Vichyssoise to Hotdogs, A Band by the Water to A Meal by the Bay
So, as I told you, I was given a Fitbit for Christmas and it has been really interesting. I think it has curbed my eating and caused me to be more active and that is fabulous! Now, I must confess, I am on vacation so I am not following the fitbit or utilizing it to the best of my ability. I am going to “use” the excuse that I need to try foods to entice you all to read my blog and I need all that food to nurture my soul. Are you buying this? So, this little fitbit is curbing my eating and it is causing me to be more active but almost daily it frowns at me and sometimes sticks its tongue out at me, and yes it can and it is always saying, “WHOOPS, you are 700 calories over.” It is shocking it didn’t say you are 700 calories over AGAIN, ERRRRIIINNN!!!
I had another book signing at Bailey’s. I know it is a grocery market, a hardware store and a catch all for random things that tourists may like or want, and it is a Sanibel institution, but why do people come buy bananas, milk, sandpaper and not my book? I don’t get it! I don’t care if you don’t have kids who will read it, or kids at all, buy it as a souvenir of your trip to paradise, or because you don’t want to forget seeing manatees, eat red velvet cake or buy it for your coffee table. What a great conversation starter! Of course, these are all great things I should be saying to entice folks to buy my books. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t say I don’t care if you have kids. I don’t…but I shouldn’t say it. But for some reason, I am a great talker, but I am a shy thing when it comes to peddling my books. I become UNBELIEVABLY shy!!!! I REALLY need to get better at it!
An old friend from Cincinnati, named Katie, who I have known since I was 5, her folks left our town and moved to another town and then sent her to private school and somehow we managed to stay in touch over the years. We have gone years without seeing each other and talking and yet, when we do, we pick up where we left off. At one point, we were both in Washington, D.C. at the same time. Well, she stayed and I left and her folks started going to Naples and I am up the road at Sanibel. So, when we can meet up in Florida, we do!
We met in this shopping restaurant center called Mercato down in Naples. I arrived first. I know shocking since I am always 5 minutes late. I went to the bathroom and all the power went out. It was pitch black. I thought great! Stuck in a bathroom. Fun! Lights came back up and I went outside to wait for Katie. The waiter came shortly after she arrived and told us, he couldn’t grill. We said, “Great! We want sushi.” He said he couldn’t serve us sushi. We said, “Your power is out! You need to get rid of fish before it goes bad. This is a no-brainer.” BRING IT ON!!! He said no. Katie and I left and went to the Ritz at Naples and ate in the restaurant on the beach. The Ritz in Naples is AWESOME!!! It was a windy, rainy day. We sat under umbrellas, watched the waves crash on the beach, drank the BEST Arnold Palmers’ and I ate a $19 hamburger. It was really good. Not sure about NINETEEN DOLLARS good, but it was good and I didn’t eat the fries, because I am scared they will give me a hematoma again. THAT or my fitbit will make me walk the 45 miles home from Naples.
We had a ball and said that we would make a point of getting together when our paths cross down here. Katie is a great person! We were talking about people, life, work and she so gets it!!!
I left Katie and went to meet another childhood friend Josh. He was staying at the Naples Waldorf. My friends lead such posh lives and I am their hippie, bohemian-like crunchy friend.
I walked into Josh’s hotel and he was talking to someone who was married to a gal from our hometown. Josh said there were 4 others from our hometown of 10,000 staying at THAT hotel. Why and how did they all end up at the same hotel? Did the Cincy Enquirer advertise that hotel and they all went?
Josh told me if I came to Naples to see Katie, who I am not as close to as him, I had to see him. I thought we both live in Cincy, can’t I see you there and I don’t even see you there much! So, here we are at the bar at the Waldorf Naples. I ordered a Bombay Sapphire gin and tonic and he ordered blue cheese potato chips. I had 4 chips. BIG MISTAKE. Normally, when I start…I can’t stop, but I did! They were so yummy. He started talking to the guy on the other side of me. We all started talking football. He was with his son. He was HOT, HOT, HOT! Okay, maybe overkill. He was sexy. Salt and pepper hair. Great smile. Pretty eyes. And he asks where we are from and Josh says, “We are from Cincy!” THIS IS TRUE, but now he thinks Josh is my husband! This is a major bummer! He talks to us like we are a couple, but never says anything for us to have the opportunity to say no. The wedding ring is because he is married to another gal, but I am available. And Josh is on his cell phone, texting, ignoring me, and we looked married. Finally, Josh says he has to go. We leave cutie pie and his son, but I can’t go back to him. Can you imagine what he would think??? Yikes! He would think I was cheating on my hubby. OH the travesty of it all.
I went with a friend named Birgie to lunch at Doc Ford’s. I love their Clam Chowder. They must pour a lot of cream and butter in it, because it is GOOD! I then ordered a shrimp quesadilla. It wasn’t very big. It was good. Not great. We had a nice lunch. I came home and put the calories of that sweet, innocent, little shrimp quesadilla into my fitbit food log. It was 800 calories. THAT was just the damn quesadilla!!!! I had to walk the dog around the block, play tennis, ride my bike for 30 minutes and I still didn’t break even! Quesadillas just went on the same list as the truffle oil French fries!!! They are a BIG no no.
Okay, so Queenie sent out an email about New Year’s Eve at her boyfriend, Jensen’s marina. My mom and I hemmed and hawed about going and then we went. OH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS! It was a little peace of heaven.
First, let me explain Jensen’s. Three brothers and they own a marina with cottages and it is like stepping back in time. It is quintessential old, Florida! They are so nice, down-to-earth and hippie-like guys!
They created a makeshift stage at the water’s edge at their marina. Let me set the stage for you. Captiva Island, which is like Sanibel on crack. It is serious hardcore island paradise. Swaying palm trees, moon glistening on the water, lawn chairs, and we are watching these country singers who wrote songs for Dolly Parton sing and strum their guitars. I am not a country singer fan, but they were good. They leave the stage and then THE TROUBLESTARTERS took the stage. They are so great! So fun! This sexy lead singer starts to sing a song. “She put her Louisiana lip lock on my Alabama porkchop!” We all howled with laughter! The crowd was such a mix of these super duper aristocratic folks, mixed with 60s hippies, true blue beach bums and we all were singing. And then I had to dance. A little girl was out there with her stuffed animal dancing and wishing for someone to dance with her and so I went to dance with her and then Queenie came out and then a little boy. I am sure my mom thought how did I give birth to a child that would get on a nearly empty dance floor and boogie like it was the end of 2013? I tried to get my mom out there but she is far too shy!
We came home and made burgers with bernaise sauce on them and then Louise, my grandma’s cook’s cauliflower recipe. Oh yummy in my tummy. We fought to stay awake. At 11:45p.m., we drove down to the beach and walked to the water’s edge and watched the time till midnight tick away on my Mom’s iPhone. We kissed each other and then the dog! It was Dulce’s first New Year’s with us! I think she liked it!
Birgie decided to throw a New Year’s Day party on the Causeway (bridge to Sanibel) at “the crack of noon.” Love it. Crack of noon! We sat in chairs near the water’s edge sipping mimosas and nibbling on cabbage salad for good luck!
I went home and napped. Yes, I nap down here. I went out for my ritualistic sunset beach walk. I went to the next party. My friends’ Arla and George do a New Year’s party every year on New Year’s Day. She makes three different kinds of soup, gets a big ham for ham sandwiches and the room is filled with ALL of us Beachview tennis players. It is great fun! I love my tennis buddies!
At the party, this lovely woman named Anne asked me to hit with her for 30 minutes on Friday. She is a nice player. I said yes. Remember this for later in my blog.
Being a foodie and a Frenchie, my mom was so excited to take me to a French restaurant in Ft. Myers called Blue Windows. We ordered a bunch of food and shared it all. You know how sharing goes with my mom aka Skin and Bones. She eats two bites, gets stuffed and I clean the plate. First, we ordered Vichyssoise, which is a cream based soup of potatoes, leeks that is chilled and served with chives on top. It was yummy. Then I ordered frog legs, because I had the MOST amazing frog legs in Paris. The place was called Apicius. It was in an old elegant home (aka former private mansion) off the Champs Elysee. My memory is that they served me a bucket albeit a fancy bucket FULL of frog legs and they melted in my mouth they were so good! Now, these were not as good, but it is hard to keep up with the likes of chef Jean-Pierre Vigato in Paris! So, I wasn’t crazy about the frog legs. I was crazy about the green salad with duck breast on it. The duck was divine! Then we split a veal in Calvados sauce. It was good. I didn’t love it the way I hoped I would, but it was good. We decided against dessert. I was a little sad to not try the dark chocolate lava cake. That sounds like something I would have loved till 3am when the caffeine in the chocolate cake would have kept me awake.
My mom and I are driving home and Skin and Bones suggests we try a famous Ft. Myers ice cream institution. We stop at this little joint called The Loveboat on San Carlos. We were worried it would be closed. It wasn’t. It was packed! There must have been a little more than thirty people in a space the size of the upper deck of a double-decker bus. There were a multitude of flavors. I kept wondering how good could it really be? My mom is a little (READ: A LOT) obsessed with salted caramel things. We ordered salted caramel bacon with bits of bacon in it. The salted caramel was delicious. The bacon was initially off putting but it grew on me. I would have been fine without it. We ordered a small. It was HUMUNGOUS! It was so dang gone good! We still have some leftover in the fridge. I would have finished it by now. Skin and Bones is still working on it.
We were driving home from Loveboat and a cop started to follow me. I said to my mom, “I hope he doesn’t pull me over for overeating and under the influence of salted caramel bacon ice cream!” I can see it now! Ma’am, you are driving erratically!” Well, I was trying to shove spoonfuls office cream in my mouth while driving!” “Ma’am, Have you had too much…”
“I couldn’t stop! The ice cream was too good! I know…I have a problem…”
My friend Annie invited me to a group that I thought she called CLUSTERS, but it is really called Questers, but they aren’t an official Questers group. It is a small group of gals that get together to talk about antiques. She thought as an antique collector and growing up going antiquing, I would love to go! Her friend Carol was talking about Scrimshaw. She is a Cape Coder and she and her hubby collect it. She talked about the history of it, and how and why they made it. It was really interesting. Her home was spectacular. It had great spaces, great trinkets, great details, and great collections. It is a real hidden gem on the island. In addition to antique talk, we just sat and talked. They meet monthly. Each month, a person talks about something they are passionate about and tell a little about it. They invited me back and I enjoyed it so much that I would definitely go!
So, this nice gal, Anne, another Cape Cod gal asked me to play tennis the other night at the New Year’s party. She just wanted someone to hit with her for 30 minutes, because she wants to get ready for a match this week. I say this ONLY for what I will say that follows. I think Anne is in her 80s and if I am wrong, a thousand apologies to her. She is in PHENOMENAL shape! We played for almost an hour and a half, and she didn’t break a sweat. She was worried about stamina and I needed an I-V, a shot of Gatorade, and a nap! I finally told her she wore me out and I needed to stop. I was sore, tired, but deliriously happy. I could tell she was bummed to stop, but the woman wore me out. I hope I have half of her stamina at some point in my life!
I have seen so much football in the last few weeks. I can’t tell you how much football I have seen. I watched the Colts pull out a win to Kansas City. We watched the Saints pull out a win to Eagles. We watched the Rose Bowl, we watched the Orange Bowl. We watched the Bengals lose in their first playoff game and they have not won a playoff game since 1990! And after all of that my mom looked at me and sadly said, “Do you not love football, because I made you watch so much as a child?” I like football. I like when it is good. I just rather watch a trashy movie! What can I say? THAT is where I am a girly girl.
The girly girl and foodie in me was thrilled when my mom said, “Wanna go to Bay House down in Naples for Sunday brunch?” My answer was….well, not publishable…it was a big, fat YES! Their food is so yummy. The ambiance is not bad either. They face a river, the chef is yummy. I mean he cooks yummy. I don’t think he is yummy personally, but if he can cook like that…maybe he is! My mom ordered an Irish breakfast that was served in a Creuset-like baking dish. She had stewed tomatoes, ham, the most amazing boxty-like potatoes with a fried egg on top, and then blood sausage. My mother is over the moon about blood sausage. I really liked it when I tried it in Ireland till I knew what it was and haven’t eaten it since! Oh well. Now, I had something called a Sea BLT. It consisted of lobster, shrimp, crab tossed with corn and bacon and a smoked bacon vinaigrette it was all sitting on top of a fried green tomato and a bed of arugula. It was so yummy and pretty. Here’s a pic of my breakfast and then my mom’s.
And here is my view from our table….
I had to change my grip on my tennis racket. It was falling apart and it was time to be changed. I tossed the old one in my bathroom trash and a little later I couldn’t find my 4-legged sister. She was in my bathroom chewing on my tennis grip. I went to take it from her and she ran out the door with the long grip dragging out of her mouth. She looked like she was in the Chinese New Year parade and she was dragging silk that was flowing from her mouth and blowing in the wind.
Today, I went back to the court to play some tennis with Anne, a gal named Connie from Sioux Falls, North Dakota and a gal named Lynn from Annapolis. Connie said it was -60 back home. She had to be thrilled to be here. Lynn was a hoot and such a fun and easy tennis partner. You’ll love this…when people hit a shot and you aren’t sure if it is going to go long..I said how do you know? She said, “If it is titty high, let it fly by!” She had another one, but I can’t remember it. We all had a ball. It took us an hour to play one set and it ended in a tie-breaker. We were so well partnered, we played the same teams for the second set.
I LOVE playing tennis!
Tonight, my mom and I went to Schnappers for carry-out hotdogs and French fries. It is this amazing hotdog joint on the island with killer hotdogs and even better French fries. We took Dulce for the ride. When we got home with the food, Dulce was practically in our laps to get a taste. Of course, we bought a dog for her too, and my mom says I spoil her?
Okay, I do, but I can’t resist.
Well, back to the end of the Florida State v. Auburn game. Go Auburn!!! I cannot believe FSU pulled that one out! I know they were supposed to, but I was hoping they wouldn’t! Sorry Temple & Seth! Seth, you lucky dog being there! Fun game! I can’t believe FSU did to Auburn went Auburn did to Bama!
Until we meet again…..
Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….