Growing up in Panama City was the coolest. Maybe it is because we have beautiful beaches and lots of water for water sports. Or it could be that all the adults in the 70′s were really cool and laid back. I grew up with some really cool kids in the Garden Club Drive area of Panama City. All of the families in this neighborhood had houses that were situated around Johnson Bayou, which went into St. Andrews Bay, then into the Gulf. Some families had boats that they kept docked in their back yards, and everyone with a boat would take all their friends to Shell Island during the days of summer, and would dock in the bay to watch fireworks on the 4th of July. This was 40 years ago, and these traditions remain the same today – any given summer Saturday will find hundreds of people boating and partying at Shell Island. Garden Club Drive neighborhood kids were always looking for fun and always had a blast!
All of the kids in my neighborhood were older than me. Some by as much as ten years. They were all in high school and I was the little kid, 2nd or 3rd grade. I was young but I was so cool. I remember vividly how much they all loved and respected me. The big kids would have camp outs in someone’s back yard, and there would be 10 or 15 or more of them. They would let me tag along for awhile. All of the adults had outside refrigerators in carports and garages where they would store leftover beer after boating and fishing trips. So the big kids would send me to sneak in and steal beer. I wanted them to love me so I stole arm fulls of beer. I don’t think the adults ever caught on that their beer would disappear between boat trips. Usually my mom, who didn’t realize how cool I was, would come to the camp out to get me at bed time, which really made me mad.
All the adults would get together on Friday and Saturday nights at someones house and grill steaks and party and laugh and tell jokes. It was the 70′s so some of the houses had intercom systems. If they were having a party at an intercom house, we knew how to tape the button down where they were so we could listen to all the stories and jokes from another intercom in a bedroom. Again, they had no idea.
There was one kid who was younger than me and he just was not cool enough to make the cut to hang with the big kids. Bobby Carter. His mom is so pretty and sweet, and a really talented artist. My mom still has a painting hanging in her living room that Jeri-Faye painted for her. All the moms would love to get together and play cards but they had to get rid of us kids first. So they would send us to the movies. I never wanted Bobby to come along because although he was only 1 year younger than me, he was just way to young to hang with us. My mom would say, ” You need to let Bobby Carter go to the movies with you. One day you will wish you were nice to Bobby Carter and that you had married Bobby Carter!” Woman, are you for real?
Many, many years later when I was safely married, and not at risk of an arranged marriage with Bobby Carter, my mom called me and said, ” Turn on Good Morning America!” “Bobby Carter is cooking on TV!!!” I did, and he was. Chef Robert Carter, now one of Panama City’s favorite sons, is an accomplished chef, charming, and even a little cute. It didn’t stop there – later he was spotted baking his Ultimate Coconut Cake on Martha Stewart! Now not just anybody can cook with Martha Stewart. Are you kidding me? And this is some amazing Ultimate Coconut Cake.
Soon after, Jeri Faye told Ann to tell Jody to tell Mama that Bobby was gonna be on “Throwdown with Bobby Flay”- Yep, a Coconut Cake Throwdown. Again, are you kidding me? I Tivoed it and he was amazing. But that cake is fantastic and gorgeous.
Chef Robert Carter is now and has been the Executive Chef of the Peninsula Grill in Charleston, South Carolina for well over 10 years. His Ultimate Coconut Cake is why everyone saves room for dessert. To visit this highly acclaimed restaurant is on my bucket list for sure.
Now I am satisfied with the choices I have made and glad I married Tom, but I had to bake that cake. This was no 30 minute-throw-it-together-dessert-for-tonight cake. This was pastry. This project required time, energy, patience, money, coffee, cocktails, tears, and a sense of humor. I did not alter one ingredient by a pinch. I read and re-read every step and the result was absolute perfection. This cake, which stays on the menu at the Peninsula Grill is the favorite dessert that people in Charleston order for every special occasion from holidays to weddings. This cake is shipped all over the world. It really is spectacular! Courtesy of Martha Stewart.com
Well, I know I am name dropping, but I am including the recipe for this magnificent creation, straight from the pages of Martha Stewart Omnimedia. You can find it by clicking here.
And here is a link to the fabulous Peninsula Grill in Charleston . You can read more about Chef Robert Carter, who is just a Panama City kid who made quite the name for himself!