Tony and I flew to Fort Lauderdale on Monday with the express goal of finding an apartment in Wilton Manors. And we did it. By this time next month, we should be Floridiots! *LOL at myself and Tony, but especially Tony 😆*
I wrote an email to Dad, Jean, Tracey, David, and the 'phews Thursday morning—a few hours before we flew back to New Jersey—that I'll reproduce here. Because why should I write new freakin' material for the blog when I've already got perfectly good words I could use?
We found an apartment in Wilton Manors that we really like, and if all goes according to plan, we’ll be moving here on or around April 20. It’s in a complex that has a dog run, a gym, a pool, and a communal herb garden. We fell in love with it as soon as we learned all the various styles of apartment are named after types of 🍷. We’re going to be in a veneto, a three-bedroom, two-bath unit, on the second floor overlooking the pool.
The complex will be a year old next month, and it’s not full. Tony’s friend Marcheta, who lives about an hour north of here and who we had dinner with, along with her wife Uli, on Tuesday evening, said there was a glut of real estate projects in the area that only recently got constructed and so are still looking for tenants. So we’re getting a good deal on the rent for this place. And they’re throwing in a climate-controlled storage unit, where I’ll be able to keep my batch freezer.
It’s all going to happen fast, but Tony and I really need that. We feel like we’re in a rut in Hunterdon County. Even though it’s a wonderful area in many ways, we’re feeling isolated and, quite frankly, we’re spending way too much time together without enough interaction with other people.
We’ve enjoyed our short visit here in Wilton Manors/Fort Lauderdale. WM has several nice restaurants and a quaint coffee shop/bakery called Stork’s I’ll be hitting a lot, and it’s super gay-friendly. And I just learned from Tony yesterday, as we were walking from Las Olas Boulevard near Route 1, where our Uber driver (intentionally) dropped us off, to the restaurant where we had dinner on A1A (almost 3 1/2 miles!), that when he was figuring out whether to move from Cape Cod and where, his second choice, after New York, was the Fort Lauderdale area. I’m glad he settled on New York then, but we’re both very happy to be going to FTL now.
Our Uber driver who brought us from the Island Sands Inn, the very nice place where we stayed in WM, was new and didn't seem to know the area well and actually dropped us off a few blocks from the intersection of Route 1 and Las Olas, a fact I didn't get clued into until we were out of the car. But we had intended to end up about that far—a little more than an hour by foot—from the restaurant. Tony wanted a nice long walk before dinner, and we got it. We checked out some shops on the boulevard, walked along the beach ...
... where we'd been just over two years ago1, and, um, trudged along in the hot sun on sidewalks next to a pretty busy highway. We were seriously parched by the time we got to the restaurant.
We traversed two different drawbridges over the Intracoastal Waterway:
We heard an announcement while we were on the second drawbridge (the one in the photo) that it was going to be raised shortly. We were just past the point where we would have had to hang out and wait for the boat(s) to pass.
Our dinner after the walk was at Market 17, a farm-to-table restaurant I know we'll be visiting again. I posted photos on Facebook of Tony and me at dinner that I'll add here, too:
And those of you who already saw the pix on FB can also be bored with this rehash of descriptive copy: "Tony and I had an amazing meal yesterday evening at Market 17 in Fort Lauderdale. (The salad in front of Tony, which I also had as my starter, was the best salad I've had in forever.) We flew down on Monday with the goal of locating an apartment. And *drum roll* we found a wonderful one in a fantastic complex in Wilton Manors. And we'll be moving here next month!"
The dressing on the salad was a delightfully subtle strawberry vinaigrette. The salad also featured carrots, apples, cucumbers, radishes, currants, and pickled red onion. The combination of flavors was heavenly.
My entree was (and I'm following the menu's unusual spellings for a couple of things) Grilled Grassfed Beef Striploin with Roasted Garlic Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes, Cauliflower, Sautéed Zucchini and Yellow Squash, Kale, and Red Wine Demi. As is his wont, Tony got duck: Crispy Skin Duck Leg Confit, Toasted Wild Rice, Romanesco, Celery, Brussels (which I imagine would have had the word Sprouts after it on the menu, if there'd been room), Walnuts, Cumin, Currant Caper Emulsion, and Medjool Date Coffee Butter (which was left off of Tony's plate because, you know, dairy).
Tony made an excellent choice of wine: the 2010 Château Côte de Baleau.
For dessert, Tony had a glass of slightly sweet (red) zinfandel, and I had the Florida Tangerine Crème Brûlée with White Chocolate Tangerine Biscotti. It was perfectly good but didn't make me tingle inside as much as the other two courses had.
The first evening we were in town, we had dinner at Galanga, a Thai-and-sushi restaurant a very short walk from our rental condo. The food was good, and our server was friendly and very careful about meeting Tony's needs, so it very well may become a regular spot for us.
On Tuesday afternoon, after we'd looked at three apartments/complexes2 and a house for rent, our realtor dropped us off at the Galleria mall in Fort Lauderdale. We had dinner with Marcheta3 and Uli that evening at Seasons 52 in that shopping center, but Tony and I first spent a while sitting on a bench and talking about what we'd seen and whether we definitely wanted to go for an apartment in the Wilton Metropolitan complex. We had been shown a first-floor model apartment, with two bedrooms, and three-bedroom apartments on the second and third floors that were actually available for rent. (There were 2BRs available in other parts of the complex, but we didn't see those.) The only difference between the latter two, besides the elevation, was the one on the third floor had a wraparound terrace, whereas the one on the second had a modest-sized terrace on only one side.
We also debated, and we continued the discussion the next day, whether we wanted a two-bedroom or three-bedroom model. I liked the layout of the 2BR better. Its living area was slightly roomier than the 3BR, and the space had a wonderful flow to it. The 3BR was only slightly larger in total square footage, so to accommodate the third BR, some room was taken from the living area and the bedrooms weren't as big. We ultimately decided on the option with more total rooms, so Tony could have a dedicated office and I could have my own desk in a separate room. And so Missy would find it easier to get away from Grady when she needed to. 😀 We liked the wraparound terrace but ultimately decided it really wasn't worth the extra $400 a month.
The four of us had a great time at dinner. Both Uli and I got the Vegetarian Tasting, a dish with four components whose main star was the Vegan Paella. It was basically seasoned rice with a lot of red bell pepper, but it worked for me. I'd been most excited about trying the Wood-Grilled Kohlrabi Steak, the other big item on the plate, but I could identify that vegetable by taste in only a couple of bites I took; it was mostly just smoky.
Here's a pic I took of M&U during dessert:
The three of us got chocolate parfait dealies for dessert. Mine featured peanut butter, though I'm surprised I remember that given the speed at which I sucked it down. Man, I need to eat slower.
Let's see, what else should I mention about our Wilton Manors trip? Mike and Jim, the couple behind Island Sands Inn and its sister property, Villas on Wilton Drive, clearly have the innkeeper thing down. Mike told us pretty much everything we needed to know at check-in, and what he didn't tell us was explained in an easily spotted note somewhere within the condo. 😃
This was my view on Tuesday morning:
There were some pretty flowers in our backyard:
I had a tasty quinoa-pinto veggie burger and fries for lunch at Rosie's Thursday before we got a ride to the airport:
Tony and I shared a pleasing Provence rosé that was cleverly kept cool in a cute, pink ice-lined bag.
Rosie's is a fun spot. All the servers had T-shirts with sayings on them that I found to be irresistible: "The food tastes great, even if you don't take a picture of it." "Be careful, you might be walking that fine line between hot-ness and hot-mess." And "Don't sweat the petty things ... and don't pet the sweaty things." Ha!
On the way to the airport, I took a photo ...
... that seemed like a good encapsulation of the state: jai alai + Denny's + pickup truck = Florida.
When we went to London the first time, in 2012, I had some fun with Cockfosters, the unusually named Tube station that kept being repeated on overhead announcements on our train ride into the city because it was the last stop on that line. The other day, Tony found this BBC article that explains how Cockfosters and some other oddball station names—including Elephant & Castle and Tooting Bec—came into being.
1I ❤️ this passage from that post: "Am I going to start an ice cream business? Yes. Yes, I believe I am." Done and done.
2One of the two apartments we looked at that weren't in the Wilton Metropolitan complex was still a work-in-progress, with pink Post-It Notes indicating things, like screwing in outlet covers, that needed to be completed. It also had a low storage area under the stairs that Tony dubbed "the Grady closet":
The apartment was wrong for us for a number of reasons, including the very narrow stairs leading to the second floor that would have been difficult for Grady to climb.
3In addition to the post linked right there, Marcheta is mentioned, along with Uli, in the post linked above at "just over two years ago."