MIAMI - Although most of the action around Art Basel Miami happens in South Beach, my favorite way to celebrate the end of the long fair week is to have brunch at the legendary Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, with Tiqui Atencio.

Tiqui is the force behind the Tate’s Latin American Art Committee, and the president of the the Guggenheim’s International Directors Council. Scoring a table for this event is a coup – it’s an all afternoon affair of pure indulgence. Seated in a beautiful courtyard of the hotel built in the 1920’s, with live music set to a tropical beat, the perimeter is lined with food stations.

There is nothing you can imagine wanting to eat that isn’t there – whether a breakfast of eggs, waffles, or eggs benedict;  a stunning paella; carved meats of all types;  Italian pasta and antipasti; a sushi bar, and my favorite, stone crabs, now in season, jumbo chilled shrimp, ceviches of lobster with a dollop of guacamole, and a caviar bar – all types, all the fixings, and blini or toasts. Champagne and mimosas are flowing, and just when you think you can’t have another bite, the doors to an interior dining room open to reveal the dessert buffet, graced by a chocolate fondue machine; crepes and ice cream made to offer, and all sorts of delicious cakes and pastries.

 

 

From Coral Gables, I headed north to Palm Beach, for the opening day ladies luncheon at the Palm Beach Country Club, another event I’ve been privileged to attend for the last two years as guest of Barbara Rothschild. This year, we presented Sotheby’s Diamonds as part of the event which also featured a fashion show by Saks Fifth Avenue.

Naval Bhandari, all around diamond expert and the New York-based Vice President of Sotheby’s Diamonds, had the group laughing when he said, “buy a big stone, because they shrink when you get them home.” Models circulated throughout the room adorned in the gems, which really do bring together exquisite stones with extremely artistic design.



 

Laurie Gendelman  was the artistic director, and curated the tabletops, flowers, and food  - all  totally coordinated into one harmonious and exquisite vision.

The first course was smoked salmon in the shape of a rose; the second a tasting plate that had all of my favorite flavors, including grilled shrimp, chicken, and figs stuffed with gorgonzola cheese,  and lastly the desert – a mango and vanilla semifredo.

Good thing I started the day with a jog along the beach (ending up, not by coincidence, on Worth Avenue for the final lap. On the way to the airport, I was lucky to catch the remarkable Jenny Saville show at the Norton Museum of Art.  Nobody paints flesh like Jenny, and these monumental figure paintings are powerful and poignant.