Saturday, August 27, 2011

Spoiled in South Beach

Cooling down after a beach workout
Looking out of my window this morning at the beautiful sunshine made me have a flashback of a very memorable experience that I had during one of my vacations this summer. It was my second day in South Beach in Miami, Florida.  I don’t know if it was the excitement of the trip or the fact that we’d gone to bed so early the night before, but I woke up before the sun did at 5am. After taking a walk to the nearby Walgreens to get bottled water and snacks for the rest of our travel buddies, my travel companion and I dropped off the goods and went to the beach to watch the sun rise. Watching the sun rise over the ocean was the most breath taking experience.  Once the sun was high in the sky we ran on the beach and did calisthenics. It was THE most exhilarating experience I’ve had in a long time. 

Relaxing in my favorite bikini
After the workout we changed into our swim wear and went in search of breakfast by strolling Ocean Drive to find which restaurant had the best deal.  We settled on Carlyle’s and were pleased with our smoked salmon and spinach omelets.  After breakfast we went back to the beach to swim and soak up some sunshine for a few hours.  While the sun is delightful, it can be draining so we headed back to the hotel to rest, shower, change and check in with our friends, who were JUST waking up.  They were just getting their day started, but at this point we were ready for lunch.  

Our oyster appetizer
We strolled down Ocean Drive again, this time dressed in light fabrics and linens turning heads and graciously accepting compliments.  It was hard to make a choice about which restaurant to settle on because all of them had very tantalizing offers with waitresses posted out front passing out colorful post cards showing how their restaurant had the best deal. Just when I thought that deciding on one would be impossible I saw a waiter at the next restaurant carrying a tray of all of my favorite foods to a family of three….lobster, oysters, shrimp…My choice had been made.  “I want that!” I exclaimed. 

One of the BEST meals I've ever had!
Needless to say the platter tasted as good as it looked, the chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio was the perfect pairing and the company and conversation were the icing on the cake to make for a perfect experience, the best one I had during my stay in South Beach.

I’ll never forget that day.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Summer of Music

Before the Jill Scott Concert
The best part of the concerts that I attended this summer was not so much the music as much as the time spent before and after the events with my concert companion. We made an event of each concert, so every one of them was so much more than just a show. We created our own little mini before and after parties to supplement all of them.

The first concert was more of a pre-summer kick off in May. We went to see the group Foreign Exchange which we didn’t really know about until my best friend made us aware of their unique style. Even though we weren’t very familiar with the group before we came to the show, we enjoyed it immensely and have been fans ever since. What made it so cool was that the concert was in somewhat of a non-traditional venue in Detroit, The Magic Stick. The downstairs is a bar/restaurant/bowling alley type deal and the upstairs is the space where they performed. It was spacious with an outdoor patio, a bar and plenty of open space to stand in front of a stage that wasn’t so far removed from the crowd and seating around the perimeter. The entire environment had that eclectic feel that I love with vintage furniture and cool artwork where the room has just as much if not more personality than the people in it.

At the Jill Scot Concert
The band really made it entertaining by making some of the music relevant to the city, even going as far as singing their own rendition of the slightly hot mess of a song that doesn’t truly represent the spirit of Detroit, yet has been made popular on You Tube, “It’s so cold in the D”. The rest of their music was a funky and enjoyable mixture of hip hop, neo soul and R&B which gave me and my hot date the opportunity to show off our ballroom dance skills. This gave it a feel of being more than just a concert by more like a comfortable gathering of great friends.

The next concert was Jill Scott’s Summer Block Party at DTE Energy Theater which also featured Anthony Hamilton, Mint Condition and DJ Jazzy Jeff. We got off to an early start for this concert stopping off in Royal Oak for a great deal that we got on sushi by purchasing a Groupon coupon in advance ($7 for $15 worth of food and drink. I love Groupon).

We ate much faster than we thought we would and ended up getting to the venue an hour early. Since we had time to kill we got drinks from the vodka bar, then we found our way into the Starlite Club which is a restaurant and bar that patrons can enjoy before and after each concert. This was a nice touch because it was much better than having to sit in the somewhat uncomfortable pavilion seating as we waited for the concert to start. The concert was amazing, but our little pre-party in the lounge was the best part. Even though we’d already had dinner we decided that we had more room to enjoy a flat bread pizza with fresh mozzarella and tomato which we savored as we popped a bottle of pinot grigio and enjoyed stimulating conversation. The juicy topics of conversation, pizza and wine coupled with the excitement and anticipation about the concert made for a very memorable experience.

The Lamb Chops at Mosaic
The final concert of the summer was a Wednesday Night Jazz Series Concert in Chene Park which featured Jonathan Butler and Maysa. These concerts are a great and affordable date for anyone that wants to do something different and romantic because the pavilion tickets are only $15 and the lawn seats are even cheaper. We preceded the concert with another Groupon at a restaurant in Greektown called Mosaic. We got $50 worth of food and drink for only $20! The atmosphere and ambiance of the restaurant was very sexy and we enjoyed tasty calamari, lamb chops and filet mignon. As always the conversation was great and we finished just in time to make it to the concert to enjoy the smooth sound of Maysa who was the opening act. When she was done singing we decided that we were tired so we slipped out of the concert early to kick of the after party at my loft.

At the Maysa Concert
This was the best part of the night in that we enjoyed great music (coming full circle by listening to Foreign Exchange), chocolate covered pineapples prepared by Yum Delish and another bottle of Pinot. Again, the conversation was the best part of it all and the perfect end to the night and a wonderful summer of music.

There’s just something special about the excitement of preparing for a concert. From picking out the right outfit, accessories and hairstyle to making plans for dinner before and drinks after…it is a joy that goes beyond the music.