Sunday, June 11, 2017


Click images to enlarge


We're bound for the beach.

Atlantic Beach, NC is most famous for being the former vacation spot for Reidsville Mayor James Festerman.  Atlantic Beach fell out of the Mayor's favor when there was an unfortunate "incident" at Food Lion. Las Vegas is now where the Mayor spends his time when he's not busy running Reidsville.

Surprise!  I recently learned Debbie bought a condo at Atlantic Beach more than a year ago.  Apparently, Debbie got a great deal on the place - $1,000 down and $50 per month.

This all means we will be visiting Atlantic Beach a lot.


On our first visit to Atlantic Beach as owners, we bypassed the Mebane Cracker Barrel, where we had the worst food and service last year, and instead settled for a quick breakfast at Bojangles.  I had a Steak and Egg biscuit with coffee.  Debbie had a Sausage and Egg biscuit with a cup of coffee that she brought from home..  Incredibly the Bojangles coffee was the right temperature.  Debbie added a little ice before tasting the coffee.  It did not scald my mouth.  This is a first for Bojangles coffee.

Breakfast total was about $7.90


You know you're about halfway to the beach when you start seeing NAHUNTA PORK CENTER signs.

It's a little hard to get to the North Carolina coast without traveling Highway 70.  The road is littered with signs for the NAHUNTA PORK CENTER. None of the signs make any sense.  What the hell is a PORK CENTER?  It's like reading the roadside BURMA SHAVE signs of 75 years ago, but more confusing.

We've arrived!  I know a lot of you enjoy these sandy feet shots.  First we present you with the obligatory feet at the beach before moving on to more important stuff.


One Eyed Willie...I mean One Eyed Debbie, places a colossal order at Emerald Isle's Big Oak Drive-In.  You may remember Big Oak from our visit there last year.  Big Oak has a well-earned reputation for making an awesome Shrimp Burger.

Click here to see the Big Oak web site.  You can quickly see they spend a lot more time on their burgers than their web site.

Here's a shot of Willie picking up her order.  It was Willie's idea to go to Big Oak.  She remembered the Shrimp Burger from a year ago and had to have one for lunch.  It was my idea to kick lunch up a notch or two.

Two Shrimp Burgers, on the left and in Willie's hand, a Scallop Burger in the center, and an Oyster Burger on the right.  If you can't decide what you want, then just order everything.  Every burger comes with tartar sauce, slaw, and ketchup.  We ordered our burgers with all the trimmings except ketchup.  Willie doesn't like ketchup.

We ate the meal out of the back of Debbie's SUV.  Debbie sat on the tailgate and I had a folding chair on the ground and used the tailgate for a table.  Big Oak does not offer standard table seating.  Eating at Big Oak is like having a picnic.

Debbie suggested hot sauce would go well on the burgers.  She applied Texas Pete to all four.  I don't particularly care for Texas Pete, but it was good on the seafood burgers.

Total for the lunch was $36.65  A big time lunch doesn't come cheap.

It took only a few minutes of looking around to discover how Big Oak Drive-In got its name.


We had really delicious homemade pork tenderloin sandwiches for dinner.  Debbie cooked the tenderloin in Reidsville and brought it to the beach.  I forgot to take a picture.  Sorry about that.



I got a lot of good photos of breakfast.  Unfortunately, I forgot to put "film" in the camera before shooting.  Damn!  Trust me, it was a good breakfast - sausage, eggs, toast and coffee.

I hope my head clears soon and these mistakes end.


Actually we never ate lunch.  We chose instead to spend our money on the necessities of life.

This is a first for me - a LIQUOR SUPERSTORE.  Not a regular Alcohol Beverage Commission store like you find in Reidsville or Eden, but a LIQUOR SUPERSTORE.

Debbie poses outside a seemingly ordinary ABC store.  Nothing special here on the outside.

But on the inside, it was indeed a special place.

Here's a partial view of the inside of a LIQUOR SUPERSTORE.  This store was enormous.  Drinking must be a pretty big pastime at Atlantic Beach and when the state has a monopoly on the product, you can go big time.

Debbie admires the Grey Goose vodka display.  Did you know Grey Goose is the #1 selling vodka in the country?  It's made in France. Oui!  I'm guessing something a bit cheaper sells better in Reidsville.  A 750 ml bottle went for $27 in the LIQUOR SUPERSTORE.

Captain Morgan had a very nice Spiced Rum display at the front of the store.

Captain Morgan was also featuring his Loco Nut coconut rum.

Finally here's what we came to the LIQUOR SUPERSTORE for - an enormous bottle of Kahlua.  It will go nicely with cream and/or a cup of coffee. 

My keyboard was running kinda hot, so I used Kahlua and cream on the rocks to keep it chilled.  We have found it's best to keep our computer coolers simple - ice, Kahlua and cream.  It worked pretty well, but I had to use a second glass to make sure the keyboard stayed cool.

Total tab at the LIQUOR SUPERSTORE was about $50.


Dinner was pretty simple.  It was MAHI-MAHI we bought at Atlantic Beach Seafood Market.  The MAHI-MAHI was seared in a cast iron skillet with a wine, capers, butter and parsley sauce.  A half of a baked potato with sour cream and a green salad with tomatoes and Feta cheese were on the side.

We spent about $35 at Atlantic Beach Seafood for the MAHI-MAHI, a tiny bottle of some fancy vinegar, and a small block of Ashe County cheese made with tomato and basil.



We remembered to put "film" in the camera this morning.  Here's the breakfast we had yesterday and today - eggs, sausage, and toast.  I'm hoping some oatmeal will eventually finds its way into the morning meal.  Oatmeal with cream and strawberries is so good.


If you decide to go to Amos Mosquito's in Atlantic Beach for dinner,  I'd recommend 7:30 PM as the best time.  If you go at 6:30 PM, as we did, you will probably be waiting 15-20 minutes to be seated.

Skeeters is a very busy place.  The parking lot was 99% full, employees were running helter skelter, and the restaurant was packed.

We had to wait maybe 20 minutes to get a table, but damn, the food was served pronto.  I'd guess that it took not more than 10 minutes to get what turned out to be a scrumptious meal.

Click here to visit "Skeeters" web site.

Debbie surveys the menu.  One side of the menu was food and the other was beverages.

Apparently cocktails and wine are a big item at Skeeters.  Interestingly all three draft beers served at Skeeters were North Carolina made.

Click here for the entree menu.

The restaurant is divided into three sections: the bar, the dining room, and the sound-side porch.  You can dine in any section.  We ate in the dining room because it had the first available seats

To endure the brutal wait for our food, Sweetie (more about Sweetie later) brought us a metal bucket of three types of bread.  There were jalapeno pepper cornbread-like cubes, mini french baguettes, and a triangle shaped spicy cracker sort of bread.  I liked the cornbread, Debbie liked the cracker.  She brought home a box of a leftover single cracker

Debbie enjoys the spicy cracker bread.

Here's my dish.  It's Lump Crab Cakes with Roasted Corn and Scallions on penne pasta.  The sauce was a chipotle aioli with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach.  I never saw or tasted any corn or scallions, but that's what the menu says.

The crab cakes were a tad too "bready", but everything else was excellent.  The pasta and the sauce were outstanding.  The spinach and sun-dried tomatoes added the right balance.  I'd add more crab and raise the price a couple of bucks or leave out the crab cakes and cut the price a couple of dollars.

By the way, I cleaned my plate.

Note the menu offers a vegetarian version of this dish.  I can't imagine how you order a vegetarian version of crab cakes unless they leave out the crab entirely and just serve you "bread" cakes.

Here's Debbie's standard order of Shrimp and Grits.  Debbie orders Shrimp and Grits at every opportunity.  This variation also featured andouille sausage along with mushrooms, peppers and onions.

I tasted one shrimp.  It seemed fairly ordinary to me, but it was her dish and she liked it..

This is Sweetie. Yep, that was her name.  Sweetie was our waitress.  She was really cute and knew the menu well.  Her teeth were immaculate.  Mom and Dad must have spent a pretty penny on her smile.

You could easily tell every employee was well rehearsed.  The table beside us had a different waitress.  Debbie said her name was Buttercup.  She said the exact same words we had heard Sweetie say.  You might think this made the employees seemed robotic, but that was not the case.  It made them sound consistent and practiced.  

Sweetie seemed to be genuinely nice.  I made sure Sweetie was well tipped. 

I've never met a waitress like Sweetie in Reidsville.  Plenty that have called me Sweeite, but none who knew their stuff like Skeeters' Sweetie

Sweetie also had the patience of Job.  Three times she had to describe for us this dessert special that was not listed on the menu.  It was a chocolate drenched banana cheesecake with caramel sauce and coconut whip cream.  And a cherry with mint on a Graham cracker crust.

Debbie said she was too full for dessert and would only taste a spoonful or two.   Debbie tasted a lot more than a spoonful or two.

The total bill with tip was about $64.



Breakfast this morning wandered off the path slightly.  Oven-fired bacon took the place of sausage and cantaloupe took up residence on the plate.  It was a tasty way to start the morning.


It's raining and windy today.  Debbie has gone to the grocery store and seafood market for this evening's dinner.  I suspect it's going to involve shrimp. 

I'm writing a short piece about the Craig Blitzer Algebra scam.

The beach local SPECTRUM channel (formerly Time-Warner) broadcasts the weather forecast every ten minutes around the clock?  EVERY 10 MINUTES!   Nowhere does the weather change so fast that you need to broadcast it EVERY 10 MINUTES...not even at the beach.  It's called weather ON THE ONES.  They broadcast two or three minutes of weather at :01, :11, :21: :31, :41, and :51 - that six times an hour, every hour.  It was raining this morning when I woke up and it's still raining at dark.  The weather never changed all day and the weather broadcast never changed.


Here's what you do when you go to the beach without any salad dressing and you don't want to carry a bottle of dressing home.  You buy packets of dressing.

Here's what Shrimp Scampi served over Angel Hair pasta looks like.

To make it buy some shrimp at your local seafood market.  Be sure the shrimp is already peeled and deveined.  It costs more that way.  Buy 1 LB. and pay about $13.

Throw the shrimp in a pan with some wine, capers, butter, and a bunch of chopped garlic.  Stir it occasionally.  Add a little red pepper.

If possible, overcook the shrimp by a few minutes.  This will help make the shrimp rubbery and take away some of the "shrimpy" flavor.

When the shrimp looks done, pour it over Angel Hair pasta.  Do not use Linguini.  Angel Hair is much slimmer and lacks the expected flavor and texture.

Before eating, grate some Parmesan cheese over your shrimp and pasta.


Rain and wind again today

If you arrive on Sunday, be prepared to wait until Thursday before your refrigerator is able to fill its ice tray.  It's slow.


Debbie was issued a challenge: duplicate the Lump Crab Cakes dish we had at Amos Mosquitos.

The ingrdients shown above include sun-dried tomatoes, penne pasta, remoulade sauce (a substitute for the chipotle sauce), milk, flour, panko bread crumbs, a shallot, a head of garlic, and a red pepper.

The Jumbo Crabmeat in the container shown in the center cost $32.  Crab ain't cheap.  I have no idea what the other ingredients cost.

Step one: Cut the plastic zip-open container of $32 crab meat.  The zip part would not work.  It sounds simple, but it wasn't.  It required surgical patience and a very sharp steak knife.

Dice some red peppers.

Dice some shallots

Mix the $32 crab meat with the peppers and shallots.

Add some OLD BAY because I like OLD BAY.

Add an egg.

Add some mayonnaiss.

And a squeeze or two of lemon.

Add some panko bread crumbs

Chop some parsley and add it to the mix.

Make your crab cakes by patting them in flour.

Freeze your crab cakes because you are afraid they will fall apart when fried.

Add some flour to the butter and olive oil that you are cooking the peppers, shallots, etc. in.

Add some warm milk and stir like hell.

Throw in some sun-dried tomatoes.

Add some goat cheese because Debbie really likes goat cheese.

Take a picture of Debbie because she is really cute and she said something kinda clever, but I can't remember what she said.  I've got to start writing stuff down!

Measure some penne to put in the pot of boiling water for 12 minutes.  Forget the measuring...just put the whole box in the water.

Add some spinach to the sauce pot.

Start frying your crab cakes.

Turn them carefully when they brown.  It looks like there was no need to worry about them falling apart.

Pour the sauce over the penne.

Add the crab cakes to the pasta and sauce and pour on the remoulade.

Viola!  Here's the finished product.  It doesn't look anything like the Amos Mosquito Lump Crab Cakes.  Debbie's crab was better because it contained crab instead of bread.  The remoulade did not work as a substitute for the Chipotle aioli.  Remoulade has too much of a mustard flavor.  The sauce had too much milk and probably should not have had goat cheese added.  The penne was overcooked compared to Skeeters which was done perfectly.

Before the Dinner Challenge was issued, Debbie originally planned to make Clams Linguine.  We probably should have kept to the original plan.  It would have been a lot quicker and much cheaper.

MISE EN PLACE - a french phrase meaning to have everything in place to cook the dish.  Debbie never achieved MISE EN PLACE when making the crab cakes.  She said the kitchen was too small.  Yeah, that was it.



Here's what you do with leftover crab from last night's experiment.  Mix the crab meat with spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes and toss it in with some scrambled eggs.  It would not have hurt to add some mushrooms.  It was pretty tasty!


Remember last year when Debbie set the frying pan on fire?  Maybe you don't, or you never read our vacation report.

Anyway, she was cooking with coconut oil and the oil got a bit too hot and burst into flames.  Here you see her holding the pan outdoors to finish smoking and cool down.  It took several minutes for the sucker to stop smoking enough to bring it back inside.  It was a serious fire.

The pan appeared to be permanently scorched.  Scrubbing by hand, dishwasher, nothing would take away the black burn marks.  This year we were surprised to see the pan was still in the condo's inventory.  Somehow somebody had managed to clean the pan.  It must have taken a hell of lot of scrubbing.

We wisely left the coconut oil at home this year.


I have to make a confession.  I don't really like tuna unless it's packed in a can with olive oil.  Look at these beautiful tuna steaks.  All red and moist and they cost $35.  I could make love to these steaks.

But, probably thanks to my upbringing, they just don't do anything for me when I put them in my mouth.  But, Debbie loves tuna, so that's what we had on Friday night.  Sometimes the chef gets her way.

Here's the tuna steaks browning in a cast iron skillet.  We brought the cast iron skillet to the beach after setting fire to an aluminum pan last year when we cooked tuna.  I made sure the steaks were cooked just right - a bit brown on the outside and thoroughly pink inside.  They were perfectly cooked.  It didn't help.  They still tasted like tuna that had not been canned.

Here's the full spread...leftover pasta (which improved overnight), a grocery store salad, and a slice of whole wheat toast with the tuna.  The white mass on top of the tuna was a homemade lemon and caper aioli.  The sauce was great, but the tuna was without a soul.  I cleaned my plate, but the tuna tasted rubbery and chewy.  You could easily cut it with a fork.  It was tender, but it had no flavor.  I hope one day I can work out my tuna issues.

SATURDAY (last day at the beach)


This is the ISLAND GRILL.  It is located in Atlantic Beach.  If you're looking for a crowded, noisy, over-priced place to eat mediocre at best food, then this is where you should go whenever you visit Atlantic Beach.

Here's a view of pretty much the entire restaurant.  To the left, out of sight is a small bar, and there's two tables behind the camera man.  The floor is wood (or simulated wood), the walls are wood, the ceiling is wood, and the tables are wood.  All the wood helped amplify the noise.  

Notice the lack of space between the man in the chair on the right and the table behind him on the left.  Debbie had to turn sideways when she went to the back to find the restroom.

Debbie is lost in her tiny space behind the menu.  Her table was about as wide as her menu is long.

She desperately needed more room and tried to move her table out from the wall.  After struggling to move the table, a nearby customer had to tell her the table was hitting the leg of her chair.  It was too cramped for her to see the chair leg.  To her immediate left and right are other customers who are also pinned against the wall.

This is our appetizer.  Believe it or not, these are stuffed clams.  I had no idea clams this tiny could be eaten by human beings.  I thought you found them washed up on the beach.   I never knew they were food.

Incredibly, this was the best dish,  The clams were stuffed with chorizo and Oaxaca cheese.  Each bite of them was very brief, quicky evaporating down your throat.  It these were real clams, it might have been a pretty good dish.

That's a slice of lime in the center.  That should give you an idea of the size of the microscopic clams.

This is BEEF BOURGUIGNON.  It tasted like beef stew to me, beef stew from a can with Dinty Moore on the label.  BEEF BOURGUIGNON is supposed to contain Burgundy wine or Cognac.  I don't believe this dish had either.

To top it off, the dish was barely warm.  The chef didn't leave it in the microwave long enough.

I regretted my decision to have beef rather than the seafood I normally order at the coast.

Here's Debbie's dish.  It was the special for the evening.  On the right is something called Pink Snapper with a blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette.  On the left is Zucchini and behind her fork is mashed Yukon Potatoes.  Debbie was not impressed with the special - the fish was almost all overcooked and the Zucchini was under-cooked.  

I tasted everything on her plate and will add the potatoes had a really funky taste.  Maybe I'm not used to eating Yukon potatoes.  I thought the Zucchini were perfect.  The fish I could take it or leave it.

This striped pair was our waitress Deanna and Debbie.  Deanna was nice.  I guess she had to be because she worked at Island Grill.  A waitress with a nice personality and knowledge of the menu can cover for a lot of sins.  That's Debbie on the right.

Deanna had not only heard of Reidsville.  She had actually visited Reidsville.  Deanna said she thought Reidsville was a beautiful place.  She didn't say, but apparently she visited Reidsville a very, very long time ago.  Funny, Deanna didn't look like she lived through the 1940s.

We struggled for several minutes about ordering a dessert.  We did not, and I'm glad we didn't.

The total bill with a modest tip was $77.  That's $13 more than what we paid at Amos Mosquito's where we also had a dessert.

Unless you really like a noisy and crowded ambiance, Island Grill is not recommended.



As you've probably already guessed, I like breakfast.  It's usually the first and last meal when we're on vacation.

Debbie waves goodbye to Atlantic Beach as we prepare to have one last meal on the coast.  This is the RESORT GRILL.  It is a small diner just down the road from where we stayed.  It was attached to a large beach resort, hence its name.

I also take a lot of pictures of Debbie staring at the menu.  She ordered sausage and eggs with toast.

Here's my HE-MAN beach breakfast.  It's hash browns with country fried steak with two eggs over easy and toast.

Breakfast cost about $23 with tip


1.  TV at the beach sucks.  The TV set sucked and the programming sucked.  I guess it's what is known as "basic cable".
2.  Despite the crappy TV, the cable internet service was awesome.  It was around 15 mbps, both up and down, which for a 3 mbps DSL country boy is pretty impressive.
3. I never set foot on the beach or went anywhere near the water.  I am allergic to the sun.  I burn like hell in intense sunlight.  Debbie stayed on the beach from 9:30 AM until 6:30 PM every day when it wasn't raining.  I'm not sure where the expression comes from, but she turned "brown as a berry".  I've never seen a brown berry
4.  Gibsonville, NC is an interesting little town.  It has lots of intriguing shops.  At 2 PM on Sunday it was busy with people on the sidewalks going in and out of shops.  Debbie said I would be shocked to see all the activity in downtown Gibsonville after dark.  Gibsonville is nothing like Reidsville.  It's population is way less than half of Reidsville's.
5.  Downtown Gibsonville has a storefront Church called "Awestruck Church".  It's on the internet at   Some years ago Reidsville outlawed all downtown storefront churches.  There is a banner on the front of the church, which is also illegal in Reidsville.  Don't blame me, I didn't elect Reidsville's City Council.  In our defense,  Reidsville still has its "Holy Rollers" who preach on the street corner at Mural Park in downtown.
6.  Debbie met a stranger in the hallway of our condo.  He was from Martinsville and recognized Debbie from her WGSR Cruise-In show.  It's a small world.
7.  Goldsboro, NC has a beef and pork center called "Hill's Beef and Pork Center". You can find it on Facebook.  It's nothing on the scale of the Nahunta Pork Center, but I'm sure the residents of Goldsboro are very proud of their Beef and Pork Center.  Goldsboro residents probably think of their Beef and Pork Center like Reidsville thinks of Chinqua-Penn.