I first fell in love with Miami in the 80s via the show “Miami Vice.” Crockett and Tubbs were the coolest guys ever. Because of them, I spent many of my formative years wearing pastel t-shirts, linen suits, and shoes with no socks. Now that I’m an adult, I’m still smitten by Miami and I wear a pastel shirt with a linen blazer every now and then.
Miami is one of those cities that keeps drawing me back. I love the vibe, the energy, the people. I’ve visited Miami several times and I always manage to discover something new. On my last trip, I focused on exploring some indoor and outdoor activities in Miami Beach.
I landed in the city around 2pm in the afternoon. My driver met me in baggage claim and escorted me to the car. Outside, I was greeted by wonderful 80 degree weather. I knew it was going to be a great visit.
A few minutes later, we arrived at my hotel, the fabulous Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. Although I didn’t have a room with a view, I was pleased that the room was fully equipped with a flat screen TV, a 20” iMac, and a private bar (note to self -get a room with a view next time). I dropped off my luggage and changed into my swimwear to take advantage of the resort’s amazing pool.
I found a vacant lounge chair, ordered a drink, and relaxed as a cool breeze, perfectly syncopated to the tropical music throbbing in the background, blew through the palm trees. I would have spent the rest of the day relaxing poolside if not for a prearranged dinner with some colleagues.
I changed into some fashionable Miami Beach attire and met my colleagues at Scarpetta. We got a table near a window that offered a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean and pool. Our meal was served family style and included braised short ribs, polenta, prime sirloin of beef, roasted orata, chestnut cavatelli, and the Chef’s signature entrée of spaghetti with tomato and basil. Although the spaghetti dish was simple, it was the star of our meal – savory and succulent.
Our main course was followed by a selection of desserts – budino di caramel, coconut panna cotta, and my favorite, the amaedei chocolate cake. I had to push the cake out of my reach to prevent myself from eating all of it.
Before we left, Chef Nina Compton, a Top Chef season finalist, visited our table to say hello. She was gracious, personable, and genuinely happy that we enjoyed our meal.
After dinner, we hung out in the legendary Bleau Bar. The place was packed with beautiful, well-dressed people trying their best to be noticed by other beautiful, well-dressed people. This was the kind of place that movie stars, musicians, and pro athletes would frequent. My colleagues and I mingled by the bar as we took in the scene. I fully expected a Kardashian to walk in at any moment.
Although it was still early (anything before midnight is early in Miami Beach), I bid my colleagues adieu and retired to my room. The luxurious bedding made it easy to fall asleep and prepare for the next day.
I started the morning with the breakfast buffet at Blade. There was a wide variety of food including an omelet station. Even though the breakfast was delicious, it was bit on the pricey side (close to $40).
I met my colleagues in the hotel lobby to travel to Maurice Gibb Memorial Park where we spent the afternoon riding the new Sea-Doo Spark PWC (Disclosure: Sea-Doo paid all of my travel expenses). For the first hour, we enjoyed relatively traffic-free waters and were able to have fun and push our Sparks to the limits. Soon, boatloads of people converged on the island. I spent the next hour testing the Spark’s maneuverability as I tried to avoid collisions with party boats, jet skis, paddle boaters, and yachts (the Spark passed the test).
One of my colleagues, professional sport bike freestyler Aaron Colton, gave us all a clinic on how to ride the Spark. He did some amazing tricks that I’d never have the nerve to do. I was content to with putting the Spark in Sport mode and catching some air.
We returned to the Fontainebleau to have lunch at La Cote. We ordered several sandwiches to share – Tempura Mahi Ciabatta, Vegetable Pissaladiere, and Caesar and Heirloom Tomato salads. I most enjoyed the Tres Leches we had for dessert. It was rich, creamy and sweet. At that moment, it was the perfect Miami Beach food.
After lunch, I took a quick stroll on the beach before I had to get ready for the deadmau5 concert.
Around 7pm, I met my colleagues in the VIP lounge where I was greeted by a smorgasbord of delicious food and drinks. As I chatted with my friends, I noticed Vanilla Ice enter the room. It took every ounce of restraint that I had to keep from blurting out, “All right stop, Collaborate and listen…” Instead of staging an impromptu rap battle, I simply introduced myself and shook his hand.
With my belly full, I moseyed (I’m from Texas. I have a license to mosey) on over to the lawn to watch the concert. The show opened with a 30 minute set by visual artist, David Garibaldi. Watching Garibaldi perform was like watching a tornado rip through an art supply store. He frantically danced across the stage while wielding spray paint cans and an assortment of paint brushes. At the end of his frenetic perfromance, Garibaldi delighted the audience with three masterful paintings.
A few minutes later, deadmau5 took the stage the and the crowd went berserk. Lightsticks and Pikachus flew into the air as the pulsating music filled the air. Perched behind the DJ booth, deadmau5 kept the crowd moving for the full duration of his 1-1/2 hour set.
I danced with friends and strangers as the world-renowned DJ kept us entranced with his hypnotic beats.
After the concert, a few of us congregated at the Bleau Bar along with what seemed like hundreds of other people. I stepped outside to escape the crowd only to be overwhelmed by a steady stream of nigh-club goers exiting high-end cars – Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Mercedes Benz. This scene was quintessential Miami Beach. Crockett and Tubbs would have blended in perfectly.
photos by Frederick J. Goodall