Tag Archives: minorcan clam chowder

Mazda MX-5: 3,500 Mile Spring Break Road Trip South in a Miata, from New Jersey to Florida

Second New Jersey to Florida Road Trip is now in the books. This trip in March over Spring Break was my second year in a row volunteering for St. Pete GP and Sebring 12 hour. It was also my second drive down to Florida this year (first one being for the Roar before the 24). All in all I put 3,440 miles on the car. Burned 102 gallons of 93/Premium fuel. Spent $268 dollars on gas using BP, ExxonMobil and Sunoco gas cards (which with the 7% discount that I paid for them, I actually only spent $250 on fuel). Averaged 34mpg which was an improvement of 1mpg over last year, and got my best fuel economy yet with 38mpg’s over two consecutive fuel ups on the drive down… Yay! I noticed gas prices were almost a dollar per gallon more than last year… And in all I did about 500 miles more since I based myself in Daytona Beach during this trip and took multiple drives out of the Daytona area for various events, from a Miata meet in Jacksonville, to St. Pete GP in the Tampa Bay area, to Sebring in Lake Placid area, and to Orlando Miata meet much like last year. It was a fantastic trip!

Interesting option of No-Ethanol fuel in South Carolina…

Hit a 60k milestone on this Road Trip

When leaving for the trip I couldn’t sleep the night before so instead of tossing and turning I jumped in the car at 1am and headed down. The night drive was great because there was hardly anyone else on the road, which meant I could take it nice and slow. Driving in the 60’s rather than 70’s the gas mileage improved tremendously… so averaging 36mpg vs. 31mpg meant that on the 3 tanks that it took to get to Florida from New Jersey I extended my range by 150 miles! Or basically had to refuel less often.

Much like last year I used the Gas Buddy App to check fuel prices to strategise my drive. Virginia and South Carolina had the lowest gas prices for premium fuel. While Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and even Florida were the priciest. The most I paid for gas was $2.86 in Florida and the least was $2.39 both in South Carolina and Virginia. There’s a Sunoco I really like in St. George, South Carolina that always has low prices and a few BP’s in the stretch of i81/i66 where for some reason the prices for premium gas are 50 cents less per gallon than anywhere else in Virginia. (Greenville area)

I want to live in a place that has Palm Trees!

My first order of business when arriving in Daytona was mounting my eBay lip spoiler… which turned out really great. Not sure if this thing contributed to my great gas mileage, but I’m glad that it certainly didn’t hurt!

I decided to get to Florida a day early because of some severe weather moving into the Northeast, which worked out really well because it allowed me an opportunity to “discover” Daytona more than I’ve done in the past while volunteering there. So I visited a race team based in Holly Hill, a few miles from the Speedway: BSI Racing.

Next day I was off to St. Pete… I left early enough so I can volunteer for the half day in the afternoon right after registration.

This year’s PWC racing was outstanding! IndyCar wasn’t so bad either and I especially enjoyed it from my new position in pit lane.

I CouchSurfed while in St. Pete and my host was awesome. Just a few blocks north of the track which getting there early in the morning was a breeze. Literally took me less than 10 minutes to drive down, and that’s because I had to stop at a few traffic lights.

Got some real IndyCar goodies for my Miata in pit lane… the official Firestone tire caps… No idea what team they came from but I picked up a bunch to give out as souvenirs when I travel. They sure are a lot lighter than the bag of NASCAR lug nuts I took to Australia and NZ.

Mailed my Miata buddies in Southeast Asia some #MRTI goodies from St. Pete GP.

I headed back to Daytona Beach right after the race, and the next morning left on a scenic drive along A1A towards Jax Beaches, on my Minorcan Clam Chowder foodie tour. I’m in love with my newly discovered attraction of St. Augustine (America’s oldest city!) the scenery was great and the food was delicious.

Lots of Spanish influence in this area, including the Minorcan Clam Chowder… Minorca of course is the smallest of the three Spanish Islands in the Mediterranean with the larger ones being the much better known Majorca as in Palma de Majorca and Ibiza.

I ran into a Lancia – Martini Racing photoshoot while on the trip where a Brit photographer basically booted me from taking pix:

From there I rushed to join the First Coast Miata club at their monthly meeting at yet another seafood place.

Was so good to see my friend Arved there who inspired me to buy the eBay lip spoiler to begin with. It’s nice to go to Miata events like this because they inspire you to do mods to your car.

Next day I was off to Sebring!

Lots of Mazda’s there. Absolutely awesome event. I had a blast working in pit lane there. One of my best experiences of Sebring yet!

Right after the race I headed back to Daytona Beach… but much like last year returned to the Orlando area for an Orlando Roadsters monthly meet at Tijuana Flats in Winter Park (near University of Central Florida). For a Monday night meet it was a big one, about 30 cars showed up over the course of the event… it was super enjoyable!

And so my time in Florida came to a close… the two weeks flew quick, I would really want to come back and stay for good. Staying in Daytona Beach area was very cool because I got to hang out with a few marshaling buddies I really respect, including visiting some fine dining establishments with them…

Florida is really the best place to go for fresh seafood…

On the drive home I stopped at my favorite South Carolina BBQ place in Rock Hill called Dixie Pig to pick up a couple of orders of their famous Pig Wings in parm & garlic sauce. Brought it all the way home to share with my parents and nephew… they loved it too!

I’ll be doing another one of these Southern trips next month hopefully with another two week volunteering tour of Barber Motorsports Park for IndyCar and VIR for PWC. Stay tuned…

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!