Homemade Olive Oil and Wicked-Good Scallops

Our Charlotte Harbor, Florida, culinary adventures began with a visit to Catania's Winery

 You're thinking grapes, right? And vines? Me too. But this place isn't like that. It's a little storefront in what seems to be an industrial area. Husband and wife John and Margarita make their own wine -- from California grapes. They also press their own oil from Sicilian olives and repackage imported Spanish olive oil under their own label.

They sell their wares in a sweet little shop. Parts are woodsy and warm, with accents such as earthenware and glass grape clusters.
The back room is filled with winemaking tanks. They're stainless steel and custom-made to John's specifications. They needed to do what he wants and also be easy for one man to use alone.

Stop into Catania's, too, if you dabble in wine-making yourself. John and Margarita sell their own line of equipment.

Following the wine and olive oil tasting, we dined at Farlow's on the Water, where the chef-owner is a St. Croix native who has Cruzan and Southern dishes alongside typical seafood ones.

We tasted the gamut, from fried green tomatoes to spicy conch fritters. The highlight was a signature dish made with three large sweet Peter Island scallops -- among the best I've ever had. They were blackened just slightly, placed over blue crab meat, and bathed in a cream sauce along with artichoke bits and spinach. Like all entrees at Farlow's, the scallops came with a salad and two sides.

So I'm stuffed, sitting in my mega-suite big enough for a fraternity, listening to the waves break a s a symphony places on my iPad.

I'm scheduled to be out and about by 8 a.m. tomorrow for breakfast and a clamming tour. I can't imagine leaving this idyllic retreat.