Over the years, I have come to make peace with the six-month-long season known as winter. November, I can do: There's a more-gigantic-than-usual meal to look forward to, and Angel usually ends up on TV.
December, I love: Christmas in New York is like nothing else, sparkly and glittery and replete with cozy pop-up ski chalets and boozy rooftop igloos.
And some other seasonal diversions, too.
January, February, and even March, I can manage; it's time to hunker down and get hygge, particuarly around VD.
It might also be time to load up on comfort food, which is why I'm glad I have a Valentine who's legally bound to stick around.
And then . . . there's April. April is the segue into summer. April is the start of day drinking on sidewalk patios and al fresco dining in ivy-covered gardens. In April, we fling open the doors of our summer cottage, ready for a succession of sunny weekends in the Hamptons. But just when you think it's time to swap out your boots for flip-flops and pour yourself a crisp glass of rosé, winter sometimes comes roaring back with a vengeance, and the only way to save your sanity is to relocate it to points south.
We'd timed it perfectly: As an April snowstorm approached, we jumped on a plane for a four-night getaway that didn't involve weeks of planning or tons of camera equipment or lots of shoes.
Well, two out of three, anyway.
As we've done on prior trips, we booked an oceanview suite at the Delray Beach Marriott, a comfortable hotel that we like for its large pool, loungers on the beach, and easy walks to Delray's beachfront promenade and bustling downtown.
Oh, and a giant-sized cornhole game played with throw pillows that -- coincidentally for once -- perfectly matched Angel's trunks.
Having arrived too early to check in, we ordered up two grilled fish sammies on luau bread at the better-than-it-needs-to-be poolside restaurant for lunch, then got down to the serious business of lounging around at the pool.
Freed from the tyranny of lugging around my heavy Nikon, we took a leisurely stroll around town before dinner.
As usual, the weather in Delray was spectacular -- warm, sunny, and just humid enough to remind you that you're in Florida without requiring your hair to get its own zip code.
That evening we had reservations at one of my favorite spots in Delray, Vic & Angelo's.
Do you see that crazed look in my eyes? That's because I'm about to demolish a veal parm the size of a saucer sled.
Vic & Angelo's is known for its stylish digs and see-and-be-seen crowd, but I don't care who sees me scarfing down that veal.
Not quite ready to call it a night, we popped in to Sandbar for mojitos and some old-school hip-hop.
Of course, it's just not "Rapper's Delight" if it's not accompanied by a laser light show.
The next morning we awoke to a perfect blue sky, so we laced up our sneaks and took a brisk walk along the oceanfront promenade.
We'd worked up an appetite, so we set off for bustling Pineapple Grove to get lunch.
We were in search of a new spot we'd heard good things about, Banyan.
It wasn't hard to find: Just look for the namesake tree.
A chic indoor-outdoor space, Banyan is accented with crystal chandeliers, tufted red leather, lucite dining chairs, and a funky mirrored ceiling.
The weather was perfect, so we decided to dine on the outdoor patio.
I decided on a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and Banyan's "white salad," with endive, button mushrooms, hearts of palm, marinated artichoke hearts, shaved pecorino, and lemon vinaigrette, all topped with a small filet of grilled salmon.
Angel also had white wine -- Chardonnay for him -- along with a Maryland crab melt topped with sliced tomato and Old Bay remoulade.
After lunch, we returned to our regularly scheduled program.
That evening we had dinner reservations at Deck 84 on the Intracoastal.
We settled in at a waterside table and perused the cocktail and specials lists.
We decided to share the house-smoked fish dip, but not our drinks: Angel did a Texas Two-Step with Tito's and muddled blueberries, while I went with a tiki-inspired Deck Punch with pineapple rum, dark rum, and not much else.
For our entrees, we had the Baja fish tacos with cilantro-lime slaw and the Pad Thai with fresh grilled shrimp and tamarind.
After dinner we decided to check out the happenings on Delray's main drag, Atlantic Avenue, before heading back to the hotel.
I'd just had a cocktail made from 8oz. of rum and .0003oz. of juice, so when I saw this gigantic Buddha outside of Buddha Sky Bar, I knew I had to go in.
The restaurant was full but the bar wasn't, so we took our time poring over the creative drink menu before deciding on a liquid dessert called the Samurai Shortcake with vanilla vodka, strawberry vodka, coconut milk, strawberries, and whipped cream for me, and the Dark Buddha Old Fashioned with chocolate bitters -- and a square of Hershey's chocolate! -- for Angel.
The cocktails were so good that we each decided to try another, this time the Shaolin Purple Haze with grape vodka, chambord, blueberries, and blackberries for me, and the Key Lime in the Sky, a key lime martini with two kinds of vodka and some Coco Lopez, for the mister.
We were on our way back to the hotel when a large crowd outside of Johnnie Brown's caught our eye.
They'd come by car, boat, and bike to see a band called 56 Ace and, with the bar and restaurant completely packed, had spilled out onto the sidewalk.
It didn't take us long to join the crowd.
That's because 56 Ace was fantastic, playing a mix of classic rock, 90s rock, country rock, 90s rap, and oldies . . . often at the same time.
Their method of mashups -- achieved not by stringing two or more songs together, but by singing two songs at the exact same time -- turned out to be wildly creative and alot of fun, because you don't realize how much, say, Green Day and Led Zeppelin or Nirvana and Aerosmith have in common until the singer on the right belts out the former, while the guy on the left cuts in with the latter at the same time, all to the same guitar riff.
The next morning it was time to undo all the damage from the night before . . . with some pepperoni pizza.
We love the Mellow Mushroom for its psychedlic vibe, friendly service, and fabulous pizza.
After lunch it was time for some shopping at Delray's funky little boutiques.
We also popped into the Seagate Hotel to check out their cool jellyfish aquarium.
It was all fun and games until the skies clouded over and it began to thunder . . . and then the top of that palm tree by the gray car was struck by lightning and caught on fire.
No, I didn't stick around to photograph it. Everyone knows that flaming palm trees are one of the ten plagues mentioned in the Bible, along with stink bugs and psoriasis.
Instead, rained out from shopping and the pool, we headed to the bar at the hotel for a Blackbird (bourbon, creme de cassis, and blackberries) and a key lime colada.
The weather cleared up quickly, but once we'd snuggled in at the hotel, there was no getting me back out, so we stayed in and ordered room service.
The next day was our last full day, so we headed back to Deck 84 for a waterside lunch.
After a lazy poolside afternoon, it was time to clean up for our last dinner.
We chose Rocco's Tacos for its convivial vibe, indoor-outdoor seating, and gorgeous Moravian star-lit decor.
The Black Diamond margarita with Maestro Dobel Diamante and black cherry purée didn't hurt, either.
Or the plentiful chips and salsa served on a baking sheet.
We stayed up too late, and had one too many margaritas, for our early-morning flight the next day, but the view from my window seat made it all worth it.
Shot with my iPhone, of course.
Where to next? Roughing it in the bush in South Africa (sans ironing board!); pub-crawling around Dublin (with my Dad!); celebrating a birthday in Brooklyn (with my sissy!); and getting by (with some help from my friends!) in Anguilla. Subscribe here and you'll be notified when a new post goes up!