Beach

When in Palm Beach, do as the über-chic Palm Beachers do.

March 27, 2013

Palm Beach has a well deserved a reputation as a retreat for the indulged. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Intercoastal Waterway, the community is studded with mansions and small parks. Perfectly groomed inhabitants stroll around in khakis and pastels, soaking up the sun. Follow this guide and you too can feel as coddled and pampered as a Palm Beacher.

The white marble laden Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach (100 S. Ocean Blvd.) offers a range of pleasures while still maintaining an intimate feel. Choose a first floor room with a draped lanai that opens onto the quiet pool just steps from the beach. No stay is complete without a visit to Eau Spa, where lights in the steam room change from yellow to blue to violet, and a scrub bar offers your choice of exfoliant (sugar? salt? pumice?) mixed with a range of essential oils, depending on your mood. You can also relax in one of the swings dangling over a pebbled pond, or book a private suite and soak in the outdoor bath.

Over at the Four Seasons Palm Beach (2800 S. Ocean Blvd.), they’ve thought of everything, right down to poolside frozen grape service. And two bedroom ocean front suites with wraparound views come with an added plus—the use of a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4, Audi R8 Spyder, Range Rover Sport Supercharged, Porsche 911 Carrera S, or Nissan GT-R. Hang out in the downstairs Living Room for specialty cocktails, light fare, and a weekend DJ, or find a spot on the outdoor patio and savor a martini and some fresh oysters.

The recently opened  Kiosk  boutique (150 Worth Ave.) stocks everything from jewelry to Philip Treacy hats to headphones and DJ equipment. Owner and curator Natascha Fasnakis says the colorful shop is inspired by King Ludwig II’s personal theaters. Next, take a side trip up to The Gardens Mall (3101 PGA Blvd.), where retail destinations include an Apple store, Tory Burch, and Chanel. Then stop by PGA Commons (5100 PGA Blvd.), a collection of adorable shops and restaurants. Pop in for Key lime-crusted fish at Water Bar and Grill, a margarita at Rocco’s Tacos (with 225 types of tequila to choose from), or lobster risotto at Vic and Angelo’s. Don’t miss the 6 p.m. Yappy Hour and canine fashion show at Le Posh Pup.

Alicia Hunter
lengthens the lashes of some of the world’s top models, and she will work her magic on yours, too. (Bonus: her lashes are pool and ocean proof.) You can go to her, or better yet, she’ll come to you. To refresh your cut, visit Frederic Fekkai creative director Philippe Barr at The Brazilian Court (301 Australian Ave.). The salon and spa has a relaxing garden where you can sip a heady lavender-infused cocktail while your color or conditioning treatment takes effect. Equally luxe but more edgy is David K Space in West Palm (2401 N. Dixie Hwy.). Owner David Kingston is known for genius cuts, and his conditioning treatments come with head and neck massage.

Dine, Drink, and See a Show
Walk past the large gold Buddha at Fuku Restaurant (215 Clematis St.) and sidle up to the neon-illuminated bar for a glass of Champagne or spiked bubble tea. Our favorite cocktail nosh is the Palm Beach Roll, made with lobster, filet mignon, black caviar, and asparagus. Or, to see and be seen, head to Bice Ristorante (313 Worth Ave.), where you can toast your fresh crab salad with a bellini as the socialites file by on Worth Avenue. But make your dinner plans early so you can catch a show at the Kravis Center for Performing Arts (701 Okeechobee Blvd.). VIP seats are front and center and Champagne is served upon arrival. 



Q&A: O, Miami's P. Scott Cunningham

The festival leader talks can’t-miss events and one very special guest.

March 26, 2013

O, Miami executive director and co-founder P. Scott Cunningham 

Biennial poetry festival O, Miami makes its anticipated return on Monday, April 1, bringing with it a host of events that mix poetry with music, dance, and even a few films. One of the festival’s most anticipated special guests is poet and Miami-native Richard Blanco, who was recently honored as president Obama’s inaugural poet, reading his “One Today” at the inauguration ceremony. Other headliners include Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore, Megan Amram (who writes for Parks & Recreation), and Frank Báez, among others.  

In addition to nodding great poets of the present and past, O, Miami, produced by the University of Wynwood with support from the Knight Foundation, is creating a full-sensory cultural experience, recruiting the likes of New World Symphony, the Borscht Film Fest, and the Rhythm Foundation. Events will take place at multiple venues, including Books & Books Coral Gables, Lester's, The Freehand Miami, and O, Miami's host hotel, The Betsy South Beach. Here, we talk to O, Miami executive director and co-founder P. Scott Cunningham about what to expect. 

What would you say is O, Miami's anchoring event this year?
P. SCOTT CUNNINGHAM: I'd say Sunday, April 28 is the anchor, and specifically two events that happen that day. The first is the Poetry is Dead Parade at noon in Lummus Park on Miami Beach. Local students and cultural organizations will be ‘reanimating’ dead poets through performances at various stops on the parade route, and we're also inviting the public to come dressed as your favorite dead poet. You can also just show up in your regular clothes, though. Then at 7 p.m., we're hosting an evening of readings and performances at the New World Center Symphony hall. Inaugural poet Richard Blanco will read with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Megan Amram. 

How and when did Richard Blanco come onboard for this year’s festival?
PSC: I've known Richard since about 2005, when I started grad school at FIU. Inside the creative writing program he was already kind of a legend, because his thesis was published like four days after he finished it, which never happens. He was still in Miami then, working as a civil engineer, so I'd see him at parties and things and he was always the nicest, most humble guy. When his new book came out in 2012 he actually emailed me and asked to read at O, Miami this April. Of course I said yes . . . And then the news about the inauguration came out and everyone thought I was a genius for booking Richard six months before.

How has his success impacted the poetry community in Miami?
PSC: Obviously, Richard representing the United States as a gay, first-generation, bilingual immigrant cannot be underestimated. In Miami though, his appointment has added significance because he's not only from Miami, he represents Miami. When Richard read at the Arsht Center, a little girl stepped up to the mic during the Q&A and said essentially, ‘I want to be a poet like you.’ We could throw a thousand O, Miami's and never have that effect, so I'm very grateful to Richard for becoming the poet that children in Miami will look up to.

Why was it important to incorporate other art forms like dance and music into O, Miami's programming?
PSC: Emphasizing the connections between poetry and other genres is very important to us, because of how poetry tends to be treated as a discipline off by itself, with nothing to say to the modern world. By bringing performers from other genres to Miami who engage with poetry I hope we're changing those assumptions.

Tell us about the That’s So Miami contest.
PSC: [It’s] a partnership between O, Miami and WLRN-Miami Herald News in which we're asking people to write short poems that begin or end with the line, ‘That's so Miami.’ You can submit online or on Twitter using the hashtag #ThatsSoMiami. You can also submit Instagram photos of Miami with a poem below the photo with the same hashtag. We'll be publishing submissions daily on thatssomiami.tumblr.com, as well as reading our favorite poems on WLRN 91.3 FM. At the end of the month, we'll be collecting the best of the best into a book that we hope will create a portrait of our home that embraces its complexity.

How do you hope the festival will resonate outside of Miami?
PSC: Outside of South Florida, I hope that O, Miami is seen as both a democratizing force in poetry and a platform for poets who are willing to push the limits of their genre.  



United Colors of Benetton Fêtes Spring

Celebrate the launch of Benetton’s spring/summer line this Thursday night.

March 25, 2013

South Beach style setters will be among the first to shop the latest spring/summer collection from United Colors of Benetton when the store opens its doors this Thursday. The brand’s South Beach boutique will be the first worldwide locale to receive the lively new collection in its entirety. Among the highlights are soft sweaters, versatile dresses and trousers, beach-ready shorts, and colorful denim. To celebrate the line's Miami launch, Benetton will host a fashion-fueled fête this Thursday night from 7 to 9 p.m. Local tastemakers Anthony Spinello, Ginger Harris, Marcela Novela, Roy Alpert, Nina Johnson, Daniel Milewski, and Rebekeh Keida will play host as DJs Ess & Emm man the decks. Browse the slideshow above for a sneak peek at the new line. 670 Collins Ave. and 7th St., Miami Beach, 305-538-3777 



MOCA Marks 15 Years

The museum showcases its lasting legacy and blossoming future in “Pivot Points: 15 Years and Counting.”

March 25, 2013

Harvest by Xaviera Simmons, part of "Pivot Points: 15 Years and Counting"

The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA) marked its 15th anniversary last Thursday night with a festive soirée and unveiling of its commemorative collection, “Pivot Points: 15 Years and Counting” (through May 19). Many of the pieces in the show were donated to the museum by previously showcased artists, and there are a number of works by Miami artists. For example, pieces by New World School of the Arts graduate Hernan Bas, Miami-based sculptor Mark Handforth, and MOCA Trading Places participant Rick Ulysse will all be on display. MOCA’s ability to craft interactive, multidisciplinary programming, which includes film screenings, jazz nights, studio residencies, and open discussions, has made it a pillar in Miami's flourishing cultural landscape. The museum also recently made headlines when it appointed Alex Gartenfeld as curator; the writer and senior editor of Art in America and Interview online will join the team in May. 770 N.E. 125th St., North Miami, 305-893-6211



New Dinner Menu at La Côte

Nosh on tuna escabeche and Nutella beignets at the Fontainebleau’s al fresco haunt.

March 22, 2013

The nearby ocean inspired the new dinner menu at the Fontainebleau's picturesque, two-story Mediterranean meets French Riviera restaurant, La Côte. Situated between the hotel pool and beachfront, the restaurant’s new menu pulls from the very best of land and sea—king crab, foie gras, fresh favas, lobster.

The menu, put together by chef de cuisine Christina Coupet, is also perfect for spring, with starters like a seafood plateau (king crab, prawns, oysters, and more) and a steamed mussel and clam mix with pancetta and spiced citrus broth. Even dreamier is a foie gras appetizer topped with poached pears and carrot foam, or a fresh octopus confit salad with watermelon and citrus dressing. Meanwhile, pasta fans can indulge a fava bean agnolotti with fontina cheese or a tangle of pappardelle and short rib ragu. New mains hail strictly from the sea: butter poached lobster with leeks, pan-fried potatoes (pommes maxim), and beet essence; pan roasted striped bass with artichoke purée and parsley oil; and a grilled whole turbot filet with grilled fennel and oregano vinaigrette.

There are also a few new lunch dishes at La Côte, such as a pepper and jalapeño tuna escabeche and an ample heirloom tomato salad with burrata, arugula, pesto, and balsamic reduction. Coupet didn't sleep on the sweet treats either. Recently debuted desserts include a spiced rum chocolate cannelle and homemade Nutella beignet served with a milk chocolate dipping shake and chocolate marshmallows. 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-674-4710



What We're Reading

Miami chefs score James Beard nods, local tennis star Sloane Stephens breaks out…

March 22, 2013

South Florida's Sloane Stephens is poised to be the next big tennis star 

Plantation, Florida native Sloane Stephens is one to watch at the Sony Open, and perhaps in the tennis world as a whole. Not only did she best Serena Williams at the Australian Open, last month she was ranked number 16 by the Women's Tennis Association. [The Sun-Sentinel]

Jessica Alba stopped by Books & Books Coral Gables last week to promote her new book, The Honest Life: Living Naturally and True to You. She was refreshingly frank and funny about her eco-epiphany. Check out this video taken during the event’s Q&A portion. [NBC Miami]

The Miami Heat made NBA history this past Wednesday night, closing a 27-point deficit against the Cleveland Cavaliers to win their 24th straight game. But the game was not without a few wacky moments. [Miami Herald]

Architect Zaha Hadid is unveiling tentative plans for a 60-floor luxury condo tower in Downtown Miami. The tower will be her first residential project in the U.S. and requires $300 million in financing. [Wall Street Journal]

Kudos to Hedy Goldsmith and Jeff McInnis, up for best pastry chef and best chef south, respectively, in this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards. Winners will be announced on May 6. [Short Order]



Weekend Recommender: March 21-24

Much ado about Miami Music Week, Fela! opens at Arsht, and more!

March 21, 2013

Fela! comes to Adrienne Arsht Center through Sunday 

Spring Equinox Dinner
Thursday, March 21, 8 p.m.
Celebrate spring's official a six course Spring Equinox Prix Fixe Dinner at The Dutch. Chef de cuisine Conor Hanlon and guest chef Brad Kilgore (formerly of Azul, Exit 1, and Route 9) are cooking a bountiful, seasonal feast. Courses include hand-rolled ricotta gnudi, roasted leg of lamb, and a surprise dessert platter. Tickets are $125 per person and an additional $60 with wine pairing. 2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-938-3095

Unexpected Opera in Unexpected Places
Thursday-Sunday, March 21-24, 8–11:30 p.m.
The Florida Grand Opera takes over The Stage Miami to present “Unexpected Opera in Unexpected Places.” The weekend pop-up performance will include productions of Tango, by Robert Xavier Rodriguez, and María de Buenos Aires, by Ástor Piazzolla. Doors open at 8 p.m., followed by a live band and pre-show until 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $25, general admission only. 170 N.E. 38th At., Miami; fgo.org

Thursday-Sunday, March 21-24
This exuberant and powerful musical follows the life of Afrobeat legend and Nigerian activist Fela Kuti. The show’s interactive performance celebrates Kuti’s life and influence through song and dance, riveting imagery, social commentary, and playful comedy. Produced by Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett, Jay-Z, and Questlove, the show also stars Destiny's Child alum Michelle Williams. Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 305-949-6722

Dim Mak Pool Party
Thursday, March 21, NOON–10 p.m.
Hit the Raleigh Hotel pool for ten hours of music hosted by Dim Mak. DJs on slate include Steve Aoki, Datsik, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Sidney Samson, and more. 1775 Collins Ave., Miami Beach

Ultra Music Festival
Friday-Sunday, March 22-24
Ultra’s second jam-packed EDM weekend hits Bayfront Park, welcoming three days of sets by the world’s biggest DJs. Among the weekend highlights are Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Carl Cox, and Avicii. 301 N. Biscayne Blvd.

Bed Head Hotel 
Friday-Saturday, March 22-23, 2–8 p.m.
The Gale South Beach is being converted into the bass-bumping Bed Head Hotel, complete with branded styling sessions and surprise guests. Things kick off Friday with an appearance by Tommie Sunshine & Friends. Saturday welcomes a pool party hosted by Diplo, Jillionaire, and Walshy Fire (aka Major Lazer), among others. The hotel takeover is open to the public, though online RSVP is required. 1690 Collins Ave., Miami Beach

Refune Records at WALL  
Friday, March 22, 10 p.m.
Refune Records, founded by Swedish House Mafia member Sebastian Ingrosso, welcomes Alesso, Otto Knows, and more to fuel the beats inside the W South Beach hot spot. Saturday night's party also marks the label's 10 year anniversary. 2201 Collins Ave., 305-938-3130

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