#ThankYouMiami for Fashion: The Must-Have Travel Dress

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Today, our dear Miami fashion bunnies, we’re leaving on our Valentine’s Day/Presidents Day trip to the Catskills so we’re talking travel fashion. More specifically, we’re talking about the dress every jetsetter needs in their closet: the casual bodycon. We first learned about this magical piece of clothing four months ago in the Dominican Republic, where we were incapacitated with a stomach bug and facing the prospect of getting on a 2-hour flight back to Miami. Our friend Betsy forced us into her favorite knit bodycon dress so we could be more comfortable for the schlep. The flight was awful, but the dress was super comfy—an incredible feat considering we had a 104-degree fever the entire time. Unfortunately Betsy’s casual bodycon dress had to be returned to its rightful owner. Fortunately Forever21 has had an abundance in stock so we’ve acquired two of our own—one in a knit fabric and one in a t-shirt fabric, both a size up for extra comfort—and it’s all we want to wear when we travel.

The casual bodycon is the ideal foundation for any travel outfit. There really is no better canvas on which to layer comfy sweaters or, better yet, those puffy coats that you absolutely have to wear on the plane because they’re impossible to fit in your suitcase. Plus, the dress complements every body type, can be dressed up or dressed down, and goes with every shoe from sneakers to heels. Our go-to combo is our grey knit bodycon with a jean jacket, a wraparound scarf and a pair of ankle booties. How would you style it?

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Dress - Forever 21 knit bodycon (similar here, here, here and here)
Jacket - American Eagle denim (similar here and here)
Scarf - Forever21 infinity (similar here and here)
Booties Aska Collection Trooper in B&W Snake

Aria Hotel Prague Video Review

Originally appeared on Hedonist Shedonist 

Staying at the Aria Hotel Prague was one of the highlights of my phenomenal trip. The hotel is sumptuous, cozy and ingrained with love and music. The staff is warm, the location is perfect, and the restaurant stimulated all of my senses. If you are looking for the best hotel to stay in Prague, the Aria Hotel will easily exceed your lofty expectations. Check out the Aria Hotel Prague video review below.

Coda Restaurant Prague Review

My favorite places to dine always involve a chef that has an acute love for healthy, organic ingredients raised by small farms with oodles of affection. Chef David Šašek at the Coda Restaurant Prague represents the quintessence of this. Coda is located in the resplendent Aria Hotel, which boasts a classical music theme permeating throughout the property. The hotel is located on the northern side of the Charles Bridge by Prague Castle. The splendid cuisine, devotion towards ingredients, marvelous art & architecture, as well as the live pianist, created a symphonic ambiance for all of my senses. Check out the video review.

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Full review and photos available on Hedonist Shedonist.

#ThankYouMiami for Fashion – West Coast Roadtrippin’

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Last week we spent time on Florida’s west coast and explored some cool spots that as Miami residents we rarely get to visit. Our road trip took us to three distinctively different venues and they were all awesome. Check out our fashion travel diary for the scoop on where to go and, more importantly, what to wear when you go west coast roadtrippin’.

1. Smallwood Store
This historic trading post was established in 1906 by Ted Smallwood on the coast of Chokoloskee Island. Its remote and isolated location established the store as the go-to purveyor of goods and mail services for the area’s settlers. Thanks to its critical role in the daily life of pioneers, it was also a center for political activity for some time. Today the Florida Heritage Site is a museum that provides insight into Florida Pioneer History. For $5, you can view the original goods that have been at the store since it closed for business in 1982 and learn about the store’s past.

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2. Camellia Street Grille
We have to confess that our trip to the Everglades City area was primarily driven by food – Camellia Street Grille’s food to be exact. We had heard fabulous feedback on the Florida and seafood-inspired comfort food being served at this quirky local joint and had to try it for ourselves. The food was incredible. We enjoyed a quarter pound of boiled shrimp, a homemade crab cake sandwich, an herb salad, and a key lime pie milkshake. The herb salad was especially delicious, maybe it was the fact that most of the ingredients were grown on the property. And the shake? It. Was. Phenomenal. We talked about how good it was (“like key lime pie in a cup”) for about 30 minutes on the ride home.

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3. Clearwater Beach
During our trip, we also stopped to take a peek at the sandy pastures of our western neighbors. To be honest, we’re partial to our white, sandy beaches and our Art Deco life guard stands. But there’s something to be said about watching the sun set on the ocean and enjoying the quiet, empty beaches of Clearwater. After all, a beach is a beach.

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Smallwood Store & Camillia Street Cafe Outfit
Grey Draped Sweater H&M (similar here and here)
Grey Short Sleeve T-shirtForever 21 (similar here)
Grey Jeggings – American Eagle (similar here)
ShoesAldo Gimello Sneakers

Clearwater Beach Outfit
Black and Gold Sweater – American Eagle (similar here)
JoggersBullhead Denim Co. Knit Jean Jogger Pants via PacSun
Shoes – Aldo Gimello Sneakers

Aventura Dance Cruise Ignites Your Latin Dancing Spirit

As originally appeared on Hedonist Shedonist

Picture this: the sounds of Latin music permeating the entryways as you approach a massive 855-foot long vessel. Light-footed aficionados swirl in tandem with international flags whirling in the wind. As you stroll along starboard and gaze upon the expanse of sea, you feel an unbridled excitement bubbling inside and all around you. At this moment, you feel the keen awareness that it’s going to be an epic time. Don’t believe us? Just click the video below.>

After a few hours, however, you realize what an understatement that truly was,  because we had a freaking blast on this years edition of the Aventura Dance Cruise (ADC). The 7th annual Aventura Dance Cruise chartered the entire Carnival Ecstasy cruise ship, so every person on board was there for the same reason — a love for Latin dance, its music and its culture. Each person on board signed up to be utterly immersed in salsa, bachata, kizomba, merengue and any other latin dance you can dream of.  No matter you interest or skill-level, what resulted was a sort of kinship that had over 2,400 people dancing, drinking and singing on every inch of the ship until the wee hours of the night.

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The festivities were opened and closed by one of Latin music’s most influential vocalists and living legend José “El Canario” Alberto, who rocked the ship with two performances that brought back a tidal wave of beautiful nostalgic memories.
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We hung out with El Canario and his entourage during the private ADC party on a Bahamas beach. All of the artists were very approachable and took time to hang out with all their fans.
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Continue reading “Aventura Dance Cruise Ignites Your Latin Dancing Spirit”

A Stay in a Historic Castle in San Gimignano, Italy

Feel the Ancient Castle Energy

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San Gimignano (or Sangiin local parlance) is an ancient walled city with impressive Game of Thrones like towers spanning up to the heavens. The town is located atop a mountain overlooking a 360 degree view of serene picturesque landscapes, which amplifies its gravitas and sheer elegance. Although most of the original 72 towers have not withstood the test of time, the city is still very much intact and a handful of towers still reign over the city in a majestic regal fashion.

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We stumbled upon this castle online and were instantly drawn to it. Since we were travelling to a fable-like city, we felt compelled to stay at a castle that is over 1,000 years old. One of our favorite facets of Europe is the venerable spirit that permeates throughout the historic cities. One can intensely feel the energy of a city and the structures that have absorbed so much history over thousands of years. We thought a castle of this timeworn magnitude would be cool, unique and overflowing with these vibes. Continue reading “A Stay in a Historic Castle in San Gimignano, Italy”

Ostaria Boccadoro, Venice, Italy Review

Ostaria Boccadoro has the Best Seafood in Venice

By Ari Kane, Photographs by Daniella Veras

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Strolling along the narrow sidewalks off the beaten tourist path, we were not sure if we were lost or just mesmerized by the color and novelty of this place. That is until we came across a quiet little square where we found Ostaria Boccadoro.

Do you know how you can gauge the freshness of a seafood restaurant? When, as you are having a drink (or in when in Italy, an aperitivo) the morning catch is dropped off at the restaurant for lunch.  The exquisite Ostaria Boccadoro, is located in the magical and unique city of Venice.  The name Boccadoro, translated as “golden mouth” from Italian (bocca d’oro), suits this place divinely.  The owner Chef Luciano Orlandi is profoundly charming and quite funny. The fanciful and refined restaurant specializes in offering the freshest seafood. Their menu is highly dependent on what’s available at the Rialto market. Even the napkins, made of fine linen, appeared freshly pressed. Our sweet, cool and sexy bartender/waiter/friend Luca made us amazing drinks upon arrival. Continue reading “Ostaria Boccadoro, Venice, Italy Review”

I Terzi di Siena Review

Enjoy Celestial Views at I Terzi di Siena

By Ari Kane, Photographs by Daniella Veras

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Siena is a gorgeous city in the Tuscan region of Italy, rich with tradition, food and majestic landscapes and architecture. We spent an amazing two days and one night at I Terzi di Siena which is a beautiful place to really absorb the allure of Siena. I Terzi is conveniently located near Piazza di Campo (Campo Square), which is the center of town. A cool makeshift horse race is held in the Campo once a year. I Terzi is located in one of the tallest and oldest buildings in Siena and offers its guests breathtaking views of  the Sienese rooftops, Cathedral and magnificent sunsets.

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We had the pleasure of viewing a glorious sunset from the terrace while drinking wine and hanging out with a couple from Australia and another from Germany. From the terrace, one can admire the Torre del Mangia (Mangia Tower), the Siena Cathedral, the Basilica Cateriniana San Domenico (Church of San Domenico) or just gaze off and lose yourself in one of the best views in all of Siena. Continue reading “I Terzi di Siena Review”

L’osteria di Giovanni in Florence, Italy Review

L’osteria di Giovanni will Delight your Palates

By Ari Kane, Photographs by Daniella Veras

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L’osteria di Giovanni is an impressive, third generation family run restaurant in Florence. The food was outstanding, the service was marvelous and the ambiance was so refined and welcoming. It exuded a very trendy vibe with famous art adorning the walls.  It is a beautiful restaurant located just north over the Ponte alla Corraria Bridge on the north side of Florence.

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We had the pleasure of meeting Caterina, the sweet chef turned manager. When the restaurant manager is a chef you know that all plates out of the kitchen will be up to par. Matteo, who is also a musician, was our attentive waiter.  They got us off to a great start with a complimentary fried pasta starter that we likened to phenomenal salty elephant ears.

The Goose Breast Carpaccio was a savory epiphany. It was one of our favorite dishes in all of Italy. The smoked goose breast was doused with balsamic vinegar to create a heavenly taste. It was so intensely rich and scrumptious. The fatty thin sliced meat with the amazing smoky flavor and balsamic taste will blow you away. If it is not on the menu, ask for it anyway. Continue reading “L’osteria di Giovanni in Florence, Italy Review”

The Chianti and Truffle Tour in Florence, Italy

The Chianti and Truffle Tour is Sensational

By Ari Kane, Photographs by Daniella Veras

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The Chianti and Truffle Tour, run by the astute and charming Vittorio Del Bono Venezze, is one of the best tours we have ever been on.  He picks you up in Florence and takes you to San Miniato to experience truffle hunting, followed by a great truffle lunch and capped off by a visit to a marvelous boutique winemaker for a wine course and tasting.

Truffles are a gift from the heavens.  Just the thought of these magnificent mushrooms induces salivation in our truffle-addicted mouths. They are impossible to farm so they must be found in the wild. According to our hunter, ever year there are less truffle growing areas because they are contaminated by man. Once an area is ruined, it will not grow truffles again. The areas where truffles are found were such a secret, that even fathers would not tell their children until they were on their deathbeds.  We were driven to San Miniato, a tiny 1,000 hectares city renowned for its truffles, and introduced to a very experienced truffle hunter, his wife and their cute hunting dogs.

There are a variety of truffles that grow seasonally. The famous Winter White truffle grows only from October through December. It is the most expensive truffle and can sell for $3,000 a pound some years! The “cheaper” truffles are the summer black and spring white truffles that are much more affordable and still delectable.

Dogs are trained to hunt for a year and a half starting when they are puppies. These lucky puppies are given truffles in their milk. We wish our mothers had put truffles in our baby formula. While both male and female dogs can hunt, our guide claimed that females are superior.  According to our guide, the males tend to get too distracted with a different type of hunt…as in for a female partner.

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Once you find a spot that produces truffles, it will produce truffles again but you are never sure when they will spring up.  The hunter goes back to the same spots each time in the hopes of finding more.

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Our hunt was fun, informative and picturesque, so make sure to bring a camera. The hunter’s adorable dog named Nebia, is a hyperactive mixed breed with a prize-winning nose. She found a bunch of lil truffles during our hunt. A hunt only lasts for 3-4 hours(ours was under 2) because the dog’s nose gets desensitized after that period. Below you can see a video of Nebia as she finds a truffle. Continue reading “The Chianti and Truffle Tour in Florence, Italy”

Ristorante Dorando in San Gimignano, Italy Review

Ristorante Dorando is a Small Town Gem

By Ari Kane, Photographs by Daniella Veras

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Ristorante Dorando is a delectable spot located in the nostalgic, ancient walled city of San Gimignano. Dorando has earned a reputation as one of the best places to dine at in this quaint city and is included in the city’s Michelin Guide. The restaurant’s 14th century arched brick walls and ceiling lends it a historically gorgeous veneer. It was such a joy to dine in a unique and venerable setting where you feel as if you were taken aback to a historic wine cellar (which, funny enough, we actually happen to be in.)

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Ristorante Dorando adeptly fuses classic Tuscan dishes with a modern and creative flair. The plates are attractive as well as delicious.  The home grown and cordial Chef Duccio presented some of his classic dishes and enlightened us about the history of Etruscan food, the restaurant and of his city. Continue reading “Ristorante Dorando in San Gimignano, Italy Review”

Ristorante Grotta di Santa Caterina in Siena, Italy Review

A Charming and Scrumptious Restaurant in Siena

By Ari Kane, Photographs by Daniella Veras

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Ristorante Grotta di Santa Caterina is a stellar spot run by a wonderful father and son team. The son, Francesco, manages this charming restaurant that is rich with culinary and equestrian history. Chef Bagoga was a famous jockey that decided after his retirement to cook professionally and has become an award winning chef. This delicious little restaurant is under an arched brick roof that is decorated with Bagoga’s awards, photos and paraphernalia from both his life as a jockey and a chef. In addition to their tasty food they also produce their own delightful wine and commissioned a famous artist named Daniele Cestari to create their beautiful wine labels.

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Our first dish was a sensational Savory Cheese Tart with Warm Walnut Cream.  It was a splendid mix of Italy’s most famous trio of cheeses: Ricotta, Pecorino and Parmigiano-Reggiano that blended together phenomenally. It was like an addictive, cone shaped cheese blintz that was much lighter and had a fantastic crisp golden crust. The walnut cream was very unique and complemented the tart scrumptiously. One of these treats was simply not enough. Continue reading “Ristorante Grotta di Santa Caterina in Siena, Italy Review”

Tre Cristi in Siena, Italy Review

Tre Cristi Embodies the Soul of Tuscan Food

By Ari Kane, Photographs by Daniella Veras

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Tre Cristi exemplifies the true soul of Etruscan food in Siena. It is the oldest restaurant in the city dating back to 1830 — that’s 184 years in business offering fresh and tasty Tuscan cuisine at very reasonable prices. The structure emits a classic, refined and warm vibe. A man and woman comprise a chef team that will take your mouth into the heart of gourmet Tuscan fare.

We love to experience the local cuisine; so naturally, we started our meal with Panzanella. A bread salad that dates back to the 14th century from a historic waste-not-want-not Tuscan tradition.  It is comprised of bread, cherry tomatoes cucumbers, olive oil and beautiful prawn and octopus on top.  The taste was very comforting and the seafood atop were so fresh and juicy.

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Tre Cristi is known for their seafood, so we sampled a Selection of Raw Sea Food Specialties. The pretty plate had scampi, sea bass and red prawn with great extra virgin olive oil. One of the great things about Italy is that you can be assured you are eating some of finest and purest olive oil in the world. There are huge scams being perpetuated around the world where olive oil not from Italy is being pawned off as Italian. The second this pure and delectable olive oil touches your lips, you’ll notice the difference and wonder what you’ve really been eating all your life. While the scampi was smooth and delicious, it was the prawn that ruled the plate. The prawn was presented as a deliriously enticing sashimi that was insanely satisfying. We refused to wash the sensational lingering prawn taste out of our mouths until the next course arrived. Continue reading “Tre Cristi in Siena, Italy Review”

A Great Place to Stay in Florence, Italy

 By Ari Kane, Photographs by Daniella Veras

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Florence is an amazing city and we had a stupendous time there. Florence hotels can be very expensive so we decided to use airbnb and found a great apartment right in the middle of the city that was very reasonably priced. The owner Monica was so sweet, professional and gave us great tips and insights for enjoying the city. We had a superb location in the heart of Florence that was within walking distance of everything. It was commodious and super clean with a big comfortable bed. There also was solid wifi, a big shower, great sheets, a washing machine and large closet space. It was just the two of us but this place could hold five pretty comfortably with its three beds. Continue reading “A Great Place to Stay in Florence, Italy”

Il Ridotto in Venice, Italy Review

Il Ridotto is an Absolute Gem

By Ari Kane, Photographs by Daniella Veras

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Il Ridotto is located just behind the sumptuous St. Mark’s Basilica in gorgeous Venice. This trendy spot just received its first vaunted Michelin Star this year and we have a feeling another one is on its way soon. The restaurant’s light brick walls imbue a rustic ambiance with a modern chic décor seating 24 inside. The warm, humble and camera-shy Chef Gianni Bonaccorsi greeted us with such an amiable and enchanting smile. Riccardo was our meticulous and handsome sever who kept us wanting for nothing all afternoon.

One of our favorite facets of this restaurant is that it is very affordable. They have lunch special where one can eat three tapas, one main and a mineral water for only 28 Euros! That is one of the best deals you will EVER find at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Almost all of the dishes are either 25 or 30 Euros and nothing is more than 35 Euros. There is also a 5-course tasting menu for only 70 Euros. These are insanely reasonable prices for a restaurant of this caliber.

The opening bread basket had wonderful toasted bread that was thicker than Texas Toast as well as addictive runway model (long and skinny) bread sticks that were served with sterling Sicilian olive oil, which was perfect for dippage.

We started off our feast with the Pea Soup with Mussels, Clams, Langoustine and Bread that was utterly superb. It was so smooth yet bursting with the deep complexity of the diverse seafood flavors.

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During our whirlwind culinary adventure throughout Italy, we found dishes that were so beautifully crafted, they should have their own exhibit in a museum. The Sardine Sandwich with “Panzanella” Vegetable served with Ricotta cheese and Candied Capers was one of these resplendent masterpieces. This inside-out sardine sandwich with sweet popped rice cake was such a delight to gaze upon and indulge. The multiple colors of pepper purees added a radiant complexion to this stunning dish. All the different textures and seasonings swirled around in our mouths in an enrapturing fashion. Continue reading “Il Ridotto in Venice, Italy Review”

When in Rome, Rent in Rome

Vacation in Rome like a Local with Rent in Rome

By Ari Kane, Photographs by Daniella Veras

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Rome is one of the best cities in the world to visit. The food is magnificent, the architecture is sublime and there are copious amount of historical sites and energy to take in. It is very easy to figure out the best to sites to see in Rome but people really struggle with where to stay. Hotels are very expensive, especially the ones located in the prime locations. Hostels are not cheap and those that are, will generally not be located in best areas. If you manage to stay in a central location, you can easily walk to almost all of the historic sites from your home base. The best way to discover and experience a city is to walk everywhere, so we highly recommend securing a centrally located spot. Continue reading “When in Rome, Rent in Rome”

Ristorante Life in Rome Review

 Ristorante Life Loves to Feed you Exquisite Slow Food

By Ari Kane, Photographs by Daniella Veras

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Ristorante Life is a superb establishment located in the nicest area (The Rodeo Drive) of Rome. Life is run by Clemente and Giovanna, a brother and sister sommelier team that is committed to the institution of Slow Food. The beauty and philosophy of Slow Food, which started in Italy involves preserving and promoting local foods and centuries-old traditions of gastronomy and food production that Italy has abided by for centuries.

Clemente is one of those people that you just feel an instant endearing connection with. He is wise, passionate and insightful. We authentically felt his abundant love for his food, the Earth and his customers.  He explained how Ristorante Life, as part of the Slow Food movement, only uses the finest ingredients from all over Italy. Everything at Life is Home-Made Express meaning nothing is pre-prepared. Everything is made on-demand at the moment the customer orders it.  This type of service requires extra hands in the kitchen but the results are well worth it. There is fresh fish daily and bread baked in-house twice a day. They specialize in fresh truffles delivered every two weeks as well. You can really feel the quality, love and freshness of the food there. Continue reading “Ristorante Life in Rome Review”

Osteria Personale in Florence Review

Osteria Personale is an Absolute Revelation

By Ari Kane, Photographs by Daniella Veras

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Osteria Personale is a visionary masterpiece. The owner Matteo Fantini is a former veterinarian turned brilliant chef and mad scientist that has prolifically pushed culinary taste, texture and creativity to an unchartered territory of innovative deliciousness. Florence is home to many amazing restaurants that cook traditional Italian food, but that’s not what you’ll find here. The affable Mateo has taken traditional dishes and reimagined them in smart and inventive ways. In fact, he does not even serve pasta!

Personale has a very comfortable and intimate setting further enhanced by a seductive jazz soundtrack that creates an inviting ambiance. Matteo, himself, warmly greets you at the door. The restaurant only seats 28 and was virtually packed on a rainy Friday night.  This profoundly visionary menu is so complex, yet so simple with only 15 dishes to order from.   It’s impossible not to get excited after reading the menu.

The journey began with a vibrantly vivid Carrot “Soup” sprinkled with miniature morsels of herring.  While it was called a soup, it was far lighter than your typical carrot soup.  Any lighter and it might have just floated away. It was adeptly fine and silky smooth, reminding us of Scarpetta’s velvet like polenta in its delicate consistency.

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The show really started when Mateo’s brilliant take on burrata graced our table.  His Burrata Cheese with Tomato Sorbet, Olive Crumble, Peas and Crispy Rocket was by far the best burrata we have ever had. Two beautiful scoops of this soft cheese lay atop a celestial olive crumble.  The magnificent olive crumble added such a beautiful level of oral depth and texture to the phenomenal cheese. It was akin to cookie crumbles on a sundae or Bacos on a salad that adds a glorious and much needed crunch. The mound of tomato sorbet atop the olive crumble was original, tasteful and refreshing.  No crumb was left behind on this epic dish. Continue reading “Osteria Personale in Florence Review”

Florence Food Tour Review

 By Ari Kane, Photographs by Daniella Veras

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The Florence Food Tour was a great tour that really gives you a sense of the cuisine of Florence while simultaneously enlightening you and stuffing you to the gills. Benedetta was our born and raised local tour guide. She gave us a very interesting and educational tour.

Stop one was Cafecito time. Chiaro Scuro is known as one of the best espresso bars in Florence. Chiaro has an eclectic spectrum of exotic coffee beans. This Italians use a percolator at home, they call it a Moka. Espresso machines were created in Italy and the name as it implied is based on the fact that it comes out quite swiftly. Italy is known as the best bean roaster in the world so beans are actually shipped here just to be roasted. The typical espresso blend is 80% Arabica bean and 20% Robusta bean.

Kopi luwak is recognized as the best coffee in the world. A special animal in Indonesia eats the coffee bean berries and then they shit out the beans which are used for this “special” coffee. A tiny espresso goes for around 10 euros but we received a half price local discount so it wasn’t that much more expensive than Starbucks. We obviously had to sample the “best coffee” in the world so we obliged. It had a very strange and different taste but I guess that comes along with the animal shitting the bean out process. It kind of did taste like an animal ass but it left a very cool film on the roof of your mouth. It was not our cup of tea but it was definitely worth the experience. Continue reading “Florence Food Tour Review”

La Pergola is the Quintessence of Fine Dining in Rome

La Pergola Will Be the Best Meal of Your Life

By Ari Kane, Photographs by Daniella Veras

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The über brilliant German Chef Heinz Beck has impacted culinary history in a profoundly gifted manner. Chef Beck’s Three Star Michelin restaurant La Pergola is a gastronomic haven of unparalleled degree. Beck and his ridiculously talented team of 20 create masterpieces that fuse exquisite art, brilliant culinary science and the most delectable food on the planet to create the finest meal you most likely will ever experience.

There was actually a 50% chance that La Pergola would not even exist. Heinz has a twin brother who also wanted to be a chef. Their father did not want both of them to become chefs, so he decided to flip a coin to let fate determine who would be allowed to follow their dream. Fortunately for us and all of La Pergola’s blessed patrons, Heinz prevailed and created the treasured jewel that is La Pergola in the beautiful city of Rome.

The 9-course tasting menu (220 Euros) is a gift that all who can must bestow upon their palates. It will not merely be the most striking gastronomy you ever sample, but it will also be a ravishing art show, a scientific learning experience and a marvelous, one-of-a-kind production from start to finish.

La Pergola boasts an extensive water menu with over 25 selections. We chose a naturally carbonated water from a nearby Italian city instead of the 120 Euro water that was made by some Hollywood producer and can only be purchased at a few outlets around the world.

The 9-course menu opened with a Duck Foie Gras with Apple, Almond and Amaretti that was decidedly the best bite of food that the Hedonist ever tasted. The apples and almonds were perfect additions to tame the foie creating an oral symphony of epic proportions. The Hedonist, a lover and purveyor of enthralling foie has sampled it across three continents, but none were ever executed so miraculously. If you ever find yourself on death row, this is one of the plates you should request before meeting your maker.

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Eden is an artistic and gorgeous plate inspired by Japanese Watercress Gardens. The garden was designed with aqua green tapioca balls and mangos, papayas, black caviar and Venus clams strewn across it as decorative flowers. The Hedonist use to scoff at people that claimed food was art until this extraordinary plate made his eyes pop out from the sheer masterful beauty. It is perhaps even too sexy to eat, but please put it in your mouth anyways because the amazing waiters will wait as long as you need to finish it. Continue reading “La Pergola is the Quintessence of Fine Dining in Rome”

The Taste of Tuscany Wine Tour in Florence

 A Fun and Hilarious Tour

By Ari Kane, Photographs by Daniella Veras

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We have been on loads of tours. Some awesome, some shitty and some even dangerous. The Taste of Tuscany Wine Tour from Italy on a Budget Tours was our best ever and we highly recommend and even demand that you get on it. The combination of fun, hilarity, education, activities and value for your Euro makes this tour a MUST do while in Florence.

Italy on a Budget Tourswas created to allow young (hopefully old too) backpackers the ability to tour Italy without breaking the bank. They offer day trips, cooking classes, bike tours, pub crawls and food tours among many others. The Taste of Tuscany Wine Tour bounces its patrons in a Mercedes van around Siena, the Chianti wine region, Monteriggioni, and ends with a jovial dinner on a farm in Poggibonsi.

The tour guide and company owner was a hilarious and spunky Italian named Irene. She was cracking up our group the entire trip with her witty naughty humor, stories and improv. She gave us our own Italian names and was by far the best guide we have ever had. Her adorable British accent (she will erroneously claim she doesn’t have one) made the trip extra enjoyable.  Our crew was a lively and lovely group of cheeky Anglo Saxons that spanned across the States, Wales (look it up) and West Australia. We had a cool honeymooning couple as well as 3 sisters from Spain on a bachelorette party.

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The first stop was a winery located in the fertile Chianti Classico region amongst legitimate breathtaking scenery. The spot was called Casa Sola, a beautiful private winery that dates back to the year 1000! The house was covered in artistic vines overlooking precious beckoning grape vines. The owner Maria walked us through the entire olive oil & wine making processes. It was quite fascinating to learn the intricacies of both. Continue reading “The Taste of Tuscany Wine Tour in Florence”

Sapori del Lord Byron in Rome is an Experience of Grandeur

By Ari Kane, Photographs by Daniella Veras

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Our first true Italian meal was at the luxurious Sapori del Lord Byron. This resplendent restaurant is located in the five-star Lord Byron Hotel, about a 10-minute drive north of the touristic Roman circle. It boasts only 32 rooms and prides itself on being an under the radar establishment frequented by politicians and affluent foreigners. Sapori is included in the Rome Michelin Guide and has an antique, yet modern-aristocratic country club ambiance. The atmosphere coupled with exquisite service makes its patrons feel as if they were descended from noble origins.

The service at Sapori del Lord Byron was nothing short of impeccable. Nicola is a soft spoken, sweet and attentive sommelier that advised us on some immaculate wine pairings and shared insights on the art of wine, all with a warm, inviting smile. While most of our waiters in Miami struggle with our native tongue, our gracious and astute multilingual waiter, Alessandro speaks four: Italian, French, English and Spanish. They were both so amiable and meticulous the entire night, which speaks volumes, since most dinners in Rome last for over three hours.

The Crunchy Polenta Horn stuffed with Creamy Cod served with rosemary flavored chickpea puree was a creative treat. The smooth polenta had awesome chunks of flavorful cod. The cone was made of a fantastic crust that literally shattered deliciously in the mouth.

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The Eggplant Parmesan contained a soft noodle exterior with a side of pesto and topped with fresh basil leaves that blended together beautifully. It also included fried eggplant sticks that added a great crunchy layer of texture to this tasty plate. Continue reading “Sapori del Lord Byron in Rome is an Experience of Grandeur”