Category Archives: The Key West Chronicles

The Key Lime Pie Reviews: Blue Heaven

On Monday, we went to the place where, according to my friend, they sold the best Key lime pie on the island: Blue Heaven, an open-air restaurant in Key West’s historic Bahama Village.

Blue Heaven

And here’s a prize specimen, winking at me from a shelf in the fridge:

KLP Fridge

Now, we didn’t actually stay and eat our piece of pie on the premises. Instead, we took advantage of the Blue Heaven practice of selling off pies, which didn’t quite hit all the beauty parameters, for a bargain price of US$20.

Aw, just look at it... who wouldn't want to adopt one of those!

Aw, just look at it… a bit squat compared to its supermodel cousin in the fridge,  but who wouldn’t want to adopt one of those!?

They put it in a box for us and we took it home 🙂

KLP sliced

What was the verdict?

In short, my friend was right. This KLP was top notch. I loved the meringue topping, it just works soooo much better than the sickly sweet oozings of cream, which seems to be the prevalent choice of KLP topping.

The filling was fresh, zesty and creamy, but not heavy like pottery clay, as it had been in the last one I sampled. Its only slight shortcoming was that the crust was a tad too thick in places. But considering the amazing experience in terms of taste and texture, I’m more than happy to overlook this 😉

My rating: 4.8 out of 5.

The question is: Will I find an even better one?! The mission continues…

Blue Heaven Showers

Missed the other reviews? Here they are:

And if you want to know how my cake obsession started, click here. [Warning – contains hideous photographs of 70’s and 80’s fashion].

 

Sunday Buffet At The Westin

I’d been looking forward to this ALL YEAR: Gorging myself at the delectable buffet laid on every Sunday by The Key West Westin. And I was NOT disappointed…

Westin Food 1Westin Food 2

This was only the first round of desserts...

This was only the first round of desserts…

That's our waitress there on the far left, who kept our bubbly topped up :)

That’s our waitress there on the left, who kept our bubbly topped up 🙂

Suffice to say, we spent the rest of the day in a food coma….

A Date With Hemingway’s Six-Toed Cats

Key West was Ernest Hemingway’s home for a decade. I didn’t get round to visiting his house (now a museum) last year, but this time round, it was firmly on my list. My motivation was not so much the hunt for juicy insights on the illustrious, troubled writer and his seedy life, but to get my hands on the infamous six-toed kittehs.

Six-toedness springs from a genetic mutation, and cats with six toes are meant to bring good luck. For this reason, they were a popular choice for ships’ cats for centuries. Indeed, Hemingway was given his original six-toed cat, named Snowball, by a ship’s captain. The man was very accident-prone, probably because he was a war correspondent and pissed as a newt most of the time, and so he was always in search of good luck charms. He loved his lucky cats, and reportedly replied, when asked why his house was overrun by them, that “one cat lead to another”.

Today, there are 45 six-toed cats on the grounds of Hemingway’s house, all of them Snowball’s descendents.

Without further a do, here are some snaps of them:

See 'em toes?

See ’em tootsies?

Big feet or what?!

You need big feet to accommodate all of them!

Sorry lady, your toes may be all pretty and painted, but they are not nearly as interesting as mine!

Sorry lady, your toes may be all pretty and painted, but they are not nearly as interesting as mine!

The pampered creatures claim the best snoozing spots around the house, safely out of reach of the tourist hordes trampling through.

Like in the middle of Hemingway's bed

Like in the middle of Hemingway’s cordoned-off bed

...and on the chairs in his writing studio.

…and in a sunny spot in his writing studio.

This doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy a good scratch behind the ears.

Spoiled cat

Sometimes they like to pose:

Quite regal, aren't I?

Quite regal, aren’t I?

Sometimes they can’t be bothered to pay us any attention at all:

Bottom cat

They get into skirmishes, as cats do:

I'm the boss around here, you gangly git!

I’m the boss around here, you gangly git!

Nobody messes with me...

Nobody messes with me…

Footprints

The six-toed kitty walk of fame???

And for all those who’ve slinked through the big cat flap in the sky, there’s a shady spot:

Cat cemetery Cemetery

The Key Lime Pie Reviews: Six Toed Cat

I can’t possibly make an appearance in the Florida Keys without lavishing due attention onto the number one food item that the Keys are famous for: The legendary Key Lime Pie.

The tangy creation features not just on the menu of every restaurant and every coffee shop on the islands, but, I’d venture to stipulate, is a mandatory dessert offering in every eatery in the whole of Florida. There is even a rash of shops solely dedicated to Key lime pie.

My first official Key lime pie tasting took place at the Six Toed Cat on Whitehead Street in Key West, just a couple of houses down from Ernest Hemingway’s place*.

Six Toed Cats Cafe

And here is the star of the show:

Key Lime Pie

So, how was it for me…?

Well, this pie was tasty, creamy and bursting with zest, though I found the texture extremely dense and heavy. Now, I don’t often say this about a dessert… but I’d quite happily have shared this with someone. Also, it was cloyingly sweet. The food is generally very sweet in the US, much sweeter than European palates are accustomed to, even your standard supermarket loaf tastes more cake than bread.

Rating: I’ll give this one 2 out of 5.

[*Here’s my post on Hemingway’s six-toed cats!]

Missed the other reviews? Here they are:

And if you want to know how my cake obsession started, click here. [Warning – contains hideous photographs of 70’s and 80’s fashion].

It’s A Dog’s Life In Key West

Key West is a dog lover’s paradise. Pooches of all breeds and sizes are being paraded around, often in hilarious outfits. We were sitting outside a cafe at lunchtime yesterday when these two rolled up:

Note the cool shades...

Note the übercool shades…! The girl (I guess it’s a girl coz of the blue bow on her head), was firmly in charge of The Ball. They sat there for a good 20 mins on their scooter, not moving an inch, until…

...the owner returned with a slice of pizza for them. He's about to give them a drink :)

…their owner returned with a slice of pizza for them. He’s about to give them a drink 🙂

Key West – Explosion Of Colours

So, early last Thursday morning, I set off on my annual pilgrimage to Key Wes (Florida), a balmy island 90 miles off Cuba. I’ll be here for almost a month, lounging around on my friends’ houseboat. Here’s my first rash of photos 🙂

Pelican in Key West Harbour

Pelican waiting for some tasty scraps to be tossed into Key West Harbour

The hallmark of Key West is its colourfulness, which, although a bit brash at times, accounts for much of the tiny island’s charm.

Key West Colour

Beautiful flowers grace people’s front gardens:

Trop Plants

Flower 2Flower 3

Orchids are a common sight

Orchids are a common sight

White and purple orchids

Cat

Even the cats have strikingly coloured eyes!

Key West is a prime Cruise ship destination

Cruise ship

The seabirds remain unimpressed...

The local seabirds remain unimpressed…

‘Moving’ to Key West… Shall I or Shan’t I…?

My Caribbean holiday has come to an end, sigh. I’m back in freezing-cold Toledo, suffering from a severe attack of the post-holiday blues.

I usually feel a bit lacklustre after a trip, that’s nothing new, but this time I’m more deflated than usual. The episode has made me realise just how much I miss my friends Vicky and Ian. Vicky is a long-standing, close friends of mine. She was my landlady and housemate for many years in London, and when she got married, she and her husband Ian bought a house three minutes away from me, so we continued to see a lot of each other. In 2011, the two of them decided to move to Key West. This provided the impetus for me to leave for Spain, which I’d been wanting to do for a long time anyway.

During my visit, Vicky and Ian were running a concerted campaign for me to come and live in KW. Their houseboat has a self-contained apartment on the lower deck, which would be ideal for me.

I am seriously tempted to take them up on it. Well, just to clarify, we’re talking about a temporary ‘move’ here, i.e. for a few months, rather than a permanent arrangement.

Here are the pros:

1. Instead of words, I give you this:

A Key West beach...aaaaaah...

A Key West beach…aaaaaah…

2. Spending time with Vicky and Ian, needless to say.
3. Vicky’s glorious cooking (in one of her many professional lives, she was once a chef.)
4. KW is very convenient. For example, everything is within cyclable distance, it’s one of the very few towns in the US which is perfectly adapted for cyclists. An important consideration for me, since I don’t drive.
5. Key West is very international, which I like, and this includes a large Spanish-speaking community.

And the cons:

1. The organisational hassle of living in two places. My official residence would continue to be Spain.

2. Blasted visa issues… Ideally, I’d like to be in KW for six months. I can stay in the US for 90-days on a standard tourist visa, that shouldn’t be a problem, but I may run into difficulties when I try to re-enter the US for the second time shortly after the previous three-month-stint. I’ve no desire to settle in the US permanently, Europe is home, but US immigration officials have the reputation of being a suspicious lot.

Time-frame wise, I’m thinking early 2014. It’s quite possible that I’ll be spending the last three months of 2013 in Brazil. A friend of mine is really keen for us to go there together, ostensibly to learn Brazilian Portuguese (but mainly to have a rollickin’ good time, lol), and I’m definitely game, but nothing’s fixed yet. 2014 is also the last year of Ian’s current working visa. He’s highly likely to extend it, but you never know where visa issues are concerned, and I wouldn’t want to miss out on a great opportunity like this by leaving it too late.

I guess my plans will solidify for the next six months or so…

Taken by a kind waitress after Vicky's birthday meal last week. Vicky and Ian at the back, two of their friends (Graham and Frankie) in front, me in the middle.

Pic taken by a kind waitress after Vicky’s birthday meal last week. Vicky and Ian at the back, two of their friends (Graham and Frankie) in front, me in the middle.

Key West Wildlife

I fear that the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Award may not quite be within my reach, but I still wanted to put those up 🙂

Pelicans being tossed chunks of fish

A raucous gaggle of pelicans being tossed chunks of fish after one of the sport fishing boats returns to the docks.

A manatee feeding off the weed growing on the ropes holding my friends' houseboat in place. It's a big male, over 7ft in length. We  could tell it was a boy by the giant...erm... appendage trailing underneath, which, unfortunately, didn't come out in the pic

A manatee feeding off the seaweed growing on the ropes that hold my friends’ houseboat in place. It’s a big male, over 7ft in length. We could tell it was a boy by the humongous…erm… appendage trailing underneath, which, unfortunately, didn’t come out in the pic

Key West Iguana

We spotted this iguana in a parking lot. Iguanas, stripey ones like this 5ft specimen, as well as bright emerald green ones, are very common on Key West. When they take flight, they tend to lash out with their tails. Not pleasant if you get whacked across the legs, I should imagine. I didn’t dare go up too close…

Key West was once awash with giant sea turtles, but this pretty much is all that's left of them :( The guy in the Turtle Museum said stocks were slowly recovering.

Key West was once awash with giant sea turtles, but this pretty much is all that’s left of them 😦 The guy in the Turtle Museum said stocks were slowly recovering.

Outing to Sunset Key

Today was a perfect day for a lunch outing to Sunset Key, a ten-minute ferry ride away from Key West. No more wordage needed, methinks…

Key West Seaport, where we caught the ferry. You can see the tiny island of Sunset Key in the distance

Key West Seaport, where we caught the ferry. You can see the tiny island of Sunset Key in the distance

Sunset Key Beach

Sunset Key Beach

The terrace of Latitudes restaurant where we had our lunch

The view from our table

The view from our table

Sunset Key Beach

Sunset Key Beach

Sunset Key

Sunset Key

Sunset Key