Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesday Travels: Savoring the Middle Keys

The road to you-know-where is indeed paved with you-know-whats. I'm a classic example of this sad-but-true fact. Yesterday, in the midst of preparing for my research trip to Islamorada and Marathon (two towns in the Florida Keys), I had the grandiose plan of posting a “Monday Munchies” about fried okra, with the intention of reminiscing about New Orleans cuisine before plunging into the somewhat different atmosphere of the Florida Keys. But, alas, between packing my duds, emailing my tourism contacts, and preparing my kitty for our four-day separation (sniff, sniff), the time got away from me... as it does to all of us on occasion.

So, I'm afraid my fried okra recipe (or should I say Becky's fried okra recipe?) will have to wait. After all, my brain is no longer in Louisiana – it's in fact focused on the Sunshine State, which, though cold this week, has not disappointed me and Dan with its promised sunny skies.

For those who have never been to the Florida Keys, it's important to note that addresses along the Overseas Highway (U.S. 1) are typically given as mile markers (MM). They start at about MM 110 north of Key Largo and end at MM 0 in Key West. Well, today, we were searching for MM 62, where the Conch Key Cottages awaited. After speaking with Patti, the pleasant general manager, about the area's highlights, we checked out our accommodations – an amazing two-bedroom cottage on stilts, with a lovely view of the ocean from our second-floor balcony – then headed into Marathon for a tasty meal at the Cracked Conch Cafe. We were especially fond of the conch combo (an appetizer including conch seviche, conch balls, and conch fingers) and, of course, the key lime pie, which was a classic blend of sweet and sour.

More details are forthcoming, but in the meantime, I just want to point out a long-held observation. When it comes to the Keys, Key Largo and Key West certainly receive the lion's share of attention. But, if you have the time, the Middle Keys are definitely worth a look, too. They might not be as famous as Key Largo or as flashy as Key West, but there's a laidback vibe that's well worth experiencing. And, as we'll discover over the next few days, there's plenty to do in the Islamorada and Marathon areas, from the History of Diving Museum to the Dolphin Research Center. So, we're bound to have a good time - in spite of this being one of the coldest Januaries on record - which, incidentally, won't stop me from testing out one of the kayaks near my cottage. If I manage not to drown (or freeze to death like many of the tropical fish down here have sadly done), I'll be back soon with more adventures. In the meantime, stay warm, wherever you are!

P.S. In case you're wondering, that's me (with my new haircut!) in the last photo, waving to the whimsical mural inside the Cracked Conch.

15 comments:

Stephanie Thornton said...

Just the mention of key lime pie has me salivating. Yummy!

Bane of Anubis said...

I was wondering if that was you -- you've gone incognito w/ the shorter hair... Dan's probably wondering when you're gonna dye it blonde ;)

Steph Damore said...

Dom will be so jealous when I tell him where you're at. He's been begging to go to the middle keys for years!!! (Die hard fishermen love the area, of course).

Cute new hair cut, BTW. How you liking it?

Oh, I have present for you over at my blog. Stop by when you have the time (ha, the time...)

Deb@RGRamblings said...

It sounds awesome down there. Love the sassy new "do", I liked mine when it was shorter - easy peasy. Have fun kayaking and don't fall in, brrrr!

And there's something for you over at my blog too :)

Matilda McCloud said...

Sounds wonderful! Can't wait to read about the Keys...a little armchair travel as I freeze up north.

Becky said...

Cute cut! I've always wanted to taste some key lime pie (I know, shame on me for never having it). Do me a favor and get Dan to find a good recipe to post!! Seriously! Again, thanks for sharing! Between you and friends of mine who live in Hawaii and regularly post pics and posts on FB, I'm really feeling the urge to some day experience the "island culture" myself.

Laura Martone said...

Steph T. - Uh, sorry about that. Key lime pie has that kind of effect on me, too.

Bane - Not blonde. Red. I'm gonna be a redhead soon. I can't wait (and neither can Dan)!

Steph D. - Well, if Dom wants to go, you two should do it! It is a big fishing area - especially when the weather's nicer. I really like the Middle Keys - the beaches are quite lovely, and the vibe is way more relaxed. As for the haircut, I love it! So easy to care for (which is a big deal for a tomboy like me). Oh, and I'll check out your blog shortly - thanks in advance for the gift...

Dawn Simon said...

I've never been to the Florida Keys. Sad about the fish. :(

Cute haircut! I changed my hair the last week of December, but I haven't posted a pic with my new 'do yet.

Have a blast!

Laura Martone said...

Deb - The Keys are awesome, that's for sure - and hey, it's finally warming up down here. Yahoo! (As for "do's," the shorter, the better - me and hair dryers do not get along.) Thanks, btw, for the award - it's much appreciated!

Mary Jo - I'm pooped tonight, but I'll be sure to post more Keys adventures tomorrow. Happy to help warm you up!

Becky - Oh, you must get on that - time for you to taste some key lime pie AND experience some island culture. I know! Come on down to the Keys - I'll show you around. You know you want to - and Biko would love it. Hehe.

Dawn - Not you, too! All right, that's it! Everyone needs to head down here pronto. We'd have so much fun - although, yes, it is sad about the fish. P.S. Thanks for the 'do compliment - you should post your pic, too! What's blogging for if not sharing such things with our pals?

thewordwire said...

I very much love fried okra, and anything taste of New Orleans, but the fare in the keys looks just as scrumptious. Glad you're feeling better.

Laura Martone said...

Thanks, Wordy! I'm not a good sick person - I get too anxious sitting still - so it's fun to be exploring again. And the Keys does have some amazing food, about which I'll be writing very soon!

Laura Martone said...

I meant, of course, the "Keys DO have some amazing food." Sigh. It's late, and I'm sleepy. Must learn to refrain from typing at such times.

Marguerite said...

One of my best friends lives in Islamorada! Haven't been there in a while, but would LOVE to be there, right about now! That dinner photo looks sinful!! Enjoy! And I love the new cut!

Anita said...

I love the hair!!! And your life is so full...awesome!

Laura Martone said...

What a small world, Marguerite. I might've even met her while I was down there. Islamorada is a wonderful place to visit - I can't wait to go back next week. P.S. Thanks for the haircut compliment. It's really easy to take care of.

Thanks, Anita! A full life is a good thing indeed - even if it does make me crazy sometimes!