We were pretty excited to be going back to New York. Greg and I had not visited together for two years, so it was time. Time for family, friends, half a cow, Italian food, Derek Jeter, and copious amounts of drinking. The flight was pretty non-descript, but the taxi out of Newark was….interesting. First off, let me show my age when I say that I miss the days when cabbies actually KNEW where they were driving. Now mind you, they’d sometimes drive you to B.F.E. if they sniffed “tourist”, but still–I miss the pre-gps days (except for mine, I NEED that device). So we went to the proper area to “order” our cab with the address of the rental car company and paid our fare beforehand. Perfect, no reason to go on the “scenic route” to beautiful downtown Newark <shudder>. Not-so-perfect. Enter the cabbie who asked Greg to “plug the address into this….”
Except the device didn’t look as good as this. Except his gps looked like he ran it over with his cab a few times. Seriously, are you FUCKING kidding me? If we WANTED to do this, we wouldn’t have hired HIM! Sure, we could’ve rented the car at Newark–it was a lot more expensive so I guess that’s what we get for trying to be cheap, but come on! The moment cabbie handed Greg the old piece of shit gps, it’s battery died. Of course it did. So then we pulled over while cars whizzed by us. Did I mention it was hot? And that once again, I was in a cab during the summer with no a/c? Yeah, that too. So cabbie pulled over to call the guy at the rental car company–I don’t remember which one–doesn’t matter. I do know that I could hear through the cabbie’s cell phone that rental car guy was Italian. Please. Aside from being Italian, I didn’t live among them for 47 years and not hear a paesan dialect a mile away (in this case, 5 miles away). One thing was for certain, “Italian Rental Car Guy” had no use for the cabbie. With a “Yeah yeah, I’m busy whaddya want? Yah, I can’t hea-ah you” ::::Click::::: Another phone call and 20 minutes in the sauna cab, where we witnessed passengers in two cars flipping each other off and yelling. Welcome to Jersey indeed–and to downtown Newark. Let’s get that rental car and GTFO.
So we were on the road to Long Island to see our friends Peter and Arleen. Greg has known them since his days at the old Ramada Inn (now “The Inn of Key West”). So here’s the thing about our Garmin (whom I call “Judy”)….if there are more than 2 people in a car, the passenger should not have her eyes only on Judy. That’s how
people we kinda sorta missed the detour, sooooo….we took an accidental exit off the GW Bridge and into Washington Heights late in the afternoon. It took a long time in traffic to get situated, but eventually we did. When we arrived, our guest bedroom was ready and Arleen was pouring the wine. Thank you, Peter and Arleen. That wasn’t even the half of it 🙂
Peter and Arleen have been asking us to visit for years. They’ve also wanted to take us to Peter Luger for years. There are two Lugers: the original in Brooklyn and another in Great Neck (Long Island). Peter and Arleen asked Greg to choose the wine and he obliged: Chateau Montelena Cabernet. Yummmm!
Then they arrived: two orders of “Steak For Two”The masterful handy work of the waiter was flawless. Clinking the cutlery and “basting” the meat, it seemed everything was synchronized. Then again, some of those waiters have worked at Peter Luger for 30 years.
And then there were the side dishes! Luger’s special German fried potatoes and creamed spinach. Oh, don’t despair about that little puddle of red. I tried the Peter Luger Steak Sauce and dipped the potatoes….not the steak! The sauce is okay but the potatoes are awesome on their own.
Of course we were stuffed to the absolute gills. But since Peter insisted upon dessert, what could we say? Four spoons, please? Luger’s Special “Holy Cow” Hot Fudge Sundae with homemade “Schlag” (whipped cream).
It was packed for a Tuesday night, though from what I hear, it’s packed every night. Apparently there was such a demand from Lawng Islandehs for a Luger of their very own that they put a second location in Great Neck. Peter and Arleen have been regular customers of PL for 30 years +/- and the staff does everything they can to make our wonderful friends happy. I didn’t have the nerve to ask our waiter to shove my ass out the door, so I opted to roll prior to gratuitous photos. As I said on my Facebook page….this is what 20+ years of friendship looks like. Thank you for everything, Peter and Arleen. You are the best!
So the next morning, it was on to upstate….the real upstate, not Poughkeepsie. Before getting on the road, Peter sent us on our way with some very special cookies. This box held the famous Black and White cookies. So famous in fact, that Seinfeld dedicated some footage to them. There have been a few arguments regarding which is the better cookie: the Black and White or the Half Moon. There are some downstaters who insist they’re one and the same. No Central New Yorker, past or present, has made this argument. We KNOW they’re not the same. I did, however, have an experiment in mind for The Handsome Captain™. This would have to wait until we got to my parents’ though.
So we were on the road again. Getting out of LI was a helluva lot easier than getting into it and NO detours! Yay! One would think that since we ate a half cow the night before, we wouldn’t need to eat for, I dunno–a year. Not so. We got to my parents’ house, did some visiting, and took Mom to lunch. When I visit New York, I do not eat snapper, grouper, nor Cuban (anymore). Central New York especially is about Italian food. Like the Pasta Fagiole from Cafe Del Buono, yummmm!!!! One thing about living in Key West and visiting New York City and San Francisco is that prices in Central New York are downright cheap in comparison. PS–My leftovers provided 2 more lunches for the folks.
Greg’s lunch of choice was the Rustic Ham Sandwich: ham, roasted peppers, and melted provolone on garlic bread. SO GOOD! The fries were frozen so I don’t need to tell you how I feel about those. For the price point though, we had no other expectation. Besides, the melt-in-your-mouth garlic bread more than made up for them. Mom’s lunch wasn’t all that photogenic but still delish–stuffed eggplant!
You see, Greg was the perfect candidate. He’s not a Manhattanite nor a Central NYer; he had no skin in the game.Black and White on the left; Half Moon on the right. Which would he prefer? Well, for Greg, it was a draw. He preferred the vanilla, cookie consistency of the Black and White; I prefer the cakey Half Moon. He preferred the creamier frosting on the Half Moon, as do I. The Black and White icing seemed closer to (but not) a fondant….we just didn’t care for it. I admit that I’m biased, having grown up with Hemstrought’s Half Moons but I think they’re better. Sue me 🙂
The eating did need to stop, though….esp since we were meeting Wayne and Stephen not that many hours later.And we did, at Dominique’s Chesterfield Restaurant, East Utica.
As if the company wasn’t awesome enough, there was also the food. Utica, NY Italian comfort food. Fried calamari and another regional favorite, Greens Morelle (escarole, cherry peppers, garlic, prosciutto, oreganato mix, and imported Romano). A closer look. Deliciousness with spice and flavor prior to the entrées.
Next up, Chicken Riggies (created in this very restaurant)! It’s true, in the 1980s. As the name indicates, this dish consists of chicken, rigatoni and hot or sweet peppers in a spicy cream and tomato sauce. Every Central NY Italian restaurant has their variation of it. In my recipe, it’s hot cherry peppers all the way, baby. So here’s the thing about Italian food, especially that made at some local joint (or even in your Nonna’s kitchen). It isn’t always, shall I say, pretty? In fact, sometimes it can look like something the dog yakked up. Now I mean absolutely NO disrespect to homey Italian restaurants. Regular folks order this paesan comfort food, not for the aesthetics, but for the intense flavor. Chicken Riggies are a rare treat but how I enjoy them.
Greg opted for the duck special in a port wine sauce. Everything was amazing, especially with the Chianti. As lovely as the dinner and company was, we had to call it a night and head back to the hotel. Not a luxurious hotel since it wasn’t that kind of visit. This was a check-in on my parents and a visit with friends trip. We stayed at the newly-refurbished Red Roof Inn in North Utica and I’d do it again. Clean room, comfy bed, economical. It had a purpose.
The next morning, we grabbed some coffee at Fastrac and went to my parents’. After all, it was time to eat again 🙂Aqua Vino’s for lunch.
Greg ordered the Reuben, one of his favorite sandwiches–this one did not disappoint, especially with the side of homemade chips. I’m not a huge chip eater, but when they’re homemade, I do make exceptions. Yummy!!!!
Grilled Chicken over Aqua Vino Greens was my delicious choice! More greens, yay! Why? Because that’s what Italians eat in Utica and I’m sure not going to get them anywhere else unless I make them (which I’ll start doing here). As delicious as Aqua Vino’s greens were, they weren’t quite as good as Chesterfield’s. But still yummy. And my parents got another treat because half of my lunch got doggy-bagged 🙂 We took Mom for some shopping, and Greg made out like a bandit at Macy’s!
And a few hours later, it was time to go to Sylvan Beach and meet my friend Lisa. The place we decided upon was Harpoon Eddy’s–one of those lakeside places that opens just for the season.
So we went across the street to Harpoon’s “older sister” restaurant “Eddie’s Restaurant“. (Photo compliments of roadfood.com)Eddie’s has been around since 1934. My parents used to rent a camp and bring me here in the 1960s. We always had at least one meal at Eddie’s and always ended our meal with…Coconut Cream Pie!!!! SO good!!!! It tastes like childhood 🙂
And what a trip to Yankee Stadium! Mike and Ann surely know how it’s done! The jitney and 2 subway rides and we were there! It helped that we got there early. The Handsome Captain’s™ entrance into Yankee Stadium. He’ll become a Yankee fan yet!
When 8.2 million feels like a few too many. When we wonder if it’s really worth it. We have the Yankees.
Just some gratuitous posing 🙂
It wasn’t a sold out game, but I didn’t care. The last time I was at Yankee Stadium was 2008 and the last time I saw the Yankees was in interleague play (Miami, 2009). I couldn’t get up there to see a last Mo game, but that wasn’t going to happen with Derek Jeter. Nooooooooo.
And the boys were sure enjoying themselves! He’s SO going to be a New York Yankees fan!!! Squee!!! The game was fun (we won!) and it was great to be at the stadium again….to be at Stan’s again….to feel a part of the NYY again. So the game ended on a good note, Sinatra echoed through the stadium, and everybody was waiting for the subway. Mike & Ann paid somebody off because we got through that big old line and hopped on the train. It was so perfectly scripted, yet so real. Hat’s off to them, when it comes to getting into and out of the city, they are MASTERS!!! It was back to Jersey, a good night’s sleep, and anticipation of the weekend with our friends.
Jawsie getting some sun, too. Look at all those empty cans! I can’t believe this dog drank so much beer 🙂
Mimosas and Bloodys, seriously? Can’t beat it with a stick on a Sunday morning with friends.
|How do you choose between the savory and the sweet? Easy–you don’t!||All this drinking is just an excuse for carbs.|
So then the party needed to be moved back to the pool.The Handsome Captain™ with my BFF, Laura Ann.
Post napping led to watching Mike on the big screen from 3 years ago.
Then it was time to go back to bed in anticipation of Monday.
So it was time to go into the city, yay! The High Line, to be exact. Just a few shots along the way.
“The High Line is an elevated freight rail line transformed into a public park on Manhattan’s West Side. It is owned by the City of New York, and maintained and operated by Friends of the High Line.” (From the link above)
Serenity in the city. Just lovely.
I didn’t have one, but still….Mmmmmmm
Straight to Chelsea Market, specifically to Chelsea Wine Vault.
And 3 bottles later….
Then there was this. New York City pizza, baby! Wow, do I miss this. REALLY GOOD F*ING PIZZA! Amadeus Pizza, 408 8th Avenue. Just one piece before we were on our way back to NJ.
Just after a stop for happy hour at The Crab House, Englewood. Let the games begin and open that happy hour menu!
Shrimp and crab quesadilla.
And us, not on a plate.
This outing too was fabulous. However, since we had packing to do for the trip home, there was a quick stop at Whole Foods for skewers and back to Famous Original Casa Leibs.Where we relaxed with….you guessed it….more drinks!
Speaking of dogs….I started going through The Famous Original Casa Leibs’ Doggie Door about 6 years ago. Alcohol had something to do with it. No really, it did. Jaws kinda looked at me like “WTF?” He still looks at me like that.
We had such an amazing time on this trip! Of course we couldn’t see everybody–we never can. But we did pretty well. HUGE HUGE Thank Yous to (in order of appearance): Peter & Arleen, my parents, Wayne & Stephen, Lisa, Mike & Ann, and Mike & Laura Ann, and Pete. You all hold a very special place in our hearts and your hospitality and friendship mean a great deal to us. ❤
Please allow me to end with something else that has a place in my heart. The New York Yankees. Goodbye Derek and thank you–the pleasure was all our’s and I’m happy to have been a part.
|Sometimes in life, changes need to be made. Some good, some bad, some with little effect at all.
It’s no big shocker. I’ve said pretty much since our engagement that I cannot go back to the pace I
was at when I first started blogging in 2011. I’ve made another change in the blog. There are no more guest reviews….well, except The Handsome Captain™ but the man sleeps with me, after all. And speaking of privileges 🙂 instead of “Guest Reviews”, this section is now called “Prissy’s Privilege”. This is my section for pretty much anything I want that I’ve deemed doesn’t belong in my other categories. Images uploaded just because, local current events, my dogs’ vet visits, my husband’s next geeky adventure/purchase, and living this life on my own terms with no apologies.
My friend Jeremy told me once “Yanno, I mainly just look at your pictures”. I’m not offended at all by that….in fact, I dedicate this post to him. Those gratuitous shots that may be Seinfeld in nature about absolutely nothing, to me mean absolutely everything.
And speaking of “geeky” For this past Christmas, one of Greg’s wishes was a weather station. Really, it’s true. You can find out the weather at our place anytime by clicking here. Yes, WeatherUnderground has replaced the airport as their default station with Greg’s. The life of a geek 🙂
All that science escapes me. As long as the weather is nice enough to join our friends outdoors, I’m happy.On a day the guys were fishing a tournament, Mary & I had brunch at HTR and stopped in to see friends at Vino’s On Duval. A part of the fun were Ray, Bill, Eden, Val (co-owner), Robin, and Buzzy.
Though honestly?There’s fun to be had indoors, too. Joined by Youngstown Ohioans Stephanie and Christine, we covered the 3 major hair colors as well as White House, Black Market. 430 Duval has both swank and substance….I’ve eaten there, just not managed to blog about it yet.
The Key West Artisan Market debuted in December 2013 on the grounds of The Restaurant Store. (Photo credit below to Sean Krikorian–thank you!) Touted as “for locals, by locals” it’s a wonderful venue for us to support each other. Although a little off the main drag on Eaton Street, clearly both tourists and snowbirds were enjoying the market. It was so successful that it will be back in November! Yay! For more information, check out their Facebook page here.
And sometimes we have to say goodbye.It’s true. Key West bid adieu to long-time local and wine writer, Steve Calderwood. I won’t lie, it was a damned fine party and the limericks were nothing but hysterical. Some were even a bit, shall I say, bawdy. No matter, we live in Key West–we’re used to bawdy. In all seriousness Steve, you’re a real pisser and I still don’t think Panama knows what it’s in for 🙂
One thing we couldn’t buy at the market was a new boat. Yes, we decided that the “My Time” was a bit long in the tooth and no longer worthy of cash and work, soooooo….we had a new baby. We named her “Wine-Oh!” And while we went a little beyond the due date, our girl is just absolutely perfect for what we do–sandbars
And sometimes, I’m just modeling the newest line of life preservers. See, orange really is the new black and I don’t have to go to prison. Eeeek, what a thought. I watched too many Linda Blair movies of the week growing up, which instilled the fear of going to womens’ prison.
There are favorite things and there are favorite people….when the two intertwine, well that’s just fabulous. Longtime friends Mike & Ann from NJ own a home here in The Keys, visiting fairly often. I’ve known Mike & Ann since I was a tourist from central New York. We’re all New York Rangers’ fans…well, except Greg. He doesn’t hate the NYR, he just doesn’t care. There is just nothing like live professional hockey and I’ve been lucky to see a few games, just not at MSG 🙁 Anyway, check out Ann’s flip flops–NYR, of course. This shot was taken during the Stanley Cup playoffs where it was all about the blue.
So why not drown my sorrows in wine? “An Afternoon in Provence” was a lovely tasting with winemaker Bertrand Léon from Chateau D’Esclans. It was all about the rosé, not that anybody would know from our empty glasses.
So for the first year ever, local author David Sloan organized Cow Key Channel Bridge Run. Meant to both poke fun at serious runners up The Keys at the 7 Mile Bridge Run as well as raise money for Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm, it was a huge success.Me with co-worker Anisa, her baby Chicklet, and friend Patrick.
Well, that was more than enough exercise 🙂It was The Handsome Captain’s™ birthday and no, I didn’t jump out of the cake. It just looks like I could be naked. Anyway, with the help of our friends, we pulled off a birthday celebration at Grand Vin. Oh, and a huge Thank You to Key West Cakes, my favorite!
So fast forwarding to the beginning of June, Ohio came in like a lioness. No wonder, Hell Had No Fury Like 2014 Winter Scorned.
This is our friend Randi from Lorain, OH. She is the epitome of sass and soul, with a heart bigger than Alaska. She and I met for martinis at La Te Da, then went on to enjoy lunch at Hogfish.
A few nights later, I picked her up at Angelina Guest House so we could have her over for dinner.It’s a grainy shot, but I’ll take it. We enjoyed a beautiful evening, complimented by Randi’s fantastic bottle of wine. We love Randi as we adored her late husband Mike. Mike was a stand-up wonderful man whom we had the pleasure of knowing. Greg and I have the fondest memories spending July 4, 2011 together on the porch of Grand Vin; it would be the last time we’d see him. Cheers to you, Mike–I promise we’ll help look out for your lovely wife. We know you’re looking down on Randi and your amazing adult children. 🙂
And look who came back!The next gust of the June Ohio explosion! Steph and Christine are just the greatest, as well as Lori who was missed 🙁 Everything with the ladies is so effortless and these ballbreakers give as good as they get. And Steph’s boyfriend Dan is a great partner to Greg’s silliness. Prissy ♥♥ her Ohio ladies! We enjoyed their last night on The Rock at Vino’s.
Speaking of Vino’s, every year they host a fundraiser for Key West Wildlife Center and we always attend.This year’s wine tasting was “Different Styles of Veuve” and the bubbles were enjoyed by all. Duh. L-R: Greg, Moi, Bill, Eden, Tim, and….Somebody Else! 🙂
And lastly, the gratuitous doggy shots
The image above may elicit tee hees and ha has, but the only ones getting fucked are the Key West locals, namely those in the service industry. The real locals. The ones who live here 12 months out of the year. The ones who vote here. The ones who are homesteaded here.
We all understand that both tourists and snowbirds come with the territory and contribute to our financial well-being. I, and many others, moved here knowing that. It doesn’t give either group the right to come in with bad attitudes, condescension, entitlement, and figurative middle fingers in our faces. It is at this point that I “turn the program” over to my friend Kimberley, also known as Bitchin’Paradise. This article first appeared in KONK Life on November 14, 2013. Take it away, Kimberley!
Thank you, everyone, for giving me such inspiration that Part Two of my ongoing series came together in about ten minutes:
- I’ve gone over this numerous times, but obviously it needs repeating: if you are a tourist or a part-time resident, YOU ARE NOT A LOCAL. You are not entitled to a local’s discount. And I use the word entitled because that is how you act when you demand one. I’m sure the local government appreciates your contribution to the tax base, but if you are not here when things are slow, contributing to help store owners or servers pay rent and replace stolen bicycles,, you are not a local. Besides, a local discount is a COURTESY, and not all establishments offer one.
- The quickest way to identify yourself as a non-local is to walk into an establishment and loudly announce that you are a local and ask for a local’s discount. Locals don’t do that. And we are appreciative and thankful when we notice a locals discount discreetly subtracted from our check.
- When you go to a place that does offer a discount, or two-for-ones, or any other deal, you are supposed to tip on what the entire check was BEFORE your discount.
- Bartenders and servers are not mind-readers. Please don’t just ask, “What’s good?,” or for us to recommend something without giving us any idea of what you like or what you hate. We really do want your experience to be positive, but you’ve got to take some ownership.
- If you are cheap and/or obnoxious, don’t expect us to share recommendations of our actual favorite places to eat or drink. I’m not going to ruin my relationships with my favorite servers and bartenders by sending you in. In fact, I will steer you towards my list of least favorite places. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
- Please don’t sit your naked, painted ass down on any furniture in public. It’s just disgusting. Would you want someone to come into your home and sit their naked, painted asses at your kitchen table? And who do you think wants to clean up after that? Also, when do you think the last time the seat of that chair you’re sitting your naked, painted ass on has been disinfected? Yeah, probably never.
- I am happy to take your picture, but please don’t expect me to do it when I am two-deep at the bar.
- When you would like a refill on your drink, it is considered rude to extend your arm and hold out your empty glass, while glaring at the bartender. Simply ask for another of whatever you’re having.
- Ladies, (and I hate that it is mostly ladies who do this) if you and your friends are going to have a couple of rounds, just take turns paying, instead of insisting that you each pay for your own drink, by credit card, after each round. That’s really time consuming and inconsiderate of other customers who have to wait longer for their drinks because you are all worried you may have to spend $2 more than someone else did on the previous round.
- When the bartender says last call, it’s because it is time for them to do paperwork, clean up, and close up. It is not time to order a bottle of wine, or three drinks, so you can hang out for another hour and a half. That’s why god invented to-go cups.”
This is Prissy again. Trust me when I tell you that locals don’t hate tourists or snowbirds as a whole. We just ask you to respect us and our home. Thank you.
In the article “22 Favorite Seafood Dives” by Steve Millburg, the first listed in the state of FLA–Hogfish Bar & Grill, of course!!!
“You’ll probably get lost trying to find it. But once you finally reach this open-to-the-breeze locals’ hideaway on Stock Island (the next island up from Key West), you’ll want to hang out all day–and night. You eat at picnic tables in the middle of working docks. Expect to spill half the contents of your gigantic sandwich (made with fresh Cuban bread), but also expect to compulsively corral and consume every tasty bite. The house specialty is, of course, the “killer” hogfish sandwich (with Swiss cheese, onions, and mushrooms; despite the name, hogfish has a delicate flavor that’s reminiscent of the crustaceans it consumes). The menu also wanders everywhere everywhere from lobster rolls to seafood tacos to panko-crusted hogfish and shrimp ceviche. Musicians entertain on weekends. Even in the laid-back Keys, it doesn’t get more casual, welcoming, or delicious; 305-293-4041 or hogfishbar.com.”
In addition to the Coastal Living article, I’ll add some of my own images from our last visit to Hogfish:
The usual suspect:
Fried Shrimp Tacos with rice & beans.
One of the specials that day was:
As much as I’ll kick myself for saying this when it’s season again…there is SO much more to The Keys than Duval Street, more than Old Town. Hogfish is worth the trip to Stock Island. Congrats, Hogfish!
I further understand that sometimes clueless douchebags happen to good restaurants and ruin the experience for everyone else involved.
So what am I waiting for? Absolutely nothing.
#5) Disrespectful Restaurant Patrons
While I realize you received the memo that The Keys are laid back, please have a modicum of respect for the restaurant you happen to be patronizing. PLEASE stop walking into the best restaurants like you are dressed for a night of chicken wings, beer, and flatulence. Nobody dining in a nice restaurant wants to see your wifebeater or faded Schooner Wharf tank top with armpit hair sticking out the sides. I’m not saying folks should wear tuxes and evening gowns, but I repeat: Respect your surroundings even if you don’t respect yourself. Additionally, disrespect comes in more forms than just wardrobe: loud drunken, foul-mouthed behavior (my friend Judie just witnessed this last weekend); loud cellphone chatter; rude behavior to wait staff.
#4) Wait Staff who lie about ingredients
Here’s the deal. If we ask you a question about an ingredient, just be honest with us. If you don’t know, most folks won’t have a problem if you need to ask the chef. We welcome it! Please don’t tell me the dish comes with fresh mushrooms only for it to arrive with those perfectly-cut rubbery beige things from a can. Don’t tell us that your nightly special is “fresh off the boat” grouper when grouper season has been closed for weeks. Don’t tell us that your restaurant has a special FL lobster license after season has been closed for a month and a half. Why the lie? It was Maine lobster, dude. True stories–all of them. Incidentally? We’ve never been back to any of those establishments (2 out of the 3 are in Key West).
#3) Disappearing Wait Staff
No image here cuz the wait staff done disappeared! Patrons are left with empty water glasses and nothing to quench their thirst during the meal. More importantly for the wait staff, that customer could want a second glass of wine or another martini…which means more in tips for you. Now we don’t need to be doted on endlessly (not that it isn’t fun!), but I’d like to see our wait staff at least once between the time our food is placed and our check arriving. Just sayin’
#2) Trigger-Happy Wait Staff
I don’t mean guns, silly. The over-achiever. As in, we’re enjoying the hot appetizers just placed in front of us moments before and 3 bites into it…whaddya know? The friggin’ entrée has been now been placed right next to the still piping hot appetizer! While we’re not always looking to spend 3 hours dining (sometimes it is SO wonderful though!), we have no desire to be students of the Evelyn Wood Speed Diners. Civilized people eat with forks, not shovels…and enjoy tasting their food. S-l-o-w down, please 🙂
#1) Obnoxious Children
Yes, The Handsome Captain™ and I are DINKS (Double Income, No Kids) and unashamed. Whether we are spending $30 for lunch or $100+ for dinner, we don’t want to hear screaming children. I can collectively hear every parent say “How could she possibly know what it’s like? She’s never had children.” While that is true, believe it or not…I’ve been a child. I do know this much…my parents wouldn’t have tolerated a public temper tantrum from me for love or money. Nor would they just sit in their seats, oblivious to the shrieking that is disrupting every other diner. Then there are the children whose parents allow them to run all over the restaurant. In this case, they’re not just a disruption to diners but also an accident waiting to happen. A waitress carrying a tray of hot food who trips over a free range kid means both could be seriously hurt. Unacceptable. Parents, these are restaurants–not jungle gyms. Your child’s ill behavior is a reflection of YOU. Kudos to restaurant owners/managers who ask these clods to handle the situation or leave. Those are the restaurants to where we will return.
And there you have it. Prissy’s Top 5. What are some of your’s?
A reliable source told me this morning that Pier House has been sold to The Remington Group for an undisclosed amount. For those who may not know, The Remington Group also owns two local
Waldorf properties: Casa Marina and The Reach. Apparently Prissy took her blonde pills this morning and didn’t have enough coffee! The Remington Group owns Southernmost House and The Inn at Key West-and now Key West Pier House. My sincere, redhead apologies! 🙂
Back again ! It’s not a rumor but a fact. And now I’m free to release the $89-$90M price tag. For what it’s worth 🙂
|So this funny little thing called “Life” happens and we have to make choices. We can either grab it with full gusto and help lead it or do we sit passively and let it lead us?|
There is no correct answer here. I only know how I choose to live and luckily, don’t have to decide for others. I heartily enjoy the full-bodied life. “Ovunque ci si trovi a vivere con passione“, translated from Italian is “Wherever you are, live with passion”. Honestly, I didn’t live with as much passion as I could have in central New York. However, Key West has been the perfect vehicle for la dolce vita. Through her, I have found my partner in life, my amazing friends, the sea, and fruit of the vine.
Oddly enough, I’ve been criticized for my view on life. “Yanno, not EVERYTHING has to be an experience”. Remarks like that are generally reciprocated with an eyeroll and a “Pffffft”. If other folks want to passively schlump through life, that’s their business. I prefer this mentality: “A great life is when you assume nothing, smile often, dream big, laugh a lot, and realize how blessed you are.” I do realize how blessed I am and pity those who cannot live with passion.
Onward and upward. 🙂 Although, as the title indicates, this post is a letter to my home of almost 3 years, it’s also for some friends who constantly ask us to “try and convince their other half to move”. So sit back friends and enjoy my homage to our home.
The Handsome Captain™ is a huge part of the reason for La Dolce Vita. He may sometimes “yin” where I “yang”, but deep inside we both have the humor of 12-year-olds and we definitely have each others’ backs. Thank you for this man 🙂
I am thankful that this is our view in the morning from our front stairs…well, formerly our front stairs. We tore it down and anticipate our new digs within the next month. It’ll still be the view from the front of our home.
No, this is not the city of Key West. We are on Big Coppitt Key by our own preference. We have neighbors, not tourists. Don’t get me wrong, tourism can be a great thing, but we don’t want “Woo Hoo-ing” or projectile vomit by our home. We’re funny that way 🙂
The view off our former and future back deck
Let’s talk about something La Dolce Vita. Sunrises and sunsets cost nothing and aside from the rare cloudy front, we are blessed with great ones every day. I never get used to it, nor do I take it for granted. Remember, I’m from upstate New York…home of 60 days/year of sun.
Cheers with Kimberley!
So here’s an image you don’t see a whole lot: me with a fish. Yeah, there’s a reason for that. It’s kinda sorta not my thing…however, lots of folks who live and visit here love it.
Believe it or not, good things can happen out of the water, too. Just look at some of the characters we meet along the way.
Me enjoying mimosas with Melissa, momma to Bizzy Bam Bam.
Two characters from The Red Ribbon Bed Race.
With many more clothes on, but a character nonetheless…
And friend Christopher…aka the famous Christopher Peterson of Eyecons La Te Da fame (Vegas, too!) :::Cue The Benny Hill theme:::
Check out the headgear! Deb makes fascinators for any/all occasions. This shot was taken after our friends Glenn and Simon’s wedding reception. Beside me is the lovely Helen of Grand Vin, Kellee, and Ursula.
Often, we’re invited to cook-offs. This particular one was held by friends Andrew and Abby…the theme? Mangoes! Yummm!!!! Chef Extraordinaire Robin (our wedding caterer) and I having fun.
Can I tell you about my Key West girlfriends? It’s not as if I didn’t have any in New York. My bestie still lives there and my far-away girlfriend connection rocks. I do have to say though, that my social life has never been better since moving here. My gal friends, gay boyfriends, and our couple friends are simply fabulous. The above image was captured at Girls’ Brunch, Little Palm Island. Another one scheduled in a couple weeks 🙂
With Alicia, Kimberley, and Greg at our wedding reception.
At Vino’s Stiletto Night
Ahhhh, but life is not to be lived by women alone…
With friends Steve and Mark brunching at Azur. Check out the thermos-sized mimosas!
Any post about guy friends would certainly be remiss if I didn’t mention Crazy Eddie. Not the Crazy Eddie from NYC with the wild commercials, but OUR Crazy Eddie. Like us, Eddie is a life lover and grabs it by the balls. We adore Eddie.
While most of our friends are locals, we do get great joy from entertaining tourist friends when they visit The Rock.
Water, friends, wine-ing, dining. What else? Charity, that’s what else. Fundraisers several days/week for people, animals, the reef, the environment, disease. Name it, it’s here. A very special place of which I’m proud.
I’m not proud because I had anything whatsoever to do with it. I’m proud that an area this small can house something so significant.
So into our passionate life, a little nutso must fall. Of course it must.
Olivah!!! Olivah!!! Okay, we aren’t at this point (yet). We don’t hit our heads quite as much as we used to getting out of bed. The only times we really trip over dogs and each other is when we both have to be in our respective offices at the same time….which luckily, is not most mornings. Our dogs love living at The Ranch because everything is at “little dog level”. We are saving a lot of money in the camper and it’s temporary…a win-win. Besides, we still need to throw our White Trash Party at The Ranch. Nothing says party like day-glo mac&cheese, Wonder Bread with Velveeta & ketchup, beer pong, and cans of beer you retrieve from a “thrown on the side of the road toilet” cooler. Why not, eh? Why not indeed.
I give thanks for the camper. “Giving thanks”–it shouldn’t be just something one says when they’re about to dive into mashed potatoes, gravy, and enough tryptophan to put an entire nation to sleep. I am thankful, each and every day, that I live in this community. I am thankful that after almost 3 years, I have the life of which I’ve dreamed. You may have heard of “The Key West Way To Stay”? You know you love to visit here. Do you know what? The only thing better than visiting The Keys is LIVING in The Keys! The Handsome Captain™ and I live in a community that has most of the offerings of a big city with the familiarity of a small town. By living in The Keys, I mean being a real local. Sorry, snowbirds aren’t locals. People who do not live here 12/12, aren’t homesteaded here, and don’t vote here are visitors and perhaps property owners…but they are not locals. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with being a visitor…but the kind of life we enjoy is a local life. It’s one where we hope our friends who are property owners will someday make the transition. (This one is for you too, Erica). 🙂
So yes, I am blessed in Paradise. I am thankful for my husband, friends I love, hobbies/bars/restaurants we enjoy, and great jobs (no, we are not independently wealthy so yes, we really do work). We are thankful for the old Boston Whaler to get us out on the water. There but for the grace of (insert your higher power, if you have one) go I. Dear to our hearts are charities, events, birthdays, and friends who mean the world to us…friends who are family. Where else do folks consider the families who operate our favorite wine establishments our own? We love this close-knit community and our full-bodied life that Key West has allowed us to enjoy.
At the closing scenes of “Under The Tuscan Sun” were some of my favorite quotes about life: “Any arbitrary turning along the way and I would be elsewhere. I would be different. What are four walls, anyway? They are what they contain. The house protects the dreamer. Unthinkably good things can happen, even late in the game. It’s such a surprise.”
Thank you, Key West.
“Ovunque ci si trovi a vivere con passione“
with a hinged lid on top and a ‘chute’ that lets the crab climb in but not out. If the traps are plastic they must have at least one wood slat that will rot out and let the crabs out if the trap is lost or becomes a ‘ghost trap’. The bottom of the trap has 20-30 pounds of concrete in it to keep the trap on the bottom in tide changes and heavy currents. Commercial crabbers have either electric or hydraulic winches to pull traps; us recreations guys are not permitted such luxury and have to pull them by hand.
Stone crabs are pretty unique critters; unlike most crabs we only keep the claws.
|The crab is released to regrow the claws that are removed. A crab can regrow claws to legal length three times in it’s life. We normally pull our traps once a week; some guys will let them sit or ‘soak’ up to two weeks.|
Traps are baited with pig’s feet and scrap fish.
Stone cabs have two types of claws: a cutter claw and a crusher claw. Most people tend to like the crusher claw because it has more meat. In order to take a claw it must be at least 2-¾ inches long from along the bottom of the claw not including any part of the knuckle.
Stone crabs must be cooked within a few hours of harvest otherwise the meat will start to go bad; it will also stick to the shell.
I like to cool them quickly because it stops the cooking and also shrinks the meat so it will not stick to the shell.
Crab claws are classified into 4 different sizes starting with medium at about 2 ounces each;
|large are about 4 ounces; jumbo are 6 ounces and the big boys are the colossal at 8 ounces plus. In over 10 years of pulling traps, the biggest claw I have found was just less than 15 ounces. It was as big as my hand.|
(Note: No colossal claws were caught that day).
There has been a long standing debate over fresh vs. frozen claws. I have long maintained that most people cannot tell the difference between the two, especially after they dip them in sauce. Prissy and I decided to put my theory to the test, with ‘The Great Stone Crab Debate’, a/k/a ‘Who’s Got The Crabs?’ After my weekly trap pull we had 24 medium sized claws fresh claws for the taste test,
We arranged with our good friends Clayton and Val at Vino’s on Duval to host a taste test at their bar.
Kimberley a/k/a Bitchin’Paradise was working the bar so we had a place and a great bartender.
The plan was to sample 4 claws. Two would be sampled ‘naked’ with no sauce and two with mustard sauce. Each tester would pick a number and receive a bag of claws. Each bag had 4 bags labeled A, B, C, and D. One claw out of bags and A and B was fresh and one was frozen. The same with C and D. Claw A and B would be tasted ‘naked’, C and D would be with sauce. The fresh and frozen were alternated so that not all bags label ‘A’ had fresh or frozen claws.
Hence, the tasting began…
Prissy picked lucky #7 but is her palate sensitive enough to discern fresh from frozen claws?
So there was discussion among the focus group, but since the fresh and frozen were random, there could be no cheating.
More tasting…more ‘hmmmmm’ing’
Prissy completed her ballot.
In the meantime, in walks KP to join the taste!
‘Who’s Got The Crabs? Grand Vin’.
Winetender Andrew revealed that he never had stone crab claws and isn’t a huge seafood eater. Still, we wanted his opinion.
Enter Kim on the right, another local who has never had claws.
Another crew who just happened to be at The Vin that night:
The results were very interesting. Out of 12 people only 1 person was able to tell the difference between fresh and frozen in both ‘naked’ and with sauce.
Meet Debbie and her husband (whose name we don’t remember). Nice, nice people! Prissy wished she bought a tiara because Debbie was the only one who could tell fresh from frozen in both categories. The irony is that Debbie only eats seafood a few times/year but her husband eats it more often. Go figure!
Surprisingly to me, only two people picked the naked frozen claw as fresh; everyone else got it right (Prissy included). More shocking was that only two people got the sauced fresh or frozen right. Yup, most people could tell the difference between fresh and frozen with no sauce but add the sauce and most people picked wrong. I talked with a few of the tasters afterward; most agreed that there was not one thing or reason why they could tell, it was just a ‘feeling’. Most also agreed that if they had a plate of claws in front of them, it would not matter. I did ask a few other questions on the score cards. Most people picked garlic and butter as their favorite dipping sauce and only one person preferred them hot instead of cold.”
While most of this review was done by The Handsome Captain™, some editing and picture commentary was done by me, Prissy 🙂
On our way there, we passed a large sign for Five Guys Burgers and Fries. I’ve heard of them and heard they are very good. I mentioned “sometime I’d like to try it just because I’ve never been”. Once we got to the location we had punched into the GPS, we quickly discovered the place we were looking for was gone. Prissy offered up Five Guys as a plan “B”. The GPS unit indicated it was 6 miles away and we were off. About 15 miles and several wrong turns and u-turns later, we arrived at Five Guys.
As we walked in, the first thing I noticed was that it was clean and well-lit, as most chains are. What stood out, other than the simple white and red decor, were the pallets with stacks of potatoes, boxes of peanuts, and peanut oil. The menu board was very simple: hamburger, cheeseburger (with and without bacon), “little burgers” (they are singles and the regulars are doubles), regular or Cajun fries, hot dogs, grilled cheese, and veggie sandwiches. That’s it, except the toppings…there are 14 different ones, ranging from lettuce to Jalapeno peppers. You can have any or all of the 14 toppings added to your burger for free.
After eating our burgers and most of the fries, we realized why Five Guys’ food has been recommended by so many friends. It’s quality food at a decent price. With drinks, my wallet was a $20 bill lighter and we left with full bellies and very satisfied.