Mikey shares his experience of his fifth and final day in Miami
On final day before we went back to the airport in the afternoon, I went to one of the best places I visited all week for additional inspiration - Little Havana.
Little Havana is inevitably rich in Cuban culture. If you’re looking for an incredible Cuban sandwich or a Cafecito, there is certainly no shortage of them here. However, the culinary scene in Little Havana goes far beyond its Cuban roots. A true melting pot of gastronomic diversity, the district is home to everything from impressive Thai options at Lung Yai Thai Tapas to Mexican cuisine at Mi Rinconcito Mexicano.
The first place we visited was El Ray De Las Fritas. The eatery provided one dish I would love to bring back into the NEC within our Streat Kitchen concept. Fritas (Cuban Hamburger topped with shoestring potatoes) and was everywhere - everyone had nothing but positivity for it.
You could see the history and tradition behind the restaurant and the dish, delivering it on-point time in, time out, with very little staff to achieve this. In my opinion, the perfect model.
This location has been featured in Netflix series on Miami Food and is a local legend with frequent visits from celebrity guests. We ordered one Frita, two Croquettes, one Guava Pie and two Coffees that came to only $15.
The second place we visited was a famous Cuban sandwich operator called Sanguich. The famous Cuban sandwich is always spoken about and ‘the hole in the wall’ (as I call it) was booming with takeaway providers and hosted a busy seating area.
Watching the operation was amazing, with (again) clever use of tech in KVS screens and motion bumping along the line. You could see the sophisticated flow from till to food prep, to toaster, to cutter to table service, and two porters constantly walking around everyone tidying as they go. It was spotless and the service very slick.
Then to finish off the Havana tour we ended with something we all wanted after a hot walking morning – ice cream!
We visited a place called Azucar Ice Cream. This one we chose as it boasted selling innovative flavours, all handmade using only local ingredients. I couldn’t just have one (maybe five was a push, but they all tasted amazing).
With my new love for Guava, I obviously had to try the Guava sauced ice-cream. This shop is also featured on BBC and YouTube – they are an ice cream shop worthy of status.
Some of the amazing flavours included:
- Abuela maria
- Café con leche (cuban coffee & oreo)
- El mani loco (vanilla ice cream, nutter butter cookies, reese's cups, and peanut butter) 🥜
- Willy cherino (bourbon ice cream with dark cherries)
- Elvis (peanut butter n' banana) 🥜
- Beam me up (bourbon & heath bar)
- Burn in hell fidel (chocolate ice cram with cayenne pepper)
- El cochino baracho (jim beam ice cream, with candied bacon, and maple syrup)
- Bourbon buns (jim beam ice cream with knaus berry farms cinnamon rolls)
There were a few others things about Little Havana that stood out for me:
- A McDonalds like no other - Little Havana to keep its look and feel of its heritage. McDonalds is no different, they design had to fit into the community.
- Bars inside supermarkets - in Little Havana I think there is alcohol or beer sold in every outlet – even pints in the ice cream shop.
And that finished the last day! I took one last picture outside the hotel of the stunning views and walks I woke up too then it was time for the fun of Miami Airport (I still was taking pictures of the food there, I so need to stop) and travel back to Heathrow then back to Birmingham then back to Walsall home.
A lot of travelling gave me the chance to reflect on what was a once in a lifetime opportunity with some great people, amazing environments and outstanding food to entertain us all.
Now back on UK soil, I have shared my learnings with the ‘HUB – The Innovation Team’, a group of individuals across all experience levels, providing time and resource to developing innovative concepts.
I look forward to working alongside the culinary team at the NEC to replicate some of these innovative delights and see what concepts we can exciting introduce for our customers.