The Biscayne Times

May 25th
Off the Couch, Potato! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Helen Hill, BT Contributor   
September 2019

Get yourself into a new class or activity

AClasses1_lacucina3s summer heat finally begins to wane and balmy days and nights make South Florida bearable again, it’s a good time to learn, experience, and practice something new. Whether for edification, enrichment, pure pleasure, or all three, you can sign up for recreational classes, courses, and workshops that hit the “I’ve always wanted to...” button.

We’ve rounded up a selective list of activities for grown-ups likely to stimulate interests, skills, and social engagement. (That translates into meeting new people when you’ve got interests in common, and for singles, remember that networking rules!)

We’re focusing on activities primarily north of downtown Miami in areas served by the BT. Information is taken from websites and is believed to be accurate as of press time. Always check first.


Classes2_Mother_Earth_MiamiECLECTIC: Feed the mind, feed the soul


In addition to lectures at our local museums, institutes, and schools, you can roll up your sleeves and take some classes.


Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

At FIU’s Biscayne Bay campus in North Miami, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI at FIU) offers a wide range of non-credit educational programs (with a few in Spanish) for the 50-plus set, with some classes also in Miami Shores and in Aventura. A small sampling: Spanish and Italian; computer skills (Windows, Office, Photoshop); art (watercolor, drawing, acrylics); history (the Vietnam War, Emiliano Zapata, Jews in Cuba); issues and ideas (the environment, domestic terrorism, the new secularism, the prospect of multiple worlds); health (sleep disorders, cannabis); plus cooking, music, and film.

Membership is $40 a year, with class fees ranging from $10 for a single lecture to $100 for a six-week series. Day trips and social gatherings are planned. Membership includes access to many FIU resources, plus a variety of discounts. The Fall A series runs September 9 to October 18; the B Series from October 28 to December 13.


Mother Earth Miami

At Mother Earth Miami, the urban herbalism plant nursery and garden, they’re working on the new season of workshops, which -- judging from last year’s sold-out calendar -- may well include courses on Florida mushrooms, how to build a banana circle or a pollinating garden, and all about herbalist gardening and using healing aids from fresh plant material you harvested on the adjacent Buena Vista farm. Mother Earth is just waking up about now; according to the website, they’re closed in summer months, when they grow cover crops to fertilize the soil for the coming season.


Miami-Dade County

Ah, the perks! If you’re 62 and up, you’re eligible for free tickets to many arts events through the county’s Golden Ticket Arts Guide, which features an array of offerings. Here’s what you do: On the website above, go to the “Education, Outreach & Access” tab and click on “Golden Tickets Arts Guide.” Download a PDF of all the eligible events, and print your Golden Ticket coupons. Golden Tickets are available two weeks before an event, so call early to confirm availability and reserve your seat. Yes, you can get up a group, too -- just call the Golden Ticket Arts partner for guidance.

September partners include: Fantasy Theatre Factory’s “Handmade Puppet Dreams” film shorts; the Brazilian Film Festival of Miami; the Deering Estate’s “Migrations” exhibit evening; Karen Peterson and Dancers’ Forward Motion; and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center’s Community Seagrass Adventure.


Classes3_Miami_Pizza_School_3HOME COOKS: Come to Toque Ville!


Ever since the Mango Gang’s four lead chefs (Norman Van Aken, Allen Susser, Mark Militello, Douglas Rodriguez) put fresh and local on the menu, back in the 1980s, South Florida cuisine has celebrated the abundance of area fruits and vegetables, and fresh-caught seafood. Healthy eating is reflected still in many cooking classes, and you don’t have to be vegetarian or vegan to consider nutritional value in the food you make.

At cooking schools or restaurant classes, you’ll create culinary delights from scratch, sample them, and maybe take home the leftovers. Ingredients and aprons are usually supplied, but check first.


La Cucina at La Centrale

Located at Brickell City Center’s food hall, La Cucina at La Centrale’s Cooking Studio and demonstration kitchen hosts traditional method classes in Pasta 101, Pasta 102, Risotto 101, Italian Cooking Sauces 101, Hands-on Neapolitan Pizza Workshop, and Mozzarella Pulling. In fact, there are some 40 class offerings just for September. Minimum for a class is six. Private classes are available, too, as are kids’ classes. Costs range from $65 to $75.


Miami Pizza School

Forget delivery pizza. In a three-hour course at the Wynwood Miami Pizza School, you’ll make dough, stretch it, and layer your pies with authentic toppings under the expert guidance of Chef Renato Viola. Classes run $165 per person, with enrollment limited to 12, and include complimentary sodas, beer, and wine. As one online reviewer writes: “It isn’t just about making pizza, it’s about the whole pizza experience.”


Phuc Yea

The Upper Eastside’s Phuc Yea restaurant is noted for its Vietnamese and Cajun fusion, and offers monthly classes on third Thursday evenings, given by Cesar Zapata, the co-owner and executive chef. Past classes have included welcome drinks, summer roll samples, and instruction on three recipes. Class size limited to 14 and costs $50 per person and $75 with paired cocktail experience.



Real Food Academy

The Real Food Academy on NE 81st Street, just west of Biscayne Boulevard, goes from hands-on classes in pasta making to a list of international menus that includes American, Asian, Indian, vegan, sushi, ceviche, and more. The recipes from chef and co-founder Maria Cummins and her husband, Arthur, use mostly “plant-based super-foods,” with an emphasis on nutrition, healthy eating, and fresh ingredients. Two-hour lunchtime classes cost $45; three-hour evening classes $65. There are also classes in knife skills, mise en place, and portion control.


Sacred Space Miami

Raw food is on the menu at the Sacred Space Miami in Wynwood, where you can choose from plant-based classes and workshops on American, Mexican, and Italian favorites. “We’re the only completely plant-based, organic, vegan, gluten-free, and kosher restaurant and food academy in Southeast Florida,” says Alina Delapaz, programming director. Coming up, a cheese-making series; creating raw, vegan desserts on September 16 ($150) and a three-course Italian meal September 17 ($125).


The SisterYard

Head to a private home in Buena Vista West for classes given by two sisters -- Yami, the chef, and Cristina, the nutritionist. The produce is local and organic, and the atmosphere is joyful. The offerings range from meat or fish to 100 percent plant-based dishes. Dinner menu classes for September feature: spring vegetarian noodles ($100); crowd-pleasing burgers ($75); viva Mexico’s world-class tacos ($75); chipotle cauliflower ($100); and steak and noodles ($100), and more.


Classes5_abacowine1OENOPHILES: Put your nose to it


Salud, santé, prost, l’chaim. Here’s a toast to all the wine lovers and a few of their grape options.


Abaco Wines & Wine Bar

This decidedly upscale Design District store carries wines ranging from $25 to $2500 a bottle, but its sommelier-led classes are quite down-to-earth. The weekly sessions aim to educate with blind tastings, samplings, and wine pairings with food that explore different themes: “Fried Chicken and Bubbles” (September 5, $50); “Battle of the Bubbles: English Sparkling Wine vs. Champagne” (September 7, $50); and “Sake and Sushi.” (September 28, $75).


Total Wine & More
305-354-3270 North Miami, 786-654-5488 Aventura,

Total Wine & More, with locations in Aventura, North Miami, and Miami Beach, offers classes and workshops on wine, spirits, and beer. A sampling of upcoming programs includes: “Crazy for Cabs: Discover Cabernet Sauvignon” (September 5, $20; North Miami and Aventura); “Miami Food Pairing with Wynwood Brewing” (September 12, $10; Miami Beach); “Boston Beer Invasion” (September 12, $10; North Miami). “Live from Napa Valley! Taste the 2017 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet” (September 21, $20; North Miami, Miami Beach, and Aventura); and “Australian Wine: Far from the Ordinary (September 25, free, Miami Beach).


Classes6_Kuu_PotteryTHE ARTIST’S EYE: Discover your medium


Even if you haven’t wielded a paintbrush in ages and think your thing is paint-by-the-numbers, why not move from daub to dab with a few classes that will show you how to improve your artistic skills while working at your own pace? Check to be sure whether supplies are included.


Art Atelier and Art Classes Wynwood

Art Atelier dates back 12 years, to the early arty days of the ’hood, and offers adult classes in all kinds of media, with no age limits and with accommodations for people with special needs. Classes are small enough to allow students to develop their own styles. Among offerings on Tuesdays and Thursdays: painting in oil, acrylic, or mixed media. You can also learn how sculpt in clay (Wednesdays), and draw and work with jewelry (Fridays). Two-hour classes, $30; three hours for $45. The Wynwood Walk is celebrated on the second Saturday of the month with special art classes (priced separately).



When you feel the urge to throw something, KuuPottery on NW 62nd Street, with six pottery wheels, is the place. You can learn about molding, glazing, and firing clay through different projects, from bowls to vases and plates, during single sessions ($40/$45), two-week sessions ($150), and four-week classes ($165) run by artist/owner Kassandra Guzman. Private classes are also available. Guzman says students enjoy the “erotic pottery” classes, where the mugs they create exalt, well, body-positive themes.


Little Haiti Cultural Complex

Wear your creativity on a T-shirt or other clothing once you learn silkscreen techniques at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex. The small weekly class costs just $12, or sign up for a five-week session for $50. Reservations are required.


Miami Art League

“We’re a hidden art school gem in Miami Shores,” says Linda Winters, community coordinator for the League, which was founded in 1920. “We offer fine arts classes in a nurturing and supportive environment.” Membership is a requirement and costs $150 per year. Daytime, evening, and weekend classes include acrylic and watercolor, drawing/painting with critiques, and figure drawing/painting and life drawing with models. Fees range from $20 per single class to $140 for a four-week session.


Sofia Art Academy

Over in Sunny Isles Beach, Sofia Art Academy has taken a foundational approach to teaching art since 1993. Courses are based on centuries-old rules and a four-level program -- introduction to composition, basics of composition, development of composition, and advanced composition -- before moving on to figure drawing and stylized compositions. Class size is small, and the school also holds social evenings and wine-and-fun nights, which run $45 per person for two hours of instruction.


DANCE: Shake it up, baby


Self-expression through movement. Excellent aerobic exercise. Irresistible urges to move to the beat. Good fun with like-minded friends. Whatever your motivation, there’s a dance class with your name on it.


Delou Africa at Little Haiti Cultural Complex

Delou Africa is one of Miami’s best-known dance companies, and no wonder -- its mission is to bridge cultural gaps while preserving African culture. Every week, for example, it holds a community class in African dance, led by Akosua Graham and Narsha Cummings. Each session is open to all levels and costs $12. For women, appropriate dance attire includes a wrap skirt or sarong with leggings underneath and a fitted top. For men, loose pants (sweat pants) and a comfortable top.


Kitty Kat Pole Dancing

Exercise on the up and up at daily pole dance classes in this boutique studio in Midtown Miami, where you can finally learn how to twerk, among other moves. You can also take the gang along to celebrate birthdays and other events. Single classes cost $25; packages are available.


Milan Pole Dance Studio

Here’s another option for a different take on fitness and flexibility training in Wynwood: the pole dance routines and acrobatics at Milan Pole Dance Studio, which says its classes “are designed for men and women of all ages, sizes, shapes and levels.” One hour classes are $25-$30.


Classes7_kalosmusic3MUSIC: A language all its own


Embrace your natural musical talent and learn to play an instrument or train your voice. Dip in your toe with an introductory trial lesson or audition to rate your skill level.


A.B.A. Music Studio

This Aventura studio offers private or group lessons for voice, piano, guitar, violin and flute. There are also classes in music harmony, rhythm, theory, and production. Classes run either 30 or 60 minutes and are designed to fit your level of interest and experience. Prices vary.


Kalos Music & Art School

Also in Aventura, Kalos Music & Art School offers popular classes on how to read and write music, and focused lessons on playing an instrument. There are lessons in guitar, piano, and violin, trumpet, trombone, and saxophone, as well as cuatro and bandola. Workshops cover jazz and Brazilian and Venezuelan music, compositional basics, and music software. Students show off their talent at end-of-session concerts and recitals. Nestor Torres holds a master class for the highest-level flute students.


Forte Music and Arts Academy

Located just west of Aventura in the Ojus area, Forte (their motto: “Everyone has an inner forte!”) offers private and semiprivate lessons in piano, violin, guitar, ukulele, electric bass, and voice. It invites all seniors who want to start learning to make a joyful noise.


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