Fairchild’s 9th Annual Chocolate Festival Feeds Miami’s Mind and Soul

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This weekend Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden lured us to Coral Gables with chocolate – their 9th Annual Chocolate Festival to be exact. Despite the overcast skies, the Garden came alive with live music, international eats, educational programming, and more chocolate than the eye could see. The two-day festival gave Miami families the perfect excuse to enjoy the beautiful grounds, indulge in chocolate delicacies, and learn about the cacao plant. During our visit, we did all these and more. Check out our five favorite moments from this year’s event:

1. Sampling a hot chocolate recipe from the 1750s. American Heritage, an authentic historic line of products from leading food manufacturer Mars, had a tent where we learned how hot chocolate was made from scratch in the 1750s and had the opportunity to sample the recipe. The demonstration included actual recreations of the ingredients and kitchen tools used back then, like the spices and chunk of sugar (wrapped in blue paper) shown below. Did you know that in the 1700s that amount of sugar would last one family approximately 6 months?

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2. Learning about the history of cacao. “The Living History of Cacao and Chocolate” tent, which held presentations every hour on the chronology of cacao from ancient seed to modern candy bar, was the most notable addition to this year’s program. Our timing was off so we missed most of the speakers, but the friendly volunteers at the tent gave us a delicious consolation prize: a banana chocolate smoothie sample!

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3. Exploring the greenhouse. We headed to the greenhouse with the mission of finding and witnessing Fairchild’s cacao tree first-hand. However, the lush vegetation and water features kept us in there for a good hour as we explored the many natural wonders the greenhouse had to offer.

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4. Discovering the Wings of the Tropics exhibition. As we concluded our stroll in the greenhouse, we spotted the conservatory that houses Fairchild’s colorful butterflies and we knew we had to go inside. The exhibition was well-worth the detour – the butterflies were awe-inspiring despite the limited sunshine. Did you know that butterflies are more active on sunny days? They rely on the sun to raise their body temperatures so they can fly.

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5. Enjoying the festival ambiance. Once we had our fill of chocolate, we grabbed a roasted corn on the cob and sat down on the grass to enjoy the harmonious sounds of Solar Dogs, a Coconut Grove-based string band that was our favorite part of last year’s chocolate festival. Sitting there, watching families spending time together, couples dancing, and savoring our delicious corn, we were in absolute festival bliss. Fairchild, you really know how to make us happy!

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Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre presents Ragtime 1/28/15 – 2/22/15

Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre presents Ragtime
Wednesday, 01/28/2015 – 02/22/2015 08:00 pm –
newActors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre
280 Miracle Mile,
Coral Gables, Florida 33134
Webpage Link
Cost: $15 – $59

Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre continues its celebrated 2014-2015 season with a regional premiere production of the Tony Award-winning musical Ragtime from January 28 – February 22, 2015. This sweeping musical portrait of early 20th century America tells the powerful tale of a white, upper-middle class family, an African American couple, and an Eastern European immigrant escaping to America with his daughter, as they all confront the timeless contradictions of wealth, poverty, freedom, prejudice, hope, and despair in pursuit of the American Dream. Unfolding through the fiery rhythms of Harlem and Tin Pan Alley, and the vibrant klezmer of the Lower East Side, this vivid and unforgettable Tony-winning score bursts onto the stage in what will be the largest and most epic production ever staged at the Miracle Theatre.

Based on E.L. Doctorow’s award-winning book of the same name, Ragtime features music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and book by Terrence McNally. Directed by award-winning Artistic Director David Arisco, Ragtime features a cast of 40 professional actors.

The cast of Ragtime includes: Broadway actors Tally Sessions and Melissa Minyard, Reggie Whitehead, Ken Clement and Dominique Scott returning from National/International Tours, and Actors’ Playhouse veterans Irene Adjan, Nick Duckart, Mark Sanders, Gabriel Zenone and George Schiavone. Miami natives Don Juan Seward II and Sarah Nicole Batts will make their leading role debuts at Actors’ Playhouse as Coalhouse Walker, Jr. and the woman he loves, Sarah. The children’s cast for Ragtime includes Miami HEAT National Anthem singing sensation Julia Dale, Athena Pacanins, Max Leifman and Julian Gorelick.

The cast of Ragtime in alphabetical order:

Irene Adjan – Emma Goldman
Sarah Nicole Batts – Sarah
Ken Clement – J.P. Morgan
Joshua Dobarganes – Harry Houdini
Nick Duckart – Willie Conklin/Ensemble
Melissa Minyard – Mother
Mark Sanders – Father
George Schiavone – Grandfather
Dominique Scott – Younger Brother
Tally Sessions – Tateh
Don Juan Seward II – Coalhouse Walker, Jr.
Stephanie White – Evelyn Nesbit
Reggie Whitehead – Booker T. Washington
Fredena J. Williams – Sarah’s Friend/Ensemble
Gabriel Zenone – Henry Ford

Ensemble members:

Lauren Bell, Hannah Benitez, Dexter Carr, Anne Chamberlain, Diana D’Ambrosio, Marcus Davis, Mark Della Ventura, Sean Dorazio, Justen Fox-Hall, Deidra Grace, Noel Harris, Jr., Walter Kemp-Edwards, Nicole Kinzel, Michael Leyte-Vidal, Maha McCain, Cindy Pearce, Elizabeth Sackett, Kaylin Seckel, Johnathan Shepherd, Asher Makeba Timmons, Brian Varela and Ray Yanez.

The creative team for Ragtime includes: David Nagy (musical director), Ron Hutchins (choreographer), Tim Bennett (scenic design), Ellis Tillman (costume design), Patrick Tennent (lighting design) and Mitch Furman (sound design).

Preview performances of Ragtime will be held Wednesday and Thursday, January 28 and 29 at 8 p.m. The show will open on Friday, January 30 at 8 p.m. and play through February 22, 2015. Evening performances will be held Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with afternoon matinees on Sunday at 3 p.m. A special weekday matinee is scheduled on Wednesday, February 4 at 2 p.m.

Preview night tickets on the first Wednesday and Thursday are $37. Tickets for weeknights and matinees are $52, and on Friday and Saturday evenings $59. The theatre offers a 10 percent senior discount rate the day of performance and $15 student rush tickets 15 minutes prior to curtain with identification. Discounts are based on availability and exclude Saturday and Sunday.

Group discounted rates are offered for 15 or more through our group sales department. Single tickets may be purchased through the box office at 305-444-9293 or online at www.actorsplayhouse.org.

This event is made possible with the support of Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Cultural Affairs Council, and the Miami Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners for Major Cultural Institutions, and is sponsored in part by the State of Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Council on Arts & Culture, with support of the City of Coral Gables, and by the following sponsors: Azamara Club Cruises, Star Alliance, TotalBank, InterContinental Miami, Lexus of Kendall, NBC Miami and South Florida Times.

*Photo: The cast of Ragtime directed by David Arisco at Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre. Photo by George Schiavone.

Love is Blind Launches Happy Hour 1/23/15

Love is Blind Launches Happy Hour
Thursday, 01/22/2015 – 04:00 pm – 09:00 pm
unnamed3Love is Blind
225 Altara Avenue,
Coral Gables, Florida 33146
Webpage Link
Cost:

Love is Blind Food and Wine is launching their new happy hour party making it the new go to spot in the Gables. Why limit happy to just an hour? At Love is Blind enjoy Happy hour from 4:00-9:00pm daily!

Happy Hour specials include all well and top shelf drinks for 50% off! Sit back and sip on a cocktail while listening to tunes and hanging with friends. Try out the new “Love is Blind” drink made up of their five virtues and qualities of love: Lust, Crazy, Passion, Happiness and Humor.
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Bring your friends, co workers and loved ones and unwind at what’s sure to be the Gables hottest happy hour party!

Theatre Night featuring Ragtime 1/29/15

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Theatre Night featuring Ragtime
Theatre-Night-01292015_4733914Thursday, January 29, 2015 5:30PM – 8:00PM
Actor’s Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre
280 Miracle Mile
Coral Gables, FL
Tickets On Sale Online Only

RAGTIME is a sweeping musical portrait of early 20th century America tells the powerful tale of a white, upper-middle class family, an African American couple, and an Eastern European immigrant escaping to America with his daughter, as they all confront the timeless contradictions of wealth, poverty, freedom, prejudice, hope, and despair in pursuit of the American Dream. Unfolding through the fiery rhythms of Harlem and Tin Pan Alley, and the vibrant klezmer of the Lower East Side, this vivid and unforgettable Tony-winning score bursts onto the stage “on the wheels of a dream” in what will be the largest and most epic production ever staged at Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre.

4th Annual Gables Bike Day 3/1/15

4th Annual Gables Bike Day
Sunday, 03/01/2015 – 10:00 am – 03:00 pm
BikeDayLogoMerrick Park
405 Biltmore Way,
Coral Gables, Florida 33134
RSVP Link
Cost: Free

Bike Walk Coral Gables will be hosting their 4th Annual Gables Bike Day on Sunday March 1, 2015 from 10AM-3PM in Merrick Park across from the historic Coral Gables City Hall at 405 Biltmore Way Coral Gables, FL 33134. Biltmore Way from LeJeune to Hernando St. will be closed to vehicular traffic.
Bike Walk Coral Gables invites all cyclists, skaters, parents and children to this special event to promote health, physical activity and bike safety including free guided bike tours throughout Coral Gables, healthy food and drink vendors, farmer’s market, live music, antique bike show, scavenger hunt, family activities, giveaways, fitness classes and more.

Big Read Keynote: Author David Mura on Japanese American Internment During WWII 2/25/15

Big Read Keynote: Author David Mura on Japanese American Internment During WWII
Wednesday, 02/25/2015 – 06:30 pm – 09:00 pm
DavidMura-4Books & Books
265 Aragon Avenue,
Coral Gables, Florida 33134
Webpage Link
Cost: Free

David Mura is a writer, memoirist, poet and performance artist who brings a unique perspective to our multi-racial and multi-cultural society. A Sansei or third generation Japanese American, Mura has written two memoirs: Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei, which won a 1991 Josephine Miles Book Award from the Oakland PEN and was listed in the New York Times Notable Books of Year, and Where the Body Meets Memory: An Odyssey of Race, Sexuality and Identity. Mura’s second book of poetry The Colors of Desire, won the Carl Sandburg Literary Award from the Friends of the Chicago Public Library.
Mura’s memoirs, poems essays, plays and performances have won wide critical praise and numerous awards. Their topics range from contemporary Japan to the legacy of the internment camps and the history of Japanese Americans, to critical explorations of an increasingly diverse America.
Date: Wednesday, February 25
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Place: Books & Books, 265 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables

In all the listings please include this line: All participants will receive a copy of When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka.

Fairchild Palms Fine Wines Upscale Ales Signature Event 1/17/15

Fairchild Palms “Fine Wines Upscale Ales” Signature Event
Saturday, 01/17/2015 – 07:30 pm – 11:30 pm
Fine-Wines-Upscale-Ales-Chihuly-2014-ImageFairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
10901 Old Cutler Road,
Coral Gables, Florida 33156
Webpage Link
Cost: Tickets currently $75; $95 at the door (subject to availability)

Join the Fairchild Palms on Saturday, January 17, to toast 2015 with “Fine Wines | Upscale Ales 2015″ at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

This year, amidst the art of master glass sculptor Dale Chihuly, the annual signature event will feature unforgettable tastings of international wines and ales, gastronomia for the most discerning palate, a silent auction for travelers, foodies, collectors, and more, live music, and nighttime tram tours of the Garden with larger than life Chihuly art installations.