Sunday, June 17, 2018

EAT LIKE A KING


EAT LIKE A KING FOR A WEEK

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SUNDAY


I'd like to tell you BIG OAK DRIVE-IN (in Salter Path) is the first place we went while on vacation at Atlantic Beach. Actually, it's the second place we went.  

Our first stop was the FOOD LION where Reidsville Mayor James Festerman was thrown out and the police had to be called to tell him to never again return to FOOD LION.

We don't know this for a fact, but we've heard beer and steaks were involved. To get the straight of it, you might want to ask Mayor Festerman about it.  I'm sure he will be happy to talk about it.

I just discovered the Atlantic Beach Police Station is just a stone's throw from the FOOD LION.  It was very easy for the police to answer FOOD LION's call for help when Festerman returned and was not welcome.  Anyway, we always like to pay homage to one of Festerman's former hangouts.

By the way, if you decide to pay homage at the Atlantic Beach Food Lion, be sure to notice the EXPRESS LANE sign.  It says "About 12 Items".  Not more, not less, but "about 12 items" are allowed in the EXPRESS LANE.


Debbie enjoyed the traditional tailgate event at BIG OAK.  There are no tables and chairs unless you bring your own.  Debbie sat on the tailgate and I sat in a new beach chair she had purchased for me.  Our food was seated on the tailgate beside her.


Debbie had the standard shrimpburger (pictured on the right).  BIG OAK is world famous for its shrimpburger. I decided to go a bit more exotic.  I had wanted a scallop burger, but they were all sold out of scallops.


I ordered a softshell crab burger.  I've never had a softshell crab burger.  I decided to give it a whirl.

Here you can see my burger stuffing trying to crawl out of the bun.  The little legs are just hanging over the edge of BIG OAK's softshell crab burger.

I love softshell crab, but I can't recommend BIG OAK's softshell crab burger.  The taste was a bit off.  Maybe it was the ketchup.  All of BIG OAK's burgers come with tartar sauce, ketchup and slaw standard unless you tell them otherwise.  I didn't and I regretted it.  Ketchup doesn't belong on crab. The softshell crab burger cost $9.95 and it was damned tiny little crab.  Ouch!


Debbie took the safe way out and ordered the onion rings.  We both agreed the rings were very good.


Again I went the more exotic route and ordered fried pickles.  Debbie liked them, I didn't.  She preferred the pickle sticks and I like the pickle chips.  That's bleu cheese dressing she's dipping her fried pickle into.

Notice the Roland's Barbecue cup in the third photograph.  That's what my Pepsi was served in.  Roland's is a BBQ place in Beaufort.  I have no idea why BIG OAK put's its Pepsi in a Roland's cup.

NOTE:  Many hours later I turned my Pepsi cup around.  On the reverse side, it said BIG OAK Drive-In and Bar-B-Q.  Apparently, there is a business connection between BIG OAK and ROLAND's.  Doh!

MONDAY



A smiling Debbie salutes the camera on the porch at our Atlantic Beach place.  Notice the cup in her hand.  The smile may be caused by the cup.  She knows something that I didn't.



For many weeks, I had paid almost no attention to what I thought was an ordinary cup from which Debbie had been drinking.  I learned today it was a cup she had brought back from her recent visit to Texas.  Moreover, I also learned it is a sippy cup.  Debbie has been drinking her wine from a sippy cup.  Notice the clear lid has a hole on the upper right side.  You can ignore the blue cozy into which her sippy cup has been inserted in the salute photo.

I tried out her sippy cup.  I was not impressed with the experience.

So much for the 50+ wine glasses stored in our upstairs and the dozen or so glasses in the kitchen cabinet at the beach.  Put your wine into a sippy cup and you won't ever have to worry about staining your top.



These are some of the biggest shrimp that I've ever seen.  Debbie bought 5 lbs from a man selling them from a beat-up blue Jeep parked on the left side of Highway 70.

I was assigned the task of peeling and beheading about a pound of them for dinner.  I suppose we're going to be eating a lot of shrimp during our vacation.  It's a good thing that we like shrimp.

Debbie deveined the shrimp and declared she had found roe in a couple of them.  I'm not sure what shrimp roe look like, so I'll just take her word for it.  We'll just have to live with the fear that she aborted a couple of shrimp for our dinner.  The mothers were obviously already dead, but there's still that lingering controversy.



This is what became of the pound of shrimp that I cleaned. They looked and tasted delicious.

The shrimp were pan cooked with sauvignon blanc wine, red and white onion, garlic, lemon, and spinach.  The shrimp were served over a high-protein pasta and sprinkled with real Parmesan cheese, not the cheap plastic cheese that you buy in a green shaker can.

Debbie has made this dish before with the addition of cream.  She left the cream out of the dish this time.  If you decide to make this dish, DO NOT leave out the cream.   You will regret it if you do not include the cream.



I know you've been plagued with the notion that shrimp is to be served with a white wine.  Nonsense!  Try your shrimp with a petite syrah.  It's a wonderful combination.


Dessert was Chocolate Kahlua Pecan pie.  Debbie liked it.  I didn't. The pie can be found at Friendly Market at 205 Friendly Road.

I did not mention what we had for breakfast and lunch.  There two reasons for the omission: 1) I forgot to put "film" into my camera when breakfast was served.  I did not realize this until the meal had been eaten and all the pictures had been made, or so I thought; and 2) I ate lunch and forgot to take any photos even though the camera was fully loaded.

TUESDAY


Here are yesterday and today's breakfasts.  This time I had "film" in the camera.

Demonstrating how well-conditioned we are by advertising, Debbie called it an Egg McMuffin which means it's an English muffin with egg and Canadian bacon, which wasn't actually made in Canada and it certainly didn't come from McDonald's.  It came from Debbie's fry pan  McMuffin just seems like an easy and natural name to call it.

The McCantaloupe on the side were some of the sweetest I've ever tasted. The McCantaloupe was really McGood.


This is what we ate tonight.  You have little choice when you've made a large investment of your life savings in 5 pounds of super-large shrimp bought from a beat-up blue Jeep on the side of Highway 70.

The dish contained shrimp, potatoes, corn, beef sausage, onions, lemon. crushed red pepper, and a generous serving of Old Bay.  It is often referred as a shrimp boil, but Debbie didn't boil the dish.  She roasted it in a 350-degree oven for about hour.  The shrimp were naturally added last to avoid overcooking them.

It was delicious.  I highly recommend doing your "shrimp boils" this way.  Debbie is a clever chef.  She is really good to have along on a vacation.



Here's the dish laid out on a plate with the red wine again.  I added more Old Bay to the shrimp because that's just the way I am.  There was a delicious brown gravy in the bottom of the serving platter.  Some of it was poured over my shrimp and the rest I sopped up with a lightly browned Asiago Cheese Bread that is not shown in the photo.


This is dessert.  It's crustless coconut pie.  Debbie liked it, I didn't.  A pie without a crust is not even a pie.  I'm not sure what it is.  It's gluten-free.  There's probably a French name for a crustless pie.  I don't speak French, so I can't say for sure.  It came from Mindy's Bakery in Friendly Market.  That's all I can say.


Is there really treasure at the end of a rainbow?  This one formed over the ocean and bent over to the water on the sound side.  A second rainbow formed a little further out in the ocean and ran over to the sound.  Obviously, I did not catch the second rainbow with my camera, but it was there.  Honest, it was.

WEDNESDAY



Nothing starts the day like a large cup of steaming black coffee.  There's no doubt Debbie's coffee comes from Sumatra.  It's good stuff!


Breakfast was pretty standard - McCantaloupe, whole wheat muffin, eggs over easy, and some country sausage kicked up with crushed red pepper.


Here's what you do when you're faced with shitty beach cable TV.  You bring your Amazon FireTV stick from home and hook it to the TV.  The whole works fit into your hand, but it opens a world of viewing possibilities.

On NETFLIX I watched the Ken Burns CIVIL WAR series.  That was a 10-hour, 10-part series.  I also watched the 10-hour  MAKING A MURDERER series.  

You might wonder how I had time to enjoy the sun and surf.  The answer is I didn't.  Like a vampire, I am sensitive to sunlight.   This condition is caused by medication.  Debbie frolicked in the surf and I watched TV and napped.

While avoiding a nasty sunburn, I learned the CIVIL WAR was a terribly horrible event in our country's history.  My great-grandfather fought and was wounded for a lost and foolish cause.  More than 600,000 of our citizens killed each other over the course of four years.  The number killed was more than the combined deaths in all wars in our history.  And make no mistake, 600,000+ people died over slavery, not states' rights.

MAKING A MURDERER was a study of how very wrong our justice system can go.

And, yes, I watched a lot of softcore porn.  Pray for me, please.  Thank you.

I also listened to a lot of music - my Joe Bonamassa station and my Jr. Walker station whenever Debbie was around.  The music was provided by Pandora.


Scallops pan-seared in butter and olive oil were tonight's main course.  Oven baked corn, potatoes, and Asiago cheese bread made a second appearance.  A salad with bleu cheese dressing rounded out the plate.


Tiramisu was served for dessert.  Debbie and I both agreed this was excellent.

THURSDAY



There was nothing exciting for breakfast today.  It was eggs over-easy with a whole wheat English muffin and plastic bacon.


This was a typical lunch.  Lunch was often a piece of fried chicken and a sandwich.  In this case, it was a leftover scallop sandwich.  Old Bay seasoned the fried chicken.  I love Old Bay.  I believe I could eat it on ice cream.

You can tell Debbie was not involved in the preparation of lunch.


A very nicely browned Debbie toasts herself for making another grand dinner.  She had good reason to smile.


This is the reason Debbie was smiling.  It's our dinner.  A ribeye steak was smothered in a sauce made of butter, garlic, sauvignon blanc, cream, Parmesan cheese, and shrimp.  A substantial portion of our life savings went into this dish, but there's some more shrimp still in the freezer.

I wonder how the shrimp remains will be used.  I'm hoping the shrimp finds its way into a breakfast egg dish.  I doubt Debbie will go there - too kinky for her.

Debbie didn't much care for the ribeye.  She thought it not as good as the steaks she's been buying at Chuck's in Danville.  I disagreed - the steak was fine and the sauce and shrimp were excellent.

Here's where I should mention something Debbie did while I had my back turned.  She purchased another week's vacation in September at the same location.  That week went for $1000 - one time, one shot.  She then met someone on the elevator and permanently bought his week in mid-March for $1.  Look for her book, Art of the Deal, by Debbie Todd Moore to learn how you can become fabulously wealthy by speculating in timeshares. 

FRIDAY



My wish was granted.  Debbie made scrambled eggs with shrimp for Friday's breakfast.  The combination was pretty tasty.  Of course, I had to add Old Bay.

I read on the Old Bay tin that it's been made with the "Same great taste for over 75 years".  This makes me wonder why no one has attempted to imitate Old Bay, at least I don't know of an Old Bay knockoff.  There's plenty of boils out there, but nothing that tastes like Old Bay.  The recipe seems simple enough.  I smell another opportunity for financial bliss.  When these timeshares pay off, I'm going to look at investing in an Old Bay substitute.

Debbie has gone shopping to buy a case of wine and get lawyered up for the March timeshare.  She is, of course, also going to the grocery store.

The plan tonight is to eat at AMOS MOSQUITOS.  We're considering the Baked Oysters appetizer and I'm looking at a repeat of last year's Lump Crabcakes with Corn and Scallions.  I'm guessing Debbie will repeat Shrimp and Grits because she's been talking about shrimp and grits all week.


This is the line at 5 PM at Amos Mosquitos.  The restaurant opens at 5 PM.  Actually, it's a few minutes before 5 PM and people are already waiting at "SKEETERS" front door.  There was a line behind me, too.


This is Amos Mosquito's owner.  He is logging in customer requests for a table.  He recorded your name and number of guests and issued you an electronic blinker to let you know when your table was ready.

We had to wait in line for about 10 minutes and then another 15 minutes with a blinker on standby.  About half of the blinker waiting was done standing up.  Finally, some folks were blinked in and we took their seats to wait some more.

Considering the crowd of people, I thought the 25-minute wait was pretty short.  Very soon after taking our seats for the second wait period we heard the owner telling customers the wait would be up to 1-1/2 hours.

When we left the restaurant, Debbie learned the owner's mother is from Stoneville.


This is Sassy.  You may remember we had Sweetie for a waitress last year.  Like Sweetie, Sassy was bubbly and full of personality.  Debbie thought she recognized a Virginia accent when Sassy introduced herself.  It turns out Debbie was right.  Sassy was from Ahoskie which is in North Carolina, but very near the Virginia border.  Move Reidsville four hours east and you're in Ahoskie.    Sassy has lived at Atlantic Beach for 10 years and loves the place.  She couldn't say enough about how much she likes the people in Atlantic Beach.  Apparently, she's never met James Festerman.

Notice the pens in Sassy's shirt pocket.  This woman was prepared for anything.


Debbie digs in the bread bucket for a sampling.  She found slices of French bread, cornbread, and a spicy cracker.  The spicy cracker gave me pause.  It had quite a punch for a cracker.


This is the cornbread with butter on the top.  It contained bits of scallions.  Debbie liked it so much she ordered a second serving of the cornbread.  It was good cornbread - something I've never really liked.


Now things are getting serious.  This is our baked oyster appetizer.  It was six oysters topped with bacon, spinach, and Parmesan and cream cheeses.  These were quite good for a month without an "r" in the date.  Debbie's been telling me you can't buy oysters unless there's an "r" in the month.  Well, Amos Mosquitos somehow figured a place to buy its oysters.  These were so good Debbie said she could have made an entire meal of just the oyster platter.  Too bad she didn't because it would have saved me about $10.


Here's the big boy.  Penne pasta with crab cakes and spinach, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, scallions and a chipotle aioli.  Debbie and I ordered the same dish.  The same dish I had last year.  She decided not to order Shrimp and Grits.

We also were seated at the same table as last year.

There seemed to be a lot more spinach in this year's crab pasta, but otherwise, it was the same dish.  Debbie said last year's spinach was more wilted which meant the spinach was not so obvious to the casual observer.  I disagree.  There was just more spinach this year.

At one time in my life, I believed I could never stand to eat spinach.  I guess I was remembering my mother's cooking.  She could make anything taste horrible.

I have now learned to eat two green things - spinach and zucchini.

I finished my crab pasta, Debbie had to bring her remains home in a box.

Dinner cost about $73, including a nice tip for Sassy.

Amos Mosquitos was another good experience.  I promise I will try a new dish when we return in September.

Note:  The gentle chirp of frogs and mosquitos played through the sound system in the men's and women's restrooms.  Cute.



We visited Crystal Coast Brewing in Atlantic Beach after dinner.  It's kinda like what the brewery in downtown Reidsville wants to be, but Crytal Coast is privately owned and operated.

Last year Crystal Coast Brewing did not exist in Atlantic Beach.  Now it's all new and shiny.  There's a second location in Morehead City.  Things can really happen fast when you don't depend on government handouts.

Crystal Coast serves beer and nothing else.  Well, maybe some snacks and soft drinks for designated drivers, but that's it - no food.  Such a business would not be allowed in Reidsville, at least that's what the Reidsville Police Department and the Planning Department repeatedly told me.

If you serve beer, then you must serve food if you're in the Reidsville downtown area.  The state ABC people told me that was bullshit, According to the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Reidsville has never even discussed alcohol since prohibition was repealed in 1933.  But, that didn't stop the Reidsville cops from harassing the hell out of me.

I hope the new Lucky City brewery if it ever opens, doesn't have to put up with that kind of Reidsville bullshit.

SATURDAY


First, you put water in the pot.  Then you bring the water to a boil.  Then you pour in the grits.  Then you turn down the heat and stir it all around for a bit.


Then you put the peppers, onions, and garlic in the pan and stir them all around.  When the mixture looks cooked, you add the shrimp until they turn pink.


Then you mix it all together in a bowl and add a piece of bread.

Presto, change-o - you've got shrimp and grits.  And you celebrate that Debbie didn't order Shrimp and Grits at Amos Mosquitos last night because her shrimp and grits were the most excellent meal we've had on our vacation.

Bravo for your shrimp and grits, Chef Debbie!

SUNDAY



We're preparing to say goodbye to Atlantic Beach.  There's one final breakfast before we hit the road.

If you decide to go to Atlantic Beach because of what you've read here, don't eat at the Oceanana Pier House Restaurant.  Turn away.  Go somewhere else.  We warned you.  You're much better off taking Debbie with you.

At the Oceanana the eggs were cold, the country ham rubbery, and the grits were flavorless.  What was supposed to be whole wheat toast was actually soggy white semi-toast.  It was the worst meal of our entire trip.

That's all I've got to say about that.


Goodbye until September to the white sands of Atlantic Beach.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

MOTHERS DAY OVER THE MOON DUCK




You don't often get awakened from an afternoon nap to find a package at your front door.  A Penske rental truck was pulling away from the house as I plodded to the front to investigate the disturbance.

I was expecting a delivery from DeBragga, but not during my nap time  No one should ever be interrupted from an afternoon nap.  A nap is one of the sweetest benefits of retirement

The delivery was a Mothers' Day surprise for the closest thing I have to a mother - my wife, Debbie


I decided to stash the box in the refrigerator.  It did indicate that it was perishable.  

It was three days before Mothers' Day, but I knew Debbie was all booked up for the weekend, as she is almost every weekend.  Friday was Reidsville's Cruise-In.  Saturday was Eden's Oink and Ale.  Sunday was dinner at our daughter's house.  Thursday would have to be our time.

When Debbie opened the frig and revealed the DeBragga box, she asked, "What is it?"  

I said, "Open it and see."


SURPRISE!

She sliced open the box to discover one of her favorite treats.  Something she often orders in a restaurant (when there is an opportunity) because you certainly can't buy it in a grocery store.

Ignore the Cheerios. They were my breakfast.


DUCK LEG COMFIT already seasoned and cooked.  All you have to do is put them into a 225-degree oven for about 30 minutes to warm them up and then crisp up the skin in a hot pan for a few minutes.  Comfit means cooked in its own fat, in case you were wondering.

The package contained six duck legs.  She fixed them all.

The DeBragga seasoning was garlic, shallots, salt, sugar and 11 secret herbs and spices.

I can't imagine why duck is not available in our grocery stores.  It's much better than chicken and probably doesn't cost that much more to raise.  Such is the peculiarity of living on the dark side of the moon.

Ordering it from DeBragga is damned expensive because they cook it and overnight ship it to just about anywhere in the USA.  The shipping costs almost as much as the duck.



Debbie slips the duck legs into her Wolfgang Puck convection oven for the warming process.  I recommend the Wolfgang Puck oven because it does about everything and does it well, including making toast and warming duck legs.


Here are the duck legs after warming.  They don't look particularly appealing at this stage.


Here four of the six legs have been placed in a skillet for crisping.  They look a lot better after a few minutes in the pan.


Here's the finished product.  That's my plate - two duck legs, a salad with Thousand Island dressing, and roasted baby potatoes.

I usually salt my meats with Richard's Seasoning, but not this time.  I guessed the legs would be good without any added salt.

I was right.


Debbie gave our dinner a thumbs-up and a smile with a mouthful of duck.

Debbie could only eat one leg.  She had a different salad of her own making and the potatoes.

We both enjoyed a glass of California SINFUL GRIN petite syrah from Lidl grocery in Danville.

We had three duck legs leftover.  I was challenged to figure a way to use them.  I'm thinking we should eat them with a salad, baby potatoes, and a petite syrah.

HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY, DEBBIE MOORE AND ALL THE OTHER MOTHERS IN THE WORLD!

NOTE:  You might want to check out DeBragga.  They actually specialize in beef - including PRIME BEEF.  But, be prepared for sticker shock.  PRIME BEEF ain't cheap.

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