Tuesday, January 10, 2017

#ThankYouMiami 2017 Resolutions: Explore More

My final 2017 resolution is to explore more—that is, go to different places, find adventures, make new friends. Yes, it definitely means traveling to new countries. (I love to travel so it always has been and always will be #goals.) But, more importantly, it means leaving the Beach more frequently so I can get to know other areas of Miami as intimately as I do my neighborhood.

The first adventure of the year took me (and other Miami bloggers) to the Redlands for the first-ever Patch of Heaven Gardens x Cao Chocolates tasting. The road to the Redlands was long and riddled with rain from the incoming cold front but I turned on the Gilmore Guys podcast and trekked onward, laughing uncontrollably at Demi and Kevin's antics. After I pulled off the Turnpike, farms, pine rock-land, and tropical hammock quickly replaced strip malls until all I could see was fields of green on either side. I don't know the area so I was a slave to Google Maps until I reached what appeared to be a driveway, only the friendly face of Yessy, POHG's Event Coordinator, peeking out from behind thick vegetation confirmed I was in the right place.

The weather made for a unique night. The earlier downpour brought out the smell of the subtropics—the scent of humidity that permeates when wooden houses, soil, limestone and hardwood hammock get wet—and accentuated the property's Old Florida charm. The heavy wind knocked down a tree, cutting off electricity. The lack of power emphasized the property's isolation from the fast-paced urban core and allowed the serenity of its location to take center stage. It also slightly altered the evening, encouraging the group to cut a tour of the property short to take advantage of daylight for the tasting. That said, we still had to light the second half of our meal with hurricane lamps which made it feel like we were "glamping" and bonded the group instantly over jokes about Freddie Kruger, the X-Files, and who would go first in a survival scenario. (The bonding could have also been the result of six wine pairings, but I digress...)

I only saw a limited portion of what I hear is a stunning, 20-acre property so, for this visit, the meal was the pièce de resistance. You could not tell at any point that the Cao Chocolates team had to adjust last minute to the lack of power. Seriously, every bite was exquisite and perfectly cooked. I was also impressed with their ability to use cacao in every dish (especially the dark chocolate in the panini which is literally everything). After sitting through a guided tasting with Chief Chocolate Officer Ricardo and eating his wife's food, it is evident they know chocolate better than anyone I know. In fact, Ricardo has made it his life's work to study chocolate from bean to bar and chose Miami for his #MiamiBeanToBar movement and is working on a special project with POHG to bring 100% Miami chocolate.

We can't wait to come back to POHG at the end of the month for their January 28 POHG Tasting event to get the full tour of the property and get seconds of Cao Chocolates' menu. (Seriously, guys, it was SO good!) They will be hosting a tasting every month with a new menu. Also, keep an eye out sometime mid-2017 when, at a limited-seating tasting, the team will unveil their 100% Miami chocolate made with cacao grown at POHG. Cacao doesn't usually grow in Miami and, in the few places it does, is not used to make chocolate so this will be Miami history in the making. Keeping in mind my 2017 resolution, you know I'll be there.


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