Special Features — 05 January 2018
Counting the ways we love South Florida in season

By Rebecca Cahilly-Taranto, Greg Carannante, Jana Soledner Danger, Thomas Swick and Robyn A. Friedman

City & Shore Magazine 

Al fresco dining

Summer in Florida is hot. (Especially for Floridians). So when that first hint of winter chill hits the air we turn off the A/C and bound out of our houses like Northerners in springtime (usually in our knee-high suede boots). And we will fight you for a table on the patio at our favorite restaurant. Well, not literally, but you may get a smile, a gracious nod and, when you’re not looking, the Floridian-to-Snowbird Stare Down if we are competing for an outdoor seat. Dining al fresco is something Floridians take seriously most days of the year, but on a pleasant winter day we stake our claim – except if the temperature is 75 or below, at which point you will find us inside ordering cocoa.

Rebecca Cahilly-Taranto

 

Waterfront dining by boat

You can enjoy the dazzling array of waterfront restaurants in South Florida any time of year, but winter’s pleasant temperatures and blue-sky days demand that you find a way to get out on the Intracoastal Waterway. Spend the afternoon meandering along the rows of stunning waterfront homes and waving to fellow boaters in their skiffs, center consoles and luxury yachts. Dock alongside a waterfront restaurant and enjoy lunch and a cocktail on the deck while the boats pass by. Don’t own a boat? Don’t have a friend with a boat? Never fear. There are many daily boat rental options and even boat ownership club options from which to choose. In a pinch, hop on the Water Taxi, join the Carrie B for a tour or book a private sunset cruise with Gondolas West. watertaxi.com; carriebcruises.com, gondolaswest.com, Carefree Boat Club, 954-663-7047.

 — Rebecca Cahilly-Taranto

 

The peak of Arts Season

The early-winter apex of the South Florida arts season doesn’t quite induce the gasp of fresh air it once did now that stars and shows flash from billboards and marquees year-round — thanks in no small part to burgeoning casino venues and more enterprising scheduling in recent years at Broward Center and its affiliates like Parker Playhouse.

But certainly The Season is still prime time for the performing arts scene as area stages bring on the showstoppers to lure those fair-weather snowbirds into the seats. And like a high in the 70s, it’s also a long-awaited payback of sorts for South Floridians who suffered through the steam and storms of summer. Here’s an overture of imminent highlights:

Dance: The spirits of legendary choreographers Jerome Robbins and Martha Graham grace area stages. Miami City Ballet celebrates the anniversary of Robbins’s 100th birthday by dedicating Program Two to his works — including MCB’s own Sharks and Jets rumbling in the West Side Story Suite. Pow! (Jan. 12-14, Arsht Center; Jan. 27-28, Broward Center; Feb. 2-4, Kravis Center.) The South Florida Symphony joins the Martha Graham Dance Company for “Dance of Life,” an enticing collaboration on Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Tom Hormel’s world premiere Legend of Bird Mountain, choreographed by Martha Graham. (Jan. 23, Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale.)

Classical: Two major visiting orchestras interpret the masters. The Cleveland Orchestra returns for Mahler’s monumental swan song, his Ninth Symphony (Arsht Center, Jan. 26-27, Feb 2-3) and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs Stravinsky and Brahms (Feb. 14-15, Kravis Center).

Opera: King Herod’s court provides the historical context for Richard Strauss’s Salome performed by Florida Grand Opera (Jan. 27-28, 30 and Feb. 2-3, Arsht Center; Feb. 8, 10, Broward Center), while Napoleon’s invasion of Italy is the backdrop for Palm Beach Opera’s staging of Puccini’s Tosca (Jan. 26-28, Kravis Center).

Theater: Two fem-centric shows spring from the big screen onto area stages. Wicked, the smash Broadway flip side to The Wizard of Oz, brings its witches brew back to Broward Center, Feb. 14-March 4. Reservoir Dolls, the intriguing all-female reimagining of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, makes its East Coast premiere by Outré Theatre Company Feb. 1-18 at Pompano Beach Cultural Center.

Jazz: Years before his confounding collaboration with Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett and Diana Krall were the royal couple of crooning. This season both revered interpreters of the American songbook return within days of each other — Krall, Feb. 1 at Broward Center, and Bennett, Feb. 5 at Kravis Center. With his trio, pianist Monty Alexander stirs up his smooth island elixir of bebop and swing Jan. 20 at Bailey Hall.

Pop: Two acts from the extreme opposite ends of the aural spectrum rock our world and/or shake our booties. It will be a “Night in White Satin” as orchestral-rockers The Moody Blues bring their Days of Future Passed — 50th Anniversary Tour to Hard Rock Live on Jan. 10. Assuming her vocal chords are healed, shimmy superstar Shakira, who recently postponed the European leg of her El Dorado World Tour, will get the crowd on their feet Jan. 11 at BB&T Center and Jan. 12-13 at American Airlines Arena.

— Greg Carannante

 

The stone crab,Florida’s delicacy

I’ll admit it. I asked for a dish of melted butter with my first order of stone crab claws. (I even had a bit of disdain in my voice that I had to ask for it). I’m here to make sure you don’t make the same mistake. From Oct. 15 to May 15, the sweet, juicy meat of the giant stone crab is in season. The first note for the stone crab novice: stone crab claws are served chilled. Generally offered in a trio of sizes: medium, large and jumbo, stone crab claws will arrive fully cooked and pre-cracked on a plate of ice accompanied by little more than the lemon, tangy mustard dipping sauce and a couple of tools to assist in peeling off the hard outer layer and coaxing the thick, sweet meat out of the shell. The claws are paired best with a chilled glass of champagne, sauvignon blanc or vermentino and an ocean view. No butter chaser, please.

— Rebecca Cahilly-Taranto

 

The Open in Miami

There is something beautifully apt about a tennis tournament on a subtropical island. Flying balls, swaying palms. A summer game played within a lob of the beach. (Topspin and undertow.) Everyone – players, ball kids, fans – getting good leg tans.

This is why the Miami Open should never, ever, leave Key Biscayne.

It gives us a chance to see the greatest players in the world – last year’s men’s final featured Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – in a verdant, sun-kissed setting. The Crandon Park Tennis Center is like a nature reserve scattered with courts; iguanas have been known to disrupt matches. Being there for the Open is literally a day at the park, with tennis as the star attraction.

Early in the tournament is the best time to go, as all the courts are busy. You settle in at a women’s singles match – one of the player’s names will probably end in “ova” – and after the first set you hear a roar from the neighboring court so you wander over there and find two South Americans warming up for their doubles match. After lunch, in the umbrellaed food court, you catch the practice session of a ponytailed young woman who would evoke memories of lazy childhood afternoons – the fronds above her are rustling gently – if not for the ferocity with which she hits each ball. Back in the food court you stop and watch on a giant screen the match currently going on in the stadium. You start walking toward it until you spot, out of the corner of your eye, happy people on couches drinking champagne.

— Thomas Swick

 

Outdoor markets

Sun-splashed flags flutter in lazy breezes on the road to Yellow Green Farmers  Market in Hollywood, signaling the start of a treasure hunt. You never know what you’re going to find here, and the hunt’s always an adventure.

In other parts of the country, cars may crawl on icy roads through snow gusts to indoor shopping malls, but not here. Our outdoor markets – not just in Hollywood but in outposts up and down the coast – are at their best in season, when local produce peaks and muggy summer days are a memory.

At the entrance, the aromas of fried food mingles with incense. The chatter of several languages hangs in the air. A young woman with waist-length pink and green braids browses ripe oranges, while an older woman in jeans across the aisle examines handmade jewelry. Another woman in a colorful skirt looks over a display of perfumed oils. In a booth crowned by an oversized dreamcatcher, chunks of sparkling amethyst and quartz snag the attention of a red-haired man. A woman with a black and white dog on a leash contemplates a massage, while a nearby vendor offers to channel spiritual energy.

Hungry? There’s a global smörgåsbord here, with fare from Africa, Indonesia, South America, Europe. There’s empanadas at one counter, generous portions of rendang – a spicy meat dish from Indonesia – at another. For dessert, there are plump donuts that can be filled with white chocolate or caramel by syringes. Those wanting to take dinner home can choose from locally caught fish, wheels of cheese, fresh herbs and packets of exotic spices.

All this under the warm breezy sunshine of season – far from winter.

—Jana Soeldner Danger

 

 

Festival Season heats up

What better way to celebrate the season of be-here-now than by hitting the streets, beach or other naturally air-conditioned venue to take in a favorite band … or 10?

It’s open now — that ever-precious window when it’s often safe to venture outdoors without fear of evaporating — and festivals from Miami Beach to West Palm and beyond are serving up musical menus for diehard fans and cooler-weather worshippers alike.

Fort Lauderdale Beach has become prime oceanfront festival property, with the alternative-minded Riptide Music Festival kicking up the sand just last month and the Tortuga Music Festival, April 6-8, continuing to lure country’s biggest names — Keith Urban, Florida Georgia Line — to its down-home beach party. In its sixth year, the festival stretches out with head-spinning variants like Snoop Dogg and Cheap Trick.

The Sunshine Music Festival, Jan. 14, kicks off the season with its sixth stop at Boca Raton’s Mizner Park Amphitheater. Headlined as in years past by the Tedeschi Trucks Band, the jam-heavy lineup also features Phish bassist Mike Gordon, the jazzy Medeski Martin & Wood, and — for the Summer of Lovers — Jefferson Airplane offspring, Hot Tuna.

KISS 99.9’s Chili Cook-Off, Jan. 20, returns for its 33rd year with a heaping helping of country spice at C.B. Smith Park in Pembroke Pines. Returning too is Big & Rich, grand marshals for last month’s Winterfest Boat Parade in Fort Lauderdale. Other headliners are Darius Rucker and Old Dominion.

Sunfest, May 3-6, the 35-year-old granddaddy of SoFla music festivals, spreads out over three stages along Lake Worth in downtown West Palm Beach. The regular feast of rockers and rappers is sure to fill the four-day bill, which won’t be announced until next month.

     — Greg Carannante

 

 

Boots!

Winter in Florida gives us the excuse to show off those sleek, over-the-knee boots or our latest sassy suede ankle bootie discovery. We pair them with skirts, pants, shorts, bathing suits, you name it, and we do it with near giddy excitement – I should know, I spent six years clomping around Vermont in clunky Timberlands. It’s hard to look elegant when you’re kitted out like the Michelin Man doing the Vermonter shuffle to avoid the ever-present epic-black-ice-wipe-out risk. But not here. In Florida, boots are for style and for nothing more. The minute the temperature dips below 80 degrees we are pulling out everything from our Balmain stiletto pointed toe knee boots to our Aquazzura velvet ankle boots. My latest favorite? Vince Camuto peep-toe booties. Try wearing THOSE in Vermont in January.

Rebecca Cahilly-Taranto

 

Beach volleyball

Some of the world’s top volleyball players are returning to the sands of Fort Lauderdale Beach.

For the second year in a row, Fort Lauderdale will welcome the season’s first Beach Major Series event of the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (the governing body of volleyball), when Olympic and world champion pairs battle it out for a $600,000 purse, the highest on the tour. Notable contenders include: Brazil’s Alison and Bruno; Fort Lauderdale native Nick Lucena and his partner Phil Dalhausser; and Kerri Walsh Jennings and her new teammate Nicole Branagh.

“We are super excited to open the Beach Volleyball Major Series 2018 when it makes its return to Fort Lauderdale,” says Hannes Jagerhofer, CEO of Beach Majors Co. “We love the city’s unique style.”

The six-day tournament, from Feb. 27 through March 4, will take place at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, 1100 Seabreeze Blvd. and will include both day and evening matches, as well as a “Beach Village” with attractions, food trucks and parties.

General admission is free, but is first-come, first-serve, so fans serious about viewing the matches are advised to purchase tickets, especially for marquee matchups. In addition, all medal matches are ticketed events.

“We are the only beach volleyball event in the world which offers the highest level of competition, with Olympic and world champions fighting for the highest prize money,” Jagerhofer says. “This is a unique event for families, as well as young and active people, and a great opportunity to spend a memorable day at the beach.”

Ticket prices vary. VIP packages are available. For information or tickets, visit beachmajors.com. 

—  Robyn A. Friedman

 

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