Outside OLA (Of Latin America) on a recent Thursday evening, flashing squad car lights made chef Douglas Rodriguez's pan-Latin restaurant look like a riot site. Was the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit back in town? Was Paris Hilton taking her clothes off -- again?
Actually the attraction was not free trade but something much more compelling to Miamians: free pork. And the police presence, merely to control valet parking traffic, was not overkill. While eateries all over town languish in the standard summer doldrums, OLA's new weekly Pig Out has been drawing 400 to 600 partiers, according to the eatery's new general manager Peter Schrank.
Schrank, best known as the guy who put the sex into South Beach's Tantra, came up with the idea of doing an off-season promo party, but says the BBQ was Rodriguez's inspiration. "I thought we needed some sort of little hors d'oeuvres," Schrank explains. "He said to me, öLet's do a whole pig!'"
"I said to him, öYou're nuts.'"
The pigs are roasted in this back yard BBQ season's top trendy tool, La Caja China. Actually the Miami-manufactured Cuban "Chinese Box" looks like a plywood wheelbarrow topped with aluminum. Porky goes inside, coals go on the metal sheet, and what emerges just 3-and-a-half hours later (as opposed to a standard Southern pit-cooked pig's overnight cooking time) is possibly the universe's most falling-off-the-bones tender pork. Combined with vigoron (Nicaragua's national salad of onion, cabbage, cassava, chicharrónes -- here, the pig's own crisp cracklings -- and mojo) and wrapped in flour tortillas for neat eating, the meat makes pigging out irresistible, even to the event's rather sleek-looking crowd.
"The first week, we roasted 2 70-pound pigs," Schrank says. "The second week we had to escalate to 3."
Half-priced 5-buck mojitos help wash the pig down. A 6-piece live Latin band helps dance it off.
The Pig Out takes place every Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to whenever at OLA, 5061 Biscayne Blvd. Admission, valet parking, and pork are free. Call 305-758-9195.-Pamela Robin Brandt
Surfer Chic Chicks
Summertime and the living is easy. Your hair is sun-bleached. You glow bronze from basking at the beach. You are firm. You are sexy and supple. Most important you are a cool surfer chick, one of those natural beauties who seems to be more beautiful in a bikini soaked in sun and salt and sand than in South Beach clubwear. If you smolder in a pair of flip-flops as well as stilettos, you could get a gig modeling for Roxy Fashions, makers of surf culture threads. The "style search" experts will be scouting for hot Miami chicas who can pull off that delicate balance between surfer girl grit and babe-alicious magnetism. If chosen you could qualify for a trip to San Diego, Las Vegas, or Orlando on a working vacation: You'll be strutting your stuff on fashion show runways, baby! It's time to work it, grrrl. The casting runs from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Quicksilver Boardrider's Club, 750 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Admission is free. Call 305-674-9283. -- Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Celebrate yonder wonders
On the heels of Mike Melvill's brief flight on SpaceShipOne, making him the first civilian astronaut, and the equally historic arrival of the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft into orbit around Saturn after nearly 7 long years, the summer of space exploration steps back in time to remember the Apollo moon landing 35 years ago when Neil Armstrong took a "giant leap for mankind." Okay, so the actual anniversary is on the 20th, but today from noon to 4:00 p.m. at the Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium (3280 S. Miami Ave.), visitors can take part in a number of activities from rocketry workshops to learning what it's like to bounce around on the lunar surface. Of course a planetarium show is included in the price of admission, which is $10 for adults, $8 for students and senior citizens, and $6 for kids ages 3 to 12. Call 305-646-4200.-Margaret Griffis
Free to Choose
About a month ago 30 residents of the Liberty City neighborhood and civil servants met to create the Historic Liberty City Steering Committee. The idea: to be the first to shape their destiny and create Historic Liberty City. That is, before the City of Miami or any of its agencies steps in and actually does something they consider productive, or worse, before developers and their big-money developments move in and do something possibly destructive. Boundaries for the proposed area would be NW 57th Street on the north and NW 79th Street on the south; NW 10th Avenue on the east and NW 22nd Avenue on the west. More strategizing will ensue today at two meetings addressing the same concerns. The first will be at 10:00 a.m. at the St. James AME Church, 1845 NW 65th St., and the second will be at 6:00 p.m. at the City of Miami Model City Police Station & Net Office, 1000 NW 62nd St. Admission is free. Call 305-638-3587. -- Nina Korman