New Campo Argentina - Your Taste of Recoleta in Miami Beach

Driving up Collins Avenue from South Beach up towards North Beach and towards the "upper 60s", one can't help but notice a preponderance of South American restaurants right around 69th street. Turns out the area is popular with South Americans (we didn't know this) where many Brazilian, Argentine and the occasional Cuban restaurant can be found.

We were heading to visit my cousin at a rental on South Biscayne Point Road when we decided to make a quick stop at New Campo Argentino on Collins just south of 71st. What we found was a great little Argentine restaurant (our waiter happened to be from Uruguay, thus the Pilsen) with good food at reasonable prices.

Perhaps getting the Provoleta was not the healthiest choice but it was really good. We made an effort to get a lighter lunch but then blew that out of the water by getting panqueques con dulce de leche - sinful crepes that were irresistible.

If the weather is nice enough, sit on the walk under the shade and peoplewatch. It's a great spot to enjoy a Pilsen and some good Argentine food. Walk next door to the little market to get some homemade alfajores to go and you'll be set.


Bright Lights...

It may not get more touristy than Times Square but there's just something about the lights and sounds of that big, bright mess that draws people like moths to a flame. You can't visit New York without taking in the lights of Times Square.


Eden Roc a Worthy Alternative to the Pricey Fountainebleau

The massive Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach is a hot commodity. People line up on Collins and inside the hotel to enter clubs and bars packed wall-to-wall while creditors work on recovering funds after a massive renovation. Rooms typically start at $300 an up... a high price tag to fund a massive renovation.

Yet, next door, the Eden Roc Hotel, also recently renovated (bye bye spite wall) and now a Renaissance Hotel, offers a less pricey but glamorous option to those who want to stay in Miami Beach without the chaos of South Beach.

The hotel has added a new tower, renovated most of the pools, is fixing the hotel spa and has spruced up interiors and rooms. The bar is as glamorous as ever and still shows Morris Lapidus' creative touch.

Here are a few shots from our recent stay at the Eden Roc.


Cantucci worth seeking out... in New York!

So much updating to do and so much good stuff I can add thanks to some recent trips to London, Rome and the Maremma region of Tuscany. So, let's start with a real quick one... something is better than nothing, right?

I went to New York City about two months ago to meet with a few clients. Great trip - very fruitful! One of the non-business highlights was lunch at a midtown Italian restaurant called Cellini. Now Cellini stands on its own with its regular fare. The
gnocchi I had, while not light by any means, were simply delicious. However, what really stood out in my mind were the cantucci that came with your bill. O U T S T A N D I N G!!! They were delicious - had a light hint of anise that made all the difference in the world. Seriously, I wanted to stuff my pockets with them. I asked if they sold them but, unfortunately, they do not. Too bad... I would buy a few pounds.

Visit them on your next trip to New York and enjoy the food and the delicious cantucci.


Sushi in Houston's Chinatown?

I was itching for sushi today but finding sushi near my office is not necessarily an easy task. Of course, Chinatown is nearby... and there actually is some sushi in Chinatown. Hokkaido seems to be one of the few places and it's actually quite good and reasonably priced. In fact, not only do they have good sushi, they also offer up free udon and red bean soup. How about that?

If you want to visit Hokkaido, it is in Diho Square at 9108 Bellaire Blvd. It's tucked in the corner of shopping center so keep your eyes peeled and head in for some of this...


Quick Picks in San Francisco

I just got back from a quick trip to San Francisco. I don't have my camera with me so I'll have to add a new entry later but here are some quick picks from my trip:

Yet another reason why I'm starting to find Kimpton to be my favorite small chain. Whimsical, reasonable prices and great little touches for Kimpton InTouch members. You can't beat the location... caddy corner from Chinatown's Gateway Arch.

Two simple dishes was all it took to show me the light as to why this restaurant earned a Michelin star. One of my dishes begged to be licked clean. I went for lunch and ate at the bar but I imagine reservations are strongly recommended at this celebrated eatery.

Located in Mint Plaza, I really loved 54 Mint. It was the Italian feel - every single person I spoke to... from Claudio, one of the partners, to Nicola and everyone inbetween, was Italian. Italian run through and through led to an authentic Italian experience... a leisurely pace and not the most smoothly run operation but, ironically, that's what I liked about it. It was real and the people were fantastic. I had a nice rughetta salad to start and scrumptious octopus carpaccio.

Was I in Paris? Seriously... this French owned cafe has absolutely nailed it. I had breakfast so I can't speak to the cafe's "real" menu... all I know is that the experience was great. They had the "right" chairs (straight out of a typical Parisian cafe), French staff and just the right feel. If you've been to France before, go here and you'll know exactly what I mean.


An eminently walkable town, use your feet to get around. So much to see and do. On a related note, to get to and from SFO, be sure to use BART. Roundtrip tickets cost roughly $16.00 and offer a safe, comfortable ride into the center of San Francisco.


Endless Choices in Tuscany

A visit to the Maremma area of Tuscany is in our future. The more I dig and research the area, the more I realize I face an impossible task of determining what hill towns to visit while there. Small, medieval burgs perched on tufa cliffs, seaside ports, island castles or fortified villages? How do you pick? Seriously, it's just about ridiculous. Here are three candidates... l'Isola del Giglio, Capalbio and Pitgliano (in Italian)