Monday, February 24, 2014

A Palm by Any other Name: Sanibel's Tropical Trees

Because all 12 miles of Sanibel are lined with green tropicality, it is easy to overlook just how many varieties of trees and shrubs contribute to the Island's lush beauty.

Take the palm trees, as one example.

A short bike ride or ambitious walk will reveal at least a dozen different types easily observed.

And while we quickly recognize all are lovely in their own way; it's worth noting that each one has not only its particular scientific and popular name, but its own contribution to the island.

The Sabal Palm, for instance, has some unique uses.  The Sabal Palm is the state tree.
Also called the Cabbage Palm, this palm has the scientific name "Sabal palmetto."  Florida designated the Sabal Palm as the official state tree in 1953. The Sabal Palm is the most widely distributed palm tree in Florida. It has many applications, including food, medicine, and landscaping. In 1970 the Florida legislature mandated that the sabal palm tree should replace the cocoa palm on the state seal. 

Sabal palms are adapted to a Florida landscape where lightning strikes often causing fires: the Sabal Palms survive fires and send out new shoots. The Sabal Palm has gained popularity on Sanibel because it is very durable and will tolerate a wide variety of soil and weather conditions. It can be used as an ornamental or street tree, well adapted for group, specimen or avenue plantings. This palm is very salt tolerant and can be grown on the beach or directly at the water’s edge of bays and inlets.

Another beauty on Sanibel is the Royal Palm,  very special specimens.  Though they are pretty much limited to front lawns, their towering stature makes them stand out. The Royal Palm can get up to 60 – 70ft tall and 5 -10 ft wide with a growth rate of around a foot each year. The scientific name for the Royal Palm is "Roystonea oleracea".

The Royal Palm is native to Cuba and North America. Royal Palm Trees are popular in many warm, coastal landscapes, particularly in southern Florida and parts of California. They can be also found in the Caribbean, Central and South American, and Texas. The grace and beauty of a Royal Palm makes it a popular tree along the streets of many cities. Often they are used in the islands of large parking lots or in medians along the highway. Nothing says “tropical” like the majestic Royal Palm. There are 10 species of Royal Palm around the world.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Some Newbies on Sanibel's Dining Scene!

Restaurants come and restaurants go all over the world, including our beautiful and tropical Sanibel Island.  Some times they are brand new, but more often then not they are transformations.

And when a restaurant changes hands, changes menus and changes names, it---for all intents and purposes---is a discovery.

We were recently advised that the former Beachview Golf Club , which had a marginal reputation beyond being a hang out for tennis players who drowned their bad games at a fundamental bar, had morphed from moth to butterfly.

According to the word on our colorful streets, the whole place has been remodelled and is now operated by the very posh Blue Coyote in Fort Myers. Owners and staff are still rushing round making improvements and the whole place is very plush with the bar being quite unrecognisable,  we are told.

According to all reports,  now there is a very pleasant bar and behind the bar supposedly the best service you will find on Sanibel even if the TV was on the golf channel. Before 5pm  there is a short menu of good food bargains including the Coyote burger which is typified as "just excellent" and both cooked and served with care.  Best of all, these early bird  prices are quite within reach.  The Coyote  burger and two large drinks can be purchased for $12. Quite a bargain, indeed.

The later full menu, a bit more expensive, includes all time favorites like seafood and steak.   Best of all, perhaps, is the Sunday brunch.  We are told that the signature  Bloody Mary's with applewood smoked bacon and deviled eggs are close to perfection.

Another notable transformation is the The Sandbar.  Though the jury is still out, the feedback at this point is that some renovations and a new spin on the menu has created a much more savory dining establishment.  Of particular note, the shrimp and fish dinners are quite good.  Certainly the descriptions alone are enticing: spicy clam chowder, macadamia nut grouper, crab cakes with caper sauce.  The list goes on, most items evoking a yum-yum factor!

So whether you are returning to one of the dining dowagers or trying out a pretty Pygmalion, there is a large variety of choices on little Sanibel!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Night Music on Sanibel Island

Although the sound of the surf, the calls of the wild, and the insect symphonies are among the most lovely songs the night can bring; there are human musical accomplishments well worth paying attention to on Sanibel and Captiva.

Of course there are the formal concerts held at Big Arts.  These delightful treats range from classical quartets to opera recitals.

But if you are looking for a more casual venue or perhaps one where you can satisfy your taste buds as well as your ear drums, you might want to consider our tropical spots where you can dine and listen at the same time.

The Jacaranda, a dowager of establishments on Sanibel, has very lively music from the bar. Although the food and the service are quite nice, it's the music that appears to get the biggest raves.  Apparently it does not start until 8 p.m., so early diners will be disappointed, but some folks think it is the only game in town.

Prefer to be outside for some lively sounds?  Then you might want to consider Key Lime Bistro on Captiva.  The Award winning Keylime Bistro serving breakfast, lunch and dinner is sure to tantalize the most demanding palate,with a full bar and live entertainment featured 7 days and nights. Awarded News Press 1st Place Island Dining. Also on Captiva, you can enjoy both inside and outside dining and great music at RC Otter's.  Award winning RC Otter's Island Eats is a place for the whole family! Located in the Heart of Old Captiva Village with lovely shopping and dining, you can enjoy live music daily with dining inside and outside. New Game Room!

Back on Sanibel, the long loved Island Cow is a good bet to hear sweet sounds. At dinner time dine under the stars while you listen to live music on one of Sanibel's only al fresco eating porches. Stop in at the bar anytime for a snack or take away orders. You're just like family at the Island Cow so feel free to call ahead for large parties or when you're in a hurry. And don't forget that you can get three squares here with breakfast, lunch and dinner served year round.

But there are also surprises on our tropical little islands.  George and Wendy's Seafood Grille often sports karaoke nights where you could end up being the entertainment.  And it's worth calling ahead to see who else is on the musical menu.  This colorful, happy place always has something delicious to eat on the food menu and often a delight for the ears waiting as well.