Fabulous Friday – Pavlova


If you’ve been to New Zealand or Australia or are just a dessert lover, you’ve probably heard of the pavlova, a meringue based cake named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. It’s such a popular dessert for special occasions that the culinary world in both countries is dueling to this day over the nationality of its creator. Read Full Post & Comments »

Miami Fine Wine & Spirits Festival


I can’t believe I lived in the Grove for a year and never knew about the Miami Fine Wine & Spirits Festival in Peacock Park, 2820 McFarlane Road. Well, fortunately it’s not too late as it’s coming around this year , this weekend, on November 22 and 23. Read Full Post & Comments »

Restaurant Reviews


Guest blogpost by Irene S. Levine

Where to look for restaurant reviews? Everyone has their personal favorite online review sites. Some of mine include: Open Table, Zagat, Yelp, Chowhound and Trip Advisor (Karen’s note: a personal fave in Miami is Urbanspoon with reviews by local media including yours truly). Whichever one or ones you choose, here are my tips for navigating and making use of these and other restaurant search sites to help you find a great meal:

1) Compare the ease of searching for information on the different sites (as well as their mobile apps). Some sites are intuitive and user-friendly; others are more frustrating, slower, and time-consuming.

2) Check out how comprehensive the site is for the information you are seeking. Some sites work better for people in different age groups or for restaurants in different geographical locations.

3) Make sure the reviews you are reading are timely and up-to-date. In fact, if you haven’t made a reservation beforehand, it’s always best to call ahead and make sure the restaurant is still in business before you travel.

4) Many of the sites allow you to make reservations and print out maps and directions on how to get there. If you can’t make a reservation directly on the review site, you can often do so through the URL for the restaurant.

5) Check out the “meaty” discussion boards on whatever sites you use, in addition to the reviews.

6) There is often controversy about whether rankings are totally unbiased or have been written by owners and friends. The best way to protect yourself: Don’t depend on any one review or site exclusively.

7) Don’t forget to look at the pictures; many of the sites include pictures of the establishment and/or the dishes.

8) Don’t give too much credence to outlier reviews. Every kitchen and every diner has a bad day.

9) Supplement online information with restaurant reviews from newspapers, food and travel magazines, and recommendations from friends.

10) Pay it forward: Contribute your own reviews to one or more of the sites so others can benefit from your experience.

Bon appetit!

Irene S. Levine is the producer of More Time To Travel, a website providing information and inspiration for travelers over-50. Many of her blog posts and articles published in the Chicago Tribune focus on culinary travel. Check out Quest for the Best for additional tips on finding the best meals while traveling.


Burrata (pictured here), mozzarella and stracciatella are specialties


If Tony Gallo and Chef Pietro Vardeu  have their way, they’ll be the best promoters of Italian regional cuisine in Miami. Owners of Sardinia in Sunset Harbour, they recently opened Moye,  829 SW 1st Avenue (t.305-372-5168)  showcasing the cuisine of Apulia, known for its soft creamy cheeses, fruity wines and seafood. Read Full Post & Comments »

Fabulous Friday – Airline Food


Just when you thought the airlines couldn’t pack in more seats in economy, they come up with a seat with even less pitch and soon, less padding. Even the seat pockets for storing magazines and a book seem to be smaller. Business Class domestically also seems to be little better than the old economy class. What to do? Treat yourself and bring your own inflight picnic. What’s the best airline food to bring?

It’s hard to top gourmet purveyor Petrossian for its new “Caviar Picnic in the Sky” for the honor of a best inflight meal. Take note — – Tsar Cut “filet mignon” of Norwegian lightly smoked salmon (l lb), crème fraiche, toast points, caviar (remember Jackie O’s caviar diet?)  and mother of pearl spoons to scoop out the precious treasure.

And it all comes in a special navy blue Petrossian tote that you can use for future picnics. The cost? $125 plus the cost of whatever caviar you choose. There are six varieties (most expensive listed first): Royal Transmontanus, Alverta President Transmontanus, Tsar Imperial Siberian, Tsar Imperial Shassetra, Tsar Imperial Ossetra and Tsar Imperial Kaluga. Depending on the variety and the weight– from 30 to 125 grams it ranges from $205.50 to $1,581.50.

Regrettably it’s only sold at Tom Bradley Terminal at  Los Angeles International Airport (maybe worth rerouting yourself through LAX)? Or, if you prefer to treat yourself before the flight, there’s also a Petrossian restaurant which sells caviar T-nis,  caviar blinis, caviar salad, other gourmet delicacies and of course, champagne by the glass.

For other strategies about the best airline food to bring along check out a previous blogpost on the topic with input from other travel bloggers.

Bon voyage. Indeed!

Note: The tote isn’t pictured in the photo and the Caviar Powder is an addition to the picnic.

Books + Meetups + Fashion

Burberry Prorsum crepe de chine trench coat


Miami is sometimes stereotyped as being a literary desert. The success of the Miami  Book Fair International  attracting over 250,000 people has helped to dispel this notion as have the general efforts of Mitch Kaplan and his Books & Books. What is not widely known is the number  of literary societies and book clubs, and all are alive and thriving and combine reading and socializing. And to wear to the book club,  check out this fab new trench coat with a literary bent. Read Full Post & Comments »

A Cocktail that Got Me to Switch

I used to drink cosmopolitans and old fashioneds and then switched to martinis where I’ve stayed. The bourbon cocktail with filthy cherries (yes, that’s really the name) could get me to switch. For its 25th anniversary Don Shula’s Restaurants all over the country (and I thought they were just in Florida) commissioned  a custom bourbon and, in its honor, a specialty cocktail that does it justice. Read Full Post & Comments »

Bebel Gilberto, Others in Free Outdoor Jazz

Akin Yai


Are you a fan of bossa nova? Bebel Gilberto, daughter of Brazilian superstar Joao Gilberto, along with four other jazz stars will be performing in two free outdoor concerts on November 14th and 15th at The Catalina Hotel 1732 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139 | (305) 674-1160. Read Full Post & Comments »

Frost Art Museum: Wang Qingsong


The works of Wang Qingsong, considered one of China’s most innovative contemporary artists, will be on display at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at FIU,from November 8 – January 18, 2015. This is the second in the series of  three exhibits by leading contemporary Chinese artists at the Frost, a series we in Miami are fortunate to have. There will be a lecture by the artist at 4 p.m. on the 8th followed by the opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Read Full Post & Comments »

The Traymore Restaurant

40 different varieties of gin in a unique Gin Bar


The new Traymore Restaurant at Metropolitan by COMO,  2445 Collins Avenue (T.305-695-3600), is unlike most on South Beach. Not surprising since the hotel belongs to uber successful Asian hotelier Christina Ong who owns COMO Hotels, five star sanctuaries of the quietly rich and well traveled.  Read Full Post & Comments »


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