I am writing from the oldest city in America, Saint Augustine, Florida; founded in 1565. It is the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European and African-American origin in the United States. I am seated at a small table for two, although I am alone, at the Gypsy Cab. Co. Gypsy, as the locals call it, is a brightly painted restaurant on Anastasia Island near St. Augustine Beach. Above me is a deep vivid aqua textured ceiling with the exposed purple painted ductwork set against rich yellow walls. White lattice work separates me from the table beside me and the other dining room.
I have ordered the Gypsy Chicken, breaded chicken stuffed with a garlic/herb and Swiss cheese filling, covered with more Swiss cheese and a sweet and savory mushroom sauce served with mashed potatoes, warm red sauerkraut and broccoli. I am drinking Red Zinger iced tea (with lemon wedge for added zing) while enjoying the House salad of well chilled, chopped lettuces with shredded carrot, purple cabbage and cucumber topped with their famous House dressing, a zippy garlic, olive oil, nutritional yeast blend that is indescribable, served with multi-grain bread and whipped butter.
I first discovered the Gypsy Cab Co. when living in Saint Augustine about twenty years ago. I am pleased to see it still open and thriving. Not that it is surprising at all. The food is as eclectic as the paint colors; pleasingly unconventional and satisfying. One of the only drawbacks of having traveled extensively throughout America is that of craving foods that are only found at a specific independent restaurant in a certain location, usually far from where I happen to be when the craving strikes. But one of the greatest benefits, in my opinion, of such travel is the joy of returning to my favorite epicurean hot spots to feast on the unique and delicious fare when I visit again.
Today is one of those days. I have day-tripped to Saint Augustine, under the pretense of visiting the beach. St. Augustine Beach and Crescent Beach were on my must-see list. I do like the beach here; soft white sand and lots of waves. Part of the attraction is that it is a drive-on beach. Which means that you actually get to drive along the beach itself. Which is really great for when you want to get out and see the Atlantic Ocean, enjoy the fresh air (salty breezes) and sunshine (in abundance) but don’t really want to do a lot of walking. So that was my excuse to hit the road today and head for my old stomping grounds in “St. Auggie.”
I knew I was close when I saw the familiar signs for Indian River citrus fruit, Boiled Peanuts, Shells and Fireworks! Then when I passed Old Dixie Highway I giggled to myself and I must admit my face lit into a smile when I saw the small green signs on the highway that heralded my entry to Flagler and then St. John’s Counties.
For me, no trip to Saint Augustine is complete without a stop by the Gypsy Cab Co. I highly recommend the Peanut Butter Pie. If you are like me and don’t have room left for dessert after your meal, order one for the road and take it with you to enjoy as you watch the sun glisten on the waves while listening to the sounds of surf and seagulls, as I did.
There was once a billboard that did boast upon entering town, “Saint Augustine, Florida- 27 miles of beaches and the rest is history.”
I’ll drink to that. So from St. Augustine, Florida I raise my glass of Red Zinger iced tea.
Here’s to God’s grace, ocean waves, beach days and good food!© Una-Melina // Worthy Books & Things, 2014.