Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Goodbye Fort Lauderdale, Hello Ogunquit

I dont know why you say goodbye, I say hello....
                                                                                       -Sir Paul McCartney

Goodbye Cafecito Cubano
Hello Carpe Diem Coffee
Goodbye Palm Trees
Hello Pine Trees

Goodbye swimming fins
Hello flannel shirts
Goodbye  warm Gulf Stream
Hello Gulf of Maine
Goodbye warm pools
Hello vernal pools
Its time to follow the migratory birds and get back to our nest.....
as we say adieu to our adventure in Florida and bienvenue to Maine. The homeward bound journey begins!

Blogger/Innkeeper Greg wears flannel in Maine and fins in Florida!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fort Lauderdale at Night...

I like Fort Lauderdale during the day. The abundant sunshine and palm trees swaying always makes this place a tropical playground. But at night the city moves to a different vibe. Things seem different, the air is fresher and the music is faster. I've taken some pictures on my Sprint LG Android Phone. It's a simple camera phone with no flash...Here are some of night views from this week in Fort Lauderdale...

Fort Lauderdale's centennial celebration is this month!
 Early evening along the sea wall. The wall is styled after a wave. The ever changing neon colors adorn the wave wall, as runners, pedestrians meander along this scenic path. The wave wall starts at Sunrise Boulevard and ends at South Beach Park. Trendy Las Olas Boulevard (Spanish for The Waves) starts at the beach and ends at downtown Fort Lauderdale...
As runners run along the wave wall at night, Swimmers swim in the well lit pool at The Hall of Fame Swimming.
 Mannequin's show-off styles, on well heeled Las Olas Boulevard...
There are many 24 hour diners in Fort Lauderdale. It's always fun to see the night people enjoying a meal during the late night or early morning. The Floridian Diner actually has great food day and night. This diner on Las Olas is a Lauderdale institution......
There is a vibe at Vibe on Las Olas in downtown Ft Lauderdale. Red velvet ropes corral young ladies  wearing Baby Doll dresses, as men with dark suits keep watch. This uber cool club is at the end of Las Olas.
Some diners are not open 24 hours...
Larry Flynt's empire stretches to the shores of Fort Lauderdale. This department store, is part novelty store, part exotic clothing, part video, and part marital aid emporium.....The Neon has a deco quality along Sunrise Boulevard...however the name Hustler, is not too deco....
The Iconic Gateway Cinema has been pleasing crowds for 60 years as of today!
 There seems to be a Publix Grocery store in every corner...in Fort Lauderdale.

 Yet, some vestiges of mid-century Fort Lauderdale shopping still exist This Jetsons-esqe drive-thru convenience store offers ice, beer, cigarettes and other items for people who do not want to get out of their vehicles....

Neon is everywhere! I wonder if I should join this club??

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Catfish Deweys Seafood Restaurant Review

Our time in South Florida is waning, so its time to try to hit some of our favorite restaurants before we head north to Maine. We decided to visit one of our perennial favorites: Catfish Deweys Seafood Restaurant.

As a New Englander, always living close to the ocean, I really do enjoy a good seafood platter every once in a while....
Catfish Deweys located on Andrews Avenue on Oakland Park has been serving tons of farm raised catfish, gulf shrimp, stone crabs and scallops for over 27 years. Our friend, Gail is a server there, so Mike, Jay and I decided that all-you-can-eat Shrimp Tuesday would be a good day to visit this uniquely American haunt (actually any day is a good day to visit Catfish Deweys).

There is always a line at Catfish  Deweys, so it best to go a bit early. The restaurant lacks the charming curb appeal some of the newer eateries entice you with. However their enticement lies in the comfort southern style seafood. The dining room is large and well lit. If you are looking for a quiet romantic place to woo a date, this may not be the place. This is a place with red and white checkered table clothes, ice-tea and mounds of comfort food.
My buddy, Jay and I got the "all you can eat" shrimp/catfish/clam strips. Whats unique about  Catfish Deweys is that the shrimp are lightly battered with beer, and not overcooked. A side of rice, and salad accompanied the heaping plate....I am not a fan of catfish, but surprsingly the catfish is tasty here. The shrimp are perfect a nice medley of peel and fried shrimp accompanied the mounds of clamstrips and catfish.
Catfish Deweys serves a large volume of people nightly, so you know that the seafood is fresh, and the frying oil is changed often....

The Details:
Catfish Deweys
4003 North Andrews Avenue
Oakland Park, FL 33309
Telephone: 954 566 5333
Prices $12.95 to $19.95 ( all you can eat shrimp $16.95)
On line Menu
Parking available, there is also satellite parking at neighboring business. Very casual atmosphere. Crowd tends to be a south Florida mix of locals, visitors and French Canadians. Lively bar, with sports/music and news. Busy lunch crowd, and an early bird menu us available too. Website is pretty good, with specials, and there was a free appetiser coupon. Service is great. Much of the staff has been there for many years.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Zuckerello's Restaurant Review, a St Joseph's day Feast!

This time of year is full of celebrations: St Patrick's Day, rites of spring, mega moons, etc. However, one holiday is somewhat overlooked, St Joseph's day. Yes, good ol' St Joe! Patron saint of tasty kids aspirins! (actually patron saint of carpenters and pastry chefs).

St Joseph's day is celebrated on March 19th and is a minor holiday celebrated by Italians. I sometimes think its an Italian-American  response to the garish St Patty's day festivities that happen in large urban areas. In honor of St Joe,  we skipped the corned beef and beer crowd; and  decided to visit one of our favorite Italian restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, Zuckerello's.
Zuckerello's opened in Fort Lauderdale in 1989. The Italian inspired restaurant is located in a traditional south Florida strip plaza near other restaurants and business. The decor is a mix of  warm Mediterranean paintings and contempo jazz photography. A mix of dining tables and comfortable booth banquettes offers a nice choice of seating. There is also a lively bar with March madness basketball on the flat screen.

Zucckerello's offers early bird specials and nightly specials. There is also a happy hour at the bar only. The restaurant showcases its specials upon walking into the restaurant with a description and price, which is entertaining for the hungry eye to see!

Our server was polite and very attentive letting us know what specials were available. The maître d' was also very accommodating and informed me that the pepper seared tuna with wasabi potatoes and mango salsa was a chefs favorite.

I decided to give the tuna a try and I was not disappointed. I usually do not like potatoes with my fish (especially tuna), but I did like how the wasabi mashed potatoes complimented the tuna. The sushi grade tuna was nicely seared and sliced in a tower on top of the the mashed potatoes. Sides of fresh ginger and broccoli  accompanied the tuna and mango salsa.

Mike got the veal Parmesan with angel hair pasta. The meal had the right combination of pasta and veal, with a tangy marinara sauce. Our buddy Mark decided on the Chicken Sorrento with the eggplant tower with angel hair pasta. The eggplant was delicious combined with the chicken Sorrento.

Saint Joseph (San Giuseppe in Italy), is revered in Sicily, where legend has it that the island experienced a severe drought during the middle ages. The Sicilians prayed to San Giuseppe and rain followed. After their crops where saved, the Sicilians honored the saint with a large feast. Therefore, its fitting that we go out and honor St Joseph with our own feast! I have fond memories of my Italo-American father honoring St Joseph during the St Patty's day weekend. St Joseph's day is also fathers day in Spain and Italy. Happy Father's day Papa!

The Details:
3017 E. Commercial Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Menu for Zuckerello's

Prices are moderate to high. Great early bird menu from 4 to 6, seven days a week, with most items under $20. Serving Italian and seafood favorites in a relaxed atmosphere. Clientele is a mix of snowbirds, senior citizens, locals, and Wilton Manors boys....Service is good and attentive. Atmosphere is warm and inviting.

Blogger/Innkeeper Greg enjoys a St Joseph feast at Zuckerellos in Fort Lauderdale!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Idyllic March

Beware of the Ides of March...
                              -William Shakespeare

The Ides of March may be tomorrow, but the month of March in south Floida is quite Idyllic and nothing to be afraid of....
My winter routine is quite basic: run, swim, rest, repeat. The weather has been so nice this year, that my morning runs are usually without a shirt; just shorts and  my running shoes. Today's post run is spent fueling up on breakfast, and getting ready to swim with Hammerhead Aquatics with Coach John.

Today's noon swim workout was at Sunrise School:
Swim 400 yards
Kick 200 yards
Kick 25 yards, swim 25 yards x 8 at 1.10 minutes.
Swim pool mile with pool buoy:
11 lengths 275 yards 20 second rest
10 lengths 250 yards 20 second rest
09 lenghts 225 yards 20 second rest
08 lengths 200 yards 20 second rest
07 lengths 175 yards 20 second rest
06 lengths 150 yards 20 second rest
05 lenghts 125 yards 20 second rest
04 lengths 100 yards 15 second rest
03 lenghts 75   yards 10 second rest
02 lenghts 50 yards   10 second rest
1  length    25 yards -hit the showers!
Total: 1650 yards or one pool mile + 1000 yards grand total 2650 yards....
Equipment: Speedo bathing suit, goggles,  pool buoy, kick board, 15 sunblock!
Now, its time to rest.........
My time is winding down in this idyllic place, and soon we will be heading back to idyllic Maine for yet another season.
Blogger/Innkeeper/runner Gorio prepares for another run along  route A1A, and Fort Lauderdale Beach......

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Swap Shop, Fort Lauderdale

Once a year I make a pilgrimage to the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop. Its something I can do only once or twice a season. The reason? Its just to overwhelming. Its advertised on television as "Florida's second biggest tourist attraction".
Think farmers market, meets flea market, meets carnival, meets drive-in cinema. Part kitschy and circus like, the Swap Shop is an amalgamation of products and people from every corner of the globe.
The Swap Shop is 88 acres of vendors of every kind. Dealers from  New England selling priceless antiques next to newly arrived people from Haiti selling hubcaps and used Tupperware. There are approximately 2000 dealers. Some specialise in electronics, jewelry, clothing, produce and many other categories...

On approach to the Swap Shop from Sunrise Avenue, its hard to miss the over sized American flag juxtaposed the mid century kitschy drive-in cinema screens. Ferris wheels, amusement rides and an exotic car museum are some of the attractions. The drive-in was opened in November of 1963 and has been featured in some movies. The 14-screen drive-in theater doubles as the largest drive-in and largest daily flea market in the world....
The food court is a microcosm of Florida with flavors from all over Latin America and beyond. I noticed that many of the visitors of the Swap Shop today are middle aged/senior French-Canadians. As I walked through the miles of aisles, some vendors addressed me in French.

The range of products seems endless:  Impostor Designer Perfumes, hip hop gear, faux designer bags, first communion outfits and Muslim hijabs are crammed into small stalls, and kiosks.

Many business' in south Florida got their start selling rummage at the Swap Shop. This vendor "packs up" after a busy day....
The Swap Shop, always an adventure.....
The Details:
The Swap Shop (aka $wap Shop)
3291 W Sunrise Blvd
Fort Lauderdale ( Lauderhill), FL 33311
Open every day ( including holidays)
Plenty of parking available on 88 acres. Price for parking varies with days and times.
Drive-in, Flea Market, 2000 vendors and mini carnival...

Friday, March 4, 2011

International Swimming Hall of Fame Museum

Treat your body well, and it'll see you through for many years.
                                            -Johnny Weissmuller

Every day I run past the Swimming Hall of Fame. Located near the beach, this complex houses a museum, Olympic size pools and a library. Over the years, I have swam at the Hall of Fame and visited the museum. Today, I decided to re-visit this Smithsonian of swimming. The International Swimming Hall of Fame Museum showcases exhibits related to swimming, water-polo, diving and pool related activities.

Fort Lauderdale is internationally  recognized  as the World's capital of swimming, diving and water polo since the Hall of Fame opened in 1965. For generations, university and college swimmers would train in Fort Lauderdale in the wintertime. The omnipresent Gulf Stream keeps ocean waters warm in the winter, and the abundant sunlight creates ideal conditions for year round training.

The main building showcases, a kaleidoscope history of swimming. One such exhibit is Ben Franklin's Useful Hints for Learning to Swim from 1788. The "Black Splash" exhibit features the Civil Rights struggle in the Jim Crowe south during the 1960's with photos.

There is also an exhibit wing located above the Pro Shop that features the art of swimming. Paintings, prints and photographs related to swimming, diving and water polo throughout history are displayed. Bruce Weber's photos are showcased as well as other photographers like Guillaume Deutsch.
Bruce Weber's B&W swim photos on display.
Johnny "Tarzan" Weismuller is immortalized at this museum, with a life size figure.  Also included are Tarzan ephemera, and Weismuller's  swimming gear from different competitions and movie memorabilia. The museum also showcases swimming in the entertainment industry.

Greg Louganis' five Olympic medals, swimsuit and memorabilia are on display.

There are exhibits on Water Polo. Water Polo for years was dominated by the Hungarians, which is fascinating considering Hungary is a land locked country....
The Mark Spitz exhibit is interesting. A Life-size wax figure depicts Mark Spitz' 1972, 7 gold medal performance. The display includes the actual Munich pool starting block.
The swim suit exhibit features bathing suits throughout modern history. This is the pious hijab Islamic bathing suit, I don't think this would be good for doing laps...
The Details:
International Swimming Hall of Fame Museum
One Hall of Fame Drive ( one block south of Las Olas Blvd, East of A1A)
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
Telephone: 954.462.6536
Admission is $8. Special pricing for students and seniors. Parking available on site. However, there is cheaper metered parking across the street starting at $.75 per hour.

Open Mon to Fri 9am to 5pm
Sat & Sun - 9am to 2pm

Also at the ISHOF are pools for public use, a 25 yard and a 50 meter pool. Swimming programs and swim camps are also held there.
The Pro Shop/Gift Shop has a great selection of swimwear, books and accessories.