December 30, 2005
as I mentioned below, I'm in Key West with friends for New Year's. We developed an accidental tradition to travel somewhere every year, and after a great time here last year, we decided to return again. My parents came down last September since Dad originally proposed to Mom nearby - and they echoed something we experienced last year - a lot of our meals were pretty sub-par. So this year, we made sure to do some research ahead of time as well as while here, and we've had some great meals. So, for anyone traveling here themselves, here are some recommendations (in no particular order) [I won't bother with addresses or phone numbers, just go to google and type in the restaurant name and the words "key west" and you'll find the essentials]:
› Santiago's Bodega - tapas - awesome. And extremely reasonable considering how good it was, though we really think they didn't charge us for everything we had...cool place off the beaten path. one of the best of our visit. well worth going.
› Cafe Soliel - probably the best meal I've had here so far (tossup between here and Santiago's). Make sure you eat your vegetables they'rere pretty amazing (so is the rest of the meal)
› The Grand Cafe - don't do it. food was decent, but nowhere near the level of its prices.
› Pepe's Cafe - despite being a tourist trap near the marina, its pretty good. been there since 1909, great Key West casual. (pics above are from there)
› Half Shell Raw Bar - very much a tourist trap on the marina, but surprisingly good and worth going to. Basic raw bar/seafood/shellfish etc. Have run into several others who said the same thing.
› Michaels - very good, but not special. Great waitstaff (Suzette) who took care of a huge group. If you go, make sure you sit outside - inside is a little dismal.
› Nine One Five - our one really great meal from last year - was everybit as good this year too. A strong exception to the "don't eat on Duval Street" rule of thumb.
› Alice's - a lot of people raved about their breakfast. It was good, but nothing special.
› Blue Heaven - another place we heard a lot of raves about - this one is a great breakfast/brunch to go for.
› Sarabeth's - a new york import, but very good. The key lime pie got raves from everyone at tables around us, but they ran out before we could try ourselves.
Other places we heard good things about, but didn't try: Pisces, Sandy's Cuban (at the M&M Laundromat), Martin's, 7Fish, and Louie's Backyard.
guess we'll have to come back!
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:45 PM
December 29, 2005
December 26, 2005
December 24, 2005
Our family was never the type to get the perfectly-shaped Christmas tree. We always went and cut our own, and imperfect trees always were more 'real' to us. While I've succumbed to buying mine at Home Depot nowadays (and of course they're always trimmed to nice shapes - though thankfully never too perfect), Mom and Dad still go and get one from the ground. This years tree is a perfect example of our fondness for odd shaped trees...kind of more of a bush maybe (though that's not a good word in our family). It's so wide that it wouldn't even fit in the normal location for the tree. "It didn't look so big out in the woods" Mom says.
Posted by Jon Berry at 8:40 AM
December 23, 2005
and this photo isn't staged... this is how Edn, one of Mom and Dad's dogs (who you met in the Christmas Card post below), likes to join Dad while he works on his computer. Keep in mind that Dad was already sittin at the computer on his own first... Not that he's a needy dog or anything...
Posted by Jon Berry at 8:58 PM
December 22, 2005
December 19, 2005
well...for a while. I'm sittin in Long Beach airport now awaiting my flight back to DC/VA... brrrrrr. (okay, its not brrrr here - I'm just practicing). This was the scene yesterday at brunch (well, 3pm brunch). Honestly, it was chilly - what those people are doing playin volleyball in their swimsuits I have no idea... maybe they're visiting from VA!
Posted by Jon Berry at 10:29 AM
December 16, 2005
December 15, 2005
This is the "vat" of Caipirinhas I made for the fireworks in the post below. This is a drink they served everywhere when I was in Brazil, and its easy to learn to love. Its similar to mojito, but with lime instead of mint. The liquor used is Cachaca, which is a native Brazilian liquor made from sugar cane. In Brazil, Its garnished with a sugar cane... (I haven't found those here to use.) Here's the recipe (for a single drink):
1 lime quartered
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 shot of cachaca
1/2 Cup of ice cubes with water
Place the lime and sugar in the bottom of a glass. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, crush and mash the limes. Pour the liqueur and ice. Add water to fill glass. Stir well.
One tip I stole from a restaurant in Dallas - instead of water to fill the glass after you've mixed all the ingredients, use Sprite instead... enjoy!
Posted by Jon Berry at 10:27 PM
December 11, 2005
tonight was my first Christmas fireworks at the beach. It was a fun night.. My buddy Casey came over and we made a pitcher...er, bowl... of caipirinhas - (recipe coming soon), filled em in thermoses and put em in backpacks with some sandwiches and rode our bikes down the beach to the pier. It was packed, but still easy to get around and find a place and plant ourselves at the beach and watch em launch the fireworks over the pier. While it was no 'Young Country Christmas Fireworks to Music' (sigh...those were the best ever!), it was still a fun new tradition. Next year, join me!
Posted by Jon Berry at 10:19 PM
December 7, 2005
I have confirmed a gig to work on the NBC broadcasts for the Winter Olympics in Torino (Turin) Italy. While I am not responsible for the overall design of the broadcasts, I will be one of a team of designers working for the month of February on various daily promos and teases or other graphics within the look and feel that is being designed by NBC's permanent design team.
We work 12 hour shifts/7 days a week for the month, but if time and internet connections allow, I'll post updates of the work and any side adventures in Europe here on the blog. (I'll probably take a little bit of time to travel after the games are over).
more to come...!
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:08 PM
December 4, 2005
Damn those marketing and media manipulators of emotion - oh wait, I'm one of em.
Tonight I biked up to Playa to have dinner at the Shack. (the Shackburger is a heart attack on a bun. yum!) At some point the Budweiser Christmas commercial came on - and for reasons I cant explain, the hair on the back of my neck stood up and my eyes got a little watery. I don't think I was even watching it, just heard it. For some reason it reminded me of childhood and of home. Why? No Idea! No one in my house ever drank beer growing up... But something about it reminded me of being home growing up during the holidays. I just think its fascinating how music and images can become ingrained in your memory - even twisted within it. I came home and found a copy of the commercial online that you can see here:
In those online searches, I also ran across one of my favorite commercials. Also by Budweiser, its called "Respect". It only aired in January of '02. It was their homage to 9/11 and I thought it was a classy way to tap emotion without being cheesy or tackily patriotic. (remember this was when we had all come together before George split the country in two). Some people hated it, but it still gets to me. You can watch it here:
I turned on the tv to find America's Funniest Videos on. I know, bad tv. But my sister Mel just laughs and laughs (and Dad always chuckles despite himself) when we watch this together. So much so that it just makes me feel good to watch it and chuckle thinking how she'd be reacting. It's one of my favorite accidental holiday traditions when we're all home together.
That of course was followed by "Extreme Makeover Home Edition". I hadn't ever watched this til a few weeks ago when my friend Casey made me. Holy crap do they know how to jerk the tears out of you. Yeah its obvious and we know it when we watch, but boy they wrap you so into that you just don't care - even to the point of forgiving all the blatant plugs for the products and the network.
You'd think being part of the forces that do this stuff would make me immune to letting myself get caught up in it. Instead, maybe I'm just that much more susceptible when someone does it well? Or...maybe I'm just a sap.
So I turned the tv off and went to get my Christmas Tree....
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:53 PM
December 3, 2005
looong overdue, but I've finally posted pictures for the IGRA Finals Rodeo in Dallas on my photo album site. Almost all the pictures were actually taken by my friend Myron. And yeah, okay, so there arent a lot of pics of the rodeo - just pics of us havin a good time!
check em out - click on Dallas Rodeo, parts I, II, and III.
Posted by Jon Berry at 3:48 PM