Saturday, September 14, 2013

Beach Bummed

We almost let the summer go by without a trip to the beach, Man O and I.  Figures the year we have zero, none, nada hurricanes barreling up the North Carolina coast is also the year of the dying appliances. No beach week or weekend for us. Money's too tight.

So we day tripped! There is something about just getting in the car and heading to your favorite beach that has a magic all it's own.

Off to Wrightsville Beach.  We've been going there since our college days. Two and something hours away depending on whose driving. Great restaurants and a compromise on the beach.

Almost there, over a drawbridge, and we'll be there. Look at that sky.

I was shocked when I went to NC beaches for the first time. I went to developed beaches growing up like Fenwick Island, Delaware and Ocean City, Maryland. But spent most of my time on Assateague, the protected beach park near Chincoteague, Virginia, the one with wild ponies. I love wild ponies.  I don't like hotels mixed with my sand.

Honey, is this deserted enough for you?
So Man O introduced me to the very end of Wrightsville Beach near the inlet and Kure Beach near Ft. Fisher. The great thing about both these places is once we walk a bit, I can pretend I'm in the middle of nowhere!

Ahhhhh. Looking out on the islet in the inlet. I love words that end in "let"! No I wasn't run over but it looks that way.

Talk about a gorgeous day to walk the beach for a couple hours. Plenty of sunscreen in hand. Man O has had skin cancer surgery and it's no joke. The sound of the waves, the wind, the free pedicure for my feet courtesy of all the sand. It was a perfect day.





Yep, I was beach bummed.  Why?  It's tough being a GAL with allergies and try to have the full beach restaurant culinary experience.

We stopped at The Oceanic, our favorite seafood restaurant, celebrating its new pier after having the whole thing destroyed in the latest bad hurricane. Yep, North Carolina is known for baddies, just like Florida and Texas. Floyd and Fran, Hugo and Hazel, Irene and Isabel. Lots of them hit in September. But this September day was gorgeous. Not a hint of a storm.

It had been a while and the menu had changed. I did my standard check with the waiter to make sure there was no corn in the fried shrimp batter. Wheat I was willing to cheat with. Corn? It makes my throat close up. Not worth the risk.

Our waiter looked like he was straight out of a magazine shoot. Dark hair. Tanned. Aviator sunglasses. ALL the waiters looked like him. I started thinking they were members of the same frat from the local university in nearby Wilmington. And there is nothing more attractive than a man who takes your food allergies seriously. Man O just sat across from me eating the free hush puppies.

Hmm. Let me try again.
That's it. They all looked like Tom Cruise. Only much taller.  And not weird.

Except my waiter promised my shrimp wasn't covered in cornmeal. "98% sure." And that 2% was my downfall. He went back to check and sure enough, the shrimp was now coated in a mix of flour and cornmeal. 

Sniff. My shrimp had to be broiled.

I asked for fries. I could live with broiled shrimp if I had the fries.

Man O's meal came out looking like this:


Mine looked like this:

See what's missing? Never mind the gorgeous fresh veggies. Never mind the colorful rice pilaf. No fries. All because they fry them in the same oil as the cornmeal encrusted shrimp, oysters and flounder.

My face fell. I was distraught. "But I don't want to eat healthy! I'm at the beach!"

Then the gorgeous waiter threw a bone: Would you like some of our cole slaw?

Ohhhh, their famous slaw. (See Man O's platter) Cole slaw with granny smith apples added. Of course I did. The stuff is fantastic. It helped put a smile back on my face. The slaw and looking at all the waiters congregating at the back of the pier.

The ingredients are so simple. I couldn't wait to make this recipe at home.

1 package shredded slaw mix or 1 small cabbage head, shredded.
2 large granny smith apples
Juice of  one lemon
1/2 cup mayo of choice
Milk to thin mayo

Slice apples as thin as you can get them. Toss in lemon juice.
Mix in with slaw mix or plain cabbage.
Blend mayo with enough milk to make it pourable but not runny.
Pour over other ingredients and chill before serving.

Easy, easy, easy. Who knew adding an apple would make such a difference? So good and so much better for you than fries.  Sigh.

Even better, you can vary the ingredients, depending on the entree. A sweeter apple in the slaw makes it the perfect accompaniment for pork.  Toss in raisins and a bit of cinnamon to make it even more of an autumn dish. Pears and pecans. Pineapple and macadamia nuts. You get the picture.

So, how do you handle allergies on vacation? Are you a beach or mountain person? Do you have a favorite day trip? Or are we going to do battle over Officer and A Gentleman versus Top Gun?  



  1. dunno which is worse Tom Cruise or Richard Gere - think maybe Cruise is worse...
    so thankful I dont have allergies though it would definitely keep me healthier (and a lot thinner) if I did I think...definitely no fun to not get to eat fried stuff and seems like they could've done yours special in a differnt pan or least you got to see cute waiters though. beach looks nice too - I'm not too far from Galveston yet I seldom go - may have been a dozen times total in the almost 23 yrs I"ve lived in the Houston area.

    is your leg better now?

    1. The leg is much better. Thanks for asking.

      I've wondered how the beach is different on the Gulf Coast.

    2. Galveston's looks so brown to me - not like the beach pictures I'd seen in magazines growing up! one of my aunts drives 5 hours as ofen as she can to go there though. There are probably prettier beaches not far from here though.

  2. Hello? Tom Cruise is the weird one--Richard Gere is merely eccentric.

    Great post, Julie, and although I know you would have liked to have some of the fried shrimp, both plates are a draw in the "droolworthy" contest.

    And cute waiters as well? Love that!

    Seems like you and Man O made a nice memory.

    1. And I must not have drooled too much for Man O to notice or maybe it was just that he was drooling over his fried seafood he never gets at home!

      In all seriousness, it was a gorgeous, relaxing day.

  3. "They all looked like Tom Cruise. Only much taller. And not weird." LOL moment of my morning. Great post, once again, Julie.

  4. I want your waiter.

    When we go out and take our daughter along, it's painful. We've had waiters ignore us (only looking at her while trying to take our order), wink at us, hunker down next to the table with a "come hither" look in his eye.... Man. It's sad. And it creeps her out - especially the "come hither" guy. She won't even go back to that restaurant!

    But a cute guy who takes you seriously? Oh yes. I'll be back to that restaurant in a flash!

    And allergies on only real problem is MSG, and I've learned to avoid certain restaurants (sorry Taco Bell and KFC), and certain foods - gravies, sauces, spicy breading, etc. Most will have MSG, and I'm not willing to take a chance. So I look for broiled meats, steamed veggies, etc. And I eat pretty well.

    And I'm coveting your beach day trip! I haven't been to the ocean since...let me think...1969. Yeah. A long time ago.

    Lake Michigan is a nice second, though, and I grew up going to the beaches there several times a summer.

    Our favorite day trip now? An evening drive through Custer State Park - we usually see bison, antelope, deer, prairie dogs and wild burros, and sometimes we see eagles (Golden and/or Bald), coyotes, rabbits, etc. We'll stop and hike for a bit if we have time, or just enjoy the view.

    Or we go to Mt. Rushmore. Yeah. We go there a lot.

    1. Okay, I want to see a picture of your daughter.

      Jan, I covet your hikes. We need to trade for a weekend! Yep. Mt Rushmore. Not a bad way to spend a day.

  5. Ugh, frustrating. This is my third time trying to comment. Nothing has shown up yet.

  6. Okay, since blogger seems to have gotten over hating me,

    I grew up ten minutes from the beach so I had no idea beaches included hotels until I was much older. The only buildings we saw were the snack shack/showers and (in the distance) the lighthouse.

    I have to agree with Piper about your dinner, Julie. I think your shrimp looks heavenly (and much better than fried).

    1. Ha!

      And yes, it was a great meal on a ton of levels.

  7. Ooooooh! I would have cried at no fries!! And I do not love slaw. Too much cabbage in Poland. but you've convinced me to give it a try because that Granny Smith part sounds delish!!

    We always went to the beach for a few weeks every spring. Oregon beaches do not equal sun and fun. Rain and wind and mussel stew, yes.

    Allergies... My only allergy is MSG. I get a massive migraine and can't feel my face for three days. So, yes. It gets tiresome. It's everywhere.

    but in in fries, thank goodness or I would cry.

    1. You have got me thinking, I need to start making sweet potato oven fries again. The weather is finally cool enough.

      And I want to try mussel stew.

      I remember seeing the west coast beach for the first time. All those cliffs and rocks. I didn't know what to think.