Sojourn in South Beach, part three

After a good night’s rest, I take advantage of the balmy weather and have my coffee outside.  Bypassing cabanas and a large-scale chess set on the Stanton’s terrace (stantonsobe.com), I make my way to the pool area.  Sipping away and flipping through a magazine on a lounge, I crane my neck up and do a visual sweep: the beach to my right (the Stanton is one of the few hotels in the area with direct access), the terrace to my left (designed for guests to mix and mingle) and two heated pools (a hot tub situated between them is framed by leafy palm trees is a main attraction) straight ahead.  It doesn’t get better than this.

Finishing off breakfast, I get ready to head to Little Havana for a day trip.  Taking the Miami Culinary Tour (miamiculinarytours.com) is a great way to appreciate the food, culture and history of the area.  Starting at El Pub Restaurant (sampling a beef empanada and a café Cubano), watching a pro hand roll a cigar in less than two minutes at Cuba Tobacco Cigar Co., having a Cubano sandwich at Old Havana Restaurant (like a grilled ham and cheese, but better), chilling with a fresh mojito at Ball and Chain (check out the live music in the back), snacking on warm guava pastelitos at the Yisell Bakery, seeing how guarapo juice at Los Pinareños Fruteria (the only ingredient is pure sugarcane) is made, and finishing off at Azucar Ice Cream (an Abuela Maria is like a tiramisu from another world) – Cubans know how to entertain.

To burn off those calories from the layover in Little Havana, I later walk up Collins Avenue and do a little browsing at The Webster and shopping for souvenirs on Lincoln Road.

Back at the Stanton, I catch up with a friend who I haven’t seen in over a year.  The plan was to go to Azabu (miami.azubuglobal.com), located off the hotel lobby.  The Michelin-starred venue houses three concepts in one space – a full service dining room with a stunning open kitchen, The Den (an exclusive hidden sushi counter helmed by Tokyo-trained chefs), and Bar Azabu (a classic cocktail bar showcasing sakes and over 40 imported whiskies) – tied together with the spirit of Omatenashi, the essence of Japanese hospitality.

As much as the ebi-ten udon (Udon noodle soup with shrimp tempura), tori Kara-age jikasei tartar (Japanese style boneless fried chicken served with house-made tartar sauce) and uni tabe kurabe (Uni tasting of Santa Barbara Uni and Japanese Hokkaido Uni) sounds tempting, we want something light and grab appetizers at Lolo’s instead.  Maybe next time I’ll make a reservation at Azabu, if only to sip on a Nikka Highball (Nikka taketsuru 12, soda, grapefruit perfume).

After we say our goodbyes, I spend an hour near the pools, their lights glowing from under the rippling waters.  With a frozen margarita in hand and the breeze blowing, I know my time in South Beach is coming to an end.

As I sit down for breakfast at Lolo’s before checking out at in the morning, a feeling of melancholy washes over me.  Back in my room, I take a few moments to do a panoramic scan across the vista: from the cityscape to the ocean.  I inhale deeply, capturing the fragrance of the salty air emanating from the water.

On the way to the airport, I lean against the inside of the SUV’s window and look out.  It won’t be next week, or the following month, but I know I have to stay at Stanton South Beach (stantonsobe.com), soon.

About The Author

Steven Carver
International Editor

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