The Best of Black MiamiThis past weekend, my girlfriends and I planned a girl’s getaway/staycation weekend. You know what that looks like– a little beach, a little pampering, lots of food and deserts :-), cocktails, laughter and fun. Given the recent fire alarms in this country, we decided to find and support Black businesses in the Miami area. Let me insert here that as a daughter of Black immigrants, whose parents helped build the Haitian community in Miami, I was raised and trained to support my community, so as a matter of course, I constantly seek out ways to always Black businesses when feasible. In full transparency though, I do not have an account at a Black bank, but will do so this week.

So back to the story; we decided to really be intentional to find businesses, places, etc. that could support our fun and merriment.  I have to say that unfortunately aside from the food, which we partook like it was our religion, it was a little challenging to find entertainment and similar activities that were Black owned. This is how it went down:

Thursday night: my girlfriend arrived in town late, so we started our food fest at Finga’ Lickin’ Good in North Miami. Opened late, this hip-hop themed eat-in restaurant has lots of menu options for the soul food lover in all of us. We ate the grilled lobster, fried turkey wings, mac n cheese, fries, broccoli and yams. Everything was delicious, service was great and we were off to an excellent start.  (no one said anything about healthy eating for this weekend—don’t judge us. :-))

Friday morning breakfast was at Bahamian Pot in Liberty City. This staple has been in the community for many many years and is consistently good. We, of course, had the boil fish and grits; we also had stew fish, conch, and johnny cake. Delicious!!!!

After breakfast, was pampering time. Although there are a plethora of salons in our community, we are not aware of a full service spa with all the amenities, etc. like at a hotel. We really wanted to and needed to spend the day relaxing, so we went to my favorite spa, what I consider the best spa in Miami—The Fontainbleau.  Of course, it was divine, there’s a sauna, whirlpool, venchy shower room, lap pool, relaxation room and we topped it off with an aromatherapy massage.  We also hung out by the pool, listened to music and chilled. It was an absolutely perfect afternoon.

Spending a few hours in the sun and relaxing in the spa makes a girl hungry, so for dinner we drove to North Miami to experience Chef Ivan’s Cookhouse, winner of Chopped a few years ago. This is my favorite Haitian fusion restaurant.  I love the feel of the restaurant, the interior and of course, you got to love Ivan, who will eventually make his way to say hi after cooking your made-to-order meal.  We had the steam fish, grilled fish, crab cake, acra (which is a fritter), fried plantains (he makes them the way I love-crispy and flat), and the mushroom black rice. Amazing. Everything was excellent as usual.

Our plan was to head over to check out my girl Maryel Epps at the Piano Bar at the Hard Rock, which would have been my best live entertainment category, but we were too beat and had an early and long day Saturday.

Saturday morning, we took it to the yard (ask your Jamaican friend what that means ;-)) and went to Clive’s Café. We were greeted with vibrant murals, friendly service and reggae playing in the background. We went for the staples, of course, Akee and Saltfish and Food (ask him or her about this too). I’m not a big fan of akee so I asked for and was accommodated to have just saltfish and food. The food was pretty good, but I have to say that my favorite Jamaican breakfast is Ventura in North Miami. Tucked away in the corner of a little plaza, I have been going to Ventura for years. I always get the same thing, saltfish, food and Auntie (your last ask..:-) always gives me a little callaloo on the side. It’s always so delicious.

After breakfast, we headed over to IGA culinary institute for a cooking class. This is a full sized, industrial, professional cooking school and we learned to make pasta from scratch. Lots of fun and a great learning experience.  Now I know that there is brother Chef Chad up in Broward who does cooking lessons, but he was unfortunately out of town this weekend.  So the best cooking school goes to the only one I’ve been to (lol), IGA. It’s worth a trip and they have classes for kids. We loved it.

We rushed out of IGA after cooking, eating and cleaning to the Mind Room Escape. I dubbed these two activities, the best of not so Black Miami. 😉  This was also so a great time. We were locked in a room and had to solve puzzles, and clues to escape within an hour. The key is cooperation and team work. We had a little help from the staff, but solved the mystery with 5 minutes to spare. So proud of ourselves. Teamwork makes a dream work.

The best of Black Miami resumed and closed with what was the highlight for all of us and that was a tea party and etiquette introduction class led by Zakiyyah Shakir-Alozie, president of Zakiyyah International School of Image and Etiquette. OMG! She hooked it up. She prepared an amazing tea and desert spread with teas from all over the world. She explained the origins of tea, proper tea drinking etiquette, how to properly sit, stand, walk, greet. It was one of the most informative, entertaining and refreshing experiences I have ever had. This sister knows her etiquette, international norms and cultures, how to interact with people in a professional and respectful way in this global world, and teaches it all in the most humble, down to earth, kind and giving way. Her passion about teas and etiquette is so inspiring.  P.S. if you think proper “etiquette” is not relevant or important, check out “Change your habits, change your life”, a book studying the habits of 177 self-made millionaires.

Our best of Black Miami weekend ended with a thoughtful discussion about racism, the most recent targeted attacks against Black men, and a frank discussion about the frustrations we sometimes feel like “things” haven’t changed or improved for Black people in this Country.  Although we set out to do our part by supporting Black businesses with our dollars and I posted the videos and pictures to share the love; a valid point was made that all of the money we spent will eventually end up in the hands of White owned institutions like banks and other lending institutions, utility companies, gas and oil companies, insurance companies, grocery stores, clothing stores, the list goes on and on.  In a 2010 article titled “Buying Black – the Ebony Experiment,” author James Clingman Jr. wrote that $850 billion moves through black consumers’ hands each year, but 90% of that amount goes to businesses owned or controlled by non-Blacks. Currently, a dollar circulates in Asian communities for a month, in Jewish communities approximately 20 days and white communities 17 days. How long does a dollar circulate in the black community? 6 hours!!! African American buying power is at 1.1 Trillion; and yet only 2 cents of every dollar an African American spends in this country goes to black owned businesses.

The frustrating realities of our economic situation, and seeming powerlessness can be overwhelming, hopeless and downright depressing;  but we also know that giving up is not an option and through messages of empowerment, supporting each other and working together, we can and will experience the freedom that is our birthright to experience. In the meantime, we keep doing our parts, lifting each other up, educating, investing, informing, sharing supporting and loving each other.

We closed the night with listening to one of favorite Black actresses, Viola Davis recite her rendition of Langston Huges’ “Mother to Son”

You can check out my videos and pictures on my Facebook and IG page at Regine Monestime & reginethetravelqueen. I hope you enjoy and experience the best of Black in your city.