Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Taste of The District

After landing in D.C. on a very empty stomach, and riding around in a Super Shuttle for about an hour and a half, I arrived at Jill's place in Glover Park in a ravenous state. Not to worry! Jill greeted me with open arms, fresh Goldfish and a magnum of Pinot Grigio, which held me over quite nicely until we ventured out to a local watering hole. I needed some serious sustenance, and BreadSoda hit the spot. BreadSoda, a bar with an impressive selection of both beer and sandwiches, is one of the many great bars in the Glover Park area. Jill assured me that the reuben was one of the best in town, so I took her up on it and was pleasantly pleased. And since Rose is my obsession of the moment, we ordered a bottle of that too. Somehow, the tanginess of the reuben, and sweetness of the rose went really, really well together. Who would have thought? It was a great way to start my weekend!

The next morning, I ended up having to check in to a hotel thanks to Jill's cat, Dot. After a wheezing spell and bloodshot eyes, I had to pack up my stuff and move in to the Savoy Hotel, down the street. While relieved to escape Dot's lethal fur, I was sad to leave Jill's apartment. However, after settling in, I met up with her and pal, Hope for lunch. I was overwhelmed by the delicious burger I had at Five Guys, a local fast food, but fresh chain restaurant. My custom burger soaked up all of the previous night's exploits, and made me a little bit jealous that we have nothing like it in Miami. I was now ready for a full day of sightseeing, and set out for the Mall and Natural History Museum.

That night, I was in for the culinary highlight of my weekend -- gruyere mac & cheese at Cafe Delux with Jill and Phil (Felipe). While everything on the menu sounded great, Jill and I both decided to go ahead and order the "Four Sides" as our meal -- doubling up on the mac & cheese. Indulgence is an understatement. The saltiness and creaminess of the guyere was complemented perfectly by the acidity and sweetness of the roasted tomatoes, which I also ordered. Following our luxe meal, I was also treated to some hard core hip hop -- Washington & lee Style. I had so much fun with Jill and her friends at Skye Bar, making it rain all night to the Dolla Crew's lyrical stylings! ;)

After another raucous night, I awoke Saturday morning with an invitation to homemade pancake's at Jill's. Over breakfast, Jill, Pat, James and I, contemplated a night in Atlantic City and a pool party in Middleburg, among other activities. We decided, however, on a cocktail party at home. Thanks to recent inspiration from Marcela, we were kept cool and content all day, sipping "Watermelon Madness" cocktails and laying on the front lawn, in the hot DC sun.

Again, another night in DC. This time, however, we headed to Dupont Circle to a Karaoke Bar called Cafe Japone. I didn't try the sushi, but I did get my karaoke fix, by belting out an Old School version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart." After several sakes later, I headed home and "crushed" the remains of my room service club sandwich.

After a delicious brunch of huevos rancheros with Jill and crew at Town Hall, I repeatedly hugged my old friend goodbye, and traveled to Dulles via Taxi. The ominous weather should have been a sign of what was to come. Optimistically, I ignored it -- until I checked in to my gate. Finally, after waiting for close to 10 hours, and two failed boardings, I made it home to Fort Lauderdale Airport. It was a disappointing way to end such a wondefully fun weekend, but I would do it all over again. I would hang out with Jill at any opportunity, and I look forward to getting to know DC even better next time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Feature: Mid-Week Must Try

Hey everyone!

Just wanted to give you an update. I will now post a recipe each Wednesday to be featured as the "Mid-Week Must Try" on the right hand side. This is your chance to post a favorite recipe of your own, that you think will inspire your friends, family and fellow bloggers to cook a fun and delicious mid-week meal. Please send your recipes to
katesamson@gmail.com no later than Wednesday at 9:00 am. Thanks!

Also, thanks to Jessica for being our first post! Enjoy :)

New Place, Great Taste

There have been a number of restaurants to open on Commodore Plaza in the Grove recently, and the newest of the bunch is Cita's Italian Chop House. I ate there last night with Natalia and Alex and had a fantastic time. However, I must confess that being there with my girlfriends, it was a bit more about the conversation than it was about a scrutinizing palate.

This is not to say that I wasn't paying attention. Every dish that was brought out was delicious, from the bread basket to dessert. The bread set the tone for the meal; we were pleasantly surprised at every turn. Massive rosemary pop-overs topped with parmesan cheese and served with a side of truffle butter was an exciting and decadent way to start the meal. After such a sumptuous start, we decided to tone it down and share a few appetizers and an entree, all on the lighter side. After all, this is Miami in July.

We shared scallops wrapped in crispy prosciutto served on a bed of sauteed spinach, an assorted seafood carpaccio platter with citrus, a chopped radicchio salad with sopressatta and sharp provolone and finally, a perfectly moist snapper fillet topped with olives, capers and San Marzano tomatoes.

As if that wasn't enough, (and because I absolutely always save room for dessert), we ordered an assortment of chocolate treats on what the menu deems a "Chocolate Sabotage." With a molten cake, chocolate and white chocolate pudding, cookies, peanut butter and dark chocolate custard and chocolate ice cream, it most certainly lived up to its name. It totally nullified our earlier efforts at ordering healthily, but it was more than worth it.

Whether it was opening night or not, the service was also a delight. Our server was knowledgeable and very proud of what the menu had to offer. He even bragged about the Sicilian Chef in the kitchen who hasn't been "corrupted yet." Let's hope such stellar service lasts, as Cita's brings in more patrons. I'm betting that they will.

Despite such a great night and wonderful sampling of dishes, I feel like I gypped myself. Cita's has a very extensive menu and last night was just a crack at it. First and foremost, I will need to order the good stuff: pasta. I won't be able to rave too much until I try their linguine alla vongole -- the quintessential pasta dish that marks a great Italian restaurant in my family. Luckily, I won't have to wait too long for an excuse to return. Cita's Italian Chop House is a Miami Spice participating restaurant this year.


Cita's Italian Chophouse
3176 Commodore Plaza
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
Phone: (305) 446-2207

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Crab, Artichoke & Spinach Dip

I tweaked this recipe a bit, and haven't tried the modified version. I know that the original is delicious, and this is going to be even better! This one is for you, Shannon!

12 oz. fresh lump crab (picked for shells) OR 12 oz. canned lump crab
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1/2 cup lowfat sour cream
½ cup cream cheese (at room temperature)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt & pepper
Juice of ½ lemon

1/2 cup grated Parmesan , divided
2 pita pockets, cut into wedges and toasted
Assorted vegetables (baby carrots, sliced zucchini, celery stalks)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, mix crab, artichoke hearts, spinach, sour cream, cream cheese, parsley, lemon, garlic powder, salt & pepper and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan. Mix well.

Transfer mixture to a shallow baking dish and top with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until dip is hot and cheese is golden.

Serve with toasted pita chips and assorted veggies.

Friday, July 18, 2008

BEST Sushi in Miami

After just getting back from lunch at the best sushi restaurant in Miami, I thought singing its praises was necessary. In case you have never been, you absolutely need to try Matsuri in the Red & Bird shopping center. Don't let the fact that it is in a shopping center, or next to a place that sells "food by the pound", fool you. The fish is super fresh and both the traditional and modern rolls are exceptional. In fact, everything that I have had there so far, has been great.

Today, Olivia ordered chicken teriyaki, which usually isn't my thing. But after sampling her plate, I was sold. Don't think of dry chicken strips soaking in a heap of pre-made teriyaki sauce. This was totally different. The chicken took on a small medallion like shape, and was perfectly juicy and moist. Their sauce was from scratch and you could taste it -- not overly sweet or overly salty. It is everything boring, standardized chicken teriyaki is not.

The most important test of a great sushi restaurant is undeniably, the sushi. And trust me, you will not be disappointed. So far, I haven't strayed too far from the traditional, but the use of tuna tartare and mushroom risotto in a roll, has literally wet my appetite, and I assure you, I will be going back for more.

The only thing to consider when going is that it is super crowded (a good thing!) and the service lacks because of under staffing. But trust me, if you have a little patience and some good company, the food is worth the wait -- and its weight in tuna.


Matsuri Japanese Restaurant
5759 Bird Rd
Miami, FL 33155
Phone: (305) 663-1615

Lemon Spinach Salad

I make this salad for family and friends ALL the time and everyone loves it! The dressing and preperation are as shockingly simple as they are delicious. I hope you try and it and love it too!


1 Bag of baby spinach
1/3 Cup of pine nuts
1/3 Cup of grated parmigiano reggiano or romano cheese
The juice of two lemons
1 Tbsp (cap fulls) balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil (first cold press)
Salt & cracked black pepper


Add first three ingredients to a salad bowl. In a small mixing bowl, add the lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Toss the salad mixture with the dressing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Where did all the GREAT sports bars go?

As I get ready to leave work, I start getting excited about what lies ahead of me tonight. It's my usual Thursday: playing kickball (GO BLACKOUT!) at Bicentennial Park for the Downtown WAKA league, proceeded by beer drinking and revelry with my teammates, and concluded with stealing bites from my boyfriend's late night, fast food burger.

Thinking of all this good fun and hedonistic consumption, I often find myself wondering why there aren't any great sports bars in Miami? (I guess I should mention that I mean specifically in the Coconut Grove/Coral Gables/South Miami/Downtown areas. Don't get me started on Miami Beach...)

Of course there are the dinosaurs: Sandbar, Mr. Moe's, The Bar. Blah. But, there isn't a place that I can think of, where at any time of the day, they are televising sports games and simultaneously serving up awesome food and beer. I mean, I just want to go to a place with my friends, grub out on some really delicious bar food and drink an ice cold glass of Tucher. Is that too much to ask??

But it seems that these places don't exist in my hometown. Is it because Miami sports fans are so fickle to begin with? Maybe rents are high or people are out tanning? I just don't really get it. So as I make my way to our kickball sponsored bar tonight (which is pretty lackluster at best), I'll wonder..."Where did all the Sports Bars go??"