My Weekend in West Palm, Otherwise Known as Jews Drinking Jarritos
Hello friends. Writing to y'all from PBI Airport in West Palm Beach where the shirts are sorbet-colored and the clouds have a pinkish tint. Heartbroken to be leaving if I'm honest. I've never been more in the mood for Florida: the old ladies in straw hats, winding paths of gardenias, orchids and flowering trees, the tuna fish at 2pm.
Mom, dad and I flew out for Howie's 86th birthday and the man, for all his years, is still impeccable. He putters around the garden with his tanned little legs, inspecting the one leaf that may or may not have fallen into the pool, reading the "Wall Street Journal" with a mug of Lipton tea and a lemon wedge.
We celebrated his bday on Friday evening at Capital Grille which is the perfect capstone of West Palm Beach -- the kinda joint with oil paintings of race horses and Cavalier King Charles spaniels, bone-in filet mignon and baked potatoes with crumbled bacon bits (otherwise known as exactly what a Jewish granddaughter wants when she takes off for a weekend).
So there we were, eating medium rare steak and chopped salads (dressing on the side, naturally), Bombay Sapphire martinis (up with a twist, for the bday boy), coconut cream pie (which is a new favorite -- always down for a 50s dessert reinvented), discussing Donald Trump's hypothetical sex tape and the downfall of American values.
On Saturday, we road tripped to Homestead, Florida to Fruit & Spice Park -- a botanical garden with 500+ varieties of fruits, veggies, spices and herbs. When we entered the park, they told us we could take any of the fruit that had fallen from the trees and I saw fiesty looking teenagers carting coconuts and gourds in their arms. I didn't see a lot of fallen fruit myself but the park was beautiful and a wonderland of edibles (no, not that kind) I had never heard of, let alone tasted: sapote (a sweet, soft fruit originating with the Aztecs), custard apples from Cuba, and 12 different types of bananas that looked more like hand grenades.
After the park, we hit up a little Mexican restaurant called Toros Tacos (mom decided that our original pick - Yardie Spice - for hole-in-the-wall Caribbean might send my grandfather over the edge) where Howie and Susie had lime Jarritos and tacos, while I plunged into some guacamole and flautas de pollo.
From lunch, we cruised on over to Robert Is Here -- a local fruit stand that's famous for its insane produce and signature fruit milkshakes & smoothies. #YYF was started as an adventure in experiential eating and Robert's was right on the money, a perfect snapshot of the landscape. Young dudes zipped up and down the dirt roads in 60s Ford pickups and tricked out four-wheelers while Robert -- the man, the myth, the legend -- shook hands with the locals and inspected oversize guanabana fruits and jars of his own lemon marmalade (sweet regret that I didn't buy some).
I had to try one of the fruit milkshakes and went for the chef's special -- sapodilla (sweet pulp from a tree that's native to Southern Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean), coconut, pineapple and ice cream. So delicious and naturally sweet. I wanted to try all of the weird citrus on the menu and spent 5 mins just staring at the colors of the shakes before mine arrived -- rose pink and magenta and deep gold, the color of Valencia oranges.
We drove back to West Palm Beach to the sacred wonderland that is my grandparents gated community, uncorked some white wine, and cheered Rachel Maddow as she made her usually bad B political points.
And now I'm here, melancholy to be leaving the soft emerald palm fronds and mutterings of my grandparents.
Till the next time. See you soon, Brooklyn.