Standing in the car park somewhere in New Mexico

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**SPOILER ALERT**

Three notable things happened in New Mexico.

  • We didn’t find much exciting food.
  • We couldn’t find any goddamn nose rings to perfect our newly acquired quarter-life crisis piercings.
  • We found the world’s largest pistachio.

 

After a mildly hilarious run in with the border control officers which involved Laura and I desperately trying to put tops on as we were attempting a bit of roof-down sunbathing at 80mph along the Mexican border whist arriving at an unexpected police checkpoint, it was pretty apparent when we had crossed the state border into New Mexico from Texas. Immediately the interstate was bumpy, buildings were (even more) scarce, the horizon was (even more) huge and we spent a good 3 hours driving through miles and miles of oil fields. Gas stations were so infrequent that our first meal in New Mexico was wraps we fashioned from whatever was in our cool box, lovingly made up on the dash of the Mustang next to a ginormous oil pump.

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Spot the alien

After a quick pit stop at some unreal mile-deep bat caves (where the safety announcement was given by a guy wearing a stuffed bat in his best bat voice which left me with tears rolling down my cheeks from laughing because it was literally the best thing ever) we headed to our first destination, Roswell, made famous by the 1947 UFO sightings that took US media by storm. Roswell is all about aliens here. The street lamps have alien eyes. There are rows and rows of alien themed shops. We even had our first supper at “Galactic Sushi” (where none of the food is actually alien themed apart from the label on the beer). Now don’t get me wrong, I love everything about space (I have a GCSE in astronomy, dontcha know?!) but after a quick whizz around the ‘Roswell UFO Museum’ it’s safe to say I have felt sceptical about fewer things. IT WAS BASICALLY A BIT OF THE AIR FORCE SURVEILLENCE BALOON BREAKING OFF AND FALLING INTO THE GROUND BUT LAURA DOESN’T SEEM TO CARE.

After unsuccessfully searching in 4 different piercing shops for the perfect septum ring, we fuelled ourselves on Mexican food (where the waitress assumed we could eat ham seeing as we were vegetarians LOL), we got back into the trusty Mustang and drove north to Almogordo, a small town off the highway next to the White Sands national park, and a mere 1 hour 40 minute drive north of Ciudad Juarez, the most dangerous city in Mexico with a staggering average of 9 murders a day. After checking into our Motel we went in search of food, and after driving up and down the one road with any form of life on it, we managed to find a Chinese restaurant that was still open and a vegetarian offering on the menu. Vegetables swimming in thick, cornstarch-y (definitely GMO) soy sauce down, Laura insisted that we go to the drive-in frozen custard place, Caliches. Now I’d never heard of frozen custard before, but my extensive googling taught me that it originated in Coney Island in 1919 when the dudes selling the ice cream realised that adding the yolks to the mixture helped keep it colder for longer. Laura got one and it was covered in sprinkly things and I was very jealous. Yet more lactose intolorence woes.

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Laura & frozen custard.

Almogordo did manage to redeem our New Mexican experience thus far, though, with the cutest organic food store. We had egg mayonnaise sandwiches lovingly prepared by what looked like members of the local WI, all washed down with spirulina chia kombucha. Having managed to use all my will power to resist buying yet more **essential** car snacks (cue Laura raising her eyebrows as I request yet ANOTHER handful of almonds and cacao nibs whilst tucking into her Cheetos), we got back on the road and headed towards the White Sands National Park.

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White Sands National Park

Thankfully Highway 70 was open (it is often closed for missile testing), and we found ourselves surrounded by the most stunning white sand dunes, running for miles and miles, with a sea of moody storm clouds hanging over the mountains 20 miles away on the horizon. The heat was quite incredible, and as we desperately tried to run up the dunes and toboggan down on some plastic sheets we had acquired I was left in a crumpled sweaty mess, slouched in the car seat, wondering if I would ever see again due to the intense light of the sun being bounced off every shiny white sand particle into my retinas.

 

Once I had regained full consciousness we drove through yet another massive thunderstorm, through yet another drug-trafficking/immigration/police intimidation checkpoint, and arrived at the most bizarre town we went to in our entire trip: Truth or Consequences. Previously named Hot Springs, it gained its rather perculiar name after the host of a NBC radio quiz show announced that he would air the show from the first town that renamed itself after the show. A hilarious, and rather genius, piece of marketing if you ask me. And what a hilarious place it is.   Please can you all just take a look at our Airbnb, IT HAS A BATH IN THE KITCHEN!

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Kitchen with a bath WOT

T or Cs has a pretty thriving kooky art community, but we had arrived totally off season. We went to a couple cool shops, had a couple tasty meals, and had the cutest egg in baskets (egg fried in a hole cut out of a piece of bread) and smoothies lovingly made for us by a hysterical guy who had recently escaped the city and found himself working at the little organic food store here. He was totally bonkers and definitely high but the eggs were damn tasty. We had an amazing soak in the local hot springs where you alternate the baths going up in temperature with plunging into the ice cold Rio Grande river whilst holding onto a rope for dear life to fight the current. After another unsuccessful attempt to buy the perfect nose rings, which led to Laura accepting defeat with a piece of bent wire hanging out her nose, and New Mexico’s outrageously expensive alcohol licensing laws, we did what Americans do best, and drove 5 minutes to the nearest Wal-Mart, bought a 6-pack (Brooklyn Lager, naturally) and snacks, and watched “You’re the Worst” in bed.

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Blurry drive through fun

Santa Fe totally redeemed New Mexico for me, primarily because it has a wonderful Whole Foods, which meant I could waste $15 on the biggest box of salad you’ve ever seen and a green juice. In preparation for my old school-friend Lucy’s arrival we went (slightly ashamed) and got the car cleaned. Wow, Mustangs look so good when they’re not covered in Texan desert dust and full of Laura’s Cheetos crumbs! Car cleaned and laundry done, we went for our last meal together, at the finest establishment in America: Sonic – a drive in restaurant where you order out your window via intercom and the server brings your food right to you ON ROLLERSKATES. We ordered everything vegetarian off the menu (fries and onion rings and sugary slushy things) and exchanged in some witty banter with our exceedingly over-enthusiastic server Darren who, in his excitement to have some European customers, asked us twice how we said our names in French. Bless. We did get some extra ketchup though. Winky face.

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Café Pasqual’s: Smoked trout hash (l), vegan burgers (r).

We had a fabulous brunch with Lucy at Café Pasqual’s where we chowed down on vegan quinoa burgers with avocado, gluten free buns and kale salad; smoked trout hash with a golden gruyere potato cake, poached eggs and tomatillo salsa; and cold brew. We wandered around New Mexico in all of its loveliness and hung out with Laura’s distant something-th cousin something removed who owns 2 amazing galleries specializing in old and modern Tibetan and Nepalese art. He wanted to take us out for lunch so badly that we ended up having a second lunch. It was a tough day.

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Raw stuff mmm

The next day, on our way to Arizona, we passed through the town of Taos where we stopped for lunch at the cutest raw food café “Raw to Go” and ate some amazing salads before a long day driving. Our plates were piled high with salad veggies, alfalfa sprouts, raw pate, guacamole and hummus, the most delicious seaweed crackers. It took all my willpower to protect my exceedingly damaged bank balance and not order a fresh coconut meat cacao smoothie for the road. We chose to go off the interstate to make the journey more interesting, and although the majority of the drive was through one of the most colossal rain and thunder storms that I’ve ever endured, we did also pass through some of the most stunning scenery. The road wound around hills, through forests, and alongside arable pasture land, all the way to Farmington, AZ. It was certainly a great day to be behind the wheel of the mustang!

 

As promised, I will leave you a snap of Laura with said massive pistachio:

 

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Written by George.

See what I’m eating or what juice I’m drinking HERE

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Bitches Be Balanced: Houston & Austin

Bitches be Balanced

Houston & Austin were a cities of extreme balancing due to the plethora of delicious food and beer and cocktails and fun on offer.  These were our saviours:

Houston

Pure Barre |  1948A West Gray St Houston, TX 77019

I go to Pure Barre in Williamsburg, NY, so I’m a bit biased, but I bloody love it.  Intense barre workout that gets you shaking.

Snap | Locations in Houston, Dallas, Austin and Chicago

Healthy take-out spot with amazing salad bar and a fridge stuffed full of homemade ready meals that can easily be reheated.  Seasonal and consciously sourced ingredients.  Cold press juice.

Austin

Barre3 Austin 115 Sandra Muraida Way #103, Austin, TX 78703

Some of the best barre classes I’ve ever taken.  The studio is large and airy and is full of Texan friendliness

Picnik 1700 South Lamar 400-B, Austin, TX 78704

Paleo food truck with the most ridiculous bulletproof coffee list.

JuiceLand | Several Locations

Cold-press juice.  Nuff said.

Casa De Luz1701 Toomey Road, Austin, TX 78704

Macrobiotic set price lunch.  Think soup, salad, veggies, rice and beans.  Dessert for small extra charge.


Written by George.

See what I’m eating or what juice I’m drinking HERE

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And P.S. if this is Austin, I still love you

Austin, Texas

Although the previous week through Mississippi and Louisiana had been a lot fun, we both felt that it was time to set down our forks full of catfish/crawfish/deep-fried everything, and find ourselves a bit of innovative, interesting, fresh food to really get excited about.

After having dropped Neil at New Orleans airport, we drove for 7 hours to Houston (thanks to a very long traffic jam in Louisiana swamp territory), and rolled into our motel at around 11pm.  Waking up at the crack of dawn for a much needed barre workout and virtuous lunch (wait for the next Bitches be Balanced post), we then jumped back in the car and drove the relatively short 2.5 hours to Austin.  We were greeted at our Airbnb by two kittens (for all of you who thought that Laura was a cat-hating emotional stone – think again), and a cute mouse in a tank which, after I had exclaimed “ahhhhh cute pet mouse”, found out that it was actually the pet snake’s dinner.

With huge cravings for food that hadn’t been within 100 metres of a deep fryer, we headed off to Elizabeth Street Cafe, a seriously cute Vietnamese cafe and French patisserie in South Austin.  Deciding to have a dry evening, we sipped on delicious housemade vinegar sodas (watermelon and thai basil for Laura, celery for me) which were slightly sweet and incredibly refreshing.  We shortly tucked into a little appetiser of rice paper rolls stuffed with ginger marinated tofu, radish, thai basil and serrano chilli, with 3 different dipping sauces (the peanut definitely coming out on top).  We followed this up by splitting a pho (noodles in broth) and bún (rice vermicelli salad bowl).  Our pho had the addition of white miso and came crammed with cauliflower, bok choy and toasted seaweed; it was absolutely delicious.  It’s always easy to forget how filling and comforting something so simple can be.  However the star of the show was definitely the bún, which came piled high with roasted mushrooms, grilled tofu, herbs upon herbs, perfectly julienned veggies and vegan nuoc cham (a perfectly balanced sweet, sour, salty, savoury and spicy Vietnamese dipping sauce) to drench it in.  We had to switch from our chopsticks to spoons to scoop up all the last scraps from the bottom of the bowl.  IMG_1713

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Elizabeth Street Cafe: Vegan Bún (l) and Pho (r)

Even though I could have happily fallen straight to sleep with my belly full of noodles, we drove over to Sweet Ritual, a vegan ice cream store inside the JuiceLand in Hyde Park, in honour of it being National Ice Cream Day.  I opted for a mint chocolate chip with spirulina for added greenness, whereas Laura went for a scoop of both salted caramel and toasted coconut.  A great introduction to what was about to be my best four days of the trip so far.

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Sweet Rituals: Mint Chocolate Chip (l); Salted Caramel & Toasted Coconut (r)

The next day after barre & breakfast, we donned our bathing suits and headed over to Barton Springs, an outdoor pool fed from natural springs in the heart of the city.  After a couple hours sunning ourselves and cooling off in the bracing waters (Laura got yelled for taking her rubber ring in with her), we drove around the corner (because we’re that American now) to Casa De Luz, a health academy cum yoga studio cum cafe, heavily focused on community.  Over their fixed price macrobiotic lunch we attempted to practice our best mindful eating skills that we learnt at NGI, and left very proud of ourselves for having had the most virtuous morning.

This was quickly ruined by the lovely Michael at By George (a gorgeous boutique in South Austin), who offered us a beer from the ice bucket which was built into the cashier desk (FYI Austin Beerworks‘ American IPA is now my favourite ale).  He sent us in the direction of Launderette, a trendy restaurant in East Austin, located in a renovated Launderette and gas station.  With a bottle of Gruner Veltliner sitting chilling in a gorgeous marble cooler on our gorgeous marble table, we poured over the menu which had one of the most overwhelmingly delicious vegetables section I’ve ever seen.  After sending back the server countless times while we made up our minds, we settled on Pei Mussles in white wine and chilli, parsnips with apple butter, mustard seeds and salsa, and grilled broccolini with a romesco pepper sauce and almonds.  I just looked over their menu again and nearly dribbled on my laptop.  Laura then finished off with a cheddar apple pie with salted beer caramel, clothbound cheddar and sage ice cream.  The barman whipped me up an espresso martini so it wasn’t too shabby my side of the table either.

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Wah gimme

Following a heavy night drinking with Laura’s friend JD (who also happened to be in Austin that night) and feeling incredibly sorry for ourselves, we made our way over to Clarksville (having removed the parking fine off our window), to Josephine House, a stylish yet casual restaurant set in an adorable clapboard cottage.  The menu is split into two sections; ‘On the Marble Counter’: a selection of breads, cheeses, pastries and salads that are sitting out in the dining room (how I wished my kitchen looked all the time), and “From the Kitchen”: food made to order by the chefs.  Having downed the most delicious and incredibly strong cold-brew coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice, we settled on splitting the avocado toast with a fried egg, hot sauce and lime zest on sourdough (yes, Instagram is full of avocado toast BUT THIS ONE WAS REALLY GOOD), and the ‘Josephine Rice Bowl’ (black rice, poached farm egg, roasted local vegetables, avocado, radish & salsa verde) which, hungover or not, was bloody delicious, and due to it not being dissimilar to what I would normally make myself for lunch when I have the time it was a real home from home.

Josephine HouseOther notable meals we had in Austin that, quite frankly, I’m too full to write about:

Magnolia Cafe | Serving some of the best comfort food 24 hours a day.  Super friendly staff.  The fish tacos are a must.

Torchy’s Tacos | Taco truck that helped start the booming food truck movement in Austin.  Try the deep fried avocado.

Lick | Ice cream shop serving the best vegan Ice cream I’ve ever had (coconut and avocado curd, uhhhh HELLO).  Also serves huge range of incredibly inventive dairy-laden flavours that Laura assures me are amazing.

Wild Wood Bakehouse | 100% gluten-free bakery with cafe.  The cookies are to die for.

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Written by George.

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Bitches be Balanced: Nashville

Bitches be Balanced, Nashville

If you read our previous post on Nashville, you will know that it was a pretty over-indulgent 4 days.  Here were my favourite places to make myself feel a little better about life:

juice. Nashville | 1106 Division Street, Nashville 37203

The first cold-press juicery in Tennessee.  Huge selection of small batch cold-press juices.  TIP: get there early as they sell out quick!

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Franklin Juice Co. : Acai bowl

Franklin Juice Co. | 230 Franklin Rd. Franklin, TN 37064

Delicious cold-press juices, elixirs and probably the best acai bowl I’ve ever eaten (though that could be down to them serving them in the cutest terracotta pots).  Check out their twitter to see when their van is, too!

The Post East1701 Fatherland St, Nashville, TN  37206

Delicious cafe with a whole host of gluten and dairy free options.  Vegan friendly.  Fab selection of cold-press juices and takeout salads.  Read our review of their brunch here.

Barre3501 12th Ave South, Nashville, TN 37203

This was my first time with the Barre3 franchise (I’m a Pure Barre kinda gal), but WOW have I been converted.  Ballet-pilates hybrid, this is one intense full-body workout without the impact of HIIT.  Feel stronger and more flexible after – just what the doctor ordered after days of driving!

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The Post East: BRUNCH! Photo creds to McKel…


Written by George.

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Play cool as country water, Nashville cats

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Having worked for the gorgeous McKel of Nutrition Stripped (i.e. the best nutrition/lifestyle blog out there) earlier in May while cooking for her cookbook shoot, I was only too excited to check out the vibes in Nashville.  After stopping off en route to see the view in Chattanooga (go on, say it in a Southern accent – amazing huh!?), we rolled into downtown Nashville to kill a couple of hours before meeting McKel for dinner. We immediately headed to ‘juice. Nashville` for some raw, cold-pressed goodness.  I (obviously) opted for one of their low-fruit-high-greens green juices, with Laura going for the special of almond, peach, honey and cinnamon which is definitely the closest raw-vegan, gluten-free thing to peach pie.  We then headed over to Thai Esane to meet McKel, who has lived in Nashville for the past four years, where we caught up over piles of delicious tofu pad thai and raw papaya salad. We spent the night crashing at McKel’s house, which looks and smells so beautiful it literally is like a virtual Pintrest board (see here and here), before heading out early the next day to pick up fellow Anglo-New Yorker, Neil (who pretty much took all our photos from the moment he landed to the moment he left us in New Orleans as he is far more knowledgable and talented than I am). Laura and Neil headed straight to ‘Biscuit Love` in the trendy urban Gulch neighbourhood for Saturday brunch, where Laura feasted on cheesy grits, tomato gravy, fried eggs and buttered kale and Neil traditional biscuits and gravy. I, on the other hand, had the only dairy free item on the menu (black iced coffee) and headed off to Barre3 around the corner for a much needed (and free – thanks McKel) barre workout; NYC has definitely rubbed off on me!

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George’s last photo for a week! Cheesy grits, tomato gravy, fried eggs and buttered kale.

We all reconvened a couple of hours later in a classic downtown country bar, which we soon learned made up huge swathes of the centre of the city, incredibly proud of their musical heritage. The walls were adorned with posters of Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and, obviously, Taylor Swift, and a country rock band played to a totally packed midday crowd of Tennessee-folk, in town for the weekend.  We soon realised that a day spent drinking beer in Nashville’s Broadway bars was THE way to spend your Bachelorette party (sorry, “Hen Do”), especially when it’s you and your 9 closest gal pals on a party bike (which definitely looks less fun in 36ºC heat with American drinking laws). After a beer (I unfortunately couldn’t catch up with Laura and Neil’s brunch mimosas induced head start due to my designated road-trip driver status), we dumped the car and our stuff at our next home for the next two nights (an apartment that a friend of my roommate’s casually has nestled in her basement and let us use with a minute’s notice), and headed out in search of (more) food. We headed over to the hipster neighbourhood of East Nashville (a far cry from honky-tonk Downtown) to The Pharmacy – McKel had recommended it to us for burgers with all the sides that has something for carnivores and vegetarians alike.  Laura and I both opted for the black bean burger; Laura’s obviously came with piles of cheese, as well as the usual burger veggies, whereas I requested jalepeño, avocado and lettuce.  Neil went for something meaty and stuffed with bacon and egg.  He assured us it was delicious.  For sides, we went all-American and split some slaw, regular & sweet potato fries and tater tots (little deep fried cylinders of grated potato, pronounced “tayder taats”).

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The Pharmacy: Burgers!

Beer, burgers and more beer later, we rolled ourselves next door to Holland House Bar & Refuge. We needed a little pick-me-up in the form of happy hour cocktails in a vain attempt to make our heat/beer/food exhausted bodies a little more upbeat in honour of Neil’s first day.  Holland House was so gorgeous, but sadly we left sooner than we hoped, defeated (Laura unable to finish her Fuego Siempre having been force fed my amazing-but-disgusting digestive bitters to aid her poor overworked tummy).  I went for drinks with McKel while the others (over-) napped, then we all ended up at the trendy East Nashville drinking hole Bar 308, where the evening was concluded with (more) cocktails.   A pretty damn good introduction to the BBT way for Neil if you ask me (as well as 3 incredibly sore bank accounts).

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The Post East: Vegetarian Scotch Egg, Kale Salad, Fresh Slaw and Gluten-Free Vegan Biscuit.

The following day we went and grabbed a much needed coffee at Barista Parlor, a vast space jam packed with beautiful 20-somethings dressed all in black and trilbies that made the three of us feel like we had momentarily been transported 900 miles back home to Brooklyn.  Incredibly strong cold-brew down, we drove a few blocks to The Post East to meet McKel for brunch.  Opened for just over a year, this is a cafe that totally resonates with my food ethos; organically sourced ingredients, whole food dishes, community focussed, and accepting of all diets.  Laura and I were sent into dish deciding overload with a menu boasting a whole host of gluten-free and dairy-free options and a fridge crammed with cold-pressed juices.  Over smoothies and juice we feasted on delicious vegetarian scotch eggs, crispy corn cakes with a sweet and crunchy red cabbage salad and salsa, and a gluten-free vegan biscuit with mushroom gravy.  Everything totally delicious and leaving me so happy to FINALLY get to try a true American biscuit.

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The Post East: GF vegan biscuits and gravy; crispy corn cakes with salsa and red cabbage salad.

After a tour and tasting at local Cosair Distillery (think pumpkin spice moonshine and vanilla infused vodka) and a cheeky ice cream/sorbet pit stop at Jeni’s, we head home for a quick turn-around before heading over to Pinewood Social for our last meal in Nashville (oh, why must it end?)  I had met McKel there the previous night and was dying to show the others.  It is honestly one of the most fabulous spaces I’ve hung out in and would die for one near where I end up living.  It is huge: boasting a beautiful bar (with even more beautiful bartenders) centre stage; tables for the restaurant nestled around the perimeter of the room; at the front end a long communal table seats hip young professionals with laptops or a book, huddled over a coffee from the espresso bar (also equipped with pastries).  The back of the space has a glass wall which reveals a 6-lane bowling alley restored from an old Bowl O-Rama, from Indiana (karaoke is also on offer).  And if that isn’t enough then there is an outdoor area where you can lie by the pool and nibble on delicious morsels from the kitchen whilst simultaneously sipping on a cocktail. With a dry rosé for us girls and an old fashioned for Neil slipping down nicely, we set about making our way through the platter of salty oysters (with the most fabulous cucumber/dill mignonette), burrata with peaches (fresh herbs, hot sauce, almonds), fried broccolini with almond-garlic dipping sauce, spring salad with pickled jalepeños, radish, grilled carrots and goats cheese, fried catfish with shrimp fritters and tartare sauce and (breathe) meatloaf with jalepeño mac, wilted kale and tomato sorghum glaze (which I sadly had to give a miss).  All in all, a fucking fabulous last meal.  Holy cow I’m full.


Written by George.

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Bitches be Balanced: Miami

Bitches be Balanced, Miami

Welcome to the first BITCHES BE BALANCED post, where George will give the down low on all things juice, health and workout that happen alongside our more indulgent endeavours and hours sat behind the wheel.

Although the first thing I did after landing in Miami was go off in search of green juice, here it was all about Acai bowls. One of the hottest breakfasts that have been circulating in the health food world over the past 3 years, acai bowls are blended frozen acai berries (native to Brazil), usually with another frozen fruit such as banana or other berries, superfood powders, a splash of nutmilk, and topped with as much as you can you can pile in your bowl (granola, fruit, seeds, etc). Its basically a smoothie/ice cream hybrid that tastes amazing and is totally Instagrammable.  It’s also conveniently loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C and healthy fats.

Here were our top 4:

 IMG_1418JugoFresh several locations, we visited 222 N
W 26th St, Miami, FL 33127

Amazing acai bowls, alongside the best juice in Miami, salads and delicious cold brew coffee with coconut water and reishi.

10 Fruits | 143 NE 3rd Ave, Miami, FL 33132

Juices, smoothies, acai bowls, sandwiches and salads.  We recommend the almond and green acai bowls.

Under the Mango Tree 714 6th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Adorable bohemian vegetarian cafe. Great to grab a smoothie to take to the beach!

Jucy Lu2621 NW 2nd Ave Miami FL 33127

Cold-press juices and organic food in the achingly cool area Wynwood. Everything locally sourced. The turmeric shots are a winner.


Written by George.

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South Beach, Bringin’ the Heat

Miami

Seeing as we were surrounded by some of the best seafood in Miami for Independence Day it only seemed appropriate to celebrate the saddest day in the American calendar with some amazing morsels plucked straight from the sea. After a day lounging on Miami Beach, Freddie directed us to CVI.CHE105, a modern Peruvian restaurant downtown, with undoubtedly the most impressive pisco cockail menu I’ve ever seen. Ceviche – fish and other seafood ‘cooked’ in the juice of citrus fruit – has always been a favourite dish of mine after having spent six weeks eating it almost daily in Peru a few years ago.

After a round of pisco sours we were presented with ‘Causa Maki’, a Peruvian version of sushi, where crab and avocado were perfectly rolled in mashed yellow potato. Having attempted to make sushi on numerous occasions, how such precision had been achieved was quite mind-boggling. This was followed by excellently prepared grilled octopus; not too chewy and with the perfect amount of smokiness from the grill. Then came pan-roasted fresh corvina and with crabmeat, smothered in smoky red rocoto and pepper sauce, accompanied with potato cake au gratin; I could not eat this due to my intolorence to dairy (weep) but I was assured of its deliciousness by the noises being made next to me. Finally we tucked into a heaping bowl of mixed cevice boasting perfectly ‘cooked’ fish, shrimp and squid, all bathing in delicious Tiger’s milk (the citrus-based marinade that cures the seafood in a ceviche), accompanied by the traditional corn and wedge of sweet potato. Although I couldn’t finish my meal with a dulce de leche topped lucuma mousse like the other two (grrr), it had been the perfect meal.

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The next day we decided to venture north to Wynwood, the arts district of Miami that, if I didn’t know any better, could have easily passed for Bushwick. Incredibly colourful with street art slathered across old industrial buildings, this definitely felt like THE hipster hangout spot in the city. Wherever there are hipsters there is great food, so we searched around a few blocks until we decided on Annex for our Sunday brunch antics. The space is huge and filled with an eclectic selection of tables, chairs, sofas, Jenga and enormous fans (which were very much needed in the 36°C heat). Everything is cooked in a small retro trailer out front; having worked in a New York kitchen during snowy March I have no idea how these guys cope with this kind of heat. The atmosphere was set off by a live reggae DJ and waiting staff that manage to provide impeccable service whilst remaining painfully cool.

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The afternoon was kicked off with a delicious pitcher of sparkling sangria whilst we faced yet another crisis over what to order. Laura and I settled on sharing puy lentils with garlic sautéed greens and sunny side eggs and the tortilla bowl salad with baby kale, black beans, rice, coriander and guacamole. The lentil plate was the perfect simple brunch meal, with the lentils perfectly cooked and the entire dish flawlessly seasoned. However the salad was definitely the show-stopper, presented in its fried tortilla bowl. Freddie went for the bacon, caramelized onion and triple cream “toastie” which, even as a dairy-free vegetarian, looked pretty phenomenal. A second pitcher of sangria and two nose piercings later, it had been almost on par with a New York Sunday.

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Written by George.

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