Monday, August 30, 2010

Affordable Beefcake Served Up in South Florida

south florida firefighters calendarCover boy Eddy on the left (City of Miami Fire Department) and month of July Rafael (Monroe County Fire Rescue).

They're back! The South Florida Firefighters Calendar 2010 team launched this year's calendar last week much to the joy of women all over South Florida. Sex and the Beach attended one of the launch events at The Clevelander Hotel in South Beach, where there was not one dry panty in sight.

We interviewed cover boy Eddy from the City of Miami Fire Department but our audio got kinda screwed, probably from the sound of rushing hormones. But trust us when we tell you he's a good guy, married with kids and one hundred percent dedicated to the cause, which isn't just eye candy for the ladies, but to support Here's Help and A Safe Haven For Newborns, as well as other local charities. Now that's $17 well spent to honor the hot hunks who save lives and put out fires everyday. Just think of all the silly stuff you spend $17 on and here's the gift that keeps on giving ... well, at least for 12 months! I mean come on, even short-lived Miami Spice doesn't serve this kind of beefcake.

Don't fret ladies, you can still get your calendar signed at many upcoming events in South Florida. It's great to meet the guys in person. If you have a man, leave him at home -- he'll be utterly bored -- as were many yawning males at The Clevelander. This is strictly a girl's thing. Gather your girlfriends and go.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Travel: Going Solo

sunset view hyatt key westThe sunset is there for everyone to enjoy ... the view from Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa, off the beaten path from Mallory Square.

What with the movie Eat Pray Love coming out around the same time as my first press trip in years, I got to thinking about the value of traveling solo. Ladies, while it helps to get out of your comfort zone, you don't need to go to Italy, India or Bali to feel at peace with yourself. What you do need is an opportunity to get away from all the things that keep you from searching within, which is really one of Elizabeth Gilbert's core messages in the book. She was, of course, literally traveling, but she was also going to those scary places inside where we are forced to look at a mirror and be real.

I see it around me all the time -- women who are anxious for some hole to be filled by a penis, by companionship, by distraction -- heck, I know one woman who doesn't even like to go to the bathroom by herself when she's at a restaurant or a club. But why? If you're not comfortable in your skin anywhere, you sure as hell aren't going to be fully and completely at peace even with another person to keep you from the dreaded space of solitude.

I had debated about bringing a friend along for my Keys trip, but the truth is, the best traveling companion I could have on this particular journey was me. And I don't mean this in a narcissistic way; traveling solo isn't about selfish navel gazing. Think about it: how much of your relationship is just anxiety about how the other is not fulfilling your needs? Why are you depending, co-depending, on someone else to make you whole? Heck, how many relationships do we know that are just two people having a navel-gazing contest? The bottom line is this: if you are not comfortable with you, why should anyone else be?

An old friend of mine, a gay guy in his 40s, told me not long ago that he had been postponing a trip to Buenos Aires because he was waiting for that special someone to join him. You know what? He went on that trip by himself finally! Good for him! Why, why wait? Why postpone that world oyster when you can have it, enjoy it? That pleasure is here and now. Don't wait for love to travel. Love yourself first.

Which brings me to my point: traveling solo is an opportunity to step aside, enjoy solitude and make yourself a better person for those you love and love you in return. If you can turn that sense of lack (that voice in your head that says "Oh my god, I can't do this by myself") to the incredibly liberating sense of freedom that comes with traveling solo, what then couldn't you accomplish with the right relationships in your life?

By giving yourself the gift of solitude, even the gift of silence, you prepare your spirit for sharing. Solitude isn't the same as loneliness. Loneliness is a crowded space full of negativity. Loneliness is driven by ego. (How many times have you felt lonely right after making love to the person you thought you loved the most?) No, no, none of that. Solitude isn't a bad thing. It's an empty space filled with boundless possibility. It's where you can recharge, reboot and become a better version of you. It's a playground -- a laboratory for fulfillment.

For me, traveling in that Chevy down to Key West, turning off the radio (and that was hard, because I really loved the comedy channels on Sirius XM), seeing the vast expanse of ocean and gulf before me -- none of that was lonely at all. A feeling of plenitude invaded my heart every moment of this trip.

hawk's cay strawberries almaStrawberries and cream, prepared impromptu by a bartender at Hawk's Cay. Service is pretty friendly in the Florida Keys. All the more reason to travel solo to this destination.

It's in these moments where we can really rewrite our stories on a blank slate, recreate and reinvent what we really want for ourselves as women. Nobody else, no man, no friend, no institution, no new pair of shoes, no beauty treatment can give this to you ... only you.

Yes, there are financial limitations that keep us from traveling and of course we must consider going to places that are safe for women. But other than that, what do you do in your daily life to instantly "travel" to a place where you can really be you? Do you truly relish what you are eating or do you obsess about calories? Can you be present in the moment with a simple meal, as if you were on vacation? Can you find pleasure in all the little things? Do you pray, do you focus, do you stop for a moment and express gratitude? Do you love, wholly, fully and embrace everything, including the hurt, the betrayals, the credit card bills, the flab, everything?

This is living in plenitude. This is rich. This is abundance. Feeling love no matter where you are or who you are with, but above all, even when you are alone and then of course realizing that even without a soul in the room, you are never, really truly alone. You don't need a passport for this experience. You don't need to get on a plane. We all have the ability to go solo every day.

captain roger from FloridaysCaptain Roger from Floridays, during a sunset cruise. Rachel Ray is right -- really do talk to the locals. They give great tips!

It's not the great conversations I had with strangers while in Key West (by the way, some of the friendliest people in the world). It's not the food I thoroughly enjoyed, dining solo (by the way, if you are traveling solo, don't hesitate to ask restaurants for half portions!). It's not the walks down Duval Street. It's not the laughs at the drag queen show. It's not even my own insatiable wanderlust. No matter where I am, I'm always at home in my heart. And even when I'm not traveling, even in my own city, I'm finding that adventure of being alive on my own, balancing welcome solitary moments with the time I share with beloved souls.

I don't need to tell you that of course, it's wonderful to go places with a compatible travel companion -- maybe somebody you don't mind sharing a bathroom with and who likes the same kinds of activities and attractions. But that's not really the issue here. Don't be afraid to go at it alone. Be brave. Be you. Enjoy what you got and make the most of it, even if it's a day trip ... bring leftovers and that sense of plenitude back home with you.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Silicone Bitch: Social Media Hits Category Busy This Summer

News and notes about the South Florida social media and blogging scene, with a little tech thrown in for good measure. And maybe some other random events, too.

Meteorologists try to predict how active each hurricane season will be with scientific knowledge and instruments, but no such gauge exists for social media. The point: no one who was involved in the local social media scene last year could have predicted how busy summer 2010 would be! So here we go ... lots of tidbits to share since our last post and that's just scratching the surface.


coworking south florida fort lauderdaleA new co-working space is opening up in Fort Lauderdale, according to Willie Morris. Coworking is an international movement based on the idea that you don't have to rent an entire office but you can share it with other small business entrepreneurs and freelancers. It also helps folks who work independently get over the inevitable sense of cabin fever that comes with working from home. Even independent contractors want a rock pile to go to sometimes.

Miami's original space is Brikolodge and now Fort Lauderdale will get into the coworking groove on 1109 Las Olas. There's an open house until September 1st. Look for the sign that says TSDG. Read more at Willie Morris.


truly nolen mouse car paradeThe Mouse Car Parade hosted by Truly Nolen was a smashing success though no bugs were squashed in the process. After a trip down A1A around Fort Lauderdale Beach, a visit to the Discovery Museum and lunch at Pizza Fusion, parade participants ended up at Butterfly World where yours truly learned from Barry the Bug Guy that South Florida's infamous Palmetto Bugs aren't exactly real!


One of my fave blog darlings, Jewel, is singing to a sweeter note with a Chevy-sponsored cupcake crawl on August 28. Stop by her blog and let her know why you deserved to load on sugar while driving a Chevylicious car!


Carlos Miller posted an article about social media pizza king Craig Agranoff and his wildly popular tweetups over at Miami Beach 411.


My blogging workshop at Preemo on August 7th went really well. It was a small group, which was great, because we had a chance to focus on each blogger's individual needs -- something that I had done ahead of time by speaking to each participant over the phone before the workshop. The participants were outstanding: a professional blogger wanting to break out on her own creative topics; a successful real estate agent and former journalist; a former broadcast journalist and current communications professional; a PR professional; and a clinical social worker on leave.

One thing I learned as a teacher (a good teacher is always a student) is how closely our blogs are related to our lives. I know that seems obvious, but take a moment to think about it ... it matters so much when you are about to embark on a publishing project of this nature.

Below is a slide show from the workshop. Many topics came up that aren't mentioned in the slide show. Although guided by each slide, the workshop flowed smoothly in a very organic manner with lecture and discussion.

The next workshop, by popular request, will be about all the bells and whistles of blogging, such as using Digg, posting pictures from Flickr, etc; This workshop will take place sometime at the end of September. Stay tuned.


Patrick Barbanes and I will be presenting a FREE panel on "Social Media and Blogging For Your Entrepreneurship," hosted by the South Florida Freelance Network, August 24 at 6:30 PM in Plantation. More information at


social chatsA media player for my Tuesday broadcasts is now ready. Show director and co-host Tonya Scholz and I have been broadcasting for nearly two months now and having a blast talking about social media as well as local personalities, events and restaurants, plus more, including favorite topic "the South Florida cougar." We've been all over the tri-county area so far from Sugarcane Raw Bar in Midtown Miami to Reef Road Rum Bar in West Palm Beach and several Boca hot spots in between. You can scroll through all the shows in the archive here.


And don't forget, you can always learn about more events at the OE Calendar.

Photo Credits
Coworking Space: Willie Morris
Mouse Car Parade: Blanca Stella on Flickr

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Food: Spaghettigasms at Scarpetta

Scarpetta spaghetti
Spaghetti at Scarpetta: the best things in life don't have to be complicated.

There's a group of folks I've recently met whose acquaintance is making it an even greater pleasure to live here in South Florida. The foodies are a motley crew from different walks of life with three things in common: a love of good eats, good drinks and good company.

Many of the foodies are great bloggers and writers, including, but not limited to: South Florida Food and Wine Blog, Mango and Lime, A La Maude, Ergagit, Sushi Pro and even my former landlord (what a small world!), who delights us on Facebook with gorgeous pictures of his latest kitchen wizardry.

My first opportunity to break bread with the South Florida Foodies was at Scarpetta, Miami's version of the New York City original, founded by Chef Scott Conant. In Italian, scarpetta means that thing we all love to do -- scoop up really good sauce with bread. Well, this restaurant is a bit fancier than a sop-up-sauce kind of place, but the food is just as good as if your grandma had been standing behind the stove stirring the pot. And I don't mean an old school grandma, but rather a grandma with gourmet flair who understands style and substance all rolled up in one mouthful.

Which brings me directly to the spaghetti. Yes, spaghetti. Simple spaghetti. Simple, yet bursting on my tongue with rich, buttery tomato sauce and fresh basil. Scarpetta's version of the classic dish makes me want to return to this luxuriously decorated oceanfront restaurant, the food on the plate reminding me that no matter how elegant a place is, that stuff I'm putting in my mouth better stick to my ribs. I loved this spaghetti so much for its comfort food quality, that all pretension was thrown out the window. Hopefully that didn't smack a fashion model sunbathing by the pool. So enamored did I become of this dish, that I thought of nominating handsome Scott Conant for hurricane season boyfriend; availed of fresh ingredients, I bet he could whip up something just as good over a sterno in the candlelight. Sorry, Chef Boyardee, though you come in a can, a seasoned hurricane pro aspires to much finer cuisine de aftermath.

(Actually, I'd have nominate Chef Michael Pirolo, who was in the kitchen the night of our sumptuous repast.)

Although Scarpetta serves much more than pasta (the noodles themselves made fresh on the premises, of course), it was this dish that lingered on my tongue's memory. Others I'd love to have an affair with, heck, even put up with tourists in the lobby for, would be the creamy polenta with the fricassee of truffled mushrooms, as well as the braised short ribs. Additional melt-in-your-mouth goodness could easily be found in the duck and foie gras ravioli with a marsala reduction.

And the cocktails. Yes, the cocktails. Go to this place even if you don't want to eat. As far as I know, there's no other bar like this in Miami Beach, mixing up vintage style cocktails that transport you to the streets of Rome wearing a fabulous scarf, big sunglasses and riding a Vespa to meet your intolerably sexy Italian lover. If you like whetting your appetite with drinks a bit on the bitter side, you'll love the San Remo, which is a blissful mix of Carpano Antica, Campari, elderflower liqueur, bourbon, fresh orange juice and fresh lemon sour, served on the rocks. It's like Audrey Hepburn on ice -- sassy and sophisticated with a dash of down-to-earth.

Luckily for us locals, Scarpetta is serving its signature spaghetti and other favorites during Miami Spice until September 30th at a reasonable cost of $35. Don't be intimidated by the lumbering tower and cavernous hallways of this resort property -- somewhere in there is that amazing bowl of spaghetti calling your name. And hey you don't even have to mortgage the house to park the car -- during Miami Spice, valet is only $7 with ticket stub validation.

Photo credit: Yogma on Flickr

Friday, August 06, 2010

Ignorance Is Bliss, Especially When It Comes to Football

football michael irvin fort lauderdale

Earlier this week, I was enjoying an orgiastic bounty of incredible food at Tokyo Blue in Fort Lauderdale with good friends. Toward the end of dinner, a tall, muscular man rolled in on a wheelchair with a pair of crutches on his side and sat down at the table next to us. Immediately, my friends started sharing wily glances and speaking in hushed tones.

"Who the fuck is that guy? What are you talking about?" I asked. "He's a football star," one replied.

This meant nothing to me because my closest connection to football was when I lived with Sir Fish A Lot an entire lifetime ago; every September, I would dutifully accept the role of football widow and take off to Tahiti with the Pool Boy until Superbowl was over. So on this night at Tokyo Blue, I kept dipping my chopsticks in the luscious miso-glazed black cod, not giving a rat's ass about Mr. Famous Football Player.

Next thing I know, the den of drunken cougars sitting behind us pounced on this guy like an injured deer, except they didn't exactly prey on him. They worshiped him, squatting down in their mini-skirts in the most grotesque display of fawning I have ever seen outside of a midget burlesque show.

You see, Mr. Famous Football Player was indeed injured and there would be none of this being polite and standing up business, though he did try. So the cougars had to stoop to his belly button level and not without ulterior motive: he had one glorious sinewy leg wrapped in a cast around what was obviously a fetching calf muscle. A whole shank of Mr. Famous Football Player was resting on the wheelchair! You'd think it was part of the menu, too, right there next to Kobe Beef with a side of sautéed onions. I think one of the cougars, surely a cast member from Housewives of Las Olas, was ready to start gnawing Mr. Famous Football Player's leg to the bone.

"Wow, this guy must be really famous," I thought. "Flag the manager and bring lobster bibs. The blond is drooling and this guy isn't even that young!"

Well, after a while, some invisible referee of chatter must have forced the cougars to go sit at the sidelines, but not before I started to feel sorry for poor Mr. Famous Football Player. I mean the guy was there to enjoy a meal in peace and quiet. I used to blog for a paparazzi company and during my brief tenure there, I became pretty disgusted with everything celebrities have to put up with -- though it is the price they pay for fame and fortune.

Soon enough, I started the inevitable lapse into a food coma, my palette still twitching in tonguegasms from the taste of divine curry and coconut. It was impossible to hide the tell-tale yawning of a meal well had. Mr. Famous Football Player noticed. He looked at me, smiled and started talking. "Shit," I thought to myself. "The music is pumping and maybe I need a hearing aid. I can't hear a damn thing he's saying."

"I have to drive back to Miami," I said audibly. He replied at length but I still couldn't make out his words.

I didn't want to be rude. He was clearly addressing me. So what did I do? I went over, pulled up a chair and had the nicest conversation with Michael Irvin, Fort Lauderdale born, former Dallas Cowboy and Pro Football Hall of Famer, not knowing who the fuck he was or what he did or why he was so famous. He's a University of Miami alumni just like me, to boot, which I didn't know at the time, of course. Irvin was really down to earth and quite pleasant. He even asked questions about me and I'm usually the nosy one interviewing everybody. I suppose I could have continued chatting but then I remembered he was there to eat. "Imma let you finish dinner," I said. "Bon appetit! I hope your leg heals soon."

So there you go. Sex and the Beach inadvertently talked to Michael Irvin and wasn't even part of the fan club. I honestly wanted to be discreet about the encounter but one of my dining companions busted loose on Twitter, after which I thoroughly enjoyed a ribbing from my football savvy followers.

This post is dedicated to South Florida's sexiest and most faithful Dallas Cowboys fan, @agustinap, who insisted I tell the story because it might be a big deal or something.

PS I wasn't exaggerating when I suggested the meal was fantastic at Tokyo Blue -- worth the drive to Galt Ocean Drive although you'd never know this restaurant was there, tucked away in a row of condo hotels. Read more about the food at Sushi Pro.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Broward Woman Goes on Dating Spree

I first heard about Claudia's dating project when an acquaintance told me I should do the same. "Hey, you should do 30 dates in 30 days in Miami," he chatted on Facebook. I replied: "Are you out your mind? That's crazy! What the fuck are you talking about?"

It turns out that 30 Dates in 30 Days is the brainchild of Broward-based Claudia, a Texas via New York transplant who wants to explore the treacherous waters of dating on the eve of her thirtieth birthday. Yeah, you heard it right: the goal is to cram thirty dates into the month of August, starting today, on the 1st. She's not necessarily looking to bang out thirty dates with thirty different men, mind you, but it's still a whopper of a social experiment! Speed dating on steroids. Boot camp with a chance of booty.

claudia of see claudia date I knew I just had to meet the woman behind this project. It's Claudia, a lovely, friendly and easy-going gal I had the pleasure of sharing a couple of pints with in Fort Lauderdale last week. As with so many women I know, her looks and personality beg the universal question: "How can someone so pretty and nice not have a date?"

Claudia's stance on relationships is not that of a desperate, needy chick. Some ladies are serial daters because they're very insecure; heaven forbid they should spend a moment alone. Claudia didn't come across like that. And before you say she's doing this because she's an attention whore, think again! I've even met married women who are the biggest drama queens -- consummate cock blockers with no consideration for us single sisters. Claudia didn't come across like that either. She seemed content, like someone reaching a milestone who probably just wants to push the envelope of fate a little. And I do feel for her: when you're a confident woman with a conscience that extends beyond your vagina, it's even harder to find a good man in South Florida. It's the bimbos who easily score dates and Claudia is no bimbo.

Being a jaded South Floridian, I thought I'd give Claudia twelve tips for dating in the nation's dicktip.

1) One of Claudia's challenges is even scheduling thirty dates. Why not try checking in to Foursquare and seeing who's hanging out at all the bail bond shops on Andrews Avenue?

2) If he says he's taking you to the Everglades on a first date, run. Or bring bottled water, a compass and machete.

3) For extra protection, stop by a botanica in Hialeah for holy water and a Horatio Cane amulet.

4) Don't say you're a transplant; he might be after your kidney.

5) In Florida, an Ed Hardy shirt automatically means douchebag. When in doubt, shake his hand and check for tanning spray residue.

6) Make sure the only white powder on the table is salt.

7) And speaking of white powder, only meet in public places. This does not include the bathroom stalls at Yolo's.

8) South Florida is full of nursing homes, but they're not just for the elderly! Make sure he's not a pansy who needs nursing and frequent manicures.

9) Don't meet up at the same place on Las Olas every day. Cops will start to think you're a hooker.

10) Don't confuse "rum runner" with "drug runner" ... the former is a drink and the latter comes with a speedboat bigger than his house but only slightly smaller than his ego.

11) Broward County Clerk of Courts case search is your best friend! "So you have fifty speeding tickets" makes for a great ice breaker at the dinner table.

12) If he complains about you sharing your dating adventures in the public eye, tell him that "personal branding" is a fetish club in Dania.

Soon enough, Claudia will learn what it means to date South Florida style. It's just like hurricane season: hope for the best, but expect the worse.

Claudia is boldly going where few South Florida women have gone before! It would probably be easier to navigate all 300 miles of Fort Lauderdale's waterways on a paddleboard ... without a paddle. Sex and the Beach admires her courage and chutzpah!

Follow her adventure on See Claudia Date or on Twitter @seeclaudiadate. Sex and the Beach will do a follow up interview after date number thirty.