It's Halloween! Time for trendsetters to be wondering: Whatever can we serve at our "Creepy Creature Feature" parties that, in terms of hideous yuckiness, will blow even J.Lo and Ben's last flick outta the water?
Debbie Fritz-Quincy, director of Hobe Sound Nature Center, has the answer: Edible insects.
Homemakers who haven't time for elaborate "from scratch" treats like the cricket-packed Chocolate Chirp Cookies will find her own fave recipe both easy party fare and a unique trick-or-treat handout.
"I mostly make a Chex mix with mealworms," she reveals. "Just buy any brand of mix that's on sale, as long as it has some kind of cheese. Cheddar goes well with bugs." She gets her main ingredient from Fluker Farms (800-735-8537) or HotLix (800-EAT-WORM), precooked. "You do not just go out in your back yard and pop a bug in your mouth," she warns, "because you don't know where that bug has been." Roasted, however, "mealworms remind me of Cheez Doodles, kinda airy and crisp."
Recipes for other cutting-edge creepy-crawly treats ("there are 1452 documented different varieties of insect eaten around the world," Fritz-Quincy advises) can be found in David George Gordon's Eat-A-Bug Cookbook, Ronald Taylor and Barbara Carter's Entertaining with Insects, and James Solheim's It's Disgusting & We Ate It. As for accompaniments, "People do ask me about, if they're having a bug dinner party, what kinds of wine they should serve that goes well with insects. I'm not a wine drinker myself," Fritz-Quincy confides. "But I've read that whites work best."
Remembering Miami's departed
Even the gardens of the dead need tending. The Miami City Cemetery (1800 NE 2nd Ave.), resting place to such notables as Julia Tuttle and the Burdine family, lacked a fence and older gravestones "just broke in two," says Penny Lambeth, chairwoman of the Miami City Cemetery Task Force. (Who knew there was such a thing?) The group restored markers and planted around 200 trees, among other tasks. In return Lambeth received an award from the Association for Gravestone Studies. She'll talk about that, as well as the "dark stories" of the historic graveyard, at the Seymour (945 Pennsylvania Ave., Miami Beach). Among the gravestone enthusiast's favorites: the Peacocks, owners of Miami's first inn, whose marker looks "like the top of a wedding cake." The lecture begins at 7:00 p.m. Admission is free. Call 305-538-0090, ext. 14. -- By Marlaina Gray
Fright Night Festivities
There's nothing especially scary about Vizcaya, what with the sunny courtyard and manicured gardens more enchanted than haunted. But come Halloween the place is overflowing with ghouls, ghosts, and goblins, not to mention some witches, nerds, hippies, and the usual pimps and hoes. After 17 years the annual Halloween Sundowner bash at Vizcaya is attracting as big a crowd as ever -- 3000 last year -- with a costume party, a live band and DJ, lots of wicked brew, and a host of young professionals in something other than standard hipster black. The fun runs from 8:00 p.m. to midnight at 3251 S. Miami Ave. Admission is $85. Call 305-856-4866. -- By John Anderson
A place for pets to rest
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Hollywood has Forest Lawn Cemetery, final resting place for celebrities like Bette Davis, Lucille Ball, and Liberace. Miami has Oak Lawn Pet Cemetery, last stop for canines, felines, rodents, and other critters who went by names like Fido, Lady, and Spot. Run by the Humane Society of Greater Miami (2101 NW 95th St.), Oak Lawn, established in 1940, is home to about 400 animals and even some humans who wanted to be buried near their loved one. The difference between Oak Lawn and a run-of-the-mill pet burial site? Oak Lawn is nonprofit, meaning you won't be lining someone's wallet when you put Rover in that mahogany casket. Ground burials begin at $250. Gravesites can be designated with a granite marker, monument, or vase. If you prefer not to put your pet ferret six feet under, Oak Lawn also offers cremation services, which begin at $120. You may buy an urn for the ashes or scatter them in a consecrated area on the cemetery grounds. Those funds support the clinical services, pet adoption, and more the HSGM provides at little or no cost. Call 305-696-0800, ext. 122. -- By Nina Korman
Transylvania is a long way from Wynwood. But for a vampire, traveling 5793 miles to the subtropical point where ghetto cafecito meets conceptual art is a quick jaunt around the corner. In a blink of an eye, the bloodsucking Prince of Darkness emerges barrio-style at Dracula Video Rentals (3210 NW 2nd Ave.) During the day he can be seen enshrined in the store's yellow plastic signage. His fangs imply, "I vant to suck your blooooood." At night ... well, he can be lurking anywhere. The owners of the store have been doing brisk business. Why did they name the business Dracula? Because it's bad -- as in badass bad. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez