Mama Mia (here we go again!)

It seems as if restaurants in Miami just opened, but now, due to the soaring rise of COVID cases, Mayor Gimenez has closed restaurants, along with gyms, fitness centers and short-term rentals. He’s doing it to ensure hospitals don’t get filled to capacity. Apparently the Covid culprits are 18 to 34 year olds partying, without concern for the consequences (or us old people). My husband was talking to a business associate who has a daughter in her twenties and she was saying: “And they’re blaming this on our poor kids.” Please, save me the pity party, because I’m blaming it on them too.

About a month and a half ago, while walking around our neighborhood, my husband and I noticed a ton of little impromptu parties of teenagers, outside or around pools, in our neighborhood. No one was wearing masks. Whether these were graduation parties (as Gimenez has suggested), or just “gettys” that then preceded to move indoors, I don’t know, but it sure didn’t seem safe. Gimenez has also blamed the protests on the rapid spread of COVID 19 in Miami. Florida is constantly in the news now, for all the wrong reasons. We’re the laughing stock of the country, not for hanging chads this time, but for our state of Covidiots. We are a cautionary tale of what not to do.

Of course we re-opened too early, there’s no doubt about it now. And of course, people that were cooped up for months, without contact with friends and family, rushed to go back to the normal socialization we all once knew. We let our guard down, and now we’re paying for it. In spades.

But the restaurants! I feel so bad for them. They were just getting back to normal (albeit the new normal), re-hiring staff, re-ordering food, getting back into the swing of things, even offering Miami Spice for four months straight. And now- who is going to survive this? Which restaurants will still be standing after the smoke clears? Back to take-out and delivery for moi.

Our week started off with a celebration for Zeke’s birthday on Monday. He’d gotten a rotisserie cooker for his grill for Father’s Day and wanted to try it out, so I got a duck and champagne at Publix. We had planned on eating at 7, but unfortunately the duck was still quite frozen when we were supposed to start cooking, so we popped the Champagne at 6 and were all quite tipsy by the time the duck rolled off the grill at 8:30! Nothing like being starving (and slightly smashed) to make a meal taste great.

Lauren had made a cheese plate that we nibbled at with the Champagne for appetizers. Zeke roasted his duck on the grill, letting the duck fat drip into a tray underneath filled with partially cooked and cubed potatoes and sprigs of rosemary. This was a delicious, low cal dish. I made a miso asparagus dish from Joy of Cooking, that was quite nice and bought some French bread to go with dinner. The “very” vanilla cake Zeke requested was a white cake with white buttercream frosting, served with vanilla ice cream. From what I remember, it all was great and we left the next day to Key West, which was my gift to Zeke for his birthday.

We had a Ghost Tour the first night, a Key West Seafood Lover’s Tour the next day and we tried a bunch of new restaurants down at the Southernmost Spot in the US. While we usually have some duds in our experimental dining, in this case, they were all winners. I will write about the restaurants and recommended dishes later, but it was very disconcerting to see so many people (about half) in Key West NOT wearing masks on the streets, even though it was mandatory. There was no one enforcing this rule, however, although apparently Tour Guides and Restaurants can be fined heavily for violating the no-mask rule.

Fourth of July was a bit of a let down, with none of the kids (or grandkid) joining us, because apparently the Keys are “boring” without a boat. I laid in bed most of the day, reading, but did rally to throw together dinner (burgers, corn, baked beans and macaroni salad); we went down to the dock for sunset. We were supposed to go out on someone’s boat to see the fireworks in Key Largo that night, but they were cancelled like 80% of the fireworks across the country. Can we just say Fourth of July 2020 was a dud? It surely was for me. Even the red, white and blue cocktail I attempted to make turned green instead. It also would’ve been my Dad’s 85th birthday.

Speaking of Duds, here’s 2020, so far:

  • Coronavirus
  • Economic Shutdown
  • Record Unemployment
  • Stock Market Plunges
  • Aggressive Rats
  • Murder Hornets
  • Death of George Flyod
  • Protests, Riots, Looting
  • Saharan Dust Cloud
  • UFO’s (in Miami)
  • Locusts in Africa
  • Brain-destroying amoeba in Florida (you might have missed this one)
  • Meth Alligators

Zeke told me about this last one. Apparently it’s happening in Tennessee, where people are flushing drugs, like Meth, down the toilet. The police are claiming that alligators could ingest the drugs and make them hyper-aggressive. And speaking of medicine, a lot of people are having a hard time, mentally, with the Pandemic and it’s consequences. Suicides are up, as is depression and domestic abuse. The trickle-down effect of the Coronavirus seems to be endless.

And normality, even though it was the “new normal”, has just been yanked away from us in Miami. Believe me, I think it was the right call, but it sucks. A fellow Book Club member, who was recovering from an unfortunate accident that involved stitches, had sent out an invite: “I think I have quarantined enough”, to ask if anyone wanted to go to Fiola’s for lunch right before this happened. Restaurants will be closed starting July 8th, although restaurants with outside seating will be permitted to serve, if they can stick to social distancing guidelines.

I’m still walking (although now in Key Largo) and have enjoyed listening to a podcast called My Favorite Murder on Exactly Right. It’s a comedy/murder podcast that is very entertaining; there’s nothing like listening to a podcast about murder to get your mind off the Pandemic. I also listened yesterday to a BBC Podcast called Desert Island Discs, where the interviewer asks a person what seven songs they would take with them on a desert island. I really enjoyed it and it got me thinking about what my seven discs would be.

I did make some yummy caramel corn on July 4th, an Ina recipe to go on an amazing sundae she made with salted caramel gelato and homemade chocolate sauce. I only made the caramel corn with peanuts part, but it’s a delicious snack which reminds me of something my Mom used to buy called Screaming Yellow Zonkers (what a name!). It’s rather addictive, a perfect movie-watching snack.

Caramel Corn like Screaming Yellow Zonkers.

And, since it’s summer (you should know this by the earth-scorching, melt-your-face off heat when you step outside) here are some great Summer Movies to get your mind off You Know What: Grease, Jaws, The Parent Trap, American Graffiti, Say Anything, Mamma Mia, Caddyshack, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Blue Crush, Stand By Me, Now and Then, My Girl, Something’s Gotta Give, The 7 Year Itch, Dirty Dancing, Splash & Vacation.

These aren’t Academy Award winners, by any means, but who wants anything serious right now? And don’t forget the 3 C’s: Avoid: Close Contact, Crowded Places and Closed Spaces. Stay safe out there.

Up Next: Key West Restaurants and Mango Mania

Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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