Tag Archives: jacksonville

JAX MX-5 Club Monthly March Meeting, Enjoying Seafood with the First Coast Miata Club

While the Northeast is under Blizzard warning and my home town in New Jersey is under at least half a foot of snow I’m really enjoying all that the Sunshine State has to offer. In the past I complained: “Where have all the Miata’s gone?” while in Miami, it turns out they are all hiding in Northern Florida. Specifically in the Jacksonville area where I’ve joined the First Coast Miata Club for their official monthly meetup at a nice seafood place in the Mandarin area of Jax.

It was a cool experience, I was there to see all the cars, so without further delay here are all the pix:

Several Copper Red Mica NC1’s in attendance…

Not a Miata.

Not a BMW.

Hey! It’s an /M edition X-5.

Not a Corvette.

Everyone was ranting and raving about the seafood. Since I had been on a day-long Foodie Tour of the Minorcan Clam Chowder… I decided to eat light… and ordered two appetizers: Conch Fritters and Gator Tails. I’m not sure which was which, both tasted kind of like batter, so I’m not really certain what it is that I ate…

My buddy Arved showed me the $38 dollar eBay spoiler which inspired me to buy one also. His had straight edges while mine are rounded. It was cool to see them side-by-side now.

Euro turn signals:

Foodie Tour: Sampling Minorca Clam Chowder Along the A1A in St. Augustine and Florida’s Atlantic Coast

Today was an interesting day that turned out fantastic.

The First Coast Miata Club in Jacksonville was having their monthly meeting which I wanted to attend. I also wanted to use the opportunity to visit Tom at The Parts Group which is on the way driving North from Daytona Beach… but that did not materialize. So instead I decided to take a really enjoyable ride up the A1A, Florida’s scenic route along the Atlantic Coast towards St. Augustine to sample some of their delicious Minorca Clam Chowder.

What is Minorca Clam Chowder?

It’s a red soup similar to Manhattan Clam Chowder but with added taste of Datil Pepper. According to legend the datil pepper only grows in St. Augustine, Florida and on the island of Minorca off the coast of Spain where the initial settlers to the area came from. (btw. Minorca’s neighbors are Majorca and Ibiza if you were wondering). St. Augustine was on my to-do list after the first time I visited it last December. I drove the VW Bettle rental in the opposite direction, from Jacksonville to Daytona Beach and really enjoyed that experience although it was a bit sight to see with all the damage to the buildings from hurricane Matthew.

Some readers may also remember my Connecticut lobster roll foodie tour where I complained that this was an expensive endeavor and that I should do a clam chowder foodie tour… Voila!

So multiple birds, single stone. Ticked all the boxes on this trip!

The drive along A1A was really beautiful. It’s amazing how quickly the area rebounded post the hurricane and in today’s sunshine everything looked absolutely beautiful. There are still some damaged beach access steps in Flagler Beach, but overall everything looked in tip top shape. Really makes me want to move to Florida!

I loved the “Welcome to…” signs so I stopped a few times to take a shot with each of the scenic A1A signs.

Lots of beautiful palm trees, and tons of bikes since it is Bike Week in Daytona Beach currently.

Besides the ocean the views of the Matanzas River were stunning.

First Stop: O’Steen’s in St. Augustine

Got there at about 2pm and the place was packed. I overheard there was a 30 minute wait for tables, but I was able to place an order for a bowl of Minorcan Clam Chowder at the window. It was ready quickly. I went for a short drive towards the river and ate it in the car

The soup was obviously tomato based, but unlike Manhattan clam chowder that taste wasn’t overwhelming… at least at this place. The chunks of clam were quite large, and the potato was very tasty. The pepper spice wasn’t too strong and on a cool day like today was quite refreshing actually.

I cruised around St. Augustine taking in the sights, enjoying the view like the countless tourists walking around. Much like St. Pete the old city had cobble stone streets, tight… very similar to those in Spain.

The tide on the river reminded me a little bit of Cairns in Australia.

St. Augustine is America’s oldest city, established in 1585.

Lots of Ponce de Leon references. Famous Fountain of Youth, etc.

The castle looked a lot like the one in Puerto Rico…

Lots of Spanish flags around the city.

Next Stop: Schooner’s Seafood House

The Schooner’s version was a bit more watery. The chunks of clam were much smaller, but chunks of potato and tomato were much bigger.

Onwards!

Oooo… what’s that? Martini Racing…

Final Stop: Singleton’s Seafood Shack

Unlike the first two places in St. Augustine this one was some 30 miles north, past Jacksonville Beach in a town of Atlantic Beach where to cross the St. John river to continue onwards on A1A you must take a ferry. (Oh how I wanted to take that $6 ferry ride with my car… but unfortunately my next destination was in South Jax not in the Northern part).

I was basically running late for my next appointment, so I didn’t immediately dive into this Minorcan Clam Chowder… but interesting observation… it cost a few bux more than the others and was about half the size. I had a bite when I got back to the house in Daytona Beach and the texture was good. I still prefer O’Steen’s out of all the three I sampled.

Driving back I noticed the Martini Racing trucks actually offloaded some interesting machinery on the shores of St. John river.

I pulled over. Asked one of the people standing around there if it was OK to take some pix… the person said “Sure!” and so I did… and them some bloody British wanker voiced his objections… so I said Alright… and walked away. Some dude followed me explaining that they paid a lot of money for those cars to be in a photoshoot for some magazine… go figure! So here’s a low budget, iPhone shot of these cars long before you’re meant to see them in some publication:

Voila… next stop the JAX Miata Club meet at yet another seafood place… stay tuned!

Miata Fiata Radio: Episode 2 the New Jersey to Florida Road Trip

A short and sweet episode talking about the recent New Jersey to Florida Road Trip I just took to volunteer for the Roar before the 24.


Miata Fiata Radio – Road Trip from New Jersey to Florida in January to Volunteer Roar before the 24 at Daytona

Summary:

The goal was to talk about the logistics of the road trip. The route I took was the longer of two options, instead of the more direct i95 along the Eastern Seaboard I took i81 instead. It added about 40 miles more to the trip, but I saved $40 or so in tolls (and a lot of frustration of sitting in traffic along all the major cities on that route, like Philly, Washington DC, Richmond, etc.)

Discounted gas cards are discussed. I purchased Sunoco, BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil cards to save on fuel and used the GasBuddy app’s map feature to see the cheaper stations ahead on my route. I played a game to calculate how far I could go and arrive at the station with the Low Fuel light lit up.

Foodie tour was mentioned. I said this trip was fueled by BBQ. I tried an amazing place in Rock Hill, SC called Dixie Pig and fell in love with their Pig Wings. And Due South BBQ in Christianburg, VA who had an amazing selection of BBQ sauces and some freebie bone bags for my fake beagle back home.

Things to watch out for. Checking tire pressure to avoid getting a flat or a blowout. Being careful with window chips, which I got… caught a rock to the windshield. Getting plenty of rest along the way so you don’t crash.

I completely forgot to talk about my Miata meet up in Jacksonville where a few First Coast Miata club folks came out to have dinner with me. Sorry about that.

Stay tuned for more!

Mazda MX-5: Mini Meet with First Coast Miata Club in Jacksonville, FL

Really happy to meet up with a friend in the First Coast Miata Club of Florida… even more happy that he invited a bunch of his friends to join us for dinner on my one thousand mile road trip from home in New Jersey to Daytona Beach, Florida.

Here are some pix from that awesome meet up at Metro Diner in San Marco which is in the south area of Jax (Jacksonville):

Love the way these stickers look on the ND

The folks in the club highly recommended the chicken & waffles or the fried chicken and mash potato dish, in case anyone is interested… Stay tuned for more posts from my Florida Road Trip

Mazda MX-5: Jacksonville Miata Mini-Meet on my Florida Road Trip

I’ve been trying to organize a Florida Miata get-together ever since I bought my car and nothing seemed to pan out, until now! I finally managed to meet up with a local MX-5 owner in Jacksonville on my way to Daytona Beach, Florida… yay!

I’ve been communicating with the owner on Miata.net for a little while now, following on mods he’s been doing to his car and sharing information on my little projects. This opportunity to meet up and share ideas over dinner was great. I especially liked checking out the stuff he’s done in person… like the $38 eBay trunk lip spoiler which I’ve been considering doing myself. Or the larger windshield washer tank that is only available in Canada and not the US. Or his most recent mod: the hood struts which standard Miatas don’t come with. Or the custom steering wheel that is almost double the girth of the original. It was pretty neat!

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If the car looks a lot like my Miata, it basically is… both are 2007 GT PRHT models… same exterior in Copper Red and same interior in Camel Brown or Orange or whatever the hell it is. But this car has a Manual Transmission while mine is an Automatic. It also has a cone K&N filter while mine is stock…. and the few things I mentioned above that I wanted to see to decide whether I should get them too.

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I do really like the idea of the hood struts, that makes things easier.

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And the finish looks like it came from the factory like that.

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Come winter time I’ll probably wish I had this larger Canadian washer bottle.

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As much as I like the idea of a fat steering wheel, the fact it cost over $400 to ship and install, I can say it is nowhere near the top of my wish list.

I’m really grateful for the opportunity and for my new friend shouting a tasty seafood dinner… not something I was expecting but hopefully I could repay the favor in the future.