I escaped to sunny Florida over the weekend to watch the O’s play (and, yay, beat the Red Sox), soak up the rays, and eat lots of seafood. Grouper, stone crabs, red snapper. Bring it on.
And, given Baltimore’s interconnectedness, it’s probably no surprise that I ended up with a waiter who was originally from Baltimore. Meet Robert Parelhoff, McDonogh class of ’76. He’s livin’ the good life in Sarasota, he says.
I actually met Rob on my last trip about a year ago, and it was a coincidence that I ended up at his table again, eating a fat grouper sandwich and a half-dozen oysters. Rob is a server at Crab & Fin on St. Armands Circle, a shopping and restaurant destination across Sarasota Bay.
I always sit outside at Crab & Fin, so I can listen to the live piano music. It’s kitschy but fun. It’s also a great people-watching spot. (I once saw Jerry Springer walk by.) The piano player asked me where I was from, and Rob overheard me say Baltimore.
The next thing you know we were talking about the O’s and steamed crabs, which Rob says he always gets when he comes back here to visit his mother. Rob started in the hospitality industry many years ago at the Baltimore Hyatt Regency restaurant Pisces. Eventually, he transferred to Sarasota. He left the Hyatt but was hooked on his new state and stayed.
I also met a family of New Yorkers at Banana Cabana, a terrific Caribbean restaurant in nearby Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island. The curry ginger shrimp and cracked conch are truly terrific dishes. (It was also a favorite restaurant of Denzel Washington when he was filming the thriller Out of Time on the island in 2002.)
It’s the kind of friendly place where you start talking to your neighbors. It turns out that the teen in the family group is considering attending Hopkins and is heading to Baltimore soon. Once again, we’re talking about steamed crabs!
I imagine there will be more Baltimore interactions as the O’s become more ingrained in the community. I can’t wait until my next visit.