Category Archives: Florida

When in Miami!

An invaluable list from my stepdaughter Emma, who recently visited Miami, will come in handy during our visit next March!
Miami Restaurants

LITTLE HAVANA:
Versailles, Cuban Diner
Famous place

Islas Canaraias

Palacio de los Jugos delicious juices!!
Fruit Stand, coffee shop, and Pork

Vicki Bakery
Cuban Pasteries

El Mago de las Frigas
Cuban Burger place that Obama went to

El Pub
Old Man, cuban memorabilia on the walls

La Camarenera we loved this place
Fried lobster or shrimp

Try Mamey Milkshakes, Papaya Milkshakes, Chicharritas de Plantanos

SOUTH BEACH:
Tap tap room: Haitian food. The atmosphere is wild and the food is amazing. I had this stew with okra and cornmeal. We also had the conch fritters. Highly recommend!
Pizza Rustica

La Sandwicherie good quick place for lunch, right off beach

Try the Saucisson Sec or the Seafood Sandwich

Peurto Sugua- we went here twice. Best Cuban sandwich I’ve ever had.
Best Cuban Sandwich

11th Street Diner- meh, not that good.
24 Hours

DESIGN DISTRICT:
Sugar Raw Bar Grill
Happy Hour (Drinks are $7) and Tapas
DOWNTOWN:
Il Gambiano

Prime 112 (steak)
Prime Italian

OTHER STUFF:

Michael’s Genuine

Sazon Cuban

Yardbird
Southern Food, Fried Chicken.

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Rainbow Springs, “The Yearling” author’s cracker house, Blue Highway, Micanopy – “old Florida”

At Marjorie's place

At Marjorie’s place

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Cocoa Beach, New Smyrna Beach, JB’s Fish Camp and graffiti Junktion/Orlando

View from JB's FIsh C amp

View from JB’s FIsh C amp

I had to return unexpectedly to the restaurant I ate at yesterday in Titusville (to pick up the credit card I left there) so decided to see a little more of what I believe is called the cape Canaveral Coast. First stop cocoa beach which has a rickety old ticky tacky pier and several surfers were out on a suddenly cold (50s) but suddenly clear and sunny morning. Fun Fact: I dream of Jeanne (the 1970s tv show) was set in cocoa beach (according to some history I read in a display on the pier). I also saw some enormous cruise ships, which I gather set sail (so to speak) from the area. My favorite high school name in the area was Astronaut High.

JB's fish camp

JB’s fish camp

After Titusville (with credit card now back in my wallet) I drove along Highway 1, mostly lined by green vegetation and surprisingly free of much development. This the Indian River area of citrus fame so I stopped for some OJ and bought a honey tangelo (a tangerine/grapefruit mix).

In New Smyrna Beach, I drove miles and miles on a narrow stretch of land bordered by apartment building and then beachfront homes (completely obscuring the view) to a cool place called JB’s Fish Camp, that looked like a cross between a fishing cabin and a tiki bar. On the edge of an marshy inlet/river, it has an old deck where I persisted (despite the cool temps)in eating at a picnic table (fortunately The sun was intense). I had a crabcake (a specialty of JB’s) that was memorably excellent and a piece of key lime pie (after confirming that it was white, not green…something my mother taught me as a kid when we’d search for the best key lime pie during trips to Florida). This was almost an ice cream consistency– frozen and cold and fantastic.

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Thornton Park Farmers Market, Benjamin French Bakery, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Dixie crossing — near Orlando

imageWho says you have to go to theme parks in Orlando? Certainly not when there is an amazing place like Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, about an hour east on the coast. My sister in law Denise and I drove there, binoculars at the ready, and saw dozens of spectacular birds flying low across the marshes and pools– my favorite is the startlingly pink Roseate Spoonbill, which we saw many of, plus a reddish egret (which has a dusty grey-blue body and a multicolored bill of pink, purple and black). As we drove along the narrow dirt road that winds 7 miles through marshland, we saw egrets of all colors, herons, pelicans and that’s just the ones I recognized.image

Afterwards we had excellent broiled rock shrimp, a local product, in the gloriously kitsch decor of Dixie Crossroads  in the worn town to Titusville.

In Thornton Park

In Thornton Park

We began the day at the farmers market in Thornton Park, where I had some prerequisite fresh squeezed orange Juice and bought some very good locally made plaintain chips. It turned out to be good luck that this was the rare market without some breakfast pastries because we found the fabulous Benjamin French Bakery and Cafe in the shabby chic neighborhood where we had the best chocolate twist pastries and met an 11 month old Bernese puppy!image

The neighborhood has lots of charming old bungalows and plantain style homes and cottages shaded by live oaks and bourganvia.image

 

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Puerto Rican food (twice), lakeshore stroll, celebration, winter park, Kissimmee — Orlando

Mofongo

Mofongo

We started our first day in the Orlando area walking my sister in-law Denise’s Boston terrier Violet along lakeshore drive in Kissimmee, along a little inlet bordering a lake that we couldn’t see because it was so foggy. We did see lot/s of egrets, blue herons and strange ducks with black bodies and red faces, a very brown and big rabbit, lots,of ornate spiderwebs, and my favorite, trees dripping with Spanish moss!

imageFor lunch, we went to the popular tropica mofongo for my first Puerto Rican meal ever. Mofongo is mashed plantains (akin to mashed potatoes) which I had with pork cracklings mixed into the enormous mound and delicious chunks of fried pork with a special orange-colored sauce that even our waitress did not know the recipe for (top secret, she says.) Needless to say, we didn’t finish our meals. Denise’s three meat sandwich (akin to a Cuban sandwich) was freakishly large too.

imageWe drove on a strip lined with ammo shops, buildings shaped like giant swirls of soft serve ice cream cones and hideous theme park-themed emporiums to the Disney planned community of Celebration. Sort of surreal. Very clean and pleasant and bland. Then onto the city of winter park which was packed with strolling people on the main shopping drag. The Tiffany glass museum may be worth a return visit and there was cool sculpture in the downtown park. Rollins college also looked Spanish-lovely. My favorite scene was hari Krishnas dancing and chanting in the park as a red Ferrari parked in front of them.
Tonight we had more Puerto Rican food (roast chicken and rice and beans for a very reasonable $4.99 a plate) at Maleo Bakery, which I had read about and just happened to be not far from the Hilton Orlando where we are staying with conventioneering farmers tonight.

 

In winter park

In winter park

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