Lunch by the sea

We haven’t exactly got a lot to do here on Longboat Key – a combination of our own inactivity and the lack of anything beyond the gated residences other than the open sea. Nonetheless arranging something as formidable as lunch requires a measure of calculation. If not that totting up then at the very least the benefit of serendipity. Assuming going to lunch isn’t something we’ve already planned (a superfluity which seldom overtakes unless we’re going with others) then we have to ensure – or hope – several preconditions collide.

For one thing, we can’t have already had breakfast. This is by no means a given. We normally awaken at different times – usually hours apart. I am the confessed lingerer. Without an appetite lunch is understandably uninspiring. This is particularly so when considering that our breakfasts usually qualify as hearty – which is to say generous – including not only black coffee but also fresh fruit (crisp apples and Sumo Citrus), imported French cheese, steel cut oats, premium walnuts and maple syrup.

Even if we’ve made it past that culinary hurdle, the chance is easily and routinely interrupted by an overwhelming and unaccommodating urge I normally have to go bicycling. This is especially so if the weather is pleasant – which it characteristically is on Longboat Key. The blazing yellow sunshine in an azure sky is hard competition for a potentially congested drive during “the season” along Gulf of Mexico Drive to Anna Maria Island in a closed automobile. The thought of having to dress for lunch, even if only to adorn clothing slightly above the formality of Champion Athletic cotton 9-inch shorts with pockets or a Speedo 100% polyester jersey is equally uncaptivating.

These however are not the only considerations. The hour is critical. If the morning has been allowed to dwindle uncontrolled then the issue instantly arises whether we’ve waited too long to prevent ourselves having to endure a prolonged wait in line for a table once we get there. This factor coincides with the weather as well since a beautiful day all but assures the extended length of the crowds. People in Florida are like the flowers – they come out in the sunshine!

If all this were not enough the final prerequisite is that intangible psychology surrounding what might be delicately called mien (or attitude) or more stringently labelled chutzpah (or gall). The fortuity is usually preceded by “That’s a good idea!“; the contrary is normally punctuated by, “Well I don’t know if I feel up to it today!” So depending upon how the Parties of the First and Second Part actually feel disposed at the moment of inquiry the luncheon may or may not gather steam.

Our outing today to Rod & Reel Pier on N Shore Drive, Anna Maria Island was an unqualified success from beginning to end. We had the decided advantage of early arrival – shortly before the noon hour – which entitled us to immediate seating at a table for two overlooking the pier and beach (as opposed to the beautiful though more uniform Gulf of Mexico on the other side). We remarked with noted smugness the gathering crowds below as the minutes ticked by. Afterwards when sitting on the pier I gossiped with a couple who had been told there would be a thirty-minute wait before they were seated. Their only consolation for an apparent hunger was my assurance that the food would be their reward.

Indeed our server Yulissa told us upon my enquiry that the chef was her mother. I asked Yulissa to ensure she extended my compliments to her mother for an indescribably delicious meal! We had started with Ceasar salad, gumbo soup and shared the celebrated onion rings. Then it was onto cheeseburgers with Cole slaw and fries; followed by Key Lime pie. Is it any wonder we’ve managed to maintain our racehorse figures! Two further points: everything is homemade; the hamburger is not a vulgarity at this predominantly fish shack. Even the black coffee was superb!

The supplement to today’s sojourn was as always the charm and cunning of Anna Maria Island which is unquestionably more quaint than most of Longboat Key. Parts of Anna Maria Island are reminiscent of the tropical flavour of Key West, including the tourist elements of casual drinking and dining. Nearby Bradenton Beach stimulates the seaside enchantment.

It is nonetheless a happy event to return to our less active resort. I expiated my lunchtime guilt by bicycling a mere 8.64 kms.