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While doing doughnut research for a February feature--we know, tough life!--we were reminded of the goodness that is Meany's Mini Donuts. Located in a cute little walk-up stand in Siesta Key Village, Meany's turns out fresh-fried, pillowy little doughnuts that practically melt in your mouth. There's a plethora of flavor options, but you can't go wrong with classic cinnamon-sugar. They're served in a white paper bag that's perfect for toting to the beach; we dare you to only eat one.

 

Chinese food at Christmastime: For Jewish families, it's tradition. We recently ordered a shipping crate's worth of dinner from one of the region's finest Chinese restaurants, Lucky Star. Forget the General Tso's and instead explore the restaurant's list of Hong Kong specialties. Hits at our dinner party included "three sea's coral" ($15.95), a blend of fried fish, scallops and shrimp, served with crunchy vegetables and doused in XO sauce, and the salt and pepper tofu ($10.95), expertly fried cubes of soy flavored with sautéed red and green peppers. Merry Christmas, indeed.

 

Jack Dusty's sticky toffee pudding ($11) is the Ritz-Carlton's take on a traditional dessert and one of the restaurant's signature menu items: warm bread pudding cake with dates and toffee sauce, served with a scoop of house-made vanilla ice cream. Sit by the fire table outside and enjoy it with a bourbon and a beautiful view.

 

The lobster carbonara at The Table Creekside is an indulgence in all senses of the word--but it's worth it, we promise. Housemade pasta is tossed with big chunks of sweet Maine lobster, homemade pancetta, English cheddar, pasticcio and Gruyere, and it's all topped with a perfectly poached egg whose yolk coats the pasta when you break it open.

 

On the lookout for quality eggs Benedict? Check out the Blue Dolphin Café, that bastion of diner-dom on ritzy St. Armands. Blue Dolphin’s Benedict ($11.99) earns high marks for the classic breakfast dish’s two major variables—Hollandaise and poached eggs. The sauce is creamy and tangy with a hint of a kick, and the eggs, which are properly poached instead of steamed in a mold, come with whites cooked through and yolks warm and runny. Served with crisp breakfast potatoes for sopping extra sauce.

 

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