Monthly Archives: March 2011

Bad to the Bone

Following the bikers into the Spice Mill carpark

Before I knew it, I was surrounded.  Bikers everywhere.

On my way to Spice Mill for my regular weekend lunch, I had followed a group of motorbike riders; something I’d not seen before on the island.  By the time I reached the restaurant, the car park was brimming with tough, leather-clad dudes and dudettes.  And about 30 Harleys.

Tough looking dudes and chicks with a big commitment to bandanas were everywhere.  Racing them into the restaurant, I managed to nab a table and slip my order in before they did – I figured I was doomed to hunger otherwise.

For $20 each, they got to choose between a burger, fish burger or chook curry.  (Must have been the Biker Special ;-)).  The crowd started getting a little huffy: the food was pretty slow out of the kitchen.  It seemed one brave move to leave a roomful of bikers hungry.  The following week I found out that the cook had “walked”, creating pandemonium.  It just goes to show that the worst can happen at the worst of times.

I must say that they seemed a friendly and well-behaved crowd.  Maybe it’s just Hollywood and the bad seeds that give this crew a bad name.

After some sniffing around on the internet, I found this company offering bike cruises and, looking at the dates and destinations, it seems like this might have been the group spotted at Spice Mill for lunch.

There seem to be a lot of positives about cruising with your bike (and I thought for a few minutes what it would be like to actually own a Harley…) but this one was the clincher:

Where those ‘other’ bikes cruises do not have the authority to allow you to bring your own bikes, they seem to allow their guests to make fools of themselves whether in the dining room, pool deck, or elsewhere…. ETA wants our guests to truly enjoy their bike-cruising experience in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Not to worry here…. no one will ‘bare’ themselves during dinner!

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Versailles

No, I haven’t skidded off to France for a visit (although some time in France does seem rather overdue).

Versailles (pronounced “ver-sai-yes”) is one of Miami’s institutions.  It’s often said that the best Cuban food is actually in the US, presumably Miami since it’s Cuba central, and having tasted Cuban food in Cuba, this must be true.  I had another series of meetings in Miami, so it was time to scoot off and take a look around.

Yuuum. Guava pastries at Versailles.

On the same Food Network TV show as I discovered Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink, I also took note of another Miami hot spot: Versailles, famous for its guava pastries. 

Empanadas - in beef, chicken, and spinach and cheese.

Miami International Airport has several Versailles outlets and, although they don’t serve the whole range, on my last visit, I recognised the name and grabbed a couple of guava pastries as I jumped on the plane.  Naturally, I was hooked.  They were a light, crisp pastry, with a not-too-sweet guava filling inside.  Mmmmm.

Mandatory Cuban dudes

Versailles is located in Little Havana, only a 10 minute cab ride from Downtown Miami.  As someone who’s been lucky enough to visit the real Havana, I was struck by how much the architecture does indeed resemble the Cuban capital.  Add to this all the signs in Spanish, and you know you are in for a treat.

When visiting Versailles, it’s worth knowing that there is a restaurant serving Cuban food, and a bakery/cafe.  Today, I was only after the cafe as I had a hankering for some empanadas and guava pastries, and there were plenty of those.  I had read online that this place can get frantic, and is usually full of gesticulating Cubans yelling in Spanish, luckily it wasn’t too busy when I dropped in.

Numero...35!

First up, you take a number.   Then, pay careful attention: they first call your number in Spanish and, only if there’s no response, will the number be repeated in English.

As you do this, gaze around at the goodies and decide how much you can carry (how much you can afford isn’t an issue – the pastries are cheap and are only $1-4 in most cases.

Fried. Pork. Crackling.

There were also some more evil choices, such as deep-fried pork strips with crackling.  Oh, yes folks, after my Versailles visit, I might not have been able to face my dinner that night, but that pork was goooooooooood.

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