Saturday, the final day of my poetry workshop and the last full day of my east coast family visit arrived. Saturday was also day six of Florida, the longest time I had spent alone in Florida since my step-grandma died, and even then I was not alone with my dad and step-mom because I spent the first four daysof that trip priming my positive energy vibes at a Buddhist study conference not knowing my grandfather's wife would be dying the day I was originally supposed to leave. On this day six I was feeling sad that my poetry class was over – yet satisfied with its length and parting ways with my fellow poets, and slightly excited to go home to a regular diet of organic vegetables and a cat-hair free, smoke-free environment where the heat isn't cranked when the weather dips to 60 degrees outside.
"Bev wants to take you to Seafood World." My father said in the car the day before as I was driving him home from Dr. Feelgood's. I asked "Is this like vegetable-world?" (what he called Farmer's Table earlier in the week). "No, its this place she found, its the real deal fresh seafood." He had me at "the real deal," and with a name like Seafood World, what could possible be in store? I was left to wonder for a whole day and, needless to say I was a little distracted on Saturday morning because it was the Delray Beach Saturday Green Market aka Farmer's Market, but for some reason they didn't call it that. I had been walking by the sign all week and very excited to witness a Farmers' Market in Florida.
The glorious thing about Saturday morning is that I was the only person on I-95 driving north to Delray Beach – which means I got to my coffee shop table super early. I made the mistake of getting a blueberry muffin for breakfast, I should have stuck with my routine because the chocolate crescent and "A-Maze Balls" really were where it was at with Subculture coffee in Delray Beach, Florida. Meanwhile, after my last dose of internet for about 48 hours I wandered out into the Saturday morning sunlight. It was super windy, dispelling the mystery about what the little swirly symbol on my iPhone weather app meant.
It was as if I had never seen a fresh vegetable before in my life. I tried to take so many pictures and then my geriatric phone had a memory siezure after 10 days of my incessant use. The poor vendors of that farmers' market, with their display tents were little sailboats in a field as giant gusts of Saturday morning wind brushed the morning's surface. I did not see a single vendor with sandbags to hold down their tents, or any form of stake, most were chasing something across the grass or holding their tent to the ground awkwardly. Oh to be so weatherly naive – but then I've built things to withstand 70 mph wind at Burning Man so my experience is not necessarily standard. It was time for class so I left them to their wind challenged vendoring.
I couldn't seem to wake-up all morning and made a mistake of going for more coffee at the mid-class break. I found myself waiting in line with the whole world who came to Delray Beach for the Farmers' Market. I made it back to class in time to share popcorn, complete the workshop and do our one in-class writing exercise. I said my goodbyes and swiftly exited Delray Beach, granting some happy couple my free parking spot as I waved farewell to it and its carnival of humanity. The traffic into Delray was backed up all the way to the freeway – apparently the green market is a huge hit with the locals. I'm so glad I got there at 8am. It was, however, the first time I have ever saw a fresh vegetable outdoors in Florida – honestly it may have been the first time I ever really saw a farm fresh vegetable in Florida period.
Speaking of fresh, this is the lovely stripmall where Seafood World lives. Beverly and I found our way here after an uneventful shopping trip to Macy's to get me a new handbag during their annual sale – we were only asked to open a credit card account 20 or so times – but I did get a nice new red handbag at over 50% off after we were very nice everyone trying to "help" us.
It is very unassuming from the outside.
As well as from within.
When we walked in an old man sitting at a table with a half glass of red wine said with much non-chalance "sit where ever you feel comfortable" – he remained seated and waved a hand impatiently at us "anywhere! anywhere!" We chose the sunny room with all the fish on the wall away from the front sales counter.
I was afraid these giant stone crab claws would reach out and take me away if we sat near them.
On top of the old school ambiance – I was in love with seafood world at fresh conch as a daily special. I ordered the special appetizer, spicy conch, which turned out to be conch and kimchi.
The conch was so fresh it was both crispy and chewy at the same time – the perfect consistency of a mollusk – teeth through firm flesh. So good – if only conch were available beyond Florida and the Carribean – the northwest's version, gueduck, is similar but lack the veracity of texture you find with conch. Now that I know that I find fresh conch just down the street from my father's house on the edge of Pampano Beach I will be eating here everyday the next time I return to Florida.
Meanwhile we of course got stone crab, another Florida local delicacy. The meat is encased in a literal stone feeling shell/exoskeleton – and you only eat the pincher/arm of the animal. Stone crabs are harvested live, one arm is taken and then the crab is returned to the ocean. This is of course the best practice, looking up stone crab fishing practices on the internet while we were eating Beverly and I learned that it is technically unknown how many crabs perish as amputees, and how many survive to face another season. It is estimated that over 50% of all amputees survive, where as double-amputees essentially face certain death – thus the "best" practice of only taking one claw per crab. The fishery of stone crab is allegedly sustainable – I read it on the internet, so it must be true. I hope so because they are amazing creatures, and taste good too. It is a slightly sweet and lightly chewy crab meat, a very different texture and flavor then its west coast cousin the dungeoness.
My final course, because I could not say no to more conch was the house red conch chowder. The fresh conch made this chowder the most lovely savory tomato tastiness – it was present subtly between the tomato and vegetables and seasonings inside it, both in taste and texture. It was too bad I could not eat more food from this establishment – everything being so fresh and so good. As a final meal it was a perfect way to leave Florida – with its local fresh glory still on my tastebuds.
But no trip to my father's Florida is complete without a final night at the Moose lodge. Luckily this Saturday night it was karoake night – and for some reason we were talked into to talking a celebratory shot that then inspired the family selfie that started this post. This resulted in my needing a bloody mary with my breakfast at the next morning before heading to the airport. A good time was had by all.