Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Goodby Fort Lauderdale; Hello Ogunquit Maine

Goodbye Palm Trees; Hello Pine Trees!
Goodbye Cuban Sandwiches; Hello Clam Rolls!
Goodbye Egrets; hello Chickadees
Goodbye Florida;  Hello Maine!
The journey of a thousand miles (or 1553 to be exact) starts with the first step! Mike packs the Subaru for the annual migration!
The journey is about 24 to 27 hours of driving time. We take Route 95, which hovers the east coast. It's a journey I've been doing since I was a kid in the 70's with my parents for our annual trip to Florida. Many things have changed: vehicles, telecommunications, entertainment, etc. However, one thing has not changed: finding a clean restroom, its still a challenge!

Like all migratory birds, we arrive back to our home for the start of another season of Ogunquit Beach Inn
Like many returning birds, I am eager to get to the beach and comb the white sands of Ogunquit beach!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Michael Phelps Top Tips

This is an interesting video by Speedo of Michael Phelps. He talks about his tips for racing. It’s pretty basic, but can be applied to life in general: Warm-up properly; Keep your head clear and not cluttered; Swim Fast, and Have fun!
I like his philosophy, it’s pretty basic, but it works!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Caribbean Markets in Fort Lauderdale

I enjoy shopping at the Caribbean markets that are scattered throughout south Florida. One never knows when one will need a stalk of sugar cane or watermelon soda. I know when I go back to Ogunquit Maine; I will not be able to find such exotic treats
Of course you'll find the Goya and Badia brand products, that you can find in most US supermarkets now, but you can also find some real exotic finds!
The best part about shopping in these markets is about the experience: taking in the savory smells of spices, fish and tropical produce.

When I was a kid, I thought a banana was a banana. But in the Latin markets, there are plantains, burros, and other yellow strarchy looking fruit for boiling and frying. These plantains are used for tostones, tajadas and patacones.
There is also banana chips (chifles), which are one of my favorite snacks! Many people use plantains to make desserts, appetizers, and starches for their meals.

This "bunch" of bananas is from my back yard in Wilton Manors. Maybe I'll fry them up with butter and brown sugar and have a "merienda".
These markets usually have bulk produce, rice beans and fresh tortillas by the pound! There is always different types of fish; both fresh and salted.
Its always an adventure to check out the markets, and get some aguacates (avocados) and cebollas ( onions)!
I know when I am shopping in these mercados, I am not in Ogunquit Maine anymore, or at the Village Food Market!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Michael Phelps Getting into swimming

I really like this Michael Phelps video by Speedo. Enjoy!

Swimming can be a challenge, you do need a pool, ocean, or pond. Running is something you can do anywhere.
The best thing about swimming is that is it not too hard on your joints, knees and ankles. Swimming is something you can do your whole life. Its not weight bearing.
Swimming is a good way to get a workout and also work other muscles. As a runner, I find that swimming is actually therapeautic. Swmming acts like a very light massage, which aids in circulation. As Michael Phelps says "swimming is a total body workout".

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Los Asados Argentine Steak House, Fort Lauderdale

Oakland Park Blvd in Fort Lauderdale is dotted with generic shopping plazas that start at the beach and continue west to the everglades. Its hard to notice what types of shops or restaurants that line this long boulevard. However, last month while driving this congested boulevard I noticed a new restaurant that "popped-up" on my visual radar. The Argentine and Uruguay flags quickly got my attention. I noticed the sign that said Los Asados Argentinian  Steak House. In the last four years I have made three trips to Argentina, and I am enamored with their culture, food and lifestyle. Therefore, I need to try this new haunt!

I invited my buddy Ivan to lunch. Ivan use to help us at the Ogunquit Beach Inn for many years. Ivan is from Bulgaria and lives in Florida full time.

Los Asados is a rather large space dotted with many tables, and booths The Steak house is decorated with faux terracotta walls, cowhides and other accoutrement from the pampas of South America. The plaza is faceless and plain like many of the plazas that were built in the 1970's in South Florida. However the surprise was that we were transported back to South America for a nice leisurely lunch!

Argentine lunches are long and filling. The wonderful thing about eating in Argentina or Uruguay is that you are never rushed. Its common to see people at cafes and restaurants spend countless hours enjoying their meal with their companions.

Los Asados offers a nice menu with an  Executive Lunch. In South America and menú ejecutivo is an affordable meal with soup or salad, a choice of entrees and bread. Los Asados offered Argentine favorites like skirt steak, chicken breast, lasagna and fish filet for their executive lunch.
Our server Jorge, suggested we get the cream of broccoli soup.  Jorge hails from Buenos Aires and is quite fluent in the culinary aspects of an Argentine kitchen. His suggestion of the soup was perfect! I have known Jorge for about a year. Jorge spent last summer working in Ogunquit.
Jorge also told us that the fish was fresh, so we tried the fish filet Milanesa. This Argentine take on this classic Italian dish is breaded and fried. Milanesa dishes are quite popular in Argentina. We also tired the grilled tilapia filet, which was also quite tasty.
Blogger Greg and Server Jorge.  Jorge hails from Buenos Aires.

The fixed price meal was $7.25, which included, soup or salad, potato or rice. Authentic homemade chimichurri sauce was on virtually every table. Tables had tablecloths and a bottle of wine. This restaurant is truly a gem on Oakland Park Boulevard and should not be overlooked.

Asado is Spanish for barbecued/grilled/roasted. In The pampas huge fires roar as the gauchos grill beef, chicken and other game. This culinary technique is popular throughout Argentina and Uruguay, and in many of the restaurants. The one thing about Argentine restaurants is that you never leave hungry. At Los Asados this also the custom! Next time I will try their dinner specials!

We were too stuffed to try the desserts or cafe.

Owner, Isabel of Los Asados hails from Uruguay.

The Details:
Los Asados
1672 E Oakland Park Blvd
Oakland Park, FL 33334
Telephone 954-566-6700
Atmosphere: Casual
Price: Extremely reasonable, Especially lunch.
Food Rating: Very Good
Style: Argenine Steak house, with pastas, chicken and fish.
Attitude: Very friendly!

After our delicous meal, Ivan and I went down to the beach to walk off the meal and watch the wild waves pass us by! Another great day in Fort Lauderdale!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

John O'keefe Memorial Swim Meet

Today I did my first swim meet! The day was perfect, sunny in the 70's, pool in the 80's. The event was held in Miami Shores Aquatic Centre.  The Centre has a nice beach ball sculpture by Miami artist Romero Britto.

This 25 yard pool was refereed by US Masters Swimming Judges.
Miami's Nadadores Swim Club hosted the John Okeefe Memorial Swim Meet, which is one of the official Winter Party Events.
Miami's own diva Maryel Epps sang "Amazing Grace" and "The Star Spangled Banner" to start the festivities!
Guys line up to start! I did the 100 yard freestyle in 1.30 seconds...

Hammerhead Monty, not only swims, but sketches between various "heats". There were plenty of physiques for modelling!
Mike, Monty and Peter between "heats".

Hammerhead coach John Grzeszczak, keeps scores, and critiques our strokes.

Hammerheads, Monty & Greg. Well, I guess I can call myself a swimmer! Now off to the Miami Shores Country Club for much needed lunch!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Russians are Coming (and the Bulgarians, Serbians, and Moldovans)

Every year Ogunquit opens its arms to tourists, and seasonal workers. The seasonal workers names may sound exotic to most people, but not to the people of Ogunquit: Ivan, Natasha, Boris, Dimitri, Katarina, Sergay, etc. Many of  these students come from the former Soviet block countries. They are part of the new Europe. They are eager to practice English, and work as many jobs as possible. They do the jobs that need to be done in a bustling resort town: make beds, scoop ice cream, clean boats, mow lawns and wash dishes. Some stay, some get married to locals. Most move back to Europe. Over the past decade it’s been a pleasure to get to know these kids. Many lifelong friendhsips have resulted. They have become part of our lives and our community.

One such student is Aleksander from Bulgaria "Alessio" (his nickname) speaks Bulgarian, Russian and flawless English. He is a University student in the UK. He has produced a short Youtube video as one of his projects. The message is clear. Save electricity for one hour on March 27th 2010. Please watch this video and rate it.  This spring, like the return of migratory birds,  a fresh batch of eager eastern Europeans will arrive, and you'll hear Dobre doshli v Ogunquit Maine! (Welcome to Ogunquit Maine! in Bulgarian).