Touring the culinary highlights of the Florida coast

Surrounded by water and boasting a warm climate year-round, Florida is ideal for citrus and other tropical fruits to thrive in, making the state the nation’s top producer of not only oranges, lemons and grapefruit, but coconuts, mangoes and papaya as well. These delicious fruits appear in salads, desserts and everything in between. Citrus is paired up with a wide variety of seafood, another bountiful food source in the state; ceviche is a popular dish in which seafood is prepared using only the acid of a citrus juice. Citrus and fruit marinades and salsas are also frequently seen in Florida cuisine, a reflection of the Caribbean and Latin influences throughout the state’s history.

Cuisine in the Florida Keys

If you order ceviche in the Florida Keys, it will most likely be prepared with conch. The conch is a large sea snail that lives in a giant spiral shell, and so many of these creatures live in the Keys that it is referred to as the “Conch Republic.” A ceviche of conch meat soaked in lemon juice cannot be missed, or perhaps another Florida favorite, conch fritters, may be more to your taste. Floridians enjoy lightly battered and fried foods, from seafood to vegetables and beyond, and conch meat gets the treatment as well. The chopped conch meat is blended with celery, onions and peppers, formed into small balls and deep fried. Delicious!

“Floribbean” cuisine

The southern coasts of Florida are home to a cuisine that features flavors from many Latin cultures. Cuba, in particular, has greatly influenced the food of this part of Florida; dishes with a Cuban accent include arroz con pollo; black beans with white rice; fried plantains; and the mojito, a cocktail made from crushed mint, lime juice and rum, which has surged in popularity recently. Other kinds of dishes with a distinctly Latin or Caribbean influence include empanadas, jerk chicken and arepas.

The Cuban sandwich, or Cubano, is sold at stands all over South Florida. The sandwich is thick, filled with ham, roast pork and salami, as well as cheese and a pickle. The sandwich is pressed, the bread toasted, and the result is chewy and delicious.

The Emerald Coast

One of the most visited areas in the entire state lies along the Gulf of Mexico in the Florida Panhandle. Located just north of Panama City, the 26-mile stretch of beaches and communities known as South Walton is noted for its diverse culinary scene, one that features fresh seafood and locally-sourced ingredients. A natural aquifer in the area is home to a hydroponic farm that provides freshly grown greens to restaurants in the area, and many restaurants, such as Roux30a in Grayton Beach, offer you the opportunity to literally catch your own dinner and participate in its preparation.

Whatever part of the Florida coast you choose to visit, whether you stop for a few nights or plan a lengthier stay in one of the deluxe Blue Green Resorts rentals, you can be certain that you will find a rich variety of traditions and tastes just outside your door. From Southern favorites to seafood specialties, fresh ingredients and unique preparation make Florida cuisine an attraction itself.

Where to Look for the Perfect Baby Gifts

You’d think it’d be easy to buy a gift for a baby. They aren’t particularly picky, and will play with or smile at just about anything. But the moment you begin to look for the ideal baby gifts for the babies in your life, you begin to realise it’s much harder than you first thought. That’s because you want to make sure you get that absolutely ideal gift, the one that will be classy, entertaining and, if possible, educational. You also want to make sure that gift is something the baby can enjoy for many years, or, at the very least, can pass down to someone else. So, where can you go for such a gift? Here’s a guide to help you find your ideal baby gifts.

  1. Look for sellers who offer quality. These days, in the era of mass sales and marketing, it’s easy to find toys that just aren’t made the way they used to be made. Foreign markets will sell baby gifts at extremely low prices, but at what cost to the quality? One of the most important aspects of a baby gift is durability. Babies can play rough, and you want your gift to last for years, long enough to become a keepsake or a hand-me-down. The best way to look for quality is to find a baby gifts seller who offers domestically made gifts, rather than products assembled overseas.
  2. Look for a seller with a reputation in the baby business. Another trend that’s fairly common these days is for enormous companies to branch out into ventures. So, it’s not odd to find a car company that delves into the baby business. But that makes no sense. Would you want a company that has no connection to babies to suggest the right gifts? Absolutely not. Find a seller who actually specialises in baby gifts. That way you know you’re getting something the baby in your life will actually like.
  3. Safety first! The best baby gifts in the world don’t mean anything if they aren’t safe. Safety includes so many things; such as the materials the gifts are made from, the exclusion of loose and tiny parts, and factoring in the entire manufacturing process.

Shopping for babies is fun, but it’s not as easy as you might assume. One way to make your life a little more peaceful during your shopping experience is to visit Sandy’s Gifts & Hampers. They offer one of the widest selections of baby gifts online. Visit them at