Sunday, May 27, 2012
GOOD BYE BOBALU’S, GOOD BYE MOHAWK, SLOPPY JOE’S COCONGA, FLORIDITA BAR, HOW TO GET GREAT SOUND ON YOUR NEXT CD!
^Listen to “Key West Blues” while you read the blog!^
Well, the place voted for having the very best jerk chicken on the island, Bobalu’s, is closing. Bear in mind that the place is known for its pizza, which is a thin crust New Haven style pizza. It’s just that for me, getting good jerk chicken is a tough call. As mentioned in a previous blog, the only other place in town that I know of that has good jerk, is Blue Heaven. I don’t know what Schooner Wharf or The Hogfish serve as jerk chicken, mind you whatever it is tastes good, it’s just not jerk chicken. It also should be mentioned that I absolutely love those two bars with all my heart. On a scale of 1 – 10 they are both solid 10s.
The situation at Bobalu’s is complicated. The bottom line is the main owner of the Green Parrot (attached to Bobalu’s) also owns the Bobalu’s property and wants to revamp the entire place and re-open it in the fall as a B.B.Q. restaurant.
Keeping in mind that I’m not a restaurateur, but there are a few things that I don’t understand at play here. First off, Bubalu’s has been there for about three years and has been successful making money as a Pizza place with great live music. Everybody likes pizza and theirs is exceptional to boot. According to the local paper and the word on the street, the landlord, Pat Croce, wants to revamp the entire place. With the idea of a B.B.Q. place strikes me as odd because that was a B.B.Q. place, not once, but twice, both times going out of business. I may be a simpleton, but it strikes me that what the landlord has here is a perfect, turnkey operation. They close one day and open the next continuing to sell pizza, which is a successful business there already. Why spend, what will undoubtedly be hundreds of thousands of dollars, re-vamping a place, trying for a third time in a business that has failed in that same location twice already? Everybody likes pizza. Does everyone like B.B.Q. too?
Another big concern of mine is if it will still be open air and continue to allow dogs?
I hope it works for everyone. I may not understand it, but it’s not my field either. I’m sorry to see Bubalu’s close and I hope they look for a new place here in town. They will keep their other restaurant in Big Coppit Key as well. Good luck to Pat Croce as well with the new endeavor. He currently has the Rum Barrel and I think Island Dogs, plus he co-owns the Green Parrot, which he bought into last year. He no doubt, knows what he’s doing.
The Mohawk has left town forever, regrettably. Built in 1934, the Coast Guard cutter had a very important role in protecting allied shipping in the North Atlantic during WWII. The Mohawk will be sunk as a reef off the west coast of Florida. It was a fun coincidence as the Mohawk’s successor, The Mohawk, an active Coast Guard cutter, is also stationed in Key West, so we had both Mohawks in Key West simultaneously. The retired Mohawk was here as a museum and its sister ship, the Ingham, remains here as a museum at the Truman Waterfront. Godspeed Mohawk.
“SLOPPY JOE’S, HOME OF THE COCONGA”
That’s what it said on the awning and also the wall on a postcard we dug up from the early sixties. But what’s a Coconga? So, Key Largo Joe, Bobby D. and I marched over there to find out armed with a picture of the postcard. I approached one bartender and ordered a Coconga. “What’s that?” she asked. “I don’t know, but apparently Sloppy Joe’s is the home of the Coconga apparently, so I figured I’d come and try one!” as I handed her the picture. She looked at it and shook her head. “No, I’m sorry, I never heard of it.” Same thing with another bartender at one of the satellite bars inside of Sloppy Joe’s. She was very pleasant, but confessed she never heard of it. We then looked it up on the iPhone, though it was quite evasive, we eventually did find it. It dates back to 1942. We were going to go to Sloppy Joe’s and hand them the recipe, but Key Largo Joe thought better of it, saying that they were busy and it would only piss them off. So, consequently we marched all around town, dug up the ingredients, and made some wonderful, tropical Coconga drinks on the streets of Key West! Delightful drink, I might add! My suggestion is that Sloppy Joe’s bring back the Coconga! After all, they are “The Home of the Coconga”.
Over at the Boathouse I had a similar situation. I ordered a daiquiri and the bartender asked what flavor. Now, mind you I’m not one for a silly drink with an umbrella and a banana, or strawberry flavor. I wanted the real traditional Cuban daiquiri, which of course is lime flavored and made in a shaker. The bartender didn’t know how to make it. It really wasn’t her fault, as people don’t order this so much anymore. However, the underlining point here is that a traditional Cuban Daiquiri is just a perfect drink for the summer and it’s easy to make. Uh… Shaken, not blended! ;-)
Over at the Floridita Bar in Havana is where they later invented the frozen daiquiri, which is also a lime drink only and again, very refreshing indeed! If the name of “El Floridita” sounds familiar it’s because that was Hemingway’s favorite bar in Havana. Here’s their recipe for the frozen daiquiri.
On the music side of things, I was discussing recording with my friend Marc Hollander the other day. I mentioned that I was so glad that I recorded my CD here in Key West, for a multitude of reasons. For starters, I have musicians who are locally based. For those who are not in the know, Key West has a large supply of completely stellar musicians to choose from. All of them I had the privilege of working with on “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)”, which were eighteen in all, just stepped right up to the plate. First class all the way. Second, engineer/producer Dan Simpson has been doing this for over thirty years. One of the things that annoys Dan is the products coming out of Nashville, New York, and L.A. these days are focused on a very thin sound, which is geared for MP3 listening, yet omitting the high fidelity sound. As Dan points out, “Everyone goes out and buys these wonderful stereos that can reproduce the most incredible sound and the stuff they’re putting out today is…. He pauses and lowers his head as he shakes it side to side “… well it’s just shit”. Marc spent many years in the record business and when we were talking about this, he stated that when he puts my CD in his stereo, there’s a very significant difference in overall sound between my CD and another other local artist who goes up to Nashville to record. I can’t recommend Dan more to other artists who are searching for a great engineer/ producer for their next recording. Come to Key West and record something that has significantly better sound fidelity than what you’ll likely get in Nashville, New York, or L.A. It’s a no brainer really! See for yourself. Pop in my CD into a great system and sit back and listen!
Available at: CD Baby, iTunes, Rhapsody, CD Universe, and Beachfront Radio. Search "Key West Chris"
Available in Key West at: Green World Gallery, The Cork & Stogie, and Key West Bait and Tackle.