Debbie’s Week at a Glance: All for the Gators, Stand up and holler!

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Downtown Miami from afar.

For a minute there, I did feel like Miss Florida. Less for my looks than for my statewide, almost-month-long love fest. I returned to beloved Naples last week for a few days to chill, do some thinking for a change, and steel myself for the less chill hamlets of Miami and Palm Beach that lay ahead.

I popped in a car and crossed Alligator Alley, searching for the road’s namesake. I once crossed with my daughter when a dry spell caused 111 — count ‘em — alligators to cram themselves into the canal that runs next to fence on the side of the road. I begged my crying daughter to let us pull over and get a closer look. I am sure this has impacted her for life. 

There was no wildlife whatsoever on this quick, two-hour crossing. The only wildlife was to be found along Collins Avenue in the very lively Miami Beach. Miami is populated with Shakiras and JLos but with less clothing. I on the other hand look more like Martha Stewart, but I like to look.


Little canal into large Biscayne Bay.

I was hosted in grand style by Keith and Ann Barish in their beautiful 1935 Mediterranean style home tucked at the end of North Bay Road surrounded by Biscayne Bay, a canal and lush privacy.

Their chef, Alessandro, spoiled us with cheese soufflé, home made pizzas, pastas, Osso Buco. He made going out unnecessary and in fact inferior. Although it is nice to get a sense of where you are. 


L. to r.: My courtyard greets me; 180 degree views.
My glam nook in Miami Beach, with CNN 24/7 like home, but better.
Soufflé with a view.

Mandolin is my favorite restaurant in Miami. It is hip, unpretentious and crazy delicious in that Greek way that makes you feel virtuous. Same with Milos, though less indigenous — we have one in New York. Mandolin is local, and refreshingly authentic on the lip of the uber-glam but somewhat soulless, Design Center — think Dior, Gucci, Hermes …


My favorite Miami restaurant, Mandolin. Chill, unpretentious and delish.
My skill set, ordering well: Greek Salad.
Sizzling Saganaki.
Roasted Cauli — Greek style.
And my new obsession, Manti Dumplings. Rachel Hovnanian gave me the recipe!
I was mostly bay-side, but there’s the ocean!
Pre-K pole dancing, with requisite Gucci cap.

Matador, in The Edition Hotel is fun, and offers yummy, spicy little plates in a partially outdoor, loungey space. Blaine Trump and I shared the famous grilled artichoke and more at The Setai. And we sipped the freshest, lime-iest Margaritas at Rachel and Ara’s fabulous new home, soon to be joined by her almost finished Wynwood art studio.


Strike a Pose — Ann, Jade Brown, Keith Barish, artist Nick Moss, and lucky me at Matador in The Edition Hotel.
Lovely lunch with Blaine at The Setai.

Ann gave me a lovely lunch with a mix of my great friends some of who have transplanted from New York, and some new friends. Dr. Natalie Geary, well known to New Yorkers and Southamptonites, resettled here several years ago and has a thriving pediatric and Wellness practice. 

You’ve heard about Rachel, who notably rode her bike to lunch; and Blaine has been here for years, enjoying the beach at her Setai aerie and her other home overlooking her beloved Miami Heat’s stadium. Beautiful Madeleine O’Neill made her way here from Sweden, via London.

We all celebrated Valentine’s Day early at a three-hour ladies lunch. We don’t luxuriate that way in New York. I’ve also noted that women seemed to have taken control of their own Valentine’s Day. No disappointment that way! 


Madeleine O’Neill, Jennifer Valoppi, and Loryn Panahpour.
My NY, now Miami pals, Natalie Geary and Rachel Hovnanian.
L. to r.: I like to match the Prince; Keith Barish says hello to the flock.

Valentine table, classic roses and chocolates.
Teo, everyone’s Valentine.
The place cards: Teo’s portrait on mom’s (Ann Barish) place card and his imagined and deserved win at Westminster.
My place card, the Pangolin, the world’s most trafficked animal.
Rachel Hovnanian’s sculpture, Body Armor.
Dr. Natalie Geary, brilliant doctor and Wellness expert.
Loryn Panahpour, our workout gal, and it shows.
Sweden’s, now Miami’s, Madeleine O’Neill.
Jennifer Valoppi, Founder of Women of Tomorrow, and their logo.
Blaine Trump, Miami Heat’s biggest fan.
Val gals at table.
Ethereal, elevated desert, Allesandro’s Marscapone Mousse.

I missed Judy Licht’s iconic Valentine’s lunch in New York, with her tradition of going around the room to hear snippets about the Nobel Peace Prizes, Emmys, and Pulitzer Prizes her guests have won. I’m always left in awe of their achievements. Mary Snow also gave her annual Valentine’s Tea in NYC. I was off to yet another ‘Galentine’s Day’ (yes — a bit Hallmark, but I’m looking forward) lunch in PB on Saturday. Keep your chocolates, boys.

I did ask one of my most observant and clever Miami residents what the greatest contrast is between Miami and PB; not generally but in our somewhat smaller world. “People in PB make plans 6-8 weeks out,” she responded adding, “We make spontaneous plans and the men don’t wear jackets.” 

Well, I’m on my way, and in truth, I planned this trip and my dinners eight weeks ago.

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