As a newbie living in Florida, I would like to know three things: 1) When is the moving truck finally
going to arrive with my stuff? 2) Why has it rained and stormed every day since I got here? 3) Where, oh where, does a Floridian writer go to pound the keys and drink coffee in bliss and solace?
I've left a lot of things behind in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut area: incomparable friends, a ridiculously-adorable godchild, a job I loved, two trees that stood apart at perfect 'hammock' distance, oh ... and my stuff--because after three weeks, it hasn't left New Jersey. Still, I'm summoning a stiff upper lip and trying to find my way around Florida with mind and heart open to new ideas and different places. For example, I'm the sort of writer/caffeine addict who falls in love with an eclectic cafe or coffee shop. Sometimes I just need to bolt from the home office and thrive on the energy of a place where people meet over caffeine, take a break, laugh with friends, or put their noses to the grindstone at a laptop. Will a Starbucks do? Sure, sometimes. But where do I find offbeat, creativity-charged cafes an hour outside Orlando in Sumter County? I'm on the prowl--yep, mind and heart open--but so far, no luck. (If you would like to make suggestions, please do!) In the meantime, I'll be reminiscing over Art Cafe in Nyack, New York. Would-be Floridian business-owners please take note:
Art Cafe: Be still my 'art! How I miss this place. Nestled along Broadway in an old Victorian sits a true haven for gathering with friends or hunkering over your laptop. Sit outdoors in the front garden surrounded by greenery, in-season blooms, and perhaps music from a local musician. Otherwise, find a cozy nook indoors where you'll enjoy the ever-changing work of local artists. But the art doesn't stop there: Order a latte or mochaccino (my favorite) and you'll spend your first few minutes with it marveling over the foam.
That said, any of their coffee beverages (made with organic Blue Bottle Coffee beans they roast themselves) are superb. And the teas? Their lavender brew puts me in such an 'all is right with the world' state that I wound up buying it loose to make at home before bed.
While I usually went for the coffee, the food is not to be missed if you enjoy Israeli-inspired dishes. If I try hard enough, I can still taste their Gruyere Toastini: fresh gruyere, fresh mozzarella, mushroom, and red onion on a pressed panini-style Israeli bagel (no hole!) covered in sesame seeds. And the dressing on the side salad? I never really asked what it was, but seriously, I am kissing my fingertips in a very Italian way right now and briefly wondering if they'll ship it--along with the toastini--frozen. Perhaps the hummus or tahini?
It's hard to push the coffee, tea, and yummage aside, yet the best part of Art Cafe was the soothing atmosphere that made writing a pleasure, but gathering with friends even better. How I miss my Wednesday evenings with Rebecca and Audie! Intelligent and fun conversations on kids, schooling, politics, family life, and the arts revived my spirit halfway through the week to get through the rest of it. The only bad part about that was how many times I lamented only meeting these ladies recently. Maybe I'll find a unique little cafe down here at some point, but the friends that went with it are irreplaceable!