Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Series of Firsts

Jeff's Aunt Karen came for her first visit to the sailboat and the Florida Keys earlier this month. She was accompanied by Jeff's mom, Denise - a sister's getaway! They arrived mid-afternoon on a Wednesday just as I was getting off work and we all headed out to the boat to relax and float around a bit. Jeff had planned ahead and grilled us a yummy dinner of flank steak spiraled around fresh spinach and cheese with a side of mashed potatoes.

Thursday was to be our day in Key West to see the sites - another first for Aunt Karen. First stop was the Southernmost Point for a photo op and then on to Captain Tony's for a pirate punch. Carl Peachey was singing and playing guitar so we sat and listened for a bit.

Next we meandered our way to and around the Historic Seaport and ended up at the Schooner Wharf Bar sipping margarita's and enjoying the melodic emanations of local legend, Michael McCloud.

Pepe's, the oldest restaurant in the Keys, was next on our list. We sat at the bar while the bartender squeezed fresh juice for our cocktails.
Tell me, can you beat that?

From there, we headed to Mallory Square to take in the daily sunset festivities/fiasco as well as a completely breath-taking setting sun.

Afterwards, it was time to find some dinner and head back to the Middle Keys.

We stopped at Mangrove Mama's where we shared an order of fish dip for an appetizer. I made a special request and ordered yummy fried, cracked conch on top of a Caesar salad. Jeff had the scallop special and the sisters had seafood nacho's...all fabulous and tasty.

Friday was a day we did a whole lot of nothing - but that is one of our favorite things to do and it was a request by Aunt Karen! So we whiled away the hours listening to music and enjoying one another's company.
Evening found us at Castaway's, where Dan Sullivan rocks on Friday nights, for a bit of entertainment and dinner.

Jeff brought his guitar and took a turn up the stage, to all of our delight. It was a great turn out with a myriad of friends in attendance, and we all had a great time.

Saturday, we woke to a very wet and rainy day after a big storm in the middle of the night, but that didn't stop us from having a girls "alfresco" breakfast at the 7-mile Grill followed by bloody mary's at Castaways. Once fortified, we were off to the grocery store to pick up supplies for the evening and the 2 boxes of fresh oysters [72 total count] that I had ordered a few days ago.

We were about to have an oyster and lobster feast!

Back at the boat, Jeff started the grill and then started shucking oysters. The first dozen were slurped down immediately followed by sips of Veuve Clicquot champagne, provided by friends, Charles and Hilary, and quite delicious.

The next dozen or so were topped with baby spinach, irish butter, a bit of red onion, bacon, and parmesan cheese and then put on the grill to melt into yummy oysters rockerfella'...Thin Line-style!

More were eaten on the half-shell and another batch went on the grill. In the meantime, the lobsters were prepped and wrapped in foil, and eventually tossed on the grill. One lucky lobster tail was transformed into ceviche. I was a little nervous about the raw seafood, but it turned out quite well and was absolutely beautiful.

The lobster tails, after being grilled to tender perfection on the Cobb grill, were served with fresh asparagus and buttered, garlicky orzo.

We're talking seafood decadence!
And, despite the crappy weather, we had a lovely time with friends and family.

By Sunday, the weather perked up a bit and after a couple of bloody marys in the sunshine, so did we. Since we girls had done all the shopping yesterday, today we sent Jeff to the store. He came back with an 8-plus pound chicken for us to smoke on the grill. It took most of the afternoon, which was fine by us. We did have one incident when it came time to add more charcoal to the grill. Being so heavy, it was hard to find a place to sit the hot bird and the grate slipped and our dinner became a "bucket of chicken"...fortunately it was a clean bucket and the chicken didn't travel any further than that.

Monday morning came around and it was to be the girls' last day of vacation. The plan was to go out on the snorkel boat with Jeff and see him in action. We set off in different directions: Jeff going to work and us girls to the airport to get the rental car. We met back at the Starfish and set off to the reef. It was another picture perfect day with calm seas and a light breeze. Once at the reef, we could tell right away the visibility was going to be great. We all donned our masks and fins and jumped on in....snorkeling being another first for Aunt Karen! The sisters seemed to be having a great time kicking about and holding hands while seeing all the underwater sights. Before we knew it, it was time to head back, and we enjoyed a beverage at the bar while Jeff finished up his boat chores.
We kept it simple for the evening and ordered pizza to be delivered to the marina.

The next morning, it was time for Karen and Denise to head back to the mainland. It's always sad to see people you love leave, but we know they had a great time and hope they will both be back soon!