Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rustic It Shall Be

About a hundred years ago my Aunt Frieda, while discovering all kinds of treasures in antique stores in Dania, Florida (near Ft. Lauderdale) also happened upon a different kind of treasure, The Rustic Inn. The question about how she found this place was never actually answered, because in order to get there you had to drive on Route 1 until you saw Griffin Road and then you had to travel about a quarter of a mile down a dirt road. But like the end of the rainbow, it was well worth the trip.

When we started going there, (and each time we went was yet another adventure), we went for Golden Garlic Florida Crabs. They also have king crab, queen crab, dungeoness and blue crab, but the golden were our favorites. Unlike Maryland crabs, about which you must become an expert with mallet and tong before you can taste a morsel of crab, these crabs are big and meaty. You do have to do a certain amount of pounding, but when you break through, the insides and claws are sweet and juicy.

We have made periodic visits to these hinterlands, which actually happen to be right next to the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport (This means they fly all the way to the Bahamas and maybe other parts of the Caribbean. Oh, and they also fly to the Conch Republic). Nevertheless, since we always stayed in Hallandale, it wasn’t a convenient place to go for a quick bite. But, whenever we were in the Miami area it was worth however long it took to get there.

While yesterday the meal was terrific, (we ordered two golden garlic crabs, one queen, some stone claws, a combo – and a dozen oysters), the most memorable stop was Jordan’s first trip a few years ago. She took to the mallet like a pie crust to butter. I don’t remember a time when I saw David and Jordan have more fun. By the time they had finished lunch not only were they totally covered with crab but the people at the tables next to us, were also crabarized. No one seemed to mind. When you are enjoying some great food, most people will remain good humored about what they eat. In fact people all around us really got into making their crab fly. It’s about as upscale ambience that I ever want to get.
A pack o' goldens
When I was chatting with my cousins today we were talking about our food preferences. We are genetically peasant stock. So for us a good burger at “Five Guys”, a good slice of pizza, crispy fried ‘real potatoes’, a steak at “Arthur’s” (Hoboken and Morris Plains N.J.) instead of “The Palm” and grilled fish over a nice salad (like at Leftovers in Palm Beach, or Hogfish Grill in Key West are gourmet treats. Sure, I like to get dressed up and spend hundreds of dollars on a precious restaurant (a lie), but I’m just as happy with a movie and a good tuna sandwich. Given my experiences with food around the world and in some pretty heady places (Embassies, palaces etc.) you may think that this makes no sense. It seems to me that you have to measure whatever you eat by the joy you have in preparing it, or the people with whom you share it. It is also true that I, like most of my cousins and my kids, are very clever chefs, so why would you pay for something you can make better cheaper and more conveniently – unless I am feeling lazy.

Food is a personal choice. My mother would say, “that’s what makes the world go around.” This is not necessarily true, there are scientific reasons that the world turns, (don’t tell my mother) but there is nothing more refreshing than trying a variety of foods in many different places with people you enjoy. Maybe that’s what makes the world go around. We’re just sayin’…Iris

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