Where can you tour a superb boutique museum in the morning and ascend a strawberry throne in the afternoon? Only in the Sunshine State, my friends.
In St. Pete last weekend I finally visited the Dali Museum. I’ve had it on my to-do list for years. The current museum opened in 2011 and is spectacular and weather-secure. According to our docent, in the old building when storms threatened, the staff would scurry about, relocating the art to dry ground. The museum is wildly popular and unfortunately we got a late start on the day. We hopped on a tour and heard interesting analyses of 4 pieces in the collection, including Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko). We considered picking up free headphones to continue touring the gallery, but the crowds closed in and I began to figuratively melt like one of the surrealist’s famous pocket watches, so we hightailed it out of there with a vow to return. Don’t miss it, if you’re in the area.
I always feel so virtuous after indulging in some “culcha”. The feeling didn’t last long.
The primary reason for this Florida trip was to watch my son’s baseball games. He’s in college and I still enjoy cheering him on from the bleachers. I am a proud dork. Driving to the ballfields on I-4, we kept passing a billboard that proclaimed “World’s Best Strawberry Shortcake”. It was after the signs for Dinosaur World and right before the RV graveyard.
After 7 1/2 minutes of whining, my husband relented and pulled off the exit. There was a snaking line outside of the Parkesdale Farm Market. I leaped from the car while it was still moving. What if they ran out of whipped cream?
The market is located in Plant City, strawberry capital of the world. According to the official government website, 3/4 of the United States’ mid-winter strawberries come from Plant City. The town’s original name was Ichepucksassa. At one point in its history, the city’s Irish postmaster declared it Cork, after his hometown, to end the tongue-twisting, but eventually it was officially renamed to honor Henry B. Plant who brought the railroad to town.
Parkesdale’s menu offers 9 variations on the theme of strawberry shortcake and reminds everyone that this is a limited time offer – shortcake season runs for a few, precious weeks between January and mid-April (their world famous strawberry milkshake, however, is available year round). We prepped our order as we waited; I was afraid the counter ladies might turn out to be strawberry Nazis. They were sweet as pie though and we were directed to proceed with our big-as-your-head shortcakes to the Garden of Eatin’ (not making this up).
The shortcake was good and the crowd was fun. I met a man who wore a red suit just for the occasion. What made the afternoon truly memorable was the opportunity to don a cape and crown, grab the large, imitation shortcake, and play Strawberry Queen. The wait for my royal minute was interminable; I thought I might have to take out a granny or two.