At the time I had no definite plans to visit Florida. It had crossed my mind but to be honest, I wasn’t sure that the bank balance or the full time job would allow it to really happen… thankfully, I was proven wrong.
After juggling a few things around, my flight was booked and I’d written back to Grace at Miami Culinary Tours to confirm that I would, in fact, be happy to accept a place on the tour.
With hot weather and even hotter nightlife, Miami is a fabulous holiday destination throughout the whole year, famous for its party atmosphere and shopping. I was able to experience this and more courtesy of Miami Culinary Tours, learning all about the culinary influences Miami.
After meeting Marie, the tour guide from Miami Culinary Tours on Washington Avenue (just two blocks from Ocean Drive) our group of 12 headed to our first eating point for ‘Floribbean cuisine’ at La Bolivar.
Here we tried some of the freshest ceviche (“seh-BEE-chay”) in town! Ceviche is an old tradition in South America and was served with an empanada and a refreshing beer cocktail that only enhanced the experience at this local gem that is referred to as the ‘Best Colombian Restaurant in Miami Beach’ by The Sun Post.
After finishing the beer cocktail and devouring the appetising food of La Bolivar, we were looking forward to trying the best churros in town at Manolo on Collins Avenue.
Now, I’m an avid foodie so any chance to favour my sweet tooth so early in the tour was well received; the combination of this Spanish sweet and salty treat filled with dulce de leche was a welcome pit stop before we headed to the next stop. The churros were served hot and fresh, literally melting in the mouth – which sadly meant that they were finished too soon!
As we left Manolo and headed onto Ocean Drive I had a chance to speak with our tour guide Marie about her time in Miami – she was very knowledgable about the city and of course, passionate about Miami and its culinary offering.
We made a short stop along Ocean Drive opposite the Gianni Versace mansion, the most photographed building in the USA and the location of his murder in 1997. Close by is also the location of Jonny Rockets from the infamous Scarface scene where Montana’s brother is dismembered by a chainsaw.
Marie also pointed out some of the architecture along Ocean Drive as we made our way to the next restaurant. Miami boasts the largest collection of art deco buildings in the world however this is now shifting to MiMo style – classical, modern, minimalist.
The location of our main course was Habanos, a traditional Cuban restaurant that offered a taste of old Havana right here in Miami. The appetisers started with sweet plantain (maduros) and homemade mojo followed by a meal of pork vaca frita with fried yucca onions, chimichurri and maduros.
This wonderful meal was followed up by a taste of the local coffee – colada. Now this isn’t your regular after-dinner coffee, but is in fact an espresso of 4-6 shots of Cuban coffee in one, very sweet mouthful. A powerful conclusion to our time at Habanos.
At this point Marie led us on to our next stopping point, Blocks Deli for a Mediterranean snack.
Run by a young family from Italy, the vegetarian pocket served at Blocks Deli consists of a 300 year old recipe “mother dough” filled with homemade pesto, feta cheese and spinach… certainly not one to be missed but unfortunately, I had to take my ‘pocket’ to go – I was unbelievably full by this point having been spoilt with all of the delectable food throughout the tour. Yet, this wasn’t to be our last stop.
A short stroll led us to Española Way that was built in 19 30 and a former hangout of Al Capone. This historic Spanish neighbourhood is also the location for much filming of Miami Vice.
In this neighbourhood of Miami we made our final stop for dessert at Milani Gelateria – if you’re looking for a real Italian ice cream experience in Miami then this is the place! Milani Gelateria offers a wide choice of flavours with great taste as well as great service. At this point we were all able to choose two flavours of gelato to enjoy a generously portioned scoop.
The gelato was a fab way to end a fun and fulfilling (literally) tour, however don’t get too attached to a flavour; the gelato is freshly made by the owner each morning therefore the flavours change daily. Oh, and if you’re concerned about calories then be reassured, there’s a maximum of 5% fat per scoop so it’s brilliant for weight watching.
Marie of Miami Culinary Tours was a perfect hostess as she guided our group around Miami, a place that could be daunting if you were unsure of where to go and how to avoid the tourist traps. She took away the surprises and led us directly to the heart of Miami’s culinary pulse. Her knowledge of Miami shone through and her rapport with restauranteurs was evident as we were met at each place with a welcoming deserving of old friends.
If you’re in Miami then I absolutely recommend taking a tour with Miami Culinary Tours as early as possible in your trip. Why? Because you’re likely to have a favourite where you can indulge further on a separate occasion. 😉
Tips for taking a tour with Miami Culinary Tours:
- Wear good walking shoes. This tour involves around a mile or so of walking but can last from 2-5 hours. Be comfortable.
- Go with an empty stomach. I hadn’t eaten much in the day but the meals are full sized portions and with six courses to entertain, you’ll want to get the best experience for your money.
- Be sociable. Group sizes vary but the tours are attended by visitors from around the world.
- Don’t be shy to ask questions. The guides are friendly and well informed about Miami. The perfect hosts for your trip.
Many thanks for Miami Culinary Tours for introducing me to Miami with the South Beach Food Tour.