Best Place To Buy A Birthday (Or Any Occasion) Cake

Flakowitz Bakery

If you think you're too old or too sophisticated for those gooey, flowery birthday cakes you used to get as a kid, you're probably right. And anyway, they cost a fortune and taste terrible. But at Flakowitz's you can get the Rose Cake, a minimalist's dream come true: rich, dark, hard-chocolate icing on the outside, with one perfectly formed rose in your choice of red, yellow, blue -- even a purple the color of Elizabeth Taylor's eyes -- in the center. The inside is yellow cake with chocolate buttercream filling. Mmm, mmm. The Rose Cake is not just for birthdays, though -- the bakery staff will write anything on the cake, for any occasion. And at $6.99 for a six-inch and $8 for a seven-inch that serves eight, the price is right, too.
We don't mean to be morbid, but all of us are going to move on to the hereafter eventually. But after an eventful and full life, how will you be remembered? Leaving your personal history behind when you die is one way. Maybe you're one of those people who loves to listen to your grandmother tell what it was like in "the old country" (or before there were computers), and you swear that one of these days you're going to write it down. How about videotaping it? At ARC Video Productions, Penny Cohen and her brother, Steve Almes, will do it for you. Their legacy-video concept evolved from their own loss -- the death of their father. As an offshoot of their corporate marketing and training videos business, they decided to produce legacy videos -- people's life stories that they could pass on to future generations. Cohen and Almes tape the up-to-two-hour video in the customer's home or in the living room set at their video studio. They have a list of questions that they -- or a member of the family -- can ask the interviewee, or the interviewee can talk extemporaneously. Or it can be a little of both.
Florida, dontcha know, is one of the largest beef-producing states in the country, with a cowboy tradition that invented crackers. Not the crackers that Polly eats but whip-crackers who chased cows and wore, yup, leather boots. The best place to buy that culturally essential footwear is Trader Jim's, where the long aisles offer roughly 8000 pairs of boots and a smell of new leather that will make you long to put your butt in a saddle. A few saddles are scattered around, and the usual peripheral apparel is for sale -- bola ties and belt buckles the size of the Panhandle, for example. And the folks here are friendly, too. They'll fit you into something either comfortable enough to wear to the mall or real enough to fit a stirrup. You can buy boots made in a variety of snakeskins, including water moccasin, rattlesnake, and boa, or you can get lizard, ostrich, alligator, shark, or plain old bullhide boots. The prices? Well, shucks, you can get booted for less than $100 or more than $1000, depending upon your needs.

The trouble with kids' clothes is that kids continually grow out of them. About two months after you shell out $100 for clothes at Old Navy, they'll be tight at the seams. Then they'll be relegated to the bottom drawer, and from there it's on to a younger sibling, a garage sale or the thrift store. Smart parents just skip the retail level and head straight for the secondary market -- the garage sales and thrift stores -- where little-used, name-brand kids' clothes are cheap and plentiful. There was much rejoicing among thrift-store aficionados last fall when the Salvation Army opened its Super Store on Broward Boulevard just east of I-95. Clean, well-organized and brightly lit, the Super Store is Saks Fifth Avenue for the tightwad set. There is an excellent selection of boys' and girls' duds, and you'd be hard-pressed to pay more than $3 for any single item (though shoes might run you $4-$5). You're guaranteed to walk out with a bag full of clothes for less than $20. And remember -- you're under no obligation to tell anyone where you got the stuff.
Two types of people frequent marine-supply stores: those who already own a boat and those who wish they did. For either a trip to West Marine is an enlightening experience. Both Fort Lauderdale locations are big stores stocked to the gunwales with everything from boat sandals, line, and global positioning systems to heads, radios, and dinghies. (They even sell bikes, though we never did determine what differentiates a marine bike from a terra firma one.) If you own a boat, you already know that this stuff isn't cheap. The old saw is that you can take anything, slap a "marine" label on it and double the price. That may or may not be true, but when we saw winches on sale for $800, we decided to keep dreaming for a bit. Meanwhile, you'll find us loitering in the aisles at West Marine, fondling the macerator pumps and marveling at the price of anti-fouling paint.
This nursery is so high-quality it draws landscapers from as far away as West Palm Beach and attracts celebrities like Dan Marino. But we find it the best place to unwind -- without any chemical assistance. Stroll through row upon row of hundreds of different flowers, from yellow dandelionlike Euryops to satiny magenta New Guinea impatiens. Then listen while the wind plays a symphony on dozens of chimes and water gently trickles down numerous stone waterfalls, all of which are for sale. The nursery, set on 21 acres, scours Homestead farms and plant shows for unique sprouts and orders from Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. The vegetation it can't find, well, employees concoct themselves: The nursery is awaiting a patent on a leafy plant with a white-and-pink bloom that resembles exploding fireworks (called the Brandon I, after the owner's son) There are also hand-painted clay pots, artistic metal flamingo figurines, 25-foot palm trees, sundials, and wrought iron benches engraved with roses.

Meat. Red, bloody, artery-clogging, protein-laden meat. Sometimes you just gotta have it. Grocery-store offerings are fine for feeding a hungry brood, but when you want melt-in-your-mouth meat, the kind that attracts envious stares over the fence from neighbors when you slap it on the barbecue, you need a good butcher shop. That's where Cattleman's comes in. They have all the lamb, beef, pork, and poultry you could possibly want; they know how to cut it and cook it; and they'll wrap it up neatly in butcher paper for you. The guys behind the counter even wear red aprons. But what really sets Cattleman's apart is its corner-market atmosphere. Part deli, part supermarket, part butcher shop, it looks like something straight out of a Chicago neighborhood. You could pick up a nice sirloin, a couple pounds of Belly Buster links, some fresh ground chuck, a hunk of good cheese, a bag of chips, a jar of fat deli pickles, and some good bologna, all in one place. Then you'd be livin'.
Hot 'n' Horny. Lawyer's Breath. Flamin' Balls. Acid Rain. Psycho Bitch. PMS in a Bottle. These are just a few of the more than 400 hot sauces that make up what customers at the Barbecue Superstore in Weston have dubbed the Wall of Pain. It seems manufacturers of the fiery condiment compete for the cleverest, funniest, or most fear-inducing name, and it's fun just to browse among the little bottles to see the names and the corresponding cartoonish pictures on the labels. But don't bring the kiddies. A whip-wielding dominatrix dares you to sample Pleasure & Pain, and we'll leave the illustration for Monica's Down on Her Knees to your imagination. A bowl of tortilla chips is on hand -- the better to test the hot sauces, as well as the dozens of barbecue sauces the store sells. Surprisingly they're not all as tongue-scorching as you might guess; some, like Psycho Bitch, are even on the sweet side, mixed with mango, raspberry, and other fruits. Of course, we decided to pass on the one with a skull and crossbones and the warnings "Keep Away From Children" and "Skin Irritant" on the label, as well as the one in a red firecracker-shape box, complete with wick. Call us wimps.
Jane may love cheap furniture, but she loves her daughter, Jackie, more. Otherwise she would never have financially backed Jackie's dream-that-would-probably-only-last-a-summer six years ago. After four years of book-cracking, Jackie graduated from college with a degree in social work -- and discovered that she'd rather be dealing with furniture than clients. Jackie takes well-made (real wood, not pressed wood; solid wood, not wood veneer) furniture with a past and brings it into the present by giving it a new look: tropical, seaside, cottage, Mediterranean. You never know what you'll find here: an old oak teacher's desk with a pull-out platform perfect for a computer that Jackie has given a distressed look in soft white; a two-drawer trunk, perfect at the foot of one's bed, that Jackie has hand-painted with black hearts and the words to a 13th-century love poem that begins, "In your light, I learn to love…"; a corner cabinet done in MacKenzie-Childs- inspired colors and funk. And those are just three reasons to love Jane's -- and Jackie's -- cheap furniture.
When Jerry Miles reopens his eponymous store on May 28, the name will be slightly different -- and the prices even more so. (All merchandise will be 50 percent off retail, all the time.) But the whimsy for which Mr. Miles has been heralded, on and off Las Olas, remains the same: wind-up nuns; stick-on "panic," "eject," and "duh" keyboard button covers; ballpoint pens that look like hypodermic syringes; Trailer Park Barbie dolls; and Willie Wonka T-shirts are just some of the wacky items you'll encounter here. More wild and crazy merchandise arrives weekly.

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

Best Of