Tag Archives: grouper

Day 3 in Key West

Another day in Paradise. Up at leisure and off to breakfast. Rob has chosen Blue Heaven from a number of top recommendations. Breakfast joints in the Key seem to serve up the classics with each place adding its own quirky touch.

IMG_3413 (3 of 4)Blue Heaven combines funk and kitsch to the max. Almost to the point of a red flag.  Rooster, cat and every piece of crap in between graces the property. Our wait is to be 30 minutes at 10 am. I walk around the large outdoor patio area and grow alarmed by the fountains, and cutesy signage and rusted out antiques. And then the second red flag: gift shop. Does not bode well for the food.

I return to a group of mismatched veranda chairs where Rob waits and a kitty snoozes on a pile of newspapers. We are called shortly (total wait 15 minutes) to an indoor table. The restaurant proper is less adorned than the patio and features barn wood walls, cement floors and painted post and beam construction. Cheery with friendly staff.

I order shrimp and grits… ’cause we in the South and ’cause they are tasty gulf shrimp. The dish comes with several plump shrimp in a white wine sauce over nicely seasoned, buttery grits and some fresh green onion for a little bite.  My plate was accented with fruit which I normally despise for it’s unripeness but at Blue Heaven it was nicely ripe and appreciated. Breakfast with the roosters at Blue Heaven comes with a choice of excellent warm, homemade banana bread or toast. What kind of choice is that? Who chooses toast? I wanna know!

IMG_3412 (2 of 4)Rob’s Rooster Special  featured excellent potatoes, a homemade sausage patty that had a surprising zing to it and egg scramble.

IMG_3411 (1 of 4)Back out into the tropical sunshine for a stroll and then back to the pool to chill with a cocktail. Life is good.

Hot and humid weather sees us sitting around the pool with Shocktops and cocktails. Another day chilling in paradise. I feel like a steak and seafood place for dinner and a little research brings us to a place around the corner from our inn, on Duval, The Blackfin. Reviews and the menu look promising.

We walk over for an early res. The Blackfin is small and neat and has a patio courtyard where we elect to be seated. Our waiter, originally from the Champagne region in France is charming. Decent baguette and butter arrives as our bottle of delicious, crisp Tavel rose is poured. Apps are ordered.

IMG_3046 (1 of 7)My app of sautéed calamari, was chosen for its garlic, parsley sauce and walnuts. My curiosity was piqued by the nuts. Unusual. Rob chose the conch cakes.

The calamari was …well boring. The walnuts which are an unusual twist added nothing to the mix. This dish would be better served if the calamari was grilled. A little char would have made the difference.

IMG_3257 (3 of 7)Rob’s conch cakes with remouladè  were well fried, not greasy and full of conch. Excellent. Both apps were too large however and would have been best shared.

IMG_3047 (2 of 7)We both ordered fish for mains. Rob had sautèed grouper with lime avocado tartar sauce accompanied by  island couscous. The couscous was a revelation. Bright and lightly sweet. His fish was expertly fried.

IMG_3049 (6 of 7)My snapper was perfectly pan fried and luscious with a coconut rum sauce accompanied by light, fluffy rice.

IMG_3258 (5 of 7)We shared a delicious piece of carrot cake drizzled with caramel with well made cappuccinos. A pretty spectacular meal all in all.

IMG_3262 (7 of 7)The night is young and we decide to head across the street to Martin’s to see if we can get a real daiquiri. You would think in the land of Hemingway this would not be hard, but we are on Duval street where cocktail culture has not yet arrived and getting as drunk as you can for as cheap as you can is the mission of the masses. We sit at the bar and Rob schools the bartender on a real daiquiri. He makes us a pretty decent one. We settle in for the evening here and meet some fun Americans…two republican ladies with whom we have some interesting political conversation and a guy from Chicago who wants to talk hockey and I eagerly oblige. A great Hawks fan who convinces me to cheer for the Cubs if I’m looking for a baseball team to cheer for.

Back to the inn after a great night of seafood and interesting conversion. And a newly minted Cubs fan is born.

Road to Savannah

We wake to another fine, sunny Georgia day ready to hit the road for Savannah. Breakfast will be at the Flying Biscuit in Midtown. The front door of The Biscuit displays a rainbow flag. I have come to see that the pride flag on an establishment represents a friendly, inclusive place. It reminds me of the time when a traveler marked a cat on a nearby fence post to indicate that the home beyond was hospitable.

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And so it is. The hostess greets us like we are already friends, worried about where we parked. She does not want us to get “booted”. We settle into a cheery four top and order coffee and fresh squeezed OJ, and two orders of their Southern Biscuit Benedict.

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The Benny comes out quickly. A very well made biscuit topped with two poached eggs, pimiento cheese sauce, fresh basil, two slices of turkey bacon and a side of grits.

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This is a creative, tasty meal, with one notable exception. Turkey bacon is just wrong. It tastes of fake, chemical smoke. Why use turkey bacon? Most people choose it as a healthy option, but with a biscuit, pimiento cheese, two eggs and grits, yer all in anyways so give me real bacon…or at least the option.

That said, this Benny is very good. The biscuit base is perfect. The eggs are nicely poached so that when you break into that runny yolk it soaks into that delicious biscuit. Pimiento cheese? It’s a Southern thing. Cheddar cheese shreds are mixed with mayo, pimiento and hot sauce. Makes a great dip for crackers or spread it on toasted Wonder bread, slap some iceberg lettuce on it and you have a seriously awesome trailer park sammy. The Flying Biscuit’s pimento cheese has a nice little heat. Altogether it creates a good marriage of flavours. Talking Heads and The Romantics on the soundtrack made this a great breakfast stop.

We climb back into Moby and fire up the tech, Stella and our rootsie Americana soundtrack. We are breaking one of our rules today. We are headed to Savannah via the interstate for several reasons. The other route does not take us through Macon and try as we might, nobody on any forum could tell us of any places of interest to visit off of the interstate and basically it would add an hour to the trip with no benefit. So we decide to just get on into Savannah and start soaking it in. Some rules are meant for breaking. I am however imagining Sherman’s troops making this journey on foot and horseback sans interstate.

As we wend our way towards Savannah, we can’t help but notice how trash-free Georgia freeways are, except for the countless tire treads discarded like so many toe nail clippings. Aside from that fact, the drive is much like the 401 without the magnificent rock faces. We have been warned by previous travelers to watch for speed traps. We are using cruise control but note that the speed limits fluctuate between 55, 65 and 70 miles per hour with little notice. That’s how they get ya. Shortly we enter the dusty, grimy outskirts of Macon an hour into the drive and it’s really just a pit stop for us. We had intended to visit the Allman Brothers museum but it is closed Mondays, and most days.

As we continue on, we pass town after town beckoning to us with  golden arches and Waffle House in block letters stretched to the heavens. I can’t pass a Waffle House without giggling and thinking of Jeff Garlin and Garlin’s infectious giggle. (Not PC).

A lot of the highway we are traveling is being repaired. The surface is concrete. Looks like a lot more work than blacktop. Workers are out there in the hot sun leveling each stretch of about 15 feet by hand. Soon we are nearing Savannah and the scenery changes to more farmland, cotton and a dried corn crop. Hand made signs and towering billboards announcing fresh peaches, peach jam, peach salsa and peach bread call you off the highway. Mmmm…a sun ripened still warm Georgia peach. Yes we will.

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We stopped at a little road side kiosk manned by a teenage boy. He directed us to the peaches that in his opinion were the best. We selected two golden, lightly fuzzy, sweet, juicy, fruits that yielded to the bite without being mushy. Pure sunshine. Messy and perfect.

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We are all checked into The Bohemian in Savannah, rested up and thinking about dinner. Lady and Sons, Paula Deen’s resto is just a short walk up the street. We decide to check it out, ’cause the lady CAN cook y’all. Lady and Sons is in a quaint antique brick building, with a retail store attached to flog her wares.

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This resto in no way resembles the place she opened as a young widow. Now an enterprise, run like an army unit and three stories high, it has an elevator and staff communicating on walkie talkies. I hate it instantly.

The first thing we walk by on the way to the second checkpoint is a small buffet. I am buffet phobic. Just on a germ front alone. I have a full on hate for this place now. We check in with the second station and then head into Paula World to shop while we wait for our table.

We are called about 15 minutes later (on time for our 7 pm res) and seated on the first floor. Apparently my silent prayers not to get on the elevator with the party of 14 were heard. Our waiter brings huge glasses of ice water and lemon. Much appreciated. You sure work up a thirst in the south. I order a peach julep and Rob chooses a hefweizen. While we wait, the bread course comes. A hoe cake, much like a corn pancake, and an angel biscuit with cheese. Angel biscuits are made with yeast instead of soda. It was light, flaky and delicious. I am starting to warm up to the place a bit. No, wait! My cocktail arrives and it is horrible. Bitter. Very bad choice.

Apps are ordered. Paula’s famous pepper shrimp and fried green tomatoes. I am determined to hate this place but…these are both really excellent. The tomatoes are well fried, not greasy. They have a nice spot of pepper jelly on top and are served with diced pickled onion. Really nice.

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The pepper shrimp are swimming in a light sauce with a bit of butter and a ton of lemon and some pepper. Garlic butter toasts are served on the side. This app was surprisingly simple but well prepared and very good.

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Mains arrive next. We both chose the grouper fillet with BBQ peach sauce. A good piece of fish finished with a lightly sweet sauce  that does not overpower the mild fish. The grouper comes with a salad of asparagus and fresh corn, and creamy, cheesy deep fried, light as air, well seasoned grit cakes.

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This is probably blasphemy but we did not even look at the dessert menu. Sorry Paula. I’m sure it was quite excellent as was most of the food we sampled. Time to head into a lovely Savannah sunset and prepare for tomorrow. Think we will do a hop on hop off tour and then head to Tybee Island for some crab.