2nd Annual Ceviche Festival Where Proceeds Went for a Great Cause by Betty Alvarez

The 2nd Annual Ceviche Festival was a celebratory event for the whole family which all proceeds when to the construction for the completion of La Merced Museo Peru Church, the first church and Peruvian museum in Miami.

The event had distinguished personalities such as Raquel Regalado, Tomas Garcia Fuste from Mira TV, Univision covered the event, and other media outlets. Guests had a wonderful Sunday that was marked by solidarity, great food, cooking sessions and spectacular shows of traditional Peruvian dancers, live music, etc.

Supporters of the event included El Mero Loco II, Mochila del Chef, Cevicheria Rosita, Divino Ceviche’s Chef Christian Encalada Alvan, Rizio’s Peruvian Cuisine Chef Mauricio Valverde & Cesar Valverde, El Huarike Peruano Chef Ysabel Bartra, Mari Morla, Cholos Ceviche Grill’s Chef Fabricio Pareja, La Huaca Peruvian Cuisine Ines & Aida Morales, El Pollo Inka Miami’s Chef Daniel D. Cespedes Titinger, El Punto Peruano Peruvian Food Truck Chef Pedro Enrique Rodriguez, Asociacion Cultural Peru Danza and many more.

The Corpus Christi Church and Iglesia de la Merced will be a church museum with artifacts, relics, and historical accounts of Peru. The original church is currently in Lima and soon there will be one on Miami displaying the richness of the Peruvian culture.

Lique Miami-A Refreshing New Waterfront Dining By Betty Alvarez

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I arrived to this quaint restaurant in North Miami which I have only heard about, Lique. This waterfront dining spot is owned by restauranteurs Peter Cumplido and Alex Podolhy who are also behind Fort Lauderdale’s Sweet Nectar. This soon-to-be hot spot has Executive Chef Renalto Medeiros at the helm and I was about to embark on a never-before breathtaking dining experience in a chilly night but that did not stop me.

When I entered the restaurant I realized that I have been here before when it was Rouge Waterfront Dining where everything was red. But this time around, the restaurant is transformed into what it seems an enchanted garden with luxurious white decor furniture, greenery all over, the contemporary pieces that was all over. The decor is truly spectacularly very fresh and inviting. We sat down to our table to begin our journey.

Our dining experience was by candlelight. A nice touch for a romantic experience if you are dining with a loved one. In my case, I was dining with one of my best friends so that did not happen. LOL! I ordered a nice Pinot Grigio and she ordered a nice fruity tall glass drink that our waiter recommended. I was jealous as her glass was bigger than mine! When we were hended our menu it was unique as it was a wood platform wit the menu attached and the logo of the restaurant on the back. It was great as everything was on one page.

Appetizers and small plates is what we suggested therefore it did not disappoint. First serving was the Truffle Big Eye Tuna Carpaccio. I wanted something healthy but nice to start therefore the Tuna was a nice healthy alternative. What a delight! The truffle made the Tuna stand out as all my taste buds sky-rockted. It gave it a distinct flavor. Then came the Bone Marrow-a plate of 4 big oxtail bones filled with shredded beef with toasted bread besides each bone. A true delight to savor.

If the Bone Marrow is too much for you, the Beef Cheek Toast would be more appropriate as it has the same shredded beef on top of a toasted bread. Another real treat is the Escargot Tortellini. A plate of 4 tortellini smothered with creamy sauce with bits of bacon was the utmost satisfaction that we got. It was my first time in a long time that I tried escargot but it actually tasted like beef. Tasty and delicious!

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Lastly, we just had to have dessert therefore our waiter suggested the apple pie but this was not any ordinary apple pie. This was a Desconstructed Apple Pie. The pie was served with 4 fluffy pastries on one side, cinnamon ice cream in one jar and the apple filling in another jar. One had to place all of these items in the plate. It was delish and proved that by this time we were completely full.

Other than the plates we tried, the mediterranean-style cuisine also had more selections of tapas, raw seafood, and a sushi bar. One can sit at the dock area gazing as the marine boats pass by and enjoying a nice night out under the stars. A suitable place to dine with a loved one and/or with friends. A true gem!

Young Patronesses of the Opera celebrated their 59th Annual Gala Cocktail Reception at The Betsy Hotel By Betty Alvarez

The Betsy Hotel, La Fenice Prosecco, Leatrice Damus, Maria-Rosa Lopez-Munoz & Barbara Reese hosted a Swanky evening of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at the downstairs B-bar of the The Betsy on South Beach on October 5th, to celebrate the wonderful benefactors snd underwriters of the upcoming 59th Annual Young Patronesses of the Opera Gala “Hat Spats & Pearls… A Toast to the Roaring 20’s.” Guests received a favor of Satin Glow Gold dust by Prestige Cosmetics to carry the sparkle of the evening with them.

The annual YPO Gala – now in its 59th year – is considered among Miami’s oldest and most prestigious black tie affairs. This elegant soiree, organized by Lisa Wheeler, President of YPO and Gala Chairs Laurel Auerbacher, Amal Kabbani, Patty Scerpella, Lori Thomas and Lise-Marie Wertanzl, will feature a silent auction, live entertainment, dancing, and a three-course meal to raise funds for YPO’s music education programs.

The Gatsby-style party will evoke the excitement of the era and many spirited YPO members and guests will forego traditional ball gowns and black-tie for imaginative designs which reflect the era of flappers, starlets, gangsters and aristocrats. During a cocktail hour guests will enjoy an inspired silent auction, followed by dinner, dancing to the 8-piece band, Manhattan Music, and entertainment by the internationally-acclaimed singers Poperazzi.

Founded almost 60 years ago in 1955, YPO is a volunteer group of 100 dedicated women who advocate for music and opera education to children in South Florida. Proceeds raised at Hat Spats and Pearls will be used to fund 100% of YPO’s music and opera educational programs. Every year, YPO presents a workshop for more than 500 Girl Scouts, and a professional development Teacher Workshop on opera in the classroom for Miami-Dade and Broward County teachers. YPO also brings professional children’s opera performances to more than 30,000 elementary students annually. This year, YPO will expand its musical outreach program to children who are hospitalized. In addition, YPO also presents a national voice competition for aspiring young opera singers. This year it is slated for April 16-18 at the colony Theatre on Miami Beach.

For Tickets, sponsorship and underwriting information for Hats Spats and Pearls, please contact Lisa Wheeler at [email protected] or at 305-794-1761.

Photography by Betty Alvarez


Photography by Betty Alvarez

Pomona College celebrated Partnership with Posse Foundation By Betty Alvarez

Pomona College, a nationally renowned liberal arts college celebrated its expanded partnership with The Posse Foundation to provide 10 full-tuition scholarships to Miami-area high school seniors who are interested in STEM studies and careers. A cocktail reception was held at Tuyo restaurant located on the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus which was attended by educational leaders in Miami Dade County.

“We are happy to be partnering with The Posse Foundation in Miami for the first time. We know this is going to be a successful program for the students selected. This model provides not only placing them in supportive, multicultural teams, but also offers them small class sizes and easy access to faculty, which results in more opportunities for research and mentorship,” said David Oxtoby, president of Pomona College.

Pomona College began its partnership with the Posse Foundation in 2004 and has graduated five groups of Posse students with a nearly 100 percent four-year graduation rate. Deborah Bial, president of Posse Foundation stated, “The Posse Foundation appreciates Pomona College and their commitment to diversity in education they are true institutional heroes. Collectively, they send a clear message giving these young men and women the opportunity to become well educated leaders of tomorrow.

Pomona College, founded in 1887, is known for its distinctive liberal arts education, small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and opportunities for research and involvement on campus and in the community. It is the founding college of The Claremont Colleges.

Founded in 1989, Posse identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. Posse extends to these students the opportunity to pursue personal and academic excellence by placing them in supportive, multicultural teams—Posses—of 10 students.

Batch Gastropub: New Fall Menu Excites by Betty Alvarez

The first time I’ve been to Batch Gastropub was to celebrate my friend’s birthday party. When I first went in, I was amazed about how casual but comfortable the restaurant is. It’s a gastropub where the menu was approachable and there was an expansive drink list. We celebrated during their happy hour and the placed got packed as soon as I got there. My girlfriends and I indulged in their wonderful happy hour menu and their regular menu. A memorable time for all!

This time around, I got the opportunity to preview their Autumn menu which I was excited to taste. I could not wait for the delectable surprises that this place that had brought my tastebuds into action.

First of all, I was greeted with a cornucopia of cocktail samplings. The one that stood out is the Green Pepper Mojito as I thought it was going to be super sweet but to my surprise it wasn’t. I could taste the green pepper flavor in my mouth but it was not overwhelming to sour my taste of the food that I was about to sample.

Batch gave us two types of menus to choose from for our tasting one that had the house made meatballs or the General Tso’s Cauliflower dish as the starter.

We began with a snack: Salmon Crudo comprised with the House Cured Faroe Island Salmon on top of Florida peaches with Truffled vinaigrette and maldon salt. This small snack was a different experience as I never tasted a salmon on top of a slice of peach before. The salmon taste came to my tastebuds first and then complimented it with the sweet peach infusing both into a nice sweet and delectable light bite.

Then came the starters, the house made meatballs of duck, short rib and pork belly on a sweet potato puree and Serrano ham gave me great delight. The meatballs were warm, soft to chew and the sweet potato puree gave it a good additive to my palate.

The next starter was the Tuna Poke-Peanut Butter “Crumble”, wonton, scallion, and crispy ginger. Although I did not taste the peanut butter but the scallion and the crispy ginger is what stood out of my mind. It was delicious.

For the veggies part, a Batch Kale Salad was served. Now I never had Kale in my life so I was delighted and nervous at the same time in trying this salad comprised of raw kale, hearts of palm, peanuts, strawberry vinaigrette, and parmesan. To my surprise, I loved it. The kale was not overpowering and the vinaigrette made everything come together. Definitely will have to try that salad again next time I go to Batch Gastropub.

Now the main course: The Drunken Short Rib which is a whiskey braised short rib with Vanilla and Sour Mash, Creamy polenta and Cinammon roasted carrots on the side. The meat was so tender that it was falling out of the bone. I could taste the whisky a bit but my memory was the warm, soft, juicy meat that these ribs had. Other than the cinnamon that covered the carrots it was also mixed with a coffee flavored sauce which had a distinctive taste.

The sweets that culminated our experience is the Carnival Donuts-fried dough, powdered sugar, with a warm chocolate ganache and Kahlua syrup. Now these round donuts were the best and my favorite was dumping it in the Kahlua syrup rather than the chocolate ganache. It was so taste was so much richer to my palate.
A very sweet experience to end this preview tasting.

All in all, I can’t wait for this autumn menu to be announced to the general public as Batch Gastropub wants to exemplify the farm to table concept as it is healthier option for everyone but with full of taste. Kudos to Batch Gastropub!

Pied A Terre: Lovely French dining in a tranquil atmosphere by Betty Alvarez

You will never know that tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Miami Beach lies a quaint and dainty hotel in the corner of James Avenue and 17th Street, the Cadet Hotel. This 1941 Art Deco Hotel with 34 rooms and suites is the home to a cozy and elegant restaurant, Pied a Terre. A restaurant with a cuisine like no other.

Pied a Terre prepares healthy french cuisine using classic French techniques used by Michelin-starred restaurants in France today. Their approach to dining incorporates innovative recipes created by seasonal visiting chefs who shares and trains the restaurant’s staff to create recipes especialy for Pied A Terre. Great and different concept.

Our experience started with a refreshing welcome cocktail. Afterwards, Patrick Gruest, Food/Wine consultant explained the different types of dishes and the wine that would most deliciously be a great pair.

For our appetizer, I picked the Fresh Wild Mushroom Risotto. In addition to being the right portion for an appetizer, the outburst of flavor was exceptional. The plate was served hot as the risotto was tender and delicious. The mushroom that complimented it gave its robust flavor. It came with one plantain chip for decor.

As for the entree, I picked the Seabass with Peruvian flavor. I had to try this dish as I am of Peruvian background. The Seabass was very juicy covered with an assorment of Peruvian sauces such as the Aji Amarillo. It also was decorated with tomato, parsley and anchored with Mussels. The meat was tender and melted in your mouth. My dish was paired with a crisp and semi-fruit white wine.

For dessert, the Valhora Chocolate Fondant, a silky smooth chocolate cake with Vanilla ice cream topped with a sweet treat along with rose-shaped strawberries. A great presentation to a tasteful treat. The right portion for the right sweetness. Another guest at the table ordered the chocolate macaroon. Now, I thought they were going to bring the normal small macaroon but boy was I mistaken. It was a huge macaroon with chocolate ice cream on the side with a treat.

All in all the experience was to die for and the ambiance brought a nostalgic memory in me. If you sit in the back table seating for around 10 you can never imagine that you are steps away from 17th Street and Collins Avenue. The curtains really do the trick in hiding it and you feel that you are away in paradise.

It was a pure delight that I want to experience again.

For more information please visit www.piedaterrerestaurant.com

Miami’s Travel Industry Gathers for the Launch of the Level at Melia Caribe Tropical By Betty Alvarez

South Florida’s top travel agencies and airline representatives celebrated the anticipated launch of the luxury line of accommodations at Meliá Caribe Tropical, called THE LEVEL and THE LEVEL ADULTS ONLY. Close to 100 guests gathered for the cocktail event hosted by Meliá Hotels International, one of the world’s largest hotel brands, and Viva Travel on March 5, at Dolores but You Can Call Me Lolita in Brickell. Guests from the travel industry mingled with City of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, and radio personalities, Roxana Garcia and Jose Antonio Alvarez. Also in attendance were representatives from the Dominican Republic Tourism Board, Leticia Del Rosario Regional Sales Manager USA & Canada for Meliá Caribe Tropical, and Patricia Alvarez, Director of Sales & Marketing for Meliá Caribe Tropical.

THE LEVEL and THE LEVEL ADULTS ONLY, are luxury experiences for vacationers who want that extra touch of personalized service at the Meliá Caribe Tropical located in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The newly launched, THE LEVEL provides discerning guests exclusive and preferential services and amenities, offering timeless luxury and comfort. This private area of the resort is ideal for families, couples and groups.

THE LEVEL features a myriad of special offerings, including a private check-in/out lounge for registration and assistance; and access to the VIP Lounge offering daily continental breakfast, free Internet access, premium beverages, liquors, hors d’oeuvres and coffee & tea service throughout the day and exclusive access to GABI Club. Unique experiences at THE LEVEL include Energy for Life activities like Body Balance – a mix of yoga and Tai Chi. THE LEVEL guests are able to indulge in the new Experiences Menu, featuring special workshops, dinners on the beach, romantic private breakfasts and in-room dining experiences. Concierges can also arrange for in-room Jacuzzi preparation and priority reservations for à la carte restaurants, YHI Wellness spa and fitness, golf courses, tennis courts and other activities. Guests of THE LEVEL have access to a private part of the resort’s white sand beach, as well as two private pools on property, one of which is for ADULTS ONLY.

Meliá Caribe Tropical is also introducing a new culinary concept, Cuatro, exclusively for guests of THE LEVEL ADULTS ONLY. This new establishment is divided into four different dining experiences, including Uno, traditional steakhouse offering premium cuts of beef; Dos, a Gastro Bar concept encompassing the best of a Spanish tapas bar and an Irish pub; Tres, Nikkei a fusion of Peruvian fare with Japanese and Cantonese cuisine; and Cuatro, a beachside buffet serving international cuisine with à la carte and snack options.

There are four categories of guestrooms for THE LEVEL, including THE LEVEL ADULTS ONLY Suite, THE LEVEL ADULTS ONLY Suite with Whirlpool, THE LEVEL Master Suite and THE LEVEL One Bedroom Master Suite. Every guestroom in THE LEVEL category features special bathroom amenities such as a spa shower; bathrobes and slippers; a concierge service; pillow menu and fragrance menu.

For more information about Viva Tour please contact [email protected] For more information about THE LEVEL at Meliá Caribe Tropical, please visit: www.meliacaribetropical.com.

About Viva Travel
Viva Tours is a multifaceted Tour Operator with over 25 years of industry experience. Viva Tours’ vision is to provide unique travel experiences to travelers around the world and to become an industry leader all while continuously thinking outside the box to offer its travelers memories to last a lifetime. In 2013, Viva Travel & Tours launched an aggressive marketing strategy encompassing all media facets and grassroots promotions, which in return brought the VIVA Brand alongside its partners to the forefront and made the brand synonymous with TRAVEL. In 2014, they plan to continue their proven marketing efforts to become the leader in travel to the Latin America and Caribbean regions. During the summer 2014, Viva guarantees 21 full charter flights from Miami to Punta Cana with LAN Airlines. Additionally, the tour operator guarantees fixed departures with LAN Airlines year round from Miami to Punta Cana.

About Meliá Hotels & Resorts
Meliá Hotels & Resorts brand is the Group’s city and resort hotels brand that combine a mixture of stunning yet functional facilities within preferred business and leisure destinations, such as Meliá Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia, Meliá Jardim Europa – Sao Paolo, Meliá Caribe Tropical – Dominican Republic, Meliá Barcelona – Spain, Melià Vendome – Paris, Melià Whitehouse – London and Meliá Zanzibar – Tanzania. The brand is designed to offer the five senses a fresh and innovative experience through igniting the Spanish tradition of excellence in hospitality. All hotels pay close attention to sensory design coupled with fresh and welcoming decorations, balancing aesthetics and design functionality. Meliá hotels feature a VIP experience called “THE LEVEL” that offers a private lounge with open bar, exclusive room accommodations, special in room amenities and the finest service. www.melia-hotels.com