We just returned from a short retreat to Key West, the first trip my husband and I have taken without our daughter since she was 18 months old. That was about 3 years ago.
I had a false image of Key West, perhaps romanticizing it with thoughts of Ernest Hemingway, delicious mojitoes and the same Latin flare that I experienced in Miami years ago. We had a lovely time, enjoyed/suffered the heat, ate a lot of fish and chilled by the pool in our lovely little inn.
I was slightly disappointed by the food, not all of it, really just the food that was supposed to blow my mind, the highly recommended, highly priced restaurants.
Our best meals were from a food truck and at a little latino/caribbean place that was off of the tourist path. This was thanks to my husband doing his research and finding the places that Italians recommend, I never thought that a food truck would have won with the Italians, but they certainly know good food no matter where the kitchen is. Garbo’s Grill was said food truck, selling tacos, burritoes and on some days burgers and hot dogs. We only tried the tacos, but we loved them so much we went back the next day for more.
Nine One Five was the first meal that we had in Key West, boasting a James Beard award, I expected it to blow my mind. It was indeed good, but the service was atrocious, it was expensive and I sadly can’t really even remember what I ate. The pictures came out horribly and are not featured here. It seems that the prestigious award has gone to their head.
Taking a walk along the harbor we realized why the fish was so crazy expensive, they throw half of it back to the fish. My husband and I watched this show, horrified as these “fishermen” filleted their catch and threw most of the fish back in the water. I was thinking broth, how those little bits could be turned into pasta or a risotto and these dudes, and they were dudes, just thought it was fish food.
The meal that left us the most disappointed and with much lighter wallets, was at Cafe Sole. It was outrageously overpriced, they sprinkled cheese on a fish carpaccio (the horror!) and both dishes, which seemed distinctly different on the menu, tasted exactly the same, they even look the same in the pictures. We were surrounded by Key West’s more mature crowd, not that we were looking for a party, but I recommend not going to this place, save a dime and find a tastier meal.
Back to happy food. Our last meal on the island stood out the most. Paseo Restaurant looks like nothing from the outside, you order at a counter, sit with strangers with wild chickens running around at your feet, but the food is outstanding. We started with corn on the cob, grilled with something delicious going on in the sauce. I have no idea what it was, but it danced in my mouth and I may even go back to Key West, just to taste that again. We then shared the roasted chicken which was delicious, but a roasted chicken. The thing that stood second in line, or maybe first was the sandwich, pulled pork with grilled onions, cilantro and romaine lettuce. Melt in your mouth.
We had a late flight back to Atlanta on our last day and decided to get up early and have lunch in Miami. We’d gotten several recommendations from friends who are Miami natives, but without access to the internet, maps, etc. that became complicated and we ended up at a delicious little Columbian restaurant, La Ventana. We kept it light, hoping to try a Cuban sandwich before boarding our plane. The meat empanadas were delicious and we tried the patacones with shredded chicken. I miss those latin flavors over here, the deep flavors of slow cooking with a splash of fresh. So good, I hope the future will bring me back for a longer stay in Miami, I love the energy of that city.
We finally had our Cuban sandwich at the airport, not much to say, don’t go for something delicious in an airport, you are bound to be disappointed.
One Year Ago: Pansotti al brasato e carciofi, Cime di Rape Affogate al Vino, Linguini with Fresh Shelled Peas and Calamari, Risotto ai Cardoncelli e le Vongole, Torta di Carciofi e Fave, Insalata di Polipo & Baked Fettucine with Bechamel and Artichokes
Three Years Ago: Wahoo with Citrus and Pistachios, Ziti with Grilled Sausages and Ricotta, Flounder Fillets in White Wine, Lasagna, Southern Style, Lamb Shanks with Oranges and Olives & Zucchini Flower Pizza
Five Years Ago: Macaroni and Cheese, Gemelli with Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes, Insalata di Farro with Beets and Feta Cheese, Apricot, Fig and Pistachio Haroseth, Carciofi alla Romana, Roasted Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce, Spinach and Sausage Lasagna, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Penne with Zucchini, Roasted Tomatoes and Pistachios, Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas, Lemon, Celery and Carrots, Red Beans and Rice, Ziti with Artichokes and Swordfish, Black Bean Enchiladas with Green Sauce, Spaghetti all’Amatriciana, Mediterranean Beet and Yogurt Salad, Marion Square Farmers Market, Charleston, SC, Collard Greens alla Italiana & Baked Fish in Salsa di Agrumi