all the wall art makes you stiff.

I’d like to say I read up a lot on Mythology, but the truth is I’ve listened to Brad Pitt’s voice in Sinbad way too many times. 

Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink
Panther Coffee
Wynwood Walls
Wynwood/Design District, Miami, Florida

Rebirth has always been a huge fascination of mine; at a young age it had been the idea that one night I’d go to bed and then wake up to discover that I’ve obtained powers to create and manipulate ice. As I got older, that turned into me waking up and discovering that I finally had a six pack. Soon, after that, Mark Wahlberg.

It soon dawned on me that these fantasies were more the bypart of counterproductive demands for immediacy more than they were of an actual rebirth. So, I’ve learned to sit back and just wait. It’ll all come to me.

Cities are different- with Miami being a bivariate outlier.

With being one of the youngest cities in North America, Miami has been always been in a constant state of variation and conflict; from the massacre of Seminoles to the German U-Boats destroying vessels off of its Atlantic Coast, to a tourist economy being fueled by front organizations funneling kilos of cocaine for every martini shaken and not stirred: Miami has always been in a position where it’s been royally screwed over.

Now there’s a chance, a rise. A force that has been fighting for the chance to scour away all the hapless leftover the Magic City built in yesteryear and left for today in a standstill. Miami is calling itself out on its own B.S. and is working for a change.

The premiere example being Wynwood.

By many, the place has served as a feeding ground of lagers and acrylic fumes: entire streets draped in the bizarre and terrifying, spellbinding and nauseous. The land is packed with vacant warehouses and not a single condo though many are looming nearby, a few avenues over, in Midtown.

My guy fell in love. He lives in Williamsburg, and as such, got a stiff as he rubbed his hands on all the dead squirrel wall art. My wallet fell in love too: there’s not a parking meter in sight.

First up, we hit up the Wynwood Walls.

All in all, it boasts a hell of an eatery and decently priced bar that swipes your debit card after every drink.

Whether or not we were allowed to leave the bar with our drinks, we took our lagers in our glasses and set forth into an ongoing labyrinth of by far some of the most gorgeous instillations of art I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

In fact, I’m quite possibly sure one of my favorite art installation stands proud and true in the alley- and looks something like this.

I took some particle and (then) quantum physics for a year, and for whatever reason I found it to be absolutely terrifying and gorgeous all at the same time. I’m unclear if it’s because his eyes are the same color as the empty space he’s surrounded by or because his pecs are more glorified than mine will ever be. Either way, I stopped in my tracks, eventually creeping inch by inch towards the wall as if waiting for the everyman to roar, all the while memorized statistics of the distances of our nearest galaxy superclusters, screaming inside my head.

In need of a caffeine fix before we head over to Midtown for Dinner, we figure it’s time to investigate Panther Coffee for some espresso.

Two blocks down the road we’re able to take in all that’s the epicenter of Wynwood. The entire time I’m feeling as though it’s the byproduct of Greenpoint and Williamsburg and they’ve smeared all the leftover nutritional placenta all over its walls.

Panther Coffee is the same way, in the absolute best way as possible. The exterior is a kaleidoscope of a technicolor, neurological discharge that’s similar to the forcefield Rihanna had to deal with in her Battleship acting debut. It’s gorgeous. 

inside, The building feels as though it was an old art gallery with its polished cement walls and chrome fixtures. Giant coffee grinders and roasters stand proudly in the corner with racks of pamphlets of upcoming coffee tastings surrounding them. The bathrooms are larger than my guy’s pisser in Williamsburg. The coffee is all grown with people they can trust- farmers and close acquaintances growing beans in Brazil and all in all, the espresso is muddy and rich and peeping hot. Peeping. 

With our fix we rush back to the car and I’m still in shock realizing there’s not a meter in sight for me to pay at;

We set the gear and blast that Katy perry playing for the sixth time in the hour and head over to Midtown for dinner.

Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink is by far the best dining experience in Miami. Easy. Set. Debate me.

High ceilings. Chic lanterns hanging high above as a iron spiral staircase sweeps upward. Dark, rich wood tables lit up with candles in opaque glasses as vibrant and sexy as the cocktails a quartet of sisters are sipping down. My ass wants to sway a bit to the music that’s playing. I want to hold doors open and say ‘pardon’ in effort to impress the hostesses that are so damn polite and smart. 

Having set reservations, they seat us outside within their manmade jungle of cacti and palm. Fans make a breeze for us. Our waiter greets us with some filtered or sparkling water. We agree with sparkling and throughout the entire evening, we’re bombarded bottle after bottle- I’m already feeling invincible.

We dig in:

First up:

One of their signature cocktails at the same time the duck rillette:

Bulleit Burbon (my favorite Burbon) with a slash of lemon, cherries skewered onto rosemary. For presentational purposes, they leave the extra bit of drink in an ice bucket right next to me.

The bourbon-soaked cherries burst with salivating salvation as the lemon cuts through the richness of the the Rillette:

Built from the plate up by myself, a buttery, crunchy crostini with savory, earthy mustard. Sautéed onion. The rillette itself is gorgeous: salted duck cooked slowly in its own fat until it is cooled along with it. The result: a deliciously rich conglomeration of shredded duck and gelatinous fat that cuts like a paste and spreads like the Nutella God himself wish he could’ve created. Garnish it with a cornichon and you have yourself the greatest amuse-bouche you’ve ever bestowed upon your tongue.

I take a swig of my bulleit.

It’s getting darker and the waiter has complimented me for my presentation. I don’t tell him that it’s because I’m taking a picture, but instead because I figured this was the obvious way to consider every component with the dish with every bite I took. Impressed, he changed our bottle of sparkling water. I suddenly felt as if I had a stick up my ass. I was complimented.

Next up:

Crispy Pig Ear 

Sincerely there wasn’t much to say. It was gone within two minutes. The crispiness was subdued by that perfectly tender fat that just glazed over everything. It was absolutely delicious and astoundingly perfect. No additional ingredients. Just a couple ears sliced off a pig.

Swig of my bulleit.

Then our waiter comes back with our Burrata. Heaven help me.

Gorgeously fresh heirloom tomatoes stacked and sprinkled with basil, olive oil, and Fleur de sel. A rich slice of Burrata (a mozzaralla shell with mozzaralla and cream on the inside) that spills panna the moment you dig your spoon in. It was silky smooth. Served at room temperature. As rich as the burrata was, that basil always managed to find a way to take star command and pierce through the other three flavors.

At this point, my bulleit is getting low and the waiter is coming back to us with two more platters.

I’ve just realized the picture was blurry.

Shit.

It’s Crispy Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly, served with a very generous portion of Kimchee slaw that’s loaded with crispy little pea shoots. The pork belly is perfect. Astoundingly sweet with the fusion of fatty and meaty layers; the richness is undercut greatly by some sprinkled salty peanut on top and the spicy kimchee slaw that takes away the heaviness of the pork belly all the while making me suddenly reminisce of Williamsburg and the Kimchee Slaw I’d always order when getting a Cubano Roll from Momofuku Milk Bar. The pork takes it to an entirely new level and my suddenly, my bulleit empty. I’ve also transformed my boyfriend into a meat-eater, completely.

Alongside of that:

A peach salad- served simply with fresh basil, feta cheese, and radish. Every component of the dish stands gorgeously together. It is as colorful as it is simply delightful, with peaches being cut tenderly like flank steak, it seals the deal.

There’s a brick in my stomach.

I look around and realize there’s leftover Bulleit waiting for me in that little pool of melted ice. There’s great plans I am certain of it.

And that’s a key lime pie in a jar.

I mean. It’s perfect.

So we sit down and wait off on our buzz. We tackle down two more bottles of sparkling water. It’s past dusk. Midtown has shifted from quiet to barren. Yet, in a strip mall atrium, there’s a semblance of understanding. Of a gathering.

I suppose that’s what excited me the most about Michael’s. Yes, the food was astounding. Yes, all of the servers were beautiful. Yes, I understood that I would be able to brag about the place to end of the Summer. But knowing that there’s something strong there. A reckoning, almost, that Miami is taking charge and asking what it can do for itself and what can it utilize to make that happen. Miami’s no longer a city fueled by tourism and cocaine-rimmed shot glasses. And I think with the people who have understood this, or have experienced it, or hell- have to decided to join onto that bandwagon and change for the sake of changing because it’s a damn good time- they’re celebrating, and in so many ways, I suppose that’s what food’s supposed to be all about. Granted, if I ever had a restaurant, I’d be celebrating myself.

In the meantime, however- Wynwood and Midtown. Two places you better become acquainted with when thinking about heading down to Miami, because in the near future, they’re going to be responsible for the Miami you come to love and aspire to be. Miami’s rebirth is bringing about a reckoning, so watch out.

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