Surf's Up !

Trip Start Sep 27, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Maryland
Wednesday, November 7, 2012

                      I survived Hurricane Sandy now let's see how well I do with the Nor'easter that blew in last night.  About 5 PM last evening the wind started to pick up and the temperature dropped.   By the time I went to bed the wind had started to howl. During the night the wind keep up a steady pace and by the time I got up this morning it was really blowing....not quite as bad as Sandy but more than a breeze.  As you can see from some of my pictures the ocean is again wild with high surf and large waves.  I took a walk on the beach at about 8:30 and although the wind was stiff it was walkable.  There doesn't seem to be any power outages and I will keep my fingers crossed. 

So what have I been doing since Isabelle left for France last week?  Just living the life of a bachelor.  I have taken this opportunity to visit a number of the local watering holes to check out their happy hours and have checked out one of the many buffet restaurants that grace the OC strip.  According to the local propaganda, The Bonfire is the best so I thought I would give it a try.  I am not a big buffet kind of guy although one of my favorite places in Tampa is the Asian Crazy Buffet  I was lured to the Bonfire by the prospect of a raw bar, prime rib and steamed seafood.  How could this be bad?  Well let me count the ways!  First this is not a cheap place...the buffet is $32.99 and all drinks are extra.  There is a $5 discount during the off season so I did take advantage of that and the beer was reasonably priced at $3 for the reliable Yeungling.  The place is large and decorated sometime in the mid 80's in a country style (hello! country style in a seafood restaurant at the   beach?).  The place was almost empty but it is off season so I took the plunge.  After being shown to a table I was given a verbal tour of the culinary delights I was about to enjoy.  Syked up to start the feast I went directly to the Raw/Salad Bar.  There was a large selection of salad fixing's but I was there for seafood.  As promised they had a tray of raw clams and raw oysters and low and behold a plate of seared tuna with wasabi, soy sauce and pickled ginger.....boy are they in trouble!  I got about 3 clams, 3 oysters and after searching through the tuna I found some agreeably rare tuna, plus some cold steamed shrimp.  Back to the table to sample my selection.  First let me remind you that I have been eating great oysters since arriving last month but they were Chincoteagues and I was not expecting the same quality but the Chesapeake oysters while not a rich and salty as Chincoteagues are still very good.  My question to the Bonfire is where on earth did they find such god awful oysters.  They were poorly shucked, dry and as bland as white bread. Even the addition of cocktail sauce (something I rarely use) could not disguise the awfulness of these bi-valves...WOW.  So after eating just two I moved on to the clams. They were alright but tasted a little strong and again mangled by the shucker. The steamed shrimp were of decent size and had a nice coating of old bay but were clearly overcooked to the point of mushiness. You can tell before eating a shrimp if it is overcooked by the way that the shell comes off the meat...if the shells are hard and the shrimp easily removed than you have a well cooked shrimp. These soft shells remained part of the shrimp no matter how carefully I peeled them. Moving on...the wasn't bad and with the addition of the  condiments a nice mouthful. 

Well the  cold food was bad, maybe they did better with the hot food so up I went to the steamed table.  The table consisted of crab legs, hot steamed shrimp, steamed mussels and warm butter. Having been burned by the cold shrimp I none the less got a few of the hot ones hoping that he cold ones were a fluke...but NOOOOOOO - they were the same only warm, not hot, warm. I was served crab legs - you are only allowed to get two crab legs per visit...never seen that before. I skipped the mussels. The legs were tasteless, overcooked (see a pattern here) and not worthy of a second visit.The shrimp were a hot version of the cold shrimp. Well I was starting to run out of things to try ! Oh yeah they have prime rib! Off to the carving station. A nice young guy was working the station and was just "over the moon" about the prime rib. He was saying that this is the best prime rib in town as he sliced off a wafer thin piece of meat and then proceeded to dip it in a vat of au jus. I noticed some sauteed asparagus so I took a few stalks. Getting back to the table I realized why he dipped the meat....the au jus was hot and helped warm up the room temperature meat. It was a shame because the meat was not bad and had it been hot and sliced thicker than newsprint it would have been good. They must have screwed up because the asparagus was nicely cooked and warm. 

The bottom line is that if you are looking for quantity and not quality there are many cheaper buffets to visit here in OC...they can't be any worse. BTW the beer was good!

I have also found time to seek out a few pubs that offer happy hours and I will fill you in in my next bog.....time to go watch the surf.
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Liz Regester Meade on

I am thoroughly enjoying your blogs Paul! I feel your pain about the bad seafood! It is very difficult to find good East Coast seafood out here in California. Restaurants advertise seafood but when you open the menu, all that is there is fish! So when I do find true seafood, I am very excited. However, too many times that excitement has turned to disappointment when the seafood is not fresh or is improperly prepared. However, this weekend, we are going to Vegas and I will get true Maryland steamed crabs at Crab Corner, a place that 2 brothers from Bowie own and they serve only MD seafood! They fly the crabs in fresh from the Chesapeake! If you are find yourself in Vegas, check it out!!

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