Serious Entertaining: To Have or Have Not

Serious Entertaining

Seasonal menu planning for the perfect dinner party.


[Photographs: Carrie Vasios]

This week's get-together is inspired by one of the literary world's greatest partiers: Ernest Hemingway. In the 1930s, Hemingway lived in the Florida Keys and this tropical paradise became the setting for his novel To Have or Have Not. Hemingway's tale of intrigue and daring would be perfect at your next book club meeting. It would also be fun—apologies to my English teachers—to give a showing of the movie instead. The 1944 film version features a perfect pairing of roguish Humphrey Bogart and sassy Lauren Becall.

The important part is to hear the ocean breeze, crack open some crab claws, and pour yourself a daiquiri. Hemingway would have approved.

Stone Crab is native to the waters off of the Florida Keys. The sweet claw meat is perfect dipped into a spicy sauce made with mustard, horseradish and hot sauce.


Mahi Mahi, also known as Dolphin Fish (no relation to Flipper) is a firm, meaty fish that's a nice change from tuna. Pair it with this fresh salsa: The juicy mango has a tropical sweetness that plays against zesty lime juice and spicy jalapeños.


The Florida Keys have been a pit-stop for travelers for decades, much to the benefit of their food. The sweet potato gives a nod to Southern cuisine while the lime-cilantro vinaigrette pays homage to nearby Cuba.


Though Key Lime Pie is the iconic dish of the Florida Keys, these smaller, tarter versions of regular Persian limes are fantastic in other sweets. These Key Lime Bars have a smooth, tart key lime filling topped by a layer of sweet meringue and a rich, buttery crust.


Legend has it that Hemingway liked his daiquiris stronger than a Florida Hurricane. We've remade a slightly tempered, but no less delicious version of his favorite rum-based cocktail.