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A Day of Key West Eating and Drinking

Sometimes a day at the office can be awfully fattening.

That’s what today was, as I wandered the streets on my appointed rounds recording the first-ever Key West edition of Delicious Mischief. Breakfast turned out to be everything key lime, thanks to Kermit Carpenter of Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe, which makes and sells not only the classic key lime pie but another version dipped in chocolate and frozen on a stick. Fact is, Kermit offers something above 150 products made with key lime juice, including a tropical fruit salsa, an Asian ginger-wasabi marinade and a terrific mustard-key lime barbecue sauce.

In a bar with more than 160 rums and its own Rum Bible, how do you decide what to drink? Well, if you’re doing a radio show, you sit down with rum guy Alan Gold at the Rum Barrel and taste the afternoon away. On the air, I think we tasted a mere six different rums, with Alan offering intelligent commentaries on each. It was Alan, in fact, who updated and expanded The Rum Bible a few years back when the Rum Barrel got even more serious about its rums.

I’m not sure what would qualify as the ultimate “rum cuisine,” but at the Rum Barrel on Front Street, the Original Burger is a mighty good way to address the odd feeling leftover from a rum tasting on a semi-empty stomach. And yes, the potato chips are made right here too. Another signature dish, which I felt duty-bound to sample, was the Philly cheese steak spring rolls, perfect for dipping into a bowl of melted white American cheese.

I spent the afternoon talking about Key West with Michael Hinojosa, South Texas-born GM of Ambrosia Key West bed and breakfast, and wishing I had enough money to buy most of the paintings at Gallery on Greene. Though Key West artist Mario Sanchez(1908-2005) is surely one of the gallery’s big draws, I especially like Karen Sheridan’s series depicting people at a market on the island of Guadeloupe.

And then I headed to Strip House for dinner. A favorite from our life in Houston, Strip House came to Key West’s Reach Resort three-plus years ago, bringing chef de cuisine Russell Brown from its New York operation. Yes, the chef and I ate some great steak while we did radio, but we also sampled locally beloved Key West pink shrimp and a seared grouper dish that might be the best fish I ever ate. Dessert? Well, that’s easy. Key lime pie, since what goes around must come around. What’s past is prelude, as Faulkner put it – especially when it comes to calories.

About John DeMers

I've been a journalist and author forever. My favorite single word in the English language is "foodandwine." This spirit drives my 45 published books and my weekly radio show heard in Houston, Dallas and Austin.

One response »

  1. The Rum Barrel has staff that are way more knowledgeable about rums and much more customer-friendly than Alan.


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