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Saturday, December 10, 2011

California to Florida


Welcome to Cocoa Beach
 Well I say to hell with writer’s block! Gypsy Gourmet is on the scene to discuss another cool place to chill and a recipe that is amazing, simple, and looks kind of fancy even if it’s not. I’ve set out today to write what I know, that’s all y’all are looking for anyway, right? We just recently took a 34 hour reset in one of the most beautiful places in the US.  I’ve been to all 48 lower states, so I think I have the authority to make that statement. I always thought Cocoa Beach, FL was supposed to be a tourist trap. Here's to being unequivocally wrong! From the beauty of the beaches, the unabashed warmth of the locals, and the epic availability of fresh seafood, we would've been content to learn how to weave baskets for the tourists and stay forever.



Garlic Butter Blue Crabs
Atlantic Seafood's Jumbo Shrimp
We stayed a block away from the beach and wandered our first evening away. We stumbled across a dive joint called Atlantic Seafood that boasts on the window "You buy, we fry". Looks like a bright yellow barely polished turd from the outside, and if Guy has taught me anything at all, it's that we had to go in and see for ourselves. The place consists of one table, a few scattered chairs, a cold seafood case, and a cash register. So you can literally buy fresh seafood to go, or pick your seafood to have cooked. Novel concept if you ask me. Still skeptical, we eyeball the case for a few minutes and look over the hand printed menu on the wall. We chose an order of the fried grouper and jumbo shrimp combo, and six garlic butter blue crabs. I think we spent a little under $20 bucks for the both of us, and it was simply put, delectable. The picture speaks for itself. My only wish was that I had showered after I ate, because I had so much crab debris everywhere that Chris teased that he'd have to take me out back and hose me off! Before we left, I purchased about a pound of fresh jumbo shrimp. I wasn’t sure what I'd use them for yet, but that comes along a little later.
Fathead Pierce

It's getting pretty close to my birthday, and inevitably now that my life is UNCENSORED, I'm looking to get some new ink. We scouted the area for just the right place, making friends along the way. Shout out to Fathead Pierce of Studio XIII for the excellent customer service, stunning competence, and general affability! He changed my lip jewelry to 14K, sold me another piece in purple titanium, entertained us with his witty commentary, and was just a cool cat. We'll be back to see him & the crew at Studio XIII again soon.  

Argyle Franks
Ed Madigan's ABW
The highlight of our trip was to Artistic Body Works Tattoos, owned by Ed Madigan, one of the legends of the tattoo industry. Ed started his apprenticeship at Ancient Art in Orlando, FL in 1990 under Bud Pierson. In 1993 Bud opened Brevard County's oldest tattoo studio, Artistic Body Works in Cocoa Beach, FL. After working at ABW for two years, Ed moved beach side and bought the studio. My artist is Argyle Franks, a fifteen year veteran of the industry, which has talent running out of his fingertips. He has a way with people that puts you at ease immediately and is the genuine article as far as this girl's concerned. The way he explained it to me was that the tattoos are really already there, you're just scrubbing the dead layers of skin off so that they shine through. They're always a part of you. I liked that description; it felt right and made sense after Gypsy Gourmet shined through on my wrists. They were always there, a part of me. I look forward to working with him in the future, and have absolutely no doubt that giving him artistic license to finish my left sleeve will be epic. We got to hang out with him and Erika Lyn that first night. Erika is another very talented artist, and a really awesome girl. I may have a slight crush on her, she's just that cool.
Erika Lyn & I
My Newest Piece by, Argyle Franks
 












Castle in the sand
Sunset
We ended the evening with a walk on a sunset drenched beach. There were surfers out in the waves, a warm breeze touched with the taste of salt in the air, and my best friend. If ever a girl could have stars in her eyes it was definitely now. My descriptions don't do the vibe of this place justice, but the pictures will last a lifetime. Shortly after, we met Argyle down at The Sandbar, this offbeat little boho chic bar, steps from the surf. We bought a few rounds (though we were drinking sweet tea) and wiled away a few hours in this laid back paradise Agyle calls home. He has a wealth of knowledge about the tattoo industry, technique, and machines. Chris soaked it all up like a sponge, as he has started tattooing himself in the last 6 months. We're both looking forward to more time down there.


The next morning the plan was to find a local joint for breakfast. We slept in and this idea was scrapped in lieu of washing clothes. Nobody wants to do chores, but it is a necessity. We found an ideal spot about a mile from where we were, just down A1A S. While the clothes were washing I made us a couple of Dagwood sandwiches and we finished both the sandwiches and the laundry in record time. Nothing says motivation like going outside to play! We had passed what looked to be a dog park on our way to the laundrymat (Lori Wilson Park) and decided the pup needed some run time. This facility was amazing. It had a seperate enclosed area to wash your pooch and two large fenced in runs for big and small dogs. Harley had a blast playing with the other dogs, all the scattered community toys, plastic swimming pools, and attention from all the other dog owners. It is a must see for all dog owners when visiting Cocoa Beach. As it's a free perk to the public, I think next time we're down we'll drop a donation off. Knowing our time was getting limited, we washed our pooch and eased on down the road.




GG, Chris, & Argyle


Nichole & Argyle
Our next stop was back to ABW Tattoos to say hello to the crew. I figured Argyle and Erika were probably hungry after a long day, and Argyle invited his wife and son down. Nichole was a hoot (I was super low on the good girl quota in my world so I'm definitely keeping her!) and Ayden at two years old, is so cute and precocious that you could just eat him up!
Ayden Franks
I commenced to whipping up a meal for us with the few items I'd had stocked and those lovely shrimp from Atlantic Seafood. It was simple, flavorful, and had great presentation. It may not be fancy, but it'll feed a good sized crew, and you can add a larger amount of all of these ingredients to make it stretch.
Shrimp Stir Fry
Shrimp Stir Fry
1.5 lbs jumbo shrimp
1/4 lg orange pepper, diced medium
1 pkg baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 pkg green onions diced
2 pkgs Uncle Ben's Long Grain &Wild Rice blend (the 90 sec kind)
2 T fresh minced garlic
1 T pureed fresh ginger
2 dashes toasted sesame oil
1-2 T Plugra butter (or equivalent, Land O' Lakes rated right up there according to Cook's magazine)
1 tsp Paul Prudomme's Seafood Seasoning
sea salt & cracked black pepper to taste

Now here's the fun part, peel and de-vein your lovely shrimp. I know it sucks, but it's worth it even in a truck. Set these aside, get your pan hot, add the butter, garlic, ginger, toasted sesame oil, mushrooms, and bell pepper to sautee a few minutes. As these are getting happy, add the shrimp. When they've been added, season it all with the Paul Prudomme's, sea salt, and cracked pepper. When you've seasoned your dish, this is about the right time to flip your shrimp. At this point your shrimp are almost done (please remember shrimp are done as soon as they're bright pink or red) add the rice packets, with about a 1/4 c of water, and cover to finish. When the water eveaporates, your dish is almost done. Give it a quick stir, and add the green onions over the top and serve. Easy as pie.


I hope y'all enjoy this dish as much as we did, it was easy, quick, and a guaranteed ice breaker. Nothing super fancy, we ate off of paper plates with disposable silverware and felt like kings. Whenever you're in Cocoa Beach, look up my peeps @ABW and at Studio XIII, they're incredible artists and just the salt of the Earth. Look out for more from us soon, and until next time, eat well, laugh often, and drive America's highways safely.


gypsy gourmet