The Keys to Happiness– Part 2 of 2

For a special dinner on New Year’s Eve, Cati and I went to Pisces (formerly Cafe des Artistes).  They were having a prix fixe menu.  For our first course, we both chose the “Roulade Czarina”.   It comprised smoked salmon and goat cheese rolled in paper thin potato.  It was slightly seared, served warm, and topped with a truffle vinaigrette and caviar.  I was going a little crazy for this dish.  It was so good and the smoked salmon went beautifully with the goat cheese.  Cati prefers her appetizers on the lighter side, but I thought it was perfect in richness and quantity.  I had a glass of champagne with this course.  The rich goat-cheese, caviar, seared potato, and luxurious presentation make me want to visit Moscow. 



For our entrees, I had an out-of-this-world crispy-skinned roast duckling, and Cati had a grouper filet in champagne sauce.  I don’t think I even tried Cati’s dish.  Mine was so good.  Looking at my notes from dinner, I recall that I had a six-pack of Heineken during our sailing excursion, some champagne at 1800 EST, a whisky before dinner, a glass of champagne during the appetizer, and a glass of red wine during the entree.  My scribblings are those of a drunken poet in love.  I am too embarrassed to share any of my inebriated gushing; let’s just say, I liked this place and our dinner.  Ah, wine is indeed a mocker. 





For dessert there was a fantastic plate of candied pecans, an ice-cream thereof, and a Valhrona chocolate frozen mousse.  It was easily among the best desserts I had ever had–  I was reeling (and I don’t think it was only because of the booze [hiccup]).



As if the food weren’t enough of a draw, there were original Warhol prints all over the walls.


In short, if you are in Key West, you have to eat here:


The next day, we went on an excursion to the abandoned Civil-War-era military base (Fort Jefferson) on the Dry Tortugas.  After the imbibing I had done the night before, I was interested in anything with “dry” in its name.  It was a two hour boat ride to the former military base, which now serves as a national park.  Fort Jefferson struck me as an ambitious project but complete failure– it has a pretty interesting history

Take a look at the dismantled docks in the lower middle left of the photo below. 


The waters in that area were teeming with beautiful wildlife.  While snorkeling, we were close enough to touch the following: stoplight parrotfish, spotted cowfish, barracuda (freaky), anglefish, damselfish, lobster, coral, sea urchin, and a whole lot more.  It was really incredible.  I don’t have an underwater camera, so you’ll have to take my word for it.  The views from the fort were really nice too. 



On the way back to Tampa, we spent the day in Miami.  It didn’t leave us with a good impression.  Is South Beach where L.A. banishes people who are too douchey for L.A.?  We saw a lot of 60-yr old men in popped collars and flashy designer jeans.  Plus there’s a eurotrash element that made us both point and giggle a few times.  Maybe we need to go back– maybe not.


On an unrelated note, we are rethinking the name of our anticipated new daughter.  We thought we had decided on “Emi,” but several of Cati’s friends have recently had daughters and have gone with “Emmy” or some variant thereof.  Also, Emma and Emily are the #1 and #3 most common baby names right now.  So now we are thinking about going with something else.  So basically we are undecided as for the second one’s name.  We want it to be short, and not change between Spanish and English.  Suggestions?

14 Responses to “The Keys to Happiness– Part 2 of 2”

  1. llcwine says:

    my name is actually the same whether in english or spanish…Linda

    Rosa – or I guess in english that would be Rose

    that’s all I can come up with now

    loved the pics from the keys and Pisces looked amazing.

  2. I second that says:

    Graciela? Lucia? (I think my ignorance is showing.. I suspect those might be more Italian) Keep up the excellent work–I love your blog.

  3. naming ? says:

    Tori ?

  4. suzanne says:


    I am a friend of Gabe’s.

  5. alex|dimitri says:

    Thanks for the great name suggestions. They are all lovely, but some are not for us; here’s why:

    – Linda: Pretty but it means “pretty” in S.American Spanish. Too literal.
    – Maria: Too much religious baggage. 90% of girls in Spain have this name. Given that Nina and #2 will be spending summers in Spain, it’s just too common.
    – Rosa: This one is a problem for Cati. She knows 3 different men who left their wives and families for various women named Rosa. Hence, a no-go.
    – Gloria: That’s a contender.
    – Graciela and Lucia: Both very nice, but the pronounciation of the Spanish “c” as “th” would make it change too much between languages. We have a friend here in the US from Spain named Celia and it never gets pronounced as Thelia (as she is accustomed).
    – Tori: No way. If England should ever try to reclaim The US as a colony; I don’t want there to be any confusion about where my daughter’s loyalty lies. (
    – Lili: We really like this name, but we were recently scooped by our good friends T&A when they had a daughter (although they went with a “y”)

    I think we have agreed on a name. It’s a little longer than we were thinking– it’s Natalia. We like it. Thoughts? We can call her Natasha or Tasha as diminutives. We’re keeping it Slavic, yo.

  6. llcwine says:

    Natalia is pretty, Tally or Talia also work as dimunitives…….

  7. Daniel B. says:

    I really like Nina.
    And then you get all the Al Hirschfeld prints too.

  8. suzanne says:

    Nina, Pinta and the Santa Marie

  9. Cat says:

    I like Natalia…if has tons of variations and it isn’t one of the names I have heard of late in my kids classes…and we have lots of variety…

  10. Dina says:

    We like Lea & Mia. Although Mia can mean mine I think it’s sweet since she does belong to you.
    I personally also like Sofia but I can understand any objections.
    Good luck! We can’t wait to see them both!!!

  11. alex|dimitri says:


    We seriously considered all three names that you mentioned.

    Here’s why we ruled ’em out:

    Mia– as you mentioned, too leterally means “mine.” We thought about how that would affect her after she grew up and was called “mine” by other adults in Spain. Too weird.

    Lea– It means “read” in Spanish; and it’s too close to fea.

    Sofia– too popular.

    But they are all quite nice names. Natalia won by a nose.

  12. Gina says:

    I love Natalia. It’s different (uncommon) and beautiful.

    I would have suggested Gina, but I realize that would rhyme too much with Nina and would confuse the girls. ;)

  13. Mrs. Chandler says:

    I’ve always thought the name Jami has a beautiful ring to it, It means
    “hot as hell” in every language.

  14. alex|dimitri says:

    We like the name Jami, but it’s really hard to find “redneck couture” in toddler sizes. ;)