A Travellerspoint blog

USA

The Key West Food & Wine Festival, Pt.1: The Wrath of Grapes

So, I've got a bone to pick with the folks who run the Key West Food and Wine Festival. The tag line for this winey weekend, which I have written about here and here, is "78 Degrees. 30 Events. 1 Tiny Island." Really? That's like describing Mardi Gras as "Some Beads and Maybe a Parade," or Super Bowl weekend as "There Might Be Hookers, But Don't Count On It." In other words, it doesn't even begin to describe the beachy bacchanal of food, wine, more food, and even more wine -- with a few detours into tequila, whiskey, and Champagne thrown in to keep things interesting -- that is the days-long eating-and-drinking binge known as the Key West Food & Wine Festival or, as I like to call it, "The Ultimate Liver Smackdown."

Day 1: I'll See You On the Other Side

We arrived on a gorgeous January morning after a quick and easy flight.

2017_KWFWF_Arrival__-_1.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_Arrival__-_2.jpg

Our friend Mark, who runs the festival, had arranged for us to be greeted by a rep for Tesla, one of the event's sponsors. The idea is that they give you a ride into town in the new Tesla Model X, a futuristic pod with falcon-wing doors, a medical-grade HEPA filter comparable to those used in hospital rooms, and more gadgets than the Starship Enterprise, including a self-driving mode -- and during those 15 minutes you agree to drop a year's salary on a new car because it reminds you of the one in "Back to the Future."

large_2017_KWFWF..lTesla__-_1.jpg

The Model X was gorgeous, no doubt, but there was one tiny flaw . . .

2017_KWFWF..lTesla__-_2.jpg

2017_KWFWF..lTesla__-_3.jpg

2017_KWFWF..lTesla__-_4.jpg

I told Angel not to bring so much stuff.

Eventually we managed to squeeze everything in, and the car drove itself on over to Old Town, where we'd rented the top floor of an eyebrow house on Olivia Street.

large_2017_KWFWF..reetop__-_9.jpg

2017_KWFWF_eyebbrow__-_1.jpg

2017_KWFWF..reetop__-_1.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..reetop__-_2.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..reetop__-_3.jpg

We'd actually stayed here before, about 15 years ago, and were delighted to find that the amenities we'd enjoyed most -- the private deck, hot tub, and outdoor shower -- were just as we remembered them.

2017_KWFWF..reetop__-_5.jpg

2017_KWFWF..reetop__-_7.jpg

We didn't have much time for hot-tubbing, though, since we had very important errands to run.

2017_KWFWF..reetop__-_8.jpg

That evening was the Welcome Party for the Food & Wine Festival on the beach at the Casa Marina.

2017_KWFWF..fParty__-_2.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..Party__-_36.jpg

2017_KWFWF..fParty__-_4.jpg

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_18.jpg

2017_KWFWF..fParty__-_1.jpg

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_19.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..Party__-_21.jpg

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_24.jpg

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_17.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..Party__-_33.jpg

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_12.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..Party__-_34.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..fParty__-_8.jpg

2017_KWFWF..fParty__-_9.jpg

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_10.jpg

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_14.jpg

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_15.jpg

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_11.jpg

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_32.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..fParty__-_5.jpg

2017_KWFWF..fParty__-_6.jpg

2017_KWFWF..fParty__-_7.jpg

Our friends Claudia and Alden had driven down from Key Largo for the night to attend the kickoff party with us.

2017_KWFWF..fParty__-_3.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..Party__-_39.jpg

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_23.jpg

We were thrilled and flattered, but they weren't the only ones trying to cozy up to us. Well, one of us, anyway.

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_13.jpg

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_16.jpg

A spectacular sunset rounded out the evening.

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_22.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..Party__-_37.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..Party__-_38.jpg

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_27.jpg

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_25.jpg

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_35.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..Party__-_30.jpg

2017_KWFWF..Party__-_31.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..Party__-_29.jpg

After the party wound down, we headed off to Santiago's Bodega with Claudia and Alden to get some dinner. You know, because we hadn't already eaten enough.

large_2017_KWFWF_Santiagos__-_1.jpg

It is possible that you may have overdone it on the wine when you manage to have a 2+ hour dinner and have nothing more to show for it than a single blurry photo of some flaming cheese.

2017_KWFWF_Santiagos__-_2.jpg

You would think that would've been a hint to call it a night, but you would be wrong. And so we set off for The Saint, a chic new hotel that Claudia had been raving about.

2017_KWFWF_TheSaint__-_4.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_TheSaint__-_3.jpg

2017_KWFWF_TheSaint__-_2.jpg

2017_KWFWF_TheSaint__-_18.jpg

2017_KWFWF_TheSaint__-_13.jpg

2017_KWFWF_TheSaint__-_16.jpg

2017_KWFWF_TheSaint__-_17.jpg

2017_KWFWF_TheSaint__-_15.jpg

It would have been rude to check out the space without also having a cocktail, so we had two.

2017_KWFWF_TheSaint__-_21.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_TheSaint__-_20.jpg

2017_KWFWF_TheSaint__-_11.jpg

And then we started swinging.

2017_KWFWF_TheSaintV__-_1.jpg

2017_KWFWF_TheSaintV__-_3.jpg

2017_KWFWF_TheSaintV__-_2.jpg

2017_KWFWF_TheSaintV__-_5.jpg

2017_KWFWF_TheSaintV__-_6.jpg

We had been on something like a 7-hour bender by this point, and it was clearly time to wrap things up. Which is why we thought it would be a fantastic idea to go to The Other Side for a nightcap.

2017_KWFWF_OtherSide__-_1.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_OtherSide__-_8.jpg

2017_KWFWF..rSide__-_11.jpg

2017_KWFWF_OtherSide__-_3.jpg

2017_KWFWF_OtherSide__-_6.jpg

2017_KWFWF_OtherSide__-_2.jpg

2017_KWFWF_OtherSide__-_9.jpg

There, I discovered my new favorite cocktail: The banana nut bread Old Fashioned, made with Jameson Irish whiskey, Brazilian banana liqueur, spiced pear liqueur, and black walnut bitters.

2017_KWFWF_OtherSide__-_5.jpg

2017_KWFWF_OtherSide__-_7.jpg

Even Fredrick approved.

2017_KWFWF_OtherSide__-_4.jpg

Day 2: Sweet Caroline

The next day we were off to a slow start, though I cannot imagine why. We decided to take it easy by spending the day at the pool.

2017_KWFWF..sPool__-_13.jpg

2017_KWFWF..wsPool__-_4.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..wsPool__-_1.jpg

2017_KWFWF..wsPool__-_9.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..wsPool__-_5.jpg

We had the place to ourselves, and spent the morning dozing in the cushy loungers and taking dips in the warm water.

2017_KWFWF..wsPool__-_3.jpg

2017_KWFWF..wsPool__-_2.jpg

2017_KWFWF..sPool__-_11.jpg

2017_KWFWF..wsPool__-_7.jpg

2017_KWFWF..wsPool__-_8.jpg

2017_KWFWF..sPool__-_10.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..wsPool__-_6.jpg

Eventually our stomachs started growling, and we decided to answer the call. We headed over to Caroline's for a healthy lunch of salad.

2017_KWFWF..sPool__-_12.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..lines__-_10.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Carolines__-_9.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Carolines__-_1.jpg

Well, salad with fried chicken. And fried shrimp. And cheese.

large_2017_KWFWF_Carolines__-_4.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_Carolines__-_5.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_Carolines__-_3.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Carolines__-_6.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Carolines__-_7.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_Carolines__-_8.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..lines__-_11.jpg

Later that afternoon, we took a spin on our bikes before heading back to the eyebrow house for a soak in the hot tub and a much-needed nap.

2017_KWFWF_BikeRide__-_7.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_BikeRide__-_3.jpg

2017_KWFWF_BikeRide__-_1.jpg

2017_KWFWF_BikeRide__-_2.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_BikeRide__-_8.jpg

2017_KWFWF_BikeRide__-_6.jpg

large_2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_24.jpg

That evening we had plans to meet up with friends Stephanie and Ari at Michael's. We'd never been before, but I knew I was going to love it because MEATLOAF.

2017_KWFWF_Michaels__-_13.jpg

large_2017_KeyWe..chaels2_-_3.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Michaels__-_3.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Michaels__-_8.jpg

And not just any meatloaf, but meatloaf made of a Wagyu and prime tenderloin blend with house-made spicy ketchup.

large_2017_KWFWF_Michaels__-_4.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_Michaels__-_5.jpg

We had drinks, appetizers, and other entrées, too, of course, like a yummy Ruby Sipper with ruby red vodka, cranberry, and fresh basil; meaty crab cakes; snapper meunière with lemon brown butter; a warm chocolate cake; and a bunch of other stuff I could not be bothered to photograph because MEATLOAF.

2017_KWFWF_Michaels__-_1.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Michaels__-_2.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Michaels__-_6.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Michaels__-_9.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Michaels__-_7.jpg

large_2017_KeyWe..chaels2_-_1.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Michaels__-_14.jpg

large_2017_KeyWe..chaels2_-_2.jpg

Day 3: The Garden of Good and Drunk

The next day we were scheduled to attend several food and wine events back-to-back, so we decided to line our stomachs with a big lunch at (dearly departed) Kelly's to give ourselves a fighting chance.

large_2017_KWFWF_Kellys__-_1.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Kellys__-_2.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Kellys__-_3.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Kellys__-_5.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_Kellys2__-_1.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_Kellys__-_6.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Kellys__-_8.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_Kellys__-_7.jpg

Were you wondering why we also had key lime margaritas right before five hours of wine tastings? Scurvy prevention.

Soon it was time for the Tropical Garden Tour and Tasting, which would take us to five different gardens around the island.

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_41.jpg

The event was sold out, with folks lined up for a chance to enjoy a glass of Hahn wine and some nibbles paired to go with at each stop.

2017_KeyWe..denTour_-_4.jpg

2017_KeyWe..denTour_-_2.jpg

2017_KeyWe..denTour_-_3.jpg

Now this lady knows how to dress for a wine tour.

2017_KeyWe..peshoes_-_1.jpg

We boarded the trolley and set off for the first garden, the Memorial Sculpture Garden in Mallory Square.

2017_KeyWe..denTour_-_8.jpg

There, we enjoyed a glass of Hahn chardonnay and a black pepper popover with warm mushroom salad and goat cheese.

2017_KeyWe..denTour_-_6.jpg

2017_KeyWe..denTour_-_7.jpg

We moved on to the Oldest House, where we feasted on lobster and avocado gazpacho and delicious little antipasto pinwheels with sundried tomato tapenade.

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_11.jpg

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_12.jpg

large_2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_23.jpg

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_22.jpg

Next up, we visited the gorgeous Audubon House.

large_2017_KeyWest_Audobon2_-_1.jpg

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_16.jpg

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_17.jpg

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_14.jpg

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_18.jpg

large_2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_20.jpg

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_21.jpg

Unfortunately, however, there weren't alot of good spots for snacking here.

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_13.jpg

By this time, we'd had three glasses of wine and had stuffed ourselves full of popovers and pinwheels, so it was time for a little divine intervention to keep us going.

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_26.jpg

large_2017_KeyWest_Church_-_1.jpg

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_27.jpg

Finally, we set off for Martello Tower on Atlantic Boulevard, which houses the Key West Garden Club.

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_28.jpg

Completed in 1864, West Martello Tower was used during the Spanish American War for quartering troops, storing supplies, and serving as a lookout.

large_2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_40.jpg

Today, it's used to house crowds of revelers scarfing down black bottom key lime pies, chocolate custard tarts, coconut tres leches bites, and some red wine.

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_10.jpg

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_19.jpg

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_29.jpg

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_30.jpg

large_2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_31.jpg

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_33.jpg

large_2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_35.jpg

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_34.jpg

large_2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_36.jpg

large_2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_37.jpg

2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_38.jpg

large_2017_KeyWe..enTour_-_39.jpg

We still had two and a half more days to go, and it is not giving anything away here by admitting that, well . . . I didn't make it.

-------------------------------------------
2017_KWFWF_BikeRide__-_4.jpg

The liver is the only organ in your body that can regenerate itself. Take advantage and get your KWFWF tickets here!

Posted by TraceyG 04:38 Archived in USA Tagged key_west key_west_food_and_wine the_saint the_other_side andrews_inn carolines Comments (3)

The Key West Food & Wine Festival, Pt.2: The Wrath of Grapes

That evening was the Grand Tasting at the Southernmost Beach Resort.

large_2017_KeyWe..asting_-_17.jpg

large_2017_KeyWe..Tasting_-_1.jpg

We immediately began stuffing our faces with everything on offer.

2017_KeyWe..Tasting_-_6.jpg

2017_KeyWe..Tasting_-_8.jpg

2017_KeyWe..asting_-_10.jpg

2017_KeyWe..asting_-_11.jpg

2017_KeyWe..asting_-_12.jpg

2017_KeyWe..asting_-_30.jpg

2017_KeyWe..asting_-_15.jpg

2017_KeyWe..Tasting_-_4.jpg

2017_KeyWe..asting_-_16.jpg

We might have had some wine, too.

2017_KeyWe..Tasting_-_2.jpg

2017_KeyWe..Tasting_-_3.jpg

2017_KeyWe..asting_-_13.jpg

2017_KeyWe..asting_-_14.jpg

2017_KeyWe..Tasting_-_7.jpg

large_2017_KeyWe..asting_-_31.jpg

large_2017_KeyWe..asting_-_25.jpg

2017_KeyWe..asting_-_24.jpg

2017_KeyWe..asting_-_19.jpg

2017_KeyWe..asting_-_18.jpg

2017_KeyWe..asting_-_21.jpg

2017_KeyWe..asting_-_22.jpg

2017_KeyWe..asting_-_23.jpg

2017_KeyWe..asting_-_20.jpg

Day 4: Uncorked and Uncouth

The next day we decided that the only cure for that much wine was some good, old-fashioned grease. Lupita's -- with its cheery decor and cheesy enchiladas -- was the perfect antidote.

2017_KWFWF_Lupitas__-_5.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Lupitas__-_9.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Lupitas__-_15.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Lupitas__-_2.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_Lupitas__-_3.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Lupitas__-_7.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_Lupitas__-_1.jpg

Once tucked in at a cozy booth, we feasted on chips and salsa, lobster enchiladas, Dos Equis for Angel, and a Mexican soda for me, since I don't like to drink and drive.

0dbfeab0-5e86-11e8-8a1d-b5936c88f898.jpg

0d5dcd80-5e86-11e8-bc7b-e9a69790b3c3.jpg

large_0d8a5bc0-5e86-11e8-ae9b-cbc13b49b29d.jpg

0db626b0-5e86-11e8-bc7b-e9a69790b3c3.jpg

0e8f6fb0-5e86-11e8-af3b-6bbc607cea94.jpg

I do, however, like to match my dress and my flip-flops to my ride.

2017_KWFWF_Lupitas__-_14.jpg

We'd no sooner dried out from the night before when it was time to pour even. more. wine. down our throats.

large_2017_KWFWF..corked__-_1.jpg

A bar crawl like no other, Duval Uncorked features over two dozen shops and restaurants along Key West's main drag, each of which offers a glass of wine and nibble or two paired to match.

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_30.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_44.jpg

2017_KWFWF..corked__-_8.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_10.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_49.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_36.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_39.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_29.jpg

One of the first stops was at Wine-O, a stylish new wine bar at the La Concha on Duval.

2017_KWFWF..corked__-_2.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..corked__-_3.jpg

2017_KWFWF..corked__-_5.jpg

2017_KWFWF..corked__-_6.jpg

2017_KWFWF..corked__-_4.jpg

Stylish and comfortable.

large_2017_KWFWF..orked__-_33.jpg

From there, we moved on to the frosé with elderflower at the Little Room Jazz Club.

large_2017_KWFWF..orked__-_34.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_35.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_32.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_31.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_21.jpg

From there, it was a haze of pour, sip, giggle, repeat.

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_43.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_28.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_12.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_42.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_41.jpg

2017_KWFWF..corked__-_9.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_16.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_40.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..orked__-_38.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_19.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..orked__-_20.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_18.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_17.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_13.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_15.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_37.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..orked__-_48.jpg

Of course, it wouldn't be a bar crawl in Key West without drag queens, sitar-strumming superheroes, and dogs on bar stools.

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_27.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_14.jpg

2017_KWFWF..corked__-_7.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_24.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..orked__-_22.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_23.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF..orked__-_26.jpg

I wasn't feeling much pain by the end of the crawl, which is why it seemed like a great idea -- if by "great" you mean "incredibly ill-advised" -- to stop at the Speakasy on the way home.

7e8ba630-5e86-11e8-81b4-d7060a3eb219.jpg

2017_KWFWF..orked__-_46.jpg

It was all downhill from there.

thumb_7de07210-5e86-11e8-ae9b-cbc13b49b29d.jpgthumb_7d6c7a90-5e86-11e8-bc7b-e9a69790b3c3.jpg

We'd planned dinner with our friend Steve that night, but I urged Angel to go on without me. You know it's bad when I was worried I might embarrass them . . . in Key West.

thumb_7e35be00-5e86-11e8-9b5e-1194d2279936.jpg

And because he is the leading contender for Husband of the Year, well, every year, Angel surprised me by bringing home a pepperoni pizza since I'd missed dinner . . . and remembering to photograph it.

7d5c4df0-5e86-11e8-af3b-6bbc607cea94.jpg

large_7e23e3b0-5e86-11e8-bf23-4500eeee8e81.jpg

large_7dd91f10-5e86-11e8-af3b-6bbc607cea94.jpg

But not without a little pit stop for himself first.

7da760b0-5e86-11e8-8a1d-b5936c88f898.jpg

Day 5: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

It was our last day in Key West, and a chilly one at that, so we decided to spend it indoors sobering up so we wouldn't get kicked off our flight that afternoon.

2017_KWFWF_Onlywood__-_11.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Onlywood__-_3.jpg

Oh, you're wondering why we'd go out for pizza, after I just devoured an entire pizza the night before? Hi, I'm Tracey. You must be new here. Welcome!

4219e320-c25d-11e8-b1a6-8d11d51ee813.jpg

Onlywood is tucked away in a little alley off of Duval Street, adding to the cozy feel on a rainy day.

large_2017_KWFWF_Onlywood__-_12.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Onlywood__-_2.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_Onlywood__-_1.jpg

With Angel busy checking on our flights, I used that opportunity to scarf down all the meatballs we'd ordered.

2017_KWFWF_Onlywood__-_13.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_Onlywood__-_8.jpg

Soon our wood-fired pizzas arrived, and between last night's pizza and today's, the dough sponges did their job and we were permitted to board the plane.

large_2017_KWFWF_Onlywood__-_4.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Onlywood__-_5.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Onlywood__-_14.jpg

2017_KWFWF_Onlywood__-_10.jpg

large_2017_KWFWF_Onlywood__-_9.jpg

I'm just glad they don't have breathalyzers on those things.
-----------------------------------------------------------
There's lots in the hopper! There's "The Missing Bling Ting" in Anguilla; yours truly roughing it in the bush in South Africa (sans ironing board!); homemade hooch in the Hudson Valley; a birthday blowout with my sissy in Brooklyn; another pre-Irma trip to Anguilla (remember when Seaborne lost Angel's luggage? I sure do); and a lazy long weekend in Delray Beach. Check back soon, or click here to subscribe and Travellerspoint will do the checking for you!

Heading to the Key West Food & Wine Festival? What doesn't kill you makes for great stories! Get your tickets here.

Posted by TraceyG 04:58 Archived in USA Tagged key_west kwfwf key_west_food_and_wine_festival lupitas duval_uncorked Comments (2)

Key West: A Major Award at the Conch Fritter-Eating Contest

You know it's not going to be a normal trip to Key West when you text a friend who lives in Old Town in order to make plans and he casually mentions, "By the way, you're busy on Sunday . . . because I entered you in a conch fritter-eating contest."

Then again, when is any trip to Key West a normal one???

2016_KW_Oct_Dogstool__-_1.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_ABN__-_2.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_Cocobra__-_1.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_ABN__-_1.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_ABN__-_4.jpg

We arrived on a gorgeous October morning and were quickly whisked away to the Paradise Inn on Simonton Street, a secluded oasis of calm amid the cacophony on Duval Street of noisy bars, drunken boors, and the kind of people who participate in competitive eating contests.

large_2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_17.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_18.jpg

large_2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_19.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_20.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_21.jpg

large_2016_KW_Oct_PI2__-_1.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_PI2__-_2.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_25.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_24.jpg

large_2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_26.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_27.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_11.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_10.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_12.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_15.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_BWlob__-_1.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_3.jpg

large_2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_2.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_9.jpg

large_2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_8.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_14.jpg

But peaceful as Paradise Inn may be, this is still Key West.

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_22.jpg

large_2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_23.jpg

Our "usual" suite on the second floor overlooking the pool was unavailable, so we took the one next door instead.

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_4.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_5.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_6.jpg

large_2016_KW_Oct_PI__-_7.jpg

After a quick change of clothes, we headed over to Lagerheads, a cheery Caribbean-style spot on the water near the Key West Bight.

large_2016_KW_Oc..heads__-_12.jpg

2016_KW_Oc..rheads__-_9.jpg

large_2016_KW_Oc..heads__-_15.jpg

2016_KW_Oc..heads__-_11.jpg

2016_KW_Oc..heads__-_10.jpg

2016_KW_Oc..rheads__-_5.jpg

We snagged two seats at the bar, then ordered up crab cakes, fish tacos, some smoked fish dip, and a couple of frozen drinks to get ourselves into island mode.

2016_KW_Oc..rheads__-_4.jpg

2016_KW_Oc..rheads__-_8.jpg

large_2016_KW_Oc..heads__-_16.jpg

2016_KW_Oc..rheads__-_7.jpg

2016_KW_Oc..heads__-_17.jpg

large_2016_KW_Oc..heads__-_14.jpg

2016_KW_Oc..rheads__-_1.jpg

2016_KW_Oc..rheads__-_2.jpg

large_2016_KW_Oc..rheads__-_3.jpg

Afterwards we biked around for a bit, then headed back to Paradise Inn to laze around the pool.

2016_KW_Oct_bikeride__-_2.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_bikeride__-_3.jpg

2016_KW_Oc..eride__-_11.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_bikeride__-_4.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_bikeride__-_6.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_bikeride__-_1.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_bikeride__-_5.jpg

2016_KW_Oc..eride__-_10.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_bikeride__-_9.jpg

2016_KW_Oct_bikeride__-_8.jpg

large_2016_KW_Oct_bikeride__-_7.jpg

Later, we stopped by Louie's to usher in the sunset.

2016_KW_Louies__-_11.jpg

2016_KW_Louies__-_1.jpg

2016_KW_Louies__-_2.jpg

large_2016_KW_Louies__-_5.jpg

2016_KW_Louies__-_3.jpg

large_2016_KW_Louies__-_6.jpg

large_2016_KW_Louies__-_8.jpg

2016_KW_Louies__-_9.jpg

large_2016_KW_Louies__-_10.jpg

We checked out some of the island's Halloween decorations on our way back to the hotel.

2016_KW_Halloween__-_4.jpg

large_2016_KW_Halloween__-_5.jpg

2016_KW_Halloween__-_6.jpg

2016_KW_Halloween__-_7.jpg

large_2016_KW_Halloween__-_8.jpg

2016_KW_Halloween__-_3.jpg

2016_KW_Halloween__-_1.jpg

2016_KW_Halloween__-_2.jpg

Back at the hotel, we devoured the pizza we'd picked up along the way, then called it a night.

large_2016_KW_PInight__-_2.jpg

large_2016_KW_PInight__-_4.jpg

large_2016_KW_PInight__-_5.jpg

large_2016_KW_PInight__-_3.jpg

The next day we met up with friends Stephanie and Ari at Hot Tin Roof for brunch.

large_2016_KW_HTR__-_1.jpg

2016_KW_HTR__-_3.jpg

2016_KW_HTR__-_4.jpg

large_2016_KW_HTR__-_2.jpg

2016_KW_HTR__-_24.jpg

It's always nice when they're expecting you.

2016_KW_HTR__-_25.jpg

Hot Tin Roof has a great brunch deal: For a set price, you can order anything on the menu -- in any order, and as much as you want -- and they'll serve it up with unlimited bottles of Prosecco and OJ, or unlimited Bloody Marys if that's your thing. And so what is billed as "brunch" is really an all-you-drink vodka-and-Prosecco party with everything from chicken and waffles with cayenne maple butter to compressed watermelon salad with tequila and feta to sesame tuna with crispy pork belly. Oh, and pancakes.

large_2016_KW_HTR__-_27.jpg

2016_KW_HTR__-_5.jpg

2016_KW_HTR__-_6.jpg

2016_KW_HTR__-_7.jpg

2016_KW_HTR__-_8.jpg

2016_KW_HTR__-_9.jpg

2016_KW_HTR__-_10.jpg

2016_KW_HTR__-_20.jpg

large_2016_KW_HTR__-_11.jpg

2016_KW_HTR__-_12.jpg

large_2016_KW_HTR__-_13.jpg

2016_KW_HTR__-_14.jpg

large_2016_KW_HTR__-_15.jpg

2016_KW_HTR__-_16.jpg

large_2016_KW_HTR__-_17.jpg

large_2016_KW_HTR__-_18.jpg

2016_KW_HTR__-_19.jpg

large_2016_KW_HTR__-_21.jpg

2016_KW_HTR__-_22.jpg

2016_KW_HTR__-_23.jpg

That afternoon, our friend Mark invited us to stop by for a slice (or three) of the homemade key lime pie he'd made for me.

large_2016_KW_keylimepie__-_1.jpg

2016_KW_keylimepie__-_3.jpg

2016_KW_keylimepie__-_2.jpg

Which was one of the nicest things anyone's ever done for me, especially after I've shamelessly accosted them on social media every time they post a photo of anything even resembling a pie.

2016_KW_keylimepie__-_5.jpg

He even saved the limes as proof that he really made the pie from scratch, since he knows I am suspicious of anyone who claims to use their oven for anything other than shoe storage.

2016_KW_keylimepie__-_4.jpg

That evening it was time to start preparing for the conch fritter-eating contest, so I did what any competitive athlete would do: I headed over to Abbondanza for some carbo-loading.

2016_KW_Abbondan__-_9.jpg

2016_KW_Abbondan__-_7.jpg

2016_KW_Abbondan__-_8.jpg

2016_KW_Abbondan__-_4.jpg

2016_KW_Abbondan__-_3.jpg

I love pasta, but I was even more excited about the meatballs.

2016_KW_Abbondan__-_10.jpg

2016_KW_Abbondan__-_2.jpg

That cheesy chicken parm was no slouch, either.

2016_KW_Abbondan__-_5.jpg

large_2016_KW_Abbondan__-_6.jpg

The next morning we made a beeline for Agave 308 for some last-minute preparations for the conch-fritter eating contest: Tequila for courage and tacos for...ever.

2016_KW_Agave308__-_2.jpg

2016_KW_Agave308__-_1.jpg

2016_KW_Agave308__-_3.jpg

large_2016_KW_Agave308__-_4.jpg

2016_KW_Agave308__-_5.jpg

The conch fritter-eating contest was the brainchild of the aforementioned Mark, he of the fabulous key lime pie and even more fabulous Key West Food and Wine Festival, an annual bacchanal of food and booze at which I have engaged in various questionable behaviors that I have heard rumors about but do not actually remember. The fritter-eating contest was just another of Mark's evil plots to make sure everyone who visits Key West leaves with an XXL pair of elastic-waist pants and plans for a juice fast.

2016_KW_Co..test2__-_43.jpg

2016_KW_ConchContest__-_1.jpg

2016_KW_ConchContest__-_6.jpg

2016_KW_ConchContest__-_3.jpg

A big crowd turned out to watch us all make fools of ourselves.

large_2016_KW_ConchContest__-_7.jpg

2016_KW_ConchContest__-_8.jpg

2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_11.jpg

2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_10.jpg

I checked in with our friend Deb (who was clearly skeptical that a skinny chick like me stood a chance at this thing -- especially one who doesn't particularly like conch fritters), then signed a waiver that said something about how I wouldn't sue if I ended up in a ditch with a belly full of fried dough.

2016_KW_Co..ebSkep__-_1.jpg

2016_KW_Co..ntest2__-_7.jpg

2016_KW_Co..test2__-_40.jpg

We'd arranged to meet up with friends Jessica and Jeff, who came to cheer me on (and, in Jeff's case, be goaded into participating himself).

2016_KW_ConchContest__-_5.jpg

large_2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_31.jpg

Of course, I dressed appropriately for the big event.

large_2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_14.jpg

Or at least I thought I did.

2016_KW_Co..ntest2__-_1.jpg

2016_KW_Co..ntest2__-_8.jpg

I'd told Mark beforehand that I would be wearing a conch dress in honor of the occasion, and at the contest he sweetly presented me with an award for "Best Dressed."

2016_KW_Co..test2__-_42.jpg

However, when I tried to duck out of the contest since I'd already "won," he snatched my Major Award back, forcing me to actually participate before he'd turn it over.

2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_18.jpg
2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_19.jpg
2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_20.jpg

The competitors were grouped into four heats, mine being the last. Of course, because this is Key West, it wouldn't be enough to just have a conch fritter-eating contest; there had to be a twist.

large_2016_KW_ConchContest__-_4.jpg

We couldn't use our hands.

And adding insult to injury, the day was windy. Really windy. I'd worn my hair down and didn't have anything to pull it back with. And so I suddenly realized that while I had no chance of winning a conch fritter-eating contest that day, I stood a very good chance of winning a hairball-eating contest.

large_2016_KW_Co..test2__-_21.jpg

2016_KW_Co..test2__-_18.jpg

large_2016_KW_Co..test2__-_22.jpg

Of course, that didn't stop Mark from drawing a tapeworm on my name card, or stop me from bragging that I'd already won (at least the fashion portion of the competition).

2016_KW_Co..test2__-_11.jpg

2016_KW_Co..test2__-_14.jpg

2016_KW_Co..test2__-_13.jpg

The first three heats were a tough act to follow, putting up some impressive numbers.

2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_23.jpg

large_2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_29.jpg

2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_26.jpg

2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_13.jpg

large_2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_27.jpg

large_2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_33.jpg

2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_24.jpg

large_2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_32.jpg

large_2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_30.jpg

2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_15.jpg

large_2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_12.jpg

2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_34.jpg

large_2016_KW_Co..ntest__-_22.jpg

large_2016_KW_Co..ntest2__-_2.jpg

Jared and Kevin were tied for first with 14 fritters each, but then Big Don ascended the dais . . . and quickly ascended to the top of the pack.

large_2016_KW_Co..test2__-_33.jpg

2016_KW_Co..ntest2__-_9.jpg

2016_KW_Co..ntest2__-_6.jpg

large_2016_KW_Co..ntest2__-_3.jpg

2016_KW_Co..test2__-_10.jpg

But not without some not-so-gentle "encouragement" from his girlfriend, who pounded on the table so violently that we figured Big Don was Dead Don if he didn't top 14.

2016_KW_Co..ntest2__-_5.jpg

2016_KW_Co..ntest2__-_4.jpg

Luckily, having downed an impressive 16 fritters in three minutes flat, Big Don seemed like a shoo-in to win . . . until my heat. I'm not saying this thing was rigged, but it can't be a coincidence that The Tapeworm was seated between two guys who ended up placing in the top three.

large_2016_KW_Co..test2__-_24.jpg

2016_KW_Co..test2__-_21.jpg

2016_KW_Co..test2__-_27.jpg

large_2016_KW_Co..test2__-_26.jpg

large_2016_KW_Co..test2__-_16.jpg

Sadly, however, I failed miserably when it came to living up to my reputation, at least for eating food. I'd downed roughly 2.5 fritters and an entire head's worth of human hair before giving up and chugging some wine.

2016_KW_Co..test2__-_29.jpg

2016_KW_Co..test2__-_19.jpg

2016_KW_Co..test2__-_15.jpg

Which did not go unnoticed by at least one disgusted competitor.

large_2016_KW_Co..test2__-_30.jpg

Meantime, Big Don's record of 16 fritters was about to be shattered by the unassuming Pac-Man on my left, Loren, who was gobbling up fritters as fast as they could bring them.

large_2016_KW_Co..tLoren__-_1.jpg

2016_KW_Co..test2__-_23.jpg

large_2016_KW_Co..test2__-_20.jpg

In the end, Loren bested everyone, including Big Don, to take home the prize, having somehow managed to scarf down a whopping 19 conch fritters in just three minutes.

large_2016_KW_Co..test2__-_35.jpg

2016_KW_Co..test2__-_37.jpg

2016_KW_Co..test2__-_34.jpg

large_2016_KW_Co..test2__-_36.jpg

It's always the skinny ones you gotta watch out for.
----------------------------------------------------
2016_KW_Co..test2__-_31.jpg

Wanna stick it to Hurricane Irma and your own liver? Get your tickets for January 2018 Key West Food and Wine Festival here: https://www.keywestfoodandwinefestival.com/

Posted by TraceyG 09:01 Archived in USA Tagged key_west abbondanza conch_republic lagerheads agave_308 Comments (4)

Best of Philadelphia: The City of Gluttony Love

Much like its favorite son, Rocky, the city of Philadelphia often seems to be underestimated. Primarily known for cheese steaks and the Liberty Bell, Philly probably isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think of creative cocktails, gorgeous architecture, flower-filled parks, or edgy public art installations . . . or, you know, funky light fixtures and romantic outdoor weddings. But my sister Trina and I found all that and more during our springtime visit to the City of Gluttony Love.

2015_Philly_sissies_-_1.jpg

1. Double-Secret Prohibition

Philly's got a great speakeasy culture, and there's no better place to do a little cloak-and-dagger drinking than at Hop Sing Laundromat.

2015_Philly_Hopsing_-_2.jpg

Named one of the 30 greatest bars in the world by Condé Nast Traveler, Hop Sing is housed behind a nondescript door on a seedy block lined Chinese takeout joints.

large_2015_Philly_Hopsing_-_1.jpg

Run by an international man of mystery known simply as Lê, Hop Sing has no phone, no internet . . . and absolutely no photos, as they are strictly prohibited.

2015_Philly_Hopsing_-_3.jpg

After handing your ID over to Lê -- dressed quite nattily, as you are also expected to be -- you must then wait patiently in the holding pen while he disappears with it. Is he making a copy to sell to underage college students? Checking for speeding tickets? Adding you to his list of what he refers to as "imperialist Americans"? No one knows, but the list of banned patrons reportedly contains 1,700 names, so it's not just for show.

2015_Philly_sissies_-_5.jpg

Make that 1,702.

2015_Philly_sissies_-_6.jpg

large_2015_Philly_HopSing1__-_1.jpg

2. Scratch That Itch

Lots of cities have beautiful gardens, and Philadelphia is no exception.

large_2015_Philly_gardens_-_4.jpg

2015_Philly_gardens_-_7.jpg

large_2015_Phill..doorart_-_1.jpg

2015_Philly_gardens_-_6.jpg

2015_Philly_gardens_-_3.jpg

large_2015_Philly_gardens_-_2.jpg

2015_Philly_gardens_-_1.jpg

But I bet very few of them have an STD garden.

large_2015_Philly_gardens_-_5.jpg

I don't know much about plants, but it's looking like poison ivy is the least of my worries.

3. Can You Hear Me Now?

Philadelphia has some awesome public art, both small . . .

2015_Philly_statues__-_2.jpg

. . . and large . . .

large_2015_Philly_statues__-_1.jpg

and sized just right.

2015_Philly_statues__-_7.jpg

2015_Philly_statues__-_6.jpg

2015_Philly_statues__-_5.jpg

2015_Philly_statues__-_4.jpg

But you didn't hear that from me.

large_2015_Philly_statues__-_3.jpg

4. With a Cherry on Top

Washington, D.C. puts on an extravaganza of pink petals every spring, but Philly isn't far behind.

2015_Philly_streets_-_3.jpg

large_2015_Philly_streets_-_6.jpg

large_2015_Phill..dg_-_11__1_.jpg

large_2015_Philly_streets_-_7.jpg

But instead of ringing a reservoir as they do in D.C., Philly's cherry blossoms form blush-colored canopies over charming, colonial-era alleyways.

2015_Philly_streets_-_5.jpg

large_2015_Philly_streets_-_11.jpg

large_TTGrev2015..y_Streets-a.jpg

And don't even get me started on those creamy white apple blossoms.

large_2015_Philly_streets_-_9.jpg

5. Oui ou Yo

It's a little-known fact that Paris and Philadelphia are sister cities. Both revere cheese; both have storied pasts; and citizens of both cities speak English with a foreign accent. Oh, and both have some of the most beautiful doors I've ever seen.

2015_Phill..tybldg_-_15.jpg

large_2015_Philly_doors_-_10.jpg

2015_Philly_doors_-_9.jpg

2015_Philly_doors_-_6.jpg

2015_Philly_doors_-_8.jpg

large_2015_Philly_doors_-_7.jpg

2015_Philly_doors_-_5.jpg

large_2015_Philly_doors_-_4.jpg

2015_Philly_doors_-_3.jpg

2015_Philly_doors_-_2.jpg

2015_Philly_doors_-_1.jpg

6. Let's Get Lit

I've long speculated that Philly's funky outdoor art is proof that the pot is better here than elsewhere. But throw in their crazy-town blingy bulbs, and I think we can put all speculation to rest.

large_2015_Philly_lights_-_3.jpg

large_2015_Philly_lights_-_2.jpg

2015_Philly_lights_-_1.jpg

I mean, Oscar de la Hoya on a neon motorcycle? Come on.

large_2015_Philly_lights_-_5.jpg

2015_Philly_sissies_-_3.jpg

7. Here Comes the Bride

As we strolled around the city, we saw not one but three different beautiful brides. Maybe there was a Groupon?

2015_Philly_weddings_-_3.jpg

2015_Philly_weddings_-_2.jpg

2015_Philly_weddings_-_1.jpg

8. Say Cheese

Philly is known for its cheese steaks, but don't think you have to confine yourself to a bun to get in on the action.

large_2015_Philly_cheese_-_1.jpg

2015_Philly_cheese_-_2.jpg

large_2015_Philly_cheese_-_3.jpg

large_2015_Philly_cheese_-_4.jpg

large_2015_Philly_cheese_-_7.jpg

But it certainly doesn't hurt.

2015_Philly_cheese_-_9.jpg

large_2015_Philly_cheese_-_5.jpg

large_2015_Philly_cheese_-_6.jpg

9. I'll Take Mine With a Twizzle Stick

New York City has snooty mixologists who demand to be treated like serious chefs; Philly has Stephen Starr, the man who thought cocktails would be more fun if they came garnished with Lucky Charms and Twizzlers. He thought right.

2015_Phill..ktails_-_11.jpg

large_2015_Philly_redo__-_1.jpg

2015_Phill..ktails_-_10.jpg

2015_Philly_cocktails_-_9.jpg

Of course, if you're feeling a little fancier, there's always the blackberry bramble at Del Frisco's; the All the Way Mae at Rouge (think gin, strawberries, and basil); or the fruity frozen margaritas as El Vez.

2015_Philly_cocktails_-_5.jpg

2015_Philly_cocktails_-_1.jpg

large_2015_Philly_cocktails_-_6.jpg

2015_Philly_cocktails_-_4.jpg

2015_Philly_sissies_-_4.jpg

Or, if you're saving room for a third cheese steak, consider combining cocktail hour with dessert and have the Bananas Foster milkshake with Gosling's rum at the Marathon Grill.

large_2015_Philly_cocktails_-_2.jpg

I'm considering having my tonsils removed just so I can live on these for a week without having to explain myself.

10. The Holy Grail of Gastronomic Gluttony

Of course, no visit to Philly (or to the East Coast, really) would be complete without a stop at the Reading Terminal Market. Not only is it the best market in the city, it would be the best market in virtually any city. Where else can you find everything from Philly classics like pork rolls and tomato pie to gargantuan cupcakes and massive pork shanks?

2015_Philly_RTM__-_30.jpg

large_2015_Philly_RTM__-_17.jpg

2015_Philly_tomatoes_-_1.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_22.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_4.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_24.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_9.jpg

large_2015_Philly_RTM__-_19.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_18.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_7.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_12.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_5.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_23.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_8.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_10.jpg

large_2015_Philly_RTM__-_31.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_6.jpg

large_2015_Philly_RTM__-_29.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_25.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_3.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_28.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_20.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_11.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_26.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_21.jpg

large_2015_Philly_RTM__-_14.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_1.jpg

2015_Philly_RTM__-_27.jpg

2015_Philly_tomatoes_-_2.jpg

Honorable Mention: Most Obscene Use of Butter Since "Last Tango in Paris"

Making a sticky bun is like working a tanker truck's worth of butter into a blob of dough the size of a Ping-Pong ball, and Beiler's Donuts at Reading Terminal Market affords a front-row seat to all the, um, heart-stopping action.

2015_Philly_butter_-_4.jpg

2015_Philly_butter_-_3.jpg

By the time the kneader is done, every square inch of the place is dripping in butter, and the kneader looks like he's just finished a butter-wrestling match. (Which should totally be an Olympic sport.)

2015_Philly_butter_-_2.jpg

2015_Philly_butter_-_1.jpg

At least that explains why they have that glass between the kneader and the spectators.

large_Beilers.jpg

11. Lunch for the Swing Set

Whimsical Stephen Starr strikes again, this time with these swingy cocoon chairs at The Continental Midtown.

large_2015_Philly_chairs_-_2.jpg

2015_Philly_chairs_-_3.jpg

Just maybe don't attempt these after a night of Twizzler cocktails.

2015_Philly_chairs_-_4.jpg

12. The Writing is on the Wall

Or the hubcaps and broken bottles, as the case may be.

large_2015_Phill..oorart_-_11.jpg

large_2015_Phill..oorart_-_10.jpg

2015_Phill..doorart_-_9.jpg

2015_Phill..doorart_-_8.jpg

2015_Phill..doorart_-_7.jpg

large_2015_Phill..doorart_-_6.jpg

2015_Phill..doorart_-_5.jpg

2015_Phill..doorart_-_4.jpg

2015_Phill..doorart_-_3.jpg

2015_Phill..doorart_-_2.jpg

13. Sign O' the Times

Philly's got some fun and funky signs . . . but especially if you've been doing some serious day drinking.

large_2015_Philly_TTGsnake-a2.jpg

2015_Philly_signage_-_9.jpg

2015_Philly_signage_-_6.jpg

2015_Philly_signage_-_4.jpg

large_2015_Philly_redo__-_2.jpg

2015_Philly_signage_-_2.jpg

2015_Philly_signage_-_7.jpg

14. The Official Sport of Philadelphia

Now that Rocky's retired, I guess it's bread-stacking instead of boxing?

2015_Phill..adstack_-_4.jpg

2015_Phill..adstack_-_3.jpg

2015_Phill..adstack_-_1.jpg

And the decision goes to: Anyone but this guy.

2015_Phill..adstack_-_2.jpg

15. Little Nonna, Big Meatballs

Have you been to Little Nonna's yet? If not, finish up that cheese steak, then beat feet over to this charming Center City hangout, where the staff is sweet, the garden is delightful, and the melt-in-your-mouth meatballs are a way better way to get your protein than a glass full of raw eggs.

large_2015_Phill..oNonna__-_1.jpg

2015_Philly_meatballs_-_2.jpg

2015_Philly_meatballs_-_3.jpg

2015_Philly_TGTS__-_1.jpg

2015_Philly_meatballs_-_5.jpg

large_2015_Philly_meatballs_-_4.jpg

16. Take Me To Church

Or Sunday school, anyway, where Tria Café in Washington Square West will indoctrinate you in a divine wine and celestial cheese for a heavenly price on Sunday mornings. It's church for food-worshippers.

2015_Philly_tria_-_1.jpg

2015_Philly_tria_-_5.jpg

2015_Philly_redoTTG__-_1.jpg

2015_Philly_tria_-_4.jpg

2015_Philly_tria_-_3.jpg

Until next time, Philly. Save me some cheese.

2015_Philly_mannequin_-_2.jpg

large_2015_Philly_mannequin_-_1.jpg

---------------------------------------------------------
What's up next? Angel gets nekkid in Anguilla; Tracey wins a conch fritter-eating contest in Key West (sort of...); we discover a hoppin' hula hut in the Hamptons; and my bad hombre and I take a mostly-legal trip to Cuba! Check back soon; subscribe here so you don't have to; or pop on over to Instragram @escape.from.new.york to see how I'm faring in the eating contest that is my life.

Posted by TraceyG 06:04 Archived in USA Tagged philadelphia pennsylvania philly tria el_vez del_friscos hop_sing_laundromat little_nonnas Comments (14)

Anna Maria Island, Part 1: A Freaki Tiki Good Time

Locals call it the "Florida Easy Button." Coastal Living magazine calls it one of their "dream towns." And Travel and Leisure dubs it a "quiet escape" and touts its "sandy seclusion." Why all the fuss over a simple 7-mile stretch of shoreline, one of dozens along Florida's west coast?

large_2015_AMI_A..rbeach2_-_1.jpg

Maybe it's Anna Maria's wide, pristine beaches, dotted with towering Australian pines. Maybe it's a vibe that's decidedly more artsy and outdoorsy than yacht clubby. Maybe it's the quaint waterside seafood shacks, or the dozens of candy-colored beach houses, or the free rides on the island-wide trolley.

2015_AMI_AMITTbar_-_1.jpg

large_2015_AMI_AMIopeners_-_5.jpg

2015_AMI_Mermaid_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_A..bopener_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_A..idhouse_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_AMIopeners_-_3.jpg

Or maybe it's the location. Anna Maria is just minutes from Longboat Key and St. Armand's Circle, two places where we could indulge our inner snobs with good wine, gourmet cuisine, and upscale shopping when the mood struck.

2015_AMI_AMIopeners_-_2.jpg

The funny thing was . . . the mood never really struck. That's how charming Anna Maria is.

large_2015_AMI_AMIopeners_-_4.jpg

But to immerse ourselves in all this charm, first we had to get there. Although Sarasota's airport is the closest one to Anna Maria, we decided to take an early morning flight into Tampa instead, which would allow us time for a leisurely lunch in Ybor City, a mid-afternoon snack in St. Pete Beach, and a scenic drive over to Anna Maria, all timed to coincide with check-in at the house we'd rented for the week.

2015_AMI_Tampa_-_1.jpg

Our first stop was Tampa's Ybor City, a historic neighborhood founded in the 1880s by cigar manufacturers and populated by thousands of Cuban, Spanish, and Italian immigrants in the early 1900s.

2015_AMI_Tampa_-_10.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Tampa_-_6.jpg

2015_AMI_Tampa_-_13.jpg

2015_AMI_Tampa_-_11.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Tampa_-_12.jpg

And because it was Christmas, the neighborhood was decked out in its festive finest for the holiday.

large_3A77097CB73C6BB1D8A1911B8484D340.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Tampa_-_3.jpg

2015_AMI_Tampa_-_4.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Tampa_-_5.jpg

2015_AMI_Tampa_-_9.jpg

2015_AMI_Tampa_-_14.jpg

Some folks even came bearing gifts.

large_2015_AMI_Tampa_-_16.jpg

2015_AMI_Tampa_-_17.jpg

2015_AMI_Tampa_-_15.jpg

Although I've been known to travel great distances -- even to foreign countries like Anguilla and Brooklyn -- in search of the ultimate cheeseburger or pepperoni pizza, it's not my usual M.O. to seek out . . . a salad. But when I heard about the famous "1905" salad at the also-famous Columbia Restaurant, I knew we had to give it a try.

large_2015_AMI_Colombia_-_34.jpg

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_35.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Colombia_-_32.jpg

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_33.jpg

The Columbia Restaurant is the oldest in Florida and has been owned by the same family since 1905, now in its 6th generation.

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_31.jpg

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_4.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Colombia_-_5.jpg

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_19.jpg

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_17.jpg

The restaurant has also expanded over the years, now encompassing numerous dining rooms spanning an entire city block.

large_2015_AMI_Colombia_-_23.jpg

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_18.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Colombia_-_21.jpg

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_22.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Colombia_-_24.jpg

And of course a sizable bar, for sampling the mojitos and sangria.

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_25.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Colombia_-_28.jpg

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_29.jpg

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_26.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Colombia_-_27.jpg

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_7.jpg

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_30.jpg

We were seated in the main dining room, which is crowned with a spectacular skylight.

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_6.jpg

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_14.jpg

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_8.jpg

Tossed tableside, the 1905 salad was inspired by the immigrants who worked in Ybor's cigar factories: Romano cheese from the Sicilians, garlic dressing favored by the Cubans to marinate fresh roast pork, baked ham to represent the Spaniards' beloved Iberico, plus Florida tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, and Swiss cheese.

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_9.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Colombia_-_10.jpg

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_11.jpg

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_12.jpg

large_2015_AMI_ColombSalad_-_1.jpg

The salad was fantastic -- cheesy and garlicky and perfectly crisp -- but man cannot live on Swiss alone, so we had some other stuff, too.

2015_AMI_Colombia_-_16.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Colombia_-_15.jpg

After lunch we made our way down to St. Pete Beach for "dessert."

2015_AMI_StPete_-_10.jpg

With its beachfront patio and huge selection of drinks, Bongo's at the Grand Plaza Hotel seemed like the perfect choice.

2015_AMI_StPete_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_StPete_-_7.jpg

2015_AMI_StPete_-_9.jpg

large_2015_AMI_StPete_-_2.jpg

2015_AMI_StPete_-_11.jpg

Though it was crowded with holiday revelers, we managed to snag two seats near the soothing fountain.

2015_AMI_StPete_-_4.jpg

Refreshing, too, since we had our own little "sprinkler."

2015_AMI_StPete_-_5.jpg

large_2015_AMI_StPete_-_12.jpg

We even had our choice of bands -- Latin-tinged pop at the bar, or a full-on marching band on the beach.

2015_AMI_StPete_-_13.jpg

large_2015_AMI_StPete_-_6.jpg

By mid-afternoon, it was time to head over to Anna Maria. The drive was lovely, particularly as we approached the Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay, which connects St. Petersburg to Terra Ceia, near Bradenton.

large_2015_AMI_AMIDrive_-_4.jpg

2015_AMI_AMIDrive_-_4.jpg

large_2015_AMI_AMIDrive_-_2.jpg

large_2015_AMI_AMIDrive_-_5.jpg

The place we rented was one of "The Saints," a group of four bungalows in Anna Maria's southernmost neighborood, Bradenton Beach.

large_2015_AMI_StBarth_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_StBarth_-_2.jpg

large_2015_AMI_StBarth_-_4.jpg

large_2015_AMI_StBarth_-_18.jpg

2015_AMI_StBarth_-_16.jpg

I was a bit nervous about our bungalow, the 2-bed, 2-bath St. Barths unit, since it was brand-new and therefore had only a handful of reviews, and scarcely more photos. Any hesitation fell away, however, as soon as we set foot in the spacious, spic-and-span home decorated with beachy touches throughout.

2015_AMI_StBarth_-_9.jpg

2015_AMI_StBarth_-_10.jpg

2015_AMI_StBarth_-_12.jpg

2015_AMI_StBarth_-_13.jpg

2015_AMI_StBarth_-_14.jpg

2015_AMI_StBarth_-_6.jpg

2015_AMI_StBarth_-_15.jpg

They even left us a welcome bag of snacks and a gift-wrapped tin of homemade Christmas cookies.

2015_AMI_StBarth_-_8.jpg

2015_AMI_StBarth_-_7.jpg

Though late December in Anna Maria can be a bit chilly for swimming, I'd nevertheless made sure to rent one of the two bungalows with a private pool, hoping for the best.

large_2015_AMI_StBarth_-_17.jpg

As it turned out, the entire week was gloriously sunny and unusually warm, with highs in the mid-80s each day.

2015_AMI_TTGsun_-_1.jpg

Not that it was enough to get Big Baby Angel into that "frigid" 82-degree water.

large_2015_AMI_AGpool_-_1.jpg

That evening for Christmas dinner, we had reservations at the Chart House on nearby Longboat Key.

2015_AMI_ChartHouse_-_8.jpg

large_2015_AMI_ChartHouse_-_9.jpg

2015_AMI_ChartHouse_-_10.jpg

2015_AMI_ChartHouse_-_11.jpg

We kicked things off with a pomegranate mojito for me, and a Bold Manhattan with chocolate bitters for Angel.

2015_AMI_ChartHouse_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_ChartHouse_-_2.jpg

large_TTG_Necklace.jpg

2015_AMI_CHredo_-_1.jpg

After gobbling up that calamari, we moved on to the snapper Hemingway topped with lump crab and lemon-shallot butter, and the macadamia-nut mahi with warm peanut sauce and a mash of gorgeous purple Peruvian potatoes.

2015_AMI_ChartHouse_-_4.jpg

large_2015_AMI_CHredo_-_2.jpg

We awoke the next morning to greet our first full day on the island, and didn't waste any time ticking the #1 item off our to-do list: Gorging ourselves on stone crabs.

2015_AMI_S..rLunch_-_21.jpg

With our much-beloved Moore's closed due to the owner's retirement, we set off for SandBar, a beachfront spot that prides itself on its purveyors, many of whom are local.

2015_AMI_S..rLunch_-_22.jpg

large_2015_AMI_S..rLunch_-_18.jpg

There was a wait for a table, but the warm sunshine, stunning view, and frozen rum-runners kept us well-occupied.

2015_AMI_SandBarLunch_-_1.jpg

large_2015_AMI_SandBarLunch_-_2.jpg

2015_AMI_SandBarLunch_-_6.jpg

2015_AMI_SandBarLunch_-_5.jpg

large_2015_AMI_SandBarLunch_-_4.jpg

2015_AMI_S..rLunch_-_20.jpg

2015_AMI_S..rLunch_-_16.jpg

2015_AMI_S..rLunch_-_15.jpg

large_2015_AMI_S..rLunch_-_17.jpg

Soon we were led to a "front-row" table in the sand, where it was clear that SandBar was a place where everyone can make themselves comfortable.

2015_AMI_SandBarLunch_-_8.jpg

Really comfortable.

large_2015_AMI_CHredo_-_3.jpg

Though many spots on AMI have stone crabs, most serve them cold with a mustard dipping sauce. But butter beats mustard (and everything else) any day of the week, so SandBar wisely serves their stone crabs warm with drawn butter.

large_2015_AMI_SandBarLunch_-_9.jpg

large_2015_AMI_S..rLunch_-_10.jpg

Of course, a pile of stone crabs wasn't going to cut it for lunch, so we threw in some blackened grouper tacos with corn and black bean salsa, along with the succulent Gulf shrimp baked with crabmeat stuffing.

large_2015_AMI_S..rLunch_-_13.jpg

large_2015_AMI_S..rLunch_-_14.jpg

After lunch we decided to do a little exploring, and were treated to a rainbow of adorable cottages and businesses.

large_2015_AMI_EggChair_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_17.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_20.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_7.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_21.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_24.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_6.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_16.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_18.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_29.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_31.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_30.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_25.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_23.jpg

That evening we were scheduled to meet up with some folks we met online through this blog, Steve and Liza, who offered to give us a "barstool tour" of the area. We happily agreed and made plans to meet up at their favorite local watering hole, Clancy's, which was just across the bridge in Bradenton, but might have been an entire world away.

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_5.jpg

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_6.jpg

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_8.jpg

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_2.jpg

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_9.jpg

Only in Bradenton can you end up dancing to a zydeco band at an Irish tiki bar with a couple of strangers you found on the Internet.

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_12.jpg

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_11.jpg

The band, Gumbo Boogie, bills itself as a unique stew of rock, blues, country, and soul flavored with a pinch of New Orleans. All I know is, they were perfect to (gumbo) boogie down to.

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_20.jpg

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_21.jpg

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_15.jpg

We ended up befriending the accordion player, Ryan, who invited us out to see the band later that week.

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_13.jpg

At an old folks' home.

In a trailer park.

On New Year's Eve.

Of course, I accepted. I mean, I was already hanging out with the only accordion player in Florida under the age of 80 playing Creole-tinged favorites at an Irish tiki bar. How much weirder could things really get?

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_7.jpg

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_4.jpg

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_3.jpg

In fact, we liked Clancy's so much that the "barstool tour" we'd been promised never actually materialized. When I teasingly mentioned this to Steve, he slid down one stool and said, "See? I was on that barstool, now I'm on this one. It's a tour!"

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_14.jpg

While Liza and I tore up the dance floor, Angel and Steve were deep in conversation. As it turns out, Steve, also known as "Dr. G," spent his career teaching and mentoring the most forgotten students in the New York City school system -- those kids, like many Angel himself went to school with, who have a better chance of ending up in a gang, in prison, or dead than graduating high school, let alone college.

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_18.jpg

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_19.jpg

Which explains how one can imbibe too many syrupy rum & Cokes at a kitschy roadside tiki bar and end up being brought to tears by the heartwarming stories of one man's lifelong dedication to making the world a better place.

And just to keep things from getting too sappy, it was at that moment that a motorcycle gang rode up on a bunch of Harleys, and I signaled to Angel that we should probably get out of there before the place turned into "Roadhouse."

It didn't take long, however, for me to realize that what I'd thought was a biker gang was, in fact, a bunch of former NFL players who happen to like zydeco.

2015_AMI_Clancys_-_16.jpg

As if the night couldn't get any weirder.

2015_AMI_RedoTTGNFL_-_1.jpg

The next day we decided to do some exploring around Anna Maria, hoping for a bit of normalcy after our nutty night at Clancy's. Apparently, it was not to be.

2015_AMI_Townie_-_19.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_3.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_2.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_11.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_15.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_5.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_27.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_32.jpg

And we were still a week away from crashing that New Year's Eve party at the old folks' trailer park.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
CLICK HERE for Part 2!

Posted by TraceyG 09:34 Archived in USA Tagged tampa bongos chart_house st_pete_beach anna_maria_island columbia_restaurant Comments (8)

Anna Maria Island, Part 2: Shackin' Up

The next day we decided to do a little shopping in AMI's northernmost neighborhood, Anna Maria village.

2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_2.jpg

2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_3.jpg

2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_4.jpg

2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_5.jpg

2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_6.jpg

Our favorite among the shops was the charmingly twee Shiny Fish.

large_2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_7.jpg

2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_8.jpg

2015_AMI_S..hseahrs_-_1.jpg

large_2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_16.jpg

large_2015_AMI_S..ishredo_-_1.jpg

In addition to beach dresses, jewelry, candles, and housewares, the store features a sand-dollar painting area and a little ice cream stand.

2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_22.jpg

2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_24.jpg

2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_14.jpg

large_2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_13.jpg

Even the fitting rooms were adorable.

2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_11.jpg

2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_15.jpg

large_2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_10.jpg

2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_17.jpg

large_2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_20.jpg

The owner's husband creates much of the shop's artwork, including these cuter-than-cute magnets.

large_2015_AMI_ShinyFish_-_23.jpg

After spending the morning oohing and aahing over Shiny Fish's beachy wares, it was time for lunch, so we made the short drive down to the Lido Beach Resort and their oceanfront tiki bar.

large_2015_AMI_Lido_-_6.jpg

2015_AMI_Lido_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_Lido_-_2.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Townie_-_9.jpg

There, we ordered up two fish sammies with key lime aioli on luau bread, along with some peace and quiet.

large_2015_AMI_Lido_-_3.jpg

2015_AMI_Lido_-_4.jpg

2015_AMI_Lido_-_5.jpg

large_2015_AMI_TTGlido2_-_1.jpg

The rest of the afternoon was a tough one.

2015_AMI_TTGpool_-_5.jpg

2015_AMI_TTGpool_-_2.jpg

2015_AMI_TTGpool_-_3.jpg

2015_AMI_TTGpool_-_1.jpg

That evening we had plans to meet up with our friend Sara, who'd recently moved to Sarasota after serving her time in New York City.

15F95E9EAB8B6B5DD9A610756C15A8B3.jpg

We settled on Jack Dusty, the elegant waterfront bar at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, which turned out to be the perfect place to relax and get caught up.

2015_AMI_JackDusty_-_20.jpg

2015_AMI_JackDusty_-_21.jpg

2015_AMI_JackDusty_-_18.jpg

large_15FE5A7ADCF1FE183F3AC89B811CEA4D.jpg

15FDE40C0EAF7FF864443B0638748E92.jpg

2015_AMI_JackDusty_-_14.jpg

large_1600E23D914595DA097906865632AC49.jpg

15FD6388C3F0E06C19A9FD6882DE8F1E.jpg

15FB65A599AB85BBC4911DB9B3436E3D.jpg

15FC3074D5DDF69115047E651B1D5860.jpg

large_15FCD74C93D94E0009F2822A27E97867.jpg

The cocktail list was sophisticated and creative.

large_15FA61A8F30A9CD71F7CCB0B3B82F1B4.jpg

15F9FA2FBB407C46214533B3F4DDFBCA.jpg

15FADA91FDC398F4286480D8E7B669C3.jpg

large_15FED5F50E07A9DC1EB037C091E6D63F.jpg

15FF5CDCEEA307235CB38FCE6DEE2339.jpg

15FFE846F7DB6863A941E5248EE56D6D.jpg

large_1601FED00832D995C0336E32206A1E17.jpg

As the sun began to set, the palm trees twinkled with tiny lights while the sky turned a delicate pink.

large_2015_AMI_JDview_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_JackDusty_-_22.jpg

large_2015_AMI_JackDusty_-_25.jpg

large_2015_AMI_JackDusty_-_24.jpg

Soon it was time to make the short walk over to Social Eatery & Bar for some dinner.

2015_AMI_Social_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_Social_-_2.jpg

Social's unique indoor-outdoor setting was perfect for the warm evening.

large_2015_AMI_Social_-_3.jpg

2015_AMI_Social_-_4.jpg

2015_AMI_Socialframes_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_Social_-_8.jpg

2015_AMI_Social_-_18.jpg

2015_AMI_Social_-_20.jpg

2015_AMI_Social_-_23.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Social_-_24.jpg

2015_AMI_AGSO_-_1.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Social_-_14.jpg

Even the water at Social was pretty. But those strawberry torpedoes were another story.

2015_AMI_SocialStraw_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_SocialStraw_-_2.jpg

But I hadn't picked Social for its trendy scene, or its expansive outdoor lounge, or its cozy fire pits, or its scary-shaped fruit. I picked it for The Volcano.

large_2015_AMI_Volc2_-_1.jpg

That, my friends, is a gigantic meatball, surrounded by a mountain of paccheri pasta and filled with bubbly hot lava. (Fine, it was Bolognese sauce and mozzarella cheese, but don't ruin this for me.)

As if The Volcano weren't enough, Social's menu has an entire section called the "Meatballeria."

2015_AMI_Social_-_17.jpg

The old saying is true: You can never be too rich, or have too many meatballs.

2015_AMI_Social_-_13.jpg

Or too much mac & cheese.

2015_AMI_Social_-_12.jpg

2015_AMI_Social_-_16.jpg

After dinner we took our drinks -- a blackberry julep, the grapefruit Old Fashioned, and one of the best cocktails I've ever had, the puckerlicious vanilla-bean lemonade martini -- to the outdoor bar, where we got comfy on one of the fireside sofas.

large_2015_AMI_Social_-_19.jpg

2015_AMI_Social_-_9.jpg

2015_AMI_Social_-_10.jpg

2015_AMI_Social_-_6.jpg

2015_AMI_Social_-_22.jpg

2015_AMI_Social_-_26.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Social_-_5.jpg

In addition to great company that night, we'd also gotten a great tip from our waiter at Jack Dusty: Go to Tide Tables in Cortez, where we could find the best fish tacos he'd ever had.

large_2015_AMI_TideTables_-_15.jpg

The forecast promised another day of perfect weather, and Tide Tables was just a short bike ride over the Cortez Bridge, so we gave it a go.

large_2015_AMI_TideTables_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_2.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_4.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_3.jpg

large_2015_AMI_TideTables_-_5.jpg

large_2015_AMI_TideTables_-_6.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_8.jpg

large_2015_AMI_TideTables_-_7.jpg

One of the last working commercial fishing villages on Florida’s Gulf coast, Cortez is replete with quaint waterside seafood shacks, and although Tide Tables is the newest one on the scene, that waiter's advice turned out to be spot-on.

large_2015_AMI_TideTables_-_20.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_29.jpg

With its cheery yellow exterior, crushed-shell parking lot, and open-air tiki bar offering a front-row seat to the bustle of activity on the dock, we were already smitten before we even saw the menu.

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_10.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_11.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_12.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_13.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_14.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_18.jpg

large_2015_AMI_TideTables_-_17.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_19.jpg

large_2015_AMI_TideTables_-_22.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_23.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_32.jpg

large_2015_AMI_TideTables_-_30.jpg

And by the time we took one bite of those heavenly fish tacos, it was a full-blown love affair.

large_2015_AMI_TideTables_-_38.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_33.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_34.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_16.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_36.jpg

large_2015_AMI_TideTables_-_35.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_37.jpg

But we shouldn't have been surprised, seeing as how it would be difficult to get fish any fresher.

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_24.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_28.jpg

large_2015_AMI_TideTables_-_25.jpg

large_2015_AMI_TideTables_-_27.jpg

As the resident pelicans well know.

large_2015_AMI_TideTables_-_21.jpg

We capped off our perfect lunch by sharing a slice of creamy key lime pie.

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_40.jpg

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_41.jpg

And smuggling out some fish tacos in my purse.

2015_AMI_TideTables_-_39.jpg

That evening we headed to SandBar to take in the sunset.

2015_AMI_S..rsunset_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_S..rsunset_-_3.jpg

large_2015_AMI_S..rsunset_-_2.jpg

It had been a long day of biking, so that night we stayed close to home for dinner, at Blue Marlin in Bradenton Beach.

large_2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_30.jpg

Housed in a 1920's cottage, Blue Marlin is done up in nautical blue-and-white, with maritime-inspired touches in every nook and cranny.

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_1.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_25.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_11.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_17.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_24.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_26.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_29.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_28.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_4.jpg

The menu included stone crab-stuffed shrimp; lobster and shrimp scampi with leeks and sun-dried tomatoes over linguine in a garlic and white wine sauce; and a classic seafood boil with andouille sausage.

large_2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_6.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_7.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_8.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_3.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_9.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_10.jpg

After dinner we took the remainder of our wine outside to the Trap Yard, Blue Marlin's outdoor garden and live music venue.

large_2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_15.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_12.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_14.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_16.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_18.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_13.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_20.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_22.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_23.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_21.jpg

It had been such a nice evening that we weren't quire ready for it to end, so we wandered around a bit to admire the Bradenton Beach Christmas lights.

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_19.jpg

2015_AMI_Cantina_-_1.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_31.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_33.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_34.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_32.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BMXmaslite_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_37.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BlueMarlin_-_38.jpg

We'd enjoyed five days of fun in the sun on Anna Maria, and we still had three more left. Surely that would be enough time to squeeze in another Volcano . . . wouldn't it?
---------------------------------------------------------
CLICK HERE for Part 3!
thumb_2015_AMI_Social_-_15.jpg

Posted by TraceyG 11:45 Archived in USA Tagged sandbar ritz-carlton shiny_fish anna_maria lido_beach_resort jack_dusty social_eatery tide_tables mar_vista blue_marlin wicked_cantina Comments (6)

Anna Maria Island, Part 3: A New Year's Rockin' Eve

The next day we took a spin around the island on our bikes, starting at Coquina Beach and ending up in the canal-front neighborhoods on Key Royale.

2015_AMI_Coquina_-_3.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Coquina_-_2.jpg

2015_AMI_Coquina_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_BikeRide1_-_3.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BikeRide1_-_2.jpg

2015_AMI_BikeRide1_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_BikeRide1_-_5.jpg

2015_AMI_BikeRide1_-_6.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BikeRide1_-_8.jpg

2015_AMI_Townie_-_26.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BikeRide1_-_10.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BikeRide1_-_7.jpg

2015_AMI_BikeRide1_-_4.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BikeRide1_-_9.jpg

2015_AMI_TGBWredo_-_1.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BikeRide1_-_12.jpg

2015_AMI_BeachCloud_-_7.jpg

2015_AMI_BeachCloud_-_8.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BeachCloud_-_16.jpg

We'd worked up quite an appetite, so for lunch we decided to take it easy with a little bit of "Old Florida" at Mar Vista, on the northernmost end of Longboat Key.

large_2015_AMI_M..afacade_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_MarVista_-_2.jpg

2015_AMI_MarVista_-_3.jpg

2015_AMI_MarVista_-_5.jpg

2015_AMI_MarVista_-_4.jpg

2015_AMI_MarVista_-_6.jpg

2015_AMI_MarVista_-_7.jpg

2015_AMI_MarVista_-_8.jpg

2015_AMI_MarVista_-_9.jpg

Mar Vista is one of the twelve oldest surviving structures on Longboat Key and is the former residence of one Rufus Jordan, who played a significant role in settling Longboat during the early 1900s.

large_2015_AMI_MarVista_-_14.jpg

2015_AMI_MarVista_-_13.jpg

2015_AMI_MarVista_-_18.jpg

large_2015_AMI_MarVista_-_11.jpg

2015_AMI_RedoMVbridge_-_1.jpg

large_2015_AMI_MarVista_-_20.jpg

large_2015_AMI_MarVista_-_23.jpg

2015_AMI_MarVista_-_21.jpg

large_2015_AMI_MarVista_-_22.jpg

The large shade trees created the perfect setting for a relaxing lunch.

large_2015_AMI_MarVista_-_12.jpg

2015_AMI_MarVista_-_24.jpg

2015_AMI_MarVista_-_25.jpg

We split an order of lightly fried calamari, then moved on to the burrata and arugula focaccia sandwich with truffle-balsamic glaze for me, and the blackened grouper sandwich for Angel.

2015_AMI_MarVista_-_26.jpg

large_2015_AMI_MarVista_-_27.jpg

2015_AMI_MarVista_-_28.jpg

2015_AMI_MarVista_-_29.jpg

large_2015_AMI_MVnets_-_1.jpg

large_2015_AMI_MVnets_-_2.jpg

By the time evening rolled around, we were still feeling pretty stuffed from our lunch at Mar Vista, and pretty lazy from our around-the-island bike ride. And so, in lieu of a proper dinner, we decided to pop over to Wicked Cantina for a snack.

2015_AMI_Cantina_-_2.jpg

2015_AMI_Cantina_-_5.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Cantina_-_3.jpg

2015_AMI_Cantina_-_10.jpg

2015_AMI_Cantina_-_12.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Cantina_-_9.jpg

2015_AMI_Cantina_-_8.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Cantina_-_4.jpg

large_2015_AMI_TexMex_-_1.jpg

The next day brought another perfect blue sky. We decided to take advantage by squeezing in a little beach time before lunch.

2015_AMI_SBBeach_-_1.jpg

large_2015_AMI_SBLunch2_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_SBBeach_-_5.jpg

2015_AMI_SBBeach_-_3.jpg

2015_AMI_SBBeach_-_2.jpg

large_2015_AMI_SBBeach_-_4.jpg

We chose the beach in front of SandBar, with its white sand, clear water, and proximity to rum drinks.

large_2015_AMI_SBBeach_-_7.jpg

2015_AMI_SBBeach_-_6.jpg

2015_AMI_SBBeach_-_8.jpg

When it was time to eat, we simply moved a little further up the beach to the restaurant, where we kicked things off with a slab of focaccia dipped in spicy oil, along with an order of crunchy fried conch fritters.

2015_AMI_SBLunch2_-_10.jpg

large_2015_AMI_SBLunch2_-_5.jpg

large_2015_AMI_SBLunch2_-_3.jpg

2015_AMI_SBLunch2_-_4.jpg

Blistered heirloom cherry tomatoes + fresh basil + balsamic syrup + creamy dollops of ricotta = the best thing to come out of a cast-iron skillet since macaroni & cheese.

2015_AMI_SBLunch2_-_6.jpg

large_2015_AMI_SBLunch2_-_7.jpg

2015_AMI_SBLunch2_-_9.jpg

large_2015_AMI_SBLunch2_-_8.jpg

After lunch, we did a little more shopping. Or, rather, I shopped, while Angel politely pretended to be interested in sundresses and beach coverups.

2015_AMI_PineShops_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_PineShops_-_2.jpg

2015_AMI_PineShops_-_3.jpg

2015_AMI_PineShops_-_6.jpg

2015_AMI_PineShops_-_4.jpg

2015_AMI_PineShops_-_7.jpg

2015_AMI_PineShops_-_5.jpg

large_2015_AMI_PineShops_-_8.jpg

We also stopped by one of AMI's most unique spots, the Rod and Reel Pier.

large_2015_AMI_RodReel_-_11.jpg

2015_AMI_RodReel_-_9.jpg

large_2015_AMI_RodReel_-_1.jpg

A working fishing pier combined with an over-water restaurant that serves $3 beers, Rod and Reel is about as casual as you can get without venturing out in your undies.

2015_AMI_RodReel_-_7.jpg

2015_AMI_RodReel_-_6.jpg

2015_AMI_RodReel_-_4.jpg

We took a long walk on a short pier, slowing our pace to enjoy the glorious breeze off the water.

2015_AMI_RodReel_-_2.jpg

2015_AMI_RodReel_-_5.jpg

large_2015_AMI_RodReel_-_10.jpg

2015_AMI_RodReel_-_3.jpg

large_2015_AMI_RodReel_-_13.jpg

large_2015_AMI_RodReel_-_14.jpg

2015_AMI_RodReel_-_15.jpg

2015_AMI_RodReel_-_8.jpg

2015_AMI_RodReel_-_16.jpg

Starfish Company was on the agenda for dinner, but a two-hour wait was not, so we headed back to Social in Sarasota for my new favorite cocktail (the vanilla-bean lemonade martini) and my new favorite entrée named for a potential natural disaster (The Volcano).

large_2015_AMI_Social2_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_Social2_-_9.jpg

large_2015_AMI_SocialBright_-_2.jpg

2015_AMI_Socialfans_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_Social2_-_6.jpg

large_2015_AMI_SocialBright_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_Social2_-_4.jpg

2015_AMI_Social2_-_10.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Social_-_11.jpg

Afterwards, we poked around St. Armand's Circle for a bit, then called it a night.

large_2015_AMI_StArmands_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_StArmands_-_3.jpg

2015_AMI_StArmands_-_4.jpg

The next morning marked our last full day, which means I had gone an entire week without a cheeseburger. That's like going a week without brushing your teeth: It can be done, but it's not recommended. And so we jumped on our bikes and raced over to Skinny's Place, an island institution known for its good old-fashioned burgers.

2015_AMI_Skinny_-_6.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Skinny_-_7.jpg

2015_AMI_Skinny_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_Skinny_-_3.jpg

2015_AMI_Skinny_-_2.jpg

2015_AMI_Skinny_-_5.jpg

2015_AMI_Skinny_-_18.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Skinny_-_4.jpg

The place was pretty crowded, but eventually Angel was able to move to the big kids' table.

2015_AMI_Skinny_-_10.jpg

2015_AMI_Skinny_-_11.jpg

2015_AMI_Skinny_-_8.jpg

Me, I'd have sat on a kid for one of these burgers.

large_2015_AMI_Skinny_-_15.jpg

large_2015_AMI_Skinny_-_14.jpg

2015_AMI_Skinny_-_16.jpg

Those colossal onion rings weren't too shabby, either.

2015_AMI_Skinny_-_17.jpg

2015_AMI_Skinny_-_13.jpg

After lunch we rode around Holmes Beach for a bit, where we came upon this little path to the beach tucked among the palm fronds.

2015_AMI_BeachCloud_-_9.jpg

6CDC2DB00EAA2F3CEC02BA9853771F59.jpg

6CDCE762C5427B0F50536ECFC6EECB1D.jpg

2015_AMI_BeachCloud_-_4.jpg

large_6CDD7583B330F20570A225545D0CFADF.jpg

2015_AMI_BeachCloud_-_5.jpg

At the end of the path was the most magical tree house I'd ever seen. (No offense, Dad, the one you built me was nice, too.)

2015_AMI_BeachCloud_-_13.jpg

large_2015_AMI_TreeHouse_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_BeachCloud_-_15.jpg

Suddenly the skies began to cloud over, so we snapped a few pictures and then pedaled away as fast as we could, hoping to avoid getting caught in a downpour.

2015_AMI_BeachCloud_-_10.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BeachCloud_-_11.jpg

2015_AMI_BeachCloud_-_12.jpg

We made it home with time to spare, and as soon as the sun returned, we headed over to the Bridge Street area in Bradenton Beach for a little mini golf.

large_2015_AMI_MiniGolf_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_MiniGolf_-_4.jpg

2015_AMI_MiniGolf_-_5.jpg

Of course, I couldn't hit one of those holes if I was playing with a wrecking ball, but at least I am a good sport about it.

large_TTGbikini-a2.jpg

2015_AMI_MiniGolf_-_2.jpg

By the time Angel was done thoroughly annihilating me, it was late afternoon, so we headed across the street to The Beach House for sunset.

2015_AMI_BHNYE_-_2.jpg

2015_AMI_BHNYE_-_1.jpg

The restaurant was decked out in hundreds of balloons for New Year's Eve.

2015_AMI_BHNYE_-_3.jpg

2015_AMI_BHNYE_-_4.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BHNYE_-_5.jpg

2015_AMI_BHNYE_-_6.jpg

2015_AMI_BHNYE_-_7.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BHNYE_-_8.jpg

2015_AMI_BHNYE_-_9.jpg

2015_AMI_BHNYE_-_10.jpg

But we only had time for one quick cocktail, because we had New Year's Eve plans of our own.

2015_AMI_BHNYE_-_11.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BHNYE_-_12.jpg

large_2015_AMI_BHNYE_-_13.jpg

2015_AMI_BHNYE_-_14.jpg

Those plans involved crashing a BYOB New Year's Eve party at an old folks' home in a trailer park in Palmetto, where a zydeco band we'd seen earlier in the week would be playing. The accordion player, our new friend Ryan, had told us he'd put us "on the list," even though we weren't sure there would actually be a list at this shindig.

large_2015_AMI_TreeLakes3_-_1.jpg

2015_AMI_TreeLakes_-_1.jpg

large_2015_AMI_TreeLakes_-_3.jpg

Sure enough, there wasn't, and so we found ourselves in the unusual position of trying to talk our way into a party where the hot single guys were the ones with all their original teeth and at least one of their original hip joints.

2015_AMI_TreeLakes2_-_1.jpg

We somehow managed to charm our way in and saw ourselves to a festively decorated table, where we popped open the wine we'd brought and took in the scene.

2015_AMI_TreeLakes_-_4.jpg

2015_AMI_TreeLakes_-_5.jpg

2015_AMI_TreeLakes_-_12.jpg

2015_AMI_TreeLakes_-_8.jpg

2015_AMI_TreeLakes_-_6.jpg

What we found was not a room full of decrepit old folks with canes and walkers, but a crowd of attractive, vivacious retirees who danced, flirted, and drank like it was spring break in Daytona circa 1991. It gave us hope, yes, but more importantly, it gave us courage: It wasn't long before we joined them on the dance floor, relishing the opportunity to show off our 45-year-old knees.

large_2015_AMI_TreeLakes_-_9.jpg

large_2015_AMI_TreeLakes_-_10.jpg

In fact, at the end of the evening, we surprised ourselves by accepting a handful of the community's brochures, impressed by how lively and spirited everyone had been.

2015_AMI_TreeLakes_-_7.jpg

And I am not even going to mention that the gate code was 6969.
-------------------------------------------------------------
2015_AMI_TreeLakes_-_11.jpg

Where to next? Come along on a "best of" tour of Philly, a fritter-eating contest in the Conch Republic (the smart money's on yours truly!), one very hoppin' hula hut in the Hamptons, a luggage-less trip to Anguilla, and a "journalistic" trip to...Cuba! Click here to subscribe and you'll receive an email from Travellerspoint when a new post goes up.

Meantime, follow me on Instagram @escape.from.new.york to see what we're eating and drinking in the Big Apple!

Posted by TraceyG 08:54 Archived in USA Tagged beach_house anna_maria_island mar_vista skinnys_place bradenton_beach Comments (1)

The Hudson Valley, Pt 1: City Mouse and Country House

Day 1: Bourbon, Bombs, and Butterballs

This past October marked our third visit to the Hudson Valley. We'd made it through two prior visits without being savaged by bears or attacked by rabid raccoons. We'd survived a 22 35 48 mile bike ride and the indignity of bike helmets. And although we'd had some close calls, we'd never actually been confronted by a jackalope. Overall, I was feeling pretty confident that this whole weekend-in-the-country thing wasn't so bad after all.

large_2015_Hudson_TreeRedos_-_2.jpg

That's because I am the type of person who loves the idea of salt-of-the-earth activities like hiking, camping, and taking in the charms of small-town America. I dream of holing up in a country cabin with no electricity or running water, at one with Mother Nature. I am enamored with travel experiences that harken back to a simpler, more carefree time when the pace was slower, our lives less complicated. But when these ideas become reality and I am faced with things like sleeping bags, beef jerky, towns with the word "turkey," "pigeon," or "goose" in the name, fishing villages that actually smell like fish, or any house without an ironing board, I flinch. (Angel jumps in the car, locks all the doors, and leaves skid marks.)

large_2015_Hudson_BestOf_-_1.jpg

The truth is, Angel and I like our "country" experiences to include artisanal cocktails, cashmere wraps, and refurbished farmhouses with heated floors and high-thread-count bed sheets. And we have found the perfect compromise in upstate New York's Hudson Valley: The area is quaint, charming, and bucolic, but with enough expat Manhattanites around to ensure that the whiskey in our drinks might be homemade, but by someone who first made $10 million on Wall Street so he could end up on a farm wearing steel-toed boots and overalls ironically.

large_2015_Hudson_TreeRedos_-_1.jpg

Our first stop on the drive north was at Buttermilk Falls Inn in Milton, NY, which is home to the 40-acre Millstone Farm. As usual, the GPS did a bang-up job of getting us to our destination.

2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_18.jpg

After beating my head against the dashboard a few times, we finally found the place, and we both agreed it had been worth the detour.

2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_17.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..rounds_-_38.jpg

2015_Hudso..rounds_-_49.jpg

2015_Hudson_InnRedo_-_1.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..rounds_-_47.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..grounds_-_4.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..grounds_-_3.jpg

2015_Hudso..rounds_-_13.jpg

2015_Hudso..rounds_-_18.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..rounds_-_42.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_BenchRedo_-_1.jpg

At least we found the place faster than this guy, who never even made it past the parking lot.

2015_Hudso..rounds_-_45.jpg

Millstone Farm produces nearly all of the fresh greens, organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, honey, and eggs used at the Inn's restaurant, Henry's at the Farm, and if all of this is not farm-to-table enough for you, then you are just going to have to milk your own cows next time.

large_2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_16.jpg

2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_15.jpg

2015_Hudso..rounds_-_17.jpg

2015_Hudso..obridge_-_1.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..rounds_-_21.jpg

We settled in at a table overlooking the lake and took in the lovely surroundings.

large_2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_14.jpg

2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_2.jpg

2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_3.jpg

We both agreed that we couldn't pass up the day's special cocktail, dubbed the "Apple Butter Bourbon Ball," which is made with Maker's Mark Bourbon, a touch of Pastis, real maple syrup, and Millstone Farm's own ginger-gold apple butter, then topped off with a locally-made sparkling hard cider.

large_2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_4.jpg

The name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue even before you've finished one, and so Angel and I referred to it as the "Apple Bourbon Butterball Turkey Bomb," as well as other various combinations of those five words.

2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_1.jpg

2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_9.jpg

2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_5.jpg

For lunch, we enjoyed a creamy mascarpone and butternut squash soup studded with dried cranberries and garnished with fried sage, followed by a yummy flatbread with roasted Millstone Farm veggies and the decadent lobster mac & cheese.

2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_6.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_7.jpg

2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_8.jpg

2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_10.jpg

2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_11.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_12.jpg

And homemade chocolate chip cookies with a glass of cold milk for dunking.

large_2015_Hudson_Henrys_-_13.jpg

The property at Buttermilk Falls is expansive, encompassing not just the restaurant, but also an inn, several freestanding cottages, a spa, a barn for weddings, numerous ponds and waterfalls, and the farm itself, which includes an aviary, an apiary, donkeys, and llamas.

2015_Hudso..rounds_-_11.jpg

2015_Hudso..grounds_-_9.jpg

2015_Hudso..grounds_-_8.jpg

2015_Hudso..grounds_-_6.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..grounds_-_5.jpg

2015_Hudso..erFarm_-_13.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..rounds_-_12.jpg

2015_Hudso..rounds_-_14.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..grounds_-_2.jpg

2015_Hudso..rounds_-_15.jpg

2015_Hudso..grounds_-_1.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..rounds_-_10.jpg

On this particular day they were setting up for a wedding, but apparently no one informed the geese, and so this poor guy was given the impossible task of chasing them away. You know how a toddler in a high chair likes to fling things off the tray, watch you pick it up, then immediately knock it to the floor again? That was this guy with the geese.

2015_Hudso..rounds_-_26.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..rounds_-_28.jpg

2015_Hudso..rounds_-_29.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..rounds_-_30.jpg

2015_Hudso..rounds_-_31.jpg

We decided the explore the grounds, taking in the lovely views and emerging fall color.

2015_Hudso..rounds_-_32.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..rounds_-_33.jpg

2015_Hudso..rounds_-_35.jpg

2015_Hudso..rounds_-_36.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..rounds_-_39.jpg

2015_Hudso..rounds_-_41.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..rounds_-_40.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..rounds_-_44.jpg

We continued walking off our lunch by heading over to the goat and llama barn, which also included one very friendly donkey.

2015_Hudso..erSigns_-_1.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..erFarm_-_14.jpg

2015_Hudso..terFarm_-_6.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..terFarm_-_7.jpg

2015_Hudso..terFarm_-_3.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..terFarm_-_2.jpg

2015_Hudso..erFarm_-_10.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..terFarm_-_8.jpg

2015_Hudso..erFarm_-_11.jpg

2015_Hudso..erFarm_-_12.jpg

2015_Hudso..erFarm_-_15.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..erFarm_-_17.jpg

Before we knew it, it was time to check in at the house we'd rented for the weekend. As we'd done the year before, we chose "Creekside Manor," as we'd taken to calling it, as our home base.

large_2015_Hudso..deHouse_-_7.jpg

2015_Hudso..deHouse_-_8.jpg

Situated on four wooded acres at the end of a dirt road in the blink-and-you'll-miss-it village of Red Hook, Creekside Manor put us within easy driving distance of our favorite Hudson Valley towns, yet far enough from civilization to go au naturel in the hot tub if we felt like it.

4761D882F3EE67BFA4ECF656062A1170.jpg

476363269191DDCCA6400F989951E3CF.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..eHouse_-_11.jpg

2015_Hudso..eHouse_-_12.jpg

2015_Hudso..eHouse_-_13.jpg

2015_Hudso..deHouse_-_4.jpg

2015_Hudso..deHouse_-_5.jpg

2015_Hudso..deHouse_-_6.jpg

2015_Hudso..deHouse_-_9.jpg

2015_Hudso..eHouse_-_10.jpg

When Esquire magazine names a bar in tiny Kingston, NY, one of "The Best Bars in America," you know you have to give it a try. And so, after settling in at the house and unpacking a bit, we gussied ourselves up, then set off for the Stockade Tavern, a Prohibition-style speakeasy located in a lovingly restored, 1880s-era sewing machine factory.

2015_Hudson_Stockade_-_2.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..eckredo_-_1.jpg

2015_Hudson_Stockade_-_6.jpg

2015_Hudson_Stockade_-_9.jpg

2015_Hudson_Stockade_-_7.jpg

It was the wrong night for quiet sophistication: A music festival was in town and the bar was loud and crowded . . . with all sorts of folks.

2015_Hudson_Stockade_-_8.jpg

Luckily, however, Angel managed to snag us a table for two near the front, insulating us from the scrum near the band.

large_2015_Hudson_Redos2_-_5.jpg

2015_Hudson_Stockade_-_3.jpg

I kept things simple with one of my favorite cocktails, a gimlet (this one made with Brooklyn's own Greenhook Gin), while Angel decided to try the Over the River, made with bell pepper-infused tequila, fresh lime, and green chartreuse, a French liqueur that's been made by Carthusian Monks since the 1700s.

2015_Hudson_Stockade_-_5.jpg

Both drinks were delicious, and it would have been nice to have another, but our dinner reservations beckoned. And so we made the short walk over to Boitson's, a lively bistro and bar specializing in comfort classics like meatloaf, fried chicken, and prime rib.

2015_Hudson_Boitsons_-_1.jpg

2015_Hudson_Boitsons_-_2.jpg

2015_Hudson_Boitsons_-_3.jpg

How Boitson's came to be is one of those only-in-New-York stories: The owner, Maria Philippis, named the place for her former Brooklyn landlord, Alexander Boitson, a Ukrainian-American World War II veteran whom she'd befriended. They kept in touch over the years, even after Ms. Philippis moved to the Hudson Valley, and when Mr. Boitson died in 2007, he showed his fondness for Ms. Philippis by leaving her enough money to pursue her lifelong dream of opening a restaurant.

2015_Hudson_Boitsons_-_15.jpg

2015_Hudson_Boitsons_-_14.jpg

2015_Hudson_Boitsons_-_5.jpg

2015_Hudson_Boitsons_-_6.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_Boitsons_-_4.jpg

2015_Hudson_Boitsons_-_12.jpg

2015_Hudson_Boitsons_-_13.jpg

2015_Hudson_Boitsons_-_11.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_Boitsons_-_10.jpg

We kicked things off with an order of butternut squash fritters drizzled with honey, followed by two orders of the over-the-top delicious reason why we came here.

2015_Hudson_Boitsons_-_7.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_Boitsons_-_9.jpg

I don't know why they had to take up real estate with those green vegetables in there, but when the meatloaf is this good, you can overlook an errant Brussels sprout or two.

2015_Hudson_Boitsons_-_8.jpg

2015_Hudson_Boitsons_-_16.jpg

It had been a jam-packed day filled with great food and drink, and we were pleasantly exhausted. And so we drove back to Creekside Manor and tucked ourselves into bed.

But not before checking for wild jackalopes out on the deck.

large_2015_Hudson_Redos2_-_1.jpg

Day 2: Go Take a Hike

Angel and I are not what you'd generally call the outdoorsy types. We don't camp because there are bugs, and it gets cold. We don't hike because there are heavy backpacks, and it gets cold. We don't ski because there are broken legs, and it gets really cold. Also, all of these activities sound suspiciously like work. Don't get me wrong: We both love and appreciate the natural beauty of the outdoors. It's just that we prefer to take it in from a safe distance, such as from behind a large picture window beside a roaring fire with an Old Fashioned in hand.

large_2015_Hudso..akeLake_-_2.jpg

But the weather on Sunday was so ridiculously perfect that even two city slickers like ourselves had to get outside.

2015_Hudso..akeLake_-_4.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_Redos2_-_2.jpg

2015_Hudso..akeLake_-_5.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_Redos2_-_6.jpg

We started with a leisurely drive over to the country club at Copake Lake, whose restaurant, Greens, specializes in local ingredients and a lovely view of the surrounding countryside.

2015_Hudso..akeLake_-_1.jpg

2015_Hudso..akeLake_-_9.jpg

2015_Hudso..akeLake_-_7.jpg

2015_Hudso..akeLake_-_8.jpg

2015_Hudso..keLake_-_28.jpg

2015_Hudso..keLake_-_24.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..keLake_-_23.jpg

There, we fueled up on brunch staples for the bike ride to come.

large_2015_Hudson_Redos2_-_3.jpg

2015_Hudso..keLake_-_21.jpg

Well, brunch staples and split pea soup.

2015_Hudso..keLake_-_18.jpg

2015_Hudso..keLake_-_17.jpg

2015_Hudso..keLake_-_16.jpg

The enclosed terrace was open and airy, allowing a 360-degree view of the fall foliage and bright blue sky outside.

2015_Hudso..keLake_-_14.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..keLake_-_10.jpg

2015_Hudso..keLake_-_11.jpg

2015_Hudso..keLake_-_12.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..keLake_-_13.jpg

Inside, a wood burning stove and floor-to-ceiling wine racks create a cozy atmosphere for chilly evenings.

large_2015_Hudso..keLake_-_32.jpg

2015_Hudso..keLake_-_31.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_Redos2_-_4.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..keLake_-_30.jpg

2015_Hudso..keLake_-_15.jpg

After lunch, we soaked up the sun on the patio for a bit before heading out.

2015_Hudso..keLake_-_25.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..keLake_-_26.jpg

2015_Hudso..keLake_-_27.jpg

As has become our habit, we rented a couple of bikes from Bash Bish Bikes, which is just a short drive from Copake.

large_2015_Hudson_DrivetoBB_-_5.jpg

2015_Hudson_DrivetoBB_-_1.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_DrivetoBB_-_6.jpg

2015_Hudson_DrivetoBB_-_7.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_DrivetoBB_-_2.jpg

We hopped on our bikes and then spent the bulk of the afternoon taking in the spectacular beauty of Taconic State Park, followed by a ride along the Harlem Valley Rail Trail.

large_2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_21.jpg

2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_13.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_22.jpg

2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_20.jpg

2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_19.jpg

2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_2.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_DrivetoBB_-_8.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_6.jpg

2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_7.jpg

2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_11.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_17.jpg

2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_24.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_26.jpg

When we got tired we tried playing possum, but this little guy beat us to the punch.

large_2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_15.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_14.jpg

2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_8.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_4.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_HRVTpano_-_1.jpg

2015_Hudson_HVRT_-_3.jpg

Afterwards, we decided to check out Bash Bish Falls, reportedly just a stone's throw from the bike rental.

2015_Hudson_BashFalls_-_1.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_BashFalls_-_5.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..hFalls2_-_1.jpg

2015_Hudson_BashFalls_-_6.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_BashFalls_-_4.jpg

2015_Hudson_BashFalls_-_2.jpg

Apparently, however, "a stone's throw" means something different out in the country, which I discovered when I realized that I'd walked all the way to Massachusetts to see these damn falls.

large_2015_Hudson_BashFalls_-_7.jpg

All I know is, next time I foolishly decide to go on a hike, I'm bringing my passport just in case.
------------------------------------------------
You know I didn't walk all the way to Massachusetts to not see a waterfall, so come along for Part 2, featuring waterfalls, a Dangling Deathtrap of Doom, and another apple-y cocktail, this one named for yours truly!

Posted by TraceyG 06:53 Archived in USA Tagged hudson_valley kingston hudson red_hook boston's buttermilk_falls henry's stockade_tavern copake_lake american_glory ca_mea Comments (2)

The Hudson Valley, Pt 2: Blubbering Heights

Back in Part 1, I'd just been duped into hiking my way across state lines to see some waterfall that was supposed to be just 3/4 of a mile away. (Apparently upstate New York is so close to Canada that they've actually just gone ahead and switched to the metric system.) Still, once we finally arrived, I had to admit that the falls were lovely.

large_2015_Hudson_BashFalls_-_8.jpg

2015_Hudson_BashFalls_-_9.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..ghtFall_-_1.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..hFalls_-_12.jpg

To me and my blistered feet's utter dismay, however, we later discovered that we could have just driven there. Now that's my kind of hike.

2015_Hudso..hFalls_-_15.jpg

Worst of all, because Angel declined to walk back by himself, pick up the car, drive across state lines to Massachusetts to pick me up, and then return to New York . . . I was forced to walk back, too.

large_2015_Hudso..hFalls_-_11.jpg

That evening we were in need of some serious food and drink to recover from our interstate trek.

2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_11.jpg

Our first stop was at American Glory BBQ, which was built in 1802 as a firehouse.

large_2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_2.jpg

2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_9.jpg

The current owner, Joe, presides over this downtown Hudson gathering place, doling out witty sarcasm and history lessons along with some damn fine BBQ.

2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_12.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_10.jpg

I'd put American Glory on our list because I remembered having a fabulous Angry Caramel Apple martini there back in 2012. (Some people never forget their first love, or what they were doing when Kennedy was shot. I never forget a great cocktail.) Sadly, however, in the intervening years American Glory has updated its drink menu to better accompany its down-home BBQ, with a list of bourbon drinks served in Mason jars.

2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_3.jpg

We started with a round of a bourbon-raspberry concoctions, which were quite good but lacked that apple-y fall flavor I was looking for, so I mentioned to our bartender, Chris, how much I'd enjoyed the Angry Caramel Apple last time we visited.

2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_8.jpg

Chris apologized that the Angry Caramel Apple was no more, then left us to our drinks while he waited on some other customers.

large_2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_4.jpg

And so you can imagine how thrilling it was when, just a few minutes later, Chris surprised me with his brilliantly boozy take on apple pie -- on the fly, and on the house! -- which will henceforth be known as the Tracey Apple. (The exact recipe remains a secret, but think bourbon, a touch of cinnamon syrup, one muddled Granny Smith apple, and a dash of chocolate bitters.)

2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_6.jpg

2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_5.jpg

It was ahhhhmazing.

2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_7.jpg

It was all I could do to tear myself away from Chris' good company and his creative genius, but pasta awaited. And so we hopped over to Ca'Mea, an intimate northern Italian spot directly across the street.

large_2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_18.jpg

2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_17.jpg

2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_16.jpg

There, we feasted on mussels, rigatoni Bolognese, and homemade chestnut-flour gnocchi.

2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_13.jpg

2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_14.jpg

2015_Hudson_AmGlory1_-_15.jpg

We should have headed home after that, but it wasn't quite midnight and there was a chance American Glory was still open. They weren't, but they let us in after-hours anyway because we are good company, and even better tippers.

2015_Hudson_AmGlory3_-_2.jpg

While chatting with Chris and Joe, Chris's lovely girlfriend Katie, the marketing manager at the nearby Hunter Mountain ski resort, joined us after what had clearly been a very long day at work. Apparently still in work mode, Katie somehow convinced us -- within 10 minutes of meeting her -- to drive up to Hunter Mountain the next day to see the near-peak fall color and check out the resort's "Scenic Skyride" as her guests.

2015_Hudso..ortrait_-_1.jpg

Maybe it was Katie's enthusiasm and charm, or maybe it was that second Tracey Apple of the evening, but little did we know that we were in for the (sky)ride of our lives.

Day 3: Blubbering Heights

The next day we planned to poke around Hudson's dozens of antique and vintage shops, then grab a quick lunch before heading off for Hunter Mountain's Scenic Skyride. We meandered up and down Warren Street until we came upon Mexican Radio, the cheery-looking upstate outpost of a NYC spot we'd been meaning to try.

large_2015_Hudso..dioDoor_-_1.jpg

2015_Hudso..anRadio_-_2.jpg

2015_Hudso..anRadio_-_1.jpg

Over chips and salsa and frozen margaritas, we plotted out the route to Hunter Mountain, figuring it would take about half an hour to get there. And it would have, if the road to Tannersville didn't have more twists and turns than an episode of "Game of Thrones."

2015_Hudso..anRadio_-_4.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..nRadio3_-_1.jpg

2015_Hudso..anRadio_-_7.jpg

2015_Hudso..anRadio_-_8.jpg

2015_Hudso..anRadio_-_9.jpg

2015_Hudso..nRadio_-_10.jpg

2015_Hudso..nRadio_-_12.jpg

The mountainous drive ended up taking nearly twice as long as expected, which meant that we had just minutes to catch the last Scenic Skyride of the day. That turned out to be the best thing that could have ever happened to us, because up until that point, we didn't really know what the Scenic Skyride actually was.

What it was, as it horrifyingly turned out, was a detachable chair lift (yes, "detachable," which doesn't exactly inspire confidence), minus the fluffy bed of snow underneath to break your fall if the cables were to suddenly snap, or a mustachioed villain were to cut them with a comically oversized pair of scissors. Just a few thin cables and a slippery bench stood between us, and a grisly end on the jagged rocks below.

large_2015_Hudson_HunterMtn_-_1.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_HunterMtn_-_2.jpg

Had we known that the Scenic Skyride was actually a Detachable Deathtrap of Doom, there is no way in hell I'd have gotten Angel aboard that thing, and I wouldn't have been too gung-ho myself. But our new friend Katie was young and adventurous, and I couldn't bear the thought of her finding out that she'd actually befriended a couple of wrinkled old fogeys who were both afraid of heights. And because we were running so late, we had just seconds to make a decision: Either board the Dangling Tramway of Terror or risk insulting Katie by failing to take her up on her kind offer. And so I grabbed Angel's hand and pulled him onto the next bench, throwing caution and common sense to the wind.

It took approximately 3.3 seconds, or 2.5 feet of air between the chair and the rocky ground, for me to realize that I'd made a huge mistake.

large_2015_Hudson_HunterMtn_-_9.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_HunterMtn_-_4.jpg

The chair began to climb up the side of the mountain, higher and higher, with a sudden, sickening jerk at each detachment station that triggered an immediate fight-or-flight response, neither of which was useful at 3,200 feet. Instead, I focused on wrapping my sweat-soaked hands around the safety bar, and keeping my sweat-soaked feet inside my ballet flats, and reassuring my sweat-soaked husband that people hardly ever die on chair lifts, or at least they do so only rarely, and I hadn't heard about one on the news lately so maybe -- just maybe -- we wouldn't die after all.

2015_Hudson_HunterMtn_-_5.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_HunterMtn_-_8.jpg

But probably not.

large_2015_Hudso..terMtn_-_15.jpg

As we neared the top, the valley now a vibrant carpet of red, yellow, and orange below us, I forced myself to open my eyes and take a peek.

large_2015_Hudson_HunterMtn_-_6.jpg

It was spectacular.

large_2015_Hudso..terMtn_-_10.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..terMtn_-_11.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..terMtn_-_12.jpg

large_2015_Hudson_HunterMtn_-_7.jpg

For the same reason that airplane landings make me much less nervous than take-offs -- if anything goes awry during landing, I figure I'm headed down anyway -- the trip back down the mountain was somewhat less terrifying, and even Angel managed to open his eyes for a bit when we were close enough to the ground to jump if we needed to.

2015_Hudson_HunterMtn_-_3.jpg

2015_Hudso..terMtn_-_16.jpg

As the Skyride neared the station, we catapulted ourselves off that bench like a guy who's been shot out of a cannon, then staggered about before finally dropping to our knees to kiss the sturdy pavement beneath our feet.

large_2015_Hudso..terMtn_-_14.jpg

We located Katie shortly thereafter and prattled on about how wonderful the view had been and how kind it was of her to invite us, figuring that if we jabbered on long enough, our legs would finally stop shaking and she'd never be any the wiser.

I'll never know if it was because she felt like celebrating the end of a long workday or because she could actually hear my knees knocking together, but Katie mercifully suggested that we head into town to get a drink. Angel and I nearly tripped over ourselves in our frenzy to get to the car, and we followed Katie down the mountain toward Tannersville and another American Glory BBQ.

2015_Hudso..Tanners_-_3.jpg

There, we got to chatting with the bartender, which is how we discovered that, astonishingly, she'd already heard about the great success of Chris's Tracey Apple drink at the location in Hudson, and was working on a version for the Tannersville branch. Word really does travel fast up in them there mountains!

2015_Hudso..Tanners_-_2.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..Tanners_-_1.jpg

We'd never been west of Hudson before, and Katie was eager to show us around. She thought we'd particularly like a newly renovated arts-and-crafts style lodge called Deer Mountain Inn, so we piled back in the car and once again followed her lead.

Tucked between Catskill Park and Kaaterskill Wild Forest and set on 168 wooded acres of its own, Deer Mountain Inn was originally one of two summer cottages built in the 1880s for the Colgate family. (It's also rumored that the property once belonged to the Catskill's most notorious Depression-era gangster, Jack "Leggs" Diamond.) It didn't take more than a few seconds to realize that Katie was dead-on when she surmised that I would love this place.

large_2015_Hudso..ountain_-_1.jpg

2015_Hudso..ountain_-_2.jpg

2015_Hudso..ountain_-_3.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..ountain_-_5.jpg

2015_Hudso..ountain_-_9.jpg

In fact, I'm not even sure "love" is a strong enough word.

large_2015_Hudso..untain_-_11.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..ountain_-_7.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..ountain_-_6.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..ountain_-_4.jpg

2015_Hudso..untain_-_12.jpg

2015_Hudso..untain_-_10.jpg

Inside, the country-chic theme continued, with worn leather sofas, dreer-antler chandeliers, and fireplaces in every room.

large_2015_Hudso..untain_-_13.jpg

2015_Hudso..untain_-_27.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..untain_-_15.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..untain_-_30.jpg

2015_Hudso..untain_-_32.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..untain_-_31.jpg

2015_Hudso..untain_-_14.jpg

Adding to our good fortune, Deer Mountain Inn's resident mixologist, Darren, was behind the bar, shaking and stirring an assortment of almost-too-pretty-to-drink seasonal cocktails with whimsical names like the Harvey Went and Got All Banged Up and the Vote for Pedro.

2015_Hudso..ntainDJ_-_2.jpg

2015_Hudso..untain_-_18.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..untain_-_20.jpg

2015_Hudso..untain_-_29.jpg

2015_Hudso..untain_-_23.jpg

On this day, we decided on the General Custer Invades Oaxaca, made with Xicaru Joven mezcal, Ancho Reyes ancho chile liqueur, and lime, and the Fig + Honey, made with cava, grapefruit, caramelized fig, and peach bitters.

2015_Hudso..untain_-_33.jpg

2015_Hudso..untain_-_24.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..untain_-_35.jpg

2015_Hudso..untain_-_28.jpg

2015_Hudso..untain_-_25.jpg

2015_Hudso..untain_-_26.jpg

2015_Hudso..untain_-_17.jpg

It had been a long day of heart-stopping terror, and that evening we decided to reward ourselves with an elegant dinner. And so we set off for Terrapin, a stylish American bistro housed in a Baptist chapel dating back to 1831.

2015_Hudso..inRedos_-_1.jpg

2015_Hudson_Terrapin_-_12.jpg

2015_Hudson_Terrapin_-_11.jpg

2015_Hudson_Terrapin_-_10.jpg

We started with a couple of Terrapin's excellent cocktails, the sour cherry bourbon Manhattan for Angel, and the pumpkin martini with a nutmeg-sugar rim for me.

2015_Hudso..nDrinks_-_1.jpg

2015_Hudso..nDrinks_-_2.jpg

2015_Hudson_Terrapin_-_4.jpg

I don't always order martinis, but when I do, apparently I down them like I'm an extra on "Mad Men."

2015_Hudson_Terrapin_-_5.jpg

When the waiter came, we barked out orders for every comforting item on the menu, seeing as how we'd miraculously survived a harrowing near-death experience on an unforgiving mountain: Pumpkin ravioli with oven dried tomatoes and brown butter-sherry sauce! Butternut squash soup with coconut and lemongrass! Braised beef short rib gratinée (luxuriously topped with caramelized onions and a melted gruyere crostini)! Teriyaki sockeye salmon over mizuna greens and crispy leeks!

2015_Hudso..inRedos_-_2.jpg

2015_Hudso..inRedos_-_3.jpg

large_2015_Hudso..inRedos_-_4.jpg

2015_Hudso..inRedos_-_5.jpg

And an apple crisp to share.

large_2015_Hudso..inRedos_-_6.jpg

Of course, we should have eaten dessert first. Life is short . . . especially when you spend it riding ski lifts.

-----------------------------------------------------------------
2015_Hudson_HunterEnd_-_1.jpg

Posted by TraceyG 14:42 Archived in USA Tagged hudson_valley terrapin rhinebeck tannersville hunter_mountain scenic_skyride deer_mountain_inn american_glory_bbq Comments (5)

Labor Day in Key West. Literally.

In the great annals of First World Problems, it's hard to top, "I'm going to miss Labor Day in the Hamptons because I have to spend the weekend in Key West." I know. I knowww. But a new tenant was moving into our condo in Casa Marina, and because we are what some people call "fastidious" and others call "on the spectrum," we decided to fly down to ensure that the place would be ready. (Sure, we could have hired someone to inspect the place and make sure it was up to snuff, but have you ever seen my meticulous husband clean something? You'd think we let Ebola patients lick our plates.) And so we hopped a quick flight to Key West for what was shaping up to be a charmed visit indeed.

2014_KW_RainbowRedo.jpg

Well, at least until we arrived. Because sweet baby Jesus, it was hot. And lord, it was stifling. It was like being waterboarded by a sopping wet towel fresh out of a hot dryer, which doesn't even make any sense. That's how hot it was.

large_2014_KW_Rain2_1.jpg

We cabbed it over to the condo, where we were mercifully greeted by the shady tropical gardens and inviting pool.

large_2014_KW_condo804_04.jpg

2014_KW_condo804_05.jpg

2014_KW_condo804_03.jpg

2014_KW_condo804_10.jpg

2014_KW_condo804_11.jpg

There's a man in New York City named Jimmy McMillan who turns up every four years to run for mayor. McMillan's political party is called, "The Rent is Too Damn High," a phrase that also happens to be his entire political platform. A reporter might ask about his position on, say, the treatment of carriage horses in New York, and McMillan will respond, "Ain't no money to be takin' carriage rides, because THE RENT . . . IS TOO DAMN HIGH!" Or a debate moderator will ask what McMillan proposes to do about the city's broken educational system, to which he will respond, "All I learned in school is that THE RENT . . . IS TOO DAMN HIGH!"

2014_KW_Smostnachos_2.jpg

I was the Jimmy McMillan of Key West. No matter what anyone said to me, my response was the same. "Where do you want to go for lunch?" Angel would ask, to which I would respond, "Who cares? I'll be dead before we get there because THE HEAT . . . IS TOO DAMN HOT!" "Do you want to ride down Duval or Simonton?" he'd press. "What does it matter? The asphalt's melted clean off of both of them, because THE HEAT . . . IS TOO DAMN HOT!" Everywhere we went, I muttered this phrase over and over under my breath, while the sweat collected in the crooks of my elbows and my hair swelled to angora-rabbit proportions.

angorarabbit2.jpg

But before we could go oozing around town, we first had to take inventory of our supplies.

2014_KW_condo804_14.jpg

We had a handful of cleaning products, but a closet full of coat hangers. Priorities.

2014_KW_condo804_08.jpg

After a short discussion, we decided that Angel should start working while I rode to the store to pick up the items we still needed.

large_2014_KW_Kellys_1.jpg

I idiotically thought I'd gotten the sweeter end of the deal, until I stepped outside and beads of perspiration popped out of my pores with an audible zoink, like a nervous cartoon character in the face of an oncoming freight train.

But the alternative was scrubbing the walls with a toothbrush, or cleaning in between the hardwood floorboards with a pair of tweezers, or whatever other painstaking projects Angel had invented for himself, so I soldiered on. Despite the disorienting heat, I still managed to remember the most important items on my list: Potato chips and piña coladas.

EatonBike2_RT_Cropped.jpg

2014_KW_grocrun_3.jpg

Now, Angel has a lot of great qualities, but unfortunately being lazy isn't one of them. When there is a task at hand, he absolutely refuses to slack off or take a break until the task is completed, thoroughly and perfectly. Which is great when the task is buying me a birthday present, but not so great when that task is scrubbing grout.

2014_KW_TapeBall.jpg

Even the Rain Man of Household Chores has to eat, though, and so I dragged him off to Southernmost for nachos and key lime coladas.

2014_KW_Smmmost_2.jpg

2014_KW_AGSmost_1.jpg

2014_KW_Smostnachos_5.jpg

2014_KW_Raftmost_6.jpg

large_2014_KW_Smostnachos_4.jpg

The three-minute bike ride from Southernmost back to our condo was a sickeningly sticky affair, so as soon as we arrived back home, I pulled my bike inside the gate, dropped it to the ground, and sprinted headlong into the pool fully-clothed, crying out, "SWEET RELIEF!!!!" as the pool overflowed with gallons of my sweat.

large_KW_Pool_1.jpg

That night, Angel calculated that he'd lost approximately 82 minutes and 45 seconds of work thanks to that lunch at Southernmost, so for dinner he suggested that we stay in and order pizza.

The weather outside was an actual pizza oven anway, so it did make sense. Plus, I'd lost approximately 15 lbs. of water weight that day and needed to bulk up. Who needs one of those plastic sweat suits when you've got summer in Key West?

2014_KW_condo804_15.jpg

The next day we woke early to squeeze in a bike ride before the day got too hot.

2014_KW_LocalClr_6.jpg

2014_KW_LocalClr_4.jpg

2014_KW_LocalClr_1.jpg

large_2014_KW_LocalClr_7.jpg

We lasted about 20 minutes before calling in for reinforcements.

2014_KW_LocalClr_2.jpg

2014_KW_LocalClr_3.jpg

Soon it was time for lunch, so this time I dragged Angel to one of our go-to spots, Agave 308.

2014_KeyWest_Agave_01.jpg

2014_KeyWest_Agave_08.jpg

2014_KeyWest_Agave_09.jpg

We settled in at our usual table in the window and ordered up our favorite drinks on the island: A sweet-tart Paloma made with strawberry-infused tequila, grapefruit juice, and muddled strawberries for me, and a Mexican Mule with ginger syrup, fresh lime, and a skewer of candied ginger for Angel.

2014_KeyWest_Agave_03.jpg

large_2014_KeyWest_Agave_14.jpg

2014_KeyWest_Agave_10.jpg

2014_KeyWest_Agave_11.jpg

2014_KeyWest_Agave_12.jpg

2014_KeyWest_Agave_13.jpg

As, er, side dishes, we split an order of chips and salsa, then enjoyed the island gazpacho topped with blue crab salad and the roast pork tacos with spicy slaw.

2014_KeyWest_Agave_04.jpg

2014_KeyWest_Agave_05.jpg

large_2014_KeyWest_Agave_07.jpg

Later, the bartender brought us an experimental freebie: A "Samoa" cookie with house-made vanilla tequila, coconut, and dark chocolate. Or as Angel called it, a Girl Scout with a driver's license.

large_2014_KeyWest_Agave_15.jpg

We worked nonstop the rest of the day, and that evening my furtive texts for help were finally answered when our friends Mark and Steve invited us over for dinner. Angel reluctantly put aside his latest project (I think he was perfecting the trim in the kitchen with an eyeliner brush) and we pedaled over, making a quick stop at funky Vino's on Duval to pick up some wine.

2014_KW_Vino_s_1.jpg

2014_KW_Vino_s_3.jpg

2014_KW_Vino_s_4.jpg

large_2014_KW_Vino_s_2.jpg

Mark runs the fabulous Key West Food and Wine Festival, which is a great event if you like food, wine, and seeing how much your liver can take before it cries "uncle." It soon became apparent that Mark had decided to do a dry-run for the fest that evening, serving up everything from grilled lobster and shrimp to steak, corn on the cob, asparagus, and melon and prosciutto skewers, along with roughly 6 bottles of wine . . . per person.

large_2014_KW_Marks_04.jpg

2014_KW_Marks_05.jpg

2014_KW_Marks_06.jpg

2014_KW_MC_1.jpg

We enjoyed great food and good, if rather opinionated, company.

2014_KW_Joey.jpg

For dessert, Mark's friend Joey, a pastry chef extraordinaire, brought some coconut cake. If you've ever seen an episode of "When Animals Attack," then you know how the cake came to look like this after about 30 seconds.

2014_KW_Marks_09.jpg

The next day we gathered up anyone who wasn't still passed out from the night before and hoofed it over to Santiago's Bodega for a little hair of the dog.

large_2014_KW_Santiagos_01.jpg

2014_KW_Santiagos_02.jpg

1FF1669D0933AB4DAD195E9F806F123C.jpg

1FE68645BCEFD8BF2C1C5C41F8D5AC44.jpg

1FDD15FFA4C53081B3497C8338CF6D0C.jpg

The fire was just to make sure everyone was fully awake.

1FEA4103014E08B74A9991ED56A68E6D.jpg

large_1FE23DE8A27A1E85E099571123C2FA7F.jpg

1FE0F3D6B71CB36BBED311DA1E062C87.jpg

1FDF9B71D149029779B62176B44C6E8D.jpg

1FDE072AAD06058672227E10F2167465.jpg

1FE05FF1CEC8CA043459FFC173AD0EE3.jpg

large_1FDF07D7FEBE96E57669D3E75F277A31.jpg

large_2014_KW_breadpud.jpg

That afternoon we divided up the remaining tasks at the condo: Angel spent the afternoon using one of those CSI-style ultraviolet lights to ferret out invisible stains on the plantation shutters, while I lounged in the pool with a key lime colada.

2014_KW_RaftEdit_2.jpg

After a few hours we assessed our progress and decided that the house was probably clean enough to pass inspection by the folks who sterilize hospital burn units, which meant that Angel was somewhat pleased with our work thusfar. We decided to celebrate at Kelly's happy hour, because nothing says a job well done like a bowl full of melted cheese.

large_2014_KW_Kellys_3.jpg

2014_KW_Kellys_4.jpg

2014_KW_keylimemarg_1.jpg

The key lime margaritas at Kelly's turned into dark rum pina coladas at Louie's, and at that point there was no turning back: It was time to get down with our bad selves, as well as any poor unsuspecting bystanders, at the Green Parrot.

2014_KW_LGP_1.jpg

large_2014_KW_LGP_2.jpg

large_2014_KW_LGP_4.jpg

I decided to take the next morning's sluggish pace as a sign that Angel was due for a break and, more importantly, I was due for a burger. And so we headed off to Frita's Cuban Burgers, where the menu promised an explosion of flavor on a freshly-baked Cuban roll.

2014_KW_Fritas_01.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_14.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_15.jpg

large_2014_KW_Fritas_29.jpg

Frita's manages to squeeze an impressive amount of tropical bric-a-brac, homages to Cuba, and even bartender roulette into its charming little space.

2014_KW_Fritas_10.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_06.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_05.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_02.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_03.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_19.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_16.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_18.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_28.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_17.jpg

If you need to eat-a-Frita on the fly, there's also a food truck outside.

2014_KW_Fritas_12.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_11.jpg

large_2014_KW_Fritas_13.jpg

We grabbed two seats at the tiny bar inside and ordered up a round of the house special, sangria slushies.

large_2014_KW_Fritas_08.jpg

large_2014_KW_Fritas_09.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_07.jpg

We both had to try the signature frita, a beef and pork patty seasoned with garlic and Spanish spices, then topped with spicy ketchup and crispy shoestring fries.

large_2014_KW_Fritas_22.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_23.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_32.jpg

To that we added cheese arepas, freshly-baked empanadas, and a plate of rice 'n' beans that put all others to shame: Coconut-ginger jasmine rice with black beans, sweet plantains, and salsa verde, all smothered in melted cheese.

2014_KW_Fritas_20.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_24.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_21.jpg

And a cute little flan for Angel.

2014_KW_Fritas_27.jpg

2014_KW_Fritas_26.jpg

The next day was our last full day of work, and it was sure to be a long one. We decided to fuel up with egg white omelets and fresh juice.

Just kidding! We had cheesesteak spring rolls.

large_2014_KW_RumBarrel_09.jpg

In addition to the Breakfast of Champions, the Rum Barrel on Front Street also has some healthy options, like fresh green salads and grilled fish.

2014_KW_RumBarrel_01.jpg

2014_KW_RumBarrel_02.jpg

2014_KW_RumBarrel_07.jpg

2014_KW_RumBarrel_10.jpg

2014_KW_RumBarrel_08.jpg

2014_KW_TTGRum_1.jpg

2014_KW_RumBarrel_03.jpg

2014_KW_RumBarrel_04.jpg

Along with that "juice" I mentioned earlier.

2014_KW_RumBarrel_05.jpg

It was our last evening on island, so we met up with friends for dinner at Azur to take advantage of their locals'-only summer special.

large_2014_KW_Azur_01.jpg

2014_KW_Azur_02.jpg

2014_KW_Azur2_2.jpg

2014_KW_AzDin2.jpg

All food and wine was half-off, so we decided that the best way to get our money's worth was to order everything on the menu and let the savages fight it out.

2014_KW_Azur_10.jpg

2014_KW_Azur_08.jpg

large_2014_KW_Azur_11.jpg

2014_KW_Azur_06.jpg

2014_KW_Azur_04.jpg

large_2014_KW_Azur2_1.jpg

2014_KW_AzurWine.jpg

2014_KW_Azur_13.jpg

2014_KW_Azur_14.jpg

2014_KW_Azdin.jpg

I don't know who thought it would be funny to pile up all those wine glasses in front of me for this photo, but the joke's on you if you think you're getting your glass back afterwards.

large_2014_KW_Azur_17.jpg

On our last day, our writer/blogger/photographer friend Claudia drove down to Key West for a planned stay on nearby Sunset Key, and invited us over to the island for lunch. Although our flight home was scheduled for that afternoon, the timing seemed doable, so I agreed.

large_2014_KW_SKarrival_03.jpg

I knew, however, that Angel would consider every possible scenario, and a whole bunch of impossible ones, before ultimately deciding that it would be way too risky to make the 10-minute boat ride over to Sunset Key on the same day that our flight was to depart. What if the boat breaks down? What if it sinks? What if it is torpedoed by a wayward Navy jet, or destroyed by a large mechanical shark? The variables were many, and thus my chances of getting Angel to agree were slim.

2014_KW_SKarrival_04.jpg

Or so I thought. Turns out, inhaling all those cleaning-product fumes was good for something.

2014_KW_SKarrival_08.jpg

2014_KW_SKarrival_07.jpg

As fate would have it, we ended up on the same boat over as Claudia, which gave us a little extra time to get caught up before lunch.

2014_KW_TTGCM_.jpg

Or, you know, to post a quick Snapchat.

2014_KW_CMtongue_.jpg

A cruise ship was in port as we departed, and while cruises are not my cup of tea, it's hard not to marvel at how man can design 150,000 tons of steel to stay afloat, but cannot invent a pair of pantyhose that doesn't run within 20 minutes of putting them on.

large_2014_KW_SKarrival_16.jpg

2014_KW_SKarrival_09.jpg

2014_KW_SKarrival_11.jpg

2014_KW_SKarrival_10.jpg

Upon arrival, we asked for a table indoors so we could eat in air-conditioned comfort, which is really a crime at a place as lovely as Latitudes. Still, it beat branding my forearm on one of those wrought-iron chairs baking outside in the sun.

large_2014_KW_Redos_3.jpg

2014_KW_SKlunch_01.jpg

large_2014_KW_SKlunch_02.jpg

2014_KW_SKlunch_03.jpg

After settling in, we ordered up an assortment of libations and then got down to the serious business of food styling.

2014_KW_SKlunch_05.jpg

large_2014_KW_Redos_2.jpg

2014_KW_SKlunch_09.jpg

large_2014_KW_SKlunch_14.jpg

2014_KW_SKlunch_13.jpg

large_2014_KW_Redos_1.jpg

Next up, a photogenic tuna tartare with miso-yuzu aioli, a perfectly posed lobster and crab cake with grilled corn salsa, and a casually candid fish sammich with key lime tartar sauce.

2014_KW_SKlunch_12.jpg

large_2014_KW_SKlunch_11.jpg

2014_KW_SKlunch_10.jpg

large_2014_KW_SKlunch_08.jpg

2014_KW_SKlunch_07.jpg

Our lunch was over all too quickly, and soon it was time to say our goodbyes and head back to Key West to catch our flight.

large_2014_KW_SKarrival_13.jpg

2014_KW_SKarrival_14.jpg

large_2014_KW_SKarrival_15.jpg

As usual, we skidded into the airport with just minutes to spare, worn out and exhausted, and even though the airport was nice and cool, I found myself again thinking of Jimmy McMillan's catchphrase, but tweaked just a bit.

2014_KW_TapeBall_1.jpg

"THIS VISIT . . . WAS TOO DAMN SHORT!"
--------------------------------------------------
What's up next? A marvelous Moondance in Anguilla, death-defying feats of stupidity in the Hudson Valley, a boozy "swingers" weekend in Philadelphia, and a rockin' New Year's Eve at an old folks home on Anna Maria Island. Check back soon or click here to subscribe and you'll receive an email when a new post goes up!

Just want more Key West? Come on vacation, leave on probation.

Posted by TraceyG 04:51 Archived in USA Tagged key_west santiago's green_parrot key_west_food_and_wine_festival southernmost_beach_cafe Comments (12)

A Weekend in East Hampton: Fancy That

One of the things I enjoy most about writing a travel blog is all the interesting people I've met as a result. Well, that and all the free food.

And so, when I received an email from Carol -- the manager and resident den mother at East Hampton's posh Huntting Inn and the former co-owner of Mango's Seaside Grill in Anguilla -- inviting me and Angel to be her guests at the Huntting Inn for a weekend, I jumped at the chance. Because what could I possibly enjoy more than some lively conversation about two of my favorite places?

2014_EH_1770hs_05.jpg

Well, anyway.

East Hampton is believed to be the first English settlement in the state of New York, built on land purchased from the Montaukett Indians in 1639. Through strict zoning and preservation laws, the town retains much of its colonial history today.

2016_EH_shops_30.jpg

2016_EH_shops_37.jpg

2016_EH_shops_34.jpg

2016_EH_shops_36.jpg

large_2014_EH_Houses_15.jpg

2016_EH_shops_35.jpg

It also maintains a little bit of its natural beauty, too.

large_2014_EH_Beach_06.jpg

2014_EH_Beach_04.jpg

large_2014_EH_Beach_07.jpg

2014_EH_Beach_03.jpg

large_2016_EH_shops_39.jpg

2014_EH_Beach_05.jpg

large_2014_EH_Beach_02.jpg

The Huntting Inn is the quintessential country inn and the place to stay in East Hampton.

2016_EH_Huntt_07.jpg

large_2016_EH_Huntt_01.jpg

2014_EH_Huntt2_1.jpg

2016_EH_Huntt_15.jpg

large_2016_EH_Huntt_17.jpg

2016_EH_Huntt_10.jpg

Occupying a prime spot on the village's chi-chi Main Street, the Inn was built in 1699 for the second Presbyterian minister of East Hampton, Reverend Nathaniel Huntting, who raised 10 children there with his wife Mary, who presumably died of exhaustion.

2016_EH_Huntt_16.jpg

large_2016_EH_Huntt_02.jpg

Today, the Inn has the comfortable, worn-in feel of your grandma's country house, with beach chairs and umbrellas lining the halls, magazines and restaurant menus piled high near the cozy couches and on the covered porches, and board games resting on the hearth of the centuries-old stone fireplace, awaiting the occasional rainy day.

2014_EH_1770_18.jpg

2016_EH_Huntt_18.jpg

A bright breakfast room serves up fruit, pastries, and fresh-squeezed juices in the morning.

large_2014_EH_Bfast.jpg

Outside, the manicured grounds are dotted with inviting benches and other places to enjoy the sunshine.

2016_EH_Huntt_05.jpg

2016_EH_Huntt_04.jpg

2016_EH_Huntt_06.jpg

I just wish someone had told us to bring the Rolls or the Bentley.

2016_EH_Huntt_08.jpg

The rooms are spacious, done up in soothing shades of sea and sky and sand, with large ensuite baths and plenty of thoughtful touches, like fresh-cut flowers from the Inn's garden, and dark-colored towels for removing makeup.

2014_EH_1770_15.jpg

2014_EH_1770_14.jpg

2014_EH_1770_16.jpg

We typically drive out to the Hamptons after work on Thursday or Friday and return to the city late on Sunday, so the drive takes about an hour and a half each way. But on this particular weekend we departed mid-afternoon, and apparently so did all eight million people who live in this city, since the normally 90-minute drive took a whopping 240 minutes. I'm no mathematician, but that's 15 miles an hour . . . for FOUR HOURS.

2014_EH_27Esign_1.jpg

If that isn't enough to drive you to drink, I don't know what is. And so you can probably understand why we needed to make a pit stop in Bridgehampton before continuing on at our snails-are-passing-us pace.

2014_EH_Almond_04.jpg

One of our year-round favorites, Almond restaurant in Bridgehampton boasts 100-year-old tin ceilings, classic white subway tile, and on-trend "bottled" cocktails, which allow the mixologist to fine-tune a particular concoction and bottle it, ensuring that it's perfect every time.

large_2014_EH_Almond_10.jpg

2014_EH_Almond_09.jpg

Though a lemongrass-infused Cosmo with house-made cranberry syrup is pretty much perfect all the time.

2014_EH_Almond_13.jpg

2014_EH_Almond_02.jpg

2014_EH_Almond_03.jpg

large_2014_EH_Almond_12.jpg

2014_EH_Almond_05.jpg

2014_EH_Almond_07.jpg

2014_EH_Almond_01.jpg

2014_EH_Almond_06.jpg

2014_EH_1770_10.jpg

2014_EH_Almond_08.jpg

Of course, you couldn't really blame anyone for wanting to be in the Hamptons that weekend. It was late September, that heavenly sliver of time between summer and fall when the ocean is at its warmest, temperatures hover in the low 80s, and the sky turns a deep cobalt blue. Late-harvest tomatoes compete with pumpkins and squash for bin space at the farm stands, red and gold mums start popping up in window boxes, and in the villages, shop windows gradually transition from sundresses and espadrilles to chunky sweaters and cashmere wraps.

large_2014_EH_Houses_03.jpg

After checking in with Carol and settling in to our room, it was soon time for dinner, so we made the short walk down Main Street to the 1770 House.

2014_EH_1770hs2_1.jpg

The 1770 House actually dates back to 1663, when it was built as a private home; over 100 years later, in 1770, it was converted to an inn. Today, the inn is known for its famous "Tavern Meatloaf," which East Hampton's Ina Garten, also known as the Food Network's Barefoot Contessa, has been raving about on TV for almost as long as I've been raving about cheeseburgers on this blog.

large_2014_EH_1770hs_11.jpg

But this isn't just any pub grub, and so the Tavern -- located, speakeasy-style, down a dimly-lit, narrow flight of stairs -- is guarded by a gate, and an always-full reservations book.

2014_EH_1770hs_09.jpg

2014_EH_1770hs_10.jpg

Seating is in a cozy, low-ceilinged room with comfy, pillow-strewn banquettes.

2014_EH_1770hs2_3.jpg

We started off with a salad of local heirloom tomatoes, then moved on to the main event -- the famous meatloaf with garlic sauce for me, and the succulent short ribs for Angel, which you know are good when they can distract me from a meatloaf.

2014_EH_1770hs2_2.jpg

2014_EH_1770hs_06.jpg

large_2014_EH_1770hs_04.jpg

For dessert, we couldn't resist the local berry crumble.

2014_EH_1770hs2_4.jpg

The next morning we decided to walk off last night's meaty excesses along the East Hampton Village Nature Trail, which is just steps from the Inn.

large_2014_EH_naturepr_10.jpg

2014_EH_naturepr_04.jpg

large_2014_EH_naturepr_02.jpg

2014_EH_naturepr_09.jpg

2014_EH_naturepr_06.jpg

2014_EH_naturepr_03.jpg

2014_EH_naturepr_05.jpg

2014_EH_naturepr_12.jpg

large_2014_EH_naturepr_13.jpg

2014_EH_naturepr_16.jpg

large_2014_EH_naturepr_17.jpg

2014_EH_naturepr_18.jpg

2014_EH_naturepr_15.jpg

The Nature Trail ended not far from the Huntting Inn, but the day was so gorgeous that we decided to keep walking, past famed Further Lane and the other wide, tree-lined streets near the beach.

large_2014_EH_Houses_01.jpg

2014_EH_Houses_04.jpg

large_2014_EH_Houses_14.jpg

2014_EH_Houses_05.jpg

large_2014_EH_Houses_06.jpg

2014_EH_Houses_07.jpg

2014_EH_Houses_08.jpg

2014_EH_Houses_23.jpg

large_2014_EH_Houses_10.jpg

2014_EH_House9_1.jpg

2014_EH_Houses_28.jpg

large_2014_EH_Houses_21.jpg

large_2014_EH_Houses_24.jpg

2014_EH_Houses_11.jpg

2014_EH_Houses_22.jpg

large_2014_EH_Houses_20.jpg

Of course, when you're part of the one percent, massive hedges aren't enough; you're going to need a guard dog, too.

2014_EH_Houses_17.jpg

large_2014_EH_Houses_29.jpg

But not just any dog.

2014_EH_Houses_19.jpg

Or even just any dog.

2014_EH_Houses_18.jpg

We finished our walk by making a wide loop toward the ocean.

large_2014_EH_Houses_25.jpg

2014_EH_Houses_26.jpg

2014_EH_Houses_27.jpg

East Hampton: Where the huge mailboxes are sized proportionately to the bills deposited into them.

2014_EH_Houses_12.jpg

We'd worked up quite an appetite after all that walking and stalking, so we made the short walk over to Cittanuova in the village for lunch. Blending sleek European style with a beachy Hamptons vibe, Cittanuova's glass pocket doors merge the airy indoor space with the shaded garden out back.

large_2014_EH_Citta_11.jpg

2014_EH_Citta_10.jpg

We settled in at a cozy table near the soothing fountain, then tucked into two orders of the panzanella, which turned out to be the best I've ever had . . . including the ones I've had in Tuscany.

large_2014_EH_Citta_05.jpg

2014_EH_Citta_02.jpg

2014_EH_Citta2_1.jpg

large_2014_EH_Citta2_2.jpg

Then it was on to a simple but satisfying spaghetti with San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, and basil for me, and the panini with prosciutto San Daniele, stracchino cheese, arugula, tomato, and white truffle oil for the Ange.

2014_EH_Citta2_4.jpg

2014_EH_Citta2_3.jpg

2014_EH_Citta_08.jpg

2014_EH_Citta_09.jpg

After lunch we milled around the village for a bit, taking in the sights.

2016_EH_shops_07.jpg

2016_EH_shops_08.jpg

2016_EH_shops_03.jpg

2016_EH_shops_02.jpg

2016_EH_shops_06.jpg

2016_EH_shops_01.jpg

2016_EH_shops_05.jpg

2016_EH_shops_09.jpg

2016_EH_shops_14.jpg

2016_EH_shops_16.jpg

large_2016_EH_shops_22.jpg

2016_EH_shops_29.jpg

2016_EH_shops_31.jpg

2016_EH_shops_28.jpg

2016_EH_shops_26.jpg

large_2016_EH_shops_24.jpg

2016_EH_shops_27.jpg

2016_EH_shops_10.jpg

2016_EH_shops_11.jpg

2016_EH_shops_18.jpg

large_2016_EH_shops_25.jpg

2016_EH_shops_19.jpg

2016_EH_shops_20.jpg

2016_EH_shops_15.jpg

By late afternoon the sun was hot and our wallets were empty, so we decided to stop by Main Beach for a bit, using the beach passes provided by the Inn.

large_2014_EH_Beach_08.jpg

2014_EH_Beach_11.jpg

large_2014_EH_Beach_12.jpg

2014_EH_Beach_10.jpg

2014_EH_Beach_09.jpg

While there are an unlimited number of beach passes for those lucky enough to own property in East Hampton, for non-residents -- those who can bear to part with upwards of $900,000 to rent a house for the summer -- the town issues only 2,900 coveted permits each season. And so stories of bribery, threats, tears, and extortion abound, involving everyone from federal judges and Congressmen to actors and hedge-fund moguls.

Which is why, for just the briefest of moments, I giddily contemplated auctioning that beach pass on eBay.

2014_EH_Beach_01.jpg

large_2014_EH_Beach_14.jpg

2014_EH_Beach_15.jpg

2014_EH_Beach_17.jpg

2014_EH_Beach_16.jpg

large_2014_EH_Beach_Brighthouse.jpg

2014_EH_Beach_19.jpg

large_2014_EH_Beach_20.jpg

2014_EH_Beach_23.jpg

2014_EH_Beach_24.jpg

The ocean breeze made us thirsty, so we headed off to Bay Kitchen Bar, which overlooks East Hampton's Three Mile Harbor.

2014_EH_BKB_14.jpg

large_2014_EH_BKB_02.jpg

2014_EH_BKB_03.jpg

2014_EH_BKB_09.jpg

I'd heard that Bay Kitchen Bar had added juleps to their cocktail list, so we snagged two water-view seats on the upper level patio and ordered up a Blackberry Julep with muddled mint, blackberries, bourbon, agave, and lime, and a Root Beer Float Julep with vanilla vodka, root beer, bourbon, and vanilla extract.

large_2014_EH_BKB_01.jpg

2014_EH_BKB_06.jpg

2014_EH_BKB_05.jpg

large_2014_EH_BKB_04.jpg

2014_EH_BKB_07.jpg

large_2014_EH_BKB_08.jpg

We moved down to the Adirondacks on the lawn as the sun began to go down.

2014_EH_BKB_15.jpg

2014_EH_BKB_11.jpg

2014_EH_BKB_12.jpg

2014_EH_BKB_10.jpg

There, we were joined by this friendly speckled chicken? miniature turkey? No wonder the locals call us citiots.

2014_EH_BKB_16.jpg

large_2014_EH_BKB_turk_1.jpg

That evening we had reservations to take Carol to dinner at the Huntting Inn's Palm steakhouse.

large_2016_EH_Huntt_11.jpg

The place was packed, and even with all of Carol's pull, we still ended up waiting over an hour for our table to be ready.

2014_EH_ThePalm_02.jpg

That turned out to be a lucky break, as it gave us plenty of time for chatting and laughing and wine-drinking, and although I had brought my camera along, I respected our lovely hostess's protestations that she was feeling somewhat camera-shy.

What I can tell you is that Carol has lived enough life for at least two or three people, and she recounted much of it in hilarious detail, regaling us with stories of her former life as a nun, her years of being relentlessly pursued by her eventual ex-husband, the late Mango Dave, and her stint operating one of Anguilla's best-loved restaurants, Mango's (including through Hurricane Luis, which destroyed the restaurant shortly after it opened).

Finally, our table was ready, and we wasted no time in ordering up a feast of steakhouse favorites: Fried calamari, veal parmigiana, filet Oscar, macaroni & cheese, creamed spinach, and cheesecake for dessert.

2014_EH_ThePalm_03.jpg

2014_EH_ThePalm_04.jpg

large_2014_EH_ThePalm_05.jpg

2014_EH_ThePalm_06.jpg

large_2014_EH_ThePalm_07.jpg

2014_EH_ThePalm_08.jpg

2014_EH_ThePalm_09.jpg

Best of all, we didn't have far to go to crawl into bed afterwards.

The next morning we stopped by Round Swamp Farm, which you might recognize as the market where celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay, Eric Ripert, and Geoffrey Zakarian like to get their produce when they're out east.

large_2014_EH_RoundSwamp_02.jpg

2014_EH_RoundSwamp_05.jpg

2014_EH_RoundSwamp_04.jpg

2014_EH_RoundSwamp_06.jpg

2014_EH_RoundSwamp_01.jpg

2014_EH_RoundSwamp_03.jpg

But of course I wasn't there for the celebrities, and I definitely wasn't there for the veggies. I was there for the fried chicken.

RSF.jpg

And maybe some other stuff, too.

2014_EH_RoundSwamp_07.jpg

2014_EH_RoundSwamp_10.jpg

2014_EH_RoundSwamp_08.jpg

2014_EH_RoundSwamp_09.jpg

2014_EH_RoundSwamp_11.jpg

Soon it was time for lunch, and again the day's weather dictated that we spend it outside. So we decided to make the short hop over to Montauk for lunch at the Montauket.

2014_EH_Montauket_15.jpg

2014_EH_Montauket_01.jpg

2014_EH_Montauket_12.jpg

2014_EH_Montauket_16.jpg

Perched high on a bluff overlooking Fort Pond Bay, the Montauket is one of the last holdouts of the old fishing-village era of Montauk, which is unfortunately being rapidly replaced by a trendy young crowd looking to expand ever eastward from the Hamptons. (One can only hope that they eventually keep going and fall into the ocean end up on Block Island.)

large_2014_EH_Montauket_02.jpg

large_2014_EH_Montauket_05.jpg

large_2014_EH_Montauket_06.jpg

The Montauket's vibe and décor are genuinely old-school, which provides a nice change from all the hipster spots in Montauk that have spent thousands of dollars and hired teams of architects, designers, and consultants in an attempt to look . . . genuinely old-school. But despite those efforts, I doubt any of them have one of these:

large_2014_EH_Montauket_11.jpg

Lunch was good, but it couldn't compete with the fantastic view.

2014_EH_Montauket2_4.jpg

2014_EH_Montauket2_1.jpg

2014_EH_Montauket2_3.jpg

2014_EH_Montauket2_2.jpg

large_2014_EH_Montauket_03.jpg

After lunch we headed over to one of my favorite spots to while away a sunny afternoon, the Montauk Yacht Club on Star Island.

large_2014_EH_MYC_23.jpg

2014_EH_MYC_17.jpg

large_2014_EH_MYC_18.jpg

Originally built in 1929, MYC underwent an extensive renovation a few years ago and now boasts everything from a surf camp and sailing lessons to nightly bonfires and S'mores during the summer. Done up in spiffy navy and white for the boating set, it's the perfect spot to take in the view while enjoying a cocktail or glass of wine.

2014_EH_MYC_29.jpg

2014_EH_MYC_06.jpg

2014_EH_MYC_30.jpg

large_2014_EH_MYC_25.jpg

2014_EH_MYC_04.jpg

large_2014_EH_MYC_31.jpg

2014_EH_MYC_14.jpg

large_2014_EH_MYC_16.jpg

large_2014_EH_MYC_11.jpg

2014_EH_MYC_03.jpg

large_2014_EH_MYC_01.jpg

2014_EH_MYC_09.jpg

2014_EH_MYC_21.jpg

large_2014_EH_MYC_12.jpg

2014_EH_MYC_27.jpg

large_2014_EH_MYC_28.jpg

large_2014_EH_MYC_13.jpg

Or some truffle fries covered in flurry of Parmigiano-Reggiano slivers.

2014_EH_MYC2_1.jpg

The afternoon passed in a happy haze of sun and sea.

large_2014_EH_MYC2_2.jpg

Before we knew it, it was time to head over to Montauk Harbor, where we planned to take a private sunset cruise.

2014_EH_Cruise_05.jpg

2014_EH_Cruise_04.jpg

The captain had told us we could bring our own beverages, so we made a pit stop at Lynn's Hula Hut for a couple of Hula Juices to bring aboard, then grabbed some sweatshirts from the stash we keep in the trunk, just in case. (It's the Hamptons: You never know when you might find yourself at an evening clam bake, a bonfire on the beach, or frozen out by an air conditioner set to 60 degrees because some socialite showed up to dinner in a fur . . . in July).

2014_EH_Cruise_02.jpg

2014_EH_Cruise_06.jpg

2014_EH_Cruise_03.jpg

2014_EH_Cruise_11.jpg

2014_EH_Cruise_10.jpg

large_2014_EH_Cruise_12.jpg

2014_EH_Cruise_09.jpg

2014_EH_Cruise_14.jpg

Montauk Harbor is actually the northern part of Lake Montauk; a cut allows boaters to access Block Island Sound and, beyond that, the Atlantic Ocean.

large_2014_EH_Cruise_07.jpg

2014_EH_Cruise_15.jpg

2014_EH_Cruise_13.jpg

large_2014_EH_Cruise_18.jpg

2014_EH_Cruise_23.jpg

large_2014_EH_Cruise_24.jpg

2014_EH_Cruise_26.jpg

large_2014_EH_Cruise_21.jpg

Although it was early evening when we set off, the cloud-speckled sky was already giving us an inkling that that night's sunset was going to be a good one.

2014_EH_Cruise_30.jpg

large_2014_EH_Cruise_20.jpg

2014_EH_Cruise_27.jpg

As the sky turned a rosy pink, we plied the waters of Montauk Harbor and were treated to the sight of the fishing boats returning with the day's catch.

large_2014_EH_Cruise_25.jpg

large_2014_EH_HarbourCruise_1.jpg

large_2014_EH_Cruise_37.jpg

And as predicted, the sunset was spectacular.

large_2014_EH_Cruise_28.jpg

large_2014_EH_Cruise_35.jpg

large_2014_EH_Cruise_31.jpg

large_2014_EH_Cruise_40.jpg

Soon it was time to head home, but not before a pit stop at one of our favorite Mexican dives, La Superica in Sag Harbor.

2014_EH_Superica_1.jpg

Of course, because this is the Hamptons, that dive has a water view and plays host to sailors from the Breakwater Yacht Club after their Wednesday night races, but you know us: We're not too picky.

2014_EH_Superica_4.jpg

Besides, is there any better way to end the weekend than with frozen margaritas and overflowing platters of enchiladas?

2014_EH_Superica_2.jpg

2014_EH_Superica_3.jpg

I don't think so, either.

----------------------------------------------------------------
Want more Hamptons? Click here for my A to Z rundown of everything to gobble, guzzle, and gaze at on my favorite little strip of sand!

Posted by TraceyG 10:44 Archived in USA Tagged montauk hamptons sag_harbor east_hampton cittanuova 1770_house bay_kitchen_bar the_palm huntting_inn montauket round_swamp_farm la_superica Comments (9)

March Madness, Part 1: Miami Vice(s)

It was supposed to be five days of rest, relaxation, and respite from that annual 30-day preview of hell, also known as March. We'd hop a quick, 2.5 hour flight to Miami, then spend our days lounging poolside with mojitos and chilled ceviche. Come evening, we'd enjoy a round of cocktails on a swanky rooftop overlooking the city, dine on Floribbean cuisine in trendy South Beach, then retire to our Art Deco-inspired bungalow for a night swim in our private pool. Sip, swim, rinse, repeat.

large_2016_MIA_Open_2.jpg

It didn't quite turn out that way.

First, our friends Ellen and Brian got wind of our plans, and though we were thrilled and flattered that they were going to fly in from California to join us for a few days, we were not expecting them to do so on such short notice. ("Short notice" to people like me and Angel being anything less than a year.) And so plans were rearranged, reservations were revised, and nightclubs somehow found their way onto the agenda. Plans to sleep in were replaced with plans to sleep when we were dead.

Second, there was the city of Miami itself, which I hadn't properly visited since the turn of the Millennium. True to its nickname as the "Manhattan of the South," the city was a maddening mix of the gorgeous and the gaudy, the sophisticated and the seedy, the effortless and the exhausting. By the end of our trip I couldn't decide whether to put a down payment on a beachfront condo or punch the mayor in the gut.

large_2016_MIA_Open_1.jpg

And I might have leaned toward the former, but for the third unexpected hitch in our plans: ULTRA.

Ultra2.jpg

Have you heard of this thing? If, like me, you last set foot in a nightclub when Bill Clinton was still in office, you can be forgiven if the answer is no. The Ultra Music Festival, as it's formally known, is a three-day-long EDM bacchanal during which tens of thousands of twenty-somethings converge on the city to hear a bunch of DJs with names like Knife Party, Carnage, Jackal, and Destroid. (Thank god Laidback Luke and Marshmello were there to chill things out.)

Ultra.jpg

ultra3.jpg

(By the way, did you have to look up what EDM stands for? If you thought it was some type of defibrillator that you might need when all those flashing lights cause you to have a seizure, then we are on the same page.)

Ultra is how I discovered that I am not the type of person who parties at a velvet-rope nightclub until 5am. I am that person's mother. But this is Miami, where the clubs don't get interesting until well past midnight and the pool parties go until 8 the next morning. And so we did our best to adapt to the half-naked hordes and people with tattoos. . . on their faces.

DJ_Stitches2.jpg

But before we could immerse ourselves into the throbbing throngs of Ultra-goers, we had to pick up our rental car. Incredulous that we'd shown up even after learning that our visit would coincide with Ultra, the rental agent blurted out, "But this is the worst weekend . . . OF ALL TIME!!!" The "for old people like you" at the end of that sentence was implied, or at least I thought it was . . . until the agent "upgraded" us to that sexy Buick Lacrosse.

Anyway.

We jumped in our hot ride and made a beeline for Sunset Place, an outdoor mall in South Miami. That neighborhood is home to several local universities, and therefore where I knew I'd find the mecca for stoned college students everywhere: the Mellow Mushroom.

large_2016_MIA_MM_01.jpg

It also happens to be the mecca for people who love pizza as much as I do, which is to say, enough to break down this door if I have to.

2016_MIA_MM_02.jpg

Then again, I think we all know what my first love is. Even Mellow Mushroom knows it.

2016_MIA_MM2_1.jpg

Still, coming in second-place on my list of foods that I love more than Angel is not too shabby.

2016_MIA_MM_PizzaEyes_1.jpg

Like all Mellow Mushroom locations, the one in South Miami is groovy and psychedelic.

2016_MIA_MM_04.jpg

2016_MIA_MM_05.jpg

2016_MIA_MM_03.jpg

2016_MIA_MM_12.jpg

2016_MIA_MM_14.jpg

2016_MIA_MM_15.jpg

They even had green beer in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Either that, or the mushrooms on Angel's Holy Shiitake pie started to kick in.

2016_MIA_MM_07.jpg

large_2016_MIA_MM_shiit_1.jpg

2016_MIA_MM_13.jpg

I went with a simple pepperoni pie, since just the thought of pizza makes me crazy enough already.

2016_MIA_MM2_2.jpg

large_2016_MIA_MM2_3.jpg

After lunch we headed north to Miami Shores, a pretty, tree-lined enclave that we picked for its proximity to Wynwood, Brickell, and other neighborhoods we planned to explore.

MIA_2016_H..reestreet_1.jpg

MIA_2016_house_10.jpg

You know you're in a fancy zip code when instead of stray cats, stray peacocks roam the streets.

large_MIA_2016_house_07.jpg

Among all this ostentatious opulence, we'd rented a cozy bungalow with a carport and a private pool, both of which were life-savers on a weekend where $50 cash-only valets, $500-a-lounger pool parties, and reservation-only rooftops were the norm.

MIA_2016_house_09.jpg

2016_MIA_Pool2_1.jpg

MIA_2016_house_12.jpg

large_MIA_2016_house_06.jpg

MIA_2016_house_05.jpg

MIA_2016_house_02.jpg

MIA_2016_house_03.jpg

MIA_2016_house_04.jpg

MIA_2016_house_13.jpg

MIA_2016_house_15.jpg

That evening we decided to go retro for Happy Hour at the 1950s-era Vagabond Motel in Miami's hip MiMo district, an acronym for Miami Modern -- or, in the case of the Vagabond, Midcentury Modern.

2016_MIA_VagaOut_1.jpg

2016_MIA_Vagabond_25.jpg

The bartenders take their mojitos seriously here, and I take my hot bartenders seriously, so it was a win-win.

2016_MIA_Vagabond_07.jpg

2016_MIA_Vagabond_08.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Vagabond_10.jpg

2016_MIA_Vagabond_03.jpg

Plus there were cushy day beds for post-mojito napping.

2016_MIA_Vagabond_04.jpg

2016_MIA_Vagabond_26.jpg

2016_MIA_Vagabond_11.jpg

2016_MIA_Vagabond_05.jpg

2016_MIA_Vagabond_01.jpg

And little red wagons to haul around your beach towels or sunscreen or vodka.

2016_MIA_Vagabond_12.jpg

And thrones! With their own ottoman. Yessss.

2016_MIA_Vagabond_02.jpg

2016_MIA_Vagabond_09.jpg

As the sun began to set, we sunk deeper into our daybeds and found ourselves zoning out to the house music provided by the DJ. Yes, actual music, as opposed to the Morse Code we'd been hearing elsewhere.

2016_MIA_Vagabond_06.jpg

2016_MIA_Vagabond_15.jpg

2016_MIA_Vagabond_18.jpg

2016_MIA_Vagabond_17.jpg

2016_MIA_Vagabond_19.jpg

2016_MIA_Vagabond_20.jpg

2016_MIA_Vagabond_21.jpg

Indeed, we were having such a good time at the Vagabond that we repeatedly pushed back our dinner reservations at nearby Sugarcane Raw Bar & Grill by 15-minute increments, ultimately arriving about 10 minutes late for our "current" reservation, and over an hour past our original one.

2016_MIA_Sugarcane_12.jpg

2016_MIA_Sugarcane_01.jpg

2016_MIA_Sugarcane_11.jpg

But we found everyone in Miami to be so friendly and accommodating that, when we finally showed up and had to wait approximately three minutes to be seated, the hostess apologized to us for the wait. (In New York they would just stab you in the neck with a rusty fork before informing you that the next available table is at 4:30pm three Tuesdays from now.)

large_2016_MIA_Sugarcane_09.jpg

2016_MIA_Sugarcane_08.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Sugarcane_10.jpg

As it turns out, though, Sugarcane would have been worth any wait. From the creative cocktails (the Tobacco Rum Old Fashioned with homemade cigar bitters was a standout, as was the Louisiana Purchase, made with Four Roses bourbon, vanilla syrup, Scrappy’s chocolate bitters, and a local brown ale) to the scallop crudo with black truffle, lime, and jalapeno, to the American Wagyu sliders topped with a Japanese-inspired tonkatsu sauce and fried quail eggs, everything we ordered was absolutely fantastic, and served quickly and with a smile, even though the place was packed.

2016_MIA_Sugarcane2_1a.jpg

2016_MIA_Sugarcane_04.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Sugarcane2_2a.jpg

2016_MIA_Sugarcane_05.jpg

As a fitting end to our first full day in Miami, we arrived back at the bungalow full of burgers and bourbon and ready for a night swim . . . in our flamingo-pink pool.

2016_MIA_PinkPool_1.jpg

The next day we had lunch reservations at one of the city's Art Deco landmarks, The Raleigh in South Beach.

Raleigh_2016_23.jpg

Raleigh_2016_19.jpg

Raleigh_2016_18.jpg

Raleigh_2016_17.jpg

Raleigh_2016_09.jpg

large_Raleigh_2016_08.jpg

No, we didn't bike there, but we should have. It really is the worst weekend of all time when you have to beg some guy in an empty, overgrown lot to let you park your car for 1.5 hours for anything less than a Benjamin.

large_Raleigh_2016_TTG1.jpg

We'd planned to spend the day sipping cocktails at the Raleigh's chic pool, but thanks to Ultra, the loungers that usually rent for $25 a day were suddenly $250, and accompanied by an all-day lineup of DJs playing a bunch of songs that sounded like R2D2 when he's trying to tell C3PO something really important.

Raleigh_2016_10.jpg

large_Raleigh_2016_07.jpg

Still, the food at the Raleigh, like everywhere else we went in Miami, was excellent, and the gorgeous garden was right up my alley.

large_2016_MIA_Raleigh_garden_1.jpg

Raleigh_2016_02.jpg

Raleigh_2016_03.jpg

Plus, more thrones. I'm really liking this whole Tropical Westeros thing Miami's got going on.

Raleigh_2016_06.jpg

Raleigh_2016_AG1.jpg

Lunch started off with a couple of cocktails: A hashtagged affair called the #belegendary, with Grey Goose Le Melon, St. Germaine, Champagne, and fresh cantaloupe, and the Rosey Ginger, made with vodka, rosemary sugar, ginger beer, fresh grapefruit, and lime.

large_Raleigh_2016_01.jpg

We then moved on to the panzanella salad for me, the blackened mahi sandwich with guacamole for Angel, and the absolute best truffle fries I've ever had, which were supposed to be for both of us, but you already know how that story goes.

large_Raleigh_2016_13.jpg

Raleigh_2016_11.jpg

Raleigh_2016_15.jpg

large_Raleigh_2016_12.jpg

After lunch we set off for the Savoy Hotel, which has a lovely beachfront pool, a small bar that serves tasty frozen drinks, and music set at a level for anyone over 40 who doesn't yet need a hearing aid. Best of all, we could park easily nearby without auctioning off one of our kidneys.

large_2016_MIA_Savoy_2.jpg

2016_MIA_Savoy_T1.jpg

2016_MIA_Savoy_4.jpg

2016_MIA_Savoy_7.jpg

2016_MIA_Savoy_T2.jpg

That evening we headed down to Brickell, with plans to have cocktails at the rooftop pool bar at the Viceroy.

2016_MIA_Viceroy_25.jpg

Serving as the financial district of Miami, we felt right at home in Brickell amid the skyscrapers and taxicabs.

2016_MIA_Viceroy_01.jpg

2016_MIA_Viceroy_02.jpg

2016_MIA_Viceroy_03.jpg

When we pulled up at the Viceroy, however, a valet once again tried to extort $50 from us to park our car for an hour. But this time when we balked, he admitted, "Yeah, I wouldn't do it, either!" and directed us around the corner to the cheap-by-comparison metered parking.

Parking woes aside, the view from the 15th floor pool deck was lovely, and there were lots of comfy seating options around, and even in, the pool.

2016_MIA_Viceroy_12.jpg

2016_MIA_Viceroy_07.jpg

2016_MIA_Viceroy_06.jpg

2016_MIA_Viceroy_09.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Viceroy_11.jpg

We settled on a rail-side table and ordered up a couple of cocktails.

2016_MIA_Viceroy_04.jpg

2016_MIA_Viceroy_08.jpg

2016_MIA_Viceroy_15.jpg

2016_MIA_Viceroy_13.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Viceroy_14.jpg

As day drew to a close, the city lit up, making a good view even better.

2016_MIA_Viceroy_21.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Viceroy_20.jpg

2016_MIA_Viceroy_18.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Viceroy_19.jpg

Back inside, we took in the Alice-in-Wonderland décor that the Viceroy hotels are known for.

2016_MIA_Viceroy_17.jpg

2016_MIA_Viceroy_22.jpg

2016_MIA_Viceroy_16.jpg

2016_MIA_Viceroy_24.jpg

After a quick nap on this nice bed/throne (more thrones!), it was on to dinner at the Rusty Pelican on Key Biscayne.

2016_MIA_Viceroy_23.jpg

It was a clear, gorgeous night, with a perfect view of the Miami skyline from our waterside table.

large_2016_MIA_Pelican_11.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Pelican_08.jpg

The inside of the restaurant was just as inviting, with floor-to-ceiling windows and an enormous wine "cellar."

large_2016_MIA_Pelican_16.jpg

2016_MIA_Pelican_17.jpg

Dinner at the Rusty Pelican starts with a generous loaf of insanely addictive cornbread, served with parmesan-chili butter topped with paprika and onion salt. I admit that sounds a bit weird, but the overall effect is spicy, buttery, cheesy, and sweet, which I think encompasses at least three of the four food groups.

2016_MIA_Pelican_02.jpg

I started off with the salmon tartare with crispy jicama and an Asian pear and avocado salad in a soy-yuzu dressing, while Angel went with the coconut and shrimp bisque with roasted corn and grilled peppers.

2016_MIA_Pelican_03.jpg

2016_MIA_Pelican_01.jpg

For mains, I decided on the lobster risotto, which -- lucky me! -- was actually a huge lobster tail with risotto.

2016_MIA_Pelican_04.jpg

2016_MIA_Pelican_05.jpg

Angel went with the Patagonian toothfish, which is what folks used to call it before marketers decided that "Chilean sea bass" (which isn't even bass, but cod) sounded much more appetizing. The toothfish was served with a smoked sweet plantain mash, grilled Anaheim peppers, and an exotic mango-papaya salsa, and was so delicious that you can call it Blobfish for all I care.

large_2016_MIA_Pelican_06.jpg

After dinner, we finished the last of our bottle of Albariño around one of the Pelican's many waterside fire pits.

2016_MIA_Pelican_15.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Pelican_14.jpg

2016_MIA_Pelican_10.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Pelican_07.jpg

On the way out, we were reminded once again that we were in Miami . . . and this time, it wasn't just because they charged us for valet.

2016_MIA_Pelican_20.jpg2016_MIA_Pelican_19.jpg

Ellen and Brian arrived the next morning on a redeye from LA, so we'd planned nothing more strenuous than renting a couple of private cabanas at the Palms Hotel in South Beach.

large_2016_MIA_Cabana_01.jpg

2016_MIA_Cabana_02.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Cabana2_2.jpg

Equipped with WiFi, DirecTV, an iPod docking station, two loungers inside the cabana (for shade), and two more right outside (for sun), we parked ourselves on the loungers, where Brian promptly fell asleep, Ellen worked on her tan, Angel checked baseball scores on his phone, and I spent the afternoon dipping French fries into Ranch dressing (don't knock it till you've tried it).

2016_MIA_Cabana_04.jpg

2016_MIA_Cabana_06.jpg

2016_MIA_Cabana_07.jpg

2016_MIA_Cabana_10.jpg

2016_MIA_Cabana_11.jpg

2016_MIA_Cabana_13.jpg

2016_MIA_Cabana_14.jpg

2016_MIA_Cabana_15.jpg

2016_MIA_Cabana_17.jpg

2016_MIA_Cabana_08.jpg

A private "butler" attended each cabana, delivering pink lemonades spiked with citrus-infused vodka, hummus platters, and the aforementioned fries, along with anything else we might want to eat, drink, or lick off of postage stamps (I'm kidding about that last one! Then again, it was Ultra weekend).

2016_MIA_Cabana_05.jpg

2016_MIA_Cabana2_1.jpg

2016_MIA_Cabana_20.jpg

It was a lovely afternoon, made even better by the little gifts Ellen brought me: kitty socks, pineapple socks, and body lotion . . . in an owl jar.

2016_MIA_Cabana_18.jpg

2016_MIA_Cabana_24.jpg

That evening, Angel and I decided to check out the new 1Hotel, which was the Gansevoort before a $500 million renovation to "green" the place up. Those efforts include lobby ceilings made of wood reclaimed from water towers in Alaska, furniture crafted from fallen trees from South American rainforests, and hallways accented with wood from trees felled by mountain pine beetles. The overall effect is, well, woodsy.

2016_MIA_1HotelLate_11.jpg

2016_MIA_1HotelLate_12.jpg

2016_MIA_1HotelLate_15.jpg

The use of natural materials continued upstairs on the main pool deck, with the addition of bamboo, muslin, and lots of sand.

2016_MIA_1Hotel_01.jpg

large_2016_MIA_1Hotel_06.jpg

2016_MIA_1Hotel_03.jpg

2016_MIA_1Hotel_07.jpg

2016_MIA_1Hotel_08.jpg

large_2016_MIA_1Hotel_14.jpg

We ordered up a couple of drinks and some tostones at the Sand Box while waiting for Ellen and Brian to arrive.

2016_MIA_1Hotel_02.jpg

2016_MIA_1Hotel_13.jpg

2016_MIA_1Hotel_11.jpg

2016_MIA_1Hotel_04.jpg

2016_MIA_1Hotel_05.jpg

large_2016_MIA_1Hotel_12.jpg

Ellen and Brian soon joined us, and we decided to head up to the roof deck, which boasts the largest oceanfront rooftop pool in Miami. Assured when we'd called earlier that the rooftop would not be hosting any private Ultra events that evening, we headed to the elevator that would take us to the rooftop, and that's where things got tricky.

Apparently the elevator attendant had been instructed to manage the rooftop crowd, but had not been instructed as to how to do that. And so our attempts to access the rooftop elevator (in varying combinations of the four of us) were met with increasingly fantastical reasons as to why we couldn't do so, including (Attempt 1) "There are too many people up there and it's a fire emergency," (Attempt 2) "The cover charge is $250 per person," (Attempt 3) "It's a special event; drinks are $250 each," and (Attempt 4) "You can't go up there because there are wild elephants." Fine, I made that last one up, but I am sure that was coming next if we hadn't finally executed the Jedi Mind Trick and said, "Yes, a $250 cocktail sounds perfect," at which point the poor guy just gave up and let us on the elevator.

The irony? The rooftop was dead. And they were serving only one drink at the bar -- yes, one -- which was reasonable enough at $15, though not for what amounted to a gussied-up pina colada.

2016_MIA_1Hotel_17.jpg

Still, the views were incredible, the gussied-up coladas weren't half bad, and I didn't hear anyone mutter, "Who let Grandma in here, and why isn't she at home watching 'Matlock'?" so we stayed for a bit before heading off to dinner at Dolce.

large_2016_MIA_1Hotel_19.jpg

2016_MIA_1Hotel_20.jpg

2016_MIA_1Hotel_21.jpg

2016_MIA_1Hotel_16.jpg

large_2016_MIA_1Hotel_15.jpg

large_2016_MIA_1Hotel_18.jpg

Dolce, which won Bravo TV's "Best New Restaurant" competition last year, is a popular spot at the Gale Hotel on bustling on Collins Avenue in South Beach.

2016_MIA_Dolce_02.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Dolce_05.jpg

There, we feasted on meatballs over polenta, spaghetti alla chitarra, straccetti alla Bolognese, and lobster mezzelune.

2016_MIA_Dolce_08.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Dolce_10.jpg

2016_MIA_Dolce_09.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Dolce_12.jpg

2016_MIA_Dolce_03.jpg

It had been a long day, and by the time we finished eating ourselves into a carb coma, Ellen and Brian were understandably exhausted. And so they headed back to their hotel, while Angel and I made our way back to the 1Hotel, where we'd left the car for the evening.

While Angel waited for the valet, I popped into the lobby to take some photos, and unexpectedly encountered what has to be the chillest scene in Miami: A duo (with bongos!) was playing Latin-inspired covers of laid-back pop songs, while well-dressed couples lounged on the sprawling lobby's various beds and couches, barefoot, sipping Champagne.

I'd finally found my people.

2016_MIA_1HotelLate_02.jpg

2016_MIA_1HotelLate_06.jpg

large_2016_MIA_1HotelLate_05.jpg

2016_MIA_1HotelLate_07.jpg

large_2016_MIA_1HotelLate_10.jpg

2016_MIA_1HotelLate_01.jpg

I spun on my high heel and dashed through the lobby, hoping to catch Angel before the valet brought the car around. (As I sprinted, a man called out, "Miss, be careful! You almost stepped on a frog!" Which either means that the 1Hotel is so green that there are actual frogs here, or that was the worst pick-up line ever. Either way, only in Miami.)

2016_MIA_1HotelLate_03.jpg

2016_MIA_1HotelLate_04.jpg

large_2016_MIA_1HotelLate_13.jpg

2016_MIA_1HotelLate_14.jpg

We ordered up a couple of cocktails, kicked off our shoes, and enjoyed the band until their last set.

It had been a long night, and we still had fritas to gobble, free Champagne to guzzle, art to ogle, and a party to crash. Click here for Part 2!
-------------------------------------------------
2016_MIA_Arrive_1.jpg

Posted by TraceyG 04:58 Archived in USA Tagged miami raleigh vagabond dolce south_beach sugarcane mellow_mushroom brickell morenos_cuba Comments (0)

March Madness, Part 2: I Heart Wynwood

The next day, our friends Ellen and Brian decided to take it easy and grab lunch at their hotel, leaving me and Angel to swing by Moreno's Cuba in South Beach for some fritas.

large_2016_MIA_Morenos_04.jpg

2016_MIA_Morenos_01.jpg

2016_MIA_Morenos_06.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Morenos_11.jpg

2016_MIA_Morenos_18.jpg

With its imported Cuban floor tiles, reclaimed wood, and selection of Cuban-style cigars, Moreno's is modeled after the Havana speakeasy the owner's uncle operated during the Cuban revolution, while the menu recalls the legendary restaurant at Cuba's famed Hotel Nacional, which the owner's grandfather ran. (All to be confirmed when we visit Havana in November 2017!)

large_2016_MIA_Morenos_tile1.jpg

2016_MIA_Morenos_12.jpg

2016_MIA_Morenos_13.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Morenos_08.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Morenos_10.jpg

2016_MIA_TTGcloseMore_1.jpg

For the uninitiated, a frita is a thin beef and pork patty spiced up with cumin, paprika, and pepper, then topped with cheese and a mound of shoestring fries.

2016_MIA_Morenos_21.jpg

Moreno's fritas were non-traditional -- the patty was thick, and served with regular fries on the side -- but when the burger looks like this, who am I to complain?

2016_MIA_Morenos_22.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Morenos_20.jpg

2016_MIA_Morenos_17.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Morenos_16.jpg

2016_MIA_Morenos_14.jpg

2016_MIA_Morenos_15.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Morenos_07.jpg

After lunch we headed back to the bungalow, where I ordered my cabana boy to clean the pool . . . but not before bringing me a glass of wine.

2016_MIA_Morenos_23.jpg

That evening we met up with Ellen and Brian for dinner at Bazi, a sexy, modern Asian spot at the historic Marlin Hotel.

2016_MIA_Bazi_09.jpg

2016_MIA_BaziBarA_1.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Bazi_08.jpg

2016_MIA_Bazi_14.jpg

2016_MIA_Bazi_10.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Bazi_06.jpg

2016_MIA_Bazi_07.jpg

2016_MIA_Bazi_05.jpg

As we waited for our food, we realized that we didn't have any pictures of the four of us, so we made up for lost time.

2016_MIA_Bazi_TyE_1.jpg

2016_MIA_Bazi_11.jpg

Though for some of these, we should have just lost the camera.

2016_MIA_Bazi_01.jpg

2016_MIA_Bazi_02.jpg

We ordered an assortment of appetizers and fish dishes, including one with a mysterious pink sauce that looked scary but tasted delicious. Which brings to mind the first person who ever spied a lobster and thought, This thing's got five pairs of legs, enormous claws, a couple of hideously long antennae, and looks like a gigantic red cockroach. LET'S EAT IT!

2016_MIA_Bazi_15.jpg

2016_MIA_Bazi_16.jpg

2016_MIA_Bazi_18.jpg

2016_MIA_Bazi_19.jpg

2016_MIA_Bazi_13.jpg

After dinner, we decided to have a nightcap at the Broken Shaker, a James Beard Award-winner that is widely regarded as Miami's best cocktail bar.

2016_MIA_BrokenShaker_01.jpg

2016_MIA_BrokenShaker_02.jpg

large_2016_MIA_BrokenShaker_06.jpg

large_2016_MIA_BrokenShaker_07.jpg

And it is, if you appreciate concoctions like a Morning Routine with cachaca, blueberry yogurt, and granola (which I kind of did!), or the Voncey Cobbler, made with Appleton rum, ruby port, spiced pear, strawberry, lemon, and bitters.

large_2016_MIA_BrokenShaker_05.jpg

2016_MIA_BrokenShaker_03.jpg

As we sipped our fancy cocktails, a bachelorette party dropped off some extra shots that they couldn't finish. That kind of behavior would have gotten you dragged out of Ellen's bachelorette party by your ear, but I digress.

2016_MIA_BrokenShaker_17.jpg

While Angel and Ellen secured our seats at the bar, Brian and I decided to have a look around.

2016_MIA_BrokenShaker_12.jpg

2016_MIA_ShakerBrt_1.jpg

2016_MIA_BrokenShaker_14.jpg

2016_MIA_BrokenShaker_08.jpg

2016_MIA_BrokenShaker_09.jpg

The building behind the pool was hosting a private party, so Brian and I hung around near the velvet rope at the base of the stairs to see if we could figure out what was going on. And because we are both so incredibly good-looking, the bouncer noticed us and asked, "Are you here for the Galore magazine party?" Why, yes. Yes, we are. And so we slipped on a couple of wristbands, donned a bevy of glow necklaces, and headed on up.

large_2016_MIA_BrokenShaker_10.jpg

The party was in full swing, with free punch (which was good), deafening hip-hop (which was not) and even a sighting of former Giants tight-end Jeremy Shockey (which was fine, but would have been way better if it had been Cam Newton CALL ME).

2016_MIA_BrokenShaker_20.jpg

2016_MIA_BrokenShaker_19.jpg

Ellen and Brian departed the next morning, so Angel and I headed off to lunch at Lulu in the Grove, a trendy Coconut Grove tapas spot with an expansive outdoor patio.

2016_MIA_Lulu_01.jpg

2016_MIA_Lulu_24.jpg

2016_MIA_Lulu_25.jpg

Though we'd had perfect weather since we'd arrived in Miami, that particular day was on the chilly side (74°!), so we opted to sit in the funky, industrial-inspired dining room instead.

2016_MIA_Lulu_06.jpg

2016_MIA_Lulu_07.jpg

2016_MIA_Lulu_08.jpg

2016_MIA_Lulu_03.jpg

2016_MIA_Lulu_09.jpg

2016_MIA_Lulu_04.jpg

2016_MIA_Lulu_10.jpg

2016_MIA_Lulu_15.jpg

2016_MIA_Lulu_02.jpg

Once seated, we ordered up an assortment of tapas, including mac & cheese with manchego and fontina, ahi tuna tartare, truffle fries, pork tacos slow-braised in banana leaves & spices, and fish tacos with scallion vinaigrette.

2016_MIA_Lulu_16.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Lulu_17.jpg

2016_MIA_Lulu_19.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Lulu_22.jpg

2016_MIA_Lulu_21.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Lulu_18.jpg

Oh, and cheesecake in a jar.

2016_MIA_Lulu_11.jpg

In fact, we ordered so much food that the restaurant brought us a free round of Champagne to make up for the "wait."

2016_MIA_Lulu_12.jpg

I think they just wanted to see if we'd down that, too.

2016_MIA_Lulu_05.jpg

After lunch we decided to head over to Miami's up-and-coming Wynwood neighborhood. If South Beach is ground zero for club kids, then Wynwood is where their cooler, edgier counterparts go to get their art on.

2016_MIA_Wynwood_05.jpg

Admittedly, however, Wynwood didn't make much of a first impression.

2016_MIA_Wynwood_01.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_02.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_04.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_03.jpg

And so we did our best to blend in.

2016_MIA_Wynwood_33.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Wynwood_47.jpg

But as we walked from the seedy outskirts to the heart of the neighborhood, it stole my heart completely: The talent on display was breathtaking.

2016_MIA_Wynwood_07.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Wynwood_43.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_42.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_34.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Wynwoodcrp_2.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_30.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_31.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_32.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Wyngirl_1.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_25.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_20.jpg

And knowing from Angel the skill involved in working with spray paint and markers, the sheer size and scale of many of the works was truly awe-inspiring.

16DD5E17E10F3E2C3BB7A2FB545F5F98.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Wynwood_48.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Wynwood_52.jpg

16D5150FE31FB0EE3CAF08F3AA3CC8EA.jpg

16E082DDE655194BFFF65CDC3A86D1BE.jpg

large_16D741B9B585B45DD691323FD84D682F.jpg

large_16D928B6CA5A7FA23960F93254EEBAB1.jpg

16DB4E2C9D31A3CE3B76B01BF6163B51.jpg

16CDDB0F0B0343AA80FB783D2A1FF4D3.jpg

large_16CB8EDFE19B806FA6F32A8AD50CED21.jpg

16CA14D9C98276304C6EC2C0F204EA77.jpg

large_16D2D2AAE8508E61BBFADD59ABADC0DB.jpg

Other murals were fun and funky and colorful.

2016_MIA_Wynwood_41.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_19.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_21.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_22.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_24.jpg

large_2016_MIA_psyche_1.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_27.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_26.jpg

And no paintable surface was exempt.

16D07F35AF97517270994CF893CAF503.jpg

Best of all, we got to watch some of the artists at work.

2016_MIA_Wynwood_14.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_15.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_13.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Wynwoodcrp_1.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_11.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Wynwood_44.jpg

It was hard to choose a favorite piece, but I think this gorgeous jellyfish by San Francisco-based fine artist and muralist Amandalynn might be it.

large_2016_MIA_Wynwood_06.jpg

Even the shops along the main drag weren't content to be run-of-the-mill.

large_2016_MIA_Wynwood_46.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_40.jpg

We'd spent hours wandering among the various murals, and soon it was time for refreshments. We ended up at The Butcher Shop, an outdoor beer garden and grill with an actual butcher shop out back.

2016_MIA_Butcher_14.jpg

2016_MIA_Butcher_18.jpg

2016_MIA_Butcher_22.jpg

2016_MIA_Butcher_21.jpg

2016_MIA_Butcher_23.jpg

2016_MIA_Butcher_19.jpg

2016_MIA_Butcher_25.jpg

2016_MIA_Butcher_26.jpg2016_MIA_Butcher_24.jpg

We loved the design of the Concrete Beach Brewery pint glasses, and even though the brewery wasn't open yet, they were kind enough to let us in early to pick up a set.

large_2016_MIA_Concrete_1.jpg

2016_MIA_Wynwood_37.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Wynwood_38.jpg

2016_MIA_Butcher_13.jpg

That evening we met up with our friends Steph and Ari at Cecconi's at the Soho Beach House, a members-only club whose hotel rooms and restaurant are open to the public.

large_2016_MIA_Cecconi_03.jpg

The romantic garden at Cecconi's is lit with hundreds of twinkling lights strung among the trees.

large_2016_MIA_Cecconi_13.jpg

2016_MIA_Cecconi_12.jpg

2016_MIA_Cecconi_06.jpg

2016_MIA_Cecconi_11.jpg

2016_MIA_Cecconi_10.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Cecconi_05.jpg

Cecconi's plays along with the Soho House's exclusivity theme, offering a "Friends of Cecconi's" key chain to loyal diners, which entitles them to special offers on meals, exclusive cooking classes, and wine tastings.

Of course Stephanie had a key.

2016_MIA_Cecconi_02.jpg

2016_MIA_Cecconi_14.jpg

I don't know what Steph's key got us that night, but I do know that there should have been some kind of discount for ordering virtually everything on the menu.

2016_MIA_Cecconi_17.jpg

2016_MIA_Cecconi_18.jpg

2016_MIA_Cecconi_16.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Cecconi_15.jpg

2016_MIA_Cecconi_08.jpg

2016_MIA_Cecconi_09.jpg

large_2016_MIA_Cecconi_07.jpg

Then again, if that was the case, we'd never pay full price for another meal again.

-----------------------------------

2016_MIA_Wynwood_36.jpg

Ever wonder what we eat when we're not on vacation (and secretly hoping it's celery sticks and kale)? Follow me on Instagram @escape.from.new.york to find out!

Posted by TraceyG 05:52 Archived in USA Tagged graffiti miami lulu south_beach wynwood morenos_cuba bazi coconut_grove cecconi's Comments (3)

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: Like Hiking, Only Fun

New York is a city of superlatives: We have the tallest apartment building in the Western hemisphere (104 stories); the most professional sports teams of any U.S. city (8); more people than any other metropolitan area in the country (8.25 million); more billionaires than anywhere else in the world (103); and our restaurants have earned more Michelin stars than any other city in the country (85). (We also have more 2 a.m. traffic jams, adults dressed as Elmo, dirty-water-dogs, and overflowing trash cans than any other city, but this list can only be so long.)

NYC-street-photography-1.jpg

And, of course, we have what is surely the biggest parade in the world: The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, watched by 3.5 million spectators along the 3-mile route and another 50 million people at home. Over 8,000 volunteers participate in the parade itself, along with countless more behind the scenes. Then there are the Macy's employees, including painters, carpenters, sculptors, welders, and engineers, who handle everything from dreaming up the fanciful costumes to designing and building the dozens of floats, balloons, and props. All in all, close to 10,000 people participate in the parade, and each and every one of them shows up no matter what, since the parade takes place no matter what. Raining, snowing, sleeting, freezing? Throw on an extra-thick trash bag and some hip waders; the show must go on.

2015_ThxParade_06.jpg

Which explains why, even though my weatherproof husband has been participating in the parade for over a dozen years, I have steadfastly declined to join him. I don't do the parade for the same reason that I don't ski, camp, hike, or leave the house without a snowsuit from November through March: I hate being cold.

Plus, I was harboring the most un-American of secrets: I don't like parades. I don't like the banners. I don't like the marching bands. I don't like the announcers, all smug and cozy in their press box while everyone else freezes their extremities off. And I really don't like clowns. Throw in that draconian all-weather policy, and you can see why I'd choose to cheer Angel on from the comfort of my living room with a hot toddy in hand.

2014_ThxParade_TTGpj_1.jpg

But over the course of 13 years, Angel has worked his way up from balloon handler to head pilot ("One of only 16 large-balloon pilots in the WORLD!" he likes to remind me). And every year more and more friends and family -- including one friend who drives through the night from Portland, Maine to arrive on time -- get involved with the parade, and then sign up to do it again the following year.

2014_ThxPar_Grp.jpg

Now, Angel is a naturally charismatic leader, but he's no Jim Jones. And so, as more and more people I knew drank the Kool-Aid and became parade converts, I knew there had to be something to this thing.

large_2015_ThxParade_08.jpg

I mean, who foregoes a few extra hours of sleep in a nice, warm bed for a 5 a.m. wake-up call and hours standing around in the cold, rain, snow, or a hellish combination thereof?

Apparently, me.

2015_ThxParade_10.jpg

Worn down by everyone from my husband to my sister-in-law to one of my best friends, I finally decided that 2014 would be my year. I'd set my alarm for the crack of dawn, trudge to 34th Street before dawn in order to suit up, then board the bus to Central Park & 81st, where I'd wait, and then wait some more, for the parade to finally get under way.

2015_ThxParade_07.jpg

But first I had to survive basic training.

2015_ThxParade_01.jpg

2015_ThxParade_12.jpg

2015_ThxParade_11.jpg

Training for balloon handlers begins in early fall in a parking lot at MetLife stadium in New Jersey, which is bad enough right there. Throw in chilly temps and the threat of rain, and I was already starting to rethink my decision.

2015_ThxParade_14.jpg

Around and around and around we went, learning to handle curves and corners and to operate the "bone," a plastic spool that the rope attached to the balloon is wound around, allowing the handlers below to raise and lower the balloon as needed. In light winds, the balloons can fly higher; in high winds, and at intersections where Manhattan's canyons of buildings create powerful cross-winds, the balloons must fly a little lower.

large_2015_ThxParade_13.jpg

Afterwards, each balloon is deflated much as you might expect: After running around in circles in a parking lot for a few hours, we all collapse on top of it. But not before inhaling a little helium on the sly.

2015_ThxParade_15.jpg

2015_ThxParade_16.jpg

The balloons are then rolled, jelly-roll-style, back into their crates to await the big day.

2015_ThxParade_17.jpg

2015_ThxParade_18.jpg

Although Sixth Avenue (which comprises the bulk of the parade route) is six lanes across, the large balloons, plus the 60 to 90 handlers and two anchor vehicles under each one, take up the bulk of those lanes. Angel's job is to manage his team of handlers to ensure that the balloon is flying straight -- not too close to any trees, lightposts, flagpoles, spectators, or other obstacles along the route -- and to ensure, through constant communication with NYPD, that its height is appropriate for the day's winds.

large_2015_ThxParade_46.jpg

And, as he will not miss an opportunity to remind us weaklings who have the luxury of walking forward, the only way to do all that is by getting far out ahead of the balloon as it makes its way down the avenue and, in order to keep an eye on it at all times, walking the entire 3-mile route backwards.

2015_ThxParade_09.jpg

2015_ThxParade_21.jpg

In the weeks leading up to the parade, I began praying nightly. I knew better than to ask for good weather, so instead I just begged for not-hellish weather. I laid out a series of negotiations in my nightly chats with the big guy, noting that I'd take snow over rain, chilly over windy, cloudy and warm over sunny but cold. I slept with Angel's photos of past parades, with their vibrant blue skies and light winds, under my pillow.

2015_ThxParade_45.jpg

large_2015_ThxParade_43.jpg

As it turns out, however, the Wrath of God is real, and my years of behaving like a heathen came back to bite me: It was cloudy, cold, and drizzly, with a few snow flurries thrown in for good measure.

2015_ThxParade_22.jpg

The day begins at 5 a.m. in the basement of the New Yorker Hotel near Macy's on 34th Street, where participants gather to don their costumes, guzzle some coffee, and shake each other awake.

2015_ThxParade_19.jpg

For those of us handling the balloons, those costumes consist of a pair of overalls, a bib, and, thankfully, a warm hat and gloves.

2014_ThxPar_Rob.jpg

2015_ThxParade_05.jpg

Everyone is then bussed to the parade lineup, which begins uptown near Central Park.

2015_ThxParade_02.jpg

To start the parade, the balloons line up along 77th and 81st Streets, while the floats, marching bands, dancers, and other entertainment line up along Central Park West. Once the parade kicks off, the two merge at Central Park West and 77th, resulting in an assorted lineup of floats, balloons, and bands.

large_2015_ThxParade_20.jpg

The balloons are kept low to the ground under their nets until launch time, when the parade announcer calls out over the loudspeaker for the balloon to "Join the Parade!"

2015_ThxParade_42.jpg

Angel has piloted various balloons over the years, from Big Bird and Kermit the Frog to the Pillsbury Doughboy and Pikachu. This year it was Papa Smurf. Do you know how many people know and love Papa Smurf, who will chant his name ("When I say Papa, you say SMURF!") and even paint themselves blue in his honor?

2015_ThxParade_25.jpg

large_2015_ThxParade_37.jpg

Approximately 3.5 million.

large_2015_ThxParade_28.jpg

And that was the point at which I took a big ol' glug of the Kool-Aid. Because as much as I wanted to complain about being cold and wet, it finally dawned on me that those 3.5 million spectators were cold and wet too, yet they'd gotten up just as early as we had to stake out their spot on the sidewalk, and then they waited hours . . . just to see us. The parade brought together folks of every race, color, and creed, both young and old, and each and every one of them smiled and clapped and chanted for each and every float, balloon, dance troupe, and band that passed by.

2015_ThxParade_27.jpg

large_2015_ThxParade_29.jpg

They crammed into windows and onto balconies. They used their gym memberships to get a bird's eye view. They crowded onto church steps and into delis and 24-hour pharmacies and stood hundreds deep at every intersection.

large_2015_ThxParade_26.jpg

large_2015_ThxParade_30.jpg

2015_ThxParade_32.jpg

2015_ThxParade_33.jpg

large_2015_ThxParade_36.jpg

They screamed themselves hoarse to wish us a Happy Thanksgiving, and it was all so overwhelming that the Grinch who hates parades found that her small heart grew three sizes that day.

large_2015_ThxParade_04.jpg

2015_ThxParade_24.jpg

2015_ThxParade_23.jpg

2015_ThxParade_31.jpg

As we neared the end of the parade route, I spied one little girl, whose face lit up as she tilted it skyward to take in the immensity of Papa Smurf. Then she caught my eye and called, "I love you, Papa Smurf! Don't forget me!!!"

2015_ThxParade_34.jpg

2015_ThxParade_35.jpg

As if I ever could.

2015_ThxParade_03.jpg
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Look for Angel in this year's parade! He'll be piloting the Diary of a Wimpy Kid balloon . . . backwards.

12196148_1..752954582_n.jpg

Posted by TraceyG 08:00 Archived in USA Tagged new_york_city parade thanksgiving macy's macy's_parade Comments (2)

Falling Off the Wagon on Fire Island

If you could set sail for a place that combines the windswept beauty of the Hamptons . . . with the funky, come-as-you-are charm of Key West . . . then throw in the laid-back vibe of a barefoot Caribbean island . . . and finally, swap out modern conveniences like cars for little red wagons, paved roads for a patchwork of narrow boardwalks, and cell phones and iPads for messages etched in driftwood and painted on sea shells . . . you'd surely wash ashore on Fire Island.

2015_FireIs_openerbike_1.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_openers_05.jpg

2015_FireIs_pathopen.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_walkingpath.jpg

2015_FireIs_openers_08.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_baybeach_1.jpg

2015_FireIs_openlemon2_1.jpg

2015_FireIs_IsMer_12.jpg

Just 40 miles from New York City, Fire Island feels both miles and years away, like stepping into a Norman Rockwell painting of an idyllic, 1950s-era beach haven. Thirty-two miles long but less than a half-mile wide, Fire Island consists of just over a dozen small, seaside communities with fanciful names like Saltaire, Atlantique, Summer Club, Kismet, and Lonelyville, all connected not by roads, but by narrow wooden boardwalks and sandy paved paths.

large_2015_FireIs_openers_14.jpg

2015_FireIs_openers_13.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_openers_17.jpg

2015_FireIs_Bikeride_12.jpg

Cars aren't permitted on the island; neither are taxis. Luggage, groceries, children, and beer are hauled by old-school Radio Flyer wagons. Eighty percent of the island is public park land and can never be developed; the remaining 20 percent is occupied by less than 500 people year-round.

2015_FireIs_openers_04.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_wagons.jpg

2015_FireIs_openers_03.jpg

2015_FireIs_openers_02.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_openers_12.jpg

Children enjoy a carefree existence here, liberated from the ever-watchful eyes of their parents. Their days are spent riding bikes or learning to surf; the more entrepreneurial among them run lemonade stands or sell hand-painted beach stones. When the first fireflies of the evening appear they return, smelling of salt and sunscreen, to lived-in beach houses that haven't been locked all day (if they have locks at all), for charcoal-grilled burgers on the deck or a clam bake on the beach. Cozied up in oversized sweatshirts against the evening's ocean breeze, they wave sparklers in the air and are lulled to sleep by the sound of the crashing surf.

2015_FireIs_openers_01.jpg

2015_FireIs_openers_15.jpg

2015_FireIs_rocks_1.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_kidonbike.jpg

All of this sounded so delightful that we didn't hesitate when our friends Mika and Cliff rented a beach house for a week over the Fourth of July and invited us to spend part of it with them. And after a little more research, I learned that in addition to old-time charm and unspoiled natural beauty, I should also be prepared for lots of tiny, tame deer in the woods, and lots of raucous, ready-to-party gay guys in certain Fire Island villages. And so I responded to Mika's invitation with a text that read, "All I really want is to pet some deer and see some hot gay guys. And maybe pet them, too. Also, I pulled my hamstring at the gym so if there is a lot of walking, there must also be a lot of vodka."

She could only promise one of the three, but luckily it was the one I was most concerned about. And so we left Manhattan on a glorious Friday morning bound for Bay Shore, Long Island, then hopped the ferry over to the town they apparently named after they used up all the good names: Ocean Beach.

2015_FireIs_OceanBeach_1.jpg

2015_FireIs_ferry.jpg

Mika and Cliff met us at the dock with their adorable daughter Maddy in tow, then loaded our bags onto their wagon and led us back to the house.

2015_FireIs_Arrival_1.jpg

2015_FireIs_Arrival_8.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_Shopping_09.jpg

2015_FireIs_Arrival_2.jpg

The short walk from Ocean Beach to Corneille took us past woods, dunes, and houses tucked away into both.

large_2015_FireIs_corneillesign.jpg

2015_FireIs_Arrival_3.jpg

2015_FireI..flaghouse_1.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_Arrival_4.jpg

2015_FireIs_Arrival_7.jpg

2015_FireIs_Arrival_6.jpg

2015_FireIs_Arrival_5.jpg

Typical of most Fire Island summer houses, Sand Off was beachy and lived-in, with floral bedspreads, 1970s-era electronics, a rustic outdoor shower, and easy décor meant to withstand myriad renters and house guests.

2015_FireIs_House_20.jpg

2015_FireIs_House_21.jpg

2015_FireIs_House_04.jpg

2015_FireIs_House_06.jpg

2015_FireIs_House_19.jpg

2015_FireIs_House_18.jpg

2015_FireIs_House_16.jpg

2015_FireIs_House_17.jpg

2015_FireIs_House2_3.jpg

2015_FireIs_drinks_07.jpg

It was also just a stone's throw from the beach.

2015_FireIs_House_01.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_House_02.jpg

2015_FireIs_House_22.jpg

2015_FireIs_House2_5.jpg

Best of all, there was a beach ball for Maddy - the Fire Island equivalent of an empty cardboard box.

2015_FireIs_House_10.jpg

2015_FireIs_House_11.jpg

2015_FireIs_House_09.jpg

The weekend's guests included Cliff's friend Neal, who was celebrating a birthday. It's just a shame that Maddy doesn't like him.

2015_FireIs_House2_1.jpg

2015_FireIs_House2_2.jpg

After settling in at the house, Cliff and Neal took Maddy to the beach, while Angel, Mika, and I picked up a couple of bikes before heading to lunch at one of the handful of bayfront restaurants in town, The Hideaway.

2015_FireIs_Hideaway4_3.jpg

Not that we really needed the bikes to travel 23 feet and 103/4 inches.

2015_FireIs_Hideaway_02.jpg

2015_FireIs_Hideaway_03.jpg

2015_FireIs_Hideaway_08.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_Hideaway2_2.jpg

2015_FireIs_Hideaway_04.jpg

2015_FireIs_Hideaway_09.jpg

2015_FireIs_Hideaway2_3.jpg

2015_FireIs_Hideaway_11.jpg

After lunch Mika showed us around Ocean Beach, along with neighboring Seaview and Ocean Bay Park.

2015_FireIs_Hideaway4_1.jpg

2015_FireIs_openers_16.jpg

2015_FireIs_Bikeride_07.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_Bikeride_04.jpg

2015_FireIs_Bikeride_02.jpg

2015_FireIs_Bikeride_01.jpg

2015_FireIs_Bikeride_20.jpg

One of the many charms of Fire Island are the houses, most of them featuring weathered wood or salt-worn shingles, and stubbornly left un-renovated since their heyday in the 1960s. This gives the island a lived-in, beach-weathered look that defies time, trends, and, presumably, termites.

large_2015_FireIs_Bikeride_13.jpg

2015_FireIs_Bikeride_08.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_Bikeride_11.jpg

2015_FireIs_Bikeride_06.jpg

2015_FireIs_Bikeride_03.jpg

2015_FireIs_Bikeride_05.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_Bikeride_17.jpg

2015_FireIs_Bikeride_24.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_openers_06.jpg

2015_FireIs_Bikeride_14.jpg

Like the owners of grand estates everywhere, Fire Islanders take great care in selecting the perfect names for their abodes.

2015_FireIs_Bikeride_19.jpg

2015_FireIs_Bikeride_21.jpg

2015_FireIs_Bikeride_22.jpg

I think you know which one I would pick.

large_2015_FireIs_Bikeride_18.jpg

After a few hours spent doing exactly that, it was time for refreshments. And so we ended our bike ride with drinks at another of the town's salty haunts, Maguire's.

2015_FireIs_Mags_1.jpg

2015_FireIs_Mags_2.jpg

2015_FireIs_Mags_3.jpg

2015_FireIs_Maguire_7.jpg

The day's gorgeous weather found everyone outside on the waterfront deck.

2015_FireIs_Mags_8.jpg

2015_FireIs_Mags_7.jpg

2015_FireIs_Mags_4.jpg

There, we were introduced to Fire Island's unofficial beverage of choice: Rocket Fuel, an amped-up piña colada with amaretto and Bacardi 151 that's served at virtually all of the island's bars and restaurants.

2015_FireIs_Mags_5.jpg

2015_FireIs_Mags_6.jpg

2015_FireIs_Mags_9.jpg

2015_FireIs_Hideaway_10.jpg

Mika headed back to the house to check on Maddy, while Angel and I stayed in town to do a little shopping.

2015_FireIs_Shopping_11.jpg

2015_FireIs_Shopping_12.jpg

2015_FireIs_Shopping_13.jpg

2015_FireIs_Shopping_14.jpg

The kid drove a hard bargain, but I still had a few dollars left to explore Ocean Beach's other offerings.

large_2015_FireIs_Shopping_03.jpg

2015_FireIs_Shopping_04.jpg

2015_FireIs_Shopping2_1.jpg

2015_FireIs_Shopping_06.jpg

Beware trying anything on, though: Some of these places will really soak you.

2015_FireIs_Shopping2_2.jpg

Eventually I ran out of money and Angel ran out of patience, and we made it back to the house just in time for Neal to serve up some Fourth of July-themed cocktails.

2015_FireIs_drinks_14.jpg

2015_FireIs_drinks_05.jpg

2015_FireIs_drinks_02.jpg

2015_FireIs_drinks_22.jpg

2015_FireIs_drinks_21.jpg

2015_FireIs_drinks_08.jpg

2015_FireIs_drinks_06.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_drinks_20.jpg

Maddy got a snack, but it seemed that she would have preferred a cocktail, too.

2015_FireIs_drinks_09.jpg

2015_FireIs_drinks_13.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_drinks_12.jpg

2015_FireIs_drinks_11.jpg

Or at least a new iPhone.

2015_FireIs_drinks_17.jpg

On second thought . . . she'll take that cocktail after all.

2015_FireIs_drinks_16.jpg

2015_FireIs_drinks_15.jpg

A round of quick showers, and soon it was time for a sunset dinner at the Island Mermaid.

large_2015_FireIs_drinks_19.jpg

We skipped the stroller and loaded Maddy into the wagon, figuring that anyone who got too tipsy at dinner could ride back in it.

2015_FireIs_drinks_24.jpg

The Island Mermaid summed up the Fire Island dichotomy pretty well: It is welcoming, beachy, and one of the island's best spots to take in the sunset, but it also serves Rocket Fuels to anyone who can still prop themselves up and slur the words, "Rickets Full."

2015_FireIs_IsMer_13.jpg

2015_FireIs_IsMer_02.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_IsMer_03.jpg

2015_FireIs_IsMer2_1.jpg

2015_FireIs_IsMer_11.jpg

2015_FireIs_IsMer_07.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_IsMer_12.jpg

2015_FireIs_IsMer_06.jpg

We were joined by Neal and his buddy Pete, and during dinner I made the mistake of relating to them a story from Mika's last visit to the Hamptons. We'd been at a nice waterfront restaurant, and after a few rum punches, it was time to use the ladies room. Only, the person who used the stall before me had clearly had more than just a few, since they'd managed to break the toilet seat completely off, leaving it discarded on the floor next to the toilet. I couldn't stop laughing at the mental picture of someone being so ripped as to literally rip the thing clean off its hinges, and thus a new standard was born: Did you have fun, or did you have break-a-toilet-seat fun? The guys were clearly in a break-a-toilet-seat (and maybe even a rip-a-hand-dryer-off-the-wall) kind of mood, because I'm pretty sure our dinner consisted of fresh seafood, frosty Rocket Fuels, and hours of spirited debate about whether something was just regular fun, or break-a-toilet-seat fun.

2015_FireIs_IsMer_16.jpg

The next day was July 4, and the entire house (except for Pete, who was presumably still out destroying restrooms) awoke bright and early to make our preparations. Outfits were carefully chosen, as were coordinating headgear and eyewear. Out came the streamers, balloons, banners, bunting, glitter, and flags. Were we preparing for the RuPaul Drag Race? A Mariah Carey concert?

No. We were entering an 18-month-old in the Fourth of July Kids Parade.

And she could not have been less interested.

large_2015_FireIs_lineup_04.jpg

2015_FireIs_lineup_06.jpg

Mika and Cliff lined up at the parade's start . . .

2015_FireIs_lineup_11.jpg

2015_FireIs_lineup_07.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_lineup_09.jpg

. . . while Angel and I staked out our seats along the route.

2015_FireIs_lineup_01.jpg

2015_FireIs_lineup_12.jpg

2015_FireIs_lineup2_3.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_01.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_girlparade.jpg

Soon the parade was under way, kicked off by animated marching bands and antique fire trucks.

2015_FireIs_Parade_03.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_05.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_06.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_07.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_09.jpg

Next up, the wagon-floats, most of which stuck with the "Independence Day" theme . . .

2015_FireIs_Parade_13.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_21.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_41.jpg

While others went with "Star Wars" instead.

2015_FireIs_Parade_32.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_33.jpg

Naturally, there was an abundance of mermaids, both large and small.

2015_FireIs_Parade_42.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_36.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_23.jpg

And then there were the killer sharks . . .

2015_FireIs_Parade_43.jpg

And the deadly serious killer sharks. Complete with limping, bleeding "survivors."

2015_FireIs_Parade_37.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_38.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_39.jpg.

The kids generally fell into one of three camps. There were those who were happy to be there:

2015_FireIs_Parade_27.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_Parade_26.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_22.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_24.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_40.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_11.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_25.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_14.jpg

Those who were distracted by more pressing concerns:

2015_FireIs_Parade_35.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_28.jpg

And those who looked like they'd have preferred being attacked by one of the killer sharks to being in the parade.

large_2015_FireIs_Parade_15.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_18.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_Parade_19.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_20.jpg

large_2015_FireIs_Parade_17.jpg

2015_FireIs_Parade_16.jpg

Finally we spied Maddy's wagon and got ready to cheer her on. Unfortunately, however, if Maddy was uninterested in the parade before, by now she thought it was a real snooze-fest.

large_2015_FireIs_Parade_45.jpg

Of course, that just made her the sleeper hit of 2015.

2015_FireIs_Maddytroph_1.jpg

2015_FireIs_Maguire_6.jpg

After the parade we made a quick stop at Maguire's for a couple of drinks.

2015_FireIs_Maguire_1.jpg

2015_FireIs_AGsign_1.jpg

2015_FireIs_Maguire_3.jpg

2015_FireIs_departure_2.jpg

2015_FireIs_Maguire_5.jpg

Then, as if the parade hadn't been small-town-charming enough, we headed to the local ball field for lunch. That's where the entire island gathers every year for an old-fashioned Fourth of July cookout, complete with hamburgers, hot dogs, and watermelon, all for $1 each.

2015_FireIs_bbq_3.jpg

2015_FireIs_bbq_2.jpg

Back at the house, we lolled around for a bit, finally willing ourselves to check the ferry schedule and get ready to depart.

large_2015_FireIs_depart_3.jpg

We hopped the ferry back to the mainland, picked up our car, and headed to our cottage out east. Back amid the hustle and bustle of the Hamptons, that evening we got dressed up for dinner at one of the area's many chi-chi restaurants, where we enjoyed local duck pâté, coquilles St.-Jacques, and a good bottle of crisp Sancerre.

But only because they didn't have Rocket Fuels on the cocktail menu.
------------------------------
2015_FireIs_IsMerRF_1.jpg

Posted by TraceyG 15:02 Archived in USA Comments (7)

(Entries 1 - 15 of 57) Page [1] 2 3 4 » Next