This place has the Keys to my Heart (har har)

Back to places that HAVEN’T broken my heart… Key West!

I did this road trip from Daytona Beach to the Keys in 2000. It was a little bizarre because it was during the US elections and as I sat in an art deco hotel turned hostel turned cheap ass sex trade hang out (the taxi driver was worried for me) I watched “the day after” coverage. It was weird to be in the state that caused so much trouble.

Any rate, I never actually made in down to Key West. I rented a car and had lots of stops along the way including the Cartoon Museum, some punk record stores and Coral Castle (Coral Castle I will leave for another post as it fits in well with the broken heart theme). This year I decided to make that trip again, only it was going to be a mad dash to the most southern tip of the United States.

Well, I fell in love! Sure it’s a tourist trap, but unlike any other tourist trap the quirky element of this town is BIGGER than the touristy crap. It’s hella frustrating actually getting there by car – because there is only one road in and  out and if you get behind a slow mover – god help you! But once you’re there your stress evaporates. (It’s hot, right? 😉 ) It’s a town that has one main drag where all the tourists hang out and lots of little nooks and crannies which are totally walkable whether you are staying in the action or outside of it.

The architecture was pretty sweet. Lots of old detailed houses. Like all of Florida there was PLENTY of real estate. Lots of people unfortunately lost their homes in this state during the crash of the big scam. Although, I have to wonder if most of the houses in the Keys are vacation houses. At any rate, they were still more expensive than I would have imagined and I don’t think my little day dream of moving there will ever happen 😛

There are wild roosters  that hang out, crow a lot and make mischiefs of themselves. Some locals want to “get rid of them” but so far they have held on. I certainly did not find them ugly, dirty or disease ridden – as the anti-Rooster jerks spout. They are incredibly beautiful and yes, I would probably get really mad if they constantly woke me up at 5am like they tend to do, but I would still love them.

There’s all kinds of weird and wonderful people… and GERMANS. Lots of Germans. They seemed very nice too 🙂 The postal worker, who was delivering mail on the main drag, was super sweet and she went around so contented like she knew she had the best job in the world!

The food…

Yes, that’s why you are here! Well the food was ever better than anything else! I was in Key West for a total of 24 hours and I managed to eat from 3 different places (and I went to one place twice!)

Things were a little more expensive than Toronto or other parts of Florida, but they did it right!

I had lunch at The Cafe, just off the main drag it serves up incredibly tasty food and has good hours. There’s a couple fish dishes on the menu but mostly everything is veg and there’s a decent vegan selection. I had an INCREDIBLE… INCREDIBLE chickn salad sandwich that had grapes and almonds in it! YOWZA! I walked to the beach with it.

Just beyond the sandwich you can see Cuba ha ha ha!

The health food store – Sugar Apple – was stocked ok and they had a nice little juice bar on the side that had a cute boy behind the cash. I bought some nice rice/millet crackers that you can only find in Florida. I love these things.

The same bakery, Sami’s, also does a really great gluten free chocolate chip cookie. Quite possibly the best GF choc cookie I’ve had. The secret ingredients seems to be soy butter? Check em!

Ok so after I scorched myself in the sun eating this amazing sandwich I did some more walking around, quite a bit of it in fact, and then it was dinner time. I had a nice raw dinner and dessert (which I saved for the next day) from Help Yourself although for the life of me I can’t remember exactly what I ate! I remember WHERE I ate it – on the OTHER beach – on the Gulf side – whose handful of inhabitants were very much NOT tourists.

Then I went over to Green Republic to get a sandwich for the drive the next day. I chose Corned Beef and I found out they make the vegan cheese themselves! How great and mysterious! I nearly bought of one their delightful looking cupcakes but I had to resist… because…

I then walked back over to The Cafe because they were serving a key lime cheezecake. How could I be in Key West and not eat Key Lime (although it’s sad to report that most key limes come from Mexico and Central America now because of Free Trade. It’s frustrating to think I was eating the juice of a fruit that I could have picked from a tree in some one’s back yard, but instead came thousands of miles away)? At this point I was extremely stuffed and had walked all day, so I decided to let my dessert wait in the hotel room as I went on a ghost walking tour (which turned out to be 2 hours long!)

Walking off dinner was a good idea because this was sooo rich and delicious I can still taste it:

It was tres fabulous!

What I liked best about Key West was the fact I could be a foodie tourist and STILL see mostly everything I wanted to see that WASN’T related to food. I can not say this of New York City. I’ve been about 6 times and each time I just go from place to place eating. I’ve only been to TWO museums/galleries on ALL my trips combined! Key West was mostly about eating and walking… two things I like very much 🙂

On a worried note – this whole BP oil spill could KILL Key West (OR the rest of the Gulf! Rest of the planet!) THAT would break my heart…

Broken Heart Vegan Tip #12: Living in a city that’s breaking your heart? Take out a map and take a good look at what’s around you. Get on your bike and go for a ride to a place you’ve never been to. I bet you will find a little nook and cranny of a park or neighborhood that heals your heart. Maybe it’s an East Indian grocery store or a park dedicated to roses… maybe it’s even a building that was built in 1910 in a town known for tearing everything old and beautiful down… Make it your own little secret bit of happiness.

Broken Heart Song #12 (No. No freakin Jimmy Buffet for you my friends)


June 21, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . dessert, entree.

One Comment

  1. Alisa replied:

    That key lime pie looks delicious! Sounds like you had a great time in Florida 🙂

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