Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday and Our Last Meals in Florida

Ruth Ellen met us at the hotel and the three of us set off for the Manatee Refuge in Ft. Myers for a look-see.  In addition to the manatees in a power plant discharge canal, there is a bird sanctuary and another for butterflies.

We picked a bad time to do this - it was Sunday - gift shop was closed; the "season" is December to March and consequently all of the residents - birds, butterflies and manatees were visiting Elsewhere.

Undaunted we walked over to the discharge canal to see if there were any manatees that had missed the bus out of town.  There weren't.

By now, it was lunch time so we went restaurant hunting.  Few and far on the ground - the Sunday thing.  But we did happen across Beef O'Brady's, 11341 Palm Beach Blvd, Ft. Myers.  Ruth Ellen said it was a Florida chain, but there were cars in the lot, so we sauntered in.  Big room, sports bar themed with 25 good-size TV screens and a patio that must have been as big as the indoor dining area.

Richie and I had a Stella each  ($11.50).  Richie was feeling a bit peckish so he was satisfied with the soup and half sandwich meal. ($7.49)  The soup was billed as Jerk Soup and appeared to be very fluffy rice in chicken broth with cilantro sprigs and jerk seasoning.  We both thought it could have had some kick to it which was sadly missing.  My order was a lettuce wrap of shrimp and cabbage slaw, Thai-style ($9.99)  Ruth Ellen said, "Oh, I haven't had one of these in ages!" and promptly ordered a Reuben ($8.99)

And off we trundled to meet again at 6:30-ish at Maria's Pizzeria for as much of family as we could scrape up for a family dinner.

But ... the winds kicked up, it sprinkled, then rained intermittently but we left in clear weather which changed as soon as we got over the bridge from Ft. Myers to Cape Coral.  It began raining which is understatement to describe what would be a monsoon in other climes.  Lightning flashed (happily five miles away) and thunder boomed distantly.  Meanwhile the rain slammed us (safely still in the car) with more gusto than I felt was really called for.  We get it!  It's raining.   Finally it waned to a point where we could splash into the place with minimal damage to hair and clothes.

Pull up a chair and sit down with us!  Ruth Ellen and her husband, the late Giovanni, and their two sons Alfredo and Joseph own and run Maria's which frequently wins "Best of "awards.  They have been successful with Maria's since 1991.  They have a reputation (deserved) for quality and use real butter, cream, primo olive oil, etc.

We ordered Bruschetta Rustica to go with our drinks ($7.25) and it is a slice of thicker-than-thinner Italian bread, toasted, slathered with olive oil, chopped tomatoes, black olives and more and  presented on a platter, artfully drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  Quite tasty and, um, I pretty much filled up on them.

Ruth Ellen and I had Caesar salads ($8.50).  This was all I ordered (because I wanted their homemade tiramisu for dessert) but Ruth Ellen got the Giovanni's Veal Special - tender veal sautéed with mushrooms, spinach, heavy cream, butter and Romano cheese over your pasta of choice. ($24.95)  Richie was in culinary heaven.  He loves Chicken Cacciatore and can never find it out here.    Just what he loved - chicken breast with sautéed mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives and pepperoni in housemade marinara sauce. ($17.95)

We drank:   Cabernet Sauvignon  for Richie and sparkling prosecco splits for me.  Can't remember if Ruth Ellen had a drink or not.

Now it was time for tiramisu!  Italians have a deserved reputation for generous portions and this was no letting down the side.  It was a square portion, perhaps the size of half of a concrete block and every bite was delicious.  I shared it - I had to not only because it was such an enormous serving, but because it came with four forks and I didn't have much choice.  Share or get stuck.

And thus ends our informal restaurant tour..  We were up at 5 a.m. the next day for an 8 a.m. flight home; no time to eat and the hotel resto wasn't open at that ungodly hour anyhow.
Dueling showers - rt.


A beach on Sanibel

The manatee pirate

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