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A New Day (with Sunset) in Key Largo

Welcome to my home in the Florida Keys. Actually, my home belongs to two former NBC executives who got tired of the New York rat race and now offer world-weary travelers a mere 11 rooms on Key Largo. The place goes by the substantial name Kona Kai Resort, Gallery and Botanic Gardens, and does all three of those jobs remarkably well.

According to Tracey Weaver, Kona Kai’s lovely and talented GM, Key Largo is a laid-back world apart, not only from Miami to the north but from some of the more tourist-frenzied keys to the south, especially Key West. And she should know, since she’s one of the few to have lived and worked in both Largo and West. Tracey chooses to be here.

Once you’ve toured Kona Kai with Tracey and resort ethno-botanist Rick Hederstrom, learning stories about how cultures have used all these tropical plants, you probably will be hungry. And that means it’s time to run over to Sundowners to meet Bobby Stoky and celebrate the event referenced in the name. A far cry from Key West’s crazed Mallory Square sunsets, the one in Key Largo features quiet drinks with friends and a chance to enjoy four or five kinds of seafood (led off by local lobster tail) broiled in key lime butter.

As the sun dips low amid black-and-white memories of Bogart and Bacall, with the outlines of the Florida Everglades turning reddish-gold across the water, it’s time for a slice of Sundowners’ key lime pie. Bobby insists his recipe is among the most traditional, meringue and all. In fact, he says, whenever he sees key lime pie without meringue, he figures somebody was in a hurry. And in a hurry is what you’re not often around Key Largo.

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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.

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