After our lovely weekend relaxing in Mount Dora, I spent a fortnight with Mom. She lives in a retirement community that is located in the middle of a golf course. There are several lakes and one is right outside her living room, so the sunsets are always reflected on it. It’s really peaceful and quiet there. Most of the first week we talked quite a bit, enjoying my homecoming. Then we binge watched the shows I can’t see in China: This is Us, Victoria, Vikings, and she introduced me to a new show, The Good Doctor. We also did some shopping for a few things I want to take back to China with me.
But the best part was eating food that I can’t get in China. We had stopped at Aldi in Melbourne on the way from Mount Dora and I loaded up on cheese and guacamole and other goodies. And we went out to eat a few times as well.
Our first stop was Schacht Groves, which is right around the corner from Mom’s condo. They have THE best fresh orange juice! I first met Mrs. Schacht at the local Saturday farmer’s market when I lived in Vero. I happened to be wearing a Webster University shirt and she commented on it. We started talking and found out that we both are from St. Louis! When I learned that th eir grove was less than a mile from Mom, I told her. Now they are friends and it’s great to buy orange juice from people you know!
The next day I went to the Village Vitamin Shop for some cold medicine. I chatted with the owner, B, and he asked about mom. While we were talking I noticed a sign about local GF bread. He told me that he gets a shipment every week or so, and that he had GF bagels too. Bagels! I love bagels (my first job was at the Bagel Factory in St. Louis). I bought a loaf of oat bread and a bag of onion scallion bagels made with millet. O. M. G. Those were the best bagels ever! (Of course I haven’t had any for quite a while, but they ARE delicious!) The bread and bagels are made by DeLand Bakery.
One day we stopped by Ulta Beauty to pick up some face cream and blush for my friend C in China. I only had a texted photo and the name Champagne as the colour. The woman in the shop went above and beyond searching all the stock to find the last package of Champagne blush so that I could take it with me back to China.
One morning we went to breakfast at CJ Cannon’s, which is a family favorite. Located at the Vero Beach airport, the food is good and the large windows overlooking the runway offer a great view. I decided to try the special: French toast with berries, avocado, and feta cheese. It was amazing!
One afternoon I was able to see my friend E who does shiatsu. It was great catching up with her and of course afterwards I felt so much better from the jet lag.
That evening we used Mom’s coupon and ordered from Marco’s Pizza. We only recently got a couple of these restaurants in STL, and their pizza is delicious. And they have GF which is great since now I can’t eat their regular pizza.
Of course no visit to Florida is complete without visiting the beach, so we drove over to South Beach, which is just across the 17th Street bridge and near my old apartment. The trees sure have grown since I lived there! But the beach is as nice as I remember, and there’s even a concession that rents out umbrellas and chairs. And now they have a lifeguard as well. It was a beautiful breezy day and I was sad to leave.
Afterwards we stopped to try a new restaurant, Sammy’s Mediterranean Café, and we were glad that we did. I had the GF pita gyro and it was amazing! Mom had schwarma and the beet salad. We also tried two of the GF desserts: carrot cake and chocolate. Both were delicious! Sammy came out to talk with us after our meal and we learned that he is from Lebanon. He told us that he imports all the spices to keep the food authentic. They are also vegan friendly in addition to GF friendly. The price was a bit more than we’d planned to spend, but we got two huge salads, gyro, shwarma, tea, and two pieces of cake for $55.
We went to the Samsonite Store at the outlet mall west of town. My coworker H asked me to buy her a small carryon and bring it back to China. She had sent me a photo, so I only had to show it to the saleswoman and she showed me the price – 50% off retail! (And a lot cheaper than in China.) The bonus is that I get to use it to take back GF goodies and presents!
Another afternoon we stopped by the new roadside farmstand at Peterson’s Groves, which is just down the road from Mom. It’s very nice and had a lot of fresh organic veggies.
I also got to visit some old friends while I was in town. I met my friend R at the art museum where I used to work. They now have a small café in the Atrium called Wood n Spoon. I got the curried chicken wrap, which was great. It was quite large so I could easily have shared it. Instead, I took it home for mom. I also visited with my former coworker E, who took me on a tour on the museum’s new Art Zone, which is an interactive educational area for children. There were several parents and kids there enjoying it.
Another day my friend O from grad school came to pick me up and took me to his favorite hangout. He only recently moved to Vero and has been having fun learning all about the area. We ended up in Fort Pierce, very near to my first apartment on Hutchinson Island. Harbor Cove is located in a marina just across the North Bridge. (My apartment was across South Bridge). It is a quintessential Florida bar – open air, right on the water, friendly staff, boaters mooring alongside to come in and eat. I had the rum punch and it was very tasty, and O even convinced me to try my first oyster. Not one of my favorite things! But I did order conch fritters, which IS one of my favorite things. Sadly, they were only OK, but the atmosphere was great!
On one of my last days there, I saw a large alligator in the lake. It is Florida after all….
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