A Starlit DinnerPosted on September 8th at 8:30 am No Comments
Dinner was planned to take place in Seaside on the open deck overlooking the Gulf, behind the two old wooden beach houses that had been moved from Panama City Beach. One became the Sip & Dip and the other Bud & Alleys. The buildings were flanking the original sand pathway that led down to the Gulf of Mexico. A large group of pivotal people in the town’s history—planners, designers, and architects—were coming in from Miami to brainstorm. It was decided they would need some good food, stimulating conversation, and an inspiring location to get their creative juices flowing. In honor of a Cuban heritage, the menu was to feature fresh cabrito. After a Sherlock Holmes type search, we located a family-run meat processing plant, the Ten Buck, up on Highway 2, almost in Alabama, that had what we wanted. Taking an early morning ride, passing Britton Hill, the highest point in the state of Florida at 345 feet, we soon stood talking to the butcher. He told us that cabrito should be soaked in a brine bath for 24 hours then grilled, slow and easy, over a low fire that has been covered with wet pecan wood. With the instructions and heading south, our next stop was Cottons Produce Stand for fresh vegetables and homegrown tomatoes that would round out the meal. The food was going to be prepared in one of the houses, already set up as a small restaurant, serving boiled shrimp and cold beer, hot dogs, and coca cola to the people who were beginning to visit Seaside on the weekends. The special guests arrived Saturday morning and congregated at the market, standing out like a flock of flamingos against a bright blue sky, next to the locals. They strolled, drawing pads and pens in hand, stopping to banter and debate the town plan, like exotic birds in a zoo. We watched their every move. By late afternoon, the tomatoes were sliced, the vegetables were ready to be sauteed, the black beans were simmering, and the cabrito was grilling. We set the stage. Having recently bought enough Quonset hut tents at a military auction to cover Madison Square Gardens, we erected the wooden arches over the deck that was 16 feet wide by 40 feet long, leaving the canvas roof off, seeing there was no chance of rain. We placed a long table down the center and set it for thirty. When the guests arrived, the smell of roasting meat filled the air, and the last rays of light were fading to navy blue. And finally taking our seats, you could have heard a grain of sand hit the floor. Dazzled and speechless by the beauty of a moonless sky and the Milky Way overhead. The sky, sectioned and framed by the wooden structure and the universe in all it’s glory, became our ceiling for the night. Dinner was served.
Leah, Point Washington, FL