Archive for April 2016
Posted on April 29, 2016 by Ching under Food and Drink, Reviews.
This is supposedly the best burger joint in Hollywood/Hallandale. I would have loved to have confirmed this but we only had a few minutes before our ride to the airport showed up and I like my burgers well done. We didn’t have enough time, unfortunately.
The restaurant had ample seating outside, which is a must if your are located in Florida. You have to allow people to enjoy the beautiful weather.
The decor inside was pretty cool. I liked the indoor-outdoor bar.
Ginger, Darcy, and I were walking around looking for a place to eat when we ran into the rest of our group. Their ride to the airport was much earlier than ours so they only had time for a drink.
I think Darcy had the ahi tuna burger and truffle fries.
The first picture didn’t do the burger justice.
Ginger had fries.
I had the famous mac n’ cheese with bacon.
I would have loved to try one of their handcrafted burgers but we didn’t have enough time. I like my burger well done so we would have been waiting for our food forever, and the service was slow enough as it was already. We couldn’t afford to slow them down any further.
I’m not sure that any of us were really happy about our food orders. The mac n’ cheese was just okay. The presentation in the cute, little cast iron pan was cute, though. The fries also came in these cute little baskets.
Anyway, we scarfed up our food as soon as it came because we had to walk back to the hotel to meet our ride to the airport. We got there early but the van beat us and was there already. Good thing we didn’t lolly gag at lunch.
I wish I could have tried their specialty because it almost seems unfair to rate them based on my limited, not-so-great experience. I guess we will just have to check it out again next time.
This just goes to show you how long it took to get our food at Larios. After we placed our food order, we actually had time to walk across the street to walk on the beach.
This was super high on Darcy and Kelsey lists of things to do while in Florida so they actually went and dipped their toes in the water.
Thanks to Rahima, we managed to experience the beach even for just a few minutes. Darcy and Kelsey were super thrilled to cross this one off the list.
I completed one of my must-do items earlier that day so I was content to take pictures.
And watch the sun set.
These next pictures were taken on our way back to the restaurant.
Ocean Drive is just so vibrant.
Lots of interesting restaurants and boutique hotels line the street.
Of course, you already saw pictures from dinner on yesterday’s blog post. These are just some extra pictures I had of South Beach that I wanted to share.
Our hotel was about an hour away so they hired a party bus to chauffeur us to and from dinner. It was a brilliant idea. I’m not sure most of the people in our group would have had the patience for an hour long drive to dinner if they didn’t have drinks to enjoy on the way. As for me, I couldn’t drink any alcoholic beverages because I was still on antibiotics after recovering from pneumonia. Thankfully, they had soda on the bus. I just drank my Coke and enjoyed the view, which wasn’t as interesting on the drive back because then it was dark. I enjoyed seeing all the high-rise condos and the boats on the way to dinner, though.
At least, dinner was delicious and we got to see the beach and we had good company. That made the long drive to dinner worth it.
Posted on April 28, 2016 by Ching under Food and Drink, Reviews.
I got to experience South Beach, though briefly, a couple of weeks ago while on a work trip. We were actually in Hallandale Beach, FL. However, since we were in such close proximity to Miami, we decided to go to South Beach for dinner.
One of our consultants wanted us to experience Cuban food, and not the watered-down variety that you get in Wichita either. She picked Larios on the Beach, Gloria Estefan’s Cuban restaurant. I was hoping that we would run into Ms. Estefan during dinner but no such luck. The closest I got was her image on the mosaic on the wall.
Here’s a picture of the bar that greets you as you walk into the restaurant.
Since it is Florida, there’s seating both inside and outside the restaurant. You can see the tables outside through the window. This way you can enjoy the food, music, and weather all at once.
Here’s a picture of the fancy waiting area, which also doubles as dancing area when the DJ gets the music going.
We had such a large group so we ended up at two separate tables.
The table next to the wall with the picture was part of our group as well.
This is a picture of the Estefan Cuban combo appetizer sampler. It consists of breaded stuffed potatoes, pork tamale, bacon-wrapped maduros, traditional ham, chicken & cod fish croquettes, and black bean hummus with plantain chips.
The restaurant offers three varieties of baked Cuban empanadas: “award-winning” slow roasted pork, minced beef, and roasted chicken. I tried a little bit of each. They were all great but I liked the pork one the best.
The food took forever but there were several of us so that might have contributed to the delay. We enjoyed some appetizers and munched on plantain chips while we waited.
The group also enjoyed some drinks while we were waiting. I couldn’t drink because I was recovering from pneumonia and was still taking antibiotics. I wish I could have drank though, because this mojito with the sugarcane garnish looked so good.
I talked Kelsey into trying the sugarcane.
Here’s a pictures of the dishes that others in our group ordered.
I got the fresh whole red snapper, lightly floured and flash fried. They got me at fresh. You can’t really get fresh fish here in Wichita.
I think this might be the famous criollo seafood combo with lobster, shrimp, scallops, calamari, fish, baby claims and mussles in a cuban criolla sauce. I got to taste a piece of squid from this dish and it was so good. I think it might be the freshest squid I have ever eaten. Usually squid tends to be rubbery. This melted in your mouth.
We got to try several desserts.
This is the tres leche: homemade cake soaked in three-milk Botran Reserva Rum sauce and finished with torched merengue.
This traditional Cuban flan is probably the smoothest flan I’ve ever had.
This was my favorite dessert of all. It’s tres leche de chocolate. Just when you thought tres leche couldn’t get any better. It’s exactly the same as the tres leche but in chocolate flavor. Brian would love this one.
This was one of the assorted sorbets. I’m sure it was very good but I didn’t get to try it because I was more interested in the other desserts.
I think this is the café con leche. I didn’t get to try this one either.
We had a great time at dinner. Can you tell?
Larios was super busy when we were there. There wasn’t an empty table in the restaurant.
The fact that they were so busy and there were so many in our group affected the service somewhat. I had to wait for my food forever because the server made a mistake when he was taking our order. One of the people in our group changed their mind and when they switched their order, my order got scratched off in error. This happened to a couple of people at our table so the two of us had to wait for our food while everyone had theirs already.
The server felt bad for the mistake and tried to offer me a free drink on the house to make up for it. I told him not to worry about it. Of all the times to be offered a free drink, it’s when I can’t drink. LOL.
Anyway, my red snapper was totally worth the wait. It was so good I didn’t even need any soy sauce. I’m definitely going to have to bring Brian to South Beach and take him to dinner at Larios. All things considered, this is probably one of the best meals I’ve ever had (Cuban or otherwise). I’ll be back!
If you thought that Zumba Home Office was cool, wait until you see this next office I had the opportunity to set foot in while in Florida a couple of weeks ago. It was originally BGT Partners’ award-winning headquarters. It was pretty cool back in 2012 but it’s even way cooler today. Since PwC acquired BGT Partners in 2013, the office is now the PwC Experience Center.
I’ve only visited one other PwC office and the look and feel of the Hallandale office is completely different. I’m thinking it’s the BGT influence. Even though it’s been a couple of years since the acquisition, the essence of BGT is still everywhere which makes sense. Very formal, boring offices don’t exactly foster creativity and innovation.
Anyway, I was completely in awe of their awesome office. I had to take a bunch of pictures, naturally. Enjoy.
I was in Florida on a work trip a couple of weeks ago when I happened by the Zumba headquarters completely by chance. We were walking around Gulf Stream Park when I saw this sign on the wall: Zumba Fitness, CORPORATE OFFICE, 2ND FLOOR.
As soon as I saw it, I heard the sound below.
Without even trying, I had stumbled upon the Holy Grail. I couldn’t believe my luck!
Ginger and Darcy went on back to the hotel. I told them to go on without me. I think it was quarter ’til five but I decided to pop in anyway. I mean, how often do you randomly run into the Zumba Home Office on a work trip? Plus, I didn’t know when I’d ever be in the area again. I had to go up and see if I could get a tour.
I don’t think Monica was super thrilled to see me that late in the day but she was nice enough to humor me. I explained to her that I’m a ZIN (Zumba Instructor Network member) in good standing and I’m only in the area for a couple of days and I didn’t know when I’d be back and I would like to get a tour of Home Office if at all possible. Monica explained that public tours are only available from 2 pm to 4 pm and, any other time, tours are done by appointment only. “This is the only time I have,” I pleaded. “Can you please check to see if there’s anyone available for a quick five minute tour?”
“Let me check,” she said as she started typing away on the computer. I waited patiently in their stylishly decorated lobby with all of my fingers and toes crossed. After what seemed like an eternity, she told me the last thing I wanted to hear. There was no one available. I should have known. Everybody wants to go home. No one will want to stick around and give a random, crazy person a tour that late in the day.
“Are you able to come back tomorrow afternoon?” she asked.
“No,” I told her. “I have a meeting starting at eleven o’clock and will be tied up well into the evening. Can I come back for a tour first thing tomorrow morning?”
Again, Monica informed me that I would need to schedule an appointment. She did me a solid though, and she gave the name and email address of there person in charge, Community Relations Specialist Gina Graziani.
“May I please have her phone number so I can give her a call as well?”
Monica looked in the system and couldn’t find her phone number but, being the resourceful person that I am, I saw some business cards on the desk.
“May I have one of these?” I asked, pointing at the business cards.
“Oh, yes. If you call that number, they should be able to connect you with Gina.”
I called the number as I walked back to the hotel. I’m not sure what the phone number was for but it wasn’t the right number. The man who answered explained that Gina belonged to a different department and I had to hang up and dial a completely different number. Some people would be annoyed but I was overjoyed that he was giving me the correct phone number to call. I eagerly called the second number and was able to get to Gina’s voicemail. I left a very desperate sounding message and told her that I would follow up with an email. As soon as I got to my hotel room, I fired up my laptop, immediately typed up an equally desperate email, and hit send.
And then I waited. And waited.
Obviously, I didn’t hear back because it was the end of the day but I was hopeful. Darcy wanted to go to the beach before our meeting the next day. I told her I would be happy to go with her but it depended on whether or not I could get a tour of the Zumba Home Office. I was now on a mission and I was determined to accomplish it.
Darcy and I met at 8 am the next morning for breakfast. Still no phone call or email response from Gina at this point. After eating breakfast and visiting for an hour, I checked my email again. Still nothing. At this point, we only had a couple of hours before our 11 am meeting so I didn’t think we had time to go to the beach. However, I had a couple of hours to try to squeeze a tour in.
“What are you going to do?” Darcy asked, knowing I didn’t have an appointment.
“I’m going to ask for a tour and I’m not going to take no for an answer,” I said determined. “I’m going to wait in their lobby and I’m not leaving until someone gives me a tour. Someone is bound to take a break at some point. Maybe I could tag along with them while they take their break?” Wishful thinking on my part, I admit. I failed to take into account that, unlike crazy workaholics like myself, people don’t actually want to work on their designated breaks.
When I got back to the office, Monica wasn’t at her desk so I had to wait outside until she came back. When she came back, I waived at her enthusiastically from the glass doors with a look of “Hi, it’s me again! Remember me? Crazy ZIN from yesterday?” on my face. I’m sure she was thinking, “OMG. Not you again!” but she didn’t show it. To my surprise, she actually buzzed me in.
“Do you have an appointment?”
“I called and I emailed but I didn’t hear back,” I told her, “but I called and emailed really late in the day so she might not have gotten to my call and email yet. I only have free time until eleven, though. Could you please try and see if it’s possible for me to get a tour? I fly home tomorrow and I don’t know when I’ll be back.”
We went over the whole tours are by appointment only unless between the hours of two and four in the afternoon again.
“I know but I don’t have any other time. If there’s another tour that’s scheduled and they don’t mind, I’d be happy to tag along on that tour or, if someone could spare five minutes, I will be quick. I promise,” I told her. Monica explained that tours usually take about a half an hour. Even a quick one would take at least 20 minutes.
“Let me see if Gina is available.”
So I waited once again with my fingers and toes crossed. At this point, I was a little bit nervous. On the one hand, I really, really, really wanted a tour. But, on the other hand, I cannot be late for my meeting which is the whole reason that I was in Florida to begin with. The PwC Experience Center was only two minutes away so I was calculating in my head how much longer I could wait before I had to give up and call it quits. It was then when Monica finally called me back up to the desk.
“Gina is on her way.”
Gina wasn’t by herself. She brought security with her so they could escort me off the premises. Just kidding. Gina actually brought one of her team members, Marsha, with her. Gina explained that she was running late for a meeting so she couldn’t give me a tour. Marsha would be giving me the tour instead.
Here’s a picture of the three of us behind the reception desk. Gina is on the left and Marsha is on the right. Both ladies were super nice and welcoming. They said that they really love it whenever they have ZIN visitors. Although, I’m pretty sure they prefer it if you make an appointment ahead of time. LOL.
Despite the randomness of my visit, they still made me feel special and welcome. And for that, I’m truly grateful.
Our tour started at the “Zumba Love” conference room. It’s the main conference room used for the weekly meetings with the department heads. Here’s a picture of me at the head of the table.
“Is this where Beto sits?” I asked Marsha.
I learned that Beto doesn’t actually have a permanent seat. However, he usually sits at the other end by the door so he can make a quick exit when needed. Makes sense.
This is the “Salsa” conference room where Forum Live! happens. Marsha asked if I’d ever participated in one but I haven’t. It usually happens during the day while I’m working. Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to hop on but I haven’t had the pleasure as of yet.
This is a picture of their break room where Zumba President and COO Alberto Aghion, the third Alberto in the Holy Trinity of Zumba, has lunch everyday. Marsha said that he usually sits at a different table each time and uses the opportunity to chat with employees. He does this everyday.
Aghion is known to employees but, to the general public, he is the lesser known of the three Albertos. He works behind the scenes so not a lot of people know about him. The only reason I know of him is because I’ve been to a few ZINCONs. He’s not as visible as Zumba CEO Alberto Perlman and definitely not as visible as Beto.
I posted a short video clip that I found on YouTube to help you out.
Perlman and Aghion’s offices are next to one another. The doors were closed so I didn’t get to peek in. I wish I could have, though. I’m curious what their offices look like.
Here’s a picture of Beto’s door.
I’m not sure if the door was locked because I didn’t try it. t wish I would have asked Marsha for permission to look into his office. He wasn’t there. I know this because Marsha told me that any time Beto is in his office he always has his music on full blast you can hear it all the way down the hall. This would explain why his office is away from the other two Albertos. LOL.
Anyway, Marsha encouraged me to take pictures of everything except for Finance, HR (also known as People & Culture), Legal, IT, and Zumba wear. Yes, I got to see the new Zumba wear line and pictures of all of the designs yet to come through 2018. I just couldn’t take any pictures.
This is a picture of the studio where they have free Zumba classes for employees at least three times a week. Armando and Heidy and other zelebs (also known as celebrity Zumba instructors) teach on a regular basis. Now that’s what I call a job perk!
In this room they have the ZINfolio – every single boxed set and ZIN DVD.
I believe beyond that door is the sound studio.
More pictures of the same room.
I love this room!
And then I was Gina Grant for two seconds.
I want one of these life-sized cutouts for my next Zumba party!
This is the customer service area. Part of it anyway. They outsource the first level of customer service. If I remember correctly the only customer service work they handle at Zumba Home Office is their online/email support.
Here’s a picture of me with Monica. Note her outfit. They actually encourage people to wear Zumba wear to work everyday.
Besides all of the fun pictures, I also got a some parting gifts: some rubber Zumba wristbands (Marsha gave me a couple), socks (a 2-pack with a pair each in Zumba green and pink) and a pink “Get Funked Up” t-shirt. That’s pretty much my tour of Zumba Home Office. Huge thanks to Marsha Segree, my wonderful tour guide; Monica Lazarus, friendly receptionist who was ever so patient with me; and Gina Graziani, Community Relations Specialist extraordinaire.
Thank you for making this trip to Florida truly memorable!