Sunday, December 30, 2012

Grouper, Grits, Kumquats and Strip Clubs

This is Nancy's on U.S. 41 in Lutz, right around the corner from my dad's house. I love this place. We came here for breakfast the other day and I got eggs with grits and a biscuit, an essential meal for any southern vacation.

Before I write anything substantive, let me complain about technical issues. I don't bring my computer to the states when I visit family, because I have an old Apple laptop at my mom's house. The problem is, this laptop is so old that web pages can take forever to load, and sometimes they don't quite work at all. Browsing the internet can be a painfully slow process involving the frequent apppearance of the Spinning Color Wheel of Death. So forgive me if you are a blogger and we regularly read each other's blogs and I don't seem to be around at the moment -- it's probably because my gerbil-powered computer won't allow me to leave comments. I'm still reading, I swear.

Dave and I have been doing a lot of running around the last few days. Yesterday, for example, we visited my college friend Karl and his partner Joey at their quiet suburban oasis in Brandon. Karl and I used to go flea-marketing together, collecting mid-century pottery, furniture and silly objets, so I was eager to show him a photo of our onion pot. In return, he introduced us to Sweet Brown, which left me practically in tears with laughter.

We went to lunch, where I got another required Florida food -- a grouper sandwich. Then I drove Dave through all the most beautiful parts of Tampa, including the industrial-and-stripper-bar wasteland of Adamo Drive and the sketchiest sections of Nebraska Avenue, in order to pay a spontaneous house call on another friend who unfortunately wasn't home. Oh well.

Finally, last night, Dave's parents drove up from Bradenton and had dinner with my dad and stepmother -- the first time any of our parents have met. It went well, although we unfortunately chose a restaurant with a pianist-singer (beneath a spinning disco ball!) which made talking a bit difficult. We had to speak up to be heard over the strains of "Close To You." I ordered what turned out to be a huge martini, so I was a little loopy and mistakenly ordered Lobster Newburg when I meant to order Lobster Thermidor, the special. And for dessert: kumquat pie! That was a first for me.

Grouper, grits, kumquats and strip clubs -- that's pretty much the essence of Tampa right there. If we'd smoked a cigar we'd really have had the complete local experience.


Lynne said...

We used to have grouper a lot when we lived in Florida. My mom loved that fish! You don't see it up our way which is too bad. Kumquat pie?? I'm not so sure about that. Was it good?

My Dad used to go to Bradenton to sell his art work. You're bringing back memories, Steve, of my old life in Florida!

Ms. Moon said...

I love Tampa. And I love a good grouper sandwich and a breakfast with biscuits.
Yep. Life in Florida.

ellen abbott said...

I haven't been to a flea market in ages. It sounds like Dave got the grand tour.

Lorianne said...

Sweet Brown: I'm nearly crying laughing here, too.

"Ain't nobody got time for that."

Steve Reed said...

Lynne: Kumquat pie was surprisingly good! It wasn't what I expected, which was essentially Key Lime Pie made with kumquats. Instead the kumquats were distributed throughout a sort of whipped-cream pie filling. Yum!

Ms Moon: Anything I say about Tampa, I say with love. It is, after all, my hometown.

Ellen: He's definitely seen some colorful neighborhoods!

Lorianne: I'm glad to pass along a good laugh!