Shopping for gifts to take home to your friends and family? Instead of another tchotchke for the shelf, consider souvenirs that capture the tastes and scents of Key West and the Florida Keys.
For something on the sweeter side, Keez Beez captures the essence of the native flora in its honey (available at Food For Thought in Marathon).
With over 350 hives scattered across the Keys, they produce honey from a variety of blossoms like black mangrove, sea grape and mango.
Unlike larger companies that strive to make each bottle the same, Keez Beez offers honey that varies in color, clarity, nuances of flavor and floral notes depending on the hive’s location. For example, black mangrove is dark and strong like molasses, while sea grape is light amber with a hint of butter.
At Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe, you can kill two birds with one stone. Grab a slice of their must-have Key lime pie, while perusing their decadent candies, cookies, cakes and fudge.
Their Key Lime Cooler Cookies make a lovely present. They are packaged in a collectible tin topped with a painting of the Hemingway House by noted Key West artist Martha DePoo.
Sample sauces and jams like Key Lime Mango Chutney at the convenient tasting station. You can even ship someone back home Key lime pie bars dipped in Belgian chocolate.
Your foodie pals will delight in the artisanal harvests from Florida Keys Sea Salt. Reviving a 19th-century Key West industry, this mom-and-pop business makes the solar evaporated crystals on Sugarloaf Key.
Like fine wine, each batch changes seasonally based on climate and trace minerals. Flavors range from flaky and bright to hot with a distinct crunchiness. The perfect finish to any dish, Florida Keys Sea Salt is sold at Help Yourself in Key West and Gallery Morada in Islamorada.
The selection process at Peppers of Key West is literally a heart-warming experience. They carry over 900 products, but they truly shine with their creative house brand.
Their Goin’ Bananas Hot Sauce might be the first sauce you ever taste made with bananas. It’s sweet with a little heat.
If you’re buying for someone who likes a challenge, pick up their Peppers of Key West Hot Sauce #2. Their hottest to date, it’s made with habaneros, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, molasses and tomato.
They even make their own Habanero Jelly Beans – a spicy treat with a kick. Try some at their tasting bar . . . if you dare.
For those who like another kind of kick, Baby’s Coffee has their own proprietary blends, roasting in small batches to ensure freshness and high quality. Pick up a cup of java for yourself, while selecting from bagged beans with fun names like Key West Old Town Roast and Hemingway’s Hair of the Dog.
Hard-core coffee drinkers will love the potent Sexpresso, a strong dark roast that’s higher in caffeine than their other blends.
Near mile marker 15 north of Key West, Baby’s is easy to miss. Just watch for the sign with a wide eye, reminiscent of a Santeria talisman.