Tag Archives: South Beach

Tuesdays with Texas

I lived closer to my second friend that I met in Miami when I lived in Dallas, than I do now.  Texas moved to Florida, from East Dallas with her family in June. Just like me Texas’s husband was offered a job here in the Magic City that he could not pass-up.

I didn’t know her before I moved, but when a friend that I have known since I was in diapers in the nursery at church facebook messaged me and told me that Texas was moving to Miami I had a feeling we would be tight; those who choose to live in East Dallas have something in common.  I can not pin point exactly what it is, but there is something that made us, and others, choose this more expensive, eclectic, area of Dallas, “inside the loop”

When Texas arrived in June, I didn’t waste anytime.  We went and bought beach towels for her kids and showed up at their new front door.  I welcomed her like I would have loved to have been welcomed to a new city and hoped that my eagerness did not come across as stalkerness.  My gamble paid off.  Texas seemed to appreciate the calls of support and our kids enjoyed playing with each other.

I would have prefered that she moved right next door (I know, I know that might be a little too much togetherness for a new friend, but I’m telling you if my neighbors would talk to me they would really like me. I’m good at neighborly conversation with great instincts for how much is too much), but the promise of excellent public schools, and a well located office building,  took Texas and her family to a great neighborhood about 30 minutes south of mine.  Even though it was not my first choice to have my second friend live so far, the milage between us might have some advantages.  If Texas ends up loving The Falls and reports a much easier time with getting to know the Miamians in her area, there is nothing stopping us from buying a house down there when our Coconut Grove lease expires (except for a little hour+ commute for my hubby but he could get over it right? Well, maybe that is too much too ask, we would miss him).

Thus far at least two of Texas’s neighbors have spoken to her and one even invites her little cowboys to play ANYTIME THE GARAGE IS OPEN, and it sounds like it is open quite a bit.  We have agreed that we will probably decide there is simply a trade-off.  It looks like The Falls might be more friendly like our former home in East Dallas, while “The Grove” is probably one of the more beautiful parts of Miami, the classic brains vs. beauty debate.  It was love at first sight when my husband and I saw the Grove, but we wonder if the size of her coconuts, so to speak,  might not be enough in the long run to make us happy.

Texas is still enjoying the anonymous stage of her move (described here), so there is still a lot to learn about The Falls.  Time will tell.  We look forward to comparing notes.

It would be easy for a married mother of elementary school aged children to find no time to see her friends, that is why Texas and I made a commitment.  We have a date each Tuesday to explore a new part of Miami.  We’re going to kill two flamingos with one stone: we’ll catch-up and get to know this crazy place at the same time.

We started our Together Tuesdays this week and thought there was no better place to begin than the epicenter of the city: South Beach (some locals may not agree with that statement on “epicenter” but us newbys have gotta start somewhere!).    Texas and I went on a walking tour of the Art Deco Historic District that stretches about 10 blocks wide, and maybe 5 blocks deep in the heart of Miami Beach. Trip Advisor rated Christine Micheal’s small group tour as the second best tour of ALL AVAILABLE tours in Miami (it would be hard to compete with a boat on the beautiful bay waters, but she beat all but one).  Not surprisingly in the 90 degree weather and 150% humidity, Texas and I had this delightful tour guide to ourselves.  Christine talked history, architecture and design while she crab-walked through the district.  We just loved it.  We learned so much about both Art Deco and Miami and we promise to share our new knowledge with you when you come visit (I noticed from her recent facebook posts that Texas really listened to my success stories of heavy campaigning for out-of-town guests). Click for a link to the Art Deco Walking Tour here.

And this is just the beginning.  Texas and I have a lot of  places we want to explore and week by week we will start crossing our Miami must see spots off our list.  This is something that you could do in your own city, even if you have lived there your entire life.  It seems like locals of every city do not always take the time to explore or take advantage of their home town’s treasures.  Many Miamians have admitted to rarely going to the beach  and usually say they wish they could find the time (if they only knew what it meant to be land locked I bet that wouldn’t be the case).  But the truth is, you’ve got to make the time: sit-down, carve it out, and make it happen.     Even if you aren’t on a new friend search like me, I am sure there are hidden gems in your town waiting to be uncovered.  Experts say that friendships are based on shared experiences and even if you think you don’t have room in your life for new friends, I bet you have a few bonds that could use strengthening.  So what are you waiting for?   Call a friend, or take a risk and call someone you hope might be your friend, and make a commitment to go see or do something new!  I don’t think you will regret it!

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Have you taken your children to happy hour?

Does my title remind you of the movie Sweet Home Alabama? Reece Witherspoon’s character had returned home and was not too impressed when she saw her highschool friend toting her baby on her hip in the local hang-out: “you have a baby, in a bar?”

My children didn’t seem to mind being at a local happy hour and if we did get any funny Reece Witherspoon looks I didn’t notice because it was loud, we were sitting outside on a beautiful late afternoon and every little Kallaher was eating a delicious dinner.

It was 5:30, and my kids and I had been running errands in South Miami and we were all hungry. That day it felt too late to deal with the stove and I could not face the golden arches.

We were walking back to the car and passed a restaurant I had always wanted to try. I noticed there was outdoor seating, so we took a seat.

We were at Town Kitchen and Bar at 7301 57th Court, South Miami.

The 3 sprites I treated my kids too might have cost more than our food. Well, not quite now that I think about it but it was not very expensive because Town has a happy hour menu that they serve daily from 4-7 pm. We started our meal with calamari that my son recently realized that he likes ($6). The kids shared a Margherita pizza ($8) and I had a tuna avocado on toast concoction ($7) that was quite good while I sipped on my free glass of champagne (that they offer to all adults over 21). Only $25 for dinner at what some critics say is the best restaurant in South Miami and what made it even better was no dishes for me that night!

Friends from Dallas are vacationing on Miami Beach this week and we will only get to see them for one day before we go on our own trip. I wanted to make sure to leave them with a list of restaurants we’ve enjoyed with the kids, because in our family that honestly does not happen very often (I really wish that wasn’t the case but my kids are usually more interested in exploring the new scenery then enjoying their food and sometimes that makes me lose my appetite).

As I completed this list I realized that it worked out pretty well because each spot is in a different part of Miami. If this were a “fun and delicious spots to eat with your children” guide that you followed daily on your vacation, you would get a great tour!

Big Pink 157 Collins Avenue, 33139 (South Beach)
They had us at pink. From the Volkswagen bug parked out front to the seats inside everything here is pink and my girls loved it! It’s like a 1950’s diner covered in cotton candy. Their typical diner faire was definitely not typical. My kids and I went for breakfast after witnessing our first (and only, thus far) Atlantic sunrise on the beach. The pancakes were stacked high and the eggs were delicious. Even though it was only 8:00 am I let my kids have a homemade milkshake for desert because, truth be told, I knew I would get to finish what they did not drink. Those shakes were as wonderful as I knew they would be.

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Andiamo’s 5600 Biacayne Bay. 33137 (upper East Side)
We sat outside here recently and I’m telling you guys, even in late July we were not that hot. It was about 6 pm, 87 degrees but there was a breeze coming off the ocean (though the restaurant is not right on the ocean) and we felt just fine. Isn’t sitting outside with your children just better? It is for us because we are pretty sure we have the LOUDEST CHILDREN IN THE WORLD (but they are really cute and funny and sweet… just extremely loud!). This pizza was “slap-yo-mamma” good… or I guess whoever’s mama made these pies. The crust was that perfect thickness and the combinations they offered were divine. We were able to order a kids pepperoni and sausage (which my husband tried as well) and then divide a second pie in half trying two of the combinations on the menu. The blank was out of this world.

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The Cocowalk Main Hwy, 33133 (Coconut Grove)
Any of the chain restaurants here would be a great place to take your children but my family’s favorite is Chili’s. The kids and husband love the ribs (I probably need to run that statement by my husband… he is from Memphis so I am not sure how Chili’s ribs rate with him, but I do know that I have never seen him meet a rib that he did not eat). I honestly have been disappointed with Chili’s but the kids beg for it and I’m happy for a walk to dinner (it is half a mile from our new house) and a fun night out. You never know what you will see in Coconut Grove and the kids are always entertained by the street performers. I love the music, especially the kid with the guitar on the corner that I know I am going to see on American Idol soon (note thee are many wonderful, non-chain restaurants in Coconut Grove that are just not in “the Cocowalk”). My husband and my favorite is Jaguar’s but we’ll save that for another post… we have not taken the kids there yet).

The Shake Shack South Dixie Highway (Coral Gables)
This New York born restaurant just opened its largest store yet, and second in Florida, in Coral Gables on July 15th. I haven’t been to this location yet because the lines were so long. I have been to the other Florida location on Lincoln Road on South Beach and it was great. It is simply hot dogs, hamburgers and shakes (and beer!) but the ingredients are top-notch “free of artificial trans fats and cooked with 100 percent Renewable energy.” But more importantly to the kids it IS YUMMY! They have done a few special custards just for Miami (key lime pie) and I understand just for Coral GAbles they are serving the “Smokeshack” (apple-wood smoked bacon with chopped cherry peppers and cheese). Let me know when you are going, and I’ll meet you there!

So Bon Appetite to You and Yours. And if, out of the corner of your eye, you see a Ms Witherspoon type give you a funny look, do not fret. You are in the Magic City, the land where anything goes. Trust me. As you are walking out of that bar with your smiling full children you will wave at the children walking in to begin their family’s evening meal.

The Orchid Boutique: Swim suit shopping made fun

I went on a shopping spree, well more like a window shopping spree (Summer fun with the kids is cutting into my shopping budget) following Southern Living magazine’s advise.

This month they featured 7 Miami boutiques in their travel section and I took a day last week to go check them all out.

All of the stores they recommended were on Miami Beach but only one was in what I consider South Beach “proper.” Some would consider that an oxymoron, but there are definite boundaries to the heart of the Art Deco, bikini/thong clad, anything, I MEAN ANYTHING goes district, that gives this area its reputation. I mean there is South Beach, and then there is SOUTH BEACH…does that make sense? We’re talking Ocean Drive and Collins Ave from 5th through 22nd Street… And that might be stretching it but I thought I should include the W Hotel.

The Orchid Boutique is located at 8th Street and Collins Avenue.

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If Southern Living had not recommended this store I might have walked on by (sorry Orchid Boutique). Not that it doesn’t have a nice store front, but from my experience, the South Beach stores that display swimsuits, and are not national chains that we all know and love, are a little bit, if I may be frank, cheesy and cheap (not necessarily price, but material).

But what do I know? Obviously, not much, because I had probably my best bathing suit trying on experience of my life at the Orchid Boutique. And it is not because I LOOK the best I have ever looked in a suit- no pictures here, you are just going to have to trust me on this one.

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I loved the Orchid Boutique because

1. The inventory was beautiful and unique, yet not over the top expensive. It seems like I could buy a suit here and not see it walking by me on every trip I take to the beach.
2. The space was bright, light and not filled to the brim with inventory, which I find overwhelming. Walking in this beautiful shop took me to a happy place, which is a good place to start when trying on swim suits.
3. The sales person was super nice and accommodating. I believe there is an art to being helpful, yet not pushy, and suggestive, but not judgemental when it comes to selling clothes, or anything, really. The perfect sales associate some how knows when to leave a shopper alone to browse by themselves or when to come to the rescue when a customer needs some help. The sales person at Orchid Boutique, whose name I wish I knew, was all that and more which made my shopping experience very pleasant.

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Southern Living magazine explained, “The Orchid Boutique is an e-retailer that went brick-and-mortar in March, giving beach bunnies instant access to their unique collection of 22 hand-picked labels.”

I found that I really loved the brightly colored Columbian line, Maaji.

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According to the About page of their own website, “the Maaji signature has been built up by avant-garde combinations and prints, mix of materials and textures, inventive and cutting-edge silhouettes and the sweetness and ubiquitous presence of small details.” I think that it is the mix of material feel that I liked best and really made this line feel special and unique. The fabrics felt very expensive and BONUS, their suits were reversible… so with one purchase it’s almost like you are getting two bathing suits for one. PLUS, when you purchase a suit from the Maaji Underwater Conquest Collection, the company will plant a tree in your honor. Click on the link below for further details of the company’s environmental initiative and a fun tool that let’s you calculate your own carbon footprint:
Maaji Swimwear

I am excited that Southern Living magazine introduced me to this beautiful boutique. Shopping for a new bathing suit can be quite stressful but I know from now on I won’t have to look any further than the Orchid Boutique.

Don’t worry, even if you don’t live in Miami you have full access to this store online. Visit their store at: <a href="http://www.theorchidboutique.com

And here is a tip: if you want to make your swimsuit shopping day more enjoyable, just stay away from the 3 way mirrors. You can FEEL if a suit doesn’t fit correctly on your backside, right? Why worry too much with what lies on the other side? If you look in the mirror and what you see makes you smile just go with it- trust me, it will completely change your bathing suit shopping experience.

Run Chicken Run- more fabulous food from Yardbird

It is such a fun week! 4 different trips to the airport to pick-up visitors. My mom arrived yesterday morning just in time to baby sit when my friend Leslie arrived later that day (that is what she said she wanted to do “I just want to spend time with the kids…”

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A new friend recommended that Leslie and I start our evening with a cocktail at Juvia on Lincoln Road in South Beach because it “has a great view.”. Wow, Kelly wasn’t kidding- this 11th story outdoor bar was amazing!

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Next, we walked less than half a mile to Yardbird. Recently, I wrote about the fabulous desert my husband brought me from a work event and I’ve been dying to try the full meal.

We were in Heaven. Leslie and I loved every bite.

We started with the BLT fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese. This combination was amazing. The battered thick cut green tomato was so delicious with the slightly spicy pimento cheese, thick cut bacon and lettuce.

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Shrimp and grits is one of my favorite dinner dishes and Jeff McInnes’s version at Yardbird did not disappoint. The thicker cut grits were a great compliment to the beautiful shrimp and salty cured ham.

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We really enjoyed this locally grown 5-bean green medley. It was spiced just enough to enhance but not mask the beans flavor and we loved this lighter dish as an accompaniment to the richness on the rest of the table.

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We finished our meal with a homemade biscuit with butter and honey. And I would be doing you a disservice if I did not tell you how much we enjoyed the service- our cute waiter Carlton was awesome! He did not hover, but was extremely attentive and shared great stories about the chef and his life that made our experience that much more fun (those of you that have dined in South Beach before know the great value of good service).

It was really a perfect night. Great view. Great food. Great friend.

A goat cheese tart with summer berries and lemon sorbet

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WOW! I had such a treat last night… and again for lunch today. My husband surprised me with a little brown bag from a business dinner at the newish, 2012 James Beard nominated restaurant on Miami Beach, Yardbird.

He walked in the door at 9:00 with a little brown bag, as I was finishing up reading a chapter of Harry Potter to the kids and considering jumping in bed myself. As soon as the words chocolate escaped his mouth the bag was in my hands and I was headed to the kitchen. This chocolate craving I’ve been having lately is killer…

I had to have a bite, JUST ONE BITE, of each dessert before I went to sleep. I am a chocolate LOVER so I thought I would save that for last and start with the one with fruit on top. A BIG BITE… “Is that goat cheese?”

I honestly wasn’t sure what I thought about this…

My husband gave one of his, “I’m up to something smiles” and said, “YUP, I know you love goat cheese.”

“Well, yes,” I thought to myself, but in a dessert?” I needed to investigate and go in for one more bite. “Maybe I should see what is in that little black container as well. LEMON SORBET? Now this is getting interesting!” I carefully managed to get the perfect bite of tart, blackberries and lemon sorbet on my spoon and VOILA, magic happened in my mouth!

The combination of the subtle goat cheese flavor with the super tart lemon sorbet plus fresh berries was probably the best non-chocolate dessert I’ve had IN MY ENTIRE LIFE! Y’all have got to go!

I feel comfortable with my use of Southern slang because Yardbird is Top Chef Finalist, Jeff McInnis’s answer to the lack of Southern influenced restaurants in Miami. Chef McInnis is from the pan handle of Florida, close to the Alabama line and I suspect he considers himself more Southern, than the local Floridians he has met in Miami. His concept is based on the Southern table where guests can share tapa-like small plates or family style bowls. Vince said the chicken biscuits and shrimp and grits he ate were fabulous.

I called the restaurant today to find out exactly what the deserts I had were called since I did not find them listed on their online menu. The hostess explained that the menu had changed LAST NIGHT and we were one of the first to try the new selections! After this small taste, I can’t wait to go back and I hope to see you there!

Oh by the way, the chocolate was of course divine! It is true that I haven’t met too many chocolates that I did not like, BUT the dense mouse like chocolate in the Yardbird s’more was just stellar. The dessert itself didn’t work great as a take-home. There was a marshmallow topping that had been browned but wasn’t so great cold. No worries, the chocolate did not go to waste and I am sure this would be a fabulous option for in-house dining.

We previewed the line at The Webster

Living in paradise definitely comes with a steep price tag. That is why I’m so excited about the launch of The Shops of Target. They have collaborated with 5 small, high end boutiques to bring us some local luxury at low prices.

One of these boutiques is just up the road on Miami Beach. In between an All Star game and cheer leading camp the kids and I went to check it out!

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We were so excited! They had 6 looks from the Target line displayed inside the front doors. As I went to snap pictures, though, the sales girl said, “NO!”. Boo, no pictures inside!

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She seemed to be watching that Target line like a hawk, but we did sneak a few pics from the rest of the store!

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There is the wallpaper some of the fabric is modeled after- it was beautiful!

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The Target line was beautiful you guys! It is worth hitting the Internet or store early. The fabric felt very luxurious and the craftsmanship really seemed nice. The woven beach bag seems like it should cost $200 not $40. There was a navy men’s blazer that was beautiful with a crinkled pin stripe button down underneath. The white cardigan with navy/green trim looked a little warm for a Miami summer. But I loved both the coral shorts and skirt.

Laure, the owner says she suspects the dresses will sell out first because that is their best seller at the store. If you are going to the store tomorrow I would go to the women’s section first, and grab some of the large cuffs on your way. They were really cute!

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We decided it will definitely be worth setting our alarm clocks early and shopping before church tomorrow!

See you there!