I currently live in Charlotte, NC and after spending 7 years as a personal chef and caterer, I am now happy to share my love of cooking with friends and family. My heart is in the kitchen, but my soul is in the stars!

Grand Strand Sabbatical

This 4th of July holiday I was one of the multitudes of people headed to Myrtle Beach, SC for some fun in the sun. Despite being one of the main attractions of the SC coast, there is just no easy way to get to Myrtle Beach no matter which direction you are traveling from. Seeing long stretches of nothingness with a spot of destitute here and there was nothing new for me ~ it reminded me of where I’d been for the past 6 years and how far I’d traveled to be where I ultimately wanted to be. It gave me plenty of time to reflect on the past 9 months of my new life and how unbelievably stress free, carefree and happy I’ve become. It also gave me time to catch up on inspiration for some of my writing that I’ve been neglecting. The ideas starting flowing as the miles ticked by…

You may never take cooking advice or recipes tips from me, but if you can take just one thing away from your time here with me, please let it be this….when you find yourself on this same journey toward the sand and surf, PLEASE obey the speed limit through those little non-coastal towns. If you’re not careful, you won’t even realize that in a blink of an eye the 60mph limit suddenly dropped to 45mph and in another blink down again to 35mph. Nope, you won’t even know until you find yourself sitting on the side of the road surrounded by flashing blue lights and handing over $250 of your beach spending money to whatever municipal that the man in the uniform represents. And don’t feel bad when it happens to you because it happens to almost all travelers through the area ~ even the speed conscience Captain Sturm got a ticket once and although I was asleep in the passenger seat when it happened, somehow it was my fault.

The Grand Strand hasn’t changed much in my nearly 7 year absence. The landscape is more dotted with high rise condos, hotels, and beach houses but what I love most about Myrtle Beach is even though there is a certain level of classiness about the place, there is also a good dash of cheesiness mixed in. Tacky t-shirt and souvenir shops line the south end of Ocean Avenue where airbrushing is still all the rage. You can get a henna tattoo, hermit crabs, a belly button piercing and a newspaper thin beach towel for $1.99. The cheesiness works and it’s there for those who have not yet grown to appreciate the finer things in life. It’s for those who will develop an innate fear of throwing up on amusement park rides. It provides an atmosphere conducive to passing out from too much...uh...heat exhaustion. Yeah, heat exhaustion. Uh huh. And many a na├»ve young girl will sell her soul during a game of putt-putt to an Italian man during a weekend rendezvous.

But not me ~ I’m down on the classy north end of town because I've finally outgrown the lures of the south end of the Strand. This trip, I could be found enjoying some great seafood at Sara J’s located at 314 Atlantic Ave, Murrells Inlet, SC. It was a tough decision, but finally I decided on the crabcakes and was rewarded with 3 huge cakes served with a side of orange marmalade. They had more of a crispy deep fried appearance instead of the typical bread crumb exterior and there was very little filler, instead they were chock full of flaky sweet crab. An excellent choice indeed!

Murrells Inlet is also home to Spuds Waterfront Dining where I found myself on the 4th of July feasting on grilled shrimp and scallops before the big fireworks extravaganza. Both were cooked to perfection and the outdoor patio provided an excellent view of the 4th of July boat parade.

As a true Southern girl, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that both meals were served with the deep fried delicacies known as hushpuppies. Dipped in honey butter, they're the perfect appetizer for any meal served by the ocean or otherwise.

My sabbatical ended with a fabulous fireworks display at the Surfside Beach pier that continued through the evening along the beach. It was the end to the perfect weekend that served the purpose of rejuvenating and inspiring my soul.

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