August Wines

Is August really the dog days of summer? Not bloody Mary likely. In Miami the second half of August is shaping up to be more like the hair-of-the-dog days of summer. To wit: Restaurants like Café Del Mar in Miami Shores and Titanic Brewery and Restaurant have both reached seemingly unattainable goals: They've been granted liquor licenses in addition to their beer-and-wine permits. Indeed the latter is planning an open bar on August 16 to celebrate the landmark occasion. Well drinks and house beers will be free, but two caveats: The alcohol will flow only from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. and again from 11:00 p.m. till midnight in the bar and lounge area, and you'll need to know the secret password to get the goods, which is available via the most recent copy of Brewmail, the restaurant's e-mail newsletter. And yes, I'm a subscriber, but don't look to me for help: I'm not about to spill the beers. All the more for me.

If you're in the mood to spend a little cash, take your wallet and $130 per person (includes tax and tip) to Norman's on August 24th. That's when Wolfe's Wine Shoppe will be hosting an Alsatian wine dinner -- on a Saturday night, no less. Guess Van Aken's new deal has made him so happy he's willing to sponsor the dinner during the busiest night of the week. Either that or he's into the bottlings from the Alsace region. And who wouldn't be? Especially when he can create food-and-wine pairings such as: Brazilian xinxim with crab, lobster, and scallops with mojo verde and Z-H Riesling Clos Hauserer, 1997; citrus-cured foie gras au torchon with toasted cumin brioche and organic micro-greens, and Kuentz-Bas Tokay Pinot Gris "Cuvée Caroline" VT 1997; and grilled breast of duck with crispy braised pulled duck, yam and boniato mash, plantain crema and black truffle essence, and Ostertag Pinot Gris Fronholz, 1997. Reserve at Wolfe's Wine Shoppe (305-445-4567) and don't worry -- Jeffrey Wolfe won't make you pronounce anything but your name and credit card number.

You say sake, I say Doraku, where the inaugural rice-wine dinner will debut on August 27 from 7:00 till 9:00 p.m. For a mere $35 -- and no, I'm not being snide, that really is a bargain -- patrons will receive a five-course meal, each paired with a different premium sake. But don't be intimidated, because the sake sommelier -- and no, I'm not being snide, there really is such a person on staff -- will guide you through the ahi poke, the spicy-crunchy salmon roll, and the miso black cod. For dessert you can spoon up the green tea ice cream in between sips of signature pineapple sake or combine the two into a float the likes of which you've yet to see at Parmalat. And no, I'm not being catty, I'm just planting some seeds for future gelato gestations. Reservations are available at 305-695-8383.

Those of us who are still standing can congratulate ourselves by making it to September. And reward ourselves by attending the conclusion of Chef Allen Susser's "Summer Passport Series" wine dinners on September 4. The theme for the final dining room traveler is Brazil, which Chef Allen's honors with dishes such as mussel, mango, and breadfruit moqueca teamed with 1999 Byron Santa Maria Chardonnay and Amazonian fish, shrimp, and potato stew washed down with the 1999 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Reserve. But don't make the mistake of thinking the light wines will make for an equivalently feathery kind of meal -- the five-course dinner, which sells for an all-inclusive $65 per diner, concludes with churrasco and banana frita, highlighted by the 1999 La Famiglia di Robert Mondavi Sangiovese, and a pineapple upside-down cake, to be savored with La Famiglia di Robert Mondavi Moscato Bianco. The dinner is sponsored by Crown Wine & Spirits, but reservations are confirmed only by calling the top toque's culinary denizen at 305-935-2900.

What's that you say? Too many wine dinners? That's easily remedied by a champagne breakfast. Or do as I do and not as I say and skip the breakfast part.


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