Key West 2013 Part I

Key West 2013 Part I


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By Skip Mays

Welcome from the Conch Republic. Today is Monday and it’s been in the mid to high 80’s for

the past couple of days and we have covered an amazing amount of “ground” in our

wanderings.  We capped things off last night with Sarabeth’s “World Famous Southern Fried

Chicken”. I’m not so sure about the “World Famous” part, but it was yummy.  Sarabeth’s has

been a fave of ours for years and has been a “must stop” for one or more meals. It’s at the

corner of Southard and Simonton in an old synagogue that owner David Case refurbed when he

moved to Key West roughly a decade ago after managing  Sarabeth’s in NY.  It is his personal,

hands-on style that have made this place so wonderful. His staff have all been hand-trained in

extraordinary levels of customer service and hospitality and boy, does it show. Sarabeth’s

Lamb & Potato “Calzones” & Kebob combo Photo: Skip Mays

Lamb & Potato “Calzones” & Kebob combo Photo: Skip Mays

 

dinner service was scheduled to open at 6pm and at 5:30 there were already forty-plus folks in

line on Simonton Street. During the interim, David, the owner, worked the crowd like an old

pro.   The fried chicken was OK, but the ambiance and service were over the top.

.

Dinner was preceded by a classical music concert at St. Paul’s Church (a cultural centerpiece in

Key West that sponsors free daily piano or other musical recitals during the noon hour for

anyone who happens to have an interest). The Sunday concert was by up-and coming cellist

Jonah Kim, a 22 year old extraordinary Korean musician who is reputed to be the next Yo Yo

Ma. He was accompanied by a young Chinese pianist Toa Lin and the two provided well over

and hour of marvelous classical entertainment.  Ah, such cultcha.

Tiramisu Photo: Skip Mays

Tiramisu Photo: Skip Mays

.

Our arrival on Friday went without a hitch. Southwest has just launched service to Key West

with one stop in Tampa and at 10:45am we were headed out the door at the airport ready to

tackle the fun and sun.  The first thing we discovered is that Obamamoney had flowed into a

total rework of Roosevelt Boulevard,  Route #1 from the northend of the island to almost

downtown (Old Town) (3 miles?). Previously a fourlane highway, it’s now down to two lanes

flowing southbound only. Oh my, what a cluster %$#&. And it’s supposed to be that was for the

next two years.  Fortunately Fran and I know most of the side streets and that has minimized

the stress factor on getting places. The tourist traffic is another matter and it’s one big snarl.

Because our arrival was well before check-in at the Navy Lodge, we decided to head north on

Route #1 to Geiger Key to the Geiger Key Fish Camp where we have enjoyed many a delightful

meal.  It’s a quasi redneck joint, right on a little inlet where barbeque, grilled fish and beer are

the staples…along with country and western music. It’s clean as a whistle and meals are served

on picnic tables under a thatched roof, right on the waterway where the pelicans and seagulls

vie for passing fish.  It’s right under the immediate arrival and departure flight path for the Boca

Chica Naval Air Station and a low pass by a supersonic Navy jet is not unusual and keeps you on

your toes. It’s like total immersion in Top Gun.  Fran and I both ordered hogfish sandwiches:

mine was blackened while Fran’s was grilled. (No jet fuel needed) Delish!   It settled us in for

the Island Time transition and we headed back towards Key West.  We checked in and decided

our zero dark thirty wakeup call (3am) required a nap.

.

Dinner was at another old fave, the Kennedy Café, an unassuming “joint” in a nearby stripmall

just outside the Navy base.  We had discovered this place several years ago and have enjoyed

scores of outstanding meals as their guests.  “Joint” is not the right word to describe this place,

but it “fits”.  It’s run by a family of Uzbekis who offer an amazing range of international meals

(with an emphasis on Middle Eastern delights)).  The bulk of their business is takeout pizza but

the locals have discovered the rest of their menu is also appealing. I think the only meals we

have not had are from their “Italian” specialties.  Friday night’s repast consisted of three mixed

lamb and potato “calzones” (my term for a smooshed mixture rolled in a pastry wrap) and a

kebob combo made up of charcoal grilled chicken, lamb and ground beef meatballs on multiple

skewers and served on  bed of rice mixed with carrots, scallions and garlic.

 

Our waitress was Latvian and she recommended a Russian beer (“Balkin”?) that worked

perfectly with the meal. Dessert was a huge slab of Tiramisu that we split.

 

Drinks, dinner and a doggie bag for less than $45.00. In Key West, that’s tough to beat.  Not

fancy, but worth every dime.  We went back for breakfast Sunday morning and I enjoyed a

Cuban ham and egg sandwich while Fran dined on scrambled eggs and grits (from the

“American” menu.)

.

Sunday afternoon included a visit to the annual arts and craft’s fair that resembles a miniature

Wickford Art festival. Neat stuff and wonderful ideas.

.

Lunch today was at Blue Heaven where you fight with the local chickens for your meal. It’s

another old standby like  Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville where we ate Friday night. In addition to

my usual Cheeseburger in Paradise, we enjoyed a yummy starter of a crab and shrimp dip with

fresh garlic bread.  I could have stopped right there. Mmmmmm.

.

Mac & Cheese & Shrimp Photo: Skip Mays

Mac & Cheese & Shrimp Photo: Skip Mays

Fran  enjoyed a Mac and Cheese and shrimp dish that was also yummy.

As in years past, a mandatory stop at Besame Mucho was on tap while we waited for our table

at Blue Heaven. It is a French-styled, decorator’s dream, so they have a nice chair on the porch

for non decorators like me who just enjoy people (and cat) watching on Petronia Street. A full

shopping bag will somehow find its way back to RI.

And the best part is that we have another week to go.

Part II Next.

Thanks Skip for contributing. ~MDH

 

 

 

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