As a second generation native South Floridian, born and raised in Miami, I have seen a huge transformation in Miami, and in particular, Miami Beach. When we were young, I fondly remember riding on the long stretch of road that connected the main land to the beach; this was an indication that we were getting close to Great Grandmother’s.My Great Grandparents (Bessie & Frank) were direct descendants from Russia, a cute couple, each standing about 5′ tall. I don’t remember Frank too much as he died before Bessie, but my Great Grandma lived until the ripe ol’ age of 106. (She received two letters from the President of the time congratulating her on making it to a 100 years!) Back in that time, Collins Ave/Ocean Drive was lined with condos occupied by the senior community. You would find many of them just hanging out in rocking chairs on the front porches. That was until the developers stepped in and the gentrification process officially took off. Today, the landscape is one of youth and vibrancy. The hip, chic place with plenty of nightlife to keep you busy until the wee hours.
I received an email inviting me come taste A Fish Called Avalon, Located in the iconic Avalon Hotel on Ocean Drive, the setting offers an authentic, sophisticated South Beach experience. Many locals tend to have an impression that dining out in South Beach is for tourists, but I’m here to dispel that belief right here and now, at least when it comes to A Fish Called Avalon. Now in it’s 30th year, this marks quite a milestone in the restaurant world. Fun fact: this time-tested landmark had been the back drop for the 1983 film, Scarface.
TIME-HONORED SEAFOOD TRADITION IN MIAMI BEACH
A Fish Called Avalon is a legend in South Beach. For nearly 30 years, they have been serving up the freshest seafood and delivering an exceptional dining experience to all who partake. The superb cuisine, relaxed Ocean Drive setting, and impeccable service have been delighting diners for nearly three decades.
Garnering attention for its superb seafood cuisine, impeccable hospitality and intimate setting, the restaurant is a favorite with locals and visitors alike.
Chef Kal& A Fish CalledAvalon offer a seafood-dominated menu with tropical influences using the very best local and seasonal ingredients delivered daily. Each item shines with a variety of unique presentation and flavors.
Chef prepared a wonderful selection of tastings for my Product Development Manager, Annette and I to taste. We sat on the lovely terrace and it was a beautiful night. Annette and I enjoyed every morsel. Our taste buds were literally (well ok, figuratively) jumping up and down in joy! While I really liked everything that was placed in front of us, I thought the Bang Bang Shrimp were very unique here and were a definite stand out for me. The Macadamia Nut crusted snapper was another nice surprise for me. I am a huge fan of octopus when cooked right and Chef did an outstanding job with this as well. The presentation on the paella was top notch and packed full of fruits from the sea.
Tempting appetizers like the Bang Bang Shrimp and Orzo Seafood Paella for a main course are perfect for a romantic date night to evoke Mediterranean memories. The menu also offers prime and dry-aged steaks, organic chicken, and vegetarian-friendly options each with a perfect complement from the extensive award-winning wine list. Delectable desserts end the evening on a sweet note.
A Fish Called Avalon Accolades
Top 10 Best Restaurants and Best Outdoor Dining Winner in South Florida by OpenTable reviewers.
Ranked 30 of 787 Restaurants in Miami Beach TripAdvisor
A Fish Called Avalon is perfect for romantic dinners, a family affair, or a night out on the town. I can’t wait to go back and hope that I have inspired you to want to check it out as well. Pro tip: Diners can park in the parking garage conveniently located at the corner of 7th and Collins.
For more info on the restaurant, please click here to visit their website:
Today’s post is a two-for, featuring both a wonderful new hostel/boutique hotel and restaurant we were introduced to right in the heart of South Beach. Founded in 2011, Generator, a London-based brand known for their trendy design-forward European Hostels that feel more like boutique hotels, has just opened its first US location in Miami Beach this past August on famed Collins Ave, just one block from the beach. Generator, remodelled from a 1940’s condo building, offers 300 beds in 105 rooms. One of the unique things about this hostel is that in addition to the traditional shared rooms (which start at $20 per bed per night), is the addition of private rooms that start at just $95/night. Generator is not the hostel you might have stayed at while travelling around Europe (probably in your early twenties). They have pulled out all the stops to create a sense of community, incorporating such amenities as an inviting pool, 2 on-site restaurants, beautifully designed shared and private rooms and several really unique common spaces for guests to interact with one another or just take in the serene environment that’s been created for the solo traveler to enjoy on their own – not to mention the awesome location, right in the heart of South Beach. Several activities are being offered at Generator including yoga, mixology demonstrations, movies, a pool table, DJs and more planned.
I was invited by Desirey, the Event Sales Manager and my lovely host for the afternoon who arranged a tour of the hostel/hotel and a lovely lunch for us at Driftway, one of the two restaurants found on the property. As we made our way past the pool heading towards Driftway, I couldn’t help but notice this amazing mural painted on the side of the building. It had been painted by South African artist Chris Aurett. The food & beverage operations are being overseen by Gui Jaroschy, whose impressive resume includes opening the Broken Shaker in Miami Beach as well as several other locations in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York; managing the Anderson in Miami’s Upper Eastside; and consulting on cocktail menus for Ricochet Lounge, Drunken Dragon and British Airways.
Alex, our Driftway guy let me sample all four of their frozen drinks; the Suze and Coke, OMFG Margarita, Bird of Paradise and the Friesling. I enjoyed them all, but my favorite was the Bird of Paradise which was made with Beefeater Dry Gin, Chinola Passionfruit Liqueur, Martini Bitter and J Wray Rum, allspice and cubeb pepper.
The food and frozen drinks were amazing, as was the ambience and the company. I am looking forward to planning my next Staycation right there at my new favorite place on South Beach.
If you are planning a trip to Miami Beach and are looking for things to do in the area, you might want to consider booking a Savor Our City tour. Private tours are offered for a minimum of 2 guests and groups of up to 50 people. Choose from South Beach, Wynwood, Little Havana, Miami Springs, Doral and Brickell. For more info on tours, contact Savor Our City.
I am excited to share with you part one of a two-part series on my experience at the Marriott on Singer Island. I had been invited by the property’s PR firm for quite some time now to come experience a meal at their signature restaurant, 3800 Ocean and I finally was able to make that happen. Let me tell you, it is well worth the 45-minute drive it took us from South East Boca. Speaking for myself and I’m guessing that many of you might fall into this category as well, when it comes to deciding on where to dine, hotel restaurants may not be on the forefront of your mind with the multitude of choices that abound. Well, I’m here to set the record straight and possibly get you to rethink this notion forever more. 3800 Ocean at the Marriott Singer Island is as good as it gets and shouldn’t just be enjoyed by visiting guests, but by us local foodies as well.
The Marriott Singer Island has several dining experiences available:
3800 Ocean: Ocean views share the spotlight with South Florida’s abundant harvest at the resort’s signature restaurant. The 3800 Ocean menu reflects a “collective kitchen” inspired by the cultural backgrounds of each of its chefs – from New England and Long Island to Mexico and Jamaica – who bring their own personal influences to a rich bounty of local seafood and produce. Complementing the menu is an extensive wine list. Elegant interiors and an expansive covered patio give guests a choice of dining environments. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Kitchen Table: This one-of-a-kind experience, for groups of no more than five, takes diners with adventurous palates into the 3800 Ocean kitchen for a five-course menu created on the spot by the executive chef. The dinner typically spans three hours and is priced at $69 per person, with cocktail and wine pairings on request. Available Thursday through Saturday evenings; reservations required a minimum 24 hours in advance.
3800 Ocean Lounge: An inviting gathering spot for guests and locals, the lounge serves a casual lunch menu daily, exotic cocktails and bar fare every evening, and happy hour Monday through Friday.
Reef Tiki Bar: A casual menu of Pacific Rim cuisine is offered on the beach, complemented by cocktails handmade with fresh juices. The resort’s signature Coconut Island Breeze is served here in a fresh cracked coconut and is a popular choice at the bar’s Bubbles on the Beach happy hour. Open for lunch and happy hour daily.
Lagoon Cantina: Fresh-made margaritas, Mexican specialties and grilled fare are the draw at this poolside, Caribbean-style cantina. Open for lunch to resort guests and spa members/guests only.
Ocean Breeze Café: Starbucks drinks, pastries, salads and wraps are served to guests seeking a quick bite on the go.
In case you’re not familiar with Singer Island, it’s a peninsula (barrier island) on the Atlantic coast of Palm Beach County, Florida, in the South Florida metropolitan area. Most of it is in the city of Riviera Beach, but the town of Palm Beach Shores occupies its southern tip. The Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa is Palm Beach County’s only all-suite beachfront hotel, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Intracoastal Waterway on the other, it offers a wealth of opportunities for adventures on land and sea.
3800 Ocean has a VERY extensive & impressive wine list along with a whole lot of hand crafted cocktails and bourbons to choose from. For starters, we tried the seafood ceviche and the tostones rellenos. Both were superb dishes. I could have stopped right there (along with the glass of New Zealand Sauv Blanc) and had been a happy camper, but wait…there’s more…
Even though I was already quite stuffed, I just had to make room for what has to be one of the most creative desserts I have ever had. The S’mores pot de creme. Take a look at this beauty! House Made Marshmallow, Graham Shortbread, Chocolate Pot De Crème, Biscoff Malto (OMG, Yum!!!)
After lunch, we were given a tour of the property which we really appreciated. The grounds are gorgeous and although non hotel guests are invited to dine at 3800 Ocean, you must be staying at the property in order to access these other areas:
Later this summer I will be coming back to stay overnight in order to fully immerse myself into all the amenities that this lovely beachfront property has to offer. Stay tuned for part two of this feature highlighting this hot staycation destination.
It’s been some time since my last post. It’s that time of the year again when we get so crazy busy with all the wonderful food and wine events to cover on top of all the extra visitors who come into town and book us for our culinary tours and experiences. We have been working hard on creating a brand new website which will soon be launched and we have been growing our company both geographically as well as team members, but more on that in the next newsletter.
Today, it’s all about our visit to Coastal Restaurant located inside the Atlantic Hotel on Ft. Lauderdale Beach. I was invited to experience the brunch there by the PR firm representing the restaurant, which is located in the previous Beauty and the Feast spot, for those of you who remember that one.
I love brunches, particularly buffets (as opposed to a la carte) and especially ones that have as great a variety as Coastal. What I REALLY liked about Coastal’s brunch was that in addition to the marvelous options on the buffet, they have a menu of select a la carte plates every Sunday with a couple staple items that appear each Sunday such as bananas foster french toast and chicken & waffles and other specialty items such as eggs benedict, tacos and pancakes that change each Sunday. On this day, they were serving a crab cake benedict, pulled pork taco and chocolate chip pancakes. Lucky for me, they make these a la carte items in really cute small portions so you can try one of each (like I did) without feeling (too) guilty. LOL!
The pricing is extremely reasonable for just $39.95 per adult and $19.95 for children 12 & under. You can add bottomless Bloody Marys, Mimosas, & Bellinis for just $18.98 or $5/glass. What’s more, they offer 3 hour complimentary valet parking! How great is that?!? They have live music too. The buffet is available from 11am – 3pm. Definitely worth checking out!
Well, there you have it. Not only does Coastal have a great view of the ocean, but the decor is clean and inviting, the staff is friendly and attentive and the food is excellent. What more can you ask for? If you’re looking for somewhere to go this Valentine’s Day, they have some pretty awesome couples packages available, including a Gourmet Picnic Dinner on the Beach, Oceanfront Dinner at Coastal, and Three Spa Atlantic Packages, starting at Only $120. Valid Feb 11th – 18th, no overnight stay required.
As Miami Spice begins Aug. 1, culinary talk in South Florida will center around “food as art.’’ Nowhere will that concept be more on display than at Canvas, the outstanding restaurant at The Sagamore Hotel on South Beach.
Already acclaimed for the art collection that adorns its walls, The Sagamore should earn equal notoriety during Miami Spice, which runs through Sept. 30, as famed international Chef Michael Smerda brings his progressive cooking style to Canvas.
Set within the hotel’s lobby and its art adorned walls, Smerda’s newly launched menu of multicultural dishes – full of bold and balanced flavors – will be on full display during Miami Spice, which is the ideal time for The Sagamore to show off the renovated Canvas restaurant.
“A large part of my vision was to bring the topic of ‘art’ to the plate, in the way we plate the dishes, the use of colorful ingredients, add fragrance with spices, all interacting with the dish,’’ Smerda told me.
That interaction begins immediately on his four-course Miami Spice menu with a first course of Heirloom Carrots with White Balsamic Ice Cream. That’s correct. Ice cream as a first course. The combination of roasted carrots, carrot gel, sour dough soil, fennel greens, frisee salad and white balsamic ice cream is a piece of art on the plate and a masterpiece of flavors in your mouth.
Undoubtedly it will be one of the more talked-about (and unique) dishes – appetizer or entrée – during Miami Spice. Smerda got the inspiration for the dish from Chef Christian Hümbs, the renowned pastry chef at La Mer, in the Grand Spa Resort A-ROSA in Sylt, Germany.
“He is known for using vegetables as the dessert,’’ Smerda said. “He goes so far that he’ll create the whole meal with his desserts.
“I wanted to create something similar. Call it an ‘Appetizer / Salad / Dessert.’ In a dessert, we are always looking for the perfect combination using different textures, temperatures and a balance between sweet and acidity. Why not in the beginning of a meal? With this dish, I want the guest to experience a carrot salad like they never have before.’’
Smerda’s second course is a tender Atlantic Cod with red and gold beets and caraway oil; the third course is a terrific Wine and Honey Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek, with the fourth course being a chocolate tart surrounded by a banana rum mousse,
“In a perfect scenario, I would hope the guest leaves remembering the entire meal and experience, but I am sure each guest will have their own favorite dish,’’ Smerda said. “It’s just important they leave entertained with a satisfied palette and the urge to return.
“I have the feeling that (Miami Spice) it is a great opportunity for the restaurant to get even more recognition. I don’t want to create a fine dining restaurant or casual dining. Let’s just call it ‘Wellness Dining.’’’
I just call it “delicious.’’
Steve Pike (www.myspiketravel.com) is an award-winning travel and food writer. He lives in Delray Beach, Fla.
Savor Our City Culinary Tours began offering our first tours on May 3, 2014 in Delray Beach, FL. Since then, we have run a series of tours in other South Florida cities such as Palm Beach Gardens, Wilton Manors and Boca Raton. Our tours have always been open to the public as well as to private groups. We entered into an agreement this past year to create brand new food tours up in New England for several major cruise lines sailing into Boston, Portland & Bar Harbor this Fall. I am proud to say that these tours have been created and are starting this month. At this time, the only way you can take any of these tours is if you happen to be sailing on one of those ships calling into those ports OR you book a private group tour through us. (Think: corporate team building, client appreciation, birthday parties)
Here is a sample of what you would experience on our Boston Markets & Cultural Walking Tour:
This 3-hour historical guided walking food tour will take guests through the famed Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, a historic meeting place and market lined with cobblestone streets packed with ethnic foods, unique gifts and street performers, just to name a few of the elements that make this marketplace located near the waterfront so unique. It was here in 1764 that the colonists protested the Sugar Act, which led to the “no taxation without representation” doctrine. George Washington toasted America’s first birthday here, and so many impassioned orators have followed that Faneuil Hall is nicknamed “The Cradle of Liberty.”
Following your visit to Quincy Market & Faneuil Hall, you will walk to nearby Boston Public Market, another indoor haven for foodies that opened its doors in the summer of 2015. The market houses 39 year-round vendor stalls which must sell food and other products that are produced or originate in New England, specializing in items sourced from local farms and fishermen. Your guide will share historical facts, interesting anecdotes, and some local insider’s tips as you sample dishes and delicacies that reflect the area. Some of the iconic New England delicacies sampled along the way include an award-winning clam chowder, lobster roll, cheese, chocolate, nuts, honey, fresh fruit vinegars, wine, mead (honey wine, the oldest alcoholic drink known to man). Then, it’s on to the Parker House, your final stop and birthplace of the city’s iconic Boston Cream Pie, which you will have the opportunity to sample.
This tour is currently available for private tours only. If you would like to inquire about booking a private tour for your group of 10+ people, please contact us at info@SavorOurCity.com or (954) 410-3177.
I was recently invited to attend the Aqua Pool Party, hosted by Utopian Events at the Renaissance Boca Raton Hotel.
The Pool Party I attended was on Saturday, Aug. 27th and was open to the public from 12 – 5pm. (More dates will soon be announced).
The Aqua Pool Party at the hotel, hosted by Utopian Events, offers guests poolside brunch with selections like Filet Mignon Sliders, Crab stuffed Eggs Benedict and Cali-style Mahi Soft Tacos from 12:00-2:00 pm followed by Barbeque Madness from 2:00-5:00 pm with hamburgers and hot dogs. With Bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s for $25 and pitchers of Sangria for $18, there are frozen specialty drinks and top shelf beverage specials available all day.
Local DJs Alex Gregory and Ben Nigrelli entertained while my friend and I indulged in the wonderful brunch al fresco and later joined in on the poolside games; we even signed up to play in the beer pong tournament (which we unfortunately did not win, but had a lot of fun trying) We did purchase tickets for a chance to win fabulous prizes, including free drinks, food and hotel stays at destinations such as Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando and Chicago as well as a cash prize. A grand prize giveaway includes a two-night stay in Key West in a Presidential Suite with VIP Amenities. Guests gain a complimentary raffle ticket for every $10 spent at the Aqua Pool Party.
Aqua Pool Party at Renaissance Boca Raton Hotel
2000 NW 19th St. Boca Raton, FL 33431
All ages are welcome to join; must be 21 to consume alcohol
For more information on the Aqua Pool Party at Renaissance Boca Raton Hotel, please visit the website, twitter and Facebook.
Some of you who are following me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram know that I have just returned from a trip to Boston; an exploratory trip, that is. I went there to accomplish two things: 1. Get to know Boston, a city that we will soon be operating a series of private group culinary tours and then 2. To share my wonderful FoodFinds with you.
My trip began with a great deal flying Spirit Air thanks to a friend of mine who works for the line who was able to extend a friends/family rate to me. I am thankful that the stand-by status paid off as I don’t know what I would have done if it hadn’t since I had my hotel room booked and meetings & interviews and even a food tour lined up. But thankfully, it was seamless. So I arrived at Boston Logan Airport and exited through the bag claim area and proceeded outside to the center area marked ‘Shared Van Service’. I was staying at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, thanks to the Greater Boston Convention & Visitor’s Bureau who helped to make the connection. The hotel did not have a pick up service at the airport, so after reviewing my options of getting from the airport to the hotel (I was only staying in town a couple nights and everything I needed to do was close enough to walk or Uber, so I did not rent a car), I opted to reserve a seat on Go Boston, a shuttle I ended up sharing with just one other gal. When I got to the hotel, I realized I didn’t have any singles on me. When the driver said he didn’t have any change, I asked him to wait for a moment so I could run in and get some. Little did I know that we arrived in the back entrance and after running inside what might have been about 3o feet, I frantically turned my head to the left and to the right and assessed there was no lobby or front desk in sight. Before I had a moment to despair though, I ran into three knights in dapper business suits (Tony, Jonathan & Rob were their names; turns out they were 3 top Execs of the Hotel, lucky me). They asked me what seemed to be the problem and I explained and without an ounce of hesitation, two of them were reaching in their pockets to offer me the tip money. Of course I was super appreciative of these gentlemen being there to not only help out by fronting me the money to tip my driver and watching my bags which I just dropped at their feet, but when I asked the gentleman who laid the money out how I could find him again to repay him, he absolutely refused. Nice, right?!? I really appreciated the gesture and hospitality, which didn’t end there. I made my way to the front desk to check in, and as I was waiting for my room assignment, Rob, one of my new friends (who turned out to be the Hotel Manager), suddenly appeared at the desk and made a point to ensure I was given a nice room, which I had.
Off the Common Restaurant in the main lobby. Guests can keep their phones, iPads and laptops charged with several convenient charging stations tastefully placed down the center of the dining room and throughout the hotel.
Pictured above: Fritz the Bartender
The plan was for me to contact Vanessa, Boston Park Plaza’s Marketing Manager upon my arrival to have her give me a tour of the hotel. Vanessa and I had been corresponding closely prior to my arrival and I already felt like I was meeting a new friend. While I was waiting for Vanessa to take me on my tour, I had a seat at the bar and started chatting with Fritz the bartender. Fritz has been working at the Park Plaza Hotel for 17 years, ever since he was in college. I think that says a lot about the hotel, which incidentally just celebrated its 89th birthday. They must be treating their guests (and employees) right!
We began our tour of the hotel at the library. It was a nice cozy library with plenty of good light for reading. One cool feature they have thought to add here is a “call pod”, a call for service button available from 5pm – midnight, where guests can have food and/or beverages delivered right to them from the comfort of their chair. How convenient is that?!
Pictured above: The Cozy Corner
This gorgeous ballroom is 13,000 square feet and can hold up to 2,200 guests. There are several other options available for various other meeting spaces as well.
Pictured above: The David Barton gym, an ultra sheek, ultra modern 19k sq ft space found one level below the lobby. Here one can get a great work out in the gym, take one of their group classes and even spin. The gym is open to the public and memberships are also available.
Pictured below: My bedroom on the 15th Floor. Nicely appointed with mini fridge, flat screen tv, sitting area, King bed (with the most dreamy pillows I can remember laying my head on in a very long time) and (not pictured: bathroom). The dual head shower was a nice touch as was the hand soaps. The brand they use is Pure and I loved the fragrance of lemongrass.
Pictured below: A special surprise was awaiting me when I returned to my room later that evening. The chocolate ganache cake was to-die-for!
They have a great breakfast buffet at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. Here’s a little sample of what I got.
After completing my wonderful tour with Vanessa, I headed out to explore this unique city. Check back soon for Boston – The Park May Be Common, But The City’s Unique! (Part 2) where I cover my walk from the Boston Park Plaza Hotel to the North End via Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market, my food tour and other fabulous food finds..