Brazil Comes to Tuyo for this week’s Miami Spice

Yesterday I forgot to take something out of the freezer to prepare for dinner last night. What to do?

How about Tuyo, a fusion restaurant on the top floor of the Miami Dade College’s Miami Culinary Institute just a few steps from our downtown condo? I have wanted to treat my daughter to dinner here ever since my first visit last month.

Sasha cheerfully took our last minute reservations, and we arrived in time to meet Chef John Roberts on the front steps. After being escorted to the eighth floor dining room, we looked over the current menu which changes seasonally. As much as possible, Tuyo uses organically grown and/or locally sourced ingredients in all of its dishes. We could not resist the Miami Spice menu, though. I also decided to include the optional wine pairing. In the interests of full disclosure, I am not a wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination, which is exactly why I like the wine pairing feature at Tuyo.

After ordering our selections, we were served warm crusty rolls and the amuse-bouche – a delicate lobster croquette topped with a key lime sauce. Next, we both had the African adobo rubbed tuna and avocado salsita served over thinly sliced cucumbers. At first, I was disappointed that the tuna seemed a bit bland… then the after-bite kicked in. The spice rub was not at all over-powering but it had just enough kick to make it a good complement to the avocado salsita. The appetizer was served with an Italian wine – “Firriato, Grillo Altavilla Della Corte, 2009.” Not only was the selection a nice accompaniment for the dish, it was a perfect wine for me, a light white wine that was slightly fruity without being too sweet.

For the main course, my daughter ordered the “Coconut Milk Stew ‘Vatapá’ with Shrimp, Grouper, Cashews, Citrus and Cilantro” which was served over rice. Not being very talkative, she did not give me much of a description other than “yum.” She was clearly too busy eating every last bite.

I ordered the Churrasco de São Paulo a la Parilla with Chimichurri Rojo and oh my goodness was it ever delicious! It was cooked to perfection and for a cut of beef that is often on the tough side, it practically melted in my mouth. The flavor was fabulous, too. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I asked our waiter and he confirmed that I was enjoying organic grass-fed beef. Without a doubt, healthier tastes better!

The wine accompanying this course was “Owen Roe, Sinister Hand, Grenache, Washington State, 2009.” As I warned earlier, I wouldn’t know a Merlot from a Cabernet, but I can tell you that the Grenache was delish. We also had a good giggle over the label, which naturally includes a drawing of a creepy-looking hand. (I know what wine I will be serving at my October party.)

One of my daughter’s favorite sweets in flan; mine is anything with dark chocolate. Needless to say the desserts were perfection: a simple flan on a caramel sauce garnished with a bit of crisp coconut, served with two Brazilian coconut “Kisses” on a side plate.

Tuyo is not an inexpensive restaurant. Even with the reduced prices for the Miami Spice menu, it was a bit over $120 for the two of us. But given the impeccable service, the lovely atmosphere and the quality organic ingredients, I think it was well worth it. In fact, I may even “forget” to defrost something for dinner again next week so we can see what Executive Chef Norman Van Aken has cooked up for the last two weeks of Miami Spice!

Miami Culinary Institute – great food, great fun and green!

Wednesday night’s monthly meeting of the US Green Building Council Miami branch combined virtually all of my passions – urban Miami, real estate, green building, sustainability & environmental consciousness, great food, and bubbly champagne. We met at the Miami Culinary Institute, located at 415 NE 2 AV in downtown Miami, for a short presentation by Chef John Richards, director of MCI. While we sipped our champagne, Chef John talked about the history and purpose of the Miami Culinary Institute.

MCI is part of Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus and was designed by Atkins North America. “A model of sustainability and urban stewardship, Miami Dade College’s eight-story Miami Culinary Institute has achieved LEED Gold certification. Atkins’ environmentally conscious approach to the building’s design included unique features such as rainwater harvesting, greywater harvesting from dishwashers, recycled solid composting for the institute’s vegetable gardens, low-consumption plumbing fixtures, and numerous recycled-content material selections—including high-end finishes.”

In addition to programs for degree-seeking MDC students and professional development courses for those in the industry, MCI also offers a wide variety of classes for anyone interested in improving their culinary skills, and that is what we did last night. Breaking into groups of four, each group prepared one course of the dinner that we ultimately enjoyed eating. With much laughter , my group learned how to prepare poached pear with champagne sabayon. Between separating the egg yolks with our hands and having a whisking race to finish the sauce, hilarity was the prime ingredient. (Did I mention we were sipping on champagne?)

With lessons and supervision provided by the ever-patient Chef Travis Jameson Starwalt, we also learned how MCI sources much of their food locally (within 350 miles), as well as minimizing, recycling and/or composting the waste. Many of the greens are grown in MCI’s on-site garden, while the delicious pork tenderloins came from Niman Ranch – described by Chef Travis as “a farm co-op that is raising and treating their animals with the utmost care and respect!”

The Miami Culinary Institute is also home to Tuyo, an award winning fusion restaurant on the top floor overlooking downtown Miami and the bay. Tuyo’ vision statement includes “embracing farm-to-table and sustainability practices that safeguard the health of the people and the planet.”

From the design of the structure to its on-going operation; from the Tuyo restaurant to the chefs teaching classes – the passion driving those involved with the Miami Culinary Institute was neatly expressed by Chef Travis when he told me, “It’s up to our generation to lead the charge in the war against commercialization and convenience.”

April is National Water Conservation Month

April is National Water Conservation month. This is particularly important in South Florida where we are experiencing the driest “dry season” in 80 years. What can we do to observe Water Conservation Month and to conserve water all year long?

First and most important, follow the emergency Water Shortage Order effective March 26th: “A two-day-a-week schedule for residential landscape irrigation throughout the District. Helping to relieve impacts on surface and groundwater sources, the order provides consistency for the District’s 7.7 million residents. It is also consistent with Florida’s neighboring water management districts and municipalities that are currently following a two-day watering schedule. Landscape irrigation accounts for half of all potable (drinking) water use in South Florida.” http://www.miamidade.gov/wasd/library/sfwmd_water_shortage.pdf

Exchange your standard showerhead for a high-efficiency water saving shower hear and reduce the water demand by at least 50%. It’s FREE! http://www.miamidade.gov/wasd/showerhead.asp

Replace your old toilet with a WaterSense-certified high-efficiency toilet (HET) and get up to a $50 rebate from Miami-Dade County. http://www.miamidade.gov/conservation/toilet_rebate.asp

Attend this month’s Rain Barrel Workshop on April 16 at Crandon Park starting at 1:00 p.m. The workshop is free and you can pre-register to purchase your own rain barrel for just $40. http://miami-dade.ifas.ufl.edu/environment/natural_resources.shtml

Get a FREE landscape irrigation evaluation and get rebates up to $400 per year (for a total of $1,200 per property) for recommended retrofits to make your irrigation system more water efficient. http://www.miamidade.gov/conservation/landscape_evaluation.asp

Participate in one of the many 2011 Baynanza events throughout Miami-Dade County. The annual Baynanza is a six-week calendar of clean-up days and environmental events that celebrate the Biscayne Bay and its surroundings. In addition to the famous Biscayne Bay Clean Up Day on April 16th, there are about 30 additional clean-up sites and many other events including a Bay Cruise on April 17 or an Eco Bike Tour on April 23, both at Deering Estates. http://www.miamidade.gov/derm/baynanza.asp

Let me know what you do for National Water Conservation Month!

Melanie Dawn’s Fav Five Green Businesses Serving Pinecrest Florida

I am frequently asked to write guest articles for Coldwell Banker’s “Insight Real Estate Blog” serving the Atlanta, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Florida markets. My recurring feature, called “Hear the Eco,” is about various green topics affecting the Miami-Dade real estate market.

In a recent four-part article, I wrote about my five favorite green businesses in or near the Village of Pinecrest. They are:

  • Evo’s green fast food: 9537 South Dixie Highway, Pinecrest
  • New Era Pest Control serving Pinecrest and all of Miami-Dade: 786-462-5912
  • Sudsies Drycleaner and Laundry (305-864-3279) / Dryeco Green Cleaners (877-7-Dryeco)
  • Staples: 9801 South Dixie Highway, Pinecrest
  • Whole Foods Market: 11701 South Dixie Highway, Pinecrest

For more details and links to these green businesses, visit the full article at Hear the Eco.

EPA: Multi-Family Housing Near Public Transit is Greener. Melanie Dawn: And in Miami, it’s Beautiful, too!

The EPA has just released a white paperconfirming what most of us know intuitively: multi-family housing located near public transportation is generally “greener” than any other type of housing.  Their graph tells the story very well:

It illustrates the two key points in the study about the relationship between housing style/location and energy consumption:

• “Choosing to live in an area with transportation options not only reduces energy consumption, it also can result in significant savings on home energy and transportation costs.”


• “Fairly substantial differences are seen in detached versus attached homes, but the most striking difference is the variation in energy use between single-family detached homes and multifamily homes, due to the inherent efficiencies from more compact size and shared walls among units.”

The EPA study also included a surprising correlation between proximity to public transportation and foreclosure rates:

“Location efficiency can contribute to or undermine a home’s affordability, and these impacts can also extend to a household’s financial stability. One analysis of some of the causes behind the U.S. financial crisis suggests that vehicle ownership and a lack of access to public transportation may be just as predictive of mortgage foreclosure rates as low credit scores and high debt-to-income ratios.”

In his 2010 book, “Foreclosing the Dream: How America’s Housing Crisis is Changing Our Cities and Suburbs,” Dr. William Lucy, professor of urban and environmental planning at the University of Virginia School of Architecture, said much the same thing:

““Location is more important than ever, and how location is interpreted has changed,” Lucy said.


With foreclosures and repossessions contributing to housing surplus predominantly in the outer suburbs and suburbs, these locations are not considered as being safe investments or as having good resale potential for 30- to 45-year-olds, who later need to sell for career advancement.”

Dr. Lucy and the EPA white paper also seem to be in agreement with other market studies that discuss the increasing demand for urban multi-family housing close to public transportation. The EPA study references a 2010 analysis completed by RCLCO and wrote, “that demographic changes are underway which are leading to rapid growth in the number of households without children. These households demonstrate a preference for more walkable, vibrant “urban” places with good transit access…”

In Miami we have been reading about this shift for several years now. In an October 2006 Miami Herald article by Elaine Walker, she talks to Allen and Stella Donelan about why they are moving to Downtown Dadeland:

“He also hates the hour-long commute to his U.S. Post Office job — he will cut that by two-thirds. With the Metrorail virtually next door, the Donelans plan to get rid of their second car.”

Multi-family housing located in “walkable” neighborhoods near public transportation and other amenities allows residents to save on transportation and other energy costs while living green.

And in Miami this means living on some of the most beautiful real estate anywhere in the country. The corridor from the northern edge of Downtown Miami, through Brickell, Coconut Grove, South Miami and Downtown Kendall/Dadeland boasts mid- and high-rise condominiums with Biscayne Bay views as well as attached and detached homes in tropical garden settings.

Search for Your Slice of Paradise

 

Top Ren Reasons to Install a Metal Roof – Even in Florida

metal roof melanie miamiA metal roof in South Florida may seem counter-intuitive. Under our summer sun, metal gets hot enough to cook an egg, right? But a metal roof actually reflects over 65% of the solar rays compared to only about 25% for asphalt shingle. And coated metal roofing also has a high degree of “thermal emittance,” which in plain English means they cool off fast. So here are the first of my top ten reasons to consider a metal roof in South Florida:

1. SAVE MONEY ON YOUR UTILITY BILLS: An Oak Ridge National Laboratory study reports that a metal roof can save homeowners up to 40 percent in summer cooling costs. EnergyStar.gov estimates that an ENERGY STAR rated metal roof can reduce peak cooling demand by 10-15 percent.

2. REBATES AND TAX CREDITS: Through the end of 2011, installing a metal roof qualifies for a 10% credit (up to $500) on the cost of the roofing materials. FPL offers a $0.45 per square foot rebate for qualifying metal roofs.

3. DURABILITY: Metal roofs can last well over 50 if properly maintained, and most manufacturers provide transferable warranties of at least 20 years. Metal roofing is resistant to fire, mildew, insects and rot.

4. SAFETY: Most metal roofs are rated to withstand hurricane winds of 110 mph to 130 mph winds – an important consideration in South Florida. Metal roofs are also fire and hail resistant, and many manufactures include fire, hail and wind protection guaranties.

5. REDUCE YOUR INSURANCE PREMIUMS: Homeowner’s insurance companies in at least 20 states (including Florida) provide wind, fire &/or impact discounts ranging from 18% to 35% off annual premiums.

6. ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY: Most metal roofing manufacturers use a minimum of 25% recycled content, and 98% of the finished product is recyclable. Asphalt shingles, by contrast, often contain asbestos which prohibits recycling under federal law. For new construction, a metal roof qualifies for credit towards LEED certification.

7. LIGHT WEIGHT: Metal roofing weighs as much as 75% less than slate, clay or concrete roofing, and approximately one-third less than asphalt shingle. This means homeowners will not be faced with additional structural requirements as can happen when switching to tile roofs; and your contractor may even recommend downsizing existing roof support.

8. BETTER INSTALLATION PROCESS: Metal roofs can be installed quicker than most other roofing systems, and can even be installed directly over the old asphalt roof. A metal roof is ideal for the minimally pitched roofs found on the MiMo style homes found in South Florida.

9. VARIETY OF COLORS AND STYLES: In addition to the classic standing seam style, metal roofs are now manufactured to look like regular shingles, barrel tile or even cedar shake. (See the photo above) So whatever style your home is, you can find a metal roofing style to compliment it.

10. INCREASE YOUR HOME’S RE-SALE VALUE: According to the 2005 “Residential Cost Handbook,” the appraised value of a home increases by $1.35 per square foot when a metal roof is installed. “Remodeling Magazine” reports that homes renovated with metal roofing gain between 1% to 6% in resale value over homes with asphalt roofing. It makes sense considering the long term transferable warranties, long life of the roofing system, lower maintenance costs and the substantial energy savings. A quality metal roof brings added beauty and value to your home that you and your future buyer will enjoy!

Visit my website at http://www.melaniesellsmiami.com/ for more information about green real estate in Miami.

Park(ing) Day in Coconut Grove This Friday

The US Green Building Council’s South Florida Chapter Emerging Professionals will be participating in this Friday’s “Park(ing) Day,” a worldwide event that inspires city dwellers everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks.  Started in 2005, Park(ing) Day is a way to draw attention to the need for more public parks in urban areas. This year’s local event is scheduled to take place between 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. along McFarlane Road in Coconut Grove. Donations and support will be provided by Pie Studio, Home Depot, AFH, the City of Miami, Coconut Grove community organizers, the NET, the BID and the Miami Parking Authority. The MPA has designated 10 metered parking spaces along McFarlane Road which will be transformed into temporary urban parks for the day. Commissioners Sarnoff and Suarez are scheduled to appear, and the public is invited to attend.


USGBC Emerging Professionalsare the energetic and dynamic leaders of tomorrow’s green building movement. The program is geared toward individuals out of school and under 30, but does not exclude anyone who may be interested. USGBC Emerging Professionals seek to engage all those who are interested in learning about and advocating for sustainable building practices. So who are Emerging Professionals? Certainly many are young architects and engineers, but they also include young lawyers, education and healthcare professionals, sustainability consultants, and anyone else interested in the future of green building.”