Turning 41 in Tarpon Springs

I have always thought of my birthday as something special. My own personal holiday. The day that the world celebrates my birth. It sounds a little conceited, doesn't it? I don't know where I started thinking of it as being such an extraordinary day. I know that I've always loved birthdays, and that my birthday has always been a celebration. I had a party every year and I still do. It's a big day. I don't go to work. I do whatever I like, eat anything I like, and go wherever I want. The world, being full of people who neither know me nor share my birthday, rarely cooperates with the celebrating. Although there was one particularly memorable birthday in 1989. November 9, 1989. Sound familiar? It's the day the Berlin Wall came down. Talk about a present!

This year, I went over to Caladesi Island for the morning and then up to Tarpon Springs in the afternoon. Caladesi Island is a National Park off the coast of Dunedin, Florida. Its sister island, Honeymoon Island, is also a National Park and the only access point to Caladesi. After a morning of traffic and Tom-Tom nonsense, we finally made it, and boy, was is worth it! 

Such calm, such peace, such a pristine beach practically untouched. Think Florida back in the 60's before the condos and highrises, before tourists who leave trash, before all the people. I'm a beach girl so this was heaven for me. The perfect way to ring in my own personal new year. 

After a few hours on the beach, we headed north a bit to Tarpon Springs, Florida. Tarpon Springs is known for the sponge-diving Greeks who settled there and infused the Gulf Coast with their culture, their cuisine, and their diving expertise. An adorable little town with a warm and welcoming people. This year my birthday cake was baklava. I've been craving baklava since the first drop in temperature. There's something about all that honey and cinnamon that just makes me think that Fall is here. If you're looking for some of this Greek treasure, go to Parthenon Bakery on Dodecanese Boulevard in Tarpon Springs. 

Some of the best baklava I've ever had. Look at that Phyllo dough!

It was a very good day full of new experiences and old recipes mixed with a few very handsome Greek men who dive for sponges in the Gulf of Mexico. One for my personal history book. On to another year!

Jenny DeWitt

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