Home > "Foodie" Activities > Sarasota, a City of Contrasts | Discovering Its Environs and Eats

It’s a 4-hour drive from where I live in South FL to the Sarasota area and I’m not much of a ‘road trip’ kind of gal. But, circumstances put me on the road to Sarasota twice in the last few months.

The highlights of the first trip were definitely visiting the Ringling and Dali Museums.

One could easily spend half-a-day at each – or more if you have lunch there. Both have very nice restaurants.

The Second Trip
One of my friends from NY bid on a Sarasota rental at a Silent Auction. (She won.) So three friends from NY and three from South Florida convened in Sarasota for a couple of days of ‘girls gone wild‘.  That is … “wild” as in playing Rummy-O till 1:00am, no calorie-counting, and drinking at both lunch and dinner. Oh, yeah, we were that naughty!

A bit of irony. In contrast to our peaceful and laid-back surroundings, every time I looked around the living area, there was a pile-up of kindles, ipads, iphones and blackberry(s). We relaxed but we didn’t totally unplug. 🙂

The good thing about traveling by car is you’re not restricted to what you bring with you. The 3 of us that drove carried all kinds of foodie treats and, of course, bottles of wine. And the 3 that flew in from NY stopped at the supermarket so there was no shortage of good eats for breakfast and lunch. 

Let the party begin!

Sarasota and Environs
Sarasota is a city of contrasts … a little artsy, a little beach-y and laid-back … a totally different vibe than the East Coast.

Here’s the beach side of a spot on Anna Maria Island …

and the street side.

One side is bleached out whiteness and the other in-your-face color.

We also discovered the Burns Square area with its street art, cute little restaurants, fun boutiques, and arts cinema.

[The last 2 photos were processed with a Lightroom preset I learned from Angie Muldowney.]

Lunch at Blu Que, Siesta Key
A fun and very casual spot with live music (even in the afternoon), a parking lot smoker, and good eats/drinks. Featured here are Creamsicle and Cucumber Martinis.

A brisket quesadilla.

And a blackened grouper sandwich with blue cheese coleslaw.

Rooftop Drinks and Tapas at Ceviche
Once again, we’re met with contrasts. Soft and inviting on the outside,

rustic and airy on the rooftop,

… and a dark, rich and cavernous inside.

And, lucky us, it was Tapas Tuesday!

Two bottles of wine and 16 appetizers only cost us about $25 pp! Pardon the messy table, but there were 6 pair of anxious hands reaching for each plate. 

And last, but definitely not least, Canta Rana, a true discovery and yet another example of contrasts. 

The unassuming exterior belies the experience inside this house which was converted into a restaurant.

Canta Rana is a 5-month old family-operated restaurant.

That’s mama (hers) and another cook from the kitchen, along with owner/chef Diana Durand and her charming husband. She’s from Peru and he from Puerto Rico — and together they offer up top-notch, artfully-presented, “Peruvian Fusion” cuisine. A few examples of what we ate.

Ceviche, 4 ways

Shrimp Causa

Shrimp + Milk Soup

A trilogy of appetizers.

Adobo Pork.

We really enjoyed our dinner at Canta Rana — as well as our girl time together. But all good things must come to an end (or so they say). I’m still testing that theory with a good degree of success!!

Footnote: When traveling the north-south route in Florida during the month of May, the first thing one has to do after a road trip is visit the car wash for “the works”. Love Bugs!

19 Comments, RSS

  • liz

    says on:
    May 18, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Great pictures of a great time and good eats and drinks!

  • Abigail (aka Mamatouille)

    says on:
    May 18, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Oh my gosh! I pretty much lived in FL the first 25 years of my life, have lived other places the last 11 years (ahem, now you know my age!) and I’d already completely forgotten about the love bugs. 🙂

    Lovely photos of a lovely place–I’ve enjoyed the Dali and Ringling museums, too.

    And that food. Oh, man.

    • Joan

      says on:
      May 18, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      Thanks – glad it gave you a nostalgic glimpse back at Sarasota.

  • Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen

    says on:
    May 18, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    What a fun trip. We should go to Sarasota more often since it’s a couple of hours north of us when we’re there in the winter. This past year we went to a blogger friend get-together downtown and enjoyed Sur La Table shopping.

    I’m making notes of your spots and will put them on our to-do list. Thanks for taking us along.
    Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen recently posted..Mediterranean Tuna Salad and a Give-awayMy Profile

  • Arlene

    says on:
    May 18, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    You’re on my turf now, Joan, at least my Florida turf. I’ve had a place on Longboat Key for 20 years and adore Sarasota and its environs. Interestingly, I haven’t tried any of the places you’ve reviewed, but will have to remedy that during upcoming visits. Sounds like you gals know how to party!
    Arlene recently posted..Oven-fried ChickenMy Profile

  • Patricia Durr

    says on:
    May 19, 2012 at 2:31 am

    Great Photo’s and wonderful looking food. Looks like a fun time with friends.
    Patricia Durr recently posted..Worth Ave, Palm Beach where the Rich and Famous ShopMy Profile

  • the wicked noodle

    says on:
    May 19, 2012 at 6:50 am

    Joan, this looks like so much fun!! Now I’m certain that we would be friends; playing cards, drinking and eating are three of my favorite things to do. What a great getaway for you and your friends!
    the wicked noodle recently posted..asparagus, goat cheese & bacon tartMy Profile

  • Flavors of the Sun

    says on:
    May 19, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Oh, Joan,I can just feel the fun in the air! What a great post. I haven’t been to Sarasota in so many years–you make me want to jump in the car! Love the photo technique, which I will explore. And the Peruvian-fusion food looks really interesting. I have read that Peruvian food is one of the “new” trends for 2012 and now I can see why.
    Flavors of the Sun recently posted..Cumin: An Ancient and Thoroughly Modern SpiceMy Profile

  • Susan @ SGCC

    says on:
    May 19, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Glad to see you had a such a good time here, Joan! Canta Rana looks like a winner. I’m going to try to talk my husband into taking me there this weekend!

    • Joan

      says on:
      May 19, 2012 at 7:25 pm

      Great! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did and be sure to say hi to the proprietors for me.

  • 5 Star Foodie

    says on:
    May 19, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful trip with terrific eats!

  • Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef

    says on:
    May 20, 2012 at 5:58 am

    LOL I haven’t thought of love bugs for ages! Oh how those things were a pain in the neck.

    Sounds like a wonderful time away.

    Love the Dali museum but I’ve never eaten at any of those spots. Something to look forward to next visit home.

  • Platanos, Mangoes and Me!

    says on:
    May 20, 2012 at 6:57 am

    A trip that I must make. Great pics and the gals look great….
    Platanos, Mangoes and Me! recently posted..WE AREMy Profile

  • Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

    says on:
    May 20, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    I have never been to Florida and all your posts makes me want to so bad! I LOVE this multi-cultural-hip vibe that comes through. The shabby chic restaurant is too cute and belies the gourmet food it serves inside. What a fun fun fun trip to take with old friends! And calorie counting? forget that on a trip like this! You go girl :))

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors
    Devaki @ weavethousandflavors recently posted..15th Century Hottie ~ Biscotti with Almonds & OrangeMy Profile

  • Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul

    says on:
    May 21, 2012 at 2:22 am

    Thank you for sharing this with us…love all the pics Joan…they are so colourful. I had to LOL @ your ‘naughty’ activities. My fave picture s definitely the mural of the camera!

    • Joan

      says on:
      May 21, 2012 at 8:36 am

      Thank you, Peter – a comment from you about any aspect of photography is definitely meaningful.

  • bellini

    says on:
    May 24, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Back in the day I have been to Sarasota many times since I have friends that still live there. I remember catching grouper on a deep-sea fishing expedition and feeding pelicans at the dock, eating alligator and spending time on a beach that has been voted one of the most beautiful in the world.

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