Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sunshine State

To take advantage of the long Memorial Day weekend I gave the entire Space Beagle staff some time off so I could enjoy some scuba diving in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with my girlfriend ("JAN") who is a very natural diver and the ultimate dive buddy!! There are of course better dive locations than Fort Lauderdale but the city amenities such as restaurants, airport, beach walk, and shops combined with the diving offer a great vacation value.

For probably the fourth time now I went diving with Pro Dive which is on Seabreeze Drive next to the International Swimming Hall of Fame. This is a well run operation despite the large dive boats in their fleet known as "cattle cars" but I was happy and relaxed to be diving. Due to the thunderstorms the water visibility was limited to less than 30 feet but we did see a variety of wildlife including -- lobsters, manta ray, nurse shark, and healthy corals.

After diving in the ocean I love to dive into some food so here are my reviews of local restaurants we patronized:

Angelo's Pizza and Pasta - located in a strip mall known as Harbor Shops this was a very pleasant discovery complete with great staff. Let me assure you that their "X-Large" pizza is indeed large but I was happen to meet their challenge -- nothing better than cold pizza for breakfast!! This is a restaurant where the "small" house salad can easily be shared by two people. Since "Elements" in Phoenix, Arizona is the ultimate "5" rating I can't give Angelo's anything higher than a "3" rating but this is an ideal place to bring your family.

Joe Picasso's Pottery Painting Studio and Cafe - located on one of my favorite avenues, "Las Olas Boulevard" , is an ideal oasis from the Florida heat. This is an ice cream parlor, coffee shop, and art gallery all round into one -- imagine the banker who had to review that business plan!! I enjoyed an Italian soda and the very comfortable furniture which I trust you will find very nice should you visit. An easy "3" rating for being a cool place to relax.

Mark's on Las Olas - saving the best location for last is one of my favorite restaurants so let me say up front they get a "4" rating which would have been a "4.5" had the hostess been pleasant when I asked to borrow an umbrella when I left to retrieve our car after dinner. My starter was scallops followed by a beef filet that essentially crumbled in my mouth since it was so tender it did not require chewing :) JAN and I shared two chocolate desserts including a triple mousse selection and a hazelnut cake which were excellent. Our waitress was first class and should clearly be promoted to serve as Mark's chief hostess.

Following dinner at Mark's we shopped in a little boutique shop known as "Elements on Las Olas" (not to be confused with the Phoenix restaurant) where we bought a few gifts for family members. Elements was having their "50% off summer clearance sale" and the two owners could not have been better shop owners. My only suggestion to elements is for them to offer a complimentary glass of wine in the evening as people browse - no doubt that would encourage sales since you need some time to review their unique inventory of housewares/interior decorating items.

Keep your feet in the sand,


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