Love Note to Sarasota in Wall Street Journal


Sarasota received an appreciative review Saturday in the Wall Street Journal written by a respected food and travel writer.

The business newspaper, which also has a lot of content on how the successful can spend their money, ran the article under the headline “A Florida Beach Vacation with Snob Appeal.” It was still in the second-most-prominent spot on the publication’s travel web page Wednesday, just below a story on “Why Flying Has Never Been Safer” and above one on “The Rice of Royals: Where to Find the Tastiest Biryani in India.”

It was written by Alexander Lobrano, a Paris-based longtime food and travel writer, a contributing editor at Saveur Magazine and author of “Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 110 Best Restaurants,” according to his website.

“I think he did one of the best travel pieces to capture why we love Sarasota,” said Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota Couty, who is quoted in the piece.

“These articles are of incredible value for two reasons,” she said. “It is reaching an important audience in a publication in which I cannot afford to run half-page ads. But, more important, it is the voice of a third party verifying that Sarasota is a great place — not VSC, whose mission it is to promote Sarasota — giving him a high level of credibility with the reader.”

The portrait Lobrano paints in the somewhat flowery language of travel writers starts on Lido Beach at sunset. “As the sun sinks into the horizon, hungry pelicans dive into the warm dark-green waters, while the beach’s almost talcum-fine white sands cool. If the joggers and walkers who animate the water’s edge assiduously suggest an interest in exercise, other members of the same tableau, seated in folding beach chairs, demonstrate their commitment to well-being by clinking glasses of chilled rose.”

Lobrano quickly points out to those who might not be satisfied by beach towns, no matter how much chilled rose is available, that “it’s the city’s indoor attractions that give Sarasota, on the Gulf of Mexico, a distinct edge over other Florida beach towns.”

He touches on Ca’ d’Zan, the art at The Ringling museum, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, the Sarasota Opera and Sarasota Ballet, the downtown condos and hotels and “walkable and bike-friendly” neighborhoods such as the Rosemary District.

Lobrano writes that he recently bought an apartment here and spends much of the article justifying the decision.

“When I told friends in Boston, New York and London that I’d bought an apartment in Sarasota as a toehold after being an American in Paris for more than 30 years, they reacted with versions of ‘Sarasota! Really? Why?’ My Parisian pals just rolled their eyes.”

A novelist friend told him about the town 20 years ago and he’s visited the area on and off since, he writes. He was convinced to spend more time here by a typically foodie event: “a chance encounter with a cheese shop.” At the Artisan Cheese Co., he met and chatted with “English-born owner Louise Converse over samples of stunningly good raw-milk cheeses from unexpected places like Tennessee and North Carolina. ...”

Lobrano quotes her as explaining her choice of Sarasota as a place to live and open a sophisticated cheese shop. “It could even become similar to Cambridge, Mass., but with fabulous beaches, better weather and palm trees.”

He mentions Bookstore1 and restaurants Lila and Sardinia in the story and, in a sidebar, also lists the Ritz-Carlton and Siesta Key Palms Hotel, Peachey’s Baking Co., Indigenous, Maison Blanche (“possibly the best French food in Florida”) and the Roof Bar at the Westin Sarasota.


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