El Titan de Bronze Cigar MFG., Miami

I sought a birthday gift for my dad that he’d enjoy but wouldn’t necessarily buy for himself. Since he had an affinity for cigars and I planned on checking out Little Havana anyway, El Titan de Bronze Cigar Mfg. caught my eye. The shop produces cigars, instead of merely selling them. I knew he’d appreciate the Cuban-style manufacturing, and I wanted to see the factory. One room housed the production area and retail shop. The operation was much smaller than expected.

Earthy scents wafted past me. A group of cheerful cigar rollers sat at tables situated steps away from showcases. They effortlessly created one gem after another. The co-owner, Sandy Cobas, greeted me.  I told her that I caught a bus close to there but still had some walking to do. She allowed me use of the restroom upon request and told me to help myself to cold water in the kitchen. Her warmth extended throughout the ordering process. We chatted a bit about the shop and how I discovered it.

Sandy read the list of my dad’s preferences. She retrieved the Titan Grand Reserve Cameron for me and offered a substitute for the discontinued Belicosco. I told her I wanted to buy him a third type. She then mentioned another cigar they were phasing out and offering at a discount. Sandy thought it would fit my dad’s wish for something small, short and mild. After she packaged my selections, I asked if she was familiar with a restaurant close by. She offered her opinion and suggested I travel by cab then called one for me. My dad enjoyed his cigars; I enjoyed the experience of purchasing them. I still don’t know much about cigars, but I know I’d recommend El Titan de Bronze to any serious aficionado.


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Sally's Gluten-Free Bakery, Alpharetta

Lately my sister, Nicole, has delved into trying gluten-free foods. Finding flavorful bread and baked goods has proved challenging. We each tried Sally's Gluten-Free Bakery and found that their products are viable options.

Sally's Gluten Free

Sally's is, essentially, a small storefront. Refrigerated cases contain take-and-bake pizzas. Samples of bread and sweets line the checkout counter. The guy who helped me gave a bit of info on the cookies, breads and cupcakes without overselling them. He also refrained from pressuring me to add another product to my tab after I told him I wanted to redeem a deal for a free mini loaf. He advised that the pumpkin loaf I picked would last 2-3 days (the package stated less time) and that I could freeze it immediately and enjoy it later. I also purchased a pack of chocolate chip cookies.

I ate half of the loaf two days later. Even when I finished it off, the loaf remained moist. Initially, I noted the lack of butter in and thicker consistency of this soy, gluten, egg and dairy-free product. Warming spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger) permeated the bread. The more I tasted, the more I liked it.

chocolate chip cookies

Thin and crunchy, the cookies contained butter and diary. No one would have guessed they lacked gluten. A few days after purchase, they too remained fresh. Six come in a small pack. They are so rich that two were enough to satisfy me, but they were so scrumptious that I ate three.

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Free Shopping Bag

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Starbucks Espresso Coupon

Starbucks CouponCheck your inbox if you're a My Starbucks Rewards member. They just issued a $1 off coupon for any espresso beverage. It seems they're sending coupons every month now.


Apple Maple Chicken Sausage with Coconut Curry

My nephews devoured this sausage one morning after I assured them they could stomach the apples in it. I soon discovered that it goes well with dinner dishes too!

You'll need approximately:
  • 1 cup Trader Joe's Light Coconut Milk
  • .5 cup water
  • .75 cup Mahatma Jasmine Rice
  • 1 small chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tsp grape seed oil
  • 1 package Al-Fresco Apple Maple Chicken Sausage
  • 1 jar Seeds of Change Organic Mild Coconut Simmer Sauce
Place rice in steamer. Pour milk and water over it. Steam for about 20 minutes or until liquid absorbed. Meanwhile, chop onion into small chunks and the meat into bite-size pieces. Heat oil in saucepan on medium. Add onion and sausage. It is already fully cooked, so time will be based on the desired level of sear. Cover with simmer sauce. Simmer on lowest setting, stirring until warmed through. Makes about 4 servings.


Free Pinkberry Yogurt

The company's press release says "Pinkberrygreek is fresh, not frozen, all-natural Greek yogurt with no added sugar, thickeners or preservatives." Grab a full-size sample only on Wednesdays in April from 11a.m. – 2 p.m.


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Taste Bakery Cafe, Miami Beach

Yelp reviews led me to Taste as an option for breakfast on the go. I arrived via the local bus, which stops right across the street. My tight schedule prevented me from dining in although the atmosphere looked inviting. Inside was clean (including the restroom) and cozy with a variety of seating options. Patio dining was also available. The lemon ginger muffin I wanted was no longer on the menu, but I didn’t leave unsatisfied. While I studied the display case, the staff was helpful and patient. To my surprise, they had a pistachio muffin. This underrated nut is one of my favorites, so I pounce on the opportunity to try dishes featuring it.

Pistachio Muffins
If only I'd discovered this delight before I'd plopped down nearly $7 on a mediocre slice of pistachio cake from a publicized SOBE eatery. Taste’s muffin was moist, full of nuts, and a substantial serving size.

Believe me, I contemplated stopping by again on my way to the airport. Fear of missing my flight kept me from doing so. I regret not ordering two muffins and will definitely return should I visit Miami again. Their menu also features salads, wraps, sandwiches and coffee. Taste is an appropriate name for this eatery. The pistachio muffin was the tastiest bite I had in Miami.

Visit http://taste-bakery.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3&Itemid=3
to view the bakery's photo gallery.


Free Reach Floss

Kroger has Reach Floss on sale for $1. Combine that deal with a $1off 2 coupon on Coupons.com. If you purchase four a Catalina coupon will print at the register for $3 off your next grocery purchase, making them free.


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Spiced Right Barbeque, Suwannee GA

After watching an episode of United Tastes of America, I sought out finger-licking ribs. Most places I found online were farther than I wanted to drive or closed on Sundays. Spiced Right won my patronage by default.
Pork Ribs

The ribs might've been a fluke, but I won't return to find out. I pretended the parched top layers didn't exist. Futile attempts at gnawing through them left no alternative. I peeled them off but dryness awaited underneath.

If I could judge this establishment solely on customer service, it would rank highly. I left unfulfilled. Some of the fresh-cut fries were undercooked. The brisket verged on being overdone. It was spiced right as were the collards.

Collard greens and friesNo heavy hands prepared those greens. Laced with slightly salty pork, a well-orchestrated symphony of sweetness and acidity enveloped each leaf. Regretfully, the merits of this side dish were not enough to erase all the wrongs I encountered.