You shouldn't even think about throwing a party without free-flowing wine and a glorious cheese platter. But how much do you really know about cheese? Ars Magirica: The Art of Cooking (158 Almeria Ave., Coral Gables) has a new addition to its culinary course load, a cheese appreciation class. Hailing from Murray's Cheese Shop in New York City, Rachel Klebaur is prepared to teach you cheese fundamentals, including discovering the delights of raw milk cheeses, artisanal versus industrial, and different cheese categories. You will also receive training on creating the perfect cheese plate, and no, that doesn't mean opening a couple of packages of cheese cubes and arranging them with frilly toothpicks on Fiestaware. The class costs $65, and there will be plenty of samples provided by Gardner's Market. Call 305-443-8303, or visit www.arsmagirica.com. (LO)
The culturally dry summer months are winding down and the fall crop of classical musicians and prima ballerinas is beginning to bud all over town. Tonight the X Anniversary International Ballet Festival of Miami '05 kicks off at 8:00 with the unveiling of the festival poster (La Luna en Manos de la Danza by Cuban artist Jesus Selgas) and cocktail reception at the Tower Theater (1508 SW Eighth St., Miami; 305-642-1264). Tickets cost five dollars. The festival, which runs through September 18, features a film series in addition to sensational dance performances staged from Miami to West Palm Beach. The dance film series begins tonight at 10:00 at the Tower Theater with the Miami premiere of The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinksy, directed by Paul Cox. (Additional films will be screened at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, 512 Española Way, Miami Beach.) Visit www.miamihispanicballet.com for a complete schedule and event locations. (LO)
Girls, are you ready for some football? Oh, we know there are females out there who don't like football, and we just don't get it. Boys (most of them) like football, and girls (most of us) like boys, so don't fight the coming season -- embrace it. Underneath those helmets and pads are some hot guys: Chris Chambers, A.J. Feeley, and Jason Taylor are as fun to watch on the sidelines as they are on the field. Still not convinced? Go to tonight's game to see the Miami Dolphins take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both teams are coming off dismal losing seasons (4-12 for the Dolphins; 5-11 for the Bucs) and entering anniversary seasons (Happy 40th, Dolphins! Happy 30th, Bucs!), so you know these boys are hungry for a win, even if it's just the preseason. Besides, Buccaneers Ronde Barber, Mike Alstott, and rookie Carnell "Cadillac" Williams are hot too. Kickoff is at 7:30 at Dolphins Stadium, 2269 Dan Marino Blvd., Miami. Tickets start at $25. Call 305-573-8326, or visit www.miamidolphins.com. (LO)
This VMA weekend, instead of gazing longingly at the rented pimpmobiles cruising down Ocean Drive, admire some amazing whips at a closer range. 305 Vibes & Rides III offers a unique experience. Besides awarding trophies for the coolest car, truck, and bike, the event will include a bikini contest, stereo competition, and musical performances by Smitty, Pitbull, and Special Ed. Car show culture features some unique beefs, according to event organizer Gilbert Fonticoba. "We have this battle going on between the Dodge Neons," he says. "You'd be surprised the kinds of cars that get tricked out." Vehicles are embellished with candy paint, giant rims, and TV screens wherever they can fit -- in the steering wheel, the glove compartment, even in the gas tank. "I mean, who'd even see the TV in there?" Fonticoba laughs. The car show begins at noon at the Polish American Club of Miami, 1250 NW 22nd Ave, Miami. The concert begins at 5:00. Registration costs $27 in advance, $35 on event day. Admission is $10. Call 305-333-1112, or visit www.carshowking.com. (PEGY)
There's a hilarious skit on Da Ali G Show, in which the character Borat, from Kazakhstan, volunteers to work on a Republican house-to-house voter canvassing effort. When a woman answers the door, Borat demands to see the man of the house. Why? Because the idea of women voting is ludicrous to him. Maybe in Kazakhstan, buddy, but in America women won the right to vote back in 1920. To celebrate Women's Equality Day and the 85th anniversary of women's suffrage, come to a special screening of Sisters of '77. The eye-opening PBS documentary traces the historic first National Women's Conference, where 20,000 united to ultimately determine the future of the women's movement in America. Come early for a wine and cheese reception that begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Bill Cosford Cinema, University of Miami, Dooley Memorial Building, 1111 Memorial Dr., Coral Gables. Tickets cost $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Reservations are recommended. Call 305-284-0118, or visit www.womensfundmiami.org. (PEGY)
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Ah, breakfast. The most important meal of the day. You should begin with some eggs for protein and carbs for energy. How do pancakes sound? Delicious. Now how about a little joy juice? At Lotus Bistro & Lounge (1320 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach), you can get the party started early during its happy hour breakfast special that runs from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. With its two-for-one mimosa deal for a mere $7.50, you can't go wrong. For those of you who like to drink at more traditional hours, Lotus also offers drink specials in the afternoons between 3:00 and 4:00, and at night from 7:00 to 9:00. Call 305-673-1552. (PEGY)
If you haven't heard, Wednesday is the new Thursday. More and more clubs, lounges, and restaurants are offering Wednesday-night specials to satiate your midweek partying needs. In the Design District, Wine Down Wednesdays at The District (35 NE 40th St., Miami) offer a little something for everyone: live music, great food, fine wines (for the nominal price of $15 a bottle), and a film screening in the cozy, red velvet VIP room. Tonight you can munch on free popcorn with your Frei Brothers Reserve Pinot Noir or Ravenswood Vintners Blend Chardonnay (popular choices in the past) as you watch the movie. Event coordinator Lowry Brescia promises to keep this semimonthly event fresh by mixing in documentary and indie films. Admission is free. Call 305-576-7242, or visit www.thedistrictmiami.com. (LO)
By Lyssa Oberkreser and Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik