Interview: Overtown Music Project’s Amy Rosenberg

Jan 30, 2013

Amy Rosenberg

In this occasional column, we chat with people in South Florida who don’t work in the food business about what and where they eat.  

Amy Rosenberg is founder of the Overtown Music Project, which celebrates the history of what was once a vibrant musical hub--hosting performers like James Brown and Sam Cooke. Overtown Music Project also promotes musicians of today including artists like Joey Gilmore and Charles Austin.  In the past, the  Project has presented music-and-food nights at Jackson Soul Food.

When segregation was legal, black performers who took the stage in Miami Beach hotels like the Fontainebleau were not allowed to stay overnight. They stayed in hotels in Overtown, where they often performed at after parties and late-night concerts in the thriving downtown. The annual Overtown Music Project fundraising gala headed back to the Fontainebleau for a “big band/hip hop mashup” at LIV last week.  The Melton Mustafa Orchestra and DJ Maseo from De La Soul headlined the event.

Joey Gilmore at Jazz and a Little Bit of Blues event at Jackson Soul Food.
Credit Greg Clark

Rosenberg, who has lived in Miami since she was about 9 years old, started the project: “perhaps because I’m a little crazy..."

I had an a-ha moment four years ago on a walking tour in Overtown. Learning about the musical geniuses who performed in Overtown’s heyday just struck me. I sold my business and decided I had to be a part of bringing the music back to Overtown permanently.

The benefit at LIV raised money for the Overtown Music Project and its programs, the latest of which is a free music education program at Frederick Douglass Elementary School.  

What's your favorite breakfast?

My grandfather was born in England and I lived in London for some time so I love to eat a British breakfast—poached eggs with stewed tomatoes. 

What are your top three places to eat in Miami right now?

Sushi Deli on 79th Street: You order the omakase [chef’s tasting] menu and it’s so fresh and fantastic, and it’s fairly reasonable in price. You grab a bottle of sake off the shelf and it’s definitely the freshest fish.

I love the mac and cheese at People’s BBQ and Jackson Soul Food, unfortunately for my thighs. 

I kind of go from the sublime to the ridiculous. I love the madeleines at db Bistro Moderne at the Marriott. They arrive warm in a basket. Proust wrote about them being an exquisite pleasure. You can get madeleines at Starbucks but those are like cardboard.

I also love Blue Collar. I'm a fan of the casual vibe and the good, honest food. 

What are your favorite foods to cook?

I’ve been baking a lot for gifts and holidays. Lately I’ve been in a cobbler-and-pie frenzy. I need to hone my lattice crust. There’s also a ginger scallion sauce that I always have in my fridge that’s amazing with eggs and tofu and veggies. It’s the Momofuku recipe

What’s in your fridge right now? 

I have a bottle of Lillet. It’s a French aperitif. I open my fridge and see a container of black beans from Pollo Tropical and a bottle of Lillet and I wonder if I'm fancy or low budget.

My fridge always has a pomegranate because they are so pretty, a raw pie from Glaser farms and Japanese eggplant. I think right now I also have scallops, Fuji apples, figs and Manchego cheese. 

What is your favorite comfort food?

The aforementioned macaroni and cheese--I like it from Jackson Soul Food and I like it from Red the Steakhouse with truffles and lobster.  Even Velveeta, with that alarming color, doesn’t stop me. 

This is a guest post from WLRN contributor Trina Sargalski's food and drink blog, Miami Dish. You can also follow her at @MiamiDish on Twitter.