Friday, March 21, 2014

Bienvenido a Miami

Having flown 5700 miles for our Dinner Club's Road Trip, it seemed that our time in Antigua's sand and surf had come to an end far too soon. However, since our plane didn't leave until the afternoon, Jeaux and Matinder figured we'd have just enough time for one final tour and a stroll through Nelson's Dockyard and English Harbour - an 18th Century British Naval base that has been restored as part of a national park. "Just enough time" really meant a quick scratch of the surface - no leisurely cocktail in the historical bar; no hike up the headlands; no wine-filled picnic in tropical surroundings. It did provide a glimpse into the past and a bit of an insight into the island's long commemorated ties to sailing though - and enough of taste that our appetites to return were fully whetted.

Seems like all of the Dinner Club couples used Antigua as a stopping off point for a second vacation stop. Lady Di and She Who Must Be Obeyed took off to Spain. Axel and English Doc chose Washington D.C. Boo and I thought that, since we were already in the Caribbean, we could carry on to Mexico and visit our friend, Mexican Lou, who had returned to his birthplace a couple of years ago.

Problem was, however, that you can't really get there from "here." It would seem that Mexicans don't travel to the Caribbean much - unless it's their own coast - and, in order for Boo and I to make our way to Mexico City, we had to return to the continental mainland and transfer on to Mexico City. There were connecting flights in D.C., Atlanta, Phoenix, Newark and even Toronto - hardly what I'd call convenient - and then there was Miami. It still involved flying North when we wanted to head West but at least it made a bit of sense.

Since Boo grew up in (Northern) Florida and I'd never been to Miami, we decided to stay over the weekend and take in a bit of what South Beach had to offer. As timing - and luck - would have it, an old family friend Esperanza and her newly minted husband, Cruncher, were in the process of moving to Miami and they were thrilled to have someone to show their new town to.

Esperanza has previously graced these posts - particularly when Boo and I met up with her and Cruncher when we travelled to North Carolina awhile back. However, her nom de blog back then was Desirée. We decided she needed a little more Latin fire to her name now that she's calling Miami home. Hence, Esperanza was born.

And, the doll that she is, she and Cruncher picked us up at the airport, took us to our B&B/hotel and had a couple of bottles in hand so that our transition to an Art Deco lifestyle would be as seamless as possible.

Talk about your "Bienvenido a Miami."

1567.  2011 Jacob's Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (South Eastern Australia)

Esperanza makes no bones about the fact that she's a bargain wine kinda gal. Indeed, she wonders how - and perhaps more importantly, why - I can spend so much time just wandering the aisles of a wine shop perusing what's on offer. She has her "go to" bottles and she's got it down to an art. She goes to wine aisle, if one of her preferred wines is on sale, she grabs some. No fuss. No muss. The good thing for me is that her "go to" bottles are inevitably quaffable.

I mean there isn't much chance of going wrong with either Jacob's Creek or Santa Rita is there - especially now that we were poolside. Having spent a good part of the day flying and hanging around airports, lounging back, wine glass in hand, was pretty much going to work regardless of how we'd filled those glasses.

1568.  2012 Santa Rita - 120 Merlot (Valle Central D.O. - Chile)

It was interesting to note that two of the better known brands for value back home were just as popular in Florida - particularly since I thought that Aussie wines weren't nearly as ubiquitous in the States as they are back home in Vancouver.

By the time we'd polished off the Merlot, it was time to grab a bite and "walk the gauntlet" (as we grew to call wandering on Ocean Drive).

While our timing was fortuitous with Esperanza and Cruncher in town, we'd also managed to "pick" a Spring Break weekend for our little tide-over. As we cruised the strip, it was abundantly apparent that I was not going to be able to keep pace with the Spring Breakers. The bravado and urgency to make the party was an eye-opener. There was a time - but even I realize that was many years ago. As a toast to Spring Break, I did order one monster-sized mango margarita but I figured it was best to pass on the version that has two beer balanced upside down in the glass so that the beer continues to replenish the drink. I've seen a lot of drinks in my day but that was first.

I suppose there might be a reason why I gravitate to wine as much as I do.

And something told me that we'd be throwing back a fair bit as we took in a weekend of what Miami, South Beach and Esperanza had to offer.

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