As someone who has been privileged to experience way more than my fair share of nice trips, I think I can say without any fear of contraception (as the British comedian Benny Hill used to say), every great trip at a bare minimum contains these two components: a memorable habitation and a remarkable destination.
My most recent Travel Leaders advisory board trip to Miami did not disappoint in either regard. As you will soon discover, I have chosen to reverse the order below. I do this for no more defensible reason than the fact that my fragile psyche needs reassurance periodically that, though I may not control the course of world history or even my own piddling destiny for that matter, I at least rule my humble blog like a deranged South American dictator.
Miami is one of the most fascinating cities in the US. For one thing it is a cosmopolitan melting pot where, frankly, a snippet of overheard street conversation in English is the exception rather than the rule. It may not rival the arrival halls of Dubai International or London Heathrow for diversity but it runs a close second.
Another of my favorite things about Miami is that you can take a short walk from your hotel, as I did one morning, and you will encounter all manner of fascinating small eateries. (Disclosure: I am a foodie only in the broad sense that I consume excessive quantities of anything remotely edible.) I walked out of the JW Marriott Marquis heading in the general direction of Bayside Marketplace and in a matter of just a few minutes, I found the following three fascinating eateries: The Newsstand Cafe, CLOS Bistro & Café and The Cheese Course.
The Newsstand Cafe is small but offers a nice selection. I was there on a quest for a tasty breakfast that would not require another mortgage on the old home place. While I was studying the menu, a nice young lady suggested an egg, cheese and ham croissant. I even had my choice of several varieties of cheese. I went with the one I figured had to be good . . . the gouda. (If you are going to follow this blog you better be able to withstand a few groans.)
The next spot I encountered was CLOS Bistro & Café. It was only a two-minute walk from The Newsstand. I know, I know. What the heck was I doing walking into a French bistro two minutes after breakfast. I can only refer you to my foodie disclosure above. After all, what is breakfast without a little dessert, right? Anyway, I waddled in and immediately confronted the display of delectable dainties you see in the picture to the right.
I exercised what I consider remarkable restraint and ordered only one small (OK, smallish) pastry and no wine whatsoever. Of course, it was still 9:30 in the morning but I nevertheless feel I deserve a little credit.
I have saved the best of my little sidewalk cafe trifecta until last. I walked all over the Bayside area snapping pictures and drinking in the atmosphere. See, it’s not all about eating. I then returned to the JW Marriott Marquis and worked out for a solid hour on three different aerobic machines. Surely that sufficed to offset at least the pastry. However, the problem was that all that exercise only served to reignite my appetite. (I eat to work out, I work out to eat and so flows the cycle of my life.)
For lunch I chose The Cheese Course, of course! Not only am I an expert in all things travel related but I also am clairvoyant. I know exactly what you are wondering right now. What kind of cheeses are those?
The soft cheese on the left is Epoisses created by monks and named for their village in Burgundy. Apparently, it takes a village to make good cheese. It is described as “having a barnyard aroma (really), a blond interior and brimming with meaty, creamy richness.” The firmer cheese on the right is Midnight Moon from Holland, made with goat’s cheese and in their own words possesses “prominent caramel notes”. As an aside, do you know the only cheese that is made backwards? Edam!
You get to select from more than two dozen accompaniments so I selected, quite brilliantly if accidentally, the fig spread. Delicious! As you might guess, I spent a most pleasant hour on the terrace with a light breeze wafting over me and savoring every last bite.
JW MARRIOTT MARQUIS
Goodness, once again time has flown by under the seductive charm of my effortless prose. Not to worry. I will simply go to my title, insert a discrete little (1) and make this post a two-parter. Click this link for JW Marriott Marquis: Miami Nice (2) where I sing (not literally, thank God) the high praises of one of Miami’s finest hotels. I feel comfortable promising that the next post will rise to the same exacting standard I have set here!