Next month's South Beach Wine & Food Festival may have Emeril. But this coming weekend's FAB Fest -- the long-running Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Taste of the Beach food festival, renamed this year to reflect a broadened international FAB (Food, Arts, Beverages) focus -- has Skippy. For gourmets more conversant with French food terms than Australian, Skippy is kangaroo meat. Free Skippy samples will be available at Australia's Down Under pavilion, along with exotic "snags" (Skippy sausages) for sale. Snags are probably the safer bet for not-so-adventuresome taste testers because Skippy becomes dry when cooked thoroughly enough to destroy possible parasites. Skippy's taste? Like a gamy venison when cooked rare. When done well, it more closely resembles a rodent-flavored cardboard packing carton.
A better bet: Stick with other featured Aussie specialties like barramundi (a river fish that's one of the world's tastiest), banana prawns (named because they turn yellow when cooked), and luscious meringue/fresh fruit/whipped cream Pavlovas. Or you can emigrate from Australia to taste treats from an International Tasting Tent or more than a dozen local restaurants scheduled to participate in the 2-day festival.
Best bet, though, may be to drink dinner. Only beverage samples are included in the $25-per-day price of a deceptive "all-inclusive" pass to either Saturday's open-to-the-public extravaganza or Friday's trade-oriented session. Most food, however, is not free. With about 2 dozen major wine/liquor distributors plus 58 breweries participating -- many of the latter serving up rare artisan beers like Rucking Mole, Old Slug Porter, and Barum Breakfast Beer (less stick-to-your ribs than Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout but still a rousing way to start the day) -- liquid-food dieters will not go hungry.
Also available is a $10 "designated driver" general ticket including admission to FAB Fest's all-afternoon/evening culinary demonstrations, lingerie and swimwear fashion shows, and musical entertainment, plus a DUI-proof J.P. Chenet sampling glass (empty).
The FAB Fest kicks off at noon today and runs through Sunday, February 8. Admission is $10 to $25. Call 305-754-5886. -- By Pamela Robin Brandt
At the Movies
Miami, "one of 4 entertainment capitals," including New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas? That's what the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival (NYIIFVF) is calling the Magic City. With yet another film festival targeting our town this year, it may very well be true. Actually it was the NYIIFVF's interest in developing the music side of its 6 yearly fests that led to making Miami a stop on the indie movie circuit. Therefore one of the 2 Coconut Grove screening rooms contracted out by the event will feature performances from bands and musicians from across the nation. Sure, the Miami International Film Festival will be going on, but what the heck? The NYIIFVF is probably the more egalitarian of the extravaganzas, featuring everything from sharp documentaries by local filmmakers (see Know the Truth) to amateur music videos. Screenings and performances run noon until midnight through Sunday, February 8, at AMC CocoWalk Theaters (3015 Grand Ave., 3rd level, Coconut Grove). Opening party goes on at 7:00 tonight at Artist in Residence Gallery, CocoWalk, 2nd level. Tickets range from $10 to $100. Call 866-468-7619 or see www.nyfilmvideo.com. -- By Victor Cruz
A little pollution with your produce?
Think of downtown Miami on most days and visions of bustling crowds, overpriced electronics stores, illogical one-way traffic, annoying double-parkers, and irritating road-hog county buses dance in your head. Well, a nonprofit organization made up of locals and known as the Downtown Miami Partnership is hell-bent on changing those negative perceptions that many of us have by creating a downtown welcome center, beautifying façades, and sponsoring programs to remove ugly things like menacing shutters. Now they're trying to convince us that Saturday should be market day in the heart of the city. Yes, yet another Farmers' Market has cropped up, this time on Flagler Street and Miami Avenue. From 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. you can get your fill of fruits, veggies, bread, jam, baked goods, flowers, and plants, including the ubiquitous lucky bamboo. Let's hope the latter really does the trick for the area. Call 305-370-7070. -- By Nina Korman
History in Black and White
The good old days were not so good. Just look at some of the footage the Florida Moving Image Archive collects and you too will be reminded of the pall of bigotry, police brutality, and institutional racism that has plagued modern society. Pulling its material from newscasts from the 1950s and '60s, the archive is showing several clips about the civil rights movement in Miami and the rest of Florida. The month-long series of films continues today with "FYI: The Scandal of Our Slum" and "Outlook: The Second City," a compilation of images that depict the deplorable living conditions of the slums of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Other topics include the debate over integrating Delray Beach, red-lining development, and a 1963 WCKT-TV interview with James Baldwin. Different programs will be shown every Tuesday and Thursday throughout February at 1:00 p.m. at the Miami-Dade Public Library, 101 W. Flagler St. Admission is free. Call 305-375-1505. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez