Key Lime Pie, Mojitos and other Miami Vices.

Howdy all!  I’ve missed you. Things in Florida have been busy but good.  We’ve been working and baseballing and schooling.  I’m a little bummed that we’ve missed the cool jacket weather that Texas has been enjoying but we’ll get some eventually.

Last weekend I was a bit under the weather for a couple of days.  Just a viral thing that was going around the kitchen where I work.  I basically laid on the bed or the couch for two days.  By Monday, I had a day off from work and was suffering from cabin fever.  So when Ty casually suggested that I could join him for a day trip to Miami, I was game.  He had a gig at The Four Seasons but I was certain that there would be enough to see in Miami to keep me busy.  One of the things that I most looked forward to with this move was being able to see new things.  I had never been to Miami, aside from a quick in and out before and after a cruise in 1986.

The drive down was lovely.  It’s an easy tollway between here and there.  Not much to see but I love road trips so with Spotify on the iPad and a couple of nifty road apps, I was set.  Something that I love about road trips is that my mind feels a bit freer.  Ideas come quickly and I’m so easily inspired.  Another thing that I love about road trips is the food from little independent places.  These two collided when I realized that there is a huge deficiency of quality road food apps out there.  Roadfood.com is a standard site I use to find great places but I’ve noticed a lack of growth there lately.  I need someone who knows how to design apps to partner with but I think it would be a very fun project.  And who knows, with what apps sell for, we might become hundredaires!  Anyway… my head was wrapped around this little idea for most of the 3 1/2 hour drive so it passed quickly.

We did make a short stop just north of Miami, near Ft. Lauderdale.  This place was called Bob Roth’s New River Groves.  It’s an actual grove that once supplied oranges.  Due to pest infestations, most private groves have been shut down but at Bob Roth’s, they grow other things and will let you pick your own during season.  What interested me most about Bob Roth’s was that I had read post after post naming them as having the best Key Lime PIe in the state.  We both love Key Lime Pie and I was intrigued.  We stopped and I instantly loved it.  It was fun in a kitschy, Florida sort of way.  They sold all of the farm stand traditional stuff like jams, jellies, boiled peanuts, and pies.  Oh the pies.  We bought some coconut water, boiled peanuts and a pie and found the nearest picnic table.

The pie was good, no doubt but I think I prefer the one I’ve been making for years.  This made me feel good.  I have a few other places to try a “best” Key Lime Pie but for now, my tried and true recipe is holding it’s own.  I’ve included it here so you can try it yourself.

Once we left Bob Roth’s New Orange Grove, we headed into Miami.  Ty didn’t have long before he needed to set up so he took me to South Beach and dropped me off.  Between the amazing food and the art deco architecture, I was in heaven.  I spent the evening at an outdoor mall where I met a special man named, Birdman Crenshaw.  Birdman was sitting on the sidewalk looking for a bit of money.  He (like others there) was painting.  What made me so interested in this man were his arms.  They were severely underdeveloped.  When I was pregnant with Camden, I contracted Chicken pox.  The biggest risk to him was this exact defect.  For months, I had ultrasounds as the doctor carefully tracked the growth of Camden’s arms.  Obviously and thankfully, he was not affected by the virus but seeing Birdman sitting there tugged something in my heart.  The other thing that was amazing was that Birdman was drawing with his foot.  He had small canvas boards and a selection of markers.  He liked to paint faces and was so happy that I stopped to talk to him about his art.  Turns out he grew up in El Paso and was homeless (I wasn’t surprised but loved the joy he had despite his issues).  I told him how he and my husband shared a passion for painting faces and offered to buy the only finished piece he had there with him.  I ended up walking away with a piece of Birdman, not only on that canvas but in my heart as well.

I spent the rest of the evening doing a little shopping and made late dinner reservations at a Cuban place that’s been serving since 1957.  This place is called Havanas and when we finally ate dinner there after Ty’s gig, we knew why it had been in business for so long.  We had a slow roasted chicken, the special of the house and a pork tamal.  The chicken was heavily but beautifully seasoned with strong toasted cumin overtones.  The traditional Cuban accompaniments of black beans, yellow rice and plantains were perfect.  The best thing, however, were the mojitos.  Crisp, sweet enough but not too sweet and easy to drink, they were the perfect ending to a wonderful day.

If you want a good Mojito recipe, you can find one here… https://thegourmetgirls.wordpress.com/2009/07/20/holy-basil-batman/

The basil is delicious but just substitue mint for the traditional Cuban drink.

This next weekend we get to go back to that area for a couple of days.  Al, Ty’s best friend and honorary member of this family is having a Halloween party.  I have a couple of goals for that weekend.  I’d like to eat at Joe’s Stone Crab, drive to Key Largo and maybe make another stab at the state’s best Key Lime Pie.  Until then, however, I’ll be more than satisfied with this one…

Key Lime Pie

Graham Cracker Crust:
1/3 lb graham cracker (or 1 cup plus 2 1/2 Tablespoons graham cracker crumbs)
5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar

Filling:
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons grated key lime zest
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice

Topping:
1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

For the crust:.
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter a 9-inch pie plate. Break up graham crackers, place in processor and process to crumbs (if you don’t have a processor, place crackers in large plastic bag, seal, and crush using a rolling pin). Add melted butter & sugar and pulse until combined.Press mixture into bottom and up sides of pan, forming a neat border around the edges. Bake until crust is set and golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside on wire rack; leave oven on.

For the filling:.
Meanwhile, in an electric mixer with the wire whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and lime zest at high speed until very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3-4 minutes longer. Lower the mixer speed and slowly add lime juice, mixing until just combined.
Pour mixture into crust and bake for 10 minutes, or until filling has just set. Cool on wire rack, then refrigerate. Freeze for 15-20 minutes before serving.

For the topping:.
Whip the cream and the confectioner’s sugar until nearly stiff.

Cut pie in wedges and serve very cold, topping each wedge with a dollop of whipped cream.
Garnish with a slice of key lime if desired.

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