When you travel with a person, you find out a lot about who they are, what they love, what they eat, what their necessities or rituals for travel are, their little quirks, and sometimes kinks. However, thankfully I lucked out, and Franz is the captain of all captains, when it comes to setting sail on adventures. He also pulled off the biggest surprise of my life, and I am the hardest person to surprise. Every year for my birthday, for the past three years since we have been together, Franz flies us down south, right as the snow comes into Ohio. However, because we are opening VADA GALLERY in OTR this July, and with the pandemic still going on, I thought birthday plans of us leaving the cold, for palm trees, would be out of the question. Franz didn’t let me down, and followed through, with a new vacation wardrobe in tow, we were ready to relax. Two days before my birthday, we flew down to Florida for an eight day vacation at his familys beach house, a trip that was much needed. I have always had a love for the ocean, and I have no problem getting sand everywhere, and could be on the beach for hours. I have absolutely no fear diving into cold waters, but thankfully even in January, the water in Pompano was warm compared to Nantucket’s cold waters, even at the end of its Summers. After a year of not seeing the ocean due to the pandemic, and just keeping it safe, I was more than happy to feel the hot sun, have a food tour of Pompano, and be in my bikini all week with my honey.
We checked out amazing eats Pompano Beach had to offer, the best part was that over half of the restaurants we dined at were not only fresh , delicious, and ocean front, they were also within walking distance from the house, and all local (no chain restaurants) . A couple of our absolute favorite places to eat between beach walks, and beach naps, was the Lucky Fish, which not only had a swing outside looking over the ocean but also had on their menu the most amazing coconut shrimp, served with the best Mango pineapple salsa, pineapple rum marmalade. Another gorgeous beach side restaurant we love is called Oceanic, with an additional favorite restaurant right beside it, called the Pompano Beach House.
We were met with gorgeous weather daily, with our bedroom only steps from the beach, we spent less time in the car, and more time soaking in nature, me doing yoga while Franz napped, swimming in the ocean, embracing the local seafood, and exploring the area. On the days where we were not beach babes, we went out to eat, and met up with his parents who are residents of Florida, and also Cincinnati. So after a long year, it was more than amazing to see them, and know that they received their vaccines and are okay. The food, the love, the family, friends, and being in the sunshine, even with masks on, really boosted our souls to another level. Another restaurant that we dined at, that I definitely want to go back to when in Florida, is Sea Watch on the Ocean.
Even though it’s not located in Pompano Beach, and is actually located in Fort Lauderdale, FL, it’s worth the little bit of the drive and traffic. This place has gorgeous views of the ocean, amazing service, and delicious raw and cooked oysters. We ordered the crispy calamari, of course the raw oysters, and Boathouse Baked Oysters with Cayenne pepper-apple wood bacon butter, garlic, watercress.
Another go-to spot for brilliant romantic eats in Pompano is to grab a pizza, or a sandwich from Carlucci’s Brick Oven Trattoria & Pizzeria, a blanket, some bubbly or soda, and walk to the beach (only footsteps away from the pizzeria). We were able to walk to the restaurant from the house, and as soon as we walked in, I knew we were going to have authentic gourmet pizzas, salads , homemade breads and pasta. Wood fired pizza has to be my absolute favorite style of pizza, as it transports me back to my time living in Florence,Italy.
Another favorite of ours is the Rusty Hook, but don’t let the name fool you, I had one of the best mouthwatering, and tender Moroccan lamb dishes, of my life at this restaurant. Nick, a friend of the family’s, suggested we go to this establishment, and all of our taste-buds were more than delighted that we took his word for it. There is an abundance of culture in the Pompano+Miami Beach area, and Franz and I are more than excited to continue to come back here to delight our palettes with eats from all over brought together in two cities.
Even though I was already in bliss with Franz on vacation, the best day of my life was still just moments from happening. On my birthday I woke up to the most darling outfit, and our bags packed for the beach, we spent the day in the sun celebrating my birthday. Franz made his Castle V rock ( a sand castle we make yearly) and as we ran to the ocean hand in hand, he asked a family friend to take our picture, I was so elated that I just grabbed on to him and smiled as the waves came crashing into us. I felt him slip down and I looked over to my right and Franz was on his knee, he looked up at me and said “Virginia Blair, I want to spend the rest of our lives together, will you marry me”, I screamed with every cell in my body “YESSSSSSSS”! He picked me up, and we kissed and I cried, and our family friend that took the picture of the engagement started laughing and crying with us and said, ” you can’t do that to me, you almost gave me a heart attack”, when in fact I think we all almost had heart attacks. Franz did it, Franz is the only man to ever surprise me, to ever help me learn to trust, he helped with a life long dream of owning a gallery, and we eventually opened VADA gallery, he helped me open my mind to pave a brighter future, and on top of that he helped me have the ability to not be afraid to LIVE. Most importantly, he showed me how to not be afraid to love. My heart is full, skin warmed by the sun, and soul warmed by a man who saved my life, and my spirit.
That night we ran into the house, started drinking champagne with our family and friends, flutes in hand, looking over at the ocean, we saluted, and the entire time I wore heart shaped sunglasses. In that moment I realized what life was all about, and I believe me I have lived many lives, I learned that life was really simply about … love; and good food.
Getting ready for our engagement dinner, I tried on three different gowns Franz got for me, a black dress, red dress, and white. I almost had to lay down because of all of the excitement, I am the hardest person to surprise. Franz in a linen shirt, and our faces both red from the sun and excitement of getting engaged, we finally headed to Pompano’s Oceanic restaurant, a place that will forever hold a special memory in my heart. As soon as we walked in I somehow felt like everyone knew we were engaged, I was met first with two women who approached us with a loud and in unison “congratulations!”, they grabbed my wedding band and turned it around twice, when I asked what that meant – she said it was an Italian tradition, meant to bring good luck, she also told me something that I will always hold true, “to never forget how happy I feel on this very day” and I never will. The views and lighting while dining at the Oceanic restaurant, on top of being met with such hospitality and love, made this birthday and engagement dinner, more than unforgettable. Franz and I ended the night on the beach, with a bonfire, an ocean of champagne, waves crashing, and the stars and moon blanketing over us. So even during a pandemic, when the world seemed to be splitting at its seams, and at its darkest time, love prevailed, love challenged hate, and love kept swimming, even in the sinking state of Florida. I love you Franz Diedling, you saved my life, my soul, my heart, and I cant wait to dance into the many years and waves with you.
Peace + Love,