With impressively minimal getting-lost-ness I took Alexandria to the Tampa airport this morning (fall break) then had a day to mill around the town until my parent’s flight got in around 4. Having heard lots of good things about it, I made my way to Ybor City, an old Cuban-y neighborhood that’s been cute-ed up with lots of little cafes and shops and clubs and the like. I stopped in at a packed little creperie for breakfast; perhaps packed because it was the only thing open, or maybe just ’cause they make a mean crepe. Not feeling like consuming a half pound of Nutellla before 11 AM, I ordered the “To Your Health” crepe. More like “To Your (failing) Health,” a giant crepe stuffed with vanilla macerated strawberries, honeyed bananas, and candied walnuts. Sugar bomb (tasty sugar bomb) alongside a decadently foamy cappuccino, with excellent eavesdropping opportunities in the sunshiney cafe.

Pretty window at the crepe stop.

Enlivened by my thousand calorie breakfast, I wandered the neighborhood for a long while, spying into tattoo shops and closed night clubs, pawing through racks of amazingly sequined vintage dresses and trying on fantastic hats. For lunch I went to The Bricks of Ybor, a trendy little lunch spot. Pretty similar to Brick & Tin in Birmingham, if you were to replace the Alabamans with tourists and skater-hipsters. Had a good little quesadilla and a thousand glasses of ginger iced tea while I read my new old book, a really lovely 1950’s copy of The Sun Also Rises.

I want some of those cool old southern-y ceiling tiles in my life.

Then I attempted to go back to the airport, a difficult task involving a lot of honking, a lot of honking at me. After circling the airport a few hundred times, crossing the bay a few thousand, I finally made it to the terminal and picked up the much-missed M&D. Back across the skybridge to Sarasota for a dinner rezzo at Dereks, a pretty restaurant I’ve been dreaming of going to… and waiting for someone else to pay for. Menu agony for a good while (lamb shank, duck, pork chop, excruciating choices) but finally we ordered veal sweetbreads (ehem, thymus gland) which were amazing and not weird in the slightest bit, just tasted like uber tender veal (or wienerschnitzel…) alongside gnocci and carmelized garlic and a little local watercress on top.

Then pea-asparagus-mint-yogurt-shrimp-good-springy soup for Pop, spicy duck-pork-andouille gumbo for Annabelle, and a tasty “caesar-esque” salad for Ma. Main courses: for Dad snapper with “turtle beans” aka bitty black beans, for Mom gulf shrimp with grits and okra and tasty things, for moi the “land and sea,” pork confit and shrimp with green beans and romesco. Good, tasty, a little heavy. (A brick of pork confit is a lot of pork confit…) Then a tiny necessary dessert, soft ultra moist and dense carrot cake with pistachios and amazing creme fraiche ice cream. (They also had s’mores with homemade marshmallows…. and poached pears with goat cheese ice cream… and buttered popcorn ice cream… The tiny wanna-be pastry chef down in my soul feels very excited about these kinds of things.) A good meal, but even better to be back together with my little family.

I do love an open kitchen.