A Night at Bodega 1900

A Night at Bodega 1900

We weren’t expecting to get in to Bodega 1900. Albert Adriá is one of the most famous restaurateurs in the world along with his brother Ferran, and both made elBulli one of the most renowned restaurants in the world. We approached his small Vermutería, Bodega 1900, in Barcelona with a “what the hell, it can’t hurt to ask” attitude. I tentatively asked the host, if we could get a table. The obvious reply came quickly. “Do you have a reservation?” “No…” I began to explain that we were walking past and decided to try, but before I could get past my first word, he turned sharply and pointed to the long bar along the wall. “Sit at the bar.” We were in! Tim and I could hardly contain ourselves. Giggling with glee was the most appropriate behavior, so we pulled ourselves together and pretended to be sophisticated adults. Ok, maybe a few giggles slipped out. There is memorabilia on the walls at Bodega 1900, but not in any obvious way. Classic vermouth posters, old elBulli menus and best of all, a collection of jamón hanging on the wall. Trust me when I tell you that there is nothing more beautiful in a restaurant than a group of cured dark pink pig legs dangling from the ceiling waiting to be carefully and expertly cut by a master. First things first, vermouth. It is a vermutería after all. What better way to begin our experience with Mr. Adriá? Our perfectly attentive host turns and asks us if we would like a drink. We order our vermouths and just a quickly as he had pointed us to the bar he asks us. “Our house-made vermouth?” “Yes, of course.” The vermouth he brought us is as dark as coca cola. It is dowdy sitting there with its one cube of ice in a simple glass tumbler. It is a basic, slightly frumpy looking drink. Like an old man in a cardigan and house shoes. There is a slice of orange and a chunk of ice. It’s not much to look at. I kind of love that about this drink. It is old-fashioned, comfortable, simple. Well, not exactly simple.

Bodega 1900 Vermouth

On the first sip, it is sweet and reminds me of vanilla and chocolate. It is a love story of a drink, both bitter and sweet. While we are sipping our vermouths, we begin to make our food choices. We go with the Jamón de Bellota. Spain’s famous acorn-fed pigs produce the worlds best ham, and the one at Bodega 1900 is even more special because it was aged for five years! We get some tomato bread to go with it (pan con tomate), navajas (razor clams), and percebes (goose barnacles). I am wiggling with excitement as we order. Our host nods with approval at our order and seems to be charmed by our joy. His smiles and asks, would you like olives as well? “Why, yes, yes we would.”

Our olives come out first, and it dawned on me. These olives were THE OLIVES. The famous elBulli olives. These were the olives that began the wave of molecular gastronomy that transformed menus across the world. We, of course, need a little explanation on how to eat them because these are not olives at all. They are a magical suspension of liquid that is the essence of everything olive in a bubble of liquid on a wooden spoon. It looks just like a giant green olive. It is oval, and shiny and presented like it is the most precious food item you will ever eat. One olive on a spoon, ready for you to discover its mysteries.

We slide them onto our tongues and as instructed, press the olive onto the roof of our mouth with our tongues. The olive bursts in my mouth and olive flavor washes over my palette, and I close my eyes in pure joy. They are olives; they are playful they are lovely.

Next? The jamón and the pan con tomate. The jamón is a woven mat of perfectly thin slices. None are too thick, none have any stringy parts. They are paper-thin slices of the world’s most perfect food. When I slide one of these pink and white little morsels in my mouth the difference between this jamón and all others I’ve had is clear. It is salty and sweet, and the fat is so soft it melts and wraps around my tongue in the most decadent way possible. Is it the five years of aging? The perfection of the slicing technique? The fact that this jamón has probably never been refrigerated? Yes, it is all those things. Every step of the way from birth to slice of perfection on my table led to this moment of perfect flavor and texture. I am grateful.

Accompanying it is the pan con tomate. I wasn’t expecting much. This ubiquitous Spanish bread can be underwhelming sometimes. Often the bread is bland and flabby with no flavor or personality; the tomatoes watery and sad. This is not the case with Bodega 1900’s pan con tomate. The bread is a perfectly crisp crouton. The tomato on top is sweet and tart and as red as a strawberry. Each toast perfectly accented with flaky sea salt that melts slowly in our mouth along with the tomato and the jamón. It might be simple, but it is the most delectable version of itself I have ever had.

Next up, razor clams. I love these bivalves. I’ve only ever had them when I am in Spain because they aren’t available in the middle of Texas. These particular navajas are the most beautifully presented version I have ever seen. Each one topped with a white escabeche that is mildly vinegary and a great match to the briny razor clams. Then we waited. I have been waiting to eat precebes again for 6 years, and I needed to wait just a little bit longer. Apparently, percebes take a while to prepare. I was okay with the wait, I was, after all, sitting in one of Ferran Adriá’s restaurants in the middle of Barcelona. I was happy and content to sit there all night! Tim on the other hand, while glad to wait, was horrified by the plate of food in front of us.

Those teeny tiny dinosaur legs did not look appetizing to him AT ALL. Whoever ate percebes for the first time must have been blinded by hunger. Despite their disconcerting appearance I love the sweet almost lobster-like flavor. You have to pop the precebes meat out of a thick purple tube, which isn’t all that difficult and certainly easier than crab or lobster. It does, however, get you a bit messy. I was enthralled and thrilled and totally excited to eat them up. Poor Tim, on the other hand, watched on in horror. He is unconvinced that there is any reason ever to eat precebes. After I gobbled up all the shellfish, we were, of course, offered the dessert menu. The waiter provided dessert suggestions. A slice of cheesecake and melon infused with white vermouth. How could we resist? I learned two things. First, the Catalan people LOVE their cheesecake and second, melon infused with white vermouth is flipping amazing.

The cheesecake (like our humble vermouth) is the most basic of desserts. No garnish, no drizzle, no crumble, nothing. It was completely unadorned. Just a simple wedge on a plate. Now, that might lead you to believe this cheesecake is nothing special. This is not the case. The cheesecake is creamy and much less sweet than its American counterpart. The best part though? The toasty skin. It makes it. There is a hint of citrus in the cheesecake too, but for me that brown toasty skin on the cheesecake makes it.

The melon delivered to the table in all its lime-yellow glory was beautiful. It was sprinkled lightly with marigold petals that contrasted beautifully with the color of the melon. I took my first bite and somehow the vermouth had amped up the melon flavor, made it sweeter, and added a touch of complexity. If there had been a whole melon in front of me, I would have eaten the entire thing. We tried to savor every bite, slow down and enjoy every single morsel. I think we accomplished our mission! When the waiter came by to check on us and clear away our plates, of happiness must have been apparent. “Did you like the melon” he asked? “WE looooooved the melon!” we exclaimed. And in perhaps the highlight of my evening our waiter smiles a huge, authentic smile and tells us, “I’m so glad, it’s my favorite”

A Tiny Bit of Paris in Mockingbird Station: Edith’s French Bistro

A Tiny Bit of Paris in Mockingbird Station: Edith’s French Bistro

Food You Want to Eat at Mockingbird Station?

It has always been a disappointment to me that the food at Mockingbird Station was meh at best. While you can get an amazing cocktail at People’s Last Stand and they serve some pretty tasty bites, every other restaurant that has rotated in and out of this center has been food I forgot about as soon as I ate it. Who even remembers what was there? I mean honestly how is a gal supposed to do art-y film and dinner when the food options are so blech? Well thankfully things are looking up at Mockingbird Station. Not only are they getting that desperatly needed (potentially life-saving!) pedestrian bridge they are also getting a bunch of new food options. The Mr. and I went at to the Angelica last night to watch the super artsy film “Final Protrait” (PS: If you like art, you should do see it!) and after all that French cursing and cigarette smoking what we needed was a bistro! So with low expectation we decided to try out Edith’s French Bistro.

Stylish Comfort

I’ll be perfectly honest here, I am pretty sure this place is bigger and cleaner than any Bistro in Paris, but I don’t care. It is adorable! Full of light and natural elements, like a full wood wall and a leafy backdrop at the bar it just feels like a place you can hang out with a coffee and a good book.

The menu is equally comfortable, with mac and cheese, classic tomato and french onion soups and of course steak frites. But there are more unexpected options like a duck and apple salad and a chateaubriand for two (when was the last time you saw that outside of a Julia Child cookbook?!). Their wine menu is also quite nice. In a sea of generic wine menu’s in this town its nice to find a moderatly priced restaurant with a wine menu that reflects the concept and also delivers good wines at a great price. Oh… and did I mention? The BAKED GOODS. People, seriously… they have so many delicious sounding options and the bakery section is just adorable! We resisted this time, but next time we may just have to split a slice of cake of a chocolate croissant.

BREAKFAST: the Best Meal of the Day

Or am I coming back for breakfast? I’m a sucker for breakfast food. As I have mentioned before, BRUNCH is my favorite meal of the day. So their breakfast ALL DAY menu is right up my alley. I’ll have to report back soon because that Raclette breakfast is calling my name.

Comfort Food with a French Twist

Ok so I could not resist the Champagne Shrimp Mac and Cheese. It was studded with slivers of asparagus and was as creamy and delicious as one could hope. The raclette probably helps alot with that! The shrimp were perfectly cooked and there were plenty of them in my serving. Tim had the Soupe Velouté De Tomate and the Croque Madame. Yes, he basically had grilled cheese and tomato soup. Don’t judge, it was cold this weekend! Anyway, YUM. The soup had lots of flavor and the little drizzle of spring onion oil was a nice touch. Little toasted baguette slices are exactly what you want with this soup! They seem to have the little simple touches down in this place. Not too much of anything, just enough to make it special without kicking you in the teeth with how FRENCH they are. Its nice to find a place that feels comfortable and comfortING. Oh yeah, and that Croque Madame? Lovely. Perfectly fried egg on top, lots of cheese and ham inside. Cooked perfectly golden brown.

I’m not sure why this place isn’t up to its gills in couples and gal pals. Maybe it was the chilly temps this weekend? I was more than a little bit pleased with this little place. There are tons of other items I want to try on the menu. Next time you find yourself at Mockingbird Station you should give them a try. Seriously, so good!

A Day in Delray Beach

A Day in Delray Beach

The amount of small beach towns along the Florida Coast is huge. Seriously, they seem to just blend into each other to become one large generic beach town. However, if you want to do a little more while you are visiting South Florida I think it’s worth checking out any of the towns along the shore. They each have their own personality and unique vibe. Delray Beach has a great almost bohemian vibe that I think it well worth checking out!

A History of Delray Beach

It’s actually difficult to remember that most of South Florida was once a swampy, unfriendly to humans patch of land almost no one wanted. However for along time there was no one here but Seminole Indians trying hard to live life away from the control of the US government and escaped slaves or freedmen. As late as 1841 the only documented human inhabitants of the area where the City of Delray Beach now sits is military map that noted a Seminole encampment near what is now Lake Ida. By 1843 the war was over and the surviving Seminoles were forcibly relocated to Mississippi or escaped further south to the Everglades. The United States now had full control of the territory and in 1845 it became the state of Florida.

An Unwanted Territory

By 1845 there was a small settlement of African American families living in the area and by 1895 it had grown large enough to petition the government for a school. The land they lived on was owned by white families and in 1896 the first “official” town was established and named after the landowner William Linton. The town of Linton grew steadily for the next few years with the establishment of several churches and another school for whites. In 1898 William Linton defaulted on his loans and the town was renamed “Delray”.

Getting the Economy Going

The town continued to grow with new churches, a library, cemetery and even a town hall. The population of southeastern Florida was still tiny with only a few thousand people in the entire area. This began to change in 1904 when a group of Japanese settlers arrived in the area and established a colony south of Delray. These men were recruited by the industrialist Henry Flagler in an effort to jump start economic development. Jo Sakai, the leader, named the colony “Yamato,”  Soon the men were joined by their wives, children, friends and relatives.

Yamato Leaves a Legacy

The residents of Yamato became integeral members of the Delray community and their children attended High School in Delray. George Morikami  was one of the later settlers and he donated more than 200 acres to the city and it now houses the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. Henry Flagler’s interests lay in getting the rail system going which required goods and people to transport, his efforts were successful and the area began to grow. By WWI the area was just beginning to come into its own with a land boom that is reflected in 1920’s architecture that can still be found throughout the city.

A Snapshot of “Old Delray”

If you want to see what Delray Beach might have looked like back in the day or like me you like to envision what it might be like to live in every place you visit (every single place) take a visit to Del-Ida Park. The homes are built in the Mediterranean Revival and Craftsman Bungalow styles. Originally established in 1923 this residential neighborhood is one of Delray’s first planned developments. Its charming!

Fun and Food!

First Coffee

I had to research a local coffee shop because I do sooooo love a good cup of freshly roasted beans. There are not a ton of options but you are in luck in Delray Beach. Subculture Coffee offers some lovely roasts, baked treats and the coffee shop itself is a lovely quiet nook to camp out in if you need to answer a few emails before you jump into your day of sightseeing and beach walking.

Then Pinball!

Wander up a bit from Subculture and park your car whereever you can find. We parked just on the other side of the train tracks because we were headed across the street to The Silverball Museum. “Museum” might seem like a stuffy, wander around and look but don’t touch kind of place. Don’t be fooled, this is a hands on place full of fun for EVERYONE. As a matter of fact on the day we were there we spotted a family with their kids, a group of biker looking guys playing with real intensity and more than a few couples on a date. The museum is FULL of pinball machines dating all the way back to the 1950’s.

The cost of admission allows you to play on any machine or all of the machines (whatever you wanna do!) I am not much of a video game person, but I LOVE pinball. Its fun to see the graphics and technology evolve with the times but fundamentally you are bouncing a silverball around. Its really shocking how simple the game is, but its so much fun! There are two full bars on the premises along with food options (but don’t eat there, you’ve got to leave some space for lunch at one of the many fun restaurants nearby!) Enjoy all the vintage signage, midway games and of course the pinball and when you are ready head on out to enjoy the rest of the strip.

From there we decided to stroll all the way down to the beach. Its not a super long walk and the road is lined with restaurants, bars and lots of little shops. Some of which are touristy and full of junk you will be sorry you bought when you get home. Others are actually very nice, full of beach fashion, art and more. Wander in where ever strikes your fancy most of these shops are well worth checking out. Below is just where we happened to stop, we enjoyed them all and think you will too!

Gelato!

You have lots of options for ice cream on this little stretch of road but we stopped for a nice scoop of Gelato at Gelato-Go. A South Florida franchise opened by two Italians in 2013. Their Delray Beach location had just been open a few weeks when we stopped in for a scoop. They make their gelato fresh daily with ingredients like pistachios and hazelnuts sourced straight from Italy. I gotta say, their italian recipes and made-fresh daily approach does pay off. The gelato was delicious!

Gelato in hand, we continued our stroll. As you approach the bridge that will lead you across the intercoastal there is a lovely park and the booth where you can purchase tickets for a boat tour (if you are inclined!) We were not, but if you want to do this… plan ahead. Boat departure times are fixed and you don’t want to literally “miss the boat!” As you walk across the bridge you get a nice view of the intercoastal and some of the lovely homes that back up to it.
Tim, looking out at the intercoastal, and admiring the 1920’s bungalows!

The Beach!

Once you have crossed the bridge the shops actually thin out a bit and there are more businesses and hotels. Which seems a bit counter intuitive, but it makes sense. That beach-side life isn’t cheap! The beach is your usual Florida beach, well manicured, white sand ready for fun! The day we were there it was quite windy, perfect for wind surfing or just a stroll down to the water.

Tracy always ready to put her toes in the sand and wade around the ocean!
On our way back from the beach Tim spotted a wine shop. Ummmm a wine shop at the beach? Genius. Wine Wave was a genuine treat. Although they had a few bottles you may recognize, many of the offerings were cult-y and geeky wines that made Tim swoon. It would be a good idea to talk to their knowledgable staff to help you pick something out.

Lunch errr Dinner… Linner?

As we headed back we were starving. We decided to make a stop for a quick bite and maybe a cocktail. There are so many options, pizza, burgers, seafood (of course!) Whatever you might be in the mood for really. We finally decided to stop at Park Tavern. It was crowded, looked like a comfy spot and offered lots of opportunity to sight see. I think we made a good choice. The service was good, the food we picked was super tasty and my cocktail was really quite good. A touch sweet for me, BUT perfect once I added some sparkling water. (To be fair, gin and tonics are quite sweet!). The french onion dip was exactly what you would expect it to be, onion-y and tangy, just what we wanted and the smoked fish dip was delicious. A perfect little snack/lunch to get us to dinner!

South Florida Coffee Culture

South Florida Coffee Culture

Let’s talk coffee! Well, specifically I want to talk to you about South Florida coffee culture. In Miami Cuban coffee is King. When I was a teenager I had a summer job working for the school district’s main office. The ladies who worked the cafeteria used to bring all us office workers an afternoon pick-me-up of espresso shots. I honestly had no idea what I was doing. They brought a tray, I drank the shot… and then I was giddy, giggly all afternoon. It wasn’t until much later that I realized those potent, super sweet little coffee shots were some hardcore caffine boosts. That job was a blast! Or maybe I was just high on coffee and sugar? At any rate, this is the coffee most Floridians drink. It is strong, dark and bitter, but cut with so much milk and sugar it is really not important what the actual coffee tastes like. Usually this coffee is made with Cafe Bustelo, which might seem like its the real deal Cuban coffee, but is actually owned by Smuckers. So, although there is coffee everywhere, Florida coffee culture is still very very young.

Panther Coffee

There are a handful of exceptions to this though. Panther Coffee is probably the most recognized of these. They have five locations through out Miami, including the ultra hip Wynwood Arts District. If you ask where to get local coffee, Panther Coffe is the one roaster almost everyone knows.  Its good stuff. There is a reason they are so popular. Their Wynwood location has a gogeous patio and all their coffees have tasting notes as well as farm and grower information. This is handy, because it matters what coffee you choose. There is a difference between a light, bright, floral, and fruity Ethiopian coffee and a chocolately coffee with hints of tobacco and cherry. It is not marketing and flowery language… these coffees have notabley flavor differences. This is coffee you want to at least try black first. This is coffee that really shines when it is cold brewed. You can smell and taste the difference. Take your time, read the sheets that are hanging all over the front counter. It is so worth it.

Following in the steps of Panther Coffee, several other specialty roasters have popped up throughout Dade and Broward Counties. Although the further north you go, the thinner your options become. As you may have already figured out, I am not a gal that visits Starbucks much (pretty much only at the airport actually) and my fancy Le Creuset French Press never has Maxwell House in it. I don’t believe IT IS good to the last drop. As Tim pointed out to me, I am pretty high maintanence about somethings. I like the right salt (Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, 13 oz folks!) and eggs from chickens who live a happy life, in the sunshine, pecking for grubs and eating marigolds. So while I love visiting South Florida, just grabbing some coffee at Publix just isn’t gonna cut it. So after checking Publix to be sure they didn’t have a few local roasters on the shelves (they didn’t) we began the hunt for a coffee roaster that is Deerfield Beach adjacent.

Subculture Coffee Roasters

My hunt lead me to Subculture Coffee. Where Panther Coffee is full of artists and tourists; Subculture is much more homey. Instead of the hustle and bustle of people with places to go and meetings to hold, you find young people intently working on their laptops. They are clearly at home in their chosen workspace for the day. While the atmosphere is very different, the attention to detail on the coffee is not. You will find coffees from all over the world, lovingly roasted to bring out their best qualities.  They are well worth seeking out. The more laid back atmosphere at Subculture also means that instead of reading about the coffee and making a choice, you can chat with your barista about their offerings to find out what each of them is like. The barista told me that the Ethiopian coffee I had picked had blueberry notes. Let me tell you, boy did it ever! Can you imagine bringing that morning cup of coffee up to your nose and smelling blueberries and citrus along with that lovely roast coffee smell? It is pretty heavenly.

I will earn a small commision on some of the products on this page if you purchase through my link. I have only recommended products I know and love. I have not recieved anything from these companies for free.
A Not At All Comprehensive Guide to Wynwood Arts District

A Not At All Comprehensive Guide to Wynwood Arts District

First A Little History

In the once ignored and dilapidated Wynwood Neighborhood is a thriving new-ish area full of art, food, coffee and lots and lots of pretty people. Dating back to 1917, it has had many incarnations. It was a working class neighborhood that housed bakeries, orange juice factories and a Coca-Cola plant that transformed to a booming Garment District in the 1920’s. By the 1960’s much of the workforce were newly-minted Americans from Cuba. The garment business thrived into the 1980’s when many of the business moved out as rents went up and their workforce moved out to areas like Hialeah.

At the end of WWII many of the original residents of the neighborhood moved out to the suburbs and the neighborhood changed from mostly white-working class to Puerto Rican and as the neighborhoods demographics changed people started to call it Little San Juan. The original Wynwood Park that was built in 1917 became Roberto Clemente Park in 1974. By 1977 the area was even more diverse with residents from Cuba, Haiti, Columbia and the Domican Republic joining the mix.

In the mid-1970’s the neighborhood was in decline with drugs and other crimes running rampent. As a result the vacent industrial buildings and low rents began to draw in artists from all over Miami. Creating a thriving center of artistic energy starting, All the creative energy drew the attention of Tony Goldman who saw opportunity were others saw an old run down neighborhood. He started to buy up properties all over the area and in 2009 he began the now famous Wynwood Walls project — the unoffical gateway to a newly revitalized Wynwood Arts District.

Getting to the Wynwood Arts District (Start at 2520 NW 2nd Ave)

The heart of the Wynwood Arts District is really the Wynwood Walls. A rotating outdoor gallery of wall murals painted on once delapidated buildings. In my opinion the best way to start your exploring of the Wynwood Arts District is at the Walls. This is a developing area surrounded by areas that, while vibrant and full of life, are not experiencing the boom and gentrification that they are seeing in the Wynwood Neighborhood. You might think you have gotten lost but you haven’t. Have faith, you will be seeing art soon! However, the surrounding neighborhoods are also full of street art, so if you want to have a less curated experience, take a look around.

Exploring Wynwood

Right on the otherside of the Walls the Goldman Family has a gallery featuring other works by many of the artists whose works are featured on the walls outside. Its well worth going in to see! If you love street art. Wynwood is your mecca. There is hardly a building without some form of street art. Full murals, creative tags, street posters you name it you’ll find it here! Walking around the area is a great way to absorb all the art and creativity all around you!

Once your feet are tired and you need a little pick me up, stop by Panther Coffee and grab a world class coffee and watch the people go by. They have a gorgous patio enveloped by a big shade tree; its a great place to rest your feet. Expect to see vintage cars, instagrammers, artists, hipsters, tourists, school kids and more. I honestly think half the joy of being in this neighborhood is just the people watching!

The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse

A few blocks away from the Wynwood Walls is a giant warehouse retrofitted to showcase the Margulies Collection. It showcases some of the best installation artists in the world. These unique pieces will challenge your assumptions about art and engage all your senses. Well worth checking out. When we were there they were featuring the work of Anslem KeiferDavid Claerbout, Federico de Francesco, Rosy Keyser, Imi Knoebel, Emil Lukas, Hugo McCloud, Olaf Metzel, Ernesto Neto, Diana Fonseca Quiñones, and Sue Williams as well as pieces from Martin Z. Margulies’ personal collection.

The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse

Pin It on Pinterest