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The Hunger

  • Club Sandwich Index

    INTRODUCING THE CLUB SANDWICH INDEX

    club sandwich 1

    Designed to influence the way you travel, the Babalu "Club Sandwich Index" brings you reports from around the globe.

    Discerning travelers know more than anyone how important it is to feel at home when traveling or dining. Whether on the road for work or flying private to that paradise escape you've been ever-so-patiently waiting for, all other elements of a hotel or restaurant experience should never be diluted by the home-away-from-home comforts that the perfect mouthwatering club sandwich offers.

    Voila! There it is, "Club Sandwich" listed on the menu. Just seeing this immediately evokes expectations associated with ordering the Perfect 10. A visual and mouth-watering imprint as strong as our olfactory sense. Nothing less will suffice. And in our view, it doesn't matter how good the hotel marketing brochures, wine list, spa treatments, length of the swimming pool, number of golf holes, bed linen thread count, or generosity of a late check-out request - for us, the club sandwich weighs in at 90 out of 100 total points of total travel experience. That's right folks, 90%! So, we've created an index to rate your travel experiences and we'd like you to share your experiences.

    Frankly, we don't usually tolerate social media food photos but we want to see the quality of club sandwich that you've been served. So snap away, send us your photos and detailed scoring. The Club Sandwich Index-O-Meter consists of 10-value-added sets of criteria that serves as the basis for score calculations. We'll be posting your findings and announcing periodic prizes to our participants regularly on the Club Sandwich Index.

    Welcome aboard. And wishing the most wonderful club sandwich ever!

    How to rate your overall experience:

    Where did you Dine / Stay and when? __________________________

    1. French Fries Presentation (over sandwich or on the side and what type of container) 1-10

    2. a. Condiment Service (did you request from your server, or were they provided before or at time of club sandwich service) 1-5
    b. Condiment Quality (presentation of condiments: mini-bottles, open individual Demi-bowls, or other format (yick, can only imagine!) 1-5

    3. Overall Club Sandwich Presentation (mouthwatering, an innovation beyond your dreams or underwhelming)- please describe 1-10

    4. Quality and type of bread: fresh/stale, three layers thick - less or more, fresh or toasted, thickness, did it rip off the roof of your mouth? With or without crust? 1-10

    5. Freshness and quality of ingredients: (turkey vs chicken, avocado, tomato freshness, bacon quality, etc...) 1-10

    5. Napkins - 100% Egyptian fine linen or absorbent cotton, polyester or... Paper (NO!). Was napkin

    re-folded for you when you left the table to freshen yourself? 1-10

    6. China and Flatware Presentation: silver service and fine porcelain, dome service (primarily for room service Clubs, but add two additional bonus points if you received dome service at the restaurant service level!), diner quality flatware or god help us, please don't tell us if it was paper/plastic - just add 0 points.

    7. Special Requests satisfaction: for example toasted vs. fresh, hold the mayo, salad instead of fries, did they charge you for extra avocado? 1-10

    8. Overall Satisfaction - did your club sandwich stack up to what you to be the perfect Club? 1-10

    9. Did you feel the love? Could you feel inspiration emit from the kitchen or instead were you left with the sad knowledge that it was an "obligatory" offering. Did your mouth-watering experience prevail over price? 1-10

    10. Overall Hotel / Dining Experience (non-Club Sandwich related): 1-10

    [Did your hotel or restaurant destination not even offer a club sandwich? I this case you must enter 0 for Points 1-9, for a maximum total points of 10 out of 100 in section 10. We want to know if you couldn't find a club sandwich at your destination, so we can share where to absolutely avoid!

    <a href="http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/K33WPLC">Click here to take survey</a>

  • Ladurée est arrivé!

    Laduree has arrived in Miami Beach and the town is simply delighted!

    #laduree miami

    Iconic purveyor of the most famous French macaroon since 1862 has finally opened its doors just across from Babalu Miami.  The petite shop is simply adorable and French service adds to this sweet fantasy. With flavors like Fleur d'Oranger, Cassis Violette and Marie Antoinette, it is definitely worth a visit to find out what's inside these delectable morsels.

    #laduree #miamibeach #babalu

    LADUREE MIAMI
    1100 Lincoln Road
    Miami,
    FL 33139, United States

  • Hot on the Beach: 100 Montaditios

    Want to spend an evening like a Miami Beach local?  Then save your Wednesdays for Happy Hour at 100 Montaditos. With their famous $1 Wednesday's, who wouldn't like to wind-down with a $2 glass of sangria and a $1 montadito*?

    * spanish sandwich
    100 montaditos 100 Montaditos on Lincoln Road is just one of many locations.

    The menu is simple, yet has an array of choices for their Wednesday specials. They have 100 montaditos to choose from, all with different fillings, a few salad choices, delicious fries, Spanish beers, wines and sangrias.

    The staff is constantly busy, but are friendly and try their best to make you feel at home. If they're not running around, they're dancing by the front door laughing with other customers who are waiting to be seated.

    But the best feature about 100 Montaditos is the simplicity of it all. Bring friends from far and wide to experience an evening like a local at very reasonably priced meals, and it's only few blocks from Babalu Miami.

    100 MONTADITOS

    541 Lincoln Rd - Miami Beach, FL 33139

    (305) 538 3863

  • Mina's Mediterraneo

    Mina's Mediterraneo is one of the newest addition to Miami's expanding culinary lansdscape. This is not just a must-try experience but a decidedly comfortable space where you may find yourself return to again and again.

    #minasmiami #babalumiami #pinotgrigio

    The menu is a hand-selected edit of Mediterranean's best; here you'll find recipes from Greece, Egypt, France and Italy to name a few.  Pizza, pasta, gyros or beef Bourguignon - a dish for everyone.

    Conceived by Yasmine Kotb who stems from chef lineage (her mom Sonia still helps in the kitchen), Mina's Mediterraneo strikes balance between the perfectly constructed dish and the pleasures of a home-cooked meal.

    The wine list is nicely varied and reasonably priced: the service is excellent. Just add friends to fully enjoy.

    #minasmiami #cre8tivjuice #ilovebabalu Above: Falefel in Pita. Centre: our dinner companions Mauricio Giammattei (left) and Kevin Kelsick (right) with Chef Yasmine Kotb (middle). Bottom: Lamb Burgers

    Mina's Mediterraneo

    749 NE 79th St. Miami, FL 33138

    786 391 0300

    OPENING HOURS:

    Tue-Thu & Sun 12pm-10pm

    Fri-Sat 12pm-12pm

    Mondays Closed

    HAPPY HOUR:

    Tue-Fri 4-7pm

  • Heavenly Flavors in Hell's Kitchen

    Decisions, decisions... When it comes to food New York City certainly has a lot to offer, so much in fact that sometime it is almost impossible to make up your mind.

    We were recently wandering up and down 9th Avenue in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood looking for a bite to eat; was it going to be Italian, Faux-French, Mexican or Thai by default... one place didn't seem original enough, the other one was badly lit, this one is just meh... and so on. Half-hour later we are still walking around in freezing weather, reading through menus, undecided. So it was very much by accident that we stambled into Danji. Peeping through the glass front it all seemed right, cosy, nicely lit, busy staff and happy patrons. So, ok, let's try it.

    From left to right: Danji Michelin Stars, happy patrons Aileen and friend, Poached Saber Fish with Spicy Daikon From left to right: Danji Michelin Stars, happy patrons Aileen and Nik, Poached Saber Fish with Spicy Daikon

    It turns out that this modern 36-seat Korean restaurant is a Michelin rated wonder. The tapas style menu showcases a selection of authentic Korean flavors prepared with classic techniques. Each dish is painstakingly arranged, the flavors heavenly.

    We tried Danji braised short ribs w. fingerlings ($14), spicy bulgogi beef rice cakes ($13), vermicelli noodles w. beef & korean peppers ($11) and poached sablefish w. spicy daikon ($18). Impeccable! We loved it so much we went for round-two a few days later to tackle the trio of kinchi ($6), jookjangyeon miso beef stew w. organic tofu (serves 2 @ $20) and spicy whelk salad w. buckwheat noodles ($14).

    Had we stayed in NYC longer we would definitely have come back to try the rest of the menu!

    DANJI
    346 West 52nd Street (bet 8th & 9th Ave)
    New York, New York 10019
    Tel: 212-586-2880
    OPEN:
    Mon - Thu, 5:15 pm - Midnight
    Fri - Sat, 5:15 pm - 1:00 am
    Lunch served Mon - Fri, 12:00 pm - 2:30 pm
     

    If you are still in the area and in no mood to wander, try Pure Thai Cookhouse  just around the corner. Pure is a little gem of a restaurant where authentic traditional Thai meets Bangkok street food. Try the home-made noodles, the ribs or the chili-hot jungle fried rice and wash it down with a Singha Thai beer, you just can't go wrong.

    #babalumiami_pure cookhouse nyc

    PURE THAI COOKHOUSE
    766 9th Avenue, New York, NY, 10019
    (212) 581-0999
    OPEN:
    Mon - Thu, 4:00pm - 10:30pm
    Fri - Sat, 4:00pm - 11:30pm
    Sun, 4:00 - 10:00
    Lunch served Mon - Sun, 12:00pm - 4:00pm

    Danji Saber Fish by 2bphoto.com/blog

  • Lobster and the City - Clawing for More

    It's no secret that Chelsea Market is a favorite stop while visiting NYC's Chelsea and Meatpacking District. It's a long-time favorite for NY locals and tourists alike.

    Enjoying a wonderfully robust Miami Beach-based life of work and play that includes frequent trips to NY, it's nevertheless the rarer occasion to return to my deeper Northeastern roots. So, when passing through Chelsea Market recently, I came across The Lobster Place, and it was as if I'd been transported home back to the days we'd catch our own lobsters in Connecticut.

    Now that I'd tripped onto the equivalent of a seaside lobster shack in the middle of the New York concrete jungle, I pulled a ticket and waited in line to choose the lobster that was clearly beckoning. Within a few short New York minutes and a check-out line that synchronized itself with bringing a fresh lobster to perfection, I was soon delivered the most glorious steamed red lobster, replete with mountains of sliced lemons, cracked claws and all the melted butter a guy's heart could desire. Crustacean heaven, and all at $14/95/lb eat-in, $12.95/lb takeaway (prices may fluctuate seasonally but I was assured by the staff that The Lobster Place remains open year-round). Finding a seat was the most challenging part, but persistence prevailed and as I sat down to enjoy my bounty, I knew I was the luckiest guy in New York. Never mind that I almost missed my flight back home, it all worked out - the affable Moroccan cab driver clearly mastered the act of magic carpet hi-speed racing in a previous life. - Greg

    Verdict

    Must Go! (The sushi is highly recommended, too)

    Location

    Chelsea Market
    75 Ninth Avenue
    New York, NY 10011

    Hours

    Year Round - 365

    Mon-Fri: 9:30am-9pm
    Sat: 9:30am-9pm
    Sun: 10am-8pm

  • The ABBA Syndrome

    Often referred to as the Paris of Scandinavia, Stockholm's grand history and beauty open wide upon arrival. Exploring the city for the first time, we checked-in with our long-time friend Yvonne, tastemaker and co-designer of Swedish jewelry brand Yvone Crista to share her insider picks.

    Scandinavian modern design has been a definitive cultural influence for the past century and celebrated the world-over through to today, but as revealed through Yvonne's perspective, the heart of Sweden lies in celebration of its elegant sense of tradition.

    Cashmere Mushroom Hunter: Yvonne picking Chanterelles in Saltsjöbaden. Greg cycling along the Stockholm shoreline.

    Eateries

    It's of natural instinct to conjure images of Ingrid Berman holding court in the intimate salon booths upon entering the famed TeaterGrillen (but be not fooled - Ms. Bergman was indeed a regular here). Located near the Royal Theater, history permeates the walls of this historical landmark, now one of Sweden's favored restaurants. Wonderful tableside service and hearty continental food are guaranteed, but the cozy and intimate interiors set the tone. For a more modern take on a Parisian Cafe Stockholm-style, try the restaurant group's newer eatery Riche, also centrally located. Crowd: hyper fashionable.

    Lydmar Hotel and Restaurant is another step into the depth of European luxury, and it feels like walking into the home of a favorite aunt or uncle. Situated next to the National Museum and on the way to the Moderna Museet (Modern and Architecture Museum), you'll encounter a high-fashion and hip scene, a great contrast to it's historic backdrop. Be sure to check out the exquisite summertime water views via the outdoor terrace.

    The Lydmar Hotel and Restaurant (left). "Sakuhin" installation by Sadamasa Motonaga at the Modern and Architecture Museum.

    Gondolen: This is a visual feast of the senses whether it be in the view, the eye-candy or cuisine by renowned chef Erik Lallerstedt. Once you get past the entrance (avoid the Katarina elevator which takes you to the more touristy section), head directly up to the bar for one of the best views of southern Stockholm. You can go formal a la main dining room, but I usually opt to enjoy the bar scene which has the tempo of a great bistro and casualness of a speak-easy.

    In Southern Stockholm, be sure to drop into the friendly Rival Hotel, owned by none other than ABBA member Benny Andersson. Try the delicious local oysters and peel-and-eat smoked prawns. Delish! And the second floor patio offers lovely views of the locals passing through the park below.

    For lunch, visit Ostermalms Saluhall, our quintessentially traditional Swedish food hall. The Sushi here is delivered straight from heaven, but if new to Sweden I highly recommend stopping by Melanders, which is all about the freshest seafood. There's something for every taste, and it's perfect for eating in or taking home. Welcome to one of our Swedish institutions.

    Ostermalms Saluhall, Gondolen by night, Riche.

    Shopping

    NK Department Store must be mentioned as it's truly the jewel in Stockholm's shopping crown. A multi-department store featuring both local and international brands. The servicing is excellent and I often stop in for a gift simply because the gift wrap is so exquisite. NK offers everything from pencil erasers to sofas, all presented in luxury.

    Nordiska Galleriet is a one-stop concept store for modern Scandinavian furniture and accessories. But what I love about their concept is that function is as important as the beautiful forms on display.

    Started by Estrid Ericson in the 1924, Svensk Tenn has become one of Sweden's most iconic shopping destinations for interiors and gifts. Featuring fabric designs by Josef Frank, it's European prep on a grand scale. Replete with life-size porcelain pooches guarding the shop entrance and available for sale, the influence of Svensk Tenn has made its way to far-reaching destinations from Lake Como to Connecticut.

    Design references found in the offering at Bruka Design are at the heart of every Swedish home living. Here you'll find lobster platters and charming Swedish crockery for every purpose. An easy and enjoyable stop in central Stockholm.

    Svensk Tenn, NK Department Store, Nordiska Galleriet.

    Yvonne currently resides in the seaside Stockholm suburb of Saltsjöbaden. Yvone Crista's newest jewelry collections are featured at Babalu Miami.

    Stay tuned as we hear from Christina Soderstrom, Yvonne's design partner at Yvone Crista with Copenhagen hot picks. Coming soon...

  • Wanna Play Hookie? The best lunch deal at The National Hotel

    Playing hookie takes on a whole new dimension in South Beach and its not just for kids!  From now through the end of September, The National Hotel is offering a Lunch & Pool special at $19.39 to celebrate their birth year, yes you guessed it, 1939.

    The salad buffet billows with a selection of crispy lettuces and grilled vegetables, cheeses, cold cuts and lots more, just pick and mix, make your own. To follow, a selection of hot dishes awaits. The selection changes daily and may include fish, chicken, pasta or truffle mashed potatoes, always a surprise and always freshly prepared. Finish off with a stop by the dessert cabinet, keep it light with fresh fruits, indulge with creme brulee or have both! Who's watching?!

    Last but not least, since you are already truant by this point why not naughty it up a cool quenching drink... or two. For only $10, imbibe in limitless Mimosas or selected beers.

    After lunch - and that extra drink that you really shouldn't have had - cool yourself off by the pool or hang out by the ocean. Enjoy the fantasy, reality can wait...

    LUNCH HOURS

    Monday to Friday from 12 to 3 p.m.

    National Hotel

    1677 Collins Avenue  Miami Beach, FL 33139

    (305) 532-2311

  • D.I.Y. Paradise

    Whether in Miami, Maine or Manila, Paradise Found is simple as Home Economics 101.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 Kiwis
    • 1 Banana
    • 2 Mandarin Oranges
    • Your favorite plate

    Optional:

    • Flood Light (for full effect)
    • Chinese Umbrella
    Paradise on a Plate

    Follow the very simple visual instructions in the photo.

    Try this in your own home and you'll be in Paradise Realm.

    No Sous Chef needed.

  • Got balls!

    Meatballs that is, just like mama used to make. Well, not quite, but if you enjoy comfort food, The Meatball Joint on 1570 Alton Road, Miami Beach offers what only the perfect meatball can deliver: a warm and delicious morsel of joy to make you feel right at home. And its affordable, too...

    Meatbals with Classic Fire-roasted Tomato Marinara and Garlic Bread

    First your balls - you get 4 with any choice of Classic Italian (beef and pork), South Beach (turkey) or the West Hollywood (vegetarian with eggplant) and remember to ask for the daily special.

    Then choose your sauce of Classic Fire-roasted Tomato Marinara, Fredo (a delicious Alfredo variation) or Drunken Mushroom, head-spinning I know...

    Finally, select your side of Garlic bread or Mixed Green Salad or add mouth-watering melted cheese for only $1.

    That's your basic, but you can also choose to sandwich your balls inside a white or whole wheat baguette, sliders (3 each + $0.50 extra cheese) or the Sammy (3 meatballs smashed on focaccia bread $9).

    Greg and I both opted for the Classic Italian with Fire-roasted Tomato Marinara ($9).  Greg chose extra cheese ($1) with side salad and I indulged in garlic bread.

    The Meatball Joint offers a selection of cold beers and wines to crown your perfect meatball moment.

    The verdict?  A delicious must-try!  But just in case she might be reading, I must say noone ever beat mama's balls!

    The Meatball Baguette Sandwich with the Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella Balls and Basil Salad

    The Meatball Joint is open every day

    Monday to Thursday  Noon - 5pm

    Friday to Sunday: Noon - Midnight

    1570 Alton Road - Miami Beach, FL 33139

    305 695 9441