Miami Food and Dining News

Well, lots to report in the Miami Dining scene.

First of all, of course, it’s Miami Spice of course and will be until the end of September. I haven’t be able to make it to one, but finally ate at Zitz Sum with friends a couple weeks ago and really enjoyed it. It’s a small restaurant, located inside a Coral Gables office building, with an open kitchen, bamboo chairs and tropical wallpaper. Unfortunately, they didn’t have Miami Spice. My favorite menu item we ordered (most items are meant to be shared) was the Bings Sourdough Pancake with a plate-licking, Sesame Seed, Miso Honey Butter. Zitz Sum is open for Happy Hour Tuesday -Friday from 5-7 and for dinner Tuesday- Saturday. They’re closed Sunday and Monday.

In other Miami food news, Fox’s Lounge, the 70-year-old, world’s darkest bar that closed in 2015, has re-opened, although in a slightly different configuration. I was never a frequent visitor of Fox’s (although we did sometimes use the walk-up liquor window), but my Uncle Jack loved this old-school restaurant and especially it’s Prime Rib. The Prime Rib is back, as our other classic dishes Fox’s loyal customers expect, but some are served with a twist on the original. My Miami Dining spy recently ate there and said that while the cocktails are fine (she had a Martini), the kitchen seemed to be having issues. Let’s hope they get these resolved because we’re rooting for this South Miami Institution to continue and thrive.

The other restaurant that recently opened (July 25th), where an institution used to stand, is the Bayshore Club. It’s located in Coconut Grove, where Scotty’s Landing used to be. I did go to Scotty’s Landing fairly frequently, mostly with my Dad on the boat. While I appreciated the “old Miami” feel of the place, I never thought the food was that great. The Bayshore Club is part of the Grove Bay Hospitality Group and the kitchen is run by Top Chef alumni Jeff McInnis, who also helms Root and Bone and Mi’talia with his wife Janine Booth.

My Miami Dining Spy attended a “soft opening” for the Bayshore Club and sampled the Grilled Local Fish Tacos $18, a “yummy” cocktail and Guava BBQ Spareribs, which she termed “delicious”. The ribs are pricey ($48), but enough to share and come with Miami Slaw and fries. She loved the atmosphere, describing it like “being on vacation” and said there was a mix of people- Middle-Aged, Young Adults and Families with Children and “it all seemed to work.”

A peek at their website, reveals a space that looks light, bright and green, while paying homage to the location’s past with a mural with the word “Miami” and a seaplane. This historic spot, on Dinner Key, used to be the base for Pan Am’s flying boats. The menu looks good and not too pricey, with Florida favorites like Fish Dip, Ceviche and Conch Fritters, as well as Salads, Burgers and Main Dishes, liked Seared Snapper Filet. I can’t wait to try the Bayshore Club. Unfortunately, they aren’t doing Miami Spice.

In international news, there is a Dijon mustard shortage in France. Mon Dieu! This has resulted from climate change, the Russian war in Ukraine, Covid Supply Chains and rising costs. The brown seeds used to make Dijon mostly come from Canada and a heat wave last summer reduced production by 50%. In France, most stores have been wiped out of their Dijon and in those that haven’t, there’s a limit of one pot per person. I haven’t noticed a shortage here in Miami, but then again, I haven’t really been looking.

In national news, Taco Bell pulled their Mexican Pizza from their menu, apparently a big deal to many Taco Bell diners, but not to this Foodie in Miami, who rarely eats at Taco Bell. This item was a cult favorite order in 2020, but was pulled from the menu as it was difficult to keep up with the supply. After fan outcry, Taco Bell put it back on the menu at the end of May, but the supply couldn’t keep up with the demand, so it was taken back off the menu. One customer in California ordered 180 Mexican pizzas! This item, which is two tostadas filled with seasoned ground beef and topped with cheese and tomatoes, is supposed to re-appear on the menu in Mid-September. A win for Mexican Pizza lovers.

And, in other Pizza News, Pickle Pizza is now a thing. The article I read compared it to Hawaiian Pizza, in referencing it’s “love it or hate it” status. Supposedly, it was invented at Rhino’s Pizzaria in Upstate New York and is revered by fans for its sweet, salty, puckery flavor. This pizza is normally made with a white or ranch sauce (as opposed to red) and appeared at State Fairs in Minnesota, Indiana and Florida. It took off in popularity via Local and Social Media; each pizzeria makes their Pickle Pizza a little differently. I’m not sure how I feel about Pickle Pizza, but will definitely give it the old college try. Pickle flavors, such as the pickle seasoning at Trader Joe’s, are trending hard these days.

And in the last Pizza News, Dominos is leaving Italy. Apparently, the Mom and Pop stores started doing delivery and pick-up during Covid, reducing the need for Dominos. Whoever thought opening a Dominos in the birthplace of pizza was a good idea in the first place? I’m sure those Mom and Pop Italian Pizzerias would not approve of Mexican or Pickle Pizza either!

And, in my own Food News, here was my week of meals from last week. Sunday, tired after coming from the Keys, I made Rigatoni with pre-jarred red sauce and store-bought meatballs and ricotta. A little garlic bread finished off my carb-filled feast. There’s no shame in jarred sauce if it’s a good one; I like Rao’s and Del Grosso’s Sunday Marinara.

Yum!

Monday I tried True Food Kitchen in the Falls for an End-of-the-Year Tennis Lunch and it was really good. They offered Miami Spice with some interesting selections, which some of the ladies tried, but I wanted the Seasonal Corn Soup as an appetizer and they were out. The Charred Cauliflower appetizer and Hummus, that the table shared were really tasty, as was my Turkey Burger. The concept for the restaurant was developed by wellness guru Andrew Weil and revolves around his anti-inflammatory diet and using fresh, seasonal foods. It’s an “eco-chic chain serving health conscious food”, according to its website. I’d heard about it a while ago from friends, so was glad to try this restaurant located in the former Friday’s location. RIP Fridays! Another one bites the dust.

That night for dinner, I made a healthy Pork Tenderloin, crusted with crushed fennel seed, garlic, salt and olive oil and roasted over a bed of onions, apples and grapes. Since I was being so virtuous for the main course, I made stuffing as a side. Pork tenderloin is a lean meat that is an easy-to-make option for a quick dinner. Making it on the sheet pan with the ingredients underneath makes it even easier and clean-up is a breeze if you use foil on the pan. Leftovers are great for sandwiches, on pizza, in fajitas or quesadillas.

Wednesday, I whipped up a Real Simple recipe for Mango Chicken Curry, since I had mangoes from my tree and the rest of the ingredients on hand. I served it over Jasmine Rice and put toppings out- jalapeno, toasted coconut, scallions and sliced avocado- to go on top. A.J. and Phoenix, who’s becoming very good at feeding himself, dined with us. It was a light, summery dish.

Thursday night I made Bibimbap from a Hello Fresh box Emma had given us. She’s been a little swamped lately with starting her new job at U Health, so wasn’t able to use it and we reaped the benefit. Bibimbap is a Korean dish usually served with a fried egg on top, but this one had Jasmine rice, sauteed carrots and zucchini and ground pork with a sauce. We both really enjoyed it and Korean Food, like bibimbap, is trending.

Friday night we dined out in the Keys at the Italian Pizza Company. We didn’t have Mexican Pizza or Pickle Pizza, but a wood-fired Diavolo Pizza that was delicious, although a little burnt on the crust. We asked for it “extra crispy” and they complied. This is Neopolitan Pizza, flash baked in a wood-fire oven at a high temperature, so it sometimes comes out a little soft on the bottom. The Diavolo Pizza has red sauce, mozzarella, spicy Calabrian salami, Parmigiano and basil. We also got meatballs and I was so hungry, forgot to take a photo.

Well, that’s not all the Miami Dining news that’s fit to print, but it’s all I’m reporting on today. Wishing you a delightful last five weeks of Summer! Make them last- swim, splash, play, eat a tropical fruit, listen to a summer playlist, drink a fruity drink, eat a cold soup, try a Miami Spice. In other words- enjoy. It will be Fall before we know it.

Up Next: The Ultimate Turkey Burger

Gigi Camp- Hawaiian Style!

Someone asked a celebrity what the best part of being a grandparent was and he said the fact he no longer had to listen to his friends tell him how great it was. I get it! I was one of the first people of my social circle to become a grandparent, and extolled the virtues of grandparenthood. Now, a couple more have followed suit, so I’m not in the grandma club alone.

I was trying to think of why being a grandparent is so much more joyful than being a parent was. It’s not that I don’t have hopes, dreams and aspirations for my grandchildren, it’s just that there isn’t as much attachment to the outcome as when I was a parent. With our own children, there’s so much invested in their upbringing- from trying to improve on our own experiences growing up, to trying to accomplish feats and accomplishments (through our children) we may not have realized- that it’s a very complicated relationship. It’s also one fraught with constant fear.

They say when you have a child, it’s like having your heart existing outside of your body. With grandchildren, it’s kind of like their heart is part of your own heart, so there’s less separation and anxiety. It’s just a much sweeter, purer and less complicated love. Honestly, I can’t explain it adequately. It just needs to be experienced.

Phoenix eating chicken and rice. I tried to give him a tattoo for Gigi Camp (you can see the remants on his arm) but he wasn’t having it.

I’m watching The Last Movie Stars on HBO Max and Joanne Woodward explained having grandchildren as, when you have grandchildren, you know the only thing you have to do that day is to listen to them, because there won’t be endless opportunities. As a mother, I often felt I was abandoning my ambition and career opportunity by staying home with the kids. And, when I worked, there was always the fear of missing milestones in their lives. You are constantly told as a parent: “they’re only young once”, so any time spent away from them seems like a sin. There is always guilt, one way or the other, and with grandchildren, there’s just sweet surrender. And indulgence.

The Last Movies Stars was great, by the way. I highly recommend it. I am reading Bittersweet for my Book Club. It’s interesting, written by Susan Cain, the author of Quiet (about introverts), but a little heavy reading for the Summer. As my friend Guta bluntly put it: “It’s like reading a textbook.” It does help with my daily naps!

We returned from Hawaii and I was immediately thrown into Gigi mode, as Christopher and Liam were at our house. He and his wife Courtney moved from Steamboat Springs to Tallahassee and they were in Miami to pick up stuff they had left in storage (and at my house). So, I got to babysit Liam for about a half a day, while they picked up the U-Haul in Vero Beach.

Bye bye!

Liam and I did a modified Gigi Camp. We played, swam in the pool, I gave him a bath, dressed him in his Hawaiian shirt and we listened to Hawaiian music. I also let him color and when the crayon hit the paper and made a mark, he squealed in delight. I think he may be a budding artist! Alas, they’re gone now but I’m planning a trip to Tallahassee in the Fall, when it’s cooler.

Wyatt and I also did Gigi Camp, starting the next Monday. The Shark Week Shirt and Hawaiian shirt I got him in Hawaii were both too small. He’s six, but wearing size eight! Of course our theme was Hawaii. I showed him a map of the Hawaiian Islands and the four islands Zeke and I had visited. We learned Hawaiian words, listened to Hawaiian songs, watched Hawaiian movies and, of course, made Hawaiian food.

The first word I taught Wyatt was the most Hawaiian of words- Aloha, which means Hello, Goodbye and Love. It literally translates to “Breath of Life”; it means living in the present and treating each other, and nature, with love and respect. Aloha means living in harmony and they talked a lot about the “Aloha Spirit” in Hawaii and how they treat everyone as Ohana (family). Our bus driver Denis, on the Big Island, greeted us each morning with “Hello cousins, brudah, sister, antie, uncles.” It’s hard to argue with a culture whose philosophy is “Hang Loose” (with pinkie and thumb extended). Quite different than Miami!

I started Wyatt off with Pancakes, served with Coconut Syrup and Ube spread, two breakfast items we encountered in Hawaii. He loved this and had it every day for breakfast for the rest of Gigi Camp. We made a mold for a volcano kit I’d bought and I told him how Bop and I visited the Volcano National Park in Hawaii, where there’s still an active volcano (Kilauea). The first night we made Loco Moco (normally a breakfast item) for dinner and it was actually a clue that night on Jeopardy. I got it!

Tuesday was a rainy day so we went to the library, to the movies and Wyatt painted his volcano. Dinner was a Pupu Platter, which I figured any six-year old would appreciate, if for no other reason the name. While Pupu (appetizer) Platters normally consist of Egg Rolls, Spareribs and other (often fried) items, our had Grilled Chicken Sausage and Pineapple Skewers, Grilled Shishito Peppers, Steamed Shrimp Dumplings and Meatballs with Teriyaki. It was all delicious and Wyatt loved it. I taught him two new words- Ono for delicious and Ohana for family. We wore tags identifying ourself as Tutu (Grandma) and Keike (Child).

Wednesday was a big day because Wyatt’s cousin Gracie (only 2 weeks older) was coming over. We went for a walk, collected plumeria flowers and made a lei to give Gracie as an honorary member of Gigi Camp. Gracie came over, got a tattoo, and went swimming. As the grand finale, they erupted the volcano (apparently a disappointment to Wyatt) and made their own pizza for dinner. I made a Hawaiian Pizza– pineapple and ham- which they bravely tried but didn’t like. They did enjoy their own, plain cheese pizzas.

The last day of Gigi Camp went out with a bang! We had a picnic at Matheson Hammock (Chicken Salad Sandwich for me, leftover Pizza for Wyatt), Wyatt climbed trees, we then visited Fairchild Tropical Garden and the Lego exhibit. We came home, went swimming, where Wyatt insisted I get my hair wet (I’m not sure why, but he said it was more fun) and then we met Zeke, Emma and Gui for dinner. Wyatt ordered a Shirley Temple with extra cherries and got a California Roll. His Mom picked him up and I breathed a sigh of relief.

It was only four days, so I owe Wyatt a couple more.

The first year I attempted Gigi Camp, Wyatt was about three and I agreed to take him for a whole week. I way overestimated my patience and stamina for that age! After that, his Mom and I decided I would take him for one day, per years he was. Whenever I got tired during this Gigi Camp, I reminded myself he’s only six once and I’m not getting any younger. I’m also sure when he’s 14, he’s probably not going to want to spend two weeks with his Gigi, so I have to take advantage while he’s still excited to be with me.

In Hawaii, they have a beautiful tradition when someone dies of scattering the ashes at sea and then laying flower leis into the water, that float away. We saw this happen on our way to the North Shore in Oahu. I’m now re-thinking my plans for being buried vs. cremated. On the plus side, it’s cheaper and I would take up less space. On the minus side, there would be no place my family could come visit me. Not that I care, but they might. Maybe scatter my ashes in the water and plant a tree? Ashes to ashes…

Life is fleeting, it is beautiful and it’s bittersweet. And they’re only young once (I guess there is some kind of Grandma Guilt!), so we need to savor these moments while we can.

Last night in my dreams, I saw your face again, We were there in the sun, On a white, sandy beach of Hawaii.

White Sandy Beach of Hawaii by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (Iz)

Up Next: Turkey Burger with a Bang

Asian Miso-Sesame Dressing

When we visited Hawaii, Miso-Sesame Dressing was all over the islands and on many menus, so when I returned home, I wanted to make some of my own. Luckily, I already had a recipe on hand to try from the New York Times Food section called Miso-Sesame Vinaigrette That’s Good on Anything. Sounds like you can’t go wrong with this recipe and it’s a keeper. I didn’t have the light miso paste it called for, so used what I had in the fridge and if you don’t have a shallot, an onion or scallions can be substituted.

I tried this dressing on a variety of salads- Chopped Kale with toasted almond, Steak and Romaine with Mango and Chicken and Spring Mix, but I think it would be delicious in Macaroni Salad. I also used it on a Ham and Cucumber Sandwich on a Hawaiian Roll. It’s sweet, savory and nutty flavor profile would also complement Grilled Chicken Skewers, Steak or Fish. As the recipe states, it really is good on everything! Having this dressing in the fridge, makes lunchtime a breeze.

Asian Miso-Sesame Dressing

Recipe by J. Kenji Lopez-AltCourse: Salad DressingCuisine: CondimentDifficulty: Easy

This sweet and savory dressing is good on so many things. It is suggested on chopped cabbage or bitter greens, like arugula, as well as on cooked salmon.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium garlic cloves, smashed with side of knife

  • 1 small shallot, roughly chopped

  • 1 tablespoon shoyu or tamari

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon light miso paste

  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil

  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

  • 2 tablespoons white or black sesame seeds

Directions

  • Combine garlic, shallot, shoyu, vinegars, miso and sugar in a blender and blend on high speed until homogenous.
  • With the blender running on medium speed (the liquid should form a vortex but not jump up and splatter the walls of the blender), slowly drizzle in the grapeseed oil.
  • Transfer to a lidded jar. Stir in the sesame oil and sesame seeds with a spoon. Dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
  • Shake well before using. Makes 1 cup.

Notes

  • If you don’t have shoyu or tamari, substitute soy sauce.
  • I used less oil (1/4 cup) and a blend of white and black sesame seeds.

Up Next: Gigi Camp, Hawaiian Style

Michelin Meets Miami Spice

It’s that time of year again! Time to get your Foodie vibe on and try restaurants you can’t normally afford during the two months of Miami Spice, starting today. Miami Spice runs from August 1st to September 30th and features a three course, prix-fixe meal for lunches, brunches and dinners. Things are a little different this year, as dinners have two different prices ($45 and $60) available.

This addition of two price points for dinner occurred “to maintain the programs commitment to value and allow a greater number of restaurants to participate.” I think it’s a good idea, since sometimes the Miami Spice menus devolved to boring salad, chicken breast and ice cream options, in what seems like an attempt to save money, but still participate in the program. I think adding a higher price point for dinner will allow restaurants to stay true to their vision and offer more creative and enticing meals.

So, having said that, the other news that was big for Foodies in Miami were the Michelin Star awards, given earlier this year. Since Foodie in Miami is anxious to try some of these award-winning restaurants out, this article will present where the Michelin Star, Michelin Bib Gourmand and Michelin Point of View restaurants intersect. I am presenting these options to you as they are. To look at the menus, addresses and days available, go to the Miami Spice website- https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/miami-spice/restaurants.

The only restaurant with one Michelin Star participating in Miami Spice is:

  • Cote Miami. $28 Lunch

There are three Bib Gourmand Michelin restaurants on the Miami Spice rotation this year. The Bib Gourmand is awarded to “friendly establishments that serve good food at reasonable prices.” And they offer even more reasonable prices during Miami Spice.

  • Chug’s Diner. $28 Lunch, $45 Dinner.
  • Michael’s Genuine. $45 Dinner.
  • Red Rooster. $28 Lunch, $45 Dinner.

I had a hard time finding out what the Michelin “Point of View” award means, but on the Miami Spice website it notes “Michelin approved” on these restaurants, so that’s good enough for me. There is the biggest variety available for this category, with eleven restaurants awarded the Point of View.

  • Cafe La Trova. $45 Dinner.
  • LEKU at Rubell Museum. $28 Lunch, $45/$60 Dinner.
  • KYU. $28 Lunch, $60 Dinner.
  • Hoja Taqueria. $28 Lunch, $45 Dinner.
  • Hakkasan. $45 Dinner.
  • Los Fuegos. $60 Dinner.
  • Mignonette. $60 Dinner.
  • MILA. $60 Dinner.
  • Nave. $28 Brunch, $60 Dinner.
  • Orno. $60 Dinner.
  • Pao by Paul Qui. $60 Dinner
  • Tigre. $60 Dinner.

Of these restaurants, I ate at Nave for Miami Spice last year and had an excellent meal. My one time at KYU (many years ago), I loved it and would like to go back. I would also like to return to Michael’s Genuine, since it has been recently revamped, with a new menu. I would like to try the one-star Cote for lunch and have always wanted to try Pao by Paul Qui and visit the Faena, so that is on my wish list as well.

Miami Spicers- on your mark, get set, go! Only two months to try as many restaurants on YOUR wish list as possible! What’s on YOUR wish list for Miami Spice? Leave a comment of your top three restaurants below.

Up Next: Sesame-Miso Dressing

Foodie in Hawaii

While visiting Hawaii, I kind of felt the eating style was a bit of a split personality. There was plenty of fresh seafood, fruit and vegetables to eat but also a lot of processed food like Spam, tater tots, macaroni salad and always, white rice. Even my healthy Spicy Poke came with two scoops of white rice and a serving of (actually delicious) creamy macaroni salad. The average Hawaiian in the past was over 7 feet tall, so I can understand why calorie-loading was important for survival.

Hawaiian Food itself is a bit of a mixed plate, with five distinct styles reflecting the history of its settlement. There are influences from Polynesian, European and American, New England (missionaries), Whalers and Immigrants (including China, Japan, Korea, The Philippines, Puerto Rico and Portugal). All of these distinct styles were fused together to form what is now known as “Hawaiian Regional Cuisine.”

Coconuts

The one food I remember when I visited Hawaii as a child were these delicious, fluffy pancakes, served with Coconut Syrup. Coconut syrup is still popular in Hawaii and I covered my waffles with it, and topped it with toasted coconut and chopped macadamia nuts. Heavenly! I served my grandson the syrup with his pancakes for breakfast and he loved it.

Macadamia Nuts

The other thing I remembered about our visit was touring the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory and seeing how they harvested and processed the nuts. On our trip, we stopped at a Tropical Farm where they had macadamia nuts of every flavor, from savory- onion and garlic- to sweet- coffee and cinnamon- to sample, and of course buy.

Pineapple

I will never forget my Dad stopping on the side of the road and plucking a pineapple out of a field. All us kids thought we were going to get arrested! But, back at the hotel, when we sliced it up and ate it, it was the best pineapple I’d ever eaten. I had pineapple every day of our trip to the Hawaii and it was always delicious. Maui, with their sweet Maui Gold pineapples, is especially known for its pineapples. The pineapple business used to a lucrative one for Hawaii, but now most of the pineapples grown are used locally.

Fresh Fruit

Many of the Tropical Trees growing in Hawaii are the same as we have in Miami, so there are an abundance of Papayas, Mangoes, Bananas and Lychees available. They made repeat appearances at our breakfast buffets, which was much appreciated.

At the Prince Waikiki

Lilikoi

Lilikoi deserves a special mention, since I encountered it all over the Hawaiian Isles. I had this delicious, yellow colored jelly at breakfast and asked what it was. Lilikoi, or Passionfruit and it’s used in many dishes in Hawaii from cocktails, (Lilikoi Martini) to desserts, like Creme Brulee. I even brought some (USDA approved) seeds home with me to plant so I can have my own Passionfruit Vine here in Miami.

Li Hing Powder

When I had a Lilikoi cocktail at Jackie Rey’s Ohaha Grill on the Big Island, the glass was rimmed with a red seasoning I couldn’t identify so I asked the bartender. what it was. She said “It’s Li Hing”, salted plums, you can find it in any local grocery store.” Indeed, she was right. It has a very distinct (possibly aquired) taste of sweet, salty and liquoricey. In Hawaii, they sprinkle it on everything, including poke, pineapple and ice cream.

I now see this is made in Taiwan!

Coffee

Hawaii is one of the few states in the U.S. where coffee production is a significant economic industry and it is the second largest crop grown there. Kona coffee, in particular, is a prized variety, since the elevation and the volcanic soil make for perfect growing conditions. We visited a coffee farm in Kona and sampled the coffee, which is like black gold. We also bought many bags (at $27 a pop) to bring home as gifts. Interestingly enough, I liked the coffee grown in Kauai better than the Kona coffee.

Taro

Taro, a tuber, is a staple in the Hawaiian culture and its root is mashed to make poi, a dish traditionally eaten with the fingers. I remember reading about it as a child and being disappointed when I finally tasted it on our trip. As one of our tour guides on this trip said: “It tastes like wallpaper paste.” Still, the taro plant is considered to be sacred in the Hawaiian culture and poi is a must at any Luau.

They make those little Hawiian sweet rolls out of everything!

Ube

Another tuber, this one is sweeter in color, with a beautiful purple color which makes it stunning in ice cream, pancakes or bread. It can also be baked, like a sweet potato. It’s trending lately, as I’ve found Ube spread and Ube Mochi at Trader Joes.

Fresh Seafood

There’s an abundance of fresh seafood in Hawaii. What I encountered most was Ahi Tuna, (popular in poke), Ono (Wahoo) and Mahi Mahi. When I visited Hawaii with my parents and they ordered dolphin for dinner, the waiter took pains to explain we weren’t eating Flipper. My Dad told him we were from Miami and knew what dolphin was. The need to clarify the difference is probably why dolphin is now popularly known as Mahi Mahi.

Beef

There are a lot of Cattle Ranches throughout the Hawaiian Islands, so beef is plentiful and fresh. It’s used in dishes like Loco Moco– a breakfast dish which is a hamburger patty over white rice, with a fried egg and gravy. We also had Hawaiian Burgers (with grilled pineapple) and Teriyaki Steak– one of my favorites.

Spam

Spam became popular after World War II, when it was served to G.I.’s. It then became a staple in Hawaiian food, either fried and served with white rice or on a sushi roll known as musubi. I had it in a Mixed Plate and in Fried Rice; it was actually quite tasty. Spam, a processed meat product, is relatively inexpensive and non-perishable, making it an easy and affordable food for Hawaiians.

Tacos

Fish tacos are the fuel of surfers, so they are obviously a popular Hawaiian food, but I saw tacos of all types- pork, shrimp, chicken, mushroom and tofu- on the menus in Hawaii.

Macaroni Salad

This creamy and delicious side is seen all over Hawaii. When I ordered Spicy Poke, it came with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad. Can you say carb overload? The delivery person said I hadn’t indicated a side, so he just brought it with the side people normally order- macaroni salad. It’s a staple of the Plate Lunch, which originated with Plantation workers in Hawaii. The bland creamy dish balances out the salty, sweet and saucy proteins served on a Plate Lunch.

This macaroni salad with my spicy poke was delicious.

Huli Huli Chicken

This is a whole chicken that’s been marinated in a terayaki-like sauce, put on a rotisserie and grilled over mesquite wood. Huli means turn in Hawaiian, so this dish means turn-turn, like the chicken does when in rotates over the fire. It is ono! In other words, delicious.

At Ray’s on the North Shore of Oahu.

Kalua Pork

This pork has nothing to do with the coffee flavored drink, but everything to do with Hawaii. The traditional Kalua Pork was a whole pig, stuffed with hot coals, wrapped in banana leaves and buried in the ground in an Imu– an underground oven- to cook for many hours. Digging the pig out is part of the ritual at a Luau and the succulent, tender pork is served alongside many other sides. Since most people don’t have access to an Imu, a modification in cooking uses Pork Shoulder, rubbed with salt and cooked either in a Dutch Oven or Slow Cooker. Liquid Smoke seasoning adds the smokey flavor.

Sesame-Miso Dressing

This was the dressing I encountered all over Hawaii and it’s delicious! They even served it, with Spring Mix, at the Breakfast Buffet at the Prince Waikiki hotel. Salad for breakfast? Why not? It’s nutty, umami taste lends itself to many different uses.

Breakfast with salad.

Mai Tai

The one Tiki drink seen ALL over Hawaii, was the Mai Tai. Our favorite Mai Tai was at $20 version at the Mai Tai lounge in the historic Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki. Although they claimed to have invented the Mai Tai, there is some disputing that fact, but no disputing it was our favorite Mai Tai of our trip. Zeke kept trying Mai Tais at other places throughout our trip, but none compared. That was my first and last Mai Tai. I figured I’d had the best and wanted to stop with that.

Mai Tai at the Mai Tai Lounge.

Dole Whip

Yes, that Dole Whip you’ve had at Disney World next to the Enchanted Tiki Birds is a big dessert in Hawaii. We ate ours a Lappert’s, a famous Ice Cream shop that started in Kauai. It was exactly like the one you get at Disney World, but served with fresh chopped pineapple on top. Shaved Ice (like a snow cone) is also a big frozen treat in Hawaii, especially the Rainbow flavor, but alas, I didn’t try any. That much sugar would make me go to sleep and I didn’t want to waste any of my vacation sleeping in the middle of the day.

Of course, this article only touches on the some of the foods of Hawaii. There are so many more I didn’t get to try. I guess that just means I’ll have to go back. They say they don’t say goodbye in Hawaii but say instead, “Ahui hou kakou”- until we meet again.

Ito is an eating boy, he never get enough from fish and poi He eat everything, he don’t care what He even eat the shell from the coconut.

Ito Eats, from Blue Hawaii

Up Next: Sesame-Miso Dressing

Travel Tricks from a Pro

They say 2022 is the year for “Revenge Travel.”

With all the delays and cancellations in flights, lost luggage and shortages of everything, including staffing for the airlines, traveling in these times seems more like an exercise in masochism, than any kind of revenge. However, after having recently traveled across the United States from Florida to Hawaii with only one, carry-on suitcase (and a personal item), I feel qualified to offer some Travel Tips you might find useful on your trips.

At the Grand Wailea in Maui 18 years after our honeymoon there!

In 1980, I attended training to be a Flight Attendant for Air Florida (now defunct). The training was for six weeks and took place by the airport. Although we had to learn about many things, including medical training, the theory of aerodynamics and countless airport codes, one of the lessons I remember to this day was about how to pack a suitcase.

  • Pack shoes around the edge and work inward & fill shoes with items. I usually put underwear, sports bras and socks in my shoes, but they also provide a good buffer if you’re packing something breakable.
  • Roll your clothes. This works great with jeans, but also t-shirts and dresses that don’t wrinkle and allows you to get a lot more clothes into your suitcase.

These next tips aren’t from my Flight Attendant Training, but just good tips I’ve learned over the years.

  • Pick a color theme (2 or 3 colors). This will make it easier to mix and match and change up outfits for your trip.
  • Pack beige sandals. Sandals are needed for most trips (if even just to walk to the pool in), and if you pack beige ones, they are a neutral that will go with everything.

Ok, I have a short story on the beige sandals.

I bought new ones- Clark’s Cloudsteppers– at DSW for my vacation. They weren’t the cutest sandals, but they are comfortable and have arch support. Imagine my dismay to see an elderly woman on our tour wearing a loud floral dress and my same sandals (different color) to our group’s Luau in Maui. When I commented we had the same shoes, she said:

I know and you should see the ones I got my mother- they are really cute. They have sequins and everything.

Dindee, elderly Luau-goer.

After being properly humiliated by this turn of events, I had a couple Mai Tais to deaden the pain at the Luau.

Also on your packing list…

  • A long-sleeve button down shirt can double as a bathing suit cover-up. If you’re running out of space in your suitcase.
  • If you pack a hard covered purse, you can put breakables inside.
  • Pack a light, nylon backpack or flat bag to use for the Pool, Beach or Hiking.
  • Bring a Sac purse for travel. I brought three different purses on this trip, but this was my go-to. It packs like a dream and fits a lot of items.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle. My daughter-in-law got me a stainless steel HydroFlask for Mother’s Day, but if you’re running out of space or want to lighten your load, consider a plastic, refillable water container. We got two free ones in Maui.
  • Bring a reusable Laundry Bag. What’s up with all the plastic laundry bags in the hotels? I bring my own, reusable cloth bag to stash my dirties in. They’re inexpensive and available at places like Marshalls, Home Goods or online; this makes it so much easier when you return from your trip to just throw dirty clothes into the laundry. I’m not, however, above using the plastic ones for wet swimsuits or packing breakable items
  • A Rain Poncho. Although I brought an umbrella on this trip, I think the edge in rain protection goes to the poncho, as its lighter and less bulky to pack. Also, you can sometimes get wet with an umbrella, if the rain’s blowing sideways. I prefer clear ones to the ugly orange ones.

Two things I seem to always forget are a hairbrush and sunglasses, so now I just keep cheap versions in the side pocket of my suitcase. Also, don’t forget the chargers! Phone, camera, Apple watch, Kindle, headphones, laptop, all need chargers and don’t forget to grab them from your hotel room. These are one of the most forgotten items. Also, I always try to pack big and small Ziploc bags. They are light, take up little space and can prove to be invaluable.

Don’t leave home without them.

As far as traveling clothes go, I love to wear yoga pants (super comfortable) and a long sleeve workout shirt, with a light jacket on top. You never know what the temperature will be on the plane (one leg of our trip was FREEZING) and, even if you could find a blanket on the airplane (good luck!), you probably don’t want to use it.

Other traveling essentials:

  • Shoes that are easy to take off. For TSA. I’ve traveled in cowboy boots before- big mistake.
  • Noise-cancelling earphones. To drown out that crunching seat mate or crying baby, these are a life-saver!
  • Snacks. Snacks are essential, since you don’t want to be at the mercy of the airline’s selection of food (and by the way airlines, a can of Pringles is NOT a meal!) While United gave us a meal AND a snack on the way to Honolulu, American Airlines served a bag of pretzels and a drink for a five-hour flight. Even if you plan on eating at the airport in between flights, sometimes you may not have time, depending on flight delays, so be like a Girl Scout and come prepared.

The best things to pack as snacks are items that- like you- travel well. Fruit is a good choice, especially apples, but dried fruit is also an option. Olives and nuts are portable and nutritious and, if I know my flight won’t be serving food, I supplement them with veggies, hummus and cheese and crackers for a tasty charcuterie plate en route.

Dining Out.

My last piece of advice while traveling regards dining out. I like to book some dinners/lunches for trips (all our breakfasts were included on our tour), but also leave some meals open for experimentation and whimsy. Obviously, Open Table and Resy are easy ways to make reservations, but often, there are no times available and they tend to be inflexible. Your next call should be directly to the restaurant to try and sweet- talk someone into getting you a table. If they can’t give you the reservation, they may tell you what time to try and come to walk in.

If that fails, and you have an American Express card, call the concierge service to try and get you in. This is how we got reservations at Mama’s Fish House, a restaurant in Maui that books up months in advance. Since we told them it was our anniversary (a few weeks late), this helped get us in on a busy Friday night. We didn’t score one of the coveted tables by the water, but we did get a cute table in the Lounge. Success with this method depends on American Express’s relationship with the restaurant in question.

At last resort, try just walking in to your desired restaurant. They may have a table open due a last-minute to cancellation, or the wait may be short.

Pro Tip: Many restaurants keep the bar open for walk-ins. We learned this trick from our friends Brooks and Sharon, who actually prefer to sit at the bar when dining out. We did this a couple times on this trip and had a very pleasant experience. The food is usually the same and you have the undivided (well, maybe) attention of the bartender/server.

Like Mikey said, try it, you might like it!

On way to Mama’s Fish House.

Oh somewhere over the rainbow Blue birds fly And the dreams that you dreamed of. Dreams really do come true, ooh-ooh.

Iz, aka Israel Kamakawinwo’oele

Up Next: Hawaiian Food

Food Trends 2022 (second 1/2)

These are Food Trends I’ve noticed happening in the second half of 2022. My observations come from eating out, following Social Media posts and reading food articles and newsletters. In particular, there was an article in the NYT Food section about The Fancy Food Show held in New York recently, which alerts forecasters to upcoming trends.

What does the future hold for Food Trends? Foodie in Miami stares into her Instagram account to make some predictions.
  • Gin. Gin seems to be having a moment, with many different flavors becoming available. When I recently purchased Bombay Sapphire Gin, it came with a small bottle of Bombay Bramble flavored gin. There are also gins flavored with strawberry, cucumber, Rose wine and Earl Grey Tea. Some of these are good for G & T’s, others for martinis. There’s also a Miami gin called Tempt launched by Wayne Eldred, the former owner of Tarpon Bend. It is billed as a Tropical Gin with simple elegance and a citrusy taste, available at select eateries in Miami.
This drink could have gin in it.
  • Lapsong Souchong Tea. This type of tea, a smoked tea of the Camellia sinensis leaf, was mentioned in two NYT Food articles recently, one for a mocktail and one as a flavor popping up in new products, so it must be trending. This tea can be used and infused in cocktails, main dishes and ice cream.
  • Wellness Waters. Also known as “functional beverages”, these waters (both sparkling and still) are supplemented with every thing from Magnesium, B-Vitamins and more. They promise everything from anti-inflammatory properties, to stress relief, sharpening focus and beyond. Do they work or is this the new snake-oil of our day? Wellness and stress relief is obviously on the forefront of everyone’s mind with the Pandemic, so it makes sense these products are trending.
  • Collagen supplements. This isn’t exactly a food, but I have seen this popping up ALL over Instagram, so it must be trending hard. Celebrities, from Jennifer Aniston, Elle McPherson to Jillian Michaels (of Biggest Loser fame) are hawking these collagen supplements you stir into beverages. Ingesting collagen is supposed to improve your skin, hair and nails. Does it work? I don’t know- ask your dermatologist.
  • Korean Food. Ok, so Thai and Vietnamese cuisine have had their day (and I love both so I hope their day never ends), but it’s time to broaden our horizons and try other Asian cuisines. The front page of the NYT featured Korean Essentials, with recommended dishes to try cooking. Korean food uses rice, veggies, seafood and meat, with very little dairy. Bibimbap, a rice dish that’s popular right now is an example of this cuisine. Also seasoned, roasted seaweed called gim and the spicy condiment gochujang, a red chili paste, are also trending. Luckily we have a Korean market in Miami called Kimchi Mart in Palmetto Bay, should you wish to try your hand at Korean cooking. Or just eat out.
As seen on another FIM post.
  • Bourbon flavored… everything. Bourbon, long a favorite in Kentucky, home to the Bourbon Trail, is trending and showing up in products as diverse as coffee, cheeses and candies. Bourbon Ball anyone?
  • Plant-based Alternative Proteins. Is a trend that shows no sign of stopping, if anything, it’s getting bigger as the products being developed improve in quality and taste. Health, always important, has become the ultimate luxury pre, post and mid Pandemic. Hungry Girl just put out a newsletter with 16 plant-based Food Finds, so those pesky plants are sneaking into our everyday snacks and treats as well.
  • Upscale Steak and Seafood Restaurants. Maybe it was the pent-up desire built from not being able to dine out in the Pandemic, but consumers realize what a luxury it is to eat out and eat well. The restaurant industry has responded in kind with top-of-the-market Meats (think Wagyu and Kobe) and Seafood in new restaurants opening Post-Pandemic.
Surf ‘N Turf.
  • Upscale Japanese/Sushi Restaurants. In the same vein, people who love sushi are ready to kick it up a notch with expensive, Omakase meals where the chef decides which dishes to serve diners, based on the freshest ingredients that day. Sushi’s never been cheap, but people are now willing to shell out big bucks to experience premium seafood and sushi dinners. Naoe, on Brickell, is one restaurant that serves the Omakase menu. Your mouth will thank you; your pocketbook will not.
Sushi.
  • Tasting Menus & Prix Fixe Menus. This may also be a result of the Pandemic and restaurants wanting to control food costs with selecting exactly what will be served instead of trying to field a huge menu. It also appeals to diners ready to have a special experience at restaurants, instead of same-old, same-old. I’ve seen this trend cropping up in New York and Miami, two good predictors of Dining Trends. Zits Sum, the Asian-inspired restaurant in Coral Gables helmed by chef Pablo Zitsmann, is now doing a six-course tasting menu for $85 per person, with an optional sake/wine pairing for $35 more. Personally, I love tasting menus, as they let you have a little taste of everything. My husband, who can be a cheapo, does not.
  • Pizza restaurants. Pizza is perhaps the ultimate comfort food and it’s also affordable, making it a win-win. New pizza restaurants seem to be popping up on a regular basis. Whether it’s a restaurant that serves your basic pies, or a fancy wood-fired pizza with creative ingredients, pizza is a trend that keeps on rolling out. The Miami Herald recently named three Miami spots- O ‘Munaciello, La Leggenda Pizzeria and Stanzione– as finalists in the 50 Top Pizza places, by an Italian pizza guide, so go get yourself a slice!
  • Artisinal Ice Cream. First it was Azucar, then Sweet Melody and then Portland original, Salt and Straw. Another comfort food treat that won’t break the bank, ice cream is loved by virtually all. With wild and delicious flavors like Orange Zest with Olive Oil and Dark Chocolate (Azucar) and Goat Cheese Marionberry with Habanero (Salt & Straw), this isn’t your typical Whip and Dip experience. Sweet Melody has a Zodiac flavor that changes with the sun signs. This month’s Gemini features Whipped Coffee Ice Cream with Biscoff Cookie Butter. Sounds delicious! They also give you a free cone on your birthday if you register to get their e-mails.
Ice Cream in Colorado.
  • Global Condiments. Remember when we only had the basic Heinz Ketchup, Yellow Mustard and Hellmans Mayo on the condiment aisle? Condiments have gone crazy these days and taken their inspo from all over the world! Curry Ketchup, Japanese BBQ Sauce, Kimchi Mayo, Hot Honey Dijon Mustard are just the beginning. Visiting the condiment aisle at Publix is now like taking a trip to different countries, with a dizzying array of choices.

Up Next: Hawaii.

Happy Fourth of July!

4000 weeks.

That’s the book Jeff Bridges, one of my favorite actors, is reading and it’s the amount of time we have in our life if we live until 80. It seems like a lot and, then again, not enough.

Today would have been my Dad’s 87th birthday. He died at 67. At the time he died- almost 20 years ago- that seemed young to me. Now, at 62 years old, it definitely seems young. My Dad was extroverted, a thrill-seeker and the life of every party. He flew planes, captained boats, water skied, snow skied (even with his oxygen tank) and, when he couldn’t drive his Porsche anymore, went around the neighborhood on his electric scooter. His last trip- a couple months before he died- was to the Abacos, Bahamas. He took his boat- The Wild Rice- over and back. Even at the end of his life, he was looking for new adventures. As an introverted, shy little girl, stuck in my room reading most of the time, my Dad pushed me to do things I never would have tried otherwise.

Any week I don’t get to see my grandchildren seems like a week wasted to me. Last week, I was supposed to watch them twice, but both times fell through. (Insert sad face emoji). We did celebrate Zeke’s 60th birthday with dinner at North Italia. Emma met us for drinks first at Riviera, where Symphony and Antoinette serenaded him with a sweet rendition of Happy Birthday and a slice of Key Lime Pie, which we ate before dinner at North Italia, a restaurant at Dadeland.

It has Beef Carpaccio (for Zeke), Expresso Martinis (for Emma) and the most delicious Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad I was planning on getting, but after the White Truffle Cheese Bread and the toasted bread with the Beef Carpaccio, I was ‘breaded” out and got a Hanger Steak with grilled asparagus. Zeke really liked his Squid Ink Pasta and Emma her Spicy Rigatoni; we ended with a Hazelnut Torta. Our waiter was excellent and service was great. We’ll be back! North Italia is a chain restaurant and the menu varies with each location.