Sunday, October 16, 2011

Destin Seafood Extravaganza... A Happy Holladay

Nothing is better than a beach vacation, especially one that is filled with loads upon loads of fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. It's been about two weeks since I returned from paradise, aka Fort Walton Beach, and I am still coming down from my seafood high. Let's re-live my wonderful seafood extravaganza!

My brother Michael and I hopped a flight on Thursday evening and took off for a long weekend vacation with our parents in Florida. We were tickled to see Judi and Steve waiting for us at the gate, decked out in full beach gear. They had driven down five days prior and were already looking like locals. Mom's skin was glowing with a tan, dad was sporting a scruffy "beach bum" beard, and they were both grinning from ear to ear. I was absolutely famished and could not wait to chow on an early seafood dinner. We headed to a casual ocean-side restaurant called Floyd's Shrimp House Luckily we didn't have to deal with a crowd and we were happy to sit near the beach volleyball courts that were still filled with players. The food at Floyd's can best be described as seafood bar food. My shrimp tacos were spiced just right and were sprinkled with a tangy sauce. I was a little envious of Micheal's grilled Mahi Mahi, which was much better than mom's Grouper. The Shrimp Queso app was a little weird but I kept eating it so I guess it wasn't bad and the Fried Pickles were super salty but I kept eating them too. I was feeling really tired and spaced out due to the long day of work and travel, so my recollection of this place is somewhat jaded. I will simply say that I liked everything just fine.

For our next seafood dinner, we headed to a Destin hot spot called Pampano Joe's. This neighborhood beach house is located along the scenic old Highway 98. It provides both outdoor patio seating with live music and indoor/outdoor ocean-side seating. We chose the latter. Beloved for it's bustling and down-to-earth atmosphere, you can't help but feel positive energy here, which is probably due to the lively wait staff and sing-along music. It has a Caribbean flair that is displayed in the general decor and the unique style of seafood. I went with one of the Caribbean entrees. The Island Shrimp were deliciously grilled and skewered, plump and juicy, ranking about a 6.5 on my spicy scale. I did not care for the jerk flavoring of my side of Chutney. It seemed too similiar to traditional BBQ sauce, which I don't care for. Poor Micheal was struggling with a sun burn this night. However, his frosty Pina Colada and scrumptuous Swordfish alleviated the pain. Light and airy in taste, with a firm texture and creamy to the maximum level, I was utterly envious of his meal. There were four artichokes and scallops engulfing the fish, all topped with fresh tomato and greatly enhancing the flavor of the fish. I guess I worked really hard at laying around on the beach all day, because I was the first to finish my plate. I happily sipped my beachy cocktail and helped everyone finish their meal. More happiness entailed when dad ordered a piece of Key Lime pie. Finger-lickin whipped cream on top of the rich and tangy lime, left us in awe. And please don't let me forget about the sinfully buttered, graham cracker, crust!

The next night we headed to another seafood joint on old 98 called The Crab Trap. This quaint, ocean-side restaurant won me over with it's elegant yet casual atmosphere, impeccable service, and the best shrimp I've had in years. While I enjoyed the spicy kick of Pampano's shrimp, they just couldn't measure up to the plump, buttery, goodness of what I found at the Crab Trap. And speaking of Crab, it needs to be mentioned that this was my first experience cracking crab legs! That's right dear readers, I lost my crab cracking virginity on this special night. And stangely my mom was there to coach me along. Mom, Dad and Michael have been crab leg lovers for several years now, so they were more than happy to show me the way. I enjoyed every bit of the tasty legs. However, I must say that they wore me out...

The next night my family was ready for round two of crab legging at The Old Bay Steamer, but I chose to opt out and went with the Mahi Mahi special instead. This fish was A-MA-ZING. It was served on top of a beautiful tomato based linguini with a bit of wine flavoring .A great move on my part, as everyone tasted and immediately coveted my special meal. This place is a little more "under the radar". It sits a block or two from Fort Walton Beach and I am sure it has it's fair share of tourists, but it doesn't seem to be heavily marketed, as I was not able to find a website. The decor here is very colorful and jazzy, with a bit of a NOLA vibe. And the atmosphere is busy and energetic while keeping it's cool. The Old Bay Steamer definitely earns my recommendation, along with the other places.

We hit one more restaurant before flying out. However this unique, Irish brewery and pub is in a league of it's own and will be posted at a later date in time. Until next time, live to eat....SEAFOOD!!!

1 comment:

  1. This all sounds delectable! I love key lime pie. I think when you're in florida, it's a must-have. I just had to get a piece while I was down there. If only I could have enjoyed your seafood...