Sunday, June 13, 2010

Phil's has the Best Butts

It was Team Dawmilam vacation week, and we spent the past 4 days in beautiful, sunny, lovely Panama City Beach, Florida. Look how pretty!

To answer the first question everyone's been asking: NO, we neither saw nor smelled oil, thank God. The beaches were pristine, except for kelp that had washed ashore, which is common this time of year. The water was as clear and emerald green as I've ever seen it. Calm, too! I got to do some open-water ocean swimming for the first time ever, which was awesome! I'm sure I looked super hot out there with my reflective anti-fog goggles while everyone else was in sunglasses. The only non-awesome parts of the swim were (a) major sunburn because I'm an idiot and forgot to reapply on my face after being out in the water for so long, and (b) nasty salt water lips upon emerging from the deep. Bud Light and water seemed to fix the latter problem, but the sunburn lingers. Terrified to swim even in the shallow water alone, Casey was my wing-woman, keeping a general watch for where I was and floating nearby on her noodle, except for when she saw a jellyfish and swam the other way, which resulted in a pretty funny conversation about whether it would be better to save me if I was drowning, or for her to save herself from an impending jellyfish sting.

But, this isn't a philosophical, life-death debate blog. It's a food blog! And food was plentiful on this trip. Like, way too plentiful. There was a moment yesterday morning, packing my cooler for another 6 hour beach day, when I realized just how much I had eaten/drank since Wednesday and... I was sort of mortified. However, tomorrow is a new day, and I start a new week of being healthy and super active, so... let me tell you about the amazing food I ate!

Of course, we had our usual: dinner (twice!) at Schooner's, which was coincidentally only half a mile from our condo (yes, we'll be staying there again). The crab, peel & eat shrimp, and grilled grouper were all delicious, as were the hush puppies. Mmm, hush puppies. Then we went to Sharky's, and I enjoyed some delicious Mahi-Mahi (grilled, again), and everyone else got yummy plates of "fried" that I picked off of. The fried popcorn shrimp were delicious this time! Lunch every day was turkey sandwiches and chips, snacks were beer & Cheetos (baked, thank you), our nightly board-game-time snacks were cheese & wheat thins, pizza, cookies, or whatever else we wanted, and our nightly drink was a traditional "Sex on the Beach," something I didn't realize I was good at making! (vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry, orange, and pineapple juice for those of you keeping score... the more pineapple, the better...just ask Casey!).

So, it was a fairly typical beach vacation, food-wise, except for Phil's BBQ in Eufaula, Alabama. That particular restaurant made it an exceptionally good foodie beach trip. On the drive down, we were *this close* to stopping at a Mexican restaurant near Columbus, but I was driving and missed the turn (typical) so I kept on going, thinking we'd make it to Dothan before our next good food chance. Then, I saw it.

One glance, and we knew: Team Dawmilam would have our beloved barbecue for dinner on the way to the beach.

What we found, readers, was a hole in the wall place that had THE BEST ribs either of us had ever tasted. Dave ordered a plate of them with baked beans and cole slaw, and I ordered my usual: pulled pork sandwich with a side of potato salad. Oh. My. Goodness. It was heaven on earth. It was at that moment, when I bit into one of his ribs that was so perfect it didn't even need sauce, that I realized I love eating meat, and can't imagine my life as a vegetarian. I would miss low & slow cooked pork products too much.

Sides were STELLAR. They tasted like my grandmother would make. I wouldn't doubt it if there was a grandmother back there somewhere, cooking the potatoes until they were the perfect amount of "done," stirring them with copious amounts of mayonnaise with no guilt or shame or second thought about the fat content. The baked beans had a deep molasses taste, and the cole slaw was perfectly dressed. Oh, and the sweet tea - the sweet tea! It was sweeter than any tea I had ever tasted. This is coming from a girl raised in a family full of diabetics who refuse to quit the sweet tea habit... you can only imagine the level of sweetness that tea jug contained. I was super happy. We gorged ourselves, and enjoyed it so much, we decided to stop back by on the way home today. We both ordered a rib platter, and we ate nearly every single bit of food on our plates (which was a lot). Doesn't that look amazing?

omnomnom nom nom nom

That little side of macaroni salad? Tasted JUST like something that I would have eaten at a family reunion, potluck, or church supper years ago. That macaroni salad was a masterpiece. Perfectly balanced ratio of mayonnaise to other seasonings. In fact, I was so inspired by it, that whenever I got home, I pulled out my very own edition of Calling All Cooks, the compilation cookbook that any self-respecting Southern woman has in her kitchen. Both grandmothers have it, my mom has it, my aunts have it, and come to think of it, it might be the one thing all my female relatives have in common, actually. Lemme tell you something: people like Willadean Cooley and W. D. Cameron and Mrs. Robert Adams (yes, many contributors submitted their recipes under Mrs. Husband's Name...) don't have a thing over Paula Deen. Look at this page of cornbread recipes I stumbled upon while browsing for the macaroni salad recipe (unsuccessfully):

Cookbooks that have recipes calling for "Golden Flake pork skins" and just straight up "fat" are alright by me.

My point? Go to Phil's next time you find yourself in Eufaula. Get you a rib plate with any sides you want. And tell me they don't kick Dreamland's "butts."

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