Left Ottawa before sun up. -18 in mid-March. Brutal. Said goodbye to some very suspicious furbabies and we are off for a nice sunny respite after a whirlwind week of buying a house, selling a house and all that entails. Clear skies mean flights are on time. Too on time. We get into Charlotte, NC a half hour early, adding to our long layover, but not enough time though to find decent grub. We choose the airport burger joint from a myriad of bad fast food options figuring it is our best bet. Not so it turns out. Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar uses salt like it is a cure for cancer and anything else that might ail you. I don’t like to drink too many fluids before getting on an aircraft as to avoid needing to squeeze into the closet sized restroom but a Bad Daddy’s meal necessitated a giant sized Diet Coke. My tongue is still burning and probably swollen from the salt.
Arrived in Key West on schedule. 26 degrees, humid, sunny. Love. Key West airport being the perfect airport, has no jet ways. You disembark and enter The Conch Rebublic Terminal. Fancy shmancy word for room. No visible security, a small luggage carrousel to the right and left of the door, First Call Bar serving up frosty cocktails while you wait, with car rental steps away. We had our car keys before our luggage, ten minutes.
We are staying at the Orchid Key Inn on Duval. This may turn out to be a mistake as we didn’t factor in American March Break, but being a tad pricey it seems to have scared the young’uns away leaving the pool to old farts like us. So far so good. The Inn, quaint in a mid 20th century way, has all suites on ground level clustered around a courtyard pool. The layout and vibe remind me very much of the San Jose in Austin, Texas. Rooms are elegantly appointed and have everything the road techie needs. The Orchid Key bar, pool side, mixes up it’s own specialty cocktails and we think we will start there after a long day getting here. Gin and Juice to start off our vaycay! It’s the Inn’s signature cocktail — Cucumber-infused Hendrick’s gin, fresh grapefruit juice and cucumber slices.
After cocktails we head out to snap some pics and wander Duval street in search of grub. Roosters crow at us and local colour pops. Tourists and students tour the street and shops. We spy DJ’s Clam Shack, recently featured on Food Network’s “triple D”. An early dinner allows us to get street side seating where we can nosh and people watch.
Orders come up fast. Icy cold Landsharks to start followed by a very excellent and classic New England, over-stuffed lobster roll — sweet meat, lightly dressed in a perfect toasty, buttery roll.
Next up, little neck clams in garlic and jalapeno broth with garlic toasts, — sweet, garlicky clams with a nice background heat coming off the peppers.
And finally an order of very tasty, perfectly fried conch fritters, sweet, doughy, loaded with conch and served with a mild sweet mustard sauce. The fritters came with well-made but superfluous shoestring fries.
Back to the Inn for an early night. This day began at 4:30 am.