Jack and I spent the last several years crisscrossing the state of Florida doing research for A Culinary History of Florida and Florida Sweets.
Rounding the archipelago of our southern tip past Key West and up the west-central coast of Florida we found each area unique.
Jack and I were pleasantly surprised to find Royal Scoop ice cream being served at the Coconut Point Hyatt Regency. When we arrived later that evening, Raquel Breitenstein artfully prepared three scoops of sweetness for our enjoyment. Florida Sweets.
The village of Siesta Key just south of Sarasota is also home to a local ice cream shop. The Big Olaf Creamery is named for the type of waffle cone first used in their shops, made from Big Olaf Cone Mix. Making waffle cones while the customers watched proved to be a big hit. According to their website, “This was one of the first places in the state to offer the waffle cone and soon after, [Dennis] Yoder helped set up Busch Gardens and Sea World with equipment and mix for them to bake this new kind of cone.” Yoder opened the shop on Siesta Key in 1982. Growing from one location to a multitude of stores is a sign they must be doing something right. They also offer soft serve, smoothies, fudge and milkshakes. Florida Sweets.
Anna Maria Island
We were welcomed to the 90th anniversary celebration at the iconic Pink Palace with the same grace and charm as days gone by. The “Pink Lady” is starting to show her age, but she has been through so many new owners it isn’t surprising.
The Vinoy Hotel of Saint Petersburg and the Don CeSar on Saint Pete Beach, dubbed the “Pink Lady,” were only open in the winter. The Colony Hotel and Cabana Club at Delray Beach provided vibrant nightlife and featured sea grapes on the menu. The Brazilian Court Hotel and Beach Club of Palm Beach became a favorite tourist spot, as was the Biltmore in Coral Gables. Soon Miami Beach became “America’s Winter Playground.” A Culinary History of Florida.
Changing ownership so many times over the years, one constant is a room with a view. This old hotel comes alive in the evening with a lobby bar featuring jazz. But my favorite is the ice cream parlor.
Uncle Andy’s Ice Cream Parlor, located in the Don CeSar hotel on St. Pete Beach, is home to an old-fashioned ice cream shop offering sundaes, shakes and banana splits featuring Florida-based, family owned, Working Cow Homemade Ice Cream. Alexandra Cahn and Karen Wayes described the Captain Butterscotch as the most unusual flavor and the salted caramel with dark chocolate as the trendy favorite. Florida Sweets.
The newer Opal collection of hotels includes the Sand Pearl.
“Home Is Where the Heart Is” and mine will always be near the Florida shores.