Picnic Island & the Best Fried Chicken in the Keys

So Mr. Foodie and I decided to take some vacationing friends out on the boat to picnic island – a couple of tiny uninhabited islands joined together by a low sandbar. My parents used to take my brother and I there to play on the sandbar when we were young. Back then, my mom tells me, no one really knew about it and only locals would drop anchor there on the weekends. Now, it is well known and often packed with boats on any given weekend. Yesterday it was relatively sparse with just a few boats and, of course, Captain Jack’s house boat which is always there.

Picnic Island

This is the first time I’ve met Captain Jack, although he has had his residence floating there for a couple years now. We don’t always see him when we visit the island, but yesterday he was sitting on his porch, tanned and white-bearded, holding court, if you will, while strangers and friends climbed up his slippery wooden steps to say hello. He told us that people often come by on the weekends with tons of food and they cook it up right there on the house boat. He likes the company, he said, and the rest of the week is usually pretty quiet. We asked what happens during storms and he said that is boat weighs 100,000 lbs, so the most that happens is the fans on his porch lose their blades. He has a fascinating history which you should ask him yourself when you come to visit.

Just be careful – the path to picnic island is challenging because of the shallows – I’ve been there plenty, but even I had a couple dicey moments driving out there yesterday. Our friends enjoyed the heck out of it, though. We floated in the shallow water and had a few cold beers. John and I also brought the best fried chicken in the keys – Dion’s friend chicken. Apparently there is a debate about the best friend chicken (Dion’s or Publix), but my vote is with Dion’s. The breading is perfectly seasoned and crisp. The meat is tender and juicy – it’s everything you want fried chicken to be. If you like to boat, bring good fried chicken with you – it is the perfect entree for boating since you don’t have to worry about soggy bread sandwiches and you can always dump the bones in the ocean without harming the ecosystem.

On the way back to shore, we ran across a gorgeous pod of dolphins jumping the waves. I slowed down and circled of course for our friends to take photos. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that this was Mr. Foodie’s first dolphin sighting! He thought they were just beautiful. You never know what delights the oceans of the keys have in store for you. All in all an awesome day of fun, sun, and fried chicken.

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