Just in time for Valentine’s Day, The Setai South Beach created the “Romance Is” Package (available February 1 through November 30) designed to set and keep the mood long beyond Valentine’s Day.

The package starts with a bottle of Taittinger Champagne and Teuscher Chocolate Champagne Truffles upon arrival; a fresh bouquet of roses and The Setai Grand Breakfast daily.

Romance customization includes a five-course candlelight dinner in The Restaurant prepared by Executive Chef David Werly with Champagne Taittinger Rosé; a private Champagne and Caviar tasting lead by Head Sommelier, Dwayne Savoie followed by a gourmet dinner for two;  Couple’s Balinese massages, Pilates and yoga sessions,  a private helicopter tour to take in Miami and the Keys from the sky.  Water lovers can hop on Jet Skis to explore South Beach’s coast. Or, embark on a land tour via a Ferrari F430 Spyder or Mercedes-Benz CLK550.

Rates begin at USD760 per night in an Art Deco Studio Suite and USD1,730 per night in The Tower. Reservations (305) 520 6110 or email setaireservations@ghmamericas.com.

After an extensive renovation Charlotte Bistro chef/owner Elida Villarroel and Chef de Cuisine Andrew Gilbert have launched a moderately-priced small plates menu where classic French dishes meet modern Miami influences. Diners can choose from a selection of small plates and sides ($4-$14) like tender lamb croquettes with a fresh mint sauce, crab risotto with a truffle emulsion; escargots with garlic & parsley; tender duck confit and crispy fried rabbit with mashed potatoes and red-eye gravy. Meatless selections include eggplant timbale, artichoke gratin and green olive and basil soup, amongst many other offerings.

Larger plates ($14-$34), meant to be shared, include locally caught fish of the day, a NY Strip Steak with blue cheese butter and for veggie-lovers, a fresh vegetable paella, showcasing seasonal veggies at their peak. Desserts include Chef Elida's signature chocolate soup, Quesillo Criollo, a rich custard, house-made fresh ice creams, including comfort food classic, caramel bananas.

Every Sunday, from 11AM-4PM,   Sunday afternoons with friends and family at affordable prices include arepitas, mini arepas stuffed with your choice of pernil, tender roasted pork shoulder, or Venezuelan-style black beans with cheese, classic French omelettes, house-made sausages and, for those with a big appetite, juicy carne asada, fresh salmon and the ever-popular steak and eggs.

Charlotte Bistro, 264 Miracle Mile is open for dinner Wednesday from 5:30pm-9:30pm and from 5:30pm-11pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays. Brunch will be served from 11am-4pm every Sunday.  (305) 443-3003 charlottebistro.com

The deadline for registering to enter The Art Institutes Best Teen Chef Competition for high school seniors or The Art Institutes Culinary Scholarship Competition for high school graduates is just a few weeks away on February 3, 2012. For inspiration, prospective competitors can see what past winners have to say about their experiences or on YouTube.   
The winners will earn tuition scholarships - $4,000 for the Best Teen Chef winner and $1,000 for the second place winner in the high school senior category, and $1,500 for the first place winner of the high school graduate category.  In addition, all local Best Teen Chef winners will be entered into a random drawing for a national prize – a trip to New York City for a very special food experience.
To be eligible to enter the competition, entrants must submit a completed Entry & Release Form by February 3, 2012, to The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. Deadline for complete entries into the competition is February 24, 2012. Selected entrants will progress to Local Cook-Off Competitions at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale on April 21, 2012.
To enter The Art Institutes Best Teen Chef Competition for high school seniors and The Art Institutes Culinary Scholarship Competition for high school graduates and to view the competition rules, visit www.artinstitutes.edu/culinary or http://www.multivu.com/players/English/51391-art-institutes-best-teen-chef-and-culinary-competition.

The Betsy-South Beach is offering two classical music salons, with  musicians from Florida International University and University of Miami.

On Thursday, January 19 at 7:15 PM is FIU's Amernet Quartet, and   on Saturday, January 28 at 6 PM is UM artist in residence, Tenor Dennis Petersen singing Schubert, with UM Opera Director, Alan Johnson at the Piano.

These programs are presented free of charge to the public as part of the Philanthropy, Arts, and Culture program at The Betsy, located at 1440 Ocean Drive in South Beach. The Betsy is also home to award-winning chef Laurent Tourondel’s restaurant BLT Steak.

Ruled by the magnificent and formidable fire-spitting  beast, The Year of the Dragon is the most powerful sign in the Chinese zodiac.

And to celebrate the Chinese New Year the Mandarin Oriental Miami has a host of events planned including an elaborate exhibition of Chinese art in the hotel lobby, a private talk and dinner with Chinese Artist Fung Ming Chip on Wednesday, January 25, from 6:30pm to 7:30pm,  festive menus at Café Sambal and an exciting Al Fresco party on the hotel’s private beach.

The cost of a three-course dinner at Café Sambal, paired with wines is USD 75 per person - plus tax and gratuity. The cost of the Al Fresco party on Saturday, January 28,  from 7pm to 10pm., is USD 95 per person in advance or USD 110 at the door, plus tax and gratuity and includes open bar,  festive Chinese delicacies, a majestic dragon dance and artistic demonstrations on the private beach adorned with red and gold lanterns, ornate candles and other traditional Chinese decorations.  There will be a live DJ and a variety of Chinese entertainment plus open bar all night long. All guests will receive a traditional ‘red packet’ filled with wishes of good health and good fortune.

For more information or to make reservations, please call (305) 913 8358Mandarin Oriental, Miami.  500 Brickell Key Drive.

Wednesday, January 11, Starting at 12:15 pm,  The second annual Jazz in the Gables series returns with its lunchtime concerts every Wednesday beginning January 11 beginning with FREE lunchtime music at the Coral Gables Museum Plaza (285 Aragon Ave), through  March 28. 

Trumpet player extraordinaire Troy "Satchmo" Anderson kicks off the concert series performing with his band in a tribute to his idol Louis Armstrong. Lunch from Tropico Restaurant will be available for purchase.  There will be prize drawings every week.

Don't miss next week's performer, Nicole Henry, on Wednesday, January 18.







The 50-seat little bistro Loulou, in the locale Indochine occupied for 8 years,  ensconsed between Tobacco Road and the river Oyster Café,  is offering French-like “formules” or prix fixe meal. 

Every day specials on the formule $15, a 3-course lunch with appetizer, lunch and dessert,  include catch of the day or a meat dish (on the day I went it appetizer was a organic zucchini flan, mains was octopus or branzino over a rich chickpeas , tomatoes and potato casserole or a duck cassoulet , great for this season’s weather, with duck confit, sausages, beans and a lot more, and dessert with either  a fruit salad or a cream or cake).  Among the week’s specials Beef Bourgignon; mussels, Coq au Vin, Couscous and Bouillabaisse.

The owners, partners  Jackes Ardison and Victor Passalacqua, both veterans of the restaurant industry,  are focusing on organic and sustainable produce, fish and meats for their French-inspired menus which lists many French classics such as soupe à l’oignon gratinée, escargots and terrine of foie gras for appetizers, followed by charcuterie and cheese tras, salads, sandwiches such as croque  monsieur and merguez; and mains from Steak Frites and roast chicken to fish and pastas.

Loulou, le petit bistro, is open for lunch and dinner daily and serves late-night tapas. 638 South Miami Avenue, Downtown Miami, 305-379-1404, www.loulou-miami.com

Through December 31, ask your boss to come in to the restaurant, Monday through Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., and receive one free lunch  at Russell's Blue Water Grill in Palm Beach Gardens, an ocean- and farm-to-table eatery  owned by Russell Beverstein and Chef Charles Coe.  Beverages and/or liquor, tax, and gratuity are not included in this free lunch promotion.

Russell's Blue Water Grill serves lunch Monday through Saturday, and dinner nightly.   2450 PGA Boulevard (at the SE corner of Prosperity in the TJ Maxx plaza) in Palm Beach Gardens,   561.318.6344 www.russellsbluewatergrill.com

On the heels of the recently completed $65 million comprehensive revitalization, including a new front entrance, outdoor pool and pavilion, new chef-driven Ironwood Steak and Seafood restaurant and iBAR, as well as enhanced golf courses and landscaping, PGA National Resort & Spa’s executive chef Gordon Maybury is offering a new menu.

The list highlights locally caught Wahoo, crab-stuffed Maine lobster and a raw bar complete with the freshest shellfish and sashimi, alongside high end steaks such as “Tomahawk for Two” – a 32-ounce cross of Waygu and Black Angus beef, dry-aged for 21 days -- cooked at 1,200 degrees in its state-of-the-art Vulcan 1200 broiler.

“My vision with the new menu for Ironwood Steak and Seafood is to create a modern American steakhouse using the finest quality ingredients from local Florida farms, day-boat fishermen and the best cattle ranches in the country," said chef Maybury

Ironwood Steak and Seafood’s floor-to-ceiling wine room with over 1,000 bottles of the best vintages nationally and internationally will also cellar wines produced by PGA TOUR golf legends Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Ernie Els, Nick Faldo and Luke Donald. “While we’re best known as one of the world’s finest golf destinations,” declared Joel Paige, Vice President and Managing Director, “our superb cuisine, array of wines and unparalleled customer service put us on the map as a culinary destination.”

For more information about PGA National visit www.pgaresort.com or call (800) 533.9386.

Through December 31st the Memphis-style High Steaks BBQ offers a buy one platter, get another one for 50% off deal from a menu of BBQ’d and grilled beef, chicken, pork and shrimp platters like jerked-around half chicken ($12); baby back ribs ($20 full rack/$14 half rack); and the house favorite, Memphis style ribs, ($20 full rack/$14 half rack) served with hush puppies and a choice of French fries & slaw, or red beans and rice. The menu lists appetizers — Jalapeño Cheddar Hush Puppies ($5); BBQ Pork Sliders ($7); and Johnnie Be Good Chili ($5 cup/$7 bowl)— salads, soups and sandwiches.

High Steaks BBQ is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. 57 NW 37th Avenue, Miami, FL 33125, just two miles south of Miami International Airport.   305.642.7447 www.highsteaksbbq.com.

Turnberry Isle Miami, is teaming with Holtz Children’s Hospital at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center to create two large gingerbread houses made with Executive Pastry Chef Danny Malone. One will be on display on Thursday, December 1, 10 a.m. to noon at Jackson Memorial Hospital ( ACC West Building, Fifth Floor Lobby, 1611 N.W. 12th Avenue,  Miami, Florida 33136) and the other in the chic Lobby Lounge at the 300-acre Turnberry Isle Miami, (19999 West Country Club Drive,Aventura, Florida  33180 (786) 279-6521 www.turnberryislemiami.com)

Throughout the month of December, festive holiday events and toy drives will take place at Turnberry Isle Miami to help benefit Holtz Children’s Hospital.   For more details, call (786) 279-6521 or email rpinzur@turnberryislemiami.com
In addition to their Prime steaks, Morton's The Steakhouse in Coral Gables, Brickell and North Miami Beach serve prix fixe lunch on December 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21 and 22 starting 11:30 a.m.  , "Prime Lunch Selections", for $35 per person, which includes a cup of soup or salad (Lobster Bisque, Baked Five Onion Soup, Morton's Salad or Caesar Salad) and choice of an entree (Filet Mignon, Broiled Salmon or Chicken Christopher).
Every Monday is Mediterranean Monday at Anise Taverna, from 7.30pm.  In the waterfront cafe, owners Liza and Gigi Meoli offer a culinary journey to different regions of the Mediterranean including Morocco, Southern France, Greece & the Islands, Lebanon, Sicily & Sardinia. The format: a 5-course dinner with wine pairings and entertainment.   Anise Taverna, 620 NE 78th Street, Miami, FL 33138 305-758-2929, www.anisetaverna.com Cost : $ 55 p/p

During the November 2011, Bâoli-Vita will offer a three-course dinner menu including a glass of champagne for just $35. Chef de Cuisine Marc Debas has created a menu  Salade de Magrets Fumes | Smoked Duck Breast Salad or Tarte Au Chevre Chaud | Warm Goat Cheese Tart followed by Ricotta Cavatelli with Creamy Pesto Sauce,  Red Mullet Provencale,  Strip Steak & Fries and for dessert: Raspberry Mousse  abd Banana Pound Cake with banana ice cream, chocolate sauce. Bâoli-Vita Restaurant & Lounge,  1906 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach 305.674.8822 www.baoli-group.com

The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co., at 1119 5th St., (5th and Alton)  Miami Beach is offering a free menu for children under 12, Monday - Friday,  with the purchase of any $5 menu item.

The children's menu includes a choice of bagel and spread; egg & cheese bagel sandwich; Tuna Salad Bagelwich; Pizza melt and fruit salad. Brookly Water Bagels is open daily from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. www.brooklynwaterbagels.com 305-674-7425

 Elegant yet casual with warm wood, brick and pearl, The Grill at The Setai will offer a menu of small plates prepared by Michelin-star  Executive Chef David Werly and his team. Seasonal dishes such as octopus carpaccio, Florida prawn tempura with baby gem lettuce; homemade pappardelle with cervena venison ragout & Javanese black pepper; Pata Negra and tomato confit with garlic chips and squid ink sauce,  apple tarte tatin with crème fraîche & vanilla ice cream, will be served tapas-style ($12 to $65)  
On Thursday evenings, guests will be treated with live Thursday Night Jazz and a complimentary glass of Taittinger Champagne in The Courtyard.
The Grill at The Setai is open Wednesday through Sunday from 7pm to 11pm and midnight on the weekends. 2001 Collins Avenue on South Beach. (305) 520-6400  www.setai.com.  

As the opening of The Dutch draws closer, chef-partner Andrew Carmellini has appointed Joshua Gripper as pastry chef.

A native New Yorker, Gripper jump-started his career as a child baking for his family in Jamaica, Queens. A graduate of the Art Institute of New York City (formerly the New York Restaurant School), he brushed his skills at Michelin two-star restaurant Oustau de Baumannière in Provence, and went on to Cafe Boulud where he joined Andrew Carmellini, then chef de cuisine, and his pastry chef, Eric Bertoia. He has most recently worked at Gotham Steak, Miami.

The Dutch is slated to open this November at the W South Beach Hotel & Residences, 2201 Collins Avenue at 22nd Street. (305) 938-3111 . www.thedutchmiami.com


Mario Tolentino has been named chef de cuisine at the BLT Steak at The Betsy-South Beach, replacing chef Sam Gorenstein. Tolentino (32), a San Francisco native and graduate of the California Culinary Academy was a recent winner on the Food Network’s Chopped and was the executive chef at Juliet Supperclub in New York.

BLT Steak in the lobby of The Betsy at 1440 Ocean Drive, South Beach.    (305) 673-0044; www.thebetsyhotel.com/dining/blt-steak.

In keeping with Chef Daniel Boulud’s tradition of seasonal dishes  db Bistro Moderne is now offering The Fall Brunch Menu, a three course prix-fixe for $35,  with French/American brunch favorites, such as Eggs Florentine, Belgian Waffles and Croque Madame. A varied selection of fruits de mer is also available.

With four different types of Moules Frites Sunday Mussel Pot/ Les Moules du Dimanche (Sundays from 6pm to 11pm) is a three course Mussel Pot menu available on Sundays only from  6 to 11 pm for $35 per person.

The Happy Hour Menu (Monday – Friday 5 to 8pm) offers a tasty list of cocktails and spirits to enjoy after work all week long at half price, with   bar bites, including Tarte Fine Provençale, Garlic Pommes Frites, Charcuterie plate  and Raw Bar, among others.

Db Bistro Moderne inside the JW Marriott Marquis Miami, 255 Biscayne Blvd Way,  Downtown Miami,  (305) 421-8800 ·

On Tuesday, October 25th at 7 pm celebrity wedding planner James Tramondo of Style Network’s “Whose Wedding is It Anyway?” is hosting a Bridal Tea Party at  ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa where he and other wedding planners will shower their advice from tips on selecting reliable suppliers to recommendations on design and decoration and help brides-to-be organize their wedding.

At the event, ONE Bal Harbour will unveil its waterfront private dining room and will offer a guided tour of their facilities, including the luxurious Penthouse Suite.

The attendees of the "Bridal Tea Party" will feast on exotic teas and cakes and confection by "Elegant Temptations," they will also receive a bag of wedding gifts sponsored by Bloomingdale's and the chance to enter a drawing to win a night’s stay at ONE Bal Harbour.

The event cost $45 per bride and includes one guest. To register:   http://bit.ly/bridaltea or contact  Alice Villar, Director of Catering 305 455 5464 avillar@oneluxuryhotels.com ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa, 10295 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour Village, FL 33154


From October 20, you can experience dining in the dark at several Miami Beach restaurants where guests will either don masks or will dine in a dark room, like at Escopazzo,on Thursday October 21, 7:30 p.m (click here for menu and information).  Facilitators from LightHouse for the Blind will train dining staff on how to comfortably and safely accommodate visually impaired diners.

Lights Out Miami Beach — a simulation that teaches people what it's like to experience the tastes, the sounds and the energy of a great restaurant without ever seeing it. — is part of the weeklong Ability Explosion series of special events held in Miami Beach designed to increase awareness about disability.  

To find out about the restaurants prix fixe meals with menus, prices, and seating times:   http://www.abilityexplosion.org/ash/lights-out-miami-beach/

Food & Wine Talk Radio

Achile Sassoli, Director of Gelato World Tour
and Gelato Artisans:
James Coleridge, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Abdelrahman Al Teneji, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Matthew Lee, Austin, Texas
Ahmed Abdullatif, Kingdom of Bahrain
Stefano Versace, Miami, Florida
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The House of Mandela Wines from South Africa


Chef Scott Conant: Scarpetta


Mark Schatzker, author of The Dorito Effect, The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor


Elizabeth Minchilli, author of  Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City.  


James Beard Award-winning wine journalist Lyn Farmer on: Garnacha from Carinena; the next great wine


Cindy Hutson,chef/owner, Ortanique and Zest, author of From the Tip of My Tongue


Lidia Batianich, celebrity chef, TV host, author and restaurateur 






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