Brutal summer temps are unavoidable in the South. But with Seaside’s breezy beach to stroll, a plethora of refreshing swimming pools, and amazing restaurants with sweet and savory delights, you will feel chill in no time.

The languid heat of summer is not an ideal time for pot-stirring, or for toiling over a Bolognese sauce or stew. Better to wash crisp, fresh vegetables in water and eat them as salads, enjoy fresh local breads with cold charcuterie meats and cheeses, or make a gazpacho recipe in advance, and then later sip it while sitting on your front porch swing.

Modica Market, Seaside’s iconic grocery store, is my family’s one-stop shop. It’s the perfect place to pick up all of your recipe items or prepared foods to go, like my favorite shrimp salad. Large local gulf shrimp are perfectly cooked and seasoned before being chilled. Savor the succulent shellfish straight from the container, or jazz up the presentation for your guests by filling half of a seeded and peeled avocado with the lump crab that is then served nestled on a bed of lettuce .

If you are fond of a good martini, you will love the food flip of it at Chef Jim Shirley’s Great Southern Café. Iced cold lump blue crab is marinated and tossed with avocado, grape tomatoes, and a lime vinaigrette before filling an icy martini glass to the rim. Plan to kick back and relax with this Gulf Coast classic.

If you are seeking a view with your food, Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant has you covered with its house made smoked tuna dip. I can literally make a meal out of it. The chunky cold fish dip is served with lavash, a type of thin cracker hailing from the Middle East. Add an ice-cold beer to your appetizer and view, and you have what I’d call heaven.

Everyone needs a sweet treat to beat the heat and the best time to break for a snack is about 2pm, the hottest part of the day. Plan to carve out time for Heavenly’s Shortcake’s and Ice Cream located right behind the giant cone statue, and dive into the locally made, creamy and authentic Italian gelato. With flavors like pistachio, tiramisu and Lavazza espresso, it’s hard to choose just one scoop.

Susan Benton copyright: see website for any photo use

Not in Seaside, Chef Jim Shirley also owns the Bay on Hwy 331! It’a a local gem, and a Wine Spectator award of excellence winner. You can’t ever go wrong by ordering a tall flute of bubbly Veuve Clicquot champagne accompanied by Chef Jim’s trio of cool edamame, black-eyed pea, and chipotle chickpea hummus served with pita chips. Plan to follow with the Kelli roll that’s packed with ginger panko fried shrimp, spicy tuna, cream cheese, and avocado. You’ll be shouting Sante’!


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