Saturday, January 10, 2015

Jammin’ in the Cortez Kitchen

The old man’s skin was so wrinkled and weather worn that I could not quite tell if he was black, white or Cuban. But his raspy voice definitely spoke of his years and the slightly French-accent-tinged long drawl spoke of his origins in the bayou. He played some old blues on the guitar that had most of the varnish worn off. Beside him sat an even older gentleman who was attempting to get his violin into tune. The American War Veteran to his right seemed to readily take charge and determine whose turn it was to play a tune.  Us, with our baby and pram, brought the average age of the small group sitting in the circle of wooden chairs down to perhaps the low 50’s.

The Florida Maritime Museum hosts a “Music on the Porch” on the second Saturday of the month. The slightly cooler weather today moved the music inside the old schoolhouse, and the old building with its wooden floors and country music reminded me of similar venues around Valley River, MB (i.e.. Zoria Hall). But we are in Cortez Village, the last bit of the mainland from Bradenton before hopping the bridge onto the island for Bradenton Beach. A small enclave of “old” Florida where the streets are small and narrow running between the clapboard bungalows under the large trees. The village is centered around the Cortez Kitchen, a section of water nicknamed such due to the fact that that you could always go there and get something to eat. Now there’s also a restaurant beside the water of the same name, but it feels like it’s as old as the village, especially at night when a band starts to play and the air gets a bit smoky inside. We sat on the patio by the boats and watched a Great Blue Heron stroll into the fish processing plant next door and scavenge for scraps. The seared tuna was tasty, and the Land Shark lager went down nicely. I snuck a morsel of wasabi to Seb’s mouth and got a fantastic scrunched face as result – but no cry!

The sun started to go down, a fishing boat came in to dock, and the setting was very peaceful. We took a walk on the boardwalk around the water to take in the view. Wonderful. This is the moment. And the air from the restaurant wafted out the succulent smells of garlic butter. Is anyone else hungry?

The sun sets over Cortez Kitchen

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