Will a boat warehouse ruin Matheson Hammock Park?

By | January 24th, 2012 | 8 Comments

Despite an apparent conflict of interest, the chair of Coral Gables’ Historic Preservation Board is pushing for the construction of a new, 4,300-square-foot, 50-foot-tall building to store about 350 boats in Matheson Hammock Park, according to the Coral Gables Gazette. Opponents of the warehouse say it will be an eyesore, that it will increase noise pollution within Matheson Hammock and traffic on Old Cutler Road, and that it may harm the ecosystem of the park, which opened on Biscayne Bay in 1930 and features a man-made atoll pool. The group Save Our Matheson Park made the following video to raise awareness of the issue.

What do you think about the controversy? Will the boat warehouse ruin Matheson Hammock? Are the opponents of the warehouse exaggerating? Should the chair of a city’s Historic Preservation Board be lobbying on behalf of a project that may mar a public park? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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A review of Nilo Cruz’s The Color Of Desire

By | October 7th, 2010 | 4 Comments

The Color of Desire, a two-act play by Cuban-born, Miami-raised Nilo Cruz, premiered last night at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables. Cruz, who won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Anna in the Tropics, sat unassumingly in the audience in a dark ivy hat as his play unfolded before a packed house comprised mainly of geriatrics.

The Color of Desire is set in Havana, in 1960, a year after Castro took power. With the revolutionaries already confiscating property and businesses, and putting their ill-wishers before firing squads, cool-lit Havana invites its bemused inhabitants to indulge in fantasy, if only to escape the frightening reality of Castro’s boots and beard for a spell.

The play opens on Leandra and Albertina, out-to-pasture actresses and probably widows. Relegated to costume mending, the women discuss how time has stolen their femininity.

“Old age is ruthless,” Leandra says. “It doesn’t give a damn what sex we are.”

Enter Belén, the women’s nubile niece, who is distraught about not getting the lead in her company’s upcoming production. But unlike her aunts, Belén has youth – perhaps the one asset even Castro cannot confiscate – and the prospect of her date this evening with a wealthy American shipper soon lifts her spirits. Her aunts share her excitement, but only because they hope the man will rescue Belén from Cuba’s shadowy fate.

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Coral Gables Hispanic Cultural Festival

By | September 26th, 2010 | No Comments

My mother dragged me to more city-sponsored arts and culture festivals as a child than I care to remember, so I didn’t have high expectations for the Gables festival yesterday. With a low bar to clear, it surprised me. While stormy skies kept attendance down, and while the average age was skewed to a hip late-20s number by the fact that almost everyone there was either geriatric or pediatric, there was just enough to make the excursion worthwhile.

Above all was a troupe of Latina flamenco dancers. I’ve seen flamenco shows in Spain, and I’m not sure if these lovely ladies would please a Sevilla audience. But, for obvious reasons, they had my attention.

Lovely Latina Flamenco Dancers

Other than the flamenco show (which needed a live band), the Gables fest yielded a few semiprecious treasures, por ejemplo, these ceramic demitasses by Bernardo Cueto.

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Miami’s Best Tapas Bar Inside A Gas Station

By | September 23rd, 2010 | No Comments

I first learned about El Carajo from a guy named Raul Rojas who pronounces his name with brio and whose Twitter bio describes him as a “political junkie” and “advisor to revolutionaries.” I can’t corroborate that, but I can attest that the short fellow likes his martinis just so and does not hesitate to give a charming bartendress whatfor when she serves them against his liking. I don’t know Señor Rojas — I met him by chance at Sugarcane, in Midtown. But it was on his recommendation that I first went to El Carajo, a tapas and wine bar inside a BP gas station in South Miami, and I owe him a debt of gratitude.

El Carajo International Wine & Tapas communal table

Surrounded by thousands of bottles of wine, customers dig in at El Carajo's long communal table. -- photo by Robby Campbell

First off, I’ve read enough of El Carajo’s Yelp reviews to realize that some people can’t stomach eating in a gas station, much less a BP. If you fall into that category (no shame in it), then don’t go, because the place is very much in a gas station. You park in the glow of large fluorescent letters, you walk across oil-stained pavement, the aroma of various grades of petrol fills your nostrils, you traverse a bright mini-market under closed-circuit surveillance, and, when the dining area quiets, you hear the the cashier’s barcode scanner beep-beep-beeping away.

All of which makes me like the place all the more. The juxtaposition of a tapas bar with a first-rate wine selection — 2,000 bottles from around the world — in a gas station isn’t just quirky. It’s freaking ingenious. I salute whoever had abiding faith in this particular version of “if you build it, they will come.” Judging by the packed house each of the several times I’ve eaten at El Carajo, he/she is making loot.

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Best pancake in Miami

By | September 12th, 2010 | No Comments

Chocolate Fashion, at 248 Andalusia Avenue in Coral Gables, a block south of Miracle Mile, takes the prize with its blueberry pancake. Thin, crispy on the outside, moist inside, dusted with powdered sugar. No syrup necessary. Can’t beat it.

Chocolate Fashion blueberry pancake

Trust me.

Chocolate Fashion blueberry pancake (polished off)