By David Llubres, GLOB Correspondent
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was first published in 2013, but is seems to fit the theme of this fantastuc Friday before Valentine's Day.
"Relationships are like a business, aim low and exceed all expectations." Putting this advice into practice was the first step in planning a special Valentines Day.
Originally I made reservations to attend the Blue Ovens Kitchen Champagne and Bubbles cooking class but UF Business School Professor Blackheart decided to schedule an exam the night of, putting a damper on my surprise.
I had to cancel my reservations and improvise. How could I top this? I quickly went to my brainstorming man cave but the light bulb was short circuiting. Fancy candlelight dinner was not in my recent graduate budget and felt clichÃ©.
I decided a beach trip would be perfect. You get the perks of being with your special partner for the day and can enjoy the fresh ocean breeze. The important part of this trip went into the planning. Before departing, we made a pit stop at Publix and made sure to pack her favorite drinks and picnic food. After checking out, my cashier accidentally gave me $100 in cash along with my receipt.
Was this a sign?
Was a five star dinner in the near future? After reviewing my receipt I knew this was mistake that would most definitely get her fired, so I quickly went back to return it. The friendly cashier was running around the parking lot desperately trying to find me and when I shouted her name she sprinted over in tears and gave me a big hug.
I chose to visit Siesta Key (voted America's best beach in 2011). This hidden oasis offers emerald clear water and world class dining and shopping. With a sunny high of 80 degrees, the day was perfect to soak up some rays and sip on some chardonnay.
Unfortunately, the only people swimming in the freezing water were the tourists wearing jean shorts but it looked tempting. After spending the afternoon sunbathing, we decided to check out Marina Jack. A stroll through the park and sail boat gazing made this a perfect addition to our nautical themed day trip.
With the smell of sea salt in the air, and beach sand between our toes our first thoughts of eatification of course were of the bi-valve nature. On our walk we spotted the The old Salty Dog, "Sarasota's first official doggie dining restaurant." The salty dogs features "The fully loaded salty Dog," but being we were on our Valentines day road trip what could be more appropriate than sharing a couple of dozen raw oysters, crackers and some Salty Dog hot sauce.
After dinner we happened upon the Le Macaron French Pastry shop and enjoyed fabulously attractive, extraordinarily tasty french cookies with names like Basalic Chocolat Blanc, and choclat gingembre. These macarons were an excellent dessert.
The macaron, perfected in France, has a long history dating back centuries in Europe. Macarons look like small, round shells and are created from ground almonds and soft meringue.
Macarons fit in the palm of your hand. They are lightly crisp on the outside, smooth and creamy in the center, filled with ganache (chocolate), rich cream, home-made fruit jams or other quality ingredients.
Having a sun kissed complexion and quench for something cold, I decided to visit St. Armands Circle to try one of the famous ice cream shops. Window shopping and gelato was a perfect end to this day.
A live band, and music, filled the air with good vibes with the sun setting in the background. Maybe the Pub Subs was not what my partner in Valentine glory had in mind from a foodie like me, but I will assure you this memory will be stored into a heart shaped, blood red, special vault.