Pasco County Perfection
The Pithlachascotee River, as Jack likes to call it, is referred to as the Cotee River by locals. This blackwater stream meanders through Pasco County as it makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico. The charming county is also home to rich farmland and fun festivals.
Breakfast at Grits, then Lunch on Limoges followed by dinner at the Pearl in the Grove, makes for a perfect Pasco County Day.
While driving from Port Richey to New Port Richey along the river, it isn’t hard to imagine a water taxi cruising alongside the pontoon and speed boats, maybe Uber on the water is the way to go. But Jack and I parked the car and walked since the water taxi is just a dream.
Johnny Grits in New Port Richey- this Southern Fresh restaurant uses organic, all natural yellow grits that taste like they came from my Granny Maddie’s kitchen. The maple syrup is from Vermont and the chicken is hormone free and free range, so I had to order the Chicken and Waffles. Fresh squeezed Florida orange juice should be a part of every Florida breakfast, as it is at Johnny Grits.
New Port Richey
New Port Richey was founded in 1924, and today the restoration of the 1927 Hacienda Hotel is underway.
The Spanish revival architecture fits well into the historic downtown landscape of this Florida small town Main Street.
This year the Chasco Fiesta takes place from April 1-9. We hope to make it to the celebration that started in 1922 and has been held continuously since 1947. Reading the historic marker, located at Sims Park downtown, you will discover who the first Chasco Fiesta queen was.
Dade City, in eastern Pasco County, with antique shops and the Country Christmas Stroll is also home to two of my favorite restaurants: Lunch on Limoges and Pearl in the Grove for dinner. From the changing chalkboard menu to the basket of tiny fruit muffins served before each lunch, eating at Lunch on Limoges is delightful and delicious. Jack and I enjoyed our anniversary dinner at the romantic Pearl in the Grove. From the appetizers to the dessert the food they prepare comes from regional farms and ranches such as: 3 Boys Farm, Butch’s Blueberries in Brooksville, Fisher Bee Farm, Green Acre Aquaponics, Kissimmee Green, Kumquat Growers, Palmetto Creek Farms and Winter Park Dairy.
The January Kumquat Festival in Dade City and the October Rattlesnake Festival in San Antonio are just a part of Pasco County traditions. In honor of the Kumquats of Pasco County, below you will find a recipe for Kumquat Sweet Tarts from Easy Breezy Florida Cooking.
Jack says: “The humble kumquat lives up to its maximum taste potential in this dish. The name Sweet-Tart is oxymoronic, like jumbo shrimp, pretty ugly or honest politician. It is sweet, and yet tart, but in combo, it is mighty fine. ”
Kumquat Sweet Tarts
½ cup water
4½ graham crackers
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon lime juice
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Cut kumquats in half and remove seeds; chop. Place in a pan with water and simmer about 15 minutes or until water has evaporated. Remove from heat.
Mash kumquats with a potato masher.
Line an 8″-by-8″-pan with graham crackers.
Combine kumquats with milk, egg and lime juice in a medium-size bowl.
Pour over graham crackers and bake about 8 minutes.
I do not have a rattlesnake recipe but I almost got bit by one when we went jogging along a back road in San Antonio, not really a good idea in a town that holds a Rattlesnake Festival. At first I heard a small rattle sound, and thought “How cute. Must be a baby rattlesnake.” Then my brain kicked in and I don’t think I have run that fast since my middle school track meet back in the 70’s.