Monday, 25 November 2013

Christmas Preparations

If I learned anything about the holidays while living in England, it was preparation. I swear they start promoting Christmas by September. It was very strange at first but it slowly becomes part of your holiday prep. So as November came along, Doug and I started buying each others gifts. This way our expenses don't creep up on us out of no where. I can imagine when you have children starting in June isn't even enough time! So I am happy that we are practicing lol. 

The first week of November Doug started bragging that he already had some of my gifts so this instantly set me up to get on it. It is Thanksgiving this week and I am all done with his stuff!!! Hooray. Mind you, we like to spoil the hell out of each other. So trust me starting too early is never a bad thing because then in early December I can focus on buying for the rest of my peeps. 

Doug has established a Gift buying list that is pretty genius. We are one of those silly couples that has too many special days all between two weeks of each other so it is a crazy expensive time. We have Christmas, then a week later is our anniversary, and a week later is my birthday! Poor Doug =) and he knows better than to do a mass gift for all of them together hehe.

Categories for buying for your partner:

1. Clothes- shoes, handbags, dresses, gift cards to stores etc

2. Electronics- Easy one. Camera, iPod, ipad, phone, new video game etc

3. Tickets- to any form of show or sporting event or anything that involves a ticket 

4. Jewelry- pretty easy one...

5. Smellies- Fav perfume, new lotions, expensive anti aging creams (wishful thinking?), anything Jo Malone would be fantastic hehe...

Ok so if you were a little lost this year or haven't even started thinking about Christmas, maybe this will guide you a little! 

And boys, no woman likes getting just one gift of xmas....Its the one time of year that you can spoil her without feeling like its too much! Remember online shopping exists so there are no excuses these days for saying you were too busy. Have a wonderful shopping experience.

The great thing about getting the shopping done early is that you can enjoy December without the stresses of rushing to the stores with all those insane Christmas shoppers. I personally cannot stand being amongst headless shoppers, its like they have no clue whats happening around them, so save the stress for something that deserves it. Bring back the cool fun christmas spirit!!!


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Thea Pizzeria

It seems that dining out has been a big trend for us Vineys lately. Friday night we went to a lovely little place in the health district of Miami...Doug has really made it a point to meet a lot of British people in Miami. I'd say he has succeeded. One of them being Thea. The owner of this lush, little pizzeria. However, Pizzeria it was not.

As you arrive there is complimentary valet parking. This small restaurant has floor to ceiling windows lining the front, with dim romantic lighting. A long bar lines the back wall with a gigantic mosaic of flowers behind it. If you really stop to look at it you see just how incredible it is. Thousand and thousands of tiny tiles covering a  very large wall. On this evening they had a live band playing some sexy brazilian beats. I couldn't help but sway in my seat.

This particular night that we went was Supper Club. It is an invite only dinner experience. Thea assigns your tables with your name hand written on it. She greets you at the entrance and tells you to find your table. It is a very intimate setting. Only about 40 people can dine at a time so you can imagine. 

Once we sat, Thea brought us over some prosecco with strawberries, followed by the bread with some spreads. So far so good i'd say.

After having a look at the menu I instantly got my regular "too many options" panic. My brain cannot process a decision when I am being offered Mozzarella, Butternut Squash soup, Four Cheese Ravioli with truffle, Prosciutto etc!!! As Thea came to take our order, my indecisiveness was very clear. Let me tell you, this woman is what every restaurant owner should aspire to be. She said "Oh I will just bring you three choices!" instantly content with this my entree choice was mush simpler. 

The portions are small, I assume because we were going to be eating three courses, so the Mozzarella and ravioli didn't really deserve a picture (also we finished it so quickly I almost forgot hehe). It was real italian Mozzarella. If you have never had the real deal then I am truly sorry for you!

I had her bring me whatever wine she wanted, and I can truly say it was one of my most enjoyed glasses of wine to date! I am not much into wine but this one was extremely smooth and went down a treat. (Cantele, Primitivo Red, 2011)

Now, as I wrote once I love cheese pizza. Because if someone can make a good simple Pizza then i know they've got it going on. However this time I went with a twist.

Mozzarella, tomato, basil, with truffle oil drizzled over....stop and imagine that for a second.....yes

I wish I could capture the essence of this glorious dish and pass it on through my blog. I guess you will just have to go try it for yourselves. Nothing smells better to me than truffle in my food mmmmm.

Doug went for the lamb chops. Boring compared to my amazing cheesy heavenly truffled pizza.

To finish off our tastebuds we ordered some strawberries and cream, and the chocolate cake. The cake doesnt normally come accompanied by ice cream but I have a dessert rule that all cakes or pastries must be blessed with a side of ice cream. So salted caramel won. What a combo! They truly complimented each other beautifully.

We will certainly be returning to try out a regular evening. Or maybe even lunch! Please grace this lovely little place with your presence and try my pizza!!!


Saturday, 2 November 2013


This week has been CRAZY busy! Trying to find time to write has been hard. However, I got this. Last week Doug and I went to Coral Gables with my mother and we happened to stroll into a restaurant I have had my eye (and stomach) on for a long time....SWINE.

We wern't up for a full meal so we decided to just go with some starters. Everything was amazing. As I ooed and awed at the flavors in my mouth I saw that the following week (this Tuesday) there was a dinner special. Four courses with drink pairings for $75. Immediately I booked a spot for two.

Spring 44 was the company that was putting on the show. They are a distillery for all sorts of spirits. Let me tell you, the drinks were SO strong! They were all great and went strangely well with the different meals. But five drinks later, you stand up from the table and realise just how tipsy you are...TAXI!

As you open the door at Swine you are slapped in the face with a smokey aroma. It instantly gets your taste buds curious. Up to the bar we went. The bar tenders are great and attentive. Along with entertaining (atleast at the upstaires bar on a tuesday night! Thanks Alex) I ordered off the cocktail menu a Mexican State of Mind. Strong with a kick!

Just a few minutes later, our first drink was served to us as we were waiting to be sat.

Drink one: Cranberry bitters, Spring 44 gin, lemon juice aperol topped with cava

The tables were set up in fours, so you had to sit with strangers. Personally I love this. You can mingle with new faces and trade yummy restaurant recommendations. Lucky for us Jenny and Estephany sat next to us. They really made our night much more exciting. Dougie and I love each others company but we absolutely love sharing a dining experience with others.

 Estephany and Doug

Jenny and moi

Now to the food...

 First course: Ricotta Agnolotti and Wood Grilled Shrimp

This dish was de-lish! The yellowy foam was called "essence of bacon" YES you read that right! The bacon snuck up on you every few bites. The ricotta was rich and creamy and the shrimp had a bit of a kick to it. Overall a fab plate.

Paired with: Stone Cold Rocky
Spring 44 Gin, Apricot Liqueur, Bitter Lemon Soda

Second Course: Smoked Confit and Seared Margret Duck Breast

Paired with: The Honey Bee
Spring 44 Vodka, Honey-Thyme Syrup, Lemon Juice

This glorious little basket of bread. Zuchinni bread with gruyere

Third course: This next course I cant really give a great review on because it was a very interesting say the least!

Whole Suckling Pig Porchetta

Exactly...a whole baby pig right on our table. Im no PETA girl but a baby pig makes me a little queezy off the bat! When I go to set menu dinners, I go in with a total open mind. Let me remind you that I am in no way an adventurous eater...However Doug opened my taste buds a lot in London. So I dug in. Well, we all dug in....a bit too much!

Paired with: April Negroni
Spring 44 Old Tom Gin, Campari, Sweet Vermoth

Two sides:

This one was beans and hash, it had such a nice rare flavor to it. You could really taste cinnamon. I love me some cinnamon.

The sides were great, and the pig tasted like a thick piece of ham, rather than the porky flavor I prefer. The flavors were good but it isn't a dish I would order by choice. After a few bites and being on our fourth drink by now we started getting silly with our food...

Drunk Pig

For some bizarre reason (blame it on Spring 44) Estephany and Doug decided to cut into the cheek...which led to much worse.

We had gotten into a lot of personal conversation so we felt quite close at this point....Doug was dared to eat the tongue, Esteph the eyeball, and Jenny the nose...I shared the nose with her because there wasnt much else left....well........

These girls were troopers. Next up, of course was us trying to get through the skull and into the brain. AH! 

Gladly the chefs sawed the pig in half for us...
**If you love pigs look away!**

The four of us ate the brain. WHY?! I am not entirely sure. Again I blame Spring 44...and Doug.

I do believe this brought us all closer haha.

To end the meal (and totally erase any tastes of brain) we got our dessert.

Fourth Course:
Butternut Squash S'mores Cheesecake
oh yea....So good. I have always been obsessed with any form of butternut squash.

Paired with: Simply Bourbon
Spring 44 Bourbon, Pumpkin Spice Syrup, a bit of Sherry, Cold press coffee, Cream and Grated Nutmeg

This evening was so much fun, I cant recommend Swine enough. Now remember this set menu isn't a normal thing. It was just an event put on by Spring 44. But the food there is some of the best I have had in a while. Service is spot on and if you go, try the burnt ends and cornbread! 

*Small Warning: your hair and clothes will smell like they have been in the smoker all day! Till you wash them!*

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Oh England

Missing a place or people has never really been a character trait of mine. Since I was little my parents would send us to my grandparents in DR for months at a time and we would see my dad probably once half way through and my mom would stay for a bit and go back and forth. So that family attachment most people have kinda wasn't instilled in me. Obviously I adore my family but I can manage without seeing them for long periods of time. When I moved to England I knew I was going to be fine being away. These days there is so much technology that it makes it difficult to miss a beat. When I would see pictures of my friends all out together I would wish I was there but it wasn't to the point that I would cry about it haha. 

Living in a country like England made me truly miss the SUN. The warmth is just a part of my existence and not having that was my hardest thing to deal with after the first year. At first everything is new and wonderful and so exciting. Once the second winter came I was a bit bored of being cold every day. By the time the third winter came I really didn't think I could handle it. You just deal though, somehow. Days all roll into one. It is a pretty miserable feeling to wake up in the dark and finish work in the dark. If you haven't experienced it there is no accurate way to describe it. 

Doug and I decided from the get-go that we would do two years in UK and then head back. It ended up being two and a half. It was all great and I loved being there. Our biggest mistake was buying our flights in September to leave the following May. That is a LONG time to know you are moving. It just put me in a bit of a negative place. I felt a bit of bitterness towards England. Looking back now I truly loved and enjoyed my time there. The days of sunshine are possibly the most beautiful experience. It is as if God sprinkles glitter all over the sun kissed towns. Wether  it was cold or warm, it was just the way the sun shone on us that made you feel this epic inner warmth. I lived for those days, at work I would sit out on the bench and just soak up the sun. But in the turn of a day it was back to overcast, cold and can only take so much! So my longing for the beach and sun just grew and grew as February and March rolled along. I finished work a month early so I could gather my house and my bitter feelings towards my job (thats a whole other story). 

Side note: if you are unhappy at work, it ruins most of your life! To wake up in the morning and feel horrible because you have to go to a job you hate is possibly the worst thing you could do to yourself. 

Anyway, the month of April was truly a delight. The sun shone for me as much as it could. I was happy to wake up in the morning and everything was just fabulous. 

Nearly 6 months into being back home and yesterday I had a hardcore I MISS ENGLAND day!!! I felt it in my heart! Kind of the way I would want to be hanging out with Doug while we lived apart. A deep longing inside me to go and see My family over there, and our flat. I loved our home. I'd love to go to Henley for some hot chocolate and a stroll along the river. A sunday roast. To go walk around the Oracle and worry about how much my parking was going to cost because I just spent the whole day there. To go to The Bull in Sonning for the best chicken and bacon salad you will ever have in your life (hands down). Going to the pub for dinner because we don't feel like cooking. And ordering a sticky toffee pudding. Snuggling on the sofa with our duvet because its so damn cold that you cant feel your toes. Watching prime time television on a Saturday night.....(whats that all about?). Tuesday night movies for 5 quid. Primark! Oh my don't even get me started on London. I really miss the family the most though. And the friends we became so close to. No matter how much technology there is, a five hour time difference makes it so hard to stay in touch properly. It sucks terribly.

The sticky toffee pudding!

Roast dont even know!

Gorgeous sunsets just behind my house

This is a real picture from my amazing is it! Mmm Magners

October outside my window

Our half ass winters! haha it TRIES to snow but usually fails.

Days at the race course with some bubbly

My little Winston over the road from home

and the wonderful Henley Regatta

I absolutely love being back in miami but I am so excited for when we get to go back to visit! It is like the best of both worlds. 

Cheers! xx