Dinner with a Twist at Barley and Swine

Barley&Swine - Mac-n-Cheese

Barley&Swine – Mac-n-Cheese

Located in Downtown Dadeland, this Gastro pub has earned the title of best croquetta’s in town! Recommended to us by our good friend Kelci, Barley and Swine is a new spot that serves up its own brand of American Comfort food. With Latin and Asian flavors fused into every dish, this spot is great for trying things with a twist. Jessica and I had a great time at this restaurant and this is what we ordered.

Barley&Swine - Croquetas

Barley&Swine – Croquetas

Croquetta’s – serrano ham, manchego cheese, guava sauce and parmesan cheese. Hands down, best Croquetta’s I’ve ever had. Each bite was both pure joy and pure sadness. Pure joy because of its perfect combination of flavors and pure sadness because of its ability to disappear so quickly. I highly recommend these to anyone who’s willing to step outside of their comfort zone. You won’t regret it.
Barley&Swine - Wine and Beer

Beer – American Bourbon Ale and Wine – House white wine. Being a gastro pub, a large selection of beers could always be expected. This one in particular was delicious. Jessica got the house white wine which came chilled and was great too.

Barley&Swine - Fried Green Tomatoes

Barley&Swine – Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes – pimiento cheese, crispy bacon and pimiento aioli. The presentation of these fried green tomatoes was unfortunately better than their actual taste. While the pimiento aioli was a great addition to the fried green tomatoes, the breading was too thick. This resulted in a mushy tomato with a crunchy exterior which was not terrible, but I wouldn’t order it again.

Barley&Swine - Mac-n-Cheese

Barley&Swine – Mac-n-Cheese

House Mac & Cheese – large shell pasta – house blended cheese. Wow. I mean Wow. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to enjoy Mac & Cheese from anywhere else ever again. This dish of Mac & Cheese is served in the same cast iron skillet that it is cooked in. While in the picture you may think that the tops of the shells were charred and burnt, you would be incorrect. Those seemingly burnt shells were just as good as the ones on the bottom making this dish an absolute winner in my book. I highly recommend this one to all food lovers as well.

Barley and Swine is definitely a great place to try both new and classic dishes. I will be coming back for an order of those Croquetta’s and I may stay for another Mac & Cheese when I do. Thanks for stopping by!

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Casual Miami Dinner at the Pincho Factory

Pincho Burger and Bacon Cheddar Fries

Pincho Burger and Bacon Cheddar Fries

Pincho Factory is a small casual restaurant with a big reputation in the Miami area. Known for their pincho’s and burgers, Jessica and I decided to give the burgers a shot. (I’m becoming slightly concerned at how often I order burgers. Leave it to blogging to realize you’re a burger addict!) After placing our order and taking a seat, we could not help but realize the diversity of the crowd around us. People from all walks of life gathered under a small roof to enjoy some really great food. It doesn’t get much better than that. So here’s what we ordered…

Mimosa and Heineken

Mimosa and Heineken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First order of business is always ordering a drink. I went with an ice cold Heineken (Right) and Jessica went with a fresh Mimosa (Left). Who says Mimosas are only for brunch. We enjoyed both drinks.

Pincho Burger and Bacon Cheddar Fries (Left) Toston Burger (Right)

Pincho Burger and Bacon Cheddar Fries (Left) Toston Burger (Right)

Next comes the Pincho Burger and Bacon Cheddar French Fries (Left). Obviously this isn’t a meal that I would recommend anyone eat often, but when you feel like taking a break from the healthy stuff this sure does hit the spot. The Pincho Burger was cooked to juicy perfection with lettuce, tomato, potato sticks and their special sauce. The Bacon Cheddar fries came with a ranch dressing on top. Each bite was both delicious and depressing. Delicious in taste but depressing in that I could tell it was a calorie bomb. Another and perhaps more renowned dish is the Toston Burger (Right) which Jessica ordered. Sandwiched between two tostones (fried plantains) comes a well-cooked burger with jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and a homemade cilantro sauce. If I return to the Pincho Factory I might consider ordering that burger instead. With the innovative toston buns and that amazing cilantro sauce, this burger is in a category of its own. Keep in mind though that the burger is super filling and likely to be too much for one person. Jessica could attest to that.

2nd Round

2nd Round

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desert ended up being a second round for us. After such a filling meal, it was all that we could bare.

My favorite part of our dinner was honestly the bill. Great prices and really unique food are always a great combination. For anyone thinking of going to the Pincho Factory I would strongly recommend doing so on a day that you’re starving. The burgers are very heavy and a side of bacon cheddar fries might put you in a food coma. Aside from that, I really enjoyed our dinner and plan on trying their Pincho’s next time. Thanks for stopping by!

The Machine Gun Preacher

sam childers orphanage

Sam Childers helping children in his orphanage

sam childers with southern sudanese militia

Sam Childers with his anti-LRA militia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever heard of the man that the Southern Sudanese call the “Machine Gun Preacher”? If you haven’t, then let me tell you a little bit about the man who has risked everything to save the children of Southern Sudan and Northern Uganda in Africa. The name Machine Gun Preacher was bestowed upon Sam Childers by the Southern Sudanese locals after witnessing several of his missions. Sam decided to build an orphanage in one of the most militarily active villages in Southern Sudan named Nimule, which borders Uganda. In addition to operating the orphanage, Sam Childers actively hunts down the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to rescue children from the brutal rebel forces. All the while, Sam Childers sold his business in the U.S. and anything else that he could to help fund his own efforts.

As a child and young adult, Sam Childers was a trouble maker. While consuming and selling hard drugs, Sam eventually took up arms and engaged in extreme violence. He learned how to use a shotgun so that he could protect his partners and intimidate his competitors. However after many years of drug fueled violence, Sam began to fear for his life. His wife Lynn began going back to church and with time she was able to convince Sam to come with her. Gradually, Sam began to leave the hard drugs and start working a legitimate job as a construction worker. A few years later he became drug free entirely and opened his own construction business.

Sam Childers was now an avid church goer, a faithful husband and a Father. One day after listening to a pastor from Africa, Sam joined the man on a mission to South Sudan. The trip changed Sam Childers forever. He saw terrible things when he went to South Sudan. Children missing limbs, mothers being hospitalized after being brutally raped and many more horrifying injuries. The experience led Sam to venture on his own until finally stumbling upon the border village of Nimule, where God inspired him to build an orphanage. From that point on, Sam Childers has been fighting the LRA and operating his orphanage.

In 2011, a movie titled “Machine Gun Preacher” chronicled the story of Sam Childers. Today Sam Childers continues to fight the LRA and help the orphaned children of Southern Sudan. After watching the film and researching his story, I found that some people find his mission to be controversial. They claim that his use of weapons and violence reduces the effectiveness of his mission. However, I do not share the same opinion. While I may not agree with everything the man does, I recognize that sometimes, drastic problems require drastic solutions. Today, Sam’s orphanage has helped over 1,000 children and it is the largest orphanage in Southern Sudan. This story has inspired me and shown that one man really can make a difference in the world.

Visit http://www.machinegunpreacher.org to learn more about Sam Childers mission. There is a link on the page where you can donate money to his cause. If you were inspired by Sam and his mission, then please help him maintain his operation by giving a donation. If you decide to give money to his mission, leave me a comment and let me know that you did. I would love to hear back from you guys and know what you think about his mission.

South Sudan in Africa

South Sudan in Africa

Children in Turalei

Children in Turalei

Cannibal Warlord, General “Butt Naked”

Do you remember the last time that you ate a child’s heart so that you could be invincible in battle? Can’t recall ever doing so? Well take a look at this documentary that I found on youtube.com. The documentary was produced by Vice News, a news agency that does in depth reporting across the globe. In this documentary Shane Smith, Vice News co-founder and field correspondent, travels to the west African nation of Liberia to investigate the so called Cannibal Warlords that live there. Let me warn you that the documentary has some strong content.

After exploring several parts of Liberia, Shane Smith lands a shady interview with former General “Butt Naked.” The general, who gave himself the name “Butt Naked”, explains the origin of his name to Shane. He tells the reporter that he chose this name because of his combat strategy during Liberia’s civil war. A strategy in which he would instruct his rebel soldiers to strip down completely before battle. Once fully nude, he would have his soldiers bring an innocent child to him for ritualistic purposes. He would then cut the child’s heart out of his/her chest, while still alive, and have each of his soldiers consume a piece of it. General “Butt Naked” explained to his soldiers that this sacrifice would bring them magical powers in combat and make them invincible. Only then would the General and his soldiers go into battle, while still completely nude I should add. This ritual of sacrifice was repeated before every single battle, thus causing the needless slaughter of hundreds of innocent children during the war.

Today General “Butt Naked” spends his days preaching to his community. He converted to Christianity after the war and now preaches at churches around Liberia about his struggle with his violent past. Former victims of his cannibal rituals say that he converted to Christianity only to avoid punishment for his war crimes. So the former general’s life is now in constant danger of attack from people affected by his military past. According to him these are false accusations. He says that the reason he converted to Christianity was so that he could be a better person and more importantly a better father to his young daughter. Though he takes the full blame for his actions, he recognizes that if his parents would have raised him instead of abandon him, then he might be a different man today. That thought is what motivates him to be a better father and a better person with the help of Christianity.

I tried to put myself in his shoes and imagine what life must have been like for him in Liberia. I wonder what kind of trauma he experienced before deciding that killing children and eating their hearts was the right thing to do. Maybe he’s just a psychopath with no remorse, incapable of distinguishing right from wrong. However it seems odd to me that a person who is incapable of knowing right from wrong would choose to devote the rest of his life to Christianity seeking forgiveness for his sins. The question of whether or not this man should be executed for his crimes remains a mixed issue. Does punishing a person’s ignorance with death solve the issue of ignorance? Does not punishing this man solve the issue of ignorance? I’m not sure what the solution is, if there even is a solution, but what I do know is that this country and its people are completely foreign to me. I will pray for them and hope that change comes sooner than later…

I would love to hear from someone living in Liberia. If you are from there or have family that lives there, please reply to this blog post. I want to hear your story and know what it is like for you as a citizen of Liberia. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Post Sources

cia.gov

youtube.com

Liberia in Africa Liberia with neighbors

Source (Picture 1)                                                                              Source (Picture 2)

 

 

15 Quick Facts about Liberia

Official Language: English (Though only 20% of the population exclusively speaks English)

President: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, since 2006 (She was reelected in 2011 with 90.7% of the total vote in her favor)

Religion: 85.6% Christian, 12.2% Muslim

Total Population: 4,092,310

Capital: Monrovia

Median Age of Population: 18 years old (U.S. median age: 37 years old)

Sanitation Facility Access: 18.2% of the total population (81.8% with no access to restrooms or sewage infrastructure)

Health Expenditures: 19.5% of GDP

Physician Density: 0.01 Physicians/1000 people (Whatever you do don’t get sick in Liberia)

Education Expenditures: 2.8% of GDP

Total GDP: $2.89 Billion U.S. Dollars (Mark Zuckerberg’s Net Worth: $26.6 Billion U.S. Dollars)

Average Annual Income (Per Person): $700.00 U.S. Dollars (Qatar’s average is the highest at: $102,100 U.S. Dollars)

Privately Owned T.V. Stations: 3

Total Internet Users: 20,000 people (That’s less than 1% of the entire population)

Transnational Issues: Human Trafficking, Drug Trafficking, Civil Unrest, Refugee Disputes with Neighboring Countries