9.27.2012

St. Augustine, Florida

Last weekend Taylor and I decided to go see St. Augustine. St. Augustine is an old city about 40 miles south of us that is known for being rich with culture, history and a fun place to wander. We've been hearing about it since we got to Florida, but put it off until the weather cooled down a little, which was genius of us.

We took the scenic route, along the coast past the dozens of bikers out enjoying their Saturday morning. We stopped at a Gate gas station at the half-wayish mark where I found pink Rockstars! If you don't know this about me, I love pink Rockstars. The marketing / branding is so perfect I can't handle it. And yes, they taste amazing. Anyway, I guess Rockstars are only king out west, because we've only seen three flavors max here (Regular, Diet, Lemonade) but there, in the little gas station, was my flavor. I bought them out.

Needless to say, my day was already awesome. But it continues:

We started by hitting up a farmer's market near the amphitheater. It was small, but full of interesting people selling whatever it was they loved; everything from ribbon angels and ceramics to sea food and pickles on a stick. Yeah, that was my favorite too. Pickles and olives.


We then just went and walked around the old part of the city and the fort. We didn't have any plans, we just wanted to get a feeling for St. Augustine because we definitely want to go back. The city has a quaint feeling, leaving you nostalgic for a European world you've never seen before.

 



Our first stop was in a chocolate shop for some ice cream. (Obviously.)



The town was settled by the French, then taken over by the Spanish before finally becoming part of the United States. The Spanish influences wins throughout the city, as you can see by these buildings. This was near Flagler College, across the street from which was a posh hotel. The whole thing was very 1920's glamorous.


Below is the view looking out from the old fort, where we watched a reenactment of a ceremonial cannon shot.


For lunch we decided to backtrack to a pizza shop we found earlier in the day. On our way back we came across this secret garden. I want one.


Also, do you notice Taylor's new haircut? He did it himself. :)

Pizza: It was just like walking into a New York pizza shop. The owner grew up working at those places in New York, so when he moved to Florida he opened up his own shop. It was amazing.


So the real question is, when are you coming to visit?

9.19.2012

Plane Show & Puerto Rico

The past couple of weeks we've seen a lot of publicity for Wings 'N Wheels, a car/plane show at the local airport. We figured it would be a neat event so we went. It was pretty lame.


There weren't many cars nor planes so it didn't feel full and exciting. There were some things for kids to do, like spraying a miniature fire hose at wooden house cutouts, but not much for us. We were hoping for airplane stunts, but nothing while we were there. We were hoping to meet people involved in local flying clubs or something like that but the event was geared towards a different crowd of people. 



Anyway, the bright side of the day was on our way home we saw a restaurant called Las Antillas. It looked like a good Mexican restaurant (aka: hole-in-the-wall and did not say "Authentic" anywhere) so we stopped.

When we walked in there was a hot-plate setup and no menu. Our confusion was pretty obvious and when the abuelita from the back asked what we wanted Taylor asked if she had any tacos or burritos. She was definitely put-off and explained this was a Puerto Rican restaurant.

She quickly warmed up to us again when Taylor got excited and said he'd never had Puerto Rican food before and started asking questions. We ended up with a plate of rice, veal, plantains and I ordered an empanada on the side. Taylor got an Inca Kola, and yes I know that's Peruvian but it worked.


So delicious! We will definitely be going back, although I will admit; I could not understand her Spanish to save my life. Heaven help me I felt so lost but I don't even care, the food was incredible. Anyone have any experience with Puerto Rican Spanish?


9.17.2012

Taylor's Birthday (Kind of)

Taylor's birthday was in August and thanks to some disappearing mail my parents' gift to him was delayed. Before I tell you what it was I need to set some premises.

Here are a couple things you should know about Taylor:

  1. He doesn't like celebrating his birthday.
  2. He doesn't like "things."
  3. He loves food.
Here are a couple things you should know about my family:
  1. We love celebrating birthdays.
  2. We love giving gifts.
  3. We love food.
When I was in elementary school my mom had the idea to go Hamburger Hopping for dinner one night. That meant we stopped by four or five fast food restaurants where we ordered one meal to share between the five of us. After eating 1/5 of five meals everyone got full and we have a distinct memory of being together.

So, in an effort to resolve the six facts listed above, my mom sent Taylor a list of three BBQ restaurants in Jacksonville along with some money so we could go BBQ Hopping. I know, my mother's a genius.

We only made it to two restaurants before getting full and only one is worth mentioning: Sticky Fingers.


We ordered a hamburger, pulled pork sandwich fusion because it was unusual and some wings that had been grilled because we had never heard of doing wings that way before. It was all delicious. We will totally be back.


Happy birthday, Love!

9.13.2012

Roadside Jacksonville

Taylor and I have been trying to explore Jacksonville as much as possible so we spend time driving down unknown roads. I try not to stop him every time I see something interesting, but there are times when I can't help myself. Or even better, when we're walking and I can snap a few pictures here and there. Like this one: The VW Bug matches the house.


One back road drove us through the tributaries of the Saint John's river and we can across a sign that said "Steve's Boiled Peanuts."


 I first tried boiled peanuts in South Carolina a few years ago with my best friend and her southern mother so I call them "bowled" peanuts. I don't know if it's the Alabama in my blood or what, but I love those stupid things so Taylor and I bought a bag of Cajun-spiced peanuts from Steve. They were awesome.


Have you ever tried bowled peanuts?

9.10.2012

Island Barbeque Competition

 The best thing I’ve found so far about being in Florida is the variety of events around us. I have a list of areas to check out, places to go and events to attend. The first event I found was an annual BBQ cook-off competition that takes place on Amelia Island. Amelia Island just about 40 miles north of us and it is a quiet area, an island by technicality rather than an island out off the coast, and it is gorgeous. I told Taylor we have to go back when the weather cools and just explore.

As soon as we parked and walked up to the event you could smell the food. I love the smell of BBQ and there were smokers and pits all over.


Yes, this guy does have an alligator head next to his grill because he was cooking it. They weren't selling the meat for a couple more hours so we weren't able to try any, but it sure looked awesome.


After wandering around the tents I was pretty overwhelmed. How do you pick which person to buy meat from? There were so many varieties of meats, styles and people I had no idea. We went with our gut (aka: the team with the longest line) and got a half-rack of ribs and I wanted to try the shrimp hush puppies, because that was the most interesting non-meat item I saw. Plus, the lady selling them was wearing shrimp earrings.

We ate along the coast-edge of the event on a picnic table. The meat was tender and delicious, the sauce was tangy but not overpowering and I got my fingers all messy; the perfect barbeque combination.


And then we went to the beach. How was your weekend?

9.07.2012

Korean Ice Cream

I am obsessed with ice cream. It's in my blood to love it, an inheritance from my dad's side of the family. Naturally this has led Taylor and me to search around Jacksonville for Florida's finest ice cream shops.

The most interesting one we've found is called Three F(x) Ice Cream. It's a mix of Cold Stone and Sub Zero. You pick the flavor ice cream you want (I got raspberry and they had to blend the berries up in the cream. That was a huge bonus for me!) and they pour the base liquid on a cooled metal slab where they mix it around with spatulas until you get creamy, delicious ice cream. I got raspberry ice cream with almonds and chocolate chips.


The intriguing thing about Three F(x) is they promote themselves as an ice cream and waffle shop so Taylor ordered a waffle with Bavarian cream filling. It's hard to say "We didn't know what we were expecting the waffle to look like" because we all know what a waffle looks like. Square, gridded with squares and delicious. So imagine how excited I felt to have the waffle lady drop this off at our table:

Yes. That is a fish waffle. And it was delicious. We've been back to the shop just for waffles because they're that much fun. I may just become a waffle connoisseur.

Apparently fish waffles are popular in Japan (their official name is Taiyaki) but this shop is owned by Koreans, so along with my waffle and ice cream we watched Korean boy band music videos.

Did I mention that Jacksonville is fun?