- On a hot day it’s hard to go wrong with bite sized fried fish and a cold beer.
Last year, during one of my brief visits to Miami, Flaneur and I visited Key Biscayne, where we spent a lazy day on the empty beach at Bill Baggs State Park and had lunch at the Lighthouse Cafe, a sleepy little eatery and the only one in the state park. During our visit this past weekend, we went back to both the beach there and to the Lighthouse Cafe.
The food at the cafe isn’t anything particularly mindblowing. As one of my coworkers often says, “They’re not reinventing the wheel.” But it’s simple, decent food, and for me, nostalgic, reminding me of the things I actually do enjoy about Miami (like beach days and ocean breezes).
This time, to go along with a couple of frosty beers, we ordered a plate of fried majuas, tiny fish about the size of my pinky finger, battered and fried whole. The last time I’d had them was years ago, also on Key Biscayne but on another part of the island, after a day out on a boat. (Also on my small list of Miami likes.) With a sqeeze of lime and a big gulp of cold, crisp beer, these crunchy, fishy treats were a great snack for a hot but breezy February afternoon on the beach.
It’s not always about trendy gourmet food and fancy restaurants. I’ve found that the best food memories can sometimes come from something as simple as an an afternoon snack on a lazy day. Something small, easy, cheap. Shared with good company and a nice setting, the smallest thing can turn into one of those memories that you look back on and think, “Man, I wish I was there right now, having that again.”
Pineapple and piña colada fruit bars and fish ceviche
Such was the case during my recent trip to Miami, when Flaneur and I spent one afternoon walking around Key Biscayne along a quiet, empty stretch of beach on Cape Florida. We stopped at the Lighthouse Cafe, one of only two places to eat in the state park, and picked up a couple of fruit bars to enjoy in the warm weather. But because there was a minimum for credit card purchases (and I am perpetually cash-less), I added a small serving of fish ceviche to our order.
Sitting on the cafe’s wooden deck while the breeze blew and the warm Florida sun beamed down on us, I couldn’t have wished to be anywhere else. Cold, sweet fruit bars with hunks of pineapple and coconut followed by the zesty, juicy fish ceviche made for the absolute best snack I can recall having in a long time.
Now as I sit looking out the window at the steely blue of a late, winter afternoon in New York, I can almost taste the warmth of that peppery fresh ceviche and the bright, colorful flavors of a piña colada fruit bar. Man, I wish I was there right now, having that again.