Sometimes, life gets tricky. The past few weeks have been riddled with worry over a very close friend who got sick out of the blue with a blood infection. He spent 10 days in the hospital in addition to two ER trips. Thankfully, he is out of the woods and home now, recovering. Trying to eat a lot and nourish his body back to health. There were several other stressors pressing on me during those weeks as well. When I get overwhelmed, there is one cure that works every single time. And I hear my friend, Dana, saying, “Mother Ocean heals all.”
Truer words have never been spoken. Adam and I had the opportunity to skip town for a few glorious hours- like 48- and soak up some time in front of the sea with a couple of close friends. And in all seriousness, the problems in our lives began to turn around as soon as we got in the car heading South. All we needed was a trip to the beach.
The view from our condo was awesome.
Literally spitting distance from the sand and surf on the southern shores of Daytona Beach. It was not at all what I expected- I think I was bracing myself for some sort of Spring Break insanity. Instead, our spot was mellow and uncrowded. Perfect. The only glitch- cars on the beach. I have never experienced this phenomenon. I felt like that policy conflicted directly with my need for a peaceful, natural reminder that Mother Ocean is so gigantic- that there are millions of folks on the other side of the water, and that I am but one tiny piece of this enormous puzzle called Life. Tailgating on the beach, complete with orange street signs and cones, is something I don’t rightly understand. But I was able to channel my focus, and plug into the goodness anyway.
On the first morning, we ventured out to a local bagel shop.
Being from New Jersey, I have extremely high standards for bagels. Claiming to have New York style bagels is bold, and I wondered if the bagels would measure up.
I appreciated the attitude of the shop and the delicious coffee
served in totally random mugs.
We had to wait a few minutes extra for our bagels to arrive, since they had sold out of fresh bagels and a new batch was about to be delivered from their bakery, apparently not on-site.
I ordered my typical-
cream cheese, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I went with the everything bagel to taste the fullest flavor available. The bagel itself was still warm from the oven. Just the way I like ‘em. It boasted a slightly crunchy outer layer (nothing compared to Murray’s bagels in NYC), and a lovely, chewy inside. The veggies were fresh and of high quality. I love that they gave me a pickle on the side. Never too early for pickles.
Just to be sure we really got the feel of the place, we ordered both potato options.
Both were yummy, but I’m partial to the bigger chunks. The potatoes were simple and well seasoned. NY Style Bagel Deli was a success. And the waitress was taken by my order, informing me that she would try it out for lunch after her shift. I bet hers hit the spot too.
We spent a full day at the beach, playing in the waves, interrupted only by a trip to the house to construct homemade chicken salad sandwiches. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I packed a cooler full of food for our trip. This is a huge money saver when traveling. I love to explore the local eateries wherever the wind blows me, but bringing food from home can make a trip much easier on the wallet. Plus, eating our sandwiches on the beach gave us more time to enjoy the ocean.
After a fun round of mini-golf (and 3 holes in one by Adam Price!), we saddled up to our little kitchen to make burritos. I had brought slow-roasted pork from home, knowing that it would serve us well in the flavor and time departments.
Black beans, tomatoes, garlic, scallions, cilantro, local peppers, cheddar cheese
and avocado. Rolled up in a whole wheat tortilla with fresh salsa, made from my Turtle Bend tomatoes, to boot.
A delicious way to end a sun-filled day at the beach.
The next morning brought more lovely weather and a walking trip to a fabulous find.
The Cracked Egg Diner is a wonderful restaurant, owned and operated by two brothers (one a home cook turned pro), who were both in the kitchen on this Sunday morning. Love that. Their dad greeted us with a warm smile, and even gave us some tips about the area while I sipped a perfect cup of coffee from this huge mug.
The ambiance was vintage-y,
complete with an old-school radio.
They played all oldies tunes while cranking out fresh, mouth-watering, creative food.
I chose a twist on eggs benedict: chorizo sausage on an English muffin with chipotle hollandaise sauce and hand cut potatoes. Mmmmm. I ate every single bite. The potatoes were perfectly cooked- creamy on the inside with a crispy shell. No starchiness or mealiness to be found. The sausage itself was so tasty, and the sauce was luscious.
Adam had to try out the pancakes,
which were huge, fluffy, and just sweet enough.
Fueled up with full bellies, we headed to see the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse, just a few miles down the street.
It is the tallest lighthouse in Florida, towering high in the sky. We climbed 203 stairs,
spiraling upward for what seemed like forever. Totally worth the trek to see the view from the top.
So pretty. There was water on all sides. And a boat party happening too!
I guess that’s where all the people were hanging out.
After a shaky walk down the steep steps -my thighs were quivering- we made our way to a very peaceful beach without any cars at all. I read my book, watched our friend juggle, played in the water, and just let go.
That evening, Adam’s request for fried seafood was granted at a waterside, tikki hut style restaurant called DJ’s Deck.
Those hushpuppies were the bomb. And the craving for that traditional seafood platter- fries, slaw, copious amounts of fried shrimp- was quelled. On styrofoam plates. Yikes. We ended the evening with a sweet treat. Some Oreo, chocolate sauce, and vanilla ice cream concoction
that disappeared in less than two minutes.
And then, my friends, it was our last morning.
Bacon, cooked to perfection in the oven, and scrambled eggs.
A simple, hearty send-off for the long drive home.
I blew kisses to Mother Ocean, filled with gratitude, a calmer, happier, more centered version of the woman who first arrived in Daytona Beach. Renewed and ready to return to real life with revitalized energy.
On our way north, we ran into this great roadside stop.
You know I’m a sucker for fresh, local produce. And in NJ, the roadside stand is unsurpassed in its treasures. The Citrus Center had tons of oranges,
They even had tasters for weary travelers that were juicy and delish.
Of course, I walked out with a huge sack of both oranges and grapefruit,
so I could share the citrus love with my friends and clients back at home. I also grabbed a bag of local pecans that were divine.
We got home at 11:30 pm, and I launched into a week of crazy catch-up. Missing Monday and doing zero work over the weekend made for some harried days. But it was all good, because I was able to tap into my happy place
whenever I needed to refocus. I wouldn’t trade our little escape for the world.
I hope that your Labor Day weekend was rejuvenating as well, and that you ate lots of delicious food while enjoying your family and friends. Here’s to a beautiful, positive fall.
Happy cooking and eating to you,