Messy Eats – Miami: Part 3

It has been a long time since I’ve written a post. While I have enjoyed writing and have still been writing during my hiatus (the draft of my first novel complete and a short story done), I’ve been so busy and overwhelmed with life and work that my blog fell to the wayside since last September.

I have been wanting to get back to my blog for months and decided to fire-up the ole webpage today. When I did, I discovered I never completed my Miami series. So, now that I am back, here is the completion of my journey through food in Miami. Reader beware: it doesn’t quite end well…

20180608_131310.jpg

As I leave the brewery and once again enter the summer heat, I have to decide what to do next. I’m full of coffee, donuts, and beer, so I decide I could really use some protein. I fire-up my Google Maps app and find two starred locations I had previously pinned for myself. A taco place and a Cuban food joint. “Should I hit one of them or both?” I decide to take up the charge and go to both. I decide to start with tacos so I take a left and head on down the street.

A few blocks down I am greeted by what can only be a bachelorette party. A half-dozen girls in bedazzled pink to shirts run up-and-down the street. There is no way out that isn’t obvious. One of the girls sees me and aggressively approaches.

“Can you help us out with something?”

“Umm. Sure,” I respond.

She grabs her list and rattles off a few things. “Do you have a tatoo?”

“Nope.”

“Are you single?”

“No.”

“Can you sign a Brittany Spears’ song?”

“Um.” Not wanting to drag it on any longer. “Sure.”

“Cool. What song?”

I rack my brain. “…Baby One More Time.”

“Great! Hang on. My friend is going to record it. Thanks a lot!”

Before I know it I am standing there with two girls singing Brittany and being recorded.

“I must confess I still believe.”

All I can think is this video is surely to be all over the internet tomorrow.

“When I’m not with you I lose my mind.”

At best, my wife is going to laugh uncontrollably when she hears about this.

“Give me a sign. Hit me baby one more time.”

At worst, she’s gonna kill me.

“Thank god it’s over,” I think to myself.

They thank me and run off. I take a moment to get back to equilibrium. I start walking again toward lunch. I make the mistake of stopping in a small art shop on my way and am confronted by a girl from a second bachelorette party.

20180608_132025.jpg

“Can you help me with something?”

“I already helped a girl up the way,” I respond quickly.

“Dang. That’s the other group. Thanks anyway.”

Relieved, I decide to hit the taco joint ASAP.

As I walk-up to the restaurant I step around a group crossing my path as I look up at the sign to make sure its the right place.

SLAM! TWIST! POP!

I stumble as my left foot sinks into the ground and gives-way. It twists left and over-corrects, twisting right. I nearly fall to the ground. Not sure what just happened, I try and collect myself. I walk into the restaurant and get in the line. But, the pain is too great.

I step back outside and sit at one of the picnic tables lining the front porch. I grab my ankle. It’s throbbing. I look at it. It’s starting to swell. I tie-up my shoe real tight.

“Damn,” I think to myself. “Damn.”

I text my wife (who’s about to give a big presentation…mistake) to let her know what happened and that I think I’m going to be okay.

I stand-up. I can put weight on it without too much pain. I take a few steps. I can walk okay even though it’s quite painful.

“What do I do now?”

“Do I take an Uber back to the hotel?”

“Do I take an Uber to the hospital?”

“Do I just stay and eat tacos?”

“Do I go get Cuban food?”

After contemplating my options for a good ten minutes, I decide even though there is not too much pain I am going to need to elevate and ice my ankle soon, but that I am still hungry.

I decide it’s Cuban food, Uber, elevate and ice.

So, I walk the twelve blocks to¬†Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop. It’s a painful, arduous walk. But, as I sit down, order a Cuban burger and fried plantains, and take my first few bites I know it was worth it.

20180608_135903.jpg

Messy Eats – Miami: Part 2

Wynwood 2

Stuffed with donuts and coffee, I wander the streets of Wynwood, taking in the endless wall murals from graffiti artists all over the world. This is an interesting place. The overwhelming graffiti art and dirty streets gives you a sense that something isn’t right. But, I think that’s because my equilibrium is off. I’m not use to this atmosphere. And, as I settle into it, I kind of like it.

Wynwood 8

I wander and take pictures as I go. The walls, the streets, and the signs are all adorned with words and images. I round a corner and am greeted with a giant painting of Darth Vader. The Star Wars fan in me is intrigued. “Why Vader?,” I ask myself. There has to be a deeper meaning. I scan the building and I see a sign which reads: J.Wakefield Brewing. “Yes! This is exactly what I need,” I think to myself as the hot sun beats down on me as I begin to sweat. A black and grey brick building which resembles an old car mechanics building stands before me. People hustle and bustle in front of me, moving kegs and barrels of beer. The parking lot is full of cars and bags-upon-bags of grain.

Wakefield 1

I walk in to a half-full bar, and take a seat. The walls are covered in scenes from Star Wars. I’m excited. I read through the beer list and order their hefeweizen: El Jefe. I am presented with a glass of cloudy orange beer. I take a sip and am greeted with banana, cloves, and coconut! That’s interesting. I look at the menu and realize this is on purpose. It’s an intentional marriage of Germany and South Florida. I love it. A refreshing taste on a hot day.

Beer 2

“I think I’ll have one more,” I tell myself. I scan the list. I want a good, fruity, citrus IPA. My favorite style for the summer. Steady Hoppin it is. New England style with Amarillo, Galaxy, and Mosaic hops. Should do the trick.

Beer 1

As soon as my glass hits the counter I’m welcomed with loads of fruit and citrus aromas. I can’t wait to imbibe. It’s fresh, floral, and bitter, lined with citrus and piney notes. For some reason it reminds me of summers at my grandparents house when I was a kid. Must be the florals. It’s good. It’ll get me good and ready to head back out into the South Florida sunshine. Just one more thing to do, take pictures of the Star Wars adorned walls. Cheers all!

Wakefield 2

Messy Eats – Miami: Part 1

Wynwood 1

I have always loved food. Since I was a child I have been obsessed with the combination of flavors and how eating is so much more than just providing us sustenance. Food is chemistry. Food is culture. Food is art. Food is amazing.

I’ve been reading Chef Edward Lee’s new memior/autobiography/cookbook, Buttermilk Graffiti, in which he chronicles his travels throughout the States to discover the cultural melting pot of food this great country affords. In the book he has a chapter about Miami. Miami of course is a place full of cultural diversity which is often lived out in its food. I ate up that chapter and the rest of his book like a fine dining meal – slow and with appreciation. And, I was left with the thought: I want to discover food just like Chef Lee, slow and with overindulgence, taking it all in to the point of being beyond full.

So, when my wife booked a business trip to Miami, I decided to join. Two-and-a-half days to explore, learn, and eat. And, that’s what I am doing. Today is the first full day. Upon recommendation, I am starting my day out in Wynwood. A mixture of the hipster and the artist smushed in-between low income housing and adorned with wall murals. I find myself making my first stop at The Salty Donut. A self-acclaimed artisanal donut and coffee shop, it is hidden away in an old industrial complex turned boutique haven. It is small in all natures but flavor. When you enter you are greeted with smells of fresh baked dough and smiles. The staff is friendly and ready to provide recommendations. The counter provides a display of delicious-looking donuts. The walls are adorned with bags of coffee. It’s a constant buzz of activity even at 11am.

I could ask for recommendations but I know what I want. The salt and the sweet is calling. I order two donuts: one brown butter and salt and one peaches. To wash it down I get a 16oz cold brew which has steeped for over 18 hours. Within minutes I have a large brown box and a plastic cup full of rich, dark brew. The worker asks, “Are you from here?” I politely say, “No, I’m actually from Indiana. It’s my first time in.” She responds, “You look so familiar like someone who comes in all the time.” I wonder exactly what that means. Is it my hipster-esque manbun? Is it my towering stature? Is it a good or a bad thing? “Either way, it’s nice to have you here,” she politely continues and goes back to serving other patrons.

Donuts 1

I take my treasure-containing box and cup of coffee and take a seat on a bar stool. I open the box and stair at my two tasty treats. I start with the brown butter and salt donut. It crumbles in my hand. I take a bite to discover the perfect combination of soft and crunch, salt and sweet. It’s a good start. I take a sip of my cold brew and the caffeine quickly rushes through my veins. It’s dark and rich. Perfection. I’m finished with half my first donut when I decide to switch to the peaches donut.

I lift it. It’s a heavy sucker. Now, you must know. I am not a big fan of filled donuts. Most places fill it with fake fruity garbage. I hesitantly take a bite. “Oh, that’s good.” It’s peach cobbler meets a donut. I’m in heaven.

I take my time. One bite. One sip. Surrounded with Hispanic music and the buzz of customers constantly entering and exiting with brown boxes. This has been a worthy stop. But, I have more to see and more to eat. Filled with sugar and caffeine I exit into the hot Florida heat, full and happy.

Donuts 2