In my dream world I do a lot of picnic-ing. Idyllic sit-abouts in grassy spots of sunshine on the side of backcountry roads, rucksacks packed with snacks for adventures, pretty little treats and smashed sandwiches wrapped in wax paper. And yesterday, friends, I had a little sliver of dream world. A pretty big slice actually, seeing as I spent my afternoon asleep by the sea. We went to Anna Maria Island, a long-ish drive from Sarasota proper, but well worth it, arriving at a sandy little beach town full of pretty bungalows and quiet shops. The beach is less crowded, and populated with a less “overwhelming” (shall we say…) crowd than the popular stretches of beach to the south. We spread out our towels and I promptly fell asleep, as I always do at the beach. I can’t stay awake for more than five minutes, I lay down in the sun and pass out. It’s a special skill. And although I may not be the most engaging beach companion… at least I bring snacks. In ugly plastic tupperwares, not the pretty Frenchy butcher paper wrapped breads and canned fruits of my dreams, but nonetheless tasty. Strawberries and apples with cinnamon and lemon, and warm-but-still-good chopped caprese. (With basil from my mini baby front door garden!)

Post-snack and post-nap, we were feeling the hunger so we tromped up the beach and made our way through the quiet downtown. (There’s some strange common quality between all little seaside towns, beyond the seashell motifs and ice cream shops galore, they’ve just all got this something-or-other about them; from Anna Maria in Florida to Cannon Beach in Oregon. Whatever it is, it’s nice, I think.) After a few horrible minutes of that hunger-wander we settled on The Sign of The Mermaid, a funky little house-restaurant complete with a resident pie-making champion and an extraordinary amount of very varied tchotchkes (samurai prints, glass mermaids, old Vogue covers). We didn’t have any pie (though we were intrigued by the peanut butter truffle pie thing that was truly eight inches high) but we did eat lots of very garlicy bread and pickled cabbage. And had really nice breath.

Alexandria and the Mermaid.

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