|One of DeLand's coffee shops|
I had a terrible weekend in the south-central Florida town of Arcadia
one time. I'd been drawn principally by the name -- but the place turned out to be far from paradisal: restaurants closed at 8 and were mostly dry. The villagers were like something out of a creepy M. Night Shyamalan movie: Humorless Pentecostals by day, you expected them to don goat masks and gather for blood-drenched orgies on the stroke of midnight.
I kind of expected as much from DeLand
. But I was terribly wrong. In fact, DeLand turned out to be something of a gourmet's arcadia -- the real thing. Not only does this charming little city, just three hours north by car in Volusia County, have an excellent, global cuisine restaurant called Cress
but it's also home to two wide-ranging wine shops -- Designing Wine, which makes homemade wine, and the
|"What happens at the Grape stays at the Grape."|
(DeLand also hosts an annual winetasting event in August). And of course, the reason we'd gone in the first place was to visit Deep Creek Ranch
, which supplies free-range, grass-fed beef and lamb to the most respected restaurants in Florida, including our own 3030 Ocean, Cafe Boulud, and the Breakers (and Michael's Genuine in Miami).
The Saturday we showed up, the town was putting on a Pirates' pub crawl, principally for the purpose of doing beer tastings. The streets were awash in buxom damsels and their peg-legged swain, each wearing a tiny beer mug on a chain strung around their necks. The pirates were loping from bar to bar sampling brews. I was still spooked in case the town might shut down at nightfall, so I went straight to the Elusive Grape and picked up a bottle of Lost Canyon Russian River Pinot Noir,
just to be safe.More »