Mia at Biscayne's Grander Opening

Mia at Biscayne has been open for just about a month but it wasn’t until last night’s VIP Grand Opening that it really exploded onto the downtown Miami scene.

Mia VIP Grand OpeningIn August I got a chance to check out the restaurant, lounge and nightclub at a smaller grand opening.  The space boasts four main areas: a main dining room that can be transformed into a dance floor, a second dining room with a sushi bar, an upstairs lounge area that overlooks the main room with private tables for food and bottle service, and an outdoor area with couches.

Last night the energy of the crowd rivaled any club on South Beach.  Hundreds of people packed the inside and outside of Mia, with a long Mia VIP Grand Openingline waiting to get in.  Once inside, guests sipped on complimentary Imperia vodka cocktails and were treated to two live performances.

American Idol season 1 contestant Christina Christian took the stage first, warming up the crowd with feel-good rock and roll.  After a brief intermission of dance Jencarlos Canelamusic, award winning actor and singer Jencarlos Canela came on, charming the ladies with a mix of English and Spanish songs.

With last night’s packed party, Mia at Biscayne is now officially part of the neighborhood.  I’ll see you there on the weekends!

Mia at Biscayne is located at the corner of Flagler Street and Biscayne Boulevard.  It opens at 11am every day and closes at 2am Sunday through Wednesday and 5am Thursday through Saturday.

Celebrating Beatlemania in Miami

Today is September 9, 2009, or 9/09/09.  Besides being a cool-looking date, it’s a special day for Beatles fans.  Today the digitally remastered versions of the Beatles studio albums will be released, as will “The Beatles: Rock Band,” a video game that lets you play along with the group.

Why 9/09/09?  Besides songs like “One After 909″ and “Revolution #9,” the number 9 had special meaning for John Lennon.  It was his lucky number; important things seemed to happen on the 9th day of the month.  Both he and his son Sean were born on October 9th (1940 and 1975 respectively), Brian Epstein first saw the Beatles at the Cavern Club on November 9, 1961, the Beatles got their recording contract on May 9, 1962, and John met Yoko on November 9, 1966.  So it’s fitting that such a big release takes place on this date.

The Beatles on Ed SullivanEven though I was born long after the Beatles broke up, I’ve been a Beatles fan for longer than I can remember.  I think it started when my parents used to sing “All Together Now” to me when I was an infant.  Growing up, my room was covered in Beatles posters.  My first celebrity crush was Paul McCartney (the early 1960s version, not the guy who was in his 50s when I was a teenager).  I had parties with a Beatles theme.  My first dance with my husband at our wedding was to a Beatles song.  Ever since I was young and still to this day, precious brain space is taken up by random Beatles facts and song lyrics.

So yeah, you could say I’m a big Beatles fan.

DeauvilleI’m celebrating 9/09/09 by checking out the Deauville Beach Resort in Miami Beach.  Never heard of it?  If you’re a Beatles fan, chances are you’ve seen it on TV.

In a performance that has become part of Rock and Roll history, the Beatles made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York City on February 9, 1964.  Lesser known is the Beatles’ second appearance on the show a week later on February 16th.  This performance was broadcast live via satellite from the Napoleon Ballroom at the Deauville Beach Resort.  In front of their Florida fans, the Beatles performed “She Loves You,” “This Boy,” “All My Loving,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “From Me To You,” “Til There Was You,” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”

The Fab Four spent a week at the Deauville, enjoying Miami’s sun and surf.

Deauville lobbyIn 1964 the Deauville was a popular hangout spot for stars like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.  Today the Deauville remains a full-service hotel but it is a bit off the beaten path for Miami Beach tourists.  At 67th Street and Collins Avenue it’s far away from the excitement of South Beach, and more than 20 blocks north of the recently renovated Deauville elevatorFontainebleau Resort.

I visited the Deauville to imagine what it was like when Beatlemania swept through.  It wasn’t too hard — much of the hotel looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 1960s.  Stepping into the lobby is like stepping back in time.  From the floor to the chandeliers, to the “this car up” sign that lights up when the elevator arrives, everything is reminiscent of another era.  Though the lobby was empty when I was there, I could picture it packed with screaming fans.

Deauville pool deckDeauville poolOutside, the pool deck has the charm of a decade long gone.  Looking out it’s easy to imagine John, Paul, George and Ringo splashing around in their “Help!” style swim trunks.  And sure enough, the Napoleon Ballroom is still there, up a few steps from the lobby.

It was neat to look at the beach and imagine what the Beatles thought about their first visit to Miami.  It certainly must have been an exciting trip for the four lads from Liverpool, who had just flown in from chilly New York City.

Though many years have gone by and popular music has changed, it’s nice to find a bit of Beatles history right here in Miami.

Good Things Come in Tre

You don’t have to head to Lincoln Road for nice al fresco dining.  Tre Italian Bistro is making Flagler Street in downtown Miami the new place for outdoor eating and people watching.

TreAs the saying goes, good things come in threes, a number that has special meaning for the restaurant.  It’s both its name (tre means three in Italian), and its location (the corner of Third and East Flagler Streets).  Tre is the third downtown restaurant from the three partners of La Loggia, an Italian restaurant across from the courthouse.

Fortunately there are more than three tables at Tre because the restaurant has been busy since opening last month.  The good news for those who have been hungry for a place like this in downtown is that the food is good — and shows potential to get better.

TreDespite its small bar area, Tre has a good mix of cocktails, all priced at $9.  There are the standard South Florida favorites like mojitos and caipirinhas, as well as more adventurous drinks like the Tre-Tini (a cucumber and honeydew vodka martini), the Per Lei (Campari and mandarin vodka with a splash of Sprite), and the rich sounding Stracciatella Martini (vanilla vodka, Godiva light and dark liqueurs and vanilla ice cream).

Though I’m not a big sangria fan I really liked Tre’s white sangria.  It’s fruity without being too sweet, and is light and refreshing on a hot day.  A glass costs $6 and a 1 liter carafe is $18.

Both the lunch and dinner menus feature a little bit of everything.  There are salads, sandwiches, burgers, pizza and classic Italian pasta dishes and entrées.

Like any good Italian restaurant, Tre has great bread.  Be sure to have some of the delicious homemade focaccia while you’re looking over the dinner menu.  Or go for lunch and have a sandwich on it.  It’s even better when dipped in olive oil that the servers pour onto your bread plate.

Tre carpaccioIf you’re a big meatball fan you may be disappointed by Vinnie’s meatballs ($7), which are a little dry and under-seasoned (it didn’t help that mine were served on the cool side).  I did like the beef carpaccio ($12), thinly sliced seared filet mignon topped with baby arugula.  The meat tasted great though the large portion of arugula needed olive oil or some sort of dressing.  I’m not sure whether this omission was intentional or accidental.  One quick fix — the servers could leave the olive oil bottles on the table after they pour it onto the bread plate.  Update: bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar are now left on the table.

Tre pizzaTre joins a handful of Italian restaurants in downtown that serve individual thin crust pizzas — though you can’t fault them for joining the crowd because their pizza is pretty good.  Each pizza is made in a wood oven and is big enough for two people.  The Queen Margherita ($9) keeps it simple and tasty, with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil.  If you prefer more toppings try the Fig and Prosciutto ($12), a nice balance of salty and sweet with figs, prosciutto di parma, catupiry cheese and tomato sauce.

Tre linguineIf you like seafood with some spice, I highly recommend the seafood linguine ($13).  It’s black linguine in a fra diavolo sauce with a generous serving of shrimp, scallops and calamari.  My pasta came out cooked perfectly, just slightly al dente.  Also delicious is the lobster and champagne risotto ($14).  It’s creamy without being too heavy, with big chunks of lobster.

If you’re not into pasta try the shiitake crusted mahi-mahi served with sautéed bok choy and bell peppers ($15).  The slightly sweet and tangy sauce is so good you’ll wish there was more of it.  Another good choice is the roasted chicken marinated in beer and fresh herbs served with truffle roasted potatoes ($14).

For dessert you can’t go wrong with the Tropical Tiramisu ($6), lady fingers and mascarpone layered with strawberries and peaches and topped with toasted coconut, or the Dulce de Leche Soufflé ($7), a warm caramel soufflé with vanilla ice cream and freshly ground cinnamon.  Or order the Stracciatella Martini, which has enough ice cream to double as a dessert.

Tre also offers a weekend brunch, featuring traditional breakfast fare.  Dishes cost $12 and include a Mimosa, Bloody Mary, glass of sangria, fresh orange juice or cappuccino.  Want a second or third drink?  They cost $3, of course!

Tre Italian Bistro is located at 270 East Flagler Street in downtown Miami.  It opens at 11am on weekdays and 9am on weekends, and closes at 10pm Monday through Wednesday, 11pm Thursday through Saturday, and 4pm on Sunday.  For more visit tremiami.com.

AG Pick Under $15: 2000 Ribereno Tempranillo

Spanish Tempranillo can be a tough varietal for some red wine drinkers.  Its flavors range from bright red fruits to earth and spice, to strong and musty barnyard notes.  If those last flavors have turned you off to Tempranillo, the 2000 Ribereño Tempranillo will get you to come back.

Ribereno TempranilloRibereño Tempranillo is from Ribera del Duero in north central Spain.  It’s made with 100% Tempranillo grapes and aged for 4 months in American oak.

The 2000 Ribereño Tempranillo has a nice balance of fruit and rustic Old World characteristics.  For a wine that costs less than $15, it’s surprisingly lush and layered.

Aromas of red fruits and spice introduce flavors of plum, raspberries and dried cherries.  These give way to earthy notes of cinnamon, tobacco and a hint of cedar.  Well-integrated tannins give the wine a silky mouthfeel and make it easy to drink.  The finish is lingering and pleasant.

The 2000 Ribereño Tempranillo is a food-friendly wine that works well with a variety of grilled meats and tomato-based dishes.  Pair it with chicken, pork, lamb, beef and stews.

A bottle of the 2000 Ribereño Tempranillo costs around $11.

Great Food for a Great Cause at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

It’s a feast for all the senses that benefits a great cause — the 16th Annual Celebrity Chefs Food Tasting & Auction is coming to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on September 25th.

Seminole Hard RockChefs from more than 20 local restaurants will serve up delicious dishes for the event benefiting the Ann Storck Center.  The Broward County-based center assists nearly 300 children and adults who have developmental disabilities including epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism and mental retardation.

Among the restaurants that will be at the Celebrity Chefs Food Tasting are Chef Allen’s, 3030 Ocean, Bin 595 Eclectic Grille & Wine Bar, Blue Martini, Graziano’s, Hard Rock Café, Jimmie’s Chocolates and Lola’s on Harrison.

Guests will have the opportunity to bid in a silent auction that features a selection of luxury items as well as a unique live auction called “Bids for Kids,” where guests can sponsor a child attending the Ann Storck Center’s Preschool.

The event will also feature a special performance from Cirque Dreams.

The 16th Annual Celebrity Chefs Food Tasting & Auction takes place Friday, September 25th at 7pm at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood.  Tickets cost $125.  For more information visit annstorckcenter.org/chefs.