I find visits to Southern Florida to be slightly challenging for a variety of reasons including food, culture, small minds and big freeways. By participating in a poetry festival this time I thought that a big giant dose of culture smack dab in the center of my Florida experience would be cure for my Florida ills and give me to opportunity to visit my father with relative comfort. Poetry, along with meditation, is sort of working, but it is hard to deny the iconoclastic capacity of Florida to dash the spirit with giant swaths of concrete, agro drivers and strip malls. But there is sunshine everywhere so I must have gratitude.
On Tuesday evening I went with my father and step-mom to the Moose lodge, because that is the center of their social world, and a new younger member has a line dancing class. My father and I cheered Beverly on as she participated in the dance lesson.
The next morning I headed out bright and early to get in a little email and internet before my class. Internet was a fail thanks to my computer forgetting it could connect to public wi-fi, but at least I got coffee out of it. I made the decision to try a new coffee shop the next day despite this being the home of the ultimate breakfast sandwich that is currently performing better than any picture I've had on Instagram in quite some time.
It was my plan, based on the research I did the night before, to get lunch at one of the actually good restaurants in the Delray Beach area after day two of my poetry workshop - however, my Dad started calling before class got out wanting me to meet up with him for lunch and hang out time. Lucky for me the new and improved Whistlestop Public House where my father frequents has a full menu and pleasantly surprising good food for a little bar in a strip mall. The old Whistlestop was recently destroyed in the name of development but it had been there for over 50 years - it was literally a hole in the wall with a Chinese restaurant of questionable quality next door.
This the ceviche I ordered with fresh shrimp and mahi mahi in it. It had a strong lime overtone but worked with the cilantro, tomato and cucumber all mixed in.
After hanging with my father and meeting some of his friends from outside the Moose lodge community we headed through the afternoon rush hour traffic back home where I was to meet up with Beverly for girls' night out. She scoped out a place called Farmer's Table for us to go to visit prior to my arrival in Florida. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I did some writing and hung out with AJ the cat. AJ is one of three furry friends residing with my Dad - the other two however are too shy to come out for the camera.
Farmer's Table is probably the first and only farm-to-table, organic vegetable, grass-fed organic meat establishment to grace the stages of Boca Raton in recent or ever memory. Needless to say it is definitely the hot restaurant of the moment as it was all a bustle. A place like Farmer's Table on the west coast would be dismissed or passed by without blinking, but in Southern Florida it is a beacon of fresh food in a wasteland of under-vegetabled souls. It has such shocking foods on its menu as spagetti squash "pasta" and vegetable lasagna (made completely of vegetables). My father referred to the place as "vegetable palace."
It however, is far from vegetarian, featuring many chicken, beef, pork and seafood dishes alongside the radical use of vegetables as a main dish. It even has two vegan main courses on the menu. We started wtih an appetizer of local Florida venus clams in white wine sauce. They were a perfect blend of garlic and wine and just the right amount of chewy that you expect from a large fresh local clam. I also admired the daintiness and beauty of their pink shells.
We washed the clams down with an Alberino from Chile which took some conversation to decide upon with our waiter - who was not used be asked so many questions about the wine list. He was very fixed on price point, and I was very curious about flavor, we eventually worked it out after he handed me his "cheat sheet" that had the flavor notes on it he was supposed to talk about with me.
This cheesy looking lovely is the vegetable lasagna with a slab of fresh mozzarella melted over the top. It was a very large portion so luckily Bev and I were splitting everything so we could taste more things. At first glance you can assume that the lasagna is made completely of zucchini and tomato - but upon slicing into it you find about 5 layers of other vegetables including red pepper, portabella mushroom, eggplant and carrot. It had a subtle sweet fresh vegetable flavor with a nice tomato and herb zing. The mozzarella was super stretchy and bouyant with a nice light cheese flavor signifying that it was in fact actually "fresh" mozzarella. I had woke up on this fine morning asking the universe for vegetables and my wish was granted by this lovely lasagna.
For the hearty part of the meal we landed on this grilled flank steak with fig reduced onions and a potato something-or-other. It was tender and filled with the flavor of a cow who lived a happy small farm organic existence. The potato stack it is leaning on was also very tasty for a stack of potato slices both herbaceous and brimming with potato - again confirming that the food in this establishment was actually fresh and organic. Finally erasing my skepticism just based on flavor.
I took my view of the Angel Tree, located just outside of Charleston as a sign that the establishment actually meant business about their food. It was also a really cool piece of syncronicity.
After dinner, it was still girls' night so we went somewhere blitzy, Boca Town Center, and Rocco's Tacos for some fancy margaritas.
We were seated outside under the heatlamps because it was a chilly 60 degrees outside - too funny. It colored everything red that I attempted to photograph.
Including the guy who made our guacamole by hand directly in front of us.
The gaucamole end result was quite good, but doesn't look as that appealing when it is bright red in a photo.
Reaching a state of severely full we packed up the rest of the guac, finished our margarita and made our way home so we could get enough sleep for Thursday.