The Adventures of a Girl Gone Wild in Wynwood

The Adventures of a girl gone wild in wynwood

Bienvenidos a Miami (more like me-yummy)

When people think of Miami, the first things that usually come to mind are 1. the tropical, palm-lined beaches overflowing with voluptuous, exotic women in barely-there beach wear and 2. the vibrant, fast paced club culture that keeps visitors (and quite a few locals) out every night of the week partying till the sun comes back out to play. While both of these are an undeniable part of the Magic City’s make up and allure, there’s a whole lot more to the 305 that’s worth taking advantage of, whether you’re just visiting or chose to call this place home.

Miami may not be a New York, a San Francisco, or even a Paris, but this melting pot of global cultures & cuisine has attracted top chefs, critics and foodies alike, rapidly making it one of the top cities in the world for great food. Say great food and immediately one of the thoughts that might cross your mind: expensive. Or maybe, you’re a creature of habit and lean towards safe choices at places you’ve already vetted, political-campaign-style.

If none of the above is quite your speed, I’m hoping it’s because you’re the adventurous type, always looking for ways to combine things you’re passionate about and roll them into one seamless experience, without breaking bank. If that’s you, here’s one of the coolest (and tastiest) experiences I’ve had in a while, right here in the city where I was born and bred.

A culinary tour for the food lover’s soul and tastebuds

Last week, Coral Gables Love Founder & driving force behind the creative collective South Florida Bloggers, shared an opportunity for a few of us SoFla writers and creatives to come and experience Miami Culinary Tours in one of the city’s most eclectic, burgeoning neighborhoods, Wynwood for the Wynwood Food and Art Tour. Prior to the invite, I’d never heard of Miami Culinary Tours, but after this 2.5 hour tour through six of Wynwood’s hottest spots for tasty bites, adult beverages and intricate street art, it’s a name I won’t soon forget.

At 12PM sharp, I was greeted by a warm and smiling Grace in front of the Wynwood Walls entrance. It was a typical Saturday afternoon in Miami. The type where you wake up to a beautiful, sunny day, blink your eyes and simultaneously watch the storm clouds start to form just above. No worries, though. Grace assured me that just as the show must go on, Miami Culinary Tours happen rain or shine, and always on time. And she wasn’t lying!

To kick things off, Grace told our group about the stops (six in total) we’d be making throughout the tour. She even told us about the fascinating history behind what’s become an ever evolving haven for street artists and prestigious events like Art Basel. With our first stop just a few feet away from the meeting point, our group scuttled over to avoid the day’s first raindrops.

Take a bite out of Nuevo Cuisine

Enter the Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, a place where you can sit on the terrace and people watch as you indulge in their bites and refreshments, or steal away into their low-lit, high ceilinged dining space for a more intimate vibe. Due to the weather, we opted for indoor seating and anxiously awaited our first course of the day.

As the servers poured in and promptly delivered the scrumptious looking dish to our tables, Grace went on to explain a little more about Executive Chef Miguel Aguilar’s Nuevo Cuisine and what we’d be tasting.

What was on the menu…
What was on the menu…

2550 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33127

A delicious Chicken Ropa Vieja empanada in the shape of a Samosa over a Cilantro creme

A crispy Tequeño filled with Chef Aguilar’s take on the Central American Queso Fresco (his version of this is pasteurized) over a mustard and cheese sauce

A chunky, fried plantain, also known as maduros, topped with shredded cheese

Paired with a refreshing and citrusy India Pale Ale to wash it all down

Everything on the plate really popped with flavor and complimentary textures to tantalize your mouth. My favorite thing for this stop was the empanada and it’s cilantro creme. The day was off to a great start!

Snuggle up with legends

Before heading off to our next restaurant and in-between drizzles, Grace took us for a casual stroll within the Wynwood Walls and told us more about the artists behind the pieces.

In the past, street art has been steeped in controversy, so it was really refreshing for her to highlight some of the visionaries that have brought more positive attention to this beautiful visual expression. Putting names to pieces and creators who have come from near and far to share their talents around the city truly helped give this neighborhood even more depth than before.

Pictures and notes were taken, but we were on a schedule and since time (and bellies) wait for no one, we were off to our next destination.

Slide into the scene

Just two blocks away from Wynwood Kitchen, stepping into R House felt like walking into an art gallery brought to life. This chic spot gave me a New York kinda vibe with a fully stocked bar by the entrance, tons of natural light flooding in from both sides of the restaurant, hanging canvas panels featuring colorfully redesigned soda cans, and glass-top high tables and chairs.

Grace told us that Chef Rocco Carulli would be by shortly to present our dish. In the meantime, she invited us to choose from either a glass of red or white wine to pair our dish with. A quick toast & selfie op with the the group (and our glasses), and we all dashed off to be seated.

In no time at all, we made fast friends with the servers who delivered our second dish of the day. Chef Rocco came out and presented his Short Rib Slider and Tuna Tartare.

What was on the menu…

2727 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33127

A Short Rib beef slider, braised in a decaffeinated coffee rub, then sautéed in a molasses reduction with hot chilli, packed into a brioche bun

A Tuna Tartare tossed in sesame oil with black and white sesame seeds, then topped with a sweet chilli glaze and wasabi creme, all siting atop a fried wonton crisp

Paired with a glass of Italian Casaletto Del Nonno Cabernet Sauvignon (I went with the red, because it’s got less calories, right?)

Chef Rocco’s Tuna Tartare really caught me off guard in the best of ways. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did, but it was probably my favorite dish of the entire tour! How was anyone else going to top that?

Don’t sleep on the barbie – Q that is!

Pride & Joy is one of Miami’s sole BBQ joints that’s keeping up the good ol’ fashioned tradition of what it means to live in ‘Merica. Yes, their menu is flooded with comfort foods and guilty pleasures galore, and today’s experience would be no different.

There’s a couple of different entrances to this barbecue house. An old school pick up welcomes you into the outdoor patio, or you can walk in right off of the N. Miami Avenue entrance. Either way, once you’re inside, you get that Southern feel right away.

Wooden tables are all equipped with brown rolls of paper towel so you can clean up after a sticky encounter, as well as their signature barbecue sauces for your pick of flavors and combinations. It’s not the most well-lit, but who needs fancy lighting when your basket’s full of great food you can pick up and eat without feeling self-conscious, right?

Before anyone started digging in, Grace strolled over to the head of the table and gave us the 411 about this stop’s dish.

What was on the menu…

2800 N. Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33127

Pulled pork on Texas toast

My heat sunk a little when I heard this simply because I don’t eat swine. I know what you’re thinking.

“A Cuban Miami girl who doesn’t eat lechon or ham? Not even bacon?”

But alas, this is fact. Grace, who lives up to her name to a T, realized I hadn’t touched my dish and after my quick reveal, informed me that Miami Culinary Tours actually accommodates lots of different dietary restrictions for Vegetarians, non-beef, non-chicken, and non-fish diets.

Though they don’t have options for Vegans or Gluten-free diets, if you’re just a flirter with any of these and still want to come along, they offer a 30% discount with a special code to enter when booking a tour.

Truth be told I’d already started to feel like the space in my tummy was filling up, but we still had three more stops to go. Little did I know we were about to go on a mini world tour.

Peru meets Japan & lives happily ever after

Directly across the street from Pride & Joy, we were escorted to a whimsical patio with several Bohemian swings strategically placed next to a bar. We’d officially arrived at SuViche, a Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant that prides itself on high quality, made to order cuisine with an affordable price tag.

All this walking we were doing outside in the heat proved to be a nice workout, but this next dish would be eaten indoors while we took a much needed break in the A/C.

Grace let us know the cooks were preparing our traditional ceviche and that they’d be out shortly. For those unfamiliar with ceviche, she revealed the different ingredients we could expect and the best way to enjoy all of the flavors we’d find on our plates. According to her, the secret to the best way to eat this dish was to mix everything up and enjoy it with a spoon.

What was on the menu…

2751 N. Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33127

A traditional ceviche made using raw Swaï fish cured in lemon & lime featuring these ingredients:

Maís chupe – a large Peruvian corn kernel

Canchitas – smaller Peruvian un-popped corn kernels for crunch

Raw onions

Cilantro

Leche de Tigre – a lemon/lime citrus-based marinade

This dish quickly rose to the top and tied with R House on my list of favorites for the tour. Besides the undeniable tang of the Leche de Tigre, I could tell the fish was incredibly fresh and meaty, the Canchitas added a great crunch texture that was really satisfying, the raw onions added a nice sharpness and balanced the whole dish out with cilantro perfectly. SuViche was a big win in the tasty department.

Passports not required

With just two more stops to go, I wondered where in the world I was supposed to pack in whatever was left to consume.

Wanting to keep us on track, Grace transported us to Made In Italy Gourmet, a beautiful Italian restaurant and mercato. This place was straight out of a typical Italian emporio, featuring imported Italian food products for purchase and all the decor and romantic European vibes that come right along with it.

Luckily, there would be no hefty meal here. Instead, we were going to be tasting an Italian sparkling wine paired with a creamy, semi-soft cheese.

What was on the menu…

10 NE 27th Street, Miami, FL 33127

A glass of Prosecco made from the Glera grape

Percorino al Tartufo bites

The crisp, fresh glass of Prosecco was absolutely delicious and paired beautifully with the bold flavors found in the raw, sheep’s cheese Pecorino, encrusted with white and black truffles. This was the life!

If only we’d had more time to take in the Italian experience. But alas, we had one last stop to make for dessert.

The fireman who’ll extinguish your cravings

The walk to Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop & Cafe was a quick jump away. This cute brick and mortar shop welcomes you in with sights of cool chalkboard art on the wall, detailing their sweet treats.

Space was tight, but everyone was ready to get their hands on the offerings of this final destination and the day’s dessert. As we piled in, small plates with a creamy looking slice of pie rolled out the front door.

What was on the menu…

2828 N. Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33137

Fireman Derek’s Key Lime Pie – a tangy favorite originating in Key West on a graham cracker crust

As we all stood around, enjoying the sweet & tart pie with that crispy graham cracker crust, it was at this moment, Grace expressed her her gratitude for a day well spent traipsing through the streets of Wynwood together visiting some of the best this tour and neighborhood had to offer.

For the last time, we all snapped shots of the final chapter on our culinary journey together.

First impressions matter

I had never thought about going out on a food tour before, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. But if I’d had to guess, I’m fairly certain I would’ve imagined a smorgasbord of hors d’oeuvres that could’ve potentially left me feeling hungry and slight dissatisfied.

In reality, what I actually walked away with was a newfound appreciation for a neighborhood in Miami I consider to be one of the most interesting, and a few new spots I will definitely be returning to and recommending to friends for tasty dishes with an added je ne sais quoi element.

Coming in at $69 a pop for a ticket to the Food & Art Tour in Wynwood, I felt the experience and amount of food that was included for lunch far surpassed what I might’ve expected. Add in a passionate and professional guide to show you the way, and there’s not much else I think anyone could’ve ask for.

Fun fact: Miami Culinary Tours also runs tours in Miami’s authentic Cuban barrio, Little Havana and on the forever trendy, tourist hot spot, South Beach. If you’re looking for a safe way to unleash your foodie nature, Miami Culinary Tours are the answer to your dreams.

Thanks again Paola, Grace & Miami Culinary Tours! I’ll be back to do this again soon at one of your other locations!

1. Dress for tropical weather! If you’re a non-Miami native, keep in mind this city’s hotter than the toastiest saunas. Lather up in sunblock & grab your sunnies. And because this is the tropics, it’s not at all unusual to wake up to gorgeous sunshine, then get poured on 30 seconds later, so pack your ‘ella (that’s your umbrella).

2. Forget the stilettos. This event is best enjoyed in comfy shoes. If you’re a sneaker fiend, break those puppies out!

3. I’m from a large Cuban family, so you know this one’s taken me WORK. But, be punctual! The tour starts exactly as advertised. Don’t miss out by dragging your feet.

4. Bring some friends or make this a solo adventure. Either way, you’ll meet lots of fellow foodies who are culinarily curious and looking to try different foods in a new way.

5. If you haven any dietary restrictions**, Miami Culinary Tours can accommodate you. Just make sure you check the appropriate box when booking your tour!

**At this time, MCT can not accomodate Gluten-free or Vegan restrictions. Though if you’re not strict on either one and still want to join in, you can use their SPECIALNEED code for a 30% discount when booking.

Luscious Links 01●08●2015

hand, write, pen, art, Ms. Mauikai
  • I’ve never been a Taylor’s Swift fan, but I couldn’t help be inspired by her #Swiftmas spirit over the holidays.
  • This woman’s dream took her 37 years to achieve. Her secret to success? Never give up.

Photo: Ms. Mauikai


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