Category

Dining

ONE on ONE

by Mayi de la Vega

Savoring Summer

By | Dining, Fashion, Florida Finds, Travel

Rather than rush into fall, enjoy the last month of summer to the fullest.

Many of us are back from summer break and getting the kids ready for school. But truth be told, we still have nearly a month left of summer to go. I thought it would be a nice to explore summery tips to squeeze out the last bit of this sweet time before the daily grind begins again. I hope you make the most of it!

Get Out of Town

Maine is known for its many grand hotels, but the Claremont stands out for its proximity to Acadia National Park. A Kennebunkport Resort Collection cofounder bought and refurbished the 19th-century property that had been owned by different families over the years. Thanks to his redesign’s thoughtful balance of the old (the beloved croquet greens) and new (transforming one of the greens into an outdoor swimming pool, which is heated for my fellow Floridians, with chic cabanas), it delivers the quintessential Maine experience.

In addition to croquet and swimming, a typical day might involve taking a yoga or pilates class on the lawn with sweeping views of Somes Sound, visiting Botanica Spa for a treatment with Osea products and winding down with a Berry Smash made with Maine’s famous seasonal fruit at Harry’s Bar. Among other drinking and dining options, Little Fern offers duck, steak and local seafood delicacies without overlooking vegetarians through dishes like sweet potato stew with hints of coconut and lime.

I also like all the choices for accommodations. The main hotel’s 24 guestrooms come in three types and three colorways. For more privacy, book the Ocean View and Woodland cottages. Larger parties appreciate the Phillips and Summer houses; an interesting note about them is that they were originally built by separate families as summer homes and were acquired by the hotel as its demand grew.

Improve Your Health

Many of my clients have home gyms, but Anatomy is a terrific alternative. The upscale boutique gym with locations in Sunset Harbour, 1 Hotel South Beach and Midtown Miami expanded to Coconut Grove’s new waterfront development called Regatta Harbour. Its advanced fitness concept is built around integrative wellness and personalization, not to mention making workouts interesting and fun. Tremble, just one of its popular classes, packs in all the necessary components in 50 minutes. Anatomy’s owners understand their clientele’s busy schedules by creating a one-stop, seamless hub. Beyond premier equipment and exclusive classes, members have access to healthy dining, child care services, vitamin infusions, a hair salon and spa amenities.

Devour a Good Book

We are so blessed to claim one of the most incredible bookstore chains in the world. Books & Books has several locations around Miami, but out-of-towners can also order its vast inventory online, including a nice selection in Spanish, online and partake in year-round, virtual literary events. Two authors who are speaking in September particularly inspire me. On September 12, tennis legend and women’s equality activist Billie Jean King talks about her new autobiography with Katie Couric. FIU’s Cuban Research Institute co-hosts “Cuba: An American History: An Evening with Dr. Ada Ferrer” on September 14.

Eat Light

One of my favorite things do to with my fiancé Rich is to have a delicious sushi dinner with just the two of us. Miami’s sushi scene has exploded with newcomers, but one that you should definitely try is Uchi. It began in Austin, Tex., of all places, and opened its first East Coast outpost here in Wynwood. Once you’re inside, you don’t feel like you’re in Wynwood though. The décor is chic, the crowd is mature and professional, and the service is impressive. But most importantly, the food is melt-in-your-mouth good. Each piece of sushi is created as a perfect bite, so you can skip the wasabi and soy sauce (though they’re happy to bring you some). There are elevated versions of Japanese hot dishes, too. Just in writing this, I’m already craving dinner here.

Wear Something Summery

One of the best things about Miami shopping is that it’s always summer—I think that’s why visitors love to shop here! On top of the latest runway looks, including fall and winter collections to wear in colder climates, clotheshorses can find resort looks any time of year. We have so many great resortwear boutiques like En Avance, Beach and Curio at Faena Bazaar. They have great dresses in all lengths that go from beach to night, caftans and adorable matching sets with tops and shorts. Throw on a wedge sandal, and you’re good to go.

 

Aspen Summer

By | Art, Culture, Dining, Travel

It’s that time of year when my Aspen reveries turn reality. After Florida’s busy season (that seems to get longer every year!), I like to escape to the mountains with my family and fiancé Rich for some well-deserved R & R. The majestic views alone instantly relax me, though I also look forward to getting out in nature and experiencing all the shops, restaurants, culture and events. Here’s a list of new places and fun activities to explore when you’re in town.

Stay

Ideal for personal and corporate events of all kinds, the family-owned Aspen Street Lodge is available for full buyouts only. Accommodations offer a lot of variety, from a two-bedroom penthouse with a full kitchen to nine traditional hotel rooms with a mix of bunk beds, double queens and single kings. Guestrooms feature smart-tech systems and connect to at least one other guestroom for families traveling with small children and other needs. The extensive array of amenities—rooftop, heated pool and hot tub, fire pit, terraces with Aspen Mountain views, game room and outdoor grill and pizza oven—leaves nothing to desire. Sounds like heaven.

Attend

Aspen Art Museum’s annual summer gala ArtCrush takes place August 3-6. Along with AAM’s new director Nicola Lees, co-chairs Amy Phelan and Jamie Tisch, and 2021 Aspen Award for Art honoree Mary Weatherford, the benefit includes silent and live auctions by Sotheby’s. Bid on more than 45 artworks by artists such as Oscar Murillo, Rita Ackermann and Weatherford; Sotheby’s senior international contemporary art specialist Michael Macaulay conducts the live auction of eight lots during the gala at Aspen Skiing Company’s Buttermilk ski area on August 6. Panel discussions, a classical music art performance, tastings and a Pine Creek Cookhouse hike are also part of this year’s extended festivities.

Eat

New restaurants focus on several types of cuisine from the Basque Country (Joonas) to surf and turf (Catch Steak). Italian imports are also making their mark. Based in the West Village, Dante NYC returns for a second collaboration with the Surf Lodge. The partners had such a great time with their winter pop up at the Snow Lodge, that they relocated to the Chefs Club at the St. Regis Aspen Resort through next spring. While Surf Lodge books live music acts, Dante helms the menu’s seasonal fare. Items like whole grilled branzino and a peach, heirloom tomato and goat cheese salad lean to the lighter side. Complete your al fresco repast with a summery spritz within Dante’s famous cocktail collection.

I’m also delighted that a familiar name from South Florida is opening soon—hopefully by August! After running their super successful Casa D’Angelo locations in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Aventura, restaurateurs Angelo and Denise Elia are expanding to Aspen.  The couple brightened up the space formerly occupied by Piñons with white oak interiors and Western décor. In addition to signature Italian dishes, the menu increases specialty items (caviar, bison, crudos) that appeal to the Aspen palate. Known for sourcing the finest ingredients, they also plan to celebrate Colorado’s excellent meats, dairy and produce.

Shop

Aspen is as famous for its galleries and designer boutiques as its ski slopes. Balenciaga’s year-long pop up debuted in July, while Prada’s traveling, experiential activation “Prada Outdoor” comes through town from July 29 to September 7. The interactive shop encompasses mountain-friendly gear (tents, frisbees, stainless steel water bottles) and men’s and women’s activewear and accessories (shorts, backpacks, sporty sandals).

While Peri.A devotees wait for its new Los Angeles store to premiere later this summer, they’re hitting the Aspen outpost in droves. Owner Peri Arenas stocks her pint-sized space with coveted labels for women’s fashions and fine jewelry. Her roster features Casablanca, Ikkim’o, Marni, Peter Cohen, Colville and Marie Lichtenberg, among dozens of gems. Don’t hesitate if you fancy something, since it will be gone in a flash!

After popping up in South Florida and the Hamptons during covid, international art galleries next followed their clientele to Aspen. Paris’s Almine Rech operates here through September 12. Catch its back-to-back shows “Genesis Tramaine: Worship Works” and “Wes Lang: Endless Horizons.” Los Angeles-based Honor Fraser displays a meta solo show of Richard Pettibone’s replications of Andy Warhol’s iconic soup can series. London’s White Cube pops up in a 19th-century building through September 5. Works by Tracey Emin, Magnus Plessen, Anselm Kiefer, Antony Gormley, Theaster Gates and Isamu Noguchi, among several established artists, are exhibited throughout its summer program titled “Correspondence.”

Ice Cream Social

By | Dining, Florida Finds

Cool treats are one of the benefits of living in a city with year-round summertime bliss.

Now that my grandbabies are out of school and summer is about to set in, I love to spoil them with a trip to the ice cream parlor. This is the very activity that grandparents are made for. Miami has always had its share of ice cream shops, but choices have really ballooned over the last five years. Here are some of my new and old favorites to savor one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Newcomer Salt & Straw is making the biggest splash for its handcrafted, small-batch gourmet flavors. The Oregon import already opened two locations here in Wynwood and Coconut Grove. They get very creative in product development; one of their June flavors is called “Smile: Words & Pictures.” Kids will love it, but they’ll probably go for “Goosebumps: Monster Blood” for the name alone. If this sounds too weird, don’t stress. They also serve classics like chocolate gooey brownie and sea salt with caramel ribbons.

Founded in the Grove with another location in Bal Harbour Shops, Bianco Gelato is dedicated to 100% organic, non-GMO recipes (so you don’t have to feel as guilty when you treat the kids). Its Milanese maker sticks to the standards when it comes to flavors, which instantly transports me to an Italian piazza. Hazelnut, pistachio and cookies and cream are on the menu, plus paletas, smoothies and more.

I always recommend Azucar to visitors who are looking for a taste of Cuba by way of Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. The owner opened it to honor her Cuban grandmother’s love of ice cream, even naming one of her most popular artisanal flavors abuela Maria (a vanilla base with chunks of cream cheese, ripe guava and crushed Maria cookies). Flavors rotate depending on what’s ripe at the fruit stand. Summer brings mango, mamey and a sugarcane pineapple blend, while grownups always enjoy café con leche ice cream. There are also branches in Dadeland and South Beach.

Soraya Kilgore, chef Brad Kilgore’s secret weapon when it comes to sweets, launched her own culinary concept in the Miami Design District. Made for Instagram, which your tween and teen grandkids will appreciate, her adorable MadLab Creamery goes far beyond traditional ice cream with dozens of cool toppings. We’re talking edible glitter, cotton candy in exotic flavors, Japanese cheesecake and gold sprinkles. These chic works of art are on par with their fashionable neighbors.

I raised my kids near Whip ‘n’ Dip, an institution for generations of families in South Miami, Pinecrest and Coral Gables. The family-owned shop has been around since the mid-Eighties and continues to hand-make its famous flavors from mint chip to cookies & cream beginning with a 14% butterfat base. Hot for summer are “Somewhere Over the RainDough” and “Nutter-o,” which is peanut butter ice cream with Oreos. They’re also known for soft serve, ice cream cakes and hand-blended milkshakes. There’s a reason this place has stood the test of time.

 

Pack Your Bags

By | Dining, Travel

It’s time to start traveling again and visit new spots and old favorites.

Now that places are starting to open up, and people are on the move again, many of us are excited to resume traveling in some form. It may just be a quick staycation in Florida, or somewhere within the U.S., but it will feel like a true luxury regardless. Here are some resorts that I hope will inspire you to book a trip. We all deserve to have a little wanderlust these days.

Western North Carolina’s cool mountains and streams have always been a refuge for Floridians come summertime. Under new ownership by several families, including the Bealls behind Tennessee’s ultra-luxe Blackberry Farm, High Hampton resort and club in Cashiers, N.C., has been fully renovated and upgraded. The once private hunting lodge, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, transitioned to an inn during the early 20th century. Its recent makeover preserved or meticulously replicated its beloved, historic details like the shagbark siding, while adding modern conveniences such as central heating and air (making it able to operate year-round for the first time).

Dining is elevated too. More spacious outdoor dining areas highlight stunning views of the lake and mountains when dining at the Tavern for casual fare and the Dining Room, whose elegant cuisine is helmed by husband-and-wife chefs formerly at Blackberry Farm. Beyond local ingredients from trout to farm produce, guests of the inn’s 12 rooms and the resort’s 47 cottages can partake in a summer camp’s roster of activities. Golf the Tom Fazio-designed course, take a dip in the pool, hike 15 miles of trails, learn the latest court craze, pickleball, or meander the gardens and arboretum. Relaxing is highly encouraged as well, so don’t feel guilty having a spa day or reading a book on the front porch.

The Reform Club in the Hamptons hamlet of Amagansett invites guests to discover its indoor and outdoor vignettes like one would explore a friend’s countryside manor. You might come across its tea house, billiard room or orchard designed by Marders, one of the East End’s premier nursery and landscaping services. There’s so much to see and do without leaving the property, though you’re within walking and biking distance of Main Street should the mood strike.

Choose from three cottages, seven unique suites with private outdoor seating areas, or the 21 House with four en-suite bedrooms, multiple fireplaces, a gourmet kitchen and its own sprawling yard.

The wellness concept promotes healing and winding down. Along with a spa, it offers regularly scheduled workouts by well-known instructors such as the Agdal Method and Skyting Yoga in its sunken garden. The hotel staff is also happy to arrange private catering by local chefs or pack a picnic for the beach.

People absolutely fall in love with the Mayflower Inn & Spa, Auberge Resorts Collection, in the Connecticut countryside. The impeccable grounds, décor and spa, a partnership with the Well, are just a few reasons why guests return season after season.

This year’s big news is the arrival of April Bloomfield, an English chef and winner of the James Beard award for Best Chef: New York City who spearheaded the gastro-pub movement in America. The hotel selected her to pioneer its “Friends of the Mayflower” series, which invites creatives from various disciplines to participate in onsite residencies. The chef-in-residence oversees farm-to-table fare for the Inn’s dining spaces, the Tap Room and the Garden Room, a whimsical, greenhouse-inspired wonderland designed by Florida girl Celerie Kemble. Casual dishes include deviled eggs, burgers and New England clam chowder, but Bloomfield also prepares four-course tasting menus based on seasonal bounty.

High Hampton
Reform Club
Mayflower Inn

Moving to Miami

By | Art, Beauty, Culture, Dining, Events, Fashion, Florida Finds, Interior Design

Here are some of my local tips for new residents.

Being in real estate, I’m often the first person someone meets when moving to Miami. It’s only natural that they want to know everything about their exciting new town and ask for local tips. Since so many people are in the process of relocating here, I thought I’d put together a quick guide to some of my favorite places, services and events. I hope you enjoy discovering them, as well as cultivating your own gems over time.

Shopping

Miami is a shopper’s paradise. I can’t get over how many incredible stores keep opening here. For a local lifestyle boutique, I recommend the Showroom. The owner has been in retail for decades and knows the market. The South Miami location is geared more toward homewares including Tina Frey’s handmade resin pieces, while Coconut Grove carries more denim. For home, I also shop the extensive collections at Luminaire and Artefacto. Both have huge showrooms in Coral Gables, among many locations, if you’re pressed for time.

For fashion, you can’t go wrong with Neiman Marcus’s two stores here. They cater to the stylish side of Miami with more runway looks and interesting designers. I can always count on their personal shoppers, too. The Miami Design District has really taken off in the last few years. It’s become a major worldwide destination for designer brands like Dior and Hermès, as well as contemporary labels. Recent openings include Alexander McQueen and Stone Island, and there are rumors that Chanel’s coming.

Beauty

I can’t say enough good things about Gee Beauty. I wrote about this family-owned spa and boutique’s 15th anniversary in my blog last year. The Gee women constantly amaze me with their knowledge and service. Their facials are the ultimate luxury, and I love loading up on skin care, cosmetics and supplements on my way out.

If you’re from New York or Los Angeles, chances are you’re already familiar with IGK Hair. The partners behind the salon’s initials actually opened their first location here. They’re also known for their inhouse line of healthy hair products like Good Behavior Blowout Balm, the perfect protection for Miami elements.

Fitness

Miami has a serious wellness scene. There are many state-of-the-art gyms like Anatomy, but I trained one-on-one with Faheem Mujahid. Beyond being a master personal trainer, whose practices extend to yoga, meditation and breathwork, he’s a licensed life coach, mental conditioning expert and mindfulness speaker who’s helped moguls to corporate teams from major brands get on the right track. Check out his podcast and website for upcoming workshops. https://www.faheemmujahid.com/about

Dining

I like to eat light without missing out on flavorful ingredients and beautiful settings. Located on the bay in Brickell, Cipriani has one of the most gorgeous dining rooms in the city. It works on so many levels from power lunches to special occasions. Old World details and authentic cuisine instantly transport me to Italy. Milos in Miami Beach offers a similar vacation vibe. I feel like I’m in the Greek Isles with its airy décor and fresh Mediterranean seafood like whole, salt-encrusted fish and charred octopus. Its homey, private dining room is often booked, and the three-course, prix-fixe lunch is super popular.

Annual Events

Miami is as famous for its nonstop events as its moonrises. Many tourists time their holidays here around them, and locals never get any rest during season. Attending the Miami International Boat Show is a must. But of all of the events, December’s Art Basel fair is tops. Not only did it permanently transform Miami in remarkable ways, but the exchange of ideas and the people you meet during art week can’t be compared to anything else here. It feeds my soul, and I learn so much. I always come away with new inspirations and friends.

 

Chill Out with Cold Soups

By | Dining, Nutrition

When it’s too hot to even think about cooking, try a chilled soup.

These five recipes depart from well-worn classics like gazpacho and vichyssoise. Their interesting ingredients and bright colors take advantage of summer’s bounty and just might inspire you to create your own masterpiece with whatever you have on hand.

It’s cherry season, so I’m intrigued by Martha Rose Shulman’s healthier version of one of Eastern Europe’s signature soups. She decreases the amount of sugar and substitutes traditional heavy cream or sour cream with yogurt. Besides being tasty, its gorgeous pink hue is delightful.

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1013699-cold-cherry-soup

Summer is also synonymous with sweet corn. Though it’s amazing on the grill and plain boiled or steamed, why not whip those kernels into a frothy, fresh soup for supper? Martha Stewart adapted this sure-fire recipe from Basque blogger and cookbook author Aran Goyoaga. Top it with Maine lobster to be decadent.

https://www.marthastewart.com/1121843/chilled-corn-soup

Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, N.Y., pioneered the vegetarian scene, and its treasured cookbooks have inspired many home cooks for decades. This no-fuss peach soup can be jazzed up with a sprinkle of feta cheese, dollop of crème fraiche, swirl of berry coulis or dash of your favorite liqueur. It makes a great dessert or slushie, too.

https://moosewoodcooks.com/2015/08/peach-soup/

If you’re in the mood for Thai flavors, this spicy avocado cucumber soup from Food & Wine will do the trick. It stars many of the cuisine’s main ingredients like green curry paste, coconut milk, cilantro, lime and chiles, whose heat can be adjusted for your palate.

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/spicy-avocado-cucumber-soup

Who doesn’t love an old-fashioned potato leek soup? It’s the base of this asparagus masterpiece that Charleston chef Kevin Johnson shared with Saveur magazine. Along with adding herbs from thyme to tarragon for depth, he tops servings with Old Bay-seasoned boiled shrimp. It’s like having the Lowcountry in a bowl.

https://www.saveur.com/chilled-asparagus-soup-with-herbed-shrimp-recipe/