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.

Groove Cruise Miami is a Transcendent Journey

An excerpt from Hedonist Shedonist, the full article link is here.

I have traveled the world and experienced countless euphoric wonders, but few of them have managed to even graze “just the tip” of the majesty of the Groove Cruise. Even when you strip away the electrifying DJs, non-stop 96-hour party, breathtaking Bahamas beach, unobstructed views of sunrises and sunsets along the amazing ship, there is still so much more to the Groove Cruise. There is a special magic sauce erupting like a geyser from the ship —  it was flowing from the people, better known as the Groove Cruise Family, or #gcfam.

Picture over 2,700 people more amped up for this trip than they have been for anything else all year. This family is here to smile, hug, love, party and have the most epic time of their lives. With an 80% retention rate, these people are more than friends, they are family — and they likely have been grooving and cruising together for many years.  We were virgins, yet instantly felt like part of the fam’.  There are no cliques on board, just open arms. People have such a phenomenal time that they book next year’s Groove Cruise before they have even gotten off this year’s cruise!

I have been to many festivals and raves (Ultras, EDC, Life In Color, Bonnaroo, Phish Festivals….), yet the intoxicating vortex of energy swirling around the ship from the attendees was unlike anything I have ever experienced.  Not only were the people fun, adventurous, sweet and loving, but they were also good-hearted.  This is a trip where five iPhones and a diamond cartier watch were lost and instead of being pocketed by attendees, they were turned in to the ship’s Lost and Found.

Besides the people, the costumes were our favorite part of the Groove Cruise. The costumes were as prolific as an end-of-the-world gay party. People really GET INTO THEIR COSTUMES that range from the hilarious and debaucherous to the interactive and nostalgic. There are six different theme parties during the journey….

Article continues on Hedonist Shedonist…..

 

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” Albertowho 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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[Read more…]

Lique Miami-A Refreshing New Waterfront Dining By Betty Alvarez

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I arrived to this quaint restaurant in North Miami which I have only heard about, Lique. This waterfront dining spot is owned by restauranteurs Peter Cumplido and Alex Podolhy who are also behind Fort Lauderdale’s Sweet Nectar. This soon-to-be hot spot has Executive Chef Renalto Medeiros at the helm and I was about to embark on a never-before breathtaking dining experience in a chilly night but that did not stop me.

When I entered the restaurant I realized that I have been here before when it was Rouge Waterfront Dining where everything was red. But this time around, the restaurant is transformed into what it seems an enchanted garden with luxurious white decor furniture, greenery all over, the contemporary pieces that was all over. The decor is truly spectacularly very fresh and inviting. We sat down to our table to begin our journey.

Our dining experience was by candlelight. A nice touch for a romantic experience if you are dining with a loved one. In my case, I was dining with one of my best friends so that did not happen. LOL! I ordered a nice Pinot Grigio and she ordered a nice fruity tall glass drink that our waiter recommended. I was jealous as her glass was bigger than mine! When we were hended our menu it was unique as it was a wood platform wit the menu attached and the logo of the restaurant on the back. It was great as everything was on one page.

Appetizers and small plates is what we suggested therefore it did not disappoint. First serving was the Truffle Big Eye Tuna Carpaccio. I wanted something healthy but nice to start therefore the Tuna was a nice healthy alternative. What a delight! The truffle made the Tuna stand out as all my taste buds sky-rockted. It gave it a distinct flavor. Then came the Bone Marrow-a plate of 4 big oxtail bones filled with shredded beef with toasted bread besides each bone. A true delight to savor.

If the Bone Marrow is too much for you, the Beef Cheek Toast would be more appropriate as it has the same shredded beef on top of a toasted bread. Another real treat is the Escargot Tortellini. A plate of 4 tortellini smothered with creamy sauce with bits of bacon was the utmost satisfaction that we got. It was my first time in a long time that I tried escargot but it actually tasted like beef. Tasty and delicious!

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Lastly, we just had to have dessert therefore our waiter suggested the apple pie but this was not any ordinary apple pie. This was a Desconstructed Apple Pie. The pie was served with 4 fluffy pastries on one side, cinnamon ice cream in one jar and the apple filling in another jar. One had to place all of these items in the plate. It was delish and proved that by this time we were completely full.

Other than the plates we tried, the mediterranean-style cuisine also had more selections of tapas, raw seafood, and a sushi bar. One can sit at the dock area gazing as the marine boats pass by and enjoying a nice night out under the stars. A suitable place to dine with a loved one and/or with friends. A true gem!

Grovetoberfest 2014 Photographs and Recap

The epic Grovetoberfest, the “most scenic beer festival in the world”, returned for the fourth time to Coconut Grove and served over 300 great beers from across the world.  Over 7,000 beer enthusiasts showed up to pound some brewskis, eat some food, dance, smile and laugh. Grovetoberfest is all about the craft beer and has a strong focus on the local craft beer scene. Some of Miami’s top chefs like Chef Todd Haven and Chef Giorgio Rapacavoli rocked the Kitchen Lab, where they demonstrated gourmet cooking with craft beer. Beer Tasting 101 was hosted by FIU’s Beer Academy and taught newbies the basics of craft beer tasting. People were also dancing to the live music all day long. Grovetoberfest is always a blast and if you missed it we feel sorry for you. Fear not though, because Sprung Beer Festival  is right around the corner in March!

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Lenny Kravitz Rocked Miami to Celebrate his New Album “Strut”

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His musical talents and sexy persona inspire adulation, lust, love and respect across music fans of both sexes. Yes, Lenny Kravitz is quite a beloved man in Miami. Our hometown rockstar just released his new album “Strut” and came home to Miami to celebrate it with a very intimate performance. We were blessed to be invited and were absolutely blown away. We have been to many concerts, but being so close to a rockstar like Lenny, to feel his intense energy in a room with less than 100 fans in it, was simply amazeballs.  He absolutely killed it, playing his famous hits as well as songs from his new album. Even when he was playing with over 12 band members, one could really feel the depth of his sound. It was a unique and unforgettable experience.

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We know you are craving to get your hands on that new Lenny album. If you purchase Strut from Walmart (Only $10) you will also receive an exclusive digital copy of the Lenny Kravitz Live in Miami 6-song soundcheck performance as well as the full digital album download. You can view the Lenny Kravtiz interview and music videos from the Miami performance here. 

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Thank you for rocking out Miami, Lenny!

Keep up with new artists being featured by follow Walmart Soundcheck on Facebook:@WMSoundcheck :: Twitter: @WMSoundcheck :: Instagram: @WMSoundcheck

Win A Guitar Autographed By Lenny Kravitz

 

 

Lenny Kravitz Rocked Miami to Celebrate his New Album "Strut"

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His musical talents and sexy persona inspire adulation, lust, love and respect across music fans of both sexes. Yes, Lenny Kravitz is quite a beloved man in Miami. Our hometown rockstar just released his new album “Strut” and came home to Miami to celebrate it with a very intimate performance. We were blessed to be invited and were absolutely blown away. We have been to many concerts, but being so close to a rockstar like Lenny, to feel his intense energy in a room with less than 100 fans in it, was simply amazeballs.  He absolutely killed it, playing his famous hits as well as songs from his new album. Even when he was playing with over 12 band members, one could really feel the depth of his sound. It was a unique and unforgettable experience.

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We know you are craving to get your hands on that new Lenny album. If you purchase Strut from Walmart (Only $10) you will also receive an exclusive digital copy of the Lenny Kravitz Live in Miami 6-song soundcheck performance as well as the full digital album download. You can view the Lenny Kravtiz interview and music videos from the Miami performance here. 

Soundcheck.LennyKravitz-17

Thank you for rocking out Miami, Lenny!

Keep up with new artists being featured by follow Walmart Soundcheck on Facebook:@WMSoundcheck :: Twitter: @WMSoundcheck :: Instagram: @WMSoundcheck

Win A Guitar Autographed By Lenny Kravitz

 

 

Downtown Bistro Miami Now Offers Dinner

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Le Steak Tartare au Couteau- raw filet mignon cut by hand, capers, onions. anchovies, dijon mustard & quail egg. It was a very French way to consume filet. The bread was crunchy enough to be included with the Rice Krispy brothers and the quail egg you dumped into the shimmering slimy filet was fun and quite tasty.

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Lost my snailginity with this Escargots à la crème- Snails in a heavenly creamy Sauce and now hunting for these glorious creatures in my backyard. The texture was a cross between an artichoke and mushroom. The sauce had a zesty kick and complimented the escargot marvelously. The American in me kinda wished they were deep fried though.

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The Ravioli de Short Rib, Sauce quatre fromage, gambas pochées & asperges- Short Rib Ravioli with 4 cheese sauce, poached shrimp & asparagus was executed superbly. The four cheese sauce was rich and was a nice contrast to the short ribs. The fatass poached shrimp on top really set the dish off. A beautiful and unique plate.

Read the rest of the article and see the photo gallery at Hedonist Shedonist 

 

Batch Gastropub: New Fall Menu Excites by Betty Alvarez

The first time I’ve been to Batch Gastropub was to celebrate my friend’s birthday party. When I first went in, I was amazed about how casual but comfortable the restaurant is. It’s a gastropub where the menu was approachable and there was an expansive drink list. We celebrated during their happy hour and the placed got packed as soon as I got there. My girlfriends and I indulged in their wonderful happy hour menu and their regular menu. A memorable time for all!

This time around, I got the opportunity to preview their Autumn menu which I was excited to taste. I could not wait for the delectable surprises that this place that had brought my tastebuds into action.

First of all, I was greeted with a cornucopia of cocktail samplings. The one that stood out is the Green Pepper Mojito as I thought it was going to be super sweet but to my surprise it wasn’t. I could taste the green pepper flavor in my mouth but it was not overwhelming to sour my taste of the food that I was about to sample.

Batch gave us two types of menus to choose from for our tasting one that had the house made meatballs or the General Tso’s Cauliflower dish as the starter.

We began with a snack: Salmon Crudo comprised with the House Cured Faroe Island Salmon on top of Florida peaches with Truffled vinaigrette and maldon salt. This small snack was a different experience as I never tasted a salmon on top of a slice of peach before. The salmon taste came to my tastebuds first and then complimented it with the sweet peach infusing both into a nice sweet and delectable light bite.

Then came the starters, the house made meatballs of duck, short rib and pork belly on a sweet potato puree and Serrano ham gave me great delight. The meatballs were warm, soft to chew and the sweet potato puree gave it a good additive to my palate.

The next starter was the Tuna Poke-Peanut Butter “Crumble”, wonton, scallion, and crispy ginger. Although I did not taste the peanut butter but the scallion and the crispy ginger is what stood out of my mind. It was delicious.

For the veggies part, a Batch Kale Salad was served. Now I never had Kale in my life so I was delighted and nervous at the same time in trying this salad comprised of raw kale, hearts of palm, peanuts, strawberry vinaigrette, and parmesan. To my surprise, I loved it. The kale was not overpowering and the vinaigrette made everything come together. Definitely will have to try that salad again next time I go to Batch Gastropub.

Now the main course: The Drunken Short Rib which is a whiskey braised short rib with Vanilla and Sour Mash, Creamy polenta and Cinammon roasted carrots on the side. The meat was so tender that it was falling out of the bone. I could taste the whisky a bit but my memory was the warm, soft, juicy meat that these ribs had. Other than the cinnamon that covered the carrots it was also mixed with a coffee flavored sauce which had a distinctive taste.

The sweets that culminated our experience is the Carnival Donuts-fried dough, powdered sugar, with a warm chocolate ganache and Kahlua syrup. Now these round donuts were the best and my favorite was dumping it in the Kahlua syrup rather than the chocolate ganache. It was so taste was so much richer to my palate.
A very sweet experience to end this preview tasting.

All in all, I can’t wait for this autumn menu to be announced to the general public as Batch Gastropub wants to exemplify the farm to table concept as it is healthier option for everyone but with full of taste. Kudos to Batch Gastropub!

H2ombre is an Epic Experience

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H2ombre is a groundbreaking and exhilarating show that intertwines EDM, acrobatics, creative graphics, street art and good ole fashioned water into quite a majestic feast for the eyes. The performers are determined to whip the crowd up into a frenzy and unleash a boisterous, soaking wet dance party. We do not want to spoil the show so we shall keep our review short, but there are spoiler pics and videos below. If you can’t help yourself, feel free to click away.

We would recommend getting nice and “influenced” before you go to amplify your experience. H2ombre is only an hour long, but well worth the price of admission. We urge you purchase the front “seats” in the immersive stage area and wear attire that embraces the water and allows you to fully participate. You most likely will get soaked if you get close to either stages, but that is part of the fun! After the show there is an ample lounge/club/bar area to keep the party going. The herb infused alcoholic slushies were quite tasty. This show only runs through August,  so make sure you do not miss it. It is a sensationally fun and creative date idea too.

Taste of the Nation South Florida Captivates

Taste of the Nation South Florida Review & Photos

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Photographs by Paula Echevarria

South Florida (the non-confederate flag waving part of our paradise state) has been elevated into a serious “Foodie” region. While we are still anxiously awaiting our first Michelin Star, we do possess exquisite food, sexy chefs and a deeply diverse restaurant scene with an eclectic compilation of stellar dishes.

If you were unfamiliar with how fantastic our restaurants truly are then Taste of the Nation South Florida was the event to acquaint yourself with Miami’s finest. Almost 700  gastronomes showed up for this exquisite event held at the Loews Hotel. The lavish bash raised funds for Share Our Strength, an organization that aims to end childhood hunger in America. The irony of us stuffing our gluttonous faces to end hunger was not lost on us, but the event did raise almost $100K!!! With the exception of the renowned South Beach Wine and Food Fest, Taste of the Nation is the apex of culinary events in South Florida. [Read more…]

Planet Kitchen Food and Wellness Tour

Planet Kitchen celebrated its maiden voyage of its Planet Kitchen Healthy Organic Food, Drink and Wellness Tour, highlighting a growing trend towards healthy and sustainable living in South Florida. It also showcased local farms, markets, restaurants and businesses who make real food and drinks to heal us naturally from the inside out. 

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We started our tour at Trio Studio, located in between Wynwood & the Design District (Midtown) in Miami. There we had a wonderful grounding meditation to start our journey followed by  an awesome demonstration of Budokon Yoga, AcroYoga, and Aerial Yoga.   Tour participants had an opportunity to get in on the action and try out AcroYoga for themselves.  It was really beautiful to participate and watch.

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Afterwards, the folks at Sambazon shared a refreshing fruit, mint and frozen acai concoction called an “acai bowl.”  This superfood charged treat is also non-GMO, Fair Trade and b-certified. We enjoyed it so much, we purchased a bottle that same week.  I’m sure it will be a permanent part of our refrigerator as we support conscious companies and healthy nutrition.  [Read more…]

Toro Toro Miami Review

Toro Toro is an Exquisite Experience

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You only get one chance to make a first impression and Toro Toro at the Intercontinental Hotel floored us in all respects.  We were joined by Maria the Foodaholic for a remarkable dining experience at this stunning locale. She co-authored this review with us.

From the moment we stepped into the lobby, we were taken aback by the gorgeous beige marble décor lining the walls, and the captivating neon lights around vivid color changing screens. The gargantuan marble sculpture in the middle of the lobby conveyed a sense of historic grandeur balanced against the modern Miami flashing neon screens connecting the second and third floors. It was truly a seductive entryway to an amazing, yet under-the-radar restaurant.

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The resplendent allure continued with dark brick wooden tables inside Toro Toro and the beautiful supple oak colored leather booths. Rustic lanterns hung from the ceiling contrasting majestically against the red candles on the table. An artistic tree branch hung from the ceiling, seemingly crowning the robust red and white flowers below, adding vibrancy to the unique décor. [Read more…]

Summer Dining Series at Wynwood Kitchen and Bar

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Wynwood Kitchen and Bar has launched a European summer tasting menu. We swung by to try the Spanish menu last month. Currently, they are serving German dishes, and will serve Portugal treats in August.

The Duck Prosciutto was a brand new flavor for us.  When the salty, bacon like duck meat was combined with the San Simon and Tetilla cheese and the crunchy toast it was delightful. The Quince paste jam (similar to guava) tied everything together splendidly. The sweet sauce was a nice contrast to the savory duck and cheeses.

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The Stuffed Piquillo Peppers were a tasty beautiful plate.  It was comprised of crabmeat, Manchego cheese with a aji amarillo sauce.The Manchego melded with the crab giving it a creamy consistency. The aji amarillo sauce had some heat, so don’t douse the pepper in it if you are spice adverse. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

Amigos For Kids Voya Miami Celebrity Domino Night

Celebrity Domino Night Sizzles

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Celebrity Domino Night was a sensational party that had the guests eating, drinking, playing and dancing the night away. Almost 2,000 guests partied to support an amazing charitable cause on June 14th at Jungle IslandVoya Miami Celebrity Domino Night is an annual fundraising celebration that supports Amigos For Kids, a benevolent charity that helps children who are abused and neglected. The event was filled with Latin heart throbs and sexy Novella stars, heaps of great food and an open bar sponsored by Bacardí USA.  Willy Chirino a Salsa Grammy winning musician performed and was followed by one of our favorite’s DJ Irie who lit up the room.

It was a joyous event with intense domino matches, a stellar silent auction and seductive salsa and regular dancing. Our favorite bites was the incredible aged steak from Shula’s Steakhouse, the delectable alfajores from Catalina’s Bake Shop and the magnificent Cuban buffet spread from the famous Versailles Restaurant. There were also a plethora of celebrities in attendance which included 1996 Miss Universe Alicia Machado, Maripily Rivera, Carolina Tejera, Louis Aguirre, Jackie Nespral and Laura Flores. We had an amazing time and can not wait for next year.

Love is Blind, Coral Gables Review

Love at First Sight

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When you enter Love is Blind you are going to be dazzled by the sheer coolness and ingenuity of the restaurant. It boasts a funky motif that successfully intertwines ancient art with a trendy, funky and sexy vibe. In case you are tripping out (ref: Forgetting Sara Marshall Clip), there are smooth furry walls, blowup octopus like chandeliers, head bust sculptures with papal crowns and mounted bull skulls proclaiming pearls of wisdom such as “All you need is love.” It is one of the most fun, tricked out restaurant decors we have ever encountered.

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Love is Blind is the latest addition from the Passion Restaurant Group. They also own the very popular Crazy about You, as well as Dolores but you can call me Lolita. The owner Carlos, who opened up his first restaurant in Madrid at the ambitious age of 25, explained his “cheap is chic” concept. He believes patrons should be able to experience quality cuisine in a gorgeous setting with excellent service at very affordable prices. [Read more…]

Burger Brawl Review

Burger Brawl’s Best Burgers

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Burgers have experienced a glorified Renaissance period over the past decade. We are proud that Miami has been a staunch contributor to this deliriously delicious movement. This city has introduced Pincho Factory’s Toston Burger and Quesadilla Burger, Swine’s orgasmic Swine Burger and Eating House’s celestial Carbonara Burger. All these superb and unique creations are MUST-tries for legit burger aficionados and almost all were present at Burger Brawl.

The Miami ambassador and undisputed King of the burger scene is the Burger Beast. The Burger Beast is a sweet and affable blogger specializing in burgers and comfort food. He benevolently organized the first annual Burger Brawl at Magic City Casino where 20 of his favorite contenders grilled it out for burger supremacy. The event was sensational with unlimited tasty burgers, desserts, tater tots and liquor for only $50!!! It was the best dollar to foodgasm ratio we have ever witnessed at a food event. [Read more…]

Photographs of La Tagliatella by Mr Q 305

La Tagiatella…by the time you finish reading the name, as you enter through the glass doors, you have already stepped a few centuries back in time into a beautiful northern Italian castle.
The decor is simply breathtaking. Nothing has been overlooked in La Tagliatella’s rococo inspired interior. There is so much to see here that you could spend several days just discovering new details…
and then…there’s the food…
But before we get to that, keep in mind that La Tagliatella is part of a worldwide chain of more than one hundred and fifty restaurants. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that they must be doing something right…and that…of course…is the food…
The Handcrafted Meatballs, made with their own home-made sausage and beef, seasoned with garlic, oregano, parsley and Parmesan cheese were juicy and cooked to perfection. They came with spicy Napoletano and pesto rosse panna sauce.
The Arancini, which are risotto balls, filled with mozzarella cheese, breaded and deep fried to resemble small oranges (hence the name) were crisp with a light crunchy exterior. They were complemented with a spicy tomato sauce.
Mozzarella Carpaccio, consisted of imported Italian buffalo mozzarella sliced on top of crushed tomato with fresh anchovies, olive paste and fresh basil. Now for those of you who are staunch anti-anchovies militants, I would strongly advise to try this Carpaccio, the buffalo mozzarella’s soft, moist, somewhat granular, semi-elastic texture and its mild yet slightly sour taste combine to give the fresh anchovies a delicate, natural flavor which will take your eating experience into the fifth taste (beyond salty, sweet, sour and bitter), the one called “umami”. Try it, you won’t regret it.
Now, in a place called “the noodle” you know the pasta is going to be outstanding. The Pappardelle with Parmigiano and Truffle which are wide egg noodles, sautéed with truffle sauce, Parmesan cheese, topped with fried egg and black caviar did not dissapoint.
Branzino alla Mugnaia is Mediterranean sea bass, cooked with a lemon butter asparagus sauce. Served with roasted potatoes, grilled asparagus and arugula salad. This sea bass had a perfect flaky, buttery texture and a delicate well seasoned taste.
To finish an incredible meal, the Bocconcino, a fresh cheese cake with custard and the Tre Bombe al Cioccolato, a trio of chocolate and hazelnut semifreddo with chocolate sauce, were the perfect sonata.
La Tagliatella
301 Miracle Mile
Coral Gables, FL 33134
(786) 464-0516
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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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

Sprung Beer Festival 2014

Sprung Beer Fest Unleashes the Fun

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When March rolls around and the rest of the country is still wallowing in their miserable frozen tundra existence, Miami is having one of its most festive months. While most Miamians are enthralled by “molly-fied” Ultra Music Fest & Winter Music Conference, debaucherous Spring Break, and March Madness tourney brackets, we actually get the most amped up about Sprung! This past Saturday, March 8th on a literal gorgeous f*cking day, the unlimited beer tasting was packed with lively people getting drunk in such blissful harmony. In a land laden with $500 bottles of $30 vodka surrounded by bottle whores and douchebags, Sprung brings out the coolest, funnest and most laidback South Florida peeps.

We got way too Sprung way too early to sample all of the beers and compose a best of list. But one beer really made syrupy delectable love with our discerning palates which we affectionately call Waffle Cider. The unimaginative marketing department at Woodchuck Hard Cider for some reason decided to call it Spring Cider and, unfortunately, made it a limited release. Make no mistake, this bottle contains a magical cider that tastes like an exquisite brown sugared, maple syrup liquid waffle goodness. Part of the reason we write is because we love to share things we love, as evidenced by the close to 50 people we rounded up to sample it.  ’Twas the best cider we ever tasted and it was adored by almost all. If they change its name to Waffle Cider and throw some marketing money behind it, this could become one of the most popular ciders ever. We are still waiting on our free Keg of it for being the best free brand ambassadors Woodchuck has ever had.

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Our usual favorite Florida Beer local breweries like the Celestial Funky Buddha, Holy Mackerel, M.I.A, and Opus Ales were also on hand slinging their unique and scrumptious libations. There was also the Orange Pride Games Arena & Bar, which included Corn Hole, Giant Jenga, Beer Pong, Mega Twister and Human Bowling. The following are some of our other favorites of the day:

Cigar City Jai Alai India Pale Ale  – it’s no accident this beer was rated a whopping 99%by ratebeer.com. Poured at the tent manned by Kush, the new amazing craft beer and burger haven that just opened in Wynwood from the Lokal creators. We kept going back for more — and we don’t even like IPA’s.

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Holy Mackerel’s Panic Attack – This Belgian style ale with a subtle hint of spice felt like cool, smooth silk enveloping your tongue. So smooth, in fact, we were surprised to find the ABV clocking in at 10%. 

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Another fest highlight was the incredible performance by cover band Band Suo. The remarkably talented band and hot female lead singer had the crowd participating in a huge drunken dance party with their awesome covers of Pharell’s “Happy”, the Isley Brothers “Shout” and Bruno Mars’s “Treasure.”

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We always have a great time at Sprung and this year kpe the fub streak alive. We are already looking forward to getting smashed at Grovetoberfest in October.