Monday, February 8, 2016

Dineatfish- A Fish Restaurant

It's at Mile Marker 14.5  which is close to Baby's Coffee at Baypoint. It's been through a few transformations, most recently as Kaya Eats, an oddly named place. Now it's known simply as "Fish" which is not an easy name to look up online. A nice clean uncluttered interior:
They built the place alongside Highway One and made a kind of sports bar out of it, years ago: 
It faces west over the water and the mature trees on the south side give you the impression of eating in a forest. Happy hour is one of those pernicious institutions that causes alcohol to be sold cheap, I got my old favorite a bottle of Yuengling while my wife branched out and tried a ginger beer mojito and it wasn't at all bad. 
We decided to have three appetizers for an early dinner, First  we had curried mussels and they were very good, not too hot but spicy enough with a green coconut curry. Then we tried the pork tacos which I found a bit sweet but they got five stars from my wife, so what do I know?
 I enjoyed the glass my Yuengling came in, putting me in mind of old single cylinder motorcycles, known as "thumpers."
The rice balls were superb, and tasted as close to the homemade ones I used to get as a child made by my great aunt. They were less a cheese puff and more rice and tomato inside with pieces of red bell pepper that give them a slightly tart refreshing taste. I could have had another helping of these.
My wife noticed the interior seemed less noisy than it had during the Kaya period. Also the service was great, attentive not fussy and prompt. 
 We made reservations for the Valentine's day dinner which as I am working means we will have to come early. I guess that means we liked it. Lower Keys eateries are doing well. Thank god for snowbirds who demand more!
Here's the link: Fish

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Boating 2009

Gone Boating

First published here on April 21st 2009. I miss the waters of Ramrod Key in Newfound Harbor for interesting boating with swimming holes and diverse anchorages. The canal was long and overused so there were too many boats to swim in it but the waters outside the canal were lovely.  The only thing I miss about that island are the boat rides:
A sunny day on my canal, my wife has gone to Fort Jefferson 70 miles west of key west with a friend, I am alone at home on a Saturday morning on my alternating weekend off. What to do?
When she got back the report of a night spent on a friend's boat at the Dry Tortugas should have filled me with envy, instead I felt just a twinge because I too had been out and about on the water creating adventure for myself. I decided to leave home with a bottle of water and no cell phone. Were I to need help I was going to have to find it on my own. I did leave a float plan on the kitchen counter for burglars and my wife to find: Gone to Tarpon Belly Key via Niles Channel, alone. I figured that covered all that a rescue party might need to know, so I swiped some sunscreen on and got going:I have always wanted to live on a canal with a boat at my dock, and now that I do and have done for half a decade I find myself still marveling at my good fortune that my canal on Ramrod Key is overflowing with mangroves and the houses follow no distinct architectural models:And then a pause for incoming traffic:Finally up onto a plane, 20-something miles per hour out into Newfound Harbor. My boat, a 14 foot (4 meter) Dusky, has no lights or instruments, as simple a machine as I could find after years of struggling with systems on my sailboat, but it tracks true across the water:My idea was to buck the light south wind for a mile and take a short cut to Niles Channel where I will head north with the wind at my back. The day was hazy and the water was hard to read but the bubba sticks made it easy to find my way:Past the boats anchored near the Niles Channel Bridge; these are the waters I stare down upon from the crown of the 40 foot bridge as I pass over on my Triumph:
The anchorage is down here and the Triumph is up there:The ability to be down here from time to time makes it entirely pleasant to be up there commuting, knowing that with ten minutes in my boat I can be down here. Some days I'm up there and the weather is foul and I'm glad I'm not down here, being tossed around. Beyond the bridge are the open waters of Niles Channel stretching to the Gulf of Mexico:With the small matter of a shoal area in the middle marked by two mangrove islands. the northernmost one was I believe called Money Key, until a wealthy musician bought it and changed the name to Melody Key, though the chart shows it as Howell Key. The island is a couple of acres in size and has a house on it:It seems an inconvenient place to live, a fact that has occurred to the current owner apparently, because for the unattainable sum of four point five million dollars, reportedly, this lump of mangrove could change hands. The views aren't bad if you, like me, enjoy flat waters:Because I was alone, footloose and fancy free I decided to bugger about a bit off the main channel and explore the mangrove passages. I cut directly to the west across the top of Knock'em Down Keys, a spot that seems godforsaken enough that no one would be there yet, lo and behold, an angler:Travel between mangrove islands in areas where the charts (if I'd had one) show shallow water is easy enough if you have a grasp of the basics. First read the water, and you need sunlight from behind you to do that. The ditty goes: Brown, brown run aground; white, white yes you might; green, green nice and clean; blue, blue straight on through. Which may or may not be helpful in determining water depth. I try to keep an eye on the vegetation because it's easy to slide too close to one side or the other of a channel if you aren't keeping your eyes open. Luckily the bottom in the back country shelves pretty uniformly in most places and it's unlikely you will go from four feet of water to none without warning. One hopes. If all else fails wave to the military at the blimp base on the northern tip of Cudjoe Key. Maybe they will take an interest in your welfare.You'd better believe they'll take an interest if you stumble ashore on their heavily protected base. And as one turns and heads north again to open water there they are again, anglers feeding the fish all over the place:And then finally, about 45 minutes after I left my dock, the object of the exercise hove into view, a long line of mangroves, from a distance a dark patch on the water, one island among many. Except, this one has a beach:Tarpon Belly Key has the distinction of being an actual island with dirt, pebbles, a very little sand and trees of the casuarina type growing above the waterline. There is also evidence of human use on the island with large blocks of cement lying around as though tossed carelessly aside. Tarpon Belly was once used to farm seafood, shrimp as I recall and my friend Robert remembers when there was a functioning truck sitting on the island used to haul materials around. Now all is in ruins and very picturesque it is too, overgrown and deserted. Except I had forgotten this was Easter weekend and everyone and his brother was out splashing around at Tarpon Belly Key. It looked like an RV Park:I figured this was neither the time nor the place for a meditative swim off the beach so I got back up on a plane, and made like a leaf and blew. Back out on the water buzzing along, the wind in my hair and the sunscreen bubbling under the sun, it could have been worse. They'll be gone soon, I said to myself, and I'll still be here. And presumably Tarpon Belly Key will be there too.And so back to Niles Channel Bridge. I was pondering so deeply on the injustice of other people getting time off at the same time as myself that I managed to take a wrong turn and found myself once again blundering around in mangrove channels unfamiliar to me. This time it wasn't fun because I wanted to get home. It's amazing how invisible the Nile Channel Bridge can be when there is a mangrove island between you and it, for all that it rises to the giddy height of 40 feet above the water. Eventually I got my bearings and got going again. I wonder how people will ever recall the peculiar feeling of being lost, even if for a moment, in a time when people turn on their GPS receivers even when driving even on Highway One, the only road available to them.I slowed down for a bit and played with the camera and the Old Flagler Bridge and the new arching Highway bridge.And then, off I went to park the boat and take a walk.....but that is another essay for another day.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Stormy Weather

Cheyenne was ready to get out of the house and I took her to the beach which was lovely as I hadn't been here in ages, ever since she started to get weaker in her old age.  I snapped this picture on Niles Channel Bridge.
Cheyenne loved sitting out after she had tottered around a bit. A puddle splash was de rigeur of course.
This next week is promising a blistering cold front with cold nights and cool days once again. Rain and then cold, we are having a real winter once again and the Conchs I work with are excited about the coming cold. 
Then the ibis moved in, the quiet locally grown chickens of the Florida Keys.
Some forecasts are promising lows below 50 degrees (10 Canadian degrees) this week and the old is supposed to last all week. Cheyenne will be delighted, and my wife will be pleased too at the reduction in air conditioning use.
 The weather rolled in when we were at the beach...
 ...but my dog ignored it.
I took refuge in the car during rain squalls but Cheyenne just gave me the stink eye when I tried to move her into the car. 

A brisk rub down with a towel just as the heavy rain set in and we were off home. Very successful day at the beach and there is a good chance we will have a whole lot more to come this week. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Adult Night Out In Key West

I am proud to say that Mexican food was my suggestion when herself asked where should we have dinner, and because herself grew up on California-Mexican food the answer was of course Lupita's on Bertha Street.
Lupita's Restaurant, Key West
There are Mexican choices in Key West, starting with Chico's on Stock Island and Old Town Mexican Cafe on Duval as well as Amigos on Green Street, but Lupita's in New Town hits the spot for Mexican food of a certain genre. I like the decor, Mexican/ American diner style, and the menu with dinner items under twenty bucks and fresh fish on offer as you would expect in an island town. 
Lupita's Restaurant, Key West
The Negra Modelo beer was on offer at two for six bucks so we shared them and each had a plate of spicy blackened fish tacos. They hit the spot even though I don't think of blackened as Mexican they were spicy and the salsa was fresh and the tacos were thick unyielding corn tortillas just as they should be.
Lupita's Restaurant, Key West
The winter weather has settled down and Key West has been lovely lately, sunshine breezes and cool nights, exactly what you want when you are driving your wife's convertible Fiat 500. Bertha Street connects Flagler to South Roosevelt and the beach and its probably overdue for resurfacing but it will have to wait it's turn. The traffic light at Flagler is notoriously short too so Bertha is not recommended unless you like sitting in traffic or bouncing on the pavement. Lupita's is recommended though.
Lupita's Restaurant, Key West
The night was pleasant enough we decided to take a walk at White Street pier where the wind was whipping up waves large enough to burst over the sea wall. It was refreshing.
White Street Pier, Key West
The plan was to fulfill our promise to spend one day each week doing something fun otherwise 911buddy and work suck up all our time if we aren't careful. It's winter so it's live theater season and we do our best to catch stage performances. This one was easy- free teacher night so we essentially got two-for-one tickets. 
Waterfront Playhouse, Key West
The play was a tough subject discussing the AIDS epidemic decades on as the various survivors detail their struggle to refashion their lives. Joy Hawkins plays Katherine the bereaved mother who confronts her dead son's partner and  in so doing reopens old wounds and questions about surviving death and moving on. Hawkins gives an outstanding performance as an uptight withdrawn angry resentful mother still unable to come to turns with her son's death, still looking around to cast blame. Hawkins is well known in Key West as a vital alive and charismatic performer and it was shocking and hard to watch her play this character so perfectly, with never a false note.   
Waterfront Playhouse, Key West
The cast included eight year old Jake Ferguson who performed flawlessly, completely unintimidated by the high powered cast he was working with and gave the story the depth it deserved. Cal and Will played by professionals Matt McGrath and Trey Gerrald weren't going to miss a beat either. The ensemble was terrific enough that sitting in the audience one got the uncomfortable feeling of being a peeping tom in a private family drama. It was 90 minutes of spellbinding intimate revelations. Happily there was no intermission and thus the spell was not broken from beginning to end. We reeled from the theater.
Waterfront Playhouse, Key West
Pictures Courtesy Waterfront Playhouse web
I loved this review from the Chicago Tribune (LINK) from which I excerpted this discussion of Tyne Daly's performance as Katherine.
"My eyes were moist through a good amount of "Mothers and Sons," frankly, even in its more manipulative sections (especially those, really, McNally being so adept at making us feel the weight of age and experience). The show works not least because of the creative team's enormous sympathy for his anti-gay, fictional mother, a character whose pain has ennobled. In the play's most eloquent section, Daly's Katharine gets to argue that partners move on, find other lovers, marry, adopt, gain a life pockmarked with slowly fading grief but a life, nonetheless.

Bereaved mothers, though, are not so lucky, especially if they refused to really know their sons when they were alive."
Sponge Market, Key West
It was of course a lovely wander back to the car. Thoughtful but lovely.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Winn Dixie And Trees

Big Pine's Key Deer Shopping Plaza as photographed by me in 2007.
They say a Floridian defines a good parking spot by the amount of shade available.  Not much of that in the Key Deer Plaza in Big Pine anymore.
They came, they saw, and they tore them up by their roots. Why? Some say its to discourage free range chickens in the lot. I'm no great fan of wild chickens but all this to get rid of them? It doesn't make sense to me and the chickens weren't hurting anyone. There has to be a reason I'd like to think, but I have no idea what these idiots are thinking.
Key Deer shopping center is no great aesthetic success from an architectural point of view but with trees it wasn't totally gross. I got this picture off the Web as I never really thought it worth while photographing this place. Who knew they would tear it up and make it as ugly as sin? The Winn Dixie Plaza in Key West, more properly known as Overseas Market has lost some trees. This is as it was:
And they've done the same tree slashing in Key West to loud noises of irritation from the shopping public. I hate cutting stuff down and honestly I've avoided going to Overseas Market to see the destruction but here it is. It's not as awful as I feared though the middle of the lot has lost all shade:
One likes to think there is a reason for this sort of behavior especially in a  town with a tree commission and all that, but  I figure its all in pursuit of something as base as commerce and money. I hope they are made to re-plant proper shade trees but who knows.