Sunday, September 23, 2012

North Miami's best kept secret for fresh fish is...

Captain Jim's.  We have heard about this place before from friends, but every time we tried to go it was closed.

Captain Jim's is a fish market and restaurant that serves fresh fish that they catch daily (and locally.)  It's a no-frills sort of place, but the food is serious.  You sit at tables sticky from being cleaned over and over again, get served by people who know the food and you eat some serious chow. 

Our service was a bit slow, but that's because there was one waitress. They immediately brought us water and a tasty amuse-bouche with crab meat and fresh fish.  When ordering, El Hombre almost ordered the yellowtail, but was told by the waitress that it came in small because "they aren't farmed fish, they are local so today the catch was all small."  That earned Captain Jim's a hundred extra points in my book!

I ordered the dolphin tacos on soft shells.  They were amazing. Made with juicy blacked dolphin with a cilantro cabbage topping and a bit of cheese, it was an explosion of fresh, crisp delicious flavor.  I got sweet potato fries as my side (because I love them and cannot resist) and they were perfectly crisp and delicious.

El Hombre ended up going on a combination plate with blackened grouper (highly recommended on Yelp!) and fried conch.  I didn't get a chance to try to grouper but the conch was delicious.  All the sauces and sides were also made in house.  Mine came with a salsa that I drizzled over the top of the tacos, which was fresh and delicious.  The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the slaw, but I'm not much of a fan anyways, so that comment should probably be scratched from the record.

So if you are in North Miami, definitely stop by Jim's for a tasty local spot!

Dolphin tacos with sweet potato fries, fresh salsa and homemade slaw

Combo plate 2 with blackened grouper, fried conch and black beans and rice

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thrifting Madness at Flamingo Plaza

I would like to preface this by telling you that I don't frequently go thrifting because it tends to overwhelm me.  I have plenty of friends who thrift all the time and find amazing things, and that rarely happens to me.  Maybe it's because I have gone on the wrong days, I hate crowds or I have no patience.

But today was different.  Today El Hombre and I made our annual pilgrimmage to Flamingo Plaza to find stuff for our Halloween costumes. El Hombre did find a pair of shoes and I found a potential shirt that I am going to attempt to alter down to my size.

But today Flamingo Plaza was a total treasure chest of finds.  I found two jackets (one of them is vintage Valentino, a salwar kameez, two frames, a hair fall and a jaipur beaded top - all for less than $100.

For those of you who aren't familiar, Flamingo Plaza is a collection of thrift stores in Hialeah.  I have two favorite stores - Red, White & Blue and Community Thrift.  They seem to have the best variety and as you are walking around you will see all sorts of people, including hipsters buying stuff to resell on ebay, etsy and trendy thrift stores.  After today I can totally understand why.  I am debating between tailoring my Valentino jacket down to my size (it's slightly big on me) or reselling it.  We will see...

Pics below (I should retake with my real camera and not my iPhone)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Night Amusement

Another weekend is upon us guys! I don't know about you, but I am starting to feel a subtle change of season.  It's going from blisteringly, blazing hot to just blistering hot.  In all seriousness, we can stand outside grilling at night without feeling like melting.

Fall is my favorite season (when you live in a place with actual seasons that is) so I am excited about spooky nights and halloween.

Normally I come up with a collection of local links for Friday, but instead I am going to share my new favorite video.  Please note the following things:
1. This video got me through the day today
2. You must listen with headphones.
3. This is thanks to my friend Ady, who shared this gloriousness last night on Facebook.

Please note, the cat is ok, according to the internets

Friday, August 31, 2012

Long weekend roundup

There is nothing like ending a very stressful work week on a good note. Once I finally got some good news, I shut down my computer and ran out the door.  Now I am contemplating how is it possible to always destroy a mani/pedi within hours of getting it?  Arg.

Anyways, I am looking forward to some sun (After weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks of rain), biking and relaxing with El Hombre. Hopefully I will round up some fresh blogging material while we are at it! One can only hope.

Apparently tomorrow there's going to be a random act of culture on Lincoln Road. How have I just now heard of this?

After these last few weeks, this song is kind of my jam...

A sweet blog about my fabulous grandmother who just passed away.

It's a ways out, but this is going to be ridiculously awesome.

So cute for fall.

Rain, rain, stay away.

It's college football season y'all!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

OmNoms Report - Scarpetta

It's no secret that I love Miami Spice, it's just a great way to get locals to try restaurants they would never normally try, and it brings business to a lot of places that otherwise would have depressed traffic patterns because summer is offseason here.

So my buddy, JoFi and I met up for dinner last night to take advantage of the Miami Spice Menu.  He had recommended Scarpetta, one of his favorites. I have been wanting to try it for awhile, so I was quick to agree.

People, this place is amazing. I am still thinking about my meal from yesterday, and I just want to relive that experience all over again.  It was so delicious, very balanced flavors, perfectly proportioned and great service.  The wait staff was polite and unobtrusive, knowledgable and attentive.

I am not super impressed with the decor (it's better looking when it's darker) but the restaurant does have a great view of the ocean. 

For my menu, I chose the following:

Swordfish Bresaola - This was sort of like a carpaccio, with thinly sliced swordfish over small cara cara oranges and black garlic.  The savory flavors, mixed with the bold sweet citrus was an absolutely phenomenal start. It had great flavor, but it wasn't so bold that it overpowered the palate. Instead it was fresh and delicious.

Spaghetti with Basil and Marinara - This was a strong recommendation from JoFi. It sounds simple, and you may wonder why I choose plain spaghetti at a high-end Italian restaurant, but good lord this dish is perfect. I've been to Italy several times and this is right out of any of the restaurants that I ate in.  The pasta was perfectly al dente and the sauce was bold, fresh and perfectly savory with the parmesan cooked into the sauce (how I prefer it).  I seriously did not want this plate to end. When I ran out of pasta, I mopped the rest of the sauce up with the freshly-baked bread.

Before I move on to desert, I need to sidebar to say that the bread was amazing. AMAZING.  They have bread with thin slices of ham cooked in.  Can things get any better?  They also brought out an appertif with watermelon and burrata between our appetizers and the main course. Very cute and delicious.

To end the meal, I ordered the coconut panna cotta with carmelized pineapple and guava soup. Like the appetizer, this was fresh, delicious and full of amazing flavors and textures. I am a HUGE panna cotta fan, and I loved how they pulled in local tropical fruits to give this traditional Italian desert a decidedly Miami twist.

Would I go back? Absolutely.  Scarpetta is probably my favorite Miami Spice restaurant I have ever been to (with Michy's a close second.)

The best part? The menu goes on until the end of September so go visit while you have the chance!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

An Ode to Isaac

So like the rest of South Florida, I am stuck inside waiting out the bands of Isaac.  Thus far it appears to have fizzled out for us, with the exception of some bursts of wind and sideways rain.

So here's a song for your afternoon cabin fever:

Friday, August 24, 2012

My weekend rambling

It's Friday!  I've been a bit MIA lately.  Last weekend we flew back to NC because my amazing grandmother passed away. It's just another reminder that we only have so long on this planet. That, followed by yet another crazy busy week has left me spent.

Lately I have been feeling a little creatively drained, and I am trying to get back into writing, taking pictures, dancing, etc.  Unfortunately a little storm called Isaac is going to get in my way this weekend. So it looks like another weekend lounging and reading and cleaning.

If it's not horribly storming, I think I need to go see Suenalo this weekend.

This is right up my alley... If only it wasn't in Pompano.

This review of Inception cracked me up.

We had waaaaay too much fun with this yesterday

Speaking of dance, this is amazing.

The perfect tailgating shoes

Friday, August 10, 2012

Happy Friday!

Another work week is behind us guys! Now for two short, wonderful days of sleeping in, reading and obsessively planning our sojourn to foreign lands (how mysterious!) I'm not sure about you guys but I'm pretty much mentally exhausted, so here goes my collection of awesomeness for the weekend:

I love South Florida, but I would seriously relish another trip back to Northern California for a few days.

The perfect summer beverage.

This exhibit at the Coral Gables Museum looks interesting.

Tomorrow is the Wynwood Art Walk.  We've been a few times.

I'm curious to try paddle boarding.

Can you figure out which one is South Beach?

23 days away... (Go Canes!)

Monday, August 6, 2012

No Name Pub

On our last few jaunts through the keys, El Hombre and I have been trying to find interesting stops along the way. One of these stops was No Name Pub, which has been in Big Pine Key since the 30's.  

It's a small bar, well off US 1, with signs all around the bar (and on their souvenir pint glasses) that proclaim, "A nice place if you can find it."  This place has a cool vibe about it, and is one of those keys establishments you wouldn't find anywhere in South Florida.  

When you walk in you get a respite from the often-blinding South Florida sun.  As your eyes adjust, you realize there are dollar bills hanging all over the restaurant - our bartender said there was probably about $250,000 in dollar bills hanging from the ceiling and walls.

They advertise on their website (complete with animated GIFs) that they have the best pizza in the known universe. I don't know about that, but most of the tables we saw had ordered pizza so it's clearly popular.  From a glance, it looks like they serve a Chicago-style pizza, which isn't my favorite.

We sat on high stools at the bar and drank beer and sangria and ate key lime pie. People, the key lime pie was ridiculous.  I assumed we would get the standard small piece you always get, and they served us a huge slide (picture below) of this rich, amazingly delicious pie.  Sweet and tart, it was hands-down the best key lime pie I have ever had. It was so rich though, that we couldn't finish it.  

Next time you are driving through, I definitely recommend pulling up your Google maps and swinging by this little place.  It's chill and you can pick up a fun glass to commemorate your trip. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

It's Friday!

Welcome to the weekend everyone!  El Capitan is out of town and I have basically felt like death for the last week and obsessively watching the Olympics.  Side note, I really hope NBC NEVER gets the rights to this again. Such a horrible way that they are handling it.

Anyways, it looks to be a rainy weekend and I really wanted to go to the beach.

This will be an amazing bellydance workshop.

Who doesn't love Miami Spice?

Also, Fairchild is officially free on Sundays. I need a new memory card.

Miami's culinary scene is really heating up. I'm so excited about Jose Andres' new restaurant!

Miami is home to a new Olympian!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Brunch Alert - Chocolate Fashion

Today El Hombre and I woke up to very little food in our kitchen, a stormy morning and hungry.  We are in the finish stages of remodeling our kitchen and are getting a new fridge tomorrow, so we didn't want to risk losing groceries.  Plus we have both been fighting colds and the concept of fighting crowds at Publix is frankly not that enticing.

So I hopped online to try to find a new spot for breakfast or brunch, and the Chocolate Fashion popped up in the search results. It was new, it was close and it's called Chocolate Fashion, so you know we couldn't go wrong.

The Chocolate Fashion is a small French deli-like restaurant, tucked away on a back street in downtown Coral Gables. They recently opened a second location on 72nd in South Miami, which El Hombre and I visited for coffee a few months back.  

I had heard of this place before, but always assumed it was just a patisserie. I was wrong.  We ran through the rain into Chocolate Fashion to wait in line - every seat was taken and more people kept crowding in. Today was a horrible rainy day, with a tropical low sitting over all of South Florida, so I wasn't expecting so many people to be headed out. 

Rather than waiting for a table, we grabbed seats at the bar. We chatted over random things while cupping delicious coffee and staring at the crazy tropical downpour going on outside. The coffee was delicious. I had my doubts because of the old-school glass coffee pot, but it was rich, warming and flavorful. 

Coffee at Chocolate fashion

For breakfast, I ordered the eggs florentine - poached eggs with creamy spinach, parmesan cheese, paprika and hollandaise sauce over an english muffin.  I actually ordered the hollandaise on the side because while I like it, usually eggs florentine and eggs benedict is smothered in sauce and loses the flavor.

I was not disappointed.  The spinach was cooked perfectly - it didn't have that bitter flavor of non-blanched spinach. The eggs were perfectly poached and the paprika and parmesan rounded out the savory flavor.  The hollandaise sauce was perfect and not too heavy - one of my chief complaints.  And when I cracked the yolk over it all - pure bliss!

By the time I was done eating, I was truly disappointed that my meal ended.  El Hombre took a bite and  loved it, and he typically hates all things spinach.  I will be back and I will have a hard time trying to order something new... But there are definitely crab cakes benedict with my name on it.

Eggs Florentine

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday night collection

It's Friday people!!!! This past week has been crazy - it's been busy at work, we have been finishing up on some home remodeling and El Hombre and I are battling colds. So we are keeping it local, eating soup from Don Burritos, trying to get our house in order and in general lazing around like a couple of sloths.

This review of 50 Shades of Gray cracked me up. I have refused to read it because I don't waste my time with steaming piles of crap.

A pretty comprehensive list of things to see in the Florida Keys.

Speaking of the keys, El Hombre found this and now I need to go.

I've been getting emails about Canes season's tickets. It makes me miss the Orange Bowl.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Escapism... Key West

Over the last four years Key West has become a well-travelled escape for El Hombre and I.  Our love affair with Key West specifically began with our first trip there as a couple for Thanksgiving, and we have gone back over and over again throughout the years. When we both are stressed out and life gets hectic, there's nothing like heading south to spend a weekend biking, boating, swimming and watching the sunset on the porches and roofs of friends houses. It's paradise.

I love everything about Key West -- the quirkiness of random roosters, conchs and live-aboards and people who have just plain lived on an island for way too long.  Over the past few years the recession has hit the keys especially hard, and we have seen shops and restaurants come and go as business slowed to a grinding halt. After all, not many people have had the cash to fly into the keys for fishing charters and vacations.

This past weekend as El Hombre and I biked through familiar streets, I was excited to find new, local businesses popping up. Our friend told us the business at his store these past few months has already blown last year's numbers out of the waters, and we heard this same story echoed from others.  

Tourists were definitely walking around -- not a common sight for summer -- and these were overnight tourists, which bring much more money into the local economy. It seems that things are finally starting to look up for those of us down here in South Florida! 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday roundup

Another work week come and gone. I'm ready to spend my weekend curling up with my kindle on a porch, riding bikes and swimming with el hombre and unwinding.  I'm also going to try to get a new memory card (still smarting over that one) and maybe taking some photos.  Who knows?

This Wynwood exhibit looks pretty awesome.

I find Miami's breed specific legislation short-sided and wrong.


Don't forget, it's Miami Spa Month(s)

Want to learn about the history of Coral Gables?

I need to find someone to split this CSA one day.

Original South Floridians

And as always, you can follow me on Pinterest.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Florida Keys Bird Sanctuary

Last Sunday, El Hombre and I rambled halfway down the keys for a short getaway. We've both been busy with home renovations, work, car issues, etc. so a mini day trip was long overdue.

If you have followed us for awhile, you probably have figured out that the Keys, specifically Key West, is our go-to when we need to relax and unwind.  Normally we head straight down Overseas Highway and don't stop 'til we hit mile marker 0.

Since we didn't have that kind of time, we stopped into several places along the way and explored. One such place was the Florida Keys Bird Sanctuary.  This is a pathway that started and still operates as a wild bird rehabilitation center.  It's located at 93600 Overseas Highway in Tavernier, and can be hard to miss if you aren't looking for it.  It's on the gulf side and has a faded, painted sign. 

There are a few paths that lead you past several large cages that house all sorts of native wild birds, including hawks, penguins and owls (my favorite because they have a perpetual alarmed/angry face.)  One of the paths will lead you out onto a beach where you can observe different types of ibis, pelicans and more. You may also cross paths with a few cats or the "attack rooster."

I had several pictures, but of course my memory card failed (never buying a Panasonic memory card again.)  I did snap this photo on Instagram, which ended up getting reposted on the Sun-Sentinal site.

While it's an interesting stop, I don't recommend walking around in the middle of the afternoon as we were dying of heat by the time we got back in the car.

PS, if you want to follow me on Instagram, my username is @xtinakm

The Thirsty Turtle

What an adorable and appropriate name for a restaurant/sports bar!  I'm in love with the cuteness of it all.  And with their wings.  But I especially adore their turtle logo:

If you're up in Palm Beach County and in the Juno Beach area, or up in Port St. Lucie (They have a second location there. I know. You're saying way up there???  It's really not that far but feels like a million miles away compared to where we live in the 305) stop at The Thirsty Turtle and try their wings.  Sweet AND spicy and 100% delicious.  My husband hasn't stopped talking about them and it's been nearly a week since we ate there.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Islander Resort in Islamorada

The Islander Resort had been recommended to me by a friend who said his "I do's" on its sandy backyard, as a great place to stay in the Keys.  It's got a laid back, relaxing pool area to hang out in and water sports and other activities out back.  It's pretty cool if that's all you are looking for.  But, if you are looking for a quiet night's sleep, then this "resort" may not be for you.

Tucked back off of US-1 around mile marker 82 in Islamorada is the Islander Resort.  You can't miss the sign along the road.  It's large and looks like it's been there since at least the 1960's.  In fact, the "resort" is so 1960's and retro that it's the first motel I had been to in a very long time where you park your car right outside of your hotel room.  You can literally almost drive right in.  The room was clean and very spacious with a full kitchen, but with the bathroom sink practically in the kitchen, it felt more like a large studio apartment.  And I would keep in mind that "resort" is what they call themselves.  It's not to be confused with a real resort like Cheeca Lodge and Spa down the road.

The view from our room was very nice.  Being on the first floor, I could walk right out the door and to an awaiting hammock.

It took a couple of minutes to find the pool area - this place is a sprawling sea of one-story hotel buildings - but we finally found it.  We had to wind and weave our way past other buildings and lots of parking spaces marked with fish like the one below.

There are two pools and on the day we were there, one closed early due to a wedding reception that was taking place next door.  I have to say, the pools were very, very nice and the landscaping was gorgeous.  I could have stayed out there for hours!

Behind the pools is a small sandy beach and the Atlantic Ocean.  The sand is the typical Keys coral sand.  It's not super soft and isn't that much fun to walk on without shoes.

Laying out on the beach chairs was very nice.  All you could hear were the sound of the palms rustling in the wind, the clanging of the sail boats just offshore and laughs of the sea birds as they scour the water for dinner before the sun goes down.

Out in the water were a couple of boats that were part of the hotel's water sports collection.  The Islander has a little hut out back where they offer snorkeling excursions, kayak and jet ski rentals and a bunch of more fun water things to do.

There is a fishing pier out back too.  I'm not sure if it's part of the resort or if it's just there, but there's a place on it to clean all of the fish caught during the day and a few spots where you can fish from.  It's a nice walking pier and a great place to watch a wedding at sunset.  

As a place for just kickin' it and enjoying the daylight hours, the Islander Resort is a great place to be.  My only real complaint is that the hotel walls were way, WAY too thin.  The night we stayed there, we were unfortunately staying right next door to a group of guys were drank all day and night and then wanted to fight all night, till the early morning.  You could hear EVERYTHING going on which is not okay for the price of a night's stay (it's pricey).  Maybe they'll remodel their rooms soon and we might go back.  Otherwise, just enjoy the place for the outdoor recreation it provides.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Night Roundup

Happy actual Friday everyone! What's going on with everyone this weekend?  El Hombre and I are hoping to wrap up some much-needed home renovations, and I plan to designate some time to curling up with my Kindle.

Thinking of stopping by the Pinecrest Farmers Market to pick up locally-grown green beans to try making this.

Speaking of food, I have been ranting for awhile about the many benefits of eating local.

One of my favorite local bands, Suenalo, is at the Green Parrot this weekend.

Speaking of which, I miss riding bikes and eating seafood in Key West.

This exhibit is right up my alley. A history of South Florida tourism (and settlement.) I'm a nerd, I like this museum.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

In honor of July 4th... Musical Interlude

Since tomorrow is Independence Day here in the states, I thought it only appropriate to share one of my favorite songs by an American classic

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hog Heaven - Not a Drive-By Anymore

While driving down to the Keys over the past few years I've noticed a particular restaurant sign. Every time I see it, I make a mental note that next time I'm heading down to Islamorada, I should stop there.  A place that advertises with giant, bubble gum pink pigs wearing shades and drinking beer has to be a good time, right?

Just past a bridge and nestled in between a mangrove hammock and a boat slip is Hog Heaven.  At first sight, I don't know what to make of the joint.  Is it a BBQ restaurant or a biker bar?  I still can't tell.  But I was pleasantly surprised to find a laid back oasis out back.

I walk through the restaurant, where you seat yourself, of course, past a dimly lit sports bar and friendly bartender, with pool tables and the normal bikini-clad sports bar ads that you find in such an establishment, through the back door to a seating area surrounded by mangroves facing the Atlantic Ocean.

It's a calm day and the ocean is a deep blue-green.  After being cooped up in the car for two hours, it feels great sitting outside, looking out at the water.  The restaurant has tables lining a small dock area and even has a small beach with picnic tables and palms further out back.  You could spend a good couple of hours hanging out here.

Besides the relaxing atmosphere, did I mention there's a very large, mechanical pink pig?  No?

And kooky Keys-esque signs?

And part of an old 1960's cherry red caddy inside the front door?

The food was surprisingly really good - their fish dip, garden salad (with real bacon and cheese) and fish tacos were all good for sports bar fare.  There is karaoke Thursday nights and pretty awesome happy hour during the week.  It's definitely a place I'd like to check out again.  

Friday, June 29, 2012

Weekend Roundup

Happy Friday everyone! What are your plans for the weekend?  I think El Capitan is headed to the keys this weekend.  I'm hoping El Hombre and I can spend a lot of time on the boat, now that Debbie isn't around to spew rain and create lots of chop.

Until Monday, here's some stuff to tide you over:

It's clearly Mango season, and this looks delicious.

Today is Critical Mass. Have you ever been? I haven't but El Hombre is hooked.

Tomorrow is Social Media Day, be sure to check out some of these events.

Sunscreen suggestions from my girl over at Indigo & Canary

Can you imagine taking this class in college? How awesome!

What an awesome song to kick off the weekend - an oldie but a goodie

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Design District Spa

For the last few years I have been a patron of Emena Spa in the design district. It started off innocently enough -- a friend of mine called me to let me know there was a Groupon for laser hair, and she wanted to know if I would try it with her.  I thought about it and agreed, only to find out that she never bought the Groupon.

So I figured that if I hated it, I wouldn't really lose a ton of money, and why not try it out? Many of my friends are huge advocates of Miami.  I was actually more concerned about the type of service I would receive, and pleasantly mistaken. 

Miami is notorious for rude service. It is absolutely part of the norm to be ignored or treated like less of a person. But this has never happened to me at Emena, and after several years of being a customer I figure it's the least I can do to share my experience.

When I first started going to Emena, it was a small spa, offering limited services and they used the Groupon to get new business.  Christina, the owner, was always there (and still is, more often than not) greeting people, checking them in and chatting with them.  Since that time she has grown out her business to include more services, and each of the employees and techs have been professional and nice. The area is modern, clean and inviting and they run great specials and deals throughout the year.

The one thing I do have to mention is that appointments tend to run behind schedule a bit, but when all your patrons run on Miami time, that's to be expected.

If you live in or around the Midtown area and want to try out a new spa, head over and check them out!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I'm coming back...

Hello! Is anyone still here?

I know it's been awhile, I apologize.  It's been crazy over the last few years, and it's been keeping me from writing.  Hell, commuting 5 hours a day for work (no I am not kidding) was a major part of the reason why I sort of fell off here.

I also started to feel like my postings were getting stagnant over here. I mean, I was getting bored of my own posts, so I can only imagine how my readers (if any of you are left) must have felt.  "Oh there's 305 writing about biking and buying veggies at some miscellaneous farmer's market again."

Anyways, so El Capitan and I had a good conversation about our blog the other day, and she's been missing it too.  We are both in better places to get to writing again, and have plans for diversifying a bit.

In other news, I have come to the conclusion that I really need to get comfortable with WordPress. So I recently started up a blog called Amaro e Dolce where I will be posting about a myriad of topics. I will still be maintaining this blog to talk specifically about life in South Florida.



Friday, June 22, 2012

Miami heat craze

So we hopped on our bikes to video the party at la Carreta after the heat win. I have several videos on my YouTube.  For a more thorough recap, check out my new blog home:

Sunday, January 1, 2012