After spending a week in Miami, I can honestly say that I am in love! From the endless stretches of glistening crystal clear beaches to the bustling scene in South Beach, this city boasts a contagious Latin flair that can put even the most uptight New Yorker on cruise control. Nothing brings on the heat like Miami! To cool off from the almost unbearable 95 degree August, when dipping in the spa-like ocean just won't cut it, head to Cafe Bon Jour in South Beach for a refreshing custom blended smoothie. For the rejuvenation you desperately need after baking in the sun all day, head to News Cafe on Ocean Dr for an afternoon fix of cocktails and appetizers. The pina colada was delicious with its fresh coconut milk and pineapple, unlike some of the enormous syrup-filled impostors offered at neighboring restaurants. Top off the day with some impulsive shopping on Collins Street, lined with designer stores masked in the most incredible art deco architecture. Personal favorite: Barneys Co-Op, a favorite in New York, but even better in a tropical haven after a few mojitos. My lucky find of the trip was a gorgeous poppy red Marc Jacobs coat with voluptuous pleating, almost a sin to purchase in the blistering heat, but it was too perfect to pass up! Much to my chagrin, the Versace Mansion, which I eagerly anticipated taking a tour of, was closed for a private party. On normal days, it is open to the public for a whopping $50 fee, so I gladly used that money on cocktails wallowing how a fashionista like myself could miss out on the opportunity to peruse Gianni Versace's
house. Oh well, just seeing the outside with the Versace emblem adorning every gate and aspect of the house, it was just as gaudy as you would expect from the brand itself. For a scrumptious sushi dinner, head over to Sushi Samba Miami Dromo on Lincoln Drive. I know there are several in NYC, but the just-caught factor of the fish bumps this one up a notch. Add an unusual twist to the typical sushi roll and try the innovative samba dromo roll made with lobster, mango, tomato, chive, crispy rice, and a delectable peanut curry dipping sauce. For a tasty appetizer, I highly recommended the fiery yellow tail ceviche "taquitos", enough to make even the most spice lovers sweat! To cool off your palette, try the mixed berry mojito. If you desire a more substantial dinner, head to Il Gabbiano downtown Miami for the most amazing Italian food you may ever eat. I have to admit that after living in Florence, Italy for a year I can honestly say this was one of if not the best Italian meal I have ever eaten. The backdrop of outdoor seating on the moonlit water adds to the romantic mood of this restaurant. As if the ambiance wasn't enough, you are immediately presented with a plethora of appetizers before the menu even arrives, ranging from parmeggiano cheese to fried zucchini and bruschetta. Each course was incredible, adding to the anticipation of the actual meal. I ordered the pasta special of the day, homemade fettuccini with crab, asparagus, and tomato in a garlic buttery sauce that absolutely melts in your mouth! Although I would never dare taking home leftovers, this was too good to abandon on my plate. So I proudly took my doggie bag back to the condo, anticipating finishing it when I wasn't about to explode. It was to die for, and I will crave the perfect culinary masterpieces from Il Gabbiano until I can return to Miami again. It was that good! Miami has something to offer to everyone, from its laid back and amicable vibe to the culinary ventures, to the upscale shopping and gorgeous tropical beaches. I have only been back in New York for a day, but I'm already anxious to return to Miami for another spicy adventure!