A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking a complimentary tour of some fantastic South Beach restaurants in Miami. Finding myself with a couple of extra days after the whirlwind BlogHerFood’14 conference in Miami Beach, I decided a culinary tour would be just the thing for me. Now I know I will seek out culinary tours anytime I travel as this was one of the most fun and informative, not to mention delicious, tourist activities I’ve ever enjoyed. I would venture to say even if you live in Miami you should sign up and take one of the tours offered by Miami Culinary Tours. Grace Della, founder of MCT serves up quite an afternoon of delicious food, local historic and architectural facts, a peek at the third most photographed mansion in the USA, Versace’s beautiful South Beach home, and I promise you won’t finish hungry.
Marie, a spunky, pretty blonde from Denmark was the guide on this Sunday afternoon. Prompt and friendly, she carried the tour with plenty of knowledge about the foods and drinks we would savor, as well as sharing her knowledge of the South Beach area and all its pastel beachy colors we are so familiar with.
It was a warm, breezy day and at our first stop Bolivar Restaurant we were served a cool and refreshing “Refajo” a combination of Colombian beer and cream soda, a first for me. After a few sips of the cool, rosy drink our food was served. Passion Fruit Ceviche alongside a beef and potato Empanada. The ceviche, fresh tasting and fruity was the perfect companion to the very spicy “green” sauce served alongside the Empanada. I cleaned my plate with a smile on my face.
Marie explained to us that our next “stop” was more like a breeze through for a special treat, made just for us. At Manolo’s , a bakery/cafeteria, hot out of the fryer and placed on a platter were the sweetest and most tender churros, filled with dulce de leche. Drool…go ahead I know you want to. We each grabbed a piping hot churro and began our stroll to the next eatery.
Getting back to some real food our third stop was for some Cuban food. Next time I find myself in Miami I will definitely sign up for the Little Havanna tour. But today we find ourselves at Polo Norte, a small Cuban joint in the heart of SoBe. We were served an appetizer of plantain chips while we waited for Pork Vaca Frita, with fried yucca and sweet plantains. Vaca Frita, shredded pork with onions served on a toasted bun, smaller than a burger but bigger than a slider, served with a dish of chimichuri. Once again the food did not disappoint. The final treat at Polo Norte was a small cup of dark, rich and sweet Cuban coffee to jolt us through the remainder of the tour.
The day was heating up and our visit to the Tides Hotel was truly one where we could sit, cool off and relax, kicking off our shoes to feel the coolness of the original wave design travertine floors in this 1936 Art Deco hotel, as we sipped on Mango Margaritas. Now we’re talking. Like a slushy for adults, the yellow, sweet and refreshing beverage can be ordered with or without alcohol. I, of course, chose “with”.
Block’s Pizza Deli was a pleasant surprise for our next to last stop. Straight from the old country, the guys at Block’s are serving up pizza and sandwiches made with dough that comes from the “mother” dough. Yeasty and tender, our Sun-dried Hippie Panouzzo, fresh and hot from the kitchen, was filled with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, olives, feta cheese and homemade pesto. I am certain the pizza is a winner because this sandwich was so so good.
Marie assured us that we did not have to finish these crazy good sandwiches as we had one last stop to make. Gelato! Milani Gelateria serves up fresh and on site made gelato from a space ship looking machine. The constant turn dizzying, as you try to decide on which flavor to ask for. I chose Pistachio and Dulce de Leche. Invigorating and creamy and sweet and I want more, NOW!
If reading this review of Miami Culinary Tours hasn’t made you hungry for a trip to Miami and a tour of SoBe restaurants you might have a fever. I give Grace and her team
5 Stars*****. I highly recommend this company and will tour with them again on my next visit to Miami.
Thank you Grace!