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THE GREAT FOODINI: Making Food Disappear

by Brian Lamar

Hello, If you are reading this, you are at the right place at the right time to embark on a journey with me. The Great Foodini column will guide you weekly to new restaurants as we learn more about the special places and individuals who feed us.

My passion for food writing started when I was a 19-year-old private in the Army and I was away from my mom’s cooking for the first time in my life. I quickly learned that it was expensive to go fine dining, especially on my junior enlisted salary. So I hatched a scheme to start a food column in a Columbia, South Carolina newspaper. Once I got my start and a few complimentary followers, I was hooked. Eating out is still an expensive endeavor and my goal is to lead you to the best this area has to offer.

I’ve written all over the country for many publications, but now I am setting my sights on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I look forward to this new adventure with you each week. On our journey, we will meet excellent chefs, explore culinary temples and find secret family recipes.

I can’t wait to share all of this with you because I am the Great Foodini – Because I make food disappear. Any comments or questions, email me at editor@thegazebogazette.com. Thank you for reading.

FRESH AIR, FRESH FOOD, FRESH START – Sea Level

By the Great Foodini

There aren’t many, if any restaurants on the MS Gulf Coast that can boast an unobstructed view of the sunset over the tranquil waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Diners who arrive at the right time (when the sun dips below the horizon) at Sea Level in Pass Christian, can be treated to the closest thing that passes for paradise in Mississippi while sitting under a canopy at tables right on the water’s edge with their toes in the sandy grassy soil.

The ambiance at Sea Level is one that screams Caribbean oasis. This place, adjoining the park at the Pass Christian harbor is operated by long-time restaurant owners, Thomas and Dana who previously owned HarborView Café and wanted something a little different…and they wanted to be beach bums.

When I announced on facebook that I was going to try Sea level, nearly all of my friends who had been there told me I wouldn’t be sorry. Chef Jean-Paul Lavalee, the executive chef of the Oak Crest Mansion Inn immediately told me the first thing that stands out about Sea Level are the fries.

The fries are fresh cut into shoestring size several times each day so they are fresh and they are cooked in cottonseed oil so peanut allergic diners shouldn’t fear. The cottonseed oil also gives the fries an extra clean and fresh flavor and feel. I could personally just eat and entire dinner of these fries alone.

Sea Level also received a certification to serve certified angus beef patties on their burgers.  The Sea Level burger is a mouthwatering two patty burger slathered with Monterey Jack and American cheeses on a slightly toasted brioche bun. The burgers held together well and were seasoned well with a light salty, robust flavor. Even though it was a hefty double cheeseburger, you didn’t have to dislocate your jaw to take a bite. Each bite, until the end was wonderfully filled with flavor.

Another popular item are the spinach and artichoke egg rolls that are rolled by hand daily. They are fresh and crispy with a tasty gooey center. I finished off with a Jamaican Jerk Chicken taco that was savory and sweet with a low heat that creeped up on me at the back end of the taco.

Sea Level is perfect for an afternoon getaway to grab a bite to eat and take a dip in the half moon shaped sandy beach within arms length.

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