Little Palm Lunch – Review

Little Palm Island Resort is one of the reasons my family chose Summerland Key as their key for life. This little island is a quick boat ride from ours, although we would never use our own boat to make a trip there. Instead, you take one of the two resort boats out for your lunch, spa, brunch, or hotel reservations. Now this place is $$$$, so I want to make that clear. I could rarely come here if it wasn’t for the generosity of others. What I will add to that is that I’ve always found it worth every. single. penny. 
It starts with the aforementioned boat ride from their cute little office on Little Torch Key. The office has a cute little gift shop with especially fun things for children (note: children under 16 are not allowed on this resort island). The host will greet you (often by  name depending on how busy they are) and offer you a virgin or rum drink while you wait for the boat captain. The boats are gorgeous – the smaller one looks like something out of a Bond movie with wood paneling and green leather seats. The larger boat looks like a quaint tugboat from a cartoon. We usually sit in the back or the front to get the best views. Sometimes you’ll see dolphins jumping on the way out or catch a glimpse of a sea turtle. 
My new tropical pedi
Upon arrival, another host will greet you and escort you to your table, spa room, hotel, etc. In our case, we came for spa appointments and then lunch, so I was ushered to the salon for my margarita mani/pedi. The mani/pedi was basic enough, but the technician did an excellent, careful job. In the meantime, I got to sip on margaritas and chit-chat with her about her life here and her favorite things to do. As with many people in the keys, this is only her second job. She is a full-time realtor and by-appointment nail stylist.
Afterward we settled down to lunch on the patio with a 180 degree view of ocean, palm trees, and the resort’s beach. After a while, we were the only ones there (it being a late lunch). I had to try the cuban sandwich because if you haven’t noticed, I’ve been a bit obsessed with them since I got here. It was wonderful. The bread was the only thing that could have been better, but the ham, cheese, and pickle blended together perfectly. The flavor was immense, and the side of sweet potato fries rivaled even my love of the ones at Square Grouper. The white wine was cold, the sandwich hot, and the view was
Cuban Sandwich w/ Sweet Potato Fries 

mesmerizing. For dessert, we tried a chocolate mousse, rum soaked french toast concoction (le Pain Perdu) that we attacked and finished before I could even get a picture of it. It was so damned good.

Mr. Foodie and I have plans to do brunch there soon, and that is the real reason you will want to come back to this place. It is so good, it merits its own post, so stay tuned. 

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Comida Cubana ("Cuban Food") – Review of La Nina in Marathon

La Nina in Marathon off US-1

My fiance and I had to head up to Marathon for some new-to-the-state business and by the time we extracted ourselves from the house it was close to lunch. Although I had driven through Marathon plenty and even taken a charter boat out from there for some excellent game fishing, I had never eaten on that particular key, so I whipped out my phone and looked for something inexpensive and delicious. La Nina was the hands-down winner according to Yelp, so we took a shot.

My fiance almost missed it despite having it plugged into the GPS because it is very unassuming right off US-1, but we made it and proceeded into a tiny (but thankfully air conditioned and clean little restaurant). They had an outdoor ordering window, but they also had the indoor ordering counter where you can peer into the ready-made dishes on tap like ribs, red beans and rice, and yucca.

If you are in the Keys and not thinking about consuming some Cuban food, you are missing out. It may not have the number and variety of Cuban tastes available in Miami, but there are a few major gems that I hope to share with you along the way. Besides, Cuban food and culture is a major part of the Keys history beginning with the cigar trade that once dominated the islands’ economy.

La Nina’s Cuban Sandwich

At La Nina we both ordered Cuban sandwiches because my beau had never had one before. A Cuban sandwich consists of ham, roast pork, cheese, pickles, and mustard (with some variation here and there). What makes a Cuban sandwich amazing is the ham (especially if it is made in-house) and the bread – Cuban bread is soft, crusty, and buttery. La Nina did not disappoint! Their version had the delicious crunchy, buttery bread, the tang of mustard and pickles, and the sweet/savory satisfaction that only ham and roast pork can deliver to the tongue.

The size of the sandwich is so large that we took our halves home and hand them for dinner. We regretted not having room enough to try some other dishes – notably their fried tomatoes and the yucca, but we definitely intend to return. The price was also easy on the wallet especially considering the size of the dish. If you’re passing through Marathon this weekend, lookout for this tiny pink structure and enjoy!