Best Coffee Machine With A Built In Grinder

I am an avid coffee drinker and I suppose the caffeine kick is a necessity in today’s professional world. Most of us are addicted to black coffee and I, for one, am a great fan of trying out various tastes of coffee that grow across the world. The reason why I got myself a coffee maker with built in grinder.

Though many of us have coffee makers installed at homes and offices, the coffee maker that comes with a built in grinder is more useful for people like me. If you are avid fan of the beverage and want to try coffees produced across the globe, this can come in very handy.

Many of the best espresso machines 2017 come with a wide array of features and tricks that you’ll never use. If you’re a classic coffee drinker, you’d probably want a coffee machine with a built in grinder. But, it is absolutely necessary that you understand them before you choose the right one for yourself.

Programmable: This feature ensures that you can program your coffee maker to make a certain number of cups of coffee, to shutdown at a particular time or even come on automatically and create the brew for you at a preset time.

Grinding and Strength: You can set a modern day coffee maker to grind the beans to a size or preset your coffee strength to ensure you get that correct caffeine kick.

Pause and play: Many of today’s coffee makers come with an option to pause the brewing process, in case you have to rush somewhere urgently. You can continue the process when you are back.

Various brands of coffee makers come with different sets of features. Before you buy, try and understand the features of the coffee maker with built in grinder to ensure that it is the right one for you. Also, check the warranty and pricing so that it will run for a long time and suits your budget.

Wusthof Classic Chef Knife Set

Before I finally settled on this Chef’s knife, Timmy my son was still pretty wary of the high price that these knives came with. We aren’t the richest people around, but we never skimp on the necessities. This knife set was going to be a gift after all. I want Timmy to be able to prosper in his line of work. It’s every parents’ dream to see their child succeed which is why I don’t mind skimping out on jewelry,  perfumes or even clothes.

Wusthof Classic Chef Knife Set

First off, a Wusthof knife set is a pristine knife set. Whoever who’s anybody in the Culinary world knows that these knives will never ever let you down. They are perfectly weighted and can hammer like a tank when needed. These knives don’t have to be sharpened as often as cheaper ones and their build and structure just makes them near indestructible. The set came with 8 pieces that included a handy knife block. It had a Chef’s knife, paring knife, utility knife, a pair of shears and a sharpening steel. It was the perfect set for any Chef or Cook that wanted to go pro. I don’t know many home Cooks that’ll want to splurge this much on a knife set though. Simply put, the lifetime warranty that the knife set came with helped convince me.

Quirks About The Wusthof Classic Set

There weren’t many quirks that I found when going through countless reviews online. But, many users did state that they’d prefer hand washing their knives because a dishwasher could be a little too harsh for these fine kitchen knives. I would have hoped that these knives were dishwasher friendly but it wasn’t a total shame that they weren’t. If I owned these knives, I know I’d take so much pride in hand washing them and flaunting them to everyone who comes over for a visit.

All in all, the red trident win the day this time.

Best Chef Knives Set

Ran out of gift ideas to give to your loved ones? Do they also happen to love cooking? Well then, you should definitely check out these premier sets of chef’s knives


Global G-2338 Starter Knife Set
Shun DMS300 Boxed 3-Piece Set


Not only are the sets of knives the best on the market but it also contains the three most important knives that a chef needs. Even if you’re giving it to a beginner or a professional, they will surely appreciate your gift.


Both knife sets come with an 8-inch chef’s knife and 3.5-inch paring knife. Now the only difference between these two sets is that Global’s Utility knife is 5.25-inches while the Shun’s Utility knife is 6-inches.


1. Global G-2338 Starter Knife Set
Global’s knives come with a thin and razor sharp blade which gives effortless slicing through the ingredients. Something unique about these knives are that the handles are actually hollow but they’re filled with sand to create a perfect balance. It is also decorated with special dimples so it doesn’t easily slip out of your hands.

Many raved about the comfort of the handle. These knives are very light weight. Your hands won’t feel to tired easily so don’t worry if you’re going through a sack of potatoes. These knives last for a long time before they need to be sharpen because they’re made of high-tech CROMOVA stainless steel.


2. Shun DMS300 Boxed 3-Piece Set
The Shun blades are made up of VG-10 hardened Japanese steel cutting core. It is then cladded with 33 layers of stainless steel. This gives off a rust free Damascus look which makes it easy on the eyes. This metal makes it resistant to corrosion but to maintain it’s condition, dry the knives with a hand towel after washing them.

Not only will these knives look pretty in your kitchen, it is also very sharp. They were sharpened up to a 16-degree angle which are proven to be sharper than traditional European blades that usually comes with 20-22 degree angle. This reduces friction during slicing ingredients.


Now, the handle is made of PakkaWood. It gives a good grip and control even if you have small hands. The handle is attached to the blade which gives you a perfect balance. Another plus point for this set is that it has a lifetime warranty.

I assure you that either of these two sets will surely brighten up anyone you give it too.

As the saying goes, life is too short to carry a dull knife.
Best knife set

Best knife set

Best Espresso Machines – For Espresso Lover Like Me

I love drinking coffee! As you know, I travel a lot and I always go to visit and buy different kind of coffee bean and cafe through out my travel. But having an espresso machine at home always comes with many advantages, and not to mention it’s my dream too.

Besides producing high quality brews, espresso machines also help add aesthetic value to one’s kitchen. It is therefore important that one goes for the most highly rated espresso when purchasing one.

Top 3 Best Espresso Machines

Here are top espresso machines based on bisuzscoffee espresso machine reviews blog. First we have the Breville Bes870xl barista Express espresso machine.

Breville Best870xl

best breville bes870xl espresso machine

With its burr grinder, this espresso machine is very easy to use and produces fresh coffee in seconds. It also gives the consumer the option of choosing the texture of coffee they want. Another positive thing about this machine is that after brewing, the grounds in it dry up. This is important as it makes emptying and cleaning easy. The Breville Bes870XL espresso maker also comes witha proportional internal derivative. This is a temperature control that enables the user to make consistent grounds.

Rancillo HSD Silvia

best rancilio hsd silvia espresso machine

Another espresso machine worthy your dime is the Rancillo HSD- SILVIA espresso machine. This machine is made of iron and stainless steel. This fact makes it a high quality machine. It is relatively cheap. With its steam knob and steam wand, it gives way to full range of motion hence its excellent steaming power. The Rancilio HSD-SILVIA is one of the easiest to use because of its three buttions that are used for brewing, hot water and steam.

Gaggio 14101 Classic


The number three best espresso machine 2016 is the Gaggio 14101 Classic espresso machine. This one is made of heavy duty stainless steel which makes it a durable and strong machine. Its classic design adds aesthetic value to your home. Its ease of using both coffee grounds and coffee pods is also highly commendable.The Gaggio 14101 Classic espresso machine comes with a hot water dispenser, frothing wand and a cup warmer.It is very important that as you plan to acquire an espresso machine you consider one of the three because they have a whole lot of commendable features.

Celebrating World Book Day

Today is World Book Day in the UK and Republic of Ireland, an event created to celebrate books and reading, and local part of the UNESCO event. The event date varies each year, but always takes place the first Thursday of the month of March.

Most primary schools in London, today is a day of celebration. The form chosen to celebrate the Book Day is to exchange the uniform for a clothing / costume of a character in children’s books. For the larger children, some costumed and others with normal clothes.

When we arrived at school today children from nursery to year 2/3 were all costumed princesses, Peter Pan, Goldilocks, etc., and the teachers enter the celebration was fantasizing too.

This event is super tanned by children, and the preparation takes place weeks before, when choosing the favorite character, buying or creating clothes and counting how many nights are missing. At the end of the day the children receive a book to take to the house.

I think a very cool because it’s a social event, and the kids have fun too, and breaks the routine well.

My daughter chose Tinker Bell (Tinkerbell) from the book Peter Pan, she had this fantasy that she’s a fairy because she bought the book and is reading it every evening since last week.

peter pan

How To Pick A Budget Friendly Knife Set ?

It wasn’t that long ago when I want to pick a chef knife for Timmy. I didn’t want all the research I’d done to go to waste so I decided to write this quick guide on how to pick a Chef’s Knife Set. Truthfully, it was a lazy Sunday afternoon and there was nothing to watch on the TV so here I am blabbering to all my faithful listeners. You guys are my support group and have no idea how important you are. Lots of love to everyone who takes the time to read my blog.

Let’s get to it. Everyone know how important knives are. There are tonnes of tales of how good knives are supposed to be. But, not everybody can afford a $400 Wusthof knife set. There are certain brands on the market that offer top notch quality but they come with a really steep price tag. So if you’re as thrifty as I am, let me teach you what corners you can cut so you still get a terrific knife set at a bargain.

Step 1 : Understanding Kitchen Knives

I can’t emphasis this enough so here it is, ” You only need 5 main knives to make every type of cut known to man ! “. So if all you need is a good workhorse, let me simplify it for you. Get a Victorinox Chef’s Knife and call it a day.

If you’re interested in a complete set, look out for these knives :

  • Paring Knife
  • Slicer
  • Bread Knife/ Serrated Knife
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Utility Knife

It really is all you’d need.

Step 2 : Budget

Identify your budget. If you only have $200 to spend, find a set you’ll be happy with. Lifetime warranties are a plus but you may not really need it. If you’re a functional chef like moi, then look for quality stamped knives. They’ll be missing a few of the classy features but they’ll be pretty cheap. The only real con of having a stamped knife is all the sharpening you’ll need to get done. For that invest in an electric sharpener.

The best part about stamped knives is that you’ll be able to invest in new ones(without feeling a pinch) when you need them.

Step 3 : Ratings/Reviews/Feedback

When you’re looking for cheap knives, always remember to check reviews and user feedback. Trust me on this one, if a cheap knife set has bad ratings just skip it and head over to the next suggestion. You’re going to be using these knives so it’s best to find a knife that is worth spending on.

Smoked Pork Ribs with Pickled Watermelon

Smoked pork ribs are reason enough to celebrate, but adding pickled watermelon makes it sweet and savory all at once. While browsing the menu at New Orlean’s Cochon, you can’t help but order unique items off the menu. There are some known staples, but if you are a northerner like me, you will see more than one dish that you could have never imagined, and the ribs are no exception.


Where: Cochon, 930 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Disney on Ice – in London and Brazil


The show of Disney on Ice will be in London now at Easter and at the end of the year. I had seen advertisements from the show here in recent years, but you will not believe that we were not even watch the show. As the place where they will present is far from home, just the other side of town, I confess that beats laziness.

As I am always researching things to take C to watch, while exploring different parts of the city I think next time we will see. And if we decide not to go on holiday Easter (here the Easter holiday is Friday to Monday), I think we will this week. But as here everything is crowded, I have just decide to not run out of tickets.

But if we are not to show this week, I was thinking we could watch the Disney on Ice in Brazil at the end of the year. Since it is at this time that normally travel to Brazil and I know they do tour there. After searching the dates and concerts and to our delight the new show Disney on Ice will perform in Brazil this year. But to our disappointment the show will now be in April and May in Porto Alegre in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

If you are lucky you live or will be visiting in one of these cities know that the tickets can be purchased online and prices range from R $ 96.44 to R $ 330 in the VIP area (these figures are for the Rio Grande do South). With such prices you can choose the category that best fits your pocket! If in doubt where to buy them, a good option is buying companies and selling tickets online. With the rush of day to day nothing better to do all the comforts of home.

I wanted to go see the show in Porto Alegre, it will be in Gigantinho. Who is not in Porto Alegre, certainly knows this indoor gym super popular there, where many show present. And that is part of the complex Sport Club Internacional, located next to the edge of Rio stadium, which will host matches of the Cup in Porto Alegre. Note: Do not I support Inter, but the fact of being famous Gigantinho not of to deny.

When I read that the show would be in Gigantinho gave me a longing of many shows, concerts and shows that I was there during different stages of my life. I hit a good melancholy. And I was sorry it will not be this time I can take a C to a place that is part of my youth, not that I consider myself old, but that’s part of the story of my life in Brazil. I think super important to have things for the C and take her to places I was in Brazil, for her to have more contact with our culture. For the little life it is multi cultural, but morarmos in London and some travel to the Brazil, she did not know little about our origins

Anyway as it will not roll Alegre port will follow researching what is on display here in London. I’ve seen that will be two more Mickey and Minnie and the other with many princesses. As the C in this phase of the princesses at the time, I think I will opt for this full of dresses, ruffles, sparkles, princes, princesses and lots of magic.

My Search for the Best Cookware


I remember when I was young, they said non-stick cookware was bad. My mother never had one. It was my neighbour who introduced me to this best cookware. I used to watch her making those pan cakes, without using much of oil, and I told me if and and when I grow up, I will be buying that. The first thing I bought was indeed a non-stick pan. There was no non-stick pot, or skillet, just a pan. I made do with it for a long time, till I could really afford it. But by then I realized that the Teflon coating would go. So I always opted for the best cookware that was not too expensive. I continued to use the traditional steel and aluminium pots and pans, that were given as gifts to me at the time of marriage and sparingly used my first complete set.

New Cookware Set

Recently, I was looking for a new set for my daughter. I was surprised that there are new technologies that allow us to use even metal spoons on the non-stick vessels. Cleaning had become simpler too. I could, therefore, use even steel wool if I wanted to clean though it is never really necessary in non-stick pans and pots. Another one of my concern was using the pots in electric oven. There was no way I could use lid on the food, and therefore, I have been using special microwave pot for cooking some of the dishes after seasoning them in nonstick cookware. I can avoid that I thought!

I was truly impressed with these developments, especially because nonstick cookware nowadays can be washed in dishwashers. But I always like to confirm things verbally as well. I listed two different sets; 1 for me for regular usage and 1 for my daughter.

T-Fal’s 10 piece set (E938SA) impressed me because it is available for less than $100. Metal spoons will not scratch the teflon layer. It can be washed in dishwasher. It is also safe in oven, up to 350 degrees F, which is not bad for specifications. I also liked the fact that it can be used with induction stoves. It also has an interesting technology called “thermo spot” which ensures that I will pour the batter only when the pan is ready.

For my daughter I liked hard anodized Calphalon cookware. It will cost me four times what the T-fal set is going to cost me, if I am satisfied on physical verification of course. But I think it will serve as a good wedding gift. There are 11 pieces in this set, and this set comes with lifetime warranty, which means my daughter will not have to waste any more money on non-stick cookware.

I was also impressed by the Woll Diamond Plus nonstick cookware with Diamond crystals technology. But that will cost us $500. And I also like the design of Rachael Ray cookware, it’s so orange and I think it will look fantastic in my kitchen too.

I need to see the handles. Most of the time the handles have given way. The riveting system should be good, and no food should stick to it. My only concern about Calphalon contemporary nonstick cookware is that handle can get hot. If my husband agrees to spend $500 I might opt for Woll Diamond Plus instead, provided of course the handle is good.

Good review site to check out:


Music for the Great Outdoors – Mixtape


Music for the great outdoors. Photo by Ali Inay/Unsplash.

Contributor Beth Silverman made a mixtape to accompany a crisp fall hike, a great soundtrack for changing leaves and roasting s’mores. She wrote it inspired by her time in the Shenandoah Valley, which you can read about here, but we think it’s ideal for any mountain high.


Load up Beth’s fall playlist on Spotify before you lace up those hiking boots.

Track List

1. “Doctor My Eyes,” by Jackson Browne
2. “Baby Blue (feat. Chance the Rapper),” by Action Bronson
3. “Oogum Boogum Song,” by Brenton Wood
4. “Deadwater,” by Wet
5. “Sweet Black Angel,” by The Rolling Stones
6. “Heartsigh,” by Purity Ring
7. “Gibraltar,” by Beirut
8. “Hold Me Tight,” by Johnny Nash
9. “Never Going Back Again,” by Fleetwood Mac
10. “Dancing In The Moonlight,” by King Harvest
11. “1999,” by Active Child
12. “Sweet And Low,” by Tedeschi Trucks Band
13. “Back In My Baby’s Arms,” by Patsy Cline
14. “A Fool In Love,” by Ike and Tina Turner
15. “Foreign Fields,” by Kacy Hill
16. “Sunny,” by Bobby Heeb
17. “More of You,” by Chris Stapleton

More from Fathom Travel

Why I Chose This Small Rice Cooker

Choosing a small rice cooker that best suits your needs can be a very daunting task. From students who need a cheaper food option to small families who want an option to be able to cook enough rice for all of them, the small rice cooker is a great benefit. Modern cookers are made with many features and this can intimidate many people who aren’t familiar with using them.

Being an Afro-Asian, my day would be incomplete without eating rice. Rice cooking is a tedious task, and I have found that using a small rice cooker eases up this task. For many years, I have used several brands but this one has caught my attention. It’s Zojirushi NS-LAC05XT Micom Rice Cooker.

Zojirushi NS-LAC05XT Micom Rice Cooker is a 3-cup small rice cooker which is fuzzy logic and computerized. The fuzzy logic technology helps make the rice cooking all the easier, so you don’t have to worry about some parts of your rice being under cooked or burnt. (Read the fuzzy logic best rice cooker reviews here.)

What I love about this small rice cooker

Since the bowl is non stick, cleaning it is as easy as giving it a rinse after use. The lid can be detached for washing so I don’t have to worry about sticky stuff getting inside nooks and crannies. I purchased this small rice cooker because I wanted to cook easy meals for myself. I like that this rice cooker can also double as a slow cooker and soup pot.

So far, I am impressed that the rice I am cooking don’t stick into the pan. I also like that the rice will take only about 30 minutes to cook. The quality of the inner vessel is superb and what I like about the bowl is that it has a thick bottom to prevent burning or roasting of the rice when set to warm for hours.

My Verdict

So far, I am satisfied with my purchase. The small rice cooker makes delicious rice and never fails to deliver. If you are looking for a small rice cooker, this is the one to buy.

Head to Shenandoah on Your Next Road Trip

Just because kiddo’s school year is in full swing, doesn’t mean you have to reign in your road trip wanderlust! You can still hit the road on the weekends and Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is the perfect destination. The Valley stretches a couple of hundred miles from Winchester in the north down to Roanoke in the south, but the northern end is within an easy hour-or-so drive from D.C. Hiking trails, limestone caverns, and a potato chip factory (yes, a potato chip factory!) make for a show-and-tell worthy day trip.
Explore the Caverns
Caverns grow like weeds in the valley, but Shenandoah Caverns is our top pick because you get more bang for your buck. You pay just one admission ($23 for adults, $10 for kids 6-14, and free for kids under 5) and get to enjoy four separate attractions! Tour the underground caverns first. Ooh and ahh at fascinating limestone formations with giggle-inducing names like “Breakfast Bacon.” Then head over to see the window displays of Main Street of Yesteryear, the antique farm equipment in The Yellow Barn, and the amazing floats at American Celebrations on Parade.

261 Caverns Rd.(Quicksburg, Va)

Play With the Animals
The Luray Zoo is the only true rescue zoo in Virginia and is home to 250 animals—including venomous snakes, a Bengal tiger, and pigtailed macaques—that have been abandoned or abused, as well as retired zoo animals.

1087 U.S. Hwy 211 West (Luray, Va)

Snack Time!
Route 11 Potato Chips is famous for their unique flavors (Dill Pickle or Chesapeake Crab anyone?) and quality ingredients like unrefined sea salt and organic sweet potatoes from Virginia’s very own Quail Cove Farm. Fans can stop by the factory to see what really goes into making small-batch potato chips. The plant is open to the public Mon–Sat, 9:00 am-5:00 pm, but call in advance to make sure they’re cooking on your visit day. And did we mention the free samples?

11 Edwards Way (Mt. Jackson, Va)

Get Goofy
Okay, so a few dozen life-sized dinosaur replicas (not to mention the token King Kong) scattered throughout a park may sound a little cheesy. But your kids will love this roadside attraction! And Dinosaur Land‘s giftshop is a treasure trove of dinosaur paraphernalia to stock up on gifts for your dino-loving offspring.

3848 Stonewall Jackson Hwy. (White Post, Va)

Take a Hike
The absolute must-visit jewel of the valley, Shenandoah National Park stretches 105 miles from Front Royal to Waynesboro-Charlottesville, straddling the Blue Ridge mountains. It’s pure awesomeness for nature-lovers! Stop by the visitor’s center for tips on the best hikes for little ones. And ask about our favorites:

1. Big Meadows (mile 52)- Get ready for plenty of miles of hiking trails and almost-guaranteed sightings of neat animals such as white-tailed deer, or chipmunks.
2. The Limberlost Trail (mile 43)- A wheelchair accessible trail that loops around 1.3 miles, this makes for an easy hike with plenty of critters to keep wee ones enthralled.
3. Dark Hollow Falls (mile 50.7)- The trek’s a little bit of a workout—1.4 miles out and back with elevation gain and loss—but you’ll be rewarded with an up close and personal encounter with a waterfall.


Buying a chef knife set as a gift


We know we need to give our god son some gift when he passes those Master Chef examinations. He may not be a Cordon Bleu chef, but he will still be somebody whom everybody around here would be proud to be acquainted with. We were thinking of a couple of chef knife sets. Knowing my god son, he may well be starting a small eatery of his own so those will come handy. I’d begun my search for the best chef knife almost six months ago. I came across some of the best knife sets reviews, which I hope my son will approve of.

Why Did I Pick A J.A Henckels Knife Set?

I feel he would need J.A. Henckels International’s 8 piece steak cutting knives. I prefer the straight edge ones over serrated edge though most people think serrated edged knives last longer. I feel my son would need clean cuts many times, and so he would be better off with these small knives which are made from high carbon steel. I liked the fact that they are not heavy. Personally, heavy knives make me avoid some chores, but I don’t know what my son has to say about his set. In any event, this set costs only $40 or so. Therefore, he could afford to use it in his eatery and let his employees use them. I opted for them because of lifetime warranty, and the fact that they are one piece construction. The blades of many knives that I bought over the years divorced their handles, so that may be another reason I am opting for this set. It will be good for his small joint no doubt.

What Alternativc Knife Set Did I Find ?

I am also looking at the Wusthof Classic cutlery set. This is the best knife set on the market and is expensive. $380 dollars will pinch us, but then, our son does deserve it. It includes Chef’s knife, serrated bread knife, utility knife, paring knife, and sandwich knife apart from shears and the honing tool. I loved its looks. It comes in neat storage block. The blades are a bit smaller. I might buy him some other knives if he wants special ones like bread knife with 10 inches blade, and santoku knife. This set too comes with lifetime warranty so I hope my son will approve of it. I am, of course, open to any other suggestion that my son would have. After all it is his requirement.

It’s pretty easy to pick a gift that you think will satisfy another person but whether it’s what he or she is looking for is another thing all together. I’ll just try my very best to be a good parent and assist him in whatever way I can. I hope he’ll be happy when he finally decides to open his very own restaurant. It has always been one of his biggest dreams. I’ll gladly guide him and hold his hand whenever I can. We only want the very best for our son the future Chef.


Update : I eventually purchased the Wusthof Classic knife set and Jimmy loved every single piece in the set. Yey Super MOM!

Related guide: How to buy the right chef’s knife

Miami’s Design District


All photos by Anastasia Koutsioukis, mostly from her fantastic Instagram account.

Fathom founder Pavia Rosati met Anastasia Koutsioukis last year when she took a break from the South Beach Wine and Food Festival for dinner at Mandolin Aegean Bistro, the restaurant in the Design District that she owns with her Turkish chef husband, Ahmet Erkaya. Midway through appetizers, Mandolin became our absolute favorite restaurant in Miami — the garden setting, the flickering lights overhead, the fresh fish, the impossibly delicious spreads. (If only we could export it to Manhattan and eat here every night.) Anastasia is, in fact, a New York City transplant, and she became a fast friend. We love her contagious enthusiasm for the neighborhood where she lives and works; we love her travel style, which we follow on Instagram and have published here. She was nice enough to share her favorite spots throughout her new home town.

Local breakfast spot: There are a couple of local, charming spots walking distance from home.Buena Vista Deli is a French-owned bakery where I’ll pick up a latte and croissant. During the week you’ll find me at Crumb on Parchment, located in an airy and bright atrium in the Design District. They serve delectable baked goods, savory scones, and classic breakfast items created by local chef Michelle Bernstein.

Where you go when you need inspiration: Books and Books on Lincoln Road, where I could spend hours flipping through design, art, photography, and cookbooks. Lincoln Road Antique Market has returned for the season and has beautiful antique pieces. Last year, I scored on a collection of vintage menus from the 1950s-70s which inspired a new concept we’re working on at my restaurant.

Continue reading Hometown Debrief: Miami’s Design District

The Little Cuba in Miami

The Little Cuba in Miami
To experience the sights, sounds and smells of classic Miami, there’s no better place than Little Havana (aka La Pequeña Habana). Miami Cubans take great pride in this neighborhood just west of Downtown—even if the majority don’t live there.

SW 8th Street (commonly known as Calle Ocho), the neighborhood’s main drag, and the surrounding area are a testament to the American dream pursued by the hundreds of thousands of Cubans who fled to Miami after Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. Vestiges of the lives they left behind are evident in the many Mediterranean-style coral rock and stucco houses—complete with cane rocking chairs on their pastel-painted front porches—reminiscent of Havana’s Vedado and Miramar neighborhoods.

Memorial Boulevard
Most of Little Havana’s major “sights” are in the historical district between SW 12th and SW 17th Avenues, on and off Calle Ocho. Where Memorial Boulevard meets SW 13th Avenue is the Brigade 2506 Memorial, an eternal flame that burns in memory of those killed in the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion.

As you walk down the boulevard, you can’t miss the large ceiba tree right in the center. Practitioners of the Santería religion consider it sacred, leaving offerings of chicken bones and cloth bundles for their deities. Local botánicas are stores catering to Santería followers, selling religious articles, oils and candles and offering spiritualist readings by the local santero.

Calle Ocho
Most of the early Cuban exiles have now moved on, but some of their children and grandchildren, particularly those with an artistic bent, have been seduced by the faded charm and cheap prices of the neighbourhood and have started to return.

The stretch of Calle Ocho from SW 12th to 16th Avenues is particularly vibrant, with the air of rich tobacco wafting from new cigar shops, and Cuban music coming from the open doors of Latin record stores. Although you can’t buy an authentic Cuban cigar in the US, Little Havana’s tobacco factories sell handmade cigars, many with tobacco grown from Cuban seed.

At the corner of SW 14th Avenue, the combined clatter of clacking domino tiles and Spanish chatter announces Máximo Gómez Park. Cuban retirees have been gathering on this corner to play dominoes and drink coffee for decades; it was designated a city park in 1976 and is popularly called Domino Park. The Tower Theater (1508 SW 8th Street, at SW 15th Avenue), half a block west of the park, was the only movie theater in Miami to show English-language films with Spanish subtitles in Little Havana’s heyday. These days it is Miami’s only theater dedicated exclusively to foreign language films.

As you walk up and down SW 8th Street, you’ll notice that the sidewalk is marked with pink marble stars, making up the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame. This Little Havana version of the Hollywood attraction began as a way to recognise Cuban celebrities. Cuba’s most famous salsa singer, Celia Cruz, who died in 2003, was the first to be immortalised in 1987, and since then singers and soap stars from all over Latin America have been honored. For a look at another Cuban-American drama, pay a visit to the Bay of Pigs Museum.

A 15-minute ride from central Little Havana (take the no 8 bus), is the neighborhood’s most famous culinary landmark, Versailles (3555 SW 8th Street). This huge, mirror-lined restaurant is packed with loud families on weekends, and during the day older Cuban men hang around the coffee counter outside and talk (Cuban) politics. The food may not be anything special, but, like the rest of Little Havana, at its best this kitschy Cuban exile stalwart is truly memorable.

By Time Out Miami editors

My Magical Discovery of Coleman Mattress

In my experience with mattresses, I learnt the hard way.For three years I had been buying mattresses for camping and all I got was one frustration after another. The last mattress I bought was the worst of all and it almost made me give up on mattresses. For the first one week, I believed I had bought a perfect mattress as everything worked perfectly well until leaks began to happen simultaneously. Yes, three leaks in a span of one month. I bought this mattress on a 20% discount after reading so many good reviews about its functionality, well I guess it worked for those who intended to use it for three or four days of camping.

As if that was not enough, the mattress continued to show its true colors as the leaks got even worse. A month later, the bed assumed a weird shape like that one of an inflated balloon, lost its aesthetic appeal and also became so uncomfortable that I felt disinclined to sleep on it. To make the matter worse, it induced back pain and a feeling of fatigue after sleeping that made me feel like I could just throw it away. I just wished I could hide it as it was definitely not the kind that you would wish a friend to sleep on.

I knew I was fed up with these kinds of mattresses that could leave guests on the floor, and that’s when I turned to my little friend “Google” for advice on the best air mattress. I was really prepared to give it a shot irrespective of the price tag and that’s when I came across some very positive reviews about Coleman air mattress. So I purchased this mattress and as usual, it was perfect in the 1st, week, 2nd week, 1 month …until I got tired of waiting for those annoying leaks.

This one was like a dream to me and for the first time I felt like letting the world know the quality and value attached to this mattress. The valve mechanism works great, you pump it and it stays inflated. This is the first inflatable mattress I’ve bought that held air. The mattress is so comfy, design and style so elegant and brings luxury to your entire camping experience. The back pains that were induced by other “dummy” mattresses disappeared and the king size sheets fits well and won’t come out of place.

So, for all those who have been looking for comfy, leak free mattress that is durable and elegant, look no further than Coleman air mattress and very soon, you will be singing a different song.

London – C’s Version of The Olympics

Last week we took C to watch two Olympic games London 2012, after all we live in London and this is an opportunity none of the family could lose. I went to several games last week and this, but only took C to two events on the same day.

We were not the only ones to take children, that I can tell you, for both events spread across London, as in the Olympic park and stadium, children were present. And I noticed the children above 6 years old are the most active and participating, and had that glow of happiness in their eyes.

In the various Olympic venues where watched the games, it’s all thought out and prepared to receive families, and come with parking stands, bathrooms with heaters and in some cases special entrance for families.

Some games have different ticket prices for young and old, which are much cheaper than the adult price. Of course, that these events the number of children is much higher.

To enter the Olympic complex, security is like the airport, do not take liquids, but there are bars, cafes and coffee shops selling drinks and food. I took several snacks for C, not knowing how she could stand, as well as comic books and some toys.

In volley ball game we were in the morning, after she saw a bigger girl sleeping in the chairs, she asked to lie down and took a nap with all that noise.

The last game of the day was the women’s game, where we watched the Brazil play. During the weekend we teach C to cheer for Brazil, and she went to the stadium screaming Blasil, Blasil. We were almost the last to leave the stage because we were part of the crowd of over 70,500 spectators, which face it takes to move the mass. But as a child has fun with all the mounted police it was successful with their beautiful and shiny horses.

The day before I went to the supermarket with C and picked up some snacks to take, ranging from healthy to crap (apple, banana, crackers and chocolate). When I saw the chocolate gold medals could not resist and bought it. Like the trip to the supermarket, which is close to home and we were walking, she behaved very well, needless to say we came home all displayed with a hanging medal. The other medal I kept for the next day, and she behaved so well and had so much fun, he returned again to the house medalist.


In all the games I went, I saw children of various age groups, young people, and people of all ages, colors and nationalities taking advantage of that one moment. It was beautiful to those people crowd acting in a civilized manner, on an Olympics that is being marked by perfect and efficient organization. I am delighted and loving every moment of London2012.