Miami is a melting pot of culture. So why not spend a day exploring some of them? And more specifically, the amazing cuisines we are blessed with. So start with a little taste of Europe. Luckily for us, you can get a pretty good taste all in one spot: Miracle Mile. Spend the morning in Paris, eat lunch like a Roman, and end your day relaxing like you’re in Spain; with some shopping inbetween of course. You know the saying: When in the Gables.
Here is your schedule
9 a.m. / Le Boudoir
169 Miracle Mile
Cost: $10 - $15
Bonjour! Begin your day in Paris. (Honestly, what could be a better way to start your day?) Besides being Parisian (which fits in perfectly with this itinerary), this may also be the most adorable place in Miami (so I am really happy to share it with you). Between the pink-crushed-velvet booth, the table that sits under a Paris-style window with white shutters, and the colorful mini macarons that decorate the bar; you’ll surely think you see a view of the Eiffel Tower when you leave in your Parisian-Café-haze. And Parisians, thank you for putting chocolate in a light, flaky croissant, and calling it a perfectly acceptable breakfast. Je t’aime.
Please note that while you will want to eat before your cooking class (and definitely have your morning coffee/cappuccino/espresso), you will not want to eat anything too heavy. So, this Parisian-inspired breakfast is the perfect beginning to your itinerary.
10:30 a.m. / Italian Cooking Class
50 Aragon Avenue
Take a stroll around the corner (yes, we’re taking you off of the actual ‘Mile’ for awhile, but it’s only one street over) to La Cuisine Gourmet as we adventure into the art of Italian cooking. Hosted by the Dante Alighieri Society (or Società Dante Alighieri; a society that promotes the Italian culture - and language - around the world), this cooking class is an amazing chance to learn to cook and eat like the Romans.
La Cuisine Gourmet has a kitchen that is more like a stage and leaves you feeling like you have walked onto a TV set – especially when paired with the personality of Chef Sandra Stefani (the instructor and chef that graced us with her presence that day). However, after the cooking begins, you pretty much forget about your assumption/fear that there must be a camera crew nearby, and are overcome by the constant activity, delicious smells and Sandra’s amazing accent and energy.
You can feel free to participate in the actual cooking as little or as much as you would like. Get your hands dirty or stay clean and ready to eat on the sidelines. There is room and seating for everyone. Chat and make friends while you follow Sandra’s moves in the kitchen and get ready for your Italian-style meal.
By the time the class ended (1:30 p.m.) we had made Eggplant Towers (which was like an explosion of flavor in your mouth with eggplant, tomato, garlic, spinach, balsamic, olive oil and gorgonzola cheese), Gnocchi Ignudi (that melted on your tongue), fish wrapped in lettuce (which was perfection) and semifreddo con gli amaretti (which should translate to a frozen piece of heaven). That doesn’t even include the bread with Italian olive oil and the wine. The Italians like to eat; and if all Italians can cook like that, I don’t blame them. Spend the last 30 minutes savoring the food you helped create (or watched develop before your eyes) and bond with your new Italian family. And don’t forget to say a big and meaningful ‘Grazie!’ to the amazing Chef that helped make it all come to life.
2 p.m. / Stroll
You will need to walk off (at least some of) your five-course lunch, and I cannot think of a better place to do this than Miracle Mile. Visit your favorite stores and stroll like the Europeans do. If you’re feeling inspired by the cooking class, walk down Aragon and visit the legendary Books & Books and peruse their cooking section; or if you want to send the Chef an official ‘thank you’ note, visit the Paper Emporium.
3:30 p.m. / Copas y Tapas
98 Miracle Mile
Cost: $12 - $30
Next stop: Spain. When you’re tired of carrying your shopping bags around and want to rest, stop by Copas y Tapas and get a little taste of Spain; or, more specifically, Spanish wine. This is the perfect spot to cozy up, share some vino, and relax. With it’s rustic wooden tables it creates the perfect Spanish-country-feel. Although you probably won’t be hungry for days after eating Italian cooking, if you do want something more, at least you know you’re in a good place, and the small plates will probably be a huge plus.
4 p.m. / Peterbrooke Chocolatier
227 Aragon Avenue
Cost: $5 - $15
I can never leave out dessert (even though I suggest taking this dessert to go). And I am pretty sure I learned that from my European ancestors. Welcome to Peterbrooke Chocolatier. Peterbrooke was actually founded in Jacksonville, Fla. but it began with an owner who was trained in European fine chocolate making - who then added her own American twist. As we say in America, we like it bigger and better (and fatter). I like to call this a little piece of home. May I suggest the chocolate-covered pretzels and/or popcorn? You can thank me later. Any language is fine.