after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

greetings from spring

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t says:  In December, g had a feeling that Philly was going to get two March snowfalls back-to-back on the week of her birthday, so she preemptively decided that we should visit her grandparents in Florida.  (Ok, that’s not how it really went, but just go with it.)  So we did visit Florida, and it was a great trip!  Good time with family, good food, good weather:

p.s. we did leave by the time it rained on the Friday forecast

Most of our trip was in Vero Beach (which is close to Wabasso Beach, as Apple is trying to tell me).  Here’s a sampling of the weather.  And yes, we did leave by the time it rained on the Friday forecast.


This is what 80 degrees looks like in Florida.  We awoke each morning to warmth and greenery.  There was a pool involved, too.


g and I did visit Key West while we were in Florida as well, and most of our pictures are from that part of the vacation (g likes to plant vacations within vacations – it makes them seem longer).  Here is a blurry shot of 5 Brothers Grocery.  It’s like a corner store … except it has a kitchen that makes some AWESOME cuban sandwiches and delicious cafe con leche (although not “the best” like we had read).


Like any good Key West tourist, we visited the butterfly conservatory.  We expected this thing to be quite a letdown – I mean how many butterflies would they actually let you frolick through?  Answer: a helluvalot!  There were tons!  But a lot were sneaky, because they’d look like this when they were perched among the vegetation (they put out some plates of fruit to make them more recognizable) …


but then they open their wings and you’re greeted with the most brilliant, shimmering colors that no iPhone could do justice to.  Oh well – I guess you’ll have to take my word for it.  And there were so many that I was genuinely worried I’d step on one.  g had a butterfly stalker, as did g’s grandmother.  I snapped their pix, but have to omit them here to preserve anonymity.


Oh yea – and there were two flamingoes in the conservatory, too!  Crazy!


We decided that if we were going to be less than 100 miles to Cuba, we should probably eat some Cuban food, right?  And the one restaurant that pops up in every search for “Cuban food Key West” is this one: El Siboney.  They don’t do reservations, but we figured we’d hop on in with the early birds, as we were starving from our car ride.


So … if you went to a Cuban restaurant, what would you get?  PORK of course!


g started us off with some tostones, which were done fabulously.  MAN I wish I cooked with more plantains …


I went for the roast pork + yuca + tamale and it, despite looking like a boreing plate of brown, knocked my socks off.  I had to stop myself from finishing the dish (I’m not sure if eating THAT much yuca is that wise).  It had the “home-cooked” quality to it reminiscent of when v cooks up her pork.  I actually contemplated canceling our other reservations for dinner in Key West to come back here …


g also had the roast pork, but hers came with rice and sweet plantains (that’s right – g double-fisted plantains: savory and sweet).  Those plantains were so frickin’ good.  g forced me to eat her remainders because “it’d be a crime to leave any”.  I happily obliged.


any why not have some creamy delicious flan to finish off the meal?  it perfectly slid into the empty spaces of my stomach to push me to an almost-uncomfortable level of fullness.  Thank goodness we ate so early – it’d take me until bedtime just to digest it all!


g’s grandparents knew a guy who owned a fudge shop – so we dropped on by after dinner …


HUGE MISTAKE!!  I was oh-so-tempted when surrounded by all that delicious fudge.  My mouth said, “Bring it on”, while my stomach said, “why do you hate me so?”.  A battle of wills ensued.  In the end, I forewent the fudge … as I later found out that they ship anywhere!!!  Woohoo!


I had recuperated by the next morning … where, in honor of g’s birthday, we started the day off going to a donut cafe.  Why did we choose this one … ?


BOOM!  That’s why.  I was so giddy that I forgot how to operate my iPhone and left my finger in the picture (ugh – I HATE it when that happens).  We left with a half-dozen donuts for 4 people.  It was totally worth it.  Strawberry and cream was the best, closely followed by Key Lime Pie.  But in the end, when you’re talking donuts, are there any real “losers”?


We did try out the Cuban Coffee Queen, and let’s say that THAT con leche put some spring in our step.  Tasted wonderful.  We didn’t have a chance to sample the other cuisine, though (our hands were full of donuts).


We went to Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Cafe for a quick bite for lunch … and while things like shrimp quesadilla were “just fine” …


… the REAL winner was the Key Lime Pie.  Hell-yea, it’s gimicky (you roll up in there and they have the pie pre-sliced and ready to sell), but when the pie tastes this good, who cares?  The secret is in the crust: a perfect crumb crust is necessary, which Kermit’s delivered.  Follow that up with a creamy-creamy filling that has a tart limey finish, and you have a winner.  I’m not sure it’s the best I’ve ever had, but it was pretty gosh darn legit.


And our last meal in Key West was at Nine One Five (i.e. 915 Duvall).  In general this restaurant was like every other Contemporary American restaurant we’ve ever been to.  And yes, they were trying very hard to out-contemporary other places (i.e. Brussels sprouts, pork belly, random grains were in abundance), I decided to see what they’d do to a whole fish.  Holy crap this yellowtail was delightful.  They presented me with the whole fish, gave me a strategy session on how best to conquer it, and off I went.  All my dinnermates ventured a nicely done scallops dish … but I suspect it probably wasn’t quite the caliber of Talula’s Garden, so it wasn’t something worth writing home about …

As usual, there were lots of food pictures – but we did do other things in Key West, too!  We saw 6-fingered cats at Hemingway House.  We visited the outside of Truman’s Little White House (we didn’t bother going inside).  We also did one of those hop-on-hop-off things (I mean, why not?  It’s like sight-seeing AND transportation all in one!).  Duvall street offered quite a few sights (although Spring Break was just starting up the weekend we went).  In the end, we quite enjoyed the cute little island.  Sure it’s a little over-priced, but similar in our minds to a visit of New Orleans (just a whole lot smaller).

As for the rest of our Florida vacay – it involved so much rest and relaxation that I accomplished only 50% of the work I set out to do (and by “work”, I mean things like this blog).  That’s a sign of an excellent vacation.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

7 March 2015 at 1:55pm

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