“How about lunch?” our friend asked as we left the book club meeting at the library. This was not a meeting we usually attend, but they were discussion Donna Tartt’s book, The Goldfinch, which our group had also recently read and discussed, and we were eager to continue the discussion. She suggested the Cottage Cafe, just across the street, and it looked really cute.
We weren’t the first customers, although we were the only customers in the small dining room. A steady stream of phone calls were coming in, and a steady stream of orders were going out. When I ordered the Oriental Chicken Salad, they were already out of it! I sadly watched an order of about ten boxes leave on a bicycle delivery vehicle, knowing “my” salad was in that delivery.
Ah well. There were plenty of other selections on the menu. AdventureMan started with chili and cornbread, and raved about how good it was.
Our friend ordered the Cottage Cafe Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato, and it looked scrumptious:
I ordered the BLAST, which was bacon, lettuce, avocado, sprouts and tomato, and it was tasty, and I could kid myself it was all veggy and healthy fats, etc, so good for me, right?
AdventureMan’s main meal was barbecued pork. He groaned as he finished it, telling us not to let him order a chili starter AND a BBQ Pork, but as he groaned, he was eating every bite and licking his fingers.
The downside was that it was all so delicious, we really did eat up our meals and did not have space for dessert, and their dessert options sounded fabulous. We’ll have to go back soon and start with dessert :-) They are only open until 3, as they also run the Pensacola Victorian Bed and Breakfast next door, the huge Victorian:
Why do they groan? Why do they grumble and look annoyed when I say it’s time for the Christmas Parade?
Once they get there, they have the best time! Who wouldn’t? It’s all noise and flash, great floats and loud bands, dancing in the street, dancing on the sidewalk, seeing all our friends from church and school and waving to friends on the floats – throwing BEADS!
Even 1 year old baby N totally gets into the beads! “Beads! Beads!” she shouts and holds out her hands. She marvels at their sparkle as they hang around her neck.
Here is what I love about Pensacola. It’s been a bad month, with Ferguson, with New York, and in Pensacola 50,000 people gather peacefully and party on the streets. It’s New Orleans with our clothes on, it’s Christmas/Mardi Gras Family Style. We dance, we party, we jump for those beads – and then we pass them along to the children. It’s a long, happy parade, with every school marching band and Mardi Gras group, a local radio station or two, the homeless, the counter culture, drinks in open containers, church groups, neighborhood meet-ups, Jesus is there, with Mary and Joseph – it’s all cool.
When the parade ends, we all go home. Peacefully.
Some may grumble, but for me, they show up, every year, and we celebrate a family tradition, the Pensacola Christmas Parade.
AdventureMan and his helper went down early Sunday morning and pulled a great Bead harvest out of the trees. Little grandson Q carefully sorted them into piles for his friend Chris, his mama and daddy, his two other sets of grandparents and for his room upstairs in our house.
We stopped by Sonny’s BBQ today to order a smoked turkey for Christmas, and who should be there ordering his own turkey but Pensacola Santa and his Missus, in his red convertible. Good thing it stopped raining, Santa! See you next week :-)
Yesterday, the Qatari Ambassador to the United States, Mohammed Jaham Al Kawari, spoke to a packed house at the New World Landing as the Tiger Bay Club gathered to hear how little Qatar is exerting big influence in the world peace-making arena.
The ambassador has an impressive biography, and in appearance very polished, very French. He isn’t afraid to tackle the tough questions, and presents Qatar’s position in a way that people can hear and understand.
It’s getting close to Christmas, and AdventureMan had asked that I take a ride with him to check out Earth Products, and then have lunch with him at Brother’s BBQ. Between you and me, AdventureMan is purely a sucker for BBQ, but he took me to Tudo’s for lunch yesterday, my Pensacola comfort food, and it isn’t a struggle for me to enjoy a good BBQ, so I was happy to make him happy today. :-)
It’s what I love about AdventureMan. He totally gets me. He grumbles now and then about how hard I am to buy for. He tells our friends “she doesn’t want diamonds, just picks out a house now and then.”
But today’s trips to Earth Products was totally worth it. Earth Products has all kinds of landscaping supplies, including glorious pots! Not the pots you find in the big box stores, but pots that remind me of the Middle East. Great big pots. Urns. Pots that might have stored olive oil in another life, or hidden Ali Baba’s thieves. Pots with elephants on them. Wonderful pots, just exactly the pots for my front porch and the rosemary bushes I want. I almost danced with glee at the number of wonderful pots.
It is a wonderful day, not too hot, not too cold and when we get to Brother’s BBQ, we decide to sit outside.
Sitting outside has an additional benefit – they are in the process of preparing the chicken and the brisket. They are smoking it right now. The aromas are heavenly.
The porch is a very friendly place to sit, we discover. It’s amazing how many people have discovered Brothers BBQ. They are close to the Navy Base, and have a lot of loyal military customers, but they also have a lot of local and corporate customers, and retired folk popping by. They have dining in, they have carry-out, and they also cater. There is a large area for eating outside, as well as on the porch.
You can see what they offer on your placemat:
AdventureMan ordered his usual – BBQ Pulled Pork, with beans and coleslaw:
I ordered my usual, a dark quarter BBQ chicken, with beans and slaw:
It was excellent. Give it a try when you are on the west side of town. You can’t miss them, they are where you find the huge column of mouth-watering smoke just off Gulf Beach Highway:
3309 Gulf Beach Hwy, Pensacola, FL 32507
I’m not a person who likes to be rushed, and I am a person who front-loads, who gets things done early, so as not to have to make decisions or preparations in a rush. If I can plan, and execute early, it all falls into place.
So when we had another early cold spell this week, our second ‘unseasonal’ cold spell, so cold we had to cover our more sensitive plants and bring others into protected areas, and with Thanksgiving coming so late this year, I decided I could let myself do a little early Christmas prep.
No, no tree, not yet, and no lights outside. Time enough for all that, just a little sparkle to get us started. As much as I love real greenery, real garlands, the temperatures here are too high for it it stay green longer than a week, so I use the artificial kind. You’d think the benefit would be no dropping needles, but this stuff also drops ‘needles’, and we laugh at where we find them hiding in August.
We bought our crêche many years ago in Germany, and it has gone with us everywhere we lived. It has lost a lot of its Germanic moss through the years, but I wouldn’t dream of replacing it:
The normal crêche occupants through the years have been supplemented by extra sheep and camels, and actually, by French santons, extra wise men, an angel ornament . . . hmmm, maybe it’s getting a little kitchy, but we wouldn’t sacrifice a single thing. One of our Saudi friends contributed a line of camels :-)
In France and in Germany, crafters make the cutest sheep, and we found ourselves buying them at Christmas or crafts markets.
And, from Doha, The Church of the Epiphany, our “Aboona” or Our Father, the Lords Prayer written in Arabic calligraphy, one of our treasures.
Last, but not least, time to change the hallway quilt, and The 12 Days of Christmas will reign for more like 40 days :-)
It’s the perfect weather for Al Fresco; the heat has broken and just about everyone had the same idea – head downtown for lunch, find a restaurant with outdoor seating and revel in the moderate temperatures and full sun.
This glorious sunny day was preceded by one of those thunderous rainstorms to beat all rainstorms, but it washed Pensacola clean and left it cool and shiny.
We wanted to try Shux Oyster Bar, and this is the perfect day for it. We shared an order of grilled oysters, no cheese, AdventureMan had a Rachel (a Reuben but with fish) and I had the Crafish GritCakes (or something like that.) We both ooohed and aaahed over the sauces; the Remoulade on the Rachel was phenomenal and the horseradish sauce on the gritcakes got my attention in a totally good way.
One of America’s best streets just got better with the addition of another great eating adventure as Khons Asian Bistro on Palafox opened a month or so ago with Asian fusion cooking. While most of the diners there were ordering sushi, we opted for the miso soup and hot plates. The waiter particularly likes the fried rice dish, which we considered, but ended up ordering the Cambodian chicken, me in lettuce wraps and AdventureMan with rice.
When our main dishes arrived, he grumped – just a little – because he paid three dollars more, and the only difference was that his lettuce was chopped, and he got rice.
“I paid three more dollars for rice” he mourned.
Not for long. The food was delicious, all the tastes fresh and tasty. Just enough spice. In fact, while I really like spicy, I got a hunk of jalepeno in my soup that nearly took my breath away. Our very helpful waitress said next time she would personally make sure that all the seeds were removed. I don’t mind spicy; this just caught me by surprise.
What I love, in addition to the fresh, healthy, tasty food, is the interior. Khon’s uses a deeply greyed blue, very undersea feeling, and silver. Even the chairs (which are comfortable) have silver seats, and that piqued my sense of fun. I love the scaly backdrop behind the sushi bar; the suggestion of a fish tail. We really enjoyed the entire experience, and we are glad they are there and doing so well. They have a brisk lunch crowd, so get there early.
Today is a day to make the heart joyful. Yesterday, we had thunder and lightning, so much that my water aerobics class was cancelled and I made that drive for nothing. Even when the sun came out, hours later, there was so much water soaked into the ground, the evaporation made it feel hotter than it really was.
The best part of the whole day was knowing we were headed to the opening of the Ballet Pensacola Season last night.
Who knew when we came to Pensacola that there would be so many fun things to do? And that we would have the time to try them all? Pensacola has an Opera, a Symphony, many many parades, some kind of fest, normally featuring seafood and/or art, and sometimes also the sugar white sands, wine and/or rock bands almost every month, AND the Ballet Pensacola.
Nothing about the Ballet Pensacola is ordinary. Ballet Pensacola has a husband wife team, artistic director Richard Steinart and his wife Christine Duhon, the ballet mistress, who also does the costumes. Her costumes are often spectacular. Lance Brannon does the sets which are are often minimalist and always wonderfully creative. You know public arts are almost totally public and community supported, you know they must have a tricky budget to work with but the sets and costumes are wondrous to behold.
We were debating whether The Headless Horseman would be a good ballet for our four year old grandson. AdventureMan thought it might be scary. There is a witch, a wonderfully convincing witch. There is a guy with no head. There is a skeleton horse. I countered that he sees worse on his cartoons with Spiderman and BatMan and whoever those heroes are that “Assemble!” The Headless Horseman is a lot of fun; it even looks like the dancers are having a lot of fun with it, and of course, there is this incredible skeleton. We leave our evenings at Pensacola Ballet delighted.
One of the things we love about the ballets this team creates is that it isn’t easy to get most men to love ballet, but many of the ballets they do have appeal to men – The Matrix, Dracula – they are not dainty ballets, but strong, dramatic ballets. In addition, they are, as I said, a lot of fun. When we offer up tickets we can’t use to our son and his wife, they jump at the chance. I want to make Nutcracker an annual event, but I recognize that if I want grandchildren who will love the dance, I will be likely to take them to some of this stronger stuff. We already have an extra ticket for Ali Baba, coming up in the Spring, so our grandson can come with us.
It was still warm when we left the theatre, but this morning it is like we are living in a different place.
The air conditioner is OFF! The windows are open! Fresh clean air is flowing through the house, the sun is shining without wilting anything, and, thanks to yesterday’s rain, the entire world looks fresh and clean and welcoming! The fun times begin in Pensacola, the cooler weather has arrived!
We were actually just turning around to head back to another restaurant for lunch when we saw the Fishing Hole and decided, as we often do, arbitrarily and spontaneously, to give it a try. We used to drive our son crazy that way (not intentionally) by saying “Hey, we are heading for X” and then part way there, changing our minds. He would yell “No Bait and Switch!” (even as a teenager, he was lawyerly) and we would reluctantly go where we had planned. Now, without supervision, we can do as we wish.
(Our son has actually confided that now, as a grown-up, he and his family occasionally do the same thing.)
The Fishing Hole is on Brent. For those of you not from around Pensacola, Brent is a thoroughfare. It’s not an uptown kind of street.
From the outside, The Fishing Hole looks like a fast food place. It has items painted on the inside window, and it looks small.
When we walked in, we were blown away immediately. We walked into a beautiful bistro-style space and were greeted by wait staff dressed in black, with classic long white aprons, very European. They ushered us into the dining room, which has deep red walls above white wainscoting, with spare design elements on the walls – again, very French in feel, and elegant. The tables are all a deep colored wood, comfortable wooden chairs, and spacious.
The first thing I saw on the menu was a shrimp and crab chowder, of which I ordered a cup. This is a very large “cup” and is served with a little pitcher of sherry, which you can add to your own taste. It was purely fabulous. I would go back again just for that signature chowder.
I also ordered the fish tacos, which were very fresh tasting, very delicious and healthy:
AdventureMan had the Oyster Sandwich, which was equally delicious. He also ordered hushpuppies and oh my word, those hushpuppies were perfect.
Because my fish tacos were so healthy, we decided to split an order of peach pie. When it arrived, we almost fell over. It was beautiful, and it was also huge. The taste was spectacular; it had a crust made of graham cracker and toasted walnuts, and it added a unique and wonderful texture and flavor to an already delicious peach pie. As you can see, the presentation is beautiful.
From that startling entrance into unexpected elegance, to our departure, this was a delightful experience. The wait staff is eager to please, willing to explain the menu and answer questions. The service was impeccable. The food was fabulous. We can’t wait to go back.
They have a FaceBook page; check to see which nights they are open for dinner, and make a reservation. The word is getting around, and this place is packed for dinner.
15 Brent Ln
10:00am – 8:00pm