Will the weather gods smile on us this weekend? After a week of bizarre wind events and hail as far south as Hollywood, our fingers are crossed for a calm, clear-skied two day respite. The rain can recommence on Monday, so long as we get to enjoy the moonlit dinner series at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne (455 Grand Bay Dr., Key Biscayne). The hotel's sprawling campus and waterfront setting make it an ideal date spot, and Saturday night's expected lunar eclipse should make this an unforgettable evening. This Saturday and Sunday, the hotel's two restaurants will up the romantic ante by embarking upon a culinary award tour of their various regions of expertise.
The outdoorsy and informal Cantina Beach will kick off the series with the unique cuisine of Veracruz, Mexico. The four-course dinner will include empanadas filled with crab meat and served with avocado tomatillo salsa, and the entree is roasted chicken and peanut chile sauce. Que rico. The restaurant's tequilier, Tiberio Lobo-Navia, will be on hand to suggest tequila to go with the dreamy outdoor feast.
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At the neighbouring Cioppino, the chef will indulge in the native cuisine of Sicily. Unique seafood dishes, including grilled mullet with fennel and blood orange salad, and breaded sword fish with lemon caper sauce will be the order of the night. An evening on the outdoor terrace at this posh establishment don't come cheap — the four-course dinner and wine pairing at Cioppino costs $115 per person, and a three-course dinner and tequila pairing at Cantina Beach cost $95. But that's a small price to pay for the magic of moonglow and exotic, expertly prepared cuisine. Call 305-365-4286. --Patrice Yursik