Photographs of Taste of Cuba Festival at Hialeah Park on 2/28/15

Taste of Cuba Festival at Hialeah Park on Saturday, February 28, 2015.

Guests experienced traditions only found in Cuba. Classical foods such as lechon asado, carne con papa, rice and beans and yuca will be sure to tantalize your taste buds. Enjoy typical Cuban beverages while being engulfed in the Africana beats of the country.

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New, Voyage to the Orient at Florida Renaissance Festival 2/28/15

New, Voyage to the Orient at Florida Renaissance Festival
Saturday, 02/28/2015 – 10:00 am – 06:30 pm
OrientBannerwithType-2Quiet Waters Park
401 S Powerline Rd,
Deerfield Beach, Florida 33442
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Cost: Prices range from $21.00 for adults and $9 for children ages 6 to 11 years of age. Children 5 and younger are free.

This weekend brings us to the Far East! While Europe was experiencing the advent of the Renaissance, rich cultural traditions had been prominent for centuries on the other side of the world. Journey with us to discover the Orient of Marco Polo’s time and experience the sights and sounds of Shogun, Samurai, and the unbroken Ming dynasty that ruled China for almost 300 years.

More than two million people have seen the Florida Renaissance Festival in Deerfield Beach during its royal period in South Florida. This 16th Century production features more than 100 costumed performers, 10 stages with continuous entertainment and 20 stage acts from around the world. For more information visit: ren-fest.com; Find us on Facebook: Florida Renaissance Festival; Follow us on Twitter: FlaRenFest and Instagram/flarenfest.
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Photographs of Virginia Key Grassroots Festival in Historic Virginia Key Beach Park on 2/22/15

Virginia Key Grassroots Festival in Historic Virginia Key Beach Park on Sunday, February 22, 2015.  Virginia Key GrassRoots Festival  is an inclusive multi-cultural and family-friendly music, arts and dance festival celebrating its 4th annual winter event in Miami, FL.

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Seventeenth Annual Gifford Lane Art Stroll 3/1/15

Seventeenth Annual Gifford Lane Art Stroll
giffordlaneSunday, March 1st, 12 noon to 5:00 p.m.
Gifford Lane
between Oak and Day Avenues (3200 block)
Coconut Grove, FL
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Free Valet Bike Parking!

World’s Smallest Arts Festival Rocks On

Each year the artists gather here beneath the trees. Every year, people flock here for a good time and to grab up the art. And unlike almost any other event in Florida, each year at the end of the day, they give away all the money. They’ve got great karma.

Everything takes place on Gifford Lane along one residential block near the Kirk Munroe tennis courts, between Oak and Day Avenues (3200 block) in Coconut Grove. There will be no vehicular traffic permitted along the lane during the event.

The event features work by seventy artists positioned along the lane with artwork displayed on fences, in front yards, on clotheslines, in trees and on ladders. Some of the finest artists in the region will be in attendance. Residents often describe the Gifford Lane Art Stroll as the “Grove the way the Grove once was.” Neighbor Nathan Kurland, a central organizer of the event for the past eight years, says, “As far as I can tell, the Gifford Lane Art Stroll is Coconut Grove.”

“The thing is,” says Trina Collins, a painter and one of the founders of the Stroll who lives on the block, “at lots of arts festivals, artists are primarily interested in just having their work seen. But at the Gifford Lane Art Stroll, artists come to sell. The price is right. The quality’s good. You see tons of people going up the lane with a new treasure tucked under their arm.”

It is a freewheeling art marketplace. Sculpture, portraits, seascapes, landscapes, jewelry, tile mosaics, large abstract paintings, photography, mixed media, found art objects, and several art forms that as yet have no names—it is all here and readily available.

Each year artists apply to the Stroll to be included and each year there is a waiting list. A request also goes out to artists for submissions to be considered for the annual poster. The entire planning committee of 30 residents selects the winner. This year’s honor goes to multi-award winning artist Eileen Seitz, a NYC-born, long-time Groveite. Eileen’s artwork is seen internationally and is visible throughout the Grove—from her hand-painted Ambassador kiosks in the Village Center to her collaborative contribution to the Children’s Mosaic of glittering underwater tilework on the side of the U.S. Post Office here.

The live music at the Stroll provides the perfect soundtrack for the afternoon—when it is loud, people dance in the street; and when it sways gently, people chat and stroll the lane. It is nonstop good times. This year, featured performers appearing for their sixth year at the Stroll will be regional favorites, the high energy folk rock tunesmiths Solar Dogs. Band members are Eric Wagner, Zip Robertson, Bill Kunz, and Robert Grabowski. Solar Dogs strikes the perfect tone of sweetness and good vibrations that the Stroll crowd loves. Who could resist dancing when these lads light it up?

Coconut Grove music legend Bobby Ingram will be performing his wonderful solo vocals and guitar. Bobby has performed with David Crosby, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Jimmy Buffet, Fred Neil, Gail Garnet and many others. We are truly honored to have Bobby back performing at the Stroll. Also featured this year will be popular Grove musician Ronnie Brooks in his first Stroll appearance.

Each and every year, the Gifford Lane Art Stroll gives away all of its profits to Coconut Grove charities. A percentage of every piece of art sold, and all of the proceeds from contributions for the now-famous (written about in The New York Times, Miami Herald, and The Miami New Times) cucumber punch, not to mention substantial funds from the sale of delicious food selections goes directly to charity. Over the last sixteen years, the Stroll has donated all of their money– more than $40,000– to two Grove charities, the St. Stephen’s AIDS Ministry and the St. Alban’s Child Enrichment Center in the Grove Village West.

The true heart and soul of the Gifford Lane Art Stroll are some thirty neighbors who each year meet over potluck dinners to undertake all of the many small details that make each year a success. Everyone is a volunteer, including Founding Director Trina Collins. This year, Barbara Tejada, an oil painter and herself director of the Grove House Artists, is the Art Stroll Facilitator responsible for coordinating all of the details of the event with Trina Collins and Velvet Rothe, the Stroll’s government relations coordinator.

Peggy Quattro, a marketing professional who volunteers with the Stroll, says there are many art forms included in the Gifford Lane Art Stroll, but one of the most important is “the art of commun-ity.” Participating artist, Uta, says, “I can’t think of a sweeter party that fuses art, music and joy.” Jugglers and a bounce house are always big draws for families with children.

This year, for the first time, will feature free monitored bike valet parking sponsored by Bike Coconut Grove on the swale at the intersection of Gifford Lane and Oak Avenue. Simply leave your bike with the bike valet, take a numbered ticket (the other half of the ticket is attached to your bike), and enjoy the Stroll knowing your bike is being watched in a secure setting.

The 17th Annual Gifford Lane Art Stroll will delight those in attendance on Sunday, March 1st, from 12 until 5:00 p.m. in Coconut Grove under the beautiful trees among the welcoming artists along sweet Gifford Lane.

SOBEWFF Amstel Light Burger Bash 2015

Friday night, a friend and I had the chance to attend the SOBEWFF Amstel Light Burger Bash. Of course, being allergic to sub-par beer, we decided to check out the newest brewery in Wynwood, J Wakefield Brewing for some pre-gaming. Seriously, check that place out!

And while J Wakefield had what looked to be a pretty awesome food truck outside, what it didn’t have was a Ritz-Carlton beach full of awesome chefs preparing gourmet burgers! Oh, or the hot chicks, spectacular band, celebrities (yeah, I got my picture taken with Al Roker and Morimoto!), and thousands of people.

Honestly, you can see who won here. I was a little disappointed with the star power that I and other people love to meet (though not burger quality) compared to when I went in 2013. That year, Morimoto was there but was joined by Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri, Scott Conant, Michael Symon, Geoffrey Zakarian, Andrew, Zimmern, Anne Burrell, The Sandwich King, and more.

My favorite and the one I cast my vote for was Prime One Twelve (Prime 112). That burger was so juicy and cheesy and delicious! I also enjoyed Red Robin’s burger and Shake Shack too among a handful of others.

Anyway, here are some pictures! I hope to go again next year!

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Eats & Beats 2015

Eats N Beats 2015 30

After an unplanned tour of Little Haiti in Miami last night, my wife and I gave in to technology and plugged in the address of The Moore Building in Miami’s Design District into the phone. After all, we didn’t want to be late to the second annual Eats & Beats culinary and musical event taking place from 7:30 until midnight!

Whew! Just made it on time, and someone was nice enough to leave a parking space right in front of the building for us. We met the organizers on the way in and then got started tasting some great dishes, sampling some terrific spirits and cocktails, and being entertained with some great music and ambiance.

The pink lights flashing on the very unique architecture of The Moore Building made me feel like I was back at a club in Paris I visited a few times in the 90’s. Eats & Beats took place on all 4 floors, which each have a 360 degree balcony overlooking the center of the building. Pretty cool!

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We met some very nice people, both vendors and other guests alike. If I were forced to pick some favorites, I’d have to choose Chef Adrianne Calvo (who also made a spectacular dessert at the Five Cubed event a few days ago), the food from Segundo Muelle Peruvian Restaurant, Red The Steakhouse, Brother Jimmy’s, and Havana 1957. Oh, and the cupcakes from Ana Paz Cakes and Slice of Art!

And on the spirits side of things, I loved the Zafra rum, both on the rocks and as a cocktail. Not to be outdone were the terrific mojitos that the folks from Nikki Beach were making. Not only did both of those vendors make a great tasting drink, but they went all out with their presentation and overall experience.

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IT Espresso Lounge also made a very nice prosecco based drink, quite refreshing. And as the “beer guy,” I have to give a shout out to the only beer vendor there–Modelo! I personally would have like to have seen a few more strong brands, especially considering the emergence of craft beer on the Miami scene. But hey, that’s probably just me.

All the vendors were friendly, knowledgeable, and wanted to share their products with you. And to the army of people that made the event happen, congratulations! Can’t wait for Eats & Beats 2016!

Photographs of 14th Annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village on 2/21/15

14th Annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village at 13th and Ocean Drive on Saturday, February 21, 2015.  The Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village featuring MasterCard Grand Tasting Tents and KitchenAid® Culinary Demonstrations.

“The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE is a national, star-studded, four-day destination event showcasing the talents of the world’s most renowned wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities. Hosted by Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida and Florida International University (FIU), the Festival benefits the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management’s Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Laboratory and the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center at FIU. To date, the Festival has raised more than $20 million for the School.”

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