Strada in the Grove

My favorite type of food is Italian, always has been. I am always trying out new Italian places everywhere I visit. Thankfully, living in Miami allows me many options. My husband is not big on dishes with creamy sauces or cheese (don’t ask), however he loves seafood so he always finds a nice fish dish to enjoy. Miami has many amazingly delicious Italian eateries, however, Strada is one of my favorites, from the marvelous food to the side entryway, which reminds me of many restaurants in Italy, to the friendly wait staff. Its sister restaurant/pizzeria, Farinelli 1937, located directly across the street, is another great eatery in Coconut Grove, also not to be missed.

Outside

Side entryway of Strada

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Interior of Strada

outside nighttime

Sitting outside in the evenings. Photo courtesy of Strada.

At first glance it’s hard to choose from so many amazing dishes, but here is what we started with:

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Ricotta cheese and prosciutto appetizer, delicious!

calamari

Fried calamari

Then on to the main dishes.  I ordered the pumpkin agnolotti which I always order here, it is amazing (I am a creature of habit), and my husband ordered the salmon.

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Agnolotti di Zucca al Burro e Salvia
Homemade roasted pumpkin and amaretti agnolotti in butter sage sauce.

salmon

Salmone al Ginger
Grilled marinated fresh Atlantic salmon, crunchy ginger and carrot salad.
Served with green beans and potato gratin.

For dessert we ordered the panna cotta, one of my all time favorite Italian desserts, and it was delicious.  Just the right texture too.  And it came in a cute tiny mason jar to boot:

panna cota

Panna Cotta served with fruit.

You basically cannot go wrong with this place.  All of the dishes we have tried have been excellently prepared and the ambiance is fantastic, located in Coconut Grove, with outdoor seating available as well. Makes for an enticing evening out.

Have you dined at Strada?  I would love to hear what you enjoyed most…

Strada in the Grove
3176 Commodore Plaza
Miami, Florida 33133
(305)444-1312
http://www.stradainthegrove.com

My Signature

OH MY GOSH! Brigadeiros

What is a brigadeiro, you may ask? A brigadeiro is a traditional Brazilian dessert, a popular chocolate treat named after the Brazilian hero, Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes. Brigadeiros are made of condensed milk (the main ingredient, now you know why I love them), cocoa powder, butter, and chocolate sprinkles covering the outside layer. They are also referred to as bon-bons, truffles or fudge balls. A few years ago, Luciano Brilho, a young American-Brazilian entrepreneur opened up the first Oh My Gosh! Brigadeiro boutique in Miami, Florida (there are now 2 shops). My daughter spotted the place one day as we were driving (hard to miss all the pink) and decided we should check it out sometime. We weren’t even sure of what they sold, as we had never heard of brigadeiros. Boy am I glad we stopped in. Not only it is adorable but the brigadeiros, as well as some of the other items they sell, are all delectable.

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Oh My Gosh! Brigadeiros location on Coral Way in Miami. (All photos courtesy of OMG! Brigadeiros)

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The outside of the Coral Way location on the corner.  You cannot miss it!

The “Oh My Gosh” is their signature flavor and easily the most popular.  It has a creamy condensed milk center wrapped in a milk chocolate coating covered in chocolate pearls. However, my favorite is the White Milk brigadeiro, but it’s hard to choose a favorite. These are the available flavors:

new flavors
They also offer small cake jars, several types of cakes, coffees and shakes, all very delicious. I was also very impressed that during this crazy quarantine time, they were offering chocolate Easter eggs, which I unfortunately did not order in time, however I was able to order a tray of varied brigadeiros to surprise my family for Easter yesterday.  Take a look:

cake jars

Small cake jars

shakes

Yummy shakes

dulce de eche capuccino

Dulce de Leche Cappuccino

Eggs

The delectable Easter eggs

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Super cute wrapping too!

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The brigadeiros I ordered for Easter came with a cute Easter tag as well

If you are ever in Miami you must stop by and visit this place. You will not regret it.  Have you been to OMG?  I would love to hear what you liked most!

My Signature

Coral Way Location:
2205 SW 23rd Avenue
 Miami, FL 33145
305.456.8378

MiMo Location:
6912 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, Florida 33138
786.817.2132

info@omgbrigadeiros.com

Monday – Thursday: 11AM – 7PM
Friday – Saturday: 11AM – 8PM
Sunday: 12PM – 8PM

Homemade Dulce de Leche

During this quarantine time, many of us have taken to cooking to keep busy. I am not much of a cook, however, I do enjoy baking.  I decided to try and make homemade dulce de leche.  Dulce de leche is one of the most popular desserts originated in Latin America. However, its name varies greatly from country to country. In Argentina, Uruguay, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica it goes by the name of dulce de leche. In Ecuador, Chile, and Panama it is referred to as manjar. Peruvians and Colombians prefer arequipe, while Mexicans and Nicaraguans use the name cajeta. I am Cuban, and ever since I could remember, before dulce de leche became a thing, most Cubans simply called it leche condensada cocinada (cooked condensed milk). Dulce de leche for us was actually another dessert made from curdled milk and sugar (also delicious).

Dulce de leche can be eaten by itself with a spoon straight out of the can (my favorite way), or it can be spread on toast or crackers, as a topping for ice cream, on pancakes or crepes, etc. Many of you have probably seen dulce de leche cookie, cheesecakes and ice cream recipes all over Pinterest.  It’s all very yummy (my entire family loves alfajores!)

Most folks make dulce de leche in the pressure cooker or in a crock pot. However, I have always been scared (actually terrified) of the pressure cooker and after hearing how the cans may explode and such, I finally decided to make it a much simpler way, using a water bath.

Take a look at all of the delicious desserts you make with dulce de leche:

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Directions:

1) Preheat your oven to 425°F.

2) Pour the contents of the sweetened condensed milk can into an 8×8 pie pan and cover the pan tightly with foil.

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3) Fill a larger roasting pan with enough water so that it goes halfway up the sides of the 8×8 pan, which will go inside the larger roasting pan.

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4) Bake for 1.5 – 2.5 hours, or until you reach your desired caramel color. Check to make sure that the water is still halfway up the side of the pie pan, checking every 45 minutes or so to add more boiling water if too much has evaporated. Take the pans out of the oven and uncover the pie pan. Stir the dulce de leche until smooth. It’ll thicken a bit while cooling. Cover and store in the fridge.

It should look like this:

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Have you made dulce de leche?  How do you enjoy eating it?

My Signature

Root & Bone Miami

A few months ago, we tried out a new restaurant, Root & Bone, located in South Miami. I must admit I was a bit skeptical at first, as unfortunately restaurants (event some really good ones) do not bode well in this area.  However, I was intrigued and decided it to give it a try after seeing the crowds on a few occasions. The restaurant was created by Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth, owners of several other amazing eateries, including Root & Bone in NYC.  Root & Bone boasts a delectable southern-inspired menu, serving options such as tea brined fried chicken, shrimp and grits, lobster pappardelle, and cast iron seared yellowtail snapper. The restaurant also offers a weekend brunch (I have yet to try) which includes banana cream pie waffles, shrimp and grits, savory “everything bagel” waffle, the avocado toast and short rib meatloaf and eggs, just to name a few. A children’s menu is also offered for the kiddies, as well as, a full bar, craft cocktails and beers, a Bloody Mary cart during brunch and a Whiskey/Bourbon cart at dinner. I also love the décor, full of southern influences (drinks served in mason jars), makes you feel as if you’re dining in a modern, yet cozy farmhouse.  The restaurant also offers outside seating.  Take a look:

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Here are some of the dishes that we had for dinner (we had a tough time deciding):

Gooey Sweet Corn Spoon Bread – Cast iron baked spoon bread, cheddar & buttermilk cream, heavenly, but I love cornbread so I am a bit biased!

gooey corn bread

Sticky Pork Belly Bacon – Spicy bourbon maple, benne seeds & sea salt

pork belly bacon

Mac & Cheese – Big pasta, crunchy cheese & biscuit herb crust, this was my favorite dish!

mac and cheese

Barbecue Bruleed Spare Ribs – Smoky & burnt brown sugar crusted ribs, pickled fresno chilies & tangy barbecue, this was my husband’s favorite dish.

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 Have you eaten at Root & Bone?  I would love to hear what you enjoyed most.

My Signature

Root and Bone
5958 S. Dixie Highway
South Miami, FL 33143
786-785-1001
rootnbonemia.com

LUNCH
Mon-Fri | 11:30am to 4:00pm

SUPPER
Mon-Thu | 4:00pm to 10:00pm
Fri & Sat | 4:00pm to 11:00pm
Sunday 4:00pm to 10:00pm

WEEKEND BRUNCH
Sat & Sun | 10:00am to 4:00pm

Pie Oh My…

I have always had a sweet tooth. Well, truthfully, everyone in my family does.  I love cake, cookies, cake pops, cupcakes and of course a great slice of pie.  A few years ago I was introduced to Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop, a family owned and operated South Florida based bakery specializing in handcrafted pies, cakes, cheesecakes, cookies and decadent one-of-a-kind desserts. The bake shop was established by retired Miami fireman Derek Kaplan, who created his vision through a love of baking at a very young age.  Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop in Wynwood opened up in July 2014 and instantly became a hit.  By 2016, after years of juggling two careers, Kaplan retired from the fire department to pursue his baking career full time. In March 2019, Kaplan opened the Coconut Grove location located right on Main Highway (here’s the amazing backstory).

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Wynwood location.  All photos courtesy of Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop.

I have yet to visit the original Wynwood  shop, as I live very close to the Coconut Grove store. Needless to say my family has visited numerous times, as they offer a variety of amazing pies, cakes, brownies, cookies, bread pudding, etc.  Here are my Top 5, although you really cannot go wrong with any of them:

  • Stuffed Guava White Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie.  Imagine a soft, chewy white chocolate cookie cheesecake pie stuffed with gobs of guava.  Melts in your mouth!

Guava white chocolate cookies and cheesecake

  • Guava Cheesecake.  Graham cracker crust signature guava cheesecake filling and guava and white chocolate sauce (can you tell I am slightly obsessed with guava).

Guava cheesecake

  • Key Lime Pie. Kaplan’s classic Key Lime made with condensed milk, egg yolks and freshly squeezed juice from nearly two pounds of local key limes.

Key Lime

  • Cookies & Cream Pie. Chocolate cookie crust, layer of chocolate ganache, cookies and cream mousse with crushed cookies and white chocolate drizzle. My daughter’s favorite!

Cookies and Cream

  • Salty Monkey Pie. Chocolate cookie crust, bananas in chocolate ganache, white chocolate and peanut butter mousse, with pretzels and chocolate drizzle. My husband loves this one!

Salty Monkey

As you can see they all look heavenly.  If you cannot decide on just one, you can always sample a few different ones, as they are also sold by the slice. Below is the menu, although I believe they also offer unique creations for holidays and special occasions.

Menu

Info
Have you stopped by Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop?  If you live in South Florida or are visiting, make sure to check them out.  I would love to know which pies/cakes are your favorites.

My Signature

Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day!

I love ice cream, all types really, I’m not very picky. And you know what I love even more?  Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s, which is TODAY!!!! I first fell in love with B&J when I tried their Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, a gazillion years ago. I became addicted, and luckily I was in my 20’s and was able to eat all the ice cream I wanted and still not gain weight. (I wish that were still the case.. 😦 ). Fast forward a few years (or decades) and by now I have sampled many of their amazing flavors, and while it was definitely hard to choose among them, here are my top 5:

1. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.  B&J knew they were onto something big when they made the world’s first batch of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream in 1984. Today the flavor still reigns among their all-time most popular concoctions. And how can it not be?  It’s not even one of their more complex or fancier flavors.  It’s quite simple. Vanilla ice cream with gobs (and yes, there are actual gobs!) of chocolate chip cookie dough.  My daughter LOVES this flavor too!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, introduced in 1984.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, introduced in 1984.

2. Milk & Cookies.  We also love this flavor.  It’s probably one of the best sellers for any cookie lover. Vanilla ice cream with a chocolate cookie swirl, chocolate chip & chocolate chocolate chip cookies.  Did you get that?  Yup, it’s chock full of cookies, and it’s heavenly!

Milk & Cookies, introduced in 2012.

Milk & Cookies, introduced in 2012.

3. Half Baked.  This is another one of our favorites.  Chocolate & vanilla ice creams with fudge brownies & gobs (yes again with the gobs) of chocolate chip cookie dough.  A little bit of everything, it’s just delicious!

Half Baked, introduced in 2000.

Half Baked, introduced in 2000.

4. Strawberry Cheesecake.  This is one of my all time favorite flavors, however, my daughter doesn’t care much for it (she doesn’t like cheesecake…gasp!).  Strawberry cheesecake ice cream with strawberries and a thick graham cracker swirl. Any cheesecake lover (like myself) will be thrilled with this flavor, and the graham cracker swirl, is just awesome.

Strawberry Cheesecake, introduced in 2005.

Strawberry Cheesecake, introduced in 2005.

5. Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core.  Ah…the cores!  These are some amazingly delicious flavors that B&J came out with some years ago, which each have a yummy, chocolately, caramel or cookie core in the center of the pint. Dark caramel & vanilla ice creams with speculoos cookies and a speculoos cookie butter core.  Just absolutely amazing!

Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core, introduced in 2015.

Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core, introduced in 2015.

So, do you love Ben & Jerry’s as much as we do?  If so, which are your favorite flavors?  I’d love to hear!

My Signature

 

 

 

Be Our Guest…

We like to visit Disney quite often, my daughter loves going there, she considers it her second home. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the Magic Kingdom, as hubby and I would drive up and spend the day during our early years of dating, and living in Miami, it makes for an easy weekend trip.  I will say however, I have never been a fan of the food options at Disney.  I get it, people don’t visit the parks for the food, unless you’re at Epcot, which is an entirely different experience. However, I have always felt that the parks should have more options than the stale sandwiches (I recently had one that was absolutely awful) and the same boring hamburgers and plain salads offered at most of their eateries. The only other place where we have had a decent meal at times is when we have reserved at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Well, someone must have been listening because the dining experience at Be Our Guest, the recently opened restaurant inside of the Beast’s castle, is exactly what I was looking for.  So much so, that on our last trip a month ago, we decided to just call them up on the same day and see if any reservations were available, and sure enough they were, at 10:15 PM.  Well can I tell you, that we grabbed that reservation right away, and the restaurant was completely packed with more people coming in for dinner after us.

Be Our Guest Entrance

Be Our Guest Entrance

The beautiful stained glass window at the entrance.

The beautiful stained glass window at the entrance.

You see, we had already had the pleasure of dining at Be Our Guest on our trip last summer and we loved the entire experience.  First and foremost, the restaurant offers 3 meticulously “imagineered” dining areas, each designed to immerse diners in the heartwarming mystery and romance of Beauty and the Beast.  The first is The Grand Ballroom, which is where they always seat us. It’s absolutely gorgeous, you really feel as if you have actually stepped into the movie, with its high, domed ceiling, the beautiful chandeliers and snow-laced Gothic arches. The second room is The West Wing, which is a bit darker, may even be a bit scary for the little ones but this is where you can catch a glimpse of the enchanted rose. And the third is The Castle Gallery, resembling Belle’s private library, with the enormous figures of Belle and Beast dancing.  As far as I know, you cannot choose which room to dine in, but you are invited to walk around and take a look at the entire interior of the restaurant.

The main dining room

The Grand Ballroom dining room

The gorgeous 12 foot chandeliers

The gorgeous 12 foot chandeliers

The West Wing

The West Wing

The enchanted rose in hte

The enchanted rose in the West Wing

Figurine of Belle & the Beast Dancing.

Figurine of Belle & the Beast Dancing in the Castle Gallery

Now on to the food…

When we first arrived at our table, we saw the beautiful red napkins, folded like roses, my daughter (and I) loved that.  Then came the yummy hot bread rolls (keep in mind we were starving).  Of course my daughter fell for the tourist trap of the Souvenir Castle Goblet, a light-up castle-themed souvenir goblet with choice of fountain beverage, for ONLY $16.99, typical Disney.  I started off with a cup of the Potato Leek Soup and it was one of the best I’ve ever had.  Next came a menu full of divine options, including dishes like Sautéed Shrimp and Scallops with seasonal vegetables and mushrooms served in a puff pastry with a creamy lobster sauce and Layered Ratatouille, oven-baked zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, and caramelized onions sliced and layered on quinoa served with a bell pepper sauce.  Well, we all decided on the Grilled Strip Steak with garlic-herb butter and French fries.  All I can say is that my daughter devoured hers. It was absolutely delicious! Important to note that the kid’s menu also offers items such as Mickey meatloaf, seared mahi mahi and whole-grain macaroni with marinara sauce. This is also the first restaurant in the Magic Kingdom to offer a variety of beer and wine (this has actually caused some controversies with some die hard Disney fans). I’m not a big drinker but who doesn’t enjoy a nice glass of wine with a late dinner?

The menu and the rose napkin...nice touch.

The menu and the rose napkin…nice touch.

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Potato leek soup.

Grilled strip steak with french fries!

Grilled strip steak with French fries!

On to the dessert trolley….where do I start? They all looked amazing!  My daughter of course ordered The Grey Stuff, a chocolate shell, cookie crème topped with Lumiere’s special “Grey Stuff”. We had heard about this and boy are we glad she ordered it, it was really yummy. I decided on a Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcake, yummy vanilla sponge cake, strawberry mousse filling and cream cheese icing!

The dessert trolley...YUM!

The dessert trolley…YUM!

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The famous light-up castle themed goblet and the yummy desserts!

Well, we almost rolled out of this place, but the best was yet to come. Everyone has a chance to meet the Beast and have their photo taken with him on the way out (too bad Belle is not available too).  Even though our daughter is already a teen, this was probably her favorite part of the night.

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Meeting the Beast!

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Dancing with the Beast…priceless!

All in all, we love this restaurant and will probably continue to have meals here on our visits to the Magic Kingdom.  Next time I think I’d like to try breakfast! But make sure you make reservations WELL in advance, as they are extremely busy all the time.

Have you been to Be Our Guest?  I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this restaurant?

My Signature

Be Our Guest Restaurant
Magic Kingdom Park, Fantasyland
(407) 939-5277

Breakfast
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Lunch
10:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Dinner
4:00 PM – 9:30 PM (although they take reservations past 11pm)