Bloody Mary Breakdown!    Leave a comment

I have been remiss! I promised a Bloody Mary review, but haven’t delivered!

The first Bloody Mary I experienced  (discounting the airplane ones!) was at the Barcardi Mojito Bar at the Miami airport. 

It was good, but not remarkable. I am sure their mojito would have been better! 😉 It is securely at the bottom of the list. I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again, but it was just “fine”.

One step up (but honestly not by much) is the Blue Heaven Bloody Goose. 

It arrived in a nice glass, but I was disappointed. I recall a Bloody Mary with much more zip than the one I received. It really wasn’t any better than the airport one, but I bumped up its rank for atmosphere. Lack of a straw made it very difficult to drink. 

The hard part is winnowing down the final two. Two Friends was a dream the first time I has one there, but not as exciting the second. It did receive props for its garnish. The pickled asparagus were a delicious surprise! 

Despite the fact that the Two Friends Bloody was voted the Best Bloody in Key West 2016, I have to give the Best Bloody  prize to Bagatelle! 

Nothing fancy, this was a delicious Bloody Mary. The right blend of flavors and heat. I think the concoction on the rim made the drink! 

Next time I hit Key West I will assuredly stop at Bagatelle for this beverage! 

Advertisements

Posted November 19, 2017 by cubechick in Key West and Bahamas

Tagged with , ,

Phenomenal Food Day in Key West   Leave a comment

A seriously great food day!  It began at Bagatelle. Thank goodness we were running a little late this morning…we arrived a couple of minutes before 9 and they were just opening. We continued to take advantage of the ridiculously awesome weather and dined outside. 

I think this place beats Blue Heaven. DH had the “superb” huevos rancheros (his words) and I the southern benedict. Perfectly cooked mojo pork atop grilled corn bread adorned with perfectly poached eggs drizzled with Cajun spiced Hollandaise. Every bite was perfection!

Oh. The Bloody Mary wasn’t brimming with fancy garnish or served in a fancy glass, but it had a spicy rim and great flavor. It may beat Two Friends. I have to think about it!

After breakfast, we went all in on tourist-mode and visited the Hemingway Museum for the first time. We may have lucked out, but our tour guide, Chris, was passionate and delivered Hemingway’s history in a clear, enthusiastic and unapologetic manner. Hemingway  was deeply flawed and deeply talented. As much as I enjoyed the history and tour, I may have enjoyed viewing and petting some of the 54 cats, many of whom are polydactal and descents of the original Snowball, more. 😊

Making our way to lunch, we paused at the free concert on Duval that was part of the Parrothead celebration. Not many people were there, but it was early. 

Lunch was at Garbo’s Grill. It was the first time we’d been there since they had moved to Grunts and expanded from the original food truck to the airstream. 

I had to have the Korean BBQ beef tacos as usual. They are the best tacos I have ever had! The beef is so flavorful and melts in your mouth. It is the one place I always tell people they must go to when visiting Key West!

Back at Pier House, we toyed with packing and pouted a bit that we were leaving the next day. 😢 Finally, we did snap out of it and head to the Conch Farm and that final batch of Royal Red shrimp. Why had we not discovered these beauties sooner? 

A pound of stone crab at the Pier House would round out the day of fine dining. Yum!

3rd Great Day in KW!   Leave a comment

Didn’t feel like walking this morning, so we splurged on the $6 cab ride to Blue Heaven. For the 1st time ever there was no wait for breakfast!  Had to order the BLT Benny and a Bloody Goose. Have to say 2 Friends is winning the Bloody Mary Contest so far! The Goose was good, but not great.

We walked back to the Pier House (didn’t seem as far walking back as it did driving there!). Sat on the beach for a bit and vegged. Most of the sea grapes along the wall were swept out by Irma, but they are busy replanting. It is very heartening to see the new leaves on all of the plants that survived. Nature rebounds! 

Somehow we had missed Santiago’s Bodega on previous trips, and it was time to rectify that mistake! We hopped on the free shuttle provided by the Pier House. Technically it only makes two stops; La Concha and the Southernmost Buoy, but the driver kindly dropped us on Petronia. We walked past a very busy Blue Macaw with it’s popular Bloody Mary bar:

Santiago’s is slammin’ at night and reservations are required. However it’s quiet in the afternoon, so lunch it would be. DH and I love tapas places and this is probably the best one we have ever been to. Everything was simply excellent and bursting with flavor. The sangria was phenomenal; light, refreshing and brimming with fresh fruit:

We ordered 4 plates total from the Key West pinks special (yum!) to the portobello stuffed puff pastry, the filet mignon and croquettes stuffed with potato. Every bite was a delight. We will definitely be back!

We caught the shuttle back to the hotel  (go to Duval and wave your blue wrist band when you see the bright blue shuttle), 

stopping at the newly painted, Southernmost Buoy.

(Look at that blue sky! Our streak of perfect weather continues!)

Eventually we would end up at happy hour at Hog’s Breath ($1 off beers and single-shot well drinks). We had a wonderful time chatting with everyone there (another  reason to love KW…everyone is friendly and there is no shortage of friendly banter) until we had to get ready for dinner at the Roof Top Cafe. Dinner was okay, not as wonderful as in the past (a bit bland). But I loved dining outside under their giant mahogany  (which is just getting it’s leaves back).

We finished up the day at the Chart Room. Last day is tomorrow. Boo!

Key West day 2!   Leave a comment

Got a late start (for us), but hey, it’s vacation! Went across the street to Two Friends for breakfast.  A couple of years ago I did a Mai-Tai tasting report while in Hawaii. I think this year a Bloody Mary report makes sense. Two Friends’ Bloody Mary won the 2016 People’s Choice award for the best Bloody Mary, so I had to give it a go.  Loved the pickled asparagus garnish!

DH had a steak omelet and I the ham and egg sandwich. Huge portions that we paired with the wonderful Stella’s hashbrown  (with cheddar cheese and sour cream).

We took advantage of the fantastic weather by walking around then vegged out at the Pier House pool. Walking around has been interesting. It is very quiet for Key West, so not a lot of people around. A combination of Irma and post Fantasy Fest lull. 

Lunch was our first time ever visit at El Meson de Pepe. While the mojito was great, the Cuban mix sandwich was good, but unremarkable. My fries were undercooked, but DH’s plantain chips were very tasty and crispy! 

After lunch we walked to Mallory Square. The wooden bridge is still out to Margaritaville  (formerly Westin) so we went around the long way. While the cruise ship pier is intact, much of the wooden docks took a beating here. Everywhere people are hard at work bringing the island back.  

Eventually we would walk to the Conch Farm for happy hour. Of course my Key Lime Martini was not part of HH, but it was deliciousness worth every penny. 

Little did I know we were about to have a culinary epiphany. A local had given us the tip that the Conch Farm had Royal Red shrimp, but they aren’t on the menu; you have to ask for them. So we ordered our Royal Reds, and they were spectacular! So tender! So delicious! Too delicate to dip in cocktail sauce (IMO), but marvelous dipped in drawn butter. DH said they are the Maine lobster of the shrimp world. I don’t think I will be happy with other shrimp again!

The fish dip was delicious too. 😉

Nearly forgot to mention we made it down to Mallory Square for sunset. Fewer vendors than usual, but were entertained by a guy juggling flaming batons while balancing on a ten-foot tall unicycle! 

Key West!   Leave a comment

Up at zero dark thirty to catch our flight. Sooooo not a morning person, but arriving in Key West in time for lunch? Worth it!

Our flights were uneventful if early. Our taxi whisked us to the Pier House, while our driver talked about Fantasy Fest (slow this year) and the damage from Irma. I remarked on the leaves on the trees and he said they really had come back in the last week when they had plenty of rain. His home on Stock Island was spared, and although they really cleared out most of the storm debris in advance of FF, there was plenty of evidence of Irma’s wrath on our short drive. 

For the first time ever, our room was ready early and we were able to put our luggage away. The gentleman who brought our luggage told us our room had only been ready the day before FF started. The resort sustained quite a bit of damage being right on the water, and it was all hands on deck to get the resort ready. Even the general manager was painting walls to make it happen. In celebration of our 20th anniversary, we splurged on a dockside suite. The view from the living room:

And our wrap around balcony:

Our first stop was Island Dogs as is tradition. The char-grilled oysters were a success as usual.  But the real score was the pound of stone crab at the Pier House. Yum!

We wondered around but had to make sure we were at the Smokin’ Tuna at 9 for Caffeine Carl. He is ridiculously talented!   He is at the Tuna tonight and Wednesday and alone makes the trip worthwhile! 

Posted November 1, 2017 by cubechick in Key West and Bahamas

It’s Been a While…   Leave a comment

…since I posted. I was lazy and didn’t finish my trip report on my UK cruise last spring. But it was fantastic! The beautiful weather sure helped, but DH and I agree we would do that itinerary again as there is plenty left to do.  A really wonderful cruise!

I was supposed to go to London in September, but got freaked out by the terrorist attacks in the UK. I am mad at myself for letting the terrorists win and am now planning on London in February. 

Instead of London, DH and I went back to Bermuda. We went to the Grotto Bay again because it’s so damn easy, but again thought it mediocre (although the staff were all wonderful). The highlight of the trip was taking the bus to St George’s. It had been 9 years since our last visit, and I understand St George’s really suffered when the cruise ships pulled out (the new ships are too large to squeeze through the entrance to the harbor known as “The Cut”).  So we were pleasantly surprised to find the town bustling and as pretty as ever. 

Overwhelmed with nostalgia, we planned on lunch at the White Horse (having spent several pleasant evenings there over the years when sailing the Norwegian Majesty!), however I recalled the excellent reviews of Wahoo’s, so opted for something new.  It was a great decision on our part. It was the best meal of the trip and the waterfront location was wonderful. 

Moving on to today (and my inspiration to post!), we are a week away from Key West! It has been four years since our last visit and we are more than excited to return! I will definitely post about our trip!

Posted October 24, 2017 by cubechick in Key West and Bahamas

Tagged with ,

Half Day in Belfast   Leave a comment

Both DH and I were very interested in the history of Belfast, so while many of our fellow cruisers dashed to the Giants Causeway, booked Game of Thrones and Titanic tours, we opted for a private Belfast tour. Having had success through Tours By Locals in the past, I booked through them again. Once confirmed, our guide, Bobby Walsh, answered my questions promptly. 

Bobby also dealt with adversity smoothly. He found that he had a flat tire the morning of our tour.  So he sent another driver to collect us while he got the tire fixed. We were driven to Bobby’s location and the rest of the tour went off without a hitch. 

The tour began with the famous Belfast murals and an exploration of the “Troubles”.  Bobby poured out a lot of information that we didn’t know about this period of time. It was a sobering couple of hours that left us wanting to learn more. Currently, there is peace in Northern Ireland, but with a 30 foot wall locked each night to keep the factions from getting stupid with each other, the peace seems tenuous to this outsider. I wish them well!

Once we broke away from the politics  (not entirely possible in Belfast, I think!), Bobby took us to a high vantage point, along a formerly restricted road, overlooking the city. Unfortunately, the gloomy morning marred the view. He then drove us to St. George’s Market, which is an enormous enclosed market, selling bits of everything during the weekend. I didn’t find my usual fridge magnet there, but did buy some nice Irish cheese (I am officially cut off from cheese purchases)!

I had mentioned my magnet obsession to Bobby. We started to leave from his parking spot near the market when he suddenly did a u-turn. Back in front of the Hilton he parked, while explaining that he was sure he had seen magnets at the concierge desk…and that they’d be cheaper than anywhere else. Sure enough, the Hilton offered up fridge magnets for £2 or 3 for £5.  (They would prove to be the cheapest we would find the entire trip!)

Glancing at the time, Bobby noted that it was 11:45, so he decided our next stop should be the Crown Saloon as it was just opening.  It is an exquisite Victorian pub, with ornate decoration and plenty of “snugs” (private booths). He gave us plenty of time to have a pint, and seemed disappointed that we declined (unsure of availability of future toilet stops!). 

We then checked out Queen’s University followed by a short drive out of the city to Belfast Castle. We chose not to go inside, instead spending our time wandering the grounds where several cat statues lounged. Finally we would drive past the Titanic Experience  (Bobby emphasized that this was not a museum!) and check out the area where Titanic was built. 

Really a great tour and a great way to learn a lot about the city and the country of Northern Ireland. 

%d bloggers like this: