Seven Degrees of COVID Bacon

Well we did it!

After years of dreaming, scheming, researching and longing, we finally bit the bullet and bought a boat! A brand new boat, at that- just out of it’s cute, white wrappers. She’s 24 feet long, weighs 4,800 pounds, is seafoam green, powered by twin 150 Yamahas, surname Robalo, nickname ‘Bout Time! Hasn’t been delivered by the stork yet (financing involved) but we’ve reserved a little spot to park her in our boat yard when she makes her grand entrance.

We’ve had a condo in Key Largo for five years and after having exhausted all on-land activities, we started talking a while ago about getting a boat. When you talk about getting a boat EVERYBODY has an opinion on what type, what size, how many engines, the brand etc…I’ve never had so much unsolicited (and conflicting) advice offered in my life on any subject and that includes raising children.

We’ve visited boatyards, looked at websites, flipped through magazines, taken rides on other people’s boats, even went to the Miami Boat Show last January (before the world shut down); we talked to a yacht broker about what kind of boat we wanted, so he could be on the lookout. It was this Yacht Broker- my childhood friend Micheal Brill- who put us in touch with Todd at Unique Marine, to finally buy our boat.

“I’ve never seen it like this in all my life,” said Todd. “It’s crazy. There are no boats anywhere.”

As he walked us through the boatyard to see the new boat, he said “That one’s sold, and that one, and that one.”

“Why?” Zeke asked.

“People aren’t going to Europe this summer and need something to do. And the manufacturers shut down for months, so there’s less boats available than ever.”

Obviously, after that sales pitch and the fact it was a beautiful boat, we took the bait and plunked down a chuck of cash for a new Robalo. Zeke reasoned it will probably be our first and last boat since we’re getting older and he didn’t want to inherit someone else’s problems. I reluctantly agreed. Because while some kids are semi-off the payroll, one is starting a Masters in Law program this Fall, one (hopefully) a Nursing Program at U.M. soon and the last wants to go to U.M. Graduate School, all pricey options, so it’s not like we’re rolling in dough.

But, Zeke reasoned, it’s like having kids. If you wait for the perfect time, it’s never going to happen. I agreed, but on the way home, he’s the one who kept saying “I can’t believe I bought a boat!” and talked about how he wasn’t a person prone to impulsive decisions.

“Listen”, I said, “You’ve been talking about buying a boat for years. You’ve researched it thoroughly, know exactly what kind of boat you want and finally pulled the trigger. This is actually the OPPOSITE of an impulse buy!”

And so it was. Zeke was in shock the rest of the day, I kept trying to talk him off the ledge and he started drinking Iguana Bait beer from his Kegorator- “Either to celebrate or to forget the fact I just bought a boat!”

Meals this week nothing to write home about- they were mostly either left overs or take-out. I refashioned my Spaghetti Sunday meatballs and sausages into Meatball and Sausage Subs. I heated them up in extra sauce and put them on a Martin’s Potato Bun with sautéed bell peppers and shredded mozzarella. The potato roll was too soft for this kind of sandwich. It needed a hard, crusty Italian roll to hold up to the meat. In making sandwiches, I feel picking the right type of bread is a crucial decision, as well as the bread-to-filling ratio. You don’t want to overwhelm the filling with too much bread, just enough to complement and support it.

I found a recipe for “Easiest Ever Mango Sorbet” in my inbox and since I had the ingredients- mango, sugar and condensed milk- I gave it a whirl. I put it into my ice cream maker and it came out tasting like… frozen condensed milk, with hard, frozen mango chucks. Sometimes “easiest ever” recipes are surprisingly good. This one was not.

On Wednesday, I went to Footworks to buy a new pair of running shoes. I like to support local businesses and Footworks is my local running shoe store. The nice lady and I both wore masks as she looked up my info on the computer. She then measured my foot.

Seven and a half- your right foot’s bigger than your left. You have a wide foot and your arches have fallen. They’re not those high and perky arches you had years ago.

Footworks Lady

Yeah lady, like everything else on my body, they’re no longer high and perky. Got it. I tried on several pairs of shoes and settled on a pretty pair of rose gold Asics, size seven and a half.

“I can’t believe I’m a seven and a half,” I lamented to the sales lady.

I almost brought out an eight,” she said.

“Eight!” I gasped. Sacre bleu!

I can’t explain why I care so much that my foot’s grown from a size six to an almost eight. I have to blame it on a Nancy Drew mystery I read as a child where the heroine has a size five foot and a big deal was made in associating her small shoe size with her daintiness and femininity. The other footprint discovered in the book couldn’t have been hers because it was huge, clodhopper size (size 8), so I’ve developed this aversion to having large feet. Damn you Carolyn Keene!

New running shoes. Size 7 1/2.

Anyway, on the upside, I got a 10% discount at Cecile’s Bakery with a receipt from Footworks. You need to be wearing running clothes and show your receipt in order to get the discount. I ordered a cup of their Zucchini Cilantro soup and a Tuna Salad sandwich, with the croissant on the side so it wouldn’t get soggy. Both soup and sandwich were very good and I stretched the tuna salad into leftovers for days, by adding a can of tuna to the leftover tuna, as it was heavy on the mayo.

Speaking of sandwiches, I made myself a BLT last week and I have to say it’s simply a delicious, classic sandwich, just the way it is. It needs no update or a reboot, no arugula lettuce instead of iceberg or, (heaven forbid) turkey bacon to make it healthier. A couple crunchy and salty bacon strips, contrast with refreshing lettuce leaves, topped with sweet slices of juicy, beefsteak tomatoes (seasoned with salt and pepper), all snuggled into lightly toasted bread (mine was rye), which has been slathered with some good mayonaisse. Slice in half and take a bite of heaven in a sandwich!

While we’re on the subject, is there a more comforting meal than soup and a sandwich? I don’t think so. While homemade soup is great, canned or boxed soup is perfectly good, and so much easier. For Italian soups, like Split Pea or Italian Wedding, I like Progresso, but lately I’ve been into the pureed Trader Joe’s soups, like Butternut Squash, Carrot Ginger or Tomato Basil. I usually doctor it up a bit with a dash of cayenne, some snipped chives or a plop of sour cream, but with a sandwich, it makes a wonderful and easy dinner.

The all time pits of a meal this week had to be Friday night. I hesitate to even call it dinner. Zeke arrived in the Keys Friday afternoon and we went to Sharkey’s Bar and Grill for Happy Hour. We ordered two glasses of Pinot Grigio and a Tuna Poke to split, which the waitress recommended. She was complaining about people who refused to wear masks while walking around the restaurant, which is required by Monroe County.

“If they don’t want to wear a mask, they should just leave,” she said.

We agreed, she then went on to complain about the new restaurant guidelines that don’t require two negative COVID tests after a restaurant employee has been sick. Now, if employees have been symptom-free for 10 days, they can just come back to work. She said a lot of Keys restaurants that originally opened had to close, re-opened and are now closed again (like the Pilot House) because of cases of COVID. She said it’s exhausting dealing with the anti-maskers and fear of catching COVID; she doesn’t really want to come back to work with the new regulations, but she needs the money to survive.

This was dinner.

After eating our Tuna Poke, I asked Zeke if he wanted something else to eat. He said no, which was unusual for him to want so little for dinner. “Really?” I said.

I have a confession to make. I stopped and got a brisket sandwich at that Bar-B-Que food truck when I went out today.


We were meeting friends for drinks at Snooks, so we left Sharkey’s and sat at the bar with Doug and Heidi. They’d already eaten, so we just kept drinking wine. Zeke did ask me several times if I wanted any dinner, but I didn’t want to eat alone, and by the time Heidi pulled out some peanut brittle her Mom had sent from Pennsylvania, that was dessert. When we returned home to watch our murder mystery, I told Zeke that was the pits of a Friday night date. “Half a tuna poke and peanut brittle!”, I complained. I also accused him of being a “sandwich sneaker.” Which he is.

On the way home from buying our boat, Zeke passed the turn for our condo.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

He took me to get my own Brisket Sandwich, “Otherwise I will never hear the end of it,” he said. It was a tasty and filling sandwich- five slices of juicy, peppery brisket meat on a potato bun with two bar-b-que sauces- spicy and golden- with ruffled chips and a finely minced coleslaw, which I threw on my sandwich. It was $10, at Mike’s Bar-B-Que food truck on the bayside near one of those Swim with the Dolphins places. MM 101.

Saturday night Zeke cooked me Ground Lamb Kebabs, with a cucumber dill yogurt sauce. He watched the video of the chef, Richard Blais, prepare them and he shaped his Kebabs on a sword, a very dramatic (and potentially fatal) presentation. Since we were clean out of swords, Zeke used skewers to put the meat mixture with herbs, spices and onions on and grilled them. They kind of fell apart, but he salvaged them off the grill. I made couscous and a Greek salad to go with it. The Koobideh (meat kabobs) were good but we both agreed it lacked pizazz, and could’ve used the Middle Eastern hot sauce (Shrug) I’d made at home. I liked it best the next day, plunked into a soft Na’an bread, with some yogurt sauce, jalapeños and cilantro. Can you tell I’m on a sandwich kick?

I was down in the Keys myself from Wednesday on and found myself watching Friends and Everyone Loves Raymond, the comfort food of TV viewing. In other TV news, The Bachelorette changed from Claire Crawley to Tayisha, supposedly because Clair found love right away during lockdown, so good for her! She was already making Bachelor history as the first “older” Bachelorette at age 39 (which is depressing), now this- the most dramatic season ever! This probably isn’t big news in most households, but it was in ours as we love our Bachelorette Mondays, although now it’s going to be on Tuesdays. Is nothing sacred? And I started my new book for Book Club- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. So far, so good and it won a Nobel Prize for Literature, so there’s that.

August is Rose Month and I can get down with that. I’ve been leaving a bottle of the pink stuff in the freezer with a frosted wine glass, while I go on my walk, so by the time I return and pour myself some, it’s like a rose slushy. So refreshing! Iconic Cuban restaurant Rio Cristal, best known for their thin steak (or bistec) served with a mountain of crunchy, skinny fries atop it, is closing after 46 years in business. They just couldn’t survive the Pandemic! So sad, but they will be open until the end of August should you want to visit one last time. And in more Bad News, this Hurricane Season is supposed to be “one of the strongest seasons ever with 25 storms predicted,” according to the Miami Herald. I actually consider this good news, since whenever they predict a super active Hurricane Season, a hurricane never hits Miami. Yes, today is Opposite Day.

Rose all day!

In dramatic news of the week…

Someone in our household had possible exposure to COVID, due to her roommate’s brother testing positive for it. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the roommate’s brother actually LIVES with them. Here’s the thing about Millenials (or whoever) thinking it’s no big deal to get COVID. Hopefully, it will work out for you, but you may have exposed someone else, who then goes into a house with a: Mom and Dad, a sister, a housekeeper (who goes home to her own husband, children and grandchildren), a daughter and grandchild, so it’s not just YOU that is affected. It’s whoever you’re around and then, whoever they’re around, and so on. Seven degrees of Kevin Bacon. So, as I rewound every conversation and meal shared with said person while I was in Miami, the roommate’s brother got two negative tests (how does this happen?), as did she. So, crisis averted, but it was scary and Florida is still in the red zone of COVID hot spots.

School starts soon for some children in Miami, including my grandson Wyatt. He starts his pre-school, in person, five days a week, at the end of the month. I worry less about him getting sick, then I do his teachers or other adults working at the school, although I know they will take every precaution possible to keep everyone safe. Normally, at this time of the Summer I’m thinking about getting in shape for tennis season, excited about UM football and tailgating at Hard Rock Stadium and looking forward to events, parties and galas that kick into gear in the Fall. This year, not so much.

I’ve gotten hotels for our Road Trip to D.C. at the end of the month and none of states we’re visiting are hot spots for Corona. We are staying in a lot of historic hotels and I’m planning on eating bunches of crab cakes and oysters, plus, I’ll be checking three more states (West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware) off my bucket list. Yipee!

And by the time we return to the Keys for Labor Day weekend, hopefully our boat will be delivered and I can perfect my blender drink recipes and cleat hitch for docking. Instead of lacing up my tennis shoes, I’ll be lacing up my new running shoes for long walks around the Sanctuary. Instead of wings and beer for UM Football games, I’ll be serving sautéed fresh fish we’ve caught ourselves with chilled white wine. And instead of shopping for a fancy dress and high heels for a gala, I’ll be sporting my quarantini bikini, and wearing comfy flip flops on my seven and a half, fallen-arched, clodhopper feet. Crank up The Beach Boys because this Fall’s my new Endless Summer.

Little Surfer, little one. Made my heart come all undone. Do you love me? Do you Surfer Girl?

Beach Boys

Up Next: Quarantine Projects

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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