Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"The World Famous Pickles" and Royal Red Shrimp, Seaside, FL

While we were visiting our friends Ed and Karen in Florida panhandle over Memorial Day weekend, they decided to take us to Seaside one evening.  Seaside is a master-planned beachfront community clustered around a diverse collection of shops and restaurants (often cited as one of the first New Urbanist developments) near Ft. Walton Beach.  It was extremely charming (albeit a bit contrived) and we found plenty to keep us interested as we milled around the town square. 

#1 on our Seaside "to do" list was to visit Pickle's Beachside Grill because Karen desperately needed a "fix" of their World Famous Fried Pickles, and also wanted me to have the opportunity to experience these deep-fried delights.  At the time this picture was taken, not enough Patron had yet been consumed for us to actually place our faces into the available slots and take full advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime photo op.
The sign over the order window boasted that over a million pickles had been sold...and judging from amount of time that passed as we slowly snaked our way to the front of the line, I'm thinking one million might have been the total for that day.  Although we thought about giving up a time or two, the boyz upped our tolerance level by keeping our margaritas topped off and we ultimately persevered.  The final stretch:
We were rewarded for our patience when at long last we heard the dulcet call of "Sweet Polly, your World Famous Pickles are ready for pickup" over the PA system (Yay!) and our five, beautifully battered spears were finally in our hormonal clutches (along with their accompanying creamy ranch dipping sauce).    
While it's tough to find fault with anything that's encased in a crispy, deep-fried coating,  I don't think fried pickles are really my thing.  I've tried fried pickle chips before and thought they were pretty good, but the spears had a higher ratio of pickle-to-breading than I was used to and I thought they were only okay.  Still, there is obviously something about this creation a LOT of people love.  Karen finds nirvana:
Sauntering onward, we came across a beautiful seaside pavillion where the guys could enjoy a couple of cigars while we gazed out over the Gulf.  Serendipitously, we soon discovered that we had planted ourselves in the outdoor dining area for Seaside's The Shrimp Shack.  Since we were still in the mood to nosh (and it would've been rude not to at that point), we let our server talk us into some cold beers and steamed "Royal Reds".  Although we've all been in Florida for years, none of us had ever heard of Royal Reds...but once he told us they had a taste and texture similar to that of Maine lobster, we had all the information we needed.  After researching them online the following day, I learned that they come from the deepest, coldest waters of the Northwest Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico...which means they need more fat for insulation, giving them that rich, creamy, "lobstery" taste. They were so amazing that we had to get a second order (AND I was willing to overlook the fact that they came to the table still wearing their little faces that I had to rip off myself ).
One last shot to wrap up a great night with great friends!

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