I just found a business card and it made me realize how unaware I can be at times. On one of our trips to Florida we ventured into Sarasota. We were visiting some friends down in Venice and that is how we ended up in Sarasota. We saw a sign as we were driving around about the Ringling Museum and that sounded interesting. I immediately thought of the Ringling Brothers’ Circus and I had read how they would spend the winters in Florida and I thought that this was a museum dedicated to the artifacts of the circus. It turns out that it was actually the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, one of the same Ringling Brothers, but it was actually one of the finest art museums in Florida. It was established in 1927 and is still a major draw for the area. The main building was actually their home, and by the way there was a section of the museum devoted to the circus. I love art museums, so it was not a wasted morning.
After touring the museum we had built up an appetite and went looking for somewhere to eat. After all, what does one do on holidays, but see things, sometimes shop and always eat. We were touted by one of the docents to try Café of the Arts and it was not too far away from the museum, so we made our way there for a leisurely lunch. The restaurant was rather easy to miss if one was casually looking for it, as it was a modest home that had been converted over, nothing like the converted house that we had just left. The restaurant was actually a bistro, leaning towards some French food, so we kind of had a picnic indoors; as we were planning on having a major dinner later on, at least this is our usual manner. We were touted on the Onion soup and it was as good as we were led to believe. Then that was followed by an assortment of pates and charcuterie, cheese and bread, which was enough to hold us until dinner time.
They had some very good wines on their carte, but it was lunch, and no need to get carried away that early in the day. We had a bottle of Murphy-Goode Merlot 1999 from Alexander Valley. Alexander Valley is in the North East corner of Sonoma County as is known for its wines. It is kind of an area that is a balancing act for some large scale producers, as well as some artisan wineries. The funny thing is that Murphy-Goode Merlot now carries the much larger generic appellation of California. It is amazing how one business card can bring back memories.