New Friends

I get a lot of mail from readers of my blog, and I love it. Everything from questions like “Where is the closest crossfit gym?”  (Miami) to “I’m planning a wedding and need a caterer” (Call Kristin at Pear Affairs. She is the best wedding planner around.) But when I got the following question “Have you ever created a list of wine friendly restaurants in Key West?” I knew the sender was my kind of person.

I carefully crafted a response, with the help of FKGuy, as we were in the car one morning (he was driving, I was emailing). It was  a lengthy list and I was quite pleased with myself. I later learned the email was never received.

So, there we are, among sharks and mermaids at the Key West Food and Wine Festival Grand Tasting, when I see a guy amble up

Our new friends, enjoying Azur's garden and a Chalone Chardonnay

wearing a name badge. Naturally, I introduce myself. This was the guy that emailed me about wine friendly restaurants. It was clear that we should meet face to face.

Fast forward two weeks and I get another email from him telling me all about his experiences at the festival, and seeing if we wanted to have dinner with him and his wife. I’m always up for getting to know fellow wine geeks, so we met them at Azur for dinner. Azur is my other favorite restaurant (besides The Flaming Buoy) in Key West, and for good reason. The food is amazing, service is great and the entire staff is extremely friendly.  Plus, I just love the menu. I can order something different every time. I don’t, but I can.

My favorite appetizer: the salt cod croquetta

We had a  lovely evening getting to know our new friends. We enjoyed a Chalone Chardonnay, 2004 Domaine de Pegau Chateauneuf-du-Pape and a 2007 Ostreon Cabernet Sauvignon. The food started with salt cod and potato croquettas, and we continued with several appetizers: gnocchi with braised short rib, hummus and babaganoush and boucheron goat cheese salad (another one of my favorites).

By the time our entrees came, we were hearing all about the house search, buying a short sale (something we are very well versed in) and their dog. The entrees included a shrimp dish, hogfish over

Gnocchi are a specialty of the house.

a beet salad with green beans, and a ribeye steak, which was cooked perfectly medium-rare.

Key West is one of those places where you just feel compelled to order fish. We are surrounded by water and there are an abundance of places that serve fresh fish. But sometimes you just want a steak, at least if you are our friend. He had been in Key west for a month and had eaten a lot of fresh fish. It was  time for a change.

The always perfectly cooked fish

Every morsel of food that came out of the kitchen was terrific. Our company was spectacular, which you know, could have gone either way. I mean, we really had not met these people for more than half a minute. We traded tales of wine drinking, winery visits and, of course, our dogs. I am delighted that they will be buying a house and spending more time in Key West eating and drinking with

The joy of a well cooked steak (not cooked "well", mind you...)