Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Day Off in Miami

Up at 8, out the door by 8:15. Because the weather here is so miserably hot, I gotta do my exploring early. Grab a couple of things from CVS, and find the motherload a block from the hotel in a direction I hadn't yet been. On one block, there's 3 sushi restaurants, a Mediterranean café, 2 Cuban cafés, some of the usual crap (Quizno's, Subway), and a place called Offerdahl's Café/Grill. The owner of this chain is John Offerdahl, who played with the Miami Dolphins for 9-10 year as a linebacker. He originally had a chain of 10 bagel restaurants (Offerdahl's Bagels) which he was practically strong-armed into selling to Boston Market back in 1995. They changed the name to Einstein Brothers Bagels and ran it into bankruptcy within 5 years. He bailed out 6 months after selling to them because of disagreements on where the company should be heading. Babble, babble, babble…

Found a place a few blocks further called Granny Feelgood's Café and grabbed a window/counter seat for breakfast. The first waitress who came by didn't speak a word of English, which is not unusual here in Miami, so she sent over another waitress to take care of me.

Side rant: WTF is up with this country? Why can't I do business with English-speaking people? Why do we have bilingual English/Spanish signs? Why do we offer a bilingual driving test? We never offered them to people of German, French, Swiss, Swedish, Dutch, Russian, Chinese or any other heritage. So WHY in the hell are we doing it for people who speak Spanish? Dammit, if you come to America, learn how to speak English like everyone before you had to do.

Another side rant: While I'm sitting there, I watch someone in a Jeep Cherokee try to drive face-first into a parking spot directly in front of me. The space was big enough to accommodate the vehicle and still allow 5-6 feet between it and the cars in front of and behind it. On the first attempt, he misses his angle completely, gets frustrated, and pulls away to park down the block. Had he actually attempted to properly parallel park it, he's have made it easily. Problem was, he was talking on his mobile phone while trying to accomplish an everyday task. Moron. Exactly the kind of idiot that causes wrecks by being distracted by his phone conversation.

So two things, World-At-Large: Ban all smoking in public places, but especially in bars and restaurants. And ban all use of mobile phones while operating a motor vehicle. Period.

After breakfast, I wander around for a while. By 10:30, it's getting hella hot, so I head back to the comfort of my air-conditioned cave at the hotel. Maybe today's not a good "people day" for me.

Head to Offerdahl's Café Grill for lunch. They have the 3rd best vegetarian chili I've ever eaten, bested only by my own and Mitch's Tavern back home. I think the red lentils put it over the top. Might have to add them to my recipe.

Spend the rest of the afternoon just hanging out in my room.

Around 7, I head out for dinner. Two of the 3 sushi places are closed (!?), and the third one is pretty much delivery oriented. There are 4 stools inside at a small counter, but there's no proper sushi bar and the place is waaaay too brutal with fluorescent lighting. Pass.

Wind up back at Lombardi's, the "oyster bar" place from last night. I'm heartily welcomed back by Alessandro, the GM and Jenny, the lovely bartender from last night. I'm all about a comfort zone with restaurants, and these two folks are fun to talk to, so I don't mind eating here again at all.

Good time was had by all. OK, by me, but that's all I care about.

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