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Monday, August 30, 2010

Alabama's White Sand Beaches: Part I

For my birthday weekend I received an invitation to enjoy the white sand beaches of the Alabama Gulf Coast and to check out the restaurant scene around Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.  Eric and I made the relatively short drive from Baton Rouge to the beach where we checked into the Phoenix All-Suites West.  The view from our 7th floor room let us know there was no oil in sight as the beaches and water looked as pleasant as ever!

White Sand Beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama
After throwing our luggage down in the hotel room we ventured over to Orange Beach and to our first feasting destination, Live Bait at the Wharf.  We were there as part of the Mamas4Mamas Tweetup, an event to raise money and awareness for the sea turtles that lay their eggs on the Alabama shores.  Eric and I randomly ran into an old friend, Julie Laperouse, who happened to be asking for a table right when we walked in.  Good times!  After checking in at the Tweetup, we grabbed a few Pick Axe Pale Ales from the Tommyknocker Brewery and met the rest of our blogger crowd.

Ericka, Jay, and Shannon at Live Bait at the Wharf on their birthday!
Live Bait at the Wharf served up some grub for all the bloggers to sample.  We started with the Greek seafood nachos and blackened gator bites.  While the gator failed to live up to what we're accustomed to in Louisiana, the Greek seafood nachos were fully loaded and quite good.  They had shrimp and crawfish tails piled up on fried wantons with red onion, olives, banana peppers, tomatoes, scallions, and a creamy spinach cheese sauce.  Interesting, and quite delicious!

Greek Seafood Nachos at Live Bait
Once we sat down at the dinner table we ordered up a couple other appetizers.  This time we selected the fried calamari and baked oysters.  The calamari had a nice golden brown color and tasted about average for a fried calamari.  The oysters were also satisfactory, though they didn't have the size of the oysters we get in Louisiana.  Still, they were topped with garlic, Worcestershire sauce, andouille sausage, Italian bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese, so they most definitely were not bad!

Fried Calamari with Firecracker Sauce
Baked Oysters
I went with the off-menu Chef's Special for my main course.  The Pecan-Crusted Flounder came with a Franjelico-butter cream sauce, mushroom rice, and steamed vegetables.  The rice reminded me of something a college kid would make when desperate in a dorm room.  Unfortunately, it was barely better than pure rubbish.  The vegetables were little more than filler.  They were steamed and lacked anything other than some nutritional value.  The fish, however, came through in the clutch.  The flounder had a nice flaky flesh and the pecan crusting satisfied my appetite.  Combined with the delightful butter sauce, the entrĂ©e saved the evening and my dining experience at Live Bait with its crusty exterior and flavorful flounder.

Pecan Crusted Flounder with Parmesan-Mushroom Rice and Steamed Veggies
The meal concluded with some cake that April and Lori organized for the birthday group.  It capped off a great night of meeting some new people, randomly running into an old friend, drinking a new beer, and eating some all around decent food.  The first night in Alabama had gone well, and I eagerly anticipated the full schedule we had lined up for Saturday!  More about that on Part II of Alabama's White Sand Beaches.

Erika, Shannon, and I's Birthday/Tweetup Cake!
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