From My Wok to Yours - Taking the Mystery Out of Everyday Dining and Meals!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Puddle Jumping for Shrimp

Last weekend, my boss sent me a text message saying that he was planning a plane trip, and he asked if I wanted to go along for the ride.
I am a pretty major flying enthusiast. I love being in the air, I enjoy going to the local air show (and in fact, there will be one this weekend here in town with the Air Force Thunderbirds) and I like watching people fly model airplanes.
This love of planes goes back to my younger days, when my Dad would take me flying with him, and we would go to a model airplane field to compete. (Okay, HE would compete, I would go along for the ride.)
But I digress…

I readily agreed to the invitation, and after hashing out the details, we decided that we would fly down to a quaint little city called Palacios and have lunch there. Apparently, they had seafood to die for.

 When I got to the airfield, I was thrilled to see what awaited me. It was a fun plane, a 2-seater that was designed to go fast. (The entire time, I thought we would be flying in a Cessna, the type of plane that my Dad used to fly.) Oh no, this one was WAY cooler… it looked sleek, and trim, and it looked like it was meant to go fast.

(I will confess that I read this sticker with a little more than a bit of trepidation, but felt relatively sure that since the plane had already logged 450 hours, and my pilot had logged 250 that I would be okay.  But still...)

The trip through the crisp, cool and clear air was fast and uneventful, with plenty of scenery to enjoy on the way, and we landed at a little air strip in Palacios, in Matagorda County an hour after takeoff. There was not a soul around, and it was so quiet that you could literally hear the ducks quacking and the seagulls squawking. A few minutes after arriving we were greeted by Mr. Wayne Dodd, the owner of Outrigger Grill, and he whisked us to his restaurant, a mere 5 minute jaunt from the airfield.

Walking into the restaurant, I was struck by its hometown charm, where everything mounted on the walls, and every bit of decoration had its own story. It is the kind of place with a relaxed atmosphere, where you would meet the family, and where everyone knows everyone else’s name.

The weather was beautiful, so we sat outside, by the bar and dance stage. On the menu for me: Fried shrimp and catfish. I was not disappointed.


The town of Palacios, is known as the “Shrimp Capitol of Texas” and the freshness of the shrimp was testament to that truth. I would have been surprised if the shrimp was more than a day old, and it certainly could not have been frozen prior to cooking.

Chef Cheryl Dodd had found the perfect batter recipe, one that was not soggy, greasy, or over seasoned. The shrimp and catfish were fried perfectly, with each bite accompanied by the prerequisite crunch into the batter. The shrimp were HUGE (and I think I actually got 1 extra) and the bites of catfish were perfectly seasoned as well.

And the Hush Puppies?

Prior to coming to Texas, I had never had, or heard of a hush puppy. A hush puppy is basically an onion-y corn meal ball that is fried. Most that I have had prior to this trip were soggy, or overly flavored. These, however, were perfect. Crunchy on the outside, soft and tasty on the inside. They did not have any taste of fish, which demonstrates the care that the chef used in frying them. (Most cooks who do not know better will fry all of their items in the same oil, resulting in an amalgam of flavors, with non-seafood items picking up seafood tastes, and so on. That is clearly not the case here.)

The only item whose absence from the menu I lamented was that of a fried calamari. The batter that Chef Cheryl uses would be a perfect one for a Calamari and Shrimp basket.

Outrigger Grill is testament to the fact that a family owned business, even a restaurant, can succeed. Wayne and Cheryl have done a fantastic job making Outrigger Grill an environment where their diners can eat at their leisure, and enjoy the whole experience at the same time. I hope to be able to return to their restaurant at some point in the near future and sample a different dish on the menu. In the mean time, if you are ever in the area, stop by 515 Commerce Street, Palacios, TX 77465 and give their shrimp a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Until Then, Good Eating, Friends...

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1 comment:

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