It hardly seems like it can be true, but I will soon be celebrating my one-month wedding anniversary. Is that even a thing? Should we do something special to commemorate being married for only a month? I think we should. Any excuse for cake and champagne I say. At any rate, the old saying “time flies when you’re having fun” is true as always and Morgan and I have been having lots of fun since our wedding. Most especially, we had tons of fun on our honeymoon in Key West, Florida.
Neither of us had ever been to Key West before and we enjoyed it immensely. If you like tropical places and have never been there, I would highly recommend it. We visited most of the well-known tourist attractions while there including the Shipwreck Museum, the aquarium, the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory and, of course, the home of famed author Ernest Hemingway. I admit I mainly wanted to visit the Hemingway home to see the six-toed cats, but ended up enjoying the tour as well. We had a fantastic tour guide who told wonderful stories about Hemingway and his wives. If you are a fan of the author, cats or just enjoy seeing beautiful homes, this is a definite must-see in Key West.
As you know, Morgan and I love to eat, so another highlight of our trip was the many wonderful meals we shared together. We ate fresh seafood for nearly every meal. I ate so much mahi-mahi I thought I might turn into one! Morgan is more adventurous when it comes to seafood and he ate a variety of different fish including hogfish and grouper.
Upon arriving in Key West the day after our wedding, we left our bags at the hotel and headed out to find some lunch. Our hotel was right near a marina with a boardwalk along which were numerous restaurants and bars. The first one we came to was called Half Shell Raw Bar. It quickly became our favorite place and we ate there at least four times while on our honeymoon.
We were seated right on the dock overlooking the water below where you could see fish swimming by! Diners would occasionally drop a French fry in the water and watch the fish splash around trying to get to the morsel of food first. As soon as we were seated for our first meal in Key West, the server came over and asked what we wanted to drink and were we interested in doing the cocktail challenge and getting a free T-shirt. My new husband and I looked at her in wonder and then looked at each and back at the server to say, challenge accepted!
The signature drink at Half Shell was a shot which included alcohol and a raw oyster. We weren’t quite brave enough to try that, but luckily we were allowed to choose a different drink for the challenge. I told the server I wished I was brave enough to eat raw oysters. She suggested we try their oyster sampler platter which was comprised of baked oysters, two oysters Rockefeller, two oysters in a garlic cream sauce and two in an andouille sausage red sauce. We agreed and that became one of our favorite things we ate during our trip.
I did end up trying a raw oyster later in the trip and liked it, although I confess it was coated in so much cocktail sauce I probably didn’t taste very much of the oyster. I’ve always had a fascination with oysters though only recently began eating them. There is something very sensual and glamorous about the thought of eating raw oysters right off the shell. Perhaps next time we go I may be brave enough to try eating one right off the shell.
Have you ever visited Key West? I’d love to hear about your favorite places to see and places to eat there, email me at email@example.com. Stay tuned to a future installment of Kitsey’s Kitchen for more on our adventures in Key West.
Oysters Rockefeller (Recipe from www.tideandthyme.com)
• 8 Tbsp butter
• 4 large cloves garlic, minced
• 1 shallot, minced
• 1 (10 oz) bag baby spinach
• 1/2 tsp kosher salt
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
• 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely shredded
• 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
• 20 oysters, shucked and on the half-shell
Preheat oven to 425. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and shallot, and saute until soft and fragrant – about 2 minutes. Pour half of the melted butter mixture into a small bowl and combine with the breadcrumbs. Toss to combine and set aside. To the remainder of the butter in the skillet, add the baby spinach. If it doesn’t all fit, just let it cook down some, and then add more. Season with salt and toss until wilted. Slowly stir in the cream and let reduce for a minute before removing from heat. Carefully place the oysters on a baking sheet. Spoon a small amount of the spinach mixture onto each oyster, then top with about 2 teaspoons of the breadcrumb mixture and a small pinch of Parmesan cheese. Place in oven and bake until oysters have plumped up, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately with lemon wedges and hot sauce, if desired.
Kitsey Burns Harrison is a reporter for The Yadkin Ripple, here she shares her musings on food, life and love. She can be reached at 336-518-3049 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.