Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Sunshine State

We spent the long MLK weekend in Coconut Grove, Florida with my in-laws. What a perfect escape from frigid Manhattan! On the day we departed NYC I was liberally applying hand lotion to my literally bleeding knuckles. My skin had dried and cracked from the cold. Florida was a savior, for not only my hands but my psyche. Here are some highlights:

SoulCycle at the new Coral Gables studio, taught by Allison
Allison recently relocated from NY to FL to open the COGA outpost. We chose a class on a whim and ended up in Allison's care. If I were a full-time Florida resident and not just a wannabe snowbird, I'd be an Allison-regular. During class, she declared, "I want you to fall in love with your decision to come here this morning!" I totally fell in love! It was the best SC class I've taken in a long time. 

A visit to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, featuring glass sculptures by Chihuly
The weather was perfect for strolling around the gardens and taking in the sights: unique trees imported from all over the world, dozens of different types of palms, countless plants of all shapes and sizes, flowers so funky they looked fake, and so much more. The Chihuly glass sculptures were placed in and around the landscape, sometimes blending in and sometimes popping out. The juxtaposition was a very cool sight. We also walked through a butterfly exhibit and were surrounded by the beautiful insects: They fluttered past our heads and landed on our hands and feet. The butterflies had myriad patterns and colors. My favorite wore electric blue wings. Throughout the Fairchild visit it felt wonderful to really be in nature, a welcome break from the currently barren concrete jungle of NYC.

Huahua's Taqueria
We stopped for a taco lunch at this Miami Beach spot not once, but twice. It's located just beyond the hubbub of the pedestrian walk on Lincoln Road; it feels local and the food is authentic and delicious. 

Oak Tavern 
This restaurant is located in the up and coming Design District of Miami; the location is great. The ambiance and food? Even better. This was my favorite meal in Miami. I feasted on my favorite oysters: Island Creek, a delectable tomato salad and an excellent main dish of grilled snapper filet with toasted farro & provencal vegetables, with a sauce pistou. To top it off? Oak Tavern served vino from one of my all-time favorite wineries: Cliff Lede.

The Beach
Being by the ocean is my happy place. We parked ourselves on the sand near Collins and Third Avenue and it was perfect: not crowded, and within walking distance of restaurants/bathrooms/gelato :)

Bookstore in the Grove
Bookstores are my other happy place. I finished This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage while in Florida, so I needed to visit a local bookstore. A quick Google search led me to the neighborhood spot Bookstore in the Grove. It's absolutely adorable and even has a cafe with homemade baked goods and smoothies. After perusing the aisles while enjoying a strawberry banana smoothie, I settled on Big Little Lies and One Hundred Years of Solitude. Books are the best souvenirs.


P.S. One thing I couldn't get over during this visit was how nice people are down in Florida. Everywhere we went, people were beyond friendly. The New Yorker in me kept wondering what everyone wanted. What was the catch? Absolutely nothing! The people are just genuinely friendly. :)

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