More Key West...Cheeca Lodge in the Keys...Coconut Grove ceviche spot...
SOUTH FLORIDA – Forgot to mention a crazy bit I heard on a Key West radio station on my way down last week. The female disc jockey said she was new in town and was challenging Key Westers (Key Westites? Key Westonians?) to name the southernmost place in the United States.
Lots of folks think Key West is it, which is understandable given all the goofy hotels and inns around here (and probably sex shops, who knows) that proclaim themselves the southernmost in the U.S.) Key West is the southernmost town in the CONTINENTAL U.S. but it’s not even close to being the southernmost in the U.S. overall. Anyway, the d.j. challenged folks to get the right town and it took about 10 minutes for someone to get the right answer, which makes me think folks down here haven’t discovered the Internet yet or maybe had too many margaritas at Sloppy Joe’s bar. One person guessed a town in Texas. The next person at least had the right state, Hawaii, but wasn’t close by guessing Honolulu.
The correct answer is Naalehu (pronounced Na-ah-lay-hoo) near the southern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii. Infoplease.com says it’s at 19 degrees, 3’57”, while Key West is WAY up at 24 degrees, 33’81”.
Someone got it right, and even pronounced it correctly. So what did he get? Fifteen bucks at a local restaurant. I couldn’t believe it.
Fifteen bucks? Why not $14.75 or $17.24? Couldn’t they at least round it up to an even 20? Geez.
Wild chickens are all over the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Tahiti, too. And now I see they’re a force to be reckoned with in Key West, as well. “They’re protected,” one local told me. “They keep away the snakes and the scorpions.”
AND PAUL McCARTNEY LIVES JUST DOWN THE ROAD
There's a small island off-shore Key West, just opposite Mallory Square, with lots of nice looking homes. Someone told me Oprah Winfrey has a home on the island. I can’t remember the last resort I was at where someone didn’t say Oprah owned land next door. Really. The woman must have 1,000 places to live.
Crazy windy and half-sun/half-cloud in Palm Beach on Sunday, where the beach was closed due to Portuguese man of wars on the sand and riptides in the water. But it was pretty warm; up around 25 or 26 Celsius so no complaints.
“The iguanas were falling out of the trees,” she said, which must have been interesting for anyone sitting poolside. “Excuse me, waiter, there’s….”
Anyway, iguanas can’t handle the cold and basically fainted from lack of body heat. Apparently they were okay once it warmed up, waking up like they’d been hibernating or some such.
The Cheeca Lodge is a sumptuous spot; about halfway between Key West and Miami. They spent a fortune rebuilding after a New Year’s Eve fire in 2008, and it’s been redone with a Tommy Bahamas/tropical feel that’s quite exceptional. Very private, with luxurious gardens and good food, as well as a small, nine-hole golf course, man-made lagoons and a nice beachfront.
Lovely weather in the Keys on Saturday, but by the time I pulled into central Miami around 5 p.m. it was raining cats and donkeys. An hour later, of course, it was over, and at least I managed to spend a bit of money at Coco Walk, the upscale shopping centre in Coconut Grove.
I’ve read a ton of Florida detective novels, and they almost always seem to mention Coconut Grove as some kind of bohemian refuge. It’s gone high-end, of course, not unlike Queen St. West in Toronto. But there are still a couple inexpensive bars and funky shops and cool restaurants.
I had dinner at a place called Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar, which is a wonderful spot. You can order small porcelain spoons with various types of ceviche; raw fish that’s cooked in lime juice or other juices. There’s a basic swordfish with red onion, jalapenos, olive oil, cilantro and lime, or you can get more exotic with tuna mixed with soy, ginger, jalapenos, shallots, cilantro, lime, grape seed oil, avocado, cucumber and sesame seeds or calamari, all served around a small pile of roasted corn nuts. Some are Peruvian, others more Mexican style. All of them are good and a couple are simply superb.
They also have a full menu, including an average Argentina strip steak with chimichurri sauce and awesomely perfect scallops.