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For local food lovers Miami Spice has been an exciting, much-anticipated event. And for good reason -- restaurants that typically charge a pretty penny for fancy dishes offer prix fixe menus which allow diners on a budget to feast in fine style. This year the culinary program is bigger and better than ever. "We're integrating Miami Spice into national trade events, and we did a four-page promotion in Food & Wine magazine," boasts Rolando Aedo, vice president of marketing and tourism for the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, and organizer of Miami Restaurant Month. Fret not, gastronomes; even though Miami Spice has gained national exposure, there will be even more to eat and enjoy locally. Besides the special menus, there will be cooking demonstrations, charity dinner events, and wine tastings. Even better, the event's partnership with the Share Our Strength organization means that having a luxe meal at a participating restaurant will also benefit the United Way and help to feed the hungry and downtrodden.

Charitable work aside, Miami Spice is really about delicious food. The list of restaurants reads like a roster of the places to eat in Miami. China Grill, Norman's, Christy's, and Chef Allen's are just some of this year's participants. An exotic and affordable array of Chef-Farmer Dinners will support the Tropical Fruit Growers of South Florida. Besides dining out, you can learn how to make your own restaurant-quality meals at home during impressive in-store cooking demonstrations at Macy's Home Stores. You don't even have to leave your house to get Miami spicy, thanks to a series of live cooking segments on the Channel 6 (WCIX) morning show South Florida Today, which will feature some of Miami's finest chefs.


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