Tag Archives: Florida Keys

Something fishy

Let’s ignore the fact that it’s been more than a month since the wife and I returned from the Florida Keys. When I look at these pictures, I’m already back there.

We had a ton of great food during our time on the islands and as you might expect, most of it was happily swimming along less than 24 hours previous.

The Island Fish Company

Just down the street from our vacation rental was an awesome little place unimaginatively named the Island Fish Co. We were treated to a great little table on the water (bayside) and basked in the quintessential Keys meal.

I had one of the specials: freshly caught hogfish with tomato, asparagus and a tangy bechamel sauce (pictured above). Even more delicious was my wife’s fish-of-the-day choice: simply prepared grilled mako shark (to your right).

Both came with yellow rice and mixed veggies. Both were perfectly prepared. And both were so tasty that I forgot to mention our appetizer: crab cakes.

While I didn’t get a good picture of them, I can still remember every moist, flavorful morsel. You’d think I’d never had a good crab cake before. And I would probably admit you’re right.

I don’t count myself as a crab cake connoisseur, mostly because I’ve had some dry, tasteless cakes in my time. But this one appetizer saved the whole dish for me. I will be having crab cakes again, but only near a coast.

Southernmost Beach Cafe

A few days later, we found ourselves in the land of beach bums, wild roosters and drunk tourists: Key West.

Right next to the Southernmost House (where we met up with friends and lounged by the pool for a day – highly recommended), is the Southernmost Hotel. And part of the Southernmost Hotel is the Southernmost Beach Cafe.

There’s nothing like a fresh fish sandwich. And when you’re in the Keys in the spring and summer, there’s a good chance that the fish in the middle is mahi (a.k.a. mahi-mahi and dolphin).

The Cafe grilled the fish simply, slapped it down on a fresh bun slathered with a mayo-based pink spread, and added some perfectly crisp fries. You can’t get much better than that.

My wife, however, would beg to differ. Although she ordered the same fish, it was placed in a more healthy environment – among the greens of a fresh salad.

Among the ingredients in attendance were apples, grapes, croutons, a tangy vinaigrette and plenty of lightly fried mahi goodness. It was one of the few lunches where we were simultaneously satisfied by our own food and jealous of each other’s.

Good stuff.

Kelly’s Caribbean Bar, Restaurant and Brewery

Maybe it was post-sunset ennui or the less-than-diligent service. Or maybe it was just too difficult to follow the perfect lunch. Whatever this issue, Kelly’s Caribbean just didn’t strike the right chord.

One excuse I can’t use was the “dining room.” Set among beautiful flora and fauna, the outdoor garden dining area was an amazing way to eat al fresco.

We started with shrimp cocktail, mostly as an excuse to try the famously well-advertised Key West “pinks.” They certainly were enormous, but unfortunately, fairly tasteless. They were also too chewy, leaving my wife to deny her third shrimp. Not a great sign.

To combat fish fatigue, I went with jerk chicken (darkly photographed below). Although it came with a tasty mango chunk sauce, the dish was only decent. My wife also ordered a chicken dish, although I can’t remember a thing about it. Also not a great sign.

The food may have been forgettable, but the interminable wait for the check (after only one cup of coffee and one slice of key lime pie) was the stuff of legend. We beat a hasty exit shortly after finding the waitress gabbing it up on a cell phone near the kitchen.

We were done with Key West. And it, apparently, was done with us.

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Key Lime Pie on a Stick

The geniuses at the Key West Key Lime Pie Company came up with this beauty of a frozen treat and it’s the best thing since key lime pie on a plate.

Honestly, I’m not sure how you could go wrong with this process. Covering already delicious desserts in chocolate and freezing them on a stick just seems like the right thing to do.

I’m back

I was all ready to write this post a week ago, but then my wife graduated vet school, my computer went bust, and projects piled up at work. My sincerest apologies for the two week absence of your Man Eat Food fix.

Anyway, I have a huuuuuuuuuuge back list of stuff I need to get to, including a whopping FIVE restaurant reviews and assorted other goodies.

For now, I’m going to run down a few neat things from the Florida Keys. They are not all food related, but they’re fun. Or, they were fun to me when I was down there.

Bahia Honda Beach

The Keys are not known for their beaches, but this one, where I took a picture of the “broken” bridge, is known as one of the best. In fact, it was recognized as the “Best Beach in America” at some point in the 90s. The water was a steady 80 degrees and always that perfect aquamarine color.

Crane Point Museum and Nature Center

It was scorching when we walked around this nature preserve, which included a small museum and bird sanctuary. The hut at right was built by the land’s original occupant who used to collect natural sea sponges and sell them at the market in Key West. I’m not sure how he survived the summers without air conditioning.

Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory

Probably one of the coolest places we visited. It’s literally a butterfly “factory” housed in a small greenhouse. Thanks to the abundance of the colorful butterflies, birds, and fish, it feels like you’ve just entered Narnia, or some other enchanted land.

Hemingway House

Most people come here for the literary history, but we were all about the cats. An inbred deformity cause them have more toes than usual (as you can see by the slumbering cat at right). These “polydactyls” are quite funny looking, but completely harmless. There are dozens of them running free over the property and even a graveyard for former feline tenants.

Sunset Celebration

There are fire eaters, human statues, and all manner of other performers leading up to the spectacular sunset on Key West. This family of English contortionists were probably the most crowd pleasing of the acts.

And I’ll leave you with the most ridiculous sight from our vacation: overfed tarpon gathering at the docks like pigeons around stale bread.

Fat fish: only in America.