Have a thing for Coconut-Infused Vodka & the Caribbean? We’ve got the contest for you.

From the GB “Contests We’re Personally Entering” dept:

SKYY is promoting their new coconut-infused vodka with one cool contest. Just “like” their Facebook page and (provided you’ve already celebrated your 21st birthday) you can enter to win a 4-day 3-night getaway for you and a pal to the incredible Grace Bay Beach in Turks & Caicos. Grace Bay is absolutely stunning, with white, powder-soft sand, and the most obscenely turquoise water we’ve ever seen anywhere. It’s one of those cool “other” Caribbean spots that’s somehow seemed to escape the gaze of the masses (so far), and thank God. Don’t take our word for it–even Conde Nast called it one of their top10 favorite beaches on the planet.

Grace Bay beach, Turks & Caicos

And the coconut-infused (buzzword alert!) vodka is pretty good, too. We tried it on the rocks, mixed with a splash of fresh (not canned) pineapple juice, and a lemon wedge, and yeah….we could see ourselves becoming close friends with it during the warm season.

SKYY made a big point of saying that they’re using natural coconut, maybe as opposed to coconut produced in a Bristol Myers Squibb laboratory. It’s still sweet, but not nearly as dentally-destructive as, say, Parrott Bay’s flavored rums.

Here’s the link: ENTER HERE.

Good luck. If you win, send us pics and stories. And be sure to read all the rules and regs carefully before you enter (our legal dept made us say that).

Didja see this? Beach swimmers beware of sexually aggressive octopuses!

Bottlenose dolphin falls under attack by ‘naughty octopus’

By: Pete Thomas, GrindTV.com

For the dolphin it seems to have been a painful lesson learned, and for the octopus, a joy ride it will not soon forget….

A scientist who studies dolphins off western Greece last week captured an incredible sequence of images — perhaps the first of their kind — showing a leaping bottlenose dolphin with a large octopus clinging to its belly.

“I have never seen anything like this,” Joan Gonzalvo of the Ionian Dolphin Project told New Scientist. “My hypothesis is that the dolphin might have attacked – tried to prey on the octopus – and somehow to avoid it the octopus just attached to the dolphin’s belly.”

Makes sense, considering that whales are known to breach in order to shake free of parasites.

Gonzalvo posted a short story about the peculiar encounter on the Dolphin Project blog, under the headline, “Naughty octopus,” because of the sensitive region on which the crafty cephalopod latched onto. 

It was one of four dolphins in a pod swimming off the island of Kalamos in the Ionian Sea. “Right on the spot we were not sure about what exactly was hanging from the dolphin’s belly,” Gonzalvo wrote. “What was our surprise when we examined the photos and discovered thatnaughty octopus!”

The dolphin was able to shake the octopus loose and resume normal swimming behavior with the pod, perhaps having learned to be more careful the next time it decides to dine on a creature that is considered to be highly intelligent, and with so many sticky arms at its disposal.

— Images are courtesy of the Ionian Dolphin Project. 

GB Quickie: Day Trip to Ocean City

“Goin downy owshun, gon’ git me some Fisher’s cairmel papkern n’ some taffie.”

Yeah, sometimes this job is just plain brutal. Poor, pitiful me. I’m writing this post while sitting in the sun and sipping a Rumrunner that’s strong enough to strip paint at Fish Tales, with the dark blue waters of Assawoman bay so close I can taste the marine diesel. Woeful.

This is the first of many quickie runs downy ocean that we’ll make this warm season. It’s one of the main reasons we moved to the Eastern Shore in the first place (sure ain’t the sushi or hi-tech movie theater options), and we love to take full advantage of it.

Here’s today’s report card:

WEATHER: A+

Amazing sunshine, cloudless sky the color of the royal crest, warm offshore breeze. Mid-Atlantic June is the poster child for perfect weather.

 

WATER: C (for c-c-cold)

65 degrees of cold, to be precise, which is too chilled to do much of anything, really, besides kick back on the beach Pacific-style and turn brain off.

 

LUNCH: F-

Not sure what possessed us to believe that Big Pecker’s (7301 Coastal Hwy)  was worth another shot after our last debacle, but we were hungry (& lazy), and there it was. And yep…still sucks. It’s expensive, it’s dirty, and our waitress had all the warmth of Siberian steel (she was visibly annoyed when we ordered iced teas instead of adult bevs). When our lunch arrived (listen to this), we were served chips even though we’d both ordered fries instead. But when we pointed this out, she became defensive and said that she “didn’t hear us” and that we’d now have to order a $4 basket of fries if we wanted them because she “couldn’t make the change in the computer now”. Er….wha? So we ordered the $4 basket of fries, and deducted the $4 from her tip. (Sorry. Wonder if she heard THAT?)

In all, nearly $50 for two sandwiches, a shared app of forgettable wings, the infamous fry basket, and a couple of iced teas. Our advice: Pick something else. There’s over 250 restaurant choices in OC; you’re almost certain to find a better one, even if you’re blind, drunk, and don’t speak English.

 

HAPPY HOUR: B+

So, after a few hours of vegging on the beach, exposing pasty body parts to sun rays and lulling to the sound of waves crashing, we felt that we’d earned some proper nourishment. (Plus, we still had the stink of Big Peckers on us). So we slipped on over to the back deck at Fish Tales (22nd St on the bay) and said hello to a Rumrunner or two. On in-season weekend afternoons this place is more over the top than a WWE bachelor party, which is just fine by us on the right occasion. But it was easygoing and un-busy this time, which was just fine too.

For munchies, we gave their conch fritters a shot. About on-par with other fritters we’ve had outside the keys: 90% breading 10% chopped conch meat, didn’t touch the cocktail sauce, adequate for the moment, especially given the Rumrunners (side note: best conch fritters we’ve ever had were at the always amazing Seafood Festival in Marathon Key, held every March. Served by the Florida Watermen Association, loaded with fresh conch, and fry-kissed by the gods).

Where Fish Tales really shined was in the service dept. Our waitress was fun, funny, and a tad clairvoyant, which is always a monster 1-2-3 combo in our book. She was quick on refills, had an amazing laugh, and even sat with us for a bit to shoot the you-know-what. On the way out, my wife wanted to go back to Big Peckers, grab that server by the hand, bring her back to the Fish Tales waitress, and say “watch her and learn!” Instead, we grabbed a couple of waters and headed home.

 

CROWDED FACTOR: A+

photo credit: psycrothic

Yes, the weather was amazing, but weekday afternoons in June are sublimely devoid of mass personnel. We drove freely, parked easily, and sat wherever we wanted, wherever we went. Where July 4th in OC feels like a football team shoved into a tool shed, today felt more like a a golf foursome shoved into….let’s say….Montana.

 

Overall, a fine and decent start to the beach run season. After all these years, Ocean City is still Ocean City, just like Ozzy Osbourne is still Ozzy Osbourne. It’s got its speed bumps, and it’s never gonna be accused of being too sophisticated, but the rock-steady consistency hasn’t wavered for generations. And in travel, that’s a definite selling point.

 

GB Quickie: Lewnes Steak House is pretty close to perfection

We decided upon Lewnes Steakhouse on the Eastport side of downtown Annapolis for our anniversary dinner, on a monsoon-laden Friday nite last week.

Lewnes Steakhouse in downtown Annapolis is world class prime.

Heidi raised a good question, over the first glass of wine.

Why are the best steakhouses called “houses” and not merely “restaurants”?

Honestly, I have no idea. But after we each took the first bite of the medium rare, USDA Prime Petit Filet and NY Strip in front of us, they could’ve called it a Steakbrothel for all we cared. The food, the intimate atmosphere, and the service were THAT fantastic, to the point where I started making those annoying-yet-involuntary “mmmmmmmm” noises that always seem to emanate from Adam Richman on “Man vs. Food”.

Yes, the food and wine were so good, it was borderline decadent. The only thing that wasn’t up to snuff was the pecan pie I attempted for dessert. Our waiter confirmed that it was freshly made at a local bakery over in St. Margaret’s, yet on the bland and tasteless side. Heidi’s Key Lime Pie on the other hand, was truly Florida-worthy.

Likewise, the service was equally impressive. From the front desk to the busboys, there was an air of engaged professionalism, yet with a natural “human” element that was thankfully never stuffy.

In all, Lewnes Steakhouse was one of the best meals we’d had in some time, and to our minds, made the Ruth’s Chris on the next block seem like a poorly-run Sizzler. It was on the expensive side ($175 before tip for two entrees, one shared salad, one shared side, two desserts, a bottle of wine, and one cocktail, but we’re already looking forward to returning.