Wednesday, January 19, 2011

i'm not a runner... well, i wasn't

As each semester goes by, I find myself getting too busy and too lazy to get my butt to the gym. Next thing I know, its been almost a month since my last visit and I definitely feel the difference the next time I work out. Well, NOT ANYMORE! I realized the only way to stay motivated was to set a goal for myself so I've decided to run a 5K. 

For a non-runner like me, let me just say it actually involves a considerable amount of dediaction to train for one of theses which keeps me in the gym at least 3 times a week. Quino's also keeping me pretty motivated seeing as he can pretty much run circles around me when we work out now. Hopefully I'll be able to keep up with him by the end of this whole thing.

Anyway, this is week 3 of training for me and I feel great! I have 6 weeks left until the Karhu 5K on Miami Beach. It starts at 6:30am so I have no earthly idea how I'm going to wake up for that but I paid for it already so NO EXCUSES. I'm finishing the damn thing if it kills me, which it probably won't because its only 3.1 miles but whatever. I'm hoping to finish it in about half an hour (a stretch because I'm currently only doing about a 15 minute mile) but thats what all this training is for. And who knows, maybe I'll be running a 10K by the summer! 

Here's hoping :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

fabulous food finds: perricone's

I’m a total foodie, without a doubt. I’m always on the hunt for a good meal, whether its from a restaurant or trying a new recipe at home. I’m pretty picky so I will admit, my experiences aren't always flawless but when something satisfies me, I can't help but rave about it.
These days, everyone from friends to coworkers have asked me "where should I go to eat and what should I have?” to which I always enthusiastically respond with one of my favorite restaurants and a detailed description of what I had and how amazing it was. I’ve garnered quite the reputation over the years and that was one of my major reasons for starting this blog. I want to share those experiences with everyone, and hopefully inspire people to try something new.
Truth be told, I'm not trying to be a food critic. I’m pretty terrible at being negative. If someone asks me about a bad restaurant, I’ll be honest and say I didn’t enjoy it but quickly change the subject to a similar restaurant that I loved and suggest that for next time instead.
This particular entry is about one of my all time favorite restaurants here in Miami, Perricone's in Mary Brickell Village. I've been going to this Italian gem for years with my family and it’s become one of my go-to places for date night.
It isn't the cheapest place, I’ll admit, but it’s reasonably priced and the food is definitely worth it. I recently discovered though, that every Thursday all of the pasta dishes on their menu are only $10! All day, all night, just $10!
Reservations are a definite must, especially around 8 o'clock because half of Miami is trying to get in on this incredible deal. Despite a line that was practically out the door, we were seated immediately (a testament to how amazing their service is as well).
When you step in, Perricone’s is a far cry from your typical restaurant. You actually walk into a boutique market full of wonderful Italian goodies instead of into a formal dining area. When you’re seated, they walk you through the indoor dining room, but I absolutely prefer to sit on the back patio if any tables are available. The ambiance is another one of the reasons I keep coming back to Perricone’s. It's dimly lit and the patio is surrounded by white Christmas lights all year round. They usually have a live guitar player and tonight was no exception.
{the beautiful dessert display.. yum, yum and YUM}
 {one of my favorite parts of the market... the giant round of parmesan cheese}
 {the candle lit table}
{the first of 2 patios... the wonderful white lights i mentioned really make this place unique}
Now onto the actual meal which, like any normal Italian restaurant, starts with the bread. They have the most delicious tomato bruschetta topping that they bring out, one that I am still trying and failing to duplicate at home. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and spicy. I have to try to control myself from ruining my appetite over the stuff.
{one of thses days, i'll figure out how to make this but for now i'll just enjoy it at Perricone's}
 While their appetizers at Perricone’s are amazing (the baked brie and fried calamari are among my favorites) we skipped them tonight and went straight for the pastas. I had the Homemade Gnocchi with pink sauce (one of my favorites) and Quino had the Fettuccine with Sliced Filet Mignon and, as usual, we enjoyed every last bite.
{you can barely see the gnocchi through the parmesan cheese but that's just how I like it}
{as for what Quino had, you can really taste the red wine in the sauce which was so rich and delicious}
You really can’t beat homemade gnocchi, I’ve tried the packaged stuff and it doesn’t even compare. Covered with the freshly fallen snow of parmesan cheese, their gnocchi is light and creamy but surprisingly filling. I rarely finish the whole plate but am more than happy to bring the leftovers home for a late night snack.
The dessert is another one of the reasons I rave about Perricone’s. I haven’t touched a dessert menu in years because I always know that I’m going straight for the House Cake. This little triangle of chocolate cake filled with chocolate mousse is beyond decadent and delicious. The cake part is always super moist and the mousse is creamy, dark chocolate heaven. I’ve definitely never had to put this in a doggy bag, I practically lick the plate clean with this one.
{you can't really see the chocolate mousse center here but that just means the dark chocolate is THAT good}
So if you’re looking an Italian restaurant with great ambiance and a flawless meal that’s perfect for any occasion, you really can’t beat Perricone’s! I’ve actually been dying to check out their famous Sunday brunch but haven’t had a chance to yet. If I do though, you’ll definitely be the first to hear about it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

the end is only the beginning

From a champagne filled New Years Eve to a glorious sunny day on Miami Beach on the first of the year, I must say that I ended 2010 on a high note and started 2011 on one as well.

We partied the night away at Quino's house before and after the ball drop, there's really nothing better than a good drink and good company. One of the highlights of my New Year's Eve was capturing these slow shutter speed shots of sparklers. I'd been dying to do this for ages so we took to the backyard, lighter and sparklers in hand, in an attempt to snap some shots of our names and some cool doodles. We had a bit of trouble getting the sparklers to light at first and catching the moments on time wasn't easy either but I still got some amazing shots. Here are some of my favorites
I definitely wont be waiting until the next firework-appropriate holiday (July is wayyy to far) to try this again!
As for 1/1/11, Quino and I borrowed my uncle's scooter and headed to South Beach. Its such a great way to get around that area, we were able to avoid most of the traffic and actually find a good parking spot (without having to pay so thats a plus too). It was way too cold to go for a swim but we spent the afternoon taking pictures and people watching over a shared oreo milkshake from Johnny Rockets (yummm)
{gorgeous day}
{me climbing a tree like a five year old}
{finishing off that delicious milkshake}
After walking around for a few hours we ended up grabbing lunch at The Place, a restaurant near 8th and Ocean. The food wasn't much to rave about, definitely not worth a whole blog entry, but I did fall in love with what I found at the bottom of my plate. Check this out!
...after. how cute is that? I want to get some of these plates!

All I can say is that I hope I'll enjoy this entire year as much as I've enjoyed these past few days. Wish me luck!