At a recent wedding, I overheard the mother of the bride tell someone, “Now, you may think I’m prejudiced, but I honestly believe they are the most beautiful couple I’ve ever seen.”
Sarasota, and just like the bride’s doting mother, I insist that my intimate attachment to the object of my affection hasn’t clouded my vision one bit. After 25 years of living here, I have yet to see another Florida city that offers such an appealing mix of seaside beauty, small-town charm and urban sophistication. On any given day, you can shop for cutting-edge modern furniture, get wrapped in sea mud at a luxury spa, watch the latest European art film, stand on a secluded beach and see the sun set in a glorious explosion of color, then sample a flight of South African sauvignon blancs at a chic new wine bar.
And despite the explosive growth of the last few years, it’s much easier to get around in Sarasota than in most other Florida cities. You still see friends and neighbors everywhere you go, and you can even find a few funky old-Florida spots that remind you of why we all came here in the first place.
You’ll see that mix of the sophisticated and the simple in one of my favorite stories in this Visitors’ Annual, “27 Ways to Heaven.” When we decided to highlight the best restaurant dishes in town, we took our food editors to lunch and plunged into delicious discussion. Our first list contained close to 100 contenders, and whittling it down to 27 was a passionate process that ended up taking weeks. The final—and fabulous—list reflects the creative diversity of our dining scene, where you can find trend-setting entrées that could hold their own in New York or San Francisco (sesame-encrusted ahi tuna with wasabi foam, anyone?), elegant Continental standards, or that ultimate Sarasota epiphany—a fresh grouper sandwich served on a picnic table overlooking the blue-green waters of New Pass. My new life goal is to eat my way through the list, and I urge you to do the same.
You’ll read about more than culinary adventures in this issue: Pat Haire takes you on five outdoor expeditions; style editor Carol Tisch furnishes a dream beach house; and Paul Schneider tells the story behind his new book, the epic journey of a group of Conquistadores who landed here 500 years ago and ended up making the first European crossing of the American continent. We’ve also included comprehensive guides to attractions, cultural offerings, sports and recreation and much more.
But there’s more to our magazine than the glossy volume you’re holding. Under the guidance of Web manager David Adkins, we recently launched a new and improved Web site (sarasotamagazine.com) that we hope will greatly enrich and expand your SARASOTA experience.
I can remember when publishers worried that the Internet would make print obsolete. (I squirm to admit I can also remember insisting that this world-wide-whatever-it-was could never do more for me than a good reference librarian.) Both predictions, of course, have been proven utterly wrong. People still want something tangible—and portable—to hold in their hands as they turn the pages and linger over the images. But they want the immediacy and comprehensiveness of the Web as well.
On our new Web site, you can do everything from checking the local temperature (that time-honored pleasure of every Sarasota resident and visitor) or finding a story we published years ago to downloading a picture of you and your friends at a glittering black-tie gala.
After being forever bound by magazine deadlines, which come long before the issue is printed, our writers are relishing the chance to bring you breaking stories. Now arts editor Kay Kipling can review plays as soon as they open; city reporter Kim Hackett can track unfolding political issues; and copy editor Megan McDonald can keep our events calendar completely up to date.
And we’ve added a chorus of lively Sarasota voices to our site with a number of blogs. Every week you’ll be able to get a Gen X view of Sarasota by following editorial assistant Hannah Wallace’s efforts to find hip young souls and cool stuff in a city that was once all about retirees; hear a recent New College grad reporting on politics (and culture shock) from his new job in the nation’s capital; savor what chef Judi Gallagher is cooking and eating; and see what our ultra-savvy style editor has spotted in Sarasota’s top shops. Even comic novelist Robert Plunket—aka Mr. Chatterbox—will put his eccentric imprint upon the Internet.
But it won’t just be us talking to you. One of the best things about the Web is that it’s interactive, allowing you to help create our electronic magazine. You can chide or applaud us in online letters to the editor, post comments on every blog and sound off on issues that matter to you in SARASOTA Talks, which we hope will become a popular civic forum. Soon you’ll even be able to share your favorite Sarasota snapshot—or funny Sarasota video.
The Web site will bring more attention to our city as well as to our magazine, since many people who may never have seen a copy of SARASOTA Magazine will link to the site to scope out our town. And it will also expand the reach of advertisers, who will find new ways to reach new buyers online.
We’re energized by this whole new playing field for our creative energy, and hope to bring to our evolving site the same standards of excellence and reader service we do to the magazine. Take a look and tell us how we’re doing—we hope you’ll stay online for a while and add some creative energy of your own. We love hearing from our readers. You can e-mail [email protected] or send to Pam Daniel, SARASOTA, 330 S. Pineapple Ave., Suite 205, Sarasota FL 34236.
We love hearing from our readers. You can e-mail [email protected] or send to Pam Daniel, SARASOTA, 330 S. Pineapple Ave., Suite 205, Sarasota FL 34236.
OUT OF THE OFFICE
Our editors’ top spots to take guests.
"I knock the socks off my visiting friends by taking them to the Cà d’Zan terrace. The architecture and the shimmering expanse of Sarasota Bay make for a jaw-dropping view in every direction. Sitting in the breeze sipping a bloody Mary from the snack bar is a vacation itself, and you can’t beat the price: free."—Hannah Wallace, associate editor
"To Myakka River State Park, without a doubt—then they know they're not in Schenectady anymore. We took our New Jersey cousins to the top of the canopy walkway tower, where you can look out over unspoiled old-Florida habitat for miles, and the three-year-old yelled, 'I see America!'" —Ilene Denton, managing editor
"Since I moved here in September, my friends and family in Orlando have loved visiting. After a day of walking, shopping and eating, I always take them to Lido Beach. There’s nothing more relaxing than the smooth sand and a spectacular sunset—and maybe a mint-chocolate-chip cone from Kilwin’s." —Megan McDonald, copy editor