President’s Day Weekend 411 | Biscayne Based Boat Show & Coconut Grove Arts Festival 2/11-15

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Two major annual events hit South Florida this weekend, beginning TODAY. With Harry’s Pizzeria in Coconut Grove open regular business hours, we are all in it together, so here’s what we want to know… so you’re in the know! Big tip – these two events SHARE A TICKET. Purchase it here (“Combo Ticket”) and use the Water Taxi mapped below to easily see both.

Miami_Transportation_MapMIAMI INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW: Due to renovations of the Miami Beach Convention Center, the nucleus of activity this year is Miami Marine Stadium and Virginia Key.  Premier Day: Thursday, February 11, 10 am– 6 pm Show Days: Friday, February 12—Sunday, February 14, 10 am–8 pm ; Monday, February 15, 10 am–6 pm.  Expect more heavy traffic than usual for those Coconut Grove and Brickell-bound.   Additionally, Strictly Sail® Miami will remain at Miamarina at Bayside Marketplace. Strictly Sail will be open from 10am–6pm daily.

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COCONUT GROVE ARTS FESTIVAL: Our friends and comrades at the Coconut Grove Arts & Historical Association hold the 53rd annual event we all love.  Due to the requirements necessary to set up for the Festival, there will be the following road closures beginning Friday, February 12 according to the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District (thank you for being so organized and communicative!):

  • South Bayshore Drive from Mary Street to SW 27th Avenue and SW 27th Avenue between Tigertail and South Bayshore Drive at 1:00 p.m.
  • South Bayshore Drive from Chart House Road to Mary Street, Pan American Drive from South Bayshore to Chart House Road at 3:00 p.m.

These streets will remain closed until approximately 11:00 p.m. on Monday, February 15. There will be detours set up by the Miami Police Department to facilitate smooth traffic flow during the Festival. These detours will be primarily located on South Bayshore Drive at Aviation Avenue and Tigertail between Aviation Avenue and SW 27th Avenue. LED message boards will be located on Main Highway and South Bayshore Drive several days prior to the Festival alerting motorists to the street closures.  Enjoy a new Green Mobility Network bike valet located at the intersection of Grand Ave. and McFarlane, across the street from Harry’s!

Get around smart, stay fueled up with brussels sprouts and stracciatella salad, and buy art.  ENJOY A BEAUTIFUL PRESIDENT’S DAY WEEKEND IN MIAMI!

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Bar Boozled: 3 New Dinnertime Cocktails to Enjoy at Michael’s Genuine

MGFD Cocktail ListHead Bartender Melissa Welcher has been busy keeping Genuine’s cocktail list fresh.  In addition to our daily-changing market special, this week she’s added three to the back of the menu: City Slickers (a bottled cocktail for two), Magenta Jimador, and Fountain of Youth.  We suggest they start you off for dinner.  Day drinkers would be best served sticking to rosé!

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City Slickers | Made by two and best enjoyed with a companion, this is bottled cocktail is boozy and spicy, a winter warmer for a slightly chilly day.  This is Melissa’s twist on a classic cocktail, the Suburban, which dates from the Rococo Age [read: over the top!] of American drinking from about 1875 to 1920.  Ours features HW Double Rye, a blend of 2-year-old and a 16-year-old Ryes with notes of cinnamon, anise, and honey.  Cachaca is made from straight sugar cane juice vs. molasses like most Rums.  Avua Amburana is aged in Amburana wood, typical to the forests of Latin America. Resting in this indigenous wood produces unique bouquet of spices, more caraway than clove.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 4.23.16 PMMagenta Jimador | An adaptation of your classic sour recipe using just enough blood orange instead of sugar to balance the drink, but not too much to mask the Tequila.  Tequila Ocho is an un-aged single quinta (farm) and single vintage Tequila.  The Liquore di Camomilla (seen above as its great for sipping with our pastry team’s new profiteroles dessert!) is made by macerating chamomile flowers in Grappa.  This cocktail is as gorgeous on the eyes as it is on the palate.  Velvety smooth with the froth of egg white to juxtapose its puckered punch.

Fountain of YouthFountain of Youth | Served on one big rock, think of this as an herbal drink that even the non-Vodka drinker would find interesting. St. Augustine Vodka is pot distilled where where Ponce de León is traditionally said to have landed in North America.  100% Florida-grown sugarcane makes for an extremely smooth spirit with hints of green apple, white pepper, and molasses.  If you’re not familiar with Lillet Rosé, we are sorry, but now’s the time!  Great enjoyed with a few ice cubes on a hot day in the park or on the beach, this French apertif wine made from a secret recipe including quanine.  We house-infuse it with pineapple and basil.  Yellow Chartreuse is another secret recipe drink from France and allusion to this cocktail’s name.  Chartreuse is still made by French Carthusian monks from about 130 different herbs. The yellow version has honey and saffron added and is lighter and sweeter than the green, while still adding complex herbal notes to the cocktail.

Qué Pasa Amanda? Get Your Fill, One Genuine Sip at a Time on #WineWednesday

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Amanda in her element!

In a food(porn)-obsessed social media matrix, pizza, pasta and donuts are guaranteed wins when it comes to curating a popular Instagram feed.  So when I check in every Wednesday evening to see Amanda Fraga aka @quepasamanda‘s newest “Wine Wednesday” post raking in the likes, it whets my whistle. This gal takes a mean pasta photo, but damn, she knows how to get people excited about wine!

Today is one of those Wine Wednesdays, when our sommelier highlights a bottle from our #mgfdwine liston the Michael’s Genuine Instagram feed and why you should be drinking it, just as we start to get thirsty.   We love this for three reasons — first, we are exposed to wines we might not have otherwise known about.  Second, it’s just the right pour of wine knowledge – more than a sound bite and less than a novel.  Third, and most important, a narrative develops.  Here what appears on the surface to be a product in a labeled bottle is transformed into a character in a narrative that has made a journey to complete the arc of its story on your table.  If you can’t be on the vineyard, a good bard is a proxy certainly worth toasting.  For us, that’s Fraga.  Enjoy our always up-to-the-minute wine list available through michaelsgenuine.com here.  We recap some of our favorite storyteller’s latest chapters below, with her new installment going live later via @michaelsgenuine.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 10.56.55 AMIt’s bubble season! With holiday celebrations and the excitement of having the family together we gravitate to sparkling wines for the beginning and even duration of our meals. When I look for a sparkling wine the first thing I look for is that it be made in the “champagne method,” secondly that it is estate bottled and lastly, that I can buy more than one bottle.  Iron Horse is all of the above and more. With aromas of peach, brioche and raspberry and a gentle mouth feel, the Wedding Cuveé pairs stunningly with chicken, pork, complex sauces, friends and family. (By the bottle $65)

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Many people (including myself when I started drinking wine) only know about Beaujolais Nouveau, a wine that is released quickly after harvest on the third Thursday of every November. The best Beaujolais, in my opinion, is released the following year, or two, from harvest and are from one of the region’s 10 named crus. Both cru and Nouveau are made from the same grape, Gamay. The biggest difference is that Nouveau is made from flat land vineyards using carbonic maceration, which brings out its fruit flavors without tannin, and crus are made in a traditional age-worthy method from prime vineyards.  Clos de la Roillette, in the village of Fleurie, has been producing wines since the 1960s by the Coudert family. Fleurie, one of the 10 crus, is known for its distinct floral notes (as you can tell in its name, fleur=flower). The 2014 vintage is drinking incredible now with black cherry, earth and violet aromas. Plum, spice, soft tannins and bright acidity on the palate. (By the glass $14/By the bottle $56)

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 10.59.20 AM“I had the staff involved for #WineWednesday this week by giving them a “blind.” A blind is when someone is given a wine without seeing the label, or knowing what it is and where it is from. It allows people to judge the wine on its characteristics and quality versus producer, grape and region. Staff loved the complexity of the wine starting from its nose; they got notes of green melon and spice, and minerality on the palate. David and Diana Lett of Eyrie (EYE-ree) Vineyards were the first proplr to plant Pinot Gris in America, in 1965. Since then, the Eyrie philosophy has stayed the same, “to interfere as little as possible with the processes of nature.” In addition, all wines are estate-grown and produced. (By the bottle $45)

Homestead Field Report: Growing Season is Verde

Head south on Florida’s Turnpike to Homestead at Exit 5 and you’re in the heart of The Redland, South Florida’s agricultural sweet spot.  As you cross US-1 west, farms, original clapboard homes of early settlers,  u-pick fields and coral rock walls whiz by.  The Redland was named for pockets of red clay in the limestone terrain, which is fed by pure water from the Biscayne Aquifer and has been a natural laboratory for agriculturalists, botanists, and naturalists around the world, including John James Audubon and David Fairchild.  It’s a place locals rush to re-familiarize themselves with this time of year, enduring the tourist-stacked lines for Knaus Berry Farm sticky buns and strawberry shakes, while small white flowers dance on baby plants in the fields behind beckoning a winter harvest that can’t come soon enough.

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Imagine before Verde had its tractor… Here Chuck sets the sun hemp, aka ‘green manure’, a few weeks before planting in late summer of 2014, its second season.

But this heartland is more like hardland and no one is more familiar with that than farmer Chuck Lyons.  Like Henry Flagler’s railroad pioneers before him, Lyons had to work hard to coax fertility out of the 5-acre plot now known as Verde Farm.  Not only is its weed pressure serious, but this meticulously laid out field and greenhouse operation was pre-Hurricane Andrew Homestead Air Force Base. That means concrete.

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Niven expands his role as chef de cuisine, now not only overseeing his own backyard garden but stewarding our foraging program at Michael’s Genuine. He’s looking forward to spending more time at Verde and learning more skills he can incorporate into Rancho Patel.

“We spent a lot of time and money getting stuff out.  It wasn’t easy, and we weren’t the first to try,” Lyons explains of the land owners before he came in three years ago.  “First off, this is old rockland, not that ideal, receded-Everglades Redland soil. We’ve got grasses, and grasses produce lots of seeds.”

And by grasses, we’re not talking about what’s in your backyard at home. They are sky-high, more like a grass forest.  It took Lyons two weeks with a brush mower to clear the field himself.  He had little equipment or help — a back hoe and concrete saw to  cut through slabs of concrete from the old military base and a skid steer to tear through it.  There were foundation footers with metal beams, and a pile of discarded palates and tires, left from the previous owner.

The operation is a beneficiary of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust and collaborates with Carrfour Supportive Housing, a community comprised of 145 formerly homeless families living in LEED-certified townhouses.  Fresh produce also reaches Camillus House Properties and the Chapman Partnership for the Homeless.  The first main harvests began in October, with fast growing sprouts of greens – and continue into February and March with field harvests.

Today Verde Farms is thriving as a community system, a working organic farm that teaches valuable job skills to the homeless it employs and sells product both wholesale (with outlets like Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink and Coconut Grove’s Glaser Farms Saturday Market) and direct to consumer through its uniquely single farm CSA program.  They grow microgreens, sunflower and pea shoots in their state-of-the-art greenhouse, tender baby greens such as kale, arugula, and a variety of lettuces in raised garden beds in the shade-house, and in the fields, tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, and a variety of eggplants including Chef Michael’s favorite — Sicilian.

Behind the marigolds is the kids garden, part of Verde's educational outreach programming.

Behind the marigolds is the kids garden, an outdoor science classroom for Verde’s growing educational outreach programming, both after school and integrated into curriculum at neighboring Mandarin Lakes K-8 Academy.

“My whole season is on paper in July,” Lyon continues. “Cucumbers and squash go in first week of September.  We get a second planting of those, with 55 days to fruit.  To come up with the mix, I think more about what my end customer is going to want and be able to cook with from their farm share.  It’s like I’m planning their menus at home.  We do 100 total different crops, a quarter specifically for wholesale but 75 are for the CSA. Very proud of that. It’s a very important part of the business, and we want to grow it.”

Verde’s CSA is distributed through the Urban Oasis Project‘s network including Upper East Side (6599 Biscayne Blvd, Saturdays 9am-2pm,) Adrienne Arsht Center (1300 Biscayne Blvd., Mondays 4-8pm), and of course at its own location a block or so from the farm (12690 SW 280th Street, Tuesday-Saturday 10-3PM,) which is run by Bill Squire.  They accept SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) and double their value up to $20 when spent on Florida fruits and vegetables. This is made possible through Fresh Access Bucks provided by our partners at Florida Organic Growers.  You can sign up here on the CSA page of its website, where you can also donate to the farm program.

“I’m really pleased with where we are now, but we’ve definitely hit a ceiling,” Lyons reflects.  “Currently we’re operating without electricity.  We need cooler space and packing house to really ramp up production, like I know we are capable of.”