Recently, the kids and I were lucky enough to tag along with the husband when he had the tough job of two conferences within two weeks in sunny Florida. 'I think I'll just base myself down there for three weeks in January' he had declared. 'Umm not so fast, I think the kids are suffering from Vitamin D deficiency and in the best interests of their health and well being, we will need to accompany you' I replied as the outside thermostat dipped below zero.
A quick google search had come up with a great little destination in between his venues that appealed to us for three main reasons: no high rises, no traffic lights and plenty of white sandy beaches. Oh, and the island (Sanibel) also happened to have loads of little hidden foodie treasures...
...Like the fab Queenie's Ice Cream
we found on our first night. Made on the island and in such delish flavours as Black Raspberry Chip, Cinnamon
and Toasted Coconut
as well as of course, Key Lime Pie.
As husband did have to 'work' for most of the week, I ended up taking the kids out on tiki tours each day. I can now tell you where every ice cream shop on the island is, as well as every bathroom! The first day was a little error in judgement on my part. Seeing a LIGHTHOUSE at the end of the beach, I thought it would be fun to walk there so packed a bag and we set off. You know how things often look closer and you lose perspective on long beaches, well after about a mile (!!) the 3 year old was fading and even the lure of ice cream wasn't cutting it. Guess who ended up getting carried...?
Hot and a bit bothered ...but we made it!
Day Two and more ice cream
, this time at a wonderful and pretty unassuming little Italian cafe, Dolce Tesoro
where they had some very interesting flavours on the gelato menu like violet (a cross between raspberry and roses) and an amazingly rich chocolate that was the consistency of tar...along with fresh pastries, cupcakes, and great coffee. Something on the menu that I noticed after
scoffing the most enormous scoop though, was stuffed croissants with delights as strawberry, honey and cream cheese or peanut butter, nutella and banana....next time!
Next day was overcast, so we hit a fantastic historical village
with a group of houses, shops and a schoolhouse full of fabulous old period pieces. Like a few of our fellow blogging team, I can't resist poking around old stuff so again, dragged the kids round 'the olden days houses' which they actually really enjoyed, especially as (unlike most other museums) they were allowed to touch things in many of the rooms! No 'real food' here, though a lot of the display food and kitchens did get us feeling rather hungry...such as
Miss Charlotta's Tea Room, with it's fab selection of fake cakes...
and a really cute 1920's prefabricated home from the Sears and Roebuck catalog which was amazingly well restored '... At a cost of $2211, Martin Mayer ordered it delivered in 1925. The building came to the island in 30,000 pieces on a flatbed truck aboard a barge. It was the island event of the year!...'
The last night on the island, we had to try one of the local haunts, Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grille
. Part owned by a successful local writer, Randy Wayne White,
this place was lots of fun and served awesome and very reasonably priced seafood and great cocktails...
The following recipe (which we ate) was taken from an article in the New York Times Magazine and is an adaptation of the chef's own dish...the sauce was so divine we were almost drinking it, long after the prawns (sorry shrimp!) had disappeared. And then I saw how much butter it contained... I have reduced this by at least half - though I'd have to say it's probably what made it so delicious!! Would be equally great with chicken.
Yucatan Shrimp (serves 4)
2 Tbspns butter
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
Juice of two limes
1 tablespoon sambal paste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound large, fresh shrimp/prawns with shell
1 tspn jalapeño, seeded and chopped
2 Tbspns chopped cilantro/coriander
Melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter. Add the garlic and cook, over low heat.
Add remaining butter to saucepan, stir in the lime juice, sambal, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to rest.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes or until they are just firm and pink. Do not overcook. Drain well.
In a large bowl, toss the shrimp and chili sauce. Add jalapeño and sprinkle with cilantro and toss again.
The UNBELIEVABLE and drinkable sauce...sadly no shrimps in pic as we scoffed them in record time...