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Lifestyles

June 13, 2014

BBQ MY WAY: Florida, friends and food

Allow me to venture out in this week’s column. Instead of sharing a recipe or a grilling technique, I would like to share some experiences.

As I write this, Liz and I are traveling north on Interstate 95 toward Savannah, Ga., after a fantastic week with our dear friends, Tim and Lisa Vieke. And don’t worry, Liz is driving.

Two milestones were celebrated on this trip — Tim’s 50th birthday and our 25th wedding anniversary. We stayed at Amelia Island (Fernandina Beach) which is on the northeast coast of Florida.

Interestingly enough, this area has flown under eight flags over the past 400 years, one for just a day, but you have to count it. We stayed at Elizabeth Pointe Lodge, which is directly on the beach. The town is small and quaint. A mix of old and new with the feeling of a fishing village — Key West and a Norman Rockwell painting all rolled together.

Tim and I went fishing with Capt. Lawrence, a well-respected fishing guide in the area. We fished along marsh- and grass-lined shores and oyster beds which are plentiful and become visible as the tide goes out.

These oyster beds were huge, and looked like solidified lava from a distance. Things started off slowly, but by 8:30 a.m. things started happening, much to our captain’s delight. We caught red fish and sea trout. The sea trout isn’t really part of the trout family. It just looks like trout.

Capt. Lawrence cleaned the catch for us, and we dined on blackened fresh fish for two days. The sea trout was a bit denser than I expected, with the red fish being a bit more delicate, but both had fantastic flavor.

We ate out a few times, but the highlight was Espana, a Spanish restaurant in downtown Amelia Island. We kept it simple and ordered Seafood Paella for four. What a presentation it was: A huge cast iron skillet with colors of reds, brown, yellow and greens.

The base was white rice with sautéed peppers, peas and spice, with fresh shrimp, calamari, mussels, clams and large chunks of a delicate white fish. I can assure we will figure that recipe out and share it with you soon. We paired this dish with Rioja, Spanish red wine. It was so good.

At Tim and Lisa’s urging, we learned and became pretty proficient at bocce ball on the beach. What is great about the Atlantic side is the beach is a bit wider and firmer than the gulf coast, creating the perfect bocce ball surface when the tide goes out. Bocce ball is traditionally played on a measured and grassy area. Beach bocce has no such limits.

You have to predict not only speed but also huge curves and swings as your ball rolls. And then there are the occasional shells which can throw your ball off course. We called that “getting shelled.” Some areas of the beach had the pace and smoothness of Augusta National golf greens. We are hooked on beach bocce ball.

We also took a bike ride back to Fort Clinch, a civil war fort that was occupied by the Confederate Army, then abandoned by Gen. Lee and subsequently occupied by the Union Army. It was considered a strategic point on the Southeastern coast. It is shaped like the Pentagon, and was built from bricks brought in from New York.

Thanks for letting me share. Recipes start again next week. But, since Tim did all the cooking, I thought I could at least share with you our latest adventure.

— Dave Lobeck is an Edward Jones Financial Advisor in Jeffersonville by day and a BBQ enthusiast on nights and weekends. He is also a Kansas City Barbecue Society judge. Liz is his wife. You can contact Dave with your BBQ or grilling questions at BBQ-My-Way.com or at davelobeck@gmail.com

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