Alyssa Schwartz is a freelance news and features writer
at CTV.ca. She visits Miami regularly and can't decide
whether it's the warm temperatures, the ocean or the
amazing food that keeps her coming back. Alyssa writes...
you haven't been to Miami lately, you might think
it's the place that fans of the early-bird special,
bingo halls and flea markets go on their vacations.
On the other hand, readers of fashion and style
magazines might be under the impression Miami
is an inaccessible hipster haven, where only those
in the barest of outfits with abbreviated J. Lo
or P. Diddy names to match make it past the velvet
ropes of the hot spots du jour.
those generalities aside, ladies! Over the past
few years, Miami has carved its niche as a hot
spot of a different kind -- a foodie's paradise,
where food lovers of all ages congregate and enjoy.
In fact, this South Florida destination has become
the best place to go to sample innovative cuisine
with restaurants as unique and stylish as any
you'll find in New York or San Francisco.
pioneering group of chefs, who dubbed themselves
the "Mango Gang," have placed South
Florida on the food map by blending influences
from Central America to those of the southern
USA and then added a twist of Asian flavour. The
year-round availability of the freshest of produce
as well as fish and seafood right off the hook
have all come together to surpass Florida's reputation
as the land of the early bird. Add the openings
of outposts of New York City hot spots Nobu
and China Grill
to the mix and Journeywoman foodies have all the
ingredients for an epicurean experience.
the most notable restaurants is Mark's
South Beach (1120 Collins Ave. 305-604-9050).
True to the "Mango" credo, much of the
menu draws from local flavours and fresh seafood
-- appetizers like scallops with preserved lemon,
asparagus and clam risotto or a soup featuring
grilled shrimp and mussels with kafir lime, chilies,
coconut milk and shiitake mushrooms are unique.
Mains take a similar approach: Salmon is slow
roasted in horseradish and served with a beet
vinaigrette and lobster is complemented by roasted
corn and conch Creole sauce. Salad lovers will
appreciate their Belgian endive Caesar salad with
Roquefort; pasta aficionados savour the chestnut
pasta lasagnette with homemade ricotta and wild
mushrooms. Save this spot for a special treat.
Appetizers start at $8 and mains from $24.
(600 Lincoln Rd. 305-673-5337) also draws
from different regions to form a unique hybrid
menu. Inspired by the Samba Dromo in Rio de Janeiro,
this food brings together elements of Japanese,
Brazilian and Peruvian cooking while the decor
is a fusion of Latin American colours, sleek lines
and Japanese earth tones. Surprisingly, both the
design and the food strike a wonderful balance
between elements of the two vastly different cultures.
Japanese standbys such as miso soup, tempura and
sushi, or try some of SushiSamba's signature dishes.
Sashimi Seviche and Samba rolls are among those
that fuse together the South American and Japanese
styles. The El Topo roll, for example, is raw
salmon, crispy onion, jalapeno, shiso leaf and
melted fresh mozzarella. Their spicy tuna handrolls
are the best I've tasted (and I consider myself
a spicy tuna aficionado). Other sushi rolls feature
lobster tempura and spicy coconut curry sauce
and another that combines eel, red pepper, mango
and avocado. Certainly not options you'd find
at most sushi bars. Visit their website to find
(809 Lincoln Rd. 305-538-0058) features a variety
of sandwiches, from the Caprese, fresh mozzarella,
tomatoes and basil dressed with olive oil and
balsamic vinegar, to grilled vegetable or chicken
fillings. The ingredients and choice of fresh-baked
breads aside, Paninoteca is a great place for
a light lunch or dinner because of its location.
A tiny outlet with a handful of umbrella-shaded
is smack dab in the middle of Miami's trendiest
pedestrian area -- a perfect perch for people
lovers should be prepared for long waits at
Joe's Stone Crab (11 Washington
Ave. 305-673-0365). Tourists and locals alike
brave the two-hour-plus lineups for large portions
of fresh seafood. If you're too hungry to dawdle,
try Joe's takeout, and eat your goodies on the
beach. Just make sure to bring an order of their
signature key lime pie with you. And if you absolutely
love it, and want to bake one when you're back
home, check out the recipe at: www.joesstonecrab.com/recipes/keylime.html.
Building your appetite and more...