Monday, March 24, 2014

There's More to Miami Than South Beach

Indeed, there is more to Miami than just the hustle and bustle of South Beach - and, luckily for Boo and I, Esperanza and Cruncher offered to play tour guide and show us some of the sights.

As much as I might have liked to drop in to visit Gloria Estefan or Ricky Martin on one of the chi-chi gated island communities, that wasn't quite in the cards this time around. We did, however, head over to the chi-chi-esque Coconut Grove where we took in Barnacle Historic State Park and wandered by some of the more reasonably priced homes. Hell, you can find a townhome next to the park for a couple of million.  Who knows, Boo may want to move back to Florida after all.

Our primary destination of the day, however, was Key Biscayne - in part, to see how one heckuva lot of locals spend a sunny Sunday. Traffic out to the parks and beaches was bumper to bumper for a good portion of the way. No doubt, everything was busier than normal because the Sony Open tennis tournament was on to the fourth round and there were plenty of big names playing. Had we known in advance, we might have tried to pick up tickets since Milos Raonic was still playing and he likely could have used a bit of Canadian support.

Tennis may not have been in the cards. But, we did stumble upon a perfect picnic table, away from the teeming masses and the sand, while hiking the seawall that carried on beyond the end of the beach. A bit of shade, some gorgeous weather, a picnic lunch and a couple bottles of wine. Worked for me.

1572.  Candoni Pinot Grigio (Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie IGP - Italy)

Remembering the ins and outs of al fresco dining from Antigua, we went with a couple of whites that we figured would suit the occasion. I'd never seen the Candoni brand before but we quite enjoyed the 100% varietal wine. I'm not always the biggest fan of Italian whites. I often find them flabby and rather bland - at least when compared to the readily available BC whites at home - but this one had nice acidity and fruit. I don't know whether it's the fact that the grapes for this wine were organically grown, but I'd have no problem giving a Candoni wine another pour.

1573.  2011 Trimbach Riesling (Alsace AOC - France)

We don't tend to drink many Alsatian wines either but at least I recognized the Trimbach brand as being a wine available back home. As a Riesling aficionado, I may need to get a little more familiar with the brand. The wine was a great match to our day and to our sushi and panini picnic. Great citrus and acidity for a warm Florida afternoon.

As relaxing as the afternoon was proving to be, we realized that we had to contend with all the beach and tennis traffic, we took a final hike past the Cape Florida Lighthouse and made our way back to the car and the mainland.

I think my catch-of-the-day is a little more exciting

Upon our return to South Beach, we happened upon a street market - which was both a blessing and a bummer. I love taking in markets while on vacation but there was no real opportunity to buy any of the fresh produce or baked goods since we were leaving the next day.

Esperanza had also mentioned that there was a small Spanish/Latin-themed street that was known for restaurants. So, we made our way there and, as much as we hardly needed more food, a light snack quickly turned into a full dinner. Italian none-the-less. I was thinking that a few Cuban tapas might be nice. Next thing I know, we'd ordered Caesar salad for four, grilled calamari, pizza and pasta.

Good thing we had plenty of time - and another bottle of wine.

1574.  2010 Cascina Chicco - Granera Alta (Barbera d'Alba D.O.C. - Piedmont - Italy)

For me, one of the joys of travelling is to try wines that I don't recognize from home. The problem with trying those new wines is that, when you really enjoy one - like we did with this Barbera d'Alba - it can suck when you realize you'll likely never find it again at home. That just meant that we had to savour it for as long as we could. As much as we liked the wine and as tempted as we were to buy a second bottle, we concluded that, vacation or not, we probably didn't need any more.

And on that note, we made our way back to the B&B, thanked Esperanza and Cruncher for all their hospitality and started to get things in order to move on to the third stop of our journey - Mexico City. Miami certainly has its share of latin flair, but something told me my total lack of command of the Spanish language might just prove to be a bit of a test. (Besides speaking Spanish is what Boo and Mexican Lou were going to be there for. My job would be to order the wine.)

It might have been a short visit to Miami but it was an eventful one and I did manage to add another eight bottles to The List - and Esperanza promised to help me add a good number more if we make down to visit again. There's a standing offer.

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