Saturday, October 24, 2015

Florida to the Rescue

There were no plans or expectations when it came to our most recent last minute visit to Florida. If you haven't noticed, I crave plans and expectations. It was nice to throw those personality traits out the window for a bit and just leave things up in the air.

This post is going to lack visuals - we tried our best to be in the moment and keep social media, work and picture taking to a minimal.

We arrived in Miami and decided to check out South Beach for lunch and enjoy some time at the beach. We wanted something different for lunch and stumbled upon a Peruvian restaurant, Chalan on the Beach. We had one of the best Sangrias and fell in love with this amazing Peruvian Aji.  Oh dear, I cannot describe the deliciousness of this sauce, but I know I will be craving it in the near future.

South Beach
We stumbled upon a small kiosk owner selling bracelets.  He was from Glasgow, I couldn't help but purchase a few bracelets after his response to our question of if he was indeed Scottish, "Aye... fu#*&@ right I am."

We planned for an overnight at Loews in Miami, but once the rain started and the people got drunker we decided to hightail it to to the Gulf Coast.

Our time on the Gulf Coast was full of sunshine, relaxation, beach time, beautiful sunsets and good food.

Eat & Drink 
Trackside Donuts & Cafe

1. Trackside Donuts (Bonita Springs) - We may have ate here more than one time. It would have been three times if they would have been opened on Monday. It definitely has that old time diner dive feel, but the donuts cannot be beat. I would say the best we have ever had.

2.  Dolly's Produce Patch and Eatery (Bonita Springs) - Loved the old time country feel of this place, and its neat offerings indoors and outdoors (fresh pies, produce, jams). We ordered a typical breakfast and the portions were on the smaller side.  Just enough, rather than total food coma. We fell in love with the grandma's house vintage Corningware plates our food was served on. They also offer outdoor dining which was an added bonus.

3.  Smokin' Oyster Brewery (Ft. Myers Beach) - DELICIOUS! My husband had a combo bucket (oysters, mussels, clams, shrimp, snow crab, corn and potatoes). I am not a seafood eater myself but this was impressive. A meal so good it comes with tools, bib and wet towel.  I ordered the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and it was the best I have ever had. Loved the ambiance and its location could not be beat. Not on the beach but in the middle of the Ft. Myers Town Square fun.
Smokin Oyster Brewery
4. De Romos Gourmet Market and Restaurant (Bonita Springs) - This was a recommendation from my grandparents, and we were so glad we took their advice.  It's a unique market/restaurant combo offering fresh seafood, made to order sandwiches, bakery items and import items for purchase.  They have an impressive selection of antipasti. My husband had the linguini alle vongole and he compared it to his mother's.  He is ridiculously picky regarding this dish and De Romos nailed it. He needed a soup for the remainder of the sauce. We ended the night with a couple of pastries to-go.

5. Doc's Beach House (Bonita Springs) - The whole drinks on the beach and beautiful sunsets had us coming back for more. We also had their version of bang bang shrimp which was delish.  Watching the Cubs game and eating Chicago style pizza was also a plus.  If only they offered mixed drinks.

6.  Mangoritas (Ft. Myers Beach) - Strong delicious beachy cocktails and friendly service. The fried portabello mushrooms were also pretty dang good. It's also a great people watching location in the middle of Fort Myer's Times Square

7.  Tuscan Bistro (Bonita Springs) - We wandered in here for a couple of drinks and will definitely be giving the food a try on our next visit.  An old time Italian atmosphere and strong drinks with one round on the house! The owner was working the dining room floor and the bar was full of regulars. I quickly fell in love with the ambiance of this place.

8.  House of Brewz (Ft. Myers Beach) - lots of beers. I had a cocktail and wasn't a fan, but my husband had a couple of delicious pumpkin beers that I even liked! Pumpkin Stiltskin - amazing! Fall in my mouth.


We do very little shopping while on vacation with the exception of a kitschy homemade piece of art or souvenir trinket. 

1. Miromar Outlets (Estero) - Impressive selection of stores including Saks and Neiman Marcus outlet stores.  It's probably the largest outlet mall I have visited, so wear comfy shoes!

2.  De Romos (Bonita Springs) - As mentioned above such a unique restaurant/store combo. We walked a way with a couple of different vinaigrette, seasonings and sauces.


1. Fort Myers Beach & Barefoot Beach - We spent the majority of the time at the beach with these two being our favorite spots.  We found parking to be a bargain as compared to Chicago parking rates, and they were both ridiculously close to my Grandparents place in Estero, where we were staying.

2. Fishing - My husband did some fishing off Big Carlos Pass while I read Crazy Rich Asians.  Best book ever.  My husband even enjoyed the hilarious footnotes scattered within the book. Raunchy asian gestures were the inside joke of our trip.

3. Fort Myers Pier - Definitely walk the pier. We saw a bunch of dolphins and it was fun seeing all of the fishermen's and their catch.

4.  Naples Zoo - This zoo was a breath of fresh air.  It is not too big, but not too small.  It is scattered with interesting trees, plants and flowers.  I do not consider myself a zoo person, but I would definitely come back just to feed the giraffes and gawk at the monkeys on the boat tour.  We also had a chance to see Uno the endangered blind Florida panther. It was a great afternoon.

5. Flamingo Island Flea Market - We did not buy anything, but we would probably do it again.  Who doesn't want to peruse a flea market while sipping on a mimosa?

In conclusion, it was exactly what the doctor ordered and then some. We were fortunate enough to stay at my Grandparent's place which is so ridiculously beautiful on its own.  A resort in itself. We enjoyed quiet mornings sitting in the lanai waiting for another unique bird to arrive and dips in the pool after returning home for the evening.

I couldn't have asked for a better getaway thanks to this guy who gave me his full attention. I don't think he checked his work email even once.
definitely not my best picture, but as I said we didn't take many!
Baci also had a vacation of his own staying at my friend Maria's.  She sent us off on Friday with a full spread of italian meats, focaccia and pastries.  They then welcomed us home with three different pizzas from their pizza place. Baci enjoyed a visit to the pumpkin patch and a new bed.  I have no idea what I would do without this woman in my life. My appreciation for her cannot even be put into words.

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