Sunday, April 14, 2019

Florida Foodinista - Getting in My Final Licks

meal ready to eat in Long Doggers Cafe Palm Bay Florida
Shrimp and grits from the local Long Doggers in Palm Bay. 
Amidst a plethora of chain restaurants, supermarkets and big box stores, Space Coast Florida can claim some local culinary treasures.  Given my impending departure from the Sunshine State for who knows how long, I decided it was high time to treat myself to this area's unique eats and tell the tale.

No photo description available.
Countdown - less than one month to moving! Image pilfered from
While not strictly Floridian, I ate my first shrimp and grits in Marathon, Florida, served up for brunch by the talented Patty Hamilton aboard her spacious catamaran sailboat with several other couples. Best of all, Patty let me help her cook them. They were phenomenal -- not just IMHO  -- everyone who indulged whole-heartedly agreed!

Patty joked about the grits being a heart attack about to happen. Thus, while I know how to make them incredible, I would not consider  using that many irresistible artery-hardening ingredients  -- specifically mass quantities of butter and cream --  much less keeping them around, taunting me to put them to good use.

Eating them out, however enables me to minimize the damage and by design enforce some portion control while I  la-la-la ignore what makes them soooo velvety-smooth-melt-in-your-mouth-delicious.

A generous gift certificate gave me first taste of shrimp and grits locally, at The Nomad Cafe. It needed to be generous - as while the serving was generous and the Cafe prides itself on sustainable, locally-sourced food (one of the few restaurants awarded with Surfrider Foundation's Ocean-Friendly Restaurants designation), at $24.99 they weren't cheap. A pretty high price for low-country cuisine.

Yet they were superb. To steal Nomad's description, they were "Creole Shrimp 'n Grits,spicy sausage, creole tomato ragout of local vegetables." My tongue stood up a took notice and the vibrant flavors danced across its pleased surface, and while I arrived quite hungry, I left quite full of grits and nothing else but one drink.
reddish colored grits topped with shrimp and sprouts in a gray bowl
The Nomad Cafe grits. Spectacular. Inspired. Not traditional. Located in "downtown" Melbourne Florida.
Good as they were, I would not describe them as classic, but in a class of their own. In that sense, though, they were not the real deal.

Okay, maybe I'm just justifying my excuse to eat shrimp and grits again. It had been about five years since I last indulged, when my best friend and fellow foodie Anna visited me in Jacksonville, Florida.  I ordered up them up on our jaunt into St. Mary's, just over the border into Georgia. Ahem, yeah, I am making excuses for my indulgence!

shrimp grits st. mary's georgia
Classic shrimp and grits in St. Mary's Georgia.
Regardless, I polled NextDoor to ask where to find the best classic shrimp and grits nearby. My helpful neighbors responded with great enthusiasm.  I picked one of the closest spots, Long Doggers, which was recommended more than once. Long Doggers is a Brevard County institution, spun up by a couple local surf-bums who exploit the surf-theme in both decor with open-air seating and surf kitch. They've done well; there's six Long Doggers in the county.

After a walk at Viera Wetlands for their annual festival, I was hungry and figured I'd pre-burned at least a fraction of the calories I was about to ingest.

Long Doggers delivered. They were not Patty Hamilton good, but at $12.99 plus tax and tip, they satisfied. The shrimp was spicy. The serving, with classic cheesy, buttery, creamy grits, was enough were enough to fill me up but not weigh we down.

"That must not have been a very big serving," Wayne commented when he saw my Long Doggers shrimp and grits photo. "It was a big bowl," I told him.

It's hard to believe that the first time I ate grits, making the sojourn from California to Florida as a twelve-year-old, I declared my dislike for them, describing them as buttered cream-of-wheat with sand added. It probably didn't help that despite the elegance of the a classic Georgian restaurant, surrounded by massive oak draped in Spanish moss, that I was disgusted to notice cockroaches clambering over the coffee cup tray. It was an unpleasant early introduction to the bug-infested South.
Taste changes with time. This is what grits tasted like to me the first time I tried them as a kid -- sand!                 (Without conjuring up lovely beach images like this one in the Bahamas Jumentos)
Do you want a post on another local low-brow Brevard institution, Steak and Shake? 
And do I dare indulge and share again on another must-try locally adopted classic, chicken and waffles?
Location Location
Palm Bay,Florida, home for me until May 12, 2019.
Turkey Creek Sanctuary Palm Bay F;orida
Canoe deck,  at Turkey Creek Sanctuary. My favorite go-to place in Palm Bay for and evening walk near home.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Cruising Friends and High Places

For me, what makes cruising the most awesome isn't all the amazing places we've seen (though they are pretty awesome). It's the people we've met, especially the other cruisers who've quickly become lifelong friends. I imagine the cruising community is a bit like the old wagon train days, where we circle together for not only for protection, part of what makes us human even as we "get away from it all" is the desire and even need to bond. Those bonds run deep.

As our paths diverge, we never know if or when or where we'll meet again.  

When we do reconnect in person, it is a joyous occasion. We are birds of a feather, whose fancies of flight don't quite fit with the other flocks.

We break bread together, swap stories of shared reminiscences, subsequent adventures ahead.  We ponder the ways of the world and our own personal triumphs and challenges, often the families who brought us to a home that no longer feels like a home.  We belong to our boats, the water, the world.

Chris and Chris of Scintilla at Frazer Island, Australia, finally giving me a chance to return the favor of the drinks
they bought Wayne and me in Vanuatu.
Our friends Chris(tina) and Chris(toher) of Scintilla are the cruising friends thus far we've seen the most since we sold our sailboat Journey in Australia.  They graciously hosted us in Australia aboard their boat, on our very first night of boatlessness. We were happy to host them in our apartment in Pacific Northwest. We met in Florida several times. Sometimes we've only had time for a meal, in some halfway point on our separate travels. Other times we again were graciously hosted aboard the good ship Scintilla.

Given all that, I was delighted to help out when they admitted a little help on their mast would be welcome. WIth Chris(tina)'s iPad footage and my stills, you can get a sense of what scaling a mast is like if you've watched the video embedded in this post and why I was more than happy to do it.

I firmly believe our paths will continue to cross as we continue on our journeys across the earth and through life. We look forward to that.
Zoom-in view of Chris and Chris (aka C2) and Wayne aboard C2's boat, Scintilla
taken looking down from their mast in Fort Meyers, FL.

Location Location

We are in "Space Coast" on Florida's Atlantic side for another month or so; then move back aboard our boat in Portland Oregon. However, I scaled Scintilla's mast in Gulf Harbor Marina, Fort Meyers, the Gulf side of Florida, N 26° 32.140' / W 081° 56.280' .