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A winter getaway to a warm destination is most definitely a little slice of paradise. Our trip to Miami included lots of sunshine by the pool, dinner on the beach, and tons of really good food right from the start. Right after we checked in to the Sonesta Bayfront Hotel, we headed for the pool deck for lunch. The warm weather made me opt for a lighter option, a grilled Caesar salad and a glass of delightfully oaky Chardonnay.

Grilled caesarGoing for the more local flavor, my husband had a Cuban sandwich with to-die-for garlicky fries. The fries took away the light aspect of my lunch. What can I say? There’s nothing I love more than good fries.

Cuban sandwich

During our stay at the Sonesta, we visited their restaurant, Panorama, and their pool area bar a number of times for drinks and snacks. Sitting by the pool with Prosecco and soaking up the Florida sunshine was perfect, as was Sunday brunch at the pool. Panorama’s signature French Toast was covered in fresh fruit, a decadent treat to start the day (with mimosas, naturally).

Right next to the hotel was Peacock Garden Cafe, a fabulous cocktail bar and restaurant that featured live jazz in the garden. I didn’t snap any photos, but it made me feel like Hemingway was going to walk into the room at any time. I stuck to the Southern vibe and sipped mint juleps while listening to the jazz and enjoying warm Saturday night breezes. . . aaaaah.

Sonesta French ToastOne of our favorite meals of our Coconut Grove stay was at Jaguar.  As we tend to do, we sat at the bar and absolutely loved our server, who explained everything to us, including their extensive, amazing ceviche menu.

First up, I had a black pepper passion fruit capirinhia.

capirinhiaUnlike Massachusetts, Florida has happy hour, and we enjoyed discount drinks that came with ceviche spoons. In addition, we ordered the entire ceviche spoon menu and a ceviche special. Chunks of tender fish, lots of citrus, avocado, and spice filled the plate, and we had fun sharing all the flavors before moving on to a bigger plate.

Jaguar cevicheBelow is the Tiradito Nikkei, a plate made up of the following: tuna, ginger, soy, shallots, jalapeños, cilantro, lime, cucumber, avocado & sesame seeds. It woke up every sense and was fresh and light, the perfect way to eat. I could eat Jaguar’s ceviche every day. I truly miss it.

tiradito nikkei ceviche Jaguar

Chart House Miami viewsOur final meal in Coconut Grove was a spectacular one as we had lunch al fresco at The Chart House. Being obsessed with all things boating, we loved being able to see every kind of boat, from ones that cost millions to kayaks, going by as we ate lunch.

We were all about the seafood again. This crab stack, with mango and avocado, was as delicious as it was beautiful. It fit right in with the bright sunshiny day and felt like a healthy-ish lunch option.

Crab, Mango, and Avocado StackOur jumbo shrimp came with a flair, presented in dry ice. It was your standard shrimp cocktail, but it was pretty great.

Chart House shrimp cocktailFinally, we shared the “East Meets West” tuna dish, zesty tuna tartare drizzled with wasabi cream paired with seared peppered tuna & avocado, with kim chee slaw & plantain chips. Again, the flavors in this dish were off-the-hook. I think I could eat tuna tartare with avocado and wasabi cream all the days of my life. With lunch I enjoyed a tart and mineral-y Bogle Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, perfectly bright and seafood-friendly. The one downside of the meal was that our server tried to upsell us on everything, right to the very end, when he tried to pitch a credit card of some sort to us. Otherwise, he was very nice and probably just doing his job with the sales pitches. Still, we just wanted to relax.

East Meets West TunaWe didn’t even scratch the surface of the dining scene in Coconut Grove, much less the rest of Miami. This is a place for bold flavors, fresh ingredients, and of course a little spice. I didn’t know what to expect when we planned the trip and I was very pleasantly surprised.

What has been your favorite foodie travel destination so far?

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Tags: brunch, ceviche, Coconut Grove, Dining out, dinner, Food, Lunch, Miami, Restaurants, Travel

Good Monday, friends! I say it every week, but I can’t believe the weekend flew by so quickly. We got a ton done as far as setting up work appointments on our old condo and our new house. I feel like I will be qualified to be a contractor by the time all of this buying and selling is over. It’s been nonstop roofing, plumbing, heat conversion, solar panels, painting, etc. It will all be worth it in the end, but for now it is definitely a part time job!

One thing that always makes us happy is finding a new wine and learning about/reading about wine in general. I pin a lot of wines to my wine Pinterest board so that I can keep track of what wines I have liked and certain wine and food pairings. It’s fun to check in every now and then to share wines I am loving, and that’s the purpose of today’s post. As always, I love hearing from you, so if there’s a must-try wine you want to share, please let met know in the comments!

Cartograph Pinot Noir

Massachusetts wine shipping laws make it difficult for us to get all the wine we want from outside the state, so I am thankful for a mom who does not mind receiving wine shipments! We discovered Cartograph on a trip to Sonoma County a couple of years ago, and have been huge fans since. First. they are the nicest people ever. Second, their wine is outstanding, which just makes us want to talk about it. Their Floodgate Vineyard Pinot Noir is simply a joy, with bright bursts of berry and a little earthy funk. It’s everything Pinot Noir should be, and it makes us dream of a trip to their new Healdsburg tasting room!

Fetzer ChardonnayFetzer Sundial Chardonnay is all about flavor and big value. You can pick up a bottle for around $8, and this Chardonnay is just easy-drinking and fun and fruity with a rich, yet not overwhelming finish.

Stylo Old Vine GarnachaWhile we lean toward California wine a lot of the time, we have also been making an effort to try and buy wines that are from outside the US, as well as wines from other regions in the US. This Stylo Old Vines Garnacha is all fruit and a nice touch of acidity. Think cherries and strawberries, with a mouthwatering finish, all wrapped up in a lovely, light garnet color. We picked this wine up after a wine tasting at Bin Ends, and we are wishing we purchased more.


La Marca ProseccoThis LaMarca Proscecco was part of a recent Sunday brunch at Steel & Rye. We drank bubbly because we were catching up with good friends, it was Sunday Funday, and because sparkling wine is a great addition to any meal! I don’t always love Prosecco because there are times pear flavors completely overwhelm my palate. The LaMarca Prosecco is different and had more tart notes of citrus and brioche. It’s a great brunch bubbly!


The wines on tap at Beat Hotel are also a great addition for Boston area wine lovers. Beat Hotel has become one of my favorite spots, and I love their wine list, which is heavy with Rhone varieties from California. The Topanga Vineyards Grenache Blanc and the Black Sheep Finds Rousanne are both favorites I discovered, thanks to the restaurant’s variety of pour sizes.

If you are interested in reading more wine posts and photos, stop by The Collectionary Wine Club, where moderators share photos of wines and other information.

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Tags: Beat Hotel, California wines, chardonnay, Garnacha, Grenache, Italian wines, Pinot Noir, prosecco, Rousanne, Spanish wines, Viognier, wine, wine tasting

A few weeks ago on a terribly freezing, snowy day, I warmed up in Hotel Chocolat’s newest space, their Cocoa Bar – Café.

Hotel Chocolat

As we shut out the bitter city, we were offered glasses of Prosecco and started to take in the delicious, chocolate-y sights and smells of Hotel Chocolat. The space is larger than when it was just a retail spot, and when that glorious warm weather finally arrives, they will have seating on Newbury Street.

Hotel Chocolat party

Hotel Chocolat and the Cocoa Bar aim to connect the experience of consuming chocolate with the sourcing of the chocolate. Some of their chocolate is even sourced from their property in St. Lucia, where they also have a hotel. I would certainly love to visit St. Lucia right now!

Throughout the event we snacked on chocolate treats, including these cheesecake truffles.

Hotel Chocolat chocolate

I also discovered heaven-in-a-bar, a banoffee pie chocolate. Banoffee pie is one of my favorite desserts, and in a chocolate bar form, it is fun and decadent.

Banoffee Pie chocolate

Hotel Chocolat’s Cocoa Bar is a elegant space full of beautiful chocolates and chocolate themed products, including savory products, like a cocoa pesto we received in our gift bags.  The prices are reasonable, making a little chocolate treat possible every now and then.

Below is a full description of the Cocoa Bar’s menu segments. A trip to Hotel Chocolat is ideal for these cold days. Just imagine relaxing with a warm chocolate plate

  • Light + Detoxing (Cacao and Tea) – Raw cacao beans have more antioxidants by weight than almost any other food. Even after roasting they have 150% more antioxidants than pure pomegranate juice. Light and detoxing drinks are designed to leave guests feeling really refreshed. The Cocoa Royale (crushed nibs and shells, steeped in a cafetiere) is midway between tea and coffee in intensity. Tea selections are: Cacao Shell, English breakfast + Cacao Shell, Peppermint + Cacao Shell, Green, Oolong, Silver Tip and Earl Grey. Aromatic hot chocolate drinks are Rosemary + Mint and Jasmine + White Chocolate. ($2.50 – $4.50)
  • Good for the Soul (Drinking Chocolate) – Cacao contains Theobromine, a natural stimulant that makes us feel energized, focused and calm. It’s gentle, long lasting and non-addictive. These are offered in variations of: classic, chili, milky, mint, salted caramel, St. Lucia 70% (complex), Vietnam 80% (fruity), Ecuador 90% (mellow). They also offer Chocolate + Fresh Banana, Praline Luxe (classic chocolate and double praline) and The Bombe (classic chocolate, vanilla ice cream, cacao whipped cream). Short chocolate drinks are the Boss-La (short and strong, 70% cacao) and 100% Cacao (a pure cacao hit, served short). Finishing touches such as Cacao Whipped Cream, Praline Dippers, and Salted Caramel Dippers can also be added to any drink for extra luxury. ($3.50 – $5.00)
  • Energizing + Stimulating – These unique Whole Bean Cacao Drinks are made from 100% roasted cacao beans. Just pure cacao, with no sugar, no gluten – and that keeps the benefits locked into their drinks: all the rich antioxidents and minerals, natural feel-good compounds and lots of healthy energy. Whole Bean drinks use roasted cacao or coffee. Barista coffee uses George Howell locally-roasted beans in Espresso, Macchiato, Cortado, Latte, Cappuccino, Americano, Mocha (70% chocolate and espresso) and Macho Mocha (shorter and stronger than a mocha). Barista cacao is all of the classics made with cacao beans not coffee beans and is full of healthy stimulants in Macchiato-style, Americano-style or Cappuccino-style. Organic milk is always used and soy is available upon request. ($2.50 – $4.00)
  • Savory Open Sandwiches – Served on a toasted English muffin with nib butter as well as a green salad dressed in cocoa balsamic. Selections are: Local cheddar with Organic Tomatoes, Smoked Salmon with House Horseradish, Vermont Goat’s cheese with Walnuts and House Chutney, Prosciutto Crudo Ham, Crumbled Berkshire Blue Cheese and Walnuts, Organic Cherry Tomatoes and House Chutney ($8.50)
  • Warm Chocolate Plates – Served on a toasted English muffin with whipped cacao cream on the side. Selections are: Chocolate Hazelnut Spread with Roasted Hazelnuts, melted Mississippi Mud Pie slab, sliced Banana with Chocolate Peanut Spread, Vanilla Ice Cream with 70% Chocolate, Farmer’s Market Raspberry Jam with Chocolate Hazelnut Spread. ($7.50)

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Tags: Boston, candy, chocolate, dessert, events, Hotel Chocolat, sweets

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