Delano Hotel (For once, not a restaurant review)

Besides the glaring whiteness of everything, the first thing you are confronted with, when you walk into your room at the Delano hotel is a solitary Granny Smith apple on a peg.  “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” is etched beneath it.  I’m sure someone, somewhere thought it was a genius idea, original, quirky.  Here is my question though. Most rooms have two occupants right? So why only one apple? Am I supposed to eat half and Hrabi the other half? Or do we alternate, I get it on even days and he gets it on odd?  Who get’s the apple becomes a moot point by day two when several other thoughts occur to me.  Among them; that a Granny Smith is the Pamela Anderson of apples, from a distance you suck in your cheeks and inhale thinking “Wow” but up close there’s way too much plastic and cover up.  Granny Smiths always have too much wax on their skin and are impossible to date ” Are they from this season’s crop? The last one?”.  Tell me, have you ever seen one with a leaf still attached to the stem?  Which brings me to another question…apples?  In the land of citrus?  Does Starck’s design acumen not extend to other fruit?  Or is it that you have to peel them or that there isn’t some pithy (sorry) one liner that goes with oranges.

On to the room which is all white.  Lacquered white floors, white walls, white leather headboard, white table, white lights. My sister says it’s like being inside a Mac. I think it’s more like being inside a toilet cistern because of the hardness of everything.Despite decades of carpets in hotels to absorb sound, the Delano has opted out. I lie in bed and listen to the woman in the room above me clatter around in high heels. Then she drops her lipstick, thunk, clunk, roll – clippity clop, clippity clop, clippity clop; she arrives to pick it up. Read more of this post

Yardbird, Southern Food, Miami

It will no doubt strike you as odd to know that more often than not, restaurant food scares me. I’ve seen what goes on behind the orderly dining room - a lot of chaos.  A lot of sub standard ingredients (skinless chicken breasts arriving from suppliers in a frozen block) prepared by people who are there because they can’t do anything else but work in madness of a restaurant kitchen.  Pests are another problem, mouse droppings on dry stores are a standard fixture (especially in London).  Personal hygiene leaves a lot to be desired.  Let’s say none of those factors are at play, you still have to contend with the richness of restaurant dishes.  Even salads are a minefield of saturated fat.An extended, hotel stay holiday poses plenty of these perils.  I physically recoil as I walk past some of the places on Lincoln Road or Espanola Way.  Large laminated menus are shoved in my face, places with generic names like ‘Oh Mexico!’ (gee, I guess that must be Mexican food.), ‘you get a free margarita cocktail’ the young woman touts pointing to something day glo served in the glass the size of Layla’s sand bucket.The good places, always a needle in a haystack, are usually very expensive and unavailable.  Yardbird is affordable but difficult le to get a reservation at.  All my attempts on Opentable were futile.  I hedged on being able to get a table for dinner if I showed up.  One look at the harassed hostess, dark rings under her eyes, told me my chances were poor.  I was right, nothing, nada, zip.  I liked Gigi so much last year, I went twice during our stay and chef owner Jeff McInnis came from Gigi so I wasn’t going to give up that easily.  I came back for a late lunch and was offered a table outside in the sun which I immediately snapped up.

Yardbird is open all day from 12 with a Brunch menu on the weekend and a Lunch then Dinner menu during the week.  The ‘Farm Fresh Salad of Flat Top Mountain tomatoes, Meyer lemon, Texas olive oil, house smoked sea salt, and Bourbon Sherry vinegar” made me swoon on the spot when I read it, before I had even laid eyes on it and when it came, cut into supersize wedges - they were so sweet.  I closed my eyes and savoured each bite.  Exceptional tomatoes rock my world, if I was stranded on a desert island - tomatoes is what I would take.  My sister ordered the famous savoury waffles and fried chicken.  I got the slow braised short rib sandwich which comes with cubes of watermelon.  Which again - heaven.   Read more of this post

Shake Shack, Burgers, Miami


dream about this place when I’m in Berlin.

The burgers are petit, similar in size to a McDonald’s burger but that is where the similarity ends.  Shake Shack burgers come on a pillowy, yellow bun, grilled on the inside.  The thin patty is freshly ground on site every day and is cooked to medium.  The standard fixings are tomatoes, onion (sliced in rings), lettuce and crinkly pickles and a slice of cheese.  The burger comes in a waxed envelope, with the Technicolor red and green of the lettuce and tomatoes beckoning at you.

It doesn’t take long to eat.  Boys should order two.  I eat one and never suffer the burger regrets, the junk food shame.  Even if I’ve shared a paper dish of crinkly cheese fries.  And gulped down a Dr. Pepper.  It’s when I venture into Shark Attack custard territory that I start to think that I am going slightly overboard.  But listen - chocolate custard, peanut butter, chocolate truffle cookie dough, Valrhona chocolate pearls, and chocolate sprinkles - I mean? Who out there can resist a roll call like that?  I certainly can’t!

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Berlin Baby! (Although this post is all about Miami!)

You never really know how much you need a holiday until you have one and realize you don’t have to wash, or clean and you can eat out all the time!

And eat out I did.  I stumbled across an outpost of Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack (which is really just a glorified McDonald’s) but I love the atmosphere, the vibrating remote control that tells you your food is ready, the cheese fries and the peanut butter and chocolate custard ice cream called Shark Attack.

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Happy New Year from Miami!

We didn’t have any New Year’s plans at all, in fact I had been planning to regal myself with trips to Lidl (sad but true). When my father rang to ask us if we wanted to join him in Miami, I felt like I had won the lottery! 10 days in the sun? Trading pork and potatoes for seafood and fresh fruit? Yes please!

6 days later, 4 days to go and I realize that Miami is like the Yang to Berlin’s Ying. It’s all about consumption and choice here, whereas Berlin is austere and prides itself on being frugal.

My husband and I were stuck at a train crossing for over half an hour yesterday and we both remarked that; had we been in Berlin, everyone would have been conscientious enough to turn their engines off and inevitably there would be someone reprimanding those who hadn’t done so.

It’s the food scene that fascinates me the most (of course! right?).  Tables are typically turned at 45 minutes intervals and people eat all day long, which means restaurants are money-making businesses over here.  Sure the majority of them serve what can only be described as embellished junk food but there are a lot of great concepts as well.

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