Sunday, November 20, 2011

Some times it is better to stay home.

Key West Regrets

Name withheld to protect the guilty

Tongue in cheek, not where it is supposed to be.

Fish Fry at the CLUB! The beer was the best thing on my table.
I like fried fish, because when done right, the fish is not over cooked, and the batter is not greasy. Tonight was an evening of double negatives… the fish was not over cooked, it wasn’t cooked enough; the batter was greasy. Not only was it greasy, it was sweet... Woe is me, I loves me fish; like Popeye eats spinach, I’m strong because I eats me fish, you might say that I am an a-fish-ee-on-ado.(?)

The shoe string fries were the same as they are when poured out of any bag from the freezer, some over done, some underdone, none tasting of more that grease, and salt, after I added it.

Being from Eastern Canada, I have acquired a liking for a most wonderful mélange, Poutine. Ask any Canadian, Cholesterol delight! Fries with shredded cheese, and gravy, food to die for, if it doesn’t kill you first. I asked if they had gravy, and the server (a wonderful server, by the way, but she wasn’t on my table, she was beside it…) said,”Yes” they did have gravy, so I asked for a side of gravy, hoping to recreate my favorite comfort food with wonderful, cooked just right fish.

There was enough salt in the gravy to make pickles, I guess that is what the beer was for, though, to get pickled.

My host was most wonderful, the server was incredible, the ambiance, well you know… the CLUB… I was in the smoke free area.

Will I go back? Sure, when I am driving past, and want a beer or two, and something to stave off the hunger? Will I search out the Weekly fish fry? Maybe a different night, eh?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Then we went sailing...

It was one of those afternoons, when you can grab a few minutes to just sit on the porch and tune into the sun, the wind and the sky. I noticed the bright sunshine, the blue sky and the honking wind. “Today’s the day” I said to myself. I climbed on to my bicycle and pedaled off to the Key West Historic Seaport. I had decided to go for my first sail aboard the newest schooner to join the Key West fleet, the Schooner America 2.0.

Again, I arrived early, to watch the crowd and see the anticipation grow. What a lovely vessel she is, lying at the dock with her 105 feet of sleek black hull enticing passers by to spend a while with her, as she lures you onto our turquoise sea, and into our ocean breezes. With free standing carbon masts over head, she makes a magical statement. Come sail with me.
She has the look of a traditional schooner, but under the hood she is all 23rd century technology. Built strong and light, she is a mistress of wind and speed, winning her first races, driven by Captain Andrew Neuhauser; she came first in the AA class at The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race.  

The passengers boarded, the amusing safety speech was delivered, the horn sounded, this regal vessel slipped her lines, slowly proceeded from her slip, and turned toward the harbor. The excitement of the passengers aboard was palpable.  As we turned nose to the wind, the crew jumped to their duty, raising 3 sails. I noticed that Captain Andrew, perceiving the strong winds, blowing 20 – 22 knots, had the main and fore sails reefed down. Yet, as we turned to catch the wind, she was like a steed when the starting gate opens, launching forward, grabbing the wind, slicing the seas. She made the other vessels look like they were standing still.

Underway, there were complementary beverages served; beer, wine, champagne, soda, water; platters of fruit and veggies; photo opportunities, chances to steer the boat, opportunities to chat with the crew or share this thrill with other passengers.

The other passengers were as excited to be sailing aboard this black beauty as I was. Speaking with one gentleman, he said that he had been walking down the dock, and seeing America2.0, he decided that she was the only vessel on which he would sail tonight. He also said that he would have paid much more the thrill, the pleasure.

As a long time mariner, I nosed around, going below into a beautiful salon; inspecting the heads, very clean; checking the Galley, spacious and well laid out; and the Nav station, very well thought out as well. Forward is the Fo’c’sle, where any blushing bride and her bridal party would have comfort and privacy to prepare for her special occasion, a wonderful wedding at sea.

Proceeding out the harbor, passing Mallory Dock, we waved to those stuck on shore. As we approached the mouth of the Harbor, Captain Andrew asked if the passengers wanted to go farther. A roar of “yeas” went up. I heard the Captain say ”Raise number one.” The crew went forward and raised our 4th sail, the jib. Again, she jumped, taking hold of more sail, she dug into the seas as if to fly to Cuba. Heeling over at 30 - 45 degrees, our speed increased to over 12 knots. As we cut through the surf, spray dotted our faces, and the passengers cheered. The racing spirit surfaced in all, as we approached our sister ship, the Adirondack III, and easily passed her on the leeward side.

As the sun was setting, the clouds were squatting on the horizon, and the sun slipped behind the cloud, only to peek out from the bottom, to say a last farewell to the day, and kiss the seas until tomorrow.

The lights were flashing, the terns were scooting across the water, rising and swooping as one, as we lowered sail and prepared to return to our slip. As she turned to go into the Historic Seaport, looking west for one more glimpse of the beauty surrounding us, I saw a shooting star flying across the sky. This was a perfect ending to a fabulous experience on the water.

Schooner America 2.0 is located in the Historic Seaport, at the foot of William Street. She is available for morning, afternoon and sunset public trips, or for private charters. For more information call 305-293-7245; or visit them online at

This one was a no go, since it had nothing to do with Key West

Switzerland is a small, steep country, much more up and down than sideways, and is all stuck over with large brown hotels built on the cuckoo clock style of architecture.”

“Hemingway's tracks in the snow are easy to follow. This was the Hemingway of the 20's. Back from the Great War, Hemingway was still on his way. A reporter based in Paris for the /Toronto Star/, a roving correspondent writing down what he saw in typical staccato sentences; he was juggling a vast appetite for life and a tiny budget. Before an assignment to cover the Peace Conference in Lausanne, way before Bumby was born; holidays were spent with Hadley in a cheap pension in Chamby above Montreux.”[1]

Things were very different in Key West for Ernest, and finding things much more sideways than up and down, he could spend his time in Sloppy Joe’s enjoying shots and mugs.

[1]This article was written by Mavis Guinard

Second article, went unsold, still entertaining, I thought.

Key West Delicious
By Barbara Blackmore
Old World Italian Cuisine
Fuhgeddabout de rest. Vito’s is da best!
Returning to Vito’s Piazza was something that we had been anticipating, and we were certainly thrilled with the results. We arrived early again, so we could linger over the tasty morsels that Giovanni and his crew would prepare and deliver to us.

Giovanni’s first experience with food was in his Uncle Vito’s shoe shop. A shoe shop you may ask. What has that to do with food? Uncle Vito had a full kitchen in his shoe shop, so between polishing shoes, and replacing heels, 10 year old Giovanni learned how to prepare wonderful Italian dishes from old family recipes. The people in the neighborhood would come in to eat lunch in this unique Delaware shoe shop. He then moved on to Uncle Joe’s Pizza and Sub shop, where he developed the skills to make the most excellent thin crust pizza, cooked just right. With the family descended from Calabria and Sicily the recipes are a proud family tradition. Here, ladies, we have an eligible bachelor who cooks.
Giovanni greeted us when we arrived, and our server, Joey showed us to our table, in the back of the tropical garden, again, so we could keep an eye on what was happening; people watching, as you understand, is another great aspect to fine dining.

Joey told us of the specials, and we asked what he would recommend tonight. He said that the Portobello mushroom sandwich was excellent, and perfect if you are seeking a vegan meal. He also recommended the Meat Lasagna, a new item on their ever growing menu, and the Mussels Fra Diavola.

As I looked around I noticed other locals sitting at nearby tables. Recognizing Kevin, I wandered over and spoke with him and his companion, Betty. They were back for a second time, after enjoying the five cheese lasagna and the Chicken Picata on their first visit.

Planning to enjoy a leisurely experience, we ordered appetizers first.  I had been anticipating the MUSSELS FRA DIOVOLA since my first visit, so that was my choice; my companion chose the BRUCHETTA.

As the appetizers were served, it was difficult to decide where to start, the bread service, the mussels or the bruschetta. But this is when the “So good!” chant started. Exquisite flavors, beautiful presentation; both appetizers were exceptional; with a nice glass of Hogue Cabernet Sauvignon to accompany.

We chose the VEGETABLE SALAD for the next course, and were so please when it appeared with spears of asparagus crossed across the top. The imported aged provolone cheese and pine nuts added exciting accents to this glorious treat, teased with their tasty reduced balsamic dressing.  Continue the chant…”So good! So good!”

We were so pleased when the next course arrived. We had decided to share the meat Lasagna and the EL ITALIANO PIZZA. My companion, of Italian Heritage said; ”Toss away all the other menus, there will never be another pizza like this one. The crust is divine and the bottom is perfect.” I agreed with the chant… “So good!” The MEAT LASAGNA was another hit with just the right balance of cheese, sauce, pasta, meat, herbs and spices. I chose the Ruffino Chianti to go with this course.

As our belts tightened, and our tummies moaned, we ordered dessert and Espresso. The CANNOLIS were homemade, as are all of the treats in this wonderful place, and my personal favorite, the Crème Brule was so creamy and… need I say more?

AS we pushed back from the table to sip the espresso, I noticed that several other tables had filled, even though it was still early; locals and visitors enjoying the finest Italian cuisine on the island.

I returned to Kevin and Betty’s table, to see what they had eaten. Kevin loved the Margarita Pizza, and Betty said that the Wedding Soup was so full of tasty morsels that she almost had to look for the broth. They plan on returning for another taste celebration, as do I.

Vito’s has expanded their menu to include several classic Italian favorites, and the best pizza in town. They are now serving personal size pizza; larger pizzas will soon be available. When you want the finest, “fuhgeddabout the rest, Vito’s is da best”


Vito's Piazza

My first published article...


It was a great evening, the evening that the USS Spruance was commissioned, a very moving experience. After the ceremony, my friends and I decided to have dinner at the new Italian Restaurant at 1019 White Street, Vito’s Piazza.

I had been watching the space for several weeks, after I noticed the Italian Water Ice truck outside. I was wondering what would replace “Out of the Blue.”  I saw the papers go on the windows, and the red, white and green pennants hung behind the papers. As the time passed this space was transformed into an Italian Restaurant, and the curb appeal was really good.

Since I was on my bicycle, I arrived before my friends. Peddling up, I heard the mellow tones of Frank Sinatra, singing a lovely song. I entered, and sat at the bar to await the arrival of my friends. I saw a few people enjoying their meal; it was still a little early. There are 2 red wines, a Chianti and a Cabernet Sauvignon, on the menu, and the bartender gave me a good pour for a taste of each. Thank you, Peter!

My friends arrived, and we were seated outside, in the back of the casual tropical courtyard; a unique location in Key West.  This was a very comfortable table, with the fan blowing gently, and the cooler night breezes. We had the choice of sitting in air conditioned comfort inside, or eating under the stars in the garden. Since the weather was so comfortable, we chose the garden and the stars.

The menu arrived and we searched for what would tantalize our palates. The menu is small, with some select items. It can be viewed at:!menu. The wait staff were friendly, and well acquainted with the menu and daily specials.

At our table, one person chose the Pasta Aglio E Olio, and a Caprese salad, another, the Chicken Parmesan, the third had the house salad, and I went for the fish of the day accompanied by a mini crab cake. We also ordered garlic bread for the table.

As we waited for our food, I noticed that several more groups had arrived. As the tables filled, the hum of people eating mixed with the strains of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Louis Prima, Frankie Avalon, and many more singing those wonderful songs we all remember; creating a comfortable ambiance.

The Caprese salad, bread and garlic bread arrived, the garlic bread was done in a press, with good flavor, and the bread service was of a light texture, and good flavor. The Caprese salad was beautifully presented, fresh and tasty. We all enjoyed sharing the bread and Caprese.

The entrees arrived, large portions and well presented. The Pasta Aglio E Olio looked very good too, with a generous portion, the parmesan cheese mixed with parsley wreathed the plate, appealing to eye and palate at $10.95.
The Chicken Parmesan, served with linguine and Vito’s Classic Red Sauce, filled the large plate, more than one man could eat and a generous portion of chicken priced at $15.95.
The fish also, looked wonderful, grilled to perfection, and topped with a delicious mini Crab Cake, drizzled with Vito’s Fire Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, very delicious. The garlic mashed potatoes were excellent and the asparagus was still crisp. This special of the day was $23.95.
The House Salad looked wonderful, a generous portion, crisp greens, tomato, cucumber, and crouton with the delicious house dressing. It was very reasonably priced at $6.95, a good value. They also serve a smaller salad for $4.95.

Portions were so large that we each took home our leftovers, and I had the opportunity to taste each of the other’s meals for lunch today, finding them tasty, I was very pleased.

The appetizers range from $2.00 for the garlic bread, to $14.95 for an Antipasto for two. I was very tempted by the Mussels Fra Diavola. I plan to have that next visit.
The soups are a favorite, Italian Wedding, and the soup of the day.
Many of the entrees are served as sandwiches and subs at prices varying from $8.95 for the Meatball, to $14.95 for the Maryland Lump Crab Cake.  All sandwiches are served with fries.
The entrees start at $9.95 for the Spaghetti and Vito’s Classic Red Sauce, and end at $27.95 for the Thick Barrel Cut Filet Mignon, for an additional $6.00 they will add the mini crab cake; a different type of surf and turf.
They have a children’s menu, 3 items at $5.95 each.

They are starting to serve Pizza as well, and I would like to try that.
The desserts also caught my eye, Tiramisu, NY Style Cheesecake, Limoncello Flute, Spumoni and, the fantastic one that I took home, Cannoli, either chocolate chip or regular, for $6.50 each.

Don’t forget, Vito’s Loves Locals, and offer Free Delivery.
Surprise your family with an incredible meal tonight. Call (305) 509-7716 for your to-go, delivery order, or just stop by and dine in.

To surmise, the food was delicious, and reasonably priced with generous portions. They know what they are doing. If you are thinking of anywhere else, fuhgeddaboutit!

Barbara Blackmore

The birth of Key West Blogging

I have been contracted as a writer for Key West History Magazine, and this has found me creating several articles which I believe , even though not sold, might entertain someone else , besides me and my room mate.
So, this will be the place where I place the published and unpublished articles, just because I would like to share them; I hope that you enjoy reading them, as much as I did researching and writing them, be well,