Category Archives: Florida

Seafood “Shacks” Serving 5-Star Eats

Newport, Rhode Island

Some notable highlights for good Rhody food include a hidden delight, Belle’s Cafe, at the Newport Shipyard with really good lobster rolls and an interesting setting featuring many of the yachts and sailboats in the area. Relax and enjoy all the activity around you.

Flo’s Clam Shack (in Middletown), is a local favorite for fresh fried clams and fried everything else! Best fried clams I’ve ever had.  Bring your appetite.

Bodega Bay, Northern California

The Russian River flows into the Pacific on the Sonoma Coast and much of the coast is part of the Sonoma Coast State Beach.  Highway 101 runs along this dramatic, protected area.  We drove the stretch between Bodega Bay and Jenner. It was uncrowded and seemed so remote, with wild, uncorrupted beauty.  There was no cell service.

All this scenery and wine tasting made us hungry and we headed back towards Bodega Bay (where Alfred Hitchcock filmed The Birds) and the Spud Point Crab Company.  You don’t come here for a luxury setting, comfortable chairs (picnic tables outside), bathrooms (across the street at the marina), or heat (it was cold and windy); what you will get is terrific crab, shrimp and clam chowder.  They have won awards for the best clam chowder on the Pacific coast and I can taste why, it was wonderful. Service was fast and friendly and we were soon on our way to San Francisco.

Key Largo, Florida

Alabama Jacks has the best conch fritters ever. We can’t even remember how long we’ve been coming to this great South Florida spot – at least 25 years, and it is always consistently fun. First, let me say, the food is great. The Conch Fritters are incredible, actually one large mound, not wimpy, little bite-size croquettes like most places. Other favs include the smoked fish pieces, fish spread, and peel & eat shrimp.
The setting? Well, it’s special too: all the way down deserted-looking Card Sound Road, right where Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties meet, on a permanently anchored barge, with a water view on the Gulf side.

It’s casual, very casual; a weekend-bikers destination that attracts boaters who dock, as well as a mix of locals, tourists, kids, Coast Guardsmen, red hat ladies, and every type of person you can imagine. From tattoos and designer shorts to sunburns and square-dancing costumes, nothing is out of place. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons they play host to a country music band, and patrons will be even more entertained by the friendly local clogging crowd.

Alabama Jacks is the way Florida used to be and has a vibe far too few get to experience these days. So, when you’re in Miami/South Beach for a visit, keep driving south and see what Florida is really about.

Pensacola, Florida

Pensacola is pleasant, walkable and friendly. We were visiting on a Monday and the historic tours weren’t operating, but on the plus side, Monday is 25 cent oyster night at Atlas Oyster House. So, that’s $3 for a dozen terrific, plump Louisiana Gulf oysters! I think we ate about three dozen.

 

6 Fabulous Meals Worth the Extra Effort

The best meals are not always the fanciest, most expensive, famous, or easy to access. We always make the effort to find out the local specialties and tap into local sources for getting to the right place.  Join me as I recall a few of my favs:

Geneva, Switzerland

Breaking from our usual frenetic pace we enjoyed Geneva as the locals do.  Under the tutelage of our good friends, Geneva residents Eva and Bob, we are seeing some sites, relaxing, chatting, and enjoying views of the tranquil lake. A highlight for us was visiting the nearby country village of Hermance and enjoying some of the fabulous local perch prepared the typical Swiss way (with a butter sauce), at La Croix Federale.  No trip to this part of the world would be complete without sampling this delicious local fish. Good company, blue skies, perfect temperature, the harmony of the migrating songbirds, and cold white wine combined to create a day of really special memories.

Rhode Island

My husband and I love oysters and make it a point of trying them wherever we travel. I don’t know how it took us so long to experience these delicious bi-valves in a state we both love.  The Narragansett Indians inhabited this area and called it Matunuck meaning “lookout”.  Maybe the name reflected a need for security, or maybe it was the view. But the real stars here are the oysters.

University of Rhode Island aquaculture grad Perry Raso farms the delicacies close by on Potter Pond. His pond-to-plate concept at Matunuck Oyster Bar is a winner and his restaurant is on our must-visit list whenever we are in Rhode Island. Three varieties: Matunuck, Rocky Road, and Wild Goose.  So sweet and tender. Rocky Roads are our favs.  Go Rhody  Read the rest of this entry

Blast to the Past – & Future

 

Next time you plan to visit Disney World – throw in some extra time for a visit to the Kennedy Space Center.  Your kids will thank you and you will enjoy this slice of significant American history.  Everyone will be fascinated by learning what is next in space exploration.

Read the rest of this entry

Miami like the locals

There’s more to Miami than South Beach. The Brickell area downtown makes for a great date night.  

Check out Brickell City Center: https://www.brickellcitycentre.com/

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Putting the pieces together: a Spanish Monastery for Miami


Time magazine called it “the world’s biggest jigsaw puzzle.” A cloister and refectory built almost 1000 years ago as part of a monastery in Sacramenia, Spain was salvaged from a Brooklyn warehouse and the estate of William Randolph Hearst – and reconstructed in Miami. There were 35,000 pieces in 11,000 wooden crates, mixed-up and misnumbered.

In 1925, Hearst purchased the former Cloisters of St. Bernard de Clairvaux with the intention of using it to surround his pool at his California San Simeon estate. Completed in 1141, it was occupied by Cistercian monks for almost 700 years.  Hearst’s plan was derailed by an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease in Spain, causing concern by U.S. officials who quarantined the shipment, burning the hay protecting the carefully numbered and packed stones.  Workers must not have been too concerned with any sort of system as they repacked the massive shipment. Read the rest of this entry

Miami-area Heritage Parks

You may never have heard of Heritage Parks, but just like brick and mortar buildings, they play an important part in a community’s history. To find out about the seven stunning Heritage Parks in Miami-Dade County, check out my article in Preservation Today, the magazine of Dade Heritage Trust:

Preservation Today Magazine. 2018.Heritage Parks

If you want to know more about the area’s history (and I hope you will) visit the Trust’s website and sign-up for some of their excellent programs. www.DadeHeritageTrust.org

Pictured: Homestead Bayfront Park

Hunting for History

Hunters in front of the Wat Buddharangsi Buddhist Temple.

 

 

It’s crazy, informative, quirky, and fun, all rolled into one hectic experience.

I look forward every year to The Villagers’ Historic Hunt.

For more than 30 years The Villagers have held their Historic Hunt in various parts of Miami-Dade County.  This year, they sent hunters to the far-south Redland area.  For those who haven’t explored this part of greater Miami – it’s known for agriculture. The long straight roads are lined with farms and nurseries, many with exotic tropical plants. Here and there are wonderful berry farms and amazing fruit markets. Stopping for a strawberry shake is always at the top of our to-do list when we are anywhere nearby.

Counting the squares at the Redland Farm Life School Building. Do the ones over the side features count?

But the Hunt didn’t allow any time for malingering – we had just two hours to find 10 sites and answer the clues.  Historical gems were still to be found where you would least expect them. We visited the 100+ year-old Redland Farm Life School, Art Deco-inspired Seminole Theater (The Villagers donated funds to restore the iconic marque), and the pink St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church with its gigantic black church bell sitting like a sentry on its front porch.

My favorite find was the Lilly Lawrence Bow Library, now the Homestead Redevelopment Center. To get to this limestone rock building, we drove through the entrance of Pioneer Village – a charming residential area of Homestead I didn’t know existed.

Most hunters were captivated by the beautiful Buddhist Temple (there really was a sign on one of the buildings that proclaimed “Welcome to Buddha Land”).  The sprawling campus certainly has an important place in our modern-day history.

We finished in third place, but having so much fun with friends, sharing new experiences, and learning fascinating historical facts, we all felt like winners.

Bell at St Paul Missionary Baptist Church.

Foodie or Art Fan? Either Way a Winner.

 

 

What could be a better combination than food, art, and a beautiful sunny day?

We ventured on a Miami Culinary Tour of Wynwood and played tourist with a mostly local group of new friends. Wynwood is a rapidly transitioning area of central Miami that is home to the now-famous Wynwood Walls, galleries and amazing restaurants. During this walking tour, our exceptional guide Mirka did a great job of keeping the group together while explaining the story behind the iconic art and artists as well as details about the food we tasted.  It was a foodie dream. Read the rest of this entry

Magical Days & Nights at Universal Studios

I love all things magical, AND I love to read.  My fascination for the wonderfully magical all started when I was introduced to Mary Poppins books around age nine.  Then I came to know the wise magic of Merlin through stories about King Arthur’s Court.  A few decades later, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books have brought the wonder of magic to a new generation of readers.  And, yes, I read all the books.

As a lark, to take a break from reality, my husband recently took me to Universal Studios in Orlando to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Universal cleverly spread the fun between two theme parks, necessitating the purchase of a two-park pass.  Unless you are a glutton for punishment, be sure to splurge on the Express pass so you can cut about 2/3 off the wait time to get on the rides. Read the rest of this entry

Miami’s Oldest Companies Tell it Like it Was

The Dade Heritage Trust, located in the 1905 original office of Dr. James Jackson, Miami’s first physician.   https://dadeheritagetrust.org/

If you are a history buff, a business expert, or maybe a little of both, you might enjoy reading my latest articles, written for the Dade Heritage Trust’s bi-annual magazine, Preservation Today. Find out what some of Miami’s oldest businesses have to say about their secret of survival.

How to Succeed in Business.Preservation Today.Spring-Summer 2017