Tag Archives: Gumbo

Our Return Visit to Apalachicola, Florida

2 Jan

The Coombs House Inn (above) was once again our home base on this brief visit to the FL panhandle. Apalachicola is Florida’s seafood capital and the Coombs House, along with the historic Gibson Inn, is a great choice for overnight accomodations. Lizette, our hostess this go around, was very helpful — from booking our stay to serving breakfast to offering up local dining tips.

Asian accents inside the Coombs House Inn. It is a tastefully decorated estate.

The Raney Room — our accomodations for the evening. Comfortable!

Our breakfast of Egg Souffle, fresh fruit, & hash browns. This picture doesn’t do it justice. It was delicious — especially on an unseasonably chilly, overcast morning along the Gulf Coast. We were also on the receiving end of some tasty snacks and good wines during their Saturday evening guest reception.

That Place Off 98 was suggested by Lizette as a favorite dining spot for locals. It once was on Highway 98, but is now relocated to downtown Apalachicola. The name stuck — that must mean people liked it. Right? It looked cozy enough, so we hit it for lunch on a Saturday afternoon. It was something of a late lunch for us and the crowd in the dining room was light. Guess that’s to be expected since they were missing the weekday business crowd.

The doors were decorated for the holidays. Beautiful colors, huh?

The dining room at That Place Off 98. A casual place – as is Apalach in general.

Panhandle Stew — the highlight of my meal. In fact, I might even say the dining highlight of the entire trip. Yes, it was that good. Think a really good clam chowder … minus the clams … plus loads of taters, carrots, and fresh Gulf fish. Huge chunks of fish rising out of the creamy stew like gigantic icebergs of moist, flaky deliciousness. The cup was not enough. I needed a bowl. Check that — I should have ordered a bucket full. Amazing stuff. If only I could score the recipe.

“Oysters Apalach” with garlic and parmesan cheese. Small but mighty in flavor.

The Hole in the Wall Raw Bar was our dinner destination. Cool little place — and I do mean little. It is very clean inside and the help made us feel right at home. We were seated at the tall boy tables in the center of the dining area. A young couple next to us were already hard at work peeling the shells off some freshly boiled shrimp.

Menu specials at Hole in the Wall. The price was right for raw oysters!

I started with a very meaty cup of gumbo. It was delicious … especially after adding a dash of salt and a splash of Tabasco sauce. They sure don’t skimp on the ingredients. Much like my Panhandle Stew earlier in the day, the gumbo at Hole in the Wall featured huge chunks of meat and vegetables. Really hit the spot on a bone chilling evening.

Eileen ordered this delicious boiled shrimp platter. Just $10.95 for all this!

Gator mural inside The Hole in the Wall. A fine example of coastal folk art.

Little Mom & Pop seafood markets like this can be found all over the region.

The Owl Cafe is another popular downtown eatery. Maybe next trip???

The main entry at the Owl Cafe. Nice looking place for dinner & drinks.

Don’t miss this wonderful antique store. It is chock full of nautical delights.

Vintage scuba helmet — glub, glub, glub. Would look great on my mantle piece.

Life preservers — not the candy kind — but still SWEET!

Other nautical finds to be discovered at The Tin Shed in Apalachicola.

This old graveyard is directly across from the Coombs House Inn.

Another old seafood market. My colorized version for added affect.

Sunset over the Apalachicola Bay — such a lovely part of Old Florida!

www.apalachicolabay.org

GooRoo’s Grill in Robertsdale, AL

21 Aug

GooRoo’s Grill can be found along Route 104 (just west of Highway 59; across from the Livestock Auction) in Robertsdale, Alabama. It’s been there for a while, but we had not tried them out until yesterday. Glad we stopped in. Nice folks and definitely a notch or two above big brand fast food. Things must be going well for Ed (The GooRoo). Internet reviews have been positive and they will soon be moving into a larger, more permanent location just down the road a piece.

GooRoo’s bright orange globe logo lists many of their popular food offerings.

The burgers at GooRoo’s are indeed extremely popular – and reasonable too.

We ordered up a GooRoo Burger on our first visit. Must try the seafood soon.

The GooRoo Burger comes on a nice fluffy bun and is topped with real Cheddar Cheese. It’s gooey and good — just what you would expect from a guy nicknamed The GooRoo. We sampled the 1/4 lb. burger. It’s also offered in a hulking 1/2 pound size for those with big  boy appetites. All food here is cooked to order with the seafood and ground beef coming fresh from nearby markets.

Just look at that cheese! Now how can you resist that, people???

GooRoo’s also offers seafood po-boys & what’s said to be a pretty good gumbo.  

www.gooroosgrill.com

Stanley & Drago’s – New School New Orleans

22 Aug

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Our SFA friend Sara Roahen tipped us to a French Quarter eatery dubbed “Stanley.” Stanley as in Stanley Kowalski, the Marlon Brando character in the Southern fried cinematic classic, “A Streetcar Named Desire.” We were determined to dine outside our comfort zone of regular Big Easy favorites.

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The gumbo at Stanley was very dark and rich. So dark, in fact, that I almost thought (following the first spoonful) that the roux had been burned. I am happy to report that this was not the case at all. Further tasting resulted in an amazingly complex flavor profile. It was truly excellent, but I really love all things rich, mysterious and spicy. Others may be a little undecided about the almost coffee-like overtone and a pretty potent kick of cayenne.  

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The decor was totally New Orleans. Classy yet quite comfortable.

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The Eggs Stanley was a nice mid-day dish. Canadian bacon over toasted English muffins, topped with perfectly poached eggs, a light (not too thick) Hollandaise sauce, and four large fried oysters.  This tasty mix of flavors and textures had me shouting … “STELLA!!!”  www.stanleyrestaurant.com

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Drago’s is located in the waterfront Hilton hotel, yet it is in no way your typical hotel restaurant. Although I am not sure about the rest of the menu, I can tell you that the chargrilled oysters are nothing short of perfection on the half shell.

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The local oysters are opened and laid directly on the grill. This process delivers a deliciously smoky hint to each briny bi-valve. The oysters are topped with lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, butter, and Lord knows what else. Simply fabulous — one of the best bites of the entire weekend trip.  

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 The accompanying hunk of French bread was superb as well.

I just couldn’t resist asking where it was made.  

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 My answer was on the large brown bags stored at the end of the bar.

Leidenheimer Bakery does make an incredible bread – great for dipping!

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The four of us gouged at and slurped down these babies like it was our last meal on the planet. Sparks flew from the greyish shells, buttery goodness dripped down our chins, an occasional piece of shell was swallowed in the process.

Shear happiness on a plate — get here as soon as you can & tell a friend.

www.dragosrestaurant.com

Donald Link’s “Real Cajun” Cooking

15 Aug

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We recently enjoyed dinner at Donald Link’s Cochon restaurant in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. Honestly, we had never heard of the place and were not planning on hitting it during our brief eating tour of the Big Easy. But our friend Sara Roahen suggested we should give it a try and this gal really knows her stuff when it comes to Crescent City dining.

I contacted Asst. GM Tomy (pronounced Tommy) Lagneaux and he set us up with a 6:30 dinner reservation and a place at their Chef’s Counter, where diners can watch the chefs in action. We arrived to find that Tomy wasn’t working that night and no one seemed to know a thing about us or our planned visit and review. Bummer. The hostess was cute, but really didn’t seem to care that we were in the process of being stiffed. Thankfully, a manager jumped in and scored us a booth in the back of the clean yet rustic looking dining room.

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To be concise, the food was pretty good (some of it really good) but the portions were on the smallish side and the prices weren’t exactly cheap. Example: $4 for a small bottle of Mexican Coca Cola, $5 for a bottle of Cheerwine. I do applaud the uniqueness of their beverage selections, but come on folks. Seriously!

The rolls served before dinner were OK — nothing special about them. My hen and andouille gumbo was superb … easily the best we had on this trip (or any trip for that matter). Dark and rich with a nice little afterburn. Good job, y’all. The macaroni and cheese was pretty amazing – the wife and kids scarfed their’s up in record time, although I did manage to steal one decadent taste before it all disappeared.  

I really would have loved to have sampled more food that night. Especially a variety of meats and sausages that Cochon has made it’s name on. But Tomy’s dropping the ball and the rather proud pricing at Cochon prohibited that from happening — at least on this journey.

I would like to score some of their recipes to try at home, so I may see about getting a review copy of Link’s recent cookbook, “Real Cajun.” A guy named Link making world class sausage??? Sounds like it was written in the stars on some starry Bayou night long ago.  

From Publishers Weekly
If bacon does not immediately come to mind as an essential ingredient of Cajun cooking, then clearly you have been missing Link, the chef-owner of two New Orleans restaurants, Herbsaint and Cochon. He not only begins his premiere cookbook with instructions on making four pounds of homemade bacon, he includes such tempting items as a fried oyster and bacon sandwich, tomato and bacon pie, and catfish fried in bacon fat. Even in his vegetarian twice-baked potatoes, he cannot help mentioning, Normally I like crisp bits of bacon in stuffed potatoes. And where bacon leads, the rest of the pig is sure to follow. A classic boudin recipe is rich in pork liver and shoulder; deer sausage combines venison with pork butt; and a hearty/scary breakfast dish, oreilles de cochon (pig ears), is boudin-stuffed beignets. There is also plenty of crawfish, be it in a crawfish pie, a traditional boil or in a boulette (deep fried balls of crawfish meat and stuffing). A bourbon cherry lemonade or a plate of fresh peach buckle would cleanse the palate nicely, Eighty color photos enhance Link’s efforts, as do his brief meditations on crawfish farming, family gatherings and the joys of making a perfect roux. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review
“Donald Link’s book simply makes me hungry the way I used to be around my grandmother’s kitchen down on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He is more than a chef. He is a southern artist using tradition as a canvas and acquired culinary magic as his box of paints, with which he brings to life masterpieces of southern cuisine that ignite our taste buds as well as reminding us of who we are and where we come from.”
—Jimmy Buffett

“Donald Link’s childhood in Cajun Country taught him that cooking is all about family, local ingredients, and, most important, taste. There’s no blackened redfish here, just delicious recipes (think Crispy Softshell Crab with Chili Glaze or Satsuma Buttermilk Pie) and great memories, informed by his wry sense of humor and passion for food and place. Real Cajun is the real deal and proves, once again, that Link is not only the soul of New Orleans but also one of the most talented chefs in the country.”
—Julia Reed

“Donald Link is rediscovering traditional Cajun food in all of its diversity and simplicity. His flavors come from backyard organic vegetables, local fish, and heritage breed pork. The essence of Cochon’s cooking is beautifully revealed in this inviting book.”
—Alice Waters


“Donald Link’s cooking embodies the very best–the heart and soul–of New Orleans cuisine; there’s no one in the business with more credibility. Real Cajun captures the straight-up, un-cut, raw, and wonderful rustic classics in all their unvarnished, unprettified glory.”
—Anthony Bourdain


“Real Cajun tells Donald Link’s captivating story of growing up in southwest Louisiana and shares with us the incredible no-holds-barred type of cooking and eating that Cajuns live for. With great traditions, vivid tales, and passionate cooking from a real Cajun chef, this cookbook will be a treasure for all who turn its pages.”
—Frank Stitt


“Real Cajun is honest, gutsy, and proudly provincial. Read this book and you’ll want to mainline shrimp and crab gumbo. Cook from this book and you’ll rationalize an all boudin diet.”
—John T. Edge, general editor of Cornbread Nation

John Folse Makes Superb Gumbo & More

6 Jan

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Every December, Chef John Folse of Gonzales, LA sends us an amazing assortment of soups, gumbos, and etoufees. This holiday season was no different and we were quite blessed for that.

This December we received some traditional Chicken and Sausage Gumbo and some incredible Crawfish Etoufee. Both dishes were perfectly seasoned and well received by our guests over the holiday season. Even the folks who were not well versed on Bayou cuisine could enjoy and appreciate the true knack John Folse has in the kitchen.

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John Folse’s food empire also includes the Bittersweet Plantation Dairy

We are honored that John is a DixieDining.com sponsor and wish him the very best of luck in the New Year. Read more about John’s unique philosophy below and order up some of his products for your next dinner party or neighborhood “fais do-do” (throwdown).   

THE FOLSE PHILOSOPHY

I was born on Cabanocey Plantation in St. James Parish, Louisiana. Although I didn’t know it at the time, just to be born there made a person part of history. I was by no means part of a great plantation family like the Romans, Cantrelles, Bringiers or Kenners. Quite the contrary, I came at a time when men were land poor. The plantations were gifts from our grandfathers and fathers before, handed down from one generation to another. In many cases, a French Creole or Antebellum mansion was considered an albatross for the family who inherited it. We certainly did not consider it part of a great legacy. My great grandfather, Victorin Zeringue, purchased Cabanocey in the early 1900s. With over 750 acres, he and his wife, Evelie Robert, thought they were destined for greatness. If anything, they were great landowners. They made a good living, and in those days that was a triumph.

Victorin and Evelie went on to have many children, one of them my grandfather, Albert. Albert married Regina Waguespack, and together they produced six more heirs to Cabanocey. One of them, my mother, Therese, married Royley Folse and eight more heirs were born. My mother, father and ancestors before were all good cooks. How could they not be, having been reared in the heart of Cajun country. This area of the United States somehow produces good cooks. There is the Gulf of Mexico with its abundance of salt water seafoods, an array of fresh-water lakes and rivers and of course, the lush, green and tropical swampland. Each of these contributes equally to the bounty that is Cajun and Creole cuisine.

As a Cajun first and a chef second, it’s important to remember that culture is the cuisine of a people. Often, young culinarians search for a base of good cooking while failing to simply look at their own culture and environment. I have come to realize that no cuisine can develop or expand where there isn’t a strong foundation of regional culture and ingredients. We are fortunate, here in Bayou Country, to have the very best gift that God has given anyone in ingredients destined for the pot. My philosophy on cooking is just as simple. Choose first the heritage of your people. Herein lies the spice and flavor of your very palate. Choose secondly the ingredients of your area. Herein lies the uniqueness of your creations.

Lastly, practice simplicity. There is an old jazz saying here in Louisiana, “mo is betta!” In the world of cooking, this is the greatest fallacy. “Simplicity is betta.” The simple flavors are the ones we long for day in and day out. Like all great artists, chefs must create a style that is recognizable. In order to stand out, you should stay true to your roots, stay true to your region and stay true to your heart and soul. But most of all remember simplicity! In the words of Edith Stern, builder of Longue Vue Gardens Plantation in New Orleans, when asked what would be served to a great statesman coming to visit her home, she replied, “The more important the guest, the simpler and more regional the dish.”

Learn more about Folse and his products at www.jfolse.com. I am truly amazed by John’s verve & versatility — the guy is into everything and his energy is obviously boundless. His reach extends to TV, Radio, a highly rated bed & breakfast, a fine dining restaurant, a smokehouse … must I continue??? Let’s just say that John Folse is a modern day Bayou renaissance man. Long may he rule as the “Gumbo King of Louisiana.”

Photos from SFA’s Boudin and Gumbo Trail

28 Aug

This is a link of good old spicy Louisiana Boudin — good eating!

The Southern Foodways Alliance has been on the road tracking down the finest boudin and gumbo that the great state of Louisiana has to offer. This field study has resulted in some wonderful photographs which are right down our alley. Take a long look at http://www.flickr.com/photos/southernfoodwaysalliance/

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