Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Roadside groceries

I think some of the strangest things in Miami are the roadside grocers. You know, the people who walk thru traffic at heavy intersections and offer various fruits, veggies, seafood, and beverages to you while you sit in your car waiting for the light to turn green. This concept totally blows my mind. First off, how is this legal? It seems like any Joe with something to sell can walk thru traffic and try to hawk his wares without penalty. Are these people taxed? I doubt it. Are they operating with a permit? Negative. Yet they are allowed to meander thru traffic selling items to wary commuters.

Sometimes these people dont sell anything, they just beg for money. Like this one woman on 27th and 103rd who is there EVERY DAY with her walker moving thru traffic at a snails pace while shaking a cup and asking you to donate. This woman pisses me off because she wades thru traffic asking for money while wearing a fuckin walkman! If youre really that hard up for money, sell the fuckin walkman! Thats why I wont donate a dime to her. She even gets stuck when the light turns green sometimes and ends up in the middle of the road between two lanes while cars fly by narrowly avoiding her. Not cool.

Other roadside grocers that wont get my money:

The mango guy (you can get these anywhere in Miami for free)
The shrimp guy (do I really need to explain why buying shrimp in a 5lb bag on the side of a road during 90 degree heat is unappealing?)
The woman selling apparel (just plain silly)
The newspaper guy (I read online)

There are, however, a few guys that I do find give valuable service:

The lime/lemon guy (you can get a bag of about a dozen key limes or a half dozen lemons for $1 which is a pretty good deal)
The water guys on 103rd just as you approach 95 heading east (These guys are young and they hustle so I like to support their efforts. I also get thirsty on the drive home and the water that has been sitting in my car is usually 100 degrees by day's end)

As I handed the water kid my $1 yesterday, I thought, "How the hell do these guys profit on water?" For one, there are costs involved. I think that the last time I bought a 24pk of Zephyrhills it cost about $6-$7. That means that these guys would need 24 sales just to make $17-$18. That sucks. I wonder how long that takes and if its even worth it. $18 a day is $90 a week and if they kept that pace for the year they would make an extra $4680 tax free. That doesnt sound bad but I cant imagine they sell that much and I also imagine it take a long time to make that many sales. Heck, they'd have to sell 8736 bottles of water to make that!

I feel like this is just another case of "only in Miami" as I have not encountered these people elsewhere. I think the Food Network should have one of those shows where some guy drives around and purchases food from these roadside grocers and then makes a meal. Then you could guess how many hours it would be until he became ill or how many hours he would spend on the crapper the next day. Hollywood, here I come!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Crawfish Boil @ Tobacco Road - Good Times!

Yesterday Tobacco Road held their annual crawfish boil and I made the trip for another year of peeling tails and suckin crawfish heads. The weather was beautiful out yesterday, maybe even a little on the warm side but not dreadfully hot like some Miami days can be. This made for easy crawfish consumption. They were really good this year. Lots of nice fatty crawfish in my 2 pound box and they were spicy but the spice didnt overpower the meat. A clean meal this is not. I felt like I needed a shower after dominating my platter o' crawfish but boy were they good. They also had burgers, dogs, and other grill fare. I think the setup this year was great too. Huge "you have to be a total dumbass not to understand" signs let you know where to order and where to pick up and there was never more than a line of a few people. That could also be because the turnout wasnt as great this year. I remember years past where the entire lot would be packed with people. Maybe because it was April 20th, a stoner's holiday? Lots of people partaking in a doobie or two all around the parking lot. Gotta love Tobacco Road for that haha. Anyways, the lack of crowd mustve sucked for the band that was on stage around 5pm because they were basically playing with absolutely no one standing within 20 yards. Oh well, they did play good music anyways. Overall, it was a great excuse to be outside with a big group of friends swilling beers on a gorgeous afternoon in Miami. Im already looking forward to next year. I just wish I didnt have to get up at 4am to catch a flight this morning...ugh.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Restaurant Review: Pisco's (Coconut Grove)

I finally had a chance to check out this new restaurant that opened up on the corner of Mary and Oak in Coconut Grove. The place is called Pisco's and the menu is Peruvian fare although there is some variety while they work out what works best. I was a bit skeptical walking in because the spot that they currently occupy is the "black hole" of restaurant spots. You can dine "al fresco" but doing so basically means you'll be sucking exhaust from cars that pass by at the busy intersection of Mary and Oak. Ive never seen a restaurant last more than a few months at this location, mainly because its on the outskirts of the "heart of the Grove" and gets little foot traffic. That and previous occupants have done little to draw a crowd. Lucky for me, though the location may not be prime, the food certainly is.

I was deciding whether to choose between the parmesan sea scallops or the octopus so I asked the waiter for his pick of appetizer. He said the octopus was his favorite because of its authenticity. He was right on the money. The octopus w/ black olive sauce was incredibly tender and the sauce was unlike anything Id ever tasted before. Large portion too that I easily couldve shared. My friend got the mixed seafood ceviche and loved it. I thought that was important to note because this friend is VERY particular about his seafood because he fishes a lot and is used to that type of freshness. I tried it and it was more of a traditional take on ceviche when compared to Jaguar which I find to be more "new age" ceviche. For my entree I once again put my faith in the waiter and went with the grouper with shrimp sauce. Another winner. The grouper was moist and flavorful and the "shrimp sauce" also came with 6 sauteed shrimp which I enjoyed very much. My friends split a pasta dish that looked great and both enjoyed.

Overall, the meal was great and I appreciated the waiter's advice and even the manager coming over to check on our table. By the time we had finished the meal, there were 2 more tables of 4 dining outside which is the most Ive ever seen there at one time and pretty funny. I hope they are able to come up with more ways to draw a crowd because the food was really good. They have already added a guy named Joe Donato to play music on Thursdays so thats a start. Oh, and happy hour is 5-8p which is about an hour more than most HHs in the area or anywhere for that matter. If you find yourself the Grove, definitely give Pisco's a shot.