It Takes Two to Tango the Amara Beverage Book — Part II: Wine

“Because at the end of the night, she says ‘Champagne?'”

It’s happy hour at Michael’s Genuine® a few weeks back, and Amara’s Sommelier Amanda Fraga has placed one of her favorite sparkling wines, Roederer Estate, in front of colleague Maria Pottage.

Flute-free Zone: Fraga holding court if only for a Happy Hour at her old stomping grounds, Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink.

“People say Champagne all day, but let’s be honest, it’s going to get expensive when you’re the one paying for it!,” she jokes.  “It’s tough to have a favorite, because it’s like talking about kids, but this is one of my favorite sparkling wines. Roederer does an amazing job, and I can afford to have multiple bottles.  It may not be French, but it’s Champagne method, not bubble injections.”

We’re continuing our deep dive into the Amara Beverage Book, having transitioned from cocktails to something even more festive with Fraga as our guide.  She sees every glass of wine like traveling and visiting a new place.   When your new place is a new restaurant with a new menu, the journeys are endless in building a wine list.  The process of discovery is winding, sometimes hidden from view.

“Because of Amara’s cuisine, I felt slightly out of my comfort zone,” Fraga explains. “The culinary team was going to Buenos Aires for their research trip, and I’m thinking, this is one if the countries I drank the least of!”

Sommelier Amanda Fraga with her rosé, which happens to be ON-TAP (!)

It was at this point that she remembered who she worked for.  The Genuine Hospitality Group wasn’t an ordinary restaurant group with a literal approach. There was room for interpretation.  Sure there would be Malbec…  There had to be and should be, but not 30, with some Cabs to round it out.

“I feel like everyone thinks Latin American wines are only from Chile and Argentina,” she continues. “The idea was to have the coolest wines from Latin America at large and to not forget our roots of fresh and genuine. There is so much diversity in what’s growing and being produced from South to Central America. You have more familiar grapes like Pinot Noir, Albarino and Tempranillo, juxtaposed with Tennat, Listan Negro (the mission grape) and el Pais. It’s the perfect storm.”

Fraga’s passion for education comes from a visceral place, stemming from a drive to expand her own wine knowledge through experience, travel being one of the most salient — a potent source for inspiration that sticks.  As she sees, relating those experiences to her staff is one of her most important jobs in training — the story behind the bottle that leaves an impression.  Her innovative approach to training is predicated on a consistent curriculum and engaging the staff through “Wine Wednesday” trainings on various topics including the importance of backstory and context in wine not just the taste profiles.  They’re catalogued, little nuggets of wine knowledge framed by a narrative on who made the wine and where it came from, on the restaurant’s Instagram at #amarabeveragebook.  It’s something she developed as sommelier of Michael’s Genuine & Beverage Manager for The Genuine Hospitality Group, a useful tool grounding her training process.

Traditional, funky Prosecco, the first Wine Wednesday post at Amara. She explains, “Delicate. nice acid. good fruit. It’s not the Prosecco you know but if you’re a lover of Italy and have an open mind and heart you’re going to love it.”

Balanced with her knowledge of what our guests enjoy drinking guiding balanced by a compass pointing south, the list netted out 35% Latin America, which although not a majority is a focus on which to build, and more than Fraga has ever worked with before.  In 2015 she participated in a competition among Miami sommeliers to build the best wine bar, counter tops and all, hosted by Wines of Chile.  Although Amara was a faint glimmer in her glass and Director of Licensing Operations Eric Larkee’s team poured victorious, she reflects now on this intensive, apt primer that opened her eyes to what was out there.

“I realized the incredible variation even Chile has in itself,” she continues. “Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Malbec , Pinot Noir… There’s so much and the great thing now even three years later is that there is much more being imported in the US.”

It’s at this point I realize something, too.  I’m actually enjoying the Verdejo she’s chosen for me, and this is exactly the point.  The only way you truly know something and understand it is through exposure.  Repeated exposure to new things, even when you think they’re the old thing.  The old thing can surprise you.

“I never had it before [Michael’s Genuine® sommelier] Dean put it on the list,” she recounts.  “I kind of wanted to give you something fun and different, and I feel like you appreciate these things. It’s fun to smell a wine and not automatically be able to guess it but know that it sure does remind you of something.  You try to point to where you had it before.  So we are playing this game now… I know you wanted something white and now we have something that piqued your interest, and curiosity, too.”

For herself, Amanda is settling into the Jean Claude Boisset
, a sparkling rosé from Burgundy Dean has had by the glass for about a month now that she’s wanted to try.  She wanted something light and refreshing and had given Maria the Roederer already.

“I’m pretty sure it’s Chardonnay-Pinot Noir…” she thinks out loud.  Familiar yet at the same time foreign.  Herein lies the balance that creates the magnetism of intrigue, stirring curiosity just enough.  The game continues.

Preshift on Biscayne Bay, the place where it all comes together.

Amara at Paraiso Launches Brunch A La Cart This Sunday

Amara at Paraiso, the latest addition to the genuine family and quintessential Miami waterfront restaurant is ready to up Miami’s brunch game. Known for reinventing our favorite weekend pastime, Michael launches Sunday Brunch on February 11 with an energized new format featuring sweet and savory food carts.  Guests can order as they like and pick and choose from weekly specials tableside as they roam the dining room and terrace throughout the meal.  Located directly on Biscayne Bay in the Paraiso District of East Edgewater, Amara at Paraiso will offer brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., cultivating a distinctly Miami vibe.

“Brunch is my favorite meal of the week and always an opportunity to go for it,” explains Schwartz. “At Amara, we were excited to have some fun with the new format. The flavors are big and the food we are doing plays very well in daytime. The amazing view is the last ingredient for the quintessential brunch experience.”

At the table, guests will be presented with printed a la carte menus from which to order drinks and food, and will then be visited by sweet and savory food carts with more from which to choose. Servers will mark orders from the cart on a card at the table to be tallied with the check at the end of the meal. Sweet items include delicate and decadent Arroz Con Leche ($6) with toasted coconut, macadamia nut, pineapple; Concha ($5) a streusel- topped brioche pastry with Mexican roots served with dulce de leche; Amara dessert favorite Dulce Flan ($10) with dulce de leche and crema; and Guava Toast ($7) Griddled brioche, crème fraiche. Savory carts will carry items like a Tilefish Taco ($5) chayote squash salad, lime, smoked paprika aioli; Grilled Pork Belly Feijoada ($6) braised red beans, egg, crunchy cassava; and Waygu Beef Tartare ($8) quail egg, green papaya, cashew, lime.

The a la carte menu offers Snacks, Raw Bar, Empanadas, Small Plates and Large Plates. Snacks include addictive Crispy Hominy ($7) with verde spice and lime; and Whipped Carrot ($7) with green garbanzo, crème fraiche, and seeded crisp. Small Plates include Overnight Oats ($10) with sweet plantain, apricot, cashew; and Turmeric & Beet- Cured Salmon ($14) crème fraîche, corn flour cracker, hard-boiled egg. Large Plates include the juicy Choripan sandwich off the outdoor wood grill with housemade chorizo farm egg, vinaigrette smoked paprika aioli; a hearty Amara Breakfast ($18) highlighting slow-cooked meaty Domingo Rojo beans, two fried eggs, short rib empanada, chorizo, avocado; Egg White Omelete ($16) with hominy, green garbanzo beans, calabaza squash, queso fresco, fermented chile hot sauce; and Short Rib Tamal ($15) with grilled spicy shrimp, fried egg, pickles, cascabel chile paste.

Brunch drinks from Assistant General Manager Maria Pottage offer a vibrant and refreshing celebration of Amara’s extensive agua fresca and freshly-squeezed juice program that invites the guest to craft their own journey. Bottomless Tropical Sparkling ($30 per person) includes sparkling wine plus the guest’s choice of mixer (guava, strawberry basil, grapefruit, passionfruit, chile-mango). Spiked Fresca (1L bottle equals 4 drinks for $44 or a glass for $12) pairs a choice of spirit with a carafe of Agua Fresca like Hibiscus, Purple Corn (Chicha Morada), Tamarind, and Horchata. In addition to Champagne and Rosé bottle specials, Brunch Cocktails include solid twists on standards like Bloody Mary-a ($12) Hangar One vodka or Milagro Blanco tequila, tomato, cucumber, celery, lemon, aji panca, aji amarillo salt; and the E.L. Michelada ($9) with local blonde ale Wynwood La Rubia, lime, Mexican spices, Amara hot sauce; as well as specialties of the house including Woke Up Like This ($12) St Germain, coconut water, lychee, lemon, bubbles; and Let’s Samba ($13) Yaguara cachaça, passion fruit, lime, demerara, mint, and more.

Brunch will be offered every Sunday starting February 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with live music from Grammy- nominated Miami band PALO!. Amara at Paraiso is located at 3101 NE 7th Ave, Miami, FL 33137. $5 valet is available. For reservations visit amaraatparaiso.com, email reservations@amaraatparaiso.com or call 305-702- 5528. Amara is a breathtaking venue for private parties and events; for groups larger than 12 guests email lindsay@michaelschwartzevents.com. More information and menus at amaraatparaiso.com and via @amaraatparaiso on social media.

Amara at Paraiso, Miami’s Quintessential Waterfront Restaurant, Opens Thursday, January 11

The time has come to welcome our newest restaurant into the world. Amara at Paraiso opens Thursday, January 11 in Miami’s East Edgewater neighborhood. Located directly on Biscayne Bay in the Paraiso District—the latest master plan development by The Related Group—Amara at Paraiso brings together all the elements of the quintessential Miami waterfront dining experience from environment to cuisine to vibe. The bayside enclave has inspired Schwartz and the team led by Executive Chef Michael Paley to cultivate a menu influenced by the bold flavors of Latin America, coastal ingredients, and the diversity that underpins the city’s cultural identity. The restaurant opens with dinner service, with Sunday Brunch following shortly after. Make a reservation here.

“The dynamic energy, local ingredients, and natural beauty that define why we live and visit here are what Amara at Paraiso is all about.  It couldn’t exist anywhere else,” says Schwartz. “This restaurant is in the unique position to bring it all together.  It’s our love letter to Miami and why we are proud to call it home.”

 

Highlighting the open kitchen’s wood grill and Josper charcoal oven, the vibrant menu celebrates clean-eating food and cooking techniques centered around the flame.  Dinner is divided into Snacks, Small, Medium, and Large plates, Vegetables/Sides, and “From the Wood Grill” dishes that are paired appropriately from amongst six complementary and signature Amara Mother Sauces.

Snacks include Grilled Flatbread with chimichurri, fried oregano and lemon; hand-formed Empanadas with Short Rib with olive, raisin and chimichurri, baked in a flakey lard crust; and Corn and Leek with roasted poblano, mozzarella and smoked paprika aioli, fried in a yuca crust. Dish highlights include Banana Leaf Wrapped Cobia with mashed yuca, pickled vegetables, coconut chutney, and grilled lime; Grilled Beef Short Rib with shaved cabbage, Marcona almonds, grilled peppers, and sour orange; and the Amara Feijoada, a beautifully composed spread built around a cazuela filled with layers of specially cooked-ingredients tied together on a bed of deep red, savory Domingo Rojo beans from heirloom purveyor Rancho Grande. Sides include Long Cooked Broad Beans with breadcrumbs and basil.

The beverage program by Assistant General Manager Maria Pottage mirrors Amara at Paraiso’s menu, inspired by Latin American ingredients, artisanal producers of spirits and winemakers, and Miami’s lively melting pot. Cocktails are served on-tap, as single servings or punch bowls, bottled, and shaken or stirred. Calm Before The Coconut recalls a sense of tropical place with Diplomatico Planas rum, Velvet Falernum coconut crème, coconut water, pineapple, lime, salt, and nutmeg, served in a chilled coconut.  Pisco Cafecito is bottled and combines Barsol Quebranta pisco, Don Ciccio Nocino, Luxardo Angioletto, cold brew and chocolate bitters.  La Fresa is served in a coupe, with fresh, local strawberries infused in Plantation 3 Stars rum, ginger, lime and a strawberry garnish. Sommelier Amanda Fraga’s wine program highlights selections from North and South America, with iconic favorites from Europe to round out the list.

Designed as a key part of the Related’s Paraiso District to complement the resort-style living for the soon-to-be residents of the Paraiso development, the restaurant occupies the ground floor of the free-standing Paraiso Beach Club and will soon be flanked by Paraiso Park and boat slips.  Amara at Paraiso is ideally located  just two blocks east of Biscayne Boulevard, offering the public unimpeded access to its entrance with street and valet parking.

The 4,500-square-foot, indoor-outdoor space designed by Meyer Davis Studio, with direct input from the Related and Schwartz teams, celebrates the tropical, bayside environment as an effortless design element to unify the natural beauty of the restaurant’s surroundings. The restaurant includes main dining room and bar seating for 150, with floor to ceiling windows offering dramatic Biscayne Bay views, as well as deck seating for 70 on the water.  Its stunning location and versatile menu make Amara at Paraiso an ideal venue for private dining and events. The approach is warm and inviting, drawing the outside in with white washed paneling, natural woods, and graphic concrete tiles. Detailing is open, honest and relaxed with exposed trusses, and an open double-height steel stair.

Amara at Paraiso is located at 3101 NE 7th Ave, Miami, FL 33137.  The restaurant will be open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 6:00 to 10:00pm, Friday and Saturday 6:00pm to 12:00am, and Sunday 6:00pm to 10:00pm.  For reservations visit amaraatparaiso.com, email reservations@amaraatparaiso.com or call 305-702-5528.  Amara is available for private parties and events; for groups larger than 12 guests email lindsay@michaelschwartzevents.com. For more information including menus, please visit amaraatparaiso.com and follow @amaraatparaiso on social media (where there are lots of Instagram Stories to catch up on!)

Hungry for Art Basel Week? Get a First Taste of Amara at Paraiso at Our Pop Up Restaurant

  

As Miami Art Week arrives in Miami, so does your ticket to chef-restaurateur Michael Schwartz’s quintessential Miami restaurant.

Join Michael and the restaurant team as we temporarily pop up Amara at Paraiso for four nights of dinner service before it opens in January!  Seatings are available on the half hour from 7-9:30 p.m. from Wednesday, December 6 to Saturday, December 9 on-site at Paraiso Bay (3101 NE 7th Ave, Miami, FL 33137). Guests will enjoy an Amara experience served family style including snacks and cocktails for their table followed by 4 courses, as well as a selection of wine, beer and other beverages for $189 all in.  Grab your table now by purchasing tickets here — we are now booking parties of 1 on up and the price at checkout includes everything (3% Resy booking fee off the base, as well as tax, gratuity, and valet parking). BATUKE, a Brazilian band that mixes rhythms such as Funk from the 70’s with Afro Samba, Brazilian Big Band, Batucada, Soul, and R&B, will be performing live at the pop up each night. Seating is not communal; you will be seated with your party. For parties of 7 or above, email reservations@amaraatparaiso.com to secure your tickets.

Inspired by its idyllic bayside setting, Amara at Paraiso brings together bold Latin American flavors, coastal ingredients and South Florida’s diversity of food culture to create the quintessential Miami dining experience from environment to cuisine to vibe.  Revel in the dynamic energy, local ingredients, and natural beauty of Biscayne Bay that defines what living in Miami is all about, and at the best time to enjoy it!

Amara at Paraiso, Quintessential Miami Restaurant with Waterfront Dining, Opening January 2018

Amara at Paraiso, rendered. Our dining room view from the entrance, with open kitchen to the left and bar to the right, and the main ingredient front and center — Biscayne Bay. Out the doors to the left, outdoor seating on the water.

Chef and Restaurateur Michael Schwartz announces his first waterfront restaurant, Amara at Paraiso, the James Beard Award-winner’s love letter to Miami.  Amara at Paraiso will open in January at 3101 NE 7th Avenue on Biscayne Bay in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood, creating the quintessential Miami dining experience from environment to cuisine to vibe. The bayside enclave will be fully open to the public and has inspired Chef and his team to cultivate a menu influenced by the bold flavors of Latin America, coastal ingredients, and the diversity that underpins Miami’s cultural identity.

“Amara at Paraiso is about the dynamic energy, local ingredients, and natural beauty that defines why we live here and why so many love to visit,” says Schwartz. “We are in the unique position to bring it all together, a sense of place that can only exist here.  It’s our love letter to Miami and why we are proud to call it home.”

Highlighting the open kitchen’s wood grill and Josper charcoal grill oven, Schwartz is building a vibrant menu around bold, clean-eating food, and cooking techniques centered around the flame. Dishes emphasize balance of acid and contrasts in temperatures and textures. Ingredients are showcased as they are meant to be enjoyed, enhanced by fragrant herbs, bright sauces, chilies and spices. Freshly-grilled, sprouted flatbreads and hand-formed savory pastries will meet sizzling, smoky platters of specialty cuts of meats and fresh, local seafood at the table. Cocktails crafted with the tropics in mind will spill good spirits out to the bay, mingling with sea grape trees and palms dotting the shore.

Flanked by Paraiso Park, Amara at Paraiso resides just two blocks east of Biscayne Boulevard off 31st Street, offering the public unimpeded access to its entrance with street and valet parking. The 4,500 square foot, indoor-outdoor space designed by Meyer Davis Studio celebrates the natural beauty of its surroundings incorporating the tropical, waterfront environment as an design element. The restaurant includes main dining room and bar seating for 150, with floor to ceiling windows offering dramatic Biscayne Bay views, as well as deck seating for 70 on the water. The approach is warm and inviting, drawing the outside in with white washed paneling, natural woods, and graphic concrete tiles. Detailing is open, honest and relaxed with exposed trusses, and an open double-height steel stair.

For more information visit amaraatparaiso.com and follow for updates on opening and inspiration for the restaurant @amaraatparaiso.

The Philadelphia-born owner of The Genuine Hospitality Group (TGHG), James Beard Award-winning Chef, and cookbook author, Michael Schwartz is the face of the South Florida restaurant industry and a nationally recognized celebrity chef. Locals and tourists alike have come to embrace and crave his sincere and thoughtful approach to the entire dining experience and seriously good food.  At the root of this philosophy and a lens for growth is flagship Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink in the Miami Design District, setting the bar in Miami for 10 years with its laid back bistro atmosphere, emphasis on sourcing fresh, seasonal ingredients, and lively bar scene and courtyard. Michael has since successfully developed complementary fine dining concepts including honest Italian at Fi’lia by Michael Schwartz at SLS Brickell in Downtown Miami (October, 2016), the quintessential Miami restaurant with waterfront dining at Amara at Paraiso at Paraiso Bay in Edgewater (November 2017) and the ultimate neighborhood restaurant in Coconut Grove at Park Grove (2018.)  Harry’s Pizzeria® is the group’s American pizzeria, challenging pizza traditions with a thoughtful passion for genuinely better pizza and meals to gather around it. Named one of Food & Wine magazine’s 25 Best Pizzerias in the U.S., the group’s casual concept is charting a course for regional expansion to 20 locations by 2020, with three currently open in South Florida in the Miami Design District (September 2011,) Coconut Grove (2015,) and Kendall’s Downtown Dadeland (2017.) Ella (2015) is a light and airy café in the Miami Design District’s Palm Court serving breakfast, lunch and early evening bites, curating pastries from the best local bakers in town and a convenient grab and go station with healthy alternatives. The Chef’s partnership with global cruise leader Royal Caribbean began in 2011 developing menus with ingredients from sustainable sources for 150 Central Park on Oasis Class ships and now includes the gastropub evolution of Michael’s Genuine, Michael’s Genuine® Pub, on Quantum Class ships. Michael Schwartz Events offers catering and private parties, with genuine food and hospitality for memorable occasions. TGHG has been recognized by leading trade publication Restaurant Hospitality magazine as one of its RH 25: Coolest Multi-Concept Companies.  For more information, visit thegenuinekitchen.com.