Sun, sand, and seafood: the Arkansas Foodies take on the Redneck Riviera

BeachA couple of years ago, Jess and I stayed in Navarre, Florida for a few days with her parents. It was a great trip, and one that we’ve talked about quite a bit since. One of our favorite memories from the Navarre trip was the day we went to Pensacola Beach — we all fell in love with the white sand beaches, restaurants, and the gloomy old ruin of Ft. Pickens. Jess’s mom in particular loves the beach, and I’m a huge fan of preparing and eating seafood, so when it came time to plan another trip to Florida, we were all pretty set on staying on the island and putting those emerald waters right at our back door. We stayed at Beach Club resort and spa, a well-equipped apartment with ample cookware, great appliances, and a balcony that featured a grill. Between runs to the beach, sitting by the pool, and hanging out in the hot tub, we managed to find time to explore the area, go to some good restaurants, and cook some meals for ourselves.

Andrew ShrimpWe stayed this time with Jess’s mom and dad again, but this time her cousin Kevin, brother Andrew, and sister-in-law Ashley were along for the trip — and since we’re fans of saying “the more the merrier,” this was a merry group indeed. We split four of our nights into alternating days of cooking and restaurants, with Jess and I taking one cooking night while Andrew and Ashley took the second — and it was fun to see how other people work in the kitchen. Andrew made up the excellent marinated shrimp skewers seen to the right, and baked some fresh seasoned tilapia to make for a huge spread of “build your own” fish tacos. Everything was so fresh and tasty — it was one of those meals that make you hate getting full because you want to keep eating. Big thanks to our Colorado Millers for bringing it with the seafood: we loved every single bite.

ScallopsFor our dinner, I managed to do something that I’ve never been able to pull off:  cook scallops that didn’t suck. When everyone requested scallops as part of the meal, I had a brief moment of panic — my scallops usually turn out like little rubber balls. But I read up on them and gave it a shot…and they turned out perfect! Chewy, but tender, with a light flavor that had folks raving. Want to do scallops on your own? Just make sure they are VERY dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then sear in a hot skillet for only a minute on each side. We served ours with some garlic kale, and I couldn’t have been happier.

Stick around, because we’ve got lots to share with all of you: oysters, hot dogs, and some unorthodox spring rolls that surprised us with how good they were. Our sunburns are healing and it’s time to get back to work. Cheers!

Beach 3

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