The Simply Italian Great Wines Americas Tour, one of the most important and prominent Italian wine education, guided tastings, and luncheons organized by I.E.M.(International Exhibition Management) and its Florida agency I.E.E.M. (International Event & Exhibition Management), chose to forge ahead with their popular annual event, taking every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of its attendees and representative, and kicked off its signature event in North America this year on March 1 in Miami at the exclusive Mandarin Oriental Hotel, followed by its debut in Atlanta at the exclusive Four Seasons HotelMarch 3 before concluding in Riviera Maya in the enchanting El Dorado Royale Resort, March 17.
Simply Italian Great Wines took appropriate safety measures by limiting the number of participants this year, as well as providing socially-distancing tables and stations and mandating mask-wearing when not tasting among other safety measures in cooperation with each local venue and city per CDC Guidelines.
Marina Nedic, I.E.M./I.E.E.M.’s Managing Director explains: “Safety remains our main priority as we try to pave the way forward to present the great diversity of Italian wine to a live audience. Technology has been and will continue to be important in keeping us connected, but it cannot replace human contact. Wine has always embodied connection between people throughout history.”
The always popular guided tastings and seminars aim to educate on the vast variety of Italian wines featuring some of the most renowned and respected Italian Consortiums conducted by esteemed wine experts and professionals. For this occasion, the US program will consist of the following MasterClasses:
Consorzio di Tutela della D.O.C. Prosecco.: “Prosecco DOC Dreamland: Rediscover the authentic Prosecco DOC and meet the long-awaited Prosecco DOC Rosé” presented by Miami’s own Master Sommelier, Laura DePasquale.
Federdoc & Riccardo Ricci Curbastro: “Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta: Let’s Go Bubbly”presented by the charismatic James Beard Award-Winning Journalist and WSET Certified Educator, Lyn Farmer, in Miami and Atlanta while connecting virtually with Riccardo Ricci Curbastro from his Italian winery.
Consorzio Tutela Vini della Maremma Toscana: “From the Mountains to the Sea…A Pristine Land: The Tuscan Maremma” presented for the first time in Miami by Laura DePasquale MS with a virtual greeting from the Consortium’s President, Francesco Mazzei, directly from Tuscany.
Following the seminars guests enjoy a luncheon expertly paired with wines from Consorzio Eden & Consorzio Italia di Vini & Sapori from the Veneto region.
Simultaneously, walk around tastings were held in a separate ballroom at timed intervals where importers and local representatives poured wines from the following:
Consorzio Prosecco: Antonio Facchin & Figli, La Gioiosa, La Marca, Le Rive, Masottina, Toser Vini, Valdo, Viticoltori Ponte. Consorzio Maremma: Alberto Motta, Argentaia, Belguardo, Cantina “I Vini di Maremma”, Cantina LaSelva, Castelprile – Prelius, Fattoria di Magliano, Fattoria Il Casalone, Fattoria Mantellassi, Fattoria San Felo, I Cavallini, La Biagiola, Le Sode di Sant’Angelo, Podere San Cristoforo, Poggio Cagnano, Querciabella, Sassotondo, Sequerciani, Tenuta Casteani, Tenuta Montauto, Villa Pinciana. Consorzio Eden: Cantina Breganze, De Stefani, Vinicola Tombacco. Consorzio Italia di Vini & Sapori: Azienda Agricola Anna Spinato, Biancavigna, Cantina Colli Euganei.
Abbazia (with Wine Lovers Distributor), Agricole Selvi (with Wine Lovers Distributor), Azienda Agricola Gualberto Ricci Curbastro/Rontana, Bennati (with Wine Lovers Distributor), Cantine Nicosia, Emilia Wine (with Grapes and More), Federdoc, Feudi di San Gregorio (with Orfe Mèxico), Fontana delle Selve (with Top Wines), Il Poggiarello (with Top Wines), Jako Wine and Ronco Margherita (with Grapes and More).
While I had the opportunity to sample many varietals of wine throughout the day, the star of show was definitely Prosecco Rosé, so light and refreshing and just the perfect balance of acidity and sweetness. “This is going to be THE wine of the summer”, touted Master Sommelier Laura DePasquale, and I definitely will be doing my part to contribute to that statistic! lol
If you missed this great event, don’t fret, the organizers just announced a second date to be held again in Miami at the Mandarin Oriental on March 24th with educational wine tastings from 10am – 1:15pm, and lunch walk around guided tastings from 1-3pm. So if you are in the wine business or are a wine writer and missed this earlier event, be sure to reach out to I.E.E.M. to request an invite by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 305-937-2488.
ABOUT I.E.E.M.: (International Event & Exhibition Management), the Miami-based branch of I.E.M. (International Exhibition Management), is a comprehensive agency specializing in marketing, event production and public relations for the wine industry. Driven by a passion for trade shows and a flair for flawless organization, I.E.M. was founded in 1999 by industry veterans Giancarlo Voglino and Marina Nedic. A reputation for reliably delivering high-quality events, coupled with its extensive network of wine trade professionals and international media, places IEEM/IEM among the most highly regarded Italian wine event organizers in the world. Learn more by visiting www.ieemusa.com.
MANDARIN ORIENTAL: 500 Brickell Key Drive, FL 33131 FOUR SEASONS HOTEL: 75 14th Street, GA 30309 EL DORADO ROYALE: Carratera Cancun – Tulum 45, Riviera Maya, QR 77710
Savor Our City was recently invited to attend a media dinner at 26 Sushi & Tapas in Surfside for the launch their new menu.
Since 2014, 26 Sushi & Tapas has been and remains one of the Miami dining scene’s best kept secrets. This unique Latin-Asian fusion eatery is 100% certified Kosher,serving the vibrant, flavorful Japanese-Peruvian cuisine known as Nikkei. But those in the know – kosher or otherwise – have embraced the restaurant for its casually chic ambiance, wallet-friendly pricing and delicious cuisine. Now, with newly-appointed ChefMiguel Gomez at the helm, the restaurant is unveiling a refreshed menu featuring creative additions to abundant offerings.
“The goal with 26 was to go beyond what many think of as ‘kosher food,’” says owner Morris Kaplan. “We wanted to provide something exciting and different to that community but also deliver a compelling and delicious menu for everyone. We’re excited about the new menu and hope it keeps our loyal fans engaged and gives folks who never gave us a try a great reason to come in.”
The menu remains vast, offering plenty to explore and countless ways to mix & match to create a unique, immersive experience for each diner. Signature favorites – like the Nitro “Scallops” made from tempura battered scallops, rocoto aioli, sweet sauce,mixed greens and sesame seeds. Corvina Lettuce Wraps, made with Flounder tempura, Asian slaw, cashew pistachio crumble and aji amarillo aioli. Both of these items were extremely tasty, crowd pleasers for sure!
Tuna Tower and Truffle Tiradito – remain. They’ve been huge sellers for years and are going nowhere. Joining them on the playing field are their new hot and cold tapas including: Causa Krab Tower – cold, savory potato layer cake typical in traditional Peruvian cuisine, served with Krab salad and fresh avocado;
Nikkei Tuna Salad with fresh greens, enoki mushroom, carrot, and tri-colored peppers tossed in ponzu sauce and topped with sesame seeds; and Nao Ceviche Ball – traditional Corvina ceviche cured in a house-made leche de tigre, red onion, lime juice and aji limon then tempura battered with panko and deep fried. This was a really unique dish and fun to eat too!
Also debuting, several new sushi additions including the Nigiri 5-star – Chef’s choice of five nigiri selections served atop sushi rice;
Tropical Roll – tuna, salmon, kiwi, guava and dynamite sauce topped with tuna and rocoto aioli;
Crispy Kani Roll – soy paper, plantains, avocado, scallions and cream cheese topped with Krab tempura, masago and curry aioli; Sandra Roll – a rice-less roll with Krab salad, avocado, cream cheese, and tempura topped with fresh tuna; and the Acevichado Roll – Whitefish tempura, sweet potato and avocado topped with Corvina ceviche. A word to the wise – the new rolls may be amazing but you would be missing out BIG TIME if you didn’t have their popular Maduros con CocoRoll – flounder tempura, avocado and cream cheese topped with sweet fried plantains and coconut flakes – Just order it, you’ll thank me later!
Two unusual offerings worth a try: Sushi Burritos, which come in two styles – the Saltarito with sautéed salmon, fried egg, plantains, French fries and guacamole and the Three Amigos – fresh raw tuna, salmon and Hamachi with guacamole, scallions and a chimichurri ponzu – and the new Sushi Sandwich. Meant to be eaten with the hands, it consists of salmon, mango, avocado, scallion and dynamite sauce, layered between “slices” of pressed rice, served with guava dipping sauce.
New larger plates include Branzino Livornese – fresh Branzino filet served on a pool of fragrant Livornese sauce of capers, Kalamata olives, garlic and cherry tomatoes, dressed with house-made shakshuka and served with potato wedges; Tuna Kovi, sesame-crusted, seared tuna served on a bed of quinoa risotto huancaina, topped with pico de gallo and a balsamic reduction; and a sweet & sour Red Snapper, grilled and served with grilled vegetables and rustic mashed potatoes.
The restaurant’s vibrant desserts have also received a seasonal upgrade; not to be missed offerings include a fresh Strawberry Pavlova served with whipped cream and the sinfully creamy Goat Cheese Ice Cream.
Apart from updated summer offerings, 26 Sushi & Tapas also boasts an impressive, four-hour long Happy Hour available Sunday through Thursday from 5PM-9PM. The Surfside mainstay has updated their Happy Hour food selection to include several Tapas-style items priced between $6 and $8 dollars. Guests 21 and over can enjoy 2-for-1 drink specials depending on the day:
Sunday: “Sunday Funday” – 2-for-1 Mimosas (available all day)
Looking to spice up your next soiree or corporate event? As a premiere service caterer, diners can bring the 26 Sushi & Tapas experience to any home, office, or event space. The restaurant’s versatile catering menu offers a wide variety of crowd-pleasing options and can accommodate special ordering requests allowing guests to customize menus that make the most of an event and reach budgeting goals. For more information, contact Natalia Suarez at (305) 570-2626 or email her at email@example.com.
26 Sushi & Tapas is located at 9487Harding Avenue in Surfside, FL. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner Sunday through Thursday: 9AM-10:15PM; Friday: 9AM-2:30PM (closed for Shabbat) and Saturday: 9:15PM-11:45PM. Happy Hour is available Sunday through Thursday from 5PM to 9PM. Follow 26 Sushi & Tapas on Instagram: @26Sushi_Tapas and Facebook: @26SushiTapas; Telephone: (305) 570-2626; http://www.26sushitapas.com/
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:
I had the great pleasure of dining at Chops Lobster Bar’s sister property Lobster Sea Grille in Miami Beach this past week. I came to Miami for the purpose of building & solidifying new partnerships with restaurants in the Miami market for our new culinary tours and experiences being presented to our cruise line and destination management partners. Exciting stuff going on, I tell ya! Anyway, I had met Dawn Bryan, So Florida Marketing Manager for the Buckhead Restaurant Group, a couple years ago when I was invited for a tasting at Chops Lobster Bar by Chef Sean (who, by the way, creates stunning masterpieces, both visually and in taste).
On this occasion, I was joined by my product development manager, Annette, and Dawn. The place is gorgeous, inside and out. The restaurant occupies the former China Grill spot, for those who need a familiar landmark. Shortly after being shown to our table, Matt approached and asked if it would be ok if he selected the tastings for us for the evening. After confirming we didn’t have any food allergies or specific dislikes, he was given the go-ahead to surprise us. I always enjoy and prefer the tastings to be done this way, actually. To get the evening started, I began with a lovely glass of Cloudy Bay New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc which paired exceptionally well with the calamari, tuna tartare and quinoa, and jumbo lump crab cake.
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.
Come for the mojitos, stay for the food. That’s my advice for guests at the new Mojito Bar restaurant at Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise, Fla. Renowned Chef Douglas Rodriguez has fused his signature Nuevo Latin Cuisine with the classic Cuban cocktail for a terrific indoor and outdoor dining experience.
Located on the edge of some of Sawgrass Mills’ more popular store, the vibrant and colorful Mojito Bar is an ideal spot for people watching, as well as lunch and dinner.
The experience begins, of course, with the mojitos. Mojito Bar has a deep selection of mojitos, led by the Classic served with DonQ Cristal rum; the robust Coconut mojito features DonQ. Try them each in Mojito Bar’s 24-ounce glass and you might never want to leave. If you’re looking to take the experience up another notch, Mojito Bar serves its namesake cocktails in a souvenir 32-ounce light-up tower glass.
Now on to the food. Start with the Smoked Pineapple Guacamole that has unbelievable flavor thanks mostly to the pineapple that’s smoked for up to eight hours before being served.
“Not your typical guacamole,’’ said Mojito Bar Manager Bar Jose Reigosa.
The Smoked Pineapple Guacamole is just one example of Rodriguez’s menu that also features dishes such as Cuban Sandwich on a Stick, Short Rib Soft Tacos (my favorite), Mojito Shrimp Ceviche and Brazilian Coconut Seafood Casserole.
“Douglas brought us a menu to match who we are,’’ Reigosa said.
It’s a perfect match.
Steve Pike is an award-winning food and travel writer at Spike’s Peek’s: The Art of Travel (www.myspiketravel.com). He lives in Delray Beach, Fla.
Today’s feature takes us back down to Miami, to the uber artsy & trendy Wynwood district specifically for a tasting at RUST Wynwood. Founded by Uruguayan owners Juan Ignacio Fraschini and Julio Wolman, RUST Wynwood is located at 2621 NW 2nd Ave., inside the neighborhood gathering hotspot, Wynwood Block. Executive chef Diego Medina serves globally inspired, sharable dishes and pairs them with a unique wine menu that showcases an exceptional list of emerging brands. RUST’s menu features innovative interpretations on traditional cuisine, many of the items are meant for sharing.
My husband and I ventured there to try their Sunday brunch. To get things started we each ordered a cocktail; I ordered the passion fruit sangria and hubby ordered the peach sangria. Lately I seem to be on a passion fruit kick and this one did not disappoint. They (I couldn’t resist having a second one) went down waaaaaaay too smooth. Didn’t realize the potency until later when I got home and had to take a mid day nap, lol!
Julio, one of the aforementioned owners, was sitting at the table beside us and came over to say hello and share with us some info about himself, the restaurant and made some suggestions on what items to try. One of his suggestions was the Provoleta Benedicta which was an eggs benedict with a Uruguayan twist. Quite unique and very tasty!
Whenever I see octopus on the menu I am inclined to order it. That’s a given, just like truffle…you can be assured that if there’s a truffle dish on the menu, I will order that too. The char on this octopus looked perfect and the dish was presented beautifully. Octopus is one of those dishes that you have to be so precise with when it comes to cooking. It can be the most amazing bite ever when prepared right. But when over cooked, it becomes tough and “rubbery”. I had high hopes for this one but unfortunately it was a bit over cooked and fell into the rubbery zone for me.
Julio had also recommended the Chivito Uriguayo which he claimed was one of the most famous sandwiches known all around the world. It consisted of beef tenderloin, ham, mozzarella cheese, bacon, green olives, roasted bell pepper, boiled eggs, alioli, french fries. Well I have to say that this sandwich did live up to the high expectations that had been set after hearing Julio rave about it!
I’ll be honest here. I must have been feeling the sangrias pretty good by this time because when it came time to ordering the mushroom fries, I must not have read the description and had something a bit different in my mind when this plate arrived at our table. For some reason I thought they were going to be like portabella mushrooms that were treated as fries and not actual fries being served in this dish. The truffled gorgonzola sauce was delicious but something about those mushrooms were very unfamiliar to me and a taste that just didn’t resonate with me, I’m afraid.
This was one of my favorite dishes (this and the Provoleta Benedicta). Tartines are basically oversized bruschettas or open faced sandwiches and the toppings are endless. This one, the mahi mahi was nicely seasoned and pan seared to perfection. It came with capers, aioli, sweet tomatoes, arugula and tossed with a complimenting lemon dressing.
RUST: A hidden gem with 120 seats in an ever-expanding area full of street art and fashion; RUST pays its creative tribute with its rustic mix of worn metals, wood, cork and brick textures that adorn the restaurant.
RUST is located at 2621 NW 2nd Ave., inside Wynwood Block open: Mon – Wed 11AM-12AM; Thu – Fri 11AM-2AM; Sat 10AM-2AM & Sun 10AM-12AM
For more info on RUST, visit their website or call (305) 576 6811.