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Isla whaoo ext

Head south on Route 1 out of Miami and you’ll pass through Homestead and Florida City and soon after that you’ll be in the Florida Keys. For most people, this is the beginning of a scenic, if long, drive to Key West and the Southernmost Point in the U.S. But Islamorada, one of the Upper Keys is worth at least a stop if not the final destination.

Not that fine dining abounds here, though Atlantic’s Edge at the chichi Cheeca Lodge is an exception. And some of the best seafood that many people will eat here is whatever they’ve caught during a deep-sea fishing charter. Many restaurants advertise their willingness to cook up whatever you catch.

But the majority of the restaurants are more rustic, shantylike, which is fine with most people searching for a Keys vibe.

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Tajinex ext

Despite what I told you when the it opened, which was based on what a manager told me at the time, TajineXpress is not a full service restaurant but rather, as the name would imply, more of a quick-service operation. The Xpress sort of gave that away, but the gentleman I spoke to at the time, back in April, insisted that it merely conveyed a cooking technique the restaurant was using that allowed them to prepare tajine dishes faster than the usual two hours.

That said, the staff at TajineXpress was so friendly and accommodating. And the food, delivered to the table on basket trays and served on earthenware plates, all made it feel like a full dining experience.

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Whiskey Nelson

If you got shut out by the May 24 deadline to sign up for the June 5 tasting of Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery at The Whiskey, take heart: registration has been extended to Friday, May 28. The event, which will take place in person and via Zoom beginning at 4 p.m., will feature three samples from the Nashville distillery with commentary from Greenbrier’s Andy Nelson. Even in-person participants will want to bring earbuds and a Zoom-worthy device to communicate directly with Nelson. The Zoomcast will also show on the Whiskey’s large screen. Cost is only $13, and there will be special menu pricing for participants. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reserve. More information at Edible Orlando, which is sponsoring the tasting.

I’m looking forward to attending this evening’s KCuvée class on French wine at the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden. I don’t know if there are any seats still left, but you can check at KCuvée’s website. The tasting is at 5:30 p.m. with a Kevin Fonzo’d dinner to follow.

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Blame Wolfgang Puck.

It was Puck who in the eighties changed the notion of what a pizza could be, getting creative and moving beyond the basic trinity toppings – sausage, pepperoni and mushroom – and heavy sauce and cheese.

Perlas ext

Perhaps you can’t draw a straight line from Spago to Perla’s Pizza but a connection could definitely be argued. How else would you explain a pizza with bananas on it?

Perla’s is the project of Mike Collantes of Taglish, the Filipino-American food stall inside the Lotte Market on West Colonial Drive. Perla’s, in the Mills 50 district in an almost-shared space with the Thirsty Topher, does just pizzas (and one salad), offering a small collection of curated pies, most of them more mundane than the one called It’s Bananas.

That isn’t exactly the phrase I uttered when I first heard that Perla’s would offer a pizza with bananas. At the time I speculated that Collantes was just trying to tick off people who thought pineapple on a pizza was sacrilege. To that point, Perla’s also offers a selection called Everybody Hates Pineapple.

I include myself with everybody on that notion, even though Perla’s use of pineapple jam paired with pickled jalapenos sounded a tad intriguing. Just a tad.

But I really couldn’t ignore the bananas staring at me from the menu.

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NYC st cloud rooftop copy

The city that never sleeps has admittedly been napping a bit. As we all have.

But New York is finally emerging and reopening, and it promises to be fully functional by the time of our “Flavorful Escape to New York City” tour, Dec. 8-12. I’ll be leading a small group to some of my favorite food – and nonfood – destinations.

Tour operator Art In Voyage – Beyond Travel has just announced that the trip is a firm GO! And only two rooms remain available to book.

In recent weeks, Radio City Music Hall announced that it would be opening at full, glorious capacity in June, plenty of time to rehearse the Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes, which is part of our itinerary and one of the most entertaining programs you’ll ever see, followed by dinner at the Knickerbocker overlooking Times Square. We’ll also be having cocktails at the top of Rockefeller Center and ice skating beneath the Christmas tree.