Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The sea oats and dunes at Gulf Shores, West beach
Shrimp Fest at Gulf Shores, Alabama: The Perfect Getaway!

The 41st Annual National Shrimp Festival was a blast! The weather was unbelievably perfect with temps in the low to mid 80’s with a light breeze. 

Gulf Shores, downtown, just outside the HangOut and Pink Pony Pub

There was so much to see and do!  I loved looking at the arts and crafts section as well as the fine artists’ work. Some people are so artistic!

We were able to meet several artists.  Steven Dark sculptures pottery figures, some of which are put in the ocean for barnacles to attach.  I love this fanciful piece with the rabbit peeking out of the hat.  His work earned "Best in Show."  See more of his work, here: http://www.stevendark.com/index%202.htm 

Steven Dark
Royal Miree
Royal Miree is a sculptor from the Birmingham area who creates masterpieces in copper, stainless steel and aluminum.  The photo does not do justice to his amazing work.  He is holding a copper panel which was hand polished repeatedly to make these beautiful designs.  If I had taken the picture in sunlight, it would have been like a myriad of sunrises and sunsets all at one time.  I was literally mesmerized by his work, particularly the delicately-balanced pieces that moved ever-so-gently when touched.  There was a wall piece that I couldn't take my eyes off.  It was a one-of-a-kind sculpture that was calling to me.  This piece would have made a statement of great design.  Wow.  Just wow.  http://richardmiree.com/collections/21668 

By now, we had walked over halfway around and were getting hungry and thirsty.  We slipped into The Hangout for a snack and met a charming young man who was our waiter.  He is a student at The University of South Alabama and had been a medic in Afghanistan. Heroes are everywhere if we just take time to hear their stories.  One of the first questions asked after a strong hurricane on the Gulf Coast is, "Is The Hangout OK?" It is a friendly restaurant right on the beach with stages for bands and three separate bar areas.  I loved their collection of lunchboxes on the wall. 


Foods were varied and tasty.   Wild gulf shrimp was the star of the show. We had it grilled, fried, and in a low-country boil. We had teeny-tiny shrimp, medium-sized reds, and jumbo prawns. Wish we had brought some home with us!  (Hmm. Perhaps I could have it shipped?)   Here's the website for Eat Alabama Wild Seafood:  www.eatalabamawildseafood.com The site also has some incredible recipes such as LuLu's West Indies Salad.  (This is Jimmy Buffet's sister, and the second question after a major storm is, "How is LuLu's?)


LuLu's West Indies Salad (some amounts are not listed:)
  • 1 pound fresh jumbo lump blue crabmeat
  • Salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste (about ¼ teaspoon)
  • ½ medium Vidalia (or sweet) onion, sliced paper thin, in half moon shape
  •  vegetable oil
  • white vinegar
 ice water (with 4-5 ice cubes)
Place half the crabmeat gently in the bottom of a glass bowl or plastic container, carefully picking out any shell. Sprinkle with just a smidgen of salt and pepper. Cover crab with a layer of onion. Repeat steps with remaining crab, salt, pepper, and onion. Pour oil and vinegar over layers. Place ice cubes in a liquid measuring cup. Fill with water until volume reaches ⅓ cup and pour over crab. Cover and marinate for at least 2 hours before serving. When ready to serve, shake bowl gently, or if using a leak-proof plastic container, turn upside down and back upright to gently mix salad. Serve in a shallow bowl with juice. Makes 4-6 servings.

Alabama Wild Seafood: Yum!

A sampling of wild Gulf shrimp with a delicious cocktail sauce!

Fried Shrimp with Fried Green Tomatoes and Gruyere Cheese Grits

The sand at Gulf Shores reportedly came down from white granite boulders higher up in the state and washed down to the sea in ancient times, so it is beautiful, soft, and sugary-white.  The combination of sand, turquoise-colored water, and brilliant blue sky produced a made-to-order kind of weekend.


We stayed with the most delightful, creative couple.  Their home was lovely, and taking in six additional guests didn’t even faze them!  Sitting on their back porch, watching the sun rise and set over the gulf while listening to the lulling, constant rolling of waves, as well as enjoying coffee and telling tales, was a relaxing part of each day. 

Sunset at Gulf Shores, West Beach

Something that was incredibly wonderful was the original artwork collected and created by our hosts.  The lighting in the dining room and over the counter were all crafted by our host, Joe Thompson.  This photo is of a glass bowl with amazing blues and pearly colors.  My camera (phone) does not do justice to this incredible work of art.

Wow. Be sure to check out his sink vessels and chandeliers here: BEAUTIFUL! http://www.bearcreekglass.com/

As we were leaving, Joe's lovely wife gave us a pair of beautiful, hand-crafted pottery mugs.  They are both obviously laden with talent and are gracious hosts.

The flora and fauna on a beach is always interesting.  We saw a coyote, a fox, and of course tons of fowl.  The Great Blue Heron was regal, as seen in a photo, above. 

I learned about a sweet, tiny, yellow sunflower, that, once it was pointed out, I saw in bloom all along the dunes.  Growing wild, it is perfect for the beach climate where it thrives so beautifully.  Debbie plans to plant more at her beautiful home.  http://www.southernliving.com/home-garden/gardens/drought-tolerant-native-plants-00417000068369/page10.html

What an absolutely PERFECT trip! 

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