Summerdale, AL - Events of Friday, April 13 to Saturday, April 14, 2012
On Friday, Paul needed to replace a tool he was using for a project we are working on. We'll have more on the project in an upcoming post. We decided to go to the Lowe's in Spanish Fort for the tool instead of the one in Foley so we could stop at Panini Pete's for lunch.
Panini Pete's, which was featured on the Food Network program Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, is located behind a couple of shops along the main street in downtown Fairhope, which isn't too far from Spanish Fort. There is a sign along the sidewalk, but the walkway to Panini Pete's (through the iron gate) is easy to miss if you've never been there before.
Panini Pete's is at the end of the walkway on a nice patio courtyard they call the French Quarter. Indoor seating is available, but we always like to sit at one of the outdoor tables on the patio.
Panini Pete's is only open for breakfast and lunch. For lunch, they have a nice selection of paninis, burgers and hot dogs that run around $6 to $8 and include home made potato chips, fries or pasta salad.
Margery had a house-roasted turkey panini with baby greens, roasted red pepper, Dijon mustard, garlic aioli and house-made mozzarella on fresh-baked foccacia. The turkey panini is also Paul's favorite, but this time he tried the muffaletta panini. It features Italian meats and cheeses with olive salad on Italian bread. Both paninis were delish!
On Saturday, we took another break from our project to drive across the bay to Mobile for the 9th Annual Shrimp Cook Off. The Shrimp Cook Off is a fund-raising event sponsored by HandsOn South Alabama, which is an organization that promotes volunteerism. It is held in Bienville Square in Mobile and features samplings of dozens of shrimp dishes.
We attended this event back in 2009, and this is the first time we have been here at the same time the Cook Off is held since then. The admission price to the cook-off is a little steep at $15 per person; but it is for a good cause, and it entitles you to all the shrimp you can eat at no additional cost. Advance purchase discount tickets are available for $10 at some of the area banks. In 2009, the bank branches on the eastern side of Mobile Bay didn't have the tickets available, but this time they did so we were able to save a little money. We're glad we did save money - read on, and you will see why.
We arrived shortly after the event opened at 11:00 AM. It was already fairly crowded, and it got even more so as time went on.
We made our way around the park sampling as we went. One of us would stand in one of the longer lines while the other went to a shorter line and picked up two samples and brought them back.
There were far fewer samples available this year than there were when we went to the Cook Off in 2009, but we managed to find a few dishes we liked. In addition to having fewer samples, we also thought the overall quality and variety of the food was down from three years ago. Back in 2009, there were numerous dishes we thought were very good, and we found at least three or four dishes we thought were outstanding. In fact, there was shrimp in Alfredo sauce that we went back to sample three or four times.
This year, although there were several dishes we felt were good, there wasn't anything we thought was worth standing in line a second time for. At least half of the groups at this year's Cook Off made some version of shrimp gumbo that all tasted very similar. Gumbo is the easy way out because they could make it ahead of time, then just keep it warm in a big pot instead of preparing their dishes fresh right there at the Cook Off. Back in 2009, the entrants in the Cook Off were made up of amateurs from civic groups and local charities as well as a few professional chefs from local restaurants. This year, we didn't see any restaurants represented, and all the entrants seemed to be civic groups or charities. Overall, we were disappointed with this year's Shrimp Cook Off.
We left Mobile and headed back to the motor home where we resumed work on our project. We'll have a report on that soon along with some of our other activities.