Fairhope, Alabama is different! In a good way mind you. It has an artist colony feel to it with lots of cute little shops and restaurants. This town’s motto is “You’ve arrived”, and indeed I have arrived with brother in tow to visit our 93 year old Aunt. Our Aunt has lived here twice in her long life but I never visited during her first residence due to my visions of Alabama as a place I would never want to visit. Lucky for me I grew up and got over my negative thoughts about the South, and it’s hot and humid weather. A sunset walk in Fairhope along the pretty waterfront park that looks out on Mobile Bay is one of the nicer walks I can think of in the U.S.
This is about my fifth visit and I have enjoyed every one of them by exploring the Mobile Bay, eating at very good restaurants, strolling the charming old downtown area and hanging out with my amazing Aunt. My aunt is one of my most important role models I have on how to retire right. Some of the key points she has taught me are to move to a town where you have a “sense of place” that you know you belong in. A place where you will already have or be able to build a social network to provide a rich life. A place that has a great variety of things of do is important too. Our Aunt is involved in a weekly writer’s group, has been in a singing group, a community band, and attends a church nearby. The weather suits her just fine too as she has never tolerated cold climates well and this is definitely not a cold climate.
I always visit before or after the hot season as I don’t do well in very hot and humid conditions for long. Each time I come down here I try and find new restaurants to eat at that will give me new ideas of healthy, simple recipes for my type of diet. When you think of the South you might think of fried chicken, shrimp and grits, fried catfish etc. You can find all of those here but you can also find a restaurant,(Sweet Olive) that serves a “Grain Bowl” special of the day, or a Mexican restaurant,(Agave) that serves excellent off the beaten path food beyond the regular tacos, burritos and enchiladas.
Every time I come down here Aunty lets me cook a meal or two and the supplies come from the local grocery stores that are plenty good. For regional delights I go to the Gulf Coast 15 miles away and hunt down fresh shrimp from one of the shrimper’s in the area. This trip I wasn’t able to find Gulf shrimp close by like I had in the past before the Gulf oil spill four years ago, but I did find good Florida pink shrimp at the Winn-Dixie and fixed us some fast and yummy shrimp scampi. It made for a great meal served on brown rice with a side of Italian seasoned baked green beans. When I got back home and went to buy shrimp for this post I wasn’t able to find Florida pink shrimp so I substituted tiger shrimp with good results.
For a special Fairhope themed giveaway I have two items from the area. I’m giving away a bag of B&B roasted and salted pecans to one lucky winner, and a fun book of short stories called Fairhope Anthology in which my Aunt is a contributing author. Two lucky winners will get one of these gifts by leaving a comment on this post. I’ll draw the winners randomly next week from all you faithful readers. Until then enjoy this simple recipe for shrimp scampi.
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning, or a combo of 1/4 teaspoon each of dried basil, dried thyme, and dried oregano
4 teaspoons olive oil
2-4 cloves minced garlic depending on how much you love garlic
On medium low heat add the olive oil to a sauté pan and mix in the herbs and garlic, distributing it well in the pan.
Carefully lay the shrimp in the sauté pan so they make good contact with the cooking surface and cook on medium heat for 5-7 minutes until they turn pink and start to curl up.
Flip and cook for about four minutes more.
Serve over steamed rice and be sure and pour the oil from the pan over the shrimp as it’s full of flavor.
Serves two, and is easily doubled if needed.
A bit of red pepper flakes are a good addition. Use about 1/4 teaspoon, and add with the herbs.
Can be served as a hot appetizer too.