Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Getting Conched: Friendly Dining

We recently returned from our vacation along the Florida coast, from Jacksonville to Pensacola. We traveled there to discover lighthouses and historical sites


One of the best parts was very delicious, scrumptious food.
Yes, I know those two words mean about the same, but the connotative “feel” of delicious versus scrumptious is so different. Besides, those amazing meals deserve a bit of hyperbole.
(Also wouldn’t you rather hear a few detailed descriptions of fine cuisine
rather than a long-winded account of my various discussions with park
rangers over historical events in the 1800’s?)

So--for all of you Quakers headed down South for the winter—all you aging snow birds, aching your way into the land of orange sunshine;-) Or maybe you’re young and have been supremely blessed (except during hurricanes) to live as a flatlander down on that psalmed, palmed peninsula. :-)

Here’s a Friendly Dining Guide:

Number #1, numero uno in Cuban, a real kicker of an Oscar award for fine dining goes to—
The Conch House! in Saint Augustine, Florida.

While she had amazing
Cancun Chicken,

I started with--
Seafood Chowder–

fried potatoes,
shrimp, crab in a mouthwatering
chowder with a strong ‘wake-up’
your mouth black pepper sauce;
The Conch House’s own special

Forget about New England
Clam Chowder (as great as
that is). I swear this is
the best I’ve dug a spoon
into in my life.

Then, since we were down South,
I ordered Shrimp & Grits.

While not equal to the chowder, this was yummy, with lots of shrimp, another amazing sauce, and a huge serving which lasted me two meals. Very economical!

Note that I already had gobbled up the Conch Chowder even before we could get a picture.

Also, note the Saint Augustine lighthouse in the background of our Conch Chickee hut on stilts. (The Chickee hut refers to a type of small house construction on stilts by the Florida Seminole Indians in the 1800's when they were attacked and hid out in the Florida Everglades. See below.)

And the Conch House's ambiance, great service, and setting near the marina in elevated individual huts made this the sort of place I would like to eat at weekly (only there’s a slight problem of travel;-)

But how does dining out fit with Quaker Testimonies such as Simplicity?

When we can dine out as cheaply (sometimes more cheaply) than eating at home, and we have the pleasant opportunity of interacting with waiters and supporting their hard work with generous tips, plus letting the cooks know how much we loved their cooking, etc., I think dining out--in moderation--fits well with simplicity.

Simplicity isn't meant to be a hair-shirt (try eating that;-) an ascetic practice emphasizing denial, as if there is something wrong with the enjoyment of taste. On the contrary, the testimony's central point is to live joyfully and equally with other humans in all that we do. To NOT focus on personal accumulation, the misuse of natural resources, or the unfair and unjust treatment of others, especially in service careers such as cooks, food workers, farmers, and so forth.

Be sure to check out Friend and culinary editor Shaun Chavis' article, "Applying Quaker Thought to Food" on the web at

And the "mini book review: in defense of food" by Quaker Cherice Bock

From the website:
“The Conch House Marina Resort is owned and operated by the Ponce Family. With a history as rich and intriguing as the Oldest City itself, the Ponces have lived here over 400 years making the family a landmark in the St. Augustine area. Jimmy Sr. and Jackie Ponce first opened the resort, back in 1946 as a 4-unit motel…The lounge, fashioned after the Capo Bath House was built 300 feet out over the water with fine crafted woods and nautical antiques.

The Conch House quickly became a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike serving a multitude of tropical drinks…in 1980 they opened a small restaurant specializing in fresh steamed seafood. So, once again the brothers were designing and building. The restaurant roof was built from palm fronds and cypress logs by Seminole Indians from the Everglades.”

In the deLightful Cuisine;-)

Daniel Wilcox


Yekaterina Haussler said...

Hello, Daniel,
The food on the pictures looks delicious! It's important to remember how to enjoy things - food included. And it is nice to see you two smiling.
I heard that Cuban food is prevalent in Florida. Have you had a chance to try anything from Cuban cuisine?
Thank you for sharing

Daniel Wilcox said...

Hi Katya,

We contemplated trying Cuban food, but kept finding seafood restaurants--The Conch House, The Crab Trap, The Beached Whale, Sharkey's, Jonah's Fish and Grits, Pirate House, The Pink House, Sandbar and Grill, Iguana's, etc. so we never made it.

How did we eat out so much but spend less? Almost all of the sites gave us such large helpings that we could use the second portion for lunch the next day. Two for one:-)