As we all know, April is the time of year when everyone comes for a visit. With the official arrival of spring, all the relatives and friends from up north have really had it with winter. They are ready to get warm, have some sun-splashed fun, and make that phone call we all know is coming.
“Oh, hi!” the familiar voice will begin. “Oh my God, we are just now driving over the bridge and can’t wait to come over — is that all right?”
The response, of course, is “Sure,” most of the time, unless you’re a really quick thinker, but even if the visit can be postponed, it’s going to happen eventually and when it does, the visitors and relatives will be up to their usual.
“Oh, just look at that view.”
Someone from the upper Midwest might say, “Just look at this house.”
Another will offer, “What kind of plant is that? What kind of grass is that? Is it always this warm?”
The visitor’s questions flow, season after season, and as the relatives check out your exotic home in southwest Florida and look around, a common theme can soon be found that links most Islanders together.
“Wow,” a visitor will begin as they saunter out onto a Marco lanai. “Look at those seashells. Do you find those here — right on the beach at Marco?”
We all know it’s true, and yes, most of us have seashells in our homes. They are just too irresistible and even as the most rugged macho man will have to admit that seashells are beautiful and interesting and they are tangible evidence of life below the sea.
Seashells are either in the bivalve family like clams, mussels, oysters and cockles, or they are in the univalve family and are marine snails or conch shells. No matter which type of shell is a favorite there are some common characteristics.
Architects, to learn about acoustics and building strength techniques, have studied shells, and seashells have been regarded by interior designers as the perfect natural models for blending color schemes.
Most Marco Islanders have shells in their homes. Most of us have visitors this time of year, and when asked the classic question: “What do you do with the shells?” There is now an answer that will really “Wow!” the springtime guests and will combine a wonderful use for the seashells we have in our homes and that special appetizer that is obligatory for all the springtime visitors.
Most everyone walking the beach on Marco has found and collected the large cockleshell known as Van Hynings Cockle. These large, beautiful, and durable seashells have been used over the years for everything from ashtrays, to soap dishes, and everything else a bowl-like container could be used for until now.
Now a new recipe and serving dish are combined to offer a sensational way to entertain out-of-towners with a tasty appetizer and serving style that will send all the northerners home to tell all their friends about how special Marco Islanders truly are!
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For Seashell Scallops Marco, the perfect entertainment and appetizer combination, have the following on hand:
Several large cockleshells found on Marco Beach or at Shells by Emily at The Resort Building, 651 S. Collier Blvd. on the second floor.
1 bag of fresh spinach chopped
1 pound medium-sized fresh sea scallops (we recommend Paradise Shrimp Company)
4 cloves garlic chopped fine
1 Spanish onion, chopped.
Heat one-tablespoon butter and several drizzles of olive oil in sauté pan and then add chopped spinach. Stir until spinach cooks down and then add chopped garlic and onions. Sauté until onions become clear. Add a splash of white wine.
Sauté scallops in one-tablespoon butter and olive oil. Brown slightly on both sides. Do not overcook!
Line interior of the cockle shells with the sautéed spinach-garlic-onion mixture and then place the lightly browned scallops on top of the spinach bed.
Sprinkle graded mozzarella over the scallops (shell sizes vary, but the large cockles hold about four medium-size scallops) and place under the broiler until the cheese melts and starts to brown.
Garnish with paprika or a sprinkle of red pepper. Serve hot with lemon slices served in separate smaller shells.
Seashells Scallops Marco can be altered with any favorite seafood other than scallops. Shrimp, crab, clams, or broiled fish can replace the scallops.
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When the out-of-towners are leaving your house and talking about how cool and tasty the appetizer was, Marco Islanders can smile as they pop the dirty seashells into the dishwasher and smile again when they come out perfectly clean!
Tom Williams debut adventure/thriller novel “Lost and Found” has been released by Archebooks and is now available on Amazon. A website with reviews and storyline is available at www.lostandfoundadventure.com