Seeking sunshine in Florida

Last year, Christmas awarded us three mid-week days off, so by taking a couple of vacation days we managed to get a long enough vacation to seek sunshine a little further afield. Our choice was Florida and more specifically Fort Lauderdale. We had booked a flight for the 24th as this was clearly cheaper than e.g. the 23rd. As we had a super-early morning flight to Munich and further to Miami, we decide to splurge on a hotel night near the airport on the 23rd. We booked a room at Scandic Helsinki Airport. We checked in at the hotel in the early evening and had dinner at the hotel restaurant. The food was good and once our stomachs were full, we did a test walk to the check-in area to see how much time we would need in the morning (the walk took around ten minutes). The following morning, we had an early breakfast at the hotel (they start serving breakfast at 3:30 am, which is really convenient for early flights) and then proceeded to the airport. We will definitely stay at this or some other airport hotel again next time we have a super-early long-haul flight.

Restaurant and bar at Scandic Helsinki Airport
The hotel had some fun decoration ideas
Part of the hotel used to be a police station and the old holding cells had been turned into meeting rooms with various themes.

We arrived in Miami around 5 pm, collected our luggage and picked up our rental car. Before heading to our house in Wilton Manors that we rented through Airbnb we stopped by a grocery store to get some food and other essentials for our stay. We eventually arrived at the house after 8 pm due to some difficulties with finding an open ramp to the interstate (the navigator kept telling us to head to the same closed ramp several times), as well as in finding the house as the navigator refused to recognize the address. Once at the house, we got settled in, unpacked, familiarized ourselves with the house rules, took a shower and had a bit of a bite before hitting the sheets.

Our little house for the week
Master bedroom
Second bedroom that we used for storage
Living area
Dining area
Kitchen

We had decided to spend the following day lounging at the house as it was Christmas Day and we assumed most places would be closed. We started the day with a hearty breakfast and then took a walk around the neighborhood to see where we had landed. It was a residential neighborhood that seemed calm and quiet. Back at the house, we jumped in the car and drove to downtown Fort Lauderdale to have a look around. We drove around for maybe an hour and then headed back to the house for some R&R. We spent the day reading, watching TV, making plans for the week, cooking dinner and enjoying the sunshine in the backyard. We had purchased tickets online for an airboat tour in the Everglades and that’s were we headed the next day, but more on that in my next blogpost.

Found this oasis just around the corner from the house.
Chilling in the backyard

Viinejä joulupöytään

Rosa Viini- ja Ruokakerho toimitti minulle marraskuussa viinejä, jotka sopivat mainiosti joulupöytään. Viime viikkoina olen ehtinyt testaamaan toimitetuista viineistä yhden punaviinin, yhden kuohuviinin ja yhden valkoviinin. Viinien mukana sain myös joukon perinteisiä joulureseptejä, joiden kaveriksi viinit sopivat. Itse en kuitenkaan ole varsinaisesti jouluruokien ystävä, joten en lähtenyt näitä reseptejä testailemaan. Jos kaipaat hyviä jouluruokien reseptejä kannattaa käydä tutkimassa Rosa Viini- ja Ruokakerhon joulun teemasivuja, josta löytyy iso liuta perinteisiä ja ei niin perintäisiä ohjeita joulupöytään. English summary at the end of the post.

Ensimmäisenä kokeiluun pääsi ranskalainen punaviini Henri Maire Montfort Passemont Grande Reserve. Kyseessä on Syrah ja Chardonnay rypäleen sekoitus, joka kuulosti minusta todella oudolta koska Chadonnayhan on valkoviinirypäle. Viinissä on myös tavanomaista enemmän sokeria 13,0 g/l mikä tekee siitä hieman makean. Viini luokitellaan täyteläiseksi ja keskitanniiniseksi ja ruokasuosituksena mainitaan mm. grilliruoka ja pataruuat. Ulkomaiselta sivulta löysin maininnan, että viini sopii myös rasvaisten kalojen kaveriksi, joten päätin tarjota viinin lohen ja perunamuussin kanssa. Viini on maultaan melko marjainen (kirsikka, boysenmarja). Tykkäsin viinin pienestä makeudesta ja Chardonnay toi siihen selvästi hieman erilaisen makumaailman kuin muissa juomissani Syrah viineissä. Pikamarinoin lohen: marinadissa oli appelsiininmehua ja -kuorta, soijaa, hunajaa, srirachaa ja seesamiöljyä. Marinoimisen jälkeen kypsensin lohen uunissa marinadin kanssa. Olin todella yllättynyt miten hyvin punaviini sopi yhteen lohen kanssa. Marjaisuus ja pieni makeus pyöristivät mukavasti marinadin mausteisuutta. Makeuden vuoksi viini sopisi varmasti hyvin myös jälkiruokien kaveriksi. Monipuolisuutensa vuoksi uskon, että saatan hyvinkin ostaa tätä viiniä jatkossa.

Viime lauantaina vietimme pikkujouluja ystävän seurassa ja päätin hyödyntää saamiani viinejä. Alkumaljoiksi joimme portugalilaista kuohuviiniä, Lab Sparkling Brut. Tämä olikin ensimmäinen portugalilainen kuohuviini, jota olen maistanut ja rypälekin oli minulle ennestään tuntematon Loureiro. Ensimmäinen kulaus maistui omassa suussa hieman oudolta, mutta makuun tottui nopeasti ja sitten viini olikin ihan maukasta. Luulen, että alun outous johtui vaan siitä, että viini oli kovin erimakuinen kuin cavat ja samppanjat, joita olen aiemmin juonut. Tämä kuohuviini on erittäin kuiva ja maussa voi aistia limeä ja viheromenaa. Jälkimaussa nousee esiin myös tietty mausteisuus. Kuohuviinin kuplat ovat melko isoja, joten siitä puuttuu samppanjalle ominainen pienikuplaisuus. Alkumaljojen lisäksi voisin kuvitella juovani tätä kuohuvaa raikkaan salaatin kaverina.

Kolmas viini oli italialainen valkoviini, Villa Valentina Organic Pinot Grigio, joka pääsi täydentämään vegaanista porkkanalohesta, punajuuri carpacciosta ja sienisalaatista koostuvaa pikkujouluateriaa. Pinot grigio on Rieslingin ja Gewürztraminerin ohella yksi suosikkivalkkareistani. Tämä italialainen tulee Sisiliasta, jonka vulkaaninen maaperä tuo viiniin mineraalisuutta. Viinin makumaailma on sitruksinen ja siitä löytyy myös päärynän ja viheromenan makuja. Viinistä voi aistia myös jonkun verran yrttisyyttä. Viiniä suositellaan mm. kasvisruualle ja ainakin meidän menyyseen se sopi mainiosti. Voisin testata tätä viiniä myös pizzan tai pastan kaverina. Pakko vielä kehua viinin etikettiä, jossa on ihana samettinen pinta.

English summary

I have recently tested three wines suited for Christmas that I received from Rosa Viini- ja Ruokakerho in November. The first one was a French red, Henri Maire Montfort Passemont Grande Reserve that surprisingly enough was a mix of Syrah and Chardonnay. This full-bodied wine has a higher sugar content than most reds, which makes it slightly sweet to the taste. The wine was quite jammy and I paired it with spicy salmon dish, which proved a good pairing. Next, we tired a Portuguese sparkling wine, Lab Sparkling Brut, which we enjoyed as an aperitif. I had never tasted a Portuguese sparkling wine before and the grape, Loureiro, was also new to me. This wine was quite different from the cavas and champagnes I am used to drink and at first it tasted a bit odd to me but after I got used to the taste, it turned out to be quite tasty. This sparkling wine had hints of lime and green apples in the taste. The final wine that we tested was a Sicilian white, Villa Valentina Organic Pinot Grigio. We enjoyed the wine with a vegan meal, and it was a good pairing. Next to Riesling and Gewürztraminer, Pinot Grigio is one of my favorite white wine varieties. The taste was citrusy with hints of pear and green apples.

Catastrophic dinner & superb bed

I had booked a room and dinner package at Hotel GLO Sello for last week’s Friday. The hotel has recently been renovated from floor to ceiling, so it was interesting to see the renewed hotel. The room I had chosen was a GLO Tempur room that is equipped with a Tempur bed as we were interested in testing this state-of-the-art bed. We also tested the Chromecast-streaming system available in the room, which turned out to work well for streaming Netflix from my iPad. I also found the divan in the room super-comfy to lounge on. Before it was time to test the bed, we had a dinner to look forward to.

A place to lounge

If the room was a hit, the dinner was anything but. We had a table reservation at the hotel restaurant GLO Grill Kitchen at 8 pm and as we arrived, we noticed two larger groups already seated in the restaurant. Despite this, the restaurant was by no means full. The dinner package included was a three-course menu with two glasses of wine. The menu sounded delicious: starter of Fennel soup and olive chip, main of either Grilled whitefish, shrimp risotto and orange butter sauce or Grilled lamb, herb risotto and port wine sauce and dessert Gingerbread trifle. We both opted for the fish for the main course. We also decided to start off the dinner with an aperitif. The menu came with two glasses of wine, which you could select from the wine menu and for the starter we chose the recommended Chardonnay. While the waiter served us, he said that the food may take a while because there was a rush in the kitchen. This was no problem for us as we were in no hurry and were happy to enjoy the aperitifs without being rushed. But then things started to go pear-shaped.

We were finally served the starter about an hour into our reservation. The server apologized for the wait and said the food should be coming out faster as the biggest rush in the kitchen was letting up. However, this was not the case. Once we had finished our soups, we waited for another hour at which time hubby went to ask the servers when we might expect to be served our mains. The response was that they are just being prepared. This was, however, clearly not the case. It took almost another half an hour before the main course was served. While waiting for the main course a server came to ask which wine we would like with the fish. Then she said that she would recommend white wine, which almost made us burst out in laughter as that is not a wine recommendation in my opinion (we did laugh once she left the table). I noticed she had the wine list in her hand so I said that if I could have a look at the list I could choose, her response was that you have the same list right there on the table. Eventually she managed to recommend a Riesling. When she came back with the bottle, I had to stop her from pouring it in the wine glasses on the table that had already been used to drink another wine. Eventually the mains arrived, and the server said he would ask the kitchen to prepare the desserts right away, he also asked if we would like coffee with the desserts which the restaurant would pay for since we had to wait. As it was 10.45 at night, coffee did not sound like a good idea so I suggested the aperitifs could be comped instead. Once we had finished the mains, we said we would take the dessert up to the room as the restaurant was closing.

Due to the waiting I almost forgot to take a picture of the main so here I had already tucked into the fish

Up in the room we polished off the desserts and settled in for the night. The bed was amazing, I slept so well. All in all, I can say that the hotel was nice and awarded a perfect night’s sleep but the service in the restaurant was something I’ve never experienced before. Luckily, the food itself was quite good, otherwise the disappointment would have been huge. I do understand that the restaurant was busy but regardless, a three-course dinner should not take three hours (I’ve eaten six course menus in three hours). Also, the restaurant has been aware of the number of guests before hand as the large parties must have had table reservations as did we. So, I would recommend the hotel and might even return myself at some point, but the restaurant lost any chance of us ever coming back.

The magical Tempur bed