Florida: Fun, Voodoo, Food and Sex
My favorite shows for Bizarre World and Bizarre Foods are always the domestic shows. There is something thrilling about uncovering a piece of the world for the rest of us to see and experience, and when that corner of our planet is right next door, and the people profiled are our friends, neighbors and family … it’s even more exciting.
Going drag for a Sunday Gospel Brunch at Lips in Fort Lauderdale, getting wet with the mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs, diving for sponge off the coast of Tarpon Springs, drag racing against the cops at the Countyline Dragway near Medley, experiencing the seeming fakery of a voodoo possession performance inside a popular botanica in Little Haiti, dining on superb food at Chez le Bebe and prowling the Everglades for frogs, pythons and gators were just some of the hot highlights of a killer show … but as always, Florida after-dark and behind the scenes provides even more local color than I ever imagined, Florida may be the Bizarre capital of the world.
Any one been to Miami recently? It’s part Fawlty Towers, part Sodom & Gomorrah. Very little works here as it does in the rest of our country. The city is truly on Island Time (especially in the service industries), and everything from the reservationists in restaurants to the front desk staff at the hotels, from the cabbies to the baristas, everyone seems to be here for a reason other than the job at which point you intersect with them. Many want to be in the nightclub, music or overwhelmingly overt sex industry. I know of no other American city with so many publicly touted sex clubs, and on the streets of South Beach you can see dozens of would be internet skin flick producers trying to rustle up content and sign up talent. Lincoln Road has become to the XXX industry what The Valley in LA was a decade ago. Miami has some of the craziest people watching in the universe, even outpacing Vegas in some categories.
For me, I still love the food scene in Miami and my list of fave eateries includes:
Joe’s Stone Crab — a classic, not to be missed.
La Carreta and Versailles — two awesome old school Flo-Cubano eateries. Don’t miss the roasted pig at Versailles.
Michaels Genuine Food and Drink — in the Design District. I love this joint. Simple and unpretentious, last time I was there I had the black grouper, a killer piece of fish.
Michy’s — Michelle Bernstein’s simple food style is nice, no big news flashes in this Biscayne Blvd restaurant, but the food and vibe are welcoming and you always want to go back. The fried chicken is a must.
Nobu — at the Shore Club in Miami Beach. I can’t get enough of Nobu Matsuhisa’s food and this location is the one that is the most casual of any of his restaurants. In stone crab season (fall to early winter) the chefs here do a great job turning claws into edible works of art that taste even better than they look if you can believe it.
Azul — in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. This restaurant is fancy, but the food is accessible Asian-Mediterranean with a Floribbean kick. Sounds like a restaurant I would hate just writing that sentence but the food is superb. The miso-marinated hamachi is awesome.