Welcome to my backyard--the Florida Keys! I'm a travel writer, blogger and photographer with a passion for all things Florida, especially the Florida Keys. These islands are so much more than Duval Street and Jimmy Buffet. They are rich in history, culture, cuisine, nature and events--all surrounded by pristine waters teeming with wildlife. Whether you're a local or a visitor, the Conch Republic has many surprises in store. Let me be your guide.
The Eiffel Tower on the sign outsideBitton Bistro Café beckoned to me even before the restaurant opened a few months ago in Islamorada. The bright cheery interior, visible from U.S. Highway 1, was just the kind of place I wanted to start my morning. Last week, I finally joined some friends at Bitton for a late breakfast. I was immediately charmed by the warmth and lilting French accents of owners, Michel Bitton and his wife, Sylvie Coeurjoly. They owned a bistro in Old Montreal for 20 years before escaping to the Florida Keys to avoid another harsh Quebec winter.
Unable to ignore the decadent pastries in the glowing case, I indulged in a flaky chocolate croissant and picked a honey almond crêpe from the sweet and savory menu. Their strong rich café au lait was deeply satisfying, made from a custom mix of 80 percent Arabica and 20 percent Robusta. The beans are sourced from Café Union, a supplier with a century-long history. I eyed my friend’s fluffy mushroom quiche sans crust with a bit of envy and spotted a must-try sandwich for lunch — a pairing of Rosette de Lyon salami with Guryere cheese on fresh baguette. By the end of our meal, Coeurjoly knew all our names. She offered samples of their homemade Key lime gelato dusted with graham cracker crumbs. As I bid the couple adieu, I grabbed a second cup of coffee for the road and a to-go menu, so I could plan my return trip.