Classic Camarones Enchilados (Cuban Shrimp Creole)

Recipe Courtesy of Chef Ani Mezerhane

I love a one pot recipe. Makes cooking and the cleaning so much easier. This recipe will take you up to 40 minutes tops, and if you make the sofrito ahead of time, it will take you not even 20 minutes. Great for a weekday when you are short on time. The best part is, it’s delicious and in my opinion so comforting. Enjoy!

  • 1 cubanelle pepper, finely chopped  
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped  
  • 2 white onions, finely chopped 
  • 26 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Parsley, finely chopped 
  • 1.25 – 1.5 pounds, large shrimp, peeled, devained with tails on 
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic, finely chopped 
  • 1/4 cup extra Virgin olive oil 
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons salt
  • Pepper to taste 
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes 
  • 1 packet of Sazón con achiote 
  • 1 teaspoon of creole seasoning 
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce 
  • A few threads of saffron, bloomed in 1 cup of seafood stock 
  • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of brandy, I like Cardenal Mendoza 

In a large sauce pan, add onions, peppers, red pepper flakes, Sazon, salt and pepper. Sauté for 8 minutes until soft.  Add garlic and cook but don’t let it burn.

Once softened, pour in tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire, cardenal Mendoza brandy and saffron with water. Cook for 5 minutes on high so that it begins to boil. 

Dry the shrimp. Sprinkle creole seasoning,  salt and pepper on the shrimp. Sauté for 3-6 minutes in the sofrito or until they are bright pink and curled up. Mix each shrimp to assure both sides are cooking.

Add parsley and serve.

Cuban Natilla

This is my all time favorite Cuban desserts, of all Cuban desSerts and if you know anything about Cuban desert- you know there is some serious competition. Each bite is a creamy, luscious, spoonful of heaven. I have always been intimidated by it. It seemed too delicious for me to attempt to make it. I imagined it had to be complicated or out of my skill level. Enter Chef Ani Martinez. We got together and made it a few different ways. Finally we found the easiest and best (in our opinion) way to make it smooth and creamy, and it really doesn’t take too long to do. It’s also very straightforward, and just requires about 15-20 minutes of your time. So get out your leche condensada people, it’s go time:

  • 1 can (12 oz) of evaporated milk
  • 1 can (14 oz) of condensed milk
  • 20 oz of whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup of cold water
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • 1/2 a vanilla bean cut lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoons of natural Tahitian vanilla
  • Ground cinnamon for dusting

In a blender add the egg yolks, salt, evaporated milk, condensed milk. Add the whole milk into the empty can of evaporated milk, use a spoon to scrape the sides and get all the evaporated milk, and add half the can of condensed milk (this will total about 20 oz and help you scrap down all the gooey sides of the can.) Blend on high to incorporate.

In a bowl mix together the cornstarch with the water until it is completely dissolved.

Strain this and add to the blender. Mix on high again, scraping the sides to be sure everything is incorporated.

Add this mixture to a heavy bottom pot and turn heat to medium. Add the cinnamon sticks, and the vanilla bean being sure to scrape out the seeds.

IMPORTANT: Mix constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Once you start this recipe you are committed for the next 12 minutes.

It will start to thicken after about 6 minutes.

BE PATIENT. If you feel the bottom of the pan is sticking don’t scrape it. Just let it be and slowly mix the top portion only.

Drop to low once you see it thickening and cook for another 5-7 minutes on low stirring slowly.

Strain this mixture into individual portions or a large ramekin. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Let it set in the fridge a few hours. Serve with toasted pound cake.

The Big Reddit Short

At this point you have heard about what happened in the stock market last week. You have been hearing the words Gamestop, short, hedgefund, Robinhood and so on in your feed in some form or another. The story is big. It has so many moving parts and could seem really intimidating for most of us who have no idea how any of that stuff works.

To be able to completely and thoroughly understand what happened last week, would take a lot more than reading a blog post. Especially this particular post, as I am in no way an expert in this area. So I naturally thought it would be fitting for me to give you a breakdown. Don’t worry I googled, watched MSNBC, and asked my husband to explain about 100 times. I got this. Ready?

The story is not that simple. Nor did it happen overnight. I am going to try my very best to explain this as quickly and easily as possible.

First there is the original Reddit post, which noticed that some hedge funds were taking a “short” position on Gamestop. This came about 190 days ago. What is a “short” position. In it’s most simplest form, it means to bet against. So these hedge funds commonly “short” certain stocks, and while it is risky it usually ends in a big pay day, and it’s a way the market sort of self corrects.

*If you have not seen The Big Short– highly recommend, helps you understand the financial fiasco of 2008 and the cast is incredible: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Kendall from Succession, with appearances from Pharell, Selena Gomez, Snoop Dog, and this one here from Margot Robbie who gives you a quick “short” explanation.

Usually the companies that are the target of the “short” are failing or have diminishing returns and are on the way to failure. They do not usually begin to improve. THIS IS IMPORTANT because if anything was to happen such as the company gets bought out, or creates a new patent or gets a drug approval, this would cause “a short squeeze” and as the price of the stock rises, these companies have to pay the difference with interest. A short squeeze is bad, because it means their bet didn’t work out.

So if I’m a fund and I want to short the “Bananas” their stock is at $10, things are not looking good for “Bananas” company, it hasn’t been doing well for a while. But alas! Looks like it’s pandemic and banana bread is the new flourless cake. Everyone wants bananas! Bananas are taking off and now their stock is worth $50. My short has been squeezed. I’m covered in banana puree.

Shorting a stock isn’t free. Whoever is taking the short position borrows the stock. In a very complicated manner that probably no one really understands, the short buyer, in this case the fund, will now owe the broker, to get out of the short, they will buy the stock at its current price, thus paying the $40 difference plus interest, fees…

Gamestop, which is considered to be in a dying brick and mortar industry, wasn’t the “blockbuster” company you might have thought it to be. It had $100 million in net cash, so bankruptcy is not as imminent as many short seller may have made it seem.

Now, back to the story. After the original Reddit post, some time passes, and two eccentric big name investors come into the story.

Enter Florida. Because a guy from Florida is always involved. Ryan Cohen is the former CEO of Chewy.com, whom famously took his 3.3 billion dollar buy out and only invested only in Apple and Wells Fargo, for the last 3 years. Until Gamestop (GME). Cohen took out 6.2 million shares of GME on August 31 (raising the price of the stock, limiting the amount of available stock, and signaling Gamestop may have potential).

This leads to Michael Burry (Christian Bale’s character in The Big Short), taking notice and he began to see the short position and decided to buy a significant amount of shares (again raising the stock price and limiting the amount available). The Reddit plan was going according to plan.

The hedge funds had to make a decision. Continue paying the fees on their short positions, or close out their short positions by paying the much inflated new price of the stock.

At this point Gamestop has gone from being valued at $17 in early January to being valued somewhere at almost $400. The people who got in early, and were able to sell made up to $13 million. It led to stories like this:

Some hedge funds are estimated to have taken a hit of about 5 billion and had to be bailed out by the other funds. They will live to short another day.

Proving my earlier point about there always being a South Florida connection. The owner of one of these hedge funds recently purchased not one but two homes on North Bay Road. Ah… Florida.

I’ve really simplified this. There are so many layers here. Some other stocks were in play like AMC (as in the movies) and Nokia (as in the flip phone you played snake on). I am trying to just pull out the meat and bones for you because what has happened here is historic. Never before has “the little guy” been able to manipulate the system the same way big hedge funds do every day.

If you are into the story, this is a good starting place for you, if my blog was the first place you started to read about it: https://thehustle.co/01262021-gamestop/

This guy is also a great follow on Instagram and gives a great perspective on what is happening: Dave Portnoy (President, Barstool Sports)

Click here for the 50 Best Memes on Buzzfeed like this one:

I left Robinhood and how they were involved out here which is a big part of the story. Nutshell: There is suspicion that Robinhood, stopped selling the GME stock in order to help the fund from losing more money. Robinhood argues that they just were maxed out and could not process any more purchases. There will be an investigation. Until then it is hard to say. I’m obviously going to keep following the story. Here are some links to get more information:

https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/robinhood-why-it-stopped-gamestop-trades-everything-else-you-should-know/

https://www.morningbrew.com/daily/stories/2021/01/31/robinhood-explains-reasons-halting-trading-meme-stocks-last-week?email=robert.bustamante@gmail.com

https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/gamestop-stock-plummets-short-squeeze-conditions-dissipate-citadel-melvin-capital-2021-2-1030028921

Ted Lasso, 2020’s Hero

Nutshell: Apple TV, light, unexpected, like a big warm hug, husband loved, Sudeikis, absolute must watch

CB Rating: 9.2

Oh, what to say about Ted Lasso that would correctly sum up your urgent need to watch this show.

On paper, you will hear what this show is about and some of you may be turned off. The show is a classic fish out of water story. Ted Lasso, a classic all American mid-western football coach ends up in London coaching soccer. I need you to stop. Full stop. Hear me out. You must give it a chance. I challenge you to watch two episodes and not see what I see here.

The show starts slow and it never really picks up, at least not in any way that you are expecting or traditionally experience these days.  I can’t fully explain how, but somewhere after the second episode you really start to just love this guy and the entire cast really. This show was able to bring perspective while at the same time making me laugh out loud.

He is a classic Kansas boy down to the college football coaching career, and we find him somewhere in London somehow coaching a soccer team.  How is this even a concept for a show? But it just works.  The underlying story has been told, but the take on it is so fresh.  This is one of the few shows out there that leaves you feeling good when you’re done. 

The cast is eclectic and mostly made up of people you’ve never really seen before, and by the end of the season they become people you cannot live without (i.e. Roy Kent, sigh).  This show slowly brings you out of this rut that 2020 has dragged you into.  It is vulnerable, honest, and funny in the most unexpected of ways. 

In a year where there is so many negative things coming at you all day, this show just brings joy. The underlying story has been told, but the take on it is so fresh.  This is one of the few shows out there that leaves you feeling good when you’re done. It’s the tv equivalent of a big warm hug.

Ted Lasso is the hero this year needs. Click below to watch the trailer.

My Deep Dark Fantasy

Moms.

I have a deep dark secret fantasy.  I’ve had this deep dark fantasy for just about 10 years now. The idea came to me late one night as I was nursing and changing our then new born daughter.  Just the very thought of going through with this fantasy brought an immediate smile to my face.  Then the idea just started to grow and develop over the years.  

Now, three kids later, on those days where I can’t get more than three minutes and twenty four seconds to cohesively put a thought together.  Between the constant discussions of what is available for snack, negotiating screen time, or refereeing the 119th fight of the day my fantasy carries me through.  

I have, on occassion, shared this fantasy over the years.  Carefully.  I didn’t want to be judged or shamed for these feelings.  But what I started to realize is, this fantasy of mine, this fantasy that has blossomed and carried me through some pretty dark days of parenting, is not only mine.  The mom friends I have shared it with have always looked back at me with enthusiastic approval and have even brought fresh ideas to make the fantasy, better.  

So what is this super secret 10 year in development fantasy?  It starts with a holiday, whether it be my birthday, anniversary, christmas, or especially Mother’s Day-  my husband, who completely on his own has noticed how hard I have been working to take care of the kids and the house, gives me a card.  Now this isn’t any card.   This card holds a hotel room key.  This hotel room key is not to the local Holiday inn. No sir. I am talking about the Four Seasons, or The Ritz Carlton room key.  Stay with me.  

This hotel room key isn’t for us to share the weekend together.  No.  This super secret fantasy does not actually include another living soul.  This room key is just for me. To go alone.  By myself.  To this beautiful, cleaned by someone else room.  

Picture it.  I am in a car.  Listening to the music I want to listen to when I pull up.  The valet will say “welcome” and I will respond “indeed”.  I go straight up to my room, immediately undress, put on the plush fresh white robe and just throw myself on the bed.  Sometimes in the fantasy I do a snow angel move on the bed, sometimes I fall directly asleep.  Eventually,  I pick up the remote, turn on the TV, and  browse the “in theatre” movie options and then make my way to the room service menu.  

I pick the movie.  It’s not a cartoon, or an action drama.  It’s just a cheesy RomCom and there is no one around to offer commentary on how dumb it is.  I order myself a cheeseburger with french fries and a bottle of wine.  None of which can make me fat (this is a fantasy).  It arrives.  I watch the movie with a burger in one hand, sauce is probably on my face- I don’t care.  I’m alone.  I wipe the sauce with the french fry and eat it- because I can.  

I miss my husband and kids for a second because I have a heart. So I send a little I love you text and smile. Because when I look up, I’m still alone.  In a huge king bed.    I fall asleep.  In silence.  Alone.  I wake up in the morning, on my own. No alarms.  There’s no one jumping on me, or yelling, or asking if they can use an Ipad.  It’s just me.  I hear the birds chirping and I imagine some Frou Frou song playing the background.  Alone.

I think what my subconcious is trying to tell us, is that as moms, it’s easy to fill the day meeting the needs of the kids, husbands, other family members and dogs, but what we have to remember is that we are here too.  No we can’t escape to a hotel and make snow angels on the bed in a robe, but we can find a little time in the day that’s just for us.  We may have to lock a door or two to find it, but it’s essential.  

This year has been especially challenging and overwhelming.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Don’t be afraid to say, I need 15 minutes, alone, to just be me.  Taking off the “mom” hat and allowing yourself some time to meet your own needs, whatever that may be.  It will make you that much better when you return.  

Do You Podcast?

You hear everyone talking about them.  All over your day people are saying “I heard it on that podcast.”  You smile and nod, but on the inside you are wondering why in the world you still haven’t figured out how to listen to one.  Something about the whole podcast thing seems complicated and the universe of available podcasts is vast and growing every day.  It’s completely understandable to feel a little lost.  Or maybe it was just me?

One night out at dinner, my husband and our friends were going on and on about this podcast they all listened to, and I finally just blurted out “How the hell do you all know how to do this podcast thing?!”  My husband very calmly took my phone, patted me on my very aging millennial head, and showed me the podcast app.  Down the rabbit hole I went.

Now I know some of you reading this already know all about podcasts, and have your own must listen to lists (see below, please share).  However before we get into some incredible content that I love, I’m going to break down very quickly how you listen to a podcast for those of us who still haven’t been able to figure that out. 

The Apple App:

The podcast app is on your phone.  It’s one of those apps that Apple makes you have, but this one is actually useful: 

You open it up, and begin your journey.  Interested in a certain topic? Put it into the search and any podcast that has covered that topic pops up.  Interested in a certain person? Enter their name and all the podcasts they have appeared on will show up.   

Spotify:

If you have Spotify, they also have a great selection of podcasts to choose from.  They have more or less the same selection as Apple, but each service does have certain podcasts exclusively. (for example: The new Michelle Obama Podcast is only available on Spotify).  Again you open the app, scroll to the bottom of the home page and you will find some Podcasts available for you listen to. 

There are other services you can use to listen like Stitcher, Overcast, and Google but I think between the first two most people should be covered.

Not that anyone asked me or anything, but I thought I would also give you a few podcasts to start listening to.  You know just until you get your own juices flowing and find what you want to listen to.  Here are 10 of my favorites:

  1. Raising Good Humans Podcast: Dr. Aliza Pressman is the secret whisper in my ear now whenever I am looking for advice on how to handle any issues I am having with my kids.  
  2. The Armchair Expert: Dax Shepard brings on some pretty eclectic and interesting guests ranging from celebrities to psychologists, healers, and even geniuses.  He just recently interviewed Bill Gates, and I really loved that one.  
  3. Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations: If loving Oprah is wrong, I don’t want to be right.  She brings on the most outrageous guests, and gets them to open up in such a beautiful, and for lack of a better word, “soulful” way.  The Deepak Chopra episode was just, everything.  Sigh. 
  4. Latina to Latina: Alicia Menendez, has been interviewing successful and badass latina women for the last two years and bringing their stories to us in what is always a super insightful and beautiful conversation.  Alicia, is a current MSNBC host (one of their best), and one of my dearest and best friends.  So while I may have some bias, I would suggest you listen to any of the interviews and say you don’t find a great takeaway.
  5. Revisionist History: I will warn you before you listen to this one- Malcolm Gladwell is going to teach you something, and you won’t see it coming.  He takes moments in history, and current pop culture and challenges your view in an unexpected way.  
  6. Serial: Arguably the crime podcast that launched all other crime podcasts. Serial takes you through a true crime case each season. Juicy juicy for those true crime fans out there. Also here is an article with 50 more true crime podcasts for you to dive into!
  7. Unlocking Us with Brenee Brown: Brenee Brown is someone that grounds me.  I am not sure if you have heard of her or not, but let me tell you that Brenee is another voice in my ear that helps guide me through the day.  She has spent years studying shame and vulnerability and her insights are so clear cut and relatable.  Love this one! 
  8. How I Built This: if you like to hear stories of how great entrepreneurs got their start, this is the one for you.  The stories are usually pretty captivating and there’s always something good to takeaway.
  9. The Happiness Lab:  Dr. Laurie Santos teaches one of the most popular classes in Yale’s history.  She has some great episodes dishing out advice on how to form better habits and how to just find more happiness in your day.
  10. The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz: I’m a Miami girl at heart always.  This is my guy for sports.  I love this show, always have, since my dad used to make me listen to him on local sports talk when he was first starting out.  They always make me laugh, and keep me up to date on what is going on in the sports world in a way that makes me want to know, which for me is usually only during basketball season and if Tom Brady is involved. What? 

I listen to a podcast now when I go for a walk with the dog, when I’m cleaning around the house, or even when I’m in the car alone (LOL like this ever happens).  I do most of my listening in 10-15 minute increments, and I love it.  By the end of the week I know a new story, or have heard something cool that I never would have known otherwise.  

The podcast world is growing every day.  There are more podcasts being produced currently than almost any other form of media.  You can find some really compelling stuff to listen to, and you can also really find some hidden trashy gems.  Let me know what you’re listening to! I’m always looking for something new.  

White Bean, Sausage, and Kale Soup

This is one of the first recipes I started making when Bobby (my adorable husband) and I decided we were going to start this whole “kale” thing that Beyonce and the rest of the world were talking about. Eating healthy is not always fun, so I like this recipe a lot because it’s light and helps you get some greens in without wanting to die each bite.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4 Cajun Andouille Sausages (or your preference) sliced thin*
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth (2 boxes)
  • 2 cups water (play it by ear may not need)
  • 2 cups kale stems removed and torn into 1” pieces (or half a bag)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

*If you are vegan, you can take out the sausage and only continue with beans and kale, maybe even add in sweet potato as a substitute for the sausage, as I’m typing this maybe next time we should just add sweet potato anyway!

How To:

Take a 3 qt or larger saucepan and

  • Heat the oil in a 3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add sausage and cook until browned (about 4 minutes each side). With a slotted spoon place the cooked sausage into a bowl to rest. Add a little more oil, and add the onion cooking until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mash one can of beans in a small bowl. Add mashed beans, broth, sausage, and water (if needed) to the saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  • Stir in remaining beans (left whole), kale, 1 tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer about 20 minutes, until kale is tender.
  • Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and serve

Madrid Food Tour

Everybody vacations differently.  Some people would come on a trip to Madrid, itinerary in hand with a plan for each part of their day.  They would have their day trips arranged, and a list of all the sites they want to see and each day would be filled with taking it all in.  I love these kinds of people. They’re so thoughtful and organized, and their planning is commendable.    

My husband and I are similar to these itinerary people, but just a little different.  Our itinerary for new cities is almost exclusively restaurants. Madrid was no different. Our game plan going in was to go eat at as many of the restaurants, throughout the different neighborhoods as we could, and whatever we could walk around and see after as we walked off the bread was a plus.

In the 30 days we were there, we ate at just about 30 restaurants.  I’m not going to bore you anymore with an intro. Let’s get down to it.  The first 6 were my top absolute must go to places. Everything else I will leave at your discretion.  I will say there is no going wrong in Madrid. It’s a magical land where even the most obscure empty restaurants, are filled with delicious food. 

Our Top 6

  • La Castela: Our first few days in Madrid were very blurry, but upon our very strong recommendation from our Landlord “Harrison Ford loved it here” we stumbled in.  It was love at first bite. The staff is made up of a group of close knit guys who have no interest in talking to you outside of taking your order, their hard to get attitude only made me love it more.  Their absolute must have dish is the Milhojas de Ventresca- we went back four times and had it each time. It is that good.  
    • Nutshell: no reservations, standing room or if you are lucky you can grab a bar stool, not kid friendly, $$
    • What we had: We sampled almost their entire menu, and I can tell you that you cannot go wrong.  I would say the Garbanzos salteados con Langostinos, Solomillo con Foie, and the Arroz Meloso con Pulpo and Calamar were my favorites.  Check them out HERE for more information. 
  • Triciclo: This gastro restaurant came highly recommended by locals and friends of ours who make it their business to know food.  I always come weary to gastro bars, in fear that it would go too far trying to be different. This place blew me away. Each dish was light and fresh, and took me by surprise with flavor.  The menu varies depending on what is available seasonally, but I would tell you to trust your server. To get more information or book a table click HERE
    • Nutshell: reservations available and suggested for dinner, if your kids are adventurous could work, $$$
    • What We Had: Shrimp wonton, Tuna Tartar, Sea Bass Carpaccio, Solomillo, Cannelloni Stuffed with truffle mushrooms and ricotta, and a rack of lamb 
      • To be clear I am very aware we overdid it here.  It was our only chance to come and everything was as amazing as it sounded.
  • Ten Con Ten: As soon as the automatic sliding glass door opens into this gorgeous wrap around bar scene, you know you are somewhere special.  We stepped into Ten con Ten for lunch one day, after receiving countless of referrals, and were taken by how beautiful it was and then blown away by the food.  I’m a sucker for truffle and an even bigger sucker for truffle on pasta. Naturally this place had me at hello, so much so we returned for dinner a week later.  
    • Nutshell: would suggest reservations, especially if you go for dinner as this place becomes a little bit of a scene (so fun to watch).  Very pricey- many people were there with their kids so it’s up to you.
    • What we had: Besides the black truffle risotto which we had both times because it makes me feel closer to God, we also loved the Pulpo (grilled octopus) “Pedreidro” Asado, Arroz Frito Con Pato (duck fried rice), as well as the Solomillo Asado a la Pimienta (Sirloin with Black Pepper Sauce), and would highly recommend a plate of their Iberico.
  • Los Juevos de Lucio: A light walk off the Plaza Mayor, down a charming cobblestone road you will find this charming place made for egg sluts such as myself.  As you might have picked up on, this place is THE place for juevos (eggs) rotos. You can order them over almost anything, we obviously did Iberico, because while most people have told me they got sick of it- I did not.  Check them out HERE for more information
    • Nutshell: casual, need reservation for dinner, good for kids, $$
    • What we had: Los Juevos con media racion de jamon, Pulpo braseado 
  • Street XO:  We were told by all of the foodiest of the foodies we knew that this place was a must try.  They open for lunch at 2 and the line starts to form around 1:30. That’s right, a line. Can you even imagine a place that is so delicious Madridians stand in line for the table, early! We were able to get a seating at the bar, and it was one of the coolest meals I’ve ever had.  The spin on Spanish food was different from almost anything else we had. The restaurant is really edgy and has Japanese grunge decor. The staff is also very edgy but majorly into food. We let the waiter walk us through the menu, and everything was delicious. 
    • Nutshell: casual, get in line at 1:30 worth the wait, $$, not kid friendly
    • What we had: Uzusukuri, Curry Japones, and whatever else the chef recommended
  • La Kasa– came highly recommended to us from the owner of Casa Di Vino, and it was for lack of a better word, divino.  The restaurant is modern and beautiful, and the staff was excellent.    
    • Nutshell: Even at lunch they were completely slammed, and made us feel lucky we could get a high top by the bar.  I would definitely suggest reservations. $$ I didn’t see any kids while we were there.
    • What we had: the Bunuelitos de Idiazabal (fried cheese), Gazpachuela, Mejillones de Bouchot Con Salsa Cafe de Paris, Corvina Macerada en Achiote, and the Lomo de Corzo Asado con Mole Poblano.  I would suggest any of these dishes, with the exception of the Corvina which while interesting to try wasn’t exactly up my alley. You can check out the rest of their menu or make a reservation on their website HERE.  

Cochinillo:

“Suckling pig” is a common dish served in a lot of restaurants in Madrid and all of the surrounding areas.  I am told that the absolute best one, according to many of the emails I’ve received, and almost all Madridians that I spoke to, is in Toledo (a nearby town accessible by a 45 minute train ride) and it is called Los Cuatro Tiempos.  However in Madrid you can find some pretty delicious variations. It’s typically served with roasted potatoes and is fall of the bone delicious with the crispy skin that just brings that added level of melt in your mouth deliciousness. We went to:

  • La Taberna Del Capitan Alatriste: more of a local scene.  Casual with an old Spanish vibe.  The menu here was very kid friendly and fairly priced.  I would make a reservation just in case, HERE is their website. 
  • Sobrino de Botin: Oldest restaurant in the world.  I swear- can’t make this up. It’s on a beautiful street in the center of Madrid, and the cochinillo does not disappoint.  Also casual, but some people dressed up. Kid Friendly and a little more pricey due to the “oldest restaurant in the world” tourist appeal.  Definitely make a reservation- find the website HERE

Pollo Asado

When it comes to this dish, Madrid don’t play.  I want to point out to you, that I may be biased.  I am irrevocably in love with Spanish cooking, so to me their pollo asado (roasted chicken) is perfection.  Something about this dish, maybe it’s the magnificent way the skin of the chicken has just browned, creating just the right amount of crisp as it falls off the bone and is swimming in perfectly seasoned drippings.  Is it hot in here? Whew! Sorry, I sort of just lost myself in that moment. Two of the best places to get your hands on some finger licking good chicken: 

  • Casa Mingo: It opened its doors in 1888, and the decor has maintained the original main features with wood paneling, a view of their bottles and barrels.  The barrels are for their world renowned cider. It is a very local scene. Everyone comes here and places an order for the chicken, with a side of bread.   For our little family of 5 we ordered two whole chickens and not a single piece of chicken was left over. Our kids begged to go back for more.
    • Nutshell: Very casual, great price, and absolutely delicious. Reservations aren’t necessary and you can visit their website HERE.
  • Limbo: Located inside a hostel right off Plaza Mayor and near Mercado de San Miguel, Limbo is almost a more modern Casa Mingo.  I would called it the hipster Casa Mingo. It has a real young scene, even a space for live music, and the design is very modern with an open space concept.  The chicken here is on par with Casa Mingo. The appetizers and sides are also really creative takes on classic dishes. Would also recommend the ribs.
    • Nutshell: Casual, kid friendly, $$, and you can make reservations HERE.

Markets or Food Halls 

  • Platea: located in the higher end Salamanca area, Platea is a 2 story “gastro leisure space” food hall filled with different stands offering classic and a modern take on tapas.  For those who want a more formal experience there is a restaurant with full service on the first floor, where you can order from the menu of the surrounding gastro pubs surrounding the seating area.  It was a great experience with the kids, and also one of our first. They host live music and also have a “el club” for those who are looking to be without kids. Check out the website HERE
  • Mercado Los Mostenses: Our amazing food tour guide, Margit, introduced us to this amazing market one of our first weekends in Madrid.  Filled with different stands of different meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables and more. Most stands being run by the same family who has done so for generations.  The pride and care that goes into each slice of jamon or each bocadillo de pulpo was overwhelming and needless to say delicious. Only open on the week day and a must if you can make it. 
  • Mercado de San Miguel: I am going to say something about this mercado that is not going to sit well, it was one of our worst experiences in Madrid.  While beautiful, it seems to be just a shadow of its former self. While they seem to have led the food hall trend, I feel Mercado de San Miguel has become a victim of its own popularity.  Whether the vendors have a hard time meeting the demand of the number of customers they are receiving, or they are just phoning it in- I can’t tell. But it was rather expensive and the scene was very touristy.  I spent most of the time worried about where my kids were. I would not recommend when there are other more authentic, less hectic places to see. 
  • Mercado de Paz: If you can only do one food market, this is the one I would pick.  Also full of vendors whose families have been doing this for generations, it also has Casa Dani a small little popup restaurant with hands down the best tortilla I have ever had in my life.  Along with other little popups and different shops filled with locals, and really gives you more of an authentic experience.  

Places We Tried and Loved…

The biggest food takeaway from our time in Madrid is simple, you can’t go wrong.  We had a lot of recommendations to go off of, but when we felt like just venturing out we were never disappointed.  Every place has its own personality and style. The thing that remains is that it is all made with fresh ingredients by people who just get what it’s all about- great food.  Here are a few more places some that were referrals and some that we just stumbled into. All amazing:

  • La Palma 60: the best croquettas of my life
  • Bodega Rivas: the most tender fried octopus 
  • Cafe di Vino: her wine and Cava selection are amazing, and a mean ensalada Rusa
  • Couzapin: the fabada of my dreams
  • Gerardo: solomillo off the grill that was to die for
  • Laredo: they had a dish with a scallop on a rice cracker that made me tear up
  • La Barilla: fresh seafood, it was solid
  • Taberna Triana: a truffle juevos rotos dish that I could have eaten once a day forever
  • Catapa: arroz meloso (risotto) with rabo that I can still sometimes smell in my dreams

Hurricane Dorian Relief

If you’ve ever had the high honor of visiting any island in the Bahamas, then you know. You know that these islands are filled with a high frequency of peace. Naturally the terrain just culminates in something majestic.

If you have been to the Bahamas, you know there is no debate, the water here is beyond reproach. It is the most beautiful shade of turquoise and it stretches beyond what your eye can see, and it is perfectly transparent. Simply said the Bahamas is a creation that could only be done by a higher being.

If you have been to the Bahamas, you have met some of the faces that fill these islands. They are always there to greet you. Happy to talk about what is going on in the island, the fishing, the ocean, the food. They carry a knowing smile, as if they have figured out that the key to life is not so much about material things, but about breathing in sea air and enjoying life for what really matters.

Last week Florida was put on high alert that a “catastrophic” category 5 hurricane was on track to slam into the east coast of our state. I regret that while we were kept safe, Hurricane Dorian parked over these magical islands for 24 hours. Relentless. Ripping roofs off homes and businesses. Flooding other parts of the islands, forcing people out of their homes on flotation devices, and even submerging parts of the island completely.

The images of these islands, or what is left of them are haunting. We have to move. Here is a list of some of the businesses and volunteer movements that are already gathering supplies and taking action. Get involved however you can. Whether it be volunteering at one of these centers to organize supplies, dropping off the hurricane supplies you have at your home, or even just buying some of the supplies off the Amazon wish lists.

Monetary Donations

The Bahamas

The island of the Bahamas has set up a website that you can access where you can make a monetary donation, check for supply lists, and get relief updates. Check it out HERE

Island of the Bahamas Hurricane Relief Homepage


Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean has pledged $1 Million to Bahamas relief, and has also set up the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) to provide disaster relief to the Bahamas, and has promised to match all donated funds up to $500,000. You can make a donation HERE

United Way

United Way is working around the clock and has partnered up with many local businesses to provide drop off locations.

Volunteers are what they are really looking for to help sort and pack the supplies they are receiving. If you want to VOLUNTEER you can do so through their website HERE

To donate to their efforts in the Bahamas you can do so HERE

Drop Off Locations and Amazon Wishlist for Supplies

Any and all donations are welcome. However in this situation, it is important to check for what the requests are being made by the official government of the Bahamas or the organization you are choosing to donate to. It prevents any waste, and allows for efficiency in organizing.

Stick to lists provided by the government of the Bahamas or the organizations themselves when donating goods. Rescue workers don’t want supplies to go to waste.

Official Items Being Requested [* indicates extreme need]

As stated above, it is important to check the lists for what items are being requested, and what is also considered urgent. These are local organizations that are currently collecting supplies and have partnered with the proper Bahamian authorities to deliver supplies. Check the due dates, as some of these deliveries are taking place within the next few days!

Miami Dade Cares

Miami-Dade County is spearheading relief efforts for the residents of the Bahamas, where various islands have been hit hard by Hurricane Dorian’s devastating strength. We are moving quickly and counting on our community’s generosity to receive and deliver critical supplies requested by Bahamian government officials.

You can also buy supplies from Miami-Dade County’s Amazon wish list and items will be delivered to the Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds drop-off location.

They still need volunteers at any location from 9 AM-9PM until further notice but you must RSVP to do so click HERE:

Drop Off Locations for Donations:

RAV Bahamas Relief Fund

RAV has been working with the Miami Dade Fire Department as they are at capacity for donations, so please if possible redirect your donations directly to them, you can also find their Amazon Wishlist HERE

Update: They are filling containers and doing another run to the Bahamas in the next couple of weeks. At this time they do not need volunteers, but any and all donations still make a difference.

Drop Off Location: 8040 SW 69th Avenue

Water

  • Purified Water
  • Canned Goods
  • First Aid Items
  • Blankets/Sleeping Bags
  • Portable Generators
  • Plastic Tarpaulin
  • Debris Removal Tools
  • Portable Outdoor Lamps
  • Water Purification Kits
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries- Paricularly D
  • Medical Supplies
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Pampers, Baby Wipes, Baby Formula
  • Sanitary Napkins
  • Basic Hygiene Kits
  • Wood
  • Chainsaws
  • Can Openers *
  • Gas Containers
  • Trash Bags
  • Sunscreen

Global Empowerment Mission

Is the official bstrong (for all my Housewives fans that is Bethenny’s charity) disaster relief charity and they are getting directly involved in supplying relief to the Bahamas. You can click HERE to donate directly or you can drop off the requested supplies at

Update: Still collecting

Miami: Sacred Space Warehouse: 340 NE 59th Terrace

Broward: American Horse Trails Ranch: 4828 SW 198 Terrace

Palm Beach: Smith,Gaskill & Shenkman PA 11891 US Hwy 1

Any Barry’s Bootcamp Miami Locations

BahamasStrong

Operated by the City of Miami, is collecting hurricane relief supplies for affected areas in the Bahamas.

They are requesting:

  • Water
  • Canned goods
  • Can openers
  • Mosquito spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Diapers
  • Baby formula
  • First aid items
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Small generators

Drop Off Locations:

  • Greater St. Paul AME Church: 3680 Thomas Ave
  • Christ Episcopal Church: 3475 William Ave

Fire Station dropoff times are from 8:30 AM to 7:00 PM

  • Fire Station 1: 144 N.E. 5 ST
  • Fire Station 2: 1901 N. MIAMI AVE
  • Fire Station 3: 1103 NW 7 ST
  • Fire Station 4: 1105 SW 2 AVE
  • Fire Station 5: 1200 NW 20 ST
  • Fire Station 6: 701 NW 36 ST
  • Fire Station 7: 314 BEACOM BLVD
  • Fire Station 8: 2975 OAK AVE
  • Fire Station 9: 69 NE 62 ST
  • Fire Station 10: 4101 NW 7 ST
  • Fire Station 11: 5920 W. FLAGLER ST
  • Fire Station 12: 1455 NW 46 ST
  • Fire Station 13: 990 NE 79 ST
  • Fire Station 14: 2119 S.W. 19 ST
  • MRC Building: 444 SW 2 AVE

Bahamas Relief

Update: Still collecting any and all supplies, but especially clothes for XL and products and toiletries for the elderly. A plane is leaving today but there is another one going out next week.

Supplies Needed:

  • Purified Water
  • Canned Goods
  • First Aid Items: bandaids, antibacterial ointments
  • Blankets/Sleeping Bags
  • Portable Generators
  • Plastic Tarpaulin
  • Debris Removal Tools
  • Masking Tape
  • Power Strips
  • Portable Outdoor Lamps
  • Water Purification Kits
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries- Paricularly D
  • Medical Supplies
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Pampers, Baby Wipes, Baby Formula
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Basic Hygiene Kits: shampoo, conditioner, soap, mouthwash, tooth brush, tooth paste, shaving cream, razors
  • Wood
  • Chainsaws
  • Can Openers *
  • Gas Containers
  • Trash Bags
  • Sunscreen
  • Clothing in all sizes
  • ***XL Large clothing

Drop Off Locations sponsored by ISHINE 365

The Plymouth Miami: 318 21st Street Miami Beach

The Citadel: 8325 NE 2nd Avenue

The Core Group

The Core Group is collecting monetary donations for relief efforts they are making to the Bahamas next week. They are currently only accepting monetary donations and those cane be made HERE.

Sea Hunter along with UNITS of Miami and Mena Travel

Sea Hunter will be running a UNITS Container filled with supplies they are requesting tarps, batteries, flash lights, any toiletries, generators, medicines for adults and children, first aid kits, clothing and construction.

Location: 3907 SW 67 Avenue

Update: 9/18/18: no longer collecting

Menin Hospitality along with the Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Requesting:

  • Purified Water
  • Water Containers
  • First Aid Items
  • Portable Generators
  • Plastic Tarpaulin
  • Debris Removal Tools
  • Portable Outdoor Lamps
  • Water Purification Kits
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries- Paricularly D
  • Portable Radios
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Pampers, Baby Wipes, Baby Formula
  • Sanitary Napkins
  • Deodorant, Toothbrush/Tooth paste, Soap

Drop Off Location: Bodega 1220 16th Street Miami Beach, FL

Update: No longer collecting

Surviving Weekly 38 {7.19.19}

Ole From Spain
It has been more than a while since I’ve sent out a newsletter.  There was so much going on between end of the year and a few projects I have been working on.  I have missed you all.  

One of the bigger things going on was preparing for our big summer trip to Spain.  My husband and I had always talked about living in another city for a while, and we finally decided this was the summer to do it.  So I am currently writing to you with my hair blowed out, in a cute little dress, in an adorable little coffee shop in Madrid as I sip on espresso and eat tapas.  I’m kidding.  I’m just in Spain- nothing else has changed.  I’m wearing workout clothes, drinking coffee from a mug and my hair is a bun.  

We have been here for two weeks, and been through it all:Jet Lag Stomach BugsTantrumsOne child didn’t like something at a restaurant and threw up, on her plate, (we obviously had to leave a ridiculous tip)One child farted so loud and big that he showed me Sharts are a real thing
It doesn’t matter the continent- raising kids is always fun.  We even had an unexpected birds and bees conversation yesterday in the park which you can find on my Instagram Story.  

In all seriousness, it’s been amazing to be here.  My husband and I had never been to Madrid.  Being able to come for this amount of time, and share it with our kids has been nothing short of magical.  

I have gotten a few questions about the who, what, how of this entire trip.  I have answered most of the questions HERE on the blog. 

However there is plenty to get to below including Mariah Carey and Meth Gators. 

Thank you for sticking around and reading! 

xx
Cristina 

In My Feelings 

This summer’s internet challenges are kind of, hmmm how do I say this? SO LAME! Are we out of ideas?  Last summer we at least were able to watch everyone do catchy dance moves.  This summer we have people kicking off bottle caps and aging themselves with an app.    

What am  I talking about?
Bottle Cap Challenge: I admit I was intrigued briefly when I first I saw John Mayer sloppily kick a bottle cap off a bottle on Instagram, but he’s kind of out there and clearly still drinking vodka out of a plastic bottle (which I am super judging).  Then Kendall Jenner did it and the internet exploded: 

How it Started: Apparently Farabi Davletchin, a taekwondo instructor, posted a video on Instagram doing the move and challenged Connor McGregor (MMA champ) Jason Statham and Jackie Chen.  Unfortunately for all of us Jackie Chen has not responded.  Here is the original video: 

That was it.  You see? Underwhelming.  One is supposed to do a slow-mo video of themselves kicking a bottle cap off a bottle.  It has led to some mildly entertaining content.  Check out some of my favorites: Blake Shelton, Ryan Reynolds and Mariah Carey

Speaking of Mariah Carey we are moving onto…
Face App Challenge is having our feeds filled with our friends, influencers, and celebrities alike showing us how they will look when they age.  

I’m not particularly vain, but why is this a thing? Not just that, you want to see yourself at around 85 I can almost understand it BUT why share it?  How does this involve Mariah you may be wondering? 

Yes Mimi!! Check out other celebrities and see MImi break it down again HERE.

Forget the notion that over 100 million people sharing their aging faces is kind of weird there are actual security concerns. 

Forbes reported that because of this challenge Face Tune App (which is a Russian company) has collected over 150 million different faces, which may actually prove to be dangerous for your security.  As the app does have permission to access other photos and even your location.  A way to protect yourself is to change permissions, either delete the app, or go to app settings on your iPhone or Android and change what data tools are allowed to access.  Click HERE for the article. 

So I will end where I started, can we please bring back simple challenges like dancing on the street or dumping iced buckets over our heads?  Or if we are going to face tune ourselves can we do it in reverse? Ain’t nobody got time to be seeing my face covered in wrinkles. I pay a lot of money to make that impossible. 

Standouts of the Week 

Emmy Nominations were announced this week, and Game of Thrones was the leader with 32 nominations including one for Kit Harrington for Best Lead Actor.  Shout out to Moira Rose for her first Emmy Nomination for Schitt’s Creek (see TV Addict update) Full list of nominations HERE.  Anyone want to invite me over to watch?

Summer Movies It may be hard to believe, but there are other movies coming out this summer besides the live action remake of The Lion King.  I found this list from Polygon that breaks it all down along with release dates.  Check it out HERE.

But While we are Talking About the Lion King… Can we talk about Beyonce and Blue Ivy at the premiers?! See it HERE– I want to say it’s so adorable but with that many diamonds adorable just doesn’t seem appropriate. 

Beyonce has clearly been the big draw on this movie- I mean I just heard her and Donald Glover sing “Can you Feel the Love Tonight” and I was covered in goosebumps (catch a glimpse of that HERE).  Say what you want but Queen B is life. 

Don’t believe me? Watch Seth Rogan explain it to Jimmy Kimmel HERE right around the 2:35 mark- the woman gets an ovation for being alive. That entire interview is also pretty hilarious (BTW).  I leave you with Beyonce’s new Spirit video, which she made with Blue, and is inspired by Africa. 

In Case You Were Sleeping Well At Night, I Bring you Meth Gators! I am not sure why this has to be said, but stop flushing your Meth down the toilet as the gators are going to get it.  I feel that is is always implied however, nothing surprises me anymore.  Check it out HERE.

TV Addict Update  

As we have established, time and time again, I watch too much TV.  Here in Spain, it’s been a little more difficult for me to live up to my TV Addict reputation.  I’m working on cracking my VPN in the mean time,

What’s on my list to watch next?  The Hills Reboot- judge away but the second I touch back on US soil- it’s on.
Have a suggestion? Let me know

Fleabag – (Amazon Prime) It’s on Season 2 and comes highly recommended by most trusted TV source who would like to remain anonymous (for now).  About a lady who just can’t seem to get her life together.  I heard season 1 was a little slow but Season 2 picks up big time.  

Schitt’s Creek: I don’t know where I had been.  Moira Rose is my spirit animal and I can listen to Alexis tell stories about how she had been tied up and kidnapped by a Saudi Prince all day.  You all tried to tell me and I didn’t listen- and for that I am sorry. When I’m wrong- I say it, and I was wrong.  This show is so funny and I would absolutely suggest you RUN to go catch up on Netflix.  

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee:  Back for its 11th Season today!, Jerry Seinfeld is riding with Eddie Murphy, Seth Rogan, Jamie Foxx and more.  I wouldn’t say go back and watch every single episode of this series (but you could and you would love it) just pick your favorite comedians if you want, and it’s just so light and hilarious at times.  Great for a pick me up. 

More Summer TV: Orange is the New Black (July 26 Netflix), Stranger Things (Season 3 is out on Netflix), Younger (Season 6, TV Land),  Big Little Lies (Season 2 just finished HBO), When They See Us (Netflix), and Veronica Mars is back! (July 26 Hulu)