Sunday, January 21, 2018

Louie's Backyard

Writing about restaurants is not my preference.  First, I haven't any recondite culinary knowledge  - what are furikake, spaetzle or soba for example? Second, my view of a successful dining experience is that it involves more than the restaurant. There are any number of factors antecedent to a pleasant evening out. So while the putative theme of this account is one of Key West's more celebrated restaurants - Louie's Backyard - it is in fact merely the wallpaper to what has marked the conclusion of a sublime day on Key West for us.  Having said that, it would be unfair of me to pretend that Louie's Backyard wasn't a signal ingredient in more than the food.

No doubt it is part and parcel of my bipolar tendency that I have trouble seeing beyond the extent of one day to another. Essentially it's all or nothing; which means I become completely absorbed in the current state of affairs rather than having any capacity to render a larger view of life based upon a summary of historical details.  The good news however is that when things progress swimmingly - as they did today - it is a pleasure for me to relate the events which transpired.

Not to overdo the gastronomic element, I will gloss over breakfast merely by saying it started our day well - coconut French toast glazed with white chocolate and smothered in maple syrup and strawberries for His Lordship and mountains of protein for me (and fresh fruit to start). That rendezvous was just around the corner at another division of the Casa Marina hotel where we're staying.  We bicyled there and back.

We sat on the outdoor patio overlooking the water . The sun was working hard to pierce the pervasive cloud cover. The clouds cast a moderate gloom upon the day, sharply relieved whenever the sun broke through brightly.  By the time we finished breakfast and were headed back to the hotel the sky was rapidly changing to overall blue.  The temperature was rising.  We decided to brush our teeth then go for a cycle.  This was all welcome because based upon last evening's weather forecast it was predicted that the skies would be cloudy today and that rain was imminent. Like the weather in the Caribbean islands, the weather on the archipelago of the Florida Keys is erratic.  One moment there are black clouds and rain; the next, azure skies and blistering sun.

We reversed our bicycle route today from yesterday.  That is, we began by pedaling into the heart of the City then swung around the north coast onto the south coast back to our place of commencement, about ten miles in all. We did however steer away from the popular routes like Duval Street. This afforded us a safer and quieter ride plus we also got to see more of the conch houses for which Key West's historic architecture is famous.

As soon as we regained our hotel room I donned my bathing suit and headed to the pool.  There the attendant set up my chaise longue with a cover and arranged to have a bottle of fizzy water delivered. The place was fairly packed. Three middle aged ladies next to me ordered rum punches to get them started. Later they reviewed the food menu and ordered things for themselves, quipping about the damage they were doing to their mid-section.  Meanwhile I melted in the hot afternoon sun.  After an hour or more I rose to go to the pool for a refreshing swim. There weren't more than three people in the pool at the time.  I have not made it into the Ocean on this trip and I suspect I will not before we leave in two days. Key West never attracted me to its surrounding waters other than for its emerald green colour (which I assume is the product of the underlying white coral bed).

We had arranged to dine at 6:30 pm at Louie's Backyard.  We had earlier discussed that we would walk there this evening, which we did.  I left the pool - after more sunbathing and another dip - around 4:00 pm.  Preparatory to our departure to dinner we sat on the balcony of our room overlooking the hotel pavillion and sea below.

In preparing for our outing I assembled a collection of items I had recently bought, basically yellow shorts that fit (marginally smaller waist), a white Polo shirt (Izod actually) and a black merino wool sweater. I am a confessed clothes horse.  When I have the further advantage of a tan - and the momentary sensation of being sylphlike - the combination for me approaches ecstasy!  I also cleaned a pair of tortoise-shell spectacles which I seldom wear; and sported my Bulova watch with the fake rose gold bezel and black rubber strap that has become my favourite.  Earlier this morning I had clipped my finger nails.  So after my shower and putting on my fresh clothes I was feeling pretty fine.

On our walk to Louie's Backyard we were treated to the sight of a pleasant evening sunset.  We subsequently discovered that the lower level patio at Louie's is a regular outpost for the cocktail crowd to catch the last rays of sunshine.  It was there that we joined a crowd while we waited to be called to the dining area.  We ordered two Beck's non-alcoholic beer which frankly tasted remarkably good. We hadn't time to finish our beer before we were beaconed to our table.

Our table was immediately adjoining the perimeter of the outdoor patio so we had an unobstructed view of the sea.  We later discovered that we were below the flight path of jets arriving at the nearby airport.  The airport in Key West is a bit like a train in a small town; viz., inescapable. And like the sound of the trains, one becomes accustomed to the sound of planes.  What we hadn't anticipated however was the spectacular sight afforded on a clear night when seeing the underbelly of the incoming planes at such close range.  The sound naturally heralded their arrival; but more captivating was the sight of the white, red and green lights against the purple sky, rendering the appearance of some mystical spaceship with nothing between the lights.  Eventually as the plane approached and began its descent the fuselage came into view and gave substance to the light show.  It was all over within seconds.  We then resumed our chit-chat and eating.

As for the meal and the restaurant, we're booked to return tomorrow evening. The buttered lobster was fabulous! The salads were extraordinary, literally. The local hogfish - which are speared, not netted - was a first for us both.  It was surprisingly flavourful. There were sweets and fresh berries with heavy cream for dessert. And espresso coffee. The linen and silver service blended well with the thick wooden furnishings. The staff were professional to a fault.

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