April 27, 2014:
I’m not sure why I kept saying it like that, but I did. “Zee best, Phillip. We must find zee best!” It just seemed to give it a little more urgency with a thick Italian accent. We had went on the hunt for the “zee best” key lime pie on the island the night of the Captain’s Big Four-Oh celebration, but I’m sad to say we didn’t find it. Not that night (although we tried more pies than I can remember, and it seemed more pie made it on my dress and shoes than in my mouth – or so we discovered the next morning), but none of them really blew us away, so we were back on the hunt. I mean, this was our last day on the island. Our last chance! Tomorrow, we would be tossing the lines and heading out (literally, heading out as we were sterned in at the slip at A&B Marina) and sailing back across the Gulf to begin our journey back up to Pensacola.
But, we had made it a long way. While one of our original sail plans was to make the jump from the West Coast of Florida straight to the Dry Tortugas before heading over to Key West and then back north toward Pensacola,
such is the nature of “plans,” that’s all they are until they come to fruition. And, it seems in sailing, they often do not, which actually is what makes it so much fun. Every day seems to hold a new, unexpected adventure. Instead of sailing straight to the Dry Tortugas, though, we had made the jump from Ft. Myers beach straight to Key West,
and then took a ferry over to the Dry Tortugas and back.
Although we will definitely make the trip to Garden Key by sailboat next time, the ferry ride over and back was still a great way to experience the islands. But, having rounded the proverbial “corner” of our trip, tomorrow marked the day that we would get the boat back out there and turn her north.
So, this was it. Our last day to mozey around the quirky little backroads of Key West and explore. We set off early in the morning and deemed the hunt for “zee best” key lime pie on the island our mission. The day started out, as many on the island had, with a stout shot of Cuban coffee at the Cuban Coffee Queen hut.
Then it was off on foot! To see and experience anything and everything we could!
We walked for miles. Okay, maybe two. But, that’s still plural. Starting to feel the first hunger pangs of the morning, we knew we had a big decision to make. Where to eat. Seriously, it was a tough one. Do we take a chance on one of the many new places we had seen on our epic hike, or do we eat again at one of the places we already knew we loved? We often face this dilemma when we travel to places we’ve been before. NOLA is a prime example. Things start to get dicey when we’re trying to decide whether to eat at Domenica or MiLa again (knowing every dish will be exquisite, savory, heaven on our pallets!), or do we venture off to that new little eatery that just opened in the Marigny that everyone’s raving about? Decisions, decisions …
We decided, for lunch, to go back to the place we had deemed our favorite restaurant in Key West – Paseo’s! That little converted gas station that cranks out bowl after bowl of the sauciest, cheesiest Cuban wonders.
Yeah, that place. We definitely had to do that one again. While we would have loved to bask under the misters outside, this time the place was pretty packed (a good sign for one of the many little eateries in Key West) so we plopped down at the bar inside and lavished in a little AC while we were putting in our order.
You heard the monkey. “Stop staring at my banana!”
Love that place … Phillip got the hot pressed Cuban sandwich again,
which was excellent, just like last time, but (in a rare, glimmer or good-ordering luck) my pick was way better! I decided to get really wild with it this time and order up the West Carribean bowl.
Uhhh-huh. That one.
And, it did not disappoint. That was probably the best meal of the trip for me. Flavorful beans and rice covered with homemade salsa, layers of melty cheese, sour cream, fresh cilantro and pickled jalapenos, with a big succulent, roasted chicken thigh laid on top.
Tortilla rounds for dipping and eating. Every bite was cheesy and savory. The perfect balance of mexican/carribean flavors.
Yum. But, it was HUGE. If we had to do it over again, Phillip and I both agreed we could have easily shared the bowl, which means our favorite restaurant on the island (and ultimately our favorite meal of the trip) was also the cheapest. (Although the Captain is not too keen on my use of that word – I guess mostly when I’m referring to wine – “Wow, this wine is really good, Phillip, and so cheap!”). I’ll say it was the most economical. We could stuff ourselves to the gills for only $6 a piece!! I can assure you we paid more than that for each glass of wine we had at the fancier places. But, it’s all about the experience you’re craving at the time. We were in the mood for a cheesy pile of Cuban goodness in a rooster-pecking, misty gas station that day, so Paseo’s was the perfect choice. After lunch, it was time to fulfill our ultimate mission that day … that’s right. Say it. With the accent.
“Zee BEST key lime pie on zee island!”
We set off. We tried a bite here, a bite there,
and they were all good. Each one a little different. Some a little more tangy, some a little sweeter. Some with meringue, some with lime shavings, some plain. But, we hadn’t felt like we had quite found the BEST piece piece when we stumbled upon this little gem.
Kermit’s Key West Lime Shop, where they offered:
Not just key lime pie, but frozen chocolate-dipped key lime pie on a stick?? Could this be it?
And, not only did they promise it was the best key lime pie on the island, no, no. This was boasted as one of the “10 best desserts in America!”
You can’t be serious. But, they were. Phillip didn’t hesitate. “We’ll take it. One frozen chocolate-dipped key lime pie, please.” The key lime shop boy held up a frosty piece of pie and we both eyed it intently, the air swirling around it like dry ice, and the first few little droplets of sweat forming on the chocolate. Phillip held it out to me, “ladies first,” and I took my first chilly bite. Frozen, the lime seemed to take on a bolder, richer flavor that paired perfectly with the decadent dark chocolate coating.
It was easily, hands down, the undisputed holder of the title Zee BEST key lime pie on zee island. We had found it! Frozen, dipped in chocolate, and waiting for us in this quirky little key lime shop right near the marina. But, that was just the beginning.
Yes, there’s more. After we moaned and mmmmhhhh‘ed through our first few bites, knowing we had found it – zee best! – the shop boy told us (perhaps because we were making a bit of a scene in the store) that there was a “little veranda out back” where we could enjoy our pie. We looked up at the boy with chocolate-covered faces and then looked back at each other. A veranda? Sounds great. Let’s check it out.
There, tucked behind the shop (completely hidden from the street) was the perfect little shaded terrace where one could sit daintily at the rod iron bistro style tables, overlooking the coy pond and waterfall and nibble on the frozen decadent treat that had been deemed one of the 10 best desserts in America.
Yes, this, is where we ate “zee best” key lime pie on the island. And, the pond was filled with beautiful Chinese fish.
I just noticed the whopping pie-on-a-stick in this shot when I sat down to write this blog, and I had to laugh. Trying to get all artsy with it. Nice try, Captain!
I sat and watched the fish tool around in the little pond while the Captain ate most of the pie.
We found a poster on the wall, too, with each of their head shots and names – Darth Vader, Carrot Top, Cagney and Lacey …
Our hunt for the best key lime pie had lead us to the coolest little place! This was one incredibly happy First Mate!
But, the leisurely strolls through the streets of Key West had to be balanced with the work we knew we needed to get done to ready the boat and crew for the passage tomorrow. We headed over to Fausto’s to provision up for the trip. Our buddy Postal Bob had recommended it as the best stop on the island for food, provisions and supplies, and he was right. We stocked up, and headed back to the boat to wash clothes at the marina laundry, fill the water tanks, and make some easy, filling food for the passage. We decided this time to make a hearty ham salad.
Diced ham, cheese, tomatoes and celery, tossed in a light Italian dressing.
Hey, check it out! I’m cooking and blogging!
Bringing you only “zee best” of zee Plaintiff’s Rest!
Once we finished our chores, we cleaned and got ready to head out for our last night on the town. We’d spent the afternoon whipping up some goodies for tomorrow, so we felt it was high time we whip up some goodies for to-DAY.
Oh yeah. That’s happening. “Hey, Annie. You want an Oh Shit?”
A little coconut rum, a little dark rum, some pineapple and just a splash of OJ and it’ll make you say “Oohh Shiiiiit!” We love that drink!
We made our to-go drinks and began our last saunter along the streets of Key West. We decided there was another place on the island that we had to frequent twice before we left -to pay a little tribute I suppose to the legend – Hemingway’s old haunt, Sloppy Joe’s. We ordered up a couple of ‘Ritas – the Sloppy-Rita for me, and the straight Mara-Rita for the Captain.
But, that was just the beginning of our cocktail crawl. It seems that’s what you do in the Keys. Don’t worry – we packed spare livers. We decided we wanted to fill our first stomach (we packed a few extra of those, too) at the Schooner Wharf Bar. We had walked through the outdoor dining/live music area before and had vowed to come back one afternoon to try out the oysters and happy hour specials there. Well, this was our last chance, so we nestled in at a little table for two and began one of our favorite hobbies — People Watching!
And, friends, let me just tell you the scene did not disappoint. They came from all walks of life. From salty, scraggly sailors that looked like they’d just rowed in from Cuba to wide-eyed ritzy Mr. and Mrs. Howell-type tourists that seemed simultaneously appalled yet oddly excited by the loud, schooner scene.
Not only were the people great to watch, though (I know, I really should have titled this post “But wait! There’s more!“) they put on quite the show, too. There was this loud party of six next to us that looked like they’d been there for hours. Three empty foamy pitchers and a dozen dirty Schooner Wharf solo-like cups were laid out on the table before them and they would intermittently bust out in song or raucous laughter, seemingly oblivious to the other patrons around them. I was, of course, eyeing them closely (knowing they were likely going to provide a gold-mine of fodder for the blog – this is rich stuff, people!) and they did not disappoint. One of the women clumsily scooted her chair back, burped visibly and started to stand up to stumble to the bathroom when she let out a high-pitched little “whoop!” and stepped back really quickly (showing more dexterity than I thought she was capable of her in condition). I leaned around to try and see whatever it was that had caused her to jump back. She stood there for a moment with her head cocked to one side looking at it, too, but I couldn’t quite see what it was yet. The woman wobbled down to a crouch and scooped it up and started massaging whatever IT was in her hands. I still couldn’t quite make it out, but she started walking towards us with it so I knew I would get a glimpse.
Turns out it was a bird. Looked like a pigeon. And, she was stroking and massaging its chest, saying “Awww, c’mon now biddy. It wasn’t so bad.”
She had stepped on it.
You would think, birds being so agile and dexterous, this one could have managed to find its way out of the path of this inebriated broad, but perhaps he’d been nibbling too many beer-soaked oyster crackers that fell from that party’s table to get his hide in gear before she – “whoop!” – smashed his poor little pigeon pride.
I did feel bad for her, and the bird. She seemed genuinely sorry about it, but she was holding him on his back and giving him little timed chest compressions as if she could revive him. “C’mon now … ” Bird CPR, if you will, except for the mouth-to-mouth, or beak, I suppose. Yes, that’s what we saw — bird CPR. (I’ll have you know that was another raging contender for title of this post as well – it’s so hard to choose!). She sat him down near the fence, and the poor little guy kind of sat there with his head wobbling around on his pigeon shoulders and blinking his eyes. He didn’t move much at first, but when she came back to check on him, I think he heard her King Kong footsteps and big squawk voice coming – “Here biddy!” –
because he sprouted his little pigeon feet and high-tailed it, wobbling his way through a hole in the fence and out for cover. We were cheering him on quietly from behind. “Go, go, GO!” What a show! I’m telling you, I really can’t make this stuff up …
After the pigeon show, the cocktails (yes, more) and oysters came and we settled back for a great afternoon of entertainment at the old Wharf Bar.
The guy playing music was very entertaining as well. He was a singer/song-writer with a very dry sense of humor. He said one of the songs he wrote was inspired by a gal who used to wait tables there at the bar, and right before he began the number, which was aptly titled She Got a Butt, he said “I’m glad that ____ doesn’t work here anymore.” I’ll let you fill in the blank. He was a riot. We had a great time listening to his music and knocking back a few cocktails and a raw dozen.
We had made dinner reservations that night at another restaurant a fellow cruiser at the marina had said was his favorite on the island – 7 Fish. It was very good, excellent fish, but just not our favorite – particularly for the price point. And, unfortunately, it was very dark in there – made it difficult, even, to see what you had ordered.
We started out with some mushroom quesadillas that ended up being our favorite part of the meal. Super moist and flavorful.
I got the blue chesse gnocchi with snapper on top, and the gnocchi was a big hit. That is so hard to do well (trust me, we’ve tried!).
And Phillip got the thai snapper.
Excellent meal, but – you see what I mean – hard to see! Our bellies, hearts (and livers!) full, we mozied on back to the boat to enjoy our last night in the slip at Key West. Tomorrow morning, we would be getting up early (sunrise, likely), to ready the boat and begin making our way back across the Gulf up toward Ft. Myers. We were ready to get back out in blue waters! We were ready to make another passage! What we weren’t ready for, was another debacle on the boat, a fall that ended with a sickening thud. I warn you followers – next time, viewer discretion may be advised …