Get Ready Miami, The Heat Is (Almost) On

By Santiago Archieri

Between a very disappointing start for the Dolphins, and the Marlins being the same old Marlins for yet another season, Miami fans are starting to get excited for the start of a new Miami Heat season.

As for me, I am an optimistic, die hard, annoying Heat fan, who has been looking forward to media day for weeks because that’s how much I miss the Heat. But it is time to be a bit more realistic, as last season I thought they were serious contenders in the Eastern Conference, and the Heat ended up being 10 games under .500 and being in the lottery.

What an awful season it was for Heat fans. First, we lost Josh McRoberts for most the year, then our newly-maxed out Chris Bosh has a health scare that takes him out for the year.

We find a giant gem called Hassan Whiteside, who smacks his hand against the rim and isn’t 100% after that game.

And to top it off, we had Dwyane Wade resting up, taking care of his hamstrings and knee, and I am not even naming all the injuries that kept numerous other players out. There was one point in the year when the Heat were scrambling around looking for players to be a suit up for a game. The Heat had to dig deep into their rotation, and even then, the Heat were just a few games from reaching the final playoff spot in the East.

The Heat hit the offseason with a lot of work to do. After eventually landing the 10th spot in the NBA draft, the Heat were able to take the exciting young man out of Duke University: Justice Winslow. The next step was bringing back Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic. Dragic took a pay cut to stay, and after a lot of trolling, Wade signed a one year deal to stay in Miami.

The projected starting line-up for the Heat this season might be the most complete 5 in the Eastern conference, and quite possibly in the NBA. Hassan Whiteside played at an All-Star level after he was given a starting job, and is already a name floating around for possible defensive player of the year in the upcoming season.

Chris Bosh is one of the best power forwards in the league, and the number one option for this team. Luol Deng had a quiet season, but did show some glances of life while he had some nice games, and still put up decent numbers. Dragic is a complete point guard, who had a rough season before joining the Heat, and I would go as far to say that he is the best point guard the Heat have had since Tim Hardaway (sorry Chalmers). And to complete it, we have Wade, who of course happens to be “washed up”. Wade was third in the East in scoring, extremely efficient from the field, and still an important player last season- helping shut the doubters down.

The bench has also drastically improved. Winslow should be fun to watch, McRoberts is back healthy, Amar’e Stoudemire is looking to bounce back from some bad seasons, Gerald Green has some uber-athletic skills that will bring everyone to their feet at the American Airlines Arena, and Chalmers is going to be much more valuable in a bench role.

So what now? I’m not here to preach that the Heat will go 99-0, including a win in the All-Star game, and that there will be another parade down Biscayne Boulevard.

But if the injury-bug doesn’t infect Miami again this season, the Heat is set to be atop the Eastern Conference, contending with the Cavaliers for the top seed.

Cover Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

This Hilarious Video Imagines What A Pope Francis Trip To Miami Would Look Like

We know that a bunch of people in South Florida were bummed out when Pope Francis didn’t stop over during his whirlwind American trip.

I mean, the pontiff did go to Cuba, a Miami trip would have made total sense.

But no worries, because a few Miami guys decided to imagine what a Pope Francis trip to the 305 would actually look like.

And after watching this hilarious video, you can probably see why the Holy See didn’t want Frank anywhere near Miami.

HT/ Jordan Blecher

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Enjoy The Last Week Of Miami Spice At These Hot Events

This piece was originally published by our partner and is produced by them. 

The Weekly Nibble is presented by MIAbites every week featuring upcoming food and drink events in and around the Miami area.  This is the final week of Miami Spice which wraps up on September 30th, so take advantage of the $23 Lunch and $39 Dinner specials offered at over 180 restaurants.

Thursday September 24th-  MO Bar+Lounge in the Mandarin Oriental hosts Iphoneography 101 class from 6- 7:30 to help you take better food pics with tips from top Instagrammers @BrianLadder and @OasisJae.  $35 includes cocktail and signature sushi roll.  MO Bar + LoungeMandarin Oriental 500 Brickell Key Drive. Miami, FL  305 913 8358.

Thursday September 24th- Verde Community Gardens and Market opens its new Verde Kitchen Café in Homestead.  Helmed by Chef Adri Garcia, the Verde Kitchen Café will offer a variety of fresh items grown and sourced locally. Verde Café’s menu items feature the likes of umami sliders, made with grass-fed beef from Ocala, to baked goods and leafy choices like the farmhouse salad, made with red dragon fruit, sunflower shoots and microgreens. Verde Kitchen Café is open for lunch Tuesday-Saturday. Verde Community Farm, Market and Café. 12690 SW 280th St., Homestead.

Thursday September 24th- Uvaggio Wine Bar & Restaurant is pleased to announce their second Somm Slam with 50 Eggs/Swine where head “Wine-O,” Heath Porter of Uvaggio will go pour-to-pour against neighboring Wine Director, Daniel Toral.  Wine buffs will be able to enjoy three different dishes accompanied by one wine pairing each from Porter and Toral.  Attending guests will be able to partake in the event by choosing the winning sommelier. The showdown begins at 7 PM with limited seating. Cost per person is $100; which includes the reception, three courses with a total of six wines and dessert. Uvaggio Wine Bar 70 Miracle Mile. Coral Gables, FL. 

Do you like this? Read more awesome restaurant reviews, tips and event listings at

Friday September 25th– Circa 39 Boutique Hotel hosts it’s final Vino & Vinyasa with yogi Mike Dannheim.  Hour long yoga class in courtyard is followed by wine tastings and light snacks from Jules Kitchen. $25 in advance $30 at door. Circa 393900 Collins Ave. Miami Beach FL 305 538 4900.

Tuesday September 29th- In anticipation of the November opening of TALDE Miami Beach at Thompson Miami Beach, Miamians may savor TALDE sooner than November with a one-night only TALDE Miami Beach pop-up on Tuesday, September 29 at 7:30 p.m., at Thompson Miami Beach’s charming poolside bungalow, 1930s House. Limited to 40 seats, this exclusive dining experience will give guests a chance to sample some of TALDE’s signature dishes by Top Chef alum and restaurateur Dale Talde. Priced at $55 per person (excluding tax, gratuity and bar), includes four courses, one bottle of TALDE staple Brooklyn Sorachi Ace beer from Brooklyn Brewery, as well as one complimentary copy of the cookbook per ticket. Seating is limited and should be reserved in advance by visiting 1930’s House at Thompson Miami Beach 4041 Collins Ave. Miami Beach, FL 786 605 4041.

Tuesday September 29th– Lure Fishbar, is celebrating National Bourbon Month with a one-night-only pairing dinner on Tuesday, September 29 at 7PM. Executive Chef John Iatrellis has created an extravagant six-course menu of seasonal specialties to be perfectly paired with Old Forester bourbons, by Bar Director Rob Ferrara. Bourbon lovers and food enthusiasts alike will enjoy the delicious menu, featuring lobster stuffed squash blossoms with bourbon-lavender honey, bourbon glazed black grouper, bourbon braised short ribs and more priced at $95 per person (excluding tax and gratuity). Lure Fishbar at The Loews Miami Beach 1601 Collins Ave. Miami Beach FL. 305 695 4550.

Tuesday September 29th- The Crafts Spirits Festival and AFROHEAD Rum present the BareKnuckle Bartender™ 2015 Battle Royal Final at 8 pm at Radio Bar in Miami Beach. The top five BareKnuckle Bartenders in Miami will compete to make their best cocktail using AFROHEAD Premium Aged Dark Rum. The winner of the competition will be crowned BareKnuckle Bartender 2015 Champion and bragging rights.  Participants include: Leo Holtzman – Wunderbar/Circa 39, Ricardo Rodriguez – Finka Table & Tap, Alex Aportela – Finka Table & Tap, Jack Reynolds – Broken Shaker/27, Tyler Kitzman – Sweet Liberty. This event is free and open to the public.  Radio Bar 814 1st St. Miami Beach, FL.

Wednesday September 30th– MO Bar + Lounge hosts High West Whiskey Expert Natalia Cardenas for DIY Old Fashioneds at MO Bar + Lounge from 6-8 pm. Guests will be using a variety of fun ingredients including maple syrup and chocolate bitters with MO Bar’s house Voodoo Whiskey blend. Tickets are $15 per person and advanced RSVP is also strongly suggested. MO Bar + Lounge at The Mandarin Oriental 500 Brickell Key Drive. Miami FL 305 913 8288.

Wednesday September 30th– The Federal Food, Drink & Provisionslaunches Oktoberfest Beer Feast on Wednesday September 30th to celebrate the successful end of Miami Spice, and to kick off Fall 2015.  The Oktoberfest Beer Feast dinner menu will feature homemade pretzels, gator schnitzel, pickled herring, cheese soup and beer pairings by some well-loved Florida breweries.  The Federal Food & Drink. 5132 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33137 305 758 9559, 

New and Ongoing:

The Barcelona inspired newly opened KLIMA Restaurant and Bar debuts its daily Happy Hour just in time for the upcoming season.  Resident mixologist at KLIMA, Raffaele Mitrugno, together with Executive Chef David “Rusti” Rustarazo, have created a unique food and beverage happy hour bar menu for locals, visitors and restaurant guests to enjoy during any evening occasion with family, friends or to let off steam with co-workers after a hard day at the office.  Between the hours of 6:00pm and 8:00pm, Monday to Saturday, KLIMA now offers a number of drink specials that includes any house liquor, signature cocktail or wines by the glass for $8 each. To accompany the drinks are a series of custom-made Tapas style plates and other Mediterranean inspired dishes available at the bar and lounge area   A variety of salads and Raw Bar plates are also available on the bar menu. KLIMA 210 23rd Street, Miami Beach, FL 33139. 786 453 2779.

( Information provided by various sources and subject to change. Please call ahead to confirm dates, pricing and specific details )

The above was produced by MIAbites, one of the leading sources for food news in South Florida. Be sure to visit their website for more great information. 

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Cover Photo Credit: John Spade/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Best Places To Eat In Miami This Upcoming Week

This piece was originally published by our partner and is produced by them. 

Each week MIAbites will present the Weekly Nibble, a compilation of food events and happenings in and around Miami. Important to note, that we are winding down on the last two weeks of Miami Spice, so if you have yet to enjoy the special menu offerings of $39 Dinner and $23 Lunch this is the Last Call.  Read our MIAbites “Spice Advice” here.

Thursday September 17-  For the final Robata Rub Thursday at SUSHISAMBA Coral Gables, Executive Chef David Sears welcomes Special Guest Chef: Andres Barrientos The Official Smoke Whisperer of Miami Smokers. To complement SUSHISAMBA’s robata dishes and true to Miami Smokers style, menu highlights include Okeechobee Wild Boar Sausage with spiced aioli, guacamole purée, orange supreme, arugula, pickled peppers and a Pork Skirt Steak with sun ripe tomatoes, frisée, lardon crumble, creamed yucca purée by Chef Barrientos. Priced at $55 pp the meal includes 5 Robata selections and 2 cocktail pairings by Ocucaje Pisco.  SUSHISAMBA 180 Aragon Ave. Coral Gables, FL305 448 4990.

Friday September 18th–  The Forge Miami Beach welcomes the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America®: “Local Flavor from Coast To Coast”  for an evening that begins with a tasting reception featuring an exciting lineup of Miami’s finest chefs, including Timon Balloo, Cindy Hutson, Brad Kilgore, Giorgio Rapicavoli, and Cesar Zapata. Then, enjoy a unique four-course seated dinner designed by James Beard Award Winners Rocco DiSpirito and Christopher Lee, with Pastry Chef Sergio Navarro. Evening emceed by award-winning Miami Herald food editor Evan S. Benn. Tickets are $250.  The Forge 432 W 41st St, Miami Beach, FL

Saturday September 19th–  Benefiting the United Way of Miami, The Intercontinental plays host to the Second Annual Young Leaders’ B.Y.O.B.‘Build Your Own Brunch’ from 11-2 pm..  An interactive cooking and eating experience led by Chef Bradley Kilgore of Alter and two of his culinary friends: Chef Roel Alcudia of The Cypress Room and Chef William Crandall of the soon-to-open Izzy’s Fish and Oyster. Miami Herald food editor and new Young Leaders member, Evan Benn, will host the cooking extravaganza. Spend a Saturday with friends learning to make the perfect brunch, from start to finish. Tickets are $100 for Young Leaders and $125 GA.  The Intercontinental  100 Chopin Plaza. Miami, FL

Do you like this? Read more awesome restaurant reviews, tips and event listings at

Saturday September 19th–  Sur La Table, the retail destination for those with a passion for cooking and a love for food, will welcome the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America®: “Local Flavor from Coast To Coast” into its kitchens for the third consecutive year. Free in-store activities of the day will include cooking demos by Taste America All-Star and James Beard-Award-winning chef Rocco DiSpirito, along with chef Cindy Hutson, who will showcase a recipe prepared with Lifeway Kefir. For the full schedule of events and more information, please visit Sur La Table Mizner Park 438 Plaza Real Boca Raton, FL.

Saturday September 19th– 180 Degrees at The DRB  is teaming up with the local organization, Caring about the Strays, for a special evening from 4-8 pm to help the non-profit’s mission.  Volunteers for the program nurse abandoned or injured strays providing deserted animals with veterinarian consultations and necessary vaccinations.  Chef Ryan Martin, a huge advocate of the rescuing program, wanted to create this event to help raise awareness to the cause in hopes that dogs, cats and other potential companions will find a new home.  A minimum donation of $10 will go towards the non-profit which includes one free draft beer as well as happy hour privileges with beer and wine for 50% off a glass. 180 Degrees 501 NE 1st Ave, Miami, Florida 33132.

Saturday September 19th-  Dinner Lab, the New Orleans based pop up dinner club concept is hosting Viaje -an Asian culinary voyage with a Mexican chef featuring Chef Santiago De La Fuente of Miami, who has created a menu that exemplifies global influences through the flavors of Asia, the techniques of the French and thru the eyes of the Mexican chef and culinary journey. Priced at $70 pp, Dinner Lab invites MIAbites readers to join for free using this link

Saturday September 19th –   Digest Miami’s RESCHEDULED Beach Feast presented by Afrohead Rum at the Surfcomber Hotel in Miami Beach celebrates Miami Spice with an oceanfront party featuring delicious bites, cocktails and music! From 7- 9 pm $45 General Admission: Includes entry at 8PM, unlimited food samples and one (1) complimentary Afrohead Rum cocktail. $100 VIP Access: Includes early entry at 7PM, unlimited bites, access to the private rooftop cabana deck presented by Afrohead Rum and a private VIP bar experience featuring complimentary Afrohead Rum cocktails. Digest Miami members get discounted admission. Tickets available on Eventbrite. The Surfcomber 1717 Collins Ave. Miami Beach FL.

Sunday September 20th  September is National Bourbon Month, so check out specialty cocktails at Dolce Italian, The Drawing Room and Makoto, but don’t pass up the Boozy Bourbon Brunch on Sunday September 20th 1-3 pm at 27 Restaurant. $75 pp includes 4 courses and 4 cocktails. Reservations required.  27 Restaurant @FreehandMiami 2727 Indian Creek Drive. Miami Beach. FL 305 531 2727. 

Wednesday September 23rd- Every fourth Wednesday of the month, The Miami Beach Food Truck and Music Fest brings together some of the city’s finer food trucks, including GastroPod, Ms. Cheezious, Sakaya Kitchen, and Mushaboom. Local restaurants get in on the action too, this time Lou’s Beer Garden, Sazon, El Tumi de Oro, Mixturam, and others. There’s also music, but you can’t eat that. Feed your belly and your ears from 5 till 10 p.m. There’s no charge for admission, but you have to pay for the food. North Shore Park Band Shell 7275 Collins Ave. Miami Beach, FL33141 305-861-3616

Looking Ahead…

Thursday September 24th-  Following up on the success of the inaugural “Somm Slam” with The Genuine Hospitality Group, Uvaggio Wine Bar & Restaurant is pleased to announce their second Somm Slam with 50 Eggs/Swine where head “Wine-O,” Heath Porter of Uvaggio will go pour-to-pour against neighboring Wine Director, Daniel Toral.  Wine buffs will be able to enjoy three different dishes accompanied by one wine pairing each from Porter and Toral.  Attending guests will be able to partake in the event by choosing the winning sommelier. The showdown begins at 7 PM with limited seating. Cost per person is $100; which includes the reception, three courses with a total of six wines and dessert.Uvaggio Wine Bar 70 Miracle Mile. Coral Gables, FL. 

( Information provided by numerous sources and subject to change. Please call ahead to confirm pricing, details and availability ) 

The above was produced by MIAbites, one of the leading sources for food news in South Florida. Be sure to visit their website for more great information. 

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Photo Credit: Miguel Vieira/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

It’s Hard Out Here For A White Rapper In Miami

By Victoria Nilbrink

Grizzy Gary is an aspiring rapper from Miami. He’s twenty-four years old and currently studying in college for a degree in music technology. He’s also white. And that’s a problem.

Gary has been rapping and ghost writing for 6 years, as well as making art and customizing shoes. He also attended the Art Institute in Miami for his artistic competence and his passion for designing clothes. When he isn’t in school or making music he says that he likes to ‘Netflix and Chill.’

“I don’t rap anything like Eminem or Macklemore at all, but 9 times out of 10 before I spit my verse that’s the first thing people mention.”

As any upcoming artists he’s faced many challenges. But the hip hop scene can sometimes prove especially difficult for white rappers to break into.

Watch: Grizzy Gary’s “After Life”:

“Personally I think with image it’s really hard. Being a white rapper you have certain quota and its hard because there aren’t so many established white rappers, so you always get compared to them,” Grizzy Gary said. “I don’t rap anything like Eminem or Macklemore at all, but 9 times out of 10 before I spit my verse that’s the first thing people mention. It’s not even me but its always a comparison. It’s to a point where I have to show my music first and tell them its me after to get a real honest opinion, which is annoying because I work hard at it. Often I don’t get taken too seriously, people will think I’m joking but music is really all I do.”

Listen: Grizzy Gary’s “Pretty As Fuck

In the near future he hopes to get a major deal as a recording artist. If not he would like to ghost write and start making beats. He is also working on a few projects with Red Table Studios, and Vice Cult- a company he co-owns with another Miami rapper, OldBoy Cab.

Vice Represents- Versatile Independent Creative Entertainment. In addition to making music, they also sell merchandize.

“My music represents the exaggerated thoughts that are in my head. It takes me and all the crazy things i think about and merges into one thing. Grizzy Gary I would say is my alter ego, my duality,” Grizzy Gary said. “Look out for whats coming out this year. I’m gonna close 2015 really strong. Music is what I’m gonna do no matter what. All I have to say is, Don’t look at the artist, listen to the artist.”

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Cover Photo: Submitted

A Comprehensive Guide to Dumpster Diving And Alternative Food

By Allyn Farach

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with buzzing out to Walmart for a can of spaghetti in red sauce, there’s a sense of satisfaction that comes with making the food you’re eating yourself. Taking it a step further – going out and acquiring the food yourself can be even more rewarding than picking it up at a grocery store or restaurant. Forget convenience: Below are ways to get creative with alternative food sources. Before we begin, let’s address that some of these methods are not for the weak-hearted.

Dumpster Diving

To be clear, Dumpster Diving doesn’t involve actually diving into dumpsters.

“You can open the lid and gingerly pull out goods or jump in and dig deep. If you’re grossed out by the idea, wear rain boots and bring gloves,” writes Vanessa Alvadaro, native Floridian and dumpster diver. Furthermore, what you pull out probably won’t be overripe produce and rotting meat.

Approximately 40 percent of food bought in the US goes to waste, so what may be found in a dumpster may be okay, if not in perfect condition (unless it’s covered in mold. Don’t eat anything covered in mold.)

Luckily, the dumpster diving community is pretty open to new people, and almost always ready to help. R/DumpsterDiving is full of people giving advice to newbies, people planning to make runs together, and even a map that lists good diving spots. With an engaging community, free food and stuff to resell, what could possibly be the downside to such a concept? The law.

The owners of the Miami Produce Center were cited after video cameras captured people going through their dumpsters for food, some of which was later resold to restaurants. Furthermore, some business owners may set up cameras, dumpster locks and signs warning people not to trespass or go through the garbage. If they catch anyone, they may have them taken in by police.

So what can potential divers do? They can travel in groups to be safe, be discerning about what they pick out so that they don’t get sick, scope out spots before they leave, ask business owners before they dive and be wary of cameras!

Urban Farming

If Dumpster Diving isn’t your cup of trash, gardening might be a more appealing route to alternative food sources. A community garden offers people who register a small plot of land to grow whatever they want, from decorative flowers to bountiful fruits and vegetables. Laura Lafata, who runs social media and organizes meetings for the South Beach Community Garden, elaborated that the garden offers all kinds of things for people.

“It’s a piece of paradise in a very densely populated part of the city that allows one the pleasure of digging in the soil and the joy of producing one’s own food supply,” Lafata said. Indeed, the benefits of a community garden are being allowed to pick what you want to grow and owning a little plot of land in the urban jungle.

“Everyone can grow whatever they want, but we encourage gardeners to grow what will grow best in our climate with a focus on heat tolerant varieties, Asian and Caribbean vegetables, lettuces, sprouts, okra, sweet potatoes, radishes, beans, tomatoes, snow peas, eggplants.”

So there’s no risk of getting bored when it comes to food and the garden, Miami Beach Parks and Recreation Department offers a budget for hoses, trash cans and water, so the simple parts of taking care of a garden and growing your own food are covered as well.

Growing your own food isn’t always easy. The Garden covers the basics, but the gardeners have to bring their own soil and seeds, build their own boxes and maintain their own plots. The prices of soil, seeds and wood are steep, so the cost of urban farming can easily add up.

Gardeners are left to the whims of Mother Nature when it comes to the fate of their plots. Frosts can kill a crop, hurricanes can tear them down, heat can dry them up, and rain can drown them.

“Heat is a bigger issue here, along with rain, sometimes not enough, sometimes too much.” Lafata said.

With Miami having an average of roughly 60 inches of annual rainfall, along with a dry season that runs throughout winter, the best that gardeners can do is prepare and prevent for the worst. Gardeners have to prepare against pests such as the Eastern Lubber Grasshopper and even iguanas, all which want to chow down on fresh garden greens. Finally, simply, and most importantly, running a garden takes a lot of work.

“The biggest problem we have at the garden is commitment,” Lafata said. “You need a lot of time to nurture and care for your plot to successfully grow anything.”

Smaller plants such as radishes and cucumbers can take up to three weeks to grow, while larger plants like pumpkins can take even longer. The combined factors can easily wear anyone down, but reaping your own delicious rewards in the form of a salad or a fruit tart can be a great joy at the end of the day.

“Everything grown tastes sweeter and better when it’s just picked,” Lafata said.

If the messiness of Dumpster Diving and the arduous labor of gardening threatens you, Farm to Table (FTT) is an alternative food source that you don’t have to work for.

FTT is a movement primarily for getting food locally and serving it to local customers. It also keeps customers informed about where their food came from.

Jensen Eddings, the director of Media & Marketing for Batch Miami, explains the benefits of those contacts: “Farm to table and using fresh ingredients benefits everyone: the supplier has the client, the restaurant enjoys the lower costs, and the customer gets fresh, local food. It’s a win-win-win…Through strengthening relationships with regional purveyors and highlighting local ingredients, South Florida cuisine has a chance to set itself apart from the rest of the country.”

Eddings also said that FTT is an easy, effective way to get fresh food. The quick access to local suppliers means that food can be used the same day that it’s picked, caught or slaughtered.

Like the rest of alternative food sources, FTT doesn’t come without its costs. Using local suppliers means that FTT restaurants can only use what grows in the area, and it can impact what gets cooked.

“Using local ingredients definitely forces flexibility,” Eddings said. “Sometimes people just run out of things. We do our best to stay ahead of slip-ups and make up for when it does happen with fun specials.”

Essentially, diners probably won’t be seeing things like cherries or Atlantic salmon on tables at FTT restaurants. Furthermore, some people are beginning to see FTT as a fad that’s quickly fading. Vanity Fair published an article titled, “Is It Time To Table Farm To Table?” dissecting how FTT is merely a fad popularized by good PR – a buzz word for fast food companies to use to prove that their food isn’t processed.

Eddings writes that FTT is more than just jargon to turn heads-it gives people the information that they want about the food that they want to eat.

“People love to get more out of their dining experience than ever before, so it’s raising the bar for everyone,” Eddings said. “In turn, we’re getting higher-quality restaurants. It’s awesome and an exciting trend to embrace.”

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Cover Photo Credit: Wei Tchou/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Correction (9-17-2015, 12:27 PM): The original version of this story incorrectly identified the person who runs social media and organizes meetings for the South Beach Community Garden. Her name is Laura Lafata. We regret the error and are happy to correct the record.

Start Up Miami: LiveAnswer Leads The Way In South Florida Tech Innovation

By David Drucker

LiveAnswer, a proprietary sharing economy platform that specializes in providing phone support (customer service, technical support), is setting an example for new businesses not only in Miami, but also around the globe.

After a successful first year, the company is preparing for a national startup competition and the integration of new age components into its call service all while doing what they can to help other Miami startups succeed.

CEO Adam Boalt has seen his company experience rapid success in a short period of time. After launching in 2014, the Miami-based company entered Tech. Co’s Miami Startup of the Year Competition that summer.

Although Boalt’s company did not claim victory in its debut year, they learned from the experience and reevaluated how their business should operate.

Now as the winners of best pitch at Tech Co’s competition in July – of the 13 finalists, they ended up with 40% of the final votes – LiveAnswer is now gearing up for the national competition in early October.

“When we first pitched LiveAnswer last year, we focused a lot on the software standpoint and not as much on its value to the community,” Boalt said. “This year, we did it all differently and spoke about the value of what we were providing to the local community.”

Although they have a flight booked for Tech Co’s national competition in Las Vegas, the Miami startup has not forgotten the city in which it got its start.

LiveAnswer is in an active partnership with Enrique Iglesias’ Atlántico Rum and Pipeline Workspaces, a partnership forged at this summer’s Social Media Day South Florida, where the companies teamed up to work towards making Miami #1 in startup activity on the Kauffman Index of Startup Activity by 2016.


LiveAnswer’s new “multi-channel platform”. The company says that the new product will add email, chat and social media to its voice capabilities in a move to improve client experience. Photo Credit: Live Answer

The partnership will continue its mission through their sponsorship of Social Media Week Miami, a sold out conference running until September 18 at the Miami Ad School in Wynwood.

The multi-day event will host some of the top social media analysts from around the country to help businesses in Miami better understand the increasingly connected world through digital media.

LiveAnswer is also actively working towards improving its own product through the release of their multi-channel platform. The company says that the new product will add email, chat and social media to its voice capabilities to improve client experience.

For Boalt, pushing his business forward has always been about choosing the right team and knowing where to invest his energy.

“100% of succeeding is being hyper-focused,” Boalt said. “Sometimes our minds can wander and think ‘it’d be nice to have this, it’d be nice to have that.’ You have to rope yourself back in and ask yourself what’s the difference between ‘must-have’ and ‘nice-to-have’ and stick to the ‘must-have’s’.”

Do you know of a cool start up? Own your own small business that is doing something revolutionary? We are interested in writing about it! Send us a tip to

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Student at University of Miami Wore a Tiara Every Day For 8 Years

You may know her as “Tiara Girl” on campus. Annie Rudd, a senior at the University of Miami, has worn a tiara on her head every day for the past 8 years.

August 25, 2007, was the first day she ever wore a tiara at her 13th birthday, and the last day she left the house without it.

“The tiara was just too good of a look to let go,” Rudd said. “I don’t even realize its been 8 years of my life. It sort of just became my thing, and it worked.”

Before even realizing it, wearing a tiara became a daily routine.

Now 21-years-old, Rudd will graduate soon from UM with a major in psychology and a minor in art. She hopes to purse a master’s degree in family and marriage counseling.


Annie Rudd


Annie Rudd

In 2012 , Rudd was featured on lifetime’s reality show “Prom Queen,” crowned prom queen at Miami Beach Senior High School. At University of Miami, Rudd has become a sort of local celebrity to students at the campus.

“At UM, I’m known as Tiara Girl,” Rudd said. “We have this Facebook page called UMiami Secrets and they would post about me a lot. There was one that said, ‘OMG I just saw tiara girl for the first time. Now I know how Hogwarts felt when they first saw Harry Potter.’”


Annie Rudd

She never leaves the house without her tiara, she may forget but it never takes more than a few steps out of the door to remember.

“It’s basically second nature.” Rudd said. “I don’t even realize its on when I go out, but people will give me ugly looks sometimes. Some people don’t get the tiara and assume the worst, but once they meet me they understand I’m not stuck up.”

For Rudd, the tiara exemplifies that she enjoys everything life has to offer and lives with no regrets. Her story is a reminder that it’s okay to be who you are without living in fear of what others think of you.


Annie Rudd

“The tiara is a great conversation starter,” Rudd said. “Meeting and making friends is super important at our age. It’s all about the connections we have later on in life.”

Rudd said that although she enjoys the tiara as a fundamental part of her life, some people don’t take her seriously as a result.

“People definitely think it’s a little immature, but I don’t care. I only have one life,” Rudd said.

The tiara isn’t coming off anytime soon.

“I definitely can’t see myself not wearing it, it’s just a part of my identity now,” Rudd said. “It’s all a learning experience. I like it and that’s all that matters. There’s nothing to regret about it.”

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Four Good Reasons To Keep Watching The Miami Marlins This Year

By Eric Quinones

The 2015 season for the Miami Marlins has been a long one to say the least. It’s been a season filled with disappointment as the team has the 5th worst record in the Major Leagues.

Injuries have been a big factor as to why the team has struggled so much this season, but with the final month of the season upon us here are a few reasons to keep watching the Marlins through their final game.

Reason #1: Dee Gordon
Although the Marlins may be out of the playoff picture and don’t have much to play for but their pride, Dee Gordon is in a battle to try and win the National League batting title.

Gordon came into play today hitting .328, which puts him second in the league behind the Washington National’s slugger Bryce Harper who is hitting .336. Although Gordon has some ground to make up and needs Harper to fall off a bit, it will be fun to watch each one of Gordon’s at-bats through the end of the season.

Reason #2: The return of Giancarlo Stanton
The return of Giancarlo Stanton, one of the best players in the Major Leagues, is right around the corner and something that Fish fans should be excited about. Stanton has been on the disabled list for the last two months with a broken bone in his left hand. Stanton is due back in mid-September with an eye on finishing the season in strong fashion.

Stanton, the most prolific power hitter in all of baseball, was leading the MLB in homeruns with 27 at the time that he broke the bone in his left hand. He’s one of the most exciting players to watch play, especially when he’s up to bat. Earlier this season, Stanton hit a homerun literally out of Dodger Stadium. That’s an example of why he is considered the most powerful hitter in the Major Leagues.

Reason #3: The return of Jose Fernandez
Jose Fernandez will have a few more starts for the Fish. Fernandez, who came back this season from Tommy John surgery was 4 – 0 with a 2.30 ERA., before being put back on the disabled list with a right biceps strain. Fernandez looks to join the starting rotation once again on September 19th against the Washington Nationals .

Every time Fernandez pitches, especially at the home ballpark, he seems to lift his team to a high level of play. His teammates feed off of his energy, and he always puts fans in the stands. If everything goes as planned, Fernandez should be the Marlins ace going into the 2016 season.

Reason #4: Getting a closer look at Nicolino and Conley
As the Marlins look to close out their 2015 season on a high note, starting pitchers Justin Nicolino and Adam Conley look to show the Marlins why each of them should be considered for the Marlins’ starting rotation for the 2016 season. Both left-handed pitchers were two of the team’s top pitching prospects coming up from the minor leagues this season. Nicolino has been the more consistent of the two. He is 3 – 2 with a 3.07 era. Conley on the other hand has struggled a bit more in his stint with the Fish. He is 3 – 1, but his ERA is 5.02. With that being said, both have shown promise and have also shown that if they can consistently command their pitches they will have a good shot at being considered for the team’s rotation next season.

The 2015 season hasn’t always been fun to watch. The team has struggled throughout the year, but that doesn’t mean that fans should give up on watching this team until the very end. Although they won’t be making the playoffs, there are still players to watch that could impact the team next season.

Photo Credit: Arturo Pardavila III/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

In Miami’s Wynwood Art District, A 25 Year Old Artist Is Ready To Take The City By Storm

MIAMI- Nestled along Wynwood’s 5th Avenue there’s a mural of a figure painted entirely in black and white. Pictured on its monochromatic surface is a woman, naked except for the long ringlets of hair wrapped constrictively around her body. She sits contemplatively before the viewer, back bowed while pedestrians pass her by.

Surreal-looking spectacles like these can be found scattered throughout the city, all of them authored by Rolando Adrian Avila. At only 25 years old and with less than six of months of residence in Wynwood he’s poised to become one of the more prolific and better-known painters within Miami’s art district.

The Cuban-born muralist and former Angeleno (native of Los Angeles) has roots to South Florida dating all the way back to his days at New World Schools of Arts, a small and selective magnet school known both locally and nationally for its excellent arts and theatre programs.

“Unfortunately not everybody has a chance to do it. I come from a pretty poor family, and the only way I was able to travel and to go outside the city was because of art,” Avila said during a sit-down interview, “I got money to go to California from school, that was the only way. I feel like that’s important for an artist, to be educated. Education is everything.”


To date Avila has created at least 12 murals in Miami, most of them concentrated within Wynwood and the surrounding art district. As a self-described “wall vampire” he often seeks out unadorned spaces within the area to renovate and embellish with his work, masking concrete in a monotint display of long-limbed bodies and lotus flowers.

Avila first emigrated from Cuba to the U.S. at the age of 13, eventually gaining a scholarship to attend Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. The most notable thing about his work at first glance is just how stripped-down his pieces tend to be, both literally and figuratively.

“Women in general are a lot more powerful than men to me, especially around [Miami].” -Avila said

The subjects he portrays are predominantly female and nude, implied to be the objects of a male gaze. But there’s also simplicity to the color composition of Avila’s work. He often picks a single shade to dominate the canvas, focusing attention and detail on the subjects of his murals by keeping the palette relatively monochromatic.

As for the nakedness, Avila doesn’t believe his primary subjects are likely to scandalize here as easily as they might somewhere else. Miami’s extensive beach culture brings with it an inordinate preoccupation with body image and physical beauty, making the city a quintessential place for nudity in art to be accepted and, in some cases, even lauded.


“I feel like people [here] really respond to figurative work. I do these girls, and in Miami the body is something that is celebrated.” Avila said.

It’s true that there’s a definite sense of eroticism to Avila’s work, but more often than not it’s purposely coupled with mythological imagery and significance. The women depicted in his paintings and murals often show up in triplicate, a reference to the religious archetype of “triple deity” so often seen in classical literature and art.

They’re goddesses the way you imagine goddesses would look like in the 21st century; slender and statuesque, hair coifed and lips pouted perfectly as if posing for an editorial.

“Women in general are a lot more powerful than men to me, especially around [Miami].” Avila said, “It’s kind of like the whole idea of goddesses, this whole idea of the Greeks and the Romans. To them women were everything.”

These women often appear to be reveling too, frozen mid-pose on the canvas while onlookers are free to gawk at the display of their bodies. Avila’s work is, if anything, voyeuristic in nature. He plays with perception as often as some other artists play with the colors on their mixing palettes and it’s never made clear exactly how we should feel looking in on these private scenes.

The women within his murals almost always have their eyes covered or bound by their own hair, blinded to the audience’s gaze and unable to take in their own surroundings. They appear naked and vulnerable before the viewer, and yet the artist himself describes their sightlessness as transcendent, a reference to a harrowing experience his sister once underwent in Guantánamo after one attempt to emigrate to the U.S.

“At the time my sister was trying to get out of Cuba. She tried to get out through the water because her boyfriend was trying to bring her over here and she got sent back to Guantánamo two times,” Avila said. “She almost died, and they cut off her hair just to be assholes with her. I was doing an illustration at the time just about depression and so I did this woman with her hair wrapped around her face.”

Avila explains most of the story from inside of his studio, a modestly sized, brightly painted room located in the heart of Wynwood. Walking in you can see the artist’s half-finished paintings dotting the main wall that runs along the interior. A pile of surreal-looking prints rest in the corner. The apartment building it’s housed in is also home to the studios of his colleagues, many of whom he spoke about as having an influence over his body of work.

“I think [it’s] one of the most important things as an artist. Especially when I was at Art Center what I learned was [being influenced by] other artists.” Avila said.

Like him, some of these individuals feel conflicted over the commodification of Wynwood’s art scene and the ensuing gentrification of the area. The popularity that events like Art Basel bring to the neighborhood creates more substantial opportunities for urban artists to work and promote themselves, especially when corporate sponsorship becomes a viable reality.

But all that promotion comes at a cost, mainly that the rise in property values now mean that a significant portion of Wynwood’s local artists can no longer afford to live in the same neighborhoods that their murals have helped to commercialize in the first place.


“I think artists should be paid a good amount of money to do what they do because it takes time and it’s hard, you know? If people appreciate it then [they] should appreciate it by helping.” Avila said. “That’s why I feel like I have a responsibility to make sure that happens, especially now that I’m getting lucky enough to get some projects and [have] some people like my work.”

A recent exhibition of Avila’s entitled Paradox Lost ran almost a month ago as part of an Art Walk experience originally hosted by Minimax Events. The display was held at the Mana Production Village, a raw space popular in the area for accommodating everything from art openings to film crews.

Aside from the show, one of Avila’s upcoming public projects includes plans to beautify a local apartment complex sometime in October. His intent is to turn the space into a hybridized showcase for both fine art and street art, one style juxtaposing the other in a strange marriage of aesthetic to functionality.

Collaborating with him on the project will be Reinier Gamboa, another Wynwood artist well known for his figurative painting style and use of religious and tropical iconography.

A contemporary of Avila’s, the Cuban-born Gamboa also spent his youth at New World. His body of work has been exhibited everywhere from the non-profit Locusts Project in Miami to the Nucleus Gallery in California.

“I want to be a fine artist that does walls,” Avila said at one point, explaining the changing nature of his field’s accessibility to the general public, “If you think about it that’s what artists do in their careers. They start by canvas and then later on in their life they do a mural somewhere. I want it to be the other way around.”

Photos: Bea Sampaio/ Rise News

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