I was going to go workout but instead, I’m blogging about how I am currently craving hot cross buns and how one of my newest discoveries and vices is vanilla ice cream with warm nutella sauce and mixed berries.
Spring is springing up all over the place and I am loving the sight of the bradford pear trees and cherry blossoms, coupled with warmer weather and more sunlight. I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring and summer produce and a day that is warm enough to justify making Magnolia Bakery’s Banana Pudding (my favorite). Also dreaming of open windows, strawberries in salads, corn on the cob, succotash and growing fresh basil, mint and other herbs on the front porch (and wishing I weren’t devoid of gardening skills). One of my goals as the weather grows better, is to start composting. It’s something we’ve been discussing for awhile now but I think it’s time to put it in action.
Since I’m finally caught up with last summer’s New England road trip, this past Christmas trip to Miami now begs some attention.
We had a magical dinner at Mandolin Agean Bistro, an exotically authentic Greek gem hidden in the up and coming Design District, on the outskirts of downtown Miami. The setting was straight out of a tour brochure for Santorini and if we hadn’t known any better, that’s exactly where we could’ve been. It is owned by two Greek men and a little Turkish woman and the interior of the restaurant is in a petite house from the 1940s, that appears as if it were airlifted from Santorini. The rustic walls are white with a rich cornflower blue trim, fresh flowers and mini lanterns adorn the tables in and outside in the picturesque, romantic courtyard. Imported cans of olive oil and Greek sea salt also decorate each picnic table and beautiful old trees create somewhat of a canopy over the patio, adding to the whimsical ambiance. I imagine that any meal would be sublime at Mandolin, but for the best experience, a lantern-lit dinner is surely the best.
It was hands down the best Greek food I’ve had – fresh and clean and intensely flavorful. We started with the Kefte – grilled beef and lamb meatballs and the Greek Village salad – watermelon, capers, red onions, olives, cucumber and green pepper, drizzled with olive oil and topped with a generous triangle of the best Greek Feta, unlike anything I’ve tasted. I ordered the chicken kebab with orzo pilaf and maroulosalata (torn romaine lettuce with a touch of lemon juice and dill), and it was fantastic. Jay ordered the lamb kebabs and my parents shared the pasticcio, both of which were equally delicious.
Dining at Mandolin was the closest to Greece I have traveled and only makes me that much more excited to visit Greece as soon as I possibly can. But until then, I can eat at Mandolin. I also befriended a waiter from Tunisia who complimented me on my eyebrows. That was a first for me. It was only after our conversation that I was keen to the political turmoil and upset that is occurring in Tunisia right now.
Another magical dinner in lieu of a birthday celebration took place at a similarly authentic, petite restaurant in Coconut Grove, called Le Bouchon. Le Bouchon is a vibrant and busy little French bistro spot with French fare so good you’ll forget you’re in Florida. Upon entering Le Bouchon, you are greeted with a complimentary glass of champagne, so even if the food is a disappointment, at least there was champagne! (The food is not a disappointment). And how can you possibly go wrong with free champagne? How many other restaurants do that?! There was a never ending flow of red wine and we munched on baguette wedges with butter and began with a charcuterie plate of pate, prosciutto, saucisson, brie and onion jam with little cornichons and some spinach salad.
My sister and I shared the chicken fricassee with morel mushroom risotto and a parmesan biscuit and good God I am still thinking about it. It was rich and creamy and I don’t even want to think about how many calories it took to make that dish, but it was heavenly and so worth it. For dessert, we had buche de noel, since it was Christmas time and I have never had it before and was curious to try it. It was tasty but paled in comparison to the rest of our meal. The finale also included cafe with cream and magic tricks and lot’s of laughter. It was the whole family celebrating together over a delightful meal and it was one of the happiest, memorable meals I’ve had.
*More to come soon!*