Friday, December 30, 2016

maybe one more

we did manage to squeeze in one more 2016 meal out - today off to the market to get provisions for NYEve....

last night we revisited Pomona and had another lovely evening- not a lot to say- Phil had the antelope (new prep) we shared the charcuterie and I had scallops with lobster ravioli and then we had the mousse cake for a sweet.... all tasted very good. The wines were from us- and both showed really well... and I loved the white while Phil favored the red...

so now off to get our meal to welcome the new year - can hardly believe it is 2017 but there is no denying the passage of time... and oddly enough my blog has now gone over 100,000 views... I think that in the last month or so I have been getting hits from Chinese spammers who must just send to any web address they can make up...LOL- because in the past a regular month would be 2500 hits and this month I had something over 10,000.

so for those of you who are not Chinese spam programs please stay tuned - the new year brings many plans and so the calm of the last two months will be a thing of the past - starting January 5.... there will be more to say see and do along the way this spring... my Uzbekistan trip is a GO and there is much theater, ballet, opera, concerts, symphony etc... to keep up with... happy New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2016

away for the holidays

so holiday meals can sometimes be a challenge on the road- I remember one meal we had on Christmas Day in Cincinnati at Steak N Shake...why? because it was the only place open on Christmas Day... so we were pretty thrilled that we seemed to have a decent amount of choice in Miami for this holiday.  The only thing we really missed was Phil's favorite La Cameronera... we ended up at Garcia's which has the disadvantage of not as good food but has the advantage of outdoor dining.

We got to see brother Larry's new digs on Miami Beach - having left the Grove after three decades! And we basically just hung out and relaxed one bar or another LOL-

On Friday night after our arrival we went to Pascal's on Ponce - an old favorite which is still and excellent choice for continental food!  Saturday we ended up at Garcia's for lunch more out of habit than anything and because we didn't have massive numbers of options that weren't located in hotels which had to remain open for their clientele... Then Saturday night we headed back to Toscano Divino and again had a terrific meal (way better than you would think given their location!) Sunday brought our real find in Bellmont Spanish Restaurant for lunch which lasted nearly three and a half hours! and for dinner that night we did La Mar (a Gaston Arcurio place where the menu mimics our fave  Peru in Chicago at Tanta)

On the way out of town we stopped for Cuban "burgers"- fritas with shoe string potatoes and a fried egg on top of a beef chorizo patty or El Mago de las Fritas- good but not "to-die-for" but since we hadn't ever had them it was worth the small detour...

my favorite shot of the weekend

the weekend in order-

Pascal's with the wines we brought- starting with the amuse


then on to Saturday afternoon- Garcia's and Monty's-

Sunday afternoon and our long long long lunch!

Sunday dinner LOL sorry not much in the way of photos

then Monday rolled around and we rolled out of town after the fritas stop -

so back at winter home and planing for a quiet new year's eve- Dom, caviar, foie and some other goodies to tide us over to 2017 and I have to say I have not looked so forward to the end of a year since 2010 - the year my mother and sister died.... so on we go- live as much in the present as we can and count our blessings of which there are many more than the challenges.... may not be another post for 2016 but stay tuned the new year has much in store for us ----

Sunday, December 18, 2016

fun with toucans

I did a little research on the subject of toucans and found the website ""beauty of birds" had a lot of interesting information about them - so I thought I would pass it along.  The birds we saw this time at the hotel in Cartagena (they had three) were not the same one I saw there the last time despite the fact that they can live to 20 years in the wild and 25 in captivity.

Here are photos of my toucan friends from 2012 and 2016 with a 2016 of one of them showering in the fountain in the courtyard of the hotel

From the website-

How heavy is that bill, and what do they eat with it ?

Surprisingly light for its size, in some larger species the bill is equal in length to the body size. The neck is strong and short to help the bird with balance.  The bill's structure is formed by a highly organized matrix of thin criss-crossed bony 'rods', filled-in with a spongy form of keratin, creating a horny sheath (similar to fingernails) with serrated edges resembling teeth designed for tearing fruit, the principal component of the diet.  The bill is quite weak in the sense that it cannot bite, but it is so incredibly strong that some aircraft have been designed following the principles of its construction.  The thin, feather-like grey tongue extends to the end of the bill which is otherwise hollow. The feathering effect exposes more taste-buds, enhancing the importance of taste to the toucan.

Researchers have noted multiple benefits of toucan's bill:

  • It is a very efficient thermo-regulation system, serving as 'air-conditioning'.
  • The long reach aids in gathering food, with minimum energy expenditure, and it can reach into areas unavailable to other birds. The bill reaches fruit on branches that might not be able to support the bird's weight.
  • It intimidates other birds, allowing the toucan to plunder their nests.
  • It is unlikely that the bill's coloring or size is related to mating as female and male toucans have similar markings, although the females' bills are usually a bit shorter and straighter.
  • It does play a role in the mating ritual as the pair throw choice bits of fruit to one another.
  • Toucans fence with their bills and wrestle, possibly to establish hierarchy within a group.
  • It is theorized that subtle distinction in bill markings help individuals identify one another.
  • Berries and seeds are collected with the tip of the bill and then flipped into the throat by tossing the head.
  • Toucans supplement their diet with insects, small lizards, eggs, and the nestlings of other birds. This extra protein is required during breeding season.
  • Toucans in captivity must be fed a diet specific to the requirements of their species which make them difficult to breed and raise, as they are subject to health problems such as hemotomacrosis. Many breeders do not support them being kept as pets as the current supply in captivity is not enough to sustain the demand (for zoos and other such venues) and this increases them being harvested from the wild.

Physical Characteristics:
  • Wings are relatively small, suitable only for short distance flights.
  • The bills can be solid black, blue, brown, green, red, white, yellow, or can be colored patterns.
  • The bills are not strong enough to bite or destroy objects.
  • Bright plumage serves as camouflage in the colorful rain forest canopies.
  • Body length ranges from the smallest species at 7 inches to over 2 feet.
  • Tails vary in length from equalling half the length to the whole length of the body, according to species.
  • Predators include humans, large birds of prey and wild cats, particularly jaguars.
  • Eggs and nestlings are subject to plunder by all sorts of animals, especially snakes and other birds.
  • Toucans can live 12-20 years, depending upon species; larger toucans have lived up to 25 years in captivity.
Toucans are very intelligent and trainable, They are friendly and playful.

So there you have it- toucans - beautiful, cute, friendly and extremely photogenic! here is one showering - on film!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

a new and TERRIFIC find

so you would think that this being our seventh winter here that we would have found every place there was to eat and drink- but you would be wrong... last night, with our friends Al & Carol, we ate for the first time at Pomona.  Located very near Fogartyville- this is a real find! It is a fabulous bistro menu with an outstanding charcuterie plate and one of the best desserts I have had in a long time... not to mention the antelope chops Phil had for dinner....

anyway here are the specifics-

a place so worthy that it won't take long for us to return!

the night before we had a terrific meal with Mary Ann and Gene at indigenous (only a few photos unfortunately as we were so caught up in catching up after nearly a half year of traveling - both couples!)

we all ordered the mushroom bisque- it is fabulous and was a perfect pick for the chilly evening that night! The temperature went down to 66* LOL

we shared the smoked sturgeon tartine - although it looks a mess it is very tasty!

Phil had the burger- I had wreck fish with a polenta/parmesan/kale cake which was fabulous! (the winning dish of the evening) M.A. had the falafel and Gene had the short rib (which I would put in the second place for the evening) desserts (shared) were less impressive - sometime just a bit weird there... but it was great to see them and we closed the place down long after the food was finished because the conversation was not...

earlier in the week we had made it to Bridge Street Bistro for the first time this season and also had lunch at Star Fish (and brought home dinner from the market there- stone crab claws and scallops)

ahi tuna to start-

potato crusted grouper and lamb chops-

at Star Fish - dockside views while waiting for our food!

This is our favorite time of year to go to Star Fish - before the hordes of tourists arrive in town and on the island... the line is shorter and the tables available with our the circling for any length of time... the blackened grouper sandwich is my go-to and the fried oysters and shrimp is Phil's... we can highly recommend this but don't tell anyone! LOL - it is too busy being over run by people who think it is their "secret find" LOL....

next week we have a few things planned and on Friday we are headed to Miami to visit Larry and see his new place on Miami Beach - he sold his house of three decades in Coconut Grove and moved just yesterday to a condo (we are all trying to simplify) downsizing and cleaning out just as we did in the spring.... so stay tuned for more info on that!