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WHERE TO GO WHEN: AUTUMN 2017 THE NATIONAL

Sanya Burgess

Sanya Burgess

September 25, 2017

 

Mauritius, Indian Ocean

VILLA AZUR DONATES A FEAST TO LOCAL COMMUNITY IN WAKE OF HURRICANE IRMA

West Grove residents glistening from the late-afternoon swelter, many still without power, with only a bellyful of canned hurricane provisions, lined up in shorts and flip flops when they heard about the impromptu neighborhood cookout.

Francheska Gray was here for the lobster.

“We’ve been eating Vienna sausages right from the can,” she said. Her four children under 10 raced around her at Elizabeth Virrick Park, which was quickly cleared of fallen oak and hickory branches to stage the grilling.

“The corner store is out of supplies. You can’t get ice anywhere. So this is really nice,” she added. “Oh, and they’re on top of their stuff, too. The octopus is really good.”

Clearly, this was no ordinary cookout. Overnight, Miami commissioner Ken Russell, a Coconut Grove resident, heard about a South Beach fine-dining restaurant that was soon going to have to throw out about $50,000 worth of the highest quality meats and seafood because of the ongoing power outage from Hurricane Irma.

Instead, he connected the owner of the Mediterranean-inspired Villa Azur to a pair of Coconut Grove neighbors who regularly barbecue in the neighborhood and mounted a Michelin-star-style cookout. About 400 neighbors, most of whom live in the nearby Kingsway Apartments on Charles Terrace that many simply refer to as “the projects,” lined up at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“This is the neediest part of my district. It always gets the short end of the stick. So every chance we get, we’re going to help this community,” said Russell, who lives a mile away and arrived an hour into the cooking, missing out on the lobster but not the marinated lamb shanks.

Russell had spent the previous day driving around his district, handing out bags of ice from the back of a truck to the edge of the 7 p.m. curfew, when he got a call from the landlord at Villa Azur, Ron Bloomberg. He’d been checking in on the restaurant when the owner, Jean-Philippe Bernard, told him his inventory was a day away from thawing out and spoiling.

“I said, ‘I’m going to see if we can salvage this,” Bloomberg recalled as he manned one of the grills at Virrick Park, turning over tender, seared medallions of filet miñon and Chilean sea bass.

Russell stopped at The Corner bar in downtown Miami after a long day, wondering how he was going to make it happen in less than a day.

“Honestly, I needed a drink,” said Russell, who weathered the storm in Coconut Grove while his wife and children evacuated to Brazil, where his in-laws live.

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The bar was one of the only places open downtown (after curfew) — and it happened to be run by a Grove resident, Chris MacLeod, who heard the story and volunteered himself and his friend’s portable grill to cook.

“I know a lot of people without power who are unable to cook so it seemed like something positive to do for the community,” said MacLeod, who was still without power, but cooking at the park while watching his toddler daughter.

Bloomberg stacked the trunk of his pearl Mercedes GL 450 at noon with the coveted cargo: chateaubriand, porterhouse steaks, rib eyes, briskets, lamb shanks, sea bass, sushi-grade tuna, scallops, lobster and octopus.

“It doesn’t get any higher end than this,” Bloomberg said.

At the park, the grill masters were ready.

Kenny Smiley and Lando Wright, who live in the Kingsway Apartments, regularly grill for the neighborhood on the weekends as a side hustle.

Russell’s staff emailed them asking if they’d be willing to donate their time, and their grills to cook for their neighbors. It was a no-brainer: Both had spent Monday night, after Smiley’s shift at UPS, grilling chicken thighs, hot dogs and sausages for free, handing out sodas to the kids (and adult beverages to the grown ups), while Rihanna and Kodak Black tunes filled the air.

Tuesday, in 87-degree heat with 72 percent humidity, Smiley and Lando lorded over a pair of smoker grills, one golden with patina, as the neighbors recognized them, lining up with paper Publix plates.

“Hey Kenny!” one woman shouted and leaned in for an air kiss, as he moved marinated lamb shanks around his grill.

“Everybody’s out of power. A lot of people don’t have anything to eat. Their refrigerators have cut out. They don’t have the tools to feed themselves,” Smiley said. “This was really a great opportunity to get some hot food into their stomachs. A lot of people here have been relying on canned food.”

But not this day. This day, they feasted.

Wright carefully turned hunks of brisket on his grill. The meat’s gristle popped and charred against his tongs, and he sprinkled it with water to release a fragrant, woody puff of white smoke.

“Juicy, huh? See, when I go to turn it, it just falls apart? Beautiful,” Wright said. “This is five-star food right here.”

He placed a still-sizzling piece of meat on a woman’s plate, next to a tentacle of octopus and a chunk of grilled sea bass.

“That’s a $200 plate of food walking right there,” he added.

Jihad Rashid directed traffic, pointing an elderly man with a World War II veteran’s cap back to the grill — “Let’s get you another piece of fish,” Rashid told him — before finding him a seat at one of the park’s benches.

“I couldn’t think of a better place to bring this food than here, to the West Grove,” Rashid said.

Rolando Wright tends to the lamb shanks on the grill at Elizabeth Virrick Park in Coconut Grove on Tuesday afternoon, Sept 12, 2017. Miami Commissioner Ken Russell organized an impromptu cookout for the West Grove neighbors after he learned that Villa Azur, a South Beach restaurant, had about $50,000 in high-quality meats and seafood that would soon have to be thrown out because the restaurant didn’t have power after Hurricane Irma. The residents enjoyed steaks, lobster, lamb shanks, Chilean sea bass and octopus.

MARGOT BRUNCH REVIEW IN GOOD THINGS GOURMET FOOD AND LUXURY TRAVEL MAGAZINE

Brunch Review: Margot Classically elegant with old school interiors and slick service – Sophie Ritchie pays a visit to Margot in Covent Garden for Sunday brunch with an Italian twist.

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Margot has everything you’d look for when choosing a stylish weekend eatery in London. Found a quick stroll away from Covent Garden station, it’s busy but not overbearingly so – boasting the gleaming sight of contemporary spherical glass chandeliers, glossy ceramic walls and midnight blue leather banquettes.

The newly-launched brunch menu revolves around classic Italian cuisine that prides itself on seasonal ingredients and quality. Margot’s morning offering is predominantly savoury egg-based, with a few treats thrown into the mix for those with a sweet tooth. Think quiche, omelettes and poached egg aplenty.

It doesn’t take us long to decide despite the vast choices – I opt for the classic scrambled eggs with smoked salmon (£14), forever a weekend favourite, paired with a Mr. Greene (£7) – a non-alcoholic tipple formed of cucumber juice, apple, agave syrup and zesty lime.

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Prettily arranged, the dish is gorgeous – buttery golden eggs circled by waves of supple smoked salmon, garnished with a single sprig of parsley. It pairs nicely with the refreshing and insta-worthy Mr. Greene, which is sweet without being nauseating sugary and leaves me feeling more awake than the usual Sunday morning cappuccino.

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Dishes here are pricy but worth it for the flavour and presentation, and even more so for the excellent service. Our waiters are charmingly attentive – offering newspapers, menu recommendations and truly fantastic service throughout the entire visit. It’s the kind of relaxed spot you could easily wile hours away in and we leave content, well-fed and thoroughly satisfied with our taste of authentic Italian brunching.

The details
Where: 45 Great Queen St, London WC2B 5AA
Times: Brunch is available every Saturday and Sunday from 12 – 4pm
Bookings: Phone 020 3409 4777 or click here to make a booking.

THE SMART FASHIONISTAS – MARGOT

Written by Isis Louw August 20, 2017

In addition to being strategically located in the heart of Covent Garden, Margot is a restaurant with so many positive aspects.

First, the decor on the ground floor is elegant, palatial and tasteful, with luxurious details such as leather sofas and chairs, warm colours with a hint of copper and bronze. The lower ground floor offers a totally different atmosphere reminiscent of the Italian grandeur, with green leather seats, mirrors and and an extravagant bar.

Second the food is simply exquisite, well prepared, with a special mention to the pasta courses, probably one of the finest in London, if not the best. The menu offers a lot of choice, including brunch, lunch, pre and post theatre good value options. The service is attentive and professional and the wine list is exhaustive from all over the world.

Last but not least, Margot‘s co-owner and founder Paulo De Tarso greated us and talked us through the history and life events that led him to open his beautiful venue. His passion and enthusiasm are extremely touching and heartwarming, and his attention to detail in achieving his dream restaurant is highly appreciated.

With its food, atmosphere and service standards, Margot is undeniably a solid member of London’s top gastronomy league. It is a destination, a classic.

Margot Restaurant, 45 Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2B 5AA

BEST BRUNCHES IN LONDON FEATURED IN COUNTRY & TOWNHOUSE

Margot, Covent Garden

Wondering where to recover the morning after? We’ve got the best brunch spots in the city all in one place…Brunch: it’s an institution.

 It may not be the most important meal of the day, but it’s definitely the best – if you know where to go! We’ve rounded up the top brunch spots in London, from the classic Wolseley to the hottest brunch party of the moment. Your weekend starts here…

 

 

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