After much discussion, planning, and deliberation, we all got our flights to Florida, arranged for rental cars, and called Sylvia at the Shore View Inn for three rooms on the ocean for Christmas week. Although it was Christmas day, we all made it in without a glitch. Of course, Carol and I had to get up at 3:45 AM (Thank You Osama) to make our 6:00 AM flight, but it all worked out. The lady at the Hertz counter in Fort Lauderdale turned out to be from Rhode Island, and she upgraded us into a barge of a Mercury Marquis that seats six. Carol and I were hungry, so we stopped at Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor on Federal Highway near the airport for a great lunch and a coffee hot fudge sundae. It was so huge that together we could only eat half, and we brought the rest with us to the motel. Sylvia was there to greet us, still as flamboyant as ever, still mourning the loss of Elian Gonzalez: "Ayeee, doctor! Eet ees a terreeble thing what they haf done to thees poor boy and hees femily." The beach is as broad and beautiful as ever. The weather was cloudy, with spitting rain, but it was still in the high 70's. We drove over to Bess's and spent the afternoon. Later, the kids, who flew in from Newark, joined us, and we all went out for dinner at Trattoria Toscana. It's a tiny place in a tacky strip mall in North Miami Beach nearby, but it is a fabulous neighborhood restaurant. It's owned by Italians who really make you feel at home. I had phoned ahead a few days before to ask for vitello tonnato, which Jonathan and I shared. It is thinly sliced cold veal with a creamy sauce of tuna and capers and lemon poured on top. It is one of the great dishes of the world, and they did it right. And they charged only $12.50 for it! In New York, it's $30. Everyone's dishes were absolutely wonderful, fresh, nicely plated, simple, elegant. We had carpaccio with Reggiano parmegiano, Tuscan antipasto, salads, ravioli with spinach and ricotta, linguine tossed inside a hollowed out huge wheel of parmegiano, simple pasta with tomato and basil, pasta con funghi. A Coppola plain white from California and a Cabernet from Argentina. For dessert, coffee, espresso, capuccino, and homemade ricotta cheesecake and chocolate cake. This place is a treasure. And what greater blessing than to sit with four generations of your family.
On to December 26