Category Archives: Traveling

A Taste of Southern Florida

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to take a week long vacation in Southern Florida (Boca Raton, Key West, and Miami to be exact). This vacation couldn’t have come at a better time. I had just had a jam-packed month at work and the cold, long winter weather was beginning to take it’s wear on me. Having a chance to get out in to the sunshine, wear shorts, spend time with my boyfriend, and eat some delicious, eclectic food was wonderful!

Instead of writing up reviews of the many restaurants we visited, I thought it would be best for you to see some of the best dishes of the trip. We certainly were living La Vida Loca!

Soul Mama Seafood Soup at Nine One Five

Shredded garlic chicken at Uncle Tai's

Warm Figs Brulee Salad at Bin18

Stone crabs from Joe's Stone Crab

Pan con Bistec at Ola

Key lime pie at The Fish House

Cuban food from Ana's Cuban Cafe

Cocktails at Ola

Lasagnette at Michael's Genuine

Best dish of the trip! Snapper with an avocado mash and a whole lotta goodness from Louie's Backyard

* Nine One Five- 915 Duval Street, Key West, FL 33040 305-296-0669

* Uncle Tai’s- 5250 Town Center Circle Boca Raton, FL 33486 561-368-8806

*Bin18- 1800 Biscane Blvd., Miami, FL 33132 786-235-7575

*Joe’s Stone Crab- 11 Washington Avenue Miami, FL 33139 800-780-CRAB

*Ola- 1745 James Street Miami Beach, FL 33139 305-695-9125

*The Fish House- 102401 Overseas Highway Key Largo, FL 33037 305-451-HOOK

*Ana’s Cuba Cafe- 1222 White Street, Key West, FL 33040 305-296-4707

*Michael’s Genuine–  130 Northeast 40th Street Miami, FL 33137 305-573-5550

*Louie’s Backyard- 700 Waddell Ave., Key West, FL 305-294-1061

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The Greatest Burger…Ever!

I’ve had a lot of hamburgers in my 28 years. My extensive research dates all the way back to my formative years.  I believe I even had a birthday party at McDonalds one year (not that their Big Mac should rank among any sort of food related “Best Of” list). I’ve had fancy burgers, casual burgers, burgers made of Kobe beef, burgers made on a greasy spoon griddle that is probably older than my Grandparents, and the world famous In-N-Out burger.

Up until recently the best hamburger I had ever had was at Palena in Cleveland Park. The Palena burger is simple, affordable and delicious…it also doesn’t hurt that it is cooked by a former White House chef. (Something tells me Bill Clinton would have loved this man).

Then I took a trip to Saugatuck, MI and encountered the burger at Salt of the Earth in Fennville. This hamburger is the best burger I’ve ever had in my entire life. This burger was so good that I almost passed out at the table. It was 10 out of 10 on my Foodie Delight Scale.

The folks at Salt of the Earth are doing something truly special and admirable at their restaurant. The full restaurant consists of a bakery, bar, and dining room. Almost everything is made in house. Their meat and produce are all locally sourced. The hamburger is a perfect example of the love and dedication that goes in to their food. The meat is brought in to the restaurant in large slabs. The chef then grinds his own meat and creates his own patties. The egg bun with a sprinkling of sea salt is baked in the restaurant. The lettuce, tomato (which I actually thought was cut a little too large…the only complaint in an otherwise perfect dish), and grilled onions were grown only a couple of miles from the restaurant. Even the mustard, ketchup, and mayo were made in house.

For all intents and purposes Salt of the Earth is way off the beaten path. But it provided one of the best meals in our week long vacation in Western and Northern Michigan. We couldn’t stop talking about this hamburger for the rest of the trip. We dream about this burger. We will return to Fennville….for this burger!

A Taste of Northern Michigan

I recently got back from a wonderful, relaxing vacation in Northern Michigan. This is the second summer my boyfriend and I spent our summer vacation in this part of the country and we absolutely love it up there. The weather is perfect, the people are friendly, and there is some incredibly good food to be found.

We were in Saugatuck, the Leelanau Peninsula, and Traverse City. These are areas that are serious about fresh, seasonal, locally grown cuisine. The area it chock full of farms and wine vineyards. It’s really a budding foodie destination (Mario Batali even has a vacation home in Northport, MI). We happened to be there during the Traverse City Cherry Festival so we ate tons of fresh cherries; they appeared in lots of different dishes from pie to pan-seared chicken. The best thing to do is to pull over to a roadside stand and buy cherries and whatever else they happen to be selling.

Instead of doing a write up of every excellent restaurant we dined in (and there were many), I thought it would be more fun to give you a visual presentation of all that Michigan has to offer. I also provided a guide of our favorite restaurants and B&Bs (we stayed in some amazing and fairly affordable places). I highly recommend a visit to Northern Michigan—those Pure Michigan ads are no joke!

Cherry pie from The Cherry Hut

Amazing hamburger at Salt of the Earth

Walleye with morels, asparagus, and a ramp butter sauce from Mission Table

Strawberry tiramisu from Everyday People

Asian tofu lettuce wraps from Red Ginger

Smoked whitefish dip from Mermaid Bar and Grill

Asparagus Eggs Benedict from Trattoria Stella

Cherry and chocolate milkshakes from Don's Drive-In

Turkey Reuben from Art's Tavern

Chicken with sour cherries and greens from A Cook's House

Chocolate cherry cheesecake from The Cove

Cherries bought from a road side stand

In Saugatuck Area:
*Salt of the Earth- 114 East Main Street Fennville, MI 269-561-SALT www.saltoftheearthfennville.com

*Everyday People-11 Center Street Douglas, MI 269-857-4240 www.everydaypeoplecafe.com

*Mermaid Bar and Grill-340 Water Street Saugatuck, MI 269-857-8208 http://mermaidofsaugatuck.com

*Sherwood Forest B&B- 938 Center Street Douglas, MI (right next to Saugatuck) 1-800-838-1246 www.sherwoodforestbandb.com

In Traverse City Area:
*The Cook’s House- 439 E. Front Street Traverse City, MI 231-946-8700 www.thecookshouse.typepad.com

*Mission Table- 13512 Peninsula Drive Traverse City, MI (Old Mission Peninsula) 231-223-4222 www.missiontable.net

*Trattoria Stella-1200 W Eleventh Street Traverse City, MI 49684 231-929-8740 www.stellatc.com/stellatc/

*Red Ginger-237 East Front Street Traverse City, MI 231-944-1733 www.eatatginger.com/sit.php

*The Cove-111 River Street Leland, MI 231-256-9834 http://thecoveleland.com

*Art’s Tavern- 6487 Western Avenue Glen Arbor, MI 49636 231-334-3754 www.artsglenarbor.com

*The Cherry Hut- 211 N. Michigan Avenue (US 31) Beulah, MI 231-882-4431 www.cherryhutstore.com

*Tesoro Inn- 15627 Center Road Traverse City, MI (Old Mission Peninsula)  231-223-7686 http://tesoroinn.com

The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Last week I was in San Francisco visiting my brother, sister-in-law, and niece, Maile. We had beautiful weather on Saturday so Matt took me down to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. This farmers market puts anything we have in DC to shame.

First off it’s huge! There is stall after stall of fresh produce, fine cheeses, seafood, meats, and breads. On top of all of that there were a number of vendors selling different types of meals— freshly made tamales, vegan soups, kielbasa on buns, smoked salmon bagel sandwiches, and juice smoothies. It was a food lover’s paradise. I could have easily spent the entire day there. People residing in California, especially San Francisco, are so lucky because they are surrounded by so many farms specializing in all different types of crops. There were a number of vegetables in season, most notably asparagus, that haven’t even reached the markets in DC yet.

I was most blown away by the citrus…obviously something I don’t get as much of in the Mid-Atlantic. The oranges I sampled were the freshest I’ve ever tasted—juicy and vibrant in their flavor. There were also mounds of grapefruits and lemons. It reminded me of the big cartons of citrus my Grandpa Milt would send us each year from Florida when I was a child. The actual farmers market is just the beginning of the trip though.

There is also a more permanent structure with restaurants and more food stalls inside the Ferry Building. We picked up some salmon from there for the dinner I was making later that night. I can’t wait to return to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on future visits to San Francisco. It’s a wonderful way to spend a Saturday.

Of course let’s not kid ourselves…this is the main reason why I fly cross country every few months:

The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is located along the Embarcadero at the foot of Market Street. It is open year-round on Tuesdays from 10am-2pm and Saturdays from 8am-2pm.