The splendid table

02/05/2014 10:00 AM

03/14/2014 12:07 PM

Aragon 101 entices food lovers to linger, to gently caress precision-crafted Berti knives from Italy, or settle into a comfy chair and slowly browse through the pages of a cookbook. A beautifully homey and relaxed environment is exactly what shop owner Erica Guzman was hoping to create when she opened a little more than a year ago. Inspired by small boutiques and stores she had visited while living in Paris and Milan, where she attended fashion management school, she dreamed of bringing that same kind of charm home to South Florida when she moved back. She recalls, “you could look through cookbooks there while deciding what to make for dinner, and no one would push you.” The 31-year-old Miami native traded in her formal fashion training, eager to work with something on the more savory side. Opening a restaurant didn’t seem the right option for her, she said, so she parlayed her visual sense and marketing skills into a retail project built around cooking and home decor items for the table. “You can have a delicious meal,” said Guzman, “but it’s enhanced so much by beautiful plates and by a lovely table setting.” Rest assured, however, Guzman understands the importance of the food itself. Which is why she started hosting regular cooking classes at the fully functioning, open kitchen that sits at the back of the shop. “The idea is to feel like you’re walking into a foyer and then into someone’s kitchen,” she said. During classes, about 15 students sit around the bar, drinking wine and tasting dishes as they’re prepared. Some even step behind the counter to get a closer look at what the chef is doing. “It feels more like a dinner party than a cooking class,” she said.

And while impeccable displays of vibrant, handmade glassware and textiles abound, the store doesn’t feel like a cold temple of haute housewares. For one thing, just as in one’s home, many of the items at Aragon 101 come with a story. Guzman often sources products from artisans she meets on her voyages through Mexico, Japan, Morocco and beyond: “It’s funny what an arbitrary meeting will spur, but that’s the fun of travel.” She gestures toward a set of Turkish plates: “You’re not going to find things like these on the Internet—these are pieces I’ve found myself.”

Here, Guzman invites INDULGE in for a personal tour of her fabulous finds.

Aragon 101, 101 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables, 305-443-7335,

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