Wednesday, September 30, 2015

#ThankYouMiami for Seafood, Seafood & More Seafood - @SobeSeafoodFest2015

This year we've been on a YOLO kick, meaning we prioritize anything and everything that makes us eating seafood. It's the reason why if you follow us on Instagram you've noticed a surge in the amount of seafood, particularly crab and lobster, that we're consuming. It's also the reason why we're amping harder than ever for the arrival of seafood, seafood, and more seafood outside our doorstep (no, literally, it will be two blocks away) for the South Beach Seafood Festival. P.S. We're giving away two tickets to the festival. Don't forget to enter at the bottom of this post!

The South Beach Seafood Festival is a building tradition here in South Beach to celebrate the start of Stone Crab season. Every year on October 24, Miami gathers in Lummus Park to eat, drink, and be merry in the name of our ocean's finest bounty. The event is so popular that in the past year the festival has expanded to include additional events and culinary demonstrations leading up to the big day. Earlier this week we had the opportunity to preview one of these events—the Chef Showdown—during which 12 local chefs from our favorite restaurants will compete for our votes in six epic battles:
During the event, on October 23, the competing chefs will host stations so you can sample their food and cast your vote for your favorite restaurant in each category, while you catch them on stage battling it out for champion status. While all six battles are well matched, we are most excited to watch Battle Lobster, Battle Tuna, and Battle Taco (because we're Mexican so...). We're also excited to check out Whole Foods Market's Sustainable Seafood showcase, eat food from other local participating restaurants like Midtown Oyster Bar and SOHO Bay, and participate in the raffles and auctions. Check out the Chef Showdown website full event information and buy your tickets ASAP. They sell out like hotcakes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Which Chef Showdown battle are you most excited to watch? Which of the chefs are you most excited to support? Have you visited any of the participating restaurants? Which? Have you attended the South Beach Seafood Festival before? What did you think? What are you most looking forward to doing or trying at this year's festival? Leave a comment below or send us a tweet @ThankYouMiami!

Monday, September 28, 2015

#ThankYouMiami How-To: Staying #Shady

If you've never heard Baz Luhrmann's "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", do yourself a favor and listen to it on YouTube right now. Inspired by a 1997 essay penned by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich, Baz Luhrmann dispenses Mary's on point advice about life through a spoken word song starting with: "If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it." We first heard the song in 1999 when it sneaked its way into Volume 2 of the "Now That's What I Call Music!" CD series after Backstreet Boy's "I'll Never Break Your Heart" and Jay-Z's "Hard Knock Life". Since then, we've replayed it over and over again whenever we've needed a reality check on family, on love, on aging. Surprisingly, however, the one piece of advice we've taken least seriously has been the bit about sunscreen.

As beach bums, beach volleyball players, and surfers, we've basically been professional beach-goers all our lives. Overtime we've become experts on how to pack for the beach, how to set up on the beach, and how to entertain ourselves on the beach for hours. Somehow, we've simultaneously remained amateurs when it comes to sun protection. We're talking about going out during the harsh midday sun (the sun is most damaging between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.) after one application of 50 SPF followed by the rare reapplication. We shudder to think of the sun damage we've allowed to our bodies from years of so-so sunscreen use and poor decision making.

Well, the damage stops now. The catalyst? This cautionary tale from "sun abuse survivor" Eliane Kirschbaum:
"Two years ago I woke up with a really weird, persistent, and eventually bleeding pimple on the top of my nose. I soon after learned that the pimple, wasn't a pimple—I had skin cancer. I was shocked. How could this happen to me? Well, the reality is that the sun does not care who you are. If you don't protect yourself, you are at risk."
Don't worry, Eliane is fine now but she is one of the lucky ones and she wants us to be even luckier by helping us avoid skin cancer altogether. With that goal in mind she started a campaign called "FTheSun" to spread skin cancer awareness through sun protective gear and accessories. Well Eliane, mission accomplished. Yesterday we spent an entire day at the beach wearing our "FTheSun" #Shady cap and it was a constant reminder to #stayshady. In fact, it prompted us to buy a sun shelter with 50 UPF (this portable, easy to set-up Rio sun shelter to be exact) to further minimize our sun exposure during our almost 12-hour day shooting surf photos at the beach. We look forward to making these steps (sunscreen, hat, and sun shelter) a part of our regular beach bumming routine for Mary Schmich, for Baz Luhrmann, for Eliane but, more importantly, for ourselves.

What do you think of our beach set-up? How do you #stayshady at the beach? What other tips do you have for beach bumming safely? For sun protection? Leave a comment below or send us a tweet @ThankYouMiami!

Friday, September 25, 2015

#ThankYouMiami Talks Ending September With The 5 Best #MiamiEvents

Earlier this week we mourned the end of summer by celebrating our standout style moments of the season. Today, we welcome with open arms the arrival of Fall, which looks exactly the same as summer but comes with a hundred thousand extra tourists per day, as well as the return of our seasonal residents. Let us be the first to say "godspeed" for the coming months. On our end we'll be diving head first into our revived social lives and trying to ignore the downsides of the season (more people, more traffic, less space). Lucky for us, there's only five days in September and enough events happening before the end of the month to fill five weeks. Here's where you will find us hiding:

1. Friday, September 25: Bareroot Pop-Up at Better Days Miami
Riding on the momentum from their recent one-year anniversary, Better Days is hosting experimental pop-up dining concept, Bareroot. Every other Friday, starting tonight, Bareroot will bring a small menu of reimagined "trashy bar food" to complement Better Days' stellar cocktail menu. We're big proponents of pairing our drinks with equally delicious bites so we're looking forward to this new partnership. We're particularly excited about the fact that Bareroot is the brainchild of two Miami-ans who have been friends since high school. Miami, FTW!

2. Sunday, September 27: National Yoga Month at Mondrian South Beach
Did you know every Sunday the Mondrian in South Beach offers yoga on their iconic bayside pool deck? Well, they do and this Sunday at 10 a.m. you're invited for free. In honor of National Yoga Month, fashion blogging babe and yogi supreme Ginger Harris of Electric Blogarella will host this special edition event featuring a group yoga class and giveaways from Green Monkey and Peace Love World. Following the hour-long class, the Mondrian's poolside restaurant will be open and serving a variety of healthy brunch options ranging from $7 - $26 like coconut oatmeal with fresh mango. Yum! To reserve your complimentary spot, please e-mail mondrianpoolclub [at] mhgc [dot] com.

3. Tuesday, September 29: National Bourbon Month Dinner presented by Old Forester Bourbon at Lure Fishbar
The first time we sampled Lure Fishbar's menu we were mad at ourselves—mad that, Lure is a few blocks down the street from us and we don't visit frequently enough (read, their food is really good). For National Bourbon Month, they're pairing their culinary cunning, materialized as a $95 six-course menu, with another winner: bourbon. This special menu of seasonal specialities, presented by Old Forester Bourbon, is mouth-watering in its extravagance. We're particularly amped about the lobster-stuffed squash blossoms, the raw bar platter with its bourbon granita and apple bourbon mignonette, and the warm sticky "icky" bun served with maple-bourbon ice cream. For reservations, call (305) 695-4550.

4. Wednesday, September 30: Leggings Lounge at Shelborne Wyndham Grand
Yoga is the key to staying sane during "season", which is why we're amped to get another shot at zen before the end of the month. For their last installment of their ultra successful yoga and happy hour series, Miami's very own Think Red Inc. calls upon its past blogger hosts to deliver "something really cool". If their past events are any indication, this is not an event you want to miss so reserve your spot ASAP: See you there!

5. Wednesday, September 30: Midtown Oyster Bar x Wynwood Brewing Company
Two of our favorite Miami heavy hitters have collaborated on a joint 9-coure stating menu highlighting the best flavors of New England and Miami, paired with Wynwood Brewing's staple brews and their quarterly seasonal specials. We're talking Magic City Pale Ale, La Rubia Blonde, as well as Rickenbacker Pilsner and Scotchy Doesn't Know Scotch Ale. "The idea for this event was to truly explore the potential in pairing our food in a casual way with excellent local beers," said MOB Chef Ralph Colon. Tickets for the one-night only event are $75 per person (all inclusive) and are available for purchase on Eventbrite.

Which of these events are you most excited to attend? What other events are you looking forward to attending before the end of the month? Leave a comment below or send us a tweet @ThankYouMiami!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

#ThankYouMiami for Fashion - Standout Style Moments of Summer

Summer is over. While we cry you a river, we're looking back at the standout styles of summer and we ask you to vote for your favorite look of our top three. We hope they will inspire your outfits in the coming months so we can collectively keep the summer vibes going into Fall. After all, in the Sunshine State, whatever...we do what we want.

Which of the three looks was your favorite? What were your favorite moments from this summer? Which was your best style moment? What were you wearing? What was your inspiration? What Fall trends are you looking forward to wearing? Leave a comment below or send us a tweet @ThankYouMiami!

Monday, September 21, 2015

#ThankYouMiami How-To: Celebrating A Birthday Against All Odds

On Sunday, September 13 I turned a year older. While the milestone is a miracle in its own right, this year's birthday celebration was cursed from the beginning (perhaps, again, due to Mercury being in retrograde) and a challenge to execute. On the big day not only were most of our friends and family indisposed with various other commitments but, as you know well by now, I was also out of commission with an illness, unable to eat and in bed rest. Alas, it took mini-miracles and serious cunning to execute a celebration. Luckily, these days birthdays seem to be a week-long, if not month-long, affair so no one blinked when we unofficially changed our birthday this year to this past weekend, starting on Saturday night with a birthday dinner amongst friends and ending on Sunday afternoon with a family birthday brunch.

Friday, September 18, 2015

#ThankYouMiami for #YelpsBigBite in #LittleHaiti

Last night Yelp Miami took over the Little Haiti Cultural Center for a culinary showdown of epic proportions: Yelp's Big Bite. The premise of the event is simple genius. Yelp convenes Miami's top culinary professionals to showcase their best food and invites Yelp users to sample and vote for the "Best Bite" of the competition. That translated into the #ThankYouMiami team, including our new intern Celeste (welcome, Celeste!) eating our way through over 15 different dishes and desserts in the course of three hours. As we proceed to recount the deliciousness we consumed, remember we just came off of illness-induced starvation and that these are some of the first "normal" (a/k/a non-bland) foods we've eaten in two weeks.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

#ThankYouMiami for...Irish Whiskey?

We're ba-ack! Thank you, thank you, thank you for baring with us during the great illness-induced blogging hiatus of 2015. We really needed the time to let the Cipro sink in and recover from whatever bug we caught in the DR. And, while we still have no clue what in the world made us sick, we're feeling 90% better and ready to rock and roll. In fact, yesterday we even made an exception in our Cipro regiment to taste test some Irish whiskey on your behalf.

We know what you're thinking: Irish whiskey? In Miami? Turns out, amid the numerous bottles of booze neatly shelved at your favorite Miami watering hole, Irish whiskey awaits—and not just any Irish whiskey but the Irish whiskey, Tullamore Dew. We were let in on the secret by our newfound Irish friend, Tim Herlihy. As a Tullamore Dew ambassador, Tim is an extremely charismatic individual and an expert on all things "Tully" (as in, he can look at a glass and tell you which whiskey you're drinking within Tullamore Dew's range).

For yesterday's taste test, Tim introduced us to four whiskeys currently offered by Tullamore Dew. We were partial to the Tullamore D.E.W. Original and the 12 Year Old Special Reserve. The original blend, Tim agrees, is the most classic and a good first-choice for regular consumption (that is, whenever you feel like having a drink just because). It is also the best choice for cocktails like the tipperary (Irish whiskey, green chartreuse, and sweet vermouth) or the Irish coffee (hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar). The 12 Year Old Special Reserve is super smooth neat or on the rocks but, like the more robust single malt and Phoenix, is best saved for special occasions.

Tim also shared with us an abundance of Irish whiskey knowledge. He took us from the early 1800s, when Daniel E. Williams ("the man behind the D.E.W.") began his journey from just another distillery worker to distillery owner, through 2014 when Tullamore Dew celebrated the opening of a new state-of-the-art distillery and the return of its distilling operations to Tullamore, Ireland. Did you know that to legally be branded Irish whiskey the liquid has to be made in Ireland? More importantly, did you know that, tomorrow, September 17 is Halfway to Saint Patrick's Day?

If you're looking to get into some Irish whiskey in celebration of tomorrow's "holiday" or just in the mood for a drink, here are a handful of our favorite bars around Miami that stock Tullamore Dew:

Once you have your glass in hand, repeat after Tim: "To cheating, stealing, fighting and drinking. If you cheat, may you cheat death. If you steal, may you steal a heart. If you fight, may you fight for one another. If you drink, drink plenty with me."

Do you like Irish whiskey? Have you tried Tullamore Dew? Which whiskey from their range did you try? What Miami moments do you enjoy best with Irish whiskey? What are your favorite whiskey cocktails? Leave a comment below or send us a tweet @ThankYouMiami!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

#ThankYouMiami For Access To Safe Water

We apologize for the radio silence the past couple of days. We woke up on Sunday in the Dominican Republic with a fever that has rendered us useless ever since. Thanks to the help of our friend Betsy, who took extremely good care of us, we managed to make it back to Miami. Now, armed with a Cipro prescription we're making a slow and steady recovery. The prognosis? A possible parasite in DR from exposure to unsafe water.

In an ironic (but amazing) coincidence, our friends at Absolut Elyx had a package waiting for us when we got home. The contents included a note and an empty water carafe imprinted with the phrase: "A luxury on tap [water] #drinkwithintegrity." In the note, the Absolut Elyx team explained that "it's not only Washington's responsibility, but also the duty of brands and industries to tackle the big issues. That's why we've partnered with one of the most respected non-profit organizations in the world, Water For People, to do something good with a category where people might least expect it, vodka." For every bottle you purchase in the U.S., Absolute Elyx and Water For People will provide one week's supply of safe water to someone in need as part of a five-year mission to provide 100,000 people with access to safe water.

We will never come to understand that true struggle of people who live without access to safe water.  After all, we have excellent drinking quality water on tap in Miami-Dade County. But writhing in pain, unable to eat for four days has certainly helped us to understand the consequences of being exposed to unsafe water. Now more than ever we are excited to support such a worthy cause and are proud of our friends at Absolut Elyx for taking on this critical mission. Check out the video below to discover how "vodka can not just taste good but also do good" and learn more about this new initiative.

What important causes do you support? Why? Do you have a personal story? Leave us a comment below or send us a tweet @ThankYouMiami!

Friday, September 4, 2015

#ThankYouMiami For Our Natural Resources - Sea Turtles

Did you know that in addition to being writers we work as environmental scientists? It is the influence behind our in-depth knowledge of local environmental news, our penchant for posting photos of native wildlife, and our occassional use of technical jargon. But, beyond these subtle hints, you probably never noticed because we rarely share our environmental knowledge. As of today, that will no longer be the case. At your request we are launching a new monthly series #ThankYouMiami for Our Natural Resources where we will educate you on the wealth of natural capital we have in Miami and give you easy-to-follow tips for protecting these resources. Think environmental education that is customized for you, that is geared toward your interests, and that answers your questions.

We are kicking off the series by talking sea turtles - the seasonal neighbors that nest and hatch on our beaches from April through October. The inspiration for the topic came to us last week when we joined the Marjory Stoneman Douglas BiscayneNature Center for a Members Only Sea Turtle Watch event. The nature center’s sea turtle program, which is executed in collaboration with Miami-Dade County, is one of their most popular initiatives. On the night we visited, there were 40+ people in attendance including students from UM’s marine science school (Go ‘Canes!) and young professionals like us from the local environmental community.

The program’s success is well deserved. The night’s keynote speaker, a naturalist from Miami-Dade County who runs the sea turtle program at Crandon Park, was a knowledgeable, charismatic, and accomplished presenter. Unlike most PowerPoint presentations, his had the perfect mix of information and captivating images, of basic information and cool factoids. We know others agreed because the students mobbed him and fan girl-ed over him when his presentation was over. Here are 7 key points we picked up during his presentation:

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

#ThankYouMiami for Bulla Gastrobar - Top Miami Spice 2015 Pick

We're only halfway through Miami Spice 2015, but we can already say with confidence that Bulla Gastrobar wins it for us this year. The shocking part is, as of two weeks ago, Bulla wasn't really on our Miami restaurant radar, much less on our Miami Spice must-try list. Alas, we are resolved that sometimes the best surprises await in the most unexpected places. In our case, because we rarely leave the Beach, the most unexpected of places was Coral Gables.

We were lured off the Beach under unfortunate circumstances: a send-off-to-San-Diego party for our buddy Lou Lozada (the incredibly talented photographer behind Vodagraph). Let the record show that under less dire circumstances we probably would have stayed at home. Nevertheless, in honor of our Lou, we did the Miami schlep to the 33146 and found ourselves on a Friday night braving the happy hour crowds at Bulla. Don't worry - we were handsomely rewarded for our troubles.

The night began with drinks at the bar, which is were Bulla scored its first points with us. The place was packed (it felt like everyone was touching at least three strangers) so, as avid believers in "personal space", we were freaking out a little bit. Luckily, the venue's designer had the foresight to make the bar an indoor/outdoor area, allowing us to informally spill out into the less packed sidewalk and make it comfortably through the 1+ hour wait for a table.

Once at our table, Bulla scored points again by offering a Miami Spice dinner menu on a Friday night. And not just any Spice menu - one with solid selections across the board and family-style portions. At the recommendation of friends, both at the table and on Twitter (thanks, @PDXerMIAmian!), we kicked it off with the Huevos "Bulla": a Jumbo egg with homemade potato chips, potato foam, and Serrano ham drizzled in truffle oil. It was unlike anything we've ever eaten. Whether you go for Miami Spice or not, you absolutely have to try it. Buyer beware: it is an extremely heavy dish that may cause nightmares. That said, once you try it you'll agree it is well worth every one.

As entrées go, we selected the Arroz Caldoso (bomba rice with clams, shrimp, chicken, red sofrito and saffron) and the Zarzuela de Mariscos (a mixed seafood stew). The portions of both were so large that we shared the Zarzuela at the restaurant and asked for the Arroz Caldoso to go. Unfortunately for all of us, the Zarzuela de Mariscos is no longer on Bulla's Spice or regular menus, but they seem to have replaced it with Pez Espada a la Plancha y Pulpo a la Plancha - two similar seafood dishes which sound equally intriguing. The Arroz Caldoso is still on both menus and is exquisite, especially as leftovers.

After so much (heavy) food, the last thing we felt like doing after our entrées was eat dessert. To be fair, we appreciate a solid dessert but our loyalties lie with savory food so we rarely leave room for dessert. Despite being full, we ordered it anyway in the name of Miami Spice. The two choices were Bulla's Torrija (Spain's version of french toast made with caramelized brioche served with turrón ice cream and drizzled with local honey) and the Arroz con Leche (rice pudding with golden raisin coulis and cinnamon). The portions were large again so we shared the Torrija there and took the Arroz con Leche home. Both were enjoyable. When you visit, we recommend that you go with whatever calls your name. Like the whole Bulla experience, regardless of what you choose, you won't be disappointed.

The indoor/outdoor area of Bulla's bar.

The Huevos "Bulla" in all their glory.

The Arroz Caldoso. Yes, those are shishito peppers and artichoke hearts.

The Zarzuela de Mariscos. Can you believe all of that was part of the Miami Spice deal?
The Torrija was a sweet end to a perfect meal.

What Miami Spice menus have you tried this year? Which one is your favorite? Why? What do you recommend getting for appetizer, entrée and dessert there? What Miami Spice menus are you dying to try next? Which dish(es) are you looking forward to there? Have you ever been to Bulla? What did you eat there? Which of their dishes did you like best? Leave a comment below or send us a tweet @ThankYouMiami!
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