Craft Cool

There’s no question that artisanal beers and spirits are taking center stage – just look at the new names in craft breweries and distilleries in South Florida in recent months, including J. Wakefield Brewing and Concrete Beach Brewery in Wynwood and Alchemist Distillery, to name a few. And the revival in handcrafted whiskies, rye, vodka, rum, even bitters – all the components of fine cocktails – reaches across the globe. CRAFT: Spirits and Beer returns Jan. 30-31 at the Fillmore, Miami Beach, offering opportunities for both the trade (Fri.) and the public (Sat.) to taste, network and learn about the latest.

“Industry predictions show an upswing for new-on-the-scene producers of vermouth from Spain and the United States as well as an increase in agave-based spirits,” says CRAFT founder Jennifer Massolo, one of South Florida’s cocktail program gurus. The trade part of the event also tackles practical matters for those in the biz, like finding the right distributor and understanding state beverage laws.

Consumers and the trade alike can get a taste of the challenges of aging and barrel management with noted 37-year Master Scotch Whisky Distiller Mike Nicholson Friday night at J. Wakefield Brewing 120 NW 24th St in … Read More

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Corsair / Scott Conant

Chopped judge, TV personality and the man behind plenty of the country’s top restaurants, Scott Conant, is back in South Florida with his newest concept, Corsair, inside Aventura’s Turnberry Isle Hotel. Chat Chow TV sat down with the charming chef to learn more about Corsair, its inspiration and what rituals he has for his restaurants.

The welcoming restaurant located close to the property’s massive golf course plays off its maritime-inspired name with a warm palate and interior tones designed by popular designer Meyer Davis.

“It’s a celebration of sorts of this area,” Conant adds about the design.

The restaurant serves a blend of Mediterranean and local flavors to create its unique spins on dishes like a deconstructed lasagna, polenta waffles and porcini braised veal. For the beverage program he enlisted California’s Rob Floyd who has set up bar programs for the SLS in Hollywood, CA and several of Conant’s restaurants.

As for his other popular restaurant on Miami Beach, Scarpetta, that has produced some of Miami’s top chefs including Macchialina’s Mike Pirolo and Top Chef’s Nina Compton, he says they are all good friends still and enjoy getting in the kitchen together.

“It’s nice to know we can … Read More

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Girl Scout Cookies 2015: Digital, Vegan, GF, Cocktails

Girl Scout Cookie season gets underway in South Florida this month. In Miami-Dade and the Keys (Girl Scout Council of Tropical Florida), sales run Jan. 13-Feb. 16, while in Broward, Palm Beach and points north (Girl Scout Council of Southeast Florida), the sales begin Jan. 22 and end Feb. 15.

Those scouts are smart cookies indeed. They’re right on top of the latest marketing and food trends to make the most of their tasty annual fundraising project:

  • Digital: “We launched Digital Cookie this year, which allows people to order their cookies online,” says Ansley Ross, director of development and communications, Girl Scout Council of Tropical Florida. Door-to-door sales aren’t going away, but the online sales aspect lets customers order online, pay by credit card, and either have their cookies delivered by a scout, or shipped for a fee. So if you know a Girl Scout, tell her you’re interested in becoming a Digital Cookie customer and she will take it from there. Don’t know a Girl Scout selling cookies? Find a Cookie Boss here or use the Cookie Locator app.
  • Vegan: Thin Mints are now vegan! The chocolatey, minty favorites that aficionados stockpile and freeze have been revamped based on
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Cultural Holidays

If shopping, shopping and more shopping is your idea of holiday fun, then read no farther. But if you’re interested in making the best of your year-end time with family members and visitors from out of town at some of South Florida’s fine year-end cultural and outdoors programs, here are some outstanding experiences:

Under the Kampong Moon

This exquisite garden and home of plant explorer David Fairchild in Coconut Grove honors its roots with a program showcasing Indonesian culture, certainly less known than others in diverse South Florida. From Mon., Dec. 29 through Sat., Jan. 3 (excluding New Year’s Eve), Under the Kampong Moon will feature Balinese music, dance and shadow puppetry under the direction of Dr. Andy McGraw of the University of Richmond and Balinese master artists Gusti Sudarta. The tranquil bayside setting of The Kampong is an idyllic backdrop for the soothing sounds of the gamelan orchestra. Guests can buy light bites form South Florida’s Krakatoa Indonesian Cuisine:

  • Sate Ayam: Indonesian chicken skewer with peanut sauce
  • Lontong Gulai kambing: Indonesian curry lamb with rice cake
  • Rendang Sapi: Beef Rendang with rice cake
  • Martabak Mini: Indonesian mini pancake with chocolate sprinkle
  • Pisang Goreng: Indonesian fried banana

The gates … Read More

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Local Love: Orchid, Garden & Gourmet Food Festival

Gorgeous orchids and tropical plants, fresh-from-the-farm produce, a charming setting, food trucks and Bloody Marys – now, there’s a recipe for a perfect South Florida event! Fort Lauderdale’s delightful Bonnet House hosts its annual festival this weekend, Dec. 6-7, in an idyllic setting. It’s the perfect place to stroll around and find local gifts, including plants and garden-related art and wares; take in cooking demos; stock up on local produce and herbs; and take a self-guided tour of the grounds and house, created in 1920 by Chicago-born artist Frederic Clay Bartlett and his second wife, Helen Louise Birch. Her father was prominent attorney, real estate investor and naturalist Hugh Taylor Birch, who donated the land for what is now Birch State Park.

The festival includes:

  • Orchid displays from vendors including David Orchid Society, Plantation Orchid Society and Sunrise Orchid Society, and plants from more than 40 vendors, including tropicals, fruit trees, bamboo and butterfly garden plants, plus garden supplies.
  • Food trucks including Flour Power, Cubarrican Latin Cuisine, Asian Fusion, Ken’s Weenie Wagon, Crazy About Chew and Legends BBQ.
  • Lectures on orchid care: Saturday – 10:30 Intro to Orchids,  2:00 Basic Orchid Repotting; Sunday – 10:30 Intro to Orchids, 2:00
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Threefold Cafe / Teresa Sharp

Threefold Cafe, Coral Gables’ newest all-day breakfast spot, serves up a unique combination of Australian dishes with a Florida twist. Opened this Summer by two Melbourne transplants, Teresa and Nick Sharp, they offers diners a taste of their native Australia dining philosophy with fresh local food. Chat Chow TV sat down Teresa to find out more about the restaurant, its extensive coffee offerings and some of the restaurant’s top dishes.

The pair relocated to Coral Gables after Nick was transferred for work. Missing Melbourne’s “off the charts” coffee the duo decided to open Threefold Cafe. All the coffee is sourced locally from Panther Coffee with all the baristas professional trained on-site by their coffee “Yoda” from Panther Coffee.

The menu encompasses their love of breakfast featuring dishes made with plenty of free range eggs, Zak the Baker bread and lots of creativity. Some top sellers according to Teresa are the “Pope Benedict” served on top of hash browns instead of English muffins; the “Smashed Avocado” bread and the “Not So French Toast” — a savory take on a classic breakfast dish.

Curious what lunch offerings Threefold offers? Or where they source their products … Read More

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Basel Like a Boss

No matter the criticism leveled at this annual art extravaganza, Miami never sparkles more brightly than it does during Art Basel and the satellite art fairs. Pop-ups spring into play, new hotels and restaurants are kickstarted into action, the nonstop party cycle has already gotten underway and, perhaps most welcome of all, southbound Alton Road between 17th and 8th streets has been reopened.

What’s new and noteworthy on the dining and drinking scene over the next week? Here are highlights for events taking place from Mon., Dec. 1 through Sun., Dec. 7:

  • Gospel and Falafel! Who knew that Zak (the Baker) Stern, of rustic loaves and smoked whitefish, sang with a gospel group in school? His love of that jubilant, soulful genre led coming up with a spirited mashup of live music paired with fresh falafel, pita, chips, bourekas, a house pickle bar and rugelach, from 8pm-midnight. The bakery’s minimalist interior and exterior stands out among Wynwood’s psychedelic visual cacophany; the music and food, Zak figures, is art aplenty.
    Here’s the schedule:
  •    Tues.: Minister Desmond T. Jackson & Sovereign Ministries
  •    Wed.: Minister Desmond T. Jackson & Sovereign Ministries
  •    Thur.: Betty Padgett & Band
  •    Fri.: PenTab Miami Mass Choir
  • Chef
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Monday Night Live at the Arsht

How about a little live music with your produce shopping under the stars – or a drive-in movie? Some weeknight farmers markets in South Florida are setting up shop later in the day, around 4pm, and making entertainment part of the mix. Compared to the busy weekend markets, the weeknight spots offer a cooler, less hectic experience for shoppers on their way home from work to stock up on local produce and artisan fare, plus get added value of music, demos and movies under the stars. The Oakland Park Happy Hour farmers market, now on Wednesdays at Jaco Pastorius Park, features a monthly farm-to-chef showcase plus a deejay and a beer and wine garden. In Coconut Grove, in the playhouse parking lot, the Grove Green Market – slated to reopen in December – invites shoppers to buy their local fruits and vegetables and prepared foods, then catch a movie at the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In. And the latest weeknight market-plus offering is the Monday night farmers market debuting Dec. 1 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami.

Now starring at the Arsht Center!

The market will feature lots of local products, says Claire Tomlin of The Market … Read More

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Signs of the Season

Just as snow blanketing fields in a monochrome corduroy signals the start of winter up north, bursts of bright green rows mean growing season is well underway in South Florida. Early crops – Asian greens, French breakfast radishes, cucumbers, green beans – are already in the farmers markets, while strawberries and tomatoes take in the November sun, working on their size and sweetness.

There are other signs of the season in Homestead and the Redland. Robert Is Here – the sprawling produce stand at the crossroads leading to Everglades National Park – is a fixture for locals and tourists, famed for their fruit shakes as much as their local fruits and vegetables and fresh-from-Florida products, including jams, jellies, honey, sauces, condiments and baked goods. Robert himself – who started selling cucumbers from this spot when he was 6 – is holding court with regulars. They’re talking about the qualities of the guanabana (grown in Key Largo) and the size of the pommelos (massive). In the rear, Robert’s son Brandon is coordinating a shipment of sweet Mysore bananas piled in the back of a battered pickup. Other family members are making tubs of guacamole. There’s already a line at the shake … Read More

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Turkey Talk

Consider your Thanksgiving turkey. Fresh? Frozen? Brined? Dry-rub? Kosher? Stuffing? Dressing? Cooked breast-down? Deep-fried? Grilled?

None of those decisions, though, are as important as choosing the turkey itself. Is it a commercial turkey bred to be broad-breasted, so fattened up it has trouble walking, but very affordable? Or is it a pastured organic turkey that has never been fed hormones, antibiotics and growth promoters, foraging and feeding on actual grain?

Above: Pastured turkeys at Twin Oaks Farm, Bonifay

For organic farmer Renee Savary, there’s no question. The taste of her turkeys … “well, there’s nothing to compare it to,” she says. “They’re juicy, flavorful but not gamy, the meat is dense and doesn’t dry out. Even the leftovers are juicy.”

Savary raises turkeys, ducks and chickens on Twin Oaks Farm in Bonifay in the Florida Panhandle, roughly midway between Tallahassee and Pensacola. She sells her organic produce, eggs, honey and preserves at farmers markets in north Florida and online. She’s now bringing her goods – and her turkeys – to Yellow Green Farmers Market in Hollywood.

While Savary has had her working farm since 2008, it’s taken a few years for her to figure out how to raise turkeys. “They’re … Read More

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