Monday, July 21, 2014

St. Augustine Restaurant Review: The Floridian

Part of the reason we stopped in St. Augustine is because it was Fionn's birthday and I thought it'd be fun to travel somewhere new. Since we are both really into food, I knew we had to go somewhere for a memorable lunch (this was also because Fionn was glum about getting older and I wanted to cheer him up).

After much online sleuthing, I found The Floridian, a restaurant that promised "innovative southern fare for omnivores, herbivores, and locavores." The menu sounded amazing, so off we went.

Y'all. Let me just say right now that they did not disappoint. Even sad panda Fionn forgot about officially being a year closer to 30 and burst into a delighted grin with each bite of whatever deliciousness was put in front of us. This was one of the best places we've been.

(and after 30+ countries and countless restaurants, that's saying something)

The restaurant itself is small and intimate, the hipster waitresses were friendly, and the decor was quirky. All of their menu options are locally sourced and artisanal, from local shrimp to fresh baked bread to sodas made with cane sugar. There's a lot of commitment to quality and your tastebuds reap the reward.

So what did we eat?

First off, we started with a cheese board with Georgia artisanal cheeses, fresh baked bread, peaches, candied pecans and rucola, drizzled with Florida honey.

It was so good I forgot to take a picture until halfway through when Fionn reminded me I'm a terrible blogger. Oops.

But, seriously. It was perfection. We even found out you can buy the Georgia cheese online from Sweet Grass Dairy.

Next up, the mains. I ordered a Summer Salad with blackened local shrimp over local lettuces topped with summer fruit, cucumbers, quinoa, shredded carrots, Sweet Grass Dairy's Lil' Moo cheese, and spiced garbanzo beans with a honey-herb vinaigrette. It was perfect.

Fionn celebrated his birthday with a Floridian Bahn Mi sandwich with pulled all natural chicken on a toasted hoagie roll with housemade pickled veggies, cilantro mayo, and zesty slaw. He raved about everything from the perfect homemade pickles to the bread. He was one happy birthday boy.

For dessert we got coffee and a chocolate croissant and peach bread pudding to go since we had to get back on the road. We talked about the food the whole 5 hour drive home and enjoyed the bread pudding, though wondered what other sweet treats we'd missed out on.

Should've gotten more desserts to go, obviously.

St. Augustine, it would be wonderful if you could be a little closer. Or just open up another Floridian near us?

If you're in St. Augustine, you can find the Floridian at 39 Cordova St, St Augustine, FL 32084. It seems to fill up quick, so try to get there a little early. 

What's the best thing you've eaten on your travels?

Friday, July 18, 2014

St. Augustine Harbor and Fortress

As you walk out of cluster of buildings in St. Augustine's city center, you're suddenly hit with the smell of the ocean and the creak of ropes. The harbor is literally right there.

Fionn and I enjoyed walking along the water's edge. If you follow the pathway, you'll find yourself at St. Augustine's famous Spanish fortress in no time.

St Augustine was founded in 1565, but the fortress, the Castillo de San Marcos, wasn't built until the late 1600s. It's been used by the Spanish, English, and Americans as a military fort but these days it's a national park.

For history nerds like Fionn and I, we had fun exploring and thinking about all the things these walls had witnessed over the years. Amazing they're still around!

Next up...the best thing I ate in Florida...and maybe ever.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

America's Oldest City: St. Augustine, Florida

As a Savannah girl, I'm always a sucker for pre-revolution American cities. The colonial influence, the narrow streets meant for carriages instead of cars, the gorgeous architecture...I love all of it. 

So naturally, I loved St. Augustine, Florida.

Because Fionn and I never pass up an opportunity to travel somewhere cool, we decided to stop in St. Augustine on our way back to Georgia. I'm so glad we did! Even though we were only there for a few hours, I fell in love with America's oldest city, especially all the Spanish influence! As we drove around I was reminded of our trip to Spain a few years ago. All I needed was a sangria to complete the effect!

The city isn't very big, but it's got a lot of charm. I loved all the green space you could walk through, watching cars and horse drawn carriages share the road.

A little ways down you find yourself in a touristy main drag. While I usually skip cheesy tourist shops and pirate themed attractions with eye patch wearing mannequins, it was worth it to at least walk through and see it once. 

Then you should promptly return to "regular" St. Augustine, which has much more to offer.

More to come!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What's a trip to Florida without a beach day?

I grew up on the coast of Georgia, so I love being near the water. Some of my fondest memories are of playing in the ocean with my brother and cousins or taking the boat out onto the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway as a high schooler, or the end of semester tradition of finishing my college exams and then racing to the beach with my best friend Kate to celebrate our freedom with Capri-Suns and Publix sandwiches.

I am a coastal girl, and this coastal girl has longed for the beach during her years in landlocked Germany.

(Though the Mediterranean or Aegean ain't a bad substitute...just sayin')

So when Fionn's uncle invited us to spend a day at a beachfront condo, I was SO excited. Not only does Florida have incredible beaches, but I was super excited to dip my toes in the water on THIS side of the Atlantic.

We got to the beach, slathered on the sunscreen and changed into swimsuits and raced down to the sand. It was a gorgeous day, the sun was shining, and I sat under the umbrella chatting with Fionn's family while he spent time with his cousins.

All was going well until Fionn returned from the ocean with a sad face...a rogue wave had snatched his wedding ring right off his hand! His aunt and cousins and I searched along the shore, hoping it would wash up, but no such luck. Poor Fionn will have to get a new one.

Public service announcement...TAKE OFF YOUR WEDDING RING BEFORE YOU GET IN THE OCEAN. Le sigh...

After fruitless beachcombing for the ring, ominous clouds started to roll in. We managed to get almost everything inside before the thunderstorm hit. The kids were disappointed that their beach day was cut short, but we made the most of a rained in afternoon by watching Rambo and playing games. I actually enjoyed getting to know everyone better, especially since I burn like a lobster after too much time in the sun (the cruel irony of loving the beach).

The next morning, the storm had passed and the beach was beautiful. I got up early and walked along the beach by myself. Besides a few fishermen, joggers, and hungry sea birds, I was the only person out there.

I hoped against hope that Fionn's wedding ring might have miraculously washed up on the shore, but all I found were seashells. I gave up the search and soaked in the beauty of the morning, thinking of all the times in my life I spent similar mornings staring out at the Atlantic, enjoying the peacefulness of a sleepy, Southern beach town.

It felt like I was home. Or nearer to home than I've been in a long time.

Once a coastal girl, always a coastal girl.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fourth of July in Florida

Fionn and I got to spend Fourth of July with family in Florida this year and it was wonderful. We've had many fun times celebrating the holiday with fellow expats during our years abroad, but it was really nice to be in the States to celebrate and relive all those fun childhood memories of fireworks, hamburgers, and hometown celebrations with patriotic dance numbers.

Ah, America.

Family members we were visiting told us about a 4th of July street festival going on, so we headed downtown to check it out. There we found live music, everyone decked out in red, white, and blue, and kids eating standard Independence Day foods while a local band played live music. It was a fun, festive atmosphere.

Then we turned a corner and found a quintessential slice of Americana...classic cars!

When we were in Germany, I was always surprised by how much Germans loved classic American cars. A few of the soldiers on post owned Mustangs or Corvettes or old muscle cars, and they were sure to attract a crowd of Germans posing for pictures or lovingly checking out the details. 

After getting our fill of the street festival, Fionn and I explored the rest of the downtown, ducking into air conditioning periodically to escape the oppressive Florida heat.

Of course, all that walking worked up an appetite, so we stopped in a Burgerfi to try their organic burgers.

Which, by the way, are pretty dang delicious.

So delicious, in fact, that we ordered a hot dog and split that too.

What can I say...we're foodies.

Seriously, if you have one near you, try Burgerfi out!

Now happily in a food coma, Fionn and I spent the rest of the day with family and capped off our 4th of July by setting off fireworks with Fionn's young cousins.

It was a pretty great 4th of July!

How was your 4th? Did you spend it at home or abroad with expats?