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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Traditions On the Beach

     Who knew? The best meal of our Spring Break weekend happened right on our backyard, literally. Traditions is on the grounds of the Island Inn, our home during our stay on the west coast of Florida.
     White plantation shutters frame this large space. The wooden tables stand bare, prettified simply by forest green napkins, silver utensils and wine glasses. All seating is arranged in a horseshoe around a dance floor and a piano, so that every table party is equally able to enjoy the lovely standards being performed by the pianist and a female vocalist. If I hadn't been chasing the sunset, Hubby and I would've stayed to dance.
          John added to his beer collection with a Florida Avenue citrus ale and I ordered the Sanibel Sunset, recommended by our server, Josh. John actually verbalized an opinion about his beer. He said he detected the difference in flavor provided by the citrus. This time, my sunset cocktail was divine, and it gave me that happy, gentle buzz. Coupled with one of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever seen right from our balcony, it all made for a sublimely romantic evening.
      For dinner, I had the hazelnut crusted tuna steak with olive Salmoriglio, a Southern Italian condiment made of lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, chopped oregano and parsley, salt and pepper. A citrus sauce and ginger shavings completed the dish. Tuna steaks are traditionally cooked medium rare, which is not my preference. I know the chef must have cringed when I asked for mine to be well done. Our wonderful server, Josh, asked me to trust the process. He promised that he would coerce the chef into cooking the fish as much as his professional ethics would allow without ruining a great piece of fish. It came slightly rare and I loved it. Many times the 'crusted' features get lost in the flavor of the protein and end up being just decoration. This time, every bite of my fish had a lovely hazelnut aftertaste. The ginger shavings served as a flavor booster for the fish. That was a new experience for me.
     John had the Ravioli D'Aragosta di Maine (Maine lobster) in a creamy brandied lobster bisque. He slurped every bit of that bisque and sulked because there wasn't any more.
       Even the dessert menu had several attractive choices. Our server recommended theValhrona lava cake with bourbon vanilla ice cream. Josh was three for three. The whimsical circle of French chocolate cake had a dense but spongy texture and the perfect ganache topping. The ice cream needed a bit more bourbon but even with just a hint, it was the ideal companion to the cake.
     I collect sunsets like others collect seashells. Like the beachcomber, I look for diversity in colors, patterns and shapes. In some ways, it's also the way I approach every new dining experience, always trying new ingredients, new pairings and new flavors. Will I ever get tired of chasing sunsets? How could I when every one is different?

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