Toscana Divino’s Mauro Bortignon Receives Keys To The City

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Toscana Divino’s General Manager Mauro Bortignon was honored Friday evening July 24, 2015 in Brickell.  Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado presented Bortignon with a “Key to the City” in a lively celebration attended by friends, patrons, and other distinguished members of the community. The Mayor thanked Mr. Bortignon for his contributions to the culinary ecosystem of the city and for being an important part of the renaissance of Brickell and Downtown.

“I am sincerely honored to receive a Key to the City on behalf of Toscana Divino and the Italian-American community here in Miami,” said Mr. Bortignon, “This is really a recognition to the rich culinary and viticultural contribution that Italian-Americans have made since the mid 1700’s when the first Italian vintners arrived in Florida. The opportunity to promote the unique culinary traditions of Italy in the midst of the spectacular transformation of Miami’s Brickell-Downtown area is both humbling and exciting for me, my partners Stefano and Tommaso, and the entire Toscana Divino team,” continued Mr. Bortignon.

Demonstratively touched, Mr. Bortignon highlighted that he was specially moved by the attendance to the event of our longtime patrons and friends Chelin and Alfredo Duran. “Their presence is not only a celebration of our friendship but it is also symbolic of the strong community bond Toscana Divino has forged since opening its doors in 2012,” he added.

Toscana Divino was built in partnership with the Consortium of Italian Business, Wine and Fashion in Florence, Italy, with the intention of promoting Tuscan cuisine and products in Miami. The restaurant is owned and managed by native Italians and restaurant industry veterans Stefano Cavinato, Tommaso Morelato, and Mr. Bortignon. When asked to comment on what it meant for a member of the Toscana Divino team to receive a Key to the City, Mr. Cavinato said: “Mauro really embodies the passion of Italian cuisine and culture and he brings it alive in the restaurant. The city’s acknowledgment is really an honor to all of us.”

In the same spirit, his partner, Mr. Morelato underscored that Mr. Bortignon was the perfect cultural ambassador for everything Italian. “Before joining our team,” he said, “Mauro spent several years in New York working for famous Italian chef Mario Batali. Here in Miami, he spent 6 years working for the iconic and world-renown Casa Tua. We are really proud to have him as part of our team.”

When describing the Toscana Divino experience, Mr. Bortignon states that: “We want our patrons to feel they are entering a world that is thoroughly Tuscan, but also thoroughly contemporary. We are creating a link between the Tuscan region and the Miami area, thereby building a bridge between our two cultures.”

About Toscana Divino

Since opening its doors in 2012, Toscana Divino, recently voted the best restaurant in Brickell by the Miami New Times, is known for presenting both the most contemporary and traditional Tuscan and Italian cuisine, including the world-famous Fiorentina steak. Toscana Divino’s menu, draws its inspiration from classic dishes found throughout Tuscany featuring pastas made fresh in house, fresh seasonal ingredients from local markets or directly imported from Italy.  Toscana Divino continues to inspire unprecedented praise and rave reviews from such publications as the Miami Herald, Thrillist, Zagat, Miami. Toscana Divino is located 900 S. Miami Ave, Miami, FL in Mary Brickell Village.   For additional information, visit www.toscanadivino.com.

Aria Hotel Prague Video Review

Originally appeared on Hedonist Shedonist 

Staying at the Aria Hotel Prague was one of the highlights of my phenomenal trip. The hotel is sumptuous, cozy and ingrained with love and music. The staff is warm, the location is perfect, and the restaurant stimulated all of my senses. If you are looking for the best hotel to stay in Prague, the Aria Hotel will easily exceed your lofty expectations. Check out the Aria Hotel Prague video review below.

New Taxi App, ZabCab, Announces National Rollout Starting in Miami

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ZabCab (TM), a free new mobile app that connects passengers to licensed taxi drivers with a tap on their smartphone. The app makes grabbing a cab in Miami simple.  Users are only required to download the app, enter their first name and add their email address.  No lengthy profile or credit card required.

ZabCab aims to alleviate the hassle of getting a registered taxi in Miami by using your smart phone’s GPS technology to connect passengers to licensed taxi drivers within a short radius. Taxi drivers using ZabCab will reduce time spent searching for passengers and in turn, will maximize earning potential. After its inaugural launch in Miami, ZabCab will be announcing service in three major metropolitan cities over the next 90 days.

For more information, visit zabcab.com or contact:

THR33FOLD

Jamie Santucci

jamie@thr33fold.com

Posted in News   

Coda Restaurant Prague Review

My favorite places to dine always involve a chef that has an acute love for healthy, organic ingredients raised by small farms with oodles of affection. Chef David Šašek at the Coda Restaurant Prague represents the quintessence of this. Coda is located in the resplendent Aria Hotel, which boasts a classical music theme permeating throughout the property. The hotel is located on the northern side of the Charles Bridge by Prague Castle. The splendid cuisine, devotion towards ingredients, marvelous art & architecture, as well as the live pianist, created a symphonic ambiance for all of my senses. Check out the video review.

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Full review and photos available on Hedonist Shedonist.

Groove Cruise Miami is a Transcendent Journey

An excerpt from Hedonist Shedonist, the full article link is here.

I have traveled the world and experienced countless euphoric wonders, but few of them have managed to even graze “just the tip” of the majesty of the Groove Cruise. Even when you strip away the electrifying DJs, non-stop 96-hour party, breathtaking Bahamas beach, unobstructed views of sunrises and sunsets along the amazing ship, there is still so much more to the Groove Cruise. There is a special magic sauce erupting like a geyser from the ship —  it was flowing from the people, better known as the Groove Cruise Family, or #gcfam.

Picture over 2,700 people more amped up for this trip than they have been for anything else all year. This family is here to smile, hug, love, party and have the most epic time of their lives. With an 80% retention rate, these people are more than friends, they are family — and they likely have been grooving and cruising together for many years.  We were virgins, yet instantly felt like part of the fam’.  There are no cliques on board, just open arms. People have such a phenomenal time that they book next year’s Groove Cruise before they have even gotten off this year’s cruise!

I have been to many festivals and raves (Ultras, EDC, Life In Color, Bonnaroo, Phish Festivals….), yet the intoxicating vortex of energy swirling around the ship from the attendees was unlike anything I have ever experienced.  Not only were the people fun, adventurous, sweet and loving, but they were also good-hearted.  This is a trip where five iPhones and a diamond cartier watch were lost and instead of being pocketed by attendees, they were turned in to the ship’s Lost and Found.

Besides the people, the costumes were our favorite part of the Groove Cruise. The costumes were as prolific as an end-of-the-world gay party. People really GET INTO THEIR COSTUMES that range from the hilarious and debaucherous to the interactive and nostalgic. There are six different theme parties during the journey….

Article continues on Hedonist Shedonist…..

 

Pictures of Life in Color

Life In Color returned to Miami this past weekend and it was yet again an epic event. The World’s Largest Paint Party took over Sun Life Stadium right after Christmas as a kick ass present to the EDM fans of South Florida. Unlike Ultra where you are packed into a venue like sweaty sardines, Life in Color had a huge swath of land to roam around in. There were two mammoth stages packed with some of the best DJ’s in the world.

Our favorites were Diplo and Kaskade who put on insane shows. There was paint being sprayed from the stages so the revelers could get as wet and sticky as they wanted, but there were also safe zones for those who did not want to get drenched in paint. The vibe, people, music and fx were incredible and we can not wait until Life in Color returns next year.

Photos courtesy of Life in Color 

Full Coverage on Hedonist Shedonist 

Aventura Dance Cruise Ignites Your Latin Dancing Spirit

As originally appeared on Hedonist Shedonist

Picture this: the sounds of Latin music permeating the entryways as you approach a massive 855-foot long vessel. Light-footed aficionados swirl in tandem with international flags whirling in the wind. As you stroll along starboard and gaze upon the expanse of sea, you feel an unbridled excitement bubbling inside and all around you. At this moment, you feel the keen awareness that it’s going to be an epic time. Don’t believe us? Just click the video below.>

After a few hours, however, you realize what an understatement that truly was,  because we had a freaking blast on this years edition of the Aventura Dance Cruise (ADC). The 7th annual Aventura Dance Cruise chartered the entire Carnival Ecstasy cruise ship, so every person on board was there for the same reason — a love for Latin dance, its music and its culture. Each person on board signed up to be utterly immersed in salsa, bachata, kizomba, merengue and any other latin dance you can dream of.  No matter you interest or skill-level, what resulted was a sort of kinship that had over 2,400 people dancing, drinking and singing on every inch of the ship until the wee hours of the night.

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The festivities were opened and closed by one of Latin music’s most influential vocalists and living legend José “El Canario” Alberto, who rocked the ship with two performances that brought back a tidal wave of beautiful nostalgic memories.
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We hung out with El Canario and his entourage during the private ADC party on a Bahamas beach. All of the artists were very approachable and took time to hang out with all their fans.
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Pictures of Casa Elyx Art Basel Party

The newly opened Miami Beach EDITION hotel by Ian Schrager is your sequel to the Delano Miami Beach. It’s no wonder why Viet N’Guyen chose this location for a private pop-up club to showcase Absolut Elyx.

Casa Elyx, a pop-up party in the penthouse of The EDITION, featured cocktails by John Lermayer that were served in a heavy copper pineapple, a swimming pool, ocean views, live music and a hidden speakeasy.

Jonas Tahlin, Chief Executive Officer for Absolut Elyx was present to greet guests and answer questions about the luxury vodka. The Miami Beach EDITION Hotel will surely be the new hangout for South Florida travelers and Casa Elyx did an amazing job hosting vacationers and locals by providing an relaxing escape from the Art Basel frenzy.

Pictures of the VH1 Scope Party

VH1 + SCOPE collaborated for the third time this year to once again present its fused platform of art and music. The VIP only private event featured live performances by platinum, award-winning, Danish singer-songwriter NABIHA and American hip-hop recording artist and producer, Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean.

Guests also experienced an immersive art installation by the artist and calligrapher, Aerosyn-Lex Mestrovic. Mestrovic exhibited his hand-painted art work onto hundreds of feet of Japanese synthetic paper, which positioned the installation as the longest continuous painting shown at this year’s Art Basel event.

Photographs Courtesy of Hedonist Shedonist

 

 

 

 

Pictures of Hardwell Concert in Miami

Photo credit: Pedro Alvarez of Hedonist Shedonist

The most popular DJ in the world tore up the stage in Miami in front of thousands of screaming and fawning fans.  Hardwell has been the world’s #1 DJ according to DJ Magazine‘s Top 100 DJs poll in both 2014 and 2013 and he proved it on stage. He was at Bayfront Park for his I am Hardwell Tour and put on a phenomenal show with enchanting and hypnotic lights and a sound system that blew people away. Beautiful people in amazing costumes were on full display dancing all night.Enjoy the pictures of the Hardwell concert and the attendees below.

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Grovetoberfest 2014 Photographs and Recap

The epic Grovetoberfest, the “most scenic beer festival in the world”, returned for the fourth time to Coconut Grove and served over 300 great beers from across the world.  Over 7,000 beer enthusiasts showed up to pound some brewskis, eat some food, dance, smile and laugh. Grovetoberfest is all about the craft beer and has a strong focus on the local craft beer scene. Some of Miami’s top chefs like Chef Todd Haven and Chef Giorgio Rapacavoli rocked the Kitchen Lab, where they demonstrated gourmet cooking with craft beer. Beer Tasting 101 was hosted by FIU’s Beer Academy and taught newbies the basics of craft beer tasting. People were also dancing to the live music all day long. Grovetoberfest is always a blast and if you missed it we feel sorry for you. Fear not though, because Sprung Beer Festival  is right around the corner in March!

Photos by Hedonist Shedonist

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Seed Wine and Food Festival Photographs and Recap

Miami pushed aside its addiction to Cuban food to exuberantly welcome the first annual Seed Food & Wine Festival.  It was a five day Vegan immersion focusing on healthy and delicious plant-based foods. The festival itself was held for one day in a giant tent, normally reserved for Art Basel shows. The tent was packed with vendors and attendees. The fest was glorious with scrumptious food, sweets, ice cream, juices, sauces, books, education, celebrities and beautiful people. The energy at the event was so amazing and we were thrilled to be a part of it. We can not wait for the second annual Seed Fest.

Photos by Hedonist Shedonist

Australian Lamb Immersion with Miami’s Top Chefs

I always thought I adequately appreciated the craft of a chef. That was until I was invited to cook with Miami’s top chefs for a day at an Australian Lamb Immersion. After spending a whopping four hours drinking, laughing and cooking with these titans, I could barely stand up straight.  #Cheflife is ridiculously arduous, but these Miami chefs are rowdy, alcohol-guzzling warriors who dazzle us with their deft skills and magnificent plates.

The Australian Lamb & Beef Immersion was hosted by Meat & Livestock Australia to extol the benefits of meat from the Land Down Under. The continent that has become well known for its delicious wine is about to become just as famous for its succulent cuts of meat. Aussie meat is natural and untainted by chemicals. Their country is about as big as the US, but they have a population of only 23 million, compared with our 317 million. That means, as stated on the Meat & Livestock Australia website: they have an “abundance of pasture land and mild climate, which allow (their) livestock to be entirely grass-fed in a healthy and natural environment. All livestock are free of artificial additives and hormone growth promotant. (They are) pure products of a pure environment.” To put it in relatable US terms: Australian Lamb & Meat = Scarlett Johansson and American Lamb & Meat = Jasmine Tridevil! 

The day started in my hood, with a trip to the kitchen at the Miami Marriott in Edgewater (a 10 block “neighborhood” next to the Miami Heat’s arena). Upon entering the banquet kitchen floor, I found Master Butcher Doug Piper carving up an entire lamb to the delightful attention of 15 of South Florida’s top chefs.

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By top chefs, we’re are talking about talented culinary experts like (listed in alphabetical order, by restaurant):

The beloved Aussie, Chef Aaron Brooks and his loco tequila-swigging Sous Chef Jose Gomez were right next to the carcass carving station whipping up seemingly endless and sensational lamb dishes for us all to try, while we watched Doug continue to tear apart the lamb, limb from freaking limb. The lamb was tender, juicy and oozing with flavor. I believe we tasted virtually every part from tongue to tail.

After being more stuffed than a Turducken, they decided to feed us lunch!? Most of the chefs found this to be an opportune time to start drinking instead. There was some great convos marinating around the table about restaurant working conditions, depraved contests in Thailand and the smallest kitchen in Miami, which we believe is Harry’s Pizzeria.

After our primarily liquid lunch, we picked numbers out of a hat and were divvied up into teams. I was fortunate enough to be teamed up with the extraordinary talented Chef Thomas Griese of Michael Mina 74 and Chef Joshua Wahler of Estiatorio Milos by Costas Spiliadis. They were surprisingly chill with having me, a kitchen gimp who can not even julienne vegetables properly, as part of their team.

Chef/Consultant Adam Moore was our freaking awesome host. He was so funny and chill and curated a diverse and notable collection of beers for us to pound in the kitchen. He even set up little coolers underneath our tables to keep ‘em cold while we were slaving away.

There were a total of five teams and each were given a basket of diverse ingredients along with different cuts of scrumptious Australian lamb. Below is a photo of my team’s instructions and ingredient list.

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This is where the real fun began for me, because although I do not know how to cook, borrowed an apron (Thank you, Chef Adam) strapped it on and dove right in. Cooking is intense and grueling manual labor. The kitchen is hot, you are on your feet, running around and working incessantly — not at all like the nonchalant freelance journalist lifestyle I am accustomed to. I was slicing, dicing, sprinting to grab ingredients, saucing, plating, gulping beers and grilling lamb. It was a unique and extraordinary experience.

My team ended up making an incredible Molasses Glazed Carpaccio, Fennel Salad, Orange Marmalade.

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We also served a Molasses Glazed Leg of Lamb, Orange Marmalade, Bourbon and Cous Cous as well as Purple grits with Pimento.

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After we were done in the kitchen, the finished plates were presented al fresco. The chefs and I celebrated our conquest of Aussie lamb by drinking tequila straight from the bottle. The dishes were gorgeous as you can see from the album below. The chefs were able to embrace the versatility of Australian lamb by preparing it in new and interesting ways. There were Asian, Southern, Italian, French and Latin influenced lamb dishes. I unfortunately, did not have enough room to sample everything, but the handful I tried were sensational.

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The experience felt like a once-in-a-lifetime blessed event. The opportunity to feel like a real chef and be surrounded by such profoundly talented and fun culinary masters was humbling. It really cultivated a deeper sense of appreciation for the life of a chef, as well as the beauty of Australian lamb.

Photos by Hedonist Shedonist