Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Beach Christmas

Over the years I’ve spent Christmas in the following locations: Christmas California – hectic, family hoping holiday, in the SJV fog Christmas Arizona – brief food & drink interlude in the sun squashed between the cotton harvests Christmas Indiana – cold and snow, rural Christmas, worshiping at the Sisters of Saint Benedict of Ferdinand, IN Christmas North Carolina – adopted by a family, playing the Christmas present scavenger-hunt game And this year Christmas Florida – 2005 This year – wonderful friends invited me to spend the Christmas Holiday with them at Perdido Key, FL. So here we are … with great weather, white quartz sand beaches, great seafood. Our first stop, after they picked me up at the airport, was Joe Pattie’s – to buy Christmas Dinner. Loaded down with fresh oysters, 16/20 and 21/25 shrimp, and some flounder, we arrived at the condo – and boy is it gorgeous. 3 bedrooms, 3 bath, full kitchen, wet-bar, etc. On Christmas Eve night we headed out to the Oyster Bar for dinner – only to confirm what D and I already suspected ... IT WAS CLOSED. So we went to Vallarta’s and enjoyed Mexican Food for our Christmas Eve dinner. Back at the condo – it was time for the annual viewing of Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. They were incredulous that I had never seen this comedy gem, but really, when you only watch 2 or 3 movies a year, what can you expect? Christmas day – was cool (okay – for the beach it was cold – 42 degrees) and damp. We did a lot of nothing – running to the grocery store to round out our supplies for our dinner and then cooking our seafood feast. We prepared Shrimp Picayune, Coconut Shrimp, Stuffed Baked Flounder (yummy crab meat & seasonings), cornmeal dusted/fried flounder, shrimp, and oysters. (My hosts are determined to teach me how to fry – like a true southerner.) The day after Christmas the twins, D, and I headed to the Tangier Outlet Shops in Foley – yes I went shopping – but I must confess it wasn’t painful at all. We were there for about 3 hours – and the human tide wasn’t bad. They must have been at the mall. After departing with a small amount of cash we came home to do some more lounging. Dinner came from Lillian’s. I was leery, but my skepticism wasn’t warranted. My Italian Sausage and Spinach Calzone was scrumptious – especially the accompanying marinara sauce. The boys thought their 5 meat pizza was first class, and when D and I snuck a bite, we had to agree. Tuesday morning found K and me heading out to do some fishing. He’d towed down his boat from Arkansas – so we drove over to the Shoreline Park in Gulf Breeze and launched the boat. We headed east under the Hwy 98 Bridge – but nothing was biting there – so then we headed over to Fort Pickens. Before Dennis and Ivan came through there were extensive docks here – but they are all closed due to damage now. Luckily for us, they made great fishing. K anchored the boat so we were about 2 to 3 feet from the pilings – and we spent our time casting in under them. Rotating between bull minnows, small shrimp, and cigar mullets, we hit some fish. (Okay, really K hit some fish … how nice to have a “Toby” for a friend. He towed the boat and trailer, backed it down the ramp, baited the hooks AND cast the rod … my job (which I didn’t do too well) was to hold on and set the hook and reel like crazy when something grabbed it). We found the pen-fish loved our shrimp – but were delicate eaters and left the hook behind. The small cigar mullets would drop too deep, and out line ended up cut instantly on the barnacles attached to the pier pilings. But those bull minnows? They were supreme! I managed to land 1 red-fish to K’s 7 or 8. Most were 8 to 12 inches long – but K reeled in one at 16 inches, which was a keeper – if we’d been keeping anything. As the sun set we headed back to the condo – and to Lulu’s for D’s b’day dinner. The margaritas, fried crab claws, gumbo, Cheese Burger in Paradise, Buffalo Fried Chicken Sandwich and Fried Shrimp were wonderful. Unfortunately, K’s fried oysters were burned. But there was more than enough of the other stuff to go around. Today is another lazy day – the sky is overcast, the water is rough. The twins are still sleeping – and the only one who has be active/productive is Lady D. She’s done laundry and walked the beach – while K and I … lay around, watch TV, read, and blog.

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