Friday, September 30, 2011

Star Fish Seafood

Cue Creedence Clearwater Revival. We found the ultimate down home dock restaurant with the best Gulf seafood in the area! Believe me, we've tested a good portion of the menu and it's all been to die for!

This is the joint we were looking for when we stumbled into Cortez Kitchen earlier in the trip. The next day, I mapped Star Fish Seafood online and we found it. And . . . we've made many visits since. We've become their best customers. Last night when we were leaving, the cook yelled through the screened kitchen windows Ya'all have a nice evening! The staff probably thinks we're living down the street instead of commuting across the bridge.

That's the fish shack in the distance, a local landmark in Cortez fishing village.

And yes, this is the place with the painted wisdom on picnic tables!

Last night I took a break from seafood and tried the burger. Yum!

Another night we ordered the peel and eat shrimp.

The fried clams. Seriously, to die for! Are you sensing a theme here? I've got to lose that phrase considering all the fried seafood we've been consuming.

And the crabcakes melt in your mouth! These are the first fresh crabcakes I've had since living in the Northwest, and we'll be returning one more time before we leave in a few days so I can have another round!

There's also a seafood market next to the restaurant. They sell fresh seafood, artwork, t-shirts, etc....

Star Fish serves everything from smoked mullet to cabernet!

And it's a hoppin' place on the weekends for food and boat rides!

If you just happen to be in the Bradenton/Cortez/Anna Maria Island area, we highly recommend it! And don't forget to try the key lime pie! I'd like to take one home with me because seriously, it IS to die for!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Picnic Table Wisdom

An artist has painted slogans all over the picnic tables at our favorite dock joint.

From the silly -- wish you were beer.

To more serious slogans like seas the day . . . the tide always changes.

And my favorite! We never die. We become the waves in the sea, the sand on the beach. Life sweet life!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Just When You Think It's Safe . . .

to go back in the water, some guy gets attacked by a shark while you're on vacation.

Craig came home from fishing at the Rod and Reel Pier yesterday with the tale of a shark attack that happened this weekend off Anna Maria Island. The guys at the Rod and Reel were buzzing because the victim was brought to shore there at the pier after the attack. And it was the talk of the town at the restaurant where we ate tonight.

Monday after our morning walk, I got into the Gulf and was doing my water aerobics routine, jogging in the water and flailing my arms around. This was before I heard about the weekend bull shark attack. It suddenly hit me that my wild arm and leg movements might not be the wisest choice. I'll still get in and float around, but remember the Summer of the Shark back in 2001 when there were all those shark attacks off Florida? Yikes!

Here are a few photos from the Rod and Reel Pier, an Anna Maria institution. The shark attack has fueled a new debate on the island. Some neighbors are upset that fishermen at the Rod and Reel use chum to fish for sharks. The Rod and Reel is located at the far northern point of the island on the bayside.

Supposedly, these PETA posters will be cropping up around here in the near future on billboards. I don't imagine they'll go over well.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rain Day

Yesterday, we woke to crashing thunder and stormy skies. So much so that I quickly pulled up NOAA on my laptop to make sure there was nothing too tropical and stormy on the horizon. All is well, and we're loving the weather! The thunder and lightning, deep blue skies, and crashing waves are a great break from the monotony of Phoenix heat and sun.

We spent the morning shelling at the southern tip of the island, finalizing our next location on the beach for our move on Wednesday, and turtle crawling our way throught the shops and sights in Anna Maria. After all that, we topped off the morning with lunch at the Sandbar, a popular beach restaurant in Anna Maria.

The stormy view from the balcony -- pea green seas and deep blue skies.

Great day for an early lunch at the Sandbar Restaurant!

The chicken salad.

And the seafood salad with crab and pasta shells.

After lunch, Craig took off for the historic Anna Maria Pier to do some fishing, while I read and listened to the waves. The fish story is that he caught 15 jacks and had a blast.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Beach

When I showed Craig the online photos of Anna Maria Island the first time, he said, No way that sand's going to be almost white, and no way the water will be that color of blue. It's the Gulf! But he was wrong. It's not as clear or as pretty as the Caribbean, but it's still gorgeous!

I'm up early at first light to see whether the clouds will be pink or peach.

We come across all kinds of birds on our morning walks and they rarely move. This egret seems to be contemplating the rainbow.

Craig's loves it because he can fish to his heart's content while I sit watching from the beach.

This guy seems to loiter in the same location down the beach everyday. I tried to look him up on the bird chart. Could he be a stork?

Cottages up the beach leave their kayaks right out front.

I think these two gigantic adirondack style chairs were being used as a prop this morning for a trash the wedding dress photo shoot. It's the first time I've actually ever witnessed one. Most women on the beach were appalled that someone would choose to ruin an expensive wedding gown.

Here's Craig wading back into the water with new bait on his hook. He's out there right now, along with the football guys down the beach who have a tent and pirate flag set up.

Earlier this afternoon in a rain squall, we saw people running down the beach in mass following something in the water. At first we thought it might be a dolphin, but then realized after we got the binoculars that it was the neighborhood manatee out for a cruise. We've been told he likes to nudge swimmers in the water out front when he passes by. They may need to call 911 if he surprises me!

I'm sure Craig will still be out there at sunset this evening with the fishing pole.

The sunset tonight won't be as stunning as last nights due to the cloud cover, but I'd better get my camera just in case!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I'll Have the Smoked Mullet

Yesterday, in a quest to consume more greasy fried seafood at dock restaurants, we set off for the historic fishing village of Cortez. We drove round in circles trying to find a restaurant I'd read about on Trip Advisor. Finally we saw a lot of cars in front of a different dockside joint, the Cortez Kitchen, and decided to give that one a try instead.

After taking a glance at some of the characters seated at the bar, I almost felt like we'd walked into a Carl Hiassen novel.

And then I saw the menu. I'll have the smoked mullet? I was suddenly envisioning the Mel Gibson/Randy Johnson mullet going up in smoke.

I chickened out on ordering the smoked mullet and decided to try a grouper sandwich. There's a big competition here in coastal Florida for the best grouper sandwich, so I wanted to see what the fuss was about.

Craig ordered the fish and rings. Overall, we'd give this dockside joint an A for characters and an average on the food.

We headed back to Cortez Fishing Village today with directions to the Starfish Seafood Restaurant. Yum! This joint took the honors! And yes, they also serve mullet.

Craig and I now have mullet mania. Everywhere we turn, we're seeing mullets of the hair variety. Mainly on women. Eeks!

(To be continued.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Postcard from Camp Florida

To: Mom

The food here on Anna Maria Island (unlike the slop at Girl Scout Camp) is very tastey! The sand is white and the Gulf water is warm. Met a man at the pool this morning who looks exactly like a geriatric version of Bobby Hill (King of the Hill), and he sounds just like Robert Duvall.

P.S. After my diet of the past few days (fried shrimp, fried fish and chips, and more fried fried fried), I think this souvenir might come in handy!


Your loving daughter