Where appropriate, my Father likes to enter a room, hold up his arms and proclaim “tradition, tradition”. It has become a trademark expression in our home. We Breyer’s are all about tradition, more specifically that of our own. Once upon a time, we coined ourselves the global family. It is not infrequent that we are all over the place, continents included. In 2007, my parents had their eldest (moi) in Dusseldorf, Germany, the youngest in Shanghai, China and the middle one in New York City. At the time, they were going back and forth across the globe themselves between Germany and the United States, among other places. Now we are two on the east coast and one on the west coast, which is a pinch better. This said, congregating at the holidays has become our most prized tradition. Months before the respective dates, we children receive emails and calls reminding us to begin due diligence in the arena of ticket procurement. For Thanksgiving, Easter and usually Christmas too, we all meet in Boca Raton, Florida. Nine times out of ten, weather is grand so we look forward to significant time on the beach, Mom’s gastronomic splendors, libations to quench the thirst of an army, general relaxation and everything in between.

Our days are usually shaped by sumptuous breakfasts prepared by Mom who fires up both of her kitchens and runs orders for the kids. Everyone gets involved. After the grub, one or two take long walks on the beach or hit the gym. We fill up coolers with cold drinks and find our ways to the beach. Lunch time is usually a casual affair. You know where the fridge is so you do your own thing. Sometimes we prepare sandwiches with the French ham from Fresh Market and make ourselves scarce. The kitchen is always stocked with fresh apples, tomatoes, avocados, and a great assortment of cheeses, cold cuts and bread. There are bags of chips of differing varieties for whoever wants them and for those of us who prefer salads, the vegetable bin is brimming with goodies. Sometime around or just a bit before 5.00 o’clock, corks and caps start popping. The meat is given a good rub, salted and readied for the grill and the men get to it. This kicks off the stop watch for those of us preparing the rest of dinner. A couple of phone calls announcing timing and sometime around 8.00 we sit down. This is when the debauchery, fun and livery ignite and the volume levels find themselves somewhere on the neighbor’s roof.

This past Easter, Matthew and I landed in Ft Lauderdale sometime in the early afternoon and from there, headed due south to Miami. My folks were outstanding guides ensuring that we saw all the notable sights including the spectacular hotels lining Collins Avenue, the ever flamboyant Ocean Drive and the excitement along Lenox. We had refreshing frozen margaritas within the pedestrian path and enjoyed the extraordinary foot traffic. I was tickled to come across a Shake Shack. Nice throwback to my time living in the Big Apple and summer evenings spent in Madison Square Park enjoying frozen custards. After a leisurely stroll, we enjoyed a fantastic dinner at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, a James Beard semi-finalist. I have wanted to eat here since the summer when we were in Chicago. In the lobby of our hotel, I read an article one morning citing their fried chicken as the best of the best. Note they brine their birds for 27 hours before frying. The end result is magic at its finest. We ordered two plates of birds, which included meaty breasts, wings and legs. In addition to the fried chicken, we also sampled their pork ribs, cornmeal crusted North Carolina catfish (for Matthew), charred okra with lemon, brown butter and cotija cheese, sautéed kale with bacon and finally, house cut fries because why not? I wasn’t driving. After the transcendent grub, we looked at each other and agreed, when in Rome. As a nod to our English background, we ordered the warm apple crisp with toasted walnuts. It was sublime but I will say that my mother’s is superior. Everything tastes better when Mom makes it. I also think laundry smells better when Mom washes it. What can I say, Moms have the Midas touch. Reminder, Mother’s Day in the USA is Sunday May 11.

We arrived home sometime circa 10.00 pm and within minutes my sister and her husband walked through the front door. We hadn’t seen them in six months so it was a wonderful reunion. Exhausted and stuffed, we all hit the hay accordingly. The following day saw a bit of a scene really. Just a pinch of advice for any of you out there who just got their braces off and wear a retainer. Apparently, retainers become invisible when soaking in glasses containing Efferdent infused water. I learned this the hard way when I went in search of mine after my morning coffee. I discovered it in the bowels of the garbage disposal chopped into four pieces. Whatever Trevor. We all enjoyed fried eggs and bacon followed by a long day on the beach, sans retainer. The misleading, overcast sky resulted in nasty sunburns for all. While roasting, we went for a swim, listened to music and caught up with one another’s lives in general. Matthew regularly reminds me that the Florida sun is not the same one we know in the Carolinas. Good to know but it does not reverse what’s done. 

Sometime in late afternoon, we retreated to the house for showers and nibbles. We were all in the kitchen milling about when in walked my younger brother, fresh from Los Angeles. Actually, I should rater say in casually strolled Keith. It was a total shock and a wonderful surprise at that. Quickly, he was embraced excitedly by his two older sisters and their men. We kids made the perfunctory evening beer run and within an hour, our cookout tradition began to unfold. The different cuts were identified by Dad and their owner’s name communicated. We added a few links of organic chorizo for anyone who would eat them. We sat around the table for hours, enjoying the food and one another’s company. A special surprise was the bounty of exquisite gifts Keith passed around from his recent trip to Uzbekistan. Our father’s gift takes the cake, a traditional Uzbek Chapan Robe. For dessert, we took pleasure in homemade baklava prepared by a very special family friend. Once the evening was coming to a close, a handful of us had a second wind and we moved into the family room for top offs and a 3D movie experience.

The remainder of the family's Easter weekend was marked by golf, more time on the beach once our burns had simmered down, a bit of joy riding, an afternoon of Premier League soccer (compliments of Keith), homemade nachos with jalapenos and fresh salsa, a trip to the Boca Resort for dinner with a view and a Floridian chef’s take on shrimp and grits, eight pounds of lamb my mother tenderly soaked in buttermilk and rosemary for a night and then basted with butter, garlic and mint while grilling. It paired beautifully with our beloved kale salad. We covered wines across the regions spanning from Napa to Italy to France, Argentina and New Zealand. I even fell in love with my mother's Cuisinart. I definitely need a bigger boat in Charlotte. Come Sunday, we continued our tradition of Easter brunch in Palm Beach, which involved a magnificent spread enjoyed al fresco overlooking the turquoise Atlantic. I will say that my favorite part of day involved a young woman making specialty cocktails. She had an ice luge for chilling vodka and an old fashioned juice press for her oranges. One by one she churned out toddies of screwdrivers with freshly squeezed orange juice. I think our group set the ball in motion for other guests. I must admit, it was most impressive indeed. 

We all napped en route home along the A1A, stuffed and happy. Matthew and I had a thirty minute window by which to pack up our goodies and hit the road.  We found ourselves in the same terminal as Wolf Blitzer. Nothing like a bit of celebrity sighting in southern Florida. The place was packed and we arrived early so reminisced about the weekend over cold beers and pretzels. Overall, this time with the family is especially precious in that we don’t see each other often so when we do, we make up for lost time and then some. Laughter, teasing, stories, learning and noise make these holidays worth it. As always, the week flew by and another grand time quickly came to an end. With this, the countdown to Thanksgiving in Boca begins.


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