Last Tuesday I left to fulfill my yearly ritual to fly here, to Aventura Florida and visit with my sister for a week, checking out the happening Jewish food scene. Happening is the optimal word here, there are always new places, old favorites to the point that we cannot begin to try them all in a week of eating out lunch, dinner and the occasional breakfast.
This year we have been lucky with the downright balmy weather a nice low 70’s compared to New York’s low single digits and Los Angeles’ heat wave. The ocean breeze is keeping everything fresh and for the most part the humidity is gone.
Our first night we drove directly from the Fort Lauderdale airport to Pita Plus in Aventura, a hole in the wall in a strip mall with Fantastic Shawarma and pillowy pita. Wednesday we ate just a slice of pizza for lunch from some non-descript pizza parlor on our shopping adventure to Sawgrass Mills, one of the largest outlet malls in Florida.
Wednesday night dinner we ate at a new fish and dairy restaurant in the Waterways of Aventura called Aqua. After fantastic starters of Shishito Peppers, Edamame, and Ahi Fish Tacos our main course of Chilean Sea Bass came. We ordered Fried Plantains and Braised Fennel as our sides. The sea bass was mushroom crusted and cooked to moist perfection. After a chocolate soufflé with Dulce de Leche molten interior we were glad to walk back to my sister’s condominium and give the large dinner a chance to digest. We walked back along the marina marveling at all of the beautiful large yachts moored in their slips and speculated what and who was having parties on board.
Thursday, we ate a very lite breakfast and then headed down towards Miami’s design district called Wynwood, famous for the painted exteriors of the one story, clothing manufacturers, art galleries and other business that dot the landscape. We wanted to eat lunch at Zak the Baker a famous commercial bakery that also operates a small restaurant. Not only does Zak bake one of the best breads in all of Miami, he supplies many fine restaurants. His little place is so fantastic that we waited in a line out front for about 40 minutes to secure a table and eat lunch. We ordered Avocado Toast, Grilled Salmon with braised fennel on a bed of Tzatziki with herbs. We also ordered the best chocolate fudge cookie, a slice of vegan banana bread, a cinnamon roll, and a different chocolate cookie with large crystals of sea salt on top….. The bread is beyond description, large holes, sturdy crisp crust, just the right amount of sour and a perfect texture. The bakery is totally on view behind the ordering counter. It is hypnotic to watch bakers form the loaves so deftly, after the first rise of the dough and place them into the cloches to rise more and bake.
Feeling rather full from lunch, we drove around and photographed the beautiful urban art on the sides of buildings, so Miamiesque in the colorful fancies of various local artists. We proceeded back towards Miami Beach via the orthodox neighborhood near 41st street and stopped into our favorite Judaica store run by the scribe Rabbi Caro of famous family history. The sheer beauty of the silver torah covers and other items is truly impressive. After we walked back to our precious parking spot and drove north on the main drag. As we approached the Fontainebleau Hotel we noticed that the once a year Miami Boat Show was in full swing. In a moment of spontaneity, we pulled into the Fontainebleau valet and gave the car to Guermo to park in front and leave it ready for us. We jumped out and crossed the street. We enjoyed the next 40 minutes boarding yachts of various lengths and levels of luxury, rubbing elbows with the real serious buyers at the show. After waiting an eternity for the light to change, we crossed back to the hotel and true to his promise, Guermo had our car right in front waiting for us. I won’t say how much we paid him!
Next stop Bal Harbour Shops, a mall of luxury shops and great fashion forward browsing. We pulled in the parking lot and since our parking angel was with us for the day we found a spot directly in front of the main entrance of Neiman Marcus.
The day was growing short so next stop the Israeli peanut roasting shop for nuts and dried fruits. Finally to a burger joint for burgers and fries, kosher of course. Pita Hut on West Dixie Highway served up huge burgers that we could barely eat half of on soft brioche style buns. Well now it was time to drop off stuff at home and head for the airport to pick up my husband.
Friday morning after a quick bowl of Cheerios we headed out for quite a long walk. The day was just perfect. We had picked up lunch the day before at a wood fired Pizza grill with Italian favorites. Once we were all ready, we drove down toward the Everglades Anhinga trail in search of alligator sightings. We had such a wonderful lunch of grilled sort of Calzone style sandwiches filled with pesto and avocado from Foozo Grill a kosher dairy restaurant.
We made it back to the condominium in time to prepare for Shabbat Dinner and our company, Dinner consisted of Grilled Rib Eye Steak, Lemon chicken, Pastelicos and an assortment of salads and stuffed grape leaves. Just wonderful.
Shabbat was restful, we walked a lot, observed many yachts, drank coffee and finally at 7:30pm headed out toward South Beach. We stopped for dinner at Mozart Grill in Sunny Isles. Platters of grilled steak, grilled chicken with kabobs, rice and beans and a salad assortment. I was so full. Another couple joined and we all drove down until the center of South Beach. Thank G-d for the municipal parking lot. We went on quite a hike past baker’s dozen of restaurants across from the beach and Versace’s house and then as far as the open air pedestrian only Lincoln Road, Oh my feet are dead.