Girl’s Weekend in the Florida Keys

If you have any desire to sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in Miami, drop whatever you’re doing and sign up because it’s time! Why sign up for a CSA, where you pay upfront for fruits and vegetables from local farms? Because you’re helping local farms and businesses, it will expand your horizon with different produce and you’ll be eating fresh food at the peak of the season. I signed up already for Empower Farms, which employs people with disabilities, but there are many other CSA’s in South Florida to choose from. The lastest issue of Edible South Florida does a great job of explaining about CSA’s and all the options to choose from at

I’ve always wanted to try Stubborn Seed, the one Michelin starred restaurant helmed by Chef Jeremy Ford, but I don’t get to Miami Beach very often. Ford, who does a delicious-sounding, but pricey, tasting menu (8 courses for $175) at Stubborn Seed, is bringing his talents to my neck of the woods in the former Public Square space. I tried Public Square once and, while it was good, it seemed like Shula’s (former restaurant), with a smaller menu and higher prices, so I’m excited to see something new emerging there.

The restaurant is part of the Grove Bay Hospitality Group‘s holdings, and the new restaurant is to be called Beauty and the Butcher. There won’t be a tasting menu, but there will be small seasonal plates, different meats and the same neighborhood vibe Shula’s, and Jake’s had. The CEO and co-founder of Grove Bay explained: “People who live in South Miami and Pinecrest have disposable income and sophisticated palates” to support this type of chef-driven restaurant. Now we won’t have to drive to Miami Beach to experience it! Beauty and the Butcher is scheduled to open in Fall of 2022.

Girl’s Weekend in the Keys at Kelley’s house in Venetian Shores was another success!

This tradition started more than twenty years ago with just Kelley and I. It branched out to our friend Susie in 2005 and then included our friend Peggy, later. This year’s theme was Hawaiian, since I’d recently returned from Hawaii and brought the group plumeria hair clips and leis. The Drinking Buddies I’d purchased as drink holders many moons ago had eventually dwindled (eaten by dogs and hidden by grandchildren), so last year, I bought some more, which we used for our Welcome Cocktail. I served my Passionfruit Martini, which I’d had all over Hawaii and helped Kelley with dinner the first night.

At Girl’s Weekend, everyone contributes. Peggy is the Cocktail Queen, mixing up her assorted specialties at the bar. We had a Beach Bum Cosmo drink to start off, a favorite from last year. She also brought delicious fish and shrimp spreads with crackers, for appetizers. Dinner was Teriyaki Steak (Foodie in Miami recipe), Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers, Baked Murasaki Sweet Potatoes with Miso Butter, Blistered Shishito Peppers, Spring Mix Salad with coconut, walnuts and a Miso Vinagrette and Hawaiian Rolls. Susie made a Key Lime Pie for dessert, which we had after dinner. It was quite a feast to start off the weekend, followed by an enthusiastic game of Heads Up!

Saturday, we drove to Marathon to take the trolley to Pigeon Key. Pigeon Key was an island that was occupied by men who worked on Flagler’s East Coast Railway, more than a hundred years ago. The only way you used to be able to get there was by ferry, but they recently completed a road (to the tune of 44 million dollars!) that takes you over the water and to the island. It was great fun, until a sudden rain shower soaked us in the trolley. We dried off and listened to an informative talk of the history of Pigeon Key by Julie. The island is now used for tourists to visit and for a children’s sleepover camp in the summer.

Lunch was Muffuletta Sandwiches Kelley had made the night before. It was a HUGE sandwich, made on rustic Italian bread, jam-packed with cured meats, cheeses and an olive salad. It was a New York Times recipe (>recipes>8587-muffuletta) and a definite winner! Not that we really needed anything else, but we also had chips and peaches to go with our lunch. The view couldn’t be beat at our little picnic and, in no time, it was time to return back to the trolley and civilization.

Dinner that night was at Marker 88 in Islamorada. Marker 88 has been totally re-done and, as always, is a beautiful spot to eat dinner, on the white sand beach, especially at sunset. The menu, however, has shrunk and the prices have gone up, much like other restaurants. The wine prices, especially, caused sticker shock. For Pinot Grigio (my usual order) it was $12 for a 5 ounce pour, $22 for a 9 ounce pour. You’d be better off getting the bottle at $52. And their Featured Red was even higher at $25 for a 5 ounce pour, $36 for a 9 ounce pour. When did a $36 glass of wine get to be a thing? Geez!

Consequently, we all got cocktails. Two in our group ordered Mai Tais, in keeping with the theme, but one person really felt her Mai Tai was watered down, so she got a new one. My Margarita was good, as was my Onion Crusted Mahi Mahi at $30. My complaint about Marker 88 is that besides Mahi and Tuna, there wasn’t any other fish listed on the menu, which there should be an abundance of in the Keys. Also, their famous mashed potatoes have disappeared from the menu, replaced by French Fries, Sweet Potato Fries and Potato Chips, so fried, fried and fried. I got the Lime Cilantro Rice as a side.

Everyone enjoyed their entrees and there was live music, as there is every night. Thankfully, the one-man-band wasn’t too heavy on the Jimmy Buffet. Our service was good and Marker 88 is dog friendly, another plus. Marker 88 also has the best Key Lime Pie of any restaurant in the Keys- light, fluffy and piled high with meringue, but, even though Peggy was celebrating a birthday, they didn’t bring any dessert. Disappointing!

Peggy had brought Pumpkin Bread for breakfast, served with some Mango Jam I’d brought and Kelley whipped up a delicious Spaghetti Sunday for our Farewell meal. Pasta with Meatballs, Sausage, Sauteed Peas, Salad and Bread finished our weekend meal. We all said goodbye, left our Drinking Buddies behind and went our separate ways until next year.

Goodbye Chad, Brad, Ryan, Cody and the other guy whose name I can’t remember! Until next year.

We’re up all night ’til the sun We’re up all night to get some We’re up all night for good fun We’re up all night to get lucky.

Daft Punk

Up Next: Passionfruit Martini

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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