The Low Down

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

There's Something About Berries

I'm pretty sure June is the best month of the year if you like to eat. Give me hot temps and crowded beaches any day of the week, if I can trade it for fresh food off the vine, tree, bush or ground. Thankfully, my friends and family have connections with gardeners who are practically begging them to come thin out the crops. Oh okay... if you want...

Also, Mom was in town this week and on Monday she took me and my aunt blackberry picking. If you, like me, do not have blackberry connections, Gardener's Berry Farm is a gorgeous setting for this. This was Mom's second haul, and she said it was a little more sparse than last time, but we still pulled in two gallons in less than an hour.

The operation hours are a little bit tricky and you do need to call ahead to make sure there are actually berries on the vines. One gallon of blackberries will set you back $15, which is totally, totally worth it.


Then you can go home and make an easy dump cobbler* and everyone around you will realize you are Wonder Woman! (Man?)

*Just sugar up the berries to your taste, mix 1/2 stick of butter (melted), 1 c. self-rising flour, 1 c. milk, cinnamon in baking dish and pour the berries over it. Bake 375 for an hour. Easy.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Maybe I Need to Change My Blog Title...


I've bought into* hype again. Check out these t-shirts made by Alabama designer Billy Reid.

Oh and I promise that Alabama Seafood isn't paying me to love this stuff. I just do. I think we can probably thank BP for the hip ad campaign. Thanks Beeps!!

*bought into- succumbed to, fallen in love with; not actually purchased, they are expensive! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

GW#3: Wheels and Deals

After a meal fitting for a truck-stop at Derailed Diner, Jackie and I needed to recover... fast. So, we headed to Orange Beach for a little R&R... Rest & Riding.

After an hour or so on the beach, with grease seeping through our pours, we decided to hit the Backcountry Trail on our bikes. Good decision.

Jackie's Artistic Eye on the Ride
Have you guys ever done this trail? If not, stop what you are doing right now and go to OB (or GS, you can access it from both sides.) This trail runs parallel to the shore, separated by about one mile. It was probably my favorite bike ride ever. The air was breezy and the path was shaded. There were a few snakes, so beware runners. The oaks are laden with Spanish moss, the clearings from that fire last summer are a perfect place for a sunset. And it's flat. Go. Now.

When you finish with your 6-10 mile bike ride, may I suggest a stop at Bravo Tacos? J and I have been there at least 5 times in the past year. We love it. Jackie enjoyed it too. Here's why:

1. Tastes great - Everything that I have ordered here is tasty. The flavors are fresh and original. J and I happen to be fairly picky when it comes to Mexican fare, but we both agree that it is one of the best Mexican places we've tried here in the good-ol' US of A.

2. Healthy Choices - The chicken is free-range and the other meats are organic. There are even several vegetarian choices, like the Chipotle mushroom and tomato taco Jackie ordered. The food is not greasy. As in, this is not your run-of-the-mill TexMex place, don't go there and order a ground beef taco.

3. Good Price - Even though the quality is excellent, so is the price. Two tacos, a side and a drink will cost you $8. My favorite dish, the Costa Rican is Rice & Beans, Meat and Tortillas... 7 bucks, y'all.

I did not have a phone (see previous post) to take a picture, so I'll have to share one with you next time.

Have a good weekend!

Bravo Tacos on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 21, 2012

GW#2: Rolling Down the River

My abs still hurt from laughing so much during last weekend. As you saw from my previous post, it was an eventful few days. NOLA was so delightful, but I don't think I could do it justice in this blog post.

Music & Coffee. Love.

<---- So, here's a picture that sums up the day.

Meanwhile...back in Baldwin County... Have you guys ever been to Dragonfly? I'm still trying to decide what I think about it. The food concept is so great. I love the idea of fusing Asian and Mexican flavors. A few weeks ago, I had a pork noodle bowl with green curry and egg noodles. It was delicious, but a bit too spicy for my taster. Next time I'll order sans jalapeƱos; the curry was hot enough. On Friday, I ordered the pork taco with an avocado sauce and apples. It was good too, but I think it could have been more spicy. (BTW, they have plenty of other meats, I'm just a sucker for a good pig.) Jackie had the veggie bowl - I just had a bite, but it is probably my favorite dish I've tried. So much flavor! So I love the food. My only beef (ha) with the place is the seating. The concept is cool, in theory. It's a "food bar," so that's the main seating option - a bar. In execution, in I'm not crazy about it. Maybe it's because I'm short. Maybe it's because I don't like facing a wall when I'm eating. What I do know is - it's awkward.

Thanks for the photo, Jackie!
Okay, I actually have two beefs, I also think some of the tacos and tapas might be a little too pricey.  It is not an expensive place, but I guess I'm comparing it to other places that have better tacos for less dinero. (Come back tomorrow...)

Besides all the calories we burned laughing our guts out, Jackie and I also spent a good bit of time racking up activity points... including a Kayak Trip to end all kayak trips. Eighteen people, from ages 3 to 70, hit Fish River with a vengeance after barely escaping a redneck brawl at Bohemian Park.(Yeah, I'm seriously exaggerating.) It was a fun 2.5 hour jaunt, where Jackie and I were able to brush up on our communication skills in a tandem kayak. I only caused her to cuss once when we ran through a spider-infested tree. Actually, I pushed said tree out of my way, which sling-shot it back into her face.

Sorry, again Jacks.

The stretch of river is shaded, and pretty, and the current keeps you moving most of the way. Just be prepared to get out a few times where trees hinder passage.The only downside the the whole day is that my phone got submerged for approximately 3 hours, even though I put it in "dry" storage. Thankfully, T-Mo is determined to keep us non-iPhone-smart-phone users happy, so there's a new one on the way. Despite the setback, it was good fun and a chance to appreciate another view of this beautiful area. And we really worked up an appetite for dinner at Big Daddy's!

I have so much more to say about the weekend. I'll tell you about Bravos Tacos and our Bike Ride tomorrow!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Girls Weekend: Not Without Incident.

Hi!! Here are the exclamation points, as promised!!!!!! It's just going to be an abbreviated version for now.

Here's a summary of the weekend so far:
1. Dinner at Dragonfly in Fairhope.(Yum!)
2. Blueberry Picking/Eating (Double Yum!)
3. Kayaking Trip down Fish River (So fun!!)
4. Phone Drowned (Boo.)
5. Dinner at Big Daddy's (Again.)
6. Lunch at Derailed Diner (Odd.)
7. Beach Lounging (Yes!)
8. Biking the OB/GS Back Country Trail (Double YES!)
9. Dinner at Bravos Tacos (Yes! Yes! Yes!!!)

I promise I will blog about these things this week, but I really must prepare for our jaunt to New Orleans!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Comedy, Friends & The App That Changed My Life

Any comedic bone in my body is almost exclusively owed to my best friend in college, Sarah. Sarah is hilarious in a smart, ironic and fun sort of way. So the following book made me miss her terribly:

Is Everyone Hanging Out with Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. After a few chapters of her book, Mindy and I were on a first name basis. By the end, we became so close that I actually had a dream that we met at a bus stop (!?) and chatted about her book. I told her how I laughed uncontrollably in the chapter “How I Write,” which she also thought was a pretty funny chapter. I also mentioned that I had a blog, but she immediately morphed into her best friend Brenda, who was only mildly concerned about the success of AbaO. (Bren was thinking: That’s so 2009. I know because it was my dream.) My bud, Mindy Kaling, AKA: Kelly Kapoor from The Office*, wrote this book as witty, irreverent memoir-ish essays that will make you smile, sometimes laugh out loud, definitely wish that she was really actually your friend, and possibly creepily work her way into your psyche.

Note: Due to some of the jokes and language, Kaling's book is probably better for a mature audience.

Another friend that taught me to appreciate humor is my former roommate, Jackie. (She has a blog! It's fun!) Jackie has an infectious and uproarious laugh that I wish I could still hear on a regular basis. She introduced me to the author of this book:
She Got Up Off the Couch, by Haven Kimmel. This is actually a sequel to a book called A Girl Named Zippy. Both of these books are loads of fun, chronicling the life of a young girl in small-town Indiana.  Kimmel writes about some tough topics through the eyes of a smart-mouthed kid, so somehow it is just heartwarming and funny. Jackie, along with my other roommates, used to read Zippy aloud to each other and then fall on the floor in fits of laughter. Well, really, Jackie would fall on the floor laughing, which would get the rest of us bowling over like that too. Reading the sequel to Zippy has makes me feel almost like she is down here with me. (But she is coming to visit today! Girls Weekend! Blog to come with lots of exclamation points!!!!!)

I owe any reading suggestions I may have to the Baldwin County Library system app called LS2. This was a game-changer for me. I used to be the worst Library patron in the country, until I could reserve and renew books on my phone!!

Have you read any good books lately? I would appreciate the suggestions!

*I felt really cool and modern telling you this fact, until I found out that she is about to star in her own show, called The Mindy Project. I feel behind the times... clearly I need to move away from the History Channel. Also, Mindy, if you ever read this, you - or someone who works for you - is a marketing genius. I have to watch your show now that we are BFFs. And I am sorry I didn't buy your book. Blame LS2.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Seafood Edition #1: Who's Yo Daddy?

Beachgoers, visitors, and wonderfully welcome guests to the shore... can we have a little chat?

I'm with you. For the first 28 years of my life, I was a guest of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. I took my friends to Lambert's and Lulu's, or some place at the Wharf, and I loved it. I get it.... who doesn't love balls of hot bread flying at your head and/or some loose association to Jimmy Buffett? But, if you are ever tired of paying so much for atmosphere and if you decide that all you really want is some darn good fresh seafood...

I'll be here for you. So, here's my first Seafood Edition*.

J took me out last night for our "Monthary."  (If you come by often, you're going to learn real quick that he is a master date-planner.) Last night we went out to Big Daddy's Grill. It is a favorite to suggestion to out of town guests because it is off the beaten path and the food is good. (Just don't ask me for directions. I will get you lost.)

Other bonuses include live music on the weekends and apples as after-dinner mints. The fried stuff is alright, if that's your thing, (it is often mine,) but I really love the blackened shrimp. The menu is fairly similar to other seafood restaurants around, including the ever popular fried pickles and smoked tuna dip, but I think the quality/freshness is better. It is a little bit of a drive from GS/OB, but worth it. You might want to stop on your way in or out of town.

*Speaking of, have you seen the new Alabama Seafood ads? Aren't they so trendy!? We are coming up in the world, people!

Big Daddy's Grill At Riverpark on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hirty, Girty, Look Who's 30!

Part of the Dream Team
Surprise parties make me giddy. I love them. Especially when the surprise party is dedicated to my favorite almost-30-year-old on the planet. This one was beyond perfect.

First of all, the party planners made a good team. We put together a dream scenario in less than two weeks. Secondly, the guests made a wonderful combination of fun people who were willing to get wet! Lastly... don't you just love a wholesome excuse to lie to your loved ones? Exhilarating! (Kidding.)
Slip and Slide made of Recycled Billboards

Best feature of the evening: A huge slip-and-slide. (Note: If it has been a while since you've done this, I have to say... it really is just as fun as when we were kids, just be prepared to pop the pain pills the next day.) There was also a balloon toss, a water gun fight and a real-live photo booth, recycled from J's brother's wedding.

The best moment: The Surprise. Y'all, J was SO surprised! We had a hard time keeping him out of the house with the rain, but it still worked. AND it stopped raining just as the bash began. The party guests had the brilliant idea of pelting him with water balloons upon his arrival. Genius.

All in all, a great evening. Even in the photo booth...

Our Reenactment of a Redneck Love Story: Don't worry dad, it's all just pretend. :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pass the Iniquity, Please!

If the world’s descent into moral indecency includes chocolate, I probably need an extra dose of grace. 

Don't worry, it's my middle name. 

This is especially true for Sin in a Tin. (Take a moment to remove whatever thought may have just popped into your head.) Behold…

If this chocolate is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

The angel on your shoulder may be saying: “Just another bag of calories you’re going to exercise off later.” Don’t listen to him. (Her?) The calories are worth whatever form of torture you choose to endure later. (Unless, of course, it includes eternal punishment.)

It makes a great gift or you could add it to a tray of fruit and cookies and bring it to your next gathering. You will be the sin-ter of attention (I know. Lame joke.) You could just do what I do… hide it in the fridge and take it out for a slice in moments of weakness. Anyway, we can all feel a little bit holy, because Sin in a Tin and its tart cousin Lemon Lust, are made by locals: Guthrie’s in Pensacola, Florida. And aren’t we special? All the Publix stores in Baldwin County carry it. Look in the frozen dessert section.

PS - Since this is the first day of public posting, may I suggest clicking "Join this Site" right over there. ------->

:) Thanks!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Park It.

Although the Food Truck craze has yet to really take off here in (the other) L.A., I would still like to imagine that I am hip enough to dine at and comment on them.

If I'm not... The bf definitely is...

So Hipsta.
Anyway, we stopped at Mr. Surf's in PCB, on the way out of town and happened upon the food truck parked in the lot beside it.

If the location doesn't give it away, I'm sure you can imagine the crowd that frequents Finn's Island Style Grub. Let's just say my hipstometer was off the charts and my own personal coolmeter was dipping in the single digits. But, I had great company and the fish tacos were brag-worthy, so I was a happy post-camper. The spice was perfect and the price was about right. Plus they topped it with cabbage, so obviously they know what's up.

The greatest deal here was the 2lb. burrito for a measly $6.99. I liked the cilantro-laced refried beans so much that I scarfed down half of J's, even after I ate my own fish taco. (Don't you love a man who has eyes bigger than his stomach?)

Anyway, Finn's a definite revisit. Now that I know the food is solid, I might even go for the ceviche. :)

Finns island style grub on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 4, 2012

Heaven on Earth Update

It was so much fun. Dreamy, in fact. Some of the highlights from the annual camping trip:

1. Swimming with wild dolphin mother and baby. Seriously. You can do it too, just take a jet ski or a kayak out to the end of the jetties. They are always there and they want to meet you!

2. Sleeping in a hammock on the beach. Fun, although I don't recommend doing what J's brother and wife did. Lesson Learned: sharing a hammock all night is never a good idea.

3. Playing football at sunset.

Okay, I admit, I flaked out this year after a full day of being washing-machined by waves and being stung on the finger by a bee who really liked my floral-print tank top. But don't they look so snazzy? My hottie bf is the QB, of course. :)

4. Eating. Period.

Want more pics from the camping trip? Follow me on Instagram! My ID is Gra_Bee. See you there!