Fernanda's International Market, a treasure trove of rare ingredients and made-to-order gourmet sandwiches, bakes robust breads and fine pastries. Among a troop of hearty sandwiches, the Martorano ($8.99) stands out for its spicy temper and muscular blend of sopressata and cappacola meats. The Churchill ($8.99) loads its taste gun with Branston pickle relish and fights hunger pangs on ham-coated beaches, cheddar cheese fields, and hot mustard streets. Fernanda's also sells prepared food by the pound and hard-to-find international groceries like Thai lemon grass.
Montreal native Tony Bianco teamed up with executive chef Enzo Addario to create Hot Tomatoe, a traditional Italian bistro boasting a menu that brims with house-made, cooked-to-order pastas, flavorful meat dishes, and full- and light-bodied Italian wines. Their regional cuisine typically integrates up to seven essential ingredients—oil, garlic, basil, tomatoes, pasta, and olives—from which Snow White’s seven dwarves drew their names. In addition, the staff goes shopping for fresh ingredients three to four days a week to supplement both seasonal compositions and year-round dishes, which include veal parmigiana, filet mignon, and penne norma.
As rum collector and enthusiast Robert Burr sensed what he termed the "awakening of rum" in 2005, he decided to direct his passion toward educating the community. Drawing from an earlier career in magazine publishing, he compiled a list of 100 of his favorite rums each year into a free guide, which he gave to local liquor stores. As he developed connections with other enthusiasts and tasting judges, he formed the International Rum Expert Panel, an organization of 36 cane-spirit lovers from around the world. He gathers the majority of these experts in Miami Beach each year for the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, a celebration of the libation's international varieties. Through the festival's schedule of events, Robert aims to honor iconic spirits while also featuring lesser-known rum makers that guests might not otherwise find without finding and deciphering Blackbeard's long-lost treasure-map pajamas.
Held at the opulent DoubleTree by Hilton, the annual event has grown to include hundreds of rums hailing from countries such as Jamaica, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. As they mingle in spacious convention halls, visitors navigate a labyrinth of bartenders and brand ambassadors proffering island apparel, art, and books. Industry experts expound on the history, origins, and childhood fears of the libation during weekend seminars and bartender competitions. Attendees also revel at a two-day tasting exhibition, late-night parties, and VIP events at various Miami venues.
At the Miami Fine Chocolate & Food Show, vendors and chocolate lovers alike descend upon South Florida during a celebration of life's sweeter side. An estimated 3,000 foodies visit the evening event, witnessing and tasting the creations of some of the region's and the world's most distinguished chefs.
Themed areas make navigating the event a cinch. In designated chocolate zones, gourmet retailers, bakers, and pastry chefs win the hearts of taste buds with their sweets, which range from handmade goods to organic and small-batch treats. For a more savory experience, Restaurant Row showcases the eats of more than 30 South Florida restaurants. Pairing seminars, meanwhile, discuss what edibles go well together, and live cooking demonstrations share tricks of the trade, such as how to turn a chef's hat into an oversized drinking goblet. There will also be a number of beer, wine, and spirits vendors on hand and attendees can enjoy music performances throughout the space.
Nestled within the food show, the Cigar Cellar & Lounge sponsors the Miami Smoke Affair. Cigar connoisseurs stroll the booths of 20 brands, learning from the factory reps about how the cigars are made, what they're made from, and how they should be smoked. As they meander through the space, they sip on unlimited glasses of craft beer and nibble on bites of food. They can also dig into cigar-packed goody bags in the tented smoking lounge.
Though classic drinks such as the old fashioned may once have reigned in the stately bars of Miami's art-deco hotels, today a high-energy club scene pushes bartenders to pour higher volumes of more sophisticated drinks—and yes, style counts. After slinging drinks in nightlife hot spots including the Clevelander South Beach, Gordon Eagerton launched Elite Bartending School to prepare cocktail craftsmen for today's Miami, eschewing outmoded techniques and rarely ordered drinks to focus on about 120 of South Beach's most-wanted libations.
Eagerton and his fellow instructors run the state-licensed school within Club Play, a 10,000-square-foot South Beach nightclub with three bars, eight wells, and six computer terminals, enabling hands-on practice for all levels of mixologists, from beginners to full-time professionals. The school supports its alumni by posting full-time job leads every week, and the quality of education has earned Elite Bartending School honors in Miami New Times’ Talk of the Town for three years running.
At Cara Mia Trattoria Italiana, chef Alessandro DiMaggio takes a farm-to-table approach to his menu, creating dishes that pop with the flavors of fresh mozzarella, organic greens and vegetables, and wild porcini mushrooms. The restaurant blends fine Italian cuisine with a festive Caribbean motif, like a macaroni map of the Lesser Antilles. The cooks augment the culinary beauty of plates of thin-sliced carpaccio and creamy risotto with the aesthetic beauty of terracotta tiles, white-leather barstools, and a hint of a pink-neon glow. The open air of the high-ceilinged dining room hosts meals of homestyle lasagna or grilled swordfish, and the full-service bar doles out 14-ounce pours of cold Peroni beer as well as glasses of Italian wines.