Um. Hello?

October 22, 2015

I wanna go back, please.

I wanna go back, please.

Rumors of my death have been somewhat exaggerated. Maybe not a great deal, but at least somewhat.

At least for the first half of my absence from the blog, which was due to a raging stomach virus that laid me low for about five days. Did not eat. Did not cook. Did not, in fact, do much of anything. Except work on recovering in time to….

Leave on vacation!

Because it was going to take more than a measly stomach bug to keep me away from the Redneck Riviera, aka the Gulf Coast, yes, it was. And indeed, it did not do such. And off we went, last Tuesday, headed south.

We spent Night 1 in Biloxi, courtesy free rooms at Harrah’s, which was a Good Thing because it gave us the opportunity to eat at Mary Mahoney’s. One of the oldest restaurants, and certainly the restaurant in the oldest building, on the Gulf Coast, MM’s has been offering wonderful Creole cuisine in which used to be a prime beachview location until they built the Beau Rivage casino across the street from it.

I’ve always loved Mary’s. The circa-1740 house where it’s located reminds me of the lovely little restaurants in the French Quarter in New Orleans, which wind from room to room to courtyard to room. The menu reminds me of the Big Easy, too, and can hold its own with any of the French Quarter classics.

We had an appetizer of soft-shell crabs, lovely little miniature ones; I could eat a dozen of ’em, but satisfied myself with three.  A side salad, and then here came my shrimp and crab au gratin, a MM classic of the two shellfish in a marvelous creamy cheese sauce.

Which I couldn’t eat, because the previous day had been the first day I’d eaten in a week, and I’d already put down three small soft-shells and a salad, and that cheese sauce? Is RICH, I’m here to tell you. I managed about two bites, and very nearly wept because I couldn’t eat any more. The poor waitress was most distressed, and took it off my bill, with me steadily trying to explain that no, it was not the fault of the dish, but merely my slow recovery from the stomach bug.

Obviously this requires a return trip with a healthy tummy.

Lordy, but I do love Mary Mahoney’s. No trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast is complete without going there.

The next morning, we were up and off to Destin, where we then spent the afternoon at the outlet mall. We ate in the first couple of nights at the condo, night 1 being crab cakes we picked up at a nearby deli and an avocado/corn/tomato salad I’d put together. Working with ingredients I’d brought with me, I discovered one can put together a reasonably good salad dressing with mayo, Cajun seasoning, Mrs. Dash and lemon juice.  The next night, we snacked, as we’d spent much of the day on the beach and were tired.

And the next three nights, we were out on the town, doing damage to the local seafood population.

Night 1, at Brotula’s, down in the Destin Harbor area. I had Royal Red shrimp, because I love Royal Red Shrimp, which are deepwater shrimp cooked with the heads on and served with drawn butter. They taste a lot like lobster; they are, in fact, pretty freakin’ marvelous. That marked the one night I was able to clean my plate.

Night 2 was two doors down from Brotula’s at Dewey’s Destin Seafood, another long-timer in the Harbor district. There I went with the plain ol’ steamed shrimp, with corn and potatoes. Classic. Simple. Probably my favorite shrimp prep ever. Lots of cocktail sauce with lots of horseradish. I brought half my shrimp — which was a full pound in the serving — back to the condo and had it for lunch the next day.

Oysters. Yum!

Oysters. Yum!

Night 3 was Boschamps’ Oyster House, not quite to the Harbor district but down the same direction. Decided to go a bit different direction, and had some crab and corn chowder followed by Oysters Boschamps, which are broiled with caramelized onions, feta cheese and bacon jam. Yeah. That.

Dear Sweet Baby Jesus, but those were some marvelous oysters. I love me a good oyster anyway, and these were just right up at the edge of being overpowered by the collection of strong tastes paired with them — but they weren’t. Just marvelous. Wish I’d had room for another half-dozen.

I came home with five pounds of regular shrimp and two pounds of royal reds, which are in the freezer as I type, and a pound of grouper that I’ll cook tonight, probably in a lemon-butter sauce, or on the grill with butter and lemon juice. And now I’m trying to figure out how to get back in the swing of actually working, which is difficult. I keep hearing the waves calling me.

You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em take you a trip to the Redneck Riviera if you get half a chance.




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