Bella Vida by Letty


Spain’s Lizarran Restaurant Launches Miami Food Truck

Lizarran Food Truck

I had the pleasure of attending the launch of the Lizarran food truck in Miami. It was quite a treat to sample the menu. Fresh ingredients prepared into great looking flavorful comfort food that are easy to enjoy on the go.  The food truck is huge decorated with twinkling lights, potted plants and painted tiles evoking an authentic Mediterranean feel.

About Lizzaran

Established in a coastal town just outside Barcelona, Spain, Lizarran is transforming the American culinary scene with their fusion of Mediterranean and Spanish flavors. Combining the social and familial element of Spain’s culture creating an inviting and enjoyable dining experience for guests. With over 270 restuarants in Europe and around the world it is finally making it’s way to Miami.

Internationally recognized for the pintxos, cones and homemade recipes, Lizarran infuses fresh Spanish and Mediterranean ingredients, modern culinary technique and inherently Spanish presentation to their innovative dishes.

Foodies can mix and match combination and flavors to satisfy their specific cravings. Tasty ingredients include the finest olive oil, jamon Serrano and fresh seafood.

Lizarran Collage

About the Food

Lizarran’s Spanish Mediterranean cuisine is made up of bite sized recipes which take comfort food to a new level. Pintxos are small snacks served atop sliced bread distinguished by the skewer, a culinary stape of Northern Spain’s Basque region. Cones are handheld dishes that are ideal on the go menu items consisting of croquettes, fries and churros with Nutella.

Lizarran Food Truck

I recommend experiencing the food with friends because there is so much good stuff to sample and plenty to share. The gazpacho is something you must try. It is a creamy cold Andalusian soup with ripe tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper and garlic bursting with flavor.

The potato salad is quite refreshing and made with fresh ingredients, potatoes, carrots, eggs, tuna, sweet pepper and olives.

One of my favorites are the croquettes witch are the perfect bite sized fritter treats filled with jamon Serrano, cheese or vegetables.

When eating Spanish food another must have is the tortilla Espanola; eggs, Yukon gold potatoes, onions and Spanish ham. So so good.

Lizarran Food Truck

Another of my favorites was the sautéed vegetables; brie cheese, zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms and carrots.

Like I said there is so much great food to sample you should definitely bring along good friends.  They will thank you later.

You can find out where exactly to find the food trucks on their facebook page and check out the menu at their website.


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Sampling the Miami Spice Menu at Toro Toro Miami

Toro Toro Miami Spice

This week I was invited to experience the Toro Toro Miami Spice menu and it was one of the most amazing food experiences of my life. Miami Spice is a mouth-watering restaurant promotion highlighting the very best of Miami cuisine. Running from August 1st to September 30th restaurants offer three course meals featuring signature dishes by world-renowned chefs at reduced prices. It’s an affordable way to try something new.

Toro Toro is located in the elegant Intercontinental Hotel near the American Airlines arena where the Miami Heat plays. The restaurant was brought to heart of downtown Miami by acclaimed Chef Richard Sandoval. Chef Sandoval is known for combining authentic Latin ingredients with international flavor and inventive techniques to create new and unexpected cuisines such as modern and coastal Mexican, Latin Asian, Peruvian and Pan Latin. The food is an array of hot and cold plates tapas style, steaks served a la carte and savory side dishes meant for sharing plates.

Enthusiasm is contagious. When you get a sneak peak behind the scenes of a restaurant you get to experience this first hand. The passion and zeal of the staff and chefs for what they do comes across in the service and the quality and flavors of the food. My impression was that everyone there was happy to be there and really enjoyed their job. Seeing the care that was taken with the preparation of the food highlighted my eating experience.

Toro Toro Miami Spice

Upon our arrival we were taken to a private area near the kitchen for special guests and greeted with cocktails and h’ordevors. I enjoyed a very sweet Downtowner, which is a citrus, and vodka based drink garnished with orange peel. After a delicious appetizer, stuffed shallot with a buttery white sauce we were escorted to a private dining area with views of the kitchen to sample the Miami Spice menu.

We were brought course after course a large variety of plates with distinctive flavors. This is a great place to go with a group of friends to have drinks and share plates to explore and discover new favorites. Toro Toro’s Miami Spice menu is impressive for its variety.

If you enjoy meats I highly recommend ordering the generous Churrasco Platter. A selection of the best meats and cuts of picanha steak, prime ribeye, lamb chop, chorizo sausage and achiote chicken.

If you enjoy spicy food with bold flavors I recommend the Smoked Swordfish Dip. It’s a smoky spicy dish with pickled chilies, aioli and tomatoes served with plantain chips.

Toro Toro Miami Spice

If you appreciate seafood like I do Toro Toro has lots to offer. I sampled and enjoyed the freshness of the Ceviche Nikkei with tuna, avocado, ponzu, leche de tigre, cucumber and quinoa. The Chicharron de Camarones is another dish you must try especially if you love shrimp. And my favorite dish of the evening, which just melts in your mouth, was the Chipotle Miso Seabass. The fish was perfectly seasoned with sesame seeds and eel sauce. This is a great example of how Chef Sandoval combines Latin flavors with seasonings of other cultures.

For dessert I highly recommend La Bomba which is dulce de leche mousse, strawberry ice cream, almond cookie crumbles, berries served in a chocolate shell.  You will get a kick out of the way it’s served right on the table.


You can check out what else is on the Toro Toro Miami Spice menu by clicking here.

Have you been to Toro Toro Miami? What was your favorite dish?



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Travel Food Recommendations Where to Eat in Chicago 2015


Food Recommendations Where to Eat in Chicago 2015

Best food recommendations from locals and travel pros on where to eat in Chicago. I’m planning a trip to Chicago, Ilinois and have asked the experts where I should go to eat. These are their recommendations.

Orgullo de Mexico’s recommendations:

Puerto Rican Food

La Bomba located at 3221 W Armitage is a casual neighborhood eatery serving Puerto Rican fare & soft drinks amid colorful murals & TVs.

La Plena located at 2617 W Division in Humboldt Park is an upbeat eatery offering homestyle Puerto Rican cooking amid tropical murals & a thatched-roof patio.

Mexican Food

If you are in Chicago on Sunday visit Maxwell St Market, outdoors, 6am-2pm, Desplaines & Roosevelt Rd’s for great Mexican. Maxwell Street Market is located at 800 S. Desplaines St.

Cemitas Puebla located 3619 W North Ave in Humboldt Park/West Loop is inspired by the food made by cemiteros & taqueros of Puebla, Mexico.

Carnitas Uruapan is a Foodie Favorite serving up the best authentic Carnitas in Chicago since 1975 located at 1725 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608 in Pilson.

In May of 2008, Chef Carlos Gaytan opened his own restaurant Mexique on Chicago Avenue in Chicago. With great creativity, love, and dedication he applies his knowledge of French cooking techniques and ingredients to his roots of traditional Mexican cuisine, creating a revolution of Mexican gastronomy.  1529 W. Chicago Ave. Chicago, IL 60622

Mezcalina Restaurant is upscale Mexican Dining in the Lakeshore East area of Chicago. Come experience the authentic flavors of Mexico and a Mosaic of Ingredients from its regions.

Xoco Chicago by Chef Rick Bayless. Order Online! Pick-Up and Delivery. Open early and closing late, this quick-service café from Rick and Deann Bayless proffers contemporary expressions of Mexico’s most beloved street food and snacks: flaky empanadas, hot-from-the-fryer churros, frothy Mexican hot chocolate, crusty tortas and meal-in-a-bowl caldos. Located at 449 N Clark St in  Wicker Park.

Frontera_Grill The place to savor authentic and scrumptious regional dishes and stellar margaritas.” 445 North Clark Street.

@ELSanPatricio  recommends

Latin Fusion

Carnivale located at702 W Fulton St, Chicago, IL 60661.  Engages colors, glamour, wild design, global flavors, Latin Music, and savory aromas in each dish.



Gulliver’s located at 2727 Howard St. is an established venue for deep-dish pizza & Italian grub, with antiques, Tiffany-style lamps & a patio.

Lou Malnati’s Pizza is considered the oldest family name in Chicago pizza, Malnati’s has been serving slices of delicious deep dish for 44 years in 41 Chicagoland locations.

Gino’s East Pizza The Gino’s East story began in 1966 when two taxi drivers and a friend, frustrated with rush hour traffic, decided to open a pizzeria just off Michigan Ave. and Superior St. in Chicago.

Nancy’s Pizza is the official inventor of stuffed pizza in Chicago. Started in 1972, now we’re here. Inspired in Italy, perfected in America!


Choose Chicago’s recommends I do some patio dinning and check out the outdoor festivals.

Patio Dinning

IO Godgrey is a Chicago rooftop lounge offering state-of-the-art retractable roof which allows the outdoor space to evoke a unique in-is-out and out-is-in vibe. Enjoy the day, revel the night, and discover your element in the rooftop bar. Dress to impress. I|O Late Night requires upscale casual attire as it is located inside a 4 star luxury hotel. I|O in The Godfrey Hotel Chicago 4th Floor 127 W Huron and LaSalle.

Three Aces where the Italian countryside meets the American farm house… in Keith Richard’s basement bar located at 1321 W Taylor St.

Big Star Chicago Tacos, Whiskey, Hillbilly Music.  Big Star is a bourbon and beer-focused, taco-slinging, late-night honky-tonk in the heart of Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood located at 1531 N Damen.


Chicago Blues Festival at Grant Park. June 12 to 14 2015. Enjoy the largest free blues festival in the world!

Ribfest – It’s no wonder that Ribfest Chicago has been recognized as Chicago’s “Best Food Fest” for the past three years. This festival remains one of the city’s best summer attractions. At the intersection of Lincoln Avenue / Irving Park Road / Damen Avenue  Friday 5-10 PM, Saturday Noon-10 PM, Sunday Noon-10 PM

Andersonville Midsommarfest  Midsommarfest is Andersonville’s annual summer street festival, now entering its 50th year! Each year, nearly 50,000 people throng Clark Street from Foster to Catalpa for two days of music, dancing, kids’ entertainment, and delicious food. Vendors from around the region sell their wares to passers-by, while ethnic dance troupes and cutting-edge bands keep the party going.


Have you eaten at any of these places?

What was the best thing you ate there?

Do you have any recommendations for me?



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Crockpot Slow Cooker Mexican Quinoa Recipe

mexican quinoa recipe

I’m making a big effort to eat healthier and one of the things I’m doing is eliminating foods with little nutritional value like white rice and white bread. It’s been fun expanding my horizon and discovering new foods to eat. One popular super food to try is quinoa. Quinoa is a grain that comes in a variety of colors originating in the Andes and is super healthy. It’s gluten free, high in fiber and iron. Quinoa is also complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids. That should give you enough reasons to try it.

I also love using my slow cooker because it’s such an easy way to make healthy meals.

This recipe is very flavorful and not spicy. If you love Mexican food this might become one of your favorites. It’s so easy to make.  I enjoy cooking with my slow cooker. It even has a mix setting, which I used for this recipe.




1 ½ cups tri colored quinoa

½ red pepper

½ green pepper

½ yellow pepper

1 sweet onion

1 can green enchilada sauce

2 ½ cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons adobo

1 bag frozen roasted corn black bean fiesta vegetable mix




Spray the crock-pot with cooking oil for easy clean up.

Add quinoa.

Add green enchilada sauce

Add peppers and onion.

Add corn and black bean vegetable mix.

Season with adobo.

Add the chicken broth.

Cook for 2 ½ hours on high. Some slow cookers are different and might need to cook for 3 hours.


Garnish with shredded cheese and enjoy!

Have you tried this recipe?




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Having a Sandwich in Sandwich MA

One of the places I was curious to explore in Massachusetts is Cape Cod.  Shaped like an arm, Cape Cod is actually made of up of many quaint villages and towns.  During my research I discovered one little town in particular which peaked my curiosity on the Cape named Sandwich.  If you know me well, you know I could live off sandwiches.  I probably eat at least one a day.  So when I found out about this town named Sandwich it became my goal to eat a sandwich in Sandwich.

Sandwich MA

It was a gray rainy day when we landed at BOS sometime around noon but nothing was going to deter me from road tripping in Massachusetts.  After picking up my Chevy Tahoe we headed south toward Cape Cod taking I-93 South and MA-3 to the Mid Cape connector in Bourne.  Although it was raining all I could see was an abundance of lush green trees, bushes and flora enveloping the long stretches of concrete highway.  At times there were large rocks and boulders revealing its mountainous terrain.  It was really coming down hard by the time we reached the bridge entering Cape Cod which was covered in plastic as it was being repaired.

Thankfully by the time we reached Sandwich although the sky remained gray there was barely a sprinkle of rain in the oldest town on the Cape.  Sandwich is named for the town of Sandwich Kent in England.  Now you know what I’m thinking?  Yep new goal.

We parked at Sandwich Village which is the historical part of town.  Beautiful cottage and Victorian homes have been converted to hotels, restaurants and shops.  There are souvenir and antique shops displaying funky wares.   Sandwich is a charming town and very pretty.  Large houses with knotty pine paneling remind me of an old movie.  Victorian houses are the color of ice cream.  Large cottages abound with some of the loveliest manicured gardens I’ve ever seen blooming with color.

a sandwich in Sandwich MA

Every year the town celebrates SandwichFest, a street fair featuring the Best Sandwich in Sandwich competition.  Wanting to taste an award winning sandwich in Sandwich I headed to last year’s winner, Beth’s Bakery and Cafe.  The place looks like a converted cottage home with a welcoming front porch.  If not for the weather I would’ve enjoyed watching the street go by.  The interior is warm, cozy sweet smelling bakery.  Large enough for many tables the place was half full even on this midweek rainy day.  The display cabinet was packed full of yummy looking freshly baked deserts, cakes and pastries.

I tried their grilled cheese sandwich and the Vermouth made with turkey, bacon, sliced apple and cheddar.  Each came in a cute basket with Cape Cod chips and a pickle and were very good.  It’s the first time I had a slice of apple in my sandwich.  The sweetness of the green apple went perfectly with the bacon.  I also tried the award winning smoked salmon and pear on white and it was also very delicious.

a sandwich in Sandwich MA

Sandwich is such a cute town with many historic things to see.  Before we left we made a quick stop at Hoxie House which is believed to be one of the oldest houses on Cape Cod.  The brown saltbox house sits on a gorgeous bluff overlooking Shawme Pond.  It’s colonial style of architecture really stands out.  Take a tour to see what life was like for settlers of this area.

Sandwich MA

There’s plenty to do and see.  My time was limited but here’s a short list of other things to do:  Visit the other sandwich award winning restaurant, Cafe Chew.  Stop by the glass museum which is the industry that saved the town way back when.  Stroll the Heritage Gardens and Museum, Visit Dexter Grist Mill and take a walk down the boardwalk to see the marsh and beach area.

Have you eaten a sandwich in Sandwich, MA?

Sponsored post opinions mine.

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French Toast Muffins Recipe

French Toast Muffins

My French toast muffin recipe. Putting a spin on ordinary French toast I decided to make small portable portions for Mother’s Day brunch.  Regular French toast is made by covering bread with milk and eggs then frying.  This variation will work great for your next breakfast gathering or to enjoy with friends and family.  If your family is like ours we enjoy breakfast at any time during the day.

French Toast Muffins


8 large eggs

2 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Dash ground nutmeg

Dash ground ginger

French bread torn into cubes

1loaf Pepperidge Farm cinnamon swirl raisin bread

1 jar Smuckers pecans in syrup topping

6 slices turkey bacon

3 Hillshire Farm smoked sausages

1/2 onion

2 stalks green onion

1 apple

turkey bacon

Cook turkey bacon in skillet.  Set aside until cool then slice into small pieces.


Sauté half a chopped onion and chopped green onion in a pan.  Once it starts to brown add crumbled sausages stirring until browned.  Set aside and let cool.

cooked apples

In small pot add peeled and sliced apple.  Add 2 tablespoons of water.  Sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  Cook until it gets soft.  Set aside and let cool.

French Toast Muffins

Line muffin tin with baking cups and spray with non stick cooking spray.

Cut bread into cubes and fill each muffin tip well up with bread.

Add sausage, bacon, apples and pecans to each tin.

French Toast Muffin Collage

In large bowl whisk together milk, eggs, sugar and cinnamon.  Carefully pour this mixture over each muffin tin.  Press down gently on the bread to allow more liquid to be absorbed.

Wrap thoroughly with clear wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake muffins for 25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.  Let muffins cool.  Serve with maple syrup.

French Toast Muffin Recipe Card

This recipe can be easily modified to suit your tastes.  For example you can use strawberries instead of apples or use regular bacon instead of turkey bacon.  Since I made these for a large gathering I made many batches some with more or less ingredients.

Do you love French toast?  Have you tried the muffin version?


“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Lewis Carroll

“Early bird
Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.
If you’re a bird, be an early bird—
But if you’re a worm, sleep late.”  Shel Silverstein

“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. ” John Gunther  

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Miami Culinary and Cocktail Tours

Culinary travel is the pursuit of unique and memorable experiences of all kinds.  It is making the food and drink an essential part of your travel.  When people make their travel plans they usually focus on the destinations without realizing how food and drink can immerse you in the local culture.  It doesn’t mean visiting only five star restaurants but it does mean local and interesting.   It connects you to the people which are the heart of the place you are visiting.  Learning about the food and how it’s prepared not only teaches, it connects you with the destinations history.

Miami Culinary Tours

Last weekend I took a South Beach happy hour cocktail tour which walked us through Miami Beach’s historic art deco district.  The tour involves visiting five hot spots and trying out a different specialty drink at each stop.  South Beach is known for being glam, gaudy and expensive.  For some it might even be intimidating which is why tours are such a great choice since you are personally guided to the hottest spots in South Beach by local experts.

Our Miami Culinary tour guide Richie was charismatic, entertaining and informative.  I’ve been on tours where the guide nearly put me to sleep but this was not the case with the Miami culinary tour.  Richie started the tour at a Colombian spot on Washington Avenue called Bolivar.  Since this was a cocktail tour he wanted to make sure to we had something to eat since drinking on an empty stomach will ensure it will go straight to your head.  We were served tasty Colombian style corn empanadas stuffed with potatoes and meat as well as patacon topped with deliciously seasoned chicken.  The food was authentic and very good.  Richie gave the group Spanish lessons while we ate and sipped on refajos.

Colombian Refajo

Refajo is a typical Colombian drink made with beer and cola.  I’m from Puerto Rico so I could taste the sweetness of the cola champaign immediately.  I’m not a beer drinker but this was a nice twist.  Before we left Richie wanted us to try Colombia’s national drink.  Aguardiente is a very strong alcoholic beverage made from anise and sugar cane.  The translation is fire water and is pretty accurate.  The drink has a licorice flavor and packs a punch so watch out.

Continuing on through South Beach’s colorful neon scenic backdrop we learned more about the city through Richie’s colorful anecdotes and tidbits of facts and history.  He shared many interesting facts about local icons, characters and actors.  By the end of the night the group really had a feel for Miami Beach culture and what life here is like.

Tudor South Beach

The tour went on and we got to try great mojitos at the newly renovated Larios, one of Gloria and Emilio Estefan restaurants.  My favorite part of the tour was drinking a sunset on the beautiful romantic rooftop of the Tudor as the sun was setting.  I do like vodka drinks and the combination of vodka and pineapple was divine.  Our bartender, Jason, surprised the group with a shot of coconut flavored vodka with pineapple juice.  It was delicious and had the group feeling fine.  The tour ended at the iconic Tides hotel with a fruity mango tequila drink which was very good especially if you like tequila.  As a Floridian I really enjoy learning new things and having new experiences.  It was fun meeting new people and adding new flavors to my travels.

5 Reasons to Take a Culinary Tour

  •  Get to know the local hot spots.
  • Learn about local celebrities and history.
  • Try new cuisine and cocktails.
  • Learn how to make them yourself.
  • Have fun meeting new people or take your friends on a private tour.

mct Collage

I was invited to join this tour in exchange for my honest review and am very happy to report the tour delivered on their promise of good food and drinks and an all around good time.  I recommend joining a tour to really get to know the history and even local gossip of the place you’re visiting.  It’s a great way to get intimate with the Miami Beach community and get a true taste and feel of the local culture as told by local experts.  You can check Miami Culinary Tours website as they have a variety of styles of tours to meet different foodie types.  I plan on trying the other tours in the near future.

 Have you taken a culinary tour?  What did you think?

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One of My Secrets for Great Tasting Food: Basic Sofrito Recipe

Sofrito Recipe

Here’s my secret to great tasting food.  There’s nothing that will infuse your dish with flavors that will pop in your mouth more than freshly cut herbs and vegetables.  This is a traditional Puerto Rican recipe handed down in my family called sofrito.  I use this to season foods.  It is the base ingredient for many Puerto Rican dishes.  When I cook my meals are infused with loads of flavor, lots of nutrition and loving intentions.  This is my basic sofrito recipe.

What is Sofrito?

Sofrito is a mix of vegetables and herbs which is a seasoning used to give a certain flavor, aroma and taste.

What can I add sofrito to?

Just about anything:

– Chicken, meats and fish

– Seafood                                  -Pork

– Rice                                         – Beans

– Tortilla Espanola               – Frittata

– Stew                                         – Soups

– Eggs                                         – Tacos

This is my basic sofrito recipe.

1 large bunch of cilantro

3 leaves of culantro

1 clove garlic

1/2 a sweet onion

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Place the cilantro, culantro, onions and garlic in food processor and process until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, add the olive oil until smooth.

Super Easy Cooking Tip

If you roast the vegetables before chopping them, your sofrito will taste even better.

Super Easy Time Saving Tip

The sofrito will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  A super easy time saving tip is to freeze it for later use.  You can use an ice tray just remember to cover it so it doesn’t get yucky freezer burn.  Then you can pop them out and place them into a plastic zip lock bag.  So the next time you go to cook you have saved yourself the time of preparing these steps.

Like I said this is my own version of a basic sofrito mix and depending on what I’m using it for I will add more vegetables.  For more ideas here’s a list of fresh ingredients you can add to your sofrito:

  • Sweet peppers
  • Green Peppers
  • Red Peppers
  • Ajices Dulces these are a variety of sweet small perennial peppers found in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Tomatoes
  • Oregano
  • Coriander Seeds

Keep calm and just add sofrito

There are many varieties of sofrito.  Do you have a particular favorite?

Did you try the recipe? Tell me what you think.


“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” W.C. Fields

“Beauty fades, but cooking is eternal.” Cassandra Clare

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”  Julia Child

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