Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 28, 2013

Great vacations require great food


— I enjoy traveling. As I pen this week's BBQ My Way installment, I am sitting in a condo in Panama City, Fla. We are here for my daughter's spring break. She's our youngest and is a senior in high school. As with our other kids, we felt it was a good idea to be around when they headed south for spring break. You know, just to be there. Watch one episode of any MTV show during spring break and you will understand why we do this.

Oh, and just in case someone reading this column thinks we are now a perfect target for a home burglary, don't waste the time plotting. By the time this hits the press, we will be home.

Anyway, for Liz and I, one huge component for any vacation is the food. If you were to look at our bucket list of places we would like to visit before we kick the proverbial bucket, it tends to be centered around food. And in Panama City, it's all about the seafood.

One thing I need to come clean on. We have always preferred Destin, Fla. We vacationed in Destin 13 straight years. You could almost consider us “Destin Snobs,” always looking down on Panama City and Panama City Beach as the “party towns.” Granted, there is a good deal of partying in Panama City during spring break, but we have found the beaches to be beautiful, and more importantly, the restaurants in Panama City blow Destin restaurants away. The fresh seafood shops also have more variety and better competition. In Destin it's either Sextons Seafood or Destin Seafood. There are so many more to choose from in Panama City. The traffic isn't as bad. Here's the bottom line. We are already talking about a return trip to Panama City.

When not eating out this week, we have thoroughly enjoyed preparing seafood in the condo. We have cooked fresh shrimp, red snapper, crawfish and trigger fish. We have sampled smoked tuna dip, crab cakes, gumbo and deep fried frog legs while eating out. I have also made a decision to start sampling and learning about the different variety of beers. I came across a cool app on Iphone called “Brew Gene.” Ratings on 40,000 beers. Thank goodness we have access to a work out facility.

So, let's talk some food preparation. In most areas it's not real tough to find fairly fresh shrimp. So I'm going to share with you a ridiculously simple shrimp scampi recipe that Liz has been making whenever we cook shrimp.

• 1 lb. fresh shrimp, the bigger the better. (We settled on the 15 count, meaning roughly 15

shrimp weigh in at a pound.

• 1/8 of a stick of unsalted butter

• 2 Tbs of olive oil

• 1 large garlic clove minced (or ½ to 1 tsp of granulated garlic)

• salt and pepper to taste

• ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Remove the shells and the mud vein which runs down the back of the shrimp. We won't go into what a mud vein is, other than to say it's best to remove it. A slight cut down the entire back of the shrimp will reveal it. Rinse shrimp well once the mud vein is removed.

Over medium heat, melt the butter and add the olive oil. If using granulated garlic -- Do not use powdered garlic -- toss the shrimp in it. If using minced garlic, saute' the garlic in the oil and

butter for 30 to 45 seconds. Be careful as it will burn quickly.

Add the shrimp to the oil and butter. Spread them out. Allow them to cook for roughly two minutes.

They will start to turn pink. Turn them and immediately take them off the heat and place a lid on them.

Allow them to sit for roughly three minutes. If they are smaller shrimp, reduce the cooking time on both sides accordingly. The biggest mistake people make with seafood in general is to overcook it.

Place cooked shrimp in a platter and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley. Squeeze the juice of ¼ of a lemon on the shrimp. Toss and serve.

We have used left over shrimp in salads, in our scrambles eggs and in omelets. Give it a try!


Dave Lobeck is a barbecue chef from Sellersburg, Ind., who writes a column for CNHI News Service. Visit his website at