Pawley's Island, South Carolina

We had a very relaxing fourth of July holiday weekend in Pawley's Island. Our time by the sea was shaped by outstanding weather and quality family time. We also ate like kings. En route to the Johnson's, we stopped at a local favorite Kudzu Bakery for tarragon mustard (for our sandwiches) and Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. Their prices cannot be beat. For delectable fish pies, key lime pies, cheesecakes, upscale tonic waters, bitters, syrups, wine and chicken salad sandwiches, be sure to swing by. This spot is worth going in if only for a gander as it is a lovely food shop indeed. One evening we prepared my favorite, a low country boil. As tradition holds, Matthew's father picked up fresh shrimp from his favorite spot in Murrell's Inlet. The corn, onions, chorizo and potatoes were all sourced locally in the state of South Carolina. In went a pouch of Zatarain's and we tucked in nicely over newspapers. The rest is history. One afternoon, Matthew and I scurried down the street to an old favorite for a late lunch, Louis's at Sanford's, which now has a new owner and name, Great PeeDee Q. Our beloved spot still boasts one of the best bars around, fresh caught fish tacos and mean cocktails. I enjoyed a grapefruit vodka number with muddled cucumbers and berries. It came served in a mason jar. Tres lowcountry! Pawley's offers many grocery stores including a favorite of mine, The Fresh Market. It seems we nipped in nearly daily to pick up this and that to throw on the grill. If you find yourself in this marvelous corner of the world, do make time for a meal at Frank's and secure a table al fresco. There is not a bad seat in the house. We are partial to their ahi tuna nachos, multilayer cake and wonderful thin crust pizzas prepared in a stone oven that sits on one of the back porches. We big fans of Chive Blossom. Everything on the menu is sublime. The Island Cafe is now Rustic Table and we had a superb meal there over Memorial Day weekend. They are sister restaurant to another local gem, Bistro 217. If you eat here, order the Monster Bistro Burger. Southern Living Magazine ranked it amongst the best in South Carolina. For homemade biscuits in the morning and burgers, fries and libations for lunch, head to Bisquit and do pop in next door to buy a hammock. Ours is the piece de resistance of the Reynolds Ranch backyard. 

During our first day on the beach circa 3.00 pm, a crowd of people swelled near to the shore. This is terrible but I automatically assumed someone must have been bitten by a shark and I excitedly ditched my book to run to the scene. Upon arrival, I was a tad disappointed to see a young man wrestling with something large on his line. A few people commented that they had seen a dorsal fin. It is a jolly good thing that I went swimming a pair of times earlier in the day as I had zero desire to get in after that. Anyway, the line broke and that was that. Talk about an anticlimactic exercise. As I slowly walked back to my chair and engaged in excited gossip with those around me, an older man told a small huddle of concerned fathers that they had seen two hammerhead sharks earlier in the day. Apparently they were uncomfortably close to the shore. Oh well so swell. There were a lot of turkeys fishing over the long weekend. It seems everyone wants to be a hero and catch a shark never mind the bait and chumming is exactly what draws them to the shore and in turn, near to swimmers. I was judicious when in the water. If I saw a fisherman near to people, I told him the time. I removed all my jewelry, made sure to stick close to larger men (don't ask me why but this was my rational at the time) and I lay on my back so as not to draw attention with kicking or severe arm movements. When I became pensive in thought, it was time to retreat from the water. Shark week began this week and I tempered my viewing for obvious reasons. Now that we are home, I am in overdose mode. It seems that the program is besotted with great whites. Did you know you can tell a female from a male as they usually have horrendous scars near to their gills? This is where the men chomp into them when they stake their claim. That can't be pleasurable at all and talk about violent. Predator of the ocean for sure though I will insert that they aren't all after people. You know, we grew up swimming in the waters off the coast of South Africa, both the Indian and the freezing Atlantic Ocean. While we on rare occasion saw seals (Seal Island is not far away) and one winter in Hermanus we had the pleasure of seeing whales, never once did I see a shark nor was I ever afraid to swim there. In fact, I am more uneasy in the waters of the Carolinas and Florida!

We had the pleasure of spending the morning of the 4th with one of my best friends from college. Anna and I met our senior year of high school and it's downright good fortune that we found ourselves in the same sorority back in the hot fall of 1998. We were Pi Beta Phi's you see and our paths crossed on the back deck of the charming little house on Rosemary Street. We were thick as thieves throughout college. Our freshman year was marked by huge lunches on campus, pranks cast at her very difficult RA and the dreaded 15+ weight gain. What can I say, we were party animals and lived large. My bosom pal inhabited a bedroom in the cottage on North Street for a year and we were roommates in Florence, Italy during our study abroad in 2001. Allora. Anna's beach house is on the main drag where we enjoyed an outstanding vantage point of the 49th Annual Fourth of July Parade. Along with her entire nuclear and extended family, pineapple cocktails, music, deviled eggs and watermelon, we kicked off America's birthday right! The rest of the trip was spent taking long walks on the beach, swimming carefully, reading, napping on the beach, cocktails at sundown and the likes. I exhausted two idyllic beach reads. The first, The Knockoff, is a cute tutorial of fashion in the digital age. The second, The Divorce Papers, is a terrific novel about a high-profile divorce and the inexperienced, savvy young lawyer who is forced to take the case. The book is written in correspondence form and very entertaining. I also started a newly released book, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania. Erik Larson is a terrific writer and if you haven't already, pick up Devil in the White City. This book tells the tale of a serial killer during the time of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. The research and details are truly spellbinding. En route home, we stopped in Georgetown, which I read is the third oldest city in the state. We grabbed coffees, pamphlets outlining what all we needed to see and had a leisurely shmy around. A local told us where to eat the next time we are in town. Big Tuna. It is in the books and I am already excited to return. What are your family's traditions at the beach?

When I was away, my Paderno Four Blade Spiralizer arrived. We christened this beauty two nights ago. I am so excited about this utensil I simply cannot stand it. I am languidly dreaming about all the vegetables I plan to manipulate with my new toy. It is quite remarkable what all you can transform into noodles. The first night was zucchini. The meal was so gorgeous we made zucchini again last night. This evening, I plan to make noodles out of broccoli. At the weekend, I aim to try my hand at cucumber for salads with oil packed tuna, homemade pesto, six minute eggs and boiled potatoes. I also thought of an Asian inspired number with sesame oil, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, edamame and sesame seeds with grilled flank steak on top. I read that apples are also easy to curl. I am hoping to pick up some lovely beets at the farmers market, which I will turn into a salad made of toasted pine nuts, soft goat cheese and fresh mint. The herbs in our backyard are growing gangbusters this season and so I am enjoying finding ways to use them all. The recipe that follows was inspired by Matthew's request for Thai food. In lieu of going out, I brought it to our kitchen. For Pad Thai sauce you basically need brown sugar, tamarind paste, lime juice, rice wine vinegar and oil. You then finish things off with chopped peanuts, green onions and cilantro. Chicken is great as well as shrimp or mix the two. I have ordered some new goodies including tamarind paste and plan to try my hand at different recipes. If you do not have a spiralizer, you can replace with noodles. For now however, the below is basic, dynamite and will absolutely do. Stuff yourself minus the guilt. I had leftovers for lunch yesterday and they were the bomb.

Pad Thai with Zucchini Noodles


4 large zucchini
2 organic chicken breasts
The zest of 1 lime
The juice of 2 limes
1 tsp red pepper flakes - more if you like it hot
1 tsp turmeric
3 TBS fish sauce
2 TBS white wine vinegar
2 TBS brown sugar
4 TBS peanut oil
3 large cloves - chopped
2 inch piece of ginger - peeled and chopped
4 eggs - beaten
1 cup of bean sprouts
1 carrot - I made ribbons with a peeler
4 green onions - chopped
2 cups of cilantro - chopped
1/2 cup of roasted peanuts - chopped - I did mine in the Cuisinart
Lime wedges

Get Cracking

1. Make your zucchini noodles. Matthew and I had a grand time spiraling these puppies.

2. In a small bowl mix your lime zest, juice of the limes, fish sauce, white wine vinegar and brown sugar. Set aside. (If I had tamarind paste, I would add it now.)

3. In a large pan, add 2 TBS peanut oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and ginger. Sauté until golden. Now increase the heat to high and add your chicken, turmeric and red pepper flakes. Stir continuously until browned. This should take anywhere from 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer this chicken mixture to another plate.

4. Add 1 TBS peanut oil to the pan, lower the heat to medium high and in go your eggs. You are effectively making scrambled eggs here.

5. Once your eggs are done, add the chicken back to the pan along with the zucchini noodles and the marinade from step 2. Stir generously and let everything cook for around 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and garnish with green onions, chopped cilantro, chopped peanuts and a squeeze of lime.

This was magnificent hot and just as delicious cold. In fact, I may serve this as a cold lunch entree one of these days.

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