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    From the beach to downtown to Edgewater, Miami's vibrant food scene is popping up all over town. Here, the city's leading food connoisseurs spotlight the restaurants and dishes that are currently the best in the city.

    Positively Polenta
    Creamy polenta at Macchialina Taverna Rustica brings old-world Italian to a quiet part of the Beach.

    Miami Restaurants
    The chef making the sausage ragu to accompany his polenta.

    Lower Alton Road has long been the bastion of locals. It’s away from the flash, which is part of its subdued beach-town charm, and has a neighborhood feel deserving of some seriously delicious comfort food. While my deep-seated love for fried chicken is no secret, Italian fare is my go-to cuisine for a night out. When I saw Macchialina Taverna Rustica open two years ago in its unassuming spot at Eighth and Alton, I hoped it was the perfect match, and once I ate there I knew that it was going to be a hit, especially among us locals.

    The concept is genius (and deceptively simple)—Italian food, tapas style. Whatever preconditioned thoughts you may have about ordering a dish or two at an Italian place and then immediately retreating to your couch, push them out of your head. I’ve never been able to leave Macchialina without ordering at least five or six dishes. And there are some real winners to choose from: The cacciucco alla livornese, chef-owner Michael Pirolo’s favorite, is a seafood stew, and the rustic charcuterie board is another standout. But my personal favorite is Pirolo’s polenta.

    Miami Restaurants
    Polenta is spread on a board for a group order as a “polenta board.”

    Currently reigning as the Miami Herald’s most-starred working chef, Pirolo has certainly earned his stripes, after cooking with and learning from greats such as Scott Conant, Christopher Lee, and Alfred Portale. His creamy polenta is the Italian equivalent of my mother’s matzo ball soup—earthy, unfussy, and endlessly comforting. I’ve tried a few different variations since the restaurant opened (most recently with sausage ragu and cipollini), but my favorite has to be the chef’s version with mushroom ragu (available on request). Each time, chef Pirolo manages to perfectly extract the natural sweetness of the savory ingredients, leaving your taste buds craving a bottomless portion. “The trick to making our polenta is in its cook time,” says Pirolo. “It takes three hours. Every day we put our polenta on the stove like clockwork—when we run out, we run out.” It’s the type of execution you have to earn, and he has. Miami’s more delicious for it. 820 Alton Road, Miami Beach, 305-534-2124

    High on the Hog
    Oak Tavern’s suckling pig with maque choux and cheddar grits is an unparalleled flavor combination.

    Miami Restaurants
    Chef David Bracha at his rustic Oak Tavern in the Design District.

    Just about every dining neighborhood in our city should boast a wall splashed with the graffiti "David Bracha cooked here!" Since the late 1980s, the acclaimed chef has operated restaurants in South Beach, South Miami, Coral Gables, downtown Miami (namely the landmark The River Seafood & Oyster Bar), and most recently, the Design District, home to his Oak Tavern.

    The contemporary cuisine at Oak Tavern has roots in traditional American cooking that run as deep as those of the enormous namesake tree shading the outdoor patio. And no dish at this convivial 140-seat establishment better showcases Bracha’s knack for tweaking rustic sensibilities than his suckling pig with maque choux and cheddar grits.

    Miami Restaurants
    Suckling pig being cooked in the caja china.

    The dish is informed by the Big Easy flavors of New Orleans, but the process is somewhat involved. It begins by sourcing a fresh suckling pig from Mary’s Ranch, near Okeechobee. “We take the whole animal, which is around 25 to 30 pounds,” explains Bracha, “and cook it [in a] caja china, which is fantastic.”

    That’s just the start. Once the pig has been roasted and cooled, the skin is peeled off, the pork gets picked from the bone, and the meat is tautly rolled back into the skin. The porcine cylinder is next vacuum-packed and simmered sousvide for an hour. Then it is chilled. Finally, when a customer orders it, “We hack off a piece and pan-roast it in its own fat.”

    Miami Restaurants
    Oak Tavern’s suckling pig, served with creamy cheese grits, maque choux (a traditional Southern dish of corn and tomato stew), pickled okra, and pea shoots for garnish.

    The result is a bulging barrel of inconceivably succulent pork girdled by a thin wisp of crackly skin. Beneath the meat are creamy heirloom grits boosted with Beecher’s sharp New York cheddar cheese and maque choux, a sassy southern Louisiana tangle of corn, tomatoes, and hot chili pepper sauced with stock culled from the suckling bones. Crunchy stars of Homestead okra crown this down-home dish that, one suspects, would be considered audaciously delicious in any neighborhood. 35 NE 40th St., Miami, 786-391-1818

    Winning Cup
    Basil Park, tucked into Sunny Isles Beach, plates a delicious example of where conscious cuisine is heading with its grass-fed beef lettuce cups.

    Miami Restaurants
    Chef Tim Andriola in the open kitchen at Basil Park.

    Sunny Isles Beach is known for lots of things, but not necessarily forward-leaning cuisine. That’s all changed with the recent opening of Tim Andriola’s Basil Park. Andriola is the chef from neighboring Italian Timo Restaurant & Bar, but for his new spot, his direction shifted to a “clean food” philosophy, with dense nutrients and earth-friendly sourcing. The concept came about after Andriola took a health and nutrition course from nutritional guru Vaughn Gray, and the resulting eatery feels more hip San Francisco beach house than Miami with its beautiful, natural pale butcher-block wood tables and open kitchen.

    Miami Restaurants
    Fresno chilies simmering with garlic and vinegar for the homemade sriracha.

    “We avoid using any ingredients that are processed and opt for substitutions that are whole in nature,” says Andriola. “We use coconut palm sugar, dates, and brown rice syrup to give our desserts sweetness. We only use intact grains and grass-fed meat, and natural pasture-raised chicken void of hormones, antibiotics, and GMO feed.” A partner in the restaurant is organic farmer Tamer Harpke from Harpke Family Farm in Dania Beach, which provides piquant lovelies such as microgreens, mizuna, bok choy, lacinato kale, purple dragon carrots, arugula, and chioggia beets.

    Miami Restaurants
    Grass-fed skirt steak lettuce cups with wild-mushroom confit. A topping of sriracha adds an extra kick.

    Now, I loved everything on the menu, but if I had to call out one dish, it would be the grass-fed skirt steak lettuce cups. First, chef Andriola marinates the beef in organic tamari (gluten-free soy) and eventually sears it on a Spanish-style plancha grill. The iceberg lettuce cup holds a wild-mushroom confit, made by covering the mushrooms in coconut oil and roasting them in a 300-degree oven for half an hour, then mixing in garlic, ginger, scallion, tamari, lime, and cilantro. The dish is topped with an award-winning homemade sriracha sauce concocted with Fresno chilies, garlic, vinegar, brown-rice syrup, and salt. The end result has an intense beef flavor layered with the earthy mushrooms, the pop of the sriracha, and the crisp, cool shell of the lettuce. To me, Basil Park is a shining star, the perfect example of how healthy food can also be deliciously exciting food, all the while treating our bodies and Mother Earth kindly. 17608 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach, 305-705-0004

    Not-So-Austere Monk
    Mignonette’s monkfish with smoked trout roe and lobster sauce adds a bit of fancy to Edgewater.

    Miami Restaurants
    At Mignonette in Edgewater, chef Daniel Serfer’s food finds balance between fancy and simple.

    Despite the crowds that regularly flock to the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood is not exactly a dining mecca. The nearby corner of 18th Street and NE Second Avenue may be best known for two things: that greasiest of greasy spoons, the S&S Diner, and the City of Miami Cemetery across the street. But now it can be recognized for something else—some of the best oysters and seafood in town.

    Mignonette is the unholy love child of chef Daniel Serfer (a Chef Allen’s alum who owns comfort food haven Blue Collar) and lawyer/food blogger/ Twitter comedian Ryan Roman (who can now add another slash for “restaurateur”). As the name implies, raw oysters get center stage, but Mignonette devotes significant menu space (and talent) to cooked items, too. Entrées are split between “plain” (for “sauce on the side” types) and “fancy.”

    Miami Restaurants
    The humble monkfish is deglazed with brandy.

    It’s in the fancy section that you’ll find a dish that really encapsulates what I love about Mignonette: its monkfish with smoked trout roe, lobster sauce, and broccolini. Monkfish is an unheralded and ugly fish, known as “poor man’s lobster” because its firm, almost bouncy texture is similar to that of the more luxurious crustacean. The two meet when the meaty fish is paired with a translucent amber, deeply flavored lobster jus made in the fashion of an old-school consommé. A generous dollop of smoked trout roe adds a great briny pop. It’s served over steamed broccolini to make sure you get your veggies, too.

    Miami Restaurants
    Mignonette’s monkfish with smoked trout roe and lobster sauce, served atop a bed of broccolini.

    “We have a very casual fish like the monk, but we church it up and make it fancy with the caviar and the lobster consommé,” says Serfer. “As a younger cook, I would read about guys like Marco Pierre White, and they would say stuff about just keeping it super simple. And since I was young and dumb, I would roll my eyes. I understand now what they were talking about.” Mignonette shows you can be fancy without being fussy, and simple without being boring. This is food I could eat every day. 210 NE 18th St., Miami, 305-374-4635

    On Guard
    Downtown goes uptown with the fiocchetti di pera at Touché.

    Miami Restaurants
    Chef Carla Pellegrino plates her fiocchetti di pera at Touché.

    Perched above a landscape of clubs downtown, Touché stands out like a white pearl in a murky ocean. It’s on the third floor of the building that houses E11even, Miami’s first and only 24/7 nightclub and cabaret, and its all-glass façade serves up direct views of neighboring megaclub Space. Yet the Italian restaurant turns out a sumptuous bowl of pasta worthy of rural Italy. Chef Carla Pellegrino’s fiocchetti di pera in a sauce of butter, sage, and dried cranberries is suitable to convert any red sauce devotee like myself.

    Miami Restaurants
    The ricotta and Bartlett pear-filled pasta “purses,” as Pellegrino likes to call them.

    Pellegrino handled her first pan at the age of 10. “We were poor, so my mother would make me skip school to cook all night long for her catering company,” says the Top Chef season 10 contestant, who is also a VIP member of the James Beard Foundation and a Women in Food honoree. As she hustles through the open kitchen, prepping for the evening, she and her crew mix and knead the fiocchetti’s dough, adding dollops of the ricotta and Bartlett pear filling before it’s scrunched into a bow, or purse, as Pellegrino calls it. To me, it looks more like a candy waiting to be unwrapped.

    Miami Restaurants
    The finished dish, topped with sage and dried cranberry butter sauce.

    As the pasta cooks, butter and extra-virgin olive oil are brought to a simmer with sage sprigs and dried cranberries, adding a subtle sweet finish. Before the butter browns, Pellegrino throws in a handful of bread crumbs. The sauce foams within minutes, and you can taste the sage in the air. Says the chef, “That means it’s ready for the pasta.”

    “No cheese on top,” says Pellegrino as she sets a bowl of the finished product down on the white tablecloth. I unwrap the pasta “candies,” and the rasp and fried-like texture of the sage brushes my tongue. The nimble gravy is buttery, salty, creamy, cheesy, and then tart with the cranberries—perfect for the pear. Pellegrino was right; cheese would have voided the crust of the bread crumbs. Like its chef, the dish is a dexterous representation of Touché and the future of downtown Miami. 15 NE 11th St., Miami, 305-358-9848

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    Private wealth advisor Patric Dwyer forecasts a secure and much welcomed sunny financial climate for Miami.

    Patric Dwyer
    Patrick Dwyer at Merrill Lynch in Miami, where he oversees $2.5 billion in assets for some of the city’s wealthiest individuals.

    At 45 years old, Patrick Dwyer may be one of the youngest financial advisors at Merrill Lynch to head a top-10 team of his own, but he’s also one of its most skilled. From his Miami base, he oversees a whopping $2.5 billion in assets for some of the city’s wealthiest individuals. Here, Dwyer answers the questions on the top of all Miamians’ financial minds.

    Describe the wealth in Miami.
    What characterizes wealth here is pretty consistent with other places in the country: 80 percent is generated by your client, the entrepreneur; about 20 percent is inherited.

    Your clients’ financial priority is trying to maintain their “Miami” lifestyle?
    Most of my clients need annual returns of 5 percent to 8 percent to meet their goals; Miami is an expensive place to live. But where are you going to go to get that? What are you going to do?

    You think rumors that the bull market in stocks is about to explode, bubble style, are exaggerated?
    It’s a relatively decent time to be investing [in stocks]. Companies are being managed for the benefit of shareholders and generating a lot of cash.

    Navigating the bond market is a tricky matter.
    The 30-plus-year bull market in bonds is over. Will interest rates go up? Perhaps not substantially higher, but it’s going to change the returns on America’s favorite investments. Most investors have been lulled to sleep about interest rates, and it’s going to be a rude awakening.

    Will the dollar’s rise affect Miami?
    The assumption at the luxury end of the real estate market is that everything is fine because there’s no leverage; people are putting down big deposits.

    So if the dollar rises, their housing purchase becomes more costly, which would mean what?
    It may reduce demand from foreigners, and that could be a problem.

    Longer-term, you see the sun continuing to shine on Miami’s real estate—and Miami’s wealthy citizens.
    This is a fun, sophisticated city with the kind of infrastructure and amenities you don’t find anywhere else on the East Coast except New York, and it’s a tax-friendly, lower-cost environment. Dwyer & Associates, 200 S. Biscayne Blvd., Ste. 4500, Miami, 888-657-3767

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    LeBron moves out, Deng moves in, while other Heat stars make waves in the Miami real estate scene.

    lebron james house
    LeBron James purchased the Coconut Grove palace in 2010 for $9 million.

    Now that LeBron James has returned home to Cleveland, the King’s Coconut Grove house at 3590 Crystal View Court is on the market. The 12,178-square-foot residence, with ceiling heights fit for a basketball giant (in more than one sense of the word), comes with an infinity pool overlooking a long dock with space for two 60-foot yachts, plus a home theater and elevator. Six bedrooms and eight and a half baths are spread over three levels of living space, along with an impressive guest house connected by a breezeway. The property is fully walled for privacy from prying paparazzi or Miami Heat fans. Tamasha Rose, Opulence International Realty, 2060 N. Bayshore Dr., Miami, 305-615-1376

    lebron james home
    The 12,178-square-foot residence has 4,500 square feet indoors devoted just to entertaining space

    Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade married his fair maiden, Gabrielle Union, this summer in a location befitting his larger-than-life presence: the so-called Chateau Artisan, a 10,000-square-foot castle out in the Redlands built by Miami architect Charles Sieger. The house, at 25791 SW 167th Avenue, in Homestead, which Sieger had originally intended to be his private residence, is surrounded by a large lagoon and includes such amenities as faux ruins, a diamond-shaped swimming pool, and matched gazebo islands connected to the house by stepping stones, one of which was reportedly where Wade and Union exchanged nuptials. Guests watched the ceremony from the house with opera glasses. Until it was delisted a month before the ceremony, Sieger had been trying to sell the place for $10.9 million.

    le bron james house
    An infinity edge pool faces the house’s glass sliding doors and features colored lighting and ocean views.

    Luol Deng, the Heat’s “new guy,” recently made his first Miami real estate move, spending some of his $20 million contract on a classic Mediterranean Revival home on the bay in Morningside, one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods. The house, at 5925 North Bayshore Drive, which Deng purchased for $4.6 million—just below the $4.85 million ask—was built in 1928 and was once owned by Maria and Werner Staub, proprietors of the classic (and now shuttered) Miami restaurant La Paloma. The five-bedroom, fourbath home comes with a separate two-story guest house and 3,248 square feet of living space on .7 acres, with direct Biscayne Bay frontage. Douglas Elliman’s Oren Alexander represented Deng. 1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, 305-695-6300

    The Marquis Residences condo of Heat point guard Mario Chalmers is on the market for $4 million, which, if Chalmers sells it for anything near the ask, will be a nice return on the $2.4 million he paid rapper Drake for the place in 2012. Drake himself used the 5,475-square foot high-floor unit, #4905/6 at 1100 Biscayne Boulevard, as the setting for his music video “I’m on One” in which he, rather ironically, claimed allegiance to his hometown of Toronto despite the condo being, of course, in Miami. The five-bedroom unit boasts a double-height living area, a game room, an expansive terrace, and a wet bar. Tamasha Rose of Opulence International Realty has the listing.

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  • 10/30/14--21:00: The Business of Marijuana
  • Nearly half of all states have legalized medical marijuana, with Colorado and Washington serving as bellwethers for recreational use, and the US is amid an end to a prohibition on par with that of alcohol. But just how will the Green Rush grow? And why is it attracting some surprising advocates among doctors, entrepreneurs, politicians, attorneys, and businesspeople?

    Legalizing Marijuana Weed. Ganja. Marijuana. Pot. During the opening session of the heady 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival held in June of this year, references to the potent plant were the keynote kicker. An intellectual with enviable wit, David G. Bradley, owner of the Atlantic Media Company, delivered an opening monologue that imagined some 250, type-A festival speakers high on Colorado cannabis, enlivening a crowd of CEOs, politicians, doctors, and thinkers with scenarios such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pulling her tempted husband into a car with a reference to her memoir, “We’re making hard choices, Bill.”

    But all jokes aside, this international platform—which eventually staged a very serious conversation on marijuana between Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Katie Couric—is illustrative of an escalating national debate embracing medical marijuana and its rapid-fire industry growth. And for many close to the cause, weed is no laughing matter, posing hard choices indeed.

    Pot chatter is pervasive throughout the US, whether at dinner parties or on the floor of Congress. In Atlanta, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a practicing neurosurgeon and CNN’s chief medical correspondent, who was once vocally anti-pot, passionately discusses the benefits of cannabis in his second documentary film, Weed 2: Cannabis Madness. In Nevada, State Senator Tick Segerblom and Congresswoman Dina Titus are championing bills that favor post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) medical marijuana research and protect the rights of legal users. In Los Angeles, former talk-show host and celebrity Ricki Lake is producing a new documentary, Weed the People, which follows cancer-stricken children and the use of cannabis as medicine. In Denver, Tripp Keber, founder and CEO of Dixie Elixirs and Edibles, is launching his latest edible product, Dixie One. And just a 20-minute drive from Keber’s new 40,000-square-foot Colorado headquarters, Governor Hickenlooper is repeatedly quoted as stating that we are in the midst of one of the “great social experiments of the 21st century.”

    On late-night talk shows and in countless political jokes, the enduring dope-fiend stereotype propagandized in the 1936 film Reefer Madness is perpetuated, but in fact, the growth of the marijuana industry is predicted to outpace smartphones: A projected $2.34 billion worth of legal weed will be sold in the United States in 2014, according to the book State of Legal Marijuana Markets (2nd Edition) produced by ArcView Market Research. The same report projects a whopping $10.2 billion market by 2018.

    In 1996 California voters passed Proposition 215, a milestone ballot that legalized cannabis for medicinal use. Since that time, more than half of all states have either followed suit—in July, New York became the 23rd state to sanction medical marijuana—or taken steps to decriminalize the substance, making possession of a small amount on par with a traffic ticket. And referendums on legal recreational use of marijuana are cropping up on ballots nationwide since Washington State and Colorado voters approved the practice in 2012.

    It’s a hot topic right here in Florida, too. State lawmakers recently passed a bill signed by Governor Rick Scott allowing certain residents (those with cancer or suffering from chronic seizures or severe muscle spasms) access to cannabis in the form of pills, oils, or vaporization. And while that’s good news for those in need, the focus seems to have shifted to the big business of pot. The bill requires the state to register five dispensing businesses to grow medical marijuana, which has created a frenzy for growers and nurseries. Seminars and summits from Hollywood to Homestead have been popping up promising to teach the business of medical marijuana. And on November 4, voters here will have the opportunity to enact a workable, comprehensive medical marijuana law should they vote “yes” on Amendment Two. “It is a natural evolution for a state to go from a very limited medical marijuana program to a less restrictive medical marijuana program to complete legalization,” says author, expert, and Cannabis Career Institute organizer Robert Calkin. “It can potentially be the second-largest market in America after California.”

    We are witnessing an end to a prohibition on par with that of alcohol. As Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, says, “It is the most exciting political change I’ve seen in my lifetime. You almost can’t keep up with the change that’s going on.”

    But first, the power of a plant.

    Weed 101

    Legalizing Marijuana
    Dr. Sanjay Gupta with Josh Stanley at his family’s booming Colorado grow house, in a still from Gupta’s new documentary, Weed 2.

    The preferred scientific term for this lauded and condemned botanical is cannabis, from the Greek word kánabis. It relishes sunlight, is an annual, and can flourish in nearly any environment, thus the slang, weed. According to Martin A. Lee’s book Smoke Signals, most scholars agree that cannabis arrived in our neck of the woods during the 16th century. Ships carrying slaves, explorers, and immigrants were outfitted with rope, sails, and netting made of hemp, while slave passengers also carried seeds for marijuana (hemp’s psychoactive cousin) in their pockets.

    “Sir Francis Drake, Christopher Columbus, and Ferdinand Magellan all sailed ships equipped with hemp products,” Lee notes. “And in 1619, eight years after colonists first planted hemp in Jamestown, the Virginia assembly passed a law requiring every household in the colony to cultivate the plant because it had so many beneficial uses. Hemp farming and processing played an important role in American history (as evidenced in the name of towns from the Atlantic coast to the Midwest, Hempstead to Hempfield). Several of our Founding Fathers, in fact, were hemp farmers, including George Washington.” By the 1850s, hemp was the third largest crop behind tobacco and cotton.

    As the plant made its way across the globe in many forms—and was ingested via inhaling, tinctures, and medical experiments among varying societal ranks—it gained a particular stronghold in Mexico, where, according to Lee’s research, farmers discovered the power of “Rosa Maria.” During the Mexican Revolution, smoking weed was prevalent in Texas border towns like El Paso, which in 1914 became the first city to ban both the sale and possession of marijuana. Thus, the national debate on this botanical’s potent power began as a murmur, which has since evolved, at times, into a screaming match. Today, though new state laws are being enacted rather quickly, on the federal level, cannabis remains a Schedule I substance, which is defined as “the most dangerous” drugs “with no currently accepted medical use.”

    Reefer Madness & Prohibition

    Prior to 1906, the federal government had yet to regulate any psychoactive drug. During that year, Congress enacted the Pure Food and Drug Act, the first legislation that included cannabis among ingredients that had to be noted on a product label. By 1914, the Harrison Act tightened narcotic control, stating that a nonmedical user could not possess cocaine or opiates; with this, the first line was drawn in the sand between medical and recreational drug use.

    Though alcohol prohibition occurred all at once on the national level, marijuana prohibition was enacted in stages. By the mid-1930s, cannabis was regulated as a drug in every state. It was around this time that Harry Anslinger helmed the newly created Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), a post he held for 32 years. Many allege that Anslinger’s anti-marijuana campaign was fueled by a desire to increase his department’s budget: If he could successfully vilify weed, his bureaucratic power would result in further funding for the FBN. There are also scores of reports that pot prohibition was fueled by big business, a premise referred to as the Hemp Conspiracy Theory. It is reported that the Hearst and DuPont empires felt that hemp would threaten the sales of their woodpulp paper and nylon products, and the theory thus played a major role in campaigns and propaganda against pot in all its forms.

    Love him or hate him, Anslinger was central to the American public’s perception. He coined the term “Devil’s Weed,” championed such anti-pot propaganda as Reefer Madness (today a cult comedy classic often watched ironically by college students as they get high, along with its musical 2005 parody version), and was instrumental in the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act, which heavily regulated the plant and served to drastically limit doctors’ ability to legally prescribe cannabis.

    Today, many physicians, including the outspoken Gupta, are realizing that this little green plant could have a huge impact across several medical fields. “This is legitimate medicine,” argues Gupta.

    The Little Plant that Could: Medical Marijuana

    Legalizing Marijuana
    Tripp Keber at Dixie Elixirs and Edibles.

    “I am not backing down on medical marijuana; I am doubling down,” proclaimed Gupta in a March CNN column. When asked to explain his 180-degree turn on the benefits of cannabis, he’s quick to explain, “The tipping point was when I started to look at the research coming out of other countries and smaller labs. [When] I started to spend time with patients who were convinced it was helping them, I realized it was a very large group of patients who seemed to be getting objective benefits. And that’s what really started getting me researching it again.”

    His research led him to Charlotte Figi, the central figure in his provocative film Weed. Charlotte has been plagued with complex seizures—nearly two an hour, at its peak—since she was an infant, and the film follows a harrowing family journey to save Charlotte’s life after she was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome. Also known as severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy, this rare and catastrophic form of epilepsy was at one point causing Charlotte 300 grand mal seizures a week. As a last resort, the Figi family turned to medical marijuana, pitching Charlotte, then 5 years old, into the center of a national debate as the youngest medical marijuana applicant in Colorado. And though Charlotte’s story has become known across the country, what many may still not fully understand, Gupta explains, is that young patients such as Charlotte are not getting intoxicated. “This isn’t getting them high. [Particular strains of medical marijuana have a] high-CBD concentration; they may become a little bit sedated, like they would with other antiepileptic drugs,” says Gupta. “The biggest misconception is that kids are getting stoned or high or psychoactive.”

    Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the principal psychoactive component in marijuana, the form of cannabis responsible for euphorias, or highs, whether smoked or ingested via edible products. On the other hand, cannabidiol (CBD) is one of at least 60 active cannabinoids identified in cannabis, which, when isolated, can have a wide scope of medicinal uses, and does not get patients high like THC.

    Charlotte was given a very specific, highly concentrated CBD strain cultivated by the Stanley brothers—one of Colorado’s largest marijuana growers—at their Garden of Eden grow house. The six brothers crossbred marijuana with industrial hemp, and the resulting strain, Realm Oil (which Charlotte would ingest under her tongue via an olive oil blend, not as smoke), was renamed by the Stanleys as “Charlotte’s Web.” It was so successful in combating Charlotte’s seizures that families with similar stories have relocated to Colorado in order to legally obtain medical marijuana. Today, 8-year-old Charlotte is reported to have about three to four seizures a month. The Stanleys have since created the Realm of Caring nonprofit, which provides free or low-cost cannabis therapies to families in need.

    It’s not just celebrity doctors such as Gupta who are championing the potential of medical marijuana. Ed Bernstein, a prominent Las Vegas attorney and television show host, is applying for a dispensary license, with a 33 percent stake in La Casa Verde Operating. As a successful businessman, he sees opportunity, but the impetus for this new venture is his 25-year-old daughter, Dana, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 3. “She’s had about 200 hospital day trips,” explains Bernstein. “She’s had a couple of dozen surgeries. Over the years, she’s had her intestines removed. She is in constant pain, 24/7.” While living in California during high school, Dana applied for a medical marijuana license and discovered the drug significantly decreased her pain. Now a Nevada resident, it’s become difficult for Dana to obtain marijuana for medicinal use, thus her father’s quest to fight for her rights and open a dispensary.

    “Medical marijuana has been legal here for a number of years, but there was no way to access it,” he says. “I am very aware of the legislation, and we immediately looked into getting a dispensary here.” Bernstein hopes to open a boutique that features quality medical marijuana, a shop “that has a welcoming environment, that can offer the very best strains scientifically possible. You want to be able to have strains of the highest CBD and a variance of those strains that work well with different medical conditions. We are going to focus on doing research with the strains, with universities, with hospitals. My partners all have the same interests in helping people who suffer.”

    Both Bernstein and Gupta are quick to point out the harmful side effects of conventional painkillers (in Dana’s case, the opioid Dilaudid). Gupta adds, “The abuse of pain medications is the most tragic thing in our country. Someone dies every 19 minutes from an accidental prescription drug overdose. It’s now the number-one preventable cause of death in the US.”

    Gupta also notes that epilepsy, pain, and multiple sclerosis are particularly responsive to cannabis-based medicines. Another hot topic in both medical and political circles is the effect of medical marijuana on PTSD. “We are following the trial of marijuana for PTSD among veterans,” says Gupta. “I think the initial research will be promising. Survivors of the Holocaust are being treated for PTSD with cannabis right now. It’s the initial drumbeat and very positive.”

    Use & Abuse: The Next Generation

    As the medical benefits of CBD strains are further researched, there’s still considerable apprehension among medical experts (Gupta included), law enforcement, and politicians surrounding marijuana and young users. Now that teens may gain easier access to the drug, potential for abuse and the effects on the young brain are a particular concern.

    A groundbreaking study published by The Journal of Neuroscience in April is the first to show that frequent use of marijuana is related to major brain changes. Researchers—including experts from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital—conducted MRIs on 40 people: 20 recreational users who smoke an average of 11 joints per week and 20 nonusers. The scientists found that the shapes and sizes of two neural regions essential to motivation and emotion were significantly altered in users.

    Concerns about marijuana’s negative impact on the growing brain has spurred leaders to create forums, such as the Aspen Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo’s Valley Marijuana Council, to discuss the impact and warn young users of the dangers. Though supportive of the legalization of both medical and recreational pot, during an address to the annual NORML Legal Seminar in Aspen, Sheriff DiSalvo stated, “Marijuana is not a product for brains under construction. The message we are giving students is delay, delay, delay. The longer you delay, the better your chances of not compromising a brain under construction. We want to increase awareness and lower adolescent drug use.”

    Governor Hickenlooper is in agreement. “We have a moral responsibility to regulate it properly,” he says. “That means making sure kids under 21 don’t get it. But kids think because it’s legal, it’s less dangerous. We are arguing caution.”

    So just how does the industry tackle potential abuse among young users, and even adults? Certainly there are scores of medical marijuana licenses issued to “patients” who are, in fact, using medical marijuana licenses to simply get high. As with alcohol, or any substance for that matter, abuse is inevitable. When asked how this will be navigated, most advocates suggest extensive educational outreach.

    In August, a controversial Colorado public education campaign titled “Don’t Be a Lab Rat” was driven by the Colorado governor’s office. Human-size rat cages were dropped around Denver in an effort to warn teens that Colorado is a testing ground for medical marijuana legalization, and there is still uncertainty involved in relation to pot use and the young brain. Additionally, though Governor Mark Dayton passed legislation allowing medical marijuana in Minnesota, the state’s strict new law bans smoking marijuana and home cultivation, and allows for only two cannabis dispensaries statewide.

    The Mighty Edible

    “The only thing consistent in this industry is change,” says Tripp Keber. “It’s at hyper speed.” Standing in what will soon be a sleek reception area of his new 40,000-square-foot headquarters in Denver, the founder and CEO of Dixie Elixirs & Edibles has recently hyped himself on shows such as 60 Minutes and HBO’s Vice. Keber describes the booming marijuana business as having experienced “hockey stick growth,” from completely flat to straight on up.

    While leading a tour of his impressive new facility, he candidly explains, “We are not marijuana people. We are businessmen and women who have applied what we have learned professionally to the cannabis space. There has never been a nationally branded line of THC-infused products like Dixie. Our intention is taking this company not only national, but public.”

    A successful entrepreneur who served in the Reagan administration, Keber has been called the “Gordon Gekko of Ganja.” But nicknames aside, he helms a serious, and seriously lucrative, business, squarely in the spotlight of edible entrepreneurs (the industry is moving so fast that at a recent Las Vegas “cannabusiness” convention, one business proposal was a Domino’s-esque pot delivery service).

    Founded just four years ago, Keber’s Dixie Elixirs has grown from a 400-square-foot office with two employees who made one product (an orange elixir) to what can only be called a marijuana industrial “mansion” that currently houses some 50 employees and serves as the assembly line and grow house for the more than 40 Dixie THC-infused products and 100 different SKUs. Most cannabis sold in Colorado dispensaries comes in four forms: as the buds of the plant; as liquid extractions meant to be used in vaporizer pens; as edibles, such as gummy candies, chocolates, and sodas; and as salves and lotions for rubbing into sore muscles and joints.

    The latest Dixie Elixir? Dixie One, a soda that, unlike most edible products, offers a single, measured 5mg dose of THC. Which raises the question—as the fast-paced edible business booms, how does one properly package and regulate dosage amounts? This growing debate among edible entrepreneurs, marketers, and state legislators was further thrust into the national spotlight when New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd alleged in her “Don’t Harsh Our Mellow, Dude” column back in June, that she, unaware of the potency, accidentally ate too much of a THC-infused candy bar, resulting in a panic-stricken hotel stay in Denver.

    Commenting on this, Joe Hodas, Dixie’s chief marketing officer, wrote a reactive op-ed in The Times), Keber says, “Dosing is the single-greatest focus that we should be looking at as an industry. Now you have your average soccer mom from Ohio who may or may not have had a relationship with cannabis in 20-plus years, and [today] cannabis is dramatically different. What was previously 3 or 4 percent is now 23 or 24 percent [THC].” As a potential answer to the growing concern of packaging and marketing dosing amounts, Keber and his team developed Dixie One to eliminate the guesswork: one soda, one dose.

    Keber touts his new headquarters’ state-of-the-art security, a necessary feature at a time when few banks have been willing to provide accounts and other services to marijuana businesses because of its federal Schedule I classification, so most dispensaries have to conduct business in cash. He notes that two dispensaries in his area had recently been robbed. But his sometimes-risky business also means serious tax revenue—numbers, he opines, that can not be ignored by the government on both the state and federal level, given the potential funding for education, city infrastructure, additional medical research, and much more. And headway is being made, particularly in Colorado, with banking institutions and the marijuana industry, as politicians and banking co-ops are quickly realizing reform is inevitable in regard to banking and buds.

    In February of this year, Governor Hickenlooper stated that taxes and fees from recreational and medical marijuana sales would be $134 million in the coming fiscal year. And though some may criticize his choice of industry, Keber says, “You cannot argue with taxes and jobs. The revenue reported from April [2014] was up 17 percent from the month before, and up 53 percent since January.” There’s no doubt he believes in the industry’s skyrocketing potential. “You are seeing this real steep growth. Sometimes we feel like we have a tiger by the tail.”

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    Clothing impresario Tommy Hilfiger and his wife, Dee Ocleppo, make a fresh mark on Miami in their new, ultra glamorous, art-filled home on the beach.

    Dee Ocleppo and Tommy Hilfiger
    Dee Ocleppo and Tommy Hilfiger in the theater screening room of their Miami home. The fashionable couple worked with interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard to give the space a fun, chic ’70s vibe.

    Take a look at Tommy Hilfiger’s new house on the beach and it’s easy to imagine James Bond—or, more likely, Austin Powers—lounging next to the pool, refreshing cocktail in hand and a bevy of bikini-clad beauties nearby. The chic, zippy vibe is no accident. Hilfiger, whose iconic clothing brand has become synonymous with cool, classic American style, and his wife, handbag designer Dee Ocleppo, had long been searching for a Florida family getaway before they finally bought their three-floor, seven-bedroom, 15,000-square-foot house in Golden Beach last year. Before moving into the sprawling manse last Christmas, the Hilfigers worked with superstar Los Angeles-based interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard to give the space what Hilfiger calls a “shagadelic” spin. Ocean Drive spoke with the Hilfigers about the inspiration and ideas behind the design and took a peek into what the taste-making couple—and their designer—had to say about their home, their art, and life on the beach.

    Why did you choose to buy a house in Miami?
    Dee Ocleppo:
    We had been looking for quite some time to get a house either in Palm Beach or Miami; it was always on our agenda. We looked, and when we saw this house, I absolutely fell in love with it. I knew that we had to have it, that was it.

    When was the house originally built?
    In 2007. The original architect is Todd Tragash. He’s done quite a few homes in Miami. He did [music mogul] Tommy Mottola’s [former] house on Star Island [later purchased by Sean “Diddy” Combs].

    The clean lines of Hilfiger’s Golden Beach home made it perfect for displaying the couple’s extensive collection of contemporary and Pop Art
    The clean lines of Hilfiger’s Golden Beach home made it perfect for displaying the couple’s extensive collection of contemporary and Pop Art.

    It’s a departure from your Manhattan penthouse—can you tell me about the differences in this house as compared to your other homes?
    It’s completely different, and one of the reasons I fell in love with the house is because it has these modern lines and lots of walls for art that we had in storage. And to get this art out of storage was really the focal point of the project. A lot of the art that we had was literally stuff we couldn’t fit in the elevator or crane up to the apartment in New York. I saw the work of our designer, Martyn Lawrence [Bullard], and knew that he could create something beautiful with the art. I wanted it to be really the feature of the home.
    Tommy Hilfiger: Our home in Greenwich [Connecticut] is very country, and our home in Mustique has a British Colonial vibe. Miami was an opportunity to showcase our artwork and play with a new aesthetic.

    Tommy, as a designer, how does your own eye for style influence the art or furnishings you choose to collect?
    I like uniqueness. I like something unusual, something fun, something irreverent. But I’m also a Pop Art collector and a contemporary art fanatic. In this particular case, we wanted everything to be bright, unusual, happy, and almost, I would say, shockingly shagadelic. And we kept using the words “mod” and “groovy.” The ’60s and ’70s were a very special time in my life when I was just starting my business, and that look and that style always resonated with me, but we’ve never lived in that style before. And when Dee and I were talking about furniture design, we kept referring to groovy and mod as sort of the touchpoints.

    The kitchen breakfast area features a painting by Vik Muniz, Elizabeth Taylor, from his Pictures of Diamonds series.
    The kitchen breakfast area features a painting by Vik Muniz, Elizabeth Taylor, from his Pictures of Diamonds series.

    Was that your main inspiration for the décor?
    Martyn Lawrence Bullard:
    The main inspiration was a real 1960s look that felt like the Miami of that period. We also pulled extra inspiration from French and Italian design of the ’60s and ’70s to give the house an international flavor and a high level of comfort.

    How did your lifestyle influence the design of the spaces or some of the furnishings, such as the unique pool table, the pool room, screening room, or the disco room?
    We have lots of children, so it’s really about family. It’s also about a casual lifestyle because we’re literally right on the beach—and we wanted it to be about barefoot elegance, just walking from the beach without shoes into an environment that was simple, fun, and funny! We didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously, so we wanted to really put a sense of humor into it.

    Manuel Merida’s bright green Cercle Vert Lumiere (on the wall behind the bed) adds visual focus to the blue-and-white guest room
    Manuel Merida’s bright green Cercle Vert Lumiere (on the wall behind the bed) adds visual focus to the blue-and-white guest room.

    How much were you involved with the design process?
    We were involved in every part of the process, and Martyn really helped us to push the limits. My taste is always evolving, and working with Martyn allowed me to open my mind to new things that I never would have imagined—everything from scratch-and-sniff wallpaper to disco balls and neon flashing lights.

    You’re phenomenal collectors of art and furniture—how did you hone in on the specific types of artists or works that you collect?
    We attend Art Basel every year, and we’ve been collecting Warhol, Basquiat, Keith Haring, Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn, Dubuffet, and a few others.

    the living room is anchored by a red, purple, and white rug custom-designed to match the colors of New Flame, a piece by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat on prominent display above the sofa.
    The living room is anchored by a red, purple, and white rug custom-designed to match the colors of New Flame, a piece by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat on prominent display above the sofa.

    What are some of your favorite pieces of furniture in the home?
    We have a really beautiful Paul Evans bed in our master bedroom that I’m obsessed with. We have a fantastic Willy Rizzo coffee table that’s in our master bedroom as well that has a built-in Champagne bucket in it that refrigerates and opens up. We also have a Plexi bed in the yellow polka-dot room that lights up from underneath. It’s crazy, fun stuff.

    Which is your favorite room?
    I love the entire place, but if I had to choose one, the living room is my favorite. There is this amazing red, purple, and white rug that Martyn designed especially for the room—and a collaborative painting by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat called New Flame overlooks the room.

    The mod, all-white bar, complete with disco ball. The artwork on the right is Tracey Emin’s I Said I Love You.
    The mod, all-white bar, complete with disco ball. The artwork on the right is Tracey Emin’s I Said I Love You.

    You recently purchased the iconic Raleigh hotel. What are your plans for it?
    We bought The Raleigh hotel this year [and] we want to bring it back to its old-world glamorous look, polish it up for the gem it is, and treat it with a lot of tender, loving care. We will renovate over about a period of a year, a year and a half. And it’s going to be a labor of love, you could say.

    What do you enjoy most about Miami, and how does this house reflect the best of the Magic City for you?
    As a child, my parents always had a place in Fort Lauderdale, and so I have a longtime relationship with Florida. From New York, it’s so nice coming to Miami—when that warm air hits you, it’s a relief. Miami to me always represents a place where you can have great shopping, great food, a lot of fun, everyone’s walking around in bathing suits. I love the whole Latin flair, there’s a huge European flair—I love the mixture of all the different people. Now that Art Basel is more and more popular, Miami has become more known as a cultural place.

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    Seasons do change in South Florida with these charmed accessories.

    Swarms of butterflies build the perfect home in a statement clutch.

    Fall Accessories Butterfly flap bag, Valentino Garavani ($2,895). Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-867-1215

    Dark florals grace an elegant winter pump.

    Fall Accessories Minbra pump, Manolo Blahnik ($1,045). Neiman Marcus, Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-993-4620

    Forest-inspired cuff bracelets become the new winter essentials.

    Fall Accessories Silver snake citrine and red garnet ring, Le Vian ($1,365). Macy’s, 1675 Meridian Ave., Miami Beach, 305-674-6300. Sterling silver diamond bark cuff bracelet, Michael Aram ($2,225). Neiman Marcus, SEE ABOVE

    Leaves turn golden in this magical choker necklace.

    Fall Accessories Necklace, Alexander McQueen ($995). Bal Harbour Shops, 305-866-2839

    Enchanted jeweled creatures become a delicate accent to caged heels.

    Fall Accessories Purple velvet jeweled heel, Dolce & Gabbana ($2,995). Bal Harbour Shops, 305-866-0503

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    The vaults of the Magic City have an extra jewel prowling around them at night.

    vegas diamondsMacramé Arabesque top, Valentino ($3,490). Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-867-1215. White round and pear-shaped diamond and sapphire Bombe earrings; sapphire and white diamond cuff; white pavé diamond shank and sapphire Bombe ring; and 20.55-carat cushion-cut yellow diamond ring (prices on request), Graff. Bal Harbour Shops, 305-993-1212. Gold clutch, Bulgari ($2,400). Bal Harbour Shops, 305-861-8898

    vegas diamondsAnthracite Duchess dress, Zac Posen ($2,590). Saks Fifth Avenue, Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-865-1100. 18k white-gold, diamonds, spinels, moonstones, and akoya pearls Perle de Rosee necklace ($696,000) and 18k white-gold, onyx, and diamonds Camelia Sculpte ring ($170,000), Chanel. Bal Harbour Shops, 305-868-0550. ON TRAY: Wide diamond bracelet set in platinum, Tiffany & Co. ($140,000). Village of Merrick Park, 342 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables, 305-5298-4390. 18k white-gold Limelight Garden Party cupcake inspiration ring ($59,000) and 18k white-gold with brilliant-cut diamonds Rose ring ($48,200), Piaget. Bal Harbour Shops, 305-861-5475. 18k white-gold and diamond Dentelle de Monogram necklace, Louis Vuitton (price on request). Miami Design District, 170 NE 40th St., 305-573-1366

    vegas diamonds
    Harmony dress, Stella McCartney ($4,520). Saks Fifth Avenue, Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-865-1100. 20.56-carat diamond earrings set in platinum (price on request) and 3.27-carat diamond ring in 18k white gold, both from the High Jewelry Collection, Chopard. Bal Harbour Shops, 305-868-8626. Reine de Naples High Jewelry watch, Breguet ($374,100). Bal Harbour Shops, 305-866-1061

    vegas diamondsDress, Emporio Armani ($1,265). Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-868-2113. Platinum 55.9-carat Qipao diamond choker; platinum, diamonds, aquamarines, and sapphires Secret Wonder bracelet; and 18k yellow-gold and platinum tsavorite and diamond cluster earrings (prices on request), Harry Winston. Bal Harbour Shops, 786-206-6657

    Basilica tsavorite and ruby earrings, Carla Amorim ($18,700). Leigh Jewelers, 3104 Ocean Dr., Vero Beach, 771-234-8522. 18k yellow-gold, diamonds, and onyx Amulette de Cartier bracelet, Cartier ($82,500). Miami Design District, 151 NE 40th St., 305-864-8793. 18k white-gold, multicolor sapphires, and pavé-set white diamond earrings from the Cascata Collection, Jacob & Co. ($61,400). East Coast Jewelry, 16810 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach, 305-947-8883. 18k yellow-and white-gold cocktail ring with pink sapphire and diamonds, Buccellati ($99,000). Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-866-8686. 18k white-gold and round and pear-shaped diamonds and custom oval blue sapphire necklace, Mimi So ($98,000). Neiman Marcus, Bal Harbour Shops, 305-865-6161. 18k rose-gold diamond flower earrings, Wendy Yue ($19,560). Neiman Marcus, Village of Merrick Park, 390 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables, 786-999-1018. Pink-gold, diamonds, morganite, white mother-of-pearl, and sapphire Gourmande Pastel ring, Dior (price on request). Saks Fifth Avenue, Dadeland Mall, 7687 N. Kendall Dr., Miami, 305-661-4206

    vegas diamonds
    Dress, Max Mara ($2,090). 216 Worth Ave., Palm Beach, 561-832-0069. Bals de Legende Collection 18k white-and rose-gold Enchanteur necklace with multicolor spinels, diamonds, and pink sapphires; Bals de Legende Collection 18k white-gold Pansy earrings with diamonds and multicolor sapphires; and 18k rose-gold, spinels, pink sapphires, and diamonds Oiseaux de Paradis Volutes between-the-finger ring (prices on request), Van Cleef & Arpels. Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-866-0899. 18k white-gold and oval-shaped rubellite tourmaline with black and white diamonds ring, Leviev (price on request). To order, call 212-763-5300. Diamond Carpet bracelet set in platinum, Harry Winston (price on request). Bal Harbour Shops, 786-206-6657

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    Miami’s nightlife landscape is forever shifting—new venues open, promoters play musical chairs, and the high-level partying never stops. Looking for plans? This is the only guide you’ll need this season.

    Whether it’s the beginning of your week or a continuation of the weekend, nothing gets rid of a case of the Mondays like pretending it’s Friday.

    rec room
    Black cutout dress, Phillip Plein ($1,085). Aventura Mall, 19501 Biscayne Blvd., 305-466-2338. White opal crystal earrings, Oscar de la Renta ($395). BalHarbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-868-7986. Clutch, Edie Parker ($1,195). The Webster, 1220 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-674-7899. Black sandals, AlexandreBirman ($595). The Webster, SEE ABOVE. Rec Room: 1690 Collins Ave., Miami Beach

    Those with jobs downtown or in Brickell may want to sneak out early from 5-8 pm for happy hour at the new MO Bar + Lounge (500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami) at the Mandarin Oriental on Brickell Key, a glass-walled waterfront lounge a mere stroll across a bridge from Miami’s budding business district.

    Head to the beach to dine among the stars at Cecconi’s (4385 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), the public indoor/outdoor restaurant at the private Soho Beach House, where a limoncellospritz or a Soho mule and possibly a Sophia Vergara sighting will gear you up for a night on the town.

    From there, you can hit Mokai Lounge (235 23rd St., Miami Beach) for its self proclaimed late-night “naughtiest party on the beach,” with models, bottles, and scantily clad dancers doing things you can usually only find on Cinemax.

    Over at FDR at the Delano (1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), it’s less about the show and more about the bump and grind. Presented by Yes Julz, the Monday night party features resident DJ Iron Lyons spinning ’90s and modern-day hip-hop before kicking into reggae till the lights come on at 5 am. “The party had only been going for five months when I got a call that Jay Z was on the way,” says Julz. “He showed up with Beyoncé—who danced all night—and Drake, Diddy, and Zoe Kravitz. That’s our crowd. Every Tuesday, I wake up thinking, That was the craziest Monday night ever.”

    For years, Tuesdays have been the best locals night in the city, with industry parties letting behind-the-scenesters get sloshed on their evening off.

    rose bar
    Glimmering Soutache swimsuit, La Perla ($966). BalHarbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-864-3173. Jaide sunglasses, Oliver Peoples ($405). Saks Fifth Avenue, Dadeland Mall, 7535 N. Kendall Dr., Miami, 305-661-4206. Honeycomb cuff, Campbell ($750). Intermix, 634 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-531-5950. Scarlet sandals, AlexandreBirman ($795). The Webster, 1220 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-674-7899. ROSE BAR & POOL BAR AT DELANO: 1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach

    It’s ladies night all over town, including Blackbird Ordinary (729 SW First Ave., Miami), where women drink free from 10 pm-1:30 am, while at Euro-ishPetit Miami bistro (1929 Purdy Ave., Miami Beach), there’s free wine with dinner for the ladies all night long.

    Up the intensity via nightlife staple Mark Lehmkuhl’s Fever Tuesdays at Set (320 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach), where glow-in-the-dark dancers and neon light shows have temperatures running high.

    Paulo Cardoso and his many beautiful friends pack the house at the long-running Favela Beach party at Wall (2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), a Brazilian-themed fête that puts you shoulder to shoulder with the young and the restless. DJs Ruen and Reid Waters create the mood, and shots of tequila take it to the next level, according to model/actress Amanda Cerny. “The club is so intimate, so you really get to party with the people around you,” she says. “I’ll go with [promoters] Michael Malone and Marko Gojanovic and run into celebrity friends from LA or professional athletes that I know all the time, and I never leave until it closes. I don’t want to miss out on the fun.”

    Wednesday means one thing to Middle America and quite another in Miami, where locals look to get freaky in all sorts of hot spots around town.

    In Wynwood, Gramps (176 NW 24th St., Miami) hosts a world/psychedelic music night with highly touted local artist Bhakti Baxter and Andrew James curating the songs and attracting the gallery crowd, which overflows into the outdoor yard.

    Still on the mainland, check out Bardot (3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami) after 11 pm, where live music (and the cute bar staff) reigns on Wednesdays, whether it be jazz, blues, or Latin fusion.

    If you’re more beach-focused, the Dragon Lounge at Katsuya (1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach) is a great place to start the night with half-off select starters and cocktails during the Social Hour from 7-9 pm. Artist JonaCerwinske recently added his personal touch to the walls of the intimate bar, which pulls in a crowd that’s easy on the eyes.

    If you’re looking for things to get messy in a good way, the late-night dinner party at Bâoli Miami (1906 Collins Ave., Miami Beach) will have you dancing on tables and likely leave you fluent in several languages. It’s the perfect preamble to the house music party at Mansion (1235 Washington Ave., Miami Beach), dubbed International Wednesdays, where contortionists and go-go dancers dress based on the international theme du jour, which can sometimes be construed as “almost nudity.” Think cancan dancers, hula girls, and Arabian nights.

    The Dirty Hairy party at LIV (4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach) welcomes a hip mainland crowd and was home to DJs like Diplo and Chromeo before they were stars. The open-format music invites the pretty kids to party hard at this wild night.

    It’s officially the weekend once Thursday rolls around, so hopefully you already flipped that condo, won your big court case, or got the “sickest workout ever” and can just celebrate.

    rose bar miami
    Bordeaux silk crepe dress, Versace ($2,775). BalHarbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-864-0044. Coral tassel earrings, Oscar de la Renta ($425). BalHarbour Shops, 305-868-7986. Geometric cuff, Campbell ($750). Intermix, 634 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-531-5950. HYDE BEACH: 1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach

    Kick off the night at chef Daniel Serfer’sMignonette (210 NE 18th St., Miami), where from 5:30-6:30 pm happy hour includes an ounce of Siberian sturgeon caviar and a bottle of Oudinot Champagne for $120.

    Then head to W South Beach (2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), where in the Living Room Bar from 7-9 pm the W SpeakerBox concert series offers an eclectic mix of live music along with snacks created by Conor Hanlon, executive chef at The Dutch. Enjoy live jazz, R&B, or soul music with a side of steak tartare and a couple of glasses of Champagne, and you’re off and running just after the sunset.

    There’s a garden party to be had at the Broken Shaker (2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami), which regularly draws tastemakers and cocktail groupies, and is inevitably packed with potential drinking partners.

    Looking for something a little more Cannes-ish? Villa Azur (309 23rd St., Miami Beach) hosts one of the hottest dinner parties in town on Thursdays, when a global collection of socialites pop Champagne (complete with fiery sparklers) and toast the good life while enjoying seafood for days with the $400 Le Tremendous raw bar platter.

    Rec Room (1690 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), where nostalgia meets hedonism, runs Rush Rush Thursdays, an old-school street-style jam with music from resident DJs Reid Waters and Christa Marie. The lounge feels like the basement of your best friend’s parents’ house, and you know some of the best memories of your life happened there.

    Friday nights are usually for amateurs, but here your low-key intentions could transform into Best. Night. Ever.

    Wynwood’s Gramps and The Electric Pickle Co. (2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami) are always solid on Fridays, and Brick House (187 NW 28th St., Miami) starts the raging at happy hour before DJ Tom Laroc, a 16-year veteran in the Miami nightlife scene, hits the decks at 10 pm with a nightly mix of music from indie to classic hip-hop to ’80s jams. The crowd, like the music, is eclectic. “It’s local artists, musicians, and even dressed-up girls you’d see on South Beach,” says Laroc.

    Only at The Forge (432 41st St., Miami Beach) does happy hour last until 11 pm, where on Fridays guests pop $50 bottles of Veuve Clicquot while dining on complimentary hors d’oeuvres from chef Christopher Lee. “The Forge happy hour is the only place to be on Friday nights,” says Joey Goldman of Goldman Properties and the owner of Joey’s Wynwood (2506 NW Second Ave., Miami). “It’s the best way to start the weekend.” Maxwell Blandford and David Phenom provide the “musique,” and host Antonio Misuraca brings in the A-list crowd before he moves them late night to Story (136 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), where the likes of Cedric Gervais, David Guetta, and Calvin Harris frequently spin. You’ll find plenty of bar options on Fridays, but there’s often a latenight surge downtown at The Corner (1035 N. Miami Ave., Miami), where a young art scene crowd seems unconcerned about tomorrow.

    It’s hard to tell when Friday night ends and when Saturday begins. Thankfully with all of the pool and day parties, there’s really no need to differentiate.

    radio bar
    Black satin shirt ($1,500) and gold pants (price on request), Alexander Vauthier. Oxygene, Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-864-0202. Aqua Simona heels, Oscar de la Renta ($800). Bal Harbour Shops, 305-868-7986. RADIO BAR: 814 First St., Miami Beach

    Start your Saturday off très early at Hyde Beach’s (1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach) Swim Club soirée, where bikini-clad models and dudes with muscles party like MTV Spring Break cameras are rolling. According to model/fitness expert Murphy Bruce, it’s a rain or shine party from 11 am to dusk. “Over Labor Day Weekend, it started to pour, but instead of packing up the beds and the DJ going home, we all danced in the rain,” she says. “The energy was incredible.”

    Radio Bar (814 First St., Miami Beach) is cranked up on Saturday nights with locals and the occasional famous athlete drinking heavily to a mix of old-school hip-hop and alternative hits. There’s a pool table, but you’ll likely poke into 20-30 people if you try to play when the house is packed.

    Ball & Chain (1513 SW Eighth St., Miami) takes Calle Ocho by storm with a Cuban themed soirée every Saturday evening. The night includes dominoes, wild dancing, a live Cuban band, and cocktails from world-class cantineros Julio Cabrera and Danny Valdez, who will spike your punch with awesome.

    LIV hosts the jet-set crowd—old South Beach mixed with young Europeans—partying to Erick Morillo, the Swedish House Mafia guys, and other top DJs. Nights like this are what make LIV one of the top-grossing clubs in the world. You’ll regularly bump into Michael Bay, the Kardashians, and the rest of owner David Grutman’s friends.

    After-hours picks up at E11even (29 NE 11th St., Miami), the 24-hour nightclub/cabaret where at around 5 am lots of nightlife industry insiders show up to enjoy their own share of Saturday night shenanigans. Enjoy bottle service in “the pit” and watch Cirque du Soleil-inspired trapeze acts, or head up to the rooftop deck for Slap & Tickle spinning deep house as the sun comes up.

    And on the seventh day we... partied! Rosé, mimosas, and bay views make for Seventh Heaven.

    Sunday funday starts by sipping Seasalt Mimosas with the power brunchers at Seasalt and Pepper (422 NW North River Dr., Miami), the seafood brasserie by the Miami River. Arrive by yacht? Why not? The sea-faring set disembarks here to indulge in fresh fare and sun-drenched fun that’s steeped in a sexy South of France vibe.

    On the last Sunday of every month, the cool kids gather from 2-7 pm at Dream Hotel (1111 Collins Ave., Miami Beach) to hula-hoop and play beer pong at the Best Day Ever party presented by Yes Julz and Norma Now. The DJ changes each week, but the water-gun fights are a party staple.

    Nikki Beach (1 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach) has spread its wings around the globe, but its Sunday party is still a hit on South Beach. The boozy brunch reminds locals that Miami is paradise, and the late-night party upstairs at Pearl Champagne Lounge (with an open-music format and live burlesque shows) proves we party better than the rest. Late night, there’s Evolution Sundays at Set. 

    For a locals-only art scene/skate/surf vibe, hit Chocolate Sundays at Purdy Lounge (1811 Purdy Ave., Miami Beach), with its famous $7 Happy Meal—a Miller High Life and a Jägermeister shot, no toy included.

    If you’re looking to spot or maybe even rub shoulders with hip-hop celebs, LIV on Sunday (aka Church) is the Miami party that Lil Wayne, Drake, and Meek Mill rap about, and where guys like Kanye West, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Busta Rhymes, and Lil Wayne have all performed. DJs Stevie J and Don P kick-start the madness, and anyone who is anyone in the hiphop world will be there. “Stevie J gets the crowd pumped up, and the whole room parties hard,” says model Jocelyn Chew. “There is no better way to end the week than at LIV on Sunday.” Or maybe your week is just beginning.

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    Every season, Miami welcomes a new crop of models, some of whom may be known as “super” soon enough. We hosted five of our favorite newcomers for a day at the Metropolitan by COMO on the beach. Here, before they’re mega-famous...

    Daniela Lopez
    Age 21, Wilhelmina Models

    Daniela Lopez
    Dress, AllSaints ($215). Bloomingdale’s, Aventura Mall, 19501 Biscayne Blvd., 305-792-1000

    Three years into her American dream, the Colombian-born Daniela Lopez has a career that’s en fuego as the face of Aéropostale and campaigns for Beach Bunny and Forever 21. 

    Turning heads: I got discovered while I was shopping in Forever 21 in Orlando, when I was living there after I graduated high school.
    A fan of the classics: I love Gisele, Naomi, and Linda Evangelista. They’re just so iconic. They always improve themselves and continue growing as women.
    Creature of comfort: Pucci designs dresses that are easy to put on and take off because it’s still just a T-shirt. But they’re also very beautiful.
    Good taste: Pubbelly Sushi is so good. I love the yellowtail, snow crab, and the rock shrimp. The Alba sandwich at Europa is my all-time favorite.
    Beating the heat: I use a lot of organic moisturizer and sunblock every day. In Miami, even if it’s cloudy, you’re always in the sun.
    All in a day’s work: I work with beautiful creative people. I love that you can be creative and have fun and still make a living out of it.

    Bianca Tagliarini
    Age 21, Ford Models

    Bianca Tagliarini
    Silk annex print dress, Helmut Lang ($620).

    Born in Rio de Janeiro, Bianca Tagliarini came to America eight years ago in search of stardom; a chance connection jump-started a burgeoning career.

    Connect the dots: My mom’s friend used to rent out an apartment for the booker at Ford. I went to a meeting with him, and they gave me the contract right away.
    Miss 305: I did a music video with Pitbull and Jencarlos Canela. It was really fun! I’m Brazilian, so I have the Latina thing. I can samba—hello!
    Global girl: I love everything about Paris. I just don’t like the food, but the rest is amazing and beautiful.
    Food moods: I love Villa Azur at night and Baires Grill on Lincoln Road for lunch.
    The quiet type: I’m not really somebody who likes to go out. I’d rather stay home with my boyfriend or go to the movies.
    Playing the fashion field: I love Roberto Cavalli, Chanel, Prada, but I don’t have a favorite.

    Luvi Gardani
    Age 20, Elite Models

    Luvi Gardani
    Sweater, Elizabeth & James ($245). Bloomingdale’s, Aventura Mall, 19501 Biscayne Blvd., 305-792-1000. Factory bikini top ($275) and Scarlett bikini bottom ($135), Eres. 303 Worth Ave., Palm Beach, 561-655-1660

    From the mountains of Northern Italy, Luvi Gardani brought her talents to South Beach three years ago, and now the world is taking notice.

    She gets what she wants: Since I was little, people have stopped me on the street and told me I should model. Two years ago, I just walked into Elite and they signed me.
    Brains to match beauty: I’m studying philosophy and pre-law at University of Miami with a minor in math. It’s a lot of work.
    History of fitness: I played a lot of sports over the years, like volleyball and basketball, but now I’m mostly training in the gym.
    On fashion: I love that Dolce & Gabbana brings out the femininity of the woman. The clothes represent what a woman should be like.
    Model role model: Gisele Bündchen is so sexy and elegant. She has this attraction. I really love her.
    The world is watching: I’ve done a British magazine called Woman and Home, Revista Mia in Spain, and an Italian magazine called Donna Moderna.

    Grace Elizabeth
    Age 17, Next Models

    Grace Elizabeth
    Bikini, Tomas Maier ($165). 38 Via Mizner, Palm Beach, 561-650-1221

    A Southern belle originally from North Florida with a perfect smile, Grace Elizabeth is an all-American girl about to go global.

    Novel experiences: I flew to Colombia for work and at the airport was a man with a sign with my name on it just like you see in the movies. It was pretty cool.
    Secret obsession: I’m obsessed with Candice Swanepoel from Victoria’s Secret. I don’t know what it is about her, but I’m obsessed. I also love Christie Brinkley because she’s 60 years old and looks like she’s 30.
    Keeping it simple: Wear as little makeup as possible. If you wear all this makeup all the time, your face breaks out. Also, brush your hair. Just brush your hair. That’s all you’ve got to do.
    Blonde ambition: In five years? I plan to be at the top, so whatever gets me there.

    Age 17, MC2 Models

    Dress, AllSaints ($360). Bloomingdale’s, Aventura Mall, 19501 Biscayne Blvd., 305-792-1000. Gang bikini top ($240) and Ponza bikini bottom ($190), Eres. 303 Worth Ave., Palm Beach, 561-655-1660

    After her mom sent photos to an agency, Lithuanian model Solveiga ventured off to a whole new world.

    New in town: I just moved here three weeks ago; I love it. It’s much hotter here than it is in Lithuania, but I love nature and the people. 
    Working out(side): I love going to the park to either read books or to exercise. I work out my abs a lot, and Miami Beach is the perfect place for that.
    Rookie: This is my first magazine shoot. It’s nice. It’s really great experience for me.
    Quick study: I’ve had a lot of shoots for my book, and I’m learning it’s not like Europe, which is more high fashion. The work is different, but I’m getting used to it.
    When in Rome: In Miami, there are a lot more bikini shoots, but I love the beach, so I’m wearing a bikini all the time.
    Homesick: I miss my brother and sister the most. I haven’t seen my brother in a long time. It’s hard, but we talk every day.

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    When shadowing Dennis DeGori, owner/operator of E11even Miami, things can get confusing—and that’s just the way he likes it.

    Dennis DeGori at E11even Miami, a 24-hour nightclub/ cabaret where the show never stops.
    Dennis DeGori at E11even Miami, a 24-hour nightclub/cabaret where the show never stops.

    Dennis DeGori, owner/operator of E11even Miami, a 24-hour “showclub” that might be a nightclub, or might be a cabaret, depending on what time you’re there, arrives to work at 5 pm and leaves when the sun comes up. His “day” at the office is nothing like yours.

    6 pm: Dressing Room

    An entertainer getting ready backstage at E11even.
    An entertainer getting ready backstage at E11even.

    “All clear?” yells DeGori into the dressing room of the female “entertainers,” as he and his staff call them. In another venue, these women might be called “strippers,” but not here, never. DeGori has perfect Goodfellas hair and dons a beautiful Canali suit, the only kind he wears. “All clear,” comes an answer, confirming everyone’s decent. We head in. Girls in sweatpants preen in mirrors, and much to my surprise, a congenial man unpacks hundreds of pairs of fake eyelashes long enough to be spider legs. “It’s gonna be a big night,” he says. “Gotta keep the girls looking good.” DeGori explains that while most clubs have house moms, E11even has Tom Rogers, a house dad. “My main role is to help the girls get ready, look nice, and be timely,” says Rogers. “E11even has a makeup artist and a hairdresser here, too—it’s show business!” DeGori then checks in on the troupe of acrobatic performers who put on Cirque du Soleil-like shows periodically throughout the night. Their stretching routine looks straight out of Swan Lake, except they’re wearing Daisy Dukes.

    7 pm: Office

    DeGori’s controller, Frances Martin, a seasoned nightlife office boss, walks in. They run through a pile of checks, and DeGori raves about how much she handles every day: They’ve got 300 employees, hundreds of dancers, there’s legal liaison work, and fighting what she wryly calls “remorseful spending.” “Today I dealt with one guy that had $10,000 worth of charges,” she says. “He was claiming he wasn’t here, blah blah blah. We were fighting it, and the credit card company called back and said, ‘Well, yes, he indeed was there.’ Turns out he used another card he had in his name that same night!’” DeGori shakes his head and laughs. “Without her, I’m out of business.”

    9 pm: Working the Circle

    DeGori making the rounds, what he calls “working the circle.”
    DeGori making the rounds, what he calls “working the circle.”

    “C’mon, let’s go,” he says. “I’m a walker. I move. I typically do what you call ‘working the circle.’ I’ll hit point to point to point, check in, say hello, shake hands.”

    We take a lap. There’s a small crowd of men and women, couples at the bar, a dancer swinging on a pole. At this hour, since it’s still a bit slow, the place feels like a gentlemen’s club. He promises me that will change—instead of building a strip club that had nightclub elements, his philosophy was to build a nightclub that happened to have “entertainers,” too. Tonight, DeGori’s family is upstairs at the rooftop restaurant, Touché, having dinner. He’s got six kids, two of whom are here with their mom, Debra, his wife of 25 years. One of his sons works here as a bartender-in-training. “I worry [about him] a little bit because it’s a nightclub. There could be a fight, or him doing something stupid. I do worry about it.”

    11 pm: Laps

    A burlesque performance onstage.
    A burlesque performance onstage.

    Dancers walk the floor, leaving trails of various intense perfumes, businessmen belly up to the stage, and two older couples from Touché take seats as well. “You’re surrounded by topless women at work. Is that strange?” I ask. “I don’t even think about it. There’s a million moving parts in here, that’s just one of them.” He explains that although it was tough at first, E11even now attracts quality dancers because it charges a lower “house fee” than most places (that’s the fee the dancers pay in order to use the venue as their place of business). It’s common in some clubs for bouncers and floor managers to demand additional commissions from the dancers, which apparently doesn’t happen here. Dakota, a nearby entertainer, chimes in. “The dancers are more well-respected in this club than in others,” she says. DeGori’s staff also keeps the ratio of entertainers a bit lower than most clubs, which tilts the energy in more of a nightclub direction.

    Entertainers will fly in from Vegas, New York, Ohio, and stay for a week or a month. The club even has a concierge of sorts who alerts them when there’s a big week of business coming up, and helps them find good hotel rates, gyms, and the best local restaurants.

    7 am: The Apex

    There’s a thick, eager line at the velvet rope. On the main floor, the oh-so-cool employees from Set and LIV dance amid the banquettes. Someone’s making it rain in a corner, but no one cares—the music’s too good. There’s so much going on the entertainers seem almost inconsequential. DeGori, silhouetted against lasers and fog, surveys the scene from his crag on the mezzanine. “This is when the club becomes most what I envisioned it to be,” he says.

    The ceiling undulates as if we’re underwater looking up to the surface. Worries of yesterday and tomorrow are annihilated by a show so overwhelming you’re only aware of what’s in front of you, and what’s in front of you is beautiful. Until you open that exit door to the street and cringe under the already vicious sun of Saturday morning. 29 NE 11th St., Miami, 305-829-2911

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    Many Carnival Cruise ships come home to Miami, but CEO Arnold Donald makes sure they’re spending their workdays all over the world.

    Arnold Donald
    Carnival Corp.’s President and CEO Arnold Donald aboard the Carnival Victory. The executive is helping steer the massive Miami-based company in a new direction.

    The world’s two largest navies are the US and Russian fleets. Its third? “Fun Ships,” as Carnival Corp. refers to its boats, all part of a master plan to revamp and reignite an industry hit by freak accidents and logistical nightmares. From partnering with local musical sensation DJ Irie on its “Spin U” DJ Academy for teens to on-board concerts featuring everyone from Lady Antebellum to Jennifer Hudson to Gavin DeGraw, Carnival is easing passengers’ hesitancy to cruise. That job of revamping image and experience is up to Miami-based “admiral” Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival, which now boasts 102 ships sailing every ocean and sea on the planet, visiting more than 700 ports every year and representing no fewer than seven different brands.

    And yet, growing up in New Orleans in the Ninth Ward, “I never imagined that I’d be in any way involved in this kind of business,” says the 59-year-old Donald, laughing. Sure, as a child he would watch the riverboats move slowly down the Mississippi. But when it came time to choose a career, Donald opted to stay on land—or, when he worked in the petroleum industry, to hop on board a seaplane or helicopter to reach offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Arnold Donald
    “We’re providing families with lifetime memories,” says Donald, on the Victory with the Miami skyline in the background.

    After stepping back from his previous major corporate position at Monsanto, where he had served as president of the company’s agricultural division and its consumer and nutrition sector, Donald and a group of investors purchased the agribusiness’s Equal artificial sweetener business and established it as a stand-alone company, Merisant. That not only taught him the ins and outs of running a company, but what it takes to build a brand. It also led him to Carnival; one of his fellow investors in Merisant was on the cruise line’s board of directors, and nominated Donald to join. “A dozen years [on the board] showed me that I had an affinity for the industry and a liking and respect for Micky Arison,” then Carnival’s CEO and now its chairman. “So when they asked me to take on the CEO job, all that led me to say ‘yes’!”

    Now he has 10 million passengers scattered from Shanghai to Istanbul to Antarctica. And Donald took over at a time when cruise brands were finding the seas choppier than usual: In 2012, the Costa Concordia, which had been part of Costa Cruises, a Carnival brand based in Genoa, Italy, capsized, killing 32 people; a month later, another ship in the same family was adrift in the Indian Ocean for a few days after an engine room fire left it without power. (There were no injuries.) A February 2013 engine fire aboard the Carnival Triumph left passengers marooned at sea.

    carnival cruises
    One of Carnival’s newest ships, the Costa Diadema.

    Enter Donald, no stranger to tough times. The son of parents who never completed high school, he was born into a segregated New Orleans, where he was constantly reminded of the limits imposed by his skin color. But admission to St. Augustine High School, a famous Roman Catholic all-African-American boys’ school, meant opportunity. “My parents saw education as a way out, and at high school, the mission was to instill in us the sense that we could be anything we wanted to be,” says Donald. “I always believed I could do anything I set my mind to as a result.” He’s now one of only a handful of African-American CEOs running major corporations in the US.

    Burnishing Carnival’s image and completing its comeback from the havoc wreaked by the 2008 recession was simply a matter of being focused. Part of the challenge, he says, is about marketing. “We need to make sure that people get on the right ship: For each of us, there is going to be a cruise experience that resonates.” A Carnival Cruise is for social butterflies. If your tastes run toward pampering and unique experiences, sail a Seabourn voyage, where you can indulge in butler service before hopping onto a Zodiac to see a rookery full of rare birds. Another focus is catering to the more discerning who want private restaurants and chance-of-a-lifetime excursions, upping the game of luxury travel.

    Donald is often one of the first people up the companionway when the Miami-based liners dock. “I am checking out our guests: Are they smiling? Are they tired?” When he’s not in his offices or aboard a ship, he’s in his Ocean Drive apartment, with panoramic views of the ocean and, not coincidentally, the ships. “I love Miami, but I love cruising, too. That’s why I understand just how important this business is: We’re providing families with lifetime memories.”

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    The Miami Book Fair enters its 31st year with a new director and an expanded vision.

    Miami Book Fair International
    Tom Healy, the new director of Miami Book Fair International, in his library.

    The annual Miami Book Fair International is already one of the largest literary gatherings in the country. Last year saw a 200,000-strong crowd fill Miami Dade College’s downtown campus for a week of events featuring a who’s who of authors. But Tom Healy, the fair’s new director, has a message for those eagerly anticipating this month’s 31st edition of the fair: You ain’t seen nothing yet.

    “We want what happens in the book fair to have resonance and reach far beyond that one week in November,” explains Healy, previously chairman of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board at the US Department of State. “What we hope for, more than any change with the book fair, is that the Center for Literature and Writing is going to become a larger presence. Miami has always had a strong writers’ culture. Writers live here, they come and spend time here. Yet it’s the visual arts and the performing arts that people really know as having strong Miami institutional bases. We want the center to become the place that puts Miami on the literary map year-round.”

    Miami Herald columnist, author, and humorist Dave Barry interviewing the late Nora Ephron at the 2006 Miami Book Fair, where she talked about her book I Feel Bad About My Neck.
    Miami Herald columnist, author, and humorist Dave Barry interviewing the late Nora Ephron at the 2006 Miami Book Fair, where she talked about her book I Feel Bad About My Neck.

    Healy, who is also assuming directorship of the Center for Literature and Writing (the fair’s parent at Miami Dade College), was already a part-time Miami Beach resident and a key player in local cultural circles. But his background is hardly that of a staid arts administrator. Indeed, as a former gallery owner, a host of New York’s proudly louche “Wilde Boys” poetry salon, and not least, a celebrated poet in his own right, Healy’s appointment signals a renewed focus on the part of the college.

    Still, not everything at the fair is changing. Mitchell Kaplan, the fair’s cofounder and beloved public face, is remaining chair of its board, and as intimately involved as ever. “We’re a really great team,” Healy reassures. The pair promise more center-run year-round events, with a particular emphasis on authors whose primary language is Spanish, Portuguese, or Creole—all with accompanying translations. The fair itself will see a huge injection of literary star power: The National Book Awards finalists and winners, announced at a Manhattan ceremony the day before the fair’s final weekend, will all jet down to Miami for featured readings. It’ll be like Oscar night for books, but with less black tie and far more tweed.

    Equally impressive, Healy is planning these expansions without additional college funding. Instead, as with the grants from the Knight Foundation and American Airlines helping to bring the National Book Award winners to the fair, Healy says he’ll rely on the private sector. “Promoting books and literature is a lot cheaper than mounting a large art performance,” he chuckles. “Writers need a closet-size room, a laptop, and maybe a lightbulb. But whether you’re bringing Pulitzer Prize winners, a great basketball star, or a culinary chef, there are ways they can help us teach the joys of writing and reading so it reaches all kinds of people.”

    The fair offers something for all ages.
    The fair offers something for all ages.

    Still, that kind of populism makes some longtime fair fans nervous—particularly in light of the similarly Miami Dade College-run Miami Film Festival’s move to screen forgettable star vehicles in many of its prime programming slots. The result is celebrity glitz, but at what cost? Might the book fair take that as a cue and begin seeing serious novelists jockeying for space with reality-TV memoirists?

    “I don’t think there’s any risk of us abandoning where serious literature comes from,” Healy insists firmly. “I’m on the board of PEN—I’ve met with writers around the world who are imprisoned or being censored for the urgency of what they have to say. So trivializing what the culture of creativity is through writing would never happen here. But what I would say is that every young kid needs to get hooked on reading somehow. And study after study shows it doesn’t matter what you read—if you start to read, your world expands into other kinds of reading. The book fair is meant to be for everybody, and there’s room for high literature and comic books—and sometimes they’re the same thing.” The Miami Book Fair International begins November 16. For a full schedule, visit

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    Miami’s own pinup queen, Bunny Yeager, who passed away earlier this year, receives a fitting photographic tribute at Wynwood’s Center for Visual Communication.

    Bunny Yeager
    A self-portrait Bunny Yeager took in her backyard, from her book How I Photograph Myself, published in 1964

    “I remember her exact words,” recalls Barry Fellman of the day in 2011 when Bunny Yeager reopened her photography studio next to Fellman’s own Center for Visual Communication gallery in Wynwood: “Barry, I’m ready to be famous again!”

    A pioneer of erotic portraiture in the ’50s and ’60s—as well as an internationally renowned pinup model in her own right—Yeager in her work mixed a sense of playful hedonism with an unabashed female athleticism. The results are as striking today as when they first created a sensation in the Eisenhower-era centerfolds of Playboy, Cavalier, and Figure Quarterly. “I’m not doing it to titillate anybody’s interests,” Yeager told the Sun-Sentinel last year. “I want to show off how beautiful my subjects are, whether it’s a cheetah or a live girl or two of them together. That’s more important to me than anything.”

    bunny yeager
    Bettie Page posing with a cheetah. The photographer frequently shot her subjects (including herself) in nature.

    Yet when Fellman first befriended her in the mid-’80s, Yeager had long since hung up her camera. She was living quietly in Miami Shores and publishing the comparatively staid Entertainment News and Views weekly newspaper. The explicit turn of men’s magazines in the ’70s held little interest for her. “There was no longer any mystery and magic to it, so she’d stopped shooting,” Fellman explains.

    bunny yeager
    Self-portrait kneeling on the beach with a Rollei camera.

    Yeager’s fortunes shifted in the ’90s as a fresh generation of cheesecake enthusiasts rediscovered her vintage shots of model Bettie Page—most taken around South Florida, from the sands of Key Biscayne to an abandoned Boca Raton zoo (cue the cheetah)—and then her own inventively composed self-portraits. That wave of interest has practically exploded since Yeager went back into the studio: Both Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum and the NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale have exhibited her work; this December will see Palm Beach’s Gavlak Gallery feature her self-portraits at its Art Basel Miami Beach booth.

    bunny yeager
    Page at Miami’s Funland Amusement Park, photographed by Yeager.

    For Fellman, the attention is bittersweet in light of Yeager’s death from heart failure this past May. “She was realistic about the way popularity ebbs and flows in the art world, and she was excited about returning to what she loved to do,” he says.

    Still, Fellman is soldiering on with an exhibition the pair had already begun planning together. Entitled simply “The Best of Bunny,” it showcases the highlights of her career, from a recent photo shoot spotlighting a new burlesque talent to a cache of previously unseen self-portraits from her original heyday, all hand-printed by Yeager herself. However, in gazing at her self-portraits 50 years on, today’s theory-wielding critics have been as apt to name-check the through-the-looking-glass photography of Cindy Sherman as the louche milieu of Yeager’s onetime employer Hugh Hefner. Which is fine by Fellman: “She always knew her work was special,” he says. “There’s a directness and honesty in it that is indelibly Bunny.” “The Best of Bunny” is on view at the Center for Visual Communication, 541 NW 27th St., Miami, 305-571-1415

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    Interpol rages into The Fillmore this month for an energetic show, and a little Miami sun for a northern band.

    InterpolInterpol’s Paul Banks performing at the NME Awards Tour Show at The Institute in Birmingham, England, this past March.

    Like a lot of New Yorkers, the sharp-dressed men of Interpol have a soft spot for the Magic City. “I love Miami,” raves the band’s striking front man, Paul Banks, a tried-and-true Manhattanite who brightens at the mention of Miami. “I love the food, the weather, the coffee, the people, the water, the golf, the heat....” Most of all, he says, “The energy there is essential.”

    Banks and his bandmates, guitarist Daniel Kessler and drummer Sam Fogarino, will be bringing their own considerable energies to town on November 8 when they rock the Fillmore Miami Beach. One key ingredient is missing from the mix this go-around: the input of nattily dressed, charismatic bassist Carlos Dengler, who parted ways with the group after recording their self-titled fourth album in 2010.

    “Carlos was a gigantic part of our band, and he contributed greatly to our records,” says Kessler, the leading architect who sets the foundation on Interpol’s songs. When approaching the tracks that would make up El Pintor, the band’s recently released fifth album, he notes, “We didn’t spend much time thinking about it—we just closed our circle and dealt with what was on the table.” Banks simply picked up the bass guitar to help the songs take shape.

    There hasn’t exactly been a sea change in the tenor of their work, although the interpersonal relations did take a beating. “It’s a hard thing to do, keep liking each other,” as Banks told Billboard, speaking about his bandmate’s departure and the rigors of keeping going some 17 years after meeting as NYU undergrads.

    But hey, change is good—and so is time off: On El Pintor, the trio is fully recharged and raring to go. “All the Rage Back Home,” the album’s first missive, struck a chord with fans old and new. Elsewhere, Banks colors the driving melodic songs with a sense of foreboding and urgency—the hallmarks of a great Interpol album—with the sort of beautiful, haunted vocals that have drawn comparisons to late Joy Division great Ian Curtis ever since the band’s inception.

    After Dengler’s departure, the lean trio clocked some 200 shows while touring for its last album, and early gigs in support of El Pintor have inspired the kind of frothy accolades the band first encountered after the release of its 2002 debut, Turn on the Bright Lights, helped ignite a New York rock ’n’ roll renaissance (along with kindred spirits the Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs).

    Banks, meanwhile, has been gearing up for the tour stop in Miami. “I just finished binge-watching Dexter!” he says. “One day I’d like to move there and wear pink polo shirts and drive a Ferrari.” Interpol performs Saturday, November 8, at 8 pm at the Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; Tickets here

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    At the helm of her own namesake brand, Tamara Mellon is soaring to new heights with her fashion-forward designs and runway-to-rack business model.

    Tamara Mellon
    After breaking away from Jimmy Choo and launching her own line in 2013, Tamara Mellon has been cultivating a philosophy of “buy now, wear now.”

    “There’s nothing in this room I wouldn’t wear,” says Tamara Mellon, surveying her cream-colored showroom that’s elegantly stocked with ready-to-wear, shoes, and handbags from her Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 collections. On the racks and shelves, matte gold appears on shorts, sandals, and handbags, while accessories in deep turquoise, metallic magenta, and even a kaleidoscopic rainbow pop against others in rich black, warm caramel, and vivid white. “I think of all different aspects of a woman’s life, so the Miami woman would wear the gold leather teddy and jumpsuit, and then there are more classic pieces.”

    Mellon is currently rocking her line’s High Scandal boots, towering stilettos that are coupled with a sexy fishnet-esque knee-high front. Today, she’s hosting another of what has become many “firsts” for her company—she’s showing the Spring 2015 collection to an elite group of American Express cardholders before the line has been presented to buyers. The women ooh over the swinging fringe on a wrap skirt with a buckle Mellon says she’s considering making a signature of her collection. An open-back jumpsuit gets much applause. “I’m obsessed with jumpsuits,” she says. “Jumpsuits to me are like the new little black dress. They’re such an easy thing to wear.” When a model struts across the floor in the Frontline stilettos—sexy-rocker heels with three illusion-creating partially clear straps—one woman can’t get her charge card out fast enough.

    Tamara Mellon
    Model wearing Tamara Mellon’s Fever suede shoe booties ($795) from Fall 2014.

    The Spring collection was inspired by an art exhibition Mellon saw at New York’s Pace Gallery, titled “Mingei: Are You Here?” which explored a midcentury Japanese craft movement. “It seemed like it was so of-the-moment of the fashion business,” says Mellon of the exhibit, which is thus reflected in her line’s tribal beading and exotic prints, from animal to ikat.

    For her fall pieces, Mellon found inspiration in Brigitte Bardot and the ’60s. “I have always loved the ’60s and ’70s—the miniskirts, lower heeled boots, and the leather captain’s cap have a Persian 1960s feel to me,” says the designer, who also sees playing with hemlines and heel heights as the biggest trend for the season. “The higher the skirt, the lower the heel; the lower the skirt, the higher the heel,” she advises.

    Tamara Mellon Makes High Fashion Easy
    Drive booties ($850).

    Since breaking away from Jimmy Choo, the luxury accessories line she helped grow from a single London boutique into a swoon-inducing empire, Mellon has braved new ground at the helm of the eponymous brand she launched in 2013. As her own boss, she cultivated a philosophy of “buy now, wear now,” meaning that what you see on the runway or in the fashion pages is available in stores, and most prominently on her website, today. She also doesn’t keep to fashion’s traditional commitment to seasons, instead offering monthly capsule collections. “The calendar has been pushed so far it just doesn’t suit our lifestyle anymore,” says Mellon. “My focus is more—and this is where the future of brands is—e-commerce.”

    Tamara Mellon Makes High Fashion Easy
    Dazzle Zebra handbag ($895).

    Aficionados who have followed Mellon’s tale—from Jimmy Choo to her own house to her recent memoir, In My Shoes—still have much more to look forward to. “My team here has to hold me back,” she says with a laugh. “I have so many categories in my head with this brand, from lingerie to sunglasses to home to fragrance. I already have inspiration and things in my office for a makeup line, packaging—but you have to build the core first.” Saks Fifth Avenue, Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-865-1100

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    Chef Kevin Cory has built a mystique with his exquisite dining experiences at Naoe. For his next step, he’s created N by Naoe.

    Kevin Cory
    Chef Kevin Cory at N by Naoe, slicing wild suzuki (Japanese sea bass) sashimi with an Aritsugu knife passed down from his chef uncle Yasushi Naoe, who was a kaiseki chef for over 50 years.

    Kevin Cory, the soft-spoken chef and owner of Naoe, does not seek out attention. The restaurant has no sign, unless you count the business card taped to the door, and although Naoe moved to its Brickell Key location in April 2012, butcher paper remains in the windows, meant to deter the casual passer-by. But if Cory and his restaurant shy away from the spotlight, why were Ferran Adrià and José Andrés standing here in the middle of the dining room on a Monday afternoon? In town for a few days in September, the two iconic chefs showed up personally to request a reservation the following evening. It’s moments like this that indicate Cory has created something special at his eight-seat Naoe and his newly unveiled N by Naoe.

    The Experience

    Cory holding up shinko (baby gizzard shad);
    Cory holding up shinko (baby gizzard shad).

    Cory’s elusiveness—coupled with his meticulous methods and the quality of his cuisine—has created a growing mystique. This year, Naoe is one of only two restaurants in Florida to receive five stars in the Forbes Travel Guide, as well as being one of just 37 five star restaurants in the country (only two of which focus on serving Japanese cuisine). The dining experience is special: small room, minimal staff, and no menu. The meal begins with a bento box of cooked and raw dishes and then proceeds to by-the-piece nigiri sushi, each made by Cory and immediately handed to the diner when the temperature of the rice contrasts perfectly with that of the fish, which might include left-of-center species such as madai (sea bream), shima aji (striped jack), and karasumi (sake marinated dried mullet roe).

    The Next Step

    Cory would have been happy to focus on Naoe, but the lease for his space required that he also open for lunch. Necessity breeds invention, and N by Naoe, a separate adjacent dining space, opened for lunch in June. N offers a lunch seating at noon and a dinner seating at 6:45 pm, presenting diners at either hour with a six-compartment bento box, a bowl of homemade soup, a rice bowl, and dessert. The bento box will likely contain a fresh fish, often blackbelly rosefish caught off of Haulover Inlet, prepared two ways: the first grilled with an accompanying piece of Key lime, and the second steamed alongside okra in a rich broth. The bento box may also include a dish served at Naoe, such as pork jowl beneath parsnip puree and mustard. Unlike Naoe, which features an open kitchen, N is organized around a communal table.

    Knife Practice Makes Perfect

    bento box
    Bento box including, clockwise from top left, simmered pork jowl with parsnip mustard puree; sujiko (salmon roe sac) with sea greens, trumpet mushroom, and sake-and mirin-marinated skipjack tuna stomach; a selection of sashimi; and rice.

    Despite the serenity of both Naoe and N, Cory talks about making sushi as if it were a serious sport. “It’s like a competitive athlete; you train to prove yourself for respect,” he says, going on to paraphrase a statement by Olympian Michael Phelps: “You have to be willing to do something other people aren’t willing to do to be better than them.” In the restaurant, that means obsessively perfecting his craft through repetition of the same knife stroke through fish, and forming that flawless sphere of rice with his hands at precisely the right temperature.

    As a result, everything is just so, as Cory likes it. His devotion to his craft has not gone unnoticed. Chef Andrés tweeted the following night that Naoe was “beyond good,” and he implored food writers and others to give Naoe the “statu[r]e and importance it deserves.” Chef Cory can put up another layer of butcher paper if he likes, but it’s going to be difficult to keep Naoe under the radar much longer. 661 Brickell Key Dr., Miami, 305-947-6263

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    The shiso gimlet at Hakkasan inside the Fontainebleau adds a refreshing touch to the classic gin cocktail.

    Sarah Lawrence
    Head bartender Sarah Lawrence preparing the cocktail behind the bar.

    Inside the Fontainebleau Miami Beach’s dark and mysterious den of modern Chinese delights is an illuminated bar helmed by a fresh face. With her next creation in mind, Hakkasan’s head bartender Sarah Lawrence toils with the fascinating ingredients lining the restaurant’s long back bar. As stylish heavy hitters wait, Lawrence prepares the shiso gimlet. It’s one of her favorites on the impressive menu she’s worked off of at this bar for nearly five years.

    The inspiration: The shiso gimlet is an elevated Asian twist on the classically simple gimlet, a cocktail known for its ability to refresh with just three components: gin, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup.

    The ingredients: Lawrence combines Nolet’s Silver dry gin, a decidedly soft, floral, and nontraditional gin, with the coveted dryness of Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao (intense orange peels), fresh lime juice, lychee juice, yuzu marmalade, and a giant shiso leaf (Asian mint) in a cocktail glass. The shiso’s unique vibrancy brightens the botanicals in the gin, while the yuzu marmalade plays up the citrus notes. The curaçao, with help from the lychee, renders a subtly sweet and remarkably dry finish.

    The highlight: The yuzu marmalade is a hard-to-find product that Lawrence procures from local Asian markets. The fruit preserve includes the tart citrus flesh (there are actually chunks in it) and aromatic rinds of the whole yuzu fruit, which adds a distinct layer of depth.

    Perfect pairings: The shiso gimlet balances some of the most enticing items on the menu, such as the stir-fried Bahamian lobster with a mildly spicy XO sauce, the braised tofu with shrimp in fish sauce, and, naturally, the signature dim sum platter.

    The final flavor: This cocktail is truly a standout amid a lot of competition on the Fontainebleau’s expansive property. The vibrant citrus notes and herbaceous characteristics are gently glazed by a slight sweetness so subtle you may not realize how many you’ve had. This drink is what we like to call seductive. Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 786-276-1388

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    Famed Italian eatery Il Mulino bursts onto the South Beach scene in the most posh of neIghborhoods.

    Bruschetta is piled high with bright red tomatoes at Il Mulino
    Simple yet perfect: Bruschetta is piled high with bright red tomatoes at Il Mulino in South of Fifth.

    Heat President Pat Riley strides into Il Mulino in a light-pink button-down shirt, sleeves rolled up, looking every inch the don of Miami sports that he is. As he lowers himself into his seat, an efficient team swings into action: A server clad in white with a dark bow tie helpfully scoots his chair under him. Another stands by patiently with a napkin to drape across his lap. From the kitchen, yet another server emerges with an enormous wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano for “Signor Riley,” followed closely by a cadre of coworkers each carrying an enticing offering: spicy zucchini chips, medallions of soppressata, four choices of bread, including a bruschetta piled high with bright red tomatoes.

    Even Riley, no stranger to the royal treatment, might find this display impressive. The choreography is seamless, almost as if the Hall of Fame basketball coach had drawn it up on a whiteboard himself. But Il Mulino’s kingly treatment of Riley isn’t remarkable. In fact, this kind of whirling service has become a bit of an Il Mulino calling card. “This is the culture we believe in,” says Executive Chef and Naples native Michele Mazza. “When you come in the restaurant, we want to make you feel very important.”

    Executive Chef Michele Mazza’s earthy Italian food keeps diners coming back.
    Executive Chef Michele Mazza’s earthy Italian food keeps diners coming back.

    Located in a 2,000-square-foot space in Miami Beach’s glitzy South of Fifth neighborhood, Il Mulino has only 84 seats, each table dressed with a white tablecloth and surrounded by white leather chairs. Mazza says he waited at least five years for the right South Beach location, and size was a crucial factor. “I don’t believe in [a] big place,” says the chef—no surprise considering how difficult it would be to meet such a high standard of service in a large restaurant.

    zabaglione; Il Mulino’s dining room has a mere 84 seats, adding to its superlative service
    Il Mulino’s dining room has a mere 84 seats, adding to its superlative service

    Of course, Il Mulino hasn’t thrived for 30 years on service alone. Starting with its New York flagship, the restaurant now has nine locations (including one in Sunny Isles Beach; there are also three locations of sister establishments Trattoria Il Mulino and one Il Mulino Prime), and Mazza’s earthy Italian food is what keeps people coming back. From antipasti to dolci, the menu holds few surprises, but Mazza isn’t trying to wow guests with outré creations. Rather, his approach is to honor the cuisine of the motherland, and to that end he says he imports 95 percent of Il Mulino’s ingredients from Italy. So while staples like fried calamari, minestrone, tortellini, osso bucco, shrimp fra diavolo, and whole branzino will sound familiar to just about everyone, they won’t taste the same way unless you’ve had the pleasure of dining in the Old Country.

    A dessert of frutti di bosco with hot zabaglione
    A dessert of frutti di bosco with hot zabaglione.

    Come the end of your meal, you may want to resist the allure of classic tiramisu and instead order the fruit plate. Your server will arrive at your table with two peeled oranges and, with a paring knife and deft hands, proceed to carve out segments, arranging them one by one in a wonderful whorl on your dessert plate. After adding an assortment of berries, kiwi, and candied orange rind, he will light a match, drop it into a snifter of warm Grand Marnier, and drizzle the liqueur in a stream of blue fire onto the artful array of fruit.

    Elegant, meticulous, delicious. It’s the epitome of Il Mulino in a single dish. 840 First St., Miami Beach, 305-372-1221

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    Miami is a town that appreciates beauty and brevity, and some of the world’s finest watchmakers offer both in the form of skeletonized and mainplate timepieces.

    skeleton watches

    The concept is simple: strip away as much metal as possible to reveal the intricate inner workings of some of the world’s most technologically advanced timepieces. The result is captivating: a skeleton timepiece, so called due to the stunning see-through design, that allows collectors to enjoy a mechanical masterpiece from every angle. Little wonder these artful works of precision, beauty, and innovation are taking the watch world by storm. Skeleton or partial skeleton (the avant-garde trend in which the watch’s mainplate, gears, and wheels are visible, but only through the side of the dial), it takes a single craftsman hundreds of hours to carve away the metal, finely finish each tiny component, and assemble the timepiece in all its glory. Some of these watches (particularly those with bridges made of specialized materials, such as specially engineered sapphire) are created in very limited numbers because of the difficulty of their engineering and construction. Hence, the finest skeleton watches can cost a pretty penny—not to mention carry a lengthy waiting list. But for the connoisseur, this open-worked artistry offers impressive detail and delight.

    1. From Armin Strom, this One Week Skeleton Fire watch ($49,900) is crafted in 18k rose gold. The hand-finishing and engraving of the skeletonized movement takes six days of workmanship. Les Bijoux, 306 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, 561-361-2311.

    2. From Zenith, this El Primero Lightweight ($19,200) is crafted of ceramized aluminum and carbon. The dial has been skeletonized to view the 328 components of the El Primero 400B titanium automatic movement. It features titanium pushers and weighs just 15.9 grams. Mayors, Aventura Mall, 19501 Biscayne Blvd., 305-937-1444.

    3. This highly unusual Richard Mille 61-01 Yohan Blake watch ($120,000) celebrates the star athlete with colors of his native country. The watch is crafted in TZP-N ceramic with an NTPT carbon caseband and a Velcro strap. It features a manual-wind skeletonized movement. VAULT, 1024 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, 305-673-5251 

    4. From HYT, makers of hydrotechnology timepieces that use fluid to indicate the time, this H1 watch ($69,000) is crafted in 18k pink gold and black DLC. Through the sapphire crystal, one can view the movement parts, including the bellows and lines that move the fluid around the dial to indicate the hours.King Jewelers, 18265 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura, 305-935-4900

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    Already a star in Latin America, Christian Acosta is ready for Miami's spotlight.

    Christian Acosta
    Christian Acosta at the Mondrian South Beach.

    A known heartthrob in Latin America, Colombian-American singer and actor Christian Acosta is now conquering the US. Growing up between South Florida and Medellin, Colombia, Acosta has always straddled the line between being North and South American. But with his single “Tonta” garnering praise in both Spanish-and English-speaking markets, he is ready to join the two halves of his upbringing into one unstoppable force.

    I love Miami because: It is the perfect combination of Latino and American; it represents who I am. If there is a city that could be molded after just my essence, it’s Miami. You can go somewhere and be completely in the USA, but [then] you walk a block and feel like you’re in the middle of Colombia or Cuba. That’s so fantastic. I don’t think that any other place in the world really has that juxtaposition.

    Next up: My single “Dame de Beber,” which we are currently filming the music video for.

    My musical inspirations are: The old-school Latin singers. José José is a major inspiration because of the way he has always connected with the audience. Nino Bravo, for unfortunately the short amount of time he was on this earth, still has an impact today. His music is just astonishingly beautiful. [And] Celia Cruz—that energy that she gave off on stage is something that I emulate because there is no one like her.

    I am a singer because: I truly enjoy the connection with the audience. I like to get people out of their stresses and into the music.

    I am grateful for: Every frickin’ minute that I have! As a child, I was very sick [with leukemia], and I am so blessed to just be here today. Forget career, forget money, it all comes down to every moment that I have in this life.

    My biggest hurdle has been: Taking on too much. Part of that is me wanting to conquer everything and knowing that life is extremely short. I always say I wish I had three different lives because there are so many things that I want to do.

    My proudest career moment was: When I heard my song on the radio for the first time. There’s nothing that can prepare you for that moment. In five years: I would like to see myself with a stronger legacy than I have now—whether it is musically, sonically, artistically, or philanthropically, who knows?

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