Vini, Vidi, Vici, Vivio!

My beautiful Jen and I always try to go to Eastern Market a few times a year. We always come back with a ton of tomatoes that we share with my folks. This year we decided to eat at Vivios. We heard that the place has good food and is famous for their Bloody Marys. Now this place is not easy to get into,it is always packed from breakfast until they close. They had a hostess outside with a podium taking reservations, so we put our name in the queue and walked around until they called us 30 mins later.

Well they didn’t call us as planned cuz they were so busy,but said we could sit at the bar so we did. Now it is a friendly place with all kinds of people,from families with little kids to groups of friends waiting to be seated,and this was all before noon!

Jen and I scoped out a place at the bar and promptly sat down. We were greeted by a friendly bartender who said they were changing kitchen from breakfast to lunch so we would have to wait about 15 mins to order lunch. However the bar was open so we ordered some cocktails,two bloody marys. Jen ordered the classic which had spicy vodka which they infuse on the premises. It also had a pickle slice in it. Now mine had spicy vodka a pickle slice with a smoky paprika sea salt rimmed glass. But wait there is more. It also had a large toothpick straddling the glass that had some prosciutto and cheese flanked by two jumbo shrimp. Yeah who needs lunch now? We tried each others drink and deemed them both wonderful concoctions fit for a king and queen.

We decided to each order a sandwich and split it. Jen ordered the Dinty Moore and I ordered the muffalata. The Dinty Moore was really tasty with ooey gooey cheese. The Mufalatta is usually a sandwich common in Nawlins (New Orleans). It is Italian meats and cheeses and an olive tapenade served on a round hollowed out bread. Now the sandwich was good but not great,I think I couldn’t get past the fact that it was not on the right bread. Either way we enjoyed ourselves and would return again. For those of you who do not wish to travel to Detroit, they have a location in Warren on 12 mile between Ryan and Dequindre.


St. Thomas Day 7 – Allison’s Birthday Woot Woot!

All Allison wanted so badly on her 21st birthday was not booze galore, but to swim with dolphins. The only place in St. Thomas area that you can do that is in Tortola, which is in the British Virgin Islands, requiring yet again another ferry ride, and a lot of money. I was sorry to say I had to pretty much put the kabbosh on that idea.

Friday was raining horribly, with periods of lightning and thunder. We had gotten pretty lucky up to this point with weather, but looked like today was not going to let up.

When you are in a tropical paradise, that is only paradise when you are at the beach, or by the pool, we sure didn’t want to spend Allison’s birthday watching TV.  We decided to get crazy and head to Coki Beach anyway.  Now Coki Beach, located right next to Coral World, a huge tourist attraction in St. Thomas is known for its somewhat “questionable” evening clientele and is supposed to be very touristy.  It is also supposed to be home to a coral reef area with lots of fish who are trained to eat dog biscuits right out of your hand. Now this practice as you can imagine is frowned upon by locals and anyone in the marine biology arena as dog biscuits are not meant for fish, but that’s a different blog for another day. After pondering whether or not we should even go, or if it was even safe, we decided to try it out, with the warning that is there was anything we deemed suspicious we would scram.

It was still raining pretty heavily when we arrived.  Luckily, Coral World was closed that day (as most things were we found out, going to St. Thomas at the end of the season). We were able to park at Coral World for free, and close to beach.  There was a nice scuba stand there, which allowed us to rent masks, snorkels and get our required giant dog biscuits.

The beach was most definitely not the nicest beach in St. Thomas. It was strewn with litter, had a small picnic table area that clearly hosted a slew of partiers and “after hours guests” to be polite. The pictures on the website were very deceptive.  It was really run down, and very dirty. Maybe I was also swayed by the dark, dismal, overcast day as well.  The people there, however were very nice, friendly and helpful.  They had chairs and umbrella rental if you wanted it.

The water however, was very scenic.  They had a whole coral are that fish just swarmed to.  When you took your dog biscuit out, your were surrounded by large hungry fish, some of whom looked like they had a full set of dentures about to take a finger with them.  It was rather terrifying 🙂

It was Allison’s favorite place to snorkel.  We hoped to stay longer but the sky turned black and lightning began to fill the sky.  Would have been a great snorkel place on a a nice sunny day, as long as, as the locals say, you are long gone by dusk.  I had a strange vision of the lost boys, coming out after sundown to fraternize and party looking for their next blood host, but I digress.

We decided to stop at a place called cup and cork and pick up sandwiches for lunch.  It was very near the “udder delight” dairy where they are supposed to have the islands best shakes.  You can even add a shot of rum in there if you’d like.

Cup and Cork is a quaint little deli with a small store. The meats, cheeses and bread are fresh and plentiful.  I opted again for a tuna salad sandwich, which was really good.  Jamie and Allison each had the “trashy bird” which is a whole wheat bagel, pesto and sun dried tomato cream cheese and smoked turkey. They both said it was great and Jamie later said it was the best thing she had on the trip (except for our awesome home cooked meals). Omar stuck with roast beef that was rare and flavorful.

Udder Delight’s shakes were good, not great.  I didn’t see how they were the “best” anything, but they were good. They had a wide variety of flavors, from banana to peanut butter.  I opted for the Jamocho, that was chocolatey and a hint of coffee and rum.

For dinner, we rallied the troops and headed for a restaurant called the Sunset Bar and Grill.  Unfortunately, all the restaurants we heard were amazing were closed due to the off season! Very disappointing. Restaurants such as Thirteen, and Room with View, both with amazing reviews, closed.

We opted for the Sunset Grill, but first, we had some shopping and stops to make.  We headed into Vendors Plaza, in Charlotte Amalie area, where the Cruise ships come in.  This hosts the main shopping area, with shop after shop of everything you could imagine from art to clothing to jewelry to booze. I picked up a silver chain for like $20 and a cute long sleeve t-shirt for a great deal as the season was winding down.  We perused vendors tents with booth after booth of touristy trinkets, cheap t-shirts and hats.  After about a hour or so or wandering the area, we decided, although too early for our dinner reservation, we would head to Iggie’s Beach Bar and Grill, located on the beautiful beach of Bolongo Bay, on the property of the Bolongo Bay Hotel.  We had intentions of spending the day here one day, renting water stuff and playing in the surf, but many locals warned us away, saying the bottom of the ocean there was rocky and not very good for swimming.  They also have a “carnival night” that we toyed with the idea of attending, but for a expensive buffet, even with the calypso show, we didn’t think we would get our moneys worth with kids that eat very little.

We stopped in for a quick drink, view of the beach and ability to say we had been there. I even got the t-shirt to prove it!

We loaded up the car again and headed for the Sunset Grill.  Located at the Secret Harbor Resort, this fine dining establishment is oddly in the same location as their bar and grill.  A mere curtain separated the two different dining experiences.  If you headed to the rest room, you left a tranquil fine dining experience to walk through the loud bustling bar area. Very odd.  What was odder was the communal men/women’s bathroom.  They were in one room, and each stall semi “private” with their own sinks.  It was odd however, entering and leaving along side some strange man. Sorry, I don’t care how progressive this may be, I would never get used to it.

Everything looked so good.  Allison and Jamie split a filet, which was tender and cooked perfectly. Omar ordered Ceviche and we split a caesar salad. Both were good, the salad was served in a very small looking bowl but really had a good amount of salad in it.  I opted for my main course the Grilled Mango Mahi Mahi which was served with Chayote and Green Mango Slaw, Coconut Jasmine Rice and a Mango Cream. The mango cream was very off putting.  The combination of coconut rice, mango on the fish, and mango cream, which tasted like a hot, melted mango ice cream created a very sweet overtone to what should be a savory dish.  I like a bit of sweet to compliment the savory, but this dish was cloyingly sweet and could lass for a fish laden dessert.

Beth and Andreas split the famous Lobster Pot Pie.  It was delicious and so filling, we were all able to taste a bite.

The waitress, super nice and a Michigan native, surprised the table with birthday cake shots for all to celebrate Allison’s 21st.  They really did taste like liquid cake!!

The evening was great, the view amazing and it was time to end our last full day in the Virgin Islands.