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Sunday, March 25, 2012


Only open since July, Longboards on Clematis St. in West Palm Beach, Florida, is the new player on the block and one not to be missed.  We stumbled upon it through a Groupon offer, and once again, we hit a winner.

Longboards is a cavernous space with a long, welcoming, polished bar that forms the center of the room. The bar is in the shape of a longboard--a big surfboard. Within easy reach of the barstools are coathooks nailed into the side of the bar—convenient to hang purses.  I love that.  I’m a bar sitter, and this is a terrific, thoughtful touch.

Tables line Clematis Street outside, and out back are more tables set on sand; after all, you use your longboard at the beach.  We sit inside where the plank walls like driftwood are decorated with painted longboards, beautiful surfboards that quickly create an easy, relaxed atmosphere.

Big screen TVs playing surfing videos strategically dot the planks, and I love watching surfers performing aerials, going for barrel rides and even wiping out.  Some exciting stuff on the big screen.  At the back of the restaurant one wall is a huge screen where the thrilling surfing footage plays.  I have to fight the urge to crane my neck so I can see what's going on there.

The single TV over the bar plays more conventional sports, but I can’t remember what sport because the surfing videos are so good to watch.

In designing Longboards, attention to detail paid off; the atmosphere is personable and cool.  We like it here. Additionally, the service we experience matches!

Our server, Ashley, goes over the beer list with Rob who loves a good, hoppy, IPA, and with her guidance through the broad selection, he settles on Arrogant Bastard Ale.  This is the way the bottle label defined Arrogant Bastard: "An aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it.”  Rob likes it a lot.  But he did concede that you really have to be an IPA fan to like this one.  They’ve got a neat website at where they say, “Fizzy Yellow Beer is for Wussies.”

I’m apparently a wussie and instead enjoyed a lovely pint of Naragansett Lager, first brewed in 1890 and the official beer of the Boston Red Sox from 1944-1975.   My point is, of course, that Ashley aimed to please.  She knew her stuff down to the last detail on both the bar and food menus. In fact, Drew Brown, the assistant manager, came over to discuss IPAs with Rob and to make sure Rob’s request for that hoppy taste was answered. 

Oh, yes, we are there for dinner, but you can see that it is a great place for an  evening of slow drinking and nibbles from an extensive and varied appetizer menu.

We begin our meal sharing Oysters Rockefeller, that lovely specialty of Antoine’s in New Orleans where we first had it.  That’s a lot to live up to.  Longboard’s was different from Antoine’s but very tasty.  Here we can identify the spinach and cheese, but the combination is delightful nonetheless.  Nice, hot oysters attractively served on a bed of salt.  Longboard’s Oysters Rockefeller stands on its own.

Our entrée choices are the same but different.  We select the yellowtail snapper.  I have mine sautéed in a light butter sauce; Rob has his grilled.

Does this look like any mac & cheese you've ever eaten?
My fish is superb, very fresh, lightly seasoned and flakey.  The sauce is also light, the lemony taste not overpowering but gently complementing the very fresh snapper. Two sides are included, and believe me, these are not ordinary, non-descript dishes.  I choose broccoli and “bacon scallion mac & cheese.”  The broccoli is perfect, and the mac & cheese is tiny shells drenched in the combination of flavors and topped with a dusting of broiled breadcrumbs.  Scrumptious.

Rob’s snapper is simply grilled—again, to perfection.  Lightly seasoned, the fish maintains its integrity. He chooses a lovely cauliflower gratin and “bacon bourbon brussel sprouts” as his sides. Lovely. 

We do not hurry through dinner, and we can't resist coffee and sharing a slice of key lime pie, nice and tart in a very good graham cracker crust. What a lovely finish.

Longboards is not a restaurant to miss when you’re in the area.  Enjoy.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Call me a book snob, but after a few contemporary novels, I must return to finer writing—literature—this time to Eudora Welty’s 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning The Optimist’s Daughter.  It is poetry in prose, a melody of words finely tuned, and that is what draws me time and again to the great writers.  I crave more than a story; I want the art.  Here is a tight, spare novel dealing with a woman’s confrontation with death as she returns home to be with her dying father and to attend his funeral.  The events lead her to examine the complexities of life, her past, and her family, and then to look ahead to her future.  To move on, she must, as we all must, make some kind of peace with the past.

“But the guilt of outliving those you love is justly to be borne, she thought.  Outliving is something we do to them.  The fantasies of dying could be no stranger than the fantasies of living.  Surviving is perhaps the strangest fantasy of them all.”

What happens to me when I read lines as these is that I must stop and really consider what she is saying as well as how it applies to me personally.  Welty draws me in, will draw you in, gently but unemotionally, and she will charge you to take note and to think about the truths she has to share.

This reaction is what makes this such a wonderful book for traveling.  Imagine sitting on a beach or by a pool or on a balcony somewhere.  You are reading, You come to a line like this, and you allow your book/Kindle/Nook to fall against your chest.  You smile slightly and slowly ruminate on a great author's words.  Nice.

Amazingly, I remain aloof from these characters.  I get to know them, but at a distance, a fly on the wall, so to speak, observing their reactions and idiosyncrasies without being emotionally involved with them.  It is a queer feeling, that distance, but it allows my mind to work with the parallel figures in my own life.

As in all great books, the theme is universal, and while Welty’s perspective is always seen through a Southern prism, what she says about communication or the lack thereof, needs to be taken to the heart.  What is life?  How do we define it?  How to we really understand our lives in the context of our family and friends? 

“For her life, any life, she had to believe, was nothing but the continuity of love.”

One last quotation to illustrate the beauty of this novel:

“Memory lived not in initial possession [of an object] but in the freed hands, pardoned and freed, and in the heart that can empty but fill again, in the patterns restored by dreams.”

If you are not familiar with her, you will find Eudora Welty high on the list of great American writers, a regionalist in the manner of William Faulkner, and a womawith an inherent ability to craft the perfect sentence.

travel vacations destinations "Third Age Traveler" reviews "travel blogs" books novels authors "Eudora Welty" "The Optimist's Daughter" "Pulitzer Prize" "southern writer"

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


Marriott Desert Springs
Magnificent golf course & mountain views

Palm Desert Springs Villas, a timeshare we are visiting for the second time because our friend, Beth, is an owner here, is just one step from paradise—or maybe closer. Palm Desert is a special destination anyway, and traveling here in January away from New York's winter is a great escape. I write this from the patio overlooking the golf course. It is a bit too cool 67º, so swimming at one of the many pools here is out. But lying in the sun is not.

The unit is a double lockout, two separate units with a common foyer leading to the locked units. We are in the smaller unit, but don't neglect the jacuzzi, the granite counter tops, the super big glass shower or the lovely private patio.

We don't use the fitness center because there are beautiful paths past ponds with swans and ducks, views of the mountains beyond, and the beautiful golf courses or tennis courts.  It's too bad we can't walk the cart paths.  We've used the spa at the gorgeous Mariott Hotel abutting their timeshare property.  Super.

Marriott Desert Springs
Nice villa view.  When the fountain is flowing, it's lovely.

I've recently posted on our California vacation and some of the places we've visited, but to those add a California Windmill Farm tour, the aerial tramway in Palm Springs, horseback riding in the desert, the Palm Springs Follies, and more interesting and good restaurants than I can name.  Relax or run around or do a combination of the two.  It was a great week.  Whether you use Marriott Vacation Club or trade through RCI, this is a definite destination.
I periodically write about our timeshare experiences, and each one has been terrific. I think timeshares work best for people with flexible schedules who can make vacation arrangements well in advance and for people who plan on going to the timeshare they own on a yearly basis. Here are some photos of this Marriott Resort. Enjoy!

Here are links to my previous posts on this vacation:
Marriott Desert Springs
Great places to walk in a beautiful setting
Marriott Desert Springs
It's a big resort without a big feeling
Marriott Desert Springs
Sunset from my chaise lounge at the pool.  Ahhhhh!


On this as on other visits to Singer Island, Florida, we enjoyed an evening at the Lake Worth Playhouse, truly a gem of a theater where a talented and creative staff ambitiously prepare a season of solid productions.

On this occasion we saw Agatha Christie's The Unexpected Guest. Familiar with Agatha? Lots of interesting twists and turns, more than a few unlikely coincidences, and lots of length. One little girl in the row ahead of us said, “It's pretty boring until you get it!” Christie, however, makes you want to know “who done it,” so there is no problem staying for the long haul.

I enjoyed the play and did not solve the mystery myself. Agatha does have a way of setting that hook. But what struck me about this evening was the professionalism of the production in this small theater.

The set, designed by Norma O'Hep de Jesus, was a detailed English drawing room decorated stylishly in keeping with the social status of the characters. Thank the property manager, Phyllis A. Cafarelli for the obvious care in finding just the right touches to allow the audience to enter this 1950s room. Animal heads decorate the walls of this hunter's room; every prop was as close to authentic as possible.

Perhaps this was so striking to me because several weeks ago we saw Porgy and Bess on Broadway, and the set was so incredibly unimaginative and flat that it actively made a negative impact on the entire production.

I also applaud the sound engineer. I usually employ a theater's listening device, but none needed here. It was a pleasant surprise to find the amplification and balance fine and most of the speech—in British accent—was clearly enunciated, a fact I attribute to a conscientious director, Patricia Storch-Goodrich. Only one performer was consistently difficult for me to understand, Eric Salas who played Sergeant Cadwallader. As a frequent theater goer, I am sometimes at a loss when actors mumble or race through their lines. Not so for this The Unexpected Guest.

I enjoyed the set designed by Norma O'Hep de Jesus, and I believe she doubled as lighting designer. She did a fine job as the lighting changed with the time of day, and it worked well with the play in a competent, unobtrusive way. Thanks, too, to the Light Board Operator, Jessica Pilch.

Frequently the applause for the actors is heard loud and clear while the crew is somewhat forgotten. Let's not overlook that the crew really is the wind beneath their wings. In this production of The Unexpected Guest, that surely is the case.