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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sometimes You Really Need To Clam Up

Welcomed by Tiki Man

Ten years ago, my wife was assigned to a work project that saw her being transferred, temporarily, to Florida.  She stayed in St. Pete Beach for a couple weeks each month, and I visited her there twice.  On those occasions, she took me out to some of the local restaurants she had been frequently.  Her favorite, by far, was a seafood restaurant called Snappers. 

We haven’t been back to St. Pete Beach since her project ended, and like any city that relies on tourism, St. Pete Beach had changed quite a bit.  Hardly any of the restaurants we remembered were still there.  But thankfully, Snappers remained.

We were somewhat worried, as Snappers is a nice restaurant, and unlike a decade ago, my wife was not on per diem.  Still, we had such pleasant memories of our dinners there that we had to try it once.  In our normal lives, we awaken in the early morning hours to sneak in a workout.  Even though we weren’t visiting a gym on vacation, and were staying up later as a result, our stomachs hadn’t adjusted to the time change.  Thus we arrived just before six o’clock, which allowed us to order off the Early Bird menu.

The dish we had enjoyed most was their fried clams, and normally you can only order it off the appetizer section.  But on the Early Bird menu, it was listed under dinners, and came with coleslaw.  Still, we were surprised when our waiter brought out a plate of coleslaw.  “Yes,” he responded to our wide-eyed expression, “we serve coleslaw like most restaurants serve salads.”  The slaw tasted great, and was garnished with shredded beet, which in addition to providing color, also tasted great.  (Yes, we belong to that weird subset of humanity that actually like beets).

To get my clam fix, I’d normally visit Long John Silvers.  We split their little clam snack, which alongside a piece of fish and a hushpuppy usually satisfies us.  Our waiter at Snappers set before us platefuls of French fries topped with veritable mountains of fried clams.  The breading was different from Long John Silvers: it was more mildly spiced, and reminded me of the kind of tempura coating for vegetables that you might get in a Japanese restaurant.  Not only were the fried clams delicious, but there was soooooooo much of them!  We couldn’t even begin to eat half of them, but we gave it a darn good try!

When we caved in to reason, deciding that if we ate much more, we’d need to pay for two extra seats on the flight home, we asked our waiter for some takeout boxes.  He asked, “Shall I have the kitchen staff put your key lime pies into boxes as well?”  Our jaws dropped.  “Yes, they come with your meals,” he told us.  Well, we shouldn’t have, but as we were having such a wonderful time, we told him to bring them out.  The pieces of pie weren’t all that large, perhaps half the size I’d expect if we ordered them separately, but they tasted great.  We ate up all our desserts, and then waddled out to our car.

There are times when everything comes together, and the mysteries of the universe are revealed.  Our dining experience at Snappers was one such moment.  Now I understand why people retire to Florida.  Now I understand why so many of these senior citizens flock to the Early Bird specials.  Who cares about hurricanes, when the housing is affordable, you can wear shorts and T-shirts year round, and the restaurants feed you so much good food at such reasonable prices?  When we retire, we’re moving to Florida, baby!

Now, to stock up on those shorts with the elastic waistbands…

Dragon Dave

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