Thursday, December 27, 2007

Vacation Day 3: Key West

Started the day with big breakfast at IHOP.

Breakfast Sampler $8.79. Eggs,bacon strips,pork sausages,ham strips, hash brown and two fluffy buttermilk pancakes.

International Passport $7.99. Eggs,bacon strips,pork sausages and Swedish crepes.

Our next destination was Key West. We stopped at 7 mile bridge on the way to Key West. There are 2 bridges. The one on the right is the old 7 mile bridge which was badly damaged by hurricane in 1935. On the left is the new 7 mile bridge which is part of the Overseas Highway.

7 mile bridge made its debut in the film True Lies (1994), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis. A section of the old bridge is shown being destroyed by missle strikes. The missiles were edited in, and the explosions were done on an 80-foot (24 m) model of the bridge, but filming was done on the actual bridge, and the "destroyed" section is the former swing span, which had been removed upon completion of the new bridge. (Wikipedia)

Below is part of the movie which shows the 7 mile bridge.

From 7 mile bridge, it took us 1 hour to get to Key West. Key West is a city and an island of the same name,located at the southermost tip of Florida Keys.

This tiny island -which is rumoured to fit into New York's Central Park- teems with color and life around the clock. Historic architectural blend with local boutique stores, art galleries, museums, sidewalk cafes, trendy restaurants and legendary pubs. Souvenir shops, unique stores are everywhere. We spent long time shopping there.

It is a small, relax and fun town with laid back lifestyle. Most of the pubs and restaurants feature live music performances.

One of the attraction in Key West is Ernest Hemingway Home. Ernest Hemingway was one of America's most famous writer who won Noble Prize for Literature in 1954 for "The Old Man and the Sea". We reached there 15 minutes prior to closing, so we didn't go in the house.

The biggest attraction on the island is an oversized concrete buoy, which claims to be the southernmost point in the Continental US. The monument sits only 90 miles from Cuba's coast. From Key West, it is nearer to get to Cuba than to Miami, which is 150 miles away.

Artist painting in Southermost point.

We missed a lot of attractions in Key West as we only spent 1/2 day there. Key West is such a nice, charm town. I will definately return in future.

We stayed at Continental Inn in Marathon. It has nice beach but we didn't get to enjoy since we reached there at 8 pm and left 6 am in the morning.

I like the design of the switches in the hotel.

Related posts: Day 1- Miami, Day 2- Marathon

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Vacation Day 2: Marathon

Early in the morning, the guys got up at 5 am to see sunrise. I was lazy I preferred to sleep instead. Jon took a lot of sunrise photos. He said the sun rised so fast, it was like a balloon flew up to the sky.

After that everyone went for swimming ..less me! Besides, we were leaving for Marathon in the next couple of hours, I hate to pack "wet cloths". I managed to get some shots of the beachfront of the hotel.

Upon working up an appetite, we went for breakfast buffet at the hotel. Not much selection and food wasn't great. After breakfast we checkout and got ready for next destination, Marathon.

Below is map of Florida Keys taken from Google Map. Florida Keys is a chain of about 1700 islands in the southeast United States. Most of the islands are linked by a scenic road called the Overseas Highway (completed in 1938), which has 42 bridges. Florida Keys are divided into five regions: Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key, and Key West .

Our destination, Marathon, is in the heart of Florida Keys. Marathon offers many relaxing vacation resorts, diverse water activities and great restaurants that serve fresh seafood. We stayed at Seashell Beach Resort. The view was great, though the room was a bit old.

View from our room.

Our room, second floor, taken from the jetty.

We spent the whole afternoon kayaking. The water was calm and shallow, so it was good for newbie like me. Paddling was tiring eventhough I only contributed 30% of energy lol, thanx hubby!

When we were done with paddling, I jumped out of the kayak and into the sea to head towards shore... since the water was only knee deep. However upon taking 5 steps towards the shore, I felt some real slimy and sandy sea vegetation. I asked Jon to throw me slippers as I didn't dare to walk on slimy sand. I took a step and my foot sank into muddy sand, I was shocked, quickly withdrew my foot but my slipper stuck inside. Lost that right Billabong slipper in the process. Dope! There was no way I could walk to the seaside, Jon had to paddle the kayak to fetch me. =o)

Virteeka and Jon tried their luck hunting for my slipper. Sigh... gone!

We went back to our room to shower. After Jon had showered, it was my turn then, he went to the jetty to take photos. When I came out from the shower, I was surprised to see him in swim trunk. Why would he go swimming just after his shower? Long story short, while he was taking some pictures, his beloved Oakley shades fell into the sea haha. He had to jump into the sea to find his sunglasses. He was successful this time.

Dinner time ~ We went to Key Fisheries Restaurant. The place is located next to marina, it was so cold and windy.

Fried Oyster platter $15.95. I was a bit disappointed because I expected the oysters came in shell.

Garlic Golden Crab $15.95.
We didn't expect the portion was huge since it was $15.95. The size of it was twice the size of the usual mud crab we had back in Singapore. The shell was thick and hard, but we were given plastic crab cracker. Very frustrating. It took us both an hour and 15 minutes to finish the crab. If I were to eat it alone, I would probably need 2.5 hours. Took so much effort to crack the shell and just ate a bit and a bit.

Finishing the crab was a big accomplishment! Never knew that cracking crabs could be so tiring.

These were what our friends ordered: Conch Fritters $4.95 and Key Lime Mahi $15.95, Mahi sauteed with limes, scallion, shallots, tomatoes and white wine. Jon was jealous at Abhishek since he didn't have to struggle yet could put a big chunk of "meat" into his mouth and was capable of enjoying a mouthful of delious seafood.

Related post: Day 1-Miami

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Vacation Day 1: Miami

Jon took his end of year leave. I had options of going somewhere cold for skiing or to somewhere warm. Of course I chose option "warm". Ideal vacation for me is when I don't have to pack long sleeves and winter clothing. So...6 day trips to Miami and Key West was fantastic! Miami is a haven for tourists with its subtropical climate, pretty harbors and spectacular beaches. Especially coming from Sydney Australia, the sun, the sand and the sea would definitely bring us some fond memories.

We took a connecting flight in Orlando. The plane was the smallest plane I had ever sat in (could probably call it "private jet"). The seats were 2 by 1. It was pretty scary, Thank God it was only 40 minutes flight.

As soon as we arrived in Miami, everyone was so hungry, we had lunch at airport. Grilled chicken with tomato and herbs baguette and Thai grilled chicken sandwich.

Next, we picked up a nice rented car. In the United States, 19 states do not require an official front license plate. Florida is one of them.

Located in the heart of Miami Beach, this oceanfront hotel seems well priced and good value.

The resort faces the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Indian Creek on the other. The rooms, though equally cost had some minor differences. Some rooms were smaller with poorly lit shower area. Some rooms were spacious with double sinks. Generally they are all of acceptable standards and with some partial ocean view.

The beach is only a few steps away from the pool. Lounge chairs/umbrellas are available for rental on the beach. The stretch of beach for the hotel is clean and beautiful.

On the same late afternoon, we decided to go for the Thriller Powerboat ride. It was the most exciting boat ride I've ever had. It went so fast I could feel the wind slapping my face and water prickling my face like needles being thrown. The back seats tend to be the wettest seats on the boat.

The tour provided panaromic sightseeing of Miami. It was a very well narrated 45 minute tour accompanied with fantastic music.

One of the viewing destination was Millionaire's Row, multi-million dollar homes of celebrities. To name a few: Shaquille O'Neal, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan.

The tour ended at Bayside Marketplace, semi-outdoor mall with a lot of souvernir shops, local boutiques and open-air cafes. Too busy and too excited to shop that I didn't take any photos of Bayside :)

Monday, December 17, 2007


Simple food can look expensive and more delicious if presentation is nice. I often think of nice food presentation. But thought about the "washing" of dishes later on, which then led me to say.. Nahh....forget it, too much effort.

We had soba for dinner. I had some prawn and shitake mushrooms in the fridge, decided to add them on soba.
* pan fry prawn and shitake mushroom
* add 2 tbsp of soy sauce
* use toothpick to hold both end of the prawn
* place the prawn on shitake mushroom.

For soba sauce, I bought bottle ready-to-use soba sauce from Asian grocery.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Miso Soup

I cooked miso soup and added some edamame beans. My super blur husband asked, "Is that buah petay?" I was stunned, could not believe what I heard. Who ever cook miso soup with petay?

Petay/stinky beans is kind of smelly beans that is very popular in South East Asia. Those who like it described petay as beans that has pungeont aroma that lingers. (Especially true when urinating - serious contamination). I have never tasted it before and no one can convince me to eat it. =o) Never!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bella Vita

Bella Vita, an Italian restaurant that is famous for its brick oven pizza in Times Square area. Considering the area of the restaurant, the price is reasonable. Expect to wait at least 20 minutes on the weekend, especially big group. The place was a bit small, nice crowd, great ambience.

Fried Calamari $8.95. Fresh tender fried calamari served with spicy marinara sauce. This lovely, big portion appetizer was so tender and juicy, crispy and not too oily. When dipped a piece in spicy marinara sauce, it was delicious.

Large pizza $15.95. Homemade tomato sauce and fresh mozarella with choose-your-own topping at $2.50 each. We had fresh mushroom and chicken. It was so fresh with right amount of sauce and toppings. The crust was made to perfection and it was scattered with basil. I love basil~

Spaghetti e Pollo Cacciatore $25.95
This was a family sized Spagetti with peppers, onions, mushrooms, white wine, sliced chicken breast in a light tomato sauce. It was very fresh and tasty, though a little more sauce won't hurt on this dish~

Bella Vita
211 W 43rd Street, between Broadway and Eight Avenue
New York, NY
Tel: 212-730-1479
Fax: 212-123-4567


Torys is a yakitori restaurant located in midtown area. Most of the items that we had were from the yakitori menu. Portion served is of appetiser size, so we had to order a lot of dish.

We started off with Kyona & Jyako, onsen tamago salad: baby arugula scattered with roast baby sardine and dressing of poached organic egg. The salad was so tasty and light.

Torys specialized in yakitori, the yakitori menu is divided into 4 parts: Yakitori Chicken, Chicken Limited, Yakitori Special, and Vegetable. Highlight was Chicken Limited which has very limited availabity. We arrived there at 7pm and some Chicken Limited had sold out. I feel that "Chicken Limited" is weird. The menu listing had soft knee bone, soft bone, neck, tail, hmmm...aren't those parts that normally people do not eat?

Some of the yakitori dishes we ordered were liver, meatball, soft knee bone, chicken tail, organic pork, lamb chop, eringi mushroom. They were all very small portion and each skewer cost $2-$4.50, they were expensive. The yakitori dishes were served with sea salt, and not season with yakitori sauce, hence it had a nice grilled and burned taste instead of sweet taste.

Lamb Chop $6

We ordered tofu cooked in hot pot and chicken rice cooked in earthenware pot. Both were cooked at the table. The tofu required 25 minutes and chicken rice required 35 minutes to cook.

As soon as we finished all yakitori dishes, the tofu was done. Daiginjyo tofu premium pure tofu in hot pot $8. We shared among 4 people so everyone just had 1 spoonful of tofu *lol*. It was plain silken tofu, we had to add some salt for a little taste. It was so soft, silky and melted in the mouth. It worth waiting 25 minutes to get those one spoonful of tofu. I wished there were more.

Jidori Donabe Gohan rice with chicken cooked in earthenware pot $12. This was small portion too, everyone just had 2 spoonfuls haha.. It tasted a bit like claypot chicken rice.

Dessert time! We decided to have 1 dessert each. Each of them tasted very good, we didn't regret ordering 4 different desserts to share.
Coffee jelly with vanilla ice cream $6
Pumpkin pudding $7
Ice Banana: Frozen banana served with coconut milk, tapioca & mint $7 Yawaraka annin tofu creamy apricot kernel tofu $5.5

It was a great dinner , good food with good company, especially with friends that take photos of food too. Most of the time, I feel that people scrutinize at me for taking food pictures. It has become a ritual for me that I must take food pictures before anyone is allowed to touch the food.

Yakitori Torys
248 E 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022
Tel: 212-813-1800