Birthday Week 2.0

Wow! We’ve had a fun 5 days in and around Crystal River.  Looking back through the photos, dividing  up the activities seemed the best way to go.

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Food is an important aspect of any trip and especially so with us. First posting will talk about our adventures with food.

After dropping our things at the rental house, lunch was on our agenda.  First idea was Dan’s Clam Stand.

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We had visited before but later visits always found the restaurant closed. It had been several years since our last visit.  I ordered the fried popcorn shrimp while Eric got fried whole belly clams with fries and hush puppies.
ED04EE0A-0F5B-4F95-A20A-7ED6ADAC42F3While nothing was wrong with our meal, it probably won’t warrant a return visit.  We’ve had such excellent seafood in the years between our visits, I’m going to guess this meal just couldn’t stand up to the comparison.

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We had caught fish our first afternoon on the water and it turned into our first dinner at the rental.    It became  seafood ceviche topped with avocado.  Yummmm-very tasty.  Margaritas added to the enjoyment of our meal.

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Another meal cooked was breakfast:  bacon, egg and cheese on an everything bagel.  It’s one of my all time favorite breakfast requests.

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Celebrating my birthday, we had dinner reservations at Vintage on 5th.  It is a fabulous local, high-end place with a creative menu and lengthy wine list.

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We started with she-crab soup and fish dip.  This was followed by Eric’s fried grouper and my ahi  tuna plate.  The meal was finished with dessert – of course – Eric ordering a chocolate & caramel sundae and I got coffee with my carrot cake.  It was cute-they added a birthday candle to my cake  🙂

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One fun dining activity when vacationing near the water is motoring up to a restaurant in the boat and securing your boat at their dock.  When Adrienne joined us, we had lunch at Crackers Bar & Grill and yes, we motored up to the restaurant.  🙂

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We had been dodging storms that morning but at the headwaters of Crystal River (King’s Bay), the weather was good enough for eating outside.  It had cute, covered outside seating.

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The fish dip was some of the best we’ve had and when dividing it up between 3 people, it went fast!

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Meals  were fried grouper fingers, fried grouper sandwich (sans bun) and a fried, mixed seafood platter.

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At a point in our vacation, we moved to a hotel-more about that in the next post. 😦  that meant all of our meals had to be eaten out.  Hence, why I’m dividing the week into several posts since we ate out WAY more than we expected.

Previously, Eric had stopped at Olive Tree Restaurant for breakfast food and brought back a menu to see other eating options.  A Greek restaurant in Crystal River – who knew?

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They could pack food ‘to-go’ but it would never be as good as eating there.  One early morning we visited for breakfast……….

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……..and later came back for lunch that same day.  My meal choice had a Greek focus while Eric’s meal was American comfort food (meatloaf & mashed potatoes).

We visited another local favorite Pecks Old Port Cove Restaurant  in Ozello, about 15 miles away.

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Spicey fried shrimp was my selection while Eric ordered 1 dozen sautéed garlic crabs.  Man – look at the garlic in the bowl!  There must have been almost 2 cups of chopped garlic.

Our absolute favorite (new) local restaurant is Seafood Seller & Cafe. In fact, over a period of a few days, we ate there 3 times.  Their website says “Our food is cooked to order and prepared from the heart.” and truly, that says it all.

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They feature Cajun food, which of course Eric loved.  Our first meal consisted of crawfish etouffee’ (Eric) and a catfish po-boy for myself, with a side of gumbo.  I should have stuck with only eating Eric’s gumbo.  His was the first I had ever tasted and he tailors the recipe to my taste – thanks hon!

We returned with Adrienne, sitting at their bar to avoid a 30+ minute wait – this place is popular!  I had finally had my fill of seafood for the moment and ordered a hamburger (when the waitress said it was the only thing her boyfriend ordered, I was sold).

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Eric ordered 4 lbs of crawfish.  At one point in the evening, he was showing others around the bar how to eat them properly.

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We topped off our meal by sharing their bread pudding.  It was big enough for the 3 of us to eat and still have some leftover.

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Eric was curious about their crawfish and ended up talking to one of the owners-Jimmy- who actually took him in the kitchen area to see how they process their crawfish.  After my meal was finished, I got the tour myself.  Every 3 days, 800 lbs of live crawfish arrive in these mesh bags.  The crawfish are dumped out and the live ones walk down the chute, falling over the edge, into the sink below.

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Our last visit was Sunday afternoon and even at 2pm, there was a 15 minute wait – but well worth it.  We took other friends on Sunday to enjoy the Cajun cooking.  We had good waitresses on all of our visits, but on Sunday, Angel beat them all.  She shared her personal favorites and definitely should be someone working at Disney. She gets it!

Appetizers were fried pickles and fried green tomato chips.  The tomato chips won – hands down.  We love fried pickles and after all of the tomato chips were gone, we finished off the pickles, but all future visits we will be getting only the tomato chips – just saying!  The tomato chips are on the left.

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Eric ordered ‘yankee’ chowder’ before getting his fried grouper entre’ while I ordered the fish tacos.

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So the (Mahi) fish tacos looked kind of ‘weird’ to me, having a square piece of fish sitting on a flour tortilla.  Got to say………………….they were fantastic!  I will definitely be ordering those on any future visits.  I know, they don’t look like much but they have the right texture, the right flavor and the spicey mustard sauce that was accompanying them, was perfect.

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I so wanted to order dessert, but I didn’t have any room.  They had beignets on their dessert menu (with a raspberry and chocolate dipping sauce!) but that would have taken me over the edge, in a bad way – too much food.

The next post will talk about our fish adventures and why our accommodations changed in the middle of our vacation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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