Monthly Archives: August 2014

Mi Rinconcito Mexicano

So we stumbled upon this little treasure thanks to the Miami New Times’, Best of Miami 2014 declaring Mi Rinconcito Mexicano as having the best burrito in Miami and years before in 2009 they declared it the best Mexican restaurant in Miami.  So I went to check it over with my family and we found the reports to be incredibly accurate.  The burrito with either chicken or meat, was delicious.  The enchiladas with either chicken or vegetables (yes, they have a good vegetarian menu) covered in their molé sauce was spectacular, (and molé isn’t easy to find around these parts, let alone good molé).  The horchata, which is a typical drink that I can best describe as an arroz con leche in a glass, is scrumptious — I didn’t order it so I had to steal sips from other people at my table! My favorite beer, Negra Modelo, was cheap and the food was very reasonably priced (they’ve gone up thanks to their fame).  The service was good and the parking fairly simple.  I personally love dining in Little Havana and now that I know about this treasure, I’ll be there more often.

…And here’s the address so you go check it out: 1961 SW 8th St. Miami, FL 33135 | 305-644-4015

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True Blood’s True Death

I have opted to wait until this series’ true end to write about it.  Why?  Despite the criticisms over the last few seasons (and I include myself in that), I love this show, Charlaine Harris’ series of books on which it’s based on, and I can’t imagine Sundays without it.  It’s been a part of of our Sunday ritual for seven years and the void will be felt perhaps more than the void left by the books (despite the books being better).  Onto critiquing the series finale…

I loved Granny Stackhouse’s cameo reminding Sookie to never limit herself.  I enjoyed Sookie’s disdain of Jason’s preference for instant coffee.  Hoyt and Jessica’s wedding was a sweet and cheesy touch that took way too long (Jason’s was sweet and to the point).  Bill’s end was poorly chosen and pathetic.  And is it me or did Sookie’s baby daddy kinda look like Stephen Moyer from the back???  And Eric and Pam…sure, I guess, whatever…I wasn’t a fan of that story line ending either or Sam’s.  I had hoped that Sookie, who I love because she’s a bad-ass, would have an equally empowering final screen shot other than her pouring lemonade.

Well…good night sweet Bon Temps…you gave us many years of debauchery, romance, and fang-banging.  Really a stake through Bill? Really?!  Well, at least there was LaFayette’s sound ending.  Good night.

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Miami Spice: Peacock Garden Cafe in the Grove

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This lovely dining establishment is designed with a sense of nostalgia for the old Grove.  The Peacock Garden Cafe is a hidden gem located right next to the Coconut Grove library on McFarlane Road.  Once you step inside it has an intimate, magical feel…I would try to sit outside if I were you (if the weather and heat permit, of course).

I began with a Mint Julep, which was good, but not my favorite.  Then we ordered the Miami Spice Lunch Menu.  I ordered the Prosciutto with Fresh Pears and fresh Parmesan with olive oil and vinegar drizzled over it…scrumptious! (The crab cake – 1- was good too).  I then ordered the Porcini Mushroom Ravioli, which was okay, but what was really great was the Grilled Mahi Mahi served on a bed of vegetable risotto.  My party finished off with a slice of Homemade Key Lime pie and a Guava Bread Pudding served on a lovely mango and guava sauce…the bread pudding was divine.

Although we had some issues with our original server, our second waiter was wonderful and the management handled things quite well.  All in all, it was a lovely dining experience.

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Farewell to our beloved Robin Williams…

It’s taken me a few days to absorb what his loss means to many.  As soon as word of his death began circling, a range of people from my social networks posted how he had impacted them through one of the many characters he had played.  That’s the thing — it didn’t matter what role he was in because his sense of humanity shone through every character and impacted many of us in some vulnerable place.  For me, there were a few, but at the top was Dead Poets Society, where he embodied the ideal educator that strives to free you so that your dreams are limitless and so your love of learning becomes a lifelong relationship.   Not far behind were, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams, Good Morning Vietnam, What Dreams May Come, Jack, August Rush, Jumanji, The Birdcage and Aladdin (I’m sure I forgot a few).  In every single one of those films he is liberating someone from often self-imposed limitations, and he did it through empathy, fearlessness and love — maybe that’s why we love him.  He made us laugh, cry, reflect, and realize how this ride is one to be shared because that’s where the real learning is — in our every day interactions with the people we love.  So I leave you with a quote from one of his movies – not my favorite of his because I think everyone has understandably posted Whitman’s “O Captain, my Captain! our fearful trip is done” – this one, however, is from August Rush, and I think it embodies what he dared us to do: Dream!

“What do you want to be in the world? I mean the whole world. What do you want to be? Close your eyes and think about that.”

– Wizard

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Boyhood

 

I loved it.  In fact I loved it so much that I went to see it alone, and then took my 16 year old daughter to see it the next day.  So, we loved it.

The truth is that I adore Richard Linklater’s films, his portrayal of life, his ability to capture the most seemingly insignificant daily occurrences and give them the reverence they deserve because those are the threads of life that help define who we become. This movie deals with our mortality in such a delicate manner that sneaks up on you towards the end of the film, and suddenly you’re brought to tears.  The fact that Linklater filmed this over a span of 12 years was impressive because the tone of the film doesn’t change despite the metamorphosis the actors go through as we watch them age on camera throughout the nearly three hours that you’re watching them.

Let’s go down the main actors in this film that gave heartfelt performances; unfortunately, I cannot go through the entire cast, but every actor in this film was outstanding.  Let’s start with Mr. Sunrise, Sunset and Midnight – I love Ethan Hawke; he plays the weekend/summer camp dad with a Peter Pan complex, perfectly — I’m pretty sure his character never contributed a dime to help the kids charming, complex, and driven mother with terrible taste in men, played by Patricia Arquette.  At the moment I’m still haunted by Patricia Arquette’s final words on screen as she finally understands she is alone, summarizes her life to her son, and cries in disbelief that “I just thought there would be more” — mothers, prepare to cry at this scene and kids, console your moms if you’re with them.  This brings me to the children, which includes Linklater’s daugher, Lorelei (being a Gilmore Girls fan, I was excited), playing the older sister, Samantha, to the protagonist, played by newcomer, Ellar Coltrane.  Both Lorelei and Ellar gave such incredible performances that you forget they are acting.  Lorelei plays the older sister so well; she is tough like a first child might be that’s had to live a parent’s separation, and has had to internalize the pain.  There are moments when terrible things are happening that she just smiles, jokes, or makes an obnoxious remark, but if you’ve seen the interaction between siblings, you realize she’s protecting herself and her younger brother despite taunting him and doing obnoxious older sister kind of things; she is the kid that does not allow herself to be vulnerable, she voices the injustices, and demonstrates an enormous resilience.  This brings me to the star of the film, Mason Jr. played by Coltrane: what an incredible performance.  Coltrane conveys such a vulnerability, honesty, and an incredible sense of humor.  Towards the end of the film, Mason Jr. is engaged in dialogue with a young woman who said that it’s really not about seizing the moment, but rather how the moment seizes you…watching this film was one of those moments.  This is a film that speaks to individuals at different stages of life.  Boyhood gently awakens the viewer to one’s delicate and often ignored mortality.  Boyhood keen’s you into the fact that just because a person gets older, it doesn’t mean they have things figured out.  In one scene, Mason Jr. is telling someone how even though his mother has gone through a transformation from a woman without a career or degree to one working at a college with a Master’s, she’s still just as “confused as I am”.  Hawke also admits at two points in the the film that time and the walls you hit in life are what eventually tame you, break you and practically force you into submission.

I could go on and on with this film because it is a story that will make you reflect on your life, on the dreams you realized or didn’t, and the significant crossroads life provided you with.  A good foreshadowing of how inspirational this film is was it’s opening with Coldplay’s “Yellow” as our beautiful Mason Jr., then at the sweet age of six, is staring into a powder blue sky, his entire life ahead of him, hope intact, and dreams in vivid colors.

Go see this film; see it alone, see it with your kid, just see it.

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Blue Starlite Drive-in at the Grove: Pulp Fiction & $5 Milkshakes

The 90’s: we had the end of the Cold War, Hurricane Andrew, Microsoft Windows, Anita Hill vs. Clarence Thomas & his Coke can, let’s not forget the O.J. Simpson trial, the Spice Girls, Nirvana, Harry Potter, Millennium parties and the reason I’m writing this…Pulp Fiction.

I wasn’t sure how to start this blog, considering that this is one of my favorite movies of all time.  How do you convey such a deep appreciation for a film like Pulp Fiction?  Maybe you enthusiastically show it to your kid (also a highlight from my personal account of the 90’s) along with other cult classics such as Heathers and Kids.  Or perhaps you randomly quote the movie at given moments when you’re having a milkshake or need to tell a bad joke.  Quentin Tarantino is brilliant, dark, and funny both as a writer and director.  Pulp Fiction‘s cast is comprised of an equally amazing group of superb actors, including some like Travolta that resurrected their acting careers, and others like Uma whose popularity skyrocketed following this film.  This dark comedy, which is one of the most, if not THE MOST significant film from that era, involves 4 or 5 interconnected story-lines that are presented out of sequence, and lead the viewer on an unforgettable ride.

I couldn’t imagine a better way of celebrating Pulp Fiction‘s 20th anniversary than viewing it at the Blue Starlite drive-in located in Coconut Grove on Monday, August 11th or Wednesday, August 13th at 8 p.m.  The Blue Starlite was recently named the best movie theater by The Miami New Times’ Best of Miami 2014.

So pick up a delicious shake and head over to the Blue Starlite for some Tarantino love!

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Miami Spice: Swine Southern Table & Bar

Savory smells beckon you along Ponce de Leon Boulevard, and there you are standing before Swine.  The interior is a combination of brick and wood, the lighting is perfect, and the ambiance is ideal for a romantic dinner or a group of friends catching up over dinner; the latter was my scenario.

Upon sitting down, we were handed the list of cocktails, beers, and wines that they had, which was an impressive and tantalizing list; I opted for the Left Hand ‘Milk Stout’ from Colorado, which was a dark, excellent brew with hints of coffee.  Since not everyone at my table opted for the Miami Spice menu, we shared the Fried Green Tomatoes, which was one of the best versions of this dish that I have had — the tomatoes were at that perfect point and the breading was wonderful.  We also shared the mac’n’cheese, which had my table scraping the bottom of the little ceramic dish it came in.

From the Miami Spice Supper appetizer section, I chose the incredibly delicious Grilled Little Gem Lettuce with a lemon vinaigrette dressing, sitting on an equally divine smoked fish dip with pickled peppers — it was outstanding (the Crispy Caujun Boudin was also very good).  Their entree menu included Atlantic salmon or a Slow Smoked Brisket with ground grits, but on the Miami Spice page it also mentioned a 1/2 rack of ribs as an option for a $5 upcharge, which I opted for.  The ribs were a very generous portion and tasty, but the Slow Smoked Brisket was scrumptious.  And the dessert — mmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm — that Triple Chocolate Texas Toast Bread Puddin’ was climactic to say the least.

I have to say that this has been one of my favorite Miami Spice experiences to date.  The customer service was also great, although it was a tad on the slower side; the brisket did take a bit longer than the other dishes, but we were told that it was because the chef was perfecting it…a truly Southern experience because it does take time to deliver perfection and that brisket was incredible!

If you’ve been saving your pennies to enjoy one of Miami’s best moments – Miami Spice – make sure you use those pennies wisely and invest in a meal that will be an unforgettable treat — go to Swine!  Don’t forget to make a reservation because these folks get busy! Happy eating!

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Miami Spice Menu: Cibo Wine Bar

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Ahhh Miami Spice, when the yummy food becomes so much more accessible to the rest of us working folk.

I had been to Cibo before; their food and service was great so I wanted to try out their Miami Spice Menu.  Cibo Wine Bar has a wonderful ambiance, and we were seated next to the glass-encased wine room, where they have someone stationed who will attach herself to a lift and raise herself up to get you a wine – it’s almost like a mini Cirque. Now on to the food and drinks…

They have a lovely cocktail and wine menu…I chose to begin with a delicious Basil Martini, which was served alongside a wonderful half loaf of rosemary bread with a side of olives. Wonderful start.  We chose our meals.  I chose the Tuna Carpaccio as my appetizer (one of my favorite foods), Lobster Ravioli as my entree, and the Panna Cotta as my dessert (another favorite).

First, let me say that the customer service is fantastic at Cibo. Why would I be in need of customer service to be fantastic? Because two of three items on the Miami Spice Menu were a little too fishy.

When the tuna arrived, it looked a little grey and it tasted quite fishy.  This being one of my favorite dishes of all time, I was quite confident that it was not edible.  However, my dining companion’s Shrimp Diavola was quite tasty and consisted of black tiger shrimp in a spicy sauce.  The staff was very apologetic and immediately offered to take my tuna and replace it with anything – I chose the Polpettine – and they were okay; they’re meatballs.

The entrees arrived and my lobster ravioli looked beautiful and so did the Chianti Braised Short Ribs settled on gorgonzola polenta across from me.  The difference?  The short ribs were delicious and my lobster ravioli tasted funky; great sauce, concerning filling.  So we shared the short ribs.  Our waiter who was lovely offered to replace my dish, but by this point I was a little weary, so he said he would reduce that plate off our final cost.  So we both laughed and joked that there was no seafood in either desserts.

The desserts arrived.  Please understand that my mother has trained my taste buds in this area because she makes a heavenly panna cotta, and this was a great one that was sitting on a lovely berry compote.  It was delicious!  Across the table, there was a Chocolate Baci Bombe, which reminded me of a big chocolate truffle with a hazelnut filling — yum, but my panna cotta still won.

So, this was one of those things that happen because Cibo is lovely….just ummm, you may want to pass on the tuna and lobster.

Happy Miami Spice Months!

Here’s the menu:

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