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Posts Tagged ‘beach’

After years of talking about escaping the Rochester winters, we finally did it. We booked a trip to St John in the US Virgin Islands for 9 days. That’s right… 9 days! And as an added bonus, my brother, Patrick, and his wife, Jeni, and baby, Jack, decided to join us.

The magnificent view from our villa's porch.

St John is… well… heavenly!! It truly is! The weather was in the 80s, the beaches were pristine and not crowded, the water was super clear, warm, and calm, and the island is very green, since most of the island is a national park.

View of Trunk Bay.

Aside from going to the beach, swimming, snorkeling, diving, hiking, and just relaxing, we, of course, ate. We did not eat very many dinners. Since our trip to the beach started at around 10:00 am and ended around 2:00 pm or 3:00 pm, we ended up eating a late lunch, which meant that we were no longer hungry for dinner. We did, however, have a few delicious outings.

Jeni and Patrick

One of my favorite spots was called Shipwreck Landing. The service was super friendly and the food was delicious. I ordered the Curry-Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi sandwich. The curry-nut crust was a blend of curry spices and peanuts. It was really nice!

Jack, Patrick, and me

A very popular dish in St John was conch fritters. We of course tried them… at two different restaurants for that matter. They were pretty good. I am glad that I tried them, but I would not go out of my way to eat them every time.

Conch fritters

Another great place was called Donkey Diner. We had a delicious breakfast there! I, however, had breakfast envy. Typical! Jeni ordered the stuffed French toast, which included homemade cinnamon bread stuffed with cream cheese and topped with a homemade Mango and Pineapple Chutney. YUM! The chutney was so delicious! I ended up ordering a side of it and savored every bite.

The last place that I would like to mention is La Plancha del Mar. Oh my! We had the most amazing dinner there! If you are ever in St John, this place is a must! The food and the service were outstanding! Our server (who apparently went to school in Ithaca!) was super friendly and made our outing even more pleasant.

To start, we ordered the bruschetta, which included a perfectly toasted baguette slice topped with herbed goat cheese, an almond mushroom tapenade, and caramelized onions. Need I say more??


For my entrée, I ordered the seared Wahoo, which was served with a fire roasted red pepper and tomato purée and a butternut squash polenta. My mouth is watering as I am typing this post! Apparently Wahoo is a local fish and it was prepared similar to tuna. It was great! The best part of the dish, for me at least, was the butternut squash polenta. Who would have thought about making polenta with butternut squash? It was so delicious!! I could have eaten the entire pot! :)

Joel ordered a special, which was supposed to be an appetizer but they agreed to make it as an entrée. The dish included tuna served with a tomato foam, Israeli couscous topped with crisped basil leaves, and a side salad. The dish looked and tasted equally delicious! In fact, the dish looked so good that the head chef came to our table to snap a photo of it as a marketing piece. :)

For dessert we settled for a pineapple flambé. The fresh pineapple was topped with this really delicious cake. YUM!

Their drinks were very good as well. The drink menu reminded me a bit of the drinks that are on the Lento and Good Luck menus. They used a very interesting mixture of ingredients. One of those ingredients was habanero bitters. It worked really nicely in the drink.

Beautiful island, wonderful company, and delicious food. What more can you ask for?? I cannot wait to go back!!

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Last week I was lucky enough to spend 5 days (yes… 5 days!!) on the beach. My friend Kristin and I were talking about vacations, when she mentioned that she was thinking about visiting her parents who live in Jacksonville, Florida. She suggested that I should join her. How can you say no to such an offer?!?

We of course went straight to the beach as soon as we arrived in Jacksonville. I had forgotten how much I like the beach and the ocean. I have not been near the ocean in a very long time. I did go to the Black Sea a little over 3 years ago, so that kind of counts. :) I really love the sound of the waves. If it were not for my fair skin, I would have spent the entire 5 days simply laying on the beach.

Don’t get me wrong… we did spend a fair amount of time on the beach. We went to the beach every morning, and spent about 2 hours laying on the beach, chatting, playing Frisbee, reading, playing in the water, searching for shells, doing cartwheels, and just laying in the water near the shore.

Cartwheels on the beach!

My shell collection.

As some of you might already know, I have a fear of water and I don’t know how to swim. So my water experience is limited. Simply laying in the water is heaven for me. I did go in the water up to my stomach once. That was a little unnerving though. I don’t like the feel of the current grabbing my legs. I felt safer near the shore.

While planning our trip, Kristin mentioned a few places that we should visit. We spent one afternoon in St Augustine. My favorite part of the visit was our late lunch at The Present Moment Café. It’s an organic raw food place.

The food was just amazing!! Who would have thought that raw food can taste so good! I ordered the Land and Sea Salad Plate, which was their own rendition of a Tuna salad. The unTuna was made from sunflower and almond pate and it was topped with a lemon caper sauce. The dish also included a seaweed salad as well a mixed green salad with a citrus dressing. I loved it! The unTuna and sauce were just delicious! I did have lunch envy, however. Kristin ordered the Sunlight Burger, which was made from walnut, sunflower, almond, carrot, and zucchini. It was served open faced and topped with a tomato slice, cashew “Provolone” cheese, and caramelized onions. It was just heaven!! Kristin’s mom ordered the pizza special. I cannot remember all the ingredients, but it was topped with olives, peppers, spinach, and maybe artichokes. The pizza was equally delicious.

Sunlight Burger

Pizza special

Oh, but there is more… I do have to mention the desserts. Kristin’s mom and I ordered the Chocolate Marble Torte with Drunken Banana. The torte was made from raw cacao with a bit of chili and spice and it was served with sliced bananas that were drizzled with rum. Kristin mentioned the dessert prior to our visit and it lived up to her praise. It was just delicious!!

Chocolate Marble Torte with Drunken Banana

But I once again had lunch envy! Kristin ordered the Brownie Sundae, which included a few pieces of cacao brownies, cashew vanilla ice cream (yes… ice cream made from cashews!), and it was topped with dark cherries and candied pecans. It was out of this world!! If you are ever in Jacksonville, you should definitely take a drive to St Augustine and go to the café. You will not be disappointed!

Kristin and her mom.

St Augustine was fun! The main “downtown” area is filled with narrow cobblestone streets, which also include lots of small shops and restaurants. We stopped in a few shops. My favorite was a skateboarding/surf shop. I managed to find a mini jean skirt there, which was perfect for the warm Florida weather. :) It was a fun shop! We also managed to find the best chocolatier in Florida. The shop is called Claude’s Chocolate. Aside from their chocolates, they had the best chocolate covered orange slices! YUM! Joel was happy that I brought some back for him to enjoy.

Building in downtown Fernandina Beach.

We spent another afternoon in Fernandina Beach. Kristin grew up in Fernandina Beach, so I was excited to visit. The drive from Jacksonville was pretty. Kristin’s parents took the most scenic route. We drove over a few bridges and on the scenic roads near Fort Clinch State Park. Kristin showed me around the area, including the street where she used to live, the schools that she went to, the place where she took tennis lessons, as well as the 1st few places where she worked.

Kristin's 2nd job. Her favorite task was making the waffle cones. :)

It was fun to experience her childhood. I told her that I would love to show her where I spent my childhood, but that would be an expensive trip down memory lane. :) Maybe someday! Kristin also took me to a true surf shop, which I loved! It was called Driftwood Surf Shop.

Palm trees in downtown St Augustine.

Our last day in Florida included one last trip to the beach as well as a quest for fish tacos. I have this thing for fish tacos. :) We scoped out a place that received great reviews in a local paper. We drove to the noted address to find out that the place was no longer in business. I guess we did not think to call to make sure that they were still there. “So what did you do?” you ask. We went to this great place where we enjoyed some freshly caught grouper. YUM! Throughout the entire trip, I kept asking Kristin about going to what I called “a shack”. You know… a place where the locals gather to eat fresh fish. Well, Kristin’s dad had the best place in mind. The place was called Chowder Ted’s. They apparently are well known for their chowder, hence the name. This place is also a must if you are ever in Jacksonville.

Kristin and her dad.

I truly enjoyed my trip! I felt so lucky to be able to spend 5 days on the beach with such wonderful company. It was also really nice to meet Kristin’s parents. They were so nice to me, which I am very grateful for.

I look forward to our next trip!

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