Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Fresh Fish / Key West 11


With Gene Morgan and his favorite traveling companion Nancy

There are lots of places in Key West where you can eat right next to the ocean. This picture shows you the busy harbor full of boats both private and charter types.

Way back there on the boardwalk is Schooner Wharf, a restaurant that looks a hundred years old, but is less than twenty. This town has changed much over the years and not too many years ago this was all commercial fishing docks. Schooner Wharf was built to look old, and even their bathrooms are funky and it is hard to believe they pass local health inspections. This place is almost always full. There is live music on the stage every day from noon on. But a really great time to be there is in the morning.

If you can get yourself down to the harbor early in the morning you will get a chance to eat breakfast unlike any you will get in parts of the country without an ocean. You can watch the charter boats taking out loads of happy would-be fishermen to catch those giant tarpon and grouper they have heard so much about. Gulls sail above, scanning for their own fishy breakfast in water below.

And, you can eat eggs benedict smothered with shrimp. (yes even for breakfast!) The potatoes are quite good, too. You don’t see any shrimp in the picture? Nancy messed up and ordered eggs benedict Florentine. She forgot to have them add the shrimp. I didn’t rub it in at all.  (Carrie's note: Haha, I bet he did...d'oh!)

Just to prove how fresh the seafood is I have included this picture of a man hauling some just caught grouper from his boat to a nearby restaurant. The mouths of the folks in the outdoor café were watering like Niagara Falls.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Salute / Key West 10


With Gene Morgan and his favorite traveling companion Nancy

It was a rainy morning in Key West so we headed to one of our favorite spots, the White Street Pier. It is on the Atlantic side of the island next to Higgs Beach. It was too damp to swim. (how can it be too damp to swim?) This lady decided her dog wasn’t soggy enough yet, (and dog smelly) so she took him for a dip.

As we wandered along the shore we noticed a little restaurant we hadn’t been aware of before right on the beach called Salute Café. We were hungry, so we got out of the rain to check it out.

Salute is not a big place, but it has nice atmosphere and it’s outside dining area has a decent view of the beach. The chicken sandwich was pretty good, but the rice was excellent. It had a flavorful sauce that wasn’t overloaded with odd herbs and spices that so many restaurants use.

Sorry for the poor overexposed picture. It was a dreary day and my flash went off without me noticing it. No amount of photoshop magic could fix the problem.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Lobster Bisque / Key West 9


With Gene Morgan and his favorite traveling companion Nancy

I don’t think tourists ever stop on Stock Island. It is the last landfall before you cross over the Cow Key Channel into Key West. Compared to the resort areas all around, it s just a down right slum. It got it’s name because it was originally where they raised cows and pigs. If you get off highway one on the south side, it’s not long before you run into areas that might be good places to set mystery stories. As a matter of a fact, Key West mystery writer Tom Corcoran used Stock Island back roads in his books as a place to find headless bodies and burning motorcycles.

Hogfish Grill is impossible to find. We go there often and still have trouble locating it. You travel a maze of crisscrossing streets along the harbor area until you just accidentally run into it.

You might have noticed, we eat shrimp a lot. Coming from the Midwest eating fresh seafood is a rare pleasure. The shrimp in our area, even the stuff from fresh fish stores, comes from Thailand and was probably frozen and hasn’t seen seawater for a month or more. Fresh is pretty much a joke around here.

Fresh is the order of the day at Hog Fish Grill. Around the corner on the dock is where the shrimp boats unload their daily catch. From the ocean through the Hog Fish kitchen right to your table is all it travels. It don’t get any fresher than that, and the difference is in the taste. It is sweet and fragrant and oh so good. As I said we ate there a whole bunch of times. Nancy loved the bacon wrapped shrimp.

We almost always eat our shrimp grilled or broiled, but sometimes a little extra flavor from another meat or sauce gives a little extra kick to the meal. I like mine stuffed with crab meat. Fresh crab is even sweeter than shrimp. It adds a lot to the flavor. Man, writing this is making me hungry.

Oh, we almost forgot the lobster bisque is heavenly.

We had the bowl half gone before we remembered to take a picture. You just don’t think too good with a bowl of hot lobster bisque in front of you. Hey, Next stop, Key West.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Shrimp Wrap / Key West 8


With Gene Morgan and his favorite traveling companion Nancy

They say when Jimmie Buffet hit’s the Keys he likes to eat at Bobalo’s. It is a little family style café on Big Coppitt Key. The food leans a little to much on the Cuban spice side for my taste.

The roast beef wrap I had was pretty strong for my liking. Nancy’s wrap was shrimp, (I can’t believe I passed that up) which didn’t have enough shrimp on it and the Caesar dressing was way too strong. It kinda attacked the old taste buds. I don’t like to give bad reviews, but I’m gonna have to have to have a little talk with the old Son Of A Son Of A Sailor. (That’s a Jimmie Buffet reference Y’All)

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Lobster BLT / Key West 7


With Gene Morgan and his favorite traveling companion Nancy

Somewhere in the Saddlebunch Keys is Baby’s Coffee.  (I may be wrong about the location, the sign flies by as you cruise down the road. You are by it before you can hit the breaks to stop.) Many of the Keys guide books say you just gotta stop at Baby’s. We did and got some pretty good breakfast muffins, but we got out the door quick. Nancy said the place gave her a headache. It smelled too much like strong coffee. You can guess, we get our caffeine elsewhere. We prefer colas.

There are some restaurants in the Keys that many tourists never find. They are too far off of highway one in non-tourist kinds of places. You gotta look for them.  At mile marker 10 on Big Coppitt Key across from the row of pastel painted hurricane houses you turn down Boca Chica road. You cross the canal bridge onto Geiger Key, wander down the road a bit and on the left you will find the Geiger Key Marina.

Right on the water at one end of the marina you will find a funky tiki bar called the Geiger Key Smokehouse. You will sit at a picnic table on the edge of the dock watching schools of fish swim by in the water below. The gulls will hang around nearby hoping for a handout. Boats will cruise by between the dock and the nearby mangrove islands. It seems like a perfect place to catch site of the elusive manatee said to frequent the islands. That is one of the reasons we always stop here, but we have not seen one yet. The other reason is the food.

We just have to have a lobster BLT. This is Nancy’s meal complete with sweet potato fries. Whoa, dude if that ain’t heaven then I ain’t going. Fried lobster, bacon, tomato, and lettuce on a big hunk of bread, what more do you need? Well, maybe some Rolaids. So, it’s a 50/50 chance it will make me sicker than a dog that has just eaten something strange he found on the street, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take for this rich tasting crunchy gift from mother ocean.

A note from Carrie : minus the lettuce, this looks scrumptuous!  I love sweet potato fries! 

Friday, 25 June 2010

Broiled Lobster / Key West 6


With Gene Morgan and his favorite traveling companion Nancy

I have been trying to always give mile markers of each place we ate. There used to be all kinds of markers along highway one. This last trip it seemed there were fewer than other visits. Maybe someone is stealing them. So, I’m not sure where this next place is. I do know it is somewhere on Sugarloaf Key. You cannot miss it. There is a big sign out front and everyone in the Lower Keys know how to find Mangrove Mama’s. There are songs about it after all. It’s that popular.

This was the only place we ate broiled lobster. Gulf lobster is a little smaller than in other parts of the country. Some folks say they are just big crawdads. But, they do taste like they should, especially with lots of butter.

This was the most expensive meal we had on this trip, but you gotta pay for eating cool food in a cool place.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Boondocks / Key West 5


With Gene Morgan and his favorite traveling companion Nancy

Down the Keys a bit beyond three Keys and four bridges, on Ramrod Key at about mile marker 27 there are two really great restaurants across the street from each other. The Looe Key Tiki Bar is a terrific place for music, there is someone playing every night, and good food. Their shrimp is fresh and tasty and the bill for Tuesday night tacos was the lowest I ever paid in the Keys, and that’s with a couple of import beers. A lot of locals hang there telling fish stories all day and all night. It’s not your normal tourist hang out.

On the other side of highway one is a place called Boondocks. You may notice the jungle next door with the caveman on the rock welcoming everyone to the only miniature golf course in the Lower Keys. It is part of the whole Boondocks complex which includes a restaurant , tiki bar, and entertainment area.

The food is varied and wonderfully delicious. We both tried their cheese ravioli with shrimp. (of course) Forget about Olive Garden, that was the best use of red sauce ever, without a glob of garlic to hide the real flavor, The best test of good food is a simple dish. This grilled shrimp, rice, and steamed vegetables had so much good taste that it was amazing. We wish we had eaten there more.

As you leave Ramrod Key heading south west you can look over your shoulder and see this sign. And, folks want to know why we love this island paradise so much.

Shrimp Pizza / Key West 4


With Gene Morgan and his favorite traveling companion Nancy

Our food journey now takes us into the Lower Keys. To get there we must cross the longest bridge In the islands. Two bridges leave Marathon heading for Big Pine Key seven miles away. The picture shows two roads heading out across the deep blue sea. The bridge on the left is the new one that will get us to more good food. The one on the right has been closed since 1982 and has rusted away since, then being used as a jogging track and a fishing dock. Notice how narrow it is. It was built over an old railroad track. It was a real adventure getting to the Keys back before the early eighties.

The last time we were in the Keys we stayed on Big Pine Key. There are lots of cool things about Big Pine, but this is not a travelogue. You want to hear about food. Right around mile marker 30 you can find lots of good places to eat. A block off highway one is the Win Dixie shopping plaza. There is a great place to have breakfast at Bagel Island café, fresh baked and so much better than MacGreaseburger. A nice little Cuban café called Co Co’s Kitchen gave Nancy her Cuban food fix with Cuban mix sandwiches and Cuban pork with black beans and rice. (one of her favorites)
A real hard place to find is No Name Pub. It’s a funky little bar hidden away among the million dollar hurricane houses about 3 miles north of the Overseas Highway. It’s a place with lots of history because it was an early railroad stop and near where the old car ferry landing was on No Name Key. It also had a brothel upstairs. Now it is better known for having really good bar food. We had a tasty shrimp and white sauce pizza there one evening. But, the most memorable food was a lunchtime half pound cheeseburger which was so good and filling we didn’t even have to eat supper that night. (OK, we did have a late night snack.)

Rob’s Island Grill is pretty much a sports bar right on highway one between the welcome center and mile marker 30. After eating shrimp about 6 days in a row we decided it was time for a change. Even though it wasn’t on their menu we talked the nice waitress into getting the cook to make us a shrimp pizza. OK, not much of a change, but shrimp and pizza sauce are a great combination.

Note from Carrie:
I had to add this picture, because one of the stories emailed to me was about how he stopped their car & "asked" for a slice of leftover pizza...  ; )  Plus, he's a cutie! 

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Shrimp Ceaser Salad / Key West 3


With Gene Morgan and his favorite traveling companion Nancy

Around mile marker 50 you will find yourself in the unincorporated village of Marathon. It’s not a real town but is big and full of shopping and fast food, a good place to go if you get tired of real food and miss greasy burgers. I had a great non-greasy burger at a local little café called Herbies.

The first thing you notice as you come in the door is how classy the décor is. There were nice picnic tables to eat on and this beautiful mermaid hanging over the doorway. It was the normal Keys rustic. You are in the islands, mon.

Nancy raved about her shrimp Caesar salad. As for me, I don’t know how you can call rabbit food a meal. Now a nice iceberg heart lettuce salad with red cabbage and lots of cheese on top is a nice side dish to a big old steak. With this salad I kinda get it. I mean look at those shrimp on top. Nancy said this was the best Caesar salad she had ever eaten. Well that must be an exaggeration, but again LOOK AT THOSE SHRIMP.

She said the dressing was mild enough that all the flavors came through especially the shrimp (see I knew it was the shrimp).  It also had a nice nutty parmesan on top. OK, that I understand. I’ll eat most anything if you put enough cheese on it. (I draw the line at tuna. I can’t eat stuff that smells that bad.) The moral to that story is, “Anything will taste great covered with fresh shrimp and cheese.”

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Seafood Quesadilla / Key West 2

Please welcome once again, guest bloggers Uncle Gene and Aunt Nancy!  : ) 


With Gene Morgan and his favorite traveling companion Nancy

The Florida Keys are islands with ocean all around. It is about 120 miles from mainland Florida to Key West. There are 42 bridges on that trip. Most folks know where things are by mile markers rather than addresses. While we usually do most of our eating near the Key West end of the island chain, we are going to start in the Middle Keys with one of the few real towns on the keys, Islamorada.

Around mile marker 77 you will find The Hungry Tarpon. It don’t look like much, like many restaurants down in paradise. It is part of Robbie’s Marina complex along with gift and art booths and the famous feed the giant tarpon docks. There is nothing like having a six foot fish eat out of your hand. Inside the restaurant is the usual island rustic décor.

If you want to eat shrimp for many days in a row you are going to have to eat some odd combinations along the way. Now Nancy loves shrimp and is a big fan of quesadillas. Why not both. When shrimp is as fresh as it is in the Keys, any combination can be tasty, and it was.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Key Lime Pie / Key West 1

Please welcome guest bloggers - Uncle Gene and Aunt Nancy!  I've asked them to share some of their wonderful stories and pictures from their recent trip to Key West.  I'm really excited they agreed, and I hope you will be, too!  Gene is a really exciting writer!  : ) 


With Gene Morgan and his favorite traveling companion Nancy

Sunset is celebrated every night in Key West Florida. That tradition was started many years ago by playwright Tennessee Williams and now the whole town does it. There is sadness found in the eyes of many of the revelers on the Mallory Square dock now a days. Out there beyond the pirate ship, beyond Sunset Key, far out on mother ocean lies a monster. It creeps slowly across the gulf destroying all sea life in its path. My advice, get yourself down to the islands and eat all the seafood you can before it all taste like motor oil.

We are starting at the end. This is the town where highway one stops. A few blocks from mile marker 0 is Sunset Pier on the gulf side of the island. This used to be where the shrimp boats dumped their daily catch. The smell is almost gone. It is now an upscale restaurant with expensive food and good entertainment. We always come here early in our visit to the Keys to watch the sunset and most importantly eat some key lime pie.

Until we ate key lime pie at Turtle Kraals we rated Sunset Pier as the best pie in the Keys. Actually the best key lime pie in the world comes from a little café in the town square of Ashville North Carolina and there ain’t even any ocean around. There are many kinds of Key Lime pie, so by the best we mean our favorite kind. Some are sweet and some tart. Some are strong and some are weak. Some are baked with key lime juice, eggs, and sweet condensed milk. Others are like cream pie using cream cheese and are not baked. Both kinds can be good. We like ours not too sweet, not too tart, but with plenty of flavor. These at Sunset Pier rate real high in all areas, with or without accompanying alcoholic drinks.

We started at the end of the highway with desert. Coming up …. You guessed it ……Seafood.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Greasy food is sometimes Yummy

And sometimes the company is even better than the food.  : )  Tonight I was expecting to dine at a steakhouse of some sort, but Anthony changed his mind, so LJS/A&W is where we ended up.  I do so love their hush puppies!  And cheese balls.  Mmm!  Now, eating fish is healthy.  Eating the fish I ate tonight is so totally NOT but so totally GOOD!  : ) 

Oh yeah, and that coleslaw, which I normally love? DISgusting. : ( Mom even tasted it & said it tasted like it'd gone bad or something. Eeeew.

These cheeseballs, however, made up for the yucky slaw.  A little ranch dressing & mmm, tastey! 

And of course, hanging out with this guy, and his brother.  : ) 

That's about all I have for this restaurant!  ; ) 

Until next time, goodnight! 

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Riefe's - Salmon

First of all, if I haven't mentioned it before, I am very picky about salmon.  The first time I ever had it was in Alaska, and that is the standard to which I hold all other fillets.  Thunder Bay, Aramark, and Red Lobster so far have had the salmon around here that I've enjoyed the most.  Riefe's does a lot of things well, but I'm not sure I can recommend this dish.  It wasn't bad, at all.  It was quite good, and I ate all of it right up!  And my enjoyment may have gone down a little because their tartar sauce was yucky.  And the baked potato was... again, just okay.  A little disappointing - I mean, Wendy's can do a decent baked potato, ya know?? 

However, as usual, their cream soup (cauliflower) was SUPERB!  Our basket of bread was delicious.  Mom's salad, Leyton's walleye, and Anthony's CrazyBurger were all quite good as well.  : )  Leyton enjoyed his jello, with whipped cream, and chocolate milk - no longer in a kiddie cup! 

So, as always a terrific experience, but for salmon I think I'll stick with the 3 places mentioned at the top.  : ) 

Until next time, where do you find great seafood? 

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


Today I felt like having something DELICIOUS for dinner, so I texed my friend Becca & she was game for some Noodles & Company.  I met her & Nate after work.  Nate was in a bit of a mood at first, but he got over it quickly & was really awesome the rest of the dinner.  He's a funny little guy! 

Noodles & Company has ... well... noodles. Asian noodles - pad thai & the like.  Mediterranean noodles - lots of olive oil & fresh veggies.  American noodles - Wisconsin mac & cheese, butter noodles, etc.  Each category also has a soup & salad, and they have a variety of drink and dessert choices.  

Tonight, I chose Penne Rosa, a spicy tomato cream sauce tossed w/ penne pasta and sprinkled w/ feta or parmesean.  I chose Parm.  It was creamy & just a little kicky.  I enjoyed it very much!  My only complaint would be the fact that the bowl was not quite big enough for the amount of pasta & I nearly lost some during the toss!  I added some grilled chicken, as well, which was quite the flavor boost! 

Becca ordered the veggie-fied Pesto Cavatappi.  It wasn't quite as covered with pesto as it should've been, so she ordered some extra (which they charged her for, not sure I agree with that!).  She enjoyed it, and so did Nate, who kept asking for bites!  : )  

Nate's order was the Wisconsin mac & cheese, and it looked creamy and delightful!  He also had a chocolate chunk oatmeal rasin cookie, which occasionally made its way into the pasta dish!  LOL  

I had a HUGE rice crispie treat for dessert.  Seriously, it was like a hunk of pie!  Oh so good!  

This is one restaurant I definitely recommend for its yumminess!  It was the perfect DELICIOUS dinner!  Until next time - what's your favorite noodle dish? 

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


Oh my farden heck!!  I have found my new favorite sandwich shop.  It makes me think of Aunt Jan's Garden Spot Deli.  It is called Capriotti's Sandwich Shop.  I had no idea about it (with no TV, it cuts down on my local news, you know!) but someone brought a menu in to work & I happened to see it the other day.  One of their signature sandwiches is called The Bobbie.  It's what I ordered tonight, and it is... Thanksgiving on bread, is what I think! 

I ALMOST forgot to take a picture, as you can see, before digging in!  So, what we have here, is turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and mayo on delicious Italian bread.  Sooooo Goooood!  I would maybe add green olives, but that's because it's a family Thanksgiving staple. 

You should go to the website & check it out, for better photos, tho!  : ) 

The staff was very, very friendly, they spelled my name correctly on the ticket w/o asking, and... *drumroll* they are a Pepsi establishment!  You know how I feel about my Pepsi.  : ) 

So, until next time - What's your favorite sandwich shop?  Is it a local deli or a chain?  Do share!

Sunday, 6 June 2010


My friends Mel & Shawn were married yesterday, and they had a lovely party for the reception!  The whole theme was Hawaiian and beautiful. 

They had pulled pork and hot dogs, and then a lot of side foods that ppl made for the buffet - water chestnuts wrapped in bacon, marinated brussels sprouts, baked beans w/ lottttts of brown sugar, potato salad, macaroni salad, fruit & veggie pizza, devilled eggs, a meat & cheese tray, chips & salsa... it was all amazing!!! 

Clockwise from top left: Waterchestnut wrapped in bacon, devilled egg, roast pork, pasta salad, a meatball, girlled hotdog w/ ketchup, chocolate covered strawberry, and potato salad.

I loved the bacon wrapped water chestnut so much I had to go back for more.  This was a different kind of egg, some brussels sprouts made by the gal at my table (YUM!) and more pulled pork, this time with some bbq sauce, which just made the flavor kick! 

There were homemade pies at each table, and also a huge coconut tree cake.  Gorgeously done!  I've gotta remember to ask Mel who made it.  They did a great job!  Don't'chya think??  : )

I love potlucks, buffets, homemade foods in general.  This was a great variety and a wonderful idea for their wedding reception.  Mazeltov!  (sp?)  : ) 

Until next time - What's your favorite kind of reception food?  Do you like the buffet style, or would you prefer a more formal, being served lobster and sirloin kind of meal with wine courses for each?  (Oh, that does sound yummy as well!) 

Family Night at Sancho's

This past Thursday a large portion of my family met at Sancho's to celebrate Uncle John's birthday.  (At least, I think that's what we were celebrating, he & Aunt Debi were visiting from KY.)

I finally remembered to take pictures of the best tacos in the QC, also.  Yay!  Normally, these come with lettuce and a red sauce, but I like my tacos with just meat & cheese (and sometimes tomatoes). 

I love that they use A LOT of cheese and A LOT of meat.  No skimping on these tacos! 

Aunt Nancy kindly let me take a picture of her chicken enchillada, which looked delicious as well.   : ) 

Until next time - What's your favorite thing to order at a Mexican restaurant?  Are you like me, and it depends on the restaurant?  Or do you order the same dish no matter where you go?  I'd love to hear your stories!!  : )