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treznor

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  1. Currently on a bit of a whirlwind going away tour as next week will be my last in Miami. Kyu - I haven't eaten everywhere in Wynwood, but of the places I have, this is the best. If you order the tasting menu you will NOT leave hungry. And I'm a big guy... but very high quality stuff. The smoked hamachi sushi and truffle gyoza were highlights. As honestly was the king crab fried rice. And the crafted cocktails. Beat Culture - one of the newer brewery/restaurants, on the SW side of the airport. Met the brewer/owner a couple times and just seems like a good guy. And the beer/food is very solid. They make their own hot sauce and the brewery lineup is all the way from mead and cider to stouts. Unseen Creatures - teh new hotness for breweries. Oh, but they're also awesome. Great sours, solid stouts and IPAs. So far anyway. Just like Lincoln's beard, parking is a bit questionable so make sure where you park isn't a towaway zone.
  2. Maybe lower them one more step and then be somewhat surprised if they get beat. Granted its been 10-11 years now, but I wasn't wowed by Venice at all. Probably stuck too close to tourist areas. Follow Joe's advice all the way from the first post and stay away from the tourist areas for food and you'll probably do better than we did.
  3. 1838 nights since I started tracking my travel in Jan 2009... I started travelling Jan 2001 so have another 8 years before that, I just didn't bother tracking it. Really, I didn't start tracking until I showed up at the wrong hotel a couple times I don't really -need- to track anymore with the advent of services like TripIt, but I like it for analytics purposes and to make sure stays show up on my account (I usually have 1-2 a year that don't show up). I wouldn't mind trying out some other chains, but my work has rates setup with the big business chains, Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, and Intercontinental. Tough to get comparable rates without a corporate rate at somewhere like a Four Seasons.
  4. I was in the Ambassador program a couple years at Starwood before the merger. Based on talking with others it seemed pretty hit-and-miss about whether it was useful or not. I never really got any use from my Ambassador that I saw. I'm way too particular about my hotels to have someone else book for me though. My biggest year was probably back in 2010 when I traveled 240 nights. Not all of that was Marriott, but it was also to an expensive location (London), so it was probably a pretty hefty tab. I'm still lifetime titanium. 21 years at Platinum (out of 19... a couple years I was top status at both Starwood and Marriott) and 1450 lifetime nights. Occasionally I only get recognized as Platinum at some hotels because of the system that hotel uses, but the on-property perks are basically the same so that isn't a huge deal really. Don't know that I'll ever make it back to Ambassador now that I'm mostly travelling domestic. I still stay at Marriott frequently. I switch between them and Hyatt in locations where Hyatt's are options (which they are in Miami). I'm at 80 nights or so with Marriott and 50 with Hyatt this year, though that includes credit card nights as well (without CC nights I'm at 68 and 38 I believe).
  5. I wonder how far down the totem pole 3% gets to. I'm lifetime titanium, not that that really means anything for a specific year, but I've also qualified for titanium separately from lifetime status last year and on target to do so this year (as well as Globalist at Hyatt). Not sure if I'd be in the top 3% or not as I don't end up being part of the Ambassador program as I don't quite stay enough for that I believe. I'd say that yes, I've seen the same. It doesn't particularly affect me all that much as I'm almost always checking out by 9am anyway and the handful of times a year I travel for leisure as opposed to business I usually want to leave by 11 or 12 anyway and can request a late checkout most places I'd stay. However, I do tend to notice what time official checkout is and pretty sure I've noticed it being 11 instead of 12 more and more in the last couple years.
  6. Couple updates from me as well. I continue to go down to Miami weekly, but don't always go somewhere new as a lot of the time I like to swing by my favorites in Wynwood. Restaurants Taco Stand (Wynwood) - This is probably going to replace Coyo Taco for me as my taco option in Wynwood. The tacos are just as good, if not better, slightly cheaper I believe, and there aren't as many people. Its maybe a block to a block and a half away from Coyo Taco. The paletas also looked really good but I haven't indulged (yet). Station 28 (Brickell) - This probably isn't a place I'd suggest someone visiting the city to seek out, but if you're in the area (Brickell, north of the river) for meetings, Station 28 is really solid. They have sandwiches, burgers, and plates, all with a latin flair. If I'm in the area (which is rare, but does happen), this is pretty much always my top option for lunch. Chalan on the Beach (Miami Beach) - Not actually on the beach, though it is only a couple blocks away. I had the Papa a la Huancaina (boiled potatoes with a creamy yellow sauce and a hard-boiled egg, no idea exactly what the sauce was but it was delicious) and Lomo Saltado, then had the Lucuma Flan for dessert. Lucuma is a fruit that I'd never heard of or had experience with. Wikipedia says it can taste kind of like sweet potato, maple syrup, or butterscotch. I think I kind of tasted all three. This isn't a particularly fancy place, but most of the fancy places in South Beach are expensive and this place isn't. And its more authentic than the places on Ocean Drive. Versailles (west Little Havana) - Supposedly the original Cubano. Not sure if I believe it or not, but it was a good Cubano. Tons and tons (and tons) of seating. Not sure its worth going this far west though instead of sticking closer to the main part of Little Havana and going somewhere like Old's instead. Bakan (Wynwood) - On the trendy vs tasty scale that you always have to consider in Miami, especially in areas like Wynwood and South Beach, this is probably a little closer to the trendy side. But the queso fundido was solid and they have a great selection of tequila and mezcals if that's your thing (its mine). Quality Meats (South Beach) - Want to drop a ton of money on some steak? This is your place. The options for steak wasn't actually all that large (for example, I don't believe there's a non-bone-in ribeye). But it was definitely quality meat, well-prepared. I was in fairly late, about 45 minutes before close (which I can't remember if its 10 or 11 during the week), but not a person said a thing about me showing up late, not that I'd expect any one to at a nice restaurant. I knew I was there close to closing, but don't normally dawdle all that much when I'm eating alone anyway, so left right around closing time, with a couple tables still remaining. Not sure if I'll be back or not, but that's mainly a cost thing instead of a quality thing, it was quite good. Breweries Bousa Brewing (Little River)- Just... no. I honestly don't understand how this place is in business. Its difficult to find, parking is weird, and the beer was pretty bad. LauderAle (Ft Lauderdale) - Minutes away from the airport (as is 3 Sons). The beer was okay. I've only been once (today actually, on my way to the airport) and only had one flight. I'll probably be back again to try out another flight or two to give it a better chance. There certainly have a wider range of beer styles represented than 3 Sons does, but what 3 Sons has is made to a higher standard. Places on my to-do list that I think are probably pretty good but I haven't made it to yet: Yardbirds (South Beach) - every time I'm in the area something else happens to catch my eye Migonette (between Wynwood and Brickell) - I walk by often on my way to Wynwood and it looks good... just hasn't quite pulled me in as opposed to one of the Wynwood restaurants Joe's Stone Crab (South Beach) - couple blocks from a hotel I stay at somewhat frequently and its supposed to be the place to go to get Stone Crab. Even saw it referenced in a Billionaires episode I was watching last week. But for the price I'm pretty certain I'd rather just go to Stubborn Seed. Bazaar by Jose Andres (South Beach) - Its a bit out of the way from where I'm normally at, but do want to get here. Doesn't look cheap. Anywhere outside of Wynwood, Little Havana, and South Beach - These are the main areas I hit, but I know there's other places out there.
  7. Cocktails These are going to almost all be in Miami Beach based on one ridiculous evening of drinking that got a bit out of hand. Keep in mind that cocktails in Miami beach will be $15+ so can get expensive quickly. On the other hand, there's some truly good cocktail places out there. Miami Beach Repour - Probably the cheapest drinks (don't lower your expectations too far, its still Miami Beach) and probably my favorite of the evening. Very laid back vibe next to the lobby of the Albion Hotel. Regent Cocktail Club - The smallest cocktail list of the places we visited (though still with a full bar), but well made drinks. There was also live music that was quite good and was nice to sit and relax and listen to some music with a couple cocktails. Sweet Liberty - Dimly lit, we sat at the far end of the bar and the bartender helped us immediately. Good cocktails, imaginative, and made well. Brickell Blackbird Ordinary - Solid place for a solid cocktail. Not sure what it's like on the weekends as some of the pictures definitely look different than what it was like during the week (very laid back) Things to Do I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Wynwood Walls. Most of Wynwood is adorned with graffiti that is amazingly interesting to walk around and look at. And then there's the art exhibit called Wynwood Walls. Absolutely amazing. Graffiti artistry at its highest in a curated exhibit. Entrance is free. You could easily spend a couple hours here if you were so inclined. I think we spent a bit over an hour and it's one of my favorite parts of the city.
  8. Similar as above, these are roughly in order of my preference within their group. I've starred those that I'd seek out. Restaurants Wynwood * Kush - Great burgers, great beer list. If you're out drinking in Wynwood, this is a great place to end (or start) the evening. * Coyo Taco - Great taco place right near J Wakefield. Everything I've had here has been great. Has Nopales (grilled cactus) and Hongos (with huitlacoche as well) tacos, which I haven't seen a ton of places. They also have a ton of other options like Al Pastor, Carne Asada, Cochinita Pibil, etc. Beaker & Gray - Shared plate concept with really good cocktails. Really enjoyed the food here. The cheeseburger croquettes were quite good, really everything we had was but those are what I remember the best. Enriqueta's - Not really Wynwood (its between Wynwood and the bay), but close enough. Cuban diner that we had to wait to get a table for. Simple, homestyle Cuban food. Really enjoyed this place. Only open for breakfast and lunch. BND Burger - The burger was quite good (not as good as Kush's). There's a bouncer to get by, which isn't awesome. But its also connected to a club (separate entrance) which can be either good or bad based on your preference Little Havana * Old's Havana - Great option for Cuban. Ropa Vieja was the best I've had, and the black beans were great as well. * Azucar - Great place for ice cream with cuban-inspired flavors (and some non-cuban inspired flavors as well). Across the street from Old's. El Pub - Mostly a sandwich place, they make a perfectly serviceable cubano and its derivatives (medianoche, croquetta preperada, especial, etc). Its a block away from Old's, so unless you want a sandwich, go to Old's (which might also have better sandwiches, but I haven't had a sandwich at Old's) Miami Beach ** Stubborn Seed - Best restaurant I've been to in Miami. By a pretty long way. We had the 8 course tasting menu as well as the wine pairing and cocktails. My wife wasn't inspired by anything on the cocktail menu so asked for the bartender to come up with something gin-based and he did a great job. We were able to get a reservation day of, but I'm not sure that's normal and this was during the week not the weekend. I don't remember a ton of what was on the menu, but I remember every single course being very good and also not being hungry after dinner. It's certainly not cheap, but the skill and quality is absolutely showcased. * OLA - Latin place in north South Beach (some might even call in Mid Beach). If you go here, make sure you're going to the right place (in the Gates Hotel) as its moved somewhat recently and something list its old address. The Fire & Ice ceviche really showed off the Cobia, which was nice as it wasn't a fish I'm overly familiar with. I don't remember exactly what we had for entrees (pretty sure at least one was a special), but remember thinking they were quite good. For dessert we had the Chocolate Cigar (which they're known for), which was cute while still being tasty. Seating out back is outside and right on the river/canal. Azabu - In the Stanton. Yes, a hotel restaurant. Though, its a Miami Beach outpost of a NY Michelin star restaurant. I tried the fish collar (a new experience for me), maki, and robata. All very good. Pubbelly - Sushi with a solid sake and beer list. There's another one in Brickell City Center. Had a roll or two (including the butter krab roll) and some robata. I bit expensive for what it is... But its Miami Beach. La Sandwicherie - A walk-up counter sandwich place that's open until 4am. Had to check it out myself. Very good sandwiches (I had the Italian) and milkshakes. There's another one in Brickell. Lobster Shack - Casual place for lobster rolls. If you're in the area, its a solid option. Wouldn't go out of my way for it. Brickell * La Centrale - This is really three (or more?) restaurants in City Center. The bottom floor is Mercato, the second floor is Osteria (I think, can't remember), and the top floor is Enoteca. The first floor is further split into a Cafe and a Pizza & Pasta place while the second floor is further split into Stagniole, Pesce, and Carne, with a gelateria (Venchi) right outside. Enoteca is 1 restaurant, a wine bar. So there's somewhere between 3 and 7 restaurants, plus 3 bars. I've barely scratched the surface here having only eaten here once. The Papperdelle in the Pizza & Pasta area was quite good with a Tuscan sausage (the sausage itself in the sauce was a bit overcooked). Tacology - Top floor of City Center. Really solid tacos and options for mezcal/tequila. The line can be kind of a problem, but as a singleton I had no problem being seated immediately. Boulud Sud Miami - Went here for a happy hours picked up by work. Everything was very good, but I wasn't picking up the bill, so that might have tempered my opinion. * B Bistro & Bakery - We went here right after getting off a cruise and actually got here before the bistro was open (but the bakery was open). We started with a couple bakery items and a coffee and then ordered a couple brunch items. Can't remember what exactly they were (and the menu online isn't jogging my memory), but they weren't the 'typical' brunch items and showed some imagination and were quite good. Unfortunately the service here got nonexistent at the end of the meal and it took a solid 30 minutes to get the bill after we were done. I'm hoping that was just a waiter have an off day as opposed to a systemic issue. Graziano's - Argentinian steak restaurant. Definitely good. I went with work people after a happy hour... so don't remember a ton about it other than the steaks were cooked well and of good quality. * Crazy About You - The food is perfectly fine (even quite good). But the reason you go here is because its one of the few restaurants directly on the bay. The views are pretty awesome Truluck's - Steak and seafood. Its good, but it didn't strike me as 'Miami', whatever that means. Perfectly good option for an upscale place for those that live in Miami, wouldn't be my choice if I were visiting. Various La Carreta - Local chain of cuban food. Exactly what you'd think it is. Maybe not as good as some places, but I've quite enjoyed every time I've been and have tried a the chicken chicharrones, ropa vieja, meatloaf, and croquettes. Solid option. Other options (solid options, but not as good as those above, but still worth looking at potentially) Alter (Wynwood) - Only in the 'Other' section as I haven't personally been there. Heard really good things though! Melinda's (Wynwood) - Another place I haven't been but really want to. Have heard awesome reviews of the mezcal selection. They aren't open Mon-Wed though which are the nights I'm in town... Butcher Shop (Wynwood) SuViche (various) CVI.CHE 105 (various) American Social (Brickell) - Fine, just kinda not special
  9. I've been travelling to Miami for the last couple months, so figured I'd at least stop by and give some recommendations. All are listed in general order of 'goodness' within their group. Breweries Wynwood J Wakefield - The grand daddy of breweries in the area. The owner is renowed for being a bit of an ass, but I don't think I've ever seen him there and the bartenders are generally very nice. Pretty easily the best brewery in Miami proper. They'll have flights of most of their beers (they'll usually have a stout or two that are 10oz pours only, no flights). The inside is Star Wars themed and on Wednesday nights (when I tend to be there) they alternate between boardgame nights and arcade fighter nights. They'll almost always have a mix of sours, stouts, IPAs, and a mix of other styles. Concrete Beach - Fine alternative to J Wakefield if you want to go somewhere else but don't want to hit up an ABInBev brewery. They have a fairly wide range of beers, but don't remember seeing anyhing particularly dark on my visit. Doral M.I.A. - A pretty varied beer list, with multiple sour, IPA, stout, brown, and pale options with other styles as well. Solid all around brewery, definitely worth hitting up if you're in the Doral area. The food is really solid as well. Tripping Animals - Another brewery that's worth hitting if you're around Doral. Focuses mostly on Berliner Weisse (a light sour, typically fruity) and IPAs. Ft Lauderdale 3 Sons - On part with J Wakefield. Focuses mainly on IPAs, stouts, and sours. Puts out some really awesome beer (particularly if those are styles you prefer). Also has great pizza. Invasive Species - Wide range of beers including a couple lagers on my visit (including a Japanese rice lager) and a saison (a style not all that common in South Florida for some reason). Funky Buddha - They produce a number of 'off-the-wall' beers, like a maple bacon porter and a french toast stout. They also are distributed probably the most of anyone in Miami/Ft Lauderdale. Solid food options available as well. Other breweries Maybe visit these if you're looking for something to do and happen to be standing right next door? Wynwood (in Wynwood) Veza Sur (Wynwood) The Tank (Doral) Biscayne Bay (Doral) Beer Stores Boxelder - Great draft list in Wynwood that offers a number of hard-to-find beers typically and is well curated. Union - Another place with a great draft list in Little Havanna.
  10. Notwithstanding some of the brilliant alcohol laws around the country (in Texas, until 2012, anything over 4% had to be called an ale or a malt liquor. Regardless of whether or not it was actually a lager), a lager is a beer made utilizing the lagering process. The lagering process is where the beer is reduced to cold temperatures, typically around 36-42F, and left to condition for a period of time, typically a couple weeks to a couple months. This is while still in contact with the yeast and is after primary fermentation. This allows the yeast to basically go dormant, floculate out, and results in a very clear beer without the need for mechanical filtering processes. This is typically done with bottom-fermenting yeast with primary fermentation on the cooler side (50-55F or ). With a lager you typically have a fermentation schedule that has primary fermentation start at 50-55F for a couple weeks, work its way up to 65-70F over the course of another week or two, and then have the temperature dropped down to 36-42F for a period of weeks or months. This last step is the lagering process. This is basically what happened naturally in the lager-producing areas as it'd get brewed when it was 50ish degrees outside, the fermentation itself would generate heat causing it to go up to 65ish, and then the beer would get stored in cellars until it was needed to be consumed. All of that is what's 'typical' of a lager. The only actual requirement is the lagering process, that storage for a period of time at 36-42F. On the other hand, ale is defined as being warm fermented, where warm is defined at 60-75F. This is typically top-fermented but doesn't technically have to be. But bottom-fermented yeast at higher temperatures tends to have serious issues with off flavors. 'Steam' beer (i.e. California Common) does this, but on the lower end of the ale scale at closer to 60F, and it historically has a vary odd fermentation process to start with. So lagers are beers that are cold conditioned and ales are beers that are warm fermented. What about beers that are both? Or neither? There aren't a ton of them, which is why most people just stick with lager = bottom fermented, i.e. lager yeast, and ale = top fermented, i.e. ale yeast). Since there aren't that many people don't really bother with defining them all that much. The only three I can really think of are: Altbier and Kolsch - German beers made with top fermenting yeast that is then lagered. The German, in their style, call these top-fermented lagerbeers. You can get into a long conversation amongst beer nerds about whether these are ales or lagers. I'd personally call them lagers. California Common - Anchor originally brewed this beer in a facility that didn't really have a place to ferment, so they pumped them into vats on the roof of their brewery. As the beer cooled off, it put off quiet a bit of steam (where the Anchor Steam name comes from). This was fermented with bottom-fermenting yeast but at ambient temperatures. Because of the climate in San Francisco, this was typically somewhere at the bottom end of the typical ale temperature range, around 60F. Since this doesn't go through a lagering process, this should be (and typically is) considered an ale. Baltic Porter - Traditionally these are lagers. Bottom-fermented yeast, cold fermented, cold conditioned. No questions. However, some Baltic Porters are made with top-fermenting ale yeast, fermented at the bottom of the ale range, and then cold conditioned. These should still be considered lagers, but most people would assume they're ales since 'porters' are ales. tl;dr: By definition, lagers are cold conditioned and ales are warm fermented. There's some stuff that falls into both categories or neither category that is interesting to talk about. All you probably ever wanted to know about ales vs lagers
  11. There are two breweries in North Carolina that spring to mind. Green Man has been brewing English styles in Asheville for 21 years. They've played around with other styles (they actually had some really quality sours before their sour brewer left to start his own brewery in Weaverville, Zebulon), they focus primarily on English styles. Their porter is an English porter, most of their IPAs are English IPAs, and the ESB is... well, its English as well. Green Man built a new location (next to their original location) a couple years ago. Olde Mecklenburg in Charlotte brews German beer, and only German beer. Every beer they brew meets the German purity laws, the Reinheitsgebot, and are traditional German styles. Olde Meck is in the process of building out a new $10M brewery. Both breweries are decent-sized regional breweries. Olde Meck self-distributes as they strongly feel that they want to control the distribution process. I believe they only deliver in refrigerated vehicles, which they can't guarantee that a distributor would do. They've said that they would grow more, but the NC cap on self-distribution is 22,000 barrels, and they're getting close to that. Kind of. Though 'lager' has always referenced the lagering process, which is the cold storage of beer over weeks or months, mainly during fermentation, to allow it to smooth out. It just so happens that lagers typically use a bottom fermenting yeast. However, there are a number of traditional styles that bend those definitions. California common (i.e. Anchor Steam since Anchor didn't want to lose the name of their beer) uses lager yeast but ferments closer to ale temperatures. Kolsch is top-fermented with ale yeast (at typical ale temps), and then lagered to clear it up. Whereas Baltic Porters can be either lagers or ales, but either way are fermented closer to lager temps (around 50-55F).
  12. Agreed about Juniper and Ivy. Great food. My only concern was the pacing. Took us about 2.5 hours for a two-top, which is much longer than I was expecting. The Tuna Wellington was truly interesting, though I'm not sure spinach makes an adequate replacement for duxelles. Maybe it does for Tuna though as opposed to beef.
  13. Was in Chicago recently for the evening. A new standout for mew was Cruz Blanca, a newish Rick Bayless place with great tacos (shocker), and I really enjoyed the tlayudas, basically a large taco pizza(?). They also have a brewery in-house that put out some really good beer; I had the Freetown and Barleybomba, a Double IPA and a Barleywine.
  14. No idea if this will help you at this point or not... but airlines (who I assume you called rather than the airport) typically have a 'flat-tire rule' that isn't published that as long as you show up within 4 hours they'll get you on a flight at no charge, if there's a seat. Hell, I showed up 11 hours late (for a 5:15am flight that I booked instead of the 5:15pm flight, odd that they had flights with the same minute/hour but with different am/pm) and managed to get on the flight (though I likely fly more than you do so they were trying to make me happy).
  15. I hope they make it out the other side in one piece (or a close facsimile thereof). While they didn't have the best beer in the world the couple times I've been, it's been solid beer, brewed well to style, and with good food to boot. And every time I've been there its been busy (at different times of day, days of week, and times of year...)
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