Fried Squirrel to Escargot Coupla Texans on an Adventure along the Gulf Coast

It tastes just like fried chicken, and who doesn't like fried chicken? -- Well, if you don't, you're clearly NOT from the South! If you have roots in San Saba, the Pecan Capital of the WORLD, Texas, you've had fried squirrel. More than once. Until I saw what it looked like all skinned out, I thought fried squirrel was a delicacy, like escargot,...delicious! -- But I was HORRIFIED when, eventually, I saw one skinned and ready to butcher....because I realized that little "delicacy" was nothing more than a huge RAT! And from that day on, I just opted out of fried squirrel -- FOREVER -- and returned my loyalties to fried chicken. Good fried chicken...like Memaw Ruby made.

Southern Fried Chicken
“People who love to eat are always the best people. - Julia Child”

So we're Southern people with deep Southern roots, and what that means is this: There's always food...and it's always good. --And wrestling with weight has been a challenge my whole life. I've learned what to eat, what not to eat, what's healthy, what's not, the good, the bad, the ugly, of dieting...and at 50 something, I've come back around to this: Balance, Moderation, Education, and Life Style Changes must be the key. I'm on this journey, and food is a part of it, but as I learn better, I am doing better. Follow us as we travel the South this summer. We'll be exploring the sights, the histories, the culture, the food, and the people of the places in which we land. Here we go!

So this might be a food blog; for sure it's a travel blog. -But mostly, it's just a coupla' people at home in the South enjoying this beautiful country!

MISSISSIPPI

Coming Soon: Mac's "Commentary"

DESTIN, FLORIDA

Miramar Beach

Surrounded by three sparking pools, numerous cabanas dotting every corner of the property, and miles of layered hues of blue sprawling ocean and white sand beachfront, Miramar Beach and Hilton Sandestin Resort stunned us with its beauty!

Beautiful!

As far as the eye can see...BLUE.

The white sand beaches of Destin are some of the whitest beaches in the WORLD! Who knew? It's the small quartz particles that originated in the Appalachians more than 20,000 years ago that give this gorgeous coastline its sparkle.

SEASIDE, FLORIDA

After morning coffee, sand, and sun, we made our way to Seaside, an artsy village down the coastline characterized by trendy, colorful homes with picket fences and bicycles galore, a variety of eateries, and narrow streets filled with strolling tourists and happy bicyclists...except for the one young teen we nearly ran over -- twice -- as he cycled down Watercolor Boulevard. 😳

Lunch at the Great Southern Cafe was lovely, fresh, delicious and HIGHLY recommended! Although it was Ryan's first day, our server doubled as historian sharing with us a little bit of Seaside's culture and development. He was delightfully friendly, as comfortable as the fried green tomatoes that garnished my plate.

Coming Soon: Mac's "Commentary"

Orange Beach, Alabama

Arriving in Orange Beach, Alabama, we immediately felt "at home" with the bicycle lane in the middle of the street (much like Austin, Texas) and an over-confident bicyclist waiting at the red light (Mmmhmmm). Mac's been "beeped at" twice and he's "anxious" to provide his commentaries to this blogging adventure. On a side note, he deliberately avoided the exit to a place called Niceville back in Florida, (seriously, the name of the town was Niceville!) and now we know why.

Not going to Niceville.

"I get way too much happiness from eating good food." ~ Elizabeth Olsen

Believe me when I say, we did NOT intend to find the most irresistible desserts east of the Mississippi. -And in spite of the carbs in all the fried crusty seafood we've enjoyed, I've been fairly conscientious of my daily totals. --But when the server entices you with Key Lime Pie (his favorite dessert) and Bread Pudding (my favorite dessert), and he explains to you in depth that these desserts are anything but "ordinary"..."No," he says, "these are made from scratch back in the kitchen by the owner's Mawmaw, and they're, well, they're special. They're incredible." What's a tourist to do when faced with that kind of information while enjoying the view of the marina, the sound of Alabama blues, a fireworks display over the water, and a Strawberry Moon above? Well, I'll just tell ya: You eat it. And we did. With no regrets. We'll just get up and start over...tomorrow.

To be honest, we kept a cooler full of Atkins shakes, canteloupe, peanut butter, and ham and cheese roll-ups. This was actually our breakfast and - pretty much - one meal a day, as we "Crystal Lited" ourselves along the way.

BEAUMONT, YES, BEAUMONT, TEXAS.

For me, I had reached my car riding limit, though, at Beaumont, Texas. I was hungry, tired, and (as my family says) I had completely lost my personality. I had to stop. A Hilton Honors member, we naturally pulled into the Hilton, A Hilton Garden Inn off I-10, and found it to be refreshing, light, airy, and exactly what we needed at that moment. We "hit the sack" and slept like babies on what we believe was the BEST bed on our whole trip. For less than $100 per night, we highly recommend the Hilton Garden Inn off I-10 In Beaumont.

A BREWED AWAKENING At WINNIE. TEXAS

The name of the place seemed appropriate after a 9 hour drive from Biloxi to Beaumont. In search of coffee, using Yelp, we made our way to Brewed Awakening in Winnie. --Now, I'm the worst about judging an eatery by its cover, and HE's the one who'll try just about anything...but this time, we arrived and he looked at me with a "Really?" and somewhat panicked face. "It gets great reviews," I pleaded and agreed to scope it out incognito while he waited in the car. Upon entering this little gourmet coffee stop, I was immediately at ease and was able to coax him out of the car with the promise of a lemon bar. The staff was delightful and there were so many food options we had trouble selecting which one to try. This little joint is family owned, and the addition of Christian Contemporary music made us feel right at home. On coffee, readers should understand that our coffee snobbery runs deep. I go with tea immediately if high-end, gourmet, or freshly roasted coffee is not available. To our DELIGHT, the coffee at Brewed Awakening was all three, seriously delicious. Our breakfast plates were freshly made to our satisfaction, and we left knowing we'll return the next time we are this way. Just south of I10 at Winnie, at 312 Hwy 124, Brewed Awakening is well worth the 1/2 mile detour for passersby. Loved this place, the coffee, the people, and the food!

Lesson Learned: Do NOT judge a "book" by its cover.

Credits:

Created with images by TheCulinaryGeek - "Classic Fried Chicken"

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