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.
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