Category Archives: Seafood

The Ocean Grill…or Mesanje en un botella

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The weather in Louisiana is warming up now, but we have recently had record cold weather.  The temperatures dropped into the low twenties, and then there was the freezing rain.  The roads were not navigable.  I was content to stay at home and get some work done.  However, I couldn’t help but daydream about warmer weather.  My thoughts wandered to last summer when my sisters, our husbands and I traveled to Puerto Vallarta with my cousin and his wife.  It was my sister’s tenth anniversary and they quite generously wanted to share it with family.

Family fun
We had a great time

Before we left, I was told that we would be dining at the Ocean Grill during the trip.  My sister had been to the restaurant more than once and loved the food and the atmosphere.  One of the cool things about it, she said, was that we had to travel by boat to get there.  I have since learned from their faq that one can also hike there from Boca de Tomatlan.

My brother-in-law arranged for us to have a boat for the day, and we all were looking forward to being out on the water.   My sister had made a reservation which is required for one of their three seatings (11 am, 1pm and 3 pm).  We could have also taken the Ocean Grill’s boat taxi from the Boca de Tomatlan pier but we were planning on making a few other stops as well.  We met our boat at the marina and all piled in.

bar
Ocean grill bar

Although it had not happened to her before, my sister began feeling symptoms of motion sickness soon after we embarked on our journey.  She didn’t feel well at all when we arrived at our destination.  Luckily the perfect remedy awaited!

The original dock had been destroyed by a storm, so we had to make a beach landing.  There we were greeted by Wilson, the canine host.

wilson
Wilson is the perfect canine host

The Ocean Grill’s gracious human host, Alfonso offered to us upon our arrival the best margarita I have ever had.  An elixir including fresh lime juice, ginger and mint leaves, it was a refreshing start to a delicious meal.  When I returned home I had lots of fun attempting a re-creation of this cocktail.

While we were waiting for our drinks, Alfonso told us that he was from Mexico City and when we asked about his building project he explained that he was in the process of adding a spa and boutique hotel to his seaside restaurant.

refreshing margarita
Margarita with fresh lime, ginger and mint leaves

The perfect atmosphere on a good weather day, dining at the Ocean grill is outdoors and covered.  Even the bathroom has an ocean view.

loo view
View from the bathroom at the ocean grill

 

Grilled Clam appetizer
The hickory flavor added a smokey flavor to the warm butter and lime on the grilled clams.

We each ordered a variety of items from the menu so that we could share the experience.   If I close my eyes I can still taste the butter-lime hickory sauce that was covering the grilled clams.  The smoked marlin tostadas were delicious as well but I dream about those clams.  The fresh guacamole was quite appetizing and enough for us all to have a generous amount.

While we waited between courses I walked around the restaurant and absorbed the refreshing atmosphere.  Construction continues on the addition and Alfonso tells me that they hope to be finished in March of this year.

Construction
When we were at Ocean Grill in June, construction was in progress on an addition.

There were printed menus as well as a menu posted on a blackboard behind the bar — in Spanish.  The catch of the day is served with a choice of side and a choice of sauce.  A couple of us ordered the fish with different sauces and sides.  I think my favorite of the sauces was the lime butter sauce.  We were trying to place the smokey flavor and Alfonso solved our puzzle — hickory.

Red Snapper
The catch of the day was Red Snapper and was flaky and delicious.

 

smoked marlin tostadas
Smoked Marlin tostadas

Entrees were well presented.  Fresh red snapper, shrimp, Octopus and a hamburger (yes, a hamburger) were the items ordered.  In the photo to the left, one can just see the fried plantains that are peeking out from under the fish.  They were crispy and a great compliment to the lime butter sauce.

Fresh fish with the house sauce
I think this is the Sarandeado sauce on top of the Catch of the day with a side of black beans.

When it came time to pay the bill…we realized that not all of us knew that the restaurant is cash only.  There isn’t an ATM, so there was a tense moment while we all gathered our pesos.

Octopus with Kalamata Tapenada
The octopus was an adventurous choice and very tasty

As we were leaving with our bellies full,  we walked around the lagoon looking at the sand crabs.

sand crab
The beach was home to many sand crabs

 

Someone noticed a wine bottle that had washed up and joked about a message in a bottle.  It turned out that there was one!  Apparently the little boy who put the message in the bottle had released it into the water just the day before.

Our trip to the Ocean Grill was a memorable occasion and one that I hope to repeat.

Mesanje en un botella
As we were leaving we found a message in a bottle

Shrimp and grits…for 20?

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Shrimp & Grits
Shrimp and Grits

 All day Wednesday, we were talking about supper…well, we had finally decided WHAT was for supper.  Loup Garou’s brother, the California Loup Garou (CLG) had requested shrimp and grits.  I had been just dying to make shrimp and grits, and even got my mother’s friend, Renee to give me her recipe, because it’s just about the best I have ever had.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have her recipe with me in Destin, so I had to consult the oracle known as the Internet!

By five o’clock, I said that we just had to decide on a number, because I still didn’t have the shrimp.  I told the Loup Garou Mum that I had invited my cousin and his wife (they lived in the area and I hadn’t seen him in YEARS!) for 7:00.  She said, “YOU WILL NEVER GET THAT DONE IN TIME.”  So there was the challenge.  We decided that the number was 20, because that is how many we cooked for Tuesday.  We had different people, but it sounded like a good number.

So, at 5:00, the Loup Garou, our friend, the Duke, and I set out on our grocery store adventure.  I really wanted stone ground grits, but we didn’t have time to go to multiple stores.  The Duke had lived in the area so I asked him where we could find peeled shrimp during 5:00 traffic.  He said that there was a seafood market near the grocery store, so we just decided to get everything in those two places, and just deal with whatever ingredients we found.

I did not find stone ground grits, or peeled shrimp.  I did, however find some very fresh medium shrimp and I had two strong men who were volunteered to peel them.

We made it home by around 5:45, and immediately got to work!  The Loup Garou chopped the veggies while the Duke peeled the shrimp.  I could not have finished on time without their help!

We fed twenty-three people that night — shrimp and grits, and the bread that my cousin brought to go with it!  Several people asked me to post the recipe, and I will, with a few important points:

 I will print the recipe that I prepared — it fed 23 people with a little left over.  If I had been at home there are several things that would have been done differently.  One of my biggest challenges was the size of the pots provided in the condo we were renting.  We made a note to create a travel box to bring on future trips.  I plan to perfect a smaller version of the recipe to post later.

This recipe was inspired by two different recipes:  Bobby Flay’s Shrimp and Grits recipe and the Spicy Shrimp and Grits recipe from Epicurious:

Ingredients:

Water —  24 cups

5 12-oz cans evaporated milk

5 cups quick  grits

1 lb packed coarsely grated sharp cheddar

1 stick unsalted butter

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 lb bacon, chopped

5 lbs medium shrimp peeled and deveined

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup chopped parsley

2 bunches of green onions

4 cups chopped onion

3 cups chopped bell pepper

2 14-oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes

1 T hot pepper sauce

2 T granulated garlic

 

Onions and bell pepper
Chopped onions and bell pepper

Directions for grits:

  • Bring  water and evaporated milk to a boil
  • Add salt and black pepper
  • Add grits.   Cook until water is absorbed.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese.
  • Add cayenne.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Shrimp sauce:

  • While grits is cooking, begin cooking bacon in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat until crisp.  Transfer bacon to paper towels.
  • Saute the onion and bell pepper in the bacon drippings until the onion is translucent.
  • Add tomatoes
  • Add garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste (remember that grits has salt, and make sure the amount of salt is balanced between the two.)
  • Add shrimp.  Saute the shrimp until just opaque in center.  Be careful not to overcook the shrimp!
  • Add lemon juice
  • Add bacon, half of green onions and half of the parsley.
  • To serve, spoon hot grits on to plates.  Top with shrimp sauce.
  • Sprinkle a little parsley and green onions on top of each serving

Note:  If you find that the liquid in the shrimp sauce is evaporating too quickly and want a little more juice, you may add some low sodium chicken broth, white wine or beer while the veggies are cooking.

Shrimp sauce
Shrimp sauce

I had a wonderful visit with my cousin, and we were able to catch up after many years.  Some of the Loup Garou Mum’s family and several friends were present.  So many of our south Louisiana traditions center around meals shared by family and friends!  I realized that family and friends were the most important ingredients in our meal that night!

xoxo,

GG

Destin and Stinky’s

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Gulf of Mexico in Destin, Florida
I have never seen the Gulf of Mexico so clear and beautiful!

 

The Loup Garou, the cub and I have recently returned from a trip to Destin, Florida, where we had a fabulous time playing on the beach, and visiting with the Loup Garou relatives who were also in town for a sort of family reunion. The day we arrived, we were somewhat discouraged. The sky was black and cloudy and the weather report predicted not much change for most of the week. Sunday arrived with rain and clouds as predicted. We had planned on grilling for supper that night, but because of the rain, Monday’s supper was moved up to Tuesday — spaghetti for an unknown number of people. We planned on twenty and that was about what we had….but I know some people had seconds.

Spaghetti Sauce
Sauce for 20

We awoke Tuesday morning to beautiful skies and calm waters! I have never seen the Gulf of Mexico look so beautiful and clear!! The weather stayed nice until the day we left. We decided on dinner out Tuesday night, and ate at a restaurant called Stinky’s Fish Camp.    The atmosphere was relaxed — casual and rustic, with a New Orleans music theme — lots of posters for New Orleans bands and music venues.  Unfortunately there was a wait — an hour and a half!!  Because there were so many of us, and because we ordered several appetizers on which to manger while we were waiting, I will share with you some recommendations.   The fried green tomatoes with crawfish etouffee and the crab cake with warm remoulade were well recommended by those who partook.   One of the best appetizers is the fire cracker shrimp!  We ordered it as an appetizer, but it was so good that the Loup Garou Mum had it as her main course!  The fire cracker shrimp is sort of a tempura shrimp with a sweet and sour glaze, and sprinkles of sesame seeds.  Others of us who had shrimp dishes found that our shrimp had the tails still on, which is not always fun, and one of us was less enthusiastic about his meal because of the pesky shells.  Both the grilled shrimp with angel hair and the fried shrimp were served tail-on, but were tasty.  The grilled shrimp with angel hair is served with sauted vegetables and a pesto sauce.  I recommend the Hot New Orleans Garlic bread as an accompaniment to the dish.   The winner entree of the evening was ordered by the Loup Garou, and was Stinky’s fish of the day.  Offered several choices of fish, Loup Garou chose the grouper and it was an excellent choice!  It was cooked to perfection — moist and flaky white grouper on a bed of stir-fried veggies that were a perfect compliment to the fish.  Because it was quite late when we left, several of us brought home leftovers to finish later.  Apparently, in Destin, if you want to eat at a restaurant for dinner, you should go somewhere where reservations are taken (Stinkys doesn’t take reservations) or be prepared for a long wait.  We loved the food there, but recommend that if you want to try it you should go early and be prepared to wait a long time!!

Wednesday night, someone suggested going out to meet other family members for dinner, and we decided that it was a much better idea to cook something and have everyone eat with us…the two questions were what to cook and how many people were coming!

The next post will be about what we decided to cook!

 

xoxo,

GG