|Close Encounters of the Shores Kind|
|Written by Jen Karetnick -- BT Contributer|
A busload of young perverts, dinner with an enterprising stranger, and a kidney infection make for one interesting month
Every February, during the week of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, three things happen: I turn a year older, my parents come down from Jersey to visit, and I get sick. One year I was sidelined by swine flu. This time it was a kidney infection.
So it’s my husband who winds up meeting Giada De Laurentiis at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, or communing with neighbor-chefs Douglas Rodriguez, Andrea Curto-Randazzo, and Dewey LoSasso (all Shores dwellers) at events like Swine and Wine, while I suck down cranberry juice, lemonade, and antibiotics.
But that’s okay. I’ve had plenty of interesting encounters myself, right here in the Shores. Take that night a couple of weeks ago, when I was picking my son up from piano lessons at Miss Jane’s Music Studio. I was on the phone with my mom, planning her visit, when a yellow school bus crammed with teenagers stopped at the light on NE 2nd Avenue and 96th Street. Several of the students, hanging out the bus windows, told me how much they admired blonde women, and what they’d like to do to me -- very loudly, and in very graphic terms.
I know I should have kept silent. But this particular incident happened a few days before my official mid-life crisis, and on the very same day that I had experienced something similar while stopping in at the new Biscayne Diner.
Biscayne Diner takes the place of Revales, a rather expensive Italian restaurant, which had a beer-and-wine license. These licenses usually transfer with a lease, and this was one of those extremely rare days when both my husband and I had the same hour free, so we wanted to meet for a drink.
I parked my car in the small lot and exited to wolf whistles from a passerby on Biscayne Boulevard. The 20 yards into the restaurant felt like the Walk of Shame: I was hollered at, honked at, and leeringly assessed by enough men that I looked around to see if I was actually passing a construction site.
I’m not easily embarrassed, and maybe I should be secretly delighted that a 45-year-old woman can still get so much attention. But for a short stroll, while wearing the same outfit I wore to work, this was a bit much.
So later that day, when the kids started in on me, too, I yelled back: “Hey, I’m on the phone with my mother! Show some respect!”
I had thought that being brave enough to address the drooling, tongue-wagging teens and mentioning the word “mother” to them might calm them down. It had the opposite effect. Even more kids started yelling about the ways they could sexually molest me, and how they could do the same to my mother.
If there were any adults on that school bus other than the driver, who was slouched down in his seat, I couldn’t tell. Certainly no one stopped the students from harassing me, though by law there needs to be one adult present for every ten kids. But I couldn’t locate any source of help -- or blame, for that matter.
Miss Jane and my son heard the melee from several storefronts away. They thought there’d been a traffic accident. But when I described what happened, Remy shed some light on the situation. “I saw a bus at Miami Country Day when I was leaving school. It had the North Miami baseball team in it.”
I can’t prove that the bus contained the North Miami High School baseball team, but the pieces fall into place well enough to suggest it could have been them. No matter who it was, in the end, it’s one of the reasons why I still personally escort my 12-year-old to and from his music lessons, which are past nightfall.
Even in the heart of our sleepy little village, offense and aggression occur. And when next to nobody is on the street to help you should something happen, it pays to be safe.
Incidentally, Biscayne Diner didn’t have wine to serve. But the staff said it would soon, along with takeout menus. So Jon and I went, as per usual, to Pizza Fiore for a glass and a slice.
Of course, not every “stumble upon” in Miami Shores is offensive. On another one of those wine-seeking nights, Jon and I sat down at an outdoor table at the Shores’s little French hideaway, Côte Gourmet. I try to frequent the restaurant as much as I can possibly frequent anything, if only to show my appreciation for the fact that it’s still here.
While Côte Gourmet does a terrific lunch business, the place is frequently empty at night. So lone diners sitting next to you while sipping Cabernet and snacking on chicken livers don’t go unnoticed; you tend to strike up conversations. After all, the guy is no doubt your neighbor, right? Only locals know about this café.
On this night, though, the gentleman in question, Cortland Joyce, was from South Miami. He was in the area for meetings with Whole Foods and other markets concerning Pop Nature, his gourmet popsicle line, which is inspired by Mexican paletas and uses only natural, gluten-free ingredients. Naturally, this produced a bit of conversation about where he sources his mangos for the balsamic mango flavor. (Yeah, we’re always looking to give away our mangos.)
I didn’t tell him I write about food (for other publications), so he was very surprised to run into me again at RA Sushi in South Miami, where I was making an appearance on behalf of MIAMI Magazine for the “Foodies Show Heart” event. I had designed a sushi roll with three kinds of salmon (raw, smoked, and cooked) and avocado, as part of a competition between local epicures. The contestant whose roll received the most votes had money donated to the charity of their choice.
Even with new friend Joyce’s nod, and some assistance from others, my roll didn’t win. But it looks like Joyce is going to. He has been placing his popsicles in venues ranging from Books and Books in Coral Gables to the Standard Hotel and Spa in Miami Beach.
Nearby we can find them at Sarah’s Tent in Aventura; the popsicles are certified kosher. And soon, I suspect, we’ll be able to enjoy flavors such as “paleo” (pineapple, kale, beet, pea protein) and bourbon blackberry in our very own nearby Whole Foods.
And that’s the real surprise: The Whole Foods is finally opening. Going by history, no doubt that’s where the strangest culinary-themed encounters of all will occur. But until then, I have my used-to-be-brunette hair, and my mother, to provide an entire baseball team with more than enough entertainment.
Volume 14, Issue 2, April 2016
Downtown Miami’s Cultural Center keeps its eye on the arts