Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sugar Art Insider: A Quick Guide to Cake Design

Starting in 2006 with the Food Network Challenge series, a set of countdown-style competitions that usually involved massive cake designs and drama, the world of cakes and sugar artistry was opened to the average TV viewer, and everyone wanted in. Due to the success of shows like Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss, the popularity of cake design has gone through the roof, so bakeries have upped the ante. Getting your own custom design in South Florida is the way to go, and it’s so much easier if you know your sugar art. We’ve got everything from the revamped classics to the newest trends of confectionary design, so you’re ready for that next cake appointment.

Flora & Fauna
Any hotel package cake book will tell you, fresh flowers on a cake are a good choice. They match your décor, and they’re beautiful, and that’s fine. But the cake artists at Ever After Cake Designs & Elite Cakes can do you one better: edible gumpaste flowers made to look like the real thing. We’re not talking the frosting roses we see made in the supermarket. Made from a paste of confectioner’s sugar, cornstarch, and gelatin, these flowers are handmade petal by petal, and then painted with food coloring and petal dust to perfection. Once a land of simple roses and daisies, cake artists are pushing the envelope with more intricate flowers like peonies, orchids, and lotus. No matter how exotic, bring a picture and these artists can make it happen.  

Fun with Chocolate
Ever wanted to make a mini-version of yourself for your cake, but the plastic cake toppers just don’t match? Cake design has always gone beyond the 2D fondant cutouts, but the world knew little of it until now: modeling chocolate. The best of the best in this category are definitely Elite Cakes’ divorce cakes and Mighty Fine Cakes’ large scale creations, shown here. A mixture of chocolate and corn syrup, it works just like clay, and under the right artist’s hands can turn into any 3D decoration. When it’s dyed with food coloring or painted it doesn’t even look like chocolate, but it’s edible. Cartoon characters, baby carriages, dogs, shoes, and even people are all possible, and all delicious. Who wouldn’t want a little chocolate version of themselves to munch on with their red velvet creation?

Lots of people probably know about piping on a cake or using a stencil, but painting? Yes, painting & printing on cakes, especially wedding cakes, has made huge leaps in popularity this year. We found these particular beauties, as well as others throughout this article, at Elegant Temptations, one of the premiere providers for over the top and luxurious cake design.  After covering a cake in fondant, food coloring is applied either through an airbrushing technique or literally with a paint brush. For wedding or birthday cakes that want to be clean and elegant but still have that pop of color and design, painted cakes are the chic way to go.

Pop It
The cake ball used to only have one purpose: to use up that stale, leftover cake by crumbling it, mixing it with frosting, and then coating in chocolate or some other sweetness. Now places like Kelly Diaz-Demoya’s Hey Cupcake Bakery will bake these pops fresh, and create elaborate stands for events. The cake pop has even recently evolved in structure, using special molds to bake little balls of cake that are sometimes injected with sweet fillings. It’s improved upon the super sweet original by making it more of a mini cake on a stick.  

Unusual Cake Tiers
If you’re looking to surprise your guests with something visually interesting and off-kilter, then perhaps your cake’s tiers need to defy gravity. Jessica Rothschild of Rock Star Pastries & Sandy Rios-Monsante of Sugar Fancies Cake & Sweets Boutique are two great options for these creations. The “topsy-turvy” cake, also called “whimsical” or “madhatter”, uses an optical illusion to make the cakes look slanted, almost as if they’re going to fall. The secret? A circular indent is carved in the lower tier that is the size of the upper tier, so that when stacked the leveling is still even, with cake rising up around it in a slant. For the formal wedding cake that’s cutting edge, maybe some of your tiers aren’t cake at all. Glass stands or acrylic boxes filled with flowers or from Elegant Temptations can add a special touch of luxury and intrigue.

The Gourmet Cupcake
Gone are the days when cupcakes were just vanilla’s bake sale staple. Today’s bakers are creating incredible things with cupcakes. The popularity of cupcake shows like DC Cupcakes from TLC has given rise to similar boutiques across the country, including here in South Florida. One boutique is the Sweetness Bake Shop & Café. With over 100 varieties of cupcakes, baker Yamile has made almost every kind of sweetness in cupcake form like the Guayabera and the Oreo Overdose. For those 21 and over, there are even spiked cupcakes. For cupcake design, two great choices are Sugar Fancies & Unique Designers Cake. Their designs go beyond the frosting puff to include fondant, gumpaste, and anything else you’d normally expect on the cupcake’s larger cousin. Whether it’s champagne or sugar pearls, every cupcake at these two bakeries is a shot of pastry goodness.

That’s Cake?!
To completely wow your guests, the biggest and best is the carved or “3D” cake. Caroline Montoya of Unique Designers Cake & Susie Stallings of Susie’s Scrumptious Sweets take the cake in this category. With a thin pastry knife in hand, these cake artists becomes a cake sculptor, shaving off pieces of cake bit by bit until they’ve created the shape of whatever it is you want them to make. Purses, food, motorcycles, most anything you can imagine can be turned into cake these days. The key? Attention to detail. To make it look this good, cake artists need lots of pictures. If it’s something portable like a camera, giving them a model object they can touch and feel is best. 

Gettin' Cheesy in South Florida

by Erik Mathes

There are few foods in America quite as polarizing as cheese, and it’s not difficult to understand why.  From gooey textures to off-putting aromas, these edibles are either adored or abhorred by the masses.  The thing is, it seems that even those who love it -- and especially those who loathe it -- simply don't understand the big picture when it comes to cheese.  

If you ask the average American cheese-eater what the savory substance is made of, why it looks the way it does, and why there are so many appearances, scents, flavors, and textures that fit underneath its heading, they’d probably respond with a dull, blank stare.  This would certainly be different in Europe, where cheese-as-art has long been ingrained into the cultures (no pun intended) of most nations. Here, we’ve been weaned on Kraft singles and Cracker Barrel. As children, our sponge-like minds soaked it up when Looney Tunes portrayed Limburger as something as potent and avoidable as a stinkbomb.  

While I have never tried Limburger (I’m brainwashed, brainwashed, I tell you!), I’ve dabbled in some pretty nose-tingling cheeses in my day, and I’ve learned the incredibly valuable lesson to never judge one by its olfactory presence alone.  You see, the taste of a supremely smelly variety could very well be indirectly proportional to its odor, possessing a pleasant mellowness; or, cheese that causes relatively mild nasal reactions could surprise you with its pungency on your tongue.  It’s for this reason that I urge all of you fromagynists (that’s a new word I’ve coined for cheese-haters that doesn’t exactly adhere to rational English-language standards) to reconsider your stance and find out what exactly this misunderstood snack is all about.  

For starters, it’s silly to go around proclaiming that you like or dislike “cheese,” as there are a handful of subcategories that fit beneath the umbrella term, and you may feel differently about each one.  Books by experts on the subject break down the world’s 700 to 1,000 recognized cheeses into between five and seven general types. My source, The Murray’s Cheese Handbook, lists seven (to which I’ll add examples in parentheses):  Fresh (mozzarella, chevre), bloomy (brie, camembert), washed rind (tallegio, livarot), semisoft (fontina, morbier), firm (cheddar, manchego), hard (aged gouda, Parmigiano-Reggiano), and blue (St. Agur, gorgonzola).  Then, delving deeper, you must also consider if the milk used in making a cheese came from a cow, goat, sheep, or, dare I say, water buffalo. That's before you even figure out the country of origin and what special techniques were applied in producing it to distinguish it from the crowd.  So many variables, so many unique tastes, so little time.  

If you’re ready to make the leap from commercial, processed “cheese” to artisanal creations concocted in small batches and celebrated worldwide, head over to Cheese Culture, located at 813 East Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.  Its owners, Mitch and Susan Phipps, are a hilarious, fun-loving couple who “strive to be better at being different” when running their quirky queso shop.  Spend enough time inside, and you’ll surely get wrapped up in conversation about everything from how cheesemaking was likely first discovered (a phenomenal story involving a young boy from ancient Rome who made a shocking find after transporting fresh milk inside his era’s container of choice, a cow’s stomach), to their favorite (and least favorite) wine and cheese pairings.  Plus, they’ll make it easier than unwrapping a slice of processed yellow American for you to decide which real cheeses you prefer, by letting you to taste an array of samples and providing detailed background info on each one. 

According to Mitch, he and Susan have “taken the time to eat and drink a lot,” so they know plenty of perfect pairings from personal experimentation. It can be as easy as matching virtually any dessert wine with any blue cheese (Mad Cuvée with Colston Bassett Stilton, for example, is simply divine). Other times, it can be more nuanced, such as when selecting aged cheeses (like gouda, cheddar, pecorino, or manchego) to counterpart with fruitier reds.  As for what to avoid, Mitch says Arneis (an Italian white) paired with Dauphinoise brie is “like an explosion of ammonia in your mouth,” as are most whites with most brie. It pays to ask around and do your research when proper pairing is part of your plan.  

All of this cheesy talk is just the tip of the ol’ wedge when it comes to this meltingly delicious meal-maker, and I hope my words serve to motivate you to find your nearest ‘monger so you can get your fromage-fest started.  With so many flavors to sort through, you might as well take your time to savor each one slowly and take notes on how you feel. Once you’re hooked on the good stuff, you’ll know exactly how to navigate your way toward the next cheesy discovery.  

Monday, June 4, 2012

Blue Collar

It’s rare you discover a restaurant in Miami where you feel as much love in the environment as you do at Blue Collar, found on Biscayne Boulevard and NE 68th Street. A tiny gourmet diner that makes up for what it lacks in size with food that’s exponentially tastier than any diner fare you’ve ever dabbled in, Blue Collar is the self-actualization of owner/executive chef Daniel Serfer, a bold culinary whiz who took a chance at cooking the cuisine he’s most passionate about to see if the palates of the public feel the same. So far, his investment has proven to be spot-on, with locals flocking to Blue Collar since its opening in mid-January.

Chef Serfer’s menu features elevated interpretations of what a highly-skilled grandmother would cook, utilizing classic techniques and the best ingredients he can get his hands on. He crafts a rib special (baby backs, spares, prime rib, short ribs, etc.) a braise special (brisket, ox tails, pork shoulder...), and a parm special (chicken, veal, eggplant...) everyday, in addition to mouthwatering sandwiches -- like tempura grouper po’ boys and homemade veggie burgers -- salads (like Jen’s zero-anchovy Caesar), and fresh catch, including grilled swordfish and crispy-skin snapper.  There are also globally-influenced “noshes,” an extensive selection of vegetable dishes that will convert haters into absolute fanatics, and wine and craft beer galore -- everything you could possibly want in an affordable chill spot.
First, I sampled some noshes: Cuban sandwich spring rolls with Serrano ham and Manchego, wild mushroom and goat cheese croquettes with tart pomegranate-fig jam, and Chanukah latkes (a.k.a. potato pancakes, served year-round, thank goodness), topped with homemade applesauce -- marvelous offerings, indeed. Next, a plate of pork and beans, blanketed with a fried egg and served with thick triangles of buttered toast -- not like the stuff you’re used to pouring from a can. With a sweet, smoky barbecue flavor and flecked with savory bits of bacon and Berkshire sausage, these simmered white beans are anything but ordinary, and the richness of the egg yolk takes you further to the edge of decadence. 

After non-stop devouring, I took a break to enjoy some IBC root beer and my immediate surroundings:  a packed house, the gray wall to my right adorned with funky old-fashioned lunch boxes, and an open kitchen straight ahead, with two chefs grinding it out in a state of completely-controlled chaos.  Then, one of them sauntered right over to my table with a platter of four different veggies to sample. 
It was Chef Serfer himself, and he was making his rounds throughout the restaurant to see if everything was exceeding his diners’ expectations -- and building solid relationships with his clientele.  It would’ve been impossible for me to choose four things from the 20-plus items on his “Veg Chalkboard,” so Chef Serfer selected his favorites -- caramelized Brussels sprouts, green peas with mint and extra-virgin olive oil, mango chow with citrus and jalapeno, and roasted artichoke hearts with lemon aioli. Each one was top-notch, and you can pick your own favorite four for just $14 to create a vegetable plate for the ages, including grilled asparagus with blue cheese, roasted beets with goat cheese, homemade french fries, and buttered baby bok choy. 

Shrimp and grits came next, and Blue Collar’s version is fantastic. Trugole cheese gives his grits a mashed potato consistency, and the shrimp come swimming in a spicy, New Orleans-style BBQ sauce. The baby back ribs and braised brisket were equally spectacular; both incredibly tender and served with delicious sides like “warm bacony potato salad,” full of buttery fingerlings and heavenly bits of smoky bacon, and curried cauliflower puree, with seductive sweetness and subtle spice. 

With a staff that radiates positive energy and cuisine that makes you feel like you’re back in grandma’s kitchen, Blue Collar has earned a place in my heart (and its food a spot in my stomach).  It’s even worth going to just for dessert -- like the butterscotch heath bar bread pudding, made with challah and dolloped with cayenne-kicked whipped cream.  With wallet-friendly, creative, feel-good food and a welcoming crew, Blue Collar is truly a place where anyone can go for an excellent plate of grub that’s heavy on the love

What a Mom Wants…

To cherish our sunshine, to kiss our cuts & scrapes, to hear all about everything that matters to us…

AroundTown brings you our TOP ideas to give back to the Mom in your life with something meaningful, something relaxing and most of all, a little bit of the ones she loves…
Our busy lives don’t leave much time for really being present in special moments with our families. Taking a class provides for some great quality time to reconnect & just enjoy with your mom. 

A cooking class is a delicious & fun way to spend an evening together as a family or just with mom.  Families that cook together, stay together!  Try Lenore Nolan-Ryan Cooking School’s regular weekly classes that are hands-on, fun and informative. Check out the Spring Schedule for a broad variety of classes to choose from – find the perfect one for your date night with mom! Visit • 954.300.1055

Create a unique & lasting memento by commissioning one of the many artists at Bakehouse Art Complex to create a custom portrait of the kids, the grandkids or mom herself.  The Bakehouse provides portable studio space for artists so that you can choose to do something classic or funky in various media from watercolor, oil, collage, sculpture, etc.  Instructional opportunities are also available.  Visit for more information or email
For nature and history lovers, a unique opportunity to take your mom on a stroll through the lovely green splendor of Coconut Grove in the cool evening with HistoryMiami Eco-historian Frank Schena. Learn about the early residents, the abundant flora and fauna, and the various environmentalists that have called this neighborhood home such as Marjorie Stoneman Douglas. Mother’s Day Coconut Grove Twilight Eco-Walk Tour scheduled for Sunday, May 13 from 7-9 p.m. advanced reservations and payment are required. Email or call • 305.375.1621

Mom’s with little ones are always looking for fun ways to entertain. Miami Science Museum took on the task for Mother’s Day weekend and added some bonuses for mom! Saturday before Mother’s Day, May 12th from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Miami Science Museum will have fun activities for the whole family; Mom’s Quick Fix workshop - hosted by our MiaSci Moms, giveaways, Food Trucks and more! Moms receive a free entry for the day! Children & adults regular museum admission. For more information visit

What Mom doesn’t love a show with her special someone or even the whole family? A unique experience where Classical Music meets Contemporary Dance with the CrossTown String Quartet and Karen Peterson and Dancers are performing at the New World School of the Arts on Mother’s Day, May 13th at 4pm.  All Mothers get ½ price tickets. Tickets are available at the door. For information visit

Jewelry is the quintessential Mother’s Day gift, but here is an option with a twist...  Shantilly jewelry, designed by Shandi Levy, developed from the mastery of childhood crafting where a mother taught her daughter to create artwork and accessories using scraps of fabric. This knowledge evolved into an eclectic & unique line of designer jewelry incorporating vintage scarves and exotic textiles. So if you have access to grandma’s scarf, or a special piece of fabric, you can transform your keepsake into a gorgeous jewelry memento for the mom in your life. For new moms, Shandi’s unique, customized ring collection, S.L., can display the names or initials of their little babes so that they may carry them wherever they go.  Shantilly and S.L. may be found at GUYandGIRL (Shelborne Hotel) or at
The joys of treating your mom to a relaxing day with you... and maybe even some cocktails (if age appropriate). Turnberry Isle Miami Resort offers “Mom Rocks,” which includes a 60-minute Hot Stone massage, an express Facial and Turnberry Pedicure, plus access to the state-of-the-art fitness center and the resort’s tranquil Cascata Pool. Available through May 31, 2011. To reserve the “Mom Rocks” spa package, visit • call (305) 933-6930

Every Mother’s Day needs a brunch so here is our pick for the year.
Deering Estate at Cutler’s annual Mother’s Day Brunch on Sunday, May 13, 2012, from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm. You will find a variety of appetizing dishes and desserts provided by Chef David Schwadron. Continue the experience by touring the grand Stone House and historic Richmond Cottage, and take in the natural beauty and grandeur of the Estate. This 444-acre natural and archeological preserve and historic site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Kids ages 4 and under brunch for free. Advance reservations are required. For more information and to view the menu, please visit • 305-235-1668 ext. 233.

26TH Israel Film Festival Miami

Enriching the American vision of Israeli life and culture through the powerful medium of film, the Israel Film Festival has definitively become the largest showcase of Israeli films in the United States.  Running May 2-10, 2012 in Miami, this 26th anniversary year celebrates the finest of Israeli cinema, encompassing over 25 dynamic titles, including award-winning features, documentaries, and student shorts.

Opening Night Gala Salsa Celebration is a Tribute to the Intercultural Exchange Between the Latino and Israeli Communities Featuring the Florida Premiere of Johanan Weller’s Hebrew/Spanish Language Film, Salsa Tel Aviv.

This exciting red carpet event will kick off with a reception at Rouge Waterfront Dining and then will proceed to the Intracoastal Cinemas for the Awards Presentation and Premiere Screening of Salsa Tel Aviv.

Salsa Tel Aviv is a musical romantic comedy abundant with vibrant humor and sensuality. It centers on Vicky (Angelica Vale), a talented Mexican Salsa dancer and a single mother who journys to Israel in pursuit of her ex-husband in order to reunite her family. On the plane she meets Yoni, a young Israeli scientist, who is on his way back to Israel to marry his rich girlfriend, Dafna. Vicki and Yoni are from completely different worlds – almost everything divides them: religion, culture and social class. Despite everything, they slowly develop a romance filled with passion, jealousy, misunderstandings and comical situations, resulting in a surprise twist ending that no one sees coming. (2011, 100 min.)

In the last two and a half decades, the Israel Film Festival has presented nearly 800 feature films, documentaries, television dramas and short films to over 900,000 filmgoers and brought hundreds of Israeli filmmakers to the U.S. to share their art. 

YAA Celebrates Grand Opening of New Museum & Broward County Library

On Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6 with the grand opening of the spectacular new 55,000 square-foot Young At Art Museum and Broward County Library in Davie, Fla. A weekend of exciting celebrations and festivities is planned for the new Museum, which will be the epicenter of cultural arts education for children and their families.

Young At Art Museum will feature four permanent, themed galleries: GreenScapes, which encourages children and adults to reconnect with nature by discovering the potential of art to call attention to environmental issues; CultureScapes, which celebrates and brings new understanding of our culturally diverse world through the eyes and art of contemporary artists; WonderScapes, a world of imagery dedicated to childhood development through art, literacy and play; and ArtScapes, which provides a thematic journey of art history where art crosses time, place and culture.  All four galleries were designed by the award-winning team of Peter and Sharon Exley of Chicago-based Architecture Is Fun, Inc., whose firm has dedicated its practice to creating family friendly designs meant to stimulate and educate young minds about the world around them. Projects include the Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum and the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

Visitors also will enjoy the unique YAA Institute, Showcased-Artist Studios/Installations, a National Traveling Exhibition Gallery, a Teen Center and Recording Studio, a Museum Gift Shop, the Tossed Up Salad Café and a 10,000 square-foot Broward County Library. A preschool and early childhood learning center will offer parents an arts-based curriculum for their young children.

“Through the joint development of this facility and its many cooperative programs, this is a groundbreaking partnership and one that we know will be a model for other museums and libraries throughout the country,” said Robert Cannon, Director of Broward County Libraries. “This unique facility will provide cooperative, hands-on computer and reading literacy programs and art education activities for families in South Florida as well as visitors.”

The Young At Art Institute features cutting edge equipment and studios that incorporate natural lighting, the truest form of illumination, especially for painting. The Young At Art Institute’s design allows students space to work outside, adding a nature component to their art education. Age-appropriate classes in painting and drawing, ceramics, mixed media, cartooning, printmaking, digital and darkroom photography and 4-D video design will be offered.

Showcased-Artists Studios/Installations will feature, among others, Kenny Scharf, Pablo Cano, Edouard Duval Carrie, Kenichi Yokono and Leonel Matheu, who collaborated with museum designers and fabricators to infuse their creative spirit and artful voice throughout the exhibition spaces.

The brainchild of artist and Young At Art Museum Executive Director Mindy Shrago, Young At Art had humble beginnings in a donated, 3,200 square-foot storefront in 1989. At a time when school arts programs were being scaled back, her focus was to make a difference in art education for children and their families in South Florida. The Museum’s exhibitions and programs quickly outgrew the space and Young At Art moved to a new expanded location in Davie in 1998.

To carry out the mission of Young At Art, “One child at a time,” Shrago formed collaborations with major corporations such as Target, IKEA, Coventry Health Care of Florida and PNC to create community outreach programs such as Target First Fridays, ArtSTART on the Go and Alice’s Wonderscapes. Under Shrago’s direction, Young At Art also conducts an arts-based program for at-risk girls in conjunction with PACE Center for Girls and ArtREACH, an after-school program dedicated to bringing the arts to children living in homeless family shelters.

“Building on 22 years of creative educational experiences and having served more than1.5 million children during that time, Young At Art has mounted its most important exhibition to date, which is the opening of our fantastic new building,” said Shrago. “By inspiring families to experience art together in meaningful ways, we are developing a new generation of tomorrow’s patrons, advocates and supporters of arts-based education.”

Projected to serve more than 500,000 children and families during its first year, the new Young At Art Museum will be a unique community gathering place and a groundbreaking model that bridges the gap between adult-oriented art museums and those specifically designed to appeal to children.

“The opening of our permanent home is testament to the steadfast support of our community, governmental and corporate partners who understand the importance of art and creative thinking and the positive impact it has on our children and families,” said Shrago.

The Museum, which is under consideration for Gold LEED-certification status by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), was designed by architect Margi Glavovic Nothard of Glavovic Studio, Fort Lauderdale. The new Museum integrates beauty, function and energy efficiency with cantilevered walls, natural woods, maximum use of natural lighting throughout the facility, a cistern for collecting rainwater, water-efficient landscaping and preferred parking for hybrid vehicles. The building itself exemplifies Young At Art’s mission of providing inspiring, interactive experiences in which art is central to shaping young minds and enriching the community, as well as a commitment to conservation and recycling. It is both a work of art and a teaching tool, incorporating the latest environmental-conscious technologies.

“There are so many environmental qualities that are an aesthetic expression of the building,” said Glavovic Nothard. “As we get ready to open, what strikes me the most about the new Young at Art Museum and the Broward County Library is a sense of the universal. Young At Art embraces everyone, yet, evokes a poetic sense of belonging and a provocative point of view.”

Young At Art is the only children’s museum in Florida and one of only six children’s museums in the nation to have achieved accreditation by the American Association of 

LARGEST Israel dance festival in the U.S. celebrates the land of Israel with more than 800 dancers on stage

Israeli Dance Troupes from Mexico, Panama, Brazil & Canada will join 600 dancers from our own Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center at the 16th edition of Festival Yachad - one of the biggest Israeli Dance Festivals around the world.

This year’s theme for Festival Yachad will be “Shir,” or in Hebrew “Music.” It will celebrate, through dance, our rich heritage and connection to the Land of Israel using colorful costumes, unique musical arrangements and choreography, dramatic sound and light effects and beautiful scenery.

“It is our way to bring Israeli Folk Dance to all segments of our community” explains Sofia Ackermann, co-chairperson of this one-of-a-kind event, when asked about why such dynamic performances in such different venues.

And, when asked about the theme - “Music”, Roger Weiger, Artistic Director of Festival Yachad, explains in details, “Each choreography will portray a different rhythm that influences our rich Israeli Folklore. We will pay tribute to decades of beautiful Hebrew songs and will celebrate many incredible Israeli artists and groups that became famous though Music Festivals like the Eurovision or Cochav Nolad. Music, being the common thread of the Festival, allows choreographers and dancers to captivate their audiences with their passion towards Israel.  All performances promise to be educational, artistic and brimming with Jewish content.”

The Bamachol Dance Program is a year-round program at the Michael-Ann Russell JCC and has over 650 dancers, ages 3-35, divided into 25 different Israeli Dance Troupes. They attend Dance Festivals around the world and this year alone their dancers traveled to Panama, Brazil, Orlando, New York, Mexico, Barcelona, Vancouver and Israel.

“It is truly a comprehensive program”, says Esther Fuhrman, co-chairperson of the Bamachol Dance Program and also a teacher and a dancer - “It is a wonderful way to educate our children about their Heritage while they perform our Jewish Traditions, besides, Israeli Dance is one of the few activities that is at the same time physical, artistic, social, educational, fun and Jewish!”  

The European Film Festival Turns Miami into the Capital of Foreign Independent Cinema

The “European Film Festival”, produced by Red Chemistry, Inc., welcomes the community and all film enthusiasts to the debut of 25 foreign independent feature films from 10 different European countries on May 31 through June 7. 

The festival is committed to bring Miami’s attention to European cultural and social issues as well as showcase a completed student feature and short film program at FIU (Florida International University) and local high schools. Students from Ischs Charter School, Miami Beach High, and Hialeah High participated in the competition by analyzing and sorting through the best European short films judged by a panel of international film experts such as directors, script writers, producers, and teachers. The festival’s educational curriculum provides students with the ability to identify tools and methods of filmmaking while exposing them to European culture and social issues. 

The best selected and winners of the European short film competition will be screened at the Key Biscayne Park on Friday, May 4, in celebration of the Festival’s kickoff. The competition is judged by a panel of international film experts such as directors, script writers, producers, and teachers. Also, on opening night, filmmaker Eva Ionesco will attend the opening night of the festival on May 31 to present her film “My Little Princess” at Miami Beach Cinematheque at 7 pm. Screenings of the European feature film program will take place at official venues, Miami Beach Cinematheque, O’Cinema and FIU South campus.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Restaurant Feature: Haven

1237 Lincoln Road
Miami Beach

We first came across this Culinary Artist at the Taste of the Garden in Miami Beach’s Botanical Garden.  It was love at first bite.  After the 3rd helping of the Poke Ahi Tuna with Yam Puree & Coconut Green Curry, I was hooked! I had to go straight to the source.  Starting with jalapeño stuffed olives in my feVer Martini, I knew I was in for a wild ride.  The gastro-lounge atmosphere brings you to a cocktail party instead of merely dining at a restaurant.  The vibe changes as the night progresses, along with the décor, which encompasses you in a world created by projected screens.

As we explored the inventive creations it was almost as if multiple chefs had been flown in to prepare their own gastronomic specialties. It became obvious through the culinary chronicles that we were experiencing; Erickson’s approach reflects his passion for travel and regional cuisines.  Using the freshest, local organic ingredients, Erickson has found a way to combine his worldly skill and intricate flavors all on one menu that is easy to please anyone’s palate.  The attention to detail and devotion to the taste bud makes it so you literally can’t go wrong, from the Crackle-Pop Spicy Tuna Roll to the Duck Duck Quail & Tater Tots with Maytag bleu, even the Jerk Chicken Skewers made a statement, I have never known chicken to melt in your mouth.  Do not leave this establishment without experiencing the liquid nitrogen iced confections!

All the way from Arizona, to Texas, to the kitchen of Zuma in Miami, Todd Erickson’s reputation has preceded him and he has become one of the Stand Out Chefs of Miami!  Make a reservation now before you have to line up at the door to get a taste of Haven.

--Suzanne Okun

Wine, Dine & Support ACTORS PLAYHOUSE

21st Annual
Reach for the Stars Gala Auction
at the Miracle Theatre on April 14

Extravagant worldwide travel, a one-year lease for a 2012 Lexus RX 350, lavish spa treatments, signed sports memorabilia, internationally renowned art, luxury cruise packages, and many more of life’s indulgences will await guests’ bids at the 21st Annual Reach for the Stars Gala Auction. Presented by Actors’ Playhouse and Lexus of Kendall, this exciting auction takes place on Saturday, April 14, 2012 from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables.

Attendees will enjoy exquisite fare provided by 30 of Coral Gables’ finest restaurants and open bars sponsored by Bacardi U.S.A. and Premier Beverage Company. Bob Soper, former CBS Miami meteorologist, and celebrity auctioneer for the past 21 years, will conduct the live auction with Actors’ Playhouse Artistic Director David Arisco.

Bid on over $300,000 worth of live and silent auction items including international business class airline tickets, worldwide hotel travel packages and cruises, exclusive celebrity wine dinners at popular South Florida restaurants, jewelry, golf packages, fine art, furniture, sports collectors items, spa visits, objets d’art, couture clothing, membership gift certificates and other items - all of which are contributed on behalf of the theatre.  Headlining this year’s auction is a one-year lease for a 2012 Lexus RX350. Supporters can visit the Actors’ Playhouse website to preview some of the items available:

Proceeds from this annual major fundraising event for Actors’ Playhouse, a 501©(3) nonprofit organization, will provide funding for capital projects of the Miracle Theatre and general operations.

Lexus of Kendall is the presenting sponsor of this year’s event, together with Platinum Sponsors, Air Berlin and InterContinental Hotels & Resorts. Gold Sponsors include AT&T The Real Yellow Pages, Azamara Club Cruises, Bacardi U.S.A., Biltmore Hotel, ClubMed, Seabourn, Steinway & Sons and Tiffany & Co.
AroundTown Magazine is a proud Silver Sponsor of the event.
Participating restaurants include Anacapri on Ponce, BGR The Burger Joint, California Pizza Kitchen, Catering by Lovables, Cibo Wine Bar, Cold Stone Creamery, Cookies By Design, Courtyard Café by Marriott Coral Gables, CrepeMaker on the Mile, Edda’s Cake Designs, Edible Arrangements, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, John Martin’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, La Cofradia Restaurant, Le Provencal, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Ortanique on the Mile, Panera Bread, Pasha’s, Rincon Argentino, Romanicos Chocolate, Ruth’s Chris Steak House,  Seasons 52, Special Events Catering By Les, Starbucks Coffee, Talavera Cocina Mexicana, Tarpon Bend Raw Bar & Grill, The Café at Books & Books by Chef Allen, The Dome Restaurant, Bar & Lounge, The Westin Colonnade of Coral Gables, Tropical Chinese Restaurant, and Yuga Restaurant.
Reservations for this black-tie-optional event on April 14 are $150 per person and include gourmet dining, open bars, and the opportunity to bid on live and silent auction items.  To preview auction items or make your reservation, visit our web site at Reservations may also be made through the Box Office at 305-444-9293.

Meet the Artist: Aramis O'Reilly

AroundTown is proud to introduce Aramis O’Reilly. Aramis O’Reilly, professor of Art at New World School of the Arts, received his MFA in painting from Florida International University and attended both the University of Connecticut and Florida International University for his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree.

His work has been shown in various national and international exhibitions and is included in numerous private and public collections. Besides his studio work he has been involved in several large scale public art projects. Professor O’Reilly is also a recipient of the Cintas Fellowship Award.

“My work has been an exercise in creating moments that describe the play between the act of creation and the deeper forces of design with purpose. My work represents nature, vaguely abstracted yet certain in its design. My hope is to reach a state in each work where the play between representation and abstraction offers a means to express the exuberance of creation.”

What careers besides Art have you had?
I have had other jobs like most other artists who do not have a reasonable plan B. That is, plan A is making art all of time and plan B is, refer plan A. Fortunately, I have been living plan A for all of my adult life. This includes, sharing my experiences as an artist with other artists as a member of the faculty at the New World School of the Arts. I suppose that this has been the most fulfilling of all the “careers” that I have had outside of my true vocation.

What was your first experience that enticed you to pursue a career in Art?
I remember as a child looking through the World Book Encyclopedia and finding the section on Painting. I was transfixed by those pages that were filled with paintings from the spectrum of the history of art. I knew then that I wanted to be part of something that was so extraordinary.

Some of your paintings are expressive representations of the processes of creation. Why this topic in particular?
What the “processes of creation” means is ‘how’ life is transformed into other states both physical and perhaps even in intangible ways. Behind these processes loom larger questions such as, why? These questions I have no answers for, only faith. My work allows me to see the question asked over and over again. Maybe by seeing this question asked from different perspectives some response may emerge as a faint and distant echo.

 ….what inspires you?
I have heard say, “ may inspiration find me while I am working.” I think that somehow we create these moments of inspiration and for me it’s based on curiosity. Curiosity is everything.

You have a unique and vivid color scheme and a certain depth. How do you create your style?
I feel that style is not something that I should consciously pursue. It’s more like the trail that I leave behind. I cannot help but make things the way I do. Each person has that dilemma or ability or liability, depends on where one wants to place the onus of authorship.
In your own words…share with AT readers something unique about you personally?
I don’t know if I can recognize something unique about me. I see myself as pretty much ‘unremarkable’. I just like doing this thing we call art, a lot.