I enjoy a magazine as much as the next person, so it was with more than a modicum of interest that I pulled the glossy 49-page publication from my mailbox: Azul: The Magazine For Living The Good Life. At first I thought it might just be a coincidence that the name was the same as that of the restaurant at Miami’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Unfortunately, it was not a coincidence at all, which I discovered rather quickly -- not from the photo of the dining room on the cover, as this is generic enough to be just about any hotel restaurant with a waterfront -- but from the first article listed at the bottom left of the page: ”Adventurous Spirit: What Inspires Chef Clay Conley."
The table of contents promises other compelling articles, such as “Cooking With Conley,” “Taste! Chef Clay Conley And Sommelier Cynthia Betancourt Mix It Up,” and “Introducing Azul maitre d’ Patrick Calvarese.” Lest you fret that the writing is, well, a bit on the boring side, let me assure you that it definitely does make for dull reading, but there are lots of photos. And some recipes.
The stated mission of this biannual publication is for us, the readers, to be "introduced to the talented people who have made Azul a tremendous success in Miami.” Now that we’ve been introduced, won’t Conley and crew have to be replaced in order to provide some fresh fodder for the next issue?
Speaking of which: This being the premier issue of Azul means that it is likely to be what we call in the business “a keeper”. May be worth a fortune one day. Before I put it on ebay and sell it for God knows how much, I’ll give you lucky readers a chance to make an offer. Bidding starts at $20 or a cocktail at Azul (hint: you’ll save money by choosing the former).
-- Lee Klein