Off Island

| October 1, 2013

Chefs, flooding, palm trees on islands north, south of us
By Paul Roat

Anna Maria Island had a distinguished chef stop in for a visit a few weeks ago.

Emeril LaGasse, owner of a slew of restaurants pretty much all across the country, stopped in at Sean Murphy’s Beach Bistro place in Holmes Beach. He’s filming a series of shows about famous Florida restaurants for an upcoming series.

He had the “Shrimpcargots,” served with collard greens and smoked bacon. It is suggested the dish have a little honey added.

Beach Bistro, by the way, is the flagship restaurant of Murphy’s mini-empire of dining establishments, including the Eat Here franchise on Siesta Key, Downtown Sarasota, and Holmes Beach.

Flooding hell

 We’ve gotten more rain in the past couple months that most can remember in recent history. By “recent” I mean 15 or 20 years.

Especially hard hit were sections of Gulf of Mexico Drive on Longboat Key and, of course, St. Armands Circle. Both had roads closed because of the high water.

St. Armands was particularly hard hit. When John Ringling built the tony shopping area in the 1920s, he created a drainage nightmare that has plagued merchants, property owners, and the City of Sarasota ever since.

For reasons never really explained he built the circle in the form of a dinner plate without any real place for the water to run off. Perhaps he thought the park in the center of the circle would retain the water, perhaps he thought the mini-drainage pipes would suffice.

Whatever Ringling thought, stormwater runoff just didn’t work on St. Armands Circle. Especially last week, when all traffic was diverted off the traffic circle for hours across several days. Shops were flooded, businesses closed, and it was a general mess.

Whew

City of Venice officials had a scare a while back when some of the palm trees along U.S. on the Island of Venice started to look puny.

They did lose two of the 128 palms, bought in 2004, but the rest seem to be doing well.

The purchase of the Medjool date palms was a huge investment for the city at $4,500 per tree. Tree purchase and planting totaled $600,000.

The trees have an interesting history. Originally from Morocco, the trees started to die out. The leader of Morocco in 1920 gave the United States 20 trees in the hopes the trees would not become extinct. They didn’t have any problem here and thrived.

The trees grow to more than 30 feet in height and produce massive numbers of dates which by all accounts are pretty tasty.

 

 

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