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I love Food. Cooking it. Eating it. Experiencing it. As a result, that's what this blog has evolved into: A journal of my gastronomical journeys abroad, as well as my culinary creativity at home. I hope you enjoy what I have to say, and I'd love to hear your comments... Cheers!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Good Eats Good Times on the Gulf Shores

Spent last weekend in Orange Beach, AL, an area hit hard by the BP oil spill. It's a gorgeous part of the country most of us (myself included) wouldn't ever know about, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to visit. They suffered greatly from the oil spill, but it was heartening to see how well they're rebounding. Much like the other Gulf Shores spots, it most reminded me of Destin, FL. In fact, Orange Beach sits almost precisely on the state line dividing Alabama and Florida...

Which is why and where there exists, in all its ply-wooded glory, a place called FloraBama. It stands not only as a symbol of the festive atmosphere typical of a sun-drenched, white-sand, vacation destination, but also as a a beacon of resiliency of the local population. Whatever Mother Nature has thrown her way, the FloraBama has endured; prospered, even. It's original coordinates situated quite literally on the state line that divides the Deep South, FloraBama has been forced to shift its moorings through the years. But you can sense its "bend, don't break" attitude: Katrina destroys part of the bar? Build another room. Tropical storms sweep through? Build up and out! It's now a sprawling treehouse-like structure, with additions slapped on like so many Legos or Tinker Toys sets.

Being that my TV crew and I were finished shooting for the day, we treated ourselves to a famous FloraBama Bushwacker, which was accurately described by a local patron as "a frozen Yoo Hoo with alcohol." It was sweet, and had a distinct bite of vodka in every sip, all the way down. A thirst-quenching, buzz-inducing, sweet-tooth-satisfying treat, for sure...

Two shout-outs for meals I enjoyed during my stay in Orange Beach. First was a stellar dinner of local seafood at Cobalt, where I enjoyed an appetizer of Bayou la Batre Crab Claws (sauteed in fresh tomatoes and basil with a garlic butter sauce) as well as a delicious piece of blackened Wahoo. The location cannot be beat: floor to ceiling windows provide a sweeping view of the Gulf. A teriffic spot that's equal parts dressed-up and dressed-down...

My final morning, always on the hunt for a good breakfast recommendation, I found Duck's Diner and filled my belly with exactly what I was looking for: a good, down-home breakfast. I ordered Jacob's Special: eggs (medium) over crispy corned beef hash with a side of cheese grits. Southern hospitality is in full effect at Duck's, as I got to know my server, Justin, almost instantaneously (without even asking to). Luckily, his service was as fast as his Southern drawl!

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