Saturday, January 25, 2014

#ThankYouMiami for One-Of-A-Kind Weekends - January 2014

I love living in Miami because our weekends are one-of-a-kind. And as locals, we easily reap the benefits of having amazing venues close to home or of knowing that friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend that is our "in" to that exclusive party. Moreover, there is never a lack of great things to do - giving us a calendar full of weekend events to keep the foodie, fashionista, and Miami snob in us reeling all year.

Last weekend offered the perfect mix of food, fashion, and music options that are available throughout the year (and #ThankYouMiami for that):

Timeless Jazz Thursdays & 15 Steps Restaurant at the Eden Roc
The weekend started early and in style courtesy of Eden Roc's amazing staff, who invited John from Social Media 305, Alexandria from Caviar Chronicles, Dominique from #InspiredBy, and me to partake in the Eden Roc experience. We began our evening at the Lobby Bar sipping champagne while local musical talent Jahzel Dotel, Markus Gottschlich, et al. indulged the crowd in classic jazz melodies. The lobby's ambiance, amplified by Jahzel's smooth vocals, resurrected an era when musical legends walked down the hotel's now perfectly preserved main staircase. I could spend every Thursday basking in the old Miami glamour so I was ecstatic to discover that Timeless Jazz Thursdays is a regular occurrence at the Eden Roc.

We continued cocktail hour in a more modern fashion at 15 Steps Restaurant, a new farm-to-table concept from Chef Jeremy Ford that filled the vacancy left behind by Chef Paula DaSilva's 1500°. At the bar, bartender Kedar greeted us with a selection of the hotel's new bourbon-based drinks, which are a refreshing upgrade to Eden Roc's previously traditional cocktail portfolio (think frozen piña coladas). For people who prefer tequila, like me, Kedar recommends their tequila-based cocktail that is made with a homemade tamarind and habanero-infused simple syrup.

Dinnertime was nothing short of spectacular. We tried and enjoyed so many courses, that I quickly lost count. My favorites were the decadent open-faced stone crab ravioli (served with buttery greens, brussel sprout leaves, pickled mustard seed butter, and shaved truffles), the spicy charred brussels with peanuts, and the tuna crudo (served with meyer lemon, a shishito vinaigrette, and a citrus foam). The food, the drinks, and the company made for an unforgettable night that I cannot wait to repeat.

Eden Roc's attention to detail was evident the moment we walked in the door and were greeted by this fantastic spread of local fare and a bottle of champagne at the Lobby Bar.
Although Timeless Jazz Thursdays is a regular occurrence, last week we were fortunate to witness a special performance from local seven-year-old piano prodigy, Brandon Goldberg. Brandon performed with a confidence, passion, and talent that was absolutely jaw-dropping.
Later, at 15 Steps Restaurant's chic bar, Miami's most enthusiastic bartender treated us to bourbon-based cocktails named after celebrities that were regulars at the Eden Roc during its golden era, like the Lucille Ball shown above.
As a fan of Miami-inspired styles, I fell in love with the sleek and modern designs decorating the 15 Steps Restaurant. The low-lighting added to an intimate dining experience suitable for a night out on the town with friends or a dinner date sure to win you some bonus points.
Chef Jeremy's open-faced stone crab ravioli was the star of the night and the reason for our visit, but all the dishes we enjoyed during our dining experience were a testament to his creativity and his love for the local ingredients with which he makes his dishes. I can't wait to try his brunch menu!

Nikki Beach Miami's What Women Want Fashion Show Event
Saturday night, I catered to my inner fashionista by attending Nikki Beach's signature fashion series, What Women Want. At the event, I had the opportunity to peruse pop-ups of Miami's best boutiques, including personal favorites Monc Boutique and Stella & Dot, to catch-up with my favorite fashion bloggers, and to enjoy a fashion show of Nikki Beach-quality production (A.K.A. there were snakes and fire). This month the event's fashion show showcased Kalil designer Gio Diaz's fabulous Miami-inspired pieces, as well as his collaboration with Loin Cloth L.A. that was more West Coast-inspired but killer nonetheless. After the success of this month's event, I can't wait to see what Nikki Beach has in store for February!

Loin Cloth L.A.'s designs, which were on display throughout the night in the boutique pop-up area, also got their time in the limelight during the What Women Want fashion show. The caps shown here were worn by all of the male models that hit the runway during the Loin Cloth L.A. feature.
In true Nikki Beach style, the crowd of fashionistas, trendsetters, and other influential elite was wowed by dancers with snakes and fire during a pre-fashion show performance and throughout the night.
Local artist, Alex Yost, treated the crowd to a live painting of one of my favorite film and fashion icons, Audrey Hepburn.
Kalil designer Gio Diaz flashed the crowd his gorgeous smile while he escorted model Paola Urbano in the fashion show's finale.

Did you also enjoy one of these events this past month and have a different perspective to share? Did you have a fantastic one-of-a-kind weekend experience in January that also deserves a highlight? Leave a comment below or send me a tweet @ThankYouMiami!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

#ThankYouMiami for Distinctively Different Neighborhoods - Brickell

Welcome to Part 3 of our series, "#ThankYouMiami for Distinctively Different Neighborhoods", where Miami locals take us on a journey of their respective neighborhoods and tell us what they love about it, what they hate about it, and why their neighborhood makes them say #ThankYouMiami. Access the rest of the series here.

In this feature, Miami resident Mariamely Leoni explores her Brickell neighborhood. Mariamely was born in Venezuela, but has been living in South Florida for the last 15 years. Recently, Mariamely decided to leverage her knowledge of South Florida and Miami's various neighborhoods to create Local Genie. Local Genie is a pass that gives users access to benefits at local businesses that are part of the Local Genie network. Through this program, Local Genie strives to engage locals to explore their community and to give visitors a taste of the "real Miami". The Local Genie pass is available for purchase through their website starting this month!

1. What distinguishes Brickell from other Miami neighborhoods?
Brickell is the perfect mix of other Miami neighborhoods' best assets. It is not too touristy, but it is in close proximity to popular tourist destinations. It is not too loud, but it is never boring with its wide selection of restaurants and bars, like my go-tos Suviche and Baru Urbano. Other neighborhood notables are the great bay views and the local community, which is composed primarily of health-conscious business professionals from diverse backgrounds.

Brickell's assets include fantastic views of Biscayne Bay. Photo credit: Mariamely Leoni

2. What makes Brickell "SO Miami"?
There is nothing more Miami than local landmark Tobacco Road, which recently celebrated its 101st anniversary! The range of cultures represented in Brickell's residents and businesses is also typical of Miami. For example, local restaurants in the area offer cuisine from a wide range of countries including Japan, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, and France.

Venezuela native Mariamely represents one of the countries that makes Brickell a melting pot of cultures. Photo credit: Mariamely Leoni

3. What do you like least about Brickell?
The construction and limited parking...enough said!

Despite her gripe with the construction, Mariamely and her dog enjoy Miami's beautiful and growing skyline during their boat trips in Biscayne Bay. Photo credit: Mariamely Leoni

4. What is the strangest thing you have seen in Brickell?
The hoards of people exercising on Brickell Avenue around 7 p.m., like the hundreds of runners that participate in the weekly Brickell Run Club, remind me of the Walking Dead zombie mobs. I have to fight to get past them to get into my building. And, once I make it inside, the experience is enough of a guilt trip to get me immediately into my workout outfit!

Hundreds of Miami runners gather every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at 1300 Brickell Avenue to "run Miami" and enjoy the neighborhood's scenery together. Photo credit: Run Club Network

5. What about Brickell makes you say #ThankYouMiami?
#ThankYouMiami for the best sunsets, for the surrounding ocean and blue skies, and for the amazing people  whose great ideas have made Brickell such a unique neighborhood.

Mariamely is grateful for Miami's awe-inspiring sunsets. I'm with you, Mariamely, and the views definitely do not suck either... Photo credit: Mariamely Leoni

Are you an expert on your neighborhood? Share with Miami what makes your neighborhood distinctively different! Leave a comment below or send us a tweet @ThankYouMiami. You could be featured in an upcoming segment of this feature.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

#ThankYouMiami for Making Moves - 3 Perks to Look Forward to in 2014

It's the second week of a new year and, per usual, Miami is in flux. While everyone else took time off to look back and reminisce about 2013, Miami was focused on the future, setting the stage for a fantastic 2014. These are the three perks that I am most thankful to enjoy this year:

1. #ThankYouMiami for Becoming a More Powerful Culinary Magnet
Miami's dining scene has been growing exponentially and I love it. When a craving hits, I know there are several viable and delicious options to meet my food, price, ambiance, and level of service needs. My options du jour range from tried-and-true favorites like 660 at The Anglers (related #ThankYouMiami for Miami Spice - August 2013) to recently established restos like Stephen Starr's Verde at Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Newest to my must-try list are my "friendly neighborhood café", Café Mistral, in SoFi and Sea Salt and Pepper Brasserie and Lounge, which is on the Miami River and the only venue on this list I have yet to visit. While I am sad to see some crowd favorites go (cough, Van Dyke Café, cough), my foodie alter-ego is hungry for what this year will bring.

In smoked salmon I trust. Cafe Mistrál is a French café with Miami roots that serves simple yet delicious food, like the smoked salmon sandwich shown above. They win extra points for serving and selling Zak the Baker bread, a locally-made artisan bread.

2. #ThankYouMiami for Becoming Fashionably Relevant
We've already established that Miami has a unique and enviable style. But, until recently, we had not been officially deemed fashionably relevant. These days, our city's fashion spotlight has grown significantly brighter and our local fashion bloggers have become common fixtures in my favorite magazines. Our most recent milestone was the January 2, 2014 launch of Racked Miami, which is an established go-to local fashion and shopping resource for fashionistas in other major U.S. cities like New York and L.A. While Racked Miami is new to our area, we Miami-ans are already unsuspecting fans of Curbed Network blogs - do Eater Miami and Curbed Miami sound familiar? I can't wait to see what editor Ashley Brozic has in store for her hometown and to be in the front row as Miami further cements its place in the fashion world.

An impromptu meeting of Miami fashion superstars.The December issue of Glam Belleza Latina prominently featured photos from two Miami fashion bloggers: Daniela Ramirez of Nany's Klozet and Annie Vazquez of The Fashion Poet. Photo credit: Annie Vazquez.

3. #ThankYouMiami for Fostering Local Creativity
The Knight Foundation is well-known in South Florida for empowering the brightest and most talented to improve their communities, most notably through financial investments which have totaled $86 million since 2006. On December 2, 2013, the Knight Arts Challenge, which first launched in 2008, awarded $2.72 million to forty-nine winning projects that will blend art and technology and will engage and celebrate the communities from which they originate. 2013 Winners from the Miami area include Art Center South Florida, Awesome New Republic, Cannon Ball Miami, The Fillmore at the Jackie Gleason Theater, and Miami Book Fair International. A full list of winning projects can be found here. I look forward to witnessing the development of these projects and watching them take our local arts scene by storm.

"Magic City, what do you mean?" Local musical talent Awesome New Republic, one of the winners of the 2013 Knight Arts Challenge, will bring together local musicians, dancers, and filmmakers to produce a multimedia theatrical work that explores Miami's past and present. Photo credit: The Knight Foundation, some rights reserved.

What Miami perks do you look forward to enjoying this year? Leave a comment below or send me a tweet @ThankYouMiami.
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