The Perfect Weekend in Miami

Miami Adventure Map Actual

Summer is meant to be a blissful, unwinding time for college students to recharge for the next school year. It’s a time to reconnect with family and explore the world beyond its academic realm. However, many college students find themselves working or interning over the summer in an effort to not really get ahead of the game but to make sure they don’t fall behind. Consequently, summer isn’t the constant adventure one initially dreams of; however, this weekend brought about the jam-packed extravaganza we’ve been craving since our family vacation in Europe. It was 7am, bright and early on Saturday morning, that we embarked southbound for the vibrant city of Miami on what would be the beginning of a perfect weekend.

Although Miami is only an hour or so drive from where we live, we never really felt the desire to make the trip before. That’s no longer the case, as Miami happens to be the home turf of our Penn friend Katrina! Our reunion began with breakfast at Green Street. The menu was a simple single-sided sheet, which made the selection process relatively easy breezy. We decided on lemon ricotta pancakes, a spinach and feta omelet, and nutella stuffed French toast (which did not disappoint). After all, how can anyone make nutella stuffed French toast not taste good? The omelet was likewise solidly delicious, but sadly, the same couldn’t be said for the pancakes. These lemon ricotta pancakes were the fluffiest pancakes we’ve ever had, but they were also semi-salty and a bit bitter, as the lemon flavor seemed to be infused from the zest rather than the juice. On the bright side, although they weren’t perfectly palate pleasing, it’s was interesting to experience an unexpected flavor profile.

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After breakfast, we meandered around a small shopping square and the Barnacle House, Miami’s oldest home in its original location. With time, we were digested enough for a rough wake-up call to our summer laziness, ballet class. This was hands-down the most eclectic ballet class we’ve ever taken. The three of us were joined by a retired ballerina, two middle-aged recreational dancers, others our age, including a guy, and elementary to middle school-aged beginners. Thankfully though the class was efficiently tailored to different skill levels, and since we were new students, it was even free! What a coincidentally ideal way to celebrate National Dance Day.

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Dance is a multi-purpose hobby, exercising the mind, body, soul, and appetite! And with that cue, we were headed across the street from the studio for lunch at 100 Montaditos. This place is seriously a gem of Miami. They sell 100 different “tapa-sized” sandwiches ranging from $1 for the originals to $2.50 for the premium with special, gourmet, and dessert style montaditos in between. Originating in Spain, this fast casual chain is saturating the city of Miami and with good reason; the service is fast, the food is cheap, and the quality is great. The three of us split 6 montaditos for a modest $12. When experienced family style, the amount of variety you get for the price is simply unbeatable. Amongst our samplings,  #29, the grilled chicken, guava, and bacon special montadito was our collective favorite. We initially ordered this item out of curiosity; tropical fruit on a sandwich was an intriguing combination. We weren’t prepared however, for how they transformed the guava into a sweet and tangy barbequed fruit leather. Although every item we ordered was uniquely distinct and delicious, the barbequed guava coupled with bacon and grilled chicken was a stellar combo.

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Each supplied with a #29 to-go, we were headed for our next destination, the beach. It had been pouring during dance class, but lucky for us it only sprinkled occasionally during our time at the beach. The mild weather was actually quite enjoyable, as we were in the water for well over an hour and didn’t even need sunscreen.

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Montaditos to scale

Dinner with Katrina and her parents was at CVI.CHE 105, a traditional Peruvian restaurant. This was actually our first time trying Peruvian cuisine, actually it may well have been our first time trying any type of Central/South American cuisine besides Mexican. Instead of the complementary bread we were used to, the waitress brought over a small bowl of crunchy roasted corn kernels. Ah, thinking back to those little nuggets of golden perfection makes me hungry for some! (Too bad I’ll just have to settle for some dried edamame). As for drinks, we ordered what was referred to as lemonade, but at CVI.CHE 105 apparently life must give one limes to make lemonade. Fresh squeezed, this “lemonade” was the perfect pairing to our food. Passionately written, the menu made the food sound impossibly delicious yet excitingly each dished lived up to the hyped expectation. We had:

Stuffed Potato Causa with Chicken Yellow potato cake inspired by a land of the Incas, with yellow Peruvian pepper and magical lemon, stuffed with chicken salad and vegetables, seasoned with a Creole touch to steal your heart.

 Ceviche Pucusana 105
 Close your eyes and enjoy this treasure of a ceviche. It will take you back to cherished Pucusana. Fresh, tasty and a bit spicy… unforgettable!

My Favorite Because Juan Says So! Linguini with a basil, spinach and fresh Peruvian cheese cream sauce, accompanied with a juicy, grilled churrasco steak.

Soursop Crème Brûlée The famous crème brûlée now with hints of fresh soursop fruit that sweetens the soul and renews the spirit.

Lucuma Cheesecake The lúcuma is a typical Peruvian fruit which we have used in a classic cheesecake over a base of chocolate cookies and fudge topping.

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After all was said and eaten, our favorite was not the dessert, but the stuffed potato causa with chicken. Let me just say: flavor explosion! The yellow Peruvian pepper gave the dish a uniquely pleasant heat and although there may be no such thing as a magical lemon, there was definitely magic in this dish. Supposedly, each dish has a story behind it, a memory of Chef Chipoco’s childhood. In the few hours we were there for, at least five birthdays had been celebrated by singing wait staff and sparkling desserts. It seemed as if the atmosphere made locals eager to make memories of their own. And with food that extraordinary, presented in an atmosphere that sincere, we too left with unforgettable memories.

This may sound like a conclusive ending to a day of food adventure, but little did we know, Katrina’s parents had a sweet trick up their sleeves. After a night drive along South Beach, we pulled in for surprise ice cream at the neighborhood parlor. Now our day’s food adventure was complete.

Whip ‘n Dip

Day II

We awoke the next morning gratifyingly sore from dance. After some light stretching, we were treated to Cuban pastries Katrina’s mom had picked up from a local Cuban bakery earlier that morning.

1. Senioritas 2. Guava (and cream cheese) pastelitos 3. Cuban bread

After an intense abs fitness video workout and brief detour to shop the sale at Zara, it was meal time once more. We had brunch at Michael’s Genuine, a family-owned restaurant that prides itself in its seasonally inspired menu using locally grown ingredients. The portions were petite but every bite burst with powerful flavors. Our favorite? The kimchi benedict. Words can’t do it justice.

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1. wood oven roasted double yolk egg 2. kimchi benedict 3. wood oven baked 9 grain pancake 4. chocolate cream & cookie crumb pie in a jar 5. peach handpie 6. jerk chicken and waffles

“Peace signing” it up

Our adventure drew to a close at Wynwood Walls in the design district. Here we were amazed by an incredible agglomeration of street art. While admiring the murals along the street, we happened upon an art market, which was a small orb of liveliness in an otherwise quiet, seemingly unfrequented neighborhood. We were surrounded by imagination and talent, an inspirational and fitting end to the perfect weekend in Miami.

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At the art market: Felicia’s new phone case (middle)
Crystal’s new phone case (right)
Katrina’s almost new phone case (left)

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