We'd walked past it a couple of times, a simple storefront set back from the street with a small porch, a glimpse of tables inside, unassuming. The Key Lime Cafe. Full at lunch-time, we assumed it was a Maryland version of a diner. We never even ventured up on to the porch....
We walked across the road to Big Al's Fish Store the first day for lunch and had a fried clam sandwich, we had fancy hotel food at the Perry Cabin and so much soft-shelled crab that Alan spent an afternoon in bed.
We'd moved my son into his dorms at George Washington University in D.C. three days before and driven to Chesapeake Bay to the small town of St. Michael's, Maryland (birthplace of Frederick Douglass) for a few days of rest. It was hot and we were tired and the plantation style Inn at Perry Cabin was a lovely place to rest. (In fact, the Inn at Perry Cabin is built on the original plantation where Frederick Douglass was born until he was wrenched away from his grandmother at a very early age and put into service at the Covey Plantation down the road, aptly named Mount Misery which, curiously, or not so curiously, Donald Rumsfeld now owns.) We took a morning boat-ride. We sat on the lawn and stared at the water. We walked along the dock. We walked along the dusty road. We walked through the flower fields and corn fields.
We even took a funny drive to try to find Mt. Misery, the Covey Plantation, now owned by Donald Rumsfeld...we're not sure if we found it or not, we found the road it was on and the absence of Secret Service might just have been an indication that the Rumsfelds weren't in town. You see, we thought the secret service (men in trees with guns which we'd been warned about at the hotel would be our map and there weren't any....) We went and had ice cream instead.
And then we went back to the hotel and went to sleep. And read books. And felt a sort of shock and awe -- it was the Friday before the Republican Convention -- when we heard about the Sara Palin nomination. And a different kind of shock and awe the next day, when the woman at the table next to us at lunch (may I say, Jewish and from New Jersey) proclaimed that she thought Sara Palin was the bees knees! What about choice? Oh, we'd never lose choice. Creationism? Oh, well. And berated me that I didn't understand that Barack Obama was a communist?! And it was the last night we were there and we'd sort of had it with rich food.
No more remoulade sauce, please. No more soft-shelled crab, no more nouvelle versions of chicken etouffe! No more gray-haired ladies at the table next to us at lunch extolling the virtues of John McCain and so excited about Sara Palin that we kind of wanted to cry. Or at least get back on the internet in a vain attempt to try to do something about it. No more fried crab, fried clams, fried oysters. Plain food, please.
So, I went on the internet and googled St. Michael's Maryland 4 star restaurant... and found the funny little place we'd been walking past since we'd arrived. The Key Lime Cafe. A four star restaurant with barbecued ribs and macaroni and cheese. The first really fresh organic green salad we'd had since we hit Maryland. A great wine list. The ribs were marinated in key limes and barbecue sauce and reminded me of ribs I had once, that I've never forgotten, at the Blue Parrot Cafe in St. Lucia. And there was the added bonus of succotash, a succotash that was a lot like the Suzanne Goin recipe my sister made at Thanksgiving. And the people at the table next to us were laughing and drinking wine and not extolling the virtues of John McCain.
And the veal chop turned out to be a pork chop which Alan didn't mind, at all. It just made the place seem more home-y and cosy and the key lime pie (which also reminded me of family dinners) was out of this world.