Saturday, November 20, 2010
Day 1: Miami
We're on our way to Bogota. The Quiet One and I started a day early. Pesky Dr. ChillyD and her conference in LA.
We pulled in to the hotel and intended to immediately get a cab to South Beach.
I was almost distracted by El Sabor and their latin diner offerings of papusas and breakfast all day. But we had other plans.
Ah well, it's stone crab season, and South Beach has Joe's. Joe's has been around since 1913. Interestingly female servers have only been hired since 1992. Good for us we got one! Paula. Superstar. Exceptional server. Woman able to connect with the Northern Crab peeps from Bal'mer, the Cuban ex-pat young lady out to dinner with her mother and aunt, and the two older gents with matching Panama hats and uber-younger dates. The Quiet One rightly notes that we could pick her up, put her in Bal'mer, and have her plan 'Hon with the best of 'em.
And there was the scenery. At one point I stood between a Bentley and a Maserati outside. It was that kind of glitterati.
And then there were the stone crabs.
Sweet, sweet stone crabs.
No offense Fetz, but stone crabs, dear lord, stone crabs.
I ate six large. I am not ashamed. I will walk at high altitude starting tomorrow.
The Quiet One ate four, had a few bites of the conch fritters we ordered (me too, but the oil was too hot to the outside was on the well side of golden and the interior was a little soft on some) and was trying to save room for key lime pie.
It ended up being eaten al plastic-fresco in the hotel room because she had to have it, but we couldn't eat it there. A thirty minute cab ride freed enough room to get that pie done.
I am eating pie as I type this. You are not surprised.
The crab claws obviate the need for any of the sides (which were excellent and served family-style). We went sweet potato fries (dusted with cinamon and sugar) and creamed spinach studded and dubbed with whole cloves of roasted garlic. If you are sitting on our flight to Bogota tomorrow, we apologize. Profusely.
Here's what I'll say to Joe's. You're awesome. Nadia in the bar and Paula on the floor were exceptional. Nadia was so nice we didn't mind the ninety minute wait on a Friday night. But we only would have had a seventy minute wait if your maitre d' wasn't greasing his plams at every other name that went down on the list.
You're a great restaurant. An institution. People will wait for over an hour to eat there. Pay your man well enough that he doens't feel the need to grab an extra wad of cash from the noveua and ancienne riche on a Friday night to have the list and "the list" of customers trying to get a $50 plate of stone crabs.
Don't worry, I'll come back and eat crabs with you. I'll just prep my time better.
Now...sweet, sweet sleep. A 6am wake-up call. A 10am flight to Bogota. And the beginning of South America. My first venture to that continent since I was 15 years old on Ipanema.