My US version of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives

Once I year I crave sunshine, a beach and total chill out time. This year I went to Florida, the sunshine state. Going in June is their low season, very hot and humid, way too hot for anyone to be stressed about anything and for me, just a perfect way to relax. I like the Gulf coast, the beaches are long and golden, the water is clear and it is never too crowded.

Everywhere you look you see something, for a Londoner, exotic. There are brown pelicans, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_Pelican, everywhere. The BT oil spill in Louisiana had a severe impact on wild life, http://www.nwf.org/oil-spill/effects-on-wildlife.aspx.

I spent the first week on St Pete Beach, http://www.visitflorida.com/St_Pete_Beach, it is on a key with a lovely beach, the sunsets are gorgeous and nothing much happens so a perfect place to wind down and completely chill out. The only thing I am missing is really good food. The best meal of the day I think is always found at the Seahorse at 800 Pass A Grille, they serve breakfast and lunch and some days I had both in there.

My favourite breakfast is crispy bacon, 2 eggs sunny side up and a large mug of coffee. They also have great pancakes, in true American style one is quite enough, but with a generous helping of maple syrup and bacon on top!

At lunch they serve one of the best clam chowders I have had, New England Style. I did try a place called The Wharf but the chowder I have to say was no where near as good as the one at the Seahorse, not as creamy and smooth, perhaps just a little rough in the edges. I never make clam chowder myself but I guess it is like Swedish meatballs, everyone has their own recipe.

They also have great hot dogs, all dogs come with raw onion and pickle cucumber on the side and I like to add tomato and cole slaw as well.

The melts are good as well, wholesome and hearty this was a Reuben melt. It is a sandwich supposed to be done with corned beef, mayo, Swiss cheese and sour kraut on rye bread, a sandwich for the hungry!

I also did a stop at the Waffle House, it is not a fine dining establishment but always hearty portions and a warm welcome, when on the road it it nice.

A long time ago I spent a year in the American South and The Waffle House I learnt the combination of waffle (or pancake) with whipped butter, maple syrup and bacon, I never eat this combination outside of the US!

Down the road from where I lived during my US year, there was a true dive, more like a shack serving barbecue pulled pork in buns. If you passed it it looked like nothing but the quality of the meats was amazing, the meat was cooked to perfect tenderness, pulled, all fat removed and mixed with a wonderful sauce. For anyone who wanted stronger they also offered hot, hotter or super hot sauce. I did dream of going back there for a long time until one day I learned that it closed not too long after I left. I have tried barbecue in many places in the US (and Europe) since but I have to say nothing tastes as good!

I did spend much of my days catching up on the American foods. I got some fantastic tips and ideas about grilling (so much I actually spent a night grilling meat and veg in my dreams!) but also about grains and salads. When back in London I can feel a whole new area (for me) to explore with healthy and great tasting grain salads. One that caught my eye the most was a black rice salad with mango that looked stunning, the next set of friends that comes over will be my guinea pigs!

After the first week I headed to Naples, Florida. The beaches are a little longer and has softer sand, the water is a little clearer and the offer of food within a walking distance is greater and actually better. Naples is quite quiet but a perfect place to chill out and still get the nice dress out at night!

There is a pier, always full of fishermen and today there was a dolphin swimming around hoping for an easy catch, how exciting!

One of my favourite seafood is crab and Pinchers Crab Shack in Tin City is a great place. They serve blue crab, in clusters, cooked to perfection and with all the tools to get to the tender meat. I had cold “eat&peel” shrimp to start and Margaritas, 2 for 1 all night to go with it!

Cold “eat&peel” shrimp

Margaritas

Blue crab clusters, small portion

There were a few diners, a few dives and the only drive through was Starbucks for that iced chai soy latte, perfect antidote to the 35C heat making life even better.

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Comments
2 Responses to “My US version of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives”
  1. Magda says:

    Beautiful post Petra! Made me really hungry…:) xx

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