Edge

Experience dining with all but one sense

Ever wondered what it would be like to eat a meal without being able to see? Thanks to Ability Explosion, a week-long series of events promoting disability awareness, you will be able to give it a try for one night.

“Lights Out Miami,” which has been endorsed by Miami Spice, is a one-night event that will allow diners to experience the tastes, textures and sounds of their meals without actually seeing them.

The event is a spin-off of a one-day event last year, when Miami Beach city employees spent a day working with various simulated disabilities.

“[This year], we wanted to do things that would incorporate anyone,” said Mikey Wiseman of Ability Explosion. “This is a true fine-dining experience, and by default creates awareness about people with disabilities.”

According to Wiseman, this is part of a larger goal of making Miami Beach the “most accessible city.”

Ability Explosion has worked in part with the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind to organize this event, which will take place at 12 different restaurants across Miami Beach. Five of the participating restaurants will have a complete “black-out,” where the wait staff will be using night vision goggles to serve (the remaining restaurants will be providing their customers with sleep masks for the meal).  The waiters will be trained by volunteers from the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind in order to enhance the dining experience. The menus are prix fixe and will feature multiple courses.

“Lights Out Miami” is not only a new experience for the patrons, but also for the chefs. The evening was met with excitement from many chefs, as it has challenged them to create new dishes that have enhanced textures and tastes, because for once, presentation is not important.

“Just being in the dark enhances all of the senses, so we are featuring the kinds of foods that we have been making for 18 years… but we have a new menu for the event,” said Giancarla Bodini, chef and owner of Escopazzo, one of the “black-out” restaurants. One such dish will be an eggplant ravioli served with stewed tomatoes, scamorza cheese and mint oil.

The hands-on approach to gaining awareness is one that has been well received.

“I think [Lights Out Miami] is a really inventive way of doing things, because people publicize things all of the time but this is a way for people to experience it in a way that you wouldn’t normally experience it, but in a way that you will remember,” sophomore Shelby Juarez said.

Some students are even interested in participating.

“I’ve always been interested in experiencing the world in a different way,” said freshman Taylor Rambo. “Doing that would raise the issue… in my mind and help me to understand and to empathize with people who are blind.”

The real goal of the event, according to Wiseman, is pure and simple.

“I really want people to get up and say ‘I had a wonderful meal without having looked at it,’” he said.

Margaux Herrera may be contacted at mherrera@themiamihurricane.com.

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: Lights Out Miami

WHEN: Wednesday

WHERE: Participating restaurants.

NOTE: Seating is limited. For prices and times, contact participating restaurants directly. For more information and other Ability Explosion events, visit abilityexplosion.org.

Participating Restaurants:

660 at the Angler’s

BLT at the BETSY Hotel

Catch 10

Escopazzo

Gotham Steak at the Fountainebleau Hotel

Indomania

Joe’s Stone Crab

The National Hotel

Ola at the Sanctuary Hotel

Quattro

Red the Steakhouse

Smith & Wollensky

October 12, 2010

Reporters

Margaux Herrera

EDGE Editor


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.